There may have been a fairly recent nuclear reactor disaster just across the ocean, but there was no stopping South Korea's 2011 International Nuclear Energy Olympiad, a competition challenging students to design a plan for gaining acceptance of nuclear energy in their country, from going ahead. Their information page even mentioned, without any sense of irony, that "the recent events in Fukushima have only served to heighten that challenge." I guess convincing people nuclear energy isn't dangerous - when, by illustration, it so clearly is - is pretty challenging.
Ten teams around the world participated (including one from Japan) with 'Team Steeltown', comprised of students from Canada's McMaster University, taking out the prize on September 29, the competition's final day.
And the fact of the matter is that South Korea isn't the only place where pro-nuclear propagandists are attempting to shape young minds. At the University of Hong Kong, sitting as Dean of Professional and Continuing Education is one Professor Lee. Our research recently revealed that Lee belongs to a trio of so-called 'nuclear experts' who have close business ties with the nuclear industry thereby making for a serious conflict of interest.
As always, Greenpeace brought the action to the bad guys' home turf.
We walked into the campus of the University of Hong Kong and demanded the truth from Professor Lee. We brought with us a giant novelty cheque that represented the funds Lee accepts as the "independent" non-executive director of a company - a company that is a contractor to the nuclear power industry. (More irony for you, a spokesperson even accepted the cheque). And we demanded Lee makes clear what his relationship is to the nuclear power industry.
Head to the Hong Kong site to see the intricate web of compromising relationships this trio have with the nuclear powers that be (in Traditional Chinese).
In happier news, the German engineering company Siemens has woken up and smelt the (post-apocalyptic) flowers, announcing an exit from the nuclear energy business. "The chapter is closed for us," Löscher said. "We will no longer be involved in managing the building or financing of nuclear plants," Siemens head Peter Löscher told Spiegel magazine in an interview.
We here at Greenpeace unequivocally oppose nuclear energy. From the Greenpeace International site:
"Greenpeace has always fought - and will continue to fight - vigorously against nuclear power because it is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. The only solution is to halt the expansion of all nuclear power, and for the shutdown of existing plants. We need an energy system that can fight climate change, based on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Nuclear power now delivers less energy globally than renewable energy, and the share will continue to decrease in the coming years.
"Despite what the nuclear industry tells us, building enough nuclear power stations to make a meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would cost trillions of dollars, create tens of thousands of tons of lethal high-level radioactive waste, contribute to further proliferation of nuclear weapons materials, and result in a Chernobyl-scale accident once every decade. Perhaps most significantly, it will squander the resources necessary to implement meaningful climate change solutions."