Anti-nuclear activists remember Chernobyl

18th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

CHERBOURG, France, April 16, 2006 (AFP) - The United States and Europe have to change their energy-guzzling ways and develop renewable sources of electricity, anti-nuclear activists argued on the weekend after staging a big protest in western France.

CHERBOURG, France, April 16, 2006 (AFP) - The United States and Europe have to change their energy-guzzling ways and develop renewable sources of electricity, anti-nuclear activists argued on the weekend after staging a big protest in western France.

More than 12,000 demonstrators filed through the town of Cherbourg Saturday in opposition to a new-generation nuclear reactor France is planning on building in the region.

The protest came just ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, the world's worst civilian nuclear accident. On April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kiev exploded and sent a radioactive cloud across Europe.

Organisers of the rally in France said that catastrophe underlined the perils of nuclear energy, which they said would be better replaced by alternative methods.

Stéphane Lhomme, spokesman of the Sortir du Nucléaire (Get Out of Nuclear Energy) group representing 700 anti-nuclear associations, noted that more than half the reactors operational in the world today are to be shut down within two decades.

"Nuclear energy is dying, and we have to help it die in dignity, which means as fast as possible," he said.

But many activists were concerned that current sky-high oil prices and increasing energy demands in developing nations such as China and India were pushing countries to adopt nuclear power.

France remains a leader in nuclear energy production, which supplies three-quarters of its electricity output through 58 reactors dotted around the country.

The new-generation European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), a Franco-German designed plant which it plans to build in Flamanville, located in northwest Normandy, confirms its intention to further develop the industry.

Finland, too, is to build one, and several countries are already working on the next generation of reactors expected to come on line from 2030 with the goal of extending their life-spans and reducing nuclear waste.

Those taking part in the French protest warned that nuclear energy was no panacea, however, and that reduction in energy consumption was key.

"We present nuclear energy as an alternative to the problem of the greenhouse effect, but this just perpetuates the illusion that we can continue to consume (energy) like we are doing up to then," the former head of the Greens bloc in the European parliament, Paul Lannoye, said.

Lhomme agreed. "If we really want to give this planet a chance, we have to make big cuts to energy consumption, especially in the wealthy countries — the United States, western Europe and Japan. At the same time, we have to develop renewable energy sources."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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