EUROPE AND THE NUCLEAR ENERGY DEBATE
Special Report to Irish CND AGM 1998
An important event took place in Vienna in February of this
Anti-Atom International (AAI), the umbrella organisation of all
anti-nuclear and environmental organisations in Austria, hosted a
conference of NGO's and state officials from the non-nuclear countries
in Europe. The purpose of this conference was to seek ways to set up a
coalition of non-nuclear countries (NoNuC) with a view to harmonising
the demands and efforts of such countries in their relations with the
small minority of powerful nuclear states in Europe. AAI has all-party
support in Austria towards this objective. Ireland should actively
assist in this endeavour.
The expiry of the EURATOM treaty in 2001 and the European Coal
treaty in 2002 provides a good opportunity to drastically revise
European policy on nuke energy. It is now clear that the term "European
safety standards", often spoken of in connection with applications for
new nuke stations in Europe and outside, is entirely meaningless.
Standards vary enormously between stations in different countries and
between stations in the same country. Some scientists claim that
Chernobyl emissions are below the UK level!
Large-scale nuclear emissions such as those released at Windscale,
Mile Island and Chernobyl do untold, and probably inestimable, damage to
people and the environment. However, there is growing concern at the
relatively newly discovered risks of low-level radiation (LLR). It seems
LLR doesn't bombard the immune system with sufficient doses to trigger
the defence cells into action. One of the effects of this is the
so-called "G-gnomic Instability" only now being recognised and
investigated. The "G" refers to "genetic". Scientist Carmel Mothersell
from Dublin is one of the big names in the "G-gnomic Instability"
There is serious and growing concern about East European reactors.
estimated to cost at least $1 billion to upgrade each East German
reactor to "Western safety standards" - it was originally agreed by West
German government that this would be done. It isn't being done, however,
as it was found to be prohibitively expensive. Loopholes are being found
via recourse to the lowest standards employed in the West.
On the Amsterdam Treaty, it is no accident that there is no
chapter in this treaty: the Irish government had tabled submissions on
"radiation from neighbouring countries" but - according to information
supplied to CND by MEP Nuala Aherne - these simply disappeared off the
table and the Irish government acquiesced!
At this stage of the campaign against "civilian"
successful legal action may seem remote to many, in the context of the
very limited Coal and Steel and EURATOM treaties. However, some leading
anti-nuclear legal experts now talk of the "liability" versus
"responsibility" concepts, favouring the latter as it came under common
law. The common law concept is widely recognised throughout Europe and
is probably the most efficacious angle with which to approach the issue.
They point to the success of the people's actions against the tobacco
companies in the US, to demonstrate how "responsibility" won the day at
huge cost to the tobacco companies.
The Dundalk "Stad" case is a good example of NGO
strength and influence
in Ireland, and of the efficacy of one particular NGO grouping in
compelling a government to join forces with it against a neighbouring
nuclear polluter. It began as a legal case by Stad against the UK
government for health and environmental damage and also against the
Irish government for negligence in failing to protect its citizens. Now
it is a case of Stad plus the Irish government together against the UK
government. In this endeavour the Irish government are receiving
assistance in the area of research from the government of Norway and
from an eminent LLRC scientist, Dudley Goodhead from the UK. Apart from
that, the case has huge implications for nuclear power worldwide.
Sellafield and the "Stad" case point up the contradictions
the EU's stated policy of respect for the national sovereignty of member
states and the cavalier attitude displayed in the very old EURATOM
treaty, which fails to deal with issues of nuclear waste and nuclear
pollution across national boundaries.
-Billy Fitzpatrick -
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