Burke County event remembers Japan nuclear disaster

Sunday, March 11, 2012 9:12 PM
Last updated Thursday, March 15, 2012 1:19 PM
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Even though Japanese author and antinuclear activist Shoji Kihara had been asked to speak for at least 10,000 people in Hiroshima in honor of the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, he decided to pre-record the speech and head to Waynesboro, Ga., because he felt it was more important to participate in the “Day of Remembrance & Warning” outside Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church near Plant Vogtle.

Japanese author and anti-nuclear activist Shoji Kihara at the "Day of remembrance and warning," near Plant Vogtle.   Summer Moore/Staff
Summer Moore/Staff
Japanese author and anti-nuclear activist Shoji Kihara at the "Day of remembrance and warning," near Plant Vogtle.

Speaking through a translator, Kihara said people in Japan are watching Vogtle very closely. He thinks its fate will have direct ties to the future of nuclear plants worldwide.

“It is unbelievable to me that Plant Vogtle was approved so close after Fukushima,” he said. “Stopping Vogtle will eliminate the revival of nuclear energy in Japan.”

A divided Nuclear Regulatory Commission last month approved the first-ever combined operating license that authorizes both construction and operation of two reactors at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle.

The event, attended by more than 70 people, was organized by Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, or WAND, and a few other groups and was held from 2 to 6 p.m. a few miles from Plant Vogtle. WAND member Courtney Hanson said the purpose of the event was not specifically to protest the plant, but mostly to remember the victims on the anniversary of Fukushima and stand with the Georgia community that is most affected by nuclear power.

“New nuclear power and jobs are important,” she said.

People from across Georgia were in attendance, some coming by bus from Atlanta and north Georgia. Some were there to protest the plant, others to learn more about it.

For Annie Laura Stephens, a member of Fairfield Missionary Baptist and WAND, and whose family has owned property in the area since the early 1900s, the day was about remembrance and to learn more about the plant that appeared in the 1980s. After attending a meeting a while back where she learned about the high cancer rates in the area, and realizing most of her family has died from cancer, she wanted to make sure she was educated.

“I realized I am in the middle of something much bigger than I am,” she said.

Kihara, whose parents and older sister were Hiroshima bomb victims, said even a year later, there are still many people living in shelters outside Fukushima. Thousands of families have been displaced, and there is no telling if and when they will be allowed to return. Authorities are just starting the work to try to clean out the radiation, but there are so many hot spots, the process is very slow.

“I’m very worried the (Plant Vogtle) projects will give people in Japan fuel to revive nuclear energy,” he said.

Although he admits he does not have the power or connections to stop Vogtle himself, Kihara said he will take what he learns about the project back to Japan, where he will continue his mission.

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ConcernedTaxpayer 03/12/12 - 05:32 am
I am tired of all these

I am tired of all these protests against nuclear energy. There are risks in anything you do. Perhaps these people want to return to the stone age and not have electric power at all.

tckr1983 03/12/12 - 10:31 am
If there is a 40 foot wall of

If there is a 40 foot wall of water hitting Waynesboro, we have bigger problems on our hands... passive cooling system, no 9.0 earthquakes here, reactors are exact to the ones China is already building ahead of our schedule... 3 and 4 construction dug down 90 feet to bedrock, then filled 50 feet of engineering grade material and compacted down to meet earthquake standards in the area... but you won't hear that! They've taken all emergencies possible into consideration even before Fukushima happened and have adjusted even more since then. You simply cannot compare the safety of the Mark I reactor (fukushima) to the new AP 1000's, it's apples to oranges.

A 4-1 vote is a "divided panel"? The only dissenting vote was the head of the NRC (political appointee) that is ironically, AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY... which is the very operation he runs. Think about that one for a few minutes...

Me thinks people doth protest too much.

Dixieman 03/12/12 - 12:13 pm
Go home, hippies. We need

Go home, hippies. We need the jobs and the electricity and nuclear power is very safe.

Pu239 03/12/12 - 07:23 pm
That's a mighty big dumb bell

That's a mighty big dumb bell on that trailer in the photo..

bots 03/14/12 - 11:14 pm
The quote from Courtney

The quote from Courtney Hanson is not what she said. How can the reporter have gotten it so wrong? I know that she might have said jobs are important, but she surely did NOT say that nuclear power is "important." The jobs promised to local folks have not materialized. Just look at the license plates of the workers hired thus far. They are not from Georgia. Jobs are important in Georgia, but the nuclear power jobs, at least the ones that are going to the people building the new Vogtle plants, are NOT going to Georgians.

bots 03/14/12 - 11:18 pm
Another inaccuracy in the

Another inaccuracy in the story: Shoji Kihara did not say that “Stopping Vogtle will illuminate the revival of nuclear energy in Japan.” He said "Stopping Vogtle will ELIMINATE the revival of nuclear energy in Japan." That is a very different meaning from the one in the article.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 03/15/12 - 07:51 am
Yeah, I saw that sentence and

Yeah, I saw that sentence and thought the speaker probably meant 'eliminate' also. But let's cut a little slack here. He was speaking through a translator, and you know how much trouble the Japanese have pronouncing those tricky l's.

Sean Moores
Sean Moores 03/15/12 - 01:35 pm
bots and Little Lamb, I

bots and Little Lamb, I emailed Summer; she said the Courtney Hanson quote is accurate. The Shoji Kihara quote should have been eliminate instead of illuminate. She caught it, and it was fixed for the print edition, but we must have not pushed the new version to the web site. It is fixed now. We apologize. Thanks for letting us know.

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