Stop Hinkley Press Release

24 May 2007

Consultation underplays nuclear risk at every point

The forcibly relaunched Nuclear Consultation by the Government seriously underplays the risk from nuclear power at every point.

Stop Hinkley campaigners have noted a series of concerns about the Government's document laying out its favoured position over nuclear power, which they feel misinforms the public on nuclear risks and does not present the position of critics. The previous energy consultation was derailed by a High Court in February for being unfair and misleading.

Campaigners list the underplayed points in the consultation paper:

1. A quoted one in 2.4 billion year risk of a meltdown in current UK nuclear reactors: lacks credibility given the extent of reactor core corrosion in existing reactors like Hinkley B (28% forecast for 2009) and Oldbury (34.5% current value). Only one UK reactor currently has 'secondary containment' to slow down thje release of fissile gasses into the environment post accident.

2. New reactors will be built more safely with 'passive' safety systems: The Westinghouse AP1000 has reduced its costs by cutting out 75 percent of safety systems considered essential for the last built Westinghouse, Sizewell B. It has replaced these with a simplistic water tank atop the reactor to douse it in the event of overheating. The AP1000 has no secondary containment and bosses railed at regulators' demands that designs should include safety containment as this would add £10million to each reactor's costs.

3. Terrorist risks were underplayed with the suggestion that new reactors may be proof against large aircraft crashes: The AP1000 is demonstrably 'tinnier' than existing reactors; the European Pressurised Reactor, currently being built in Finland was subject to a leaked high level memo that it could not withstand an aircraft crash.

4. Health risks to the public were downplayed with references to public doses but no mention that the CERRIE Government committee said 'radioactive dose' is now meaningless as different isotopes act differently on different people and not in a uniform way. The COMARE committee study of 2004 misleadingly was said to show no adverse health effects on the public within 25 kilometres of nuclear power stations but this research only looked at leukaemia and averaged the figures over 25 kilometres when cancer clusters have been shown to occur at much closer distances. It did however show extra cancers near nuclear weapons sites.

5. Reprocessing will not be needed therefore risks from transporting spent fuel are reduced: The Oxford Group of academics said that due to the increased building worldwide of nuclear plants, there will be reduced availability of uranium fuel. Reprocessing may need to occur to supply reactors with fuel, increasing transportation and risk of materials reaching terrorists. Storing plutonium fuel alongside reactors creates a greater security risk to local populations.

Jim Duffy spokesman for Stop Hinkley said: "The Government in every sentence are spinning their way to winning over a reluctant public. But their information is heavily loaded in favour of the big barmy idea they're stuck on."


Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator, 07968 974805

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