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Labour pro-nuke-move - Clark will not be amused

Clark will not be amused by local Labour pro-nuclear move

Christchurch-based Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said today that Cantabrians do not want to become the Chernobyl of the South Pacific.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) regional councillors voted last night to consider nuclear power as part of planned debates and workshops on energy options for the region.

“Nuclear power is an absolute no-brainer for Canterbury and New Zealand,” said Mr Donald.

“Even the prospect of a nuclear power plant will immediately undermine our clean green image, to the detriment of tourism industry and primary produce exports.

“It is particularly offensive for Labour Party member Dr Ian Robertson, the mover of the motion, to suggest that the Chernobyl disaster did not kill ‘a great number’ of people. Reputable independent studies show that eight thousand clean-up workers died within five years, that there has since been a 12-fold increase in thyroid cancer among Belorussian women and a marked increase in leukaemia across Europe among children who were in the womb at the time. In terms of casualties, Chernobyl was a bigger tragedy than September 11.

“I find it disturbing that otherwise intelligent councillors have voted to investigate nuclear power. It is particularly surprising that two Labour Party councillors who are seeking re-election, Richard Budd and Sir Kerry Burke, have supported this motion that contradicts their ‘2021’ coalition’s vision statement. Helen Clark will not be amused.

“In his reference to ‘Greenpeace experts’, Robertson also misrepresents James Lovelock. The originator of the Gaia theory did recently suggest that nuclear power could be a solution to climate change, but in a subsequent interview on National Radio he specifically exempted New Zealand from his call because of our abundance of renewable energy sources.

“Instead of peering down the nuclear dead-end and contemplating futuristic ideas like hydrogen-powered cars, ECan should be focusing its efforts on developing sustainable public transport in Christchurch involving established technologies, such as light rail, and addressing energy demand by promoting insulation, solar water heating and peak demand management.

“Quite apart from the safety issues, nuclear power would not fit into New Zealand’s energy system because nuclear plants generate single, large ‘bundles’ of electricity. A nuclear plant therefore risks blackouts because NZ’s system is not big enough to provide instant back up when the frequent shutdowns occur. It would also be uneconomic because the necessary anti-terrorism security, safety monitoring, community evacuation plans and fuel disposal costs would not be spread across several facilities, as is the case in Europe and America,” said Mr Donald.

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