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Anti-nuclear protests in Bonn, Germany, on October 14, 1979.
Anti-nuclear demonstration in Colmar, north-eastern France, on October 3, 2009.
Anti-nuclear movement

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The anti-nuclear movement is an international social movement that opposes the use of various nuclear technologies. Many grassroots organizations, professional groups, and political parties have identified themselves with the movement. The initial objective of the anti-nuclear movement was nuclear disarmament. Later the focus began to shift to other issues, mainly the use of nuclear power. Major anti-nuclear groups include Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

The largest anti-nuclear protest was a 1983 nuclear weapons protest in West Berlin which had about 600,000 participants. A large protest against nuclear power occurred in June 1976 in Bilbao, Spain, with 200,000 people in attendance. Following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, a large anti-nuclear protest was held in New York City, involving 200,000 people. In 1981, Germany's largest anti-nuclear power demonstration took place to protest against the Brokdorf Nuclear Power Plant west of Hamburg; some 100,000 people came face to face with 10,000 police officers. In May 1986, following the Chernobyl disaster, an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people marched in Rome to protest against the Italian nuclear program.

For many years after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster nuclear power was off the policy agenda in most countries, and the anti-nuclear power movement seemed to have won its case. Some anti-nuclear groups disbanded. More recently, however, following public relations activities by the nuclear industry, and concerns about climate change, nuclear power issues have come back into energy policy discussions in some countries. Anti-nuclear activity has increased correspondingly and countries such as Australia and Ireland remain opposed to the use of nuclear power.

Contents

History and issues

A nuclear fireball lights up the night in a United States nuclear weapons test.

Roots of the movement

The application of nuclear technology, both as a source of energy and as an instrument of war, has been controversial.[1][2][3]

Initially, the nuclear debate was mainly about nuclear weapons policy and was located within the scientific community. Professional associations such as the Federation of Atomic Scientists and the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs were involved. In 1962, Linus Pauling won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to stop the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, and the "Ban the Bomb" movement spread.[4]

The first commercially viable nuclear power plant in the USA was to be built at Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco, but the proposal was controversial and conflict with local citizens began in 1958.[5] The proposed plant site was close to the San Andreas fault and close to the region's environmentally sensitive fishing and dairy industries. The Sierra Club became actively involved.[6] The conflict ended in 1964, with the forced abandonment of plans for the power plant. Historian Thomas Wellock traces the birth of the anti-nuclear movement to the controversy over Bodega Bay.[5] Attempts to build a nuclear power plant in Malibu were similar to those at Bodega Bay and were also abandoned.[5]

In 1966, Larry Bogart founded the Citizens Energy Council, a coalition of environmental groups that published the newsletters "Radiation Perils," "Watch on the A.E.C." and "Nuclear Opponents". These publications argued that "nuclear power plants were too complex, too expensive and so inherently unsafe they would one day prove to be a financial disaster and a health hazard".[7][8]

In 1971, the town of Wyhl, in Germany, was a possible site for a nuclear power station. In the years that followed, public opposition steadily mounted, and there were large protests. Television coverage of police dragging away farmers and their wives helped to turn nuclear power into a major issue. In 1975, an administrative court withdrew the construction licence for the plant,[9][10][11] but the Wyhl occupation generated ongoing debate. This initially centred on the state government's handling of the affair and associated police behaviour, but interest in nuclear issues was also stimulated. The Wyhl experience encouraged the formation of citizen action groups near other planned nuclear sites.[9] Many other anti-nuclear groups formed elsewhere, in support of these local struggles, and some existing citizens' action groups widened their aims to include the nuclear issue.[9] Anti-nuclear success at Wyhl also inspired nuclear opposition in the rest of Europe and North America.[10]

In 1974, organic farmer Sam Lovejoy took a crowbar to the weather-monitoring tower which had been erected at the Montague Nuclear Power Plant site. Lovejoy felled the tower and then took himself to the local police station, where he took full responsibility for the action. Lovejoy's action galvanized local public opinion against the plant.[12][13] The Montague project was canceled in 1980,[14] after $29 million was spent on the project.[12]

By the mid-1970s anti-nuclear activism had moved beyond local protests and politics to gain a wider appeal and influence. Although it lacked a single co-ordinating organization, and did not have uniform goals, the movement's efforts gained a great deal of attention.[2]

Anti-nuclear concerns

Much early opposition to nuclear power was expressed in environmental terms: thermal pollution of waterways, known and postulated reactor accidents, potential release of radiation during shipments, and still-developing means for long-term radioactive waste storage and disposal. The environmental movement made such concerns well-known. By the time of the rise of New England's Clamshell Alliance, California's Abalone Alliance, and dozens of similar regional groups dedicated to stopping the growth of nuclear power through nonviolent civil disobedience based actions, points of opposition had expanded from concerns about pollution and proliferation to include concerns about economic viability and terrorist target threats.[15]

Opponents of nuclear energy used the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty of 1968 to reinforce the connections between the international export and development of nuclear power technologies and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The facilities and expertise to produce nuclear power can be readily adapted to produce nuclear weapons.[16][17]

Because nuclear power has always been a technology which requires and employs specialists, some individuals view it as an elitist technology.[18] Nuclear power is centralised energy, in both a physical and political sense. It allows a small number of scientific, political and economic elites to make key decisions about energy.[16]

President Jimmy Carter leaving the Three Mile Island accident for Middletown, Pennsylvania, April 1, 1979.
The abandoned city of Prypiat, Ukraine, following the Chernobyl disaster. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is in the background.

Nuclear power plants are some of the most sophisticated and complex energy systems ever designed,[19] and anti-nuclear critics have seen nuclear power as a dangerous, expensive way to boil water to generate electricity.[20] Any complex system, no matter how well it is designed and engineered, cannot be deemed failure-proof. This is especially true if people are required to operate controls that dictate how the system functions.[21] Stephanie Cooke has reported that:

The reactors themselves were enormously complex machines with an incalculable number of things that could go wrong. When that happened at Three Mile Island in 1979, another fault line in the nuclear world was exposed. One malfunction led to another, and then to a series of others, until the core of the reactor itself began to melt, and even the world's most highly trained nuclear engineers did not know how to respond. The accident revealed serious deficiencies in a system that was meant to protect public health and safety.[22]

Nuclear accidents are often cited by anti-nuclear groups as evidence of the inherent danger of nuclear power.[16] The worst nuclear accident in history is the Chernobyl disaster. Other serious nuclear and radiation accidents include the Mayak disaster, Soviet submarine K-431 accident, Soviet submarine K-19 accident, Three Mile Island accident, Costa Rica radiotherapy accident, Zaragoza radiotherapy accident, Goiania accident, Windscale fire, Church Rock Uranium Mill Spill and the SL-1 accident.

Also, according to anti-nuclear organisations, rendering nuclear waste harmless is not being done satisfactorily and it remains a hazard for anywhere between a few years to many thousands of years. There is an "international consensus on the advisability of storing nuclear waste in deep underground repositories",[23] but no country in the world has yet opened such a site.[23][24][25][26][27]

The economics and nuclear proliferation issues are also primary concerns.

Some anti-nuclear groups also oppose research into nuclear fusion power.[28]

Nuclear-free alternatives

Three renewable energy sources: solar energy, wind power, and biomass.

Anti-nuclear groups generally claim that reliance on nuclear energy can be reduced by adopting energy conservation and energy efficiency measures. Anti-nuclear groups also favour the use of renewable energy, such as biomass (wood fuel and biofuel), wind power and solar power.[29] According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy technologies are essential contributors to the energy supply portfolio, as they contribute to world energy security, reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and provide opportunities for mitigating greenhouse gases.[30] Fossil fuels are being replaced by clean, climate-stabilizing, non-depletable sources of energy:

...the transition from coal, oil, and gas to wind, solar, and geothermal energy is well under way. In the old economy, energy was produced by burning something — oil, coal, or natural gas — leading to the carbon emissions that have come to define our economy. The new energy economy harnesses the energy in wind, the energy coming from the sun, and heat from within the earth itself.[31]

Greenpeace advocates reduction of fossil fuels by 50% by 2050 as well as phasing out nuclear energy, contending that innovative technologies can increase energy efficiency, and suggests that by 2050 the majority of electricity will be generated from renewable sources.[32] The International Energy Agency estimates that nearly 50% of global electricity supplies will need to come from renewable energy sources in order to halve carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and minimise significant, irreversible climate change impacts.[33]

Anti-nuclear organisations

Logo of Nuclear Information and Resource Service

The anti-nuclear movement is an international social movement, and grassroots organizations, professional groups,[34] and political parties have identified themselves with the movement. In 1992, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that "his agency had been pushed in the right direction on safety issues because of the pleas and protests of nuclear watchdog groups".[35]

International organisations

National and local

Symbols

A symbol of the anti-nuclear movement is a smiling red sun, usually on a yellow background. There are several variations, such as a raised fist or angry face. It is often accompanied by the slogan "Nuclear power? No thanks!" This symbol has its roots in the Danish anti-nuclear movement in the 1970s and has since gained worldwide usage.

A symbol of resistance against nuclear waste transport is a (mostly yellow) X. This symbol is newer than the smiling sun. It originated in the German anti-nuclear movement.

Activities

Large protests

Demonstration against nuclear tests in Lyon, France, in the 1980s.
Anti-nuclear demonstrations near Gorleben, Lower Saxony, Germany, 8 May 1996.

The largest anti-nuclear protest was most likely a 1983 nuclear weapons protest in West Berlin which had about 600,000 participants.[37] The largest petition was against nuclear weapons and boasted 32 million signatures.[38] The largest protest against nuclear power may have been on July 13, 1976 in Bilbao, Spain when 200,000 have been estimated to be in attendance; its platform was to have public votes on nuclear plants.[39]

In May 1986, following the Chernobyl disaster, clashes between anti-nuclear protesters and West German police became common. More than 400 people were injured in mid-May at the site of a nuclear-waste reprocessing plant being built near Wackersdorf. Police "used water cannons and dropped tear-gas grenades from helicopters to subdue protesters armed with slingshots, crowbars and Molotov cocktails".[40] Also in May 1986, an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people marched in Rome to protest against the Italian nuclear program, and 50,000 marched in Milan.[41] Hundreds of people walked from Los Angeles to Washington DC in 1986 in what is referred to as the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament. The march took nine months to traverse 3,700 miles (6,000 km), advancing approximately fifteen miles per day.[42]

In the UK, on 1 April 1983, about 70,000 people linked arms to form a human chain between three nuclear weapons centres in Berkshire. The anti-nuclear demonstration stretched for 14 miles along the Kennet Valley.[43]

In 1981, Germany's largest anti-nuclear power demonstration took place to protest against the construction of the Brokdorf Nuclear Power Plant on the North Sea coast west of Hamburg. Some 100,000 people came face to face with 10,000 police officers. Twenty-one policemen were injured by demonstrators armed with gasoline bombs, sticks, stones and high-powered slingshots.[44][45][46]

In 1971, 15,000 people demonstrated against French plans to locate the first light-water reactor power plant in Bugey. This was the first of a series of mass protests organized at nearly every planned nuclear site in France until the massive demonstration at the Superphénix breeder reactor in Creys-Malvillein in 1977 culminated in violence.[47]

Protests in the United States

Anti-nuclear protest at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1979, following the Three Mile Island Accident.

The American public were concerned about the release of radioactive gas from the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and many mass demonstrations took place across the country in the following months. The largest one was held in New York City in September 1979 and involved two hundred thousand people; speeches were given by Jane Fonda and Ralph Nader.[48][49][50]

Other notable anti-nuclear protests in the United States have included:

Anti-nuclear protests preceded the shutdown of the Shoreham, Yankee Rowe, Millstone I, Rancho Seco, Maine Yankee, and about a dozen other nuclear power plants.[63]

Other events

A few injuries have occurred during anti-nuclear protests:

  • On 10 July 1985, the flagship of Greenpeace, Rainbow Warrior, was sunk by French agents in New Zealand waters, and one Greenpeace protester was killed. The ship was involved in protests against nuclear weapons testing at Mururoa Atoll. The French Government initially denied any involvement with the sinking but eventually admitted its guilt in October 1985. Two French agents pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and the French Government paid $7 million in damages.[64]
  • In 1990, two pylons holding high voltage power lines connecting the French and Italian grid were blown up by Italian eco-terrorists, and the attack is believed to have been directly in opposition against the Superphénix.[65]
  • In 2004, a 23 year old activist who had tied himself to train tracks in front of a shipment of reprocessed nuclear waste was run over by the wheels of the train. The event happened in Avricourt, France and the fuel (totaling 12 containers) was from a German plant, on its way to be reprocessed.[66]
  • On July 21, 2007, a Russian antinuclear activist was killed in a protest outside a future Uranium enrichment site. The victim was sleeping in a peace camp, which was part of the protest when it was attacked by unidentified raiders who beat activists who were sleeping, injuring eight and killing one. The protest group was self identified as anarchist and the assailants were suspected to be right wing.[67]

In popular culture

Beginning in the 1960s, anti-nuclear ideas received coverage in the popular media with novels such as Fail-Safe and feature films such as Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The China Syndrome, and Silkwood. Silkwood was inspired by the true-life story of Karen Silkwood, who died in a suspicious car accident while investigating alleged wrongdoing at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant where she worked.[1]

Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) was a musical group founded in 1979 by Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt, and John Hall, following the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. The group organized a series of five No Nukes concerts held at Madison Square Garden in New York City in September 1979. On September 23, 1979, almost 200,000 people attended a large anti-nuclear rally staged by MUSE on the then-empty north end of the Battery Park City landfill in New York.[68] The album No Nukes, and a film, also titled No Nukes, were both released in 1980 to document the performances.

In 2007, Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, and Jackson Browne, as part of the No Nukes group, recorded a music video of the Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth".[69][70]

Recent developments

A scene from the 2007 Stop EPR (European Pressurised Reactor) protest in Toulouse, France.
Anti-nuclear protest near nuclear waste disposal centre at Gorleben in Northern Germany, on 8 November 2008.
Anti-nuclear march from London to Geneva, 2008
Start of anti-nuclear march from Geneva to Brussels, 2009

For many years after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster nuclear power was off the policy agenda in most countries, and the anti-nuclear power movement seemed to have won its case.[71][72] Some anti-nuclear groups disbanded.[72] More recently, however, following intense public relations activities by the nuclear industry, and concerns about climate change, nuclear power issues have come back into energy policy discussions in some countries.[71] Anti-nuclear activity has increased correspondingly.

In January 2004, up to 15,000 anti-nuclear protesters marched in Paris against a new generation of nuclear reactors, the European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPWR).[73]

On March 17, 2007 simultaneous protests, organised by Sortir du nucléaire, were staged in five French towns to protest construction of EPR plants; Rennes, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille, and Strasbourg.[74][75]

During a weekend in October 2008, some 15,000 people disrupted the transport of radioactive nuclear waste from France to a dump in Germany. This was one of the largest such protests in many years and, according to Der Spiegel, it signals a revival of the anti-nuclear movement in Germany.[76][77][78] In 2009, the coalition of green parties in the European parliament, who are unanimous in their anti-nuclear position, increased their presence in the parliament from 5.5% to 7.1% (52 seats).[79]

In October 2008 in the United Kingdom, more than 30 people were arrested during one of the largest anti-nuclear protests at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston for 10 years. The demonstration marked the start of the UN World Disarmament Week and involved about 400 people.[80]

In 2008 and 2009, there have been protests about, and criticism of, several new nuclear reactor proposals in the United States.[81][82][83][84][85]

A convoy of 350 farm tractors and 50,000 protesters took part in an anti-nuclear rally in Berlin on September 5, 2009. The marchers demanded that Germany close all nuclear plants by 2020 and close the Gorleben radioactive dump.[86][87]

Impact

Impact on policy

One of a set of two billboards in Davis, California advertising its nuclear-free policy
The second billboard corresponding to the one above

Forbes magazine, in the September 1975 issue, reported that "the anti-nuclear coalition has been remarkably successful ... [and] has certainly slowed the expansion of nuclear power."[2] A total of 63 nuclear units were canceled in the USA between 1975 and 1980.[88]

For many years after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster nuclear power was off the policy agenda in most countries. More recently, intense public relations activities by the nuclear industry, increasing evidence of climate change and failures to address it, have brought nuclear power issues back to the forefront of policy discussion in the nuclear renaissance countries.[71] But some countries are not prepared to expand nuclear power and are still divesting themselves of their nuclear legacy.[71]

Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987, all territorial sea and land of New Zealand is declared a nuclear free zone. Nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships are prohibited from entering the country's territorial waters. Dumping of foreign radioactive waste and development of nuclear weapons in the country is outlawed.[89] Despite common misconception, this act does not make nuclear power plants illegal.[90]

In Italy the use of nuclear power was barred by a referendum in 1987.[91] Recently, however, Italy has agreed to export nuclear technology[92] and now intends to restart its civil nuclear power program.[93]

Touted as a victory by the Alliance '90/The Greens political party, which positions itself as anti-nuclear, Germany set a date of 2020 for the permanent shutdown of the last nuclear power plant in the Nuclear Exit Law, although recently there have been discussions about extending this date or repealing the law.[93][94]

Ireland also has no plans to change its non-nuclear stance and pursue nuclear power in the future.[95]

In the United States, the Navajo Nation forbids uranium mining and processing in its land.[96]

As of 2010, Australia has no nuclear power stations and the current Rudd Labor government is opposed to nuclear power for Australia.[97] Australia also has no nuclear weapons.

Impact on public perception of nuclear power

Feb 2005 opinion poll regarding nuclear power in the USA.
     Respondents opposed to nuclear, many of whom would consider themselves "anti-nuclear"      undecided      In favour of nuclear power
2007 opinion survey in Spain regarding energy sources. Nuclear obtained a low rating (3.1 on a scale of 10)[98]

In 2005, the International Atomic Energy Agency presented the results of a series of public opinion surveys in the Global Public Opinion on Nuclear Issues report.[99] Majorities of respondents in 14 of the 18 countries surveyed believe that the risk of terrorist acts involving radioactive materials and nuclear facilities is high, because of insufficient protection. While majorities of citizens generally support the continued use of existing nuclear power reactors, most people do not favour the building of new nuclear plants, and some people feel that all nuclear power plants should be closed down.[99] Stressing the climate change benefits of nuclear energy positively influences some people to be more supportive of expanding the role of nuclear power in the world, but there is still a general reluctance to support the building of more nuclear power plants.[99]

In the United States, the Nuclear Energy Institute has run polls since the 1980s which had shown a general trend toward favourable attitudes on nuclear energy.[100] A poll in conducted March 30 to April 1, 2007 chose solar as the most likely largest source for electricity in the US in 15 years (27% of those polled) followed by nuclear, 24% and coal, 14%. Those who were favourable of nuclear being used dropped to 63% from a historic high of 70% in 2005 and 68% in September, 2006.[101]

A CBS News/New York Times poll in 2007 showed that a majority of Americans would not like to have a nuclear plant built in their community, although an increasing percentage would like to see more nuclear power.[102]

The two fuel sources that attracted the highest levels of support in the 2007 MIT Energy Survey are solar power and wind power. Outright majorities would choose to “increase a lot” use of these two fuels, and better than three out of four Americans would like to increase these fuels in the U. S. energy portfolio. Fourteen per cent of respondents would like to see nuclear power "increase a lot".[103]

A poll in the European Union for Feb-Mar 2005 showed 37% in favour of nuclear energy and 55% opposed, leaving 8% undecided.[104] The same agency ran another poll in Oct-Nov 2006 that showed 14% favoured building new nuclear plants, 34% favoured maintaining the same number, and 39% favoured reducing the number of operating plants, leaving 13% undecided. This poll showed that the approval of nuclear power rose with the education level of respondents.[105]

In Spain in 2007, nuclear energy received a low approval rating at 3.1 on a scale of 10. Solar and wind received the highest rating, at 8.6 and 8.3, respectively.[98]

Criticism of the anti-nuclear movement

Some environmentalists criticise the anti-nuclear movement for under-stating the environmental costs of fossil fuels and non-nuclear alternatives, and overstating the environmental costs of nuclear energy.[106][107]

Of the numerous nuclear experts who have offered their expertise in addressing controversies, Bernard Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Pittsburgh, is likely the most frequently cited. In his extensive writings he examines the safety issues in detail. He is best known for comparing nuclear safety to the relative safety of a wide range of other phenomena.[108][109]

Anti-nuclear activists are sometimes accused of representing the risks of nuclear power in an unfair way. The War Against the Atom (Basic Books, 1982) Samuel MacCracken of Boston University argued that in 1982, 50,000 deaths per year could be attributed directly to non-nuclear power plants, if fuel production and transportation, as well as pollution, were taken into account. He argued that if non-nuclear plants were judged by the same standards as nuclear ones, each US non-nuclear power plant could be held responsible for about 100 deaths per year. [110]

The Nuclear Energy Institute[111] (NEI) is the main lobby group for companies doing nuclear work in the USA, while most countries that employ nuclear energy have a national industry group. The World Nuclear Association is the only global trade body. In seeking to counteract the arguments of nuclear opponents, it points to independent studies that quantify the costs and benefits of nuclear energy and compares them to the costs and benefits of alternatives. NEI sponsors studies of its own, but it also references studies performed for the World Health Organisation,[112] for the International Energy Agency,[113] and by university researchers.[114]

Criticism arising from concerns over global warming

Some environmentalists, including former opponents of nuclear energy, criticise the movement on the basis of the claim that nuclear energy is necessary for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. These individuals include James Lovelock,[106] originator of the Gaia hypothesis, Patrick Moore[107], and Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog.[115][116] Lovelock goes further to refute claims about the danger of nuclear energy and its waste products.[117] In a January, 2008 interview, Moore said that "It wasn't until after I'd left Greenpeace and the climate change issue started coming to the forefront that I started rethinking energy policy in general and realised that I had been incorrect in my analysis of nuclear as being some kind of evil plot."[118]

Some anti-nuclear organisations have acknowledged that their positions are subject to review.[119] However, concern for global warming has not changed the views of some other anti-nuclear organisations toward nuclear energy. Critics of the movement point to independent studies that show that the capital resources required for renewable energy sources are higher than those required for nuclear power.[113]

See also

References

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  37. ^ Blogs for Bush: The White House Of The Blogosphere: Edwards Calls Israel a Threat
  38. ^ ZNet |Activism | The Power of Protest
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  66. ^ Indymedia UK. Activist Killed in Anti-nuke Protest.
  67. ^ Energy Daily. Russian Anti-Nuclear Activist Killed In Attack. July 21, 2007.
  68. ^ Herman, Robin (September 24, 1979). "Nearly 200,000 Rally to Protest Nuclear Energy". New York Times: p. B1.  
  69. ^ “For What It’s Worth,” No Nukes Reunite After Thirty Years
  70. ^ Musicians Act to Stop New Atomic Reactors
  71. ^ a b c d Research and Markets: International Perspectives on Energy Policy and the Role of Nuclear Power Reuters, May 6, 2009.
  72. ^ a b Roy McLeod (1995). "Resistance to Nuclear Technology: Optimists, Opportunists and Opposition in Australian Nuclear History" in Martin Bauer (ed) Resistance to New Technology, Cambridge University Press, pp. 175-177.
  73. ^ Thousands march in Paris anti-nuclear protest ABC News, January 18, 2004.
  74. ^ "French protests over EPR". Nuclear Engineering International. 2007-04-03. http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectionCode=132&storyCode=2043436. Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  75. ^ "France hit by anti-nuclear protests". Evening Echo. 2007-04-03. http://www.eveningecho.ie/news/bstory.asp?j=13919232&p=y39y9z78&n=13919320. Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  76. ^ The Renaissance of the Anti-Nuclear Movement
  77. ^ Nuclear Waste Reaches German Storage Site Amid Fierce Protests
  78. ^ Police break up German nuclear protest
  79. ^ Green boost in European elections may trigger nuclear fight, Nature, 9 June 2009.
  80. ^ More than 30 arrests at Aldermaston anti-nuclear protest The Guardian, 28 October 2008.
  81. ^ Protest against nuclear reactor Chicago Tribune, October 16, 2008.
  82. ^ Southeast Climate Convergence occupies nuclear facility Indymedia UK, August 8, 2008.
  83. ^ Critics assail nuclear plan
  84. ^ Anti-Nuclear Renaissance: A Powerful but Partial and Tentative Victory Over Atomic Energy
  85. ^ Hearing today involves opponents to new reactors at Comanche Peak
  86. ^ Eric Kirschbaum. Anti-nuclear rally enlivens German campaign Reuters, September 5, 2009.
  87. ^ 50,000 join anti-nuclear power march in Berlin The Local, September 5, 2009.
  88. ^ Rebecca A. McNerney (1998). The Changing Structure of the Electric Power Industry p. 110.
  89. ^ New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act
  90. ^ "Nuclear Energy Prospects in New Zealand". World Nuclear Association. 2009-04. http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf97.html. Retrieved 2009-12-09.  
  91. ^ Italy
  92. ^ Italy joins GNEP
  93. ^ a b The Radioactive Energy Plan
  94. ^ German Parties Set to Clash Over Nuclear Power
  95. ^ Electricity Regulation Act, 1999
  96. ^ Navajo Nation outlaws uranium mining
  97. ^ Support for N-power falls The Australian, 30 December 2006.
  98. ^ a b Study FBBVA on Social Attitudes (Spanish)
  99. ^ a b c International Atomic Energy Agency (2005). Global Public Opinion on Nuclear Issues and the IAEA: Final Report from 18 Countries p. 6.
  100. ^ Going Nuclear: Frames and Public Opinion about Atomic Energy
  101. ^ Survey Reveals Gap in Public’s Awareness
  102. ^ Energy
  103. ^ Stephen Ansolabehere. Public Attitudes Toward America’s Energy Options Report of the 2007 MIT Energy Survey, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy research, March 2007, p. 3.
  104. ^ EurActiv.com - Majority of Europeans oppose nuclear power | EU - European Information on EU Priorities & Opinion
  105. ^ http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_271_en.pdf
  106. ^ a b James Lovelock: Nuclear power is the only green solution
  107. ^ a b Going Nuclear
  108. ^ Bernard Cohen
  109. ^ The Nuclear Energy Option
  110. ^ Samuel MacCracken, The War Against the Atom, 1982, Basic Books, pp. 60-61
  111. ^ Nuclear Energy Institute website
  112. ^ Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health: Budapest, Hungary, 23–25 June 2004
  113. ^ a b Executive Summary
  114. ^ Ari Rabl and Mona. Dreicer, Health and Environmental Impacts of Energy Systems. International Journal of Global Energy Issues, vol.18(2/3/4), 113-150 (2002)
  115. ^ Environmental Heresies
  116. ^ An Early Environmentalist, Embracing New ‘Heresies’
  117. ^ James Lovelock
  118. ^ [1]
  119. ^ Some rethinking nuke opposition USA Today

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Simple English

Many people who are anti-nuclear, are against the use of nuclear power for electricity generation, since they think nuclear power is dangerous. They consider the risk of a nuclear accident unacceptable and generally believe that radioactive waste cannot be disposed of safely. Many also see uranium mining and nuclear reprocessing as bad, because of the environmental risks of these activities.

Contents

Issues

Anti-nuclear concerns

leaving the Three Mile Island accident for Middletown, Pennsylvania, April 1, 1979.]]
File:View of Chernobyl taken from
The abandoned city of Prypiat, Ukraine, following the Chernobyl disaster. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is in the background.

Anti-nuclear groups believe that nuclear power is a risk to people and the environment. These include health risks and environmental damage from uranium mining, processing and transport, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, the unsolved problem of nuclear waste, and the possibility of further serious accidents.[1][2] Anti-nuclear critics see nuclear power as a dangerous, expensive way to boil water to generate electricity.[3]

Opponents of nuclear energy make connections between the international export and development of nuclear power technologies and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The facilities and expertise to produce nuclear power can be readily adapted to produce nuclear weapons.[4] Greenpeace suggests that nuclear power and nuclear weapons have grown up like Siamese twins.[1]

Nuclear power plants are very expensive.[5] Making reliable cost estimates is difficult, and estimates for new reactors in the USA range from $5 billion to $10 billion per unit. Building nuclear plants is seen to be "a risky business", according to several notable credit rating agencies and investment analysts.[5]

Nuclear accidents are often cited by anti-nuclear groups as evidence of the inherent danger of nuclear power. The most well-known nuclear accident, a mishandled safety test at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 in Kiev, Ukraine, "killed at least 4056 people and damaged almost $7 billion of property".[6] Radioactive fallout from the accident concentrated near Belarus, Ukraine and Russia and at least 350,000 people were forcibly resettled away from these areas. After the accident, "traces of radioactive deposits unique to Chernobyl were found in nearly every country in the northern hemisphere".[6] Other serious nuclear accidents include the Mayak disaster, Soviet submarine K-431 accident, Soviet submarine K-19 accident, Chalk River accidents, Windscale fire, Church Rock Uranium Mill Spill and the SL-1 accident.[7][8]

Especially since the September 11 attacks, people have become concerned that terrorists or criminals could bomb a nuclear plant and release radioactive material. Building more plants would create more targets to protect.[5]

There is an international consensus that spent nuclear fuel should be stored in deep geological disposal sites.[9] However, no country has opened such a site yet.[10][11][12][13] The demise of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada leaves the USA with no plan for the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel.[5]

Nuclear-free alternatives

File:Alternative
Three renewable energy sources: solar energy, wind power, and biomass.

Anti-nuclear groups generally claim that reliance on nuclear energy can be reduced by adopting energy conservation and energy efficiency measures. Energy efficiency can reduce the consumption of energy while providing the same level of energy "services".[1]

Anti-nuclear groups also favour the use of renewable energy, such as wind power, solar power, geothermal energy and biofuel.[14] According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy technologies are essential contributors to the energy supply portfolio, as they contribute to world energy security and provide opportunities for mitigating greenhouse gases.[15]

Activities by country

Australia

Australia has no nuclear power stations and the current Gillard Labor government is opposed to nuclear power for Australia, as are the Greens, the party with the current balance of power in the upper house. However, Australia does have a small research reactor (OPAL) in Sydney, and it does export uranium. Australia has 40% of the world's known uranium deposits as well as similar deposits of the other potential fission reactor fuel thorium, and sells uranium to members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.[16]

Uranium mining and export and nuclear issues have often been the subject of public debate, and the anti-nuclear movement in Australia has a long history. It all began with the 1972–73 debate over French nuclear testing in the Pacific, which involved several groups, and the 1976–77 debate about uranium mining in Australia.[17]

France

In the 1970s, an anti-nuclear movement in France, consisting of citizens' groups and political action committees, emerged. There were many large anti-nuclear protests and demonstrations. More recently, targeted campaigns have been conducted, mainly by Greenpeace, and Sortir du nucléaire (France) has called for an official safety inspection of Areva facilities.

Germany

The anti-nuclear movement in Germany has a long history dating back to the early 1970s, when large demonstrations prevented the construction of a nuclear plant at Wyhl. Anti-nuclear success at Wyhl inspired nuclear opposition throughout Germany, in other parts of Europe, and in North America.

United Kingdom

In January 2008 the UK government announced plans to build new nuclear power stations, and the anti-nuclear movement in the United Kingdom has voiced concerns. There are also public concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Many different groups and individuals have been involved in demonstrations and protests over the years.

United States

For many years the anti-nuclear movement in the United States succeeded in delaying or halting commitments to build some new nuclear plants.[18][2][19] Anti-nuclear campaigns that captured national public attention in the 1970s involved the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant, Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, and the Three Mile Island accident.[2] More recent targeted campaigning has related to the Indian Point Energy Center, Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station,[20] Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station,[21] Salem Nuclear Power Plant,[22] Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant,[23][24] Idaho National Laboratory,[25] proposed Yucca Mountain waste repository,[26][27] the Hanford Site,[28] the Nevada Test Site,[29] Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,[30][31] and transportation of nuclear waste from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.[32] Many different groups have been involved in various protests and demonstrations over the years.

More than fifty anti-nuclear groups are operating, or have operated, in the United States. These include: Abalone Alliance, Clamshell Alliance, Greenpeace USA, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Musicians United for Safe Energy, Nevada Desert Experience, Nuclear Control Institute, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen Energy Program, Shad Alliance, and the Sierra Club.

Many well-known scientists and engineers have expressed reservations about nuclear power. These people include: Barry Commoner, S. David Freeman, John Gofman, Amory Lovins, Arjun Makhijani, Gregory Minor and Joseph Romm.

Recent developments

) protest in Toulouse, France.]]

File:Marche antinucléaire
Anti-nuclear march from London to Geneva, 2008
File:Antinuclear Walk Geneva-Brussels 2009
Start of anti-nuclear march from Geneva to Brussels, 2009

For many years after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster nuclear power was off the policy agenda in most countries, and the anti-nuclear power movement seemed to have won its case.[33][34] Some anti-nuclear groups disbanded.[34] More recently, however, following intense public relations activities by the nuclear industry,[35][36][37] and concerns about climate change, nuclear power issues have come back into energy policy discussions in some countries.[33] Anti-nuclear activity has increased correspondingly.

In January 2004, up to 15,000 anti-nuclear protesters marched in Paris against a new generation of nuclear reactors, the European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPWR).[38]

On May 1, 2005, 40,000 anti-nuclear/anti-war protesters marched past the United Nations in New York, 60 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[39][40] This was the largest anti-nuclear rally in the U.S. for several decades.[41] In Britain, there were many protests about the government's proposal to replace the aging Trident weapons system with a newer model. The largest protest had 100,000 participants and, according to polls, 59 percent of the public opposed the move.[41]

On March 17, 2007 simultaneous protests, organised by Sortir du nucléaire, were staged in five French towns to protest construction of EPR plants; Rennes, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille, and Strasbourg.[42][43]

During a weekend in October 2008, some 15,000 people disrupted the transport of radioactive nuclear waste from France to a dump in Germany. This was one of the largest such protests in many years and, according to Der Spiegel, it signals a revival of the anti-nuclear movement in Germany.[44][45][46] In 2009, the coalition of green parties in the European parliament, who are unanimous in their anti-nuclear position, increased their presence in the parliament from 5.5% to 7.1% (52 seats).[47]

In October 2008 in the United Kingdom, more than 30 people were arrested during one of the largest anti-nuclear protests at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston for 10 years. The demonstration marked the start of the UN World Disarmament Week and involved about 400 people.[48]

In 2008 and 2009, there have been protests about, and criticism of, several new nuclear reactor proposals in the United States.[49][50][51] There have also been some objections to license renewals for existing nuclear plants.[52][53]

A convoy of 350 farm tractors and 50,000 protesters took part in an anti-nuclear rally in Berlin on September 5, 2009. The marchers demanded that Germany close all nuclear plants by 2020 and close the Gorleben radioactive dump.[54][55] Gorleben is the focus of the anti-nuclear movement in Germany, which has tried to derail train transports of waste and to destroy or block the approach roads to the site. Two above-ground storage units house 3,500 containers of radioactive sludge and thousands of tonnes of spent fuel rods.[56]

Other pages

References

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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Giugni, Marco (2004). Social Protest and Policy Change: Ecology, Antinuclear, and Peace Movements.
  3. Helen Caldicott (2006). Nuclear Power is Not the Answer to Global Warming or Anything Else, Melbourne University Press, ISBN 0 522 85251 3, p. xvii
  4. Terry Macalister. New generation of nuclear power stations 'risk terrorist anarchy', The Guardian, 16 March 2009.
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  8. The Worst Nuclear Disasters
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  15. International Energy Agency (2007). Renewables in global energy supply: An IEA facts sheet (PDF) OECD, 34 pages.
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  17. Australia's anti-nuclear movement: a short history Green Left Online, 26 August 1998. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  18. Nuclear Politics
  19. Lights Out at Shoreham: Anti-nuclear activism spurs the closing of a new $6 billion plant
  20. Oyster Creek's time is up, residents tell board
  21. Pilgrim Watch
  22. UNPLUG Salem
  23. Vermont Yankee License Renewal
  24. Eleven arrested in latest protest over Vermont Yankee
  25. Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free
  26. Four Score Organizations Express Opposition to Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump
  27. Deadly Nuclear Waste Transport
  28. Hanford History
  29. 22 Arrested in Nuclear Protest
  30. Hundreds Protest at Livermore Lab
  31. More than 80 people arrested at annual protest at Livermore lab
  32. About CCNS
  33. Cite error: Invalid tag; no text was provided for refs named res
  34. 34.0 34.1 Roy McLeod (1995). "Resistance to Nuclear Technology: Optimists, Opportunists and Opposition in Australian Nuclear History" in Martin Bauer (ed) Resistance to New Technology, Cambridge University Press, pp. 175-177.
  35. Jonathan Leake. The Nuclear Charm Offensive New Statesman, 23 May 2005.
  36. Union of Concerned Scientists. Nuclear Industry Spent Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Over the Last Decade to Sell Public, Congress on New Reactors, New Investigation Finds News Center, February 1, 2010.
  37. Nuclear group spent $460,000 lobbying in 4Q Business Week, March 19, 2010.
  38. Thousands march in Paris anti-nuclear protest ABC News, January 18, 2004.
  39. Lance Murdoch. Pictures: New York MayDay anti-nuke/war march IndyMedia, 2 may 2005.
  40. Anti-Nuke Protests in New York Fox News, May 2, 2005.
  41. Cite error: Invalid tag; no text was provided for refs named lawsw
  42. "French protests over EPR". Nuclear Engineering International. 2007-04-03. http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectionCode=132&storyCode=2043436. 
  43. "France hit by anti-nuclear protests". Evening Echo. 2007-04-03. http://www.eveningecho.ie/news/bstory.asp?j=13919232&p=y39y9z78&n=13919320. 
  44. The Renaissance of the Anti-Nuclear Movement Spiegel Online, 11/10/2008.
  45. Anti-Nuclear Protest Reawakens: Nuclear Waste Reaches German Storage Site Amid Fierce Protests Spiegel Online, 11/11/2008.
  46. Simon Sturdee. Police break up German nuclear protest The Age, November 11, 2008.
  47. Green boost in European elections may trigger nuclear fight, Nature, 9 June 2009.
  48. More than 30 arrests at Aldermaston anti-nuclear protest The Guardian, 28 October 2008.
  49. Protest against nuclear reactor Chicago Tribune, October 16, 2008.
  50. Southeast Climate Convergence occupies nuclear facility Indymedia UK, August 8, 2008.
  51. Anti-Nuclear Renaissance: A Powerful but Partial and Tentative Victory Over Atomic Energy
  52. Maryann Spoto. Nuclear license renewal sparks protest Star-Ledger, June 02, 2009.
  53. Anti-nuclear protesters reach capitol Rutland Herald, January 14, 2010.
  54. Eric Kirschbaum. Anti-nuclear rally enlivens German campaign Reuters, September 5, 2009.
  55. 50,000 join anti-nuclear power march in Berlin The Local, September 5, 2009.
  56. Roger Boyes. German nuclear programme threatened by old mine housing waste The Times, January 22, 2010.








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