In this issue
High-definition digital pictures, ultra slow-motion
replays and extreme close-ups have brought the fascination of
the natural world to our living rooms. It’s impossible to
be indifferent to the relentless cyclical power of nature, its
awe-inspiring capacity to regenerate itself. It is genetically
pre-programmed to recover from any situation. As Aristotle said,
“Nature does nothing without purpose or uselessly.”
Well, the annual miracle of spring reminds us that nature is the
comeback king. But this time it’s not the only one.
Twelve months ago, our sector was showing the
first signs of emerging from a cold anti-nuclear winter into the
bright spring sunshine of a nuclear renaissance. Everyone wondered
whether the revival would prove to be a short-lived phenomenon,
a permanent or seasonal one. Initial optimism from the nuclear
sector was, understandably, tempered with caution. False dawns
can have a sobering effect.
Well, so far the revival has not faded away.
On the contrary, it has actually gathered momentum. The green
shoots of recovery have grown into a healthy plant that is not
about to wither simply to fulfill some seasonal destiny. This
plant is fed by a nutritious diet of political pragmatism, economic
necessity, growing environmental awareness and the gradual acceptance
of a new reality.
The devastating effects of climate change and
growing concerns about security of energy supply have put nuclear
energy back in the spotlight. Decision-makers, environmentalists
and even some NGOs are increasingly coming to the conclusion that
nuclear energy is here to stay. Public opinion continues to shift
subtly in favour of retaining - and in some cases even expanding
- the use of nuclear energy. It is no longer an isolated issue
on the margins of the global energy agenda. Now it occupies the
The return of nuclear is slowly redrawing the political energy
map in Europe. A new spirit of realism has forced governments
to acknowledge that nuclear energy offers us the best chance of
combating climate change and ensuring the secure supply of electricity
that the world craves. The facts speak for themselves and, as
the saying goes, “only a fool never changes his mind.”
Although some countries, like Austria and Ireland, remain unconditionally
anti-nuclear, others are openly reviewing their policies, reassessing
their energy options. Last spring the revival began, this spring
we are seeing the fruits of that revival.
In the UK, for example, the Blair government
has recently stressed that nuclear energy should be part of the
country’s energy equation. This might include re-launching
its hibernating nuclear industry. It is currently carrying out
a root and branch review to ensure that it makes the right energy
choices for the future, while respecting its international CO2
The Netherlands is reviewing its nuclear phase-out
policy. Its only nuclear power plant, at Borssele, was recently
granted a 20 year lifetime extension. The government is openly
considering the possibility of building a second nuclear power
Other countries, like Belgium, Spain and Italy,
also appear prepared to allow nuclear energy back on their political
The Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia
recently announced that they wanted to build a new nuclear power
plant, in Lithuania, that would be “shared by all three
states.” Romania is building two new reactors. Other countries,
like Poland, are considering the possibility of a bright new nuclear
So, the signs look good, but a note of caution
is required. The events at Chernobyl that occurred twenty years
ago this month are a timely reminder that no renaissance is guaranteed
permanent. There is still a long way to go before nuclear energy
establishes itself as the number one energy option worldwide.
If the nuclear industry does not use its increased acceptability
to hammer home key messages about its economic, social and environmental
advantages, and about its scientific excellence and impressive
safety record, then the revival may yet prove to be a false dawn.
So, like a constant gardener, we must nurture
the nuclear plant carefully to ensure that the come back is a
lasting one. As the PIME 2006 conference in Vienna recently showed
us, one of the major weapons at our disposal is communications.
With public perceptions of nuclear improving and economic circumstances
playing in our favour, the time is ripe to go on the offensive
and to use targeted communications to press home our advantage.
We need to improve our communications skills, intensify our communications
strategy and send out our messages loud and clear to a broader
range of target audiences. At a time when more and more people
are inclined to listen, we must do all we can to make sure that
we are heard. We cannot afford to miss the bus - there might not
be another one around for several springs to come.
The ENS NEWS section of Issue
N° 12 kicks off with a word from ENS President, Frank Deconinck.
Frank gives a blow-by blow account of the events that led up to
the Chernobyl accident that happened 20 years ago, analyses its
social, economic environmental and health consequences and focuses
on the regulatory and political fall-out of what was a watershed
event for the nuclear industry.
In his article entitled Critical
Thinking, Andrew Teller reflects upon how the reasoning
that underpins the points of view expressed by the press and anti-nuclear
lobbyists – for example in relation to the Chernobyl accident
- is often fundamentally flawed due to faulty reasoning methodology,
factual errors, imbalanced reporting and illogical arguments.
By exploring, among other things, the concepts of motivated reasoning,
Andrew highlights the importance of critical thinking and reasoning
in forming valid arguments that can withstand close scrutiny.
In the Events section,
the spotlight falls on PIME 2006, which that took place in February,
at the IAEA’s Vienna International Centre (VIC) facilities
in the Austrian capital. First up, you can read the opening speech
delivered by Frank Deconinck, who chaired this international conference
for communicators working in the nuclear industry. This is followed
by a detailed summary of the conference that underscores the programme
highlights and provides links to all the speakers’ presentations
(including a speech from American physicist and Nobel Prize Winner,
Professor Burton Richter, of Stanford University, California).
Another major ENS event in the nuclear calendar
that ENS NEWS reports on is the TOPNUX conference
that was organised in collaboration with the British Nuclear Energy
Society (BNES) and took place in London, in March. Other ENS events
in the pipeline are also featured, including RRFM (Sofia, Bulgaria,
from 30 April – 4 May 2006), TOPSEAL (Olkiluoto, Finland,
from 17 – 20 September, 2006) and TopFuel (Salamanca, Spain,
22 – 26 October, 2006). ENS NEWS will provide
reports on all important events that ENS organises or co-organises.
The Member Societies section
has a decidedly strong new Member States flavour to it, with two
in-depth features: one is by the Lithuanian Nuclear Energy Association
and deals with the Baltic States’ recent decision to collaborate
with the expansion of their nuclear activities; the other, written
by our friends from the Nuclear Society of Slovenia, gives an
update of the present situation and an appraisal of the future
direction of the nuclear industry in Slovenia.
The Young Generation (YGN)
section focuses first on the PIME 2006 workshop that YGN organised
on the subject of communicating with young people about radioactive
waste. It then gives details about the forthcoming International
Youth Nuclear Congress (IYNC), which will take place in Stockholm
and Olkiluoto, from 18 – 23 June 2006.
No prizes for guessing the main news item in
the European Institutions section of
Issue N° 12! The recent EU Energy Green Paper has, understandably,
grabbed all the political headlines and continues to preoccupy
industry leaders, stakeholder groups and the press alike. ENS
NEWS features the measured response that was given by
FORATOM, on behalf of the nuclear industry, to the Green Paper
and invites those interested to fill in the European Commission’s
questionnaire on the Green Paper and make their views known on
Also in this section is a FORATOM reaction to
WENRA’s Harmonisation Reports on safety standards at nuclear
The ENS World News
section features the complete DVD-recorded message that Nobel
Prize winner and eminent physicist, Professor Burton Richter,
delivered to delegates at PIME 2006 from Stanford University in
Finally, the NucNet News section
focuses on a new book on climate change, entitled The Weather
Makers that highlights the competitive benefits of nuclear energy.
Enjoy reading Issue N° 12 of ENS
NEWS and don’t hesitate to give us your feedback.