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Nuclear power on the film screen

There are several good reasons why the Uranium festival should be organized in Norway. But not with the support of Statoil.


It is probably not too hard to claim when humanity is literally on the edge of the cliff. This is certainly the impression during the Uranium Film Festival, which recently took place in Berlin. How can the past ruin our future? It may soon turn out that those who prioritize jobs over the environment, in the end, are left without any physical existence, besides access to clean water and soil. Creating jobs in such a situation is likely to be secondary. When our outside world is at risk of being fatal, getting jobs is an absurd business.

Much has happened in Berlin over the years. The element uranium and Berlin actually have something in common: In 1789, the heavy metal was discovered by one of the city's scientists. In 1938, other researchers with nuclear decomposition succeeded in Berlin-Dahlem. The rumor of the new energy source spread quickly, and would change the earth forever. Hundreds of nuclear power plants were built across the globe. Countless atomic bombs with a terrible destruction force were constructed.

The founders of the film festival Uranium were Marcia Gomes de Oliveira and Norbert Suchanek. In 2008, they created the documentary The Speech of the Chief about the lives of the Mbya people in Brazil. Several nuclear power plants were built in the rural areas of the Mbya. The directors were aware that there were many films about the theme, but that there was a platform for viewing the films. Thus, the Uranium festival was a fact.

To begin with, it was just a small annual festival in Rio de Janeiro. Two months before it was due to open in March 2011, the Fukushima nuclear disaster took place in Japan. All at once, an almost forgotten theme was put back on the agenda, Oliveira points out: “We were totally unexpected overnight for a global festival. There were requests from the United States, South Africa and Europe. ”The festival now takes place annually in Portugal, India, the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan and Germany. Maybe soon in Norway too?

Berlin Festival. Thematically, the film festival not only deals with nuclear power in itself, but also tries to illuminate the entire uranium complex. "We want to be a reminder of all disasters, and to problematize the entire nuclear chain process from uranium mining through nuclear medicine right up to the uranium waste challenge," says Suchanek. Over 300 films are in the festival's inventory so far.

For Jutta Wunderlich, festival coordinator in Berlin, the Chernobyl disaster was the decisive event of her life. In 2014, she picked up the festival for the German capital. During this fall's festival, 22 documentaries and feature films with atomic themes were shown at Kulturbryggeriet in Prenzlauer Berg.

In fact, 70 percent of all uranium deposits in the world are in rural areas of indigenous peoples.

The fact that the festival, which is referred to as the "Cannes Nuclear Festival", receives financial support from the German Ministry of the Environment, caused a loud protest among one of those present in Berlin: "You are corrupt!" shouted the lady to the festival management. She believed that the event had lost all credibility as the Ministry of the Environment itself operates polluting nuclear power plants in Germany. "Rather hold the festival in a smaller format," she admonished. The management defended themselves by saying that they desperately need all the support they can get to run the festival at all. After all, they have managed to stack it on its legs for only 10 euros, including man-hours.

The film medium is best suited to highlight invisible and threatening dangers, claims the festival's high protector Jörg Sommer. "The theme is extremely complex – we want to give as many people as possible an insight into the problem," he says. Italian photographer Pierpaolo Mittica exhibited strong photographs under the title "Chernobyl 30 years after" in the cinema foyer.

Lies and secrecy. First out was the Danish feature film The idealist, which is based on a true but secretive story of an American B52 bomber that crashed on Greenland in 1968 with several hydrogen bombs on board. Hydrogen bombs are fusion bombs and more powerful than nuclear bombs – in fact 73 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. The area was radioactively contaminated with plutonium, among others. The American Air Base Thule was built in 1951 on the northwest side of Greenland, and is an important base for the United States to this day. The Polarinuites who originally lived there were forced to move to Qaanaaq further north on the continent in 1953. They received a small replacement.

Everywhere are poisoned remains of vehicles and radioactive scrap that children play with.

In short, we meet radio reporter Paul Brink from Aalborg who is trying to find out if Danish workers who cleaned up after the crash had been radioactively contaminated by the plutonium-polluted snow at the accident site. The snow samples were stored in the US in a secret location. Brink is constantly trying to find evidence so that the workers can receive compensation from the Danish state. It turns out that the Danish democratic bureaucracy is constantly sticking the wheels of Brink, thus preventing him from finding the truth. The Copenhagen Ministry of Health denies having the plutonium samples from the plane crash in 1968. Finally, Brink reveals that the samples have just been in the institution for all years, and that they were evaded by the public because of the cold war. The US and Denmark had a secret agreement. Brink receives threats and is pursued by unidentified persons. The Danish population was also reserved for nuclear weapons to be stored on Danish soil. Prime Minister HC Hansen must finally admit to having lied to the Danish people and to have led the workers behind the light. They eventually receive $ 8500 in damages each, even though they are injured for life – some have died of cancer. However, the workers are satisfied, and in addition have been given moral uplift. Brink, on the other hand, is disappointed by the low amount of compensation that he has laboriously fought for. The film finds that democratic structures do not in themselves prevent lies and secrecy. The population was fooled. It is otherwise revealed that Greenland is rich in uranium deposits that will be extracted in the near future. As is well known, uranium mining is radioactive pollutant for the environment.

Poisoned remains. Another film worth mentioning is the documentary What will be left after the wars, which is directed by German ARD by Karin Leukefeld. The film about Iraq is terribly depressing. In the 1991 war "Desert Storm" against Saddam, large amounts of uranium ammunition were used to take out bunkers and tanks. The consequences for the population are terrible. We see many malformed babies and malformations at the very worst of the population. Iraqis must struggle with this radioactive uranium pollution for many generations to come. The 2003 invasion has not improved the situation. Everywhere are poisoned remains of vehicles and radioactive scrap that children play with. Contaminated groundwater, soil and landmines have become the children's "natural" environment.

The civil war is still going on, people are fleeing an unsustainable and inhumane environmental disaster.

Norway and ethics. Let's look at ourselves for a moment: Not only in North Dakota do Norwegian investments resist. What about StatoilHydro's involvement in Alberta? Statoil also participates in the huge Marcellus field in Pennsylvania. A Native American uprising in Dakota needed to awaken Norwegian parliamentarians. Norwegian politicians are clearly not interested in ethics or indigenous rights, which they themselves have signed through the UN.

In 2007, StatoilHydro bought the Canadian North American Oil Sands Corporation for NOK 12 billion. In the Athabasca field, oil sand is extracted in environmentally destructive quarries or by steam and chemical solvents. Recovery spits out millions of tonnes of CO2 due to gas burning. The emissions currently have 140 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, according to Greenpeace. Large boreal forests are leveled with the soil so that biodiversity in the region disappears. The Indians protest loudly against the environmental vandalism. The recovery is referred to as the dirtiest business any Norwegian company is in. The growth of the oil and coal industry in recent decades is about to suffocate the earth, primarily due to huge methane gas emissions. Fossil energy resources are outdated and belong to the past, many believe. Uranium is extracted from great depths in the earth's crust and is very toxic. In fact, 70 percent of all uranium deposits in the world are in rural areas of indigenous peoples.

Reparation. A timely question must be allowed to be asked: Is the Storting aware of its responsibility? Is section 112 on the environmental provision not taken seriously? And – should not democracy have reacted long ago? Who takes responsibility for environmental damage, oil spills and radioactive contamination that takes the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and other inhabitants?

One answer can be given: At least not Statoil and the Oil Fund. It is good that SV and MDG are now on the track, but it is reasonably late to say when shale oil recovery has continued since 2000. Thousands of oil wells have already contaminated soil and groundwater, rivers and streams. All parties have been sitting at Løvebakken for a while – long enough to inform about the Bakken field. Besides, Statoil is not just pulling out financially, the company should also clean it up, repair the natural damage, pay compensation and redress – if at all possible.

Conclusion: Get the Uranium festival to Norway as soon as possible! But don't accept support from Statoil, the Oil Fund or DNB – they have probably lost their ethical credibility for a few hundred years to come.

Hans-Georg Kohler
Hans-Georg Kohler
Kohler is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid. Artist.

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