This group will look at the particular sensitivities of the nuclear energy debates from an ethical perspective. A specific case study of one alternative energy. Issues raised include transparency; industrial marketing; safety; risk surcharge to add to the price estimates for energy production; analysis of so-called “new” generation reactors; waste; extremely long term risk.
Draft Manuscript Ethics and Nuclear Energy Technology is available to download (PDF, 1.8 Mb).
Meeting of this Working Group were held: Joint UNESCO-UNITAR Dialogues on Ethics of Nuclear Energy Technologies, 25-27 July 2008, UNITAR, Hiroshima, Japan. [Meeting report (pdf file) and Programme (pdf file)]. A response to the Depleted Uranium (DU) Resolution adopted at the United Nations General Assembly on 5 December, 2007 (pdf file) with Conference conclusions.
The following is a list of current working group participants:
Mr. Glen Kurokawa (Co-Chair): gskurokawa[at]hotmail.com
Dr. Suman Iyengar (Co-Chair): i_suman[at]hotmail.com
Dr. Alvin Chew: isalvinchew[at]ntu.edu.sg
Ms. Azimi Nassrine: nassrine.azimi[at]unitar.org
Dr. David Leary: leary[at]ias.unu.edu
Dr. Darryl Macer: d.macer[at]unesco.org
Dr. Glenn Edwards McGee: glenn.mcgee[at]stanford.edu
Dr. Chamundeeswari Kuppuswamy: C.Kuppuswamy[at]sheffield.ac.uk
Ms. Kayo Uejima: kayo[at]lablink.jp
Dr. Michael Anjello Jothi Rajan: anjellojothi[at]yahoo.co.in
Dr. Sergei Shaposhnikov: shaposhnikov.sergei[at]gmail.com
Ms. Silvia Gardini: silviagardini[at]gmail.com
Mrs. Suman Rao: sumanashokrao[at]yahoo.co.in
Professor Miyako Okada-Takagi: takagi.miyako[at]nihon-u.ac.jp
Dr. Arockiam Thaddeus: arockiamt[at]yahoo.co.in
This report addresses a topic of great current attention, the ethics of nuclear energy technology. As we consider the ethics of science and technology, nuclear power has always been dreaded as something risky, while also being held in wonder as a source of energy to overcome the energy gap that is faced by many persons in the world living in poverty. As the world is rethinking the safety of nuclear energy technology following the meltdowns in reactors at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, this report takes a balanced approach to the issues associated with nuclear energy technology in general.
There are a number of ethical issues that are discussed and examples from around Asia are given in particular, along with a comparison of lessons from Chernobyl and Fukushima. Although Fukushima was triggered by a large earthquake and tsunami, the dangers of the tsunami and of losing electricity to cool the reactors, were known. Human error at individual and systemic level seems also to be involved. There are also case studies exploring policies in People’s Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Philippines and Kazakhstan, among other countries, embedded through the report.
A dozen policy options are presented including the need for greater transparency, independent media, rapid reporting, and consideration of the economic implications of nuclear energy over a long term frame. As the technology has been argued to be more sustainable than fossil fuel based electricity generation, the ethics of externalization of costs and risks needs to be considered across the full range of energy options.
There is discussion of public opinion and the significant decrease in support for nuclear energy technology for electricity generation, although its benefits in other areas are accepted. The report discusses some of the issues of proliferation in passing, but focuses on peaceful uses of nuclear energy technology, calling for more research into methods to assess the health and environmental impacts of radioactivity that will allow more informed choices by each nation, and the public, for the future energy needs of their communities.
This page was last updated on 24 August 2012