Scientists and experts, representatives of public organisations, movements, political parties as well as public figures from the UK, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic, Belarus and Russia discussed the current problems inherently connected to atomic energy, including the economic and environmental costs, as well the challenges related to international law.
The conference coincided with the meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to whom the participants addressed an open letter. The letter was also sent to EU governments, the European Parliament, Commission and the Committee of the Euratom. The letter demanded a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants, as well as the need to devise a plan for the early decommissioning of existing nuclear power plants and replacing them with sustainable energy systems. Conference participants also emphasized the urgency of open public scrutiny, of responsible and professional approaches to nuclear waste management and of the official end to using outdated models for assessing radiation risks to human health.
The experts that attended the conference criticized the nuclear energy situation in the Baltic region, with many new plants having the go-ahead to be built. Concerns were expressed regarding the lack of proof and studies on the economic feasibility of the nuclear power plants to be built in the region. Radiation risks associated with nuclear industry facilities are underestimated today because of the use of an outdated assessment model developed in the 1950’s. Furthermore, recent paleogeologic research was not taken into account when placing nuclear power plants. This increases the risks of radiation accidents. The spent fuel management in the Baltic Sea Region does not meet sufficient safety and involves a risk of soil contamination in the region. The conference emphasized that countries strongly promoting nuclear energy programs, deprive themselves of the opportunities for investing in renewable energy sources, since colossal sums of taxpayers’ money are spent on new nuclear plants projects, in already very difficult times for national economies.
Special attention was paid to the projects of three nuclear power plants - Ostrovets, Visaginas and the developments in the Baltic - Kaliningrad region. Several of the speakers pointed out that these new nuclear power plants projects are imposed on the inhabitants of the Baltic region without consulting the citizens that will be most affected by them, while public opinion negative to nuclear energy is not taken into account. More than 16 nuclear reactors are planned to be built in the Baltic region at a distance of a few hundred kilometers from each other. Such a high concentration of dangerous nuclear power facilities requires a separate, objective and sober assessment.
Nuclear waste management study by the Greens/EFA group presented
One day of the conference was dedicated to discussing the latest Green studies and publications on the topic. One of the books presented was the Russian translation of the nuclear waste management study by researcher Wolfgang Neumann, commissioned by the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament and published by the Green European Foundation. You can access the English version of the study on the Greens/EFA webspage here. The Russian translation will be available for download from the GEF website soon.
Organisers and speakers
The conference was organised jointly by a series of foundations and NGOs. Alongside the Green European Foundation, other organizers were the NGOs Atgaja (Lithuania), Ecohouse (Belarus), the movement “Scientists for a nuclear-free Belarus”, the Belarusian Party "The Greens", "Women for Peace" (Finland), MILKAS (Sweden), the Heinrich Boell Foundation (Germany) and the European Green Party.
Among others, the conference was attended by well renowned scholars: professor Alexey Yablokov (Russian Federation), Dr. Alfred Korbleyn (Germany), Professor Christopher Busby (UK), Miles Golstik (Sweden), Professor George Lepine (Belarus), Nils Axel Morner (Sweden), Professor Jurgis Vilemas (Lithuania), as well as representatives of NGOs, associations and parties: International public campaign "For a Nuclear-Free Region!”, Belarusian anti-nuclear campaign, Green Party of Lithuania, the group "Ecodefense", the Belarusian Autocephalous Church, the Group for a Nuclear free Belarus!, the movement "Ostrovetskaya nuclear power plant - is a crime”, the group for a referendum on the construction of Baltic NPP.