WHAT: April 26, 2006 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine. Even as the true dimensions of the worst industrial accident in history become clearer, the nuclear power industrybacked by the Bush administrationis seeking to begin the first new reactor construction in the U.S. in more than 30 years. The industry claims that new atomic reactors can be used to combat global climate change, but environmentalists agree that relapsing into a nuclear program would prevent meaningful solutions to the climate crisis. Clearly, the nuclear power issue is as controversial as ever. The Chernobyl anniversary provides an appropriate time and backdrop to consider this issue.
BACKGROUND: According to “official” studies from the Chernobyl Forum (International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Development Program), the Chernobyl accident rivals Hurricane Katrina in its effects: 4,000 projected deaths, hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, millions of acres contaminated. Millions of people still live on contaminated land and hundreds of thousands were permanently evacuated from their homes. Sheep as far away as Scotland remain quarantined or have been slaughtered. In the U.S., fallout from Chernobyl caused interdiction of milk supplies on the west coast; more recently a report from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute found Cesium-137 from Chernobyl fallout in soil in Rhode Island. Yet numerous credible independent scientists have found far greater effects than the “official” studies, perhaps because the IAEA continues to promote nuclear power development. New information about the continuing consequences of Chernobyl will continue to come out over the next 4 months.
At a time when the nuclear industry stands poised to benefit from billions of dollars in taxpayer money to build new reactorsalthough a new study from Standard & Poor’s suggests that is even not enoughit makes sense to evaluate the industry through the prism of the reality of a real nuclear accident. Today, 20 years following Chernobyl, 27 years after Three Mile Island, and more than 50 years after the launch of the Atoms for Peace program, nuclear power continues to be a failed technology. There remains no solution of the problem of mounting piles of lethal radioactive waste, nuclear power is still the most expensive way to produce electricity, and the continued operation of atomic reactors poses unacceptable safety, public health and weapons proliferation risks.
Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies offer cleaner, faster, safer, cheaper and more publicly acceptable solutions to the growing climate crisis, energy imports and rising energy costs.
EVENTS: A major international conference is being held in Kiev, Ukraine April 23-25, 2006 in association with the anniversary. This conference, being sponsored by Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS); World Information Service on Energy (WISE); Heinrich Boell Foundation; Greens in the European Parliament; International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and Ecoclub (Ukraine), will bring together the world’s experts on Chernobyl, nuclear power generally, and sustainable development to chart a new path toward a sustainable energy future. A website, www.ch20.org, has been set up to provide more information about this conference.
In the U.S., numerous grassroots environmental groups and Ukrainian immigrant organizations will be holding Chernobyl+20 commemorations and activities at locations across the country. Activities will be posted and updated at www.nirs.org/c20/c20us.htm, along with relevant background material.
EXPERTS: Qualified experts are available to speak to the media about nuclear power, sustainable energy, Chernobyl, climate change, the relationship of IAEA/WHO to the nuclear power industry, energy democracy and other aspects of this issue that may come up in your coverage of the anniversary. A list of experts is attached, more are available for particular issues.
NOTE TO ACTIVISTS: Please send NIRS information on your plans for Chernobyl+20 so we can post on the NIRS website (send to email@example.com). And let us know if you need any help making plans or obtaining information, materials, speakers, etc. We encourage you to send this press advisory to your local media.
EXPERTS ON NUCLEAR POWER AND ENERGY ISSUES
General nuclear issues, Chernobyl+20 conference, international
Michael Mariotte, NIRS, 301-270-6477; firstname.lastname@example.org
General nuclear issues
Scott Denman, consultant, (Cell) 301.509.7480 (Land) 540.955.2358 email@example.com
Dr. Rosalie Bertell, 215.968.4236, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Judith Johnsrud, 814.237.3900, email@example.com
Federal legislation, appropriations
Michele Boyd, Public Citizen, 202.454.5134, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nuclear reactor hazards and technical information
Paul Gunter, NIRS, 301-270-6477; email@example.com
David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists, 202.223.6133, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Riccio, Greenpeace, 202.319.2487, email@example.com
Radioactive waste issues
Diane D’Arrigo, NIRS, 301-270-6477, firstname.lastname@example.org (low-level, deregulation)
Kevin Kamps, NIRS, 301-270-6477; email@example.com (high-level, Yucca Mountain, PFS)
Mary Olson, NIRS, 828.675.1792, firstname.lastname@example.org (reprocessing, also general nuclear issues in southeast US)
Sustainable Energy Issues
Ken Bossong, Ukrainian-American Environmental Association, 301.588.4741, email@example.com
Bill Prindle,(energy efficiency) American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, 202.429.8873; firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Werner, (climate change, efficiency, renewables), Environmental & Energy Study Institute, 202.662.1881; email@example.com
Karl Gawell, (renewables) Geothermal Energy Association; 202.454.5264; firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Sklar, President (distributed energy vs. vulnerability of nuclear plants and repositories) The Stella Group, Ltd., 202.347.2214; 703.522.1195; 703.522.3049 email@example.com
Referral to other experts and scientists, both in U.S. and internationally, as well as local grassroots organizations throughout the world, is also available from NIRS, 301-270-6477.