Chernobyl anniversary fuels anti-nuclear wave

Twenty years to the day after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster spread radioactive fallout around Europe, 200 NGOs have called for a Europe-wide end to nuclear.

The coalition of European NGOs chose Wednesday’s anniversary of the April 26, 1986 disaster to highlight the dangers, costs and unsustainability of the nuclear renaissance that many European politicians are considering as a way to combat climate change and energy security problems.

Campaign coordinator Frank Van de Scheik said: “The nuclear industry is back and trying to sell its outdated and dangerous technology as a solution to climate change. More than 200 European civic society groups representing millions of Europeans are convinced: this is a myth.”

Europeans overwhelmingly pronounce themselves for renewables rather than nuclear as the solution to climate change, the NGOs said. A recent Eurobarometer survey found that 12% of Europeans believe nuclear be a way to tackle climate change, while 68% went for renewables.

The coalition, led by anti-nuclear groups from Austria, France, Holland and Finland, also called on the EU to scrap the Euratom treaty.

Silva Hermann of Friends of the Earth Austria called the Euratom treaty a “political oddity” that does not reflect the attitudes of European states and citizens.

“Despite the fact that many EU citizens oppose nuclear energy, all member states are forced by the Euratom treaty to fund nuclear research.

“In addition, new Euratom loans may help build new nuclear power plants in Bulgaria and Russia,” she said.

Reactor no. 4 of Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded after a routine safety test in the night of April 25, 1986, went wrong. An unexpected power surge led to the reactor spinning out of control after the emergency shutdown systems failed.

The accident spread radioactivity around 40% of Europe’s territory as well as heavily contaminating land across Ukraine, Russia and Byelorussia, according to a recent report. About two thirds of the nuclear fallout ended up outside of these three worst affected countries, and was mostly spread around Western Europe. The effects are still felt today.

The coalition of 200 NGOs is calling on Europeans to sign an anti-nuclear petition, with the aim of collecting one million signatures by the autumn. Details of the campaign can be found at

Goska Romanowicz

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie