Greenpeace to D-8 : Learn from Chernobyl, Dump nuclear power

Invites SBY and Ahmadinejad to view Chernobyl exhibit in Jakarta

Feature story - May 12, 2006
Leaders attending the Fifth D-8 (Developing Eight) summit in Bali, take note of the bitter lessons of Chernobyl and focus their efforts instead into the development of genuine renewable energy alternatives.

View of the destroyed no. 4 reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power station. Following the explosion the fire and radiation leaks was not brought under control till 9 days after the accident.

On the eve of  the Fifth D-8 (Developing Eight) summit  in Bali, Greenpeace deplored moves by D-8 leaders to promote the  development of nuclear power as a cheap alternative energy source, stressing that summit leaders should learn from the bitter lessons of Chernobyl and focus their efforts instead into the development of genuine renewable energy alternatives.

The group specifically challenged Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to view its ongoing Jakarta exhibit on the Chernobyl disaster so that "both leaders may see for themselves the real and dreadful consequences to human lives and the environment brought about by "peaceful nuclear power."

"Nuclear energy is neither cheap nor safe. No solution has been found to the radioactive legacy of nuclear power plants," said Emmy Hafild, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "Nuclear power also opens the doors for the proliferation of nuclear weapons thereby fanning the flames of global conflict and insecurity. It is lamentable that instead of promoting the massive development and uptake of real renewable energy technologies, the D-8 is espousing a deadly and dangerous nuclear option," she added.

Contrary to government claims that it is cheap, nuclear power is in fact the most expensive source of energy requiring huge amounts of  subsidies and guarantees from governments -- costs that will be passed  on to consumers, citizens and local communities.

Greenpeace is opposed to nuclear power everywhere, whether for energy or military uses, and as such expresses its strong disapproval for the nuclear ambitions of Iran and other countries, including Indonesia.

Greenpeace also denounced the hypocrisy and lack of fairness by the United States and other nuclear weapon states in dealing with the current nuclear crisis in Iran. These nuclear weapon states themselves are not complying with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which requires them to reduce their own nuclear weapons.  

"The fact that there is no commitment or even acknowledgement on behalf  of the Nuclear Weapon States that they need to reduce their own  nuclear arsenal, as required under the nuclear non-proliferation  treaty, is a major part of the problem,"  Hafild pointed out.

She added that despite the human cost of the Chernobyl catastrophe (1), some governments continue to make the mistake of falling into the nuclear trap. "What happened in Chernobyl must never be repeated again. The world cannot afford another Chernobyl. We call on our leaders to lead us in the implementation of real solutions to our climate and energy crisis, instead of driving the world to the edge of nuclear madness,"  Hafild said.

The impacts of Chernobyl and other nuclear disasters are featured in a photography exhibition which Greenpeace launched at the Galeri Antara in Jakarta earlier this week.  The exhibition features poignant portraits  of individuals and families, and the stories of their life's struggle because of Chernobyl and other nuclear disasters.

(1) Approximately 270,000 cancers and 93,000 fatal cancer cases will be caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, according to a recent report released by Greenpeace entitled the Chernobyl Catastrophe: Consequences on Human Health (2006). The report looks into the ongoing health impacts of Chernobyl and concludes that radiation from the disaster has had a devastating effect on survivors: damaging immune and endocrine systems, leading to accelerated ageing, cardiovascular and blood illnesses, psychological illnesses , chromosomal aberrations and an increase in fetal deformations.

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