PETITION CONCERNING NUCLEAR ACCIDENT IN TOKAI URANIUM PROCESSING PLANT TO THEIR EXCELLENCIES, MR. OBUCHI KEIZO […]
PETITION CONCERNING NUCLEAR ACCIDENT IN TOKAI URANIUM PROCESSING PLANT
TO THEIR EXCELLENCIES,
MR. OBUCHI KEIZO, PRIME MINISTER
MR. FUKAYA TAKASHI, MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY
MR. NAKASONE HIROFUMI, MINISTER FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
We have been greatly shocked by the nuclear accident that occurred September 30 at the JCO uranium processing plant, in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture.
According to reports, the accident was caused by following wrong procedures laid down in the company manual, an unauthorized handbook which had been in daily use. It seems the entire JCO management sanctioned the use of the handbook. However, it transpires now that in the actual workplace, even this manual was disregarded.
The fact that unauthorized methods were used, in handling such extremely dangerous material, naturally demands a full investigation and disclosure of what happened at the Tokai plant. It is most disturbing to find that the government which is responsible for the safety and welfare of its people, neglected the duty of supervising the plant, was unable to correct the unauthorized processing,and found itself with no measures to deal with a nuclear accident. As a result, dozens of people were exposed to radiation. The accident brought extensive damage and inconvenience too to the people of Tokaimura and the surrounding area. The overall impression was that the government was incapable of handling the situation.
We hope that from now on the government will do all in its power to safeguard the life and welfare of all its people, and concerning government administration of nuclear energy in particular, we beg of you to give sincere consideration to the following points.
1. Government policy on energy sources:Need for people to have an opportunity to choose what energy source they prefer.
Confronted as we are by a series of major accidents in the use of nuclear material, the question arises as to whether Japan should continue to take nuclear fission as its main source of power or switch to alternatives. The government should make provision to obtain the opinion of the entire population. Then, if necessary, it should allocate adequate funds and personnel to develop alternative sources.
2. Need for another complete check on all nuclear power plants now in operation, and on all facilities handling uranium
In view of the large number of nuclear power plants and nuclear related facilities now in operation,we feel that a renewed, on-the-spot check is needed in all such power stations and other facilities such as the JCO factory responsible for the recent accident. We should like to see a manual drawn up with the possibility of such accidents in mind. The employees also should be drilled in the use of it.
3. A “Disaster Prevention Handbook” for local administration authorities, written with the possibility of such accidents in mind.
The government should ensure that local administrative bodies,that have nuclear power stations or processing plants in their territory, are provided with a manual outlining procedures to be followed in the event of an accident. It should also see that accident drills are carried out. Moreover, the government should have a system whereby they can provide immediate assistance to people involved ina major radiation leak.
4. Need for an independent organization to provide guidance and super-vision for all nuclear facilities.
The inadequacy of the Ministry for Science and Technology in the present instance resembles the inability of the Ministry of Finance to supervise government financial policy and the banking system. In view of the governmentÕs inability to date to furnish sufficient guidance and supervision, we need an independent, autonomous organization capable of doing this.
5. Adequate health checks for employees in these plants and insurance to cover nuclear contamination.
It seems that the three employees affected by nuclear radiation in this accident were not carrying radiation measuring cards during their work. We wonder if sufficient safeguards are in operation in all the nuclear power plants and facilities around the country, to protect the health of the employees. We ask that government provide adequate compensation for the 40 people affected in the present instance, and for all employees whose health has suffered in these plants.
6. Information on this latest accident and on conditions in all nuclear facilities should be made public.
Lastly, the government should make available, to the local people and the public at large, a full report on the exact cause of the accident and the events leading up to it. The report should show where the blame lies and what measures have been taken to emend the situation. Only in this way will the people regain their confidence in the governmentÕs administration of nuclear energy.