PUBLIC OPPOSITION AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS CAUSED BY GREAT EAST JAPAN EARTHQUAKE VERSUS ASHIO COPPER MINE INCIDENT

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PUBLICOPPOSITION AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS CAUSED BY GREAT EAST JAPANEARTHQUAKE VERSUS ASHIOCOPPER MINE INCIDENT

TheJapan nuclearaccident andthe Ashio Copper Mine incident caused activism directed at thegovernment and the firms in charge for the disregard of the humansafety and environment. The Japan nuclear accident was caused by theearthquake of high magnitude. On the other hand, the Ashio coppermine incident resulted in severe environmental and health impacts ontop of the mass death of miners.1After the disasters, the government expressed interest inreestablishing the enterprises, but the steps were met withopposition from activists. This paper examines the similarities andthe differences in activism directed at the nuclearplant andthe Ashio Copper Mine projects.

TheCase of Japan Nuclear Plant

Theactivism has cited the various resultant environment and healthimpacts resulting from the disaster. In particular, the communitiesare still grappling with the tragic effects of the earthquake,despite that significant time that has elapsed since the incidentoccurred. Besides, decommissioning of damaged nuclear plants has beenposing unprecedented challenges to people residing in closervicinities.2Over 100,000 people have been evacuated from the area. Only 13percent of the people who lived in the area have managed to go backto their homes in Fukushima Daiichi despite several announcements bythe government that it was safe for human occupation. The incident isestimated to have cost the country over 188 billion USD. Thegovernment of Japan has been putting in place strategies that wouldsee every citizen of Japan bear cost through taxes, higherelectricity bills or both. The government of Japan still believesthat nuclear power still has a critical role to the country’seconomic growth. The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) hasbeen holding a firm stance. It issued reports on the opening of sevenadditional nuclear plants by 2018 with the operation of other plantswould follow in a span of one year. However, activists have beenasserting the project should not be revived because it hasfar-reaching consequences on the communities and the environment.3

Theactivists cite that the public has lost all faith in nuclear energyand safety regulations. They have been putting pressure on thegovernment to phase out nuclear power.4Beforethe earthquake, over 54 nuclear plants were operational, producingabout one-third of Japans’ total electric power. The prime ministerof Japan in 2012 indicated that the government was phasing out allnuclear plants after the expiry of the licenses. However, after histerm, the incumbent Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, affirmed that Japancould not support its economy without nuclear energy. The governmentissued new standards through the Nuclear Regulation Authority thatsaw the establishment of three nuclear plants. The Nuclear RegulationAuthority was mandated regulate all nuclear energy operations,including safety. However, activists have been suing the governmenton various occasions. In some cases, activists have been usingprotests and media lobbying and engaging politicians to block thecommissioning of the nuclear project.

Theactivists succeeded in winning the citizens to their side. Indeed, ina poll conducted by Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization,experts in nuclear energy, about 50 percent of the respondentsbelieved that the government should abolish the use of nuclear powergradually while the government invents other reliable sources ofenergy such as solar and wind power propel the economy. Besides,about 15 percent of the respondents termed the nuclear power as veryhazardous to humanity, and all nuclear operations should be stopped.Only 10 percent of the respondents agreed with the government’sideas of implementing nuclear energy projects while a mere 1.7percent was the idea that nuclear power should be increased to meetthe country’s economic growth demands.5

Ina different survey by a local newspaper in 2016, responses that aremore negative were witnessed with over 57 percent of the participantsof Japanese citizens opposing government’s plans to restart itsexisting nuclear energy plants even if they were in line with thenewly adopted regulatory standards. Moreover, about 73 percent of therespondents supported phasing out of all nuclear power generationfirms. Also, 14 percent of the participants advocated for theimmediate shutdown of all existing nuclear power plants.6Opposingsentiments are replicated across the country. The Only two of the 54nuclear power stations that were operational before the earthquake,only two are operating after mass protests and wrangles throughcourts where environmental groups and residents expressed differingopinions with the government. The accident led to the loss ofproperty such as cattle, houses, and, air pollution, land degradationand loss of soil productivity—factors that contributed to theeconomic meltdown among millions of settlers, especially farmers.Besides, the biological and genetic implications were rampant.7

TheCase of Ashio Copper Mine Incident

Beforebeing shut down in 1973, the Shio Copper Company caused diverseenvironmental pollution in water sources due to the lack ofimplementation of safe drainage and waste systems by the company. Theextent of the environmental damages on rivers, loss of employment byfishermen and the loss of life due to ingestion of poisonous elementsin water sources, which elicited the attention of the activists.8The incident saw the loss of lives, environmental pollution, anddegradation, interference with the normal healthy living of thepeople. Major mass protests were conducted across the country againstthe establishment of initiatives that carried many risks around humansettlements. 9

Conclusionon Similarities and Differences Between the Incidents

Similaritiesthat exist between these two incidents are the major environmentaland health implications that followed the accidents. Some of theenvironmental impacts included land degradation, air pollution, waterpollution and soil contamination. On the other hand, the healtheffects were diseases that were caused by the elements of thechemicals. The nuclear plant incident after the earthquake had muchmore devastating consequences on the biological functioning of bodyorgans and gene mutations that resulted in diverse complications thatJapanese people are still living with.10The activists came in handy to oppose the projects, citingenvironment and human health hazards.

Therefore,the two events had severe environmental and health implications onthe communities. Both cases attracted the attention of activists whoemerged to oppose the activities, resulting in the decommissioning ofthe projects. Moreover, the activists only tend to come in oncecertain environmental harm has been experienced. These events createthe allowance to infer that it is now inherently impossible for thegovernment and companies to act irresponsibly and harm theenvironment and people. Activists will use media lobbying, politicalengagement and unrests to push decommission the projects.

Bibliography

AnnWeru. “Fukushima’sFish Industry Yet to Recover.”United Nations Office for DisasterRisk Reduction. Japan Nuclear Concerns.”WorldHealth Organization. September, 2012.

EdwinS. Lyman. “Public Health Risks of Substituting Mixed-Oxide forUranium Fuel in Pressurized-Water Reactors.”Science&amp Global Security, 9, pp.33-79. 2014.

InternationalAtomic Energy Agency. “Radiation,People and the Environment.”February,2013.

JamesConca. “As The World Warms To Nuclear Power, The Outlook ForUranium Is Up.”Forbes.January 4, 2016

JoBecker, William J. Broad. “New Doubts About Turning Plutonium Intoa Fuel.”NewYork Times.April 10, 2012

1 Ann Weru. “Fukushima’s Fish Industry Yet to Recover.”United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. March 31,2015.100 “FAQs: Japan Nuclear Concerns.”World Health Organization. September, 2021.

2 Ibid

3 James Conca. “As The World Warms To Nuclear Power, The Outlook For Uranium Is Up.”Forbes. January 4, 2016

4 Pressurized-Water Reactors.”Science &amp Global Security, Volume 9, pp.33-79. 2014.

Jo Becker, William J. Broad. “New Doubts About Turning Plutonium Into a Fuel.”New York Times. April 10, 2011

5 Ann Weru. “Fukushima’s Fish Industry Yet to Recover.”United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. March 31,2015.100 “FAQs: Japan Nuclear Concerns.”World Health Organization. September, 2012.

6 International Atomic Energy Agency. “Radiation, People and the Environment.”February, 2013.

7 Edwin S. Lyman. “Public Health Risks of Substituting Mixed-Oxide for Uranium Fuel in Pressurized-Water Reactors.”Science &amp Global Security, Volume 9, pp.33-79. 2014

8 Pressurized-Water Reactors.”Science &amp Global Security, Volume 9, pp.33-79. 2014.

Jo Becker, William J. Broad. “New Doubts About Turning Plutonium Into a Fuel.”New York Times. April 10, 2011

9 Ibid

10 James Conca. “As The World Warms To Nuclear Power, The Outlook For Uranium Is Up.”Forbes. January 4, 201697