Nuclear Threat Draws WHO and Civil Society Closer

Nuclear Threat Draws WHO and Civil Society Closer

GENEVA, May 5 (IPS) – The global health agency and a network of
non-governmental organisations opposed to nuclear proliferation
have resumed their dialogue, prompted by concern over the effects
of the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima in Japan and the enduring
consequences of the explosion at Chernobyl, in Ukraine.

Margaret Chan, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO),
met Wednesday with representatives of a group of NGOs who are
harshly critical of the United Nations agency’s policies on the
health hazards of nuclear radiation.

The coalition, "IndependentWHO", presented Chan with demands
for the adoption of measures for dealing with possible nuclear
accidents like the Mar. 11 events at Fukushima and the Apr. 26,
1986 disaster in Chernobyl, in Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet

Civil society wants to see urgent measures to provide medical
care, treatment and adequate protection for the people who live
in regions contaminated with radioactivity. The activists also
want WHO and other international agencies to ensure these people
have the right kind of food to encourage rapid elimination of
radioactive substances from their bodies.

Another of their proposals is the creation of a commission on
ionising radiation and health, made up of independent experts,
to carry out scientific research on the long-term health effects
of the Chernobyl accident.

No member of the proposed commission should have any interests,
financial or otherwise, with the nuclear industry or any
associations linked with it, the coalition specified, calling for
the commission to deliver a report at the 2014 World Health
Assembly, the decision-making body of WHO.

The commission should organise working groups devoted to
evaluating and describing the gaps that have remained in
research on the effects of radiation on health.

The coalition is also requesting the publication of the minutes
of conferences in Geneva in 1995 and in Kiev in 2001 about the
consequences of the Chernobyl accident. The activists claim the
documents have not been released in order to protect the
interests of the nuclear industry.

Furthermore, the civil society group is calling for the
amendment of the 1959 agreement between WHO and the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world’s centre of
cooperation in the nuclear field, so that WHO is given full
responsibility as the primary coordinating body on issues related
to the health effects of ionising radiation.

Ionising radiation alters the physical state of atoms, the
electrically neutral component particles of matter, transforming
them into ions, which are electrically charged particles. The
ions damage the normal biological processes in living tissues.

The coalition’s main proposal was distributed to the diplomatic
missions of the countries represented in Geneva, but so far no
state has volunteered to move the proposal at the next World
Health Assembly.

The Cuban government has said it will second the motion if
another country takes the lead in proposing it, activist Alison
Katz of the People’s Health Movement told IPS. The Movement is an
NGO network that supports the People’s Charter for Health, a
declaration adopted by WHO in 1978 at the World Health Assembly
held in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan. (FIN/2011)



Nuclear energy – uncontrollable in time and space

Abolition 2000 message on the nuclear crisis in Japan and around the world

Unit 3, Fukushima

Unit 3, Fukushima

The challenge to meet increasing national and global energy demand, while at the same time reducing climate change emissions, has led a number of governments to turn to nuclear energy as a potential saviour. The Fukushima disaster should prompt us to stop, assess the real dangers and costs of nuclear energy, and make the necessary transition to the development of safe, clean, renewable energy sources.

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan devastated a whole region. Radioactive emissions from the damaged nuclear reactors are very serious, and have already contaminated food and water in Japan, prompting bans on food exports from four prefectures. The release of contaminated water into the Pacific ocean has caused growing international concern as the radiation continues to spread, beginning to impact human health and the environment on an even wider scale — across Japan and around the globe.

The Abolition 2000 Global Council expresses its concerns and support for everyone in Japan in the wake of the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor damage.  We express our condolences for the many thousands who lost their lives, our sympathies for the more than 150,000 people injured or displaced, and our best wishes for the rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Whether or not the brave technicians in Fukushima are successful in containing the bulk of the radiation remaining in the six reactors, the lesson of Fukushima is clear: natural disasters and accidents will happen. If it can go wrong sooner or later it will go wrong. Murphy’s law and nuclear technology do not mix. Fukushima is not the first – and won’t be the last – nuclear disaster as long as countries continue to operate nuclear power facilities. Three Mile Island, Windscale/Sellafield and Chernobyl are other tragic examples of nuclear accidents which have had severe impacts on human health through radiation releases.  According to a 2005 study by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences National Research Council (BEIR VII – Phase 2), a preponderance of scientific evidence shows that even low doses of ionizing radiation are likely to pose some risk of adverse health effects.

In the case of Chernobyl, tens of thousands have died and millions have had their health severely affected by the accident. Alexei Yablokov from the Russian Academy of Sciences reports that, “Prior to 1985 more than 80% of children in the Chernobyl territories of Belarus, Ukraine, and European Russia were healthy; today fewer than 20% are well. In the heavily contaminated areas it is difficult to find one healthy child.” We will not know the full impact of Fukushima on human health and the environment for many years. As the crisis continues to unfold, further releases of radioactive materials will occur until the reactors are stabilized, and the possibility of additional problems leading to an even more catastrophic radiation release remains – which is why the disaster has been given a similar rating of seriousness as Chernobyl (category 7) and could lead to a similar permanent radioactive sacrifice zone in Japan.

Fukushima clearly showed the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to external attack, whether by an act of nature or a human act. The tsunami hit the external power source and destroyed the entire cooling system of the reactor complex.

Even without accidents, disasters or attacks, nuclear energy production releases harmful quantities of radiation at all stages of the nuclear fuel chain, including uranium mining, extraction, enrichment and transport, and routine nuclear power plant operation itself.

And no-one yet has found a solution to the storing of spent nuclear fuel, the radioactive waste byproduct of nuclear power production, which is highly dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. Building nuclear reactors without knowing what to do with this radioactive waste is like building a house with no functioning toilet.

Just as alarming is the fact that every nuclear power program provides the potential to make nuclear bombs. France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea all developed nuclear weapons from nuclear energy programs. There are serious concerns that other countries with nuclear energy programs could follow suit.

As far back as 1946, a US Secretary of State Committee on Atomic Energy concluded that, “The development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes and the development of atomic energy for bombs are much of their course interchangeable and interdependent.” The committee further concluded that “…there is no prospect of security against atomic warfare” in an international system where nations are “free to develop atomic energy but only pledged not to use it for bombs.”

Claims that nuclear energy is a viable economic choice do not withstand a reality check. The true cost has been hidden by extensive government subsidies, limits on liability for accidents, and pricing structures not including the costs for waste storage and nuclear power plant decommissioning. Add to this the huge costs incurred for compensation and clean-up after accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima. Even without these costs included, the price of nuclear energy per kilowatt hour is approximately twice that of natural gas and is unlikely to decrease. The costs of wind and solar, on the other hand, are now comparable with nuclear energy and rapidly falling as energy efficiency improves and economies of scale kick in (as more wind turbines and solar panels are produced, for example, the unit cost is reduced).

Equally false are claims that nuclear energy is carbon neutral and thus a desirable choice to halt and reverse climate change. It is true that the fission of enriched uranium in a nuclear reactor to generate energy produces no carbon emissions. However, every other step required to produce nuclear energy releases carbon into the atmosphere. These include uranium yellowcake mining, ore transport, ore crushing, uranium extraction, uranium enrichment, uranium oxide furnacing, uranium casing, nuclear power plant construction and decommissioning.

J.W. Storm van Leeuwen and P. Smith (“Nuclear Power : the energy balance“) calculate that with high quality ores, the CO2 produced by the full nuclear life cycle is about one half to one third of an equivalent sized gas-fired power station. For low quality ores (less than 0.02% of U3O8 per tonne of ore), the CO2 produced by the full nuclear life cycle is equal to that produced by the equivalent gas-fired power station.

In addition, nuclear power plants take years to build and consume billions of dollars in research and development costs and subsidies. If these funds were applied instead to development of renewable energy technologies, this would enable a much faster, safer and sustainable replacement of fossil fuels. It would also enable the development of energy sources suitable to the needs of communities in developing countries – many of which are not part of national electricity grids and thus not served by centralized electricity generation but able to be served by local energy sources such as wind and solar.

The Abolition 2000 Global Council heralds the establishment of the International Renewable Energy Agency which can assist countries in meeting their energy needs through safe, sustainable and renewable energy sources without the need to resort to nuclear energy.

As noted in the 1995 Abolition 2000 Statement, “The inextricable link between the ‘peaceful’ and warlike uses of nuclear technologies and the threat to future generations inherent in creation and use of long-lived radioactive materials must be recognized. We must move toward reliance on clean, safe, renewable forms of energy production that do not provide the materials for weapons of mass destruction and do not poison the environment for thousands of centuries. The true ‘inalienable’ right is not to nuclear energy, but to life, liberty and security of person in a world free of nuclear weapons.”

In solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of victims and survivors of the nuclear energy and weapons industries we call for an end to nuclear energy and weapons – the human and environmental impact of both being uncontrollable in time and space.

Released on Tuesday 26th April, the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster

Chernobyl: 25 Years After – Stop the Nuclear Timebomb

Logo Chernobyl CongressCongress, April 8 – 10, 2011
in Urania, Berlin

Chernobyl: The Meltdown
April 26, 1986: 23 minutes, 40 seconds after 1 am, Block 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded. For the first time ever, the world witnessed a “maximum credible accident” in a nuclear installation. This disaster changed the world. The Chernobyl catastrophe made millions of people into victims. 180,000 kilograms of highly radioactive material were inside the reactor. The radioactive cloud did not stop at borders, it circled the world. Even now, the effects of the accident are still being suppressed, hushed up and made light of.

Nuclear Energy Kills
Chernobyl opened our eyes to the dangers of nuclear technology. Nuclear energy kills. Not only when there is an accident but also all along the nuclear chain. Even before one single kilowatt of electricity is produced, people are dying. Uranium mining destroys the subsistence for livelihoods of whole populations and their health. Even during “normal operations” an increased danger is present. Childhood leukaemia occurs more frequently in the vicinity of nuclear power plants. Safety deficits are ignored or tolerated. No protection from natural disasters and terror attacks exists. Radioactive waste contaminates our groundwater. We will leave behind a highly radioactive inheritance for future generations for millions of years to come.

Nuclear Energy Endangers Peace
The technology required for nuclear energy also provides the requirements for the development of nuclear weapons. Thus, more reliance on nuclear energy increases the risk of proliferation and causes the number of states possessing nuclear weapons to grow. Peace is dependent upon the abandonment of nuclear energy and converting to a decentralised system that supplies renewable energy – wars cannot be fought over the sun and the wind!

25 Years After Chernobyl
Against the will of the German people, the operational lifespan of nuclear power plants is being increased. New nuclear power plants are being planned and built in Europe. Politics are slave to the nuclear industry, The fairy tale of “clean” nuclear energy as saviour of the climate and a “stopgap technology” is doing the rounds. In place of responsible policies we find only disinformation. The success story that was renewable energy has been stalled.

The Congress
– provides information on the effects of Chernobyl
– analyses the risk potential of the nuclear chain
– offers solutions for a world free from the nuclear threat
– introduces possibilities for action

We look forward to seeing you in Berlin!

German affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Physicians for Social Responsibility in cooperation with the Society for Radiation Protection, the Physicians of Chernobyl, the Scientists Initiative for Peace and Sustainability and the Nuclear Free Future Award.

More information, programme and registration at:

Massive Protests on Shipping Nuclear Waste by AREVA

Latest news:

The train is over 14 hours late and is parked for the night 10 meters away from the windows of a sleeping room of an inhabitant!
We’re still maintening the pages of live.
Some pages in English, most "just"’ in French and German.

Voici la traduction que j’ai fait de CP de GANVA. Merci de diffuser le plus largement possible, il a déjà passé sur Stopnuclear Power Network, no-nukes-europe, David Lowry et co en GB

See here for photos:
video here:

Here’s a quick translation from French that I did. I wasn’t involved though.

Latest from the blocking of nuclear train in the direction of Germany.

The action that took place on Friday in Caen caused the the train to be delayed for 3 and a half hours. The method used to stop the train allowed the successful installation of the arm tubes safely. From this point of view, the action was a success.

The philosophy of action, like all others, was not having to physically confront the police. The actual blocking of the train based on physical barriers (metal tubes passed under the tracks) on which five militants were locked on.

It was the responsibility of the "gendarmes" and police to remove people safely.

Instead the police have deliberately injured 3 people by cutting the tubes. One of them had two severed tendons in her hand and had to undergo surgery. She remains in hospital. She is on sick leave for 30 days and will have further complications in the future. The other 2 were treated for burns out last night and were placed directly into custody.

It is unacceptable that in a non-violent action the security forces use violence and cause injury voluntarily to militants. For this reason we will be bringing the police to court.

The 6 who were in custody were released at 20:15 on Saturday and are summoned to court in Caen on 8 December 2010.

Arrests and injuries, route changed, transport delayed

City of Caen: 7 persons were arrested yesterday and got free again this evening but will have to pay a bail of 15.000 euros before 10 days. 3 of them were injured by riot police brutally cutting the chains have been moved to hospital, 2 with serious burns on their arms needing a skin transplant, 1 with some hand’s sinews cut needing surgery. Their lawyer intends to prosecute the riot policemen for unnecessary and deliberate violence. Several organisations probably will support this way.

The route of the train has been secretly changed during last night. It passed through the large cities of Reims and Strasbourg . Mayors & local authorities were not informed.

Today, November 6: This morning about 10 Greenpeace activists were arrested near the border before starting to block the train.

City of Berg : 1250 persons sitting on the railway track.

City of Kehl, at the German border: 3 activists hanging from a bridge stopped the train for 2 hours.

7pm: City of Dannenberg: peaceful demo by thousands of people.

In Germany , the train consists of 2 locomotives, 6 carriages for riot police, 11 CASTOR wagons ( nuclear waste), another 6 carriages for riot police and another 2 locomotives.

The train is now much delayed due to many protest actions.

Sophie Morel
( Réseau Sortir du Nucleaire)

Anti-nuclear rally protests against ‘Chernobyl on wheels’

Protesters confront Areva shipment of 123 tonnes of radioactive waste on 900-mile run from France to Germany. About 30,000 anti-nuclear protesters are expected to demonstrate tomorrow against a shipment of highly radioactive nuclear waste, nicknamed “Chernobyl on wheels”, that is being moved across France and Germany by train.

Read article on Guardian website

Atomic waste train back on move after anti-nuclear blockade

A train carrying reprocessed nuclear waste from France to Germany is back on the move after being blocked by protesters. The almost yearly shipment to Gorleben has become a focus for German anti-nuclear activism.

Read article on Deutsche Welle homepage

Short Video about the blockade in Caen made by an activist on YouTube

Appeal: Protesting the transfer of Russian nuclear waste to Germany

*To the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry A. Medvedev,*

*German Counsellor, Angela Merkel,*

*US President Barak Obama,*

*Secretary General of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano*


*We, the representatives of the public organizations, appeal to you to support our protest against the 1000 nuclear waste rods to be transferred to Russia from the Centre of Nuclear Research in Rossendorf (Germany).*

Continue reading

Global Push for Renewable Energy

With 142 member nations already signed on, the new International Renewable Energy Agency is promoting a fast, global transition to clean, safe, and renewable energy.

By Alice Slater

Since 1995, when more than 170 nations voted to extend the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, civil society has been calling for the establishment of an international agency to promote renewable energy sources to take the place of fossil fuels without resorting to nuclear power.

Recognizing the “inextricable link” between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, Abolition 2000, a global network for the elimination of nuclear weapons, drafted a model statute for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and lobbied nations around the world to institute it. [1] Joining with other grassroots networks working to avoid catastrophic climate change through a transition to sustainable energy, activists spoke up at numerous international meetings and conferences and conferred with national environmental departments, seeking support for an energy agency focused solely on clean, safe, renewable energy.

In January 2009, one year ago, Germany, Denmark, and Spain launched the founding meeting for IRENA in Bonn, Germany. [2] A year later, 142 of the 192 member states of the United Nations, as well as the European Union, have signed the IRENA statute. The agency has opened headquarters in Abu Dhabi and branch offices in Bonn and Vienna, and its interim-director general, Helene Pelosse, a former French environmental minister who held positions in trade and finance as well, is determined to hire a staff comprised of at least 50 percent women.

IRENA is committed to becoming a principal driving force in promoting a rapid transition toward the sustainable use of a renewable energy on a global scale. It has a mandate to promote all forms of renewable energy produced in a sustainable manner, including solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, and appropriate bio energy. It will provide practical advice and support for both industrialized and developing countries, helping them to build capacity and improve their regulatory frameworks.

This year, “IRENA will focus on building a network of international renewable energy experts, starting to map the global potential of renewables, and build up a comprehensive database of policies to promote renewable energy,” said Pelosse. It “will become a one-stop-shop for up-to-date and relevant information on renewable energy.” [3] As a pilot project, IRENA will help develop renewable energy for a number of islands within the Kingdom of Tonga that lack basic electricity. [4]

Every 30 minutes, enough of the sun’s energy reaches the Earth’s surface to meet global energy demand for an entire year. Wind can satisfy the world’s electricity needs 40 times over, and meet all global energy demands five times over. The geothermal energy stored in the top six miles of the earth’s crust contains 50,000 times the energy of the world’s known oil and gas resources. Tidal, wave, and small hydropower can also provide vast stores of energy everywhere on earth, abundant and free for every person on our planet, rich and poor alike. [5]

While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been committed to promoting nuclear power and the International Energy Agency (IEA) was established in the 1970s to handle the crisis in fossil fuel distribution, only IRENA will be solely dedicated to promoting clean, safe, renewable energy from the abundant energy resources of our planet.

As a derivative of the Greek word eirene, meaning “peace,” IRENA is particularly well-named. The rapid development of renewable energy will enable us to forego our reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels, the continued misuse of which will lead inevitably to climate catastrophe, nuclear proliferation, and perpetual resource wars. Universal reliance on sustainable energy will instead create a promising path toward creating peace on earth.

Alice Slater wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Alice is the NY Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Convener of the Abolition 2000 Sustainable Energy Working Group.

13 Best Energy Ideas (Plus a Few Duds) : Investment in energy projects will total $16 
trillion in the next two decades. Sarah van Gelder lays out over a dozen sustainable energy policies and technologies that can make our infrastructure more climate friendly.

Original article published in YES Magazine.