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.

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.  (Briefing: Climate change - Nuclear not the answer.)

"Nuclear power plants are, next to nuclear warheads themselves, the most dangerous devices that man has ever created. Their construction and proliferation is the most irresponsible, in fact the most criminal, act ever to have taken place on this planet."

Patrick Moore, Assault on Future Generations, 1976

The Nuclear Age began in July 1945 when the US tested their first nuclear bomb near Alamogordo, New Mexico. A few years later, in 1953, President Eisenhower launched his "Atoms for Peace" Programme at the UN amid a wave of unbridled atomic optimism.

But as we know there is nothing "peaceful" about all things nuclear. More than half a century after Eisenhower's speech the planet is left with the legacy of nuclear waste. This legacy is beginning to be recognised for what it truly is.

Things are moving slowly in the right direction. In November 2000 the world recognised nuclear power as a dirty, dangerous and unnecessary technology by refusing to give it greenhouse gas credits during the UN Climate Change talks in The Hague. Nuclear power was dealt a further blow when a UN Sustainable Development Conference refused to label nuclear a sustainable technology in April 2001.

The risks from nuclear energy are real, inherent and long-lasting.

Safety: No reactor in the world is inherently safe. All operational reactors have inherent safety flaws, which cannot be eliminated by safety upgrading. Highly radioactive spent fuel requires constant cooling. If this fails, it could lead to a catastrophic release of radioactivity. They are also highly vulnerable to deliberate acts of sabotage, including terrorist attack.

Waste: From the moment uranium is mined nuclear waste on a massive scale is produced. There is no secure, risk free way to store nuclear waste. No country in the world has a solution for high-level waste that stays radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. The least damaging option at this current time is for waste to be stored above ground, in dry storage at the site of origin, but this option also presents major challenges and the threats.

Weapons proliferation: The possession of nuclear weapons by the US, Russia, France, the UK and China has encouraged the further proliferation of nuclear technology and materials. Every state that has a nuclear power capability, has the means to obtain nuclear material usable in a nuclear weapon. Basically this means that the 44 nuclear power states could become 44 nuclear weapons states. Many nations that have active commercial nuclear power programs, began their research with two objectives - electricity generation and the option to develop nuclear weapons. Also nuclear programs based on reprocessing plutonium from spent fuel have dramatically increased the risk of proliferation as the creation of more plutonium, means more nuclear waste which in turn means more materials available for the creation of dirty bombs.

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