Theater of Cruelty


Because nuclear power plants do not emit greenhouse gases, the nuclear power industry has gained more followers. But the leaks from the Japanese nuclear power plant last week show that one does not solve the climate problems by reinforcing another problem, says Lars Haltbrekken, leader of the Norwegian Nature Conservation Association.


Arguing that nuclear power plants do not emit greenhouse gases, the nuclear power industry has shaken off the ghosts of the Chernobyl accident and once again caught wind in the sails. But on June 16 did earthquakes cause havoc and emissions from the world's largest nuclear power plant Kashiwazaki-Kariwa?

- We do not solve one problem by reinforcing another. The events in Japan show that accidents in the nuclear power industry are not just a thing of the past. In Norway, there are forces working to build nuclear power based on thorium instead of uranium. They argue that thorium is not dangerous. But those who work for this legitimize nuclear power in general. Thorium technology can only become relevant in 20-30 years. The real thing is today's uranium technology.

Many blamed the Chernobyl accident on a communist system in a Soviet on the way to disintegration, and that similarly could not happen in Western democracies?

- No nuclear power plants are safe. Some are more secure than others. And although accidents happen infrequently, the risk is formidable when it does. In addition, it has not yet been possible to provide answers on how to deal with hazardous waste for hundreds of thousands of years. It does not help to put up a sign with the warning sign for nuclear waste. We have signs from ancient Egypt from a few thousand years ago that we have not yet been able to decipher.

In June, an overall environmental movement in Norway supported a call for nuclear power as a solution to the climate challenges. Aren't you afraid of being accused of being a doom of the day?

- People are welcome to put labels on us. But it's getting too easy. Many claimed that we were spreading doomsday prophecies in the climate debate of the 1980s and 90s. Now more and more scientific studies show that we were right. The EU and Norway now aim for the temperature increase not to exceed two degrees over the next 100 years. In the 1990s, the environmental movement came up with proposals that would lead to a temperature increase of only half a degree. But now it's too late because no one listened to us. We are accused of doomsday prophecy all the time. But the problem is that politicians do not dare to make unpopular decisions. They think as far as tomorrow's newspaper headlines or the height of the next election.

You are also accused of being a technology optician?

- The environmental movement is among those who think a lot about technological solutions. Nuclear power plants can be made safer. It is said that the new nuclear power plant being built in Finland will withstand a terrorist attack similar to the airstrikes against the United States on September 11, 2001. But there are old uncertain nuclear power plants that will be in operation for a long time to come. The safety of waste management and transport of radioactive substances remains a problem. Moreover, one can never protect oneself against natural disasters, which will get worse over the years due to the man-made climate problems.

But nuclear power does help solve the climate problems by not emitting greenhouse gases?

- It is true that the production of power in the nuclear power plants does not emit CO2. But if you look at the entire production cycle, that's not true. Both during the extraction of uranium in the mines and the transport of uranium and waste, CO2 is emitted. In addition, a new study by the British government shows that a doubling of nuclear power plants in the UK over the next 20 years would only result in a reduction of eight percent of the country's emissions.

The day after the Japan earthquake, an accident involving a train carrying yellow phosphorus in Ukraine led to large emissions of toxic gases. The country's Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk called it a disaster in line with the Chernobyl accident?

- When it comes to dangerous toxins, we must get international bans on substances we do not need, as it now looks like we can get in relation to mercury. It is not the consumer who goes to the store and, for example, demands toys that contain toxic chemicals. Otherwise, we can learn from major accidents that when they first happen, the consequences are greater the larger the units are. A giant nuclear power plant can stand safely for a long time, but when the accident is out, the destruction becomes formidable. You can say that small things are good, or that everything can be overused. In the fight against climate emissions, we must not put all our eggs in one basket. Biodiesel is good, but if everything is invested in it, it will lead to the destruction of rainforests and hunger for people in poor countries. ■

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