Four years on: Kakadu Traditional Owners remain saddened by ongoing Fukushima disaster
11 Mar 2015
The Mirarr Traditional Owners of parts of Kakadu National Park including the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium deposits have expressed their continued sadness on the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Contamination from the failed reactors has forced over 150,000 people to permanently leave their homes and details of the ongoing human and environmental devastation continue to emerge with new leaks of highly radioactive water from the site detected just last month.
In October 2011 the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) confirmed the Fukushima nuclear crisis was directly fuelled by uranium from Australia. At the time Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressing her concern and sadness at the devastation that uranium from her lands was causing in Japan: “This is an industry we never supported in the past and want no part of in the future. We are all diminished by the events unfolding at Fukushima,” Ms Margarula wrote.
In August 2014 the Mirarr along with national environment, union and public health groups, hosted an Australian tour of Mr Naoto Kan. Mr Kan was Prime Minister of Japan when the Fukushima reactors failed and, though previously a supporter of nuclear power, is now a passionate advocate for safe renewable energy sources. Mr Kan was particularly affected by his visit to Mirarr country and the Ranger mine which has supplied Japan with uranium for over three decades.
Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation CEO Justin O’Brien said: “Mirarr country and Japan have been linked by nuclear issues for many years. On this fourth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster we send our thoughts to the people of Japan, whose lives have been irrevocably changed by that terrible event.”
“The impacts of the nuclear industry will be felt for generations in every place and amongst all peoples it touches. Here in Kakadu the legacy of uranium mining is all too evident and we are deeply saddened to learn of the ongoing and increasing impacts of the failed reactors on the people and country of Japan,” Mr O’Brien concluded.
For further information and photographs: Kirsten Blair 0412 853 641