Nuclear power considered

The option of Greece turning to nuclear power to solve its energy and environmental problems was firmly put on the table by the Public Works and Environment Ministry yesterday. Greece does not have any nuclear power plants but, in a statement released yesterday, the ministry indicated that a debate should begin on whether this form of energy could be adopted. The ministry was reacting to comment by European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, who said that «nuclear energy does not belong to the group of renewable energy sources.» Dimas was responding to questions from journalists at the Athens Summit on climate change. They had asked for his reaction to a statement by Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias during his speech on Monday night, in which he reportedly suggested «nuclear power is green power.» The ministry responded immediately in an attempt to put Souflias’s comments into context. «What Mr Souflias was trying to do was… to open the public dialogue on a crucial matter,» the statement read. «Greece is gradually being surrounded by nuclear reactors. Shouldn’t the dialogue begin so that we can make clear our country’s position on the issue?» The ministry went on to clarify what Souflias had meant in his speech and to criticize Dimas in what is turning out to be a personal tug of war between the two men. «Mr Souflias never said that nuclear energy was a renewable source, as Mr Dimas attempted to claim. Mr Souflias said in his speech that the European Union now refers to nuclear energy as ‘green energy’ since it does not produce carbon dioxide or other pollutants.» However, the ministry’s suggestion that the use of nuclear power in Greece is on the agenda provoked an instant response from opposition parties and environmentalists. «If someone suggests the nuclear option in the face of climate change, it means that he is essentially importing one big threat that could be destructive for health, the environment and security, to replace another,» said Greenpeace.