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Latest news from Greenpeace
letzte Aktualisierung: 25.05.2015 20:23:20
  • Life of a 5-star activist

    I wonder how '5-star activists' are defined, but I guess I am one of them. And here is a glimpse of my activist life, and some riches I gathered along the way.

    In the forests of Sathyamangalam three decades ago, fellow activists and I organised villagers and trained them to save, lend, keep accounts, and protect their land and crops. My colleagues were my friends, romance was motorbike rides on moonlit roads, socialising was late evening village meetings (the only time villagers were free). I lived in quarters with doors and windows that refused to shut tight. We worried about sandalwood smugglers, elephants and wild boar attacks, but the fear that kept me awake at night was that my baby daughter would get stung by a scorpion or bitten by a snake. She thrived, but more than two years later, I lost my second baby. I was eight months pregnant and the only nurse in the area was not equipped to detect what was happening inside my womb. I continued working. In those forests, career success was measured by the gains in confidence of villagers seeking their rights.

    Veena with her daughter in forests of South India, in 1990 © Veena KrishnamurthyVeena with her daughter in forests of South India, in 1990.  © Veena Krishnamurthy

    Activists love to travel. So years later, I went to Cambodia, as the country recovered from the ravages of the Khmer Rouge period. I travelled on rivers and muddy roads across the country, working with small local organisations. We tried to rebuild decimated skills and strengthen a nascent civil society. I listened to stories of mind-numbing brutality. I huddled with colleagues who wept during staff meetings as they recalled their past. I never met a single person who had not suffered a senseless loss. We worked with villagers who had regrouped only to face impoverishment from the new threats of logging companies and fishing trawlers in cahoots with corrupt officials. We tried to reduce despair and give hope to families losing their livelihoods.

    In 2000, Veena Krishnamurthy travelled to Cambodia to work with local organisations. © Veena KrishnamurthyIn 2000, Veena Krishnamurthy travelled to Cambodia to work with local organisations. © Veena Krishnamurthy

    I had my adventures. One afternoon, returning from a field trip with a colleague on a decrepit motorboat on the mighty Mekong, I lived through what felt like the last minutes of my life. A torrential downpour killed our engine, blinded us and nearly overturned our boat into the swirling waters. The hapless boatman gave up all pretence of saving us. We did not have life jackets. But the storm passed, the engine miraculously came back to life, we reached the distant bank, and my colleague and I hugged each other in mute relief.

    I worked in Malawi for a few years when the country was in the grip of a drought. There I regularly met young mothers who walked miles to reach our treatment centres, to save their tiny babies from severe acute malnutrition.  Most babies survived and we celebrated each survival. But many died. The mothers often remained blank-faced, so used to suffering they were, but I once hid behind a door and wept, overwhelmed by grief.

    In Kenya, I met young school girls sheltered and educated by fellow 5-star activists. The girls had run away from home because their parents had put them through the horror of FGM in preparation for early forced marriages. I wore bead necklaces and danced with Maasai women, celebrating their newfound freedom from domestic violence. They too became activists, helping others to say no to violence in their homes.  

    Now in Bangalore, I have joined another group of 5-star activists who dare to dream of protecting our precious forests from the clutches of those eyeing its riches. We dream of clean air, water and soil, of safe food.  Our only mission is to convince our 6-star politicians and their 7-star corporate friends that this country can grow and develop without robbing the poor to fill the coffers of the rich, without destroying our forests or poisoning the air we breathe.

    5-star activists are a motley bunch – all ages, hues, languages and creeds. We join hands with those who share our dream. Our story is national and global. There is no such thing as us and the foreign hand. Our hearts beat in unity for the earth’s resources and for those who depend on them to survive.  Our voice needs to be heard, not stifled.

    Veena Krishnamurthy is an International Funding Manager at Greenpeace India

  • How our breakfast choice can change the food system

    8:00 am, Monday, southern Spain: "What's for breakfast, Mom?"

    Everyday, at least three times a day, we are faced with the same question: What to eat?

    For almost 1 billion people in the world this is a painful question, with an uncertain answer. In fact, we are living an agricultural crisis driven by a broken food system which has an impact on all of us and our planet.

    This crisis is about food and it's about farmers and it's about the industrial and chemical intensive food model that fuels multiple impacts, every day, all around the world.

    Spraying of genetically engineered soya. 02/01/1997 © Gustavo Gilabert / Greenpeace

    It doesn't have to be this way. A better future is possible, a future where food is grown according to the principles of ecological farming, a modern food system that puts people and farmers at its heart. Where people decide what to farm and eat and are not victims of a handful of global corporations. Where farming enhances nature and biodiversity, rather than destroying it, and bridges the latest scientific innovations with local farmers' knowledge. Where food is grown without poisoning people and the environment with chemical products. You can read more about ecological farming and the principles that underpin it in Greenpeace's Food and Farming Vision just released today.

    The food choices that each one of us make everyday can also contribute to changing the food system. This morning my daughter and I had toasted bread with tomatoes and olive oil. We live in Ayamonte, a small town in southern Spain, and this is the traditional breakfast here, made with local and fresh ingredients. Eating bread and tomatoes is not only a breakfast but a statement. In fact, this simple but delicious meal is now getting less common, as more children are driven to processed food and milkshakes, full of strange ingredients. The bread my daughter and I eat comes mostly from a nearby bakery, using local wheat and a couple more ingredients. Often, when I have some time, I also bake my own bread with the flour I buy online from an organic farmers association from a neighbouring province.

    Food For Life. 05/18/2015 © Reyes Tirado / Greenpeace

    I know most of the bread we eat is made with only five ingredients: organic wheat, yeast, salt, water -- and lots of love. The love comes from the farmers who grow the wheat, trying to save local varieties and following ecological farming practices adapted to our soils and to the dry climates of our land. The love comes also from the connection between those farmers and our family, just a simple online purchase that holds the hope of a better future, where those farmers have a better living and we can be a tiny part of their success.

    Eating the local and traditional breakfast is our (little) personal contribution to change the system from destructive industrial farming to people-centric ecological farming. I would invite you to take similar small - or bigger - steps. If we do it all together everyday we can move mountains. The list of things we can do as citizens, consumers or simply eaters, is long and exciting. For example, we can start by deciding what food to buy and where: shopping at farmers markets rather than supermarkets, eating less meat, buying ecological, seasonal and local food. We can avoid food waste and use all edible parts of the vegetables we buy. We can grow our own food on our balcony, garden or roof terrace.

    Family with their local produce. 04/15/2015 © Peter Caton / Greenpeace

    In addition, a lot more needs to happen to achieve deep and lasting change. In fact, governments, philanthropies, and private companies, must wake up and shift their investments and policy support away from industrial agriculture and towards ecological farming.

    Meanwhile the sum of our actions will make it impossible for governments around the world to neglect people's quest for healthy food and a healthy planet.

    The global movement that is fighting for a new food system keeps growing. A lot has been achieved already. Now is the time to go further. Join the food movement as well at www.iknowwhogrewit.org and demand a food system that puts people at its heart.

    Reyes Tirado is a senior scientist at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter, UK.

  • Marine Stewardship Council: Living in fisheries fantasy land

    Photo: Island Conservation Society (ICS)

    Imagine if you're sick or injured and your doctor gives you the 'all clear' while still developing your treatment plan. You'd get a new doctor, right?

    Well, the latest tuna fishery recommended for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification could be given the blue fish tick based on the same faulty logic. There are plans being developed to improve the fishery, but, so far, little evidence of action or results.

    The certification covers five purse seine vessels currently fishing for skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna in the Indian Ocean, all owned by Spanish company Pesquera Echebastar. Reviewers found numerous problems with the certification report. I won't bore you with all of them (read all 477 pages here), but there are two key themes: Indian Ocean tuna fisheries are poorly managed, and, Echebastar should not be certified on the basis of just 20% of its catch, particularly when the assessment for the other 80% has not been published.

    Purse Seiner Fishing in the Indian Ocean. 04/15/2013 © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace

    There is no way you can describe the fishery as 'sustainable' when the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is failing to develop and implement effective management measures for tunas and billfish, let alone for all the sharks, turtles and seabirds accidently caught there! The problems discussed at the IOTC's Scientific Committee meetings, such as lack of compliance, poor catch reporting, and illegal fishing, prove that no tuna fisheries in the Indian Ocean can be considered well-managed. There are fisheries working to deliver sustainable tuna, but they struggle against a tide of those who don't and won't.

    The MSC standards require fisheries to have a Harvest Strategy and Harvest Control Rules in place. These are pre-agreed catch levels that are designed to maintain healthy stocks, with a set of actions to apply quickly and effectively if any of the stocks decline. The IOTC does not yet have these measures in place, a fact the assessors admit on the 2nd page of their report!

    Maybe the assessors think there's no hurry because the stocks aren't 'overfished.' If so, they're forgetting that when stocks declined in the past, the IOTC took no action. They are also ignoring the fact that poor data creates poor assessments. If the doctor doesn't know all your symptoms, how can you trust their diagnosis?

    Photo: Island Conservation Society (ICS)

    Scientists believe the main reason tuna stocks aren't already in trouble is thanks to piracy. For four years (2008–11), boats were chased out of the main tropical tuna fishing grounds by Somalian pirates, into less productive areas of the Indian Ocean. Faced with lower catches, some boats headed for other oceans, while others went south to cooler waters looking for albacore. Tuna stocks bounced back, except albacore, which declined with the sudden increase in fishing. With piracy declining in 2012, the boats began to return and with them the fishing patterns of the pre-piracy period. If the next round of stock assessments shows increasing fishing rates and declining stocks (like scientists are predicting for yellowfin tuna) it will be interesting to see if the MSC continues to justify piracy as a model for sustainable fisheries management.

    FAD tracking device from Echebastar vessel Demiku, found on Desroches Island, June 2014. Photo: Island Conservation Society (ICS).The second problem is that the certification only covers the small amount of catch taken by Echebastar vessels when they set nets on free-swimming tuna schools. This is patently misleading when more than 80% of the fleet's catch comes from setting nets around Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs).

    You could almost justify certifying part of a fleet's catch if they were committed to reducing FADs and there were agreed FAD rules that minimised their impacts. Unfortunately, neither the Echebastar fleet nor the IOTC support any reduction. In fact, the IOTC recently accepted a proposal to 'limit' FADs to 550 per vessel per year. 550 is well above the current number used by most vessels and will actually allow a massive increase in FAD numbers.

    So why do FADs drive me crazy?

    FADs make a mockery of fishing vessel limits. They're a sneaky way to get around an agreement to limit fishing vessels. Who needs more vessels, when you can put out hundreds of FADs to gather the tuna for you? Many FAD tracking devices now come with eco-sounders so you can check how many fish are under the FAD before you head out to sea.

    A scientist removes entangled FAD netting from a damaged coral reef. Photo: Island Conservation Society (ICS)FADs wreck the marine environment. Sharks and turtles get tangled in the old nets and ropes hanging below FADs. Setting nets on FADs catches and kills 2.8 to 6.7 times more non-target species, sharks, trigger fish, rays, and even turtles, than fishing on free schools, and the majority of tuna caught are juveniles. FADs frequently wash up on beaches or coral reefs. Last month, scientists at the Island Conservation Society in the Seychelles found 45 FADs that had become entangled on just one coral atoll. Four of them belonged to the Echebastar vessels – three to Alakrana and two to Demiku.

    FAD use is out of control. We can only guess how many thousands are floating out there. IOTC scientists estimated there were around 10,000 in 2013 from the EU and Seychelles purse seine fleets alone, but this now looks like a gross underestimation. Without accurate numbers, scientists can't estimate the impact FADs have on tuna and other species, so their stock assessments are compromised.

    In light of these serious problems, you have to ask what happened to the assessment report for the other 80% of Echebastar's catch. It's not hard to imagine it failed even this shoddy assessment and they don't want anyone to know about it.

    WWF and the International Pole and Line Foundation have submitted official objections, which we support, to the certification proposal, but the MSC has chosen not to submit one. Doesn't it care about its credibility?

    Maybe that's the point. If the MSC wants a piece of the tuna pie, it has to lower its standards. If this certification goes ahead, it will be a hole below the waterline for the credibility of the MSC.

    Dr. Cat DoreyDr. Cat Dorey spends a lot of time at tuna science meetings and reading science reports to provide strategic advice for Greenpeace's Tuna campaign.

  • Mad Max is here
    We went on an expedition to see up close — and from above, with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) — the real situation of the main reservoirs of the south-eastern Brazil. What we saw shows that the worst of the water crisis is yet to come.
  • Low impact fishermen, alive and kicking!

    MY Arctic Sunrise Arrives in Denia. 05/07/2013 © Markel Redondo / Greenpeace

    Last week I had the pleasure of re visiting Dénia, a small vibrant town in the Mediterranean coast of Spain. When the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise toured Europe in support of low impact fishers in 2013, Dénia was one of many stops and the welcome overwhelming. With a new and improved European Common Fisheries Policy in place I was happy to see how low impact fishers have continued fighting for a fair share of the fishing opportunities and are increasingly supported in doing so. The voice of these fishers, who offer an alternative solution to destructive, industrial fishing, is finally getting louder and louder.

    Last week Dénia hosted a meeting of the European project EUFIN aiming to improve fishing in coastal communities with attendants from Italy, Portugal, Serbia and Greece. Many ideas came up; marine reserves, labelling, promotion of tourism related to the traditional fishing culture and so on. During the weekend the "Fish and Sea" fair took place and locals came to learn more about different fishing techniques and have a taste of fish dishes made by local chefs. In a town famous for its cuisine that means a tasty dish is guaranteed!

    All this was quite encouraging, but what made me most happy was the involvement of a so many other sectors other than the fishing industry itself, like for instance scientists, members of local governments and tourism bodies. Sustainable fishing is not only about boats, nets and fish. It's about local economy, culture and science. Low impact fishers respect the sea, support marine reserves and provide their towns with a resource important to both livelihood and identity. In towns like Dénia they are increasingly aware of it and see a great potential in putting sustainable fishing at the heart of the town and a corner stone in its culture.

    Small-scale Fishermen in Spain. 05/08/2013 © Markel Redondo / Greenpeace

    It seems like a logical and smart thing to do. But it sure hasn't been that way for a long time. In the words of Jesus, one of the local fishermen at the meeting:

    "We have always been the poor fishers, with no voice and no recognition who were up against the other fleets. Big trawlers would literally sail over our nets if we didn't get out of their way and they knew there would be no consequences. The more you climb up the ladder in the fishing sector you will find bigger and stronger associations and companies who just look out for their own interests and keep us completely in the shadow."

    Fortunately, times have changed and the revised European Common Fisheries Policy is in place. A law that supports low impact fishing. The low impact fishers are fighting hard for it to be properly implemented, while we at Greenpeace are off course strongly supporting them.  More and more initiatives and ideas, like the ones that just came up in Dénia, are starting to pop up. There's still a lot to fight for, and the fishers are doing just that. They are alive and kicking and more supported than ever!

    Elvira Jimenez is an Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Spain.

  • Those who produce our food suffer the most

    How pesticides affect farmers' and our health.

    Pesticide Use in Spain. 10/14/2005 © Greenpeace / Ángel Garcia

    At Greenpeace we have been campaigning against the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture for a long time. Not only because they are not necessary for food production, in fact ecological pest management is successfully implemented around the world, but also because these chemicals have an impact on our health. So, we decided to investigate the current literature on the health impacts of common pesticides used today by industrial agriculture. The findings outlined in this report are grim reading.

    Historically, since the 1950s industrial agriculture has been increasingly reliant on the use of fertilisers and pesticides to produce low cost food – a short-term solution for a large-scale need. With larger field sizes and a reduction in the diversity of habitats for natural pests, the use of pesticides has become routine. In most cases it is even preemptive – dosing the fields with a cocktail of chemicals before there is a pest problem. Agricultural workers, and their families are exposed to these toxic substances throughout their working lives. However, proving that a substance definitively causes a disease is difficult. There are no members of the population that are completely unexposed, and most diseases have multiple causes. Also, most people are exposed to a mixture of chemicals in their everyday lives, not just pesticides.

    Whilst recognizing these uncertainties and the sometimes conflicting research, taken together the evidence is clear. The use of pesticides by industrial agriculture is undermining the health of our farmers, their families and the general population.

    Most vulnerable to the effects of pesticides are the farmers that are in contact with them regularly. Even wearing protective clothing can result in low-level exposure, which in some cases can still be harmful. This is especially true for those women working in farming that are pregnant – this exposure can impact on the health of their babies with possible birth defects, developmental issues and cancers as a consequence. Children are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of harmful pesticides. Their bodies are undergoing constant development and are not able to metabolise some substances in the way that adults can. Also children are exposed to pesticides in different ways – through the food they eat, things that they touch and put in their mouth, and on the surfaces of the garden and house, as well as through the air they breathe.

    For adults, studies have related pesticide exposure to an increased incidence of several cancers – including prostate, lung and others – and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. There is also evidence that suggests that certain pesticides can disrupt normal immune system functioning and hormones in the body. There are people that, because of their genetic makeup, are more likely to be affected by the toxic impact of pesticides and it is possible that some of these impacts on the body can follow onto future generations. This means that even though those in the future might not be exposed to these chemicals, they might still be affected because their grandparents were in contact with certain chemicals.

    Currently in our everyday lives we are exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals, the impact of which is impossible to evaluate. There is a solution but it involves a fundamental shift from an industrial agriculture system to ecological farming that grows healthy food using the benefits of the diversity it creates. It can be done, and farmers are doing it. Ecological farming is the only solution to grow healthy food and protect our farmers, their families and our children.

    If you are outraged about the findings of the report and want to do something to eliminate the use of chemicals in agriculclture and contribute to change the food system, join the food movemement on www.iknowwhogrewit.org and take your challenge today.

    Kirsten Thompson is a scientist specialising in conservation ecology and biodiversity. She had been involved in research for more than 20 years, working with both universities and non-government organisations. She feels that we can use good science and innovative thinking to preserve the natural world, not just for humans, but for all species. Kirsten and her family grow fresh and healthy food as a way of ensuring local, sustainable produce alongside educating her children with an important lifelong skill.

  • When industrial food fails us, it's time to change the food system

    The current food system is broken. We all see how industrial and chemical intensive food production impacts on people and farmers, the planet and animals.

    For example, did you know that in 2007, 269 tonnes of pesticides were used in industrial agriculture globally per hour? This is the equivalent of the size of 9 fully loaded (shipping) containers per hour.

    In 2007, 269 tonnes of pesticides were used in industrial agriculture globally per hour.

    Or did you know that roughly one third of the food produced globally is wasted along the supply chain from field to plate? For example, 149,467,642 people could be fed with the food wasted in 1 year in Europe, roughly the population of Germany, Italy and Austria together.

    149,467,642 people could be fed with the food wasted in 1 year in Europe.

    Also, the amount of water used to produce meat and dairy that a person consumes in one year (403,000 liters) is the same as if this person took 17 showers a day or 6,190 showers in that year.

    The amount of water used to produce the amount of meat/dairy 1 person consumes in 1 year is 403,000 liters.

    It might be impossible to count up the impacts of industrial and chemical intensive agriculture. We see that these examples – or as we call them, 'food fails' – are the tip of the iceberg of the broken food system we currently have. Actually, people everywhere are beginning to see these kinds of examples not as isolated incidents, but as clear signs of a global and systemic failure in how food is industrially produced today.

    The good news is that we can change the system and build on innovative food production model, based on the principles of ecological farming. Ecological farming puts people at its heart. It produces healthy food for all without exposing the environment and people to unnecessary chemicals or creating large scale fields of the same crop where farmers become workers and biodiversity suffers. Ecological farming, in fact, enhances nature and biodiversity, rather than destroying it, and bridges the latest scientific innovations with local farmers' knowledge.

    More good news is that we can all do something directly that helps make the change from destructive industrial farming to people-centric ecological farming. Food For Life. 04/15/2015 © Peter Caton / Greenpeace

    When each one of us chooses to take a personal step like buying ecological, local and seasonal food, or shopping at farmers markets, or eating less meat, in fact we are bringing together our individual actions in a way that can change markets and change politics. The sum of these actions makes it impossible for governments around the world to neglect people's quest for healthy food and a healthy planet. The growing people powered food movement creates demand to scale up ecological farming with adequate funds and investments.

    We are in the best position to begin reclaiming our food and we can all do our share. Take action today on www.iknowwhogrewit.org and join the global food movement.

    Alessandro Saccoccio is a food campaigner at Greenpeace International.

  • Greenpeace India: The price of dissent

    Greenpeace India

    In less than a month, Greenpeace India is in danger of closing.

    Over the last year, we have born the brunt of repeated attacks. In June 2014, all funds coming from Greenpeace's international office were frozen. Then in January, my colleague Priya Pillai was due to fly to London to meet with British politicians but was prevented from leaving the country. In both cases, the Delhi high court has agreed with us that ministers have misused their authority.

    But just a few weeks ago, the ministry froze most of our domestic bank accounts. As a result, we have no access to the donations made by over 75,000 Indian people who campaign with us for a cleaner environment. We have enough funds to keep paying staff and the rent on our offices for the next month – after that, Greenpeace India may be forced to shut down.

    So why is the government going after us? Is it because for over a decade Greenpeace India has a solid track record working for a cleaner and healthier environment for all Indians? Surely that's not something the government is against? Or is it because Greenpeace's recent work on these fronts has antagonised powerful corporate interests – the same interests widely believed to have financed the government's 2014 election campaign?

    Here are just some of our recent achievements:

    It's clear that the government is closely linked to these corporate interests, so it's no surprise that it is now trying to silence us. We will answer the charges against us, and take the fight to the courts, because this is about more than just the survival of Greenpeace India. By silencing criticism, the government is making full-frontal assault on our freedom of speech, and thousands of other Indian organisations are being targeted. As the Delhi High Court said, "You can't muzzle dissent in a democracy."

    In the meantime, we are secure in the knowledge that nearly 70% of our funds come from ordinary Indians, spanning all classes, religions and artificial divides. We will continue to fight for the right of all Indians to clean air and water, safe food and a liveable and healthy environment. And most of all, for the right to speak up, to disagree with governments and corporations and tell them that they must put people and planet above profits.

    Ashish Fernandes is a Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace India.

  • A simple gesture to help protect the Arctic

    OK so this week we've been talking about the OSPAR Convention, and the delegates who have the power to secure a Marine Protected Area in 10% of the future Arctic Sanctuary. All this is very interesting, but what can I do to let OSPAR know that their decision is vital for everyone? How I can get the attention of these politicians who don't know me?

    Do you have ice cubes at home? Then go fetch some and follow these instructions:

    Take the cube in your hand.Elena Anaya

    1. Grab your phone

    2. Take a selfie, with the cube in your hand and your best face on, or ask someone to help you take a picture.

    3. Upload it to your social network (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram... ) using the hashtag #IceSelfie or #OSPAR2015

    By doing this we remind the OSPAR delegates that there are many people who will be affected by the melting of the Arctic, that we are keeping an eye on the meeting, in London next week, and that we urge them to protect this part of the ocean at the top of our planet.

    It's that easy...

    And if you haven't done so already, sign here to ask OSPAR for this protection.

    Virginia Rabal is a mobilisation coordinator for Greenpeace Spain.

  • Chernobyl fires threaten release of radioactivity equivalent to major nuclear accident

    In the Exclusion zone of Chernobyl. 03/03/2011 © Jan Grarup / Noor / Greenpeace

    The fires first reported in the Chernobyl region on April 26th (the anniversary of the 1986 accident) threaten a major release of radioactivity, warns Greenpeace.

    If the fires spread to the heavily contaminated forests and land areas around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the release of radioactive material into the atmosphere is certain. The amount of radioactivity potentially released could be the equivalent of a major nuclear accident.

    Since the 1986 accident a massive amount of dangerous radioactive substances has been deposited on the forests including cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-239. These forests, plants and soil are a major source of radioactivity, some of which was released from the fires of 2010.

    Based on specialist satellite data, analysts at Greenpeace estimate that the fire has spread over an area covering 13,300 hectares, of which 4,100 are actually on fire. The fires have not yet reached the highest contaminated zones around the Chernobyl plant but are currently within 15-20 km of the site.

    In a major analysis of the risks from fires around Chernobyl, scientists earlier this year concluded that worst case would be the release of radioactivity which could be the equivalent of a Level 6 nuclear accident on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). The 1986 accident at Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi accident were level 7 INES events.

    Radioactivity enters the atmosphere via the smoke plumes and is dispersed depending on wind direction, height and other weather factors. During previous forest fires, radioactivity has been dispersed as far as Turkey.

    The international community is building a shelter around the destroyed reactor at Chernobyl, but it is impossible to build a sarcophagus over the vast contaminated forests in the region. Even after 29 years, the risks from Chernobyl-area radiation have not been controlled and could result in further dispersion of radioactivity over Europe.

    As in Ukraine, vast amounts of radioactivity have been deposited in the forests in Japan around the Fukushima Daiichi NPP. Despite massive efforts by the Japanese authorities to decontaminate villages and farm land, the forest cannot be decontaminated and will remain a massive stock of radioactivity for a very long time. This presents a risk not only in the event of a forest fire, but also it will continue to leak radioactivity to populated areas, especially after winter melting or during heavy rains which can carry the radioactivity to neighbouring lands, rivers and lakes.

    [Image: In the Exclusion zone of Chernobyl. After the nuclear accident all people had to leave and there are special controls and permissions needed to enter this area. 03/03/2011 © Jan Grarup / Noor / Greenpeace]