Contributed by Kiu Jia Yaw, Member, Environment and Climate Change Committee
Forum title : Climate & Energy Forum: Towards Energy Efficiency and Safe Options
Date : 8th, 9th and 10th October 2011, 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Venue : Tun Mohamed Suffian Auditorium, Faculty of Law, University Malaya
Organised by :
1) Friends of the Earth Malaysia (Sahabat Alam Malaysia, SAM)
2) Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP)
3) Third World Network
4) Friends of the Earth Japan
5) Faculty of Law, UM
Attendees from BCECC :
1) Chew Swee Yoke
2) Kiu Jia Yaw
Report prepared by : Kiu Jia Yaw
Day 1: Climate & Energy Forum
Session 1: Energy Sector – Where is Malaysia?
Hilary Chiew of SAM gave an overview on energy security, clean energy and climate change. She touched on how Malaysia’s energy policy developed over the years, the Renewable Energy Act 2011, GreenTech Financing Scheme and the Feed–in Tariff program. She also noted the shortcomings in Malaysia’s move to encourage renewable energy (“RE”): low tariffs and grid–connectivity limit of 10MW. In summary, Hilary observed that while we have relatively sound energy policies, we have bad implementation and perverse incentives. These need to improve.
Gurmit Singh of CETDEM observed that our country is clearly not excluding the nuclear option although the official stand of the government is that it is not developing it.
Tony Pua, MP, discussed the terms of the IPP contracts.
Session 2: Communities’ Experiences with Energy Generation Plants
Wing Miku a Sg. Asap settler (Sarawak), shared his personal experience with hydroelectric dams in Sarawak. He concisely described the struggle of the Bakun and Murum communities for a just solution. He explained the history of the Bakun dam, history of his people. He explained how his community was relocated; the serious inadequacies in the relocation plans which fail to consider his people’s way of life and basic needs; the disorientation and the break down of the fabric of their community; inadequate, unfair and late payment of compensation; those who were unhappy with the compensation were told to go to court, but of course, they had no idea how or the means to do that; there were not enough jobs at their settlement village, not enough land for agriculture for all of them; they were forced into a money–based way of life; they have lost their native customary rights land and were not provided with communal land. With the Murum Dam, the same problems recurred. The resettlement area was not yet completed even when the works at the Dam had reached 35%. The Penans’ various requests were ignored.
Philip Jau, Chairman of the Baram Protection Action Committee echoed Wing Mikiu’s message in his presentation titled “Diabolical Plans to Dam Sarawak: Cheap energy for dirty industries”. He informed us that Sarawak plans to build 12 more new mega hydro–electric dams. Sarawak is expected to have a combined power generating capacity of 7000 MW by 2020, at least 6 times more than the current capacity. This is part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) program where hydropower, coal and natural gas have been alarmingly labeled as renewable energy. The construction of the dams is expected to affect tens of thousands of native peoples. The impacts of the dam: (i) involuntary physical displacement involving coercion and force; (ii) social impact, uprooting people; (iii) alienation from their traditional territories, traditional resources and knowledge base, loss of indigenous identity, culture, social systems, disintegration of communities; (iv) extinguishment of rights; (v) impoverishment, insecurity and stress will result in alcoholism, gambling, prostitution, fights, etc. Philip questions who will benefit the most from these mega projects? Certainly not the natives. He also dreads to think about how the government will manipulate the natives to accept the dams.
Wong Tack, President of the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) then shared SEPA’s experience in successfully fighting the proposed coal fired plant in Sabah. He recounted how Sabahans were told/warned to “accept coal or face imminent darkness.” SEPA and several NGOs formed a coalition called Green Surf to fight coal fired plants in Sabah. Finally, the government relented and scraped its plans, stating that the Detailed EIA had too many shortcomings.
Jamaluddin Mohamad, President of JARING, a fisherman, shared the plight of fishermen in living with the 2100 MW private coal fired plant in Tg. Bin, Johor, run by the IPP, Malakoff Corporation Bhd. The plant is along the coast at an estuary. The power plant has adversely affected acres of coastal mangrove forests, trapped fish and prawns in its water intake (for cooling), caused chlorine and heavy metal pollution, made the fishing area narrower and raised the temperature of the sea water (hot water discharged from the plant). Of course, the power plants also causes air pollution, which in turn brought acid rain and raised the acidity of the sea, thus affecting marine life. And presently plans are underway for 2 more 1000 MW plants in the process of approval.
Session 3A: Communities’ initiatives for alternative sources of energy
Adrian Lasimbang, who owns a renewable energy consultancy and works closely with Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) Trust) spoke about his work on community based, small scale renewable energy projects including micro hydro, photovoltaic and solar thermal. Their projects are human centred, community empowering and based on sustainable strategies. The major challenges for such projects have been resource mobilization, logistics (remote locations), technical expertise and the capacities of the communities to manage the projects themselves. What they have learned from their experience is to focus on the participation of women and in inculcating a sense of ownership for the project among the villagers. He emphasized that Malaysia has sufficient natural resources for energy and that a decentralized system (off grid) works best for rural electrification. There is no need for grid expansion (which involves logging) or mega dams or nuclear power plants.
Cynthia Ong of Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) talked about LEAP’s efforts in pushing for biomass energy – harnessing oil palm waste in Eastern Sabah.
Session 3B: Energy Conservation & Sustainable Energy
Francis Xavier Jacob, director of Energy Management and Industry Development, Energy Commission, gave a presentation on “Energy Efficiency: Policy and its effectiveness”. The EC espouses the policy of Sustainable Energy – the provision of energy such that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Energy efficiency and renewable energy are the twin pillars of energy sustainability. In Malaysia, 66% of GHG emissions are from energy production. EE policy is framed in the National Renewable Energy Master Plan, National Energy Efficiency Master Plan and RE & EE Master Plan. Among others, the EC’s strategies for EE is in the 5–fuel Policy, focus on industrial and commercial sectors, fiscal incentives, regulations, R&D, energy rating, incorporation of EE into Uniform Building By–Laws, etc. He said that previous initiatives to promote EEC have not had encouraging results so far.
A representative from Green Tech Malaysia talked about the Green Tech Financing Scheme (GTFS). She informed that there are still a lot of funds available. However, the GTFS is not to be seen as the primary source of financing. Rather, applicants are expected to obtain their own financing, and the GTFS will subsidise on a portion of the interest payable. Therefore the successful GTFS applicant would be one who is already backed by a bank/financier.
Mohd Hafdzuan Bin Adzmi from the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology & Water (Sustainable Energy Division, Energy Sector) talked about development of RE in Malaysia. Malaysia is targeting to reduce its CO2 emissions intensity of GDP by 40% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Our National RE Policy is focused on enhancing the use of indigenous RE resources to contribute towards national electricity supply security and sustainable socio–economic development. KeTTHA aims to increase RE contribution to the national power generation mix, facilitate growth of RE industry, ensure reasonable RE generation costs and conserve the environment for future generations. The Renewable Energy Act 2011 and Sustainable Energy Development Authority Act 2011 were both gazetted on 1 June 2011. The FiT system will commence on 1 December 2011.
Then followed a Roundtable Discussion on whether Malaysia is equipped to embrace RE, moderated by Astro anchor, Kamarol Bahrin Haron.
Day 2: Climate & Energy Forum
Session 4: The Developed Countries’ Nuclear Experience
Kim Hye–Jeong of the Korean Federation of Environmental Movements shared the South Korean experience in advocating against nuclear power. South Korea has 21 operating nuclear reactors and is the world’s 6th largest nuclear power industry.
Dr. Jim Green, National Nuclear Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Australia, talked about Uranium mining in Australia. He argued that the benefits of uranium mining (jobs, export revenue and climate change mitigation) were trivial while the problems (environmental impacts, “radioactive racism”, nuclear weapons proliferation, risks of accidents and terror attacks) are significant. In 2003, the Australian Senate References and Legislation Committee looked into the regulation of uranium mining and reported that there is a pattern of under–performance and non–compliance, that there are many gaps in knowledge and an absence of reliable data to measure the impact on the environment. Dr. Green also emphasized that one of the problems with nuclear energy is its association with nuclear weapons proliferation. He identified Israel, India, South Africa, North Korea and France as countries that have used “peaceful” nuclear facilities for nuclear weapons production. We have serious problems of nuclear weapons proliferation in North East Asia (North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan) and West India (India and Pakistan). The problem is not as grave in South East Asia, where countries do not have the capacity to produce large amounts of fissile material. We have here a South East Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. Dr. Green posed the question of whether we should jointly campaign for a South East Asian Nuclear Power Free Zone? He also spoke about radioactive racism in the sense of ignoring the aboriginal traditional owners, divide–and–rule tactics, bribery, humbugging traditional owners and dissemination of misleading information. A traditional owner put it this way: “None of the promises last, but the problems always do.”
Session 5: Fukushima Nuclear Disaster – The Aftermath and Beyond
Hideyuki Ban of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre gave an overview of the nuclear accident in Fukushima and Japan’s post–March 2011 nuclear energy policy. After briefly going through the Fukushima disaster and the damage on the nuclear reactors, Mr. Ban informed that presently, the discharge of radionuclides to the air and sea continues at the site and that there is no plan for treating radioactive waste. 3 workers working at the power plant have died thus far. The contamination will last more than 100 years. An evacuation zone of 20km is enforced. The local economy has collapsed. Land and food have been contaminated. It had been assessed that the probability of a severe accident is 1 in 1,000,000 reactor years. However, the Fukushima has occurred 25 years after Chernobyl. This means the probability is 1 in 10,000 reactor years. After the Fukushima disaster, the government confirmed the shut down of Fukushima’s 10 reactors. The PM halted additional construction plans of nuclear power plants and started a review of Japan’s Energy Basic Plan. The Japanese people demanded for a nuclear phase–out. On 19.9.2011, more than 1 million Japanese participated in a Good–Bye Nuclear march/protest.
Eri Watanabe of Friends of the Earth Japan then talked on “Socio–economic and environmental impacts: contamination, government policy and peoples’ movement”. She said that the people are demanding for the “right to evacuate.” A month after the Fukushima disaster, the government announced a maximum radiation dose of 20 mSv/year for schools. This is in contradiction with: (i) the legal maximum radiation does to the public of 1mSv/year stipulated under the Nuclear Reactor Regulation; (ii) 5.2 mSv/year in radiation controlled areas, where persons below 18 years cannot work and where ordinary people who are not specially trained are prohibited from entering; and (iii) precedents of occupational accidents provide that a nuclear power plant worker, who had been exposed to radiation of more than 5 mSv/year at work, dies due to cancer would qualify as an occupational accident. As such, the official evacuation zone would only cover areas with radiation exceeding 20 mSv/year. There were 2 types of evacuation zones: mandatory evacuation (those within a specific radius of the plant) and specific spots recommended for evacuation (those outside the radius, but which ad–hoc inspection reveal to be in excess of 20 mSv/year). Residents living within mandatory evacuation zones and the ad–hoc areas were entitled to receive evacuation assistance and compensation while those outside were not. The government’s stance naturally met with criticism by the people, experts and the international community. It is argued that a voluntary evacuation zone is needed, perhaps with 1mSv/year as the threshold, so that anyone evacuating voluntarily from the voluntary evacuating zone will be entitled to evacuation compensation. Ms Watanabe explained that the people had realized their right to evacuate, which in term is premised on the right to understand one’s own risk of radiation exposure and to evacuate based on his/her own decision. Hence, the people should have the right to know the risk; the right to claim a fair compensation; and the right to receive government support. Many residents in Fukushima could not evacuate because they could not get a consensus within their families, unable to find a place to move to, their jobs and worries about economic sustainability. The voluntary evacuees have commenced action to claim compensation against TEPCO. For residents living outside the official evacuation zones, the local councils have made it a taboo for residents to leave their homes. Residents are pressured into participating in dubious decontamination campaigns around their communities. Those who voluntarily evacuated were seen as letting their neighbours down and destroying the local economy. Safety propaganda unsubstantiated by evidence was disseminated. Briefing sessions by the Fukushima prefecture were one–sided affairs with the authorities saying that evacuation would damage the economy. The residents have asked whether TEPCO will pay compensation if they develop cancer. TEPCO has responded simply by saying that where the causation is not proved, they will not compensate. However, the residents are not well organized and do not have strong evidence or arguments to rebut the authorities’ statements and claims. Hence, no changes and the people continued to be exposed to radiation. NGOs and FoE have conducted independent investigations on radiation and conducted lectures and seminars to raise awareness among the people and to help them fight for the right to evacuate (with government compensation).
Session 6: A Global Nuclear Renaissance
Eri Watanabe of Friends of the Earth Japan then talked about Japan’s policy and present trend on nuclear technology export. In June 2010, under the New Economic Growth Strategy, the Japanese government began to make plans to promote infrastructural exports to developing Asian countries, including nuclear power plants. It is justified on the grounds that it will stabilize the world’s energy supply, reduce GHGs, contribute to Japan’s economy and help Japan maintain its technological advantage and pool of experts. Japan is negotiating Bilateral Nuclear Power Cooperation Agreements with various countries. These exports have been facilitated by Japanese public financial institutions in the form of loans and insurance, etc. to companies wishing to export nuclear power plants. These are given in the form of Overseas Development Aid, ODA. Prior to the Fukushima disaster, the export of nuclear power plants was taken for granted. There are no guidelines for nuclear non–proliferation, safety and emergency responses or nuclear waste management and Japanese public finance played an active role in such exports. In view of the nuclear renaissance (before Fukushima), JBIC was planning on creating such guildelines. Now, with the Fukushima disaster, we would like to make these banks adhere to guidelines like ensuring recipients conform with emergency response, risk management, etc. to cover all relevant issues. Right now, we do not know what is the government’s stand on this yet as the focus is still on solving local problems. On the Japanese government’s policy on nuclear exports after Fukushima, the cabinet decided in August 2011 that “if other countries desire to adopt Japanese nuclear power technology, [the government] should provide them with the highest standard in the world.” And in September 2011, the PM said, “Japan stands ready to respond to the interest of countries seeking to use nuclear power generation…” “Japan will send out to the world lessons learned through this accident… such as strengthening of co–operation among regulatory authorities, the reinforcement of the international assistance mechanism in the case of nuclear accidents.” At a recent UNFCCC meeting, the Japanese government did not agree to drop the export of nuclear power plants (to developing countries) as CDM projects (nuclear power is accepted as low carbon energy by the UN). It is also continuing with the ongoing export of nuclear power plants to Vietnam. The feasibility study in Vietnam is unlikely to be made public even though it is funded by taxpayers’ money. This makes it hard for locals to assess and ask questions. TEPCO has not denied its involvement in Vietnam. We call for our government to look into the lessons learned from Fukushima. We call for a halt to nuclear power plant exports.
Kim Hye–Jeong of KFEM (Korea Federation for Environmental Movements) talked about South Korea’s policy and trend on nuclear technology export. Kim likened the South Korean President to a spokesperson for nuclear power companies and labeled the latter as the Korean nuclear mafia. Korea is looking to export its nuclear power expertise to UAE, as its first export destination. That will improve their credibility as an exporter to other countries. South Korea and Malaysia have already signed an MOU in 27.9.2010 for cooperation in the nuclear industry. Kim says that South Korea has ambitions to dominate the nuclear industry. She expresses concern that 75% of nuclear power plants under construction are in East Asia. She emphasized that radiation does not recognize national borders. She calls for a nuclear energy free world and believes that the answer to our energy needs lie in RE.
Dr. Jim Green, National Nuclear Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Australia, then gave a presentation titled “Nuclear energy proliferation – a global myth”. He questioned whether we are really in a nuclear renaissance by pointing out that the world’s nuclear power generation capacity has leveled off in the past few years. In 2007, world nuclear electricity generation fell by 2%. In 2008, not a single new NPP was connected to the grid. 2009, 2 reactor start–ups but 4 permanent shut downs. However, there is a lot of ongoing construction of NPPs such that it is estimated that nuclear power growth between 2010 and 2030 will be 25%. After Fukushima, this estimate is revised to 10%. After 2030 and until 2050, the nuclear industry is headed into a storm with several hundred reactors entering old age by 2030. This means more Fukushimas! He then talked about the link between nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons proliferation. He cited Al Gore who said that every weapons proliferation problem Gore dealt with in the White House was connected to a civilian reactor program. At present the nuclear industry has produced enough plutonium to build over 160,000 nuclear weapons. Hence, even if 99% were prevented from being used in weapons, the remaining 1% will suffice to make 1,600 nuclear weapons, each as destructive as what destroyed Nagasaki. He advocates for non–nuclear energy, ie. RE and energy conservation.
Session 7: Lobby, Waste & No to Nuclear
Hilary Chiew of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) gave a talk on nuclear as the Malaysian “option”. She informed that the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has signed cooperation agreement with Malaysia. After Fukushima, our government has decided to lie low. They have engaged public relations firms to do their campaigning. On 5 August 2011, the Japanese government has said that it will go ahead with the cooperation agreements it has signed. SAM wrote to protest, together with FoE, Japan. As for the Korean “connection”, Hilary informed that South Korea has been very active in courting Malaysia. KEPCO (Korea Electric Power) did a summer camp in UTM. Our government has avoided consultation on the issue of adopting nuclear power. It has shown reluctance to engage with the critics and yet has already set up the Malaysia Nuclear Power Corporation, which is tasked with the planning of the eventual deployment of nuclear power plants in Malaysia. This demonstrates plenty of lip service. And our government has avoided talking about the management of nuclear waste. She also mentioned how the government had invited Dr. Ronald McCoy and Gurmit Singh to a nuclear conference and later portrayed the impression that Dr. McCoy and Gurmit were supporting nuclear power.
Dr. Jayabalan then talked about Asia Rare Earth: living with radioactive waste. He was a key expert witness in the Bukit Merah rare earth case. He informed that he had recorded 8 cases of leukemia in the 5 years that he observed the Bukit Merah community. 7 have died. Mitsubishi which was the major shareholder of ARE said that they have cleaned up the site but the radon gas – which is very dangerous – is still there, at 6 to 7 times above the limit in the air. Radon gas causes lung cancer, etc. He reminded that the Bukit Merah tragedy is not over. There are still tonnes of waste in second–hand drums that are leaching radioactive waste into our environment.
Soo Jin Hao from Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) talked about the anti–Lynas campaign. He gave an update about the Himpunan Hijau rally that SMSL co–organised this morning in Kuantan. He talked about how the police revoked their permit to assemble at the last minute last night and tore down their stage; and how road blocks were set up to stop people from attending; and how the local council deliberately and childishly held an activity, blaring loud music towards the Himpunan Hijau site at the same time. Soo then talked about the irony of how rare earth elements are used frequently in green products – hybrid vehicles, wind turbines, etc. This makes it difficult for the anti–Lynas movement to garner full support from the green communities. Soo mentioned how alpha particles, if ingested, can be bad for health and cause cancer. He also explained the history of Lynas rare earth: Ashton Rare Earth had earlier obtained a licence to refine rare earth at Mt. Weld itself. Lynas Corp then bought Ashton, together with the licence. Previously, Ashton had planned to bury the radioactive waste in impermeable underground ponds, covered with concrete, in Mt. Weld itself. At Mt. Weld, the land area is very large and the population density is very low.
Mike Hamzah Allan, a chemistry lecturer from UiTM talked about why nuclear energy should not be an option. IAEA’s definition of radioactive waste is “any material that contains a concentration of radionuclides greater than those deemed safe by national authorities, and for which no use is foreseen.” Mike points out that this definition is seriously flawed because what is radioactive waste is dependent on what each particular country deem as unsafe AND for which there is no use. The nuclear industry worldwide produces a large amount of nuclear waste. The UK alone has accumulated 1/2 million cubic meters of highly radioactive waste from its nuclear reactors. That is enough to fill 5 Albert Halls. The US produces even more. CBS News reported that a quarter of US nuclear power plants are leaking. Various countries have had disastrous experience in the disposal of nuclear waste – dumping in seas, burying in mines, contaminating water tables – all of which is very expensive. In the face of the accumulation of nuclear waste, cancer and other health cases increase. Yes, IAEA’s representative has said that the amount of radioactive waste in the world can fit within a few soccer pitches. Mike shows the math to require about 460 soccer pitches. To rebut claims by some that nuclear power plants are a low carbon alternative, Mike argues that water vapor released from nuclear plants can be a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. He believes that nuclear is irrelevant to climate change mitigation. We must also take into account decommissioning costs. It is estimated by the UK government that it will cost at least 70 billion Pounds to decommission the 19 nuclear plants in UK. Add that to the thousands of years’ of waste management. Also consider the cost of nuclear plant accidents.
Day 3: NGO & CSO Strategy Meeting on Nuclear Issues
Mr. Seiichi Nakate from the Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation spoke through an interpreter about the experiences of the Japanese people in Fukushima:
2 nights ago, residents in my city finally raised their voices. I’d like to record the reason why it took almost 7 months for the residents to raise their voices. This has been a fight against a nuclear disaster, but also a fight against efforts to make it seem like a small problem. Immediately after the accident, the Japanese government announced that there shouldn’t be any health effect. They sent a so–called specialist on safety to Fukushima to start a campaign on how safe it is. The normal people who never had any other source of information, they just accepted that information. Most of the experts and activists, they have moved away. They were no longer in Fukushima after the disaster. Only very few, those who couldn’t run away, stayed on to educate the people. I’m one of them. At the end of March 2011, 3 of us studied the activity. Only 3 of us, using 1 machine to sense. We surveyed the schoolyard. School A (in presentation slide) is the school where my son was learning. [Reads the readings on the ground, the gutters, etc.] Comparing to before the accident, it increased a hundred times, even a thousand times. Other schools as well, we detected abnormally high readings. We made a report and presented it to the Fukushima government. We requested the postponing of the starting of school. Japanese school term starts at the beginning of April each year. At the end of March, it was the school holidays. There were many citizens who were not informed of the danger, but just to make sure, some of them were away for the holiday. Once the school starts on time, those citizens who just in case moved away, they will surely come back. We were thinking how to protect the children desperately, hoping to postpone it. But the government specialists decided there was no danger, no harm. April 6, school started, the starting of the risk (to children) that could’ve been avoided. What I newly realized after the accident was the reality of those people (the government, local government, nuclear industry and the specialists) who tried to make the case look smaller, at the cost of exposing people to radiation. The start of our fight was against those people who wanted to make the accident look smaller and exposing children to radiation.
[Shows another slide] This is a research on primary and secondary schools in Fukushima, requested by us, done by the Fukushima Prefecture. They did a survey research but they never took any action, no summary, no reporting. Most laymen, citizens, never understood what the figures indicated. That’s why we summarized it, evaluated it, and made this graph. The red & yellow zones are above the controlled areas. The both red and yellow are areas beyond 0.6 micro Sievert per hour (?). Those so–called controlled areas are the place for disposal of nuclear waste. It reveals that 76% of children in Fukushima were exposed to radiation equivalent to what’s in the controlled areas. It is almost as many as 300,000 children. We had a press conference to the media about those reports. But was totally ignored. So we set up a website to inform the citizens about these results. Only through this internet [?], only then citizens all over Japan have come to know about what’s happening in Fukushima. The research was done in the beginning of April. Since then, the people who studied the activity through the internet, started the activity to protect [?]. Only after 2 weeks, 250 people joined the activity which was started by 3 of us. There are also some support groups and citizen’s networks launched. Only through those non–governmental, people’s activities, they were able to report those facts. The Japanese government then made an announcement. They announced that it was acceptable for children to receive 20 mSv/year, which is the same level as adults. It was an unacceptably high standard, not only for Japan, but overseas. Voices were raised against it.
So our first action was to request the government to change this standard level. We negotiated with the government on 2 May. What they started to do was just make excuses. They said we didn’t allow 20mSv/year for children, it’s not our intention, because they have been accused internationally as well (?). Our 2nd negotiation with the government was on 23 May. For this meeting, 70 parents from Fukushima joined. And 650 supporters from all over Japan gathered as well. 4 senators and some TV celebrities also joined. This was the first time most of the major Japanese news reported about this. Only then did normal people all over Japan started to understand this problem. Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) announced the [?] standard on 27 May. It was the fruit/result of our activity. As the news media, tv special programs, and magazines started to report widely, the government became unable to hide the facts. Only in July, MEXT opened this map (shows next slide) of the pollution. Since then, more and more researchers started to come to Fukushima to test and research. Also, international environment groups started to come. As those activities reported in the mass media, only then the citizens started to understand.
At the start of summer school holiday in August, the voluntary moving out expanded widely. At this moment, more than 60,000 people voluntarily moved away from Fukushima. Only then, the Japanese government started to announce they will start decontamination program to stop the population loss from the prefecture. There was a time when those who moved away were accused by the citizens. It was a kind of emotional viewpoint that some of them are working hard to work for the decontamination program but some of you are running away from it. Especially in those severely polluted areas, the opinion gap was wide.
There was also some action by the government to evacuate some of the people. The smallest circle (points to slide) is within 20 km radius. Those places the government advised for evacuation. Those areas were forced to evacuated because too dangerous to live in. Most of the citizens from this centre, yellow area, are now living in the blue areas. Even those blue areas have pollution as much as in Chernobyl. This is the area I live in now. Among those areas that is not forced for evacuation, is one of the highest area for pollution. In case any hot spot was discovered, they will include it for evacuation. But this hot spot is referring to houses, one by one. It can be like one house recommended for evacuation, next door is not, and then next neighbour is. I feel, I smell something very intentionally about this policy. Because they have changed the children’s level of (acceptable) pollution. For the houses with children, they recommended evacuation for low level. But in Fukushima city, the regulation to protect to children and pregnant ladies were not passed. For Watari district, which I live in, it has the highest of this radiation level area. 2 months ago, government in Fukushima city opened a meeting for the citizens in Watari area where I live. 450 citizens gathered in the gymnasium of the schoolyard of Watari. 3 government officers and 8 city officers came to explain. The government announced again, for Fukushima case, the children and adults, is 20 mSv/year. They said, as a city, Fukushima does not make it a policy to evacuate these people. Citizens started to question them one by one. They requested, for the people who want to move away, to be supported and helped by the government. Also, many people requested for the total systematic detoxification of the area. So this was the time when the citizens with different opinions on detoxification, they united together to talk for the city. I thought the 2 separate, conflicting opinions started to be matured enough to cooperate. None of the Japanese government nor the city officials could answer the citizens’ requests/questions. They just kept making excuses and tried to run away from responsibilities. The meeting was postponed because citizens voiced out in resistance and the questions never ended. The meeting that was started at 7:00 pm, lasted until midnight. When the organizer announced the end of the meeting, the residents requested for another meeting. So the Fukushima city promised another form of information meeting again. Since the next proposed meeting with NGOs and support group was focused on protecting children (?). I wish that role would be passed over to the citizens, citizens taking initiative to protect their own children. The initiative by Watari citizens hoping that we can solve the 20 mSv/year level (?). As a movement, we made some results. But the root of the problems, nonetheless, is not solved at all. Until today 90% of the children are still living in polluted areas. There are so many people, their own condition of their homes and families, they are not able to move away. 7 months since the accident, I suppose the health effects, we can no longer ignore them. From now on, I think the movement need to request the government to make it the national policy to help people move and save more children.
In Chernobyl, many children were the victims as well. This is a map of the pollution in Chernobyl. It was only published 3 years after the accident. The residents were left to live in the polluted area for 3 years. And 2 years later (ie, 5 years after accident) the government started to move residents. The delay of this policy contributed to the worsening to the people’s pollution. Children in Chernobyl are now suffering from the health effects very badly. 2 years after the accident, started to show a lot of disease and sickness. There is a research that shows that only 20% of the children are healthy. On average, 1 child has at least 2 sicknesses. If there are 5 children, only 1 is a healthy child. The 2nd child has 1 sickness symptom. 3rd child, having 2 symptoms. 4th, 3 symptoms, 5th with 4 symptoms. It is the meaning, in average 2 symptoms per child. And this will continue on. I suppose many children have already passed away. In order not to repeat this tragedy, I strongly like to start Fukushima’s policy as soon as possible. So the fast step is to change the radiation level for children to be not as high as adult, 20 mS/year. We, as parents in Fukushima will do our best, hope for support from people of the world (?). Please protect our children together. Thank you.
The session with Mr. Seiichi Nakate continued into Q&A. Here are some of his answers:
On the 20 mSv/year standard. Some cities have a lower level. Actually it is the government that announced that children should evacuate at lower level. To be exact, the government kind of brought up again the level to 20 mSv when dealing with Watari city, meeting with the citizens.
Japanese government evacuated people in the red area. But outside, the radiation is also very high, can be 20 mSv.
On initial silence and ignoring Mr. Nakate’s group. All the Japanese media did not really report. Only the foreign news reported. I had once questioned a local newspaper reporter of Fukushima, why he didn’t write. He told me that I have written. It was rejected by the newspaper policy because it will agitate people. So now everything is able to report, but recently I had opportunity to talk to local tv reporters. They first apologized for every thing, “we are so sorry we were not able to report immediately after the accident.” Not allowed to discuss this matter in the company. Only now inside the company, they are able to discuss, whether the report is from government side or other side. Now the discussion is able to open up. I suspect those first several months of non–reporting period, not just self–regulation by newspaper companies. I suspect some force was pressed on the media companies.
Chew Swee Yoke asked about the Japanese government’s actions so far: The governmental monitoring has started a 30 years–survey program. But those who are conducting this survey are the people who are trying to suppress the effects of the low level radiation. I suspect, if we continue with this inspection, it will ignore the heavy effect on the Fukushima people. This is what happened in Chernobyl. No major action by government on health effects on children. There is a saying, after the bombing in Hiroshima, an inspection group from US military (ABCC?), although they inspect, they don’t care about the health effects. The decontamination steps involve just washing the houses, scooping up the silt.
Apparently, the government’s previous limit for radiation exposure was 1 mSv/year. Now, they have temporarily set it at 20 mSv/year.
On the July 2011 map shown by government. Map is changing and moving. Firstly, because it is a natural breaking down process. Secondly, because of rain and weather will move contaminated area to a different place. This map is actually a compound of different research, some done in May, some at a different time, compiled into one map.
For the next part of Session 1, green activists from different countries talked about Campaigns against Nuclear:
Hilary Chiew of SAM informed that SAM has been writing to the authorities to oppose the use of nuclear. In 2010, when Peter Chin made announcement, SAM immediately sent a letter in response. When the prime minister announced that nuclear power plants will be one of the 131 entry points, SAM asked where is the public consultation as promised. In conjunction with FoE Japan’s 1 million person rally, SAM has sent a letter to the Japanese government. They have not responded. She hopes that we can form a loose coalition against nuclear in Malaysia after today.
Hideyuki Ban shared about Japanese citizens’ campaigns against nuclear power. He explained that there are 9 electirc companies, with 1 wholesale company, JAPCo. The Japanese government leads the nuclear policy positively and the citizens cannot join in the policy making system. The briefly described the process in which nuclear power plants are approved. There are several ways residents have used to reject NPPs: by refusing to sell their land to be used for constructing NPPs, local referendum, local referendum law and mayor’s or local assembly’s decisions. The people organized a “Good–Bye Nuclear” 1 million people rally on 19 September 2011. It was led by a Nobel prize winner. There are probably more than 300 anti–nuclear groups. There is no national network. He describes what they have as akin to “a spider’s nest, but no spider.” After Chernobyl, that was the first wave for people’s demands for parliament to form a nuclear phase–out law. Now, after Fukushima, is the second wave. This time younger people are joining in.
Dr. Jim Green, FoE Australia also shared about the Australian campaigns conducted. Much of their work is in support of aboriginal people whose lands are used for mines, waste management, etc. and water used for mining or refineries. We are concerned about nuclear proliferation. We are concerned about Australia helping Japan stockpile nuclear materials. There is obviously a need for a Malaysian network for anti–nuclear. He wonders if we could have an Asian Anti–nuclear network, but he suggests a loose network for the time being and not set our expectations too high.
A group of representatives from Thailand (names not found in materials) talked about the situation in Thailand. Thailand has been trying to have NPPs for the last 40 years. After Fukushima, they said that they will suspend, but not stop development for nuclear. In 2009, the Energy Generation Authority (EGAT) signed a confidential agreement with nuclear companies in 5 countries (they do not know which countries). Some EGAT staff joined nuclear training in Japan and also in China. Key energy in Thailand come from natural gas. The Thai government wants to move to nuclear. In their Power Development Plan 2010–2030, NPPs are included. The speakers do not think it is necessary to have NPPs if they plan their energy policy well. The energy reserve margin should be only 15%. The government has overestimated the demand. Therefore there is over supply in the plans. The speaker compared the energy reserves for Malaysia and observes that Malaysia has more than enough. Also emphasized that the cost of NPPs is very expensive and this will be borne by the citizens. This is the same in Malaysia. If Malaysians already have 64% reserve for electricity, Malaysians should ask the government ot stop constructing large power plants. Right now, because Malaysia has enough energy reserve, it can think/plan for other sources of energy. Bangkok uses a lot of energy compared with other parts of Thailand, yet the power plants are situated outside of Bangkok. The middle class, industries and businesses, they are pro–nuclear. Although ASEAN countries do not have NPPs, in the very near future, we will face a big risk of having them. It is time to think about cooperation and forming a strong network among us.
Session 2: Open discussion on the Setting up of a Malaysian an Asia Pacific Network on Anti–Nuclear. The intention is to start a loose coalition, to share information, contacts, etc. The attending parties who agreed to be part of this coalition were:–
1) Green Party
2) Green Surf (Sarawak)
4) World Wildlife Fund
5) Sahabat Alam Malaysia
7) Third World Network
8) Consumers’ Association of Penang
Action plan for this coalition:
1) SAM is publishing a booklet on nuclear (by end 2011)
2) Public Service Announcements – short videos (Nisha to lead)
3) SEA Clean Energy People’s Assembly (Oct 2011)
4) Himpunan Hijau 2012 will be in Sabah
5) Public Referendum on Nuclear in Malaysia
6) Ask for more information from government
We then formulated a Memorandum declaring that we, the participants of this forum, call on the Government to be transparent and that we are against nuclear power.