With two field trips into the area surrounding the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant now completed, our flagship the Rainbow Warrior has raised its anchor and set said for Japan to undertake a third, focusing on the threatened marine ecosystem off Japan’s eastern coast.
It has now been more than five weeks since Japan was hit with a trio of disasters, Greenpeace has had radiation monitoring teams in the field, testing food, soil samples outside the 20km (and now 30km) evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant.
However, with radioactive water continually leaking from the plant and TEPCO releasing huge quantities of contaminated water into the ocean, it is time to extend our testing activities to include the marine environment threatened by radioactive contamination.
The Rainbow Warrior set sail from Taiwan today, packed with scientific equipment and an experienced radiation monitoring team, ready to conduct contamination testing of the Fukushima marine ecosystem.
The extent of contamination from the plant is a major concern, so our aim is to get clear, independent information about the scope of this disaster out to the people of Japan and the international community.
In recent weeks, our field teams found worrying levels of radiation in vegetables, hot spots of contamination in densely-populated areas around Fukushima City and Koriyama City, and radiation levels high enough in some towns closer to the plant to warrant complete evacuations – a call which the Japanese government has finally begun to act on , although still not strongly enough.
We hope that by providing additional, independent contamination information we can help ensure the right decisions are made to clean up this disaster, safeguard the marine environment, and ensure the people of Japan can make the right choices to protect their lives and livelihoods.
The trip will also be one of the last for the aging Warrior, which, after 20 years of environmental campaigning around the world, is due for retirement be replaced by the purpose-built Rainbow Warrior III. She came into service campaigning against nuclear technology, and it is fitting that she will spend her last days again highlighting the terrible consequences our unnecessary reliance on nuclear power can have.
The Warrior is expected to arrive in the Fukushima area around the 28th of April.
Greg McNevin works for Greenpeace International on ocean and climate issues.
Image - © Greenpeace / Paul Hilton