Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (25) Nuclear issues and radioactivity

Radon

The following extract is taken verbatim from Chapter 14 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

Nuclear Issues and Radioactivity.

As no Maltese Government has ever pronounced itself directly in favour of nuclear energy the nuclear issues which we must face are imported ones.

First on the list would be radioactive waste which is not much in quantity and being primarily generated by sites providing services using nuclear medicine such as X-Rays and radioactive treatment plants used in treating cancer patients. This is an aspect normally considered within the context of waste management policy and in view of the small quantities of waste involved this is normally exported.

The main nuclear problem which Malta must face and address is related to nuclear plants in other countries. The Mediterranean will in the near future face a proliferation of nuclear plants with Malta being transformed into a nuclear sandwich in the centre of the Mediterranean.

Following the Fukushima disaster in Japan the whole world is much more sensitive and conscious as to the negative impacts of nuclear plants. This has led our Italian neighbours to renounce nuclear energy for the second time in 25 years through a referendum. However we will now have to face the problem in our southern flank where various countries are planning to import nuclear technology from France an EU member state. It is imperative that Malta within the European Union structures emphasises that when the export of nuclear technology is carried out this has to be accompanied by a sense of responsibility and regulation through treaties as a result of which the countries receiving this technology bind themselves to the same rules applicable within the European Union.

As in other countries there is in Malta a presence of the radioactive gas radon. This is an issue which the Department of Environmental Health supervises but in respect of which little if any information is made public. Alternattiva Demokratika will endeavour to give more importance to this matter.

L-Estratt segwenti hu meħud kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 14 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Issues Nukleari u ta’ Radjuattivita’.

Billi s’issa l-ebda Gvern Malti ma ppronunzja ruħu direttament favur l-enerġija nukleari l-issues nukleari li rridu niffaċċjaw huma dawk importati.

Fuq quddiem nett hemm l-iskart radjuattiv (mhux ħafna fil-kwantità) u li huwa prinċipalment iġġenerat minn impjanti ta’ mediċina nukleari bħall-X-Rays u magni tar-raġġi radjuattivi użati fit-trattament tal-kanċer. Dan l-aspett huwa normalment ikkunsidrat fil-kuntest tal-politika dwar l-iskart u minħabba l-kwantità żgħira ta’ skart ġġenerata tkun teħtieġ l-esportazzjoni.

Il-problema prinċipali nukleari li trid tiffaċċja Malta hi konnessa ma’ impjanti nukleari f’pajiżi oħra. Fil-Mediterran fi ftit snin ser ikun hawn proliferazzjoni ta’ impjanti b’Malta issir qiesha sandwich nukleari f’nofs il-Mediterran.

Wara d-diżastru ta’ Fukushima fil-Ġappun, id-dinja saret iżjed sensittiva u konxja tal-impatti negattivi ta’ impjanti nukleari. Dan wassal biex il-ġirien tagħna fl-Italja permezz ta’ referendum ċaħdu l-enerġija nukleari għat-tieni darba f’25 sena. Imma issa rridu niffaċċjaw problema oħra fin-nofsinhar fejn hemm pajjiżi li qed jippjanaw l-importazzjoni tat-teknoloġija nukleari minn Franza, pajjiż membru tal-Unjoni Ewropea. Huwa importanti li Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropea tieħu posizzjoni li twassal biex mal-esportazzjoni tat-teknoloġija nukleari, meta din issir, tkun esportata ukoll ir-responsabbiltà u regolamentazzjoni fil-forma ta’ trattati li permezz tagħhom il-pajjiżi li jirċievu t-teknoġija nukleari jintrabtu mal-istess regoli applikabbli fl-Unjoni Ewropea.

Bħal diversi pajjiżi oħra Malta hawn ukoll il-preżenza tal-gass radjuattiv radon. Materja li hi sorveljata mid-Dipartiment tas-Saħħa Ambjentali imma li dwarha ftit hawn informazzjoni pubbblika. Alternattiva Demokratika timpenja ruħha li din il-materja tingħata iktar attenzjoni.

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Danger …………….. on our doorstep

published in Environment Supplement

Sunday April 17, 2011

 

Less than 100 kilometres to Malta’s North West Silvio Berlusconi’s Government wants to construct a nuclear reactor. It is to be constructed on Sicily’s southern coast in the vicinity of the locality of Palma di Montechiaro. This nuclear reactor is one of  a number of reactors which Berlusconi’s government plans to be constructed on Italian territory: one in Sicily, one in Sardegna, five in the North, three in the Central area and two in Southern Italy.

This is a political decision that the Italian Government took in summer of 2008 as a result of which it reversed the decision taken at a 1987 referendum when on the morrow of the Chernobyl disaster Italians overwhelmingly rejected nuclear energy.

On the 11 and12 June 2011 Italians will be called to the polls once more in a second attempt to reject nuclear energy, this time on the morrow of another nuclear disaster : that at Fukushima. It is a referendum which seeks to reverse Berlusconi’s nuclear policy.

The Chernobyl disaster which affected 40% of European territory was way back in 1986 shrugged off as being the result of human error as well as outdated Soviet technology. The same cannot be said of the Japanese.

EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger is on record stating that Fukushima has caused him to start doubting nuclear energy. Oettinger, former Prim Minister of the German State of Baden-Württemberg, in an interview with Der Spiegel International which was published on April 4, 2011 stated “I have nothing but respect for Japan’s abilities when it comes to industry and technology. That’s why Fukushima has been such a turning point for me. It has made me start to doubt. If the Japanese cannot master this technology, then nuclear energy conceals risks that I didn’t see before.”

All over the world countries are having second thoughts on whether to keep making use of nuclear energy. German voters in the states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland Palatinate took the lead by flocking in their thousands in support of the Greens earlier this month, as a result delivering a clear message to Angela Merkel’s CDU. The CDU lost control of the state of Baden-Württemberg for the first time. Moreover the Greens being the leading party in the state coalition will now provide the first ever Green Prime Minister of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The Green-Red coalition in Rhineland Palatinate has been reinforced by the Green gains at the polls.

The nuclear power station which Berlusconi’s government is projecting in Palma di Montechiaro is to be sited in an area which has a seismic history. The earthquake of 1693 not only completely destroyed South Eastern Sicily but also caused considerable damage in the Maltese islands. One could say that this was a long time ago but then can anyone guarantee that there would not be a repeat ?  The opposite seems to be quite probable.

On Monday Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore carried a report on Japanese geologist Dr Masanobu Shishikura who way back in August 2010 had concluded that the Fukushima area had already experienced a number of earthquakes and tsunamis in the past. He identified a possible cycle and concluded  last August that it was not to be excluded that in the near future a repetition was due.    

A nuclear accident just 100 km North of the Maltese islands is certainly not something anyone would wish for. Hopefully it would never happen. But if a nuclear power station were to be sited at Palma di Montechiaro it would be a possibility depending on the movement of the geological plates. No one will give us the date when this will happen. Hence it stands to reason that constructing a nuclear power station on such a site is a very risky business. Italian planners consider that it is a reasonable risk as providing electricity is in their view more important than the risk which the whole of the central Mediterranean would be subjected to.  

In view of what happened at Fukushima no one can say that he is not aware of the consequences. A consideration which, I do not doubt will weigh heavily on the minds of Italian voters when they cast their ballot next June rejecting nuclear energy one more time.