G8: Position of international NGO conference

Publish date: June 4, 2006

On the World Environment Day, NGOs from Russia, the United States, Finland and Norway, expressed their vision of the issues to be discussed at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg in the middle of July.

Representatives of 31 non-governmental organizations from 4 countries convened in St. Petersburg on June 1-2 for the conference on the ‘Impact of the Public and Whistleblowers on Energy and Nuclear Policy’. NGOs adopted a joint resolution on the issues to be addressed at the G8 summit.

Today at the press-conference Alexander Nikitin, Chairman of the Environmental Rights Center ‘Bellona’, noted that the G8 plans to renew the construction of nuclear power plants worldwide are regarded as irresponsible by environmentalists. The latter demand that the G8 governments stop subsidizing nuclear power plants and redirect those resources to support the renewable energy sources (wind energy, geothermal energy, sun energy, micro-hydroelectric power plants, etc.).

‘The so-called nuclear renaissance is very dangerous for the whole world’, said Susan Gordon of the US-based Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. ‘Nuclear power plants radioactive waste will remain dangerous for thousands of years. We cannot speed up the nuclear disintegration process for these materials, so nuclear energy is too dangerous’.

‘We think that whenever we speak about energy safety, we should take into consideration the environmental side of this safety’, said Jay Goghlan (Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, USA).

NGOs representatives also spoke about the importance of supporting ‘truth-tellers’, or ‘whistleblowers’, workers of dangerous facilities who publicly speak about the drawbacks in the work of such facilities. Government Accountability Project, an NGO working on whistleblower protection (USA), initiated an international convention on whistleblower protection.

‘Both in Chernobyl and before the Challenger accident there were people who spoke about the work failures. The problem is that no one would listen to them’, said Jay Goghlan (Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, USA).

Sergey Paschenko, Director of Siberian Scientists for Global Responsibility Organization (Novosibirsk) told us about the samples he had taken two days ago, right after the conference, in the village of Lebyazhye (Leningrad region), 20 km away from Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. In samples taken at the old pipeline abandoned and buried 20 years ago, he managed to register the level of radiation 20 times higher than the normal beta-radiation level, the former supposedly caused by strontium.

‘More detailed research results will be available in a week. We should look for the source of contamination. Local authorities consider the source to be the heptyl mines where, apart from heptyl, radioactive waste was illegally disposed‘, he said.

Statement of the International Conference on the Impact of the Public and Whistleblowers on Energy and Nuclear Policy

June 1-2, 2006

Hotel Znamenka

We, the participants of the international conference on the “Impact of the Public and Whistleblowers on Energy and Nuclear Policy” representing 31 non-governmental organizations from 26 towns and cities and 4 countries, have convened on June 1-2, 2006 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

As scientists, nuclear industry workers, and environmental activists we support people who have unique information about the safety and health issues as potential messengers for protecting human health and the environment. These messengers should be protected and celebrated, not prosecuted or persecuted.

World leaders will come to St. Petersburg to discuss energy problems and solutions, and are actively considering the renaissance of nuclear power. Any consideration of nuclear power cannot take place without recognizing the victims and lessons of Chernobyl and other nuclear disasters and the legacy of nuclear weapons production. The global nuclear energy partnership proposal increases proliferation, endangers the public, and undermines democratic principles.

We Demand:

  • That the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concentrate solely on safety and security of existing nuclear projects, and exclude from its mission the promotion of the nuclear industry.
  • The establishment of an International Agency for Renewable Resources.
  • A moratorium of nuclear power plant construction until the nuclear waste problem is solved, and public safety and security issues are resolved.
  • All discussions on costs of new nuclear power plants include full disclosure of total life cycle costs, including the cost of nuclear waste disposal and decommissioning of nuclear sites.
  • That the public be involved in discussions and receive information on health and safety consequences, economic effects, environmental assessments and security risks regarding the development of energy projects, including nuclear.
  • An end to the transnational transportation of nuclear waste, including spent nuclear fuel.
  • An end to the reprocessing, manufacturing of plutonium fuel, and the development of fast breeder reactors.
  • An end to state subsidies of the nuclear industry and a redirection of those resources to renewable and energy efficiency programs.
  • The G8 countries should ratify and follow the principles of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context adopted on Feb 25, 1991 in Espoo.

In addition, we support the right to speak the truth and urge the following:

  • Workers in hazardous industries such as nuclear installations have the responsibility and the right to raise concerns without the fear of reprisal.
  • There should be transparency in all nuclear safety and hazardous risk matters.
  • There should be zero-tolerance for reprisals against workers who raise concerns about nuclear safety and other hazards to the public.
  • There should be an international convention and enforceable agreement for protection of these messengers.
  • The IAEA’s recommendations resulting from the Chernobyl accident investigation relating to the ability of workers to raise concerns should be adopted and vigorously enforced. This should be included in the mandate of the IAEA enforcement protocols. (INSAG 15, Section 3.4).

There should be legal rights for workers to redress their grievances if they suffer retaliation

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