On 11th of March 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a tsunami triggered the world's worst manmade nuclear accident. The accident caused displacement of more than 160,000 people and contaminated many cities with radioactive fallout.
Marking the third year of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear accident, Eminent Supreme Court lawyer and the counsel for the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case on N- Liability, Prashant Bhushan said, "Unfortunately, the current government has never seen the Nuclear Liability Act as an instrument to protect public interest. From the inception of the bill, it has always been seen by the government as a way of capping the liability of private players to as low a level as possible or even to make them immune from any kind of accountability in order to 'be attractive' as a market. What we have seen with the Rules and with the current negotiation on unit 3&4 is just an extension of the government's biased priorities."
Greenpeace organised a Fukushima Bearing Witness tour in which activists from Poland, Germany, France, South Korea and India participated. From India, two leading antinuclear activists, G. Sundarrajan, Satyajit Chavan and Greenpeace Campaigner, Hozefa Merchant travelled to Fukushima to meet the victims and understand the impact of the disaster on their lives and in the region.
"Liability is only a theoretical concept, unless it is applied in a post disaster situation. Unfortunately, we have a post disaster situation in Japan. Coming back from Fukushima after visiting the contaminated region and meeting various victims, I have directly seen the injustices of the liability system which creates unfair privileges for the nuclear industry. Had GE been held liable for its Mark I reactor, it would not have been so complacent about the structural integrity and the design of the reactor it was supplying to Japan," said G. Sundarrajan, activist from Chennai.
Greenpeace Campaigner Hozefa Merchant pointed out, "The assertion that GE is responsible for Fukushima accident is based on solid facts. In January this year, a lawsuit has been filed against General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi in Japan, to hold them accountable for the accident. This lawsuit could bring a paradigm shift in the way liability legislations are framed around the world. Nuclear industry needs to be stripped off its privileges, and should be held accountable for its performance."
According to Satyajit Chavan, an activist from Maharashtra, "Making nuclear suppliers pay for their mistakes would not only benefit the potential victims by making more funds available, but would also increase accountability and transparency and create incentives for the companies across the nuclear supply chain to prevent failures. The government should not be so short sighted as to contrive ways to bypass the law to help foreign firms whether it be the Russians at Kudankulam or the French at Jaitapur."
Over the last three years, more than 160,000 people have been evacuated, 1,600 deaths (1) have been reported due to evacuation stress, and around 250 billion dollars of tax payer's money is estimated to be spent on clean up and compensation. (2) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant still remains out of control with regular reports of radioactive leaks.
Notes for the editor:
For more information, please contact:
Seema Javed, Media Officer, +91-9910059765,
Jitendra Kumar, Media Officer, +91-9868167337,
Karuna Raina, Senior Campaigner, +91-9650111955,
Team which went to the Fukushima region (From the 14th of Feb 2014 to the 21st of Feb, 2014)
G. Sundarrajan, Anti Nuclear Activist, Kudankulam, +91-9841031730,
Satyajit Chavan, Anti Nuclear Activist, Jaitapur, +91-8898770232,
Hozefa Merchant, Anti Nuclear Campaigner, Greenpeace, +91-9819592410,