Nuclear-Free Future

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18 October 2007

Armin Weiss

Since its very beginnings, the nuclear industry has harbored a powerful ally – the sheer abstract difficulty of nuclear physics. Because people tend to leave complicated matters to those ‘in the know,’ over the years nuclear industry scientists have scored an extended chain-reaction of successes. But what happens when expert clarification turns into perverse over-simplification – what happens when the making of a case depends on everything unmentioned, left out of the equation? Concepts like ‘fuel rod reprocessing,’ or ‘final nuclear waste repository’ are reassuring, clean-sounding terms that have no basis in reality. When proponents of the ‘peaceful use of the atom’ invoke such phantom concepts, they falsify our picture of the world. The anti-nuclear movement would have long been helpless were it not for the likes of such authentic scientific experts as Professor Dr. Dr. Armin Weiß, for these are the people who help us see to the radioactive core of the nuclear industry’s propaganda.

Armin Weiß was born and raised in Stefling, Bavaria, not far from Wackersdorf, where, during the eighties, the West German nuclear industry, the national government in Bonn, and the Bavarian government under Franz Josef Strauß, began building a nuclear fuel rod reprocessing plant.

“I undertook none of these activities for personal gain. I did it solely for the thing in itself”

Upset to his core at the environmental violation of his homeland, Armin Weiß, taking leave from his position as Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, appeared on TV and at public debates and gatherings, to undo the deceptions of politicians and nuclear industry spokespeople – and he always won over his audiences by using simple, irrefutable facts. For instance, before uranium as a nitrate and plutonium as an oxide can be harvested from the reprocessing phases, .05% of the total radiation is doomed to escape into the atmosphere, triggering death. Or: “A nuclear power plant chiefly produces iodine-131 as a radioactive isotope. It has a physical half-life of some 8.1 days. In addition to iodine-131, a reprocessing facility produces iodine-129. Its half-life is some 16 million years”.

Armin Weiß’s knowledgeable activism triumphed: the construction of Wackersdorf was aborted, shutdown. Weiß remarks of himself, “I undertook none of these activities for personal gain. I did it solely for the thing in itself”. As a fresh Green party member of the Bavarian state government, he continued to rage against all things nuclear, lambasting the Bavarian powers that be for the radioactive legacy we are passing along to the coming generations.

On the fifth of November the learned chemist Armin Weiß, the youngest child of two elementary school teachers, will turn eighty. November in Germany hosts a number of dark dates that demand public observance. But for the German anti-nuclear movement, November 5th is a day that invites celebration. Thank you Professor Dr. Dr. Armin Weiß.

–Claus-Peter Lieckfeld
English version: Craig Reishus