(photo credit: Dor Greenblatt/SPNI)
While many energy experts and environmental advocates warned that the use of
nuclear energy in Israel could prove disastrous, others advocated its
implementation as a tool for producing clean electricity and securing energy
independence during a forum held in Jerusalem on Monday.
The group of
experts spoke on a panel called “Nuclear Energy in Israel – Chance or Risk?” at
the Society for the Protection of Nature’s Jerusalem Environment and Nature
Conference at the International Convention Center in Binyanei Hauma.
many, the potential dangers that a nuclear plant may pose in the face of
disaster – as seen in Japan – outweighed the potential advantages that might
accompany such a facility. But others saw nuclear energy as a much cleaner
alternative to coal, and a necessary supplement to natural gas and
“There would’ve been exposure to the same disaster even if it
was a regular coal-based plant,” said Dr. Stilian Gelberg, of the Environmental
Protection Ministry’s radiation department, about the Japanese
Gelberg, who acknowledged that most of the public opposes the use
of nuclear energy, reminded the audience that an average Israeli families uses about 600 kilograms of coal monthly for electricity, an energy
source that causes much more pollution than nuclear energy.
preferable to be safe than sorry by building certain a certain type of small
underground reactor that is closed and requires no maintenance, the government
can ensure such safety, according to Gelberg, who emphasized that Israel’s
neighbors will build reactors regardless of whether it decides to do the
At the same time, using varied energy sources is crucial, Gelberg
Dr. Amit Mor, CEO and energy specialist at the Eco Energy,
agreed, noting that “coal is fading out” and most of Israel’s power plants are
moving to natural gas.
But even a combination of Israel’s natural gas and
renewable sources will probably not be sufficient eventually, according to
“We must consider the technologies and not just cancel them out of
hysteria and remember that gas is also polluting,” he said. “It has strategic
problems in the future – you have to take everything into
“In the long run, natural and renewable energy,
especially solar – while coal is fading out – will not be sufficient to lower
Israel’s carbon dioxide and greenhouse- gas emissions,” Mor told The Jerusalem
following the meeting. “Also, due to land constraints, the nuclear-energy
option should be considered and the government should check the option of
preparing the base for constructing such a plant during the 2030s.”
others did not share this opinion.
“The problem is the nuclear waste, the
uranium pools – it takes a decade to cool them down,” said Dr.
Dolev, of the Israel Energy Forum, who meanwhile did acknowledge how clean
nuclear energy can be.
Ultimately, nuclear reactors will not provide the
energy of the future, and within the next few years more will stop working than
will be built – while it might take hundreds of thousands of years to eliminate
the waste produced as a result, according to Dolev.
“We don’t want to
leave our future generations these explosive gifts,” he said, noting that
building the reactors is also getting more and more expensive.
materials will stay with us,” added Prof. Uri Marinov, of the Interdisciplinary
Center Herzliya “The only thing we need is renewable energy.”
encounter with disaster, argued Dr. Nissim Otmazgin of Hebrew University, has
brought the East Asian country to veer away from nuclear development, something
he thinks can be seen in a positive light, and perhaps a “model” for Israel.