s/r home  | issues  | authors  | 16 contents

Synthesis/Regeneration 16   (Summer 1998)

European Federation of Green Parties

Euratom, Our Atom

European Union (EU) legislation will soon bring nuclear waste into our homes -- legally. The problem of radioactive waste is a headache to all states which have nuclear power plants. As public awareness of its dangers and long life increases, so they have to invent ever more solutions for its disposal. Sea dumping has been banned, reprocessing is hugely unpopular, burial results in expensive court cases. And Europe is full of aging reactors ready for decommissioning, to add to the growing mountain of lethal waste.

Nuclear waste comes in three classes, high, medium and low level. The biggest quantity is the concrete, metal, plastic etc with a low level of contamination, still with many years of danger, and it is this that is hardest to dispose of because of its bulk.

So the nuclear industry came up with the brilliant idea to turn it into a commodity and trade it! EU Governments gladly approved a Commission Directive to deregulate the sale of low level waste for reuse, and now all member states are expected to adopt it into national law by 2000.

The Directive is legitimized by the EURATOM Treaty of 1957, over which the European Parliament has no jurisdiction as it preceded the formation of the European Community. It specifically allows the mixing of radioactive waste with household waste for burial or incineration, as well as recycling and reuse. This means that much technical equipment, (e.g. meters) and even household products (smoke alarms) may in future contain radioactive waste that until now has been kept at a distance from human habitation. It is also very likely to mean that east European governments will have no legal protection, or possibly even knowledge of what is in the waste that western companies sell to them.

The Directive...allows the mixing of radioactive waste with household waste for burial or incineration, as well as recycling and reuse.

Of course all the radiation protection agencies claim that there is no danger to human health according to internationally accepted radiation risk factors-but they are the same people who set those international standards of risk, and are closely connected to the nuclear industry which has an urgent need to find a way of disposing of low level waste...And now independent scientists are beginning to produce evidence that constant exposure to low level radiation (e.g. living near an old weapons testing site, or a nuclear power plant) results in genetic damage which is connected to the rising incidence of cancer.

The Low Level Radiation Campaign was founded to expose all this. It is supported by many international and national organizations. All European Green Parties have been sent information, especially asking for signatures for a petition to present to the EU summit in Cardiff in June demanding the reversal of this Directive.

IF YOUR PARTY HAS NOT RESPONDED, PLEASE DO SO NOW: More information is available from: http://www.llrc.org Low Level Radiation Campaign c/- Wales Green Party Tel/Fax: 00 44 1597 824771 email: bramhall@llrc.org Niki Kortvelyessy (nikikort@gn.apc.org)

From the European Federation of Green Parties' UPDATE-Newsletter. December, 1997-January, 1998

Synthesis/Regeneration home page  | Synthesis/Regeneration 16 Contents