World February 25, 2016 | 10:28 am

Greenpeace launches high tech investigation into radiation impacts of Fukushima disaster on Pacific Ocean

Tokyo.- GreenpeaceJapan today announced it is conducting an underwater investigation intoradiation contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into thePacific Ocean. The survey will be conducted from a Japanese research vessel usinga one-of-a-kind Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), fitted with sensitive gammaradiation spectrometer and sediment sampler.

On the opening day of the investigation, Mr Naoto Kan, theformer Prime Minister of Japan and leader at the time of the nuclear accident,joined the crew of the Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior. As the countrynears the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster Mr. Kan called for acomplete phase out of nuclear power.

“I once believed Japan’s advanced technology would preventa nuclear accident like Chernobyl from happening in Japan. But it did not, andI was faced with the very real crisis of having to evacuate about 50 millionpeople at risk from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. I have sincechanged my mind,” said Mr. Kan on board the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior.“We do not need to take such a big risk. Instead we should shift to safer andcheaper renewable energy with potential business opportunities for our futuregenerations.”

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has produced over 1.4million tons of radioactive contaminated water in an effort to cool thehundreds of tons of molten reactor fuel in Fukushima Daiichi reactor units 1, 2and 3. In addition to the initial releases of liquid nuclear waste during thefirst weeks of the accident and the daily releases from the plant ever since, contaminationalso flows from land, particularly the forests and mountains of Fukushima, andwill continue to contaminate the Pacific Ocean for at least 300 years.

“The Fukushima disaster is the single largest release ofradioactivity into the marine environment in history. There is an urgent needto understand the impacts this contamination is having on the ocean, howradioactivity is both dispersing and concentrating and its implications,” saidShaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist with Greenpeace Germany.

“TEPCO failed to prevent a multiple reactor meltdown andfive years later it’s still an ongoing disaster. It has no credible solution tothe water crisis they created and is failing to prevent the further contaminationof the Pacific Ocean.”

The investigations will continue into March and will takeplace along the coast of Fukushima prefecture, including within the 20km radiusof the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The team is working with scientistsfrom the independent laboratory Chikurin-Shya in Tokyo, and ACRO in France. Theradiation survey is the 25th the organization has conducted into the impact ofthe Fukushima nuclear accident since March 2011.

“There is still no end in sight for communities inFukushima, many of whom can’t return home due to radiation contamination.Rather than pushing for the restart of nuclear power, the Japanese governmentshould put these people first and focus on managing the Fukushima Daiichisite,” said Mamoru Sekiguchi, Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Japan. “Manypeople in Japan have rejected nuclear power and are demanding the only safe andclean technology that can meet Japan’s needs – renewable energy.”

Only three of the 54 commercial nuclear reactors thatexisted in Japan in March 2011 are currently operating. The Japanese governmenthas set an unrealistic target of 35 reactors to be operating by 2030, despitemultiple technical issues and citizen led legal challenges threatening therevival of a nuclear “renaissance” in Japan.