Ten years on: Kakadu Traditional Owners remain saddened by ongoing Fukushima disaster
11th March 2021
The Mirarr Traditional Owners, whose country includes parts of Kakadu National Park as well as the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium deposits, have expressed their continued sadness on the tenth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Contamination from the failed reactors has forced over 160,000 people to permanently leave their homes. The reactor site continues to produce hundreds of thousands of litres of contaminated water every day and the clean-up effort is expected to continue for decades to come with no permanent solution in sight for much of the radioactive material.
The Mirarr are saddened knowing that many people in Japan are still feeling the impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Mirarr have lived with the effects of uranium mining on their land for over four decades and understand the dangerous and long-lasting effects first-hand. Mirarr want people in Japan to know that you are often in our thoughts.
In October 2011, just months after the emergency began, theAustralian SafeguardsandNon-ProliferationOffice(ASNO)confirmed the Fukushimanuclearcrisiswasdirectlyfuelledbyuranium from Australia. At the time Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressing her concern and sadness at the devastation that uranium from her lands was causing in Japan: “This is an industry we never supported in the past and want no part of in the future. We are all diminished by the events unfolding at Fukushima,” Ms Margarula wrote.
It is important for us to share the connection between Mirarr country and this nuclear disaster. Mirarr want the world to understand the responsibility we feel for the impacts of uranium from our country, even though the mine was imposed upon us. Our long-held concern that mining on our country would cause harm overseas was tragically realised when the Fukushima disaster occurred in 2011.
Mirarr country has a long-standing connection with Japan from the supply of uranium from Mirarr country from the 1980s, the fantastic support the Japanese community gave Mirarr in our opposition to the Jabiluka uranium mine in the 1990s, through to our shared connection to the tragic events at Fukushima, where uranium from Mirarr country was used.
The impacts of the nuclear industry are felt for generations of people in every place it operates. Here in Kakadu the legacy of uranium mining is all too evident, and we are deeply saddened to learn of the ongoing and increasing impacts of the failed reactors on the people and country of Japan.