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Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment

Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment (4th edn)

Alan Boyle and Catherine Redgwell
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date: 20 August 2022

p. 4057. Nuclear Energy and the Environmentlocked

p. 4057. Nuclear Energy and the Environmentlocked

  • Alan Boyle
  •  and Catherine Redgwell

Abstract

This chapter gives the example of the Chernobyl reactor accident in 1986 to show that nuclear power creates risks for all states, irrespective of whether they choose this type of energy. Every state, and the global environment, is potentially affected by the possibility of radioactive contamination, the spread of toxic substances derived from nuclear energy, and the long-term health hazards consequent on exposure to radiation. Whether the nuclear power industry has now attained acceptable levels of risk to international society cannot be answered in the abstract, the chapter argues, or solely by reference to regulatory standards and technical capabilities, but must take into account public perceptions of risk, as well as the alternatives and the competing risks, such as climate change. The chapter notes that for all governments there are inevitably difficult policy choices in which there are few electoral advantages.

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