Eco group calls for nuclear-free ASEAN on eve of Fukushima disaster

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 02:05 AM    Views : 1043by:TJD, GMA News

As the anniversary of the March 11 earthquake-tsunami tragedy that hit Japan nears, an ecological group called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to make the region nuclear-free.

Greenpeace said ASEAN governments should heed the lessons of Fukushima and abandon their nuclear ambitions or revamping their energy policies in favor of efficient and renewable energy.

We invite all citizens of ASEAN member states to join Greenpeace in delivering a strong call to action to our ASEAN leaders to learn from the lessons of Fukushima. We call on our governments to drop current and future plans to develop nuclear and instead focus public resources in enabling the rapid uptake of this region's abundant clean, safe, renewable energy resources, and the adoption of energy efficiency measures, said Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Francis Dela Cruz.

On March 11 last year, a magnitude-9 quake and a resulting tsunami devastated Japan, and led to the meltdown of the Fukushima power plant.

Citing findings from its own probe of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, the group said Fukushima became a bigger disaster not because of forces of nature, but because of the past and tragic predisposition of industry and government regulators to secure the interests of the nuclear industry, instead of ensuring public welfare and safety.

It said such a disaster could be repeated at any nuclear plant in the world, adding major meltdowns have taken place every decade for the last 50 years that nuclear plants have been around.

This runs contrary to assurances by the industry that such accidents have low probability, it said.

Petition for ASEAN

Greenpeace launched a petition asking ASEAN to divert from the nuclear path it laid down in the Treaty of Bangkok and repeal the nuclear development provision in the ASEAN Energy Cooperation Plan 2010-2015.

The group made the rounds of ASEAN members' embassies today with the Call-to-Action, and will deliver the petition to ASEAN Heads of States at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia at the end of March.

PHL nuclear plans

Greenpeace said that while nuclear plans have been delayed in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand - largely due to the huge public opposition following Fukushima - there is still a strong pro-nuclear industry lobby of ASEAN leaders.

It cited the case of the Philippines, where the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) has been the center of controversy for the last several decades.

"The plant was never operated due to never-ending questions regarding its supposed safety features, which were upgraded but never passed scientific scrutiny. Filipinos continue to pay around P23 million annually to keep the facility 'maintained' and, for the last several years, proposals have been floating around to rehabilitate BNPP and start the nuclear age in the country," it said.

Also, it said the Department of Energy's budget during President Benigno Aquino III's term still provides for research into nuclear options.

"We should have learned by now, Fukushima should be the last meltdown. The Fukushima disaster was ultimately caused by the Japanese authorities choosing to ignore risks and making business a higher priority than safety. Nuclear energy is inherently unsafe. By simply keeping the nuclear power option open, ASEAN leaders are distracted from implementing safe and clean energy solutions," said Dela Cruz.

Greenpeace is calling for a global phase out of nuclear power by 2035. TJD, GMA News

S & T Trivia

" Filipino astronomers Edwin Aguirre and Imelda Joson discovered Asteroid 6282 (called Edwelda after their first names), an asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. "

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