According to the emergency scenarios of the Swiss Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI, a nuclear disaster at a Swiss nuclear power plant could be dealt with by and large. People would be evacuated in a 20-kilometre radius, and the nightmare would be over in a reasonable period since only the rapidly decaying iodine-131 would be released. Given that neither the disaster in Chernobyl nor that in Fukushima even remotely corresponded to this fictitious scenario, serious doubts are raised. The probability of an accident of the highest category 7 on the INES scale is acknowledged by two truths: one is based on theoretical considerations, the other on past experience. In theory, a nuclear disaster can be expected around once every 500 years worldwide. In reality, two such accidents occurred with Chernobyl and Fukushima. When you take into account the number of operating years of all reactors in the world, then you would expect a nuclear disaster roughly every two decades. These very different scenarios challenge science's monopoly over interpretation, which is not even close to being able to assess the risk of accidents with a single voice. Today, science is as credible or uncredible as politics, which unfailingly bases its decisions on the seemingly near-sovereign truth of science. The risk sociologist Charles Perrow speaks of "a new breed of shamans, called risk assessors. As with the shamans and the physicians of old, it might be more dangerous to go to them for advice than to suffer unattended."

Charles Perrow, Sociologist and Organisation Theorist, USA: “Nuclear power plants should be banned.”

Sebastian Pflugbeil, German Society for Radiation Protection: “It’s downplayed over and over again”

In 1953, the US president Dwight D. Eisenhower called for the peaceful use of nuclear energy in front of the UN General Assembly. The country had built up an enormous industrial complex for nuclear armament, and it should now reap not only military benefits but economic ones, too. The floodgates were opened two years later at the Geneva Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, which was actually a scientific event at the United Nations with participants from both sides of the Iron Curtain. The participating states turned the event into a exhibition on nuclear reactors, and everyone pinned their hopes on a big business. Critics, such as the geneticist and Nobel laureate Hermann J. Muller, were unwelcome, and Muller's invitation was revoked shortly before the event began. In the manuscript of his speech, which has survived, he demanded that "the primary concern of humankind in terms of the radiation problem must be its own protection." This wasn't to be the case: the entire political spectrum from right to left was now enthusiastic about atomic energy, agreeing that three quarters of the world's energy needs should be met by nuclear energy by 2000. Radiation should be used to eradicate cancer, while targeted radiation against pests could be used to achieve massive agriculture gains. The construction of nuclear power plants was declared a key technology in many countries, without which one would become economically marginalised. But the seeds were not sown widely enough: in 2014, nuclear energy made up only 4.4 per cent of global energy consumption. Since 1945, there have been major accidents at civil and military production facilities: Mayak (USSR) 1957, Windscale (today Sellafield, UK) 1957, Three Mile Island (US) 1979, Chernobyl (USSR) 1986, and Fukushima (Japan) 2011.

Robert Spaemann, Philosopher, Germany: “Technology and democracy are growing apart”: “Technology and democracy are growing apart”

Horst-Michael Prasser, professor of nuclear energy systems, Zurich: „Don’t be afraid of nuclear energy “ 

Ortwin Renn, Professor of Environmental and Technology Studies, Germany: “It’s about acceptance”


The Magic of the Atom (1955)

  • Documentary (1955), supported by the US Atomic Energy Commission and the Atomic Energy Project: The Life close to Nuclear Power Plants is modern and future oriented, there isn't any danger, as everything is under control

Eine initiative des

Logo neu2

We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.