(TFN, Calgary) Two major environmental advocacy groups have reversed their policies on nuclear power amid its possible use within Canadian oil sands projects.
At a joint news conference in Calgary, Greenpeace Canada and the Sierra Wilderness Society have together announced support for nuclear power generation in defence of the Earth’s atmosphere, and its proposed use in Northern Alberta for extracting bitumen from vast oil sands deposits.
Greenpeace spokesperson Reiner Gerlach explained that “The coal ash disaster in the Tennessee Valley, that released 100 times more waste than the Exxon Valdez spill, has demonstrated that nuclear power is indisputably required for some decades, to give time for renewable energy technologies to scale up to actual needs. We cannot sacrifice the atmosphere in the meantime by burning so called ‘clean coal’, and Greenpeace now supports the replacement of all existing and planned coal plants with nuclear energy as a matter of urgency.”
Sierra President Alan Watts commented in the same release that “Sierra now recognizes that the Canadian oil sands can, from one perspective, be viewed as the world’s largest contaminated soil site and we advocate the use of nuclear power as the best way to extract the oil with the least burden on the atmosphere and global warming. Like Greenpeace, we do not want to put forward Luddite policies that in the end may condemn us to gradual asphyxiation from coal burning. Nuclear power is clearly safer now than it was decades ago and we must assume this smaller risk, if we are to avoid a despoiling of the commons from burgeoning coal projects.”
The two groups have modified their policies on nuclear power to separate out the problem of nuclear waste disposal, which is now viewed as a “human character issue, not properly an environmental matter”. Gerlach stated that “the disposal of nuclear waste can be managed safely, and if we subsequently foul our own nests, we could not truthfully blame nuclear power generation for that failure. Nuclear waste products remain within our control, whereas coal waste ash and gases clearly are not.”