26 August 2011

Japanese nuclear disaster – ‘a warning call to us all’

The current edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette includes the following photograph and report:

At the Hiroshima Day commemorations in Dublin (from left): Dr David Hutchinson-Edgar, chair, Irish CND; the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Andrew Montague; the Ambassador of Japan, Mr Chihiro Atsumi; and Canon Patrick Comerford, President of Irish CND.

Japanese nuclear disaster
– ‘a warning call to us all’

The disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan “is a warning call to us all,” the President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Canon Patrick Comerford, told this year’s Hiroshima Day commemorations in Dublin. “Now is the time to recommit ourselves to a nuclear-free world, a world free of nuclear energy and a world free of nuclear weapons,” he said.

“With a new government in Ireland, the best commitment it can make to our future and the future of generations to come, the best hope it can offer, is to provide a renewed and a reinvigorated Irish leadership working proactively and taking initiatives for a world free of nuclear weapons,” he said. “It is a challenge that I hope our government takes up so that once again we can restore the moral and ethical image of Ireland that has been lost in recent decades.”

Canon Comerford was addressing Irish CND’s Hiroshima Day commemoration in Merrion Square on 6 August. He welcomed the new Ambassador of Japan, Mr Chihiro Atsumi, who said he was overwhelmed by the warm support from people in Ireland after the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March.

Canon Comerford said the disaster at Fukushima in March “was the largest nuclear accident this year – indeed the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986,” and quoted a nuclear industry expert who had described as “the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind.”

But he said the accident at Fukushima was one in a series of nuclear disasters, involving equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and multiple leaks of radioactive materials.

He said the height of the tsunami that hit Fukushima “was 13.1 metres – two or three times higher than anyone allowed for – either because they were totally unscientific in their predictions, or totally cavalier in their calculations when it came to costs and profits. Worldwide it appears the nuclear industry is indebted to the Montgomery Burns School of Economics, the Waylon Smithers School of Management and the Homer Simpson Employment Agency.”

He listed what he described as “a rapid succession of one disaster after another” at Fukushima in the hours and days that followed. He went on to catalogue a series of at least eight major disasters at Japanese nuclear facilities in the subsequent two-month period.

“It appears we learn nothing from our past mistakes,” he said. “Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Bradwell, Sellafield … the list of disasters is endless, yet governments continue to build, to build and to build. And if they build as if there were no tomorrow, we can be assured there will be no tomorrow.”

“There is a symbiotic relationship between the nuclear power industry and the nuclear weapons industry that is both insidious and nefarious,” he said. “There is an unbreakable chain between nuclear weapons and nuclear power … one pays for the other. There is an unbreakable chain between Hiroshima 1945 and Bradwell 2025.”

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Andrew Montague, also spoke at the commemoration, and laid a wreath at the Hiroshima cherry tree planted in Merrion Square in 1980.

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