The anti-nuclear movement is a social movement that opposes the use of various nuclear technologies. Many direct action groups, environmental groups, and professional organisations have identified themselves with the movement at the local, national, and international level. Major anti-nuclear groups include Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. The initial objective of the movement was nuclear weapons. Later the focus began to shift to other issues, mainly opposition to the use of nuclear power.
- See also: Anti-nuclear protest
A number of these movements did not differentiate among nuclear power, nuclear weapons, or other applications of nuclear engineering, and were sometimes seen as generally anti-technology or Luddite. Others targeted specific technologies or policies for their use. Some protested nuclear industry based on economic grounds. Yet others protested nuclear waste facilities on general environmental grounds, or sometimes not against the practice, but, in an American phrase, "Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY)".
Some environmentalists have adopted a more pro-nuclear power stance, seeing it variously as having lesser environmental effect than fossil fuels. Others are concerned with the more specific issues of the politics of Middle Eastern oil.
There have been many large anti-nuclear demonstrations and protests. A protest against nuclear power occurred in July 1977 in Bilbao, Spain, with up to 200,000 people in attendance. Following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, an anti-nuclear protest was held in New York City, involving 200,000 people. In 1981, Germany's largest anti-nuclear power demonstration took place to protest against the Brokdorf Nuclear Power Plant west of Hamburg; some 100,000 people came face to face with 10,000 police officers.
The largest anti-nuclear protest was held on June 12, 1982, when one million people demonstrated in New York City against nuclear weapons. A 1983 nuclear weapons protest in West Berlin had about 600,000 participants. In May 1986, following the Chernobyl disaster, an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people marched in Rome to protest against the Italian nuclear program.
For many years after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster nuclear power was off the policy agenda in most countries, and the anti-nuclear power movement seemed to have won its case. Some anti-nuclear groups disbanded.
More recently, however, following public relations activities by the nuclear industry, and concerns about climate change, nuclear power issues have come back into energy policy discussions in some countries.
There have been reports of a revival of the anti-nuclear movement in Germany and protests in France during 2004 and 2007. In the United States, there have been protests about, and criticism of, several new nuclear reactor proposals and some objections to license renewals for existing nuclear plants.
In May 2011, German chancellor Angela Merkel set up a government panel to review nuclear power following the radioactive crisis at Fukushima in Japan, and announced the phasing out of it's nation's nuclear power facilities by 2022.
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