Nuclear power Scandinavian green groups recommend inquiry of environmental implications of the European Spallation Source
Press release from Folkkampanjen mot Kärnkraft-Kärnvapen, The Working Group Against ESS in Lund, Aktion Skåne-Miljö and NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark:
Recently, the Swedish Government has asked Allan Larsson, former minister of finance and director general at the EU-Commission, to review the possibility of hosting the ESS facility in the city of Lund in Sweden. At the same time the government has declared its intentions "to continue an ambitious research policy and to seize opportunities for collaborations regarding large research projects in Europe, such as ESS".
The ESS nuclear facility - a plus 1500 M€ project - is expected to be the biggest neutron-scattering research centre in the world. With a one-year mandate, Allan Larsson is to clarify the interest from the scientific community and industry, analyse the long term effects on economic growth, investigate the interest of possible regional, Nordic and European contributors and clarify the position of the EU-Commission and the interest of other countries to participate in the project. His results are to be presented July 1, 2005 and the Swedish government will then decide whether Sweden will submit a formal bid.
However, Allan Larsson is not expected to carry out an investigation of the scientific, social, economic and environmental impact of the ESS project before any decision on the viability of the project is taken.
"People tend to forget that this is in reality a nuclear facility, containing large quantities of radioactive material and explosive and toxic substances", says Bo Wennergren, spokesperson of the Working Group Against ESS in Lund. "ESS Scandinavia wants to place it in Lund without any safety zones whatsoever. Furthermore, it is not a run-of-the-mill industrial facility based on tested out technology and transparent safety parameters".
Considering that the Committee for Trade and Industry in the Swedish parliament has concluded earlier this year that the useful effects of the ESS facility should be weighted against the negative, that the various risk factors of the ESS have to be taken into consideration, and that even if the result of such an analysis adds up to an positive outlook on ESS, the Swedish parliament should be obliged to weigh the research facility against other R&D initiatives - and furthermore that the Committee has rejected two recommendations to promote the project -we hereby call on the Swedish government and Allan Larsson to see to that an independent inquiry of the ESS project is carried out.
The inquiry should answer the following question: What would be the result of a comprehensive social, environmental and economical analysis of yet another accelerator based system in Europe, considering:
- Risk assessments of all parts of the outlined ESS facility and elaboration of worst-case scenarios. The spallation target stations consist of 30 t. mercury, a poisonous liquid metal, which would become radioactive during use and have to be stored in a nuclear waste repository for 3000 years after the decommissioning of the research centre. If the cooling fails in the target stations, there could be an explosion, which could spread mercury not only over the city of Lund, but the whole region;
- Impact assessments of worst case scenarios on a local and regional scale;
- The projected investment cost of some 1500 M€ and the projected annual expenditure of over 140 M€. What other budget lines are influenced by this huge investment in spallation-related science and could the money be used better in order to pursue EU's sustainability strategy?
- The significant electricity needs. Could ESS in Lund provide a further excuse to delay the closure of the nearby 600 MW Barsebaeck-2 reactor, situated in the middle of the most densely populated part of Scandinavia and only 20 km from the centre of Copenhagen?
- The significant underlying driving force motivated by competition with the US and Japan beyond identifiable scientific rationale;
- Contribution to sustainable development;
"In my opinion, an inquiry of ESS has to be initiated, comprising an independent in-depth assessment of the justification, long-term orientation, environmental and social benefit and effects of the project, before it is taken any further" says Göran Bryntse from Folkkampanjen. "It its necessary to analyze the project's local and regional safety implications as well as the project's role in the EU policy for sustainable development, especially as regards the enormous energy consumption of the research facility. Furthermore, in order to guarantee the neutrality of the inquiry one or more independent research agencies should participate in the enterprise".
In recent years the ESS project has been the focus of attention from not only Swedish environmental groups, but also Danish groups, mainly due to its possible location in the Oeresund region. In November 2002 four Scandinavian environmental groups - Barsebaecksoffensiv, the Danish Ecological Council, Folkkampanjen mot Kärnkraft-Kärnvapen and the Swedish Green Party - organized an international symposium in Copenhagen to raise concerns about the safety and environmental implications of the project. The most controversial aspect was whether the ESS facility could be used for experiments into the transmutation of nuclear waste. The organizers concluded that even though representatives of the ESS Council and ESS Scandinavia publicly rejected the transmutation option, it was not contested that the strategic core of transmutation technology, i.e. the advanced accelerator and adapted spallation target, were present in the latest design of ESS and that this design would allow future developments to reintegrate transmutation.
For more information on recent developments in the ESS project, see the analysis: European Spallation Source - a new lease of life?
For more information on the ESS project, see:
Folkkampanjen mot Kärnkraft-Kärnvapen - http://www.folkkampanjen.se/essinfo.html
European Neutron Portal - http://neutron.neutron-eu.net/n_ess
ESS-Scandinavia - http://www.ess-scandinavia.org/new/source/index.asp
For further information please contact:
Folkkampanjen mot Kärnkraft-Kärnvapen - contact person: Göran Bryntse, tel. (work) +46 (0) 23-778846, (home) +46 (0) 23-30161, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Working Group Against ESS in Lund - contact person: Bo Wennergren, tel. +46 46-13 90 00, E-mail: email@example.com
Aktion Skåne-Miljö - contact person: Östen Drakfelt, tel./fax +46 (0) 40-91 8037, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark - contact person: Niels Henrik Hooge, tel. +45 46 35 38 79 and +45 21 83 79 94, E-mail: email@example.com