Greenpeace has been shouting about nuclear dangers for nearly forty years, beginning on September 15, 1971, when the Greenpeace founders protested U.S. nuclear testing. Since then we have campaigned against both nuclear weapons and nuclear power by bearing witness in test zones, supplying scientific research and by conducting direct non-violent actions to call attention to the problem.
Nuclear Testing Fails
Following the success of the very first Greenpeace action, the newly formed Greenpeace organization focused its energy on France's nuclear testing program. Over the next 20 years, there were marked victories until ultimately, a ban was adopted.
In 1971, a group of rag-tag activists set sail to Amchitka Island, Alaska to protect nuclear testing. Although the bombs went off that day, the public outcry that followed caused the U.S. to abandon its nuclear program altogether five months later. This action was the beginning of Greenpeace as we know it and the most successful environmental movement of modern times.
Next, the newly formed Greenpeace organization focused its energy on France's nuclear testing program. Over the next 20 years, there were marked victories until ultimately, a ban was adopted.
- In 1975 France ended atmospheric tests in the South Pacific after Greenpeace protests at the test site.
- In 1985, French nuclear testing in the South Pacific again became the subject of international controversy, particularly following the sinking of Greenpeace's ship, the Rainbow Warrior, by the French Secret Services.
- In 1992, France cancelled nuclear tests at Moruroa Atoll, following the Rainbow Warrior visit to the test zone, and vows to halt altogether if other nuclear nations follow suit.
- In 1995, Greenpeace actions to stop French nuclear testing received wide international attention. Over seven million people signed petitions calling for a stop to testing. France, UK, US, Russia, and China committed to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
- In 1996 the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was adopted at the United Nations.
A Ban on Dumping Radioactive Waste at Sea
After five years of intensive campaigning by Greenpeace that involved repeated actions combined with aggressive diplomatic efforts, the Parties to the London Dumping Convention invoked a moratorium on radioactive waste dumping at sea in 1983. This officially became the first year since the end of the second world war in which no radioactive wastes were dumped in the ocean. In 1993, the Convention permanently banned the dumping of radioactive and industrial waste at sea world-wide.
Nuclear Energy: Unsafe, Uneconomical and Unnecessary
Lately, the nuclear industry has been discussed in the context of energy. Nuclear power already delivers less energy globally than renewable energy, and the share will continue to decrease in the coming years. This trend is evidenced by victories in the UK, Spain and Turkey.
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 already delivers less energy globally than renewable energy, and the share will continue to decrease in the coming years. This trend is evidenced by these victories.
- In 2000 Turkey's plans to build its first nuclear reactors at Akkuyu as part of a larger project to construct 10 reactors by the year 2020 was canceled after eight years of campaigning by Greenpeace and others. The only remaining market for all major western nuclear companies is China.
- In 2006, despite heavy lobbying by the nuclear power industry, Spain confirmed that the country's eight operating plants will be phased out in favor of clean, renewable energy.
- In 2007, in a major blow to the UK government's plans to reinvigorate nuclear power, the High Court ruled their decision to back a program of new nuclear power stations was unlawful on the basis that they had failed to adequately consult citizens and groups who oppose nuclear power.
Nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomical, and unnecessary. We need ways to fight global warming and power our homes that are fast, safe, and affordable - and nuclear power is not the answer. It is a dangerous distraction from real solutions.