Center for Safe Energy

Earth Island News

Center for Safe Energy

At a ceremony in St. Petersburg, Russia on October 3, 2002, Fran Macy, co-director of the Center for Safe Energy, was named the co-recipient of the Nuclear Free Future Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing “his many decades of dedication towards building a bridge of understanding between the Russian and American peace and environmental movements.” The award, presented by the Munich-based organization Nuclear Free Future, was shared with his long-time associate and friend, Dr. Alexey Yablokov, a marine biologist and expert on the impact of radioactivity on human and non-human forms of life. A highly respected scientist, Yablokov also founded Greenpeace Russia and serves as vice-president of the World Conservation Union.

“I was very pleased that my Russian colleagues nominated me for this award and felt it appropriate for me to share it with Dr. Yablokov, a man I respect enormously. To me it’s a recognition and honor that I find very moving. The award has given more visibility to the Center for Safe Energy both in Russia and the US. It’s a recognition of the Center’s work, not just mine,” says Macy.

In addition to the accolade, Macy and Yablokov share knowledge, understanding, and concern about the effects of nuclear activity on the environment and the Earth’s inhabitants. The two activists met in 1991, when Macy visited Russia with a delegation of environmental specialists to mark the fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The trip led to the formation of the Nuclear Watchdog Network, a coalition of grassroots organizations monitoring nuclear sites throughout Russia and Ukraine.

Throughout his life, Macy’s interest in Russian culture and Soviet policies has been a driving force. In 1951, he received his Masters degree in Soviet Russian Studies at Harvard University. Since 1961, Macy has made more than 50 working trips to the former Soviet Union.

Macy’s deep concern about the effects of the nuclear weapons and energy industries started in the 1980s, when he and his wife Joanna organized the “Nuclear Guardianship Project.” Its purpose was to study and draw attention to public dangers caused by the accumulation and transport of nuclear waste in both the US and the USSR.

Macy worked with the Peace Corps from 1964 to 1972, serving as country director in India, Tunisia, and Nigeria. He continues to travel to India, Japan, South Africa, and Australia, working on environmental issues. His primary focus, however, is on the former Soviet republics, where he believes radiation levels damage the health of thousands.

“The legacy from the Cold War’s nuclear weapons industry causes some of the worst contamination on the planet, which is very harmful to ecosystems and humans,” he explains. “Many people are exposed to radiation from weapons complexes and nuclear power stations in Russia, more so than any other country in the world. Paradoxically, Russia intends to expand its reliance on nuclear energy, despite the fact that there are reserves of gas and oil that could provide Russian energy needs more safely and economically, not to mention the great potential for wind energy that Russians have not yet begun to exploit.”

Center for Safe Energy recently collaborated with Sierra Club, World Affairs Council, and Center for Citizen Initiatives to organize a series of lectures, presentations, and discussions with Dr. Yablokov in California. His trip was financed by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.

Take action To support the non-governmental environmental movement in the former Soviet Union contact the Center for Safe Energy through its Web page at, email, or write Center for Safe Energy, 2828 Cherry Street, Berkeley, CA 94705; (510) 883-1177.

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