Declaration on Nuclear Power
Discussed and approved at the 6th ISDE World Assembly (Edmonton, 1996)
Written by German Doctors for the Environment
We, more than 20,000 physicians and scientists, in more than 100 nations, organised in ISDE, make the following urgent appeal to the world public, and especially to all decision makers in politics, industry, economics and science:
As the 20th century is drawing to a close, the nuclear age - which through military and civilian use of nuclear energy threatens all mankind - must be terminated. As physicians we have recognised that even low doses of radiation are harmful to human health. Moreover this detrimental health effect of radioactivity is compounded by other noxious environmental factors produced by human activities in a degree which we do not yet fully appreciate.
With civilian use of nuclear energy, the release of radioactivity is inevitable, due to uranium maining, enrichment, transportation, consumption in nuclear power plants, reprocessing and, last but not least, through the still unsolved problem of safe permanent disposal of nuclear waste.
Even an accident-free civilian use of nuclear energy is thus harmful to human health and the fabric of society. The use of nuclear energy engenders an unacceptable set of limitations to social freedom which in turn threatens to disrupt the structure of human communities and to degrade quality of life.
The view that the civilian use of nuclear energy is possible without accidents has proven to be a false assumption, at least since Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. A nuclear worst-case scenario would not only mean the destruction of human life and health at an unimaginable scale, without the possibility of effective medical aid, but also the destruction of huge fertile regions for hundreds of generations to come.
The large amount of weapons-grade plutonium resulting from the reprocessing of nuclear waste represents an uncontrollable threat to world peace.
The disastrous effects of man-made climatic changes, which have already begun, require immediate measures.
Expanding nuclear industry is certainly not the way to prevent climatic changes. Such an expansion would be too dangerous, too expensive and come too late to prevent climatic changes. It would not satisfy the rising world demand for energy.
What we need are immediate and effective changes in our energy policy on a local and global scale. We must make an all-out effort, with special emphasis on the use and further development of renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources. For a transitional period we will also require the more efficient use of fossil fuels and a reduction in emissions. We must not forget that the greatest immediate source of energy is the conservation of energy. For the sake of humanity, for its health and survival, we physicians plead for urgent reversal of current nuclear policies favouring nuclear development.