French greens call for end to nuclear energy

PARIS Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:52am EDT

A helicopter flies past Japan's Fukushima Daiichi No.1 Nuclear reactor March 12, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A helicopter flies past Japan's Fukushima Daiichi No.1 Nuclear reactor March 12, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

PARIS (Reuters) - French green groups renewed a call on Saturday for France to end its dependence on nuclear power, saying a radiation leak at a Japanese atomic power plant showed there were no safety guarantees in the industry.

The Japanese Daiichi 1 facility north of Tokyo started leaking radiation after an explosion blew the roof off the plant that had been shaken in a massive earthquake on Friday, raising fears of a meltdown.

French officials were due to meet to discuss the situation and possible precautionary measures, but green groups said it was time to dump a technology that had led to the worst civilian nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986.

"It's clear that when there's a significant natural disaster, all the so-called safety measures fail in a country with the highest level of technical know-how," Cecile Duflot, head of the green Europe Ecologie-Les Verts party, told Reuters.

"The nuclear risk is not a risk that can really be controlled."

France has 58 nuclear reactors spread over 19 sites, providing almost four-fifths of the country's electricity and making it the second-biggest nuclear country after the United States. Japan has 55 nuclear reactors.

French anti-nuclear network "Sortir du nucleaire" described Japan's stricken nuclear plant as a "new Chernobyl."

"This is indeed a very serious nuclear accident that is currently taking place in Japan, of a severity comparable to that of Three Mile Island and that of Chernobyl, which took place just about 25 years ago," the group said in a statement.

Chernobyl exploded in 1986, spewing out clouds of radioactivity. Human and technical error caused a confused response at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, leading to a meltdown of the core and a write-off of the reactor in 1979.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said they rated the incident as less serious than both accidents. [nTKZ00680]

Nuclear experts also said the explosion at the Japanese reactor should not reach the magnitude of Chernobyl because the reactor's core seemed to be intact.

But Greenpeace said the situation was "more and more alarming."

"An explosion in one reactor could already have released very high doses of radioactivity, and other reactors also seem to be in a critical situation," Greenpeace said in a statement.

France's ASN nuclear safety authority said it was stepping up the monitoring of air quality over France.

The president of the IRSN radiation protection and nuclear safety institution, Agnes Buzyn, told a news conference that real-time data on air quality would be made available to reassure the public.

Buzyn and ASN President Andre-Claude Lacoste were due to meet Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Energy Minister Eric Besson and top executives from nuclear reactor maker Areva and power giant EDF at the ecology ministry later on Saturday.

(Additional reporting by Matthias Blamont; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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Comments (5)
Savannahbob wrote:
The point here should be less a reaction to the damage done by nukes and more the total lack of responsibility on the part of the consumer to the health of the planet. Society needs to set up criteria for all products, with ratings for benefits to mankind and costs to ecology

Mar 13, 2011 12:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
VeronicaLodge wrote:
How many thousands of people have died in coal mine accidents, explosions, cave-ins? It’s odd, but when people die in coal mines, you never hear of any groups that want to stop coal mining. Why is that? Dead is dead. What’s the difference? And, after airplanes crash, no one says to stop flying airplanes. And even though 50,000 people die every year in automobile accidents, in the USA, you never hear anyone say that we should stop driving cars.

Mar 13, 2011 3:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Eideard wrote:
There are no guarantees you won’t crash your car, either. Leave the nanny state worries to politically correct conservatives and their religious allies in the savior business.

Moving ahead to leaving dependence on fossil fuels behind is a task demanding of science and commitment – not pandering to Luddite and spooky fears.

Mar 13, 2011 4:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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