Some reports and thoughts on nuclear power

BBC Somerset, Aug 2008: As the government has given the green light for Hinkley Point B to extend its life by three years and given the go-ahead for a potential Point C, is nuclear energy the way forward and should it stay in Somerset? Early in 2008, the government gave the go-ahead for Hinkley Point B, the nuclear power station in Somerset, to be extended for an extra three years. It also gave the green light for a new generation of nuclear power stations, of which Hinkley was believed to be a favored site.

Nuclear new build (Department of Trade and Industry)
Policy Framework for New Nuclear Build Consultation October 31st, 2006

We disagree that new nuclear build is needed. The evidence does not support it and we regard this as unnecessary, expensive and ill advised in view of the lack of methods available for dealing with the wastes produced. These wastes include those arising in connection with uranium mining - which provides the fuel for nuclear power stations - and concerns were raised at the Hinkley Point Public Inquiry by the Inspector (final report).

The Government is not talking of funding, subsidising or building new nuclear power stations. They have been very clear in consultation that it would not only be for the private sector to propose, build and operate any new nuclear power stations, but to cover the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of the waste management costs too. This implies that based on currant time scales for decommissioning, we would be gambling on the economic stability of these private companies for 100 years and beyond.

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Hinkley Point
Current Key Milestones

Year Milestones
2012 Complete decommissioning and backfill of Turbine Hall
2013 Complete decommissioning of Magnox vault
2016 Complete processing of historic ILW
2017 Start of safestore care & maintenance
2095 Reactor buildings decommissioning complete
2104 Final site clearance and closure

Currently the French have been strong candidates for these contracts for new British nuclear power stations.

BBC Report (July 2008)

Concern over French nuclear leaks. A French nuclear monitoring body has expressed concern at the number of leaks from French nuclear power stations in recent weeks.

The director of Criirad, an independent body, said the organisation was worried by the numbers of people contaminated by four separate incidents. In the most recent leaks, about 100 staff at Tricastin, in southern France , were exposed to low doses of radiation. It came two weeks after a leak forced the temporary closure of a reactor. The Tricastin nuclear site contains a power plant and a treatment facility. There has also been a 10-fold increase in the number of incidents reported by people working in the French nuclear power industry, Criirad director Corinne Castanier said. "This type of contamination is a recurring problem. But that many people in such a short period of time, this worries us." The incident was rated at level zero on the seven-point scale used to gauge the seriousness of nuclear accidents, Ms Castanier said. But she linked the high number of incidents to an increased pressure to deliver energy quickly and suggested that working conditions were getting worse at power facilities. Two weeks ago, the authorities had to issue a ban on fishing and water sports in two local rivers after 30 cubic metres of liquid containing unenriched uranium leaked from a broken underground pipe onto the ground and into the water.

Chris Busby (Green Audit) found a 70% higher likelihood of contracting Breast Cancer in the Burnham on Sea area a short distance across the bay from Hinkley Point. This has been dismissed as a common statistical glitch by Somerset Primary Care Trust.

The Future of Nuclear Power (Analysis Report written responses to the public consultation May to October 2007) Prepared for The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform by Dialogue by Design Ltd December 2007)

Those who argue against nuclear power and in favour of renewables would like to see the full potential of wind, waves, tide and sun fully exploited in order to give us what they consider to be real security of supply. They argue that we have these sources of energy in abundance; that they will never run out; that they are less vulnerable to attack, less polluting, and can be spread across country reducing inefficiencies of transmission. They can also be established much faster than a nuclear power plant and that it would be quite feasible to have a wide array of renewables in production within 5-6 years given, people argue, the political will and strong management.

In London at a meeting in the House of Commons, that he co-hosted, German Ambassador Dr Scheer told members of the All Party Climate Change committee:

"We're talking about the most important and exciting structural change of civilisation since the beginning of the industrial age. The benefits and ramifications are huge. Not only do renewables mitigate climate change. They also give us cleaner cities, improved health and they fight underdevelopment and deprivation in the developing world. They also revitalise the agricultural economy."

In Germany . Already 250,000 people are employed in the renewable energy industries and the country is on course to be 100 per cent renewable by 2030. It is the best and cheapest job creation scheme ever invented. "Nothing can be implemented faster than renewables," says Dr Scheer. who cannot understand why the UK government have been so negative and small minded about their potential. "Nuclear is not the answer as it is too expensive, too slow, it's unsafe and it uses too much water in a time of increasing shortage, plus Uranium supplies are also limited."

Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, "Nuclear power is not the answer to climate change or concerns over energy security. The Government's own advisers say that even with a doubling of nuclear capacity carbon emissions would only drop by 8% - that's compared with the 60% target set by Government. As uranium fuel becomes scarcer more energy is put into extracting it, so by 2050 nuclear is expected to generate as much CO2 per kilowatt as a gas-fired power station.

Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn: "With the growing interest in nuclear energy, a number of countries are considering developing the capacity to enrich uranium to use as fuel for nuclear energy, but this would also give them the capacity to move quickly to a nuclear

Weapons program if they chose to do so. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia continue to deploy thousands of nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles that can hit their targets in less than 30 minutes, encouraging both sides to continue a prompt launch capability that carries with it

an increasingly unacceptable risk of an accidental, mistaken or unauthorized launch. The bottom line: The world is heading in a very dangerous direction".

Four former British Foreign and Defence Secretaries - Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Lord David Owen, Lord Douglas Hurd and Lord George Robertson - published an article titled "Start worrying and learn to ditch the bomb" in which they warn that the world is entering a dangerous new phase "that combines widespread proliferation with extremism and geopolitical tension."

CND: The use of nuclear power threatens the environment and people's health. No safe solution has yet been devised to store its carcinogenic toxic radioactive waste, some of which is dangerous for thousands of years. It also leaves us vulnerable to the possibility of nuclear accidents or even terrorist attack.

Courtesy of Miranda Bruce

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Page Updated 20-Feb-2009