Radiation

Nuclear daily life

Living with nuclear risk  How does one live near and work at sites where an accident, radiation, or a “low dose” radioactive contamination is a constant threat? Welcome to daily life in a nuclear society, where people have trivialized nuclear and not taken any responsibility for its inherent risks.   The invisibility of the threat of radioactivity is fundamental to how we perceive nuclear risk and the preventive practices we have instituted. Although the sight of nuclear structures, imposing as they are, is the cause of some anxiety, such facilities are generally kept out of view. The location...

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The Myth of Energy Independence

The Myth of Energy Independence      In France, the uranium needed to operate the country’s nuclear reactors is imported mainly from Niger and Kazakhstan. This dependence calls into question the myth of energy independence that civilian nuclear power had promised, as well as its image of providing “clean” energy.     Georges-Besse d’Eurodif Enrichment Facility, France, no date, Bernard LAPONCHE Fund. All rights reserved.     During the first oil crisis in 1973, the development of civilian nuclear power in France was based on an official discourse that centered largely on energy independence. The stated objective of the Messmer Plan was, through its “all nuclear, all electric” approach, to make France completely independent; however, this relied on securing uranium supplies. When the French nuclear power industry was born at the end of the WWII, France still exercised sovereignty over territories whose reserves guaranteed it a long-term supply for its military and civilian programs. Access to these resources, which also held the promise of very lucrative exports for the extracting industries, was the main focus of the CEA’s prospecting policy in France’s colonies in West Africa and Madagascar. This was especially true of Gabon, where deposits were discovered in the east of the country in 1956 under the direction of Jacques Mabille, an engineer from the Corps des Mines.     EXCERPT FROM: GABRIELLE HECHT  “AFRICAN URANIUM: A...

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Challenging Nuclear Energy in France

Challenging Nuclear Energy in France  Although the construction of nuclear reactors in France received widespread support from the political and industrial elite, it did not always play out smoothly. A new look at the challenges and questions that shook the 1970s and 1980s. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also gave rise to a bitter opposition to nuclear energy. Marked by the scale of the devastation, pacifists began to coalesce into movements. Troubled by the proliferation of nuclear arsenals and the risk of atomic warfare between the superpowers during the Cold War, intellectuals and celebrities the world over united to sign the Stockholm Appeal. Drafted by Fréderic Joliot-Curie, the petition demanded the prohibition of nuclear weapons. More than 3 million people signed, including a very young Jacques Chirac, Lionel Jospin, Pablo Picasso, Pablo Neruda, and Yves Montand. This criticism resonated strongly with citizens and politicians alike, but it did not lead to the disappearance of nuclear arsenals. The Non-Proliferation Treaty and the START and SALT I and II agreements at least reduced the number of nuclear warheads and by a discriminatory logic, reserved their possession to a small number of countries. In the 1970s in France, this opposition to military uses of nuclear power extended to civilian uses as well. The launch of the construction of nuclear power plants under the Messmer Plan, which took place without any...

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