What it means to be an anti-nuke activist after Fukushima

Me, Xavier F., environmentalist and common citizen
(Sortir du Nucleaire)
My name is Xavier, I ‘am 38 years old. I lived in couple without children, in the North of Yvelines, in Parisian suburb. I’m from the South-West. I have long worked in the food industry, I worked in quality management. In 2005, I wished to manage a Parisian selling point of the company in which I worked. In 2009, I grew tired, and I decided to transfer professionally. After a skill assessment, I realized a training in the field of the solar energies, and obtained a certificate of vocational training. I got a permanent contract in the company which had welcomed me for my training course. At that time, my company had many projects in perspective. Things degraded however quickly because, since only nine months later, my boss could no longer ensure the correct payment of wages : indeed, in the meantime the conditions of using photovoltaic sector had changed several times, and a moratorium was declared. So, a month ago in June 2011, I had to agree with my company of a conventional termination of contract.

Translated for DiaNuke.org by Annick Clairin (37) who teaches in southern France (‘a land of resistance’) and defines herself as “a girl who does not adhere to this model of development rotten to the core”

“Despite the sector’s difficulties, I still want to work in renewable energy”

Today, I always wish to work in the renewable energies, in spite of the difficulties which knows the sector. I wish I could start my own business and work for myself. This professional choice is a part of a global approach : even if I consider as a completely “normal” citizen, I try to respect my values. For me, there is nothing very extraordinary : living in Ile-de-France, I privilege the public transportation for my routes working place of residence / place, even if to circulate of suburb in suburb, I prefer the two-wheeler. My partner possesses a car, which we use little. I go in for sport in a club to which I give a little of my time spare as volunteer. I am not city on the base, but I like taking advantage of advantages that the Paris region offers : exhibitions, concerts, outings, I do not really go. My life has nothing austere, although I try hard to live in a responsible way. Do not waste, bee observant and circumspect consumer, the difference between real needs and desires … It is a matter of principles : I am tired of this aggressive and omnipresent marketing which makes childish us and dictates us our lifestyles. Do we really need to urge us to consume useless things ? Are not we enough adults to decide on our needs and on our desires ? What happens so tomorrow, we stop consuming “animal” and think before buying ?  

The more we are demanding towards the manufacturers, the more they will be forced to change their practices”

The same goes for food : why buy the onions produced inItalyorSpain, because we have the same growing here? While not totally “locavore,” I favor the most products do not come  far, and I am very attached to products from organic farming. I buy only few elaborated products : I prefer to spend half an hour to cook the evening and to know what I have in my plate, rather than to buy products transformed with dark labels where I do not understand very well which ingredients are registered on it. As for other consumer goods(food), I turn systematically to products which guarantee a lesser environmental impact, and the more they arise from the fair trade sector, the better it is. It is not still evident, but I am convinced that the more we shall be demanding towards the manufacturers, the more these will see each other forced to modify their practices. My current lifestyle was gradually set up. My arrival in Parisregion was a real turnover: I was frightened by the saturation of the networks of traffic, by the atmospheric pollution, by this anarchy and ceaseless concreting. All this seems so absurd, when we come from a provincial town. We continue to build housing in bedroom towns, while the means of transportation are all saturated. We build business parks, zones of consumptions, zones of residences, zones of offices. What a madmen’s world ! One day, a little bit by chance, in my village of origin, I attended the projection of Jean-Paul Jaud’s movie, Our children will accuse us. This movie was a shock for me, and was one of the trigger of my daily commitment today. Since this film, I eat organic, I follow closely the information and documentation related to the environment. I am interested in associations, the Network “Sortir du nucléaire” of course, but also Greenpeace, Surfrider Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Kokopelli, Earth links … I am naturally curious, so I found all these associations as my research. All these players have made ​​me the responsible citizen, environmentalist and humanist I believe to be today.  

«I was deeply shocked by the events management of Fukushima

Fukushima had the effect of a revelation for me. Not only the disaster itself, terrible an which is only beginning, but the way the events were “managed” by the authorities leaders : the way they minimized the facts, occupied all the possible television studio sets to defend against “all winds and tsunamis” the nuclear power industry. Their arguments were so distressing, worthy of a bar-room philosophy at the Café of the Business : the famous energy independence that gets the nuclear power, its so-called moderate cost, the technological superiority of the French expertise… No debate where “the scientific expert in nuclear power” isn’t an employee or a retired man of EDF, Areva or the CEA(Atomic Energy Authority)… Apotheosis:: The reaction of the Energy Minister Eric Besson, who leaves the set of the broadcasting “Capital” of M6, outraged by the comments of the presenter on security issues, dropping on his way out the now famous “Fuck, I‘m out ! ” This show is for me profoundly shocking : leaders deaf to all arguments and reasoning, which stubbornly defending the nuclear power. To this, add up full pages of advertising in the print media to praise the nuclear power by EDF and the support of Areva for the French Athletics Federation to give itself a good image. Is it normal to be able to recover a virginity by signing a check, so consequent it may be ? Is it acceptable that the press is watered by EDF, making consequently every criticism infinitely more dangerous ? I consider more than ever, in this context of campaign for the presidential elections,it is the duty of everyone to militate, inquire, to discuss at every level, so that the future voters can hear all the information, not only the usual speech of EDF, Areva and their political representatives.   

“I spend time justifying my professional choice»

‘I noticed that, since I decided my retraining in the field of the renewable energies, I receive regularly remarks of people who, without really knowing the subject, have a priori negatives perceptions of these energies. In  the best case, my interlocutors show some curiosity : we ask me if “that works” really. But mostly, they are negative reactions: we often go as far as saying to me that these sources of energy are “worse” than the conventional energies, that it is not profitable, that it is not reliable, not recyclable… When we let me the opportunity to explain a little the functioning of these energies, these prejudices systematically melt away. Presumably, people repeat without thinking the bits of misinformation heard here and there. For example, they do not even know what is a solar panel, nor of what is made, but “we” said to them that it is guaranteed only 10 years, and “it seems that” it is not recyclable. It is also this ambient disinformation, as well as the lack of debates on these subjects which urge me to militate. To be an engaged citizen obliges me to have to justify me often, and that it in any setting : as well in an aperitif between friends as in a family meal, or within my sports club. I sometimes have the strange impression that some are not far from considering that the ecology, in general, could harm them, and I almost detect the aggressiveness in some. This aggressiveness, I experienced quite hard during a demonstration in which I recently participated. On July 8th of this year, a distribution of leaflets was organized by the Network “Sortir du nucléaire” in front of the Stadium of France, to inform the spectators about the activities of Areva. Indeed, Areva has become the official sponsor of the French Athletics Federation, which allows it to give its name to the competition “Meeting Areva”. The tracts were merely for information purposes :  it was for explain who is Areva, which are its activities, why it try to redeem itself an image on the values of the sport and the athletics, why it attempts to finance sports “carbon-free”, etc. It is important that the citizens and the amateurs of athletics know which hides behind the generous sponsor.  

«We were surrounded by riot police, then parked in a bus with the maximal heating»

We didn’t even have time to begin the distribution of tracts because, apparently informed about our coming, the riot police surrounded us when we arrived and prevented from reaching the outskirts of the Stadium of France. We were thus retained for a while, without giving us any explanation, and then they embarked us on a bus for an identity check. We were taken to the commissionership of Saint-Denis. Half of the group stayed there and the other half, of which I was a member, was redirected towards that of Aubervilliers. All this took approximately 3 hours and so made impossible our distribution. Only two groups, which had taken a different route, were able to distribute documents and to approach the spectators of the meeting. Even if it was the first time when I participated in this kind of actions, I expected that we are a little “heckled”. We had taken care, beforehand, to divide up into small groups, not to constitute a gathering of persons. I was stunned to notice the number of present members of the riot police only for us, and alarmed to notice that we had upstream been perfectly identified (to an error by : a young woman who went to the meeting on invitation of Areva was embarked with us…). The implementation of such means has confirmed to me how the government is on the defensive on the subject of nuclear power, and that does not skimp on the means to silence the contesting. Before going to this militant appointment, I was a little afraid of meeting with virulent activists who would have been able to aggravate relationships with the police. At the same time, I was also afraid that the riot police made some zeal. I was pleasantly surprised by the behavior of the present activists : even if some have  trying to resist the action of the  riot police and to be heard, there was no slip from our part ; on the contrary, the atmosphere was rather serene, even if we were all frankly disgusted by this arbitrary arrest. I also immediately felt a certain solidarity between us, even if, for a lot of, we did not know before arriving there. But I would also like to point the good behavior of the police : Arrived at the commissionership, one of them eventually listened to us and asked his superior that the case of the young woman, who was to the meeting and had been embarked with us by mistake, be treated separately, by then commented : ”it’s really nonsense !” I think he deserves to be cited as example. On the other hand, the behavior of the riot police has not been really exemplary: they did not say to us why we were arrested (and rightly so, there was no valid reason and certain policemen didn’t feel really at ease when we insisted a little to have explanations). The only members of the riot police who answered our questions claimed they didn’t know, that it was not them who decided. Everything was done to put us in default : the heating was pushed at maximal in the bus, leaving us more than 20 minutes in direct sunlight. I think they wished to push us in to the limit, to irritate us, probably hoping to push us to do something that we could then be described as contempt. The policemen of both commissionerships have repeatedly tried to deny us to use our phones off, of course, of any legal justification because officially nothing was blamed us. Finally, some members of the riot police behaved in a distressing way : they openly laughed at us when we asked them to switch off the heating, and they did not hesitate to make comments totally displaced, including the fact that there are Japanese with us. I thought naively that the policemen were under a duty of confidentiality, regrettably, some of them make every effort to maintain the stereotype of the racist cop, stupid and malicious. For those, the presumption of innocence does not weigh heavy, especially when you do not share them ideas. When you are in their hands, they think they have all the rights, and I have to admit that it frightens me.   

«Let’s get information and be curious»

 I would really like to finish on this point : for me, the ecology is fundamentally positive. Ecology goes in interest of the largest number, and the environmental protection, is the only way which, for me, does not lead us to an impasse. The seizure by the production of the energy or by the control of the alive serves the interests only as a minority. We are at a stage where the market law is not longer adapted to the realities of resource depletion : the more a material is depleted, the more its price rises. It accelerates its exploitation and allows a debauchery of means to perpetuate it (seen with the oil sands, shale gas…). This functioning is completely unbearable ! I am not going to repeat the full set of argument in favor of the renewable energies, but it’s not into manufacturer of power plants always bigger that we shall resolve the problems of energy independence, as well on the scale of the consumer as the country. I encourage everyone to go beyond the smoke screen set up by the economic power of large corporations, but to fetch the information almost everywhere. Be curious, do not be passive and you will see where are the interests of some and the others. Regarding the nuclear issue, I highly recommend the site of the Network “Sortir du nucléaire” and that of the CRIIRAD, because they are both extremely well informed, precise, with serious and verifiable references. There isn’t only one solution for a sustainable energy policy. I would like that we stop with the most stupid clichés of the kind “to replace the nuclear power would require a wind turbine all the 200m”. Solve the energy problems in Franceis a set of actions, all of which are complementary (see the Négawatt scenario). This is already done in other countries, particularly in certain regions of Germany, then why continue to pay the contribution very wisely at Areva by taking enormous risks ? Finally, until lines move in France, there is still a possibility of not financing any more entirely the nuclear power: Enercoop (our taxes are still paying the research, the presence of the French army in Niger, and etc … it will still pay for the dismantling of power plants, the waste management…). In short : let us inquire correctly and then let us act. It will allow maybe that one day, I do not see passing any more of train of containers with the initials of the radioactive materials while waiting for my RER (Regional Express Network) …




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