This Sunday is the first anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. This natural disaster left 20,000 people dead and missing and thousands more homeless. The tsunami also flooded the back-up generators that were powering the cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, causing several of the reactors to go into meltdown.
Instead of being able to concentrate on responding to the natural disaster, the Japanese government was forced to divert resources to the stricken nuclear plant. This nuclear disaster was preventable, because Tepco, the company that ran the plant, had had plenty of warning. In 2008, the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organisation warned the plant was at risk of being flooded by a major tsunami.
Instead of improving their flood defences, Tepco chose to ignore the warning – as did the government agency responsible for monitoring Japan’s nuclear industry and protecting the public.
This week, Greenpeace activists from around the world have been taking action to expose their governments’ failure to take nuclear safety seriously. From Indonesia to Istanbul, Bangkok to Belgium, Greenpeace activists took action in 19 countries.
Here in the UK, on Saturday 10 March people from across the country will be heading down to Hinkley Point, where EDF wants to build the first new nuclear reactor in almost 20 years. There will be a rally and a 24 hour non-violent blockade of the existing nuclear power stations - for more information, check stophinkley.org.
The actions were designed to bring attention to the fact that the 400-plus nuclear reactors around the world pose an ongoing threat to the hundreds of millions of people who live in their shadow.
Hundreds of activists marched through Jakarta dressed in radiation suits, whilst others cleaned up a mock nuclear waste spill in Cape Town. Banners dropped in Antwerp and Liège highlighted the inadequacies of evacuation plans in the case of a nuclear emergency.
Last week, an international team of Greenpeace campaigners carried messages of support for the people of Japan to the summit of Mt Fuji and deployed a banner calling for an end to nuclear power.