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article imageUN chief says we must ask ‘painful questions’ on nuclear energy

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By Lynn Herrmann     Apr 21, 2011 in Politics
Kiev - After visiting the Chernobyl nuclear plant site on Wednesday, the UN Secretary-General said the Daichi nuclear disaster in Japan is part of an “unnerving history” of accidents in which the risks and costs may not be properly calculated.
Speaking in Kiev after his visit to the Chernobyl disaster site, which exploded April 26, 1986, UN head Ban Ki-moon said: “To many, nuclear energy looks to be a relatively clean and logical choice in an era of increasing resource scarcity. Yet the record requires us to ask painful questions: have we correctly calculated its risks and costs? Are we doing all we can to keep the world's people safe?” according to a UN statement.
Mr. Moon flew to Chernobyl where he spent about 20 minutes at the site, calling it “an extremely moving experience.”
“The unfortunate truth is that we are likely to see more such disasters. The world has witnessed an unnerving history of [near] accidents. We have seen in Japan the effects of natural disasters, particularly in areas vulnerable to seismic activity,” Moon added.
Noting the mounting evidence of climate change and its relationship to extreme weather events, Moon stated: “Climate change means more incidents of freak and increasingly severe weather. With the number of nuclear energy facilities scheduled to increase substantially in the coming decades, our vulnerability will only grow.”
Moon added we must begin dealing with the facts, calling nuclear power and nuclear safety “a matter of global public interest, not merely national policy.”
Mr. Moon’s visit to Chernobyl came a day after the Kiev Summit For Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy where international donors pledged $800 million USD (550 million euros) toward a permanent shelter for the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.
The summit was attended by high-profile figures including the prime minister of France, China's vice premier, and the head of the European Commission.
According to Agence France Presse, Ukraine had hoped pledges for the reactor’s permanent outer shell and safe storage facility for the reactor’s spent nuclear fuel would reach $1 billion USD (740 million euros).
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