Greenpeace is critical of today's visit by French Prime Minister, François Fillon, to the Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant, nearing completion in Aomori Prefecture, Japan, which the organisation sees as the biggest and most dangerous obstacle to directing Japan towards a safe and clean energy future.
The French company COGEMA, now part of AREVA, has provided the
plant's reprocessing technology. AREVA is aggressively promoting
nuclear power expansion despite the risks, poor value for money and
ineffectiveness in combating problems such as climate change.
As early as next month, the governor of Aomori Prefecture may
sign the all-important "safety agreement" for the plant. "If it
goes into operation, Rokkasho will spread radioactive
contamination, add to the stockpile of weapons-usable plutonium and
create long-lived radioactive waste that no one knows how to
successfully dispose of," said Manami Suzuki, energy and climate
campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.
"Technologically advanced nations like France and Japan should
be leading an energy revolution based on boosting clean, renewable
energy rather than backing dangerous and hugely expensive polluting
nuclear programmes," she said.
Rokkasho is now in the final stage of test operation following a
20-year construction programme troubled by setbacks and delays.
Operating at its design capacity, Rokkasho would separate 8 tonnes
of plutonium per year - sufficient for around 1000 nuclear
Daily discharges of radioactivity from the plant, it is
estimated, will be higher that those from the large nuclear
reprocessing facilities at Cap de la Hague, in France, and
Sellafield, in the UK. Official estimates show the volume of
radioactivity discharged from Rokkasho each day could be equivalent
to that from one nuclear reactor over the period of a year. A study
commissioned by Greenpeace has calculated that this could result in
15,000 additional deaths from cancer worldwide.
"The French and Japanese governments' love affair with nuclear
power is undermining international security and fails to help us
solve climate change, the most important threat we face," said Jan
Beránek, energy campaigner at Greenpeace International. "Despite
all of the money that has been poured into nuclear power it remains
a lame duck technology."
Greenpeace Japan this week issued an
international appeal calling for objections to the opening of the
plant to be sent to the governor of Aomori Prefecture.
Other contacts: Manami Suzuki, Climate/Energy campaigner, Greenpeace Japan.Tel: +81 80 5416 6506Jan Beránek, energy campaigner, Greenpeace International.Tel: +31 6 5110 9558