Today is full of news that an Abergavenny-based “independent” think tank says that a new nuclear power station on Anglesey will be great for Wales.
I doubt it.
I have commented about nuclear issues several times already but it’s opportune to do so again. One very relevant post is Hinkley Point and Fukushima (21March) in which I note that the company planning to build the new station was slated by a Japanese parliamentary investigation for having cut corners on safety.
The reason Hitachi is so desperate to build here because, following the Fukushima disaster, it can no longer do so in Japan.
A second relevant post is Radioactive Waste (posted on 24 March). In it I drew attention to the fact that the UK government has changed the regulations for dumping radioactive waste. Having failed to persuade experts and the Cumbrian County Council that dumping radioactive waste is safe – anywhere – the government (without debate) has changed the rules to avoid public scrutiny.
Jill Gough’s comment on this post is worth reading.
All the instant experts have been at it today, declaiming that Wylfa Newydd will bring jobs and prosperity. But none that I have heard have compared this with generating electricity from renewables – such as the free-standing tidal turbines I advocated on 18 March in Barrage or Lagoon?
A similar level investment in renewable energy would generate at least as many jobs without the risk of a Fukushima, Chernobyl or Three Mile Island hanging over future generations. This is a deplorable venture into the unknown and future generations will curse us if allowed to proceed.
The government has been trying for years to bury radioactive waste. In January 2013 this was vetoed by Cumbria County Council. To overcome this opposition, on the very last day of the 2010-2015 Parliament, the government changed the regulations about the geological disposal of radioactive wastes so that a County Council may not object in future. Previously eminent geologists and the Inspector of the 1995-6 Nirex Planning Inquiry looked at the disposal of intermediate nuclear wastes in Cumbria and concluded that the geology is too complex. The only reason for changing the planning regulations is to allow the government to do so even though the geology is known to be unsound.
See also (25 March 2015) **Radwaste**
Today Her Majesty’s government quietly removed the power of local and county councils to say no to burial of existing and future nuclear wastes beneath their homes. The predetermined decision to “Implement Geological Disposal” now lies with the Secretary of State under Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. This vicious NSIP ruling overrides any considerations on the land such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, heritage or conservation areas. Using the most undemocratic tool of “delegated legislation” this decision has been forced through, not by open debate but by Committee Room decisions.
In February I attended a meeting in the National Assembly in Cardiff to hear Naoto Kan (Prime Minister of Japan at the time of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant). He now tours the world to warn of the dangers of nuclear power: over three-quarters of Japanese people now oppose restarting nuclear power stations.
If a comparable accident occurred at the proposed new £16 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point (on the Somerset coast opposite Cardiff), its evacuation zone would include Torfaen (right up to Blaenafon) and Monmouthshire and cost our economy many more £billions. This, even before considering the money aspect, should be reason enough to ditch the Hinkley Point proposal. Because no British investors want anything to do with Hinkley Point, our government has had to woo French and Chinese government-backed investors with a 35 year guaranteed price at double the current electricity price. Yet, even at this inflated price (which is being challenged by the Austrian government as an illegal subsidy), it seems that Areva (and maybe others) may pull out and the financial package may unravel.
Whereas Germany is phasing out nuclear power in favour of renewables, British conservatives (and UKIP even more so) seem hell-bent on promoting this failed technology – even as solar and tidal energy have become the preferred options elsewhere. The UK government is in thrall to foreign-owned vested interests desperate to build nuclear stations in any country but their own.
This is why Hitachi, who built the stricken Fukushima plant, is so keen to build the proposed Wylfa B on Anglesey. Hitachi would have us believe that this was an unforeseeable event never to be repeated. Not so.
As explained by Naoto Kan, the Fukushima designers had ignored known risks (such as a tsunami) and they, in his opinion, were the cause of what he (and a commission set up by the Japanese parliament) termed a ‘human disaster’. Anglesey beware!!