Nuclear Power Intrinsically Hazardous, A Deadly Legacy For Future Generations: HRF

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) takes strong exception to the assertion in Visakhapatnam city this Monday by Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India Mr R Chidambaram that nuclear energy plays an important role in tackling energy security and the ongoing climate change crisis. His view is in line with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent statement that India could increase its atomic electricity generation capacity to 470,000 MW by 2050, if new nuclear power plants were in place and that this “would not only sharply reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels but also contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.”

The HRF is of the opinion that this is a false assumption. Nuclear power is not a solution to the ongoing climate crisis. The promise of nil greenhouse gas (GHG) emission is nothing more than a myth if the entire nuclear fuel cycle – including mining, milling, transportation, construction of the power plant, decommissioning and waste storage – is considered. In the complete production chain of nuclear power, a considerable amount of carbon dioxide is released.

The HRF holds that nuclear power has to be rejected because it is intrinsically hazardous, extremely dangerous and is a deadly legacy for future generations. Contrary to popular perception, nuclear power is actually more expensive than power from conventional sources like coal, gas and hydro and is definitely not a solution to the climate crisis.

We are opposed to nuclear power because it creates dangerous waste, brings unnecessary risks and cannot rescue us from climate change. Nuclear power is too slow, expensive, and inflexible a technology to address climate change, and would entail the building of thousands of new nuclear reactors. These reactors would result in intensified proliferation, waste, and safety problems. These reactors would also drain investment away from renewable technologies. Clean, safe, renewable energy sources – such as wind, solar, advanced hydroelectric and some types of biomass and geothermal energy – can reliably generate as much energy as conventional fuels without significant carbon emissions, destructive mining or the production of radioactive waste. Moreover, no proven solution exists worldwide for dealing with radioactive waste

India needs an energy system that can fight climate change, based on renewable energy and energy efficiency, not on fossil fuels, much less on nuclear fuel. Despite what the government and the nuclear industry tell us, building nuclear power stations will squander resources necessary to implement meaningful climate change solutions. Climate change experts the world over have recognised nuclear power as a dirty, dangerous and unnecessary technology. It is worth recalling that a UN Sustainable Development Conference in April 2001 refused to label nuclear a sustainable technology. The risks from nuclear energy are real, inherent and long-lasting. We can reduce carbon emissions much more cheaply and more effectively using renewable energy and energy efficiency measures

The contention that nuclear power is indispensable to meet future energy needs is also false; for energy demand, and ‘need’, is obviously a function of the development paradigm chosen and pursued. And ‘energy security’ is not an autonomous objective entity, but must be in alignment with other chosen objectives which must necessarily include equitable growth and concerns for ecology. HRF believes that ‘energy security’ can be achieved by increasing efficiency of electricity generation, transmission and distribution, doing away with extravagant and wasteful use of energy, pursuing a path of low-energy intensity and decentralised development and most importantly, making optimum use of alternative clean energy options. The Central government must radically raise investment in development of sustainable and renewable energy sources and technologies, especially wind and solar energy.

HRF believes that nuclear power is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. We demand a complete stop to the construction of all new nuclear power plants and uranium mining.

VS Krishna
HRF State general secretary


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