On August 6, 1945, the city of Hiroshima was destroyed by a single atomic bomb. Upon impact, thousands of people were instantly carbonised in a blast a thousand times hotter than the sun's surface. Around 80,000 died instantly, while the final toll climbed to 250,000. On August 9, Nagasaki suffered a comparable fate.
Between 2000 and 2002, I was part of a Greenpeace team that mounted a global campaign to stop the transport of mixed oxide (MOX) plutonium based nuclear fuel and radioactive waste across the world, and through the Pacific.
At 5pm on Tuesday the 26th of April the candlelight vigil seemed like a very bad idea. Not only was it the last night of the Easter Break with half of Sydney stuck in traffic jams up and down the coast, the rain was so fierce it was coming in sideways and the wind was wild.
Exactly two months ago an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Together, they not only resulted in a huge natural disaster, but also triggered an unprecedented man made tragedy. The Fukushima nuclear power plant is still out of control, threatening thousands of people’s health and livelihoods.
When a Greenpeace investigation found that nuclear waste returning to Australia by ship from France has been classified as high-level waste by French authorities, contradicting Australia’s claims over its radioactivity, we knew we had to act.
In early December, the nations of the world are poised to take an historic step forward on nuclear weapons. Yet most Australians still haven’t heard about what’s happening, even though Australia is an important part of this story – which is set to get even bigger in the months ahead.
“I’m here at the U.N. asking for an abolition of nuclear weapons,” said Toshiki Fujimori, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, to diplomats from more than 120 countries gathered at the UN general assembly on 27 March.
“Nobody in any country deserves seeing the same hell again.”