On 6 and 7 April 2019, the Ende Gelände France collective became … RadiAction! After many collective discussions, we decided to focus our action on the fight against nuclear power. Why you could ask us, when the climate emergency seems to designate greenhouse gas emissions as the public enemy number one?
Nuclear power is a complex industrial sector: from the extraction of uranium ore in Africa and Asia to the burying of waste in our soil, including transportation, enrichment, and fuel use. reprocessing in France, dangerous, polluting and expensive infrastructures allow the production of nuclear energy, out of the public eye. And for good reason: nothing works in this industry. Burying the waste is always the only option available to get rid of it, yet far from satisfactory. We do not want the radioactive dust to be under the carpet!
These are the 12 points that convinced us to engage in this fight!
Because nuclear power is …
1. Nuclear power perpetuates colonialism
There is no energy independence from France thanks to nuclear power: France imports 100% of the uranium ore necessary for the production of nuclear fuel (1,2). The ecological and social impact of uranium mining is disastrous: in Niger, a former French colony where Orano was able to negotiate advantageous operating conditions, people are exposed to radioactive materials, water used by the operations of this industry dries water points on which the inhabitants and workers depend, and radioactive materials are released into the air (3).
2. Nuclear power is socially harmful
EDF uses 80% of subcontracting for routine operation and maintenance of the plants, according to a parliamentary inquiry report published in June 2018. This results in precarious working conditions in a sector that requires particular rigor in the medical follow-up of nuclear workers (4), which indicates a drift of public services, visible in other sectors.
3. Nuclear is linked to the military industry
The first nuclear reactor, the « Zoe » cell, was built to produce plutonium for atomic weapons. The production of energy was then a simple consequence (5). The Commission for Atomic Energy (CEA), created in 1945 by General de Gaulle, has an official vocation to “pursue scientific and technical research for the use of atomic energy in various fields of industry, of Science and National Defense “(6). The La Hague reprocessing plant was originally built as a plutonium extraction plant for the atomic bomb (5).
4. Nuclear is anti-democratic
Nuclear energy is a highly capitalist energy that enshrines the alliance of a powerful state and an elite industry, out of the control of the population (7). The nuclear industry and its world are completely opaque, escaping the classic rules of environmental law; information and knowledge are controlled, citizens are kept outside the decision-making sphere. The population was never consulted during the setting up of dozens of reactors currently in service in France, even though they present risks potentially threatening the entire society. 54% of respondents think that we can do without nuclear energy (CSA survey – 2012) (8).
5. Nuclear is corrupt
The insolvency of Areva, currently Orano, is partly the result of a fraudulent acquisition of uranium mines in 2007 in South Africa, Namibia and the Central African Republic (9,10,11). Until recently, Orano has been the subject of a prosecution investigation into a corruption case in Mongolia (12). Systematically, nuclear energy is presented as a model and an exemplary industry while it manufactures consent through the corruption of elected officials in the villages near the facilities.
6. Nuclear is criminalizing its opponents
Resistance to the CIGEO project to bury nuclear waste in Bure has been the subject of more than fifty trials, hundreds of months of suspended sentences distributed, nearly 2 years of prison sentances and 26 banning orders ( not allowing people back in the area) (13) . The repression comes down to minor charges that most often fall under the refusal to give ones identity, fingerprints or DNA, which reveals an exceptional justice (14) which aims to paralyse the opposition by limiting individual freedom. However, fighting against an industry that places a responsibility on future generations for decisions taken today is an absolute necessity!
7. Nuclear power hurts the living
At all stages of the nuclear cycle, from mining to waste disposal, many (controlled) releases and (accidental) releases of radioactive elements occur (15,16). Even at very low doses, ionizing radiation has posionous effects on all forms of animal and plant life (17). In addition, many polluting substances are used throughout the production of nuclear energy, such as sulfuric acid, in large quantities (18).
8. Nuclear power is a permanent threat of accidents and leaks
A major accident in France would impact millions of people and could cost from 500 to 2000 billion euros (19). Since 1957, 10 accidents at level 4 to 7 on the INES scale, including 1 in France, and 13 major level 3 incidents, including 3 in France, have been reported worldwide (20). On the INES scale, 7 is the maximum level, that of Chernobyl and Fukushima.
9. Nuclear energy presents increased risks in a context of societal instability
Nuclear energy is incompatible with socio-economic instabilities and the possibility of a collapse of the thermo-industrial civilization. Indeed, it makes people much more vulnerable to malicious acts or negligence. For example, the flyover of the power plants by unidentified drones and the theft of the Flamanville EPR’s padlocks testify to serious security problems (21,22), in addition to the faults denounced by the Greenpeace activists who returned many times in power stations. Despite their ineffectiveness in countering threats, the nucleocrats take advantage of the situation to strengthen the society of control and take action that is anti-terrorism against the activists.
… And what’s more, it’s an ecologically deadlock!
10. Nuclear energy prevents a policy of sobriety and energy efficiency
Nuclear creates a feeling of abundance. France’s current trajectory is one of continuous growth in electricity consumption, without questioning the use of production, while an increase in energy efficiency and a policy of sobriety would allow a reduction of 65%. % of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (23). Talking about efficiency and sobriety would encourage thermal renovation, which would fight the fuel poverty affecting 12 million people in France (24).
11. Nuclear power will not stand up to climate change
Nuclear reactors need to be continuously cooled by a circulation of water, hence their systematic location near a watercourse or the sea. The current and future increase in drought periods (25) but also floods (26) is incompatible with the necessary cooling of the plants. The increase in tsunamis and consequent earthquakes (27) as well as rising sea levels and the presence of vulnerable hydroelectric plants upstream of certain reactors (Bugey) entail significant risks for nuclear installations.
12. Nuclear power prevents investing in the energy transition in France
An energy policy based on nuclear power can hardly coexist with the development of renewable energies. The current investment in nuclear energy is three times greater than for the latter. It is planned to spend 469 billion euros in the next 30 years for new reactors, large refit (“tinkering” of old reactors), waste storage and dismantling of old plants (28). An energy transition scenario with nuclear output is estimated at 413 billion euros (29). On the other hand, saying that nuclear energy is decarbonised is inaccurate since the transport of uranium and its enrichment, as well as the construction and dismantling of infrastructures, involve fossil energy (contradictory studies speak of 12 to 66 grams of CO2 emitted per kilowatt-hour nuclear product, while EDF announces 4g) (30,31).
Why want to act now?
Nuclear power is a lot of very important decisions to come soon. French production plants are aging. More than two-thirds of our reactors will theoretically reach the end of their life by 2035, and the government will no doubt decide by 2021-2022 whether to restart the construction of new reactors. Anti-nuclear is also a movement that needs support and new dynamics to mobilise in society and among the younger generations. And then, as a French environmental movement, it’s our responsibility. Nuclear power is our coal. The impact of France’s nuclear output would be global. There is no peaceful atom. We will fight.
What energy then?
With all these arguments, nuclear energy is discredited! Hydrocarbons are excluded because of their climatic impact.
Renewable energies, in a centralised industrial context, are not a solution either. These technologies are now based on the pursuit of a colonial and polluting extractive extractive mega-industry. Similarly, the use of arable land to produce biomass competes with food production and is part of a context of land grabbing, destructive and unfair. All that remains is a policy of sobriety and energy efficiency, in other words a drastic decrease in our energy consumption, which in fact means a radical change in our lifestyles, a change that questions both capitalism and centralisation. and colonialism and, in general, the way we produce and use energy.
Democratise these questions, imagine a participative energy. Let us adapt the mode of production of energy to the resources present locally (agricultural waste, heat lost, wood, livestock, wind …) and to the end use of this energy. This is only a small part of the answer … We want to go deeper into these questions to better measure the extent and complexity of the problem deeply embedded in our imaginations, to draw inspiration from what has already been done, to reflect together and with others, and invent, create!
Un volet (II DES EXPLOITANTS DEVENUS DÉPENDANTS DE LEURS SOUS-TRAITANTS) se consacre à la précarisation des travailleurs du nucléaire. Elle est par ailleurs alarmante sur de nombreux autres points.