On the 25th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, the world is yet again faced with widespread radioactive contamination from damaged nuclear plants. After an earthquake and tsunami hit the coast of Japan, four reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant are partially melted down and have been leaking dangerous radioactive elements for more than a month. The disaster’s severity has been rated at the highest international level and stands alone with Chernobyl in the history of nuclear power as a ’major accident,’ with ‘widespread health and environmental effects.’ Areas around Chernobyl are still contaminated with levels of radioactive elements that are dangerous to public health and the environment. At the same time, workers at the Fukushima plant are struggling to stop further spread of radioactivity from their reactors, and the Japanese government is increasing its efforts to evacuate an expanding area around the plant.
Environment America’s Clean Energy Advocate, Sean Garren, issued the following statement:
“On the 25th anniversary of one of the world’s greatest energy disasters in Chernobyl, Americans are grieved to not just remember one nuclear catastrophe, but to be living through another.
“Our hearts go out to those families and individuals living miles away from both the Chernobyl and Fukushima plantswhohave been forced to abandon their homes and livelihood; to those workers that have put their lives at tremendous risk to stop further disaster at both plants; to those families that must worry about their water and milk because of levels of radiation high enough to endanger their infants; and, our hearts go out to the world that has had to, and will have to continue to, cope with the tremendous amounts of dangerous radioactive pollution that these two disasters have created.
“The remaining scars of Chernobyl and the events that continue to unfold in Japan must be a wake-up call for Americans about the dangers of nuclear power. Our current use of nuclear power is gambling with our children’s health and our environment. Unfortunately, in Japan Mother Nature has yet again proven stronger than anything we can design.
“Chernobyl and Japan are a long ways away from me, but Indian Point outside New York City, Oyster Creek that is even older than the Fukushima reactors, and Diablo Canyon that sits less than five miles from an earthquake fault are not. Indian Point is just 36 miles from the Empire State Building in New York City. If the worst were to happen there it would be more than 17 million Americans the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would be telling to evacuate and leave their homes behind. The pictures would be of our children getting scanned for radiation. I cannot believe there is any gain that is worth the risk.
“We must learn from this moment and never allow this risk to our families here in America. More than 108 million Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. We can and must move away from energy technologies that expose our environment and families’ health tothis immense risk and repower our country with clean, renewable energy, like wind and solar power.”