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affected 40% of European territory was way back in 1986 shrugged off as being the result of human error as well as outdated Soviet technology.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.

Nuclear myth and Malta’s neighbours

 

 

 

published on Saturday March 26, 2011

 

April 26 marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuc­lear disaster, which affected 40 per cent of European territory.

Sicilians (but not the Maltese) were then advised on precautions to be observed in order to avoid the effects of airborne radioactive contamination on agricultural produce. In the UK, until very recently, a number of farms were still under observation after having been contaminated through airborne radioactive caesium in 1986. Wild boar hunted in Germany’s forests cannot be consumed. Its food-chain is still contaminated with radioactive caesium, which was dispersed all over Europe as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.

The Fukushima disaster has occurred in efficient and safety-conscious Japan.

Nature has taken over, confirming its supremacy over the risk society; confirming that even the smallest risk is unacceptable in nuclear projects as this exposes nations, ecosystems, economies and whole regions to large-scale disasters.

The myth that nuclear technology is safe has been shattered once more at Fukushima.

In addition to the disasters at Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986), there were also a number of near misses such as that on June 4, 2008 in Krško on the Slovenia/Croatia border. In Krško, leaking coolant water was minutes away from causing a meltdown of the nuclear installation. The leakages of coolant water from nuclear plants in the Tricastin region in France in July 2008 are also of particular significance.

Malta is faced with plans by Italy, Libya, Tunisia and others to generate nuclear energy.

Libya has agreed with France to be provided with a nuclear plant along its coast to carry out seawater desalination. Fortunately, this agreement has so far not materialised. One shudders just thinking on the possibilities which access to nuclear technology in the civil war on Libyan soil could lead to.

The Berlusconi government, ignoring the result of a 1987 Italian referendum, has embarked on a nuclear programme that could lead to the construction and operation of a number of nuclear installations on Italian soil. One of these will be sited in Sicily.

The locality of Palma di Montechiaro has been mentioned as the preferred site although an area near Ragusa is also under consideration. Both Palma di Montechiaro and Ragusa are situated along Sicily’s southern coast and are too close to Malta for comfort. A serious accident there could have an immediate effect on Malta. Moreover, this is the area which was most affected by a 1693 earthquake that caused considerable damage in both Ragusa and Malta.

This contrasts with the declaration last week by Abdelkater Zitouni, leader of Tunisie Verte, the Tunisian Green party, who has called on Tunisia’s transitional government to abandon the 2020 project of a nuclear plant in Tunisia.

What is the Maltese government doing on the matter?

There is no information in the public domain except an article published in Il Sole 24 Ore on July 26, 2008 authored by Federico Rendina and entitled Il Governo Rilancia Sull’Atomo. In a kite-flying exercise during an official visit to Rome by a Maltese delegation, Mr Rendina speculated on the possibilities of placing nuclear reactors for Italy’s use on territories just outside Italian jurisdiction. Malta, Montenegro and Albania were mentioned in this respect. It was unfortunate that the Maltese government only spoke up after being prodded by the Greens in Malta. It had then stated that no discussions on the matter had taken place with the Italian government.

On behalf of the Greens in Malta, since 2008 I have repeatedly insisted on the need to make use of the provisions of the Espoo Convention, which deals with consultation procedures to be followed between countries in Europe whenever issues of transboundary impacts arise. On March 3, 2010 Parliament in Malta approved a resolution to ratify this convention.

The Espoo Convention, the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment and the EU Strategic Environment Assessment Directive establish the right of the Maltese public to be consulted by Italy in the procedures leading to the construction of a nuclear power station, both on the Italian mainland as well as in Sicily. This is definitely not enough.

Various countries are reconsidering their position on nuclear energy as a result of the Fukushima disaster. Italy’s government has started to feel the pressure ahead of a June anti-nuclear referendum championed by Antonio di Pietro and earlier this week temporarily suspended its nuclear programme.

Italy is a region which is seismically active. The devastation caused by the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila is still imprinted in our memories. The 1908 earthquake at Messina/Reggio Calabria was much worse, the worst ever in Europe. It produced an estimated 13-metre tsunami wave in the central Mediterranean. In Messina alone, over 120,000 lost their lives.

Faced with government silence, I think the matter should be taken up by Maltese environmental NGOs in partnership with their Italian counterparts. Public opinion needs to be sensitised on the dangers that lie ahead as Fukushima is a warning we cannot afford to ignore. 

other posts on Nuclear Issues on this blog

Nuclear Power in Sicily – The Greens in Malta comment

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Press Statement of AD – The Green Party in Malta

According to a ‘secret list’ of ten possible sites leaked to Italian paper  Metro, the localities of Palma and Termini Imerese in Sicily are included as  possible sites for the construction of a nuclear power station in Sicily.

Arnold Cassola, AD Chairperson, stated: “It would seem that the Sicilian  Governor Lombardo has already given the go ahead for the siting of a nuclear plant in Sicily. The Maltese government should wake up from its slumber and ask Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and Sicilian Governor Lombardo to inform the Maltese authorities immediately of what is happening.”

Carmel Cacopardo AD Spokesman on Sustainable Development and Local Government stated that AD had already in Summer 2008 drawn attention to discussions between the Maltese and Italian Prime Ministers on nuclear issues. Then the Maltese Government had denied reports published in Il Sole 24 Ore about a Berlusconi proposal to site a nuclear power station in Malta. The Espoo Convention (dealing with Environmental Impacts  in a Transboundary Context) incorporated in the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive of the European Union, added Carmel Cacopardo, obliges the Italian Government to carry out consultations not just with the Government of Malta but also with the Maltese public through a public hearing on the contents of an Environmental Impact Assessment. The transboundary impacts of a nuclear power station around 200 km  away from our shores can be substantial. It therefore needs to be ensured that all impacts are thoroughly examined in the EIA which eventually will have to be made available for the public’s information and consideration.

It is hoped, concluded Arnold Cassola, that the Maltese Government will take the diplomatic initiative to ensure that Malta’s interests are protected.

Ġirien Nukleari

minn Carmel Cacopardo

ipubblikat 27 ta’ Lulju 2008

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Fi Franza fi spazju ta’ 16-il jum seħħew tliet inċidenti nukleari.

L-ewwel inċident seħħ fil-lejl bejn is-6 u s-7 ta’ Lulju fis-sit nukleari ta’ Tricastin. Skart likwidu, madwar 30,000 litru li kien fih l-uranju, b’mod aċċidentali waqa’ f’żewġ xmajjar. L-awtoritajiet Franċiżi ħarġu struzzjonijiet lir-residenti biex ħadd ma jistad, ħadd ma jixrob ilma mill-bjar, kif ukoll biex ħadd ma jgħum fix-xmajjar jew jieħu sehem fi sports fl-ilma. Lanqas ma kien possibbli li jintuża ilma mix-xmajjar għat-tisqija.

It-tieni inċident seħħ fl-impjant nukleari ta’ Romans-sur Isere meta nhar it-18 ta’ Lulju spetturi tas-sit indunaw b’pajp mifqugħ li minnu ħareġ likwidu radjuattiv. It-tielet inċident seħħ mill-ġdid fi Tricastin nhar it-23 ta’ Lulju. L-impjant kien magħluq imma partiċelli radjuattivi ħarġu minn pajp li nqasam fl-impjant nukleari u 97 impjegat spiċċaw l-isptar fejn instab li kienu esposti għal doża baxxa ta’ radjuattività.
Franza tipproduċi 80 fil-mija ta’ l-elettriku tagħha permezz ta’ enerġija nukleari f’59 impjant imxerrda mal-pajjiż kollu. Bħala riżultat ta’ din id-dipendenza fuq l-enerġija nukleari Franza għandha industrija organizzata u b’saħħitha. Il-Gvern Franċiż jgħinha biex tistabbilixxi swieq ġodda billi tesporta t-teknoloġija nukleari.

Fost l-aħħar swieq li qed ifittxu li jippenetraw hemm dak fl-Afrika ta’ Fuq. Franza iffirmat ftehim ta’ kooperazzjoni mal-Marokk, ma’ l-Alġerija u mal-Libja biex tgħinhom jiżviluppaw impjanti nukleari għal skopijiet ċivili. L-iktar li jinteressana hu l-ftehim mal-Libja li se jwasssal biex jinbena impjant nukleari li permezz tiegħu jkun prodott ilma tajjeb għax-xorb minn ilma baħar. Ovvjament, dan l-impjant se jinbena viċin il-kosta.

Inċident f’impjant nukleari jista’ jseħħ bħala riżultat ta’ waħda minn tliet affarijiet: żball uman, ħsara li tiżviluppa fil-makkinarju inkella bħala riżultat ta’ attività naturali bħal terremot.

Hemm żewġ konsiderazzjonijiet li rridu nagħmlu. L-ewwel li l-Libja għandha xemx kemm trid. Teżisti t-teknoloġija biex tipproduċi ilma tajjeb għax-xorb mill-baħar permezz ta’ enerġija solari. Din qed titħaddem f’pajjiżi bħall-Kuwajt. Qed isiru ukoll esperimenti għal titjib sostanzjali f’din it-teknoloġija fl-Iżrael u f’Kalifornja.

Xi ħtieġa hemm ta’ impjant nukleari meta hemm enerġija mix-xemx b’xejn?

It-tieni konsiderazzjoni hi dwar kif niġu affettwati aħna bħala Malta jekk ikun hemm inċident nukleari fl-impjant Libjan. L-effetti jkunu jiddependu mill-gravità ta’ l-inċident. Inċident li jikkontamina l-baħar jaffettwa kemm l-industrija tas-sajd kif ukoll il-produzzjoni ta’ l-ilma f’pajjiżna. Irridu niftakru li 60 fil-mija ta’ l-ilma li nużaw jiġi mill-baħar. Inċident f’impjant nukleari mal-kosta Libjana li jniġġes il-baħar jista’ jaffettwa dan l-ilma li f’Malta s’issa m’għandniex alternattiva għalih għax l-ilma tal-pjan qed jispiċċa wkoll. L-effetti fuq Malta jistgħu jkunu ta’ gravità kbira għax l-uniku sors ta’ l-ilma mbagħad ikun dak impurtat fit-tankers minn Sqallija jew minn x’imkien ieħor.

Il-makkinarju fl-impjanti għat-tisfija tad-drenaġġ li qed jinbnew bħalissa ma jistgħux iservu alternattiva minħabba li l-ilma wara li jsaffuh jitfgħuh il-baħar flok ma jipproduċu ilma tajjeb għax-xorb kif jagħmlu per eżempju f’Singapore.

Apparti dan imbagħad hemm l-effetti fuq l-industrija tat-turiżmu. Kull aħbar ta’ allarm ikollha effett negattiv u t-turiżmu jieħu daqqa kbira b’inċident nukleari daqstant qrib tagħna.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu l-Gvern Malti ma lissen l-ebda kelma. L-anqas l-Oppożizzjoni.
Dan mhux kollox. Il-periklu mhux ġej biss min-nofsinhar għax fit-tramuntana fl-Italja, beda jinħema periklu ieħor.

Il-Gvern ta’ Berlusconi ddikjara li fi ħsiebu jibda l-proċess biex jibni numru ta’ impjanti nukleari. Il-periklu għalina mill-Italja hu l-istess għall-periklu mil-Libja. Bid-differenza li l-iktar li jaffettwawna jkunu dawk l-impjanti li jinbew fin-naħa t’isfel ta’ l-Italja jew fi Sqallija.

Fil-konfront ta’ l-Italja hemm fattur wieħed li jista’ jkun ta’ għajnuna. Bħala riżultat tat-tisħib ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropea tapplika għalina l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Espoo, iffirmata fil-Finlandja fl-1991. Din hi inkorporata fid-Direttiva tal-UE dwar l-EIA (assessjar tal-impatt ambjentali) u tipprovdi li fejn ikun hemm possibbiltà ta’ impatt ambjentali li jmur lil hinn mill-fruntieri ta’ pajjiż terz (transboundary impact) hemm l-obbligu li l-pajjiż affettwat ikun notifikat kif ukoll li jkollu l-possibbiltà li jinvolvi ruħu biex ikun assigurat li l-EIA jsir sew.

X’miżuri ħa l-Ministeru ta’ l-Affarijiet Barranin f’dan ir-rigward? Ħadd għadu ma qal xejn minkejja d-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Claudio Scajola, Ministru Taljan għall-Iżvilupp Ekonomiku favur l-enerġija nukleari.
Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu u fid-dell ta’ theddid li jista’ jkun daqshekk kbir il-Gvern għandu l-obbligu li jinforma dwar x’qiegħed jagħmel. L-Oppożizzjoni wkoll għandha l-obbligu li tispjega għaliex baqgħet ħalqha magħluq.

 

ara ukoll : http://www.illum.com.mt/2008/07/27/t2.html

Iċ-Ċajta dwar Dom Mintoff

 

Waqt iż-żjara li l-Prim Ministru Malti u l-Ministru tal-Affarijiet Barranin kellhom f’Ruma kellhom working lunch ma Silvio Berlusconi, Prim Ministru Taljan, li kien akkumpanjat minn Franco Frattini Ministru tal-Affarijiet Barranin.

Kif inhu xieraq f’okkazjonijiet bħal dawn tkellmu dwar diversi affarijiet.

Tkellmu dwar l-immigranti u l-kunċett ta’ “burden sharing“. Kien ikun iktar xieraq kieku tkellmu dwar “responsibility sharing” għax l-immigranti mhux “burden” izda responsabbilta li għandu jerfa’ kulħadd.

Tkellmu dwar il-kumnikazzjoni ta’ Malta mal-grid tal-elettriku fi Sqallija u Berlusconi kien entużjażmat ħafna dwar il-materja. Anke il-predeċessur tiegħu Romano Prodi kien jaqbel. Imma s’issa qatt ma waslu.

Ħadd ma qalilna jekk tkellmux dwar l-enerġija nukleari u jekk hiex l-intenzjoni tal-Gvern Taljan li wieħed mill-impjanti nukleari li Claudio Scaljola Ministru tal-Iżvilupp Ekonomiku ħabbar li jridu jinbnew nhar it-22 ta’ Mejju 2008 hux ser ikun fi Sqallija. F’każ bħal dan Malta għandha l-jedd li tkun involuta fil-proċess tal-EIA li jkun meħtieg li jsir. Iżda dwar dan ħadd ma qalilna xejn.

Imma minn flok qalulna dwar iċ-ċajta ta’ Tonio Borg fuq Dom Mintoff. Kif ukoll li Tonio Borg u Lawrence Gonzi jżommu mal-Inter u mhux mal-Milan !