Press Release - 18 May 2011

  New Research Shows Effect of Fukushima Scale Accident at Hinkley

On the day that the government's interim report (1) on safety following the Fukushima nuclear accident was published, a hypothetical modeling of a similar tsunami event at Hinkley Point power station in Somerset shows that it would have disastrous consequences.

This new analysis has been prompted both by the seriousness of the radiation releases into the environment from the Japanese nuclear plant and by continuing revelations about the extent of the damage, which shows that the situation at Fukushima is still not under control.

The research paper by Professor Chris Busby, Dai Williams and Cecily Collingridge of Green Audit - ‘What would have happened to the fallout if a tsunami damaged Hinkley Point on 11th March 2011' [Click Here] (2) – is accompanied by two NOAA HYSPLIT animations (3) [Click here] which track the path of a plume following a six hour release of radiation. The paper concludes: “What is clear from these calculations is that radioactivity at the levels being released from Fukushima would contaminate the Home Counties and London and would rapidly make the south of England uninhabitable”.

This sobering simulation brings home the fact that although the Hinkley site may seem remote from large and growing population centres, the nature of weather patterns would ensure that millions would be exposed to the plume.

"There are serious doubts as to whether the government's safety review goes far enough in making sure we avoid the type of disaster envisaged in this scenario,” said Cecily Collingridge, one of the report's authors. “We really need to appreciate what we might be letting ourselves in for.”

Whilst the prospect of a tsunami in Somerset may seem remote, that cannot be said of coolant losses, which are worryingly commonplace. At Hinkley Point B there have been a total of six such incidents since 2005, one of which was a direct leak from Reactor No.4, and a total of 47 coolant loss incidents across the UK. (4)

"There cannot be faith in Mike Weightman's work (5) without a corresponding review of nuclear policy, otherwise it is just another box-ticking exercise,” added Cecily. “It's time to see Chris Huhne, (6) who requested the interim report, demonstrate some ‘muscular liberalism' (7) in the Department of Energy and Climate Change.”

For more information contact Cecily Collingridge (01278 423360)


Notes to the Editor

(1) The interim report, ‘Japanese earthquake and tsunami: Implications for the UK Nuclear Industry', is available at

(2) Occasional Paper by Professor Chris Busby, Dai Williams and Cecily Collingridge of Green Audit - ‘What would have happened to the fallout if a tsunami damaged Hinkley Point on 11th March 2011 ' can be found here

(3) Click here for animations

(4) Michael Weir asked the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change how many coolant losses and fires have happened in the UK in the last 5 years, just 3 days before the nuclear disaster at Fukushima occurred.

(5) Mike Weightman, the author of the interim report on Fukushima, is Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and executive head of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

(6) Chris Huhne is the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and is a Liberal Democrat

(7) Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said: “You will see a strong liberal identity in a strong coalition Government. You might even call it muscular liberalism.”

The Lib Dems had long opposed nuclear power but agreed in Coalition negotiations last year that existing power stations could be renewed as long as no public funds were involved. They demanded that energy firms no longer benefit from generous public subsidies and be self-funding. Now Mr Clegg believes the extra costs of protecting the new plants could prove unsustainable.

“We have always said that there are two conditions for the future of nuclear power,” he said. “They [the next generation power stations] have to be safe, and we cannot let the taxpayer be ripped off, which is what they always have been in the past.”

Mr Clegg said that, under the terms of the Coalition agreement, he had the right to veto the provision of any additional government funds. He insisted that no further public funds would be made available to fill the gap. “There will be no rowing back from the Coalition agreement on this.”



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Page Updated 19-May-2011