Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Nuclear power is a 'pig in a poke'

The recent terrible events caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster have once again thrown the dangers of nuclear power into a sharp focus. I posted about this issue nearly three years ago, and in the meantime the evidence that nuclear power is not the solution to our energy problems has been growing.

For those who don't know - a 'pig in a poke' is a confidence trick - see here. The explosions and release of radiation at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan proves that they weren't safe - they were supposed to built to withstand an earthquake and they didn't - despite the fact that the pro-nuclear lobby is scrambling to re-write history - yes it was a powerful quake, yes there was a tsunami - but the point is that the reactors were supposed to be able to withstand these events and they didn't.

But it's not only the events a Fukushima which should give us cause for concern. All the issues that I highlighted in my previous post on nuclear power are still pertinent and still relevant to our current situation. Add to this the fact that nuclear is patently uneconomic, and that new reactors would never be built without massive subsidy from the taxpayer and underwriting of the costs of nuclear waste disposal - to which there is still no solution in the UK.

Then we have the debacle of the building of the Finnish reactor at Olkiluoto. This is one of the modern generation of reactors which is now three years behind schedule and though projected to cost £3 billion - has an overrun of £1.5 billion! Worryingly, the delays have been caused by faults including cracks in the reactor.

Nuclear power is not a green option, it never has been. We can meet our carbon reduction targets in the UK with a mix of renewables and energy efficiency. The drive to build nuclear is really coming from giant energy corporations which intend to be feasting on generous taxpayer subsidies and guaranteed profits. The plain fact is that if the market alone cannot provide these facilities and the taxpayer can't afford them either. The risk, and the cost, is too great.

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