The production of nuclear power poses threats to the health of people and the well-being of the environment and should be abandoned in favor of alternate forms of energy, says a statement from Maryknoll leadership.
Released today, the statement also connects the development of nuclear energy to nuclear weapons proliferation, which has been opposed by church officials worldwide, including Pope Benedict XVI.
“At this time, we know that the end of fossil fuel power for our energy is dwindling. As this dwindles people are looking for alternatives. What we’re saying is that nuclear energy is not the alternative to go for,” says Kathy McNeely, interim director of the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns in Washington.
“We think we need to start looking at alternatives. That really means living more simply that others might live,” she explains.
The statement is backed by a 16-page backgrounder that explores the dangers posed by nuclear energy.
McNeely told Catholic News Service this morning the statement was issued to mark the first anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in northeast Japan. Three of the plant’s four reactors were disabled by the giant wave after a catastrophic magnitude 9 earthquake. The plant was damaged so severely that high doses of radiation were released, contaminating nearby communities and adjacent areas of the Pacific Ocean, scientists say.
Maryknoll sisters in New Mexico ministering alongside uranium miners routinely exposed to radiation in the course of their work as well as sister in ministry in Japan pushed the society to research the issue and publish a statement, according to McNeely.
The fact that Maryknoll’s headquarters in Ossining, N.Y., is located less than 10 miles from the Indian Point nuclear power plant also influenced the order’s leadership, the statement says.
While the statement does not explicitly state which alternative energy forms must be developed, McNeely says it is prudent for the world to explore “things that don’t exact such a high cost on people and the earth.”
Plans call for distributing the document to key members of Congress, Maryknoll supporters and faith-based organizations for study, reflection and action, McNeely adds.