A report posted on the U.N. Human Rights Council’s website by special rapporteur Anand Grover says that the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) should do more for those affected by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdown. Grover spent time in the area in behalf of the UNHRC to investigate the aftermath of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
The report, to be discussed by the UNHRC at its general meeting in Geneva starting Monday, points to several problems in handling the crisis as observed by Grover. One of the major things he points out is that the government’s decision to take-over TEPCO’s management over the plant has allowed the operator to evade full accountability for the disaster, as well as passed on some of the financial burden on to the taxpayers. It also cites the difficult process for seeking compensation from the company and the government, which originally had a 60-page application form with 2,215 sections. But even as the process has now been streamlined, the report said there are still concerns over “TEPCO’s attempts to reduce compensation levels and delay settlement.” Compensation should include relief for the 150,000 Fukushima residents that are still displaced because of radiation concerns. As of the moment, TEPCO has already paid 22.5 billion dollars, with half to companies and business owners and from 1.6 million individual claims. The government had to add 1.5 billion dollars in the compensation fund because the claims are expected to exceed the estimated 29 billion dollars.
Another issue the report points out is the lack of openness about the health risks for radiation. It says the government should involve affected communities in discussions about decisions that need to be made, provide correct information to the public that can help them make decisions as well, and to provide more assistance to protect vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, the disabled and the elderly. Of concern also is the protection of the nuclear plant workers, most of whom are “poor and some even homeless.” They are legally required to have compulsory check-ups, but a lot of workers who are hired through subcontractors lack proper health monitoring. And these workers are crucial to the current clean-up of radiation-contaminated soil and other debris, as well as the contaminated water still inside the plants.
Japan’s nuclear plant industry is still in crisis, as only 2 of its 50 reactors are online, increasing the government’s spending on importing energy. Not all of the 50 reactors are assured of getting back to operations as the Nuclear Regulation Authority will be releasing new requirements and safety guidelines by July.
[ via Fox News ]