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Anti-nuclear movement

Social movement / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The anti-nuclear movement is a social movement that opposes various nuclear technologies. Some direct action groups, environmental movements, and professional organisations have identified themselves with the movement at the local, national, or international level.[2][3] Major anti-nuclear groups include Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Peace Action, Seneca Women's Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. The initial objective of the movement was nuclear disarmament, though since the late 1960s opposition has included the use of nuclear power. Many anti-nuclear groups oppose both nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The formation of green parties in the 1970s and 1980s was often a direct result of anti-nuclear politics.[4]

169,000 people attended an anti-nuclear protest in Bonn, West Germany, on 14 October 1979, following the Three Mile Island accident.[1]
Anti-nuclear demonstration in Colmar, north-eastern France, on 3 October 2009
Anti-Nuclear Power Plant Rally following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on 19 September 2011 at Meiji Shrine complex in Tokyo, Japan

Scientists and diplomats have debated nuclear weapons policy since before the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.[5] The public became concerned about nuclear weapons testing from about 1954, following extensive nuclear testing in the Pacific. In 1963, many countries ratified the Partial Test Ban Treaty which prohibited atmospheric nuclear testing.[6]

Some local opposition to nuclear power emerged in the early 1960s,[7] and in the late 1960s some members of the scientific community began to express their concerns.[8] In the early 1970s, there were large protests about a proposed nuclear power plant in Wyhl, West Germany. The project was cancelled in 1975 and anti-nuclear success at Wyhl inspired opposition to nuclear power in other parts of Europe and North America.[9][10] Nuclear power became an issue of major public protest in the 1970s[11] and while opposition to nuclear power continues, increasing public support for nuclear power has re-emerged over the last decade in light of growing awareness of global warming and renewed interest in all types of clean energy (see the Pro-nuclear movement).

A protest against nuclear power occurred in July 1977 in Bilbao, Spain, with up to 200,000 people in attendance. Following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, an anti-nuclear protest was held in New York City, involving 200,000 people. In 1981, Germany's largest anti-nuclear power demonstration took place to protest against the Brokdorf Nuclear Power Plant west of Hamburg; some 100,000 people came face to face with 10,000 police officers. The largest protest was held on 12 June 1982, when one million people demonstrated in New York City against nuclear weapons. A 1983 nuclear weapons protest in West Berlin had about 600,000 participants. In May 1986, following the Chernobyl disaster, an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people marched in Rome to protest against the Italian nuclear program. In Australia unions, peace activists and environmentalists opposed uranium mining from the 1970s onwards and rallies bringing together hundreds of thousands of people to oppose nuclear weapons peaked in the mid- 1980s.[12] In the US, public opposition preceded the shutdown of the Shoreham, Yankee Rowe, Millstone 1, Rancho Seco, Maine Yankee, and many other nuclear power plants.

For many years after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, nuclear power was off the policy agenda in most countries, and the anti-nuclear power movement seemed to have won its case, so some anti-nuclear groups disbanded. In the 2000s, however, following public relations activities by the nuclear industry,[13][14][15][16][17] advances in nuclear reactor designs, and concerns about climate change, nuclear power issues came back into energy policy discussions in some countries. The 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident subsequently undermined the nuclear power industry's proposed renaissance and revived nuclear opposition worldwide, putting governments on the defensive.[18] As of 2016, countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Norway have no nuclear power stations and remain opposed to nuclear power.[19][20] Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland are phasing-out nuclear power. Sweden formerly had a nuclear phase-out policy, aiming to end nuclear power generation in Sweden by 2010. On 5 February 2009, the Government of Sweden announced an agreement allowing for the replacement of existing reactors, effectively ending the phase-out policy.[20][21][22][23] Globally, the number of operable reactors remains nearly the same over the last 30 years, and nuclear electricity production is steadily growing after the Fukushima disaster.[24]

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