Thursday, May 17, 2012

Learning lessons from Fukushima, Red Cross Red Crescent moves to step up nuclear preparedness - IFRC

17 May 2012, Tokyo/Geneva — The Fukushima nuclear accident has shown that people cannot depend entirely on governments and the nuclear industry to ensure their safety, the Red Cross Red Crescent said as it set out plans to step up its work on nuclear disaster preparedness worldwide.

“People need to have more information and be better prepared in case the unthinkable happens and the Red Cross Red Crescent has a vital role to play,” said Tadataderu Konoe, President of the Japanese Red Cross and of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“They cannot rely solely on governments and on the nuclear industry, which has a vested interest in telling them that everything is safe and nothing can go wrong. It has and it could again, anywhere and at any time.”

After a consultation meeting in Tokyo, the humanitarian organisation, which is the world’s largest, grouping 187 national societies said it would move to set up a resource centre offering specialist advice on nuclear disasaster preparedness, along with chemical and biological hazards.

It will look at how national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies can be active in helping to protect communities, by raising awareness, helping to manage evacuation if needed and providing psyschosocial support and health monitoring in the event of a nuclear disaster.

“We are putting into action our commitment to extend t our well known and respected disaster preparedness work into the nuclear disaster sphere and to tap into our extensive experience from operations like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island,” said Matthias Schmale, IFRC Undersecretary General.

In the operation following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the Red Cross Red Crescent has for example reached more than 1.6 million people with health and psychosocial services, while the 1979 nuclear accident in the United States triggered a long-term engagement with nuclear preparedness issues. More

The IFRC and ICRC also need to work with international organizations such as the IAEA and States Parties to ensure that much more risk analysis and disaster planning is undertaken prior to the siting and building of nuclear plants. Unfortunately, the private sector being motivated solely by profit is inclined to try and save on costs which can have negative impacts on the population. Furthermore, given the possible consequences of a nuclear leak, as happened at Fukushima and Chernobyl, there needs to be international legislation making those in command of the corporations personally liable. Such legislation should be applicable to the Board of Directors and the CEO. Editor.