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September-October 2011

Vol. 35, No. 5

Heed Fukushima and close Indian Point

On August 11 in Manhattan, about 150 people carried placards and banners demanding the closure of the nearby Indian Point Power Plant. One long banner read: "You are 35 miles from Indian Point. What would you do in a meltdown?" More than 20 million people live and work within close proximity to the plant, including everyone at Maryknoll, located only eight miles from the plant.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) and former Rep. John Hall (D) were two of several speakers at the rally who addressed the risks of nuclear energy to public health and to the environment. Activists collected signatures and distributed information about the plant's dangers.

The tsunami-triggered Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan in March loomed large over the rally's crowd. A college student who was in Japan last spring shared his experiences during the Fukushima nuclear accident; the vivid description of the aftermath of the disaster impacted all those present at the rally. Although delivered from different perspectives, the goal of the message at the rally echoed one voice: "Heed Fukushima and close Indian Point."

A detailed study of the nuclear fuel cycle and its dangers is necessary for a better understanding and acceptance of the message to phase out nuclear energy and invest in renewable energy resources, a message that has been ignored far too long. Proponents of nuclear energy have downplayed any potential dangers, and repeatedly claim alternative methods are too expensive. New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (NYAREA) Chairman Jerry Kremer stated, "If successful, these activists will drive electricity costs significantly higher," but he failed to mention that nuclear plants are government subsidized; that financial support deprives the renewable energy resources sector of needed funds.

The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns is in the process of writing both a background paper and an official statement on the process and use of nuclear energy (and its connection to nuclear weapons); we hope to have these documents in the near future.

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