HINKLEY C: YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

French company Electricite De France wants to build two giant nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point. 'Hinkley C' would be the first new nuclear power station in Britain for over 20 years. But will it be safe, economic and bring local benefits, as EDF claims?


Facts about Hinkley C

Cost: £8 billion and rising

Land take: 500 acres

Legacy: Radioactive fuel on site for 160 years

HEALTH AND SAFETY

  • Nuclear power stations risk a catastrophic accident resulting in a large release of radioactive material into the environment, as happened at Chernobyl . This makes them a prime target for a terrorist attack.

  • The reactor proposed for Hinkley is a new French design with no operating track record. Its control and instrumentation system has been rejected as unsafe by nuclear regulators in France , the UK and Finland .

  • Studies show increased levels of cancer and infant deaths downwind of Hinkley and in Burnham-on-Sea.

 

RADIOACTIVE WASTE

  • Nuclear power has already left a trail of hazardous material to be cared for well beyond our lifetimes. There is still no disposal site to securely contain this waste, let alone that from any new power stations.

  • The highly radioactive fuel from Hinkley C would be stored on site, despite the risk of sea flooding, for at least 160 years. Even then it may be too hot to be buried.

"This waste will remain dangerous for up to a million years - an outrageous legacy to leave for many generations to come." (Greenpeace)

 

ALTERNATIVES

  • The UK can keep the lights on and reduce its carbon footprint without falling back on nuclear power. This requires a major commitment to energy saving and increasing our range of renewable energy sources.

  • Surrounded by waves, tides and windy coasts, we are already committed to generating more than a third of our electricity from renewables by 2020.

"There is a range of different ways for the UK to meet its carbon dioxide and energy security objectives without relying on a new generation of nuclear power plants" (Sustainable Development Commission)

 

ECONOMICS

  • Nuclear power has always proved more expensive than predicted. The cost of decommissioning our existing nuclear plants has risen from £48 billion in 2002 to a massive £70 billion today.

  • In Finland , the first EPR reactor - the model planned for Hinkley - is three years behind schedule and its costs have risen from £2.7 to £4.8 billion.

  • EDF is currently £34 billion in debt. Will we see a repeat of what happened in 2003, when the British government bailed out a near-bankrupt British Energy, then running Hinkley Point?

"The risks (of nuclear) are so large and variable that they could bring even the largest utility company to its knees financially." (Citigroup investment bank)

 

LOCAL IMPACT

  • An estimated 4,000 people will be employed on building Hinkley C, but less than half the jobs are expected to go to locals.

  • A project of this size will blight the area for up to ten years . Roads will be jammed with heavy vehicles, noise echo through the local villages. Almost 500 acres of agricultural land and local footpaths will be sacrificed. The coastline will be scarred by a jetty to bring in aggregate.

  • New hostels will accommodate hundreds of temporary workers and place a strain on local life.

 

HAVE YOUR SAY

 

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CLIMATE CHANGE

  • The main argument for going back to nuclear power is that it saves carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. But even i f Britain replaced all its existing reactors this could only deliver a 4% cut in carbon emissions at some time after the year 2025.

 

LOCAL DEMOCRACY

  • There will be no local public inquiry into Hinkley C. The main decision will be taken by an unelected national Infrastructure Planning Commission. This is effectively a rubber stamp for government policy, which backs nuclear power.  

 

 

 

 

Page Updated 31-Dec-2009