Some Perceptions of the Ethics of Generating Electricity by Nuclear Fuel
National Conference on Nuclear Issues in the Canadian Energy Context

Publisher:  Committee on Nuclear Issues in the Community c/o Science Council of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
Year Published:  1979
Pages:  33pp   Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX942

The topic was treated by a four-member Panel.

The topic was treated by a four-member Panel. (1) Dr. J.M. Harrison, Consultant, focused on the definition of "ethics" and the problem of decision-making when the facts are disputed. He concluded by calling for a "reasoned appraisal of advantages and disadvantages of all sources of energy. None are without risk to human health and environment, all require adjustments in the way of life of some, all have lasting, potentially harmful, effects so that all require careful consideration before being developed."

(2) Rev. Dr. Clarke MacDonald, Secretary, United Church in Canada, described an ethical issue as arising from the interception of two sets of values where a choice is called for. He outlined pre-suppositions, listed relevant ethical issues and illustrative concerns, and called for a moratorium.

(3) Mr. Ross Campbell, Chairman, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, stated, "The ethics of a technology may be discussed only in relation to its purpose, how it is used, the consequences of its application, and…the consequences of with-holding such a technology." He outlined the peaceful application and relatively stringent safeguards of nuclear technology in Canada. He concluded that to ban nuclear power would mean "such draconian measures of deprivation…that freedom of choice would have to be denied."

(4) Ms. Judith Miller, biologist, Science Council of Canada, noted that the data base is disputed. This is further complicated by an "emotional climate" and "irrational component." She stated that an ethically viable decision is one wherein the individuals involved have made the decision and are willing to assume the risks. Implementing such a decision is another thing altogether.

An open discussion of the topic followed.

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