As the crisis of peak oil looms, the debate about the viability of substituting fossil fuels with wind or wave energy have begun. One alternative which has been revived is nuclear power. Despite its radioactive waste, fears of meltdowns at plants or of terrorist attacks, a pro-nuclear lobby has raised the suggestion that nuclear power, currently declared illegal in the Republic of Ireland, could provide a part of the solution to the energy crisis. The Irish Green Party set out ‘ten reasons why nuclear power makes no sense for Ireland in their 2007 election manifesto. The ten issues raised included prohibitive costs, renewable alternatives, nuclear not solving climate change, promotion of efficiency, lack of heat or transport options, the centralised nature of nuclear, radioactive waste, unsafe plants, depletion of uranium and links to nuclear weapons (Green Party 2007). The extent of this opposition raises the question as to why the nuclear option is still on the agenda. Campaigns against nuclear power plants emerged from the concerns expressed by some US medical and science experts about the dangers of radiation exposure in the decades after the Second World War. While the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and fears of Cold War nuclear arms proliferation created a combination of grievance factors for many people, the global oil crisis of the 1970s had led to a renewed interest in nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Many western nations such as the USA and Britain had developed their nuclear energy capacities, and as Ireland had little in the way of natural resources, some favoured the nuclear option as a potential policy for consideration. While many opposed nuclear power due to fears about the harmful effects of radiation, others saw it as a futuristic and efficient energy source.
KeywordsNuclear Power Plant Radioactive Waste Nuclear Energy Nuclear Plant European Economic Community
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