Nuclear Power Plants

1979 Annual Conference report

Because the successive governments in Puerto Rico insisted on a policy of installing nuclear power plants, disregarding factors of threat of earthquake, proximity to population centers, and lack of facilities for disposal of nuclear wastes;

Because the region where two nuclear reactors were installed in the past now have the highest death rate from cancer of all Puerto Rico; and

Because Puerto Rico has enormous possibilities of development of solar and tidal energy that cry out for research and development;

We of the Castañer Church of the Brethren, gathered in council meeting on September 25, 1977, petition the Annual Conference to name a special committee to study the issue of nuclear power plants and make some recommendations regarding our denominational response to the issue.

Ferdinand Santiago, Moderator;
Hilda Rose Soto Lamboy, Secretary

The District Conference of the District of Florida and Puerto Rico, Church of the Brethren meeting in St. Petersburg on October 8, 1977 took the following action: that the query be passed on to the newly formed District Board for the Board to implement action.

The District Board of the District of Florida and Puerto Rico meeting in the Winter Park Church of the Brethren on December 3, 1977, voted as follows: Responding to the District Conference action ‘that the query be passed on to the newly formed District Board for the Board to implement action,’ the District Board of Florida and Puerto Rico forwards the query on ‘Nuclear Power Plants’ to the 1978 Annual Conference.

Clarence R. Bowman, Chairperson;
Lester E. Kesselring, Clerk

Action of 1978 Annual Conference: The recommendation of Standing Committee, presented by Dean M. Miller, was that the concerns of the query be recognized and that the query be referred to the General Board for an answer in 1979. The recommendation was adopted.

1979 Report of the Study Committee

The Concern

The query was initiated by the Castañer, Puerto Rico, congregation out of its concern for the possible adverse environmental and social impact of the introduction of nuclear power plants and nuclear waste storage facilities to its island. The query was supported by the District of Florida and Puerto Rico and was assigned to the General Board by the 1978 Annual Conference. The query seeks recommendations for a denominational response to nuclear power.

The Work of the Committee

The General Board asked three staff persons to review previous Annual Conference action on energy concerns, to review the National Council of Churches’ energy study document, and to consult, as necessary, with knowledgeable Church of the Brethren persons regarding the nuclear issue.

The committee carefully reviewed the situation in Puerto Rico through contacts with Misión Industrial de Puerto Rico (PRIM), an agency which has been supported by the Church of the Brethren with dollar appropriations and volunteers. This contact confirmed that many persons in Puerto Rico are concerned over the environmental and sociological impact of the increasing number of industries and technologies being introduced to that island.

Contact with Church of the Brethren colleges enabled the committee to select from a wide range of qualified persons those who the committee felt could be helpful in evaluating the National Council of Churches of Christ Energy Study Document. Twenty-three persons including physicists, biologists, lawyers, theologians, ethicists, and others were invited to carefully review the NCCC document and advise the committee on its value.

In addition, the committee reviewed Annual Conference resolutions and actions.

Suggested Response of the General Board

After careful study, the committee recommends that the General Board urge Annual Conference to take an action which:

  1. Expresses appreciation to our brothers and sisters of the Castañer Church for bringing to our attention again the nature of the delicate balance between our environment and our own existence and making us more aware of the relationship of energy production to environmental and sociological issues.
  2. Affirms the action of the 1977 Annual Conference in Richmond, Virginia, which adopted “the church’s responsibility for justice and nonviolence,” a carefully researched and biblically based statement which clarified many issues before our people and spoke specifically to Eco-Justice concerns. It said:

    “We are obligated to accept our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation and exercise good stewardship of natural resources to satisfy the basic human needs of persons now living and of those to come.

    “We call on members of the Church of the Brethren, other Christians, and persons of good will to examine the ways we consume resources and dispose of wastes, making changes as needed in the light of responsible stewardship.

    “We urge citizens, our church, and government to adopt policies based on the principle that any insufficiency of resources should be borne equally by all persons in all societies.

    “We urge our government to declare a moratorium on the building of any new nuclear power plants until adequate safeguards have been implemented regarding plant safety, nuclear waste disposal, and security of nuclear materials with weapons potential.

    “We encourage the government to pool knowledge and funds with other societies to increase research into solar, tidal, geothermal, and wind sources of energy.

    “We favor policies aimed at using for purposes of international development all proceeds from resources of the oceans and seabeds beyond territorial limits.

    “Recognizing that environmental protection is a global problem, the costs should be largely borne by those countries with the most ability to pay for such protection.”

  3. Asks that the General Board make Stewardship of Creation a 1980-84 program priority by giving guidance and assistance to congregations and districts to confront these critical Eco-Justice issues.
  4. Encourages congregations and districts to initiate and develop creative responses to the Eco-Justice priority where opportunity, resources, and need seem greatest.
  5. Commends the National Council of Churches of Christ’s study document, “The Ethical Implications of Energy Production and Use,” for use by members and congregations of the Church of the Brethren in this process.

Stewart Hoover;
Ruby Rhoades;
Joel K. Thompson, Convener

Action of 1979 Annual Conference: The report was presented for the General Board by Joel K. Thompson with the members of the committee present. The report was adopted.