Coming to a town near you . . .


. . .  a steaming great big dirty nuclear power plant.

Well folks, we knew it was coming.  Most people now seem to be of the opinion that nuclear energy is inevitable.  Well, I will certainly acknowledge that some of the arguments used against nuclear power back in the dirty dark days are no longer valid, but there are still very good reasons why we shouldn’t be so ready to accept nuclear power as a necessary evil to help combat climate change.  My reasons for being against nuclear power have been stated in this blog several times and you can relax because I won’t be repeating myself.  It’s all in the archives anyway. 

All I will say to those who think nuclear power is much safer now . . . much cleaner and more efficient, I wonder if those people would be so eager to have a “safe, clean and efficient” reactor built on their doorstep.  As for the contentious issue of the waste . . . well the government is going to bribe invite communities to volunteer to host the waste underground in return for benefits packages.  I certainly can’t imagine dozens of communities falling over themselves to take on this mighty nuclear honour but I can certainly envisage communities in deep disputes with their councillors about it. 

Hang on a minute though!  Didn’t the government say that this whole project from start to finish, including the storage of waste, would be the responsibility of private energy suppliers?  The MP on tonight’s Newsnight said as much.  So why is the government looking for potential waste storage sites?  And didn’t the government also say that no tax-payers money would be used at all?  Again, the MP on tonight’s Newsnight said as much.  So why is the government offering benefits packages to communities that are desperate enough offer to take on this nuclear legacy?    

Anyway, if you can’t sleep, play this little Mother Earth quiz.  9/10 was my grand score.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. “Coming to a town near you”? I doubt it very much. You make it sound as if the new plants are going to be built in the middle of Birmingham or Basingstoke. In reality, if they get built at all it’ll be at existing nuclear sites, to avoid having to build more of that expensive infrastructure to connect to the Grid.

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  2. “Didn’t the government say that this whole project from start to finish, including the storage of waste, would be the responsibility of private energy suppliers?”

    You have to distinguish between waste management, which the govt says the generating companies must pay their “full share” of, and long-term disposal and storage, which has always been the responsibility of the govt, through NIREX and its several incarnations. I believe NIREX is now part of the NDA.
    They’d never have been able to privatise the UKAEA and BNFL sites if the buyers had had to take on full responsibility for all waste disposal.

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  3. “I wonder if those people would be so eager to have a “safe, clean and efficient” reactor built on their doorstep”

    About as eager as I would be to have any large-scale industrial complex built on my doorstep, causing mess and disruption during construction and spoiling the view when it’s finished. I’ll be interested to see what the chosen designs look like. If they have those gleaming white containment domes I wouldn’t mind so much, on the same sort of scale as wind turbines and just as pretty.

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  4. Hi Pete.

    Re. comment no 1: I realise that, wherever possible, the new reactors will be built on existing nuclear sites and I apologise for my “headline grabbing” tactics but I think it’s fair to say that not all the existing sites will be suitable … some of the sites are already ‘vulnerable’ and there will be a need for ‘virgin’ sites to be found. The criteria for suitable sites is wide meaning that possible new sites will be hard to come by. So, given that the UK is such a tiny island with its population increasing and given that the current sites will have limited suitability, I think it’s fair to say that more people will end up closer to nuclear sites than would be desirable – in my view.

    Re. comment no 2: Yes, that is so. The government will need to provide incentives to the energy companies, therefore, it’s not actually true that this government-nuclear-push will not cost the tax-payer anything. The government has been grossly misleading about this. I’m pretty sure that the government representative on Newsnight last night gave Jeremy Paxman an emphatic ‘no’ to his question as to whether there would be any-cost-at-all to the tax-payer.

    Re. comment no. 3: I’m sure the modern architecture of these new reactors will be aesthetically pleasing but it’s not just about the view is it. The government admitted just a few months ago that it’s possible that people who lived near a nuclear site have had body parts secretly kept for research after they died. I don’t think there’s much doubt as to the safety of the nuclear plant’s surrounding environment in terms of public health.

    *

    Interestingly, and not that I would, erm, suggest anything here, but as you probably know, Gordon Brown’s brother is the head of ‘media relations’ at EDF energy, a UK subsidiary of EDF, France which is pushing hard for the UK nuclear programme to get going. And EDF was awarded a four-year £1bn contract to supply energy (including some renewables) to government departments.

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  5. (1) The official line is that all existing nuclear sites are defendable against rising sea levels. I would be very surprised indeed if a ‘virgin’ site were selected.
    (2) If you listen to the Paxman interview on Newsnight VERY carefully, not just Malcolm Wicks’ initial blunt ‘No’ but his expansion during follow-up questions, you’ll find he said there would be no public subsidy of construction, with the government ensuring the energy companies put aside money each year over the project life span for “their share of the waste” at decommissioning. This is quite clever and slippery, and dodged under Paxman’s radar. As I’ve said before, there’s a distinction between waste management and decommisioning/long-term disposal.
    (3) Well, yes, it is pretty much about the view once it’s built. I’d rather live next door to Dungeness than Bhopal or Flixborough, thanks very much. No doubt about the health implications of those (non-nuclear) accidents. (References/quotes for the body parts thing, just out of interest?)
    (4) So GB’s bro is a spin doctor with EDF? Irrelevant. EDF is a reliable company with an excellent track record, we’re already buying electricity from them, and it’s no surprise if “government departments” (which ones?) use their muscle to negotiate contracts with them.

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  6. I’ve already commented on nuclear energy in another thread here. I insist nuclear energy should be discarded altogether and I don’t think the cost aspect of it can be lower than the other possible sources, only that the others have not been sufficiently researched and invested in, as happens with the nuclears.

    My opinion is that too much investment has been made in nuclear energy and that returns are expected from it, that is why governments insist on its use. Not so in Spain where the government does not seem to be inclined to proceed in that direction.

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  7. Thanks Jose, my thoughts too.

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  8. Pete, sorry for not getting back to you. I wanted to find the links you asked for first and I was pushed for time. Still am so here are the first three articles I came across:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/jul/10/health.nuclearindustry

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1674400.ece

    http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=450910&in_page_id=1770

    Reply

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