Publicatie Laka-bibliotheek:
Norms, values and radioactive waste. An ethical 'No thanks' to nuuclear energy

AuteurH.Damveld, SP
Datumnovember 2003
Classificatie (AFVAL - ALGEMEEN)
Opmerking Revised & translated version

Uit de publicatie:

A timely ethical “No Thanks”
to nuclear energy

By Herman Damveld (
Translated by Rinskje Bruinsma
June, 2004


      Nuclear energy covers a small percentage of the global energy consumption, yet it
seems like nearly a 100% of all discussions on the energy supplies are about nuclear energy.
Even on the question how much a small percentage is, opinions differ between 3% 1 and 7%. 2
The disposal of radioactive waste plays an important role in this.
      High radioactive waste remains dangerous for a million years and consequently poses a
possible threat to human and non-human life and well-being. How do we deal with that?
Which data is important to establish the social risks; who carry out the research; what is the
value of a human life; how is the benefit of nuclear energy determined; is it responsible to
produce nuclear waste; or, should we from a moral point of view quit using nuclear energy:
which norms and values come into play? All these questions rise to the surface when we try to
determine whether nuclear waste is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
      The nuclear industry has reacted to this ethical discussion.
The main objective of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and the
Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) in Paris is the advancement of nuclear energy. In 1995, these
agencies both published principles on storage of nuclear waste, which they personally
described as ‘a healthy ethical theory’ 3 . In these principles, concepts such as ‘acceptable
safety level’ and ‘no unnecessary burdens for future generations’ feature. However, what is
acceptable or unnecessary and who determines that? Why is the IAEA and the NEA’s
starting point that nuclear energy is desirable, accepted as being incontrovertible? Is it
ethically responsible to consider the production of nuclear waste a fact and what is its
influence on the way people look at the storage of nuclear waste? And what do IAEA