Science, Tech & Environment

Nukes in central and eastern Europe

This nuclear plant is one of two in the Czech Republic and together they generate about 40% of the country's electricity but there hasn't been a new plant planned in the country for about twenty years. In this facility, this analyst says he knows why. He says after the fall of the Soviet Union, nuclear energy was stigmatized. Today nuclear power is no longer equated with Soviet colonialism but as a bulwark against Russia because Europe as a whole depends on Russia for a lot of its energy needs, which makes Europeans uneasy. This Czech man says we need to produce our own energy and Russia could cut off the taps at any moment. Russia has indeed used its energy for political purposes recently. But the desire for energy independence is only one factor behind this nuclear renaissance. Europe has pledged to reduced emissions of greenhouse gasses and fluctuations in fossil fuel prices has scared people as well. Europe's nuclear industry is now in full court press mode, but in the Czech Republic this movement is stalled because the anti-nuclear lobby movement is strong. They're against nuclear energy because of nuclear waste issues, an issue important to activists in Germany as well. This official in the Czech Republic however warns that nuclear energy is the only way to produce more energy without contributing to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. He also says the Czech Republic is running out of time because it takes 15 years to build a plant and bring it online.

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