The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jose Etcheverry Ph.D.
President, Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance
Tel. ++ 1.416.736.5252

25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl Atomic Power Disaster

The World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) demands a global ban on new nuclear power, policies to phase out current plants - and a decisive, immediate move to a 100% renewable world


This week on April 26 marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl atomic power disaster. The Fukushima catastrophe earlier this year reiterates that level 7 incidents will always threaten the world - it occurred in an advanced industrial country with some of the highest safety standards.

After Harrisburg's Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, it is time to wake up and terminate the reliance on this incredibly dangerous technology. No matter what the likelihood is for a similar event to happen in another country - it can never be excluded!

These disasters, unfortunately, may be witnessed again in the future if reliance on nuclear power is not overcome. In fact, even the World Nuclear Association indicates on their website that "it is estimated that, worldwide, 20% of nuclear reactors are operating in areas of significant seismic activity". Human and technology failures can lead to similar accidents.

The dream of cheap, safe and abundant supply of atomic energy has become a nightmare of accidents, cost overruns, enormous fresh water consumption, excessive decommissioning costs, terrorism risks, uranium shortages, groundwater contamination, disposal risks, mining hazards, shipping security, centralized bureaucracy, etc.

A future based on nuclear energy is impossible. Globally, around 400 atomic power reactors are active. To meet the indispensable goal of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to a level of 40 percent below what they are today, and to rely on nuclear power for achieving that goal, would mean that 2500 additional 1000 MW atomic reactors would be needed. That is equivalent to more than one new reactor each week for the next fifty years!

But what about the inherent dangers of atomic weapon proliferation by such a development? Where should come the tremendous amounts of water required for their operation come from, at a time of a mounting global water crisis? Where would the nuclear waste be stored for thousands of years? Or about the global warming effect because of the added thermal output? Not more than five percent of the world's energy supply is actually met by nuclear power today. These are facilitated with subsidies of more than a trillion Dollars since the 1950s! It is utterly irresponsible to promote the nuclear option in this context.

Renewable energy sources and systems become cheaper all the time, through the mass production of equipment and technical optimizations. Atomic and fossil energy by contrast are becoming constantly more expensive, through increasing extraction costs and environmental damages as well as the increasing technical and safety measures required. Even now the generation of wind power in windy regions is economically cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power plants.

Also, the possible speed of the introduction is pointing towards renewable energies: Solar and wind power systems can normally be installed within few days or weeks, while the erection of a new atomic power plant takes more than ten years - most plants under construction today have been under development for over twenty years.

The WCRE demands from the Parliaments and Governments to:

- initiate a broad introduction of renewable energies in a consequent manner and to increase their use

- empower the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA with adequate financial and human resources to enable their vision for a world where renewable energy is accessible in all countries and becomes the primary source of energy

- underline the end of the atomic power pathway through the cancellation of the remaining privileges for nuclear power

- counter the threat of a nuclear renaissance in Europe and globally

To achieve these goals we demand an initiative to terminate the EURATOM agreement, ending the privileged position of nuclear power in the EU. We also urge to re-direct the budget for atomic waste disposal and nuclear fission and fusion for research and development in the field of renewable energies, not least concerning energy efficiency and energy storage technologies.