EUROOPPALAINEN ATOMIVOIMA-KRIITTINEN 
KONFERENSSI HELSINGISSÄ 9.-11.11.2007

EUROPEAN NUCLEAR CRITICAL CONFERENCE 2007 

  VERONIQUE MARCHANDIER
Réseau Sortir du Nucléaire, France 
 

“French Resistance”  

Nuclear energy is a threat to peace and freedom

Energy is the key to production, consumption, comfort and wealth of a country. 
It is also the key to peace or war.
When you appreciate peace and freedom, it is hard to accept nuclear energy. That is why there is logic in this invitation from “Women for Peace” and “Women Against Nuclear Power”, movements that refuse to see their country invaded by the nuclear industry.
We are not just talking about a technological aspect, we are sharing values and we believe that nuclear energy is a threat to peace and freedom.

Radioactivity defeats our five senses

Since we cannot feel, smell, taste, hear or see radioactivity, nuclear power is an open road to total dependence on official information about eventual releases of radioactivity. What kind of freedom is left when we have to wait for information on the radio or television to know if we can still breath the air? 
When the power in place wants to preserve and protect its industry and its interests it is easy to imagine that they get tempted to minimise and lie.
That is what happened in France in 1986 when the Chernobyl reactor exploded: The French officials said that the radioactive cloud did not affect France. Consequently they did not give any recommendations about how people could have protected themselves.
Now a lot of people are suffering from thyroid problems. They have now joined together and they have made an official complaint in which they accuse the government for lying.

The temptation to lie in order to preserve industrial interests can be observed also on an international level where the official number of Chernobyl victims is told to be only 50 persons. 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is since 1959 by law subordinated to the IAEA, the international atomic energy association, the mission of which is to promote civilian – so called peaceful – nuclear energy, and to prevent proliferation of nuclear arms. That is one of the reasons why the truth about Chernobyl cannot be revealed. 
Since the 26th of April 2007, and for a whole year ahead, there is a protest action going on outside the World Health Organisation headquarter in Geneva. Every working day for a whole year, two persons are present outside the headquarters showing in a peaceful manner with simple boards the lies about Chernobyl. They are drawing attention to the fact that the World Health Organisation is not giving any assistance to people in danger and they are demanding that the law subordinating the World Health Organisation to the IAEA must be abrogated (removed).

The French situation today 

France could be at the turning point for phasing out nuclear power because some of our nuclear power plants are arriving at the end of their lifetime. France is the only country in the world that gets as much as 80 % of its electricity from nuclear power. It is a very dangerous situation and it would be wise to get rid of this mono energy industry and to start diversifying our energy production. 
But unfortunately things are going in the opposite direction with our new president and his government that are pushing for new nuclear power plants in France, in Europe and in the whole world.
The agreement to build an EPR-reactor (European Pressurized Water Reactor) was signed one week before the presidential elections. The elected president Nicolas Sarkozy made a campaign promising “a change”, but after he was elected he refused any discussion about the project to build the new reactor in Flamanville.
Actually it was no surprise to us because we knew about his close relations with the nuclear industry, which he has never hidden. The fact is also that energy was not a central question in the election campaigns. 

Our network “to phase out nuclear energy” organised protests in 5 cities in March 2007 with 60.000 people in the streets to say NO to the new EPR-reactor. According to several opinion polls only between 20 % and 35 % of the French people are of the opinion that we need nuclear power. 
But the powerful nuclear industry does not listen to the people. They keep on going.

The building of the new Flamanville reactor in the west of France means transporting electricity through 400 000 volt electric lines between 300 – 500 pylons. These lines create an electro-magnetic field around them and because they are affecting densely populated areas there is a growing opposition against the project.
People are building up movements and organisations, they pose questions to local politicians, they organise protests in the streets and they put up panels on the side of the roads to express their support for renewable energy and their opposition to nuclear energy. On the 20th of October 2007, 7000 local people were in the streets to protest against the building of this new reactor.
When the electric company people want to visit the local politicians to discuss with them about how the electric lines should pass, they call for protection by the police force. 

Good intensions for disastrous choices

The growing opposition has, however, not reached our government, which wants to appear as a modern government concerned by the ecological challenges in the world.
On October 7th a big environmental event with many environmental organisations was organised. It was called the “Grenelle de l’environnement”. 
Our organisation - Réseau Sortir du Nucléaire – a network of 800 organisations and movements wanting to phase out nuclear power is officially recognized as an association for environment protection, but we were not invited to this event.
We are allowed to speak about environment protection, but we are not allowed to speak about nuclear energy. The government and the industry even try to push the idea that nuclear energy is an ecological and sustainable energy source. The advertisement of our electric company EDF is actually “blue sky”.
The argument used is the low CO2 emissions of nuclear power plants and they try to impose the idea that nuclear power is the best way to fight against climate change.
They want to appear like the ones that are managing the situation with nuclear energy and at the same time they are making good money.

When our president is speaking about uniting energy politics of Europe he is in fact speaking about selling more and more nuclear power plants. But one fact remains: There is no solution for nuclear waste. Besides, accidents are always possible. Chernobyl is a long-lasting disaster and it is unacceptable to repeat this mistake of the past.

The French nuclear lobby managed to sell one EPR-reactor to Finland and after two years of construction works the project is already two years late. French people will have to pay tax money for the financial losses of the project. 

In France there is no need for a new reactor. We have an over production of electricity and we export 20 % of our production. As the nuclear lobby admitted themselves, the new reactor is not really for production of electricity. It is:
- a show piece for an international commercial project.
- It will give work to nuclear engineers and transmit knowledge to the next generation of nuclear engineers.

It is a 3 billion euro bill for a show piece! The money comes from the industry and the political class, and it thus concentrates the power in the same hands. But in the end the money originates from us. The system feeds itself and uses our money to make these useless and dangerous plans work. 
It is a very precarious situation putting the whole of Europe in danger. That is why we have to unite our forces in order to protect ourselves from this nuclear nightmare. 

Nuclear energy is a technology of the past. It is a patriarchal concept refused by more and more people.
The nuclear lobby is international and many European countries like Finland, Germany, Spain and Italy are investing in France for nuclear research. Medicinal purposes and the fight against climate change are the arguments they use to justify these deadly choices.

Also in France there are plans to bury the highly radioactive waste in underground tunnels. This deadly waste is radioactive for millions of years and they plan to bury it 500 metres underground, thinking, calculating, hoping everything will be all right. They refuse to listen to all the voices calling for prudence – in France and in the world. There is water running underground that can make the radioactive material travel and contaminate life for eternity. There are also splits in the rock and nowhere has such radioactive waste up till now been buried. 

But to admit that there is no available, secure solution for the nuclear waste would mean to admit that nuclear energy is a failure and a big mistake. And that is contrary to the interests of the nuclear lobby.
They tell us we should have faith in the experiments, that we have no reason to fear. We should accept to live with the probability of a huge, everlasting disaster. We should forget about such things like we should forget Chernobyl.
In the name of what? Don’t we have the right to our own memories and our thoughts?

The hope for tomorrow

There are other ways to produce comfort and to reduce CO2 in the air than nuclear power. There are lots of solutions and they are being developed in several European countries. They are the only solutions for independency and security – the renewable energies.
They are the only ones that can solve the environmental challenges the world has to face after 150 years of mad industrialization. 
They are the energies of tomorrow that we have to develop today. They will teach us not to treat our habitat so carelessly. They will put us back in the chain of life of a living planet.

We have to get together today to invent the success story of tomorrow. We can only gain by going that way.
Thanks again to “Women for Peace” and “Women Against Nuclear Power” that permit us to express ourselves at this European Anti-Nuclear Manifestation.
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Etusivulle
Päivitetty 25.10.2007