Nuclear energy option derided

A bid by Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias to open a discussion on whether Greece should consider adopting nuclear power seems to have stalled before it had a chance to get going. His idea was rejected flat out by government politicians, the leader of the main opposition party and the head of the Technical Chamber of Greece. Perhaps the most damaging reactions to Souflias’s effort «to open the public dialogue on a crucial matter» came from within his own party. First was the response of New Democracy MP Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who also presides over Parliament’s environmental protection committee. Souflias had suggested in a speech earlier this week that the European Union now regards nuclear energy as «green energy since it does not produce carbon dioxide or other pollutants.» But Mitsotakis poured cold water on these claims, telling reporters, «Nuclear energy is not green.» A few hours later, following questioning by PASOK MPs, Development Minister Christos Folias told parliamentary deputies, «Nuclear power has not been included in the government’s energy planning.» PASOK leader George Papandreou had earlier made it clear to his party’s deputies that he was against the use of nuclear power and criticized the government for considering the idea. Speaking at the Athens Summit on climate change, PASOK MP Michalis Chrysochoidis had also blasted the suggestion that Greece should consider building nuclear power stations. «Greece should be concentrating on protecting the environment and not announcing the intention to invest in nuclear energy, which brings with it big dangers,» he said. The president of the Technical Chamber (TEE), Yiannis Alavanos, said that by adopting nuclear energy, Greece would simply be swapping dependency on oil and lignite for another type of fuel. He added that building nuclear reactors in a country as prone to earthquakes as Greece would be «extremely unsafe.» «Nuclear power is not safe, nor environmentally friendly, nor a cheap option for Greece,» said Alavanos.