Vandana Shiva
Nuclear power plant Koodankulam (South India) Must Be Stopped

James George of, a US-based environmental reporting agency was at the India Gate in New Delhi on May 20th when Dr. Vandana Shiva released the National Appeal on Koodankulam. Below is the short interview of Dr. Shiva which James took after the release.

Q: “A lot of people propose nuclear power and a solution for climate change, and a lot of people say it is a false solution. And since you’re here I assume you think it’s a false solution as well. What solutions do you like for climate change?”

Vandana Shiva: “Well, the first solution I like for climate change is organic farming. Because I’ve done a book called Soil Not Oil that shows that 40% of emissions comes from industrialized globalized agriculture. The nitrogen oxide, the methane from factory farms, and fossil fuel use. So you can cut 40% by doing good farming the feeds the world, protects the soil, and creates livelihoods.”

“My second preferred solution is renewable energies, decentralized renewable energies, of which there is no dearth. We have far more wind and far more sun than we have uranium. And it is crazy to build an energy plan on an exhaustible resource which exhausts but leaves an inexhaustible waste.”

“My third solution is not to push people out of their homes. Leave them where they have livelihoods. Don’t push the tribals out of their forest. Don’t push the peasants off the land. You’ve got a solution to climate change. You push everyone into a city, you push the poor out two hours away. You’re going to have huge amounts of fossil fuel used just to move people around.”

“So redesigning agriculture, redesigning energy, and redesigning the relation between the rural and urban, you solve the problem and improve society.”

Q: “Could you say anything about the relation between nuclear weapons and nuclear power?”

Vandana Shiva: “Nuclear power started in weaponry. It was designed for war. And any instrument that has its origins in war always has the potential for war.First because the material you need to make bombs, you’re multiplying it though nuclear power, you’re taking uranium and turn it into plutonium. Second by equipping governments and private companies with this potential, in society you spread this potential, that here is a weapon of mass destruction available.”

“This is exactly what happened with fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers came from explosive factories are increasingly used in terrorist attacks. In Delhi in the high court, in Mumbai, in Afganistan. Most of the bomb explosions are from fertilizer bombs. And if a harmless thing called fertilizer can become so lethal, why would nuclear power stay in safe hands, when even in safe hands it is not safe.”

Q: “And Fukushima we had an accident that was unexpected…”

Vandana Shiva: “Fukushima happened in a country which is probably the most rigorous, in terms of technology, in terms of scientific care, in terms of an accountability system. And if it can happen in Japan, Fukushima’s can happen anywhere.”

“The point about nuclear is that accidents don’t happen in any nuclear power plant because of the calculation about your fission material. They happen because a generator stops. They happen because a cooling tower stops. They happen because of small mechanical failures which you can’t predict.”

“But in the case of nuclear, which is a stupid technology because all you’re doing is creating fissionable material, creating radioactive material, using radioactive material, to boil water. The power doesn’t come from nuclear, the power comes from the water. Now there are safer ways to boil water.”

Q: “Who is going to defend that nuclear waste for all those thousands of years?”

Vandana Shiva: “Now the point is, a government that is not able to take care of plastic waste, we have mountains of plastic waste, which is itself destructive to health and the environment, they will keep nuclear waste in the same way. And it has happened, nuclear waste was found, nuclear material was found in a recycling market in Delhi. …if they can’t take care of any kind of waste disposal, they will not take care of nuclear waste disposal.”

Q: “This is a question about the politics – how many people is it going to take to influence policy, is there hope here?”

Vandana Shiva: “One thing is for sure, even conventional elections will be a safety net at this point. Just a change in power to undo the commitments this present government has made. And it won’t be the best of governments, but at least it’ll be a different one. And that’s why the 2014 elections are vital.”