Italy Freezes Its Nuclear Plan After Japan Crisis Reaction to Japan's nuclear crisis has differed sharply across Europe. In Italy, fear of losing upcoming local elections has forced the conservative government to slow its push to re-introduce nuclear power. Rome is calling for a one-year moratorium on nuclear power. Anti-nuclear activists say it's just a ploy to buy time.
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Italy Freezes Its Nuclear Plan After Japan Crisis

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Italy Freezes Its Nuclear Plan After Japan Crisis

Italy Freezes Its Nuclear Plan After Japan Crisis

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Italy's government is calling for a one-year moratorium on nuclear power, as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

POGGIOLI: Thousands of people gathered in a Roman square this weekend for an anti-nuclear rally. A speaker on the stage said Italy is the only European country whose environment minister is pro-nuclear energy. There are already 143 reactors in the European Union, some of which are obsolete. And many demonstrators voiced concerns over the safety of several reactors built by the Soviets in former communist countries. Leoluca Orlando, a member of the opposition Italy of Values Party, said the problem is the European Union's failure to forge a common policy on nuclear energy.

LEOLUCA ORLANDO: We demonstrated it's possible just to abolish, in one day, the German currency, the French currency, the Italian currency, and to build the euro. But we are, today, in the European Union of bankers. We need to be a European Union of citizens. It is a long way to reach this point.

POGGIOLI: Right after the Fukishima disaster, industry minister Paolo Romani voiced the government's determination to go ahead with its nuclear power program.

PAOLO ROMANI: (Through translator) Nineteen percent of our energy sources come from nuclear-fueled power stations in neighboring countries. Since we already take advantage of nuclear energy, it is unimaginable that we should retreat from the path we have undertaken.

POGGIOLI: But many polls suggest the majority of Italians feel otherwise. Fukishima has revived their Chernobyl nightmares. Italo Cerboni restores antique furniture. He says nuclear energy is obsolete and dangerous.

ITALO CERBONI: (Through translator) Besides, we have mafias that dispose of toxic waste illegally. Just think what they'll do with nuclear waste. I can't help but suspect that behind all this love of nuclear energy, there are lobbyists - speculators, politicians and the mafia.

POGGIOLI: Meanwhile, this Mediterranean country is far behind Germany in using solar power. Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist Carlo Rubbia says Italy should reflect carefully on the security risks involved with nuclear energy.

CARLO RUBBIA: (Through translator): We must acknowledge that renewable energy sources are an alternative. Like oil and coal, uranium is limited. But the sun is ours, and it's forever.

POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.

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