23 October 2007

End the nuclear threat, says Greenpeace

Nastya, from Belarus was only three years old when she was diagnosed  with cancer of the uterus and lungs. According to local doctors the  region has seen a huge increase in childhood cancer cases since the  Chernobyl disaster.

Nastya, from Belarus was only three years old when she was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus and lungs. According to local doctors the region has seen a huge increase in childhood cancer cases since the Chernobyl disaster.

Greenpeace has always fought - and will continue to fight - vigorously against nuclear power because it is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. The only solution is to halt the expansion of all nuclear power, to shutdown existing plants.

We need an energy system that can fight climate change, based on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Nuclear power already delivers less energy globally than renewable energy, and the share will continue to decrease in the coming years.

Despite what the nuclear industry tells us, building enough nuclear power to make a meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would cost trillions of dollars, create tens of thousands of tons of lethal high-level radioactive waste, contribute to further proliferation of nuclear weapons materials, and result in a Chernobyl-scale accident once every decade or so, and, perhaps most significantly, squander the resources necessary to implement meaningful climate change solutions.

The Nuclear Age began in July 1945 when the US tested their first nuclear bomb near Alamogordo, New Mexico. A few years later, in 1953, President Eisenhower launched his "Atoms for Peace" Programme at the United Nations amid a wave of unbridled atomic optimism.

But as we know there is nothing "peaceful" about all things nuclear. More than half a century after Eisenhower's speech the planet is left with the legacy of nuclear waste. This legacy is beginning to be recognised for what it truly is.

In November 2000 the world recognized nuclear power as a dirty, dangerous and unnecessary technology by refusing to give it greenhouse gas credits during the UN Climate Change talks in the Hague. Nuclear power was dealt a further blow when a UN Sustainable Development Conference refused to label nuclear a sustainable technology in April 2001.

The risks from nuclear energy are real, inherent and long-lasting

Safety: No reactor in the world is inherently safe. All operational reactors have inherent safety flaws, which cannot be eliminated by safety upgrading. Highly radioactive spent fuel is requires constant cooling; if this fails, it could lead to a catastrophic release of radioactivity. Reactors are highly vulnerable to deliberate acts of sabotage, including terrorist attack. There are several scenarios – aside from a crash of an airplane into a reactor – which could lead to a major accident.

Waste: From the moment uranium is mined nuclear waste on a massive scale is produced. There is no secure risk free way to store nuclear waste. No country in the world has a solution for its high-level waste that stays radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. The the threat from nuclear waste will remain for millennia. The least damaging option at this current time is for waste to be stored above ground, in dry storage at the site of origin, but this option also presents major challenges and the threats.

Weapons proliferation: The possession of nuclear weapons by the US, Russia, France, the UK and China has encouraged the further proliferation of nuclear technology and materials. Every state that has a nuclear power capability, has the means to obtain nuclear material usable in a nuclear weapon. which means that the 44 nuclear power states, could become 44 nuclear weapons states. Many nations which have active commercial nuclear power programs, began their research with two objectives – electricity generation and the option to develop nuclear weapons. These included: Switzerland, Germany, Sweden as well as India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Also nuclear programs based on reprocessing plutonium from spent fuel have dramatically increased the risk of proliferation as the creation of more plutonium, means more nuclear waste which in turn means more materials available for the creation of dirty bombs.

Nuclear power - a dangerous dinosaur

A short history of Nuclear power - from the promises of cheap endless power in the 1950's to the realities of pollution, dumping, cancer and expensive energy with too many dangers of today. Find out why nuclear power has no future.

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