National

Activists prod NRA to get serious about Fukushima water crisis

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Citizens’ groups and lawmakers urged the government Thursday to bring the reactor restart evaluation process to a halt and put all efforts and resources into containing the groundwater flow contaminating the Pacific at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Ten activist groups, including Greenpeace Japan and Green Action, hosted a gathering in the capital where they met with officials of the Nuclear Regulation Authority to express their opinions on the water crisis and submit their petition for the demand.

“Currently, the NRA is using its time and resources for checking if some of the reactors are ready to restart, but now is not the time for that. Please have every available resource and policy focused on solving the tainted-water issue,” the petition read.

The groups said they collected about 6,400 signatures from individuals as well as 214 organizations, in just two days.

The NRA officials at the gathering in Chiyoda Ward said there are no plans to suspend the reactor evaluations, which began in July. All nuclear utilities have to meet the NRA’s new safety rules before restarting their reactors.

About 80 NRA officials are checking the reactor restart applications and 42 are working on the water crisis.

The government on Wednesday said that about 300 tons of highly radioactive groundwater is pouring into the Pacific each day.

At the gathering, Takashi Nakajima, a supermarket manager in the city of Minamisoma close to the crippled nuclear plant, participated in the Tokyo gathering by phone.

“It is incomprehensible” that the NRA is not fully focusing on the water crisis when consumers are refusing to buy fish caught in the area because of radiation poisoning fears, Nakajima said.