PR:Atomic catastrophe would poison the whole Baltic Sea region

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Media Release
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
For immediate release

Fukushima 3/11:

Atomic catastrophe would poison the whole Baltic Sea region

BALTIC SEA - The third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, which started on March 11 2011, is a reminder of the threats nuclear power poses to people and the environment in the Baltic Sea region. A similar accident in one of the six operating nuclear power plants (five more are proposed) would cause radioactive pollution of the whole area around the Baltic Sea. The 3/11 catastrophe in Fukushima illustrated the omnipresent risk of an atomic facility, even in a high-technology western country. The Baltic Sea as a connecting water body would distribute the radiation to all nine direct neighbour countries, accumulating the radiation in this area. Simulations of possible catastrophes in one of the existing reactors stress the high probability that the radioactive plume would pollute all countries in the wider Baltic Sea region.

"A serious accident can occure in any nuclear reactor - that was what the Fukushima disaster taught. Even if the emergency systems operate as predicted, as was the case in Fukushima in the beginning of the catastrophe, circumstances can lead to a meltdown or other scenarios with the release of deadly radioactive plumes," says German activist Hanna Poddig. "Should it happen in the Baltic Sea area, water contamination would be higher than in Japan due to the minimal exchange with the Atlantic Ocean. Radiation would be concentrated in the Baltic Sea. Instead of promoting new reactors and lifetime extensions, the ones in operation have to be closed immediately!"

In Fukushima a series of explosions lead to the meltdown of three reactor cores and high radiation releases to air, groundwater and Pacific Ocean forming a major atomic disaster in a nuclear power plant ever. On March 11 2.47 PM local Japanese time with the "Great East Japan Earthquake" the so far biggest atomic catastrophe in history started. All reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP had been turned off in reaction to the natural disaster. A few hours later, when high tsunami waves hit and flashed over the protection walls of the NPP damaging a part of the emergency systems, the reactors had been offline already. Although up to this point the safety systems had worked almost correctly, during the next days a dramatic series of explosions took place. Enormous amounts of radioactivity had been released, almost all radiation measuring stations in the northern hemisphere raised alarm during the following weeks. Up to now neither authorities nor operator have concrete knowledge of all details of the circumstances of the accident. Also the whereabouts of the melted reactor cores remain open.

The Austrian "FlexRisk" tool for estimation of the impact of serious accidents in European atomic reactors demonstrates the threats posed by reactors in Finland, Sweden and Russia to all neighbouring countries of the Baltic Sea. It simulates a large number of different weather conditions and several scenarios of radioactive isotope releases after a major accident. FlexRisk maps illustrate radiation doses and risks imposed on European countries after a catastrophe in one of the reactors. A simple webform allows different simulations:

An additional threat is caused by the ageing of the reactors in operation. A report published by Greenpeace last week, "Lifetime extension of ageing nuclear power plants: Entering a new era of risk", shows how the ageing of nuclear power plants leads to a growing risk of failures and accidents. Three reactors in the Baltic Sea watershed had exceeded their original technical design life-time. Two more reactors were less than three years from their original technical design life-time. One Baltic Sea reactor (Oskarshamn 1) is older than 40 years, five others are in the age between 35 and 40 years. Several reactors around the Baltic Sea have been granted a licence extension of 50 or 60 years of operation while an aggressive uprating of capacity (e.g. Olkiluoto by 33%) also increases the risk of accidents. More details are reported in the Greenpeace study:

"An accident in an atomic facility can happen at any time. The nuclear technology is not safe as indicated by hundreds of incidents and accidents reported by the operators every year. In spite of special trainings the personnel of these dangerous plants is nevertheless making mistakes that sometimes lead to serious situations. Besides the highly hazardous technology and the menace posed by malpractice of nuclear employers, unforeseeable situations happen as shown in the Fukushima catastrophe. The reactors in the Baltic Sea region are based on outdated designs from decades ago, the ageing poses additional threats to people and environment."

"ATOMIC BALTIC" is a network/project of anti-nuclear groups and activists in the Baltic Sea watershed, also including networks from Austria and the Netherlands. Its main goal is to strengthen local anti-nuclear struggles around the Baltic Sea by connecting activists, starting up new initiatives and supporting campaigns against the nuclear business. The ATOMIC BALTIC network/project provides a platform for exchange including internet tools, continuous Skype conferences and bimonthly working meetings. Information on ATOMIC BALTIC as well as updates are available online:

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This media release has been provided by the "Nuclear Heritage Network". It is an international network of anti-nuclear activists. This informal alliance supports the worldwide anti-nuclear work. The Nuclear Heritage Network is no label, has no standard opinion and no representatives. All activists of the network speak for themselves or for the groups they represent.

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