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Protesters link arms around the world to decry nuclear power
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) March 11, 2012

Swiss in nuclear demo to mark Fukushima anniversary
Geneva (AFP) March 11, 2012 - Around 5,000 Swiss anti-nuclear demonstrators marked the anniversary Sunday of the Fukushima disaster by calling for the immediate closure of two of the country's power stations.

The protesters gathered at the Muehleberg nuclear power station in western Switzerland, calling for its immediate closure along with that of Beznau and a government commitment to end its reliance on nuclear power.

It comes as the Swiss federal court ordered Muehleberg to be decommissioned by June next year because of technical deficiencies.

Environmental groups are demanding a similar decision for the Beznau I reactor, which opened in 1969 and is the world's oldest nuclear power station after the closure of Britain's Oldsbury reactor at the end of last month.

The energy company that operates Beznau, Axpo, says the reactor should have a 50-year lifespan and has scheduled decommissioning for 2019.

"Axpo invested in such a way that Beznau can be exploited for a long time to come," Axpo spokeswoman Daniela Biedermann told AFP.

Switzerland's five reactors will still have to shut down in the medium term, however.

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the Swiss Parliament approved a nuclear phase-out for the country's five nuclear reactors, due to be decommissioned by 2034.

A devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, triggering a serious nuclear accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant and leaving more than 19,000 dead or missing.

Tens of thousands of anti-nuclear protesters across the globe called for an end to nuclear power as they marked the first anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami at Japan's Fukushima power plant.

In Japan, tens of thousands rallied near the crippled plant, demanding an end to nuclear power as the nation held memorial ceremonies for a disaaster that claimed almost 20,000 lives.

The tsunami swamped cooling systems at Fukushima and sent three reactors into meltdown, spewing radiation into the environment.

Around 16,000 people gathered at a baseball stadium in Koriyama, some 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the plant.

Participants called for an end to nuclear energy in Japan and compensation for victims from operator Tokyo Electric Power.

"Our town has turned out to be another Chernobyl," Masami Yoshizawa, who ran a cattle farm in Namie, 10 kilometres (six miles) from the plant, shouted through a loudspeaker. "We are in despair now, but I will get back my hometown even if it takes me the rest of my life."

Demonstrators in France's Rhone valley formed a human chain that organisers said stretched for 230 kilometres (140 miles) and consisted of about 60,000 people. The region has Europe's highest concentration of nuclear reactors, demonstrators said.

France's 58 nuclear reactors generate about 75 percent of the country's electricity, making it the world's most nuclear-dependent nation.

Activists across Germany carried out similar protests, with organisers claiming as many as 50,000 people turned out across the country.

Following the Fukushima disaster, Berlin said it would immediately switch off Germany's eight oldest reactors and close nine others by 2022.

Demonstrators, who formed a chain around the nuclear power station in Brokdorf in northern Germany, want the government to quicken that timeline.

Hundreds of anti-nuclear demonstrators converged on the Australian headquarters of global mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, calling for an end to uranium mining in Australia.

Organiser Kazuyo Preston said Rio and BHP had both supplied uranium to Fukushima from their Australian mines.

Australia does not use nuclear power but is the world's third-ranking uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada, exporting 9,600 tonnes of oxide concentrate worth more than Aus$1.1 billion (US$1.2 billion) a year.

In the Taiwanese capital Taipei, a crowd of thousands observed a one-minute silence and called on the government to shut down the island's three nuclear plants that generate about 20 percent of its power.

Spanish demonstrators demanded the closure of a nuclear plant in Garona. The reactor in northern Spain is similar in design to Fukushima and has been running since 1971, making it the oldest of Spain's eight reactors.

Around 5,000 anti-nuclear demonstrators in Switzerland called for the immediate closure of two of the country's power stations.

Thousands rally against nuclear power in Taiwan
Taipei (AFP) March 11, 2012 - Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Taiwan Sunday calling on the government to shut down the island's nuclear power plants, citing the painful lesson of Japan's 9.0-magnitude earthquake one year ago.

In the capital city of Taipei, the crowd observed a one-minute silence to pay tribute to the 19,000 people killed in the Japanese disaster, before marching through the downtown area.

"The tragedy that happened in Japan last year surely told us that nuclear power is likely to generate high risks that we cannot afford," Aiya Hsu, a spokeswoman for the organisers, told AFP.

"The government must have second thoughts about the ongoing nuclear power policy," she said on behalf of activists from around 100 civic groups and their sympathisers.

The demonstrators called on the government to shut down the three nuclear power plants "as soon as possible" and immediately halt the construction of a fourth one, which is not yet completed.

Police declined to estimate the size of the demonstration but organisers put the turnout at 5,000.

Hundreds of people also marched in the central city of Taichung.

Taiwan's government says that in light of the Japanese catastrophe -- in which a tsunami trigered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant -- it has upgraded the earthquake-resistant designs of the three existing plants, which supply about 20 percent of the island's power.

Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes as the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates.

In September 1999, a 7.6-magnitude quake killed around 2,400 people in what was the deadliest natural disaster in the island's recent history.

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Nuclear protesters in Australia target miners
Sydney (AFP) March 11, 2012 - Hundreds of anti-nuclear demonstrators converged on the Australian headquarters of global mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto Sunday to mark one year since Japan's reactor crisis.

Organised by a group of anti-nuclear Japanese expats called Japanese for Peace, the 500-strong march through southern Melbourne stopped at the offices of Rio and BHP to call for an end to uranium mining in Australia.

Organiser Kazuyo Preston said the demonstration aimed to draw attention to the dangers of nuclear technology on the one-year anniversary of the quake and tsunami in Japan, which triggered a crisis at the Fukushima nuclear reactor.

Preston said it was especially important to remember the disaster in Australia, which has the world's largest uranium reserves and is a leading supplier of the energy resource to Japan and other nuclear nations.

"It's very important to us to commemorate this day, so that Australian people will remember what's been happening in Fukushima and Australia's involvement as a major supplier of uranium to Japan, including the damaged reactors in Fukushima," Preston said.

"We had a good crowd today and I hope this global anti-nuclear movement will strengthen and lead to phasing out of nuclear power."

Preston said Rio and BHP had both supplied uranium to Fukushima from their Australian mines and if there was "any way we can stop uranium mining in Australia then there will be no Fukushima".

Australia does not use nuclear power but it is the world's third-ranking uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada, exporting 9,600 tonnes of oxide concentrate worth more than Aus$1.1 billion (US$1.2 billion) a year.

It also has the world's largest uranium reserves, holding 23 percent of the global total, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Thousands protest against nuclear energy in Germany
Berlin (AFP) March 11, 2012 - Thousands of anti-nuclear protestors in Germany demanded a swifter end to the use of nuclear power Sunday, organisers said, on the first anniversary of Japan's reactor crisis.

About 3,000 people formed a human chain around the nuclear power station in Brokdorf in northern Germany, and protests were also held at four other sites in both the north and south of the country, organisers said in a written statement.

"The half-hearted and much too slow nuclear exit in Germany must clearly be accelerated," they said.

Berlin decided last March to permanently switch off Germany's eight oldest nuclear reactors and to close by 2022 nine others currently online in the wake of Japan's massive March 11 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday lauded her country's decision to phase out nuclear power.

"I think that quite a large part of the (German) population is in favour of the phasing out of nuclear energy by 2022," she added.

Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said Sunday that Germany was at the forefront of a move to both end nuclear power while promoting at the same time renewable energy sources. "Whether other countries take on our model also depends on us being successful," he said.


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International governance on nuclear safety still requires action
London, UK (SPX) Mar 12, 2012
One year after the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi, the World Energy Council (WEC) will publish on Friday, 9 March, a study analysing the impact of the accident on national nuclear energy plans worldwide. The report, 'World Energy Perspective: Nuclear Energy One Year After Fukushima', finds that: + Very little has changed, especially in non-OECD countries, in respect of the fut ... read more

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