Italians split over nuclear issue (24/02/03)

February 26, 2003

Brussels, 25 Feb 2003

Over 50% of Italians are against any initiatives to build nuclear power plants, according to a new report monitoring the relationship between citizens, institutions and research.

The heated debate over whether to build new nuclear plants has reached Italy. This comes almost 10 months after another EU member, Finland, approved plans to build a new nuclear facility, effectively breaking the 17-year-old moratorium on such construction.

This month's study by the 'Science and Society Observatory' and carried out by Observa – a non-profit research centre – shows that 56% of Italians oppose any new nuclear facilities. A further 22% of the 876 people surveyed felt Italy should invest in the production of nuclear energy, with the remaining undecided.

Advocates of nuclear power cited several reasons for their position. Topping the list, according to 30% of the supporters, was the belief that current energy sources are "insufficient". Respondents also remarked on the pollution caused by the present thermo-electrical plants, as well as the need to be less dependent on imported oil. They also argue that nuclear facilities exist in neighbouring countries anyway.

Those opposing new nuclear plants in Italy felt that alternative energy sources should be further explored. They were concerned about radioactive waste management, safety issues, and the difficulty of finding regions prepared to host such facilities.

Community approach to nuclear safety

Last month, the European Commission adopted two proposals for directives designed to pave the way for a "Community approach" to nuclear power plant safety and radioactive waste processing. The first proposal sets out basic obligations and general principles on the safety of nuclear installations, from design to decommissioning. The second seeks answers to the problem of managing radioactive waste.

"While we can be proud of having an excellent level of nuclear safety in the EU," said Loyola de Palacio, Commissioner for Energy, "the shortcomings in nuclear legislation, in the run-up to enlargement, need to be overcome." These proposals for directives, announced in the Commission's Communication (6 November 2002), and endorsed by the Nuclear Experts Committee, should contribute to redressing these shortcomings.


More information on this subject:

Observa press release .asp?LAN=ENG

Commission website on nuclear energy /index_en.html

Finnish embassy press release

DG Research ndex_en.html

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