The World Anti-Nuclear Social Forum – Paris 2017.

Report by Allan Jeffery.

In November, Nikki and I went to Paris to represent Stop Hinkley and the UK at the 3rd Anti- Nuclear World Social Forum. The banners in the entrance hall said, in French “To a World without Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power!”There we met many passionate campaigners from countries all over the world concerned about the damage being done to the environment and health of their local communities by the nuclear industry.

World Social Forums started in 2001 in South America, and since have taken place in Asia, Africa and North America, as part of the anti- globalisation movement. Citizens groups, campaigning against government and global corporation actions that are damaging the health and environment of local populations, can meet and share their experiences and learn from each other. Paris this year was the 3rd Social Forum with an anti-nuclear theme, the first two were in Tokyo and Montreal. France being the most heavily nuclearized country per population in the world was the natural next venue.

Over three days, across three conference buildings near the Republique Central, were three auditorium speaker sessions, 30 workshops, several films and a public theatrical demonstration around the Bastille! The topics covered the whole range of the nuclear cycle, from uranium mining, nuclear new build, radiation health effects, nuclear waste disposal and decommissioning, nuclear clean -up operations and the connections with military weapons to comparisons with renewables on climate change. Nikki and I also took the opportunity to take a coach journey to a centre of resistance, near the village of Bure in the Champagne, rural and forested region of France. Here the national government wants to bury all of France's massive stores of high level radioactive waste, an on-going site of battle protests!

There were so many fascinating international workshops I would have liked to attend, but some were on at the same time, and some only in French. Most of the main speaker's sessions and fortunately my workshop had a translation service. I partook in a workshop called “The Disastrous EPR!” involving speakers from France, America and Finland. We explaining the multitude of problems that this reactor design has created in our countries, technical, constructional, financial and political. I presented a PowerPoint history of the Stop Hinkley campaign in Somerset, showed the present state of construction and pointed out all the continuing problems, including Brexit, which could still mean Hinkley C is never finished. No EPR reactor is working yet in any country in the world and delays still keep growing with ever increasing financial costs.

Some of the topics spoken about, by international local group representatives included;

•  In Finland, as well as the never ending, disastrous, problems of the Olkioloto EPR reactor, the government are talking about building a Russian reactor on a protected beautiful wildlife area near Sweden. Protests will come from both countries to stop the building.
•  In New Mexico, USA, abandoned Uranium mines and pollution affecting health of the indigenous people, along with the threat of new mining in Grand Canyon.
•  In India there are massive anti-nuclear struggles against a Government trying to build several new reactors. Very vulnerable farmers and fishermen in peaceful protests are being brutally treated and surrounded by thousands of police.
•  In Turkey the government wants to build 3 nuclear plants in a country where there are hundreds of fault lines and earthquakes are common. Russia will build and own a plant on the sea coast, but will not take the waste away, a threat to water demand and the marine environments of the many Mediterranean countries.
•  In Niger, Africa, France uses its old colony to mine uranium for its reactors, having now stopped mining in France. The local Arab populations did not understand the dangers to health of the uranium dust and used the highly radioactive waste tailings from the mining activities to build roads and houses.
•  In France 30,000 workers in the nuclear industry are exposed to radiation but the subcontracted companies that employ them do not recognise the occupational health hazards. Unions need to work with the workers to get medical monitoring for healthy working conditions. CRIIRAD is an independent laboratory that measures radioactivity and is helping local communities to measure radioactivity for themselves both in France, where the effects of Chernobyl still exist, and in Niger.
•  In Japan levels of childhood Thyroid cancer continue to rise, though families outside Fukushima are not given medical support. The damaged reactors and their melted fuel present new engineering decommissioning problems never tackled before. More than a thousand radioactive water storage tanks may have to be emptied into the Pacific Ocean as well as the continuing leakage. Subcontracted workers cleaning up the contaminated towns and damaged reactors have poor working conditions and no health insurance; billions of black plastic sacks of radioactive soil accumulate as pyramids of waste stores that nobody wants or knows what to do with.

This is just a small summary of what we experienced. Congratulations to the many French anti-nuclear groups of volunteers who organised this amazing conference, enabling people from around the world to share their experiences against the global corporate and military nuclear industry. Many new friends and contacts were made.

 

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Page Updated 01-Jan-2018