As the Liberal Democrats meet for their Spring Conference in Sheffield, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today called for a non-nuclear energy policy, as tragic events unfold at Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan. As huge clouds of smoke billow from Fukushima following a massive explosion, it looks likely that one of the reactor cores is in meltdown. Radioactive caesium and iodine have been detected outside the number one reactor which is a strong indicator that meltdown is in process. The evacualtion zone put in place by Japanese authorities yesterday has now been extended to 20 km.

Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, said:

‘It is vital that the British government learns from this unfolding disaster. If meltdown is indeed taking place, this is a nuclear disaster of catastrophic proportions. Experts are drawing parallels with the Chernobyl disaster, 25 years ago next month. Tens of thousands of people have died as a result of that meltdown, and parts of Britain are still affected by the radioactive pollution from 1986.

It would be utterly reprehensible if our government, or any other agency or organisation, sought to downplay the enormous human disaster taking place at Fukushima because of the current government desire to promote and build new nuclear power stations in Britain. There have been systematic attempts over the years to minimise the threats posed by nuclear power in order to justify construction of nuclear power plants. This is criminal irresponsibility, playing with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and gambling with the very fabric of our environment and its structures.’

Ms Hudson noted that today environment minister Chris Huhne will be speaking at a fringe meeting at the Lib Dem Conference in Sheffield entitled ‘Making Zero Carbon Britain a reality’. She expressed the hope that Mr Huhne would not be advocating new nuclear power stations: ‘Now is the time for the coalition government to set out a new non-nuclear agenda for energy in the wake of the Japanese nuclear disaster.’

CND will be holding a parliamentary meeting on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster on Tuesday 26th April, 6:00-7:30pm in the Grimond Room, Portcullis House. ‘Remembering Chernobyl: nuclear power is not the answer’ will be hosted by Caroline Lucas MP.