For immediate release: April 18, 2011
Diane Farsetta, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, (608) 250-9240, email@example.com
Pam Kleiss, Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin, (608) 232-9945, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Peck, Family Farm Defenders, (608) 260-0900, email@example.com
Why Is Nuclear Executive a Featured Speaker at Earth Day Conference?
As Japan's Nuclear Disaster Continues, Groups Urge UW Not to Greenwash Nuclear Power
MADISON - Local public health, farmers' and environmental groups are questioning the choice of Exelon CEO John Rowe as a featured speaker at the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute's Earth Day Conference in Madison on Wednesday, April 20. The groups will be leafleting outside the conference, at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery on the UW campus, from 8 am on Wednesday.
In addition to heading Exelon, the largest operator of nuclear reactors in the United States, John Rowe chaired the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) - the U.S. nuclear industry's main lobby group - until 2009.
"Under Rowe's leadership, NEI spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and PR campaigns trying to re-brand nuclear power as the answer the climate change," said Diane Farsetta, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. "But nuclear reactors are simply too costly, too dangerous and too slow a response to climate change, not to mention the significant carbon emissions from uranium mining and enrichment."
Since 1984, Wisconsin has placed two important safeguards on nuclear reactors. No new reactors can be built in the state unless the power is economically advantageous to ratepayers, and until there is a federal repository for the high-level radioactive waste.
"The radioactive waste produced by nuclear reactors remains toxic for tens of thousands of years, much longer than any corporation - Exelon included - could possibly guarantee public and environmental safety," said Pam Kleiss, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin. "Radioactive waste is the 'forever pollution.'"
Five of Exelon's nuclear reactors are the same design as the failed Fukushima reactors in Japan. Even though Exelon's reactors are more than 30 years old, Rowe has said he wants to run the aging reactors even harder. According to Crain's Chicago Business, "John Rowe's growth plans hinge on adding power [to its nuclear reactors] … to avert a profit slide next year and revive [Exelon's] languishing stock."
"As the ongoing disaster in Japan has shown, there is no such thing as safe nuclear energy," said John Kinsman, President of Family Farm Defenders. "Workers are the first to suffer from radiation exposure, but next in line are farmers and consumers, when food and land are contaminated. If the UW really wants to present a greener alternative, it should be promoting sustainable agriculture, which the United Nations has identified as the best way to feed the world and cool the planet."