Anti-nuclear Movement

From Wikipedia

The anti-nuclear movement is a social movement that opposes the use of nuclear technologies. Many direct action groups, environmental groups, and professional organisations[2][3] have identified themselves with the movement at the local, national, and international level. Major anti-nuclear groups include Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace,International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. The initial objective of the movement was nuclear disarmament, though the focus has shifted to include opposition to the use of nuclear power.

There have been many large anti-nuclear demonstrations and protests. A protest against nuclear power occurred in July 1977 in Bilbao, Spain, with up to 200,000 people in attendance. Following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, an anti-nuclear protest was held in New York City, involving 200,000 people. In 1981, Germany’s largest anti-nuclear power demonstration took place to protest against the Brokdorf Nuclear Power Plant west of Hamburg; some 100,000 people came face to face with 10,000 police officers. The largest anti-nuclear protest was held on June 12, 1982, when one million people demonstrated in New York City against nuclear weapons. A 1983 nuclear weapons protest in West Berlin had about 600,000 participants. In May 1986, following theChernobyl disaster, an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people marched in Rome to protest against the Italian nuclear program.   

For many years after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster nuclear power was off the policy agenda in most countries, and the anti-nuclear power movement seemed to have won its case. Some anti-nuclear groups disbanded. In the 2000s (decade), however, following public relations activities by the nuclear industry, advances in nuclear reactor designs, and concerns about climate change, nuclear power issues came back into energy policy discussions in some countries. The2011 Japanese nuclear accidents subsequently undermined the nuclear power industry’s proposed renaissance and revived anti-nuclear passions worldwide, putting governments on the defensive.[8]As of 2011, countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Norway remain opposed to nuclear power. Germany and Switzerland are phasing-out nuclear power.

Concerns about nuclear power

The public “perceives nuclear power as a very risky technology” and, around the world, nuclear energy has declined in popularity since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.[32][33][34] Anti-nuclear critics see nuclear power as a dangerous, expensive way to boil water to generate electricity.[35] Opponents of nuclear power have raised a number of related concerns:[36]

  • Nuclear accidents: a concern that the core of a nuclear power plant could overheat and melt down, releasing radioactivity.
  • Radioactive waste disposal: a concern that nuclear power results in large amounts of radioactive waste, some of which remains dangerous for very long periods.
  • Nuclear proliferation: a concern that the facilities and expertise to produce nuclear power can be readily adapted to produce nuclear weapons.
  • High cost: a concern that nuclear power plants are very expensive.
  • Nuclear terrorism: a concern that nuclear facilities could be targeted by terrorists or criminals.
  • Curtailed civil liberties: a concern that the risk of nuclear accidents, proliferation and terrorism may be used to justify restraints on citizen rights.

Of these concerns, nuclear accidents and disposal of long-lived radioactive waste have probably had the greatest public impact worldwide.[36] Anti-nuclear campaigners point to the 2011Fukushima nuclear emergency as proof that nuclear power can never be 100% safe.[37]

In his book Global Fission: The Battle Over Nuclear Power, Jim Falk explores connections between technological concerns and political concerns. Falk suggests that concerns of citizen groups or individuals who oppose nuclear power have often focused initially on the “range of physical hazards which accompany the technology”. Concern often starts with a single issue, such as radioactive waste, but over time concerns usually spread and the focus broadens. Falk suggests that with a richer and more sophisticated understanding of issues comes more concerns and eventually, almost inevitably says Falk, this leads to a “concern over the political relations of the nuclear industry”.

John Vidal has said “The point is that right across the world it is not just the nuclear technology which is so offensive to people, but the arrogance, callousness and ruthless steamrollering of any opposition that invariably accompanies nuclear projects. What the pro-nuclear folk here do not seem to understand is that the abuse of political power is as dangerous as the power source itself”.

Falk argues that if all the different concerns over the physical hazards of nuclear power were distilled into one succinct statement, it might be this: “that it is a technology whose safety people deeply distrust”. Falk says that that distrust also applies more widely, to the whole nuclear enterprise:

People must have come not only to distrust the safety of the technology but also the authority of those who have assured them so confidently that nuclear power is safe. In this sense people distrust the entire nuclear enterprise — not only its technology, but the public and private organizations, the political parties, and those often prestigious scientists who advocate and assist in the development of nuclear power.[38]

In 2010, Baruch Fischhoff, a social science professor said that many people really do not trust the nuclear industry. He stated that “although it hasn’t done anything recently to lose the general public’s trust, it hasn’t done anything to gain people’s trust”.[40]

M.V. Ramana says that “distrust of the social institutions that manage nuclear energy is widespread”, and a 2001 survey by the European Commission found that “only 10.1 percent of Europeans trusted the nuclear industry”. This public distrust is periodically reinforced by safety violations by nuclear companies, or through ineffectiveness or corruption on the part of nuclear regulatory authorities. Once lost, says Ramana, trust is extremely difficult to regain.[41]

Faced with public antipathy, the nuclear industry has “tried a variety of strategies to persuade the public to accept nuclear power”, including the publication of numerous “fact sheets” that discuss issues of public concern. M.V. Ramana says that none of these strategies have been very successful.[42]

Nuclear proponents have tried to regain public support by offering newer, safer, reactor designs. These designs include those that incorporate passive safety and Small Modular Reactors. While these reactor designs “are intended to inspire trust, they may have an unintended effect: creating distrust of older reactors that lack the touted safety features”.

Since 2000 the nuclear industry has undertaken an international media and lobbying campaign to promote nuclear power as a solution to the enhanced greenhouse effect and climate change. Nuclear power, the industry claims, emits no or negligible amounts of carbon dioxide. Anti-nuclear groups respond by saying that only reactor operation is free of carbon dioxide emissions. All other stages of the nuclear fuel chain – mining, milling, transport, fuel fabrication, enrichment, reactor construction, decommissioning and waste management – use fossil fuels and hence emit carbon dioxide.

In 2011, a French court fined Électricité de France (EDF) €1.5m and jailed two senior employees for spying on Greenpeace, including hacking into Greenpeace’s computer systems. Greenpeace was awarded €500,000 in damages. Although EDF claimed that a security firm had only been employed to monitor Greenpeace, the court disagreed, jailing the head and deputy head of EDF’s nuclear security operation for three years each. Two employees of the security firm, Kargus, run by a former member of France’s secret services, received sentences of three and two years respectively.

Country Operating Under construction Planned
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 Armenia 1 0 1
 Bangladesh 0 0 1
 Belarus 0 0 2
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 Brazil 2 1 0
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 Canada 18 2 4
 China 13 27 50
 Croatia 1 0 0
 Czech Republic 6 0 2
 Egypt 0 0 0
 Finland 4 1 0
 France 58 1 1
 Germany 17 0 0
 Hungary 4 0 0
 India 20 4 20
 Indonesia 0 0 2
 Sri Lanka 0 0 1
 Iran 0 1 2
 Japan 55 2 12
 Kazakhstan 0 0 2
 Korea, South (ROK) 21 7 4
 Mexico 2 0 0
 Netherlands 1 0 0
 Pakistan 3 1 2
 Poland 0 0 6
 Romania 2 0 2
 Russia 32 10 14
 Slovakia 4 2 0
 Slovenia 1 0 0
 South Africa 2 0 3
 Spain 8 0 0
 Sweden 10 0 0
 Switzerland 5 0 0
 Taiwan (ROC) 6 2 1
 Thailand 0 0 1
 Turkey 0 0 4
 Ukraine 15 0 2
 United Arab Emirates 0 0 4
 United Kingdom 19 0 4
 United States 104 1 9
 Vietnam 0 0 4
World 441 60 150  
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One Response to Anti-nuclear Movement

  1. jsen says:

    Save the Koodankulam Protesters
    Over 6,000 people face prison for their non-violent opposition to the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, India. Now, many of the protesters have commenced an indefinite hunger strike in a last-ditch attempt to save their freedom and stop the nuclear plant — and only our added pressure can for…
    Urgent Message from Koodankulam: Police Seige Around Idinthakarai Again
    Urgent Message from Idinthakarai
    Arrest Alert
    May 9, 2012
    Curfew orders have just been promulgated in our area once again right after our planning meetings with the youth, women, community elders and the Idinthakarai village committee on May 8, 2012. Thousands of police personnel are being posted in and around Koodankulam in haste. We get reliable tips that the authorities are planning to clamp down our protest and arrest all of us, possibly tonight. Such a pre-dawn operation that the government usually does could be bloody as thousands of men, women and children from several villages are sleeping around the Church at Idinthakarai.
    This action may be planned to cover up a recent accident at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP). It is said that two young men, Sivakumar and Esakkimuthu, were injured on May 4 in an alleged blast at KKNPP and they were admitted in a private hospital at Anjugramam. Dr. Tamilarasu who treated the men confirmed the accident according to a newspaper report (The Indian Express, May 8, 2012). One of the young men’s fathers talked to the Puthiya Thalaimurai television on May 8, 2012 that he was not even allowed to see his son.
    On May 8, 2012, we also held a Press Meet at Idinthakarai at 4:00 PM in which we produced the ledgers with tens of thousands of signatures of people from some 60 villages opposing the KKNPP. This is a clear proof that the central and state governments are acting against the will of the local people and are thrusting the dangerous nuclear power project down our throats in an authoritarian and arrogant manner. We also produced some 24,000 voter ID cards that the people had surrendered in protest against the governments’ callous attitude towards the 302 women and 35 men indefinite hunger strikers. As the Indian government and the state governments do not respect ordinary people’s lives and interests in India, we also launched the “Respect India” Campaign along the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s “Quit India” campaign of 1942.
    The Tamil Nadu police have been harassing local people when they close their shops in support of our protests or when they travel to neighboring villages. The police take individual pot shots of the people, shoot group photos, take down the vehicle numbers, abuse with foul language and intimidate them. When a curfew was imposed earlier on our area by the Tamil Nadu government on March 19, 2012, the authorities divided the local communities by announcing a Rs. 500 crore bribery package to the local bodies, stifled news reports on us by silencing the media and isolated the people by distancing the Church.
    It is so strange and unfortunate that the central and state governments treat us, nonviolent and democratic Gandhian activists, as some kind of dangerous extremists. The hunger strikers are very weak and feeble but they refuse to give up without getting our demands fulfilled. Instead of talking to us, the Tamil Nadu government seems to be preparing for a highhanded behavior and violence to put us all down.
    Please contact the following officers and demand justice for our people:
    [1] Dr. R. Selvaraj, District Collector, Tirunelveli District, Tirunelveli. Phone: 91-462-2500828; Fax: 91-462-2500224; Mobile: 91-9444185000;
    [2] Mr. V. Varadharaju; Phone: 91-462-2568031; Mobile: 91-9840970530; Email:
    [3] Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009, India; Phones: 91-44-25672345 (W); 91-44-25670215 (H); Faxes: 91-44-28133510; 25676929; 25671441; 28130787.
    [4] Mr. Debendranath Sarangi, Chief Secretary; Phone: 91-44-25671555; Fax: 91-44-25672304; Email:
    [5] Dr. Sheela Priya, Additional Chief Secretary; Phone: 91-44-25674234; Fax: 91-44-25675163. Email:
    The Struggle Committee,
    People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy

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