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Japan nuclear risks and European worries about nuclear power

As BBC News reports, the current nuclear risks (and potential meltdown disaster) in Japan has brought public fears about nuclear power to the forefront of debate in several European countries, including France and Germany. Some political parties, including the Europe Ecologie, want to hold a referendum (public vote) on nuclear power in France.

Conservative daily Figaro has a poll on this issue, to which, at the time of publication, over 73% of French said there should NOT be a referendum on the issue. As the BBC highlights below, logistically speaking, it is nearly impossible to imagine France getting rid of its reliance on nuclear power, as 75% of its energy comes from it (with 19 nuclear plants and 58 reactors making it the 2nd biggest network after the US). Figaro also has an article about the risks of nuclear power.

French liberal, gauche daily Libération has an in-depth feature on this question, with a map of France’s nuclear installations that I’ve pasted below.

The French government has indeed said it wants to “learn lessons” from this case to optimize the security of France’s nuclear installations, which government officials assure have little risk.

What do YOU think?

BBC excerpts:

“…France gets 75% of its energy from nuclear power, exporting the excess and earning useful currency by so doing. In addition, some in government want to sell French reactors to emerging economies. Greenpeace immediately called for a reversal of this nuclear policy which France embraced in the 1970s after the “oil shock” when the price of oil jumped. The group Sortir du Nucleaire protested by the Eiffel Tower, unfurling banners saying “Nuclear is killing the future”.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who is a member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, told French radio that there should be a national referendum on the country’s dependence on nuclear power. “It begs the question of the need for civil nuclear power,” he said. “Is it not time to sound the alarm?” This is difficult for the government because France’s dependence is so great.

  1. March 14th, 2011 at 22:12 | #1

    As a non-expert I wonder which is more risky: nuclear power or fossil fuels?

    Input please?

    Olga Kovshanova, MBA, MA
    Sales and Guest Relations Manager CIS
    The Grand Mauritian Resort & Spa
    Hotel Professional Extraordinaire
    Email: olinka@olinka.info
    Homepage: http://www.olinka.info/
    Skype name: olinkaru
    ICQ: 212336628
    M: +230-717-5790
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  2. March 15th, 2011 at 06:22 | #3

    Michael, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Seems neither fossils nor nukes are very healthy for Earthlings. What will homo sapiens do when the fossils are finished?

    With human population skyrocketing the future looks rather dubious 🙁 !

    Input please?

    Merci!

    Olga Kovshanova, MBA, MA
    Sales and Guest Relations Manager CIS
    The Grand Mauritian Resort & Spa
    Hotel Professional Extraordinaire
    Email: olinka@olinka.info
    Homepage: http://www.olinka.info/
    Skype name: olinkaru
    ICQ: 212336628
    M: +230-717-5790
    LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kovshanovaolga

    • March 15th, 2011 at 09:02 | #4

      I’m not an energy expert, Olga, but estimations of fossil fuels are anywhere from decades to centuries left. I think a gradual but sure transition to renewable energy, with reliance on nuclear energy, is one of the most feasible solutions. Even for long-distance travel, there is emerging technology in solar-powered planes. Innovation and ingenuity is the key, and also political motivation so that regulations are passed to give incentives for producing renewable energy and penalize CO2 emissions without hampering economic growth.

  3. March 15th, 2011 at 12:20 | #5

    Michael Thanks! Your positive view is heartening — hope it’s correct 🙂 !

    Olga Kovshanova, MBA, MA
    Sales and Guest Relations Manager CIS
    The Grand Mauritian Resort & Spa
    Hotel Professional Extraordinaire
    Email: olinka@olinka.info
    Homepage: http://www.olinka.info/
    Skype name: olinkaru
    ICQ: 212336628
    M: +230-717-5790
    LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kovshanovaolga

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