“Impossible to vouch for safety of nuclear reactor”

At a time when the debate over nuclear energy is on the boil in Tamil Nadu, German physicist and Nobel Peace laureate Hans-Peter Duerr is as clear on his anti-clear standpoint as his advocacy of solar and other alternative sources for energy security.

Dr. Duerr, on his maiden visit to Chennai for invited lectures, told presspersons at the TAG-VHS Diabetes Research Centre that nuclear energy could never be a safe or sustainable option for mankind and any claims to the contrary were “nonsensical.”

While it was impossible to completely vouch for the safety of a nuclear reactor, even if one worked out safeguards for imagined threat scenarios, nuclear waste and its safe disposal was an even bigger problem, Dr. Duerr said.

In fact, nuclear waste in the wrong hands could be used for making atom bomb, said Dr. Duerr, who in the 1950s worked as a student under Edward Teller, considered the father of the hydrogen bomb, before turning a peacenik and staunch opponent of nuclear reactors.

The nuclear physicist pointed out that much like the fossil fuels such coal, gas or oil, even uranium reserves could dry up in about 100 years.

“We've become a mafia stealing from the earth…what if we run out of banks to loot,” he exclaimed.

Dr. Duerr who is Director Emeritus, Max-Planck Institute for Physics, Germany, said research was at a fairly advanced stage on capturing and storing solar rays for conversion into any form of energy, including power.

The propaganda that technologies to tap alternative energy sources are complex and costly is baseless, he said.

C.V. Krishnaswami, TAG-VHS centre chairman and B.M. Hegde, Dean of Faculty, spoke.

On Friday, Dr. Duerr is slated to speak on ‘Nuclear power and energy hunger.”

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