Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan will have a long legacy of environmental destruction with up to hundreds of years of devastating impacts on the ocean, waterways, plants, and animals, according to a new Greenpeace Japan report released Friday.
The report, titled “Radiation Reloaded: Ecological Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident 5 Years Later,” reveals that radiation from the 2011 nuclear plant meltdown has found its way into trees, butterflies, birds, fish, and the important coastal estuary ecosystem in the region.
The findings also shed light on the “flawed assumptions” that have been shared as official information by the government of Shinzo Abe and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“The Abe government is perpetuating a myth that five years after the start of the nuclear accident the situation is returning to normal,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Nuclear Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan, in a statement on Friday. “The evidence exposes this as political rhetoric, not scientific fact.”
While local flora and fauna show radiation levels have increased since the disaster, some residents have been told it is safe to return to contaminated areas.
“There is no end in sight for communities in Fukushima — nearly 100,000 people haven’t returned home and many won’t be able to,” Ulrich added.
Fukushima was the largest nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, and the single largest incident of radiation contamination in an ocean in history.
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According to Greenpeace, Fukushima has seen radioactive water seep into the ocean on nearly a daily basis for five years, and the government’s response has inadequately managed the crisis.
“The government’s massive decontamination program will have almost no impact on reducing the ecological threat from the enormous amount of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster,” Ulrich said.
The report calls on the Japanese government to consider alternative options to nuclear power and work towards transitioning to sustainable and clean energy.
Greenpeace reports that over 317 million cubic feet (9 million cubic meters) of nuclear waste have spread around Fukushima.
The report is based on 25 radiological investigations carried out by Greenpeace since March 2011, when the earthquake hit and wreaked havoc on Fukushima.
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