BRUNO COMBY in Suomen Kuvalehti 26.10.2001

Suomen Kuvalehti is the leading weekly magazine in Finland.

The paper is read by the public as well as by politicians, and authorities.

The paper devoted a double page to the interview.


"An Environmentalist For Nuclear"

The use of nuclear energy must be increased as it affects the environment one million times less than coal or oil, says the French ecologist Bruno Comby.

Bruno Comby, 40, is the dissident of the French green movement. He considers nuclear energy as the safest and cleanest form of energy available. His position is surprising taking into account the fact that environmentalists generally ban the use of nuclear energy.

Comby is a nuclear scientist by education. He is the president of the international association of Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy (EFN), an organization promoting nuclear energy as a world wide solution for energy problems. His organization accounts for 5000 members and supporters in 30 countries, much more than what he thought possible when he created the organization five years ago.

In Finland the interest has this far been modest.

Comby is strongly in favour of energy conservation where ever it is possible. Our western life style and the rapid industrialization in Third world countries increase continuously the world's energy needs. According to Comby this increase can only be met by building more nuclear units.

»We want to give real information on the energy matter. It is very necessary as these questions are quite often discussed on the basis of very misleading information. », he claims.

Wind power cannot save the world.

Bruno Comby is a popular performer in France. He visited Finland last week and gave a speech at the Parliament ...

Finland will decide in the beginning of next year wether it will build a fifth nuclear plant... Comby underlines that nuclear energy is the cleanest energy available.

»Radioactive waste disintegrates slowly in the nature, while toxic chemical waste contains many stable chemical substances that remain in nature forever», he says.

»Nuclear power uses one million times less raw materials that fossil energies and thus it produces also by the order of one million times less waste. One kilogram of uranium produces as much energy as one thousand tons of oil.»

Comby considers that nuclear energy and new alternative forms of energy are not competing but complementary forms of energy. »It is important to note that renewable energies will never be able to fulfil the energy needs of the planet in the coming century. Wind mills produce kilowatts but the demand of energy is in gigawatts. this problem will not change in the foreseeable future, even if we use less energy per inhabitant in OECD countries, because the world population is rising and the third world is developing», he says.

France is a giant in the field of nuclear power :

It is easier to understand Comby's opinions when you take into account the fact that France is leading country in the field of nuclear energy and that the opposition to nuclear energy in France is much weaker than in the neighbouring Germany. The 57 nuclear units of France produce 75 % of the country's electricity which can be compared to Finland where the figure is 28 %.

Comby explains that the environmental emissions of CO2 in the French electricity production have decreased by 90 % in 20 years as a result of taking into service of the nuclear units.

»Germany and Denmark have built a lot of wind power but the CO2 emissions are 40 % smaller in France and that is the result of the nuclear policy», he says.

Comby has a totally green life style and he has devoted his life to the protection of the environment and promotion of healthy ways of living.

His aim is to put the modern technology at the service of environmental values. He cooperates with the greens even if he is against the main stream in questions linked to energy.

Comby has up to now published eight books which handle different topics from better sleeping, fighting against tobacco and many other healthy principles for life.

His best known book Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy is a 350 page book on nuclear energy which deals with the topic from a environmental viewpoint, as its name says.

Comby has found followers in different countries although the majority of environmentalists continue to have a negative opinion about nuclear energy.

Jerry Mahlman a Clinton administration adviser and the British professor James Lovelock share Comby's views. Lovelock is famous for advocating the equal rights of all species.

»After the publication of my book I appeared several times on TV. Many people contacted me and told me that they shared my opinions. We created our association as it makes it easier to promote our cause.», Comby says.

Comby talks a lot, provides a lot of information, and lists numbers and percents on radioactivity with great ease.

He considers for instance that the problems related to storage of nuclear waste are very greatly exaggerated in the public debate.

Very radioactive products generally disintegrate faster than those that are less radioactive which makes it easy to confine them for the necessary period of time, he says.

»Depleted uranium 238 on the other hand stays in the nature more than 3 billion years. That is a very long period (half life - the duration to decay 50% of the original amount of radioactivity) but in fact U238 is hardly radioactive at all (that's why it lasts so long) and such low levels of radioactivity that can be found in nature are not really dangerous», he argues.

»The radioactivity of the globe is now about 50 % of its level at the time of the appearance of evolved forms of life. The radioactivity is all the time slowly decreasing and the use of nuclear energy simply speeds up this decrease by using the uranium.»

Even the 1986 accident at Tchernobyl does not make Comby hesitate. »The accident was mainly due to the soviet system. All possible mistakes, one has to make to provoke an accident, were made in Tchernobyl », he says.

The threat of terrorism

Comby admits that terrorism is a threat to present nuclear plants because they have not been designed keeping this kind of threats in mind.

»The French plants for instance are designed to withstand the impact of a small air plane but it is possible, though very unlikely, that they may not resist a jumbo jet. The reactor vessel however would almost certainly stay unharmed as it is located behind several concrete walls rather far from the containment's outer wall. », he says.