How to reduce asymmetries for increasing a more effective anti nuclear movement
We have been fighting against nuclear since the 1980s both in Argentina and other countries.
Some examples: as FUNAM, or FUNAM plus different institutional and citizens’ groups, we were successful: in closing the uranium mining of Los Gigantes in Cordoba, Argentina; conditioned closing of Sierra Pintada uranium mine in Mendoza; discard of Gastre’s project for the building of a repository of High Level Radioactive Waste (HLW) in Chubut (Patagonia); deactivation of CNEA’s plans for reprocessing exhausted nuclear fuel, and stopping of the entering of exhausted nuclear fuel from Sydney’s OPAL nuclear reactor (Australia) for being processed and reprocessed in Argentina, and returned to Australia (The OPAL was built by INVAP of Argentina).
Specifically from FUNAM we stopped the building of a Candu 6 in Guatemala; the building of a Carem in Zimbabwe (Carem is a nuclear reactor designed by INVAP of Argentina), and quite recently, the building of a Carem 150 MWe in Formosa province (Argentina) plus lot of moves against the Candu 6 we have in Cordoba (Embalse); the nuclear power plants Atucha I and Atucha II that Argentina has in Pilar (Buenos Aires Province); the uranium dioxide plant, Dioxitek, in Cordoba, and so on. In Argentina there is a long history of NGO resistance against nuclear, with good friends that used good part of their lives in fighting, among them Federico Westerkamp, Juan Schroeder and Javier Rodriguez Pardo (recently deceased).
In Argentina the life extension of Embalse’s nuclear power plant, existent Atucha II and the Carem 25 were decided prior to Environmental Impact Assessments and without public hearings (thus illegally). We presented claims at the Court of Justice vis-à-vis these dangerous governmental “mistakes” (2016).
In most of these cases we worked in relative isolation (when I said “we” we are talking of FUNAM, other NGOs and popular assemblies of citizens in Argentina).
In Latin America and the Caribbean we have three general menaces:
- a) Nuclear Power Plants (Brazil, Argentina and Mexico) plus “parks” of dry deposits of exhausted nuclear fuel near them.
- b) Research and experimental small nuclear reactors: several countries besides Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, among them Chile and Peru.
- c) Uranium mining.
Even if Brazil has a complex nuclear program, the most internationally dangerous is Argentina’s nuclear program because Argentina is “exporting” nuclear power plants and nuclear technology. Besides the OPAL nuclear reactor, built in Australia by INVAP, Argentina has already built small nuclear experimental reactors in Egypt, Algeria and Peru. Until recently, even The Netherlands was interested in the Carem. Note that both Argentina and Brazil conducted separated processes for the building of nuclear bombs during dictatorship periods. Fortunately, both initiatives have been indefinitely suspended.
There are not citizens’ plans for facing nuclear accidents and events, neither in Argentina, nor in Brazil, nor in Mexico. Solely “governmental” plans are in operation, restricted to minor events and accidents (of course, never assuming possibilities of INES level 7 events like those of Chernobyl and Fukushima Dai Ichi). Thus the occurrence surface is quite small, usually radios of 10 Kilometres around nuclear power plants (e.g. Embalse). In the region where the Laguna Verde reactor works, in Mexico, a simulacrum of accident or event was never done. Nuclear safety is totally different in different countries.
In Argentina FUNAM designed and distributed a citizens’ nuclear plan for facing nuclear accidents and events that cover this unacceptable vacuum. You can see such plans in the following sites:
Why do I send this synthesis?
Because I try to gets the attention of colleagues on the particular profile of local fights in countries like ours, totally different from the situations faced in Europe or Japan, and how to reduce the asymmetries I perceive in the current antinuclear movement.
There are regional places where citizens’ knowledge and anti-nuke positions seems clear (most of nuclear European countries) and regions without real resistance (E.g. Brazil, Mexico with his Mark II, or South Africa in Africa). It’s a war between minorities -NGOs and citizens’ minorities- versus pro nuke minorities but in different national contexts. Additionally, in countries like Argentina, Brazil and Mexico such battles eventually occur under dangerous contexts. In the biased and illegal Public Hearing on the life extension of Embalses’ nuclear power plant (2016), in Argentina, I was violently attacked by pronuclear trade unionists, and ironically “saved” by some policemen (more for avoiding the scandal than for really protecting me). In Mexico the “Mothers of Veracruz”, opposed to the Laguna Verde nuclear power plant, have suffered all kinds of threats.
“Nuclear” cannot be seen as a homogeneous problem in different countries and regions. To the contrary, our planet faces a mosaic of different nuclear realities and different social and political contexts, with different levels of risks and different mixes of risks in different countries. Consequently, a mosaic of strategies is needed.
In this mosaic of strategies the use of chronic nuclear disasters, like Fukushima Dai Ichi and Chernobyl (because both disaster don’t ended) are crucial.
Other technical keys are the linkages between increasing genome disruptions in natural biodiversity produced by radioisotopes and ionizing radiation, in a planet with less and less natural biodiversity, and how radioisotopes increases in time (persistence) and diversities all current and future “cocktails of pollutants”. Briefly, our planet is now more sensitive to fission products and ionizing radiation than before, taking as an “departure” momentum the year 1945.
For those interested in the nuclear reality of Argentina and some relationship with the Brazilian nuclear program you can see chapters I wrote in books published in Europe:
Montenegro, R.A. 2007. “The Nuclear Programme of Argentina and the Creation of Nuclear Free Zones for reducing Risks of Nuclear facilities”. In: “Updating International Nuclear Law“, Eds. H. Stockinger, J.M. van Dyke, M. Gestlinger, S.K. Fussek & P. Marchart, Ed. NW Verlag, BMW Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag & Intersentia, Vienna, Austria, pp. 259-294.
Montenegro, R.A. 2009. “Argentina’s irrational nuclear programme and citizen’s opposition“. In: “International Perspectives on Energy Policy and the Role of Nuclear Power“, Eds. L. Mez, M. Schneider & S. Thomas, Ed. Multi-Science Publishing Co., United Kingdom, pp. 407-420.
It will be very interesting to follow how different struggles against nuclear technology in different countries can be combined, and how to combine local struggles with international campaigning. The challenge is how to reduce asymmetries for increasing a more effective anti nuclear movement, and for reducing gaps and bias. Even if we are very busy in fighting most of the time we can contribute to discuss these issues with you and colleague organisations.
Prof. Dr. Raúl A. Montenegro, Biólogo
Presidente de FUNAM (Fundación para la defensa del ambiente)
Profesor Titular Plenario de Biología Evolutiva (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba)
Director, Campus Córdoba Right Livelihood College (RLC)
Premio Nóbel Alternativo 2004 (RLA-Estocolmo, Suecia)
Premio Global 500 de Naciones Unidas 1989 (UNEP-Bruselas, Bélgica)
Nuclear Free Future Award 1998 (Salzburgo, Austria)
Premio a la Investigación Científica (Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Fundación para la defensa del ambiente
Environment Defense Foundation
Casilla de Correo 83
Correo Central, (5000) Córdoba, Argentina.
FUNAM es una ONG fundada en 1982.
Tiene status consultivo en ECOSOC (Naciones Unidas, Nueva York).
FUNAM es Premio Global 500 de Naciones Unidas (1987).
FUNAM is an NGO created in 1982.
FUNAM has consultative status at ECOSOC (United Nations, New York).
Global 500 Award from United Nations (1987).