WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW
I have been campaigning on many environmental issues for the last 20 years, including for a worldwide nuclear ban. Suddenly, the British Government, wants to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, despite advice against doing so for economic and environmental reasons. The results of this would affect Britain for the next million years. Here is an explanation of why this is not advisable and what to do if you want to stop it.
WHY NO TO NUCLEAR?
One aim of the Government´s 2003 Energy White Paper was:
"To put ourselves on a path to cut the UK´s CO2 emissions by some 60% by about 2050, with real progress by 2020". It also made clear that whole the issue of nuclear waste and the inherent inability of nuclear power to compete in a liberalised electricity market without public subsidy remained unresolved, nuclear power would stay in the wilderness.
Despite this, the Government in 2006 has launched a new energy review, which plans a large increase in British nuclear power stations.
So what has happened since 2003 to make the Government announce a new energy review and reopen the door to new nuclear power stations? (Greenpeace)
Could it be because the government for over a year has been secretly working with the Americans on a replacement for Trident nuclear warheads? This is in material breach of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty according to Matrix Chambers, the law firm for which Cherie Blair works. The proliferation of nuclear weapons is inextricably linked to nuclear power by a shared need for enriched uranium, and through the generation of plutonium as a by-product of spent nuclear fuel. The two industries have been linked since the very beginning and a nuclear weapons free world requires a non-nuclear energy policy. (CND)
A majority of people in Britain would accept new nuclear power stations if they helped fight climate change, a poll suggests. But it doesn´t. (Some 54% said they would accept new stations being built for this reason, the Mori survey of 1,500 people for the University of East Anglia found).(BBC 17/1/06)
Why nuclear energy does not help fight climate change
Doubling nuclear power in the UK would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8% (CND)
Nuclear power is not carbon emission free. The whole nuclear cycle from uranium mining onwards produces more greenhouse gases than most renewable energy sources with up to 50% more emissions than wind power. Doubling nuclear power in the UK would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8% because the electricity sector accounts for a quarter to a third of all carbon emissions (transport and industry account for most of the rest). (CND)
Nuclear power is dirty and dangerous
A major study conducted by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) into the dangers of low-energy, low-dose ionizing radiation concluded that there appears to be no safe radiation exposure level.
Meanwhile, Sellafield nuclear power station is discharging 2 million gallons of radioactive waste water into the Irish sea every day.
Downs Syndrome births amongst ex-pupils from a school in Dundalk, on the Irish sea, were found to be 89 times higher than the national average.
Incidences of leukaemia are higher than normal near nuclear power stations and atomic research establishments.
No safe solution has been found for dealing with the problem of nuclear waste
Radioactive waste from nuclear power stations remains dangerous for thousands of years. Britain has 2.3 million cubic metres of nuclear waste stored around the country (click here to see the sites http://www.corwm.org.uk/content-659). It will cost £85 billion to clear up. THORP, BNFL´s re-processing plant at Sellafield has been unable to vitrify (safely dispose of) the amount of nuclear waste it was designed to deal with, and is due to close in 2010. BNFL posted losses of £1 billion for the year ending 2003.
Nuclear energy does not make economic sense
It cannot exist without huge public subsidy
The £56 billion of taxpayers' money being used to fund the clean up of the UK´s current nuclear sites (run by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority), could instead buy 50 GW of installed wind capacity, equivalent to 20% of the UK´s electricity needs. (Greenpeace)
British Energy, the UK´s only private nuclear operator, avoided bankruptcy in 2003 via a multimillion pound Government loan and a public bailout package worth £4bn.
In March 2006, the Sustainable Development Commission, the government´s advisory body on sustainable energy development, published a new report that concluded that investing in nuclear power was not the answer to climate change or energy supply.
Read the report: http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/pages/060306.html
The Government has failed to support its commitments to renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements.
The Government´s main support mechanism for renewable energy, The Renewables Obligation, has failed to offer any significant support to less developed renewable generation technologies, particularly smaller scale renewable energy sources. (Greenpeace)
On wave and tidal energy, the Government pledged £50 million for research and development, but so far nothing has been done to encourage these potentially crucial technologies into the market place. (Greenpeace)
A report by accountants Ernst & Young of 7/2/06 said that the UK was falling behind in its attempt to meet its renewables target. (The Guardian website 8/2/06)
As for alternatives to nuclear power, "The UK has Europe's best wind, wave and tidal resources yet it continues to miss out on its economic potential," said Jonathan Johns, head of renewable energy at Ernst & Young. (The Guardian website 8/2/06)
The current Government support programme for solar energy is to be wound down six years early, despite attracting major private sector investment in solar PV manufacturing.
The program spent just £31million of the £150million that was committed in 2002.
In the same week that Blair urged China and India to invest more in zero and low carbon technologies, he cut the UK´s Low Carbon Buildings Program support for micro-renewables from an average of £11.25 million to £9.5 million per annum.
The UK has a mere 7.8 MW of installed solar PV capacity compared to Germany´s 794 MW and the Netherlands 48 MW. (Greenpeace)
Nuclear power is not sustainable
There are only 50 years´ worth left of high-grade uranium ores. If the whole world were to run on nuclear, there is only enough uranium left to power it for 12 years.
Nuclear power is accident-prone
Nuclear power is prone to accidents due to human error and carelessness, and there have been several major accidents. In the last 2 years alone there have been two major radioactive leaks in the UK. One major leak at THORP, Sellafield remained undiscovered for 8 months and has been classified as a level 3 nuclear incident (the 1986 Chernobyl disaster listed as a level 7 incident, and the 1979 Three Mile island incident as a level 5) (INES).
What to do about it
The government is in the process of an energy review whereby it will decide whether to invest in a future of nuclear power as a major source of energy in the UK. This review is due for completion in summer 2006. You have the opportunity to have your say as an individual or an organisation by 14th April by going to: http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/review
Tell them you think nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary. Tell them you want the Government to stick to the commitments in the 2003 White Paper, and put in place the policy and regulatory framework that will enable renewable energy and energy efficiency to deliver the deep emissions cuts needed.
They need to restore the promised funding for alternatives and give tax breaks to individuals and organisations who cut their carbon emissions and use sustainable energy.
We need the government to publish a Decentralised Energy White Paper, setting out all the necessary steps for a coherent and rapid transition to a sustainable and decentralised system.
Write to Tony Blair and Malcolm Wicks, the Energy Minister, or Ian McCartney, chairman of the Labour party telling them the same thing, and saying that you won´t vote Labour at the next election if they don´t do this.
Contact Tony Blair by visiting http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page821.asp or writing to;
Rt Hon Tony Blair, Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
Contact Malcolm Wicks by emailing email@example.com, or writing to;
Malcolm Wicks MP
84 High Street
Contact Ian McCartney by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org marking it to the attention of Ian McCartney, or writing to;
39 Victoria Street
You could also write to your local MP, for whom contact details can be found at www.locata.co.uk/commons