|Russian delegate Andrey Ozharovskiy and Italian delegate Monica Zoppè at "Meet the Guests" session of Nuclear Free World Conference 2|
Ozharovskiy explained how Lithuania became nuclear-free upon its entrance into the European Union in 2004. The complete shutdown of Lithuania's two “enhanced” Chernobyl-type graphite reactors (RBMK-1500) at the Ignalina nuclear power plant was a prerequisite for EU entrance as the reactors did not meet safety standards. While the reactors were closed down in 2004 and 2009, waste disposal and radiation leakage during decommissioning work remain to be an issue.
Despite the shutdown, pro-nuclear lobbyists pushed for the construction of a new reactor at the site and the government decided to build in 2007. No investors came forward until after the start of the disaster at Fukushima in March 2011. Hitachi, partnering with Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy offered to cover 20% of the costs to build their advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR)- the same model at the Fukushima plant.
In face of endorsement of the plans for construction by the Lithuanian government and Prime Minister Kubilius, people rose in protest. When the International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano came to show his support for the construction of the Visaginas plant, he was met with protestors.
Ozharovskiy detailed how the movement against the plant continued to grow and NPOs united behind the cause, linking the issue with outrage against the planned construction of two reactors by Russia near the Lithuanian border. Reaching out to Japanese NGOs for help in preventing the Hitachi build, two Japanese citizens rallied in front of Mitsui Sumitomo Bank in Tokyo February 2012, the day Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius arrived for negotiations between Hitachi and the Japanese government.
|Japanese protesters in solidarity with Lithuanians against construction of Hitachi ABWR|
Japanese support for the Lithuanian anti-nuclear power movement gained media attention, and months of protest, letters to the government, and international solidarity actions to pressure the government to abandon the construction plans, the government agreed to hold a referendum to decide on the issue. On October 14, 2012, 62.68% of the people who participated in the referendum decided against the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania.
Despite this, Hitatchi still intends to export an ABWR nuclear reactor to Lithuania. The Lithuanian people do not wish to increase the potential of a repeat of the Fukushima disaster in their country.
Therefore, on Tuesday, December 18th at 10:30am, Japanese and Lithuanian NGOs will join together for a joint banner action in front of Hitachi headquarters.
According to Green Action:
Lithuanian and Japanese NGOs have previously warned Hitachi and the Japanese government from signing any agreement with Lithuania before the referendum, expressing their arguments in a letter of concern signed December 23rd 2011. There was no reaction from Hitachi.Banner Action to Stop Hitachi's Nuclear Export
A joint letter will be delivered to Hitachi stating, "We address the multinational Hitachi, Ltd. and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd. corporations with a call to respect corporate responsibility standards, the Lithuanian Constitution, democratic values and the will of people, and demand that Hitachi announce withdrawal from the Visaginas nuclear power plant project."
WHERE: Hitachi Headquarters
Location: Nippon Seimei Marunouchi Building (Marunouchi-oazo) 6-6 Marunouchi 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
WHEN: Tuesday December 18th at 10:30am~11:00am
WHO: Japanese and Lithuanian NGOs including Green Action (Japan) and Lithuanian national referendum campaigner currently in Japan for an international nuclear power conference.
- Posted by Jen Teeter