Eight years ago, an earthquake and tsunami in North-Eastern Japan (which claimed more than 15,000 lives) lead to three nuclear meltdowns and the release of radioactive material at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. It was the largest nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl incident.
Environmentalists seized on the accident as further proof of the dangers of nuclear technology. Several European countries have already phased out (or are phasing out) nuclear power, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Sweden. Others, such as Ireland and Lithuania, have no nuclear reactors at all. Some EU Member States, however, are planning to either renew or expand their nuclear power infrastructure; Poland (which currently does not produce nuclear power) is planning to construct 6 nuclear plants, and the UK will soon need to replace its ageing reactors.
Critics argue that phasing out nuclear power is more difficult than it seems. Germany, for example, has been forced to rely more on coal power plants since its nuclear phase-out, which are much more polluting in terms of CO2 emissions (plus, coal ash is significantly more radioactive than nuclear waste).
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Mark on our ‘Suggest a Debate’ page, arguing that “nuclear energy should not be used and is dangerous”. Is he right? Should European countries abandon the technology?
Should all EU Member States ban nuclear power? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
Roger Helmer (EFDD), Member of the European Parliament and UKIP spokesman on Energy (NOTE: We contacted EFDD MEPs for comment but they did not reply in time for publication. The below is from a blog post published by Roger Helmer):
[Nuclear power is] a very reliable, clean way of producing a constant supply of energy and its fuel costs are much lower than conventional power generators. We can expect a new nuclear plant to operate two or three times as long as a gas-fired plant, and in all probability uranium prices will be much more stable than gas prices over the long term. And of course, the promise of nuclear power is immense. These reasons, amongst others, make nuclear power essential…
IMAGE CREDIT: CC / Flickr – IAEA
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