Remembering Fukushima and Chernobyl: time for a rethink on nuclear

Over the next few weeks the world will commemorate the anniversary of two catastrophes: the fifth anniversary of Fukushima on Friday 11 March and the 30th of Chernobyl on Tuesday 26 April.

The world is still struggling to recover from the significant impact of these two accidents, as shown by many studies, like the TORCH report, recently updated and presented in Vienna on March 7, and the World Nuclear Status Report.

As explained by Japanese Senator Taro Yamamoto in this message to European citizens, the problems with the reactor site in Fukushima are far from being resolved and radiation measurements in the area are still high. Despite this, the government is starting to send people back into the contaminated areas... 

Nuclear energy will always be a very high risk technology ���� an issue that is becoming increasingly pressing in Europe, given its ageing nuclear infrastructure. And yet despite the terrible accidents in Japan and Ukraine, the many problems and near accidents at European nuclear plants such as Fessenheim or Cattenom in France and the flaws discovered in two reactors in Belgium (Tihange, Doel), many of our politicians continue to put the security and health of their own citizens - but also those of their neighbours - at serious risk. Any calls for a rethink of nuclear energy from citizens or experts seem to fall on deaf ears: governments in Finland, France, Hungary and in the UK still want to go ahead and construct nuclear reactors on their territory - the majority of them financed with state aid.

This clearly makes no sense, not least because investing in this obsolete technology is a huge waste of money. As an example, the EPR in Flamanville was ordered in 2006 and was due to come online 2012 at a cost of ����3.2 billion. However, due to several technical problems and many manufacturing errors, the estimated construction costs of the EPR rose to at least ����10.5 billion, and the reactor is now not due to begin working until 2018 ���� at the very earliest. A situation is the same in the UK: the Hinkely reactor (being built by French company EDF which operates Flamanville) was originally planned to come online in 2023 at an overall cost of £16 billion ���� a figure that has already been revised upwards to £24.5 billion! The recent decision of EDF's finance director Thomas Piquemal  to step down over a disagreement with EDF board members casts further doubts on the financial viability of this project, not least as EDF is currently struggling with debts of ����7 billion and chronic negative cash flow...

Why should  taxpayers���� money continue to be invested in nuclear through massive subsidies when other - far more economical and sustainable - solutions exist? We Greens call on all European governments to have a serious rethink about their illogical and wasteful investments in nuclear energy to the detriment of safer and more sustainable alternatives. European governments must quickly phase out nuclear energy and work together towards a real energy union based on renewable energy sources.


 ��  Read the Greens/EFA special pages on nuclear energy and click here for more details on the current nuclear projects in Europe.

 ��  Watch  Japanese Senator Taro Yamamoto's message to European citizens

 ��  See Greens/EFA's Co-President Rebecca Harms' book on Fukushima 'A day in Fukushima, a week in Japan' (in DE, but also available in FR and EN)