Greenpeace calls on ASEAN governments to abandon nukes on Chernobyl anniversary

Press release - April 26, 2011
Bangkok/Jakarta/Manila, 26 April 2011— Greenpeace today marked the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear disaster with a call to governments of Southeast Asia to abandon all plans to develop nuclear power plants in the region to ensure safety of its citizens. Greenpeace is calling on ASEAN heads of state to invest heavily in energy efficiency and harness clean, safe renewable energies to meet their country’s energy requirements instead of dirty coal and dangerous nuclear energy.

In Bangkok,  Greenpeace along with other NGOs launched the “Thai Citizens No Nukes Network” during a public forum co-organized by Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute entitled “From Chernobyl to Fukashima.”

In Jakarta, Greenpeace and other NGOs in the Indonesian anti-nuclear movement, including Walhi, IESR, Marem and nuclear experts, launched the report "Public Lies of Nuclear Promoters in Indonesia" to expose government-sanctioned deception to create public acceptance for dangerous nuclear energy.

In Metro Manila, Greenpeace activists in black cloaks and masks took the message to the doorsteps of the Philippine Department of Energy as they held a grim procession highlighting 25 of the world’s worst nuclear disasters to challenge Energy Secretary Jose Almendras to strike out all nuclear options in Philippine energy plans.

“Chernobyl is to date the world’s worst civilian nuclear accident but the unfolding disaster in Fukushima, Japan demonstrates that no amount of technological sophistication or safety culture can prepare any country or its people to the inherent dangers of nuclear energy.  Like in Chernobyl, the Fukushima incident has shown that we cannot control or manage nuclear energy and its fallout. ” said Tara Buakamsri, Campaigns Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

A quarter of a century after Chernobyl, the situation in the area surrounding the Chernobyl reactor show few signs of improvement.  Widespread contamination, constant resettlements and long-term health impacts still pose threats to communities.  And, despite ‘modernizations’ the root causes of nuclear technology’s vulnerability to accidents remain the same: unexpected technological failures, operator errors, poor safety standards due to political and economic pressures, lack of transparency in the industry as a whole, and natural disasters. 

Southeast Asia is home to strong grassroots movements against dangerous nuclear energy, and dirty coal power.  However, nuclear energy promoters in Southeast Asia are ignoring the clear warnings and downplaying the risks.  As Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as Vietnam and Malaysia are entertaining plans to build nuclear power plants in next few decades.  ASEAN countries, despite their vulnerability to natural disasters in the Pacific “ring of fire” and their general lack of disaster preparedness, have not yet ruled out nuclear power and the great costs and risks it entails.

Costs to manage the Chernobyl disaster which up to now continues to drain Ukraine and Europe millions of Euro annually, is estimated to cost more than 350 billion Euro.  The disaster also severely contaminated between 125,000 and 150,000 square kilometres in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine.  A Greenpeace-commissioned study based on Belarus national cancer statistics estimated that approximately 270,000 cancers and 93,000 fatal cancer cases will be caused by Chernobyl.

Greenpeace believes that to secure a safe and better future countries must choose renewable energy over nuclear power.  Greenpeace has long argued that renewable energy has the potential to meet a substantial share of our future energy demand. The Energy [R]evolution  scenario details how – combined with energy efficiency and a transformed electricity grid – renewable energy could produce 95% of electricity worldwide by 2050. Other studies have made predictions for different time frames or regions. PricewaterhouseCoopers, for example, predicts that Europe and North Africa could run on 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace.