Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

NUCLEAR REACTORS: Do You Want More?

In Chris Gifford on June 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm

This article is about getting up to date with the government’s proposals and trying to make sense of the processes used by government in deciding policy.

In 2002 the Government published an Energy Review. In over 200 pages of detail it discussed options for future supplies of energy. It was written by the Performance and Innovation Unit of the Cabinet Office and it has since become clear that the Department of Trade and Industry, although involved, was not the principal author.

On the generation of electricity in nuclear power station the review said that concern about radioactive waste and “low probability but high consequence hazards” may limit or preclude its use. It added that nuclear power seemed likely to remain more expensive than fossil fuelled generation and that nowhere in the world was there new build in a liberalised electricity market. Thus two of the objections of those opposed to nuclear power were conceded. It was not safe and it was not economic. Similarly the report mentioned the vulnerability to terrorism, the long lead times in planning and building new stations, the extent of public opposition and the need to gain public acceptance for any new development. It concluded that the option of new investment in nuclear power should be kept open, especially if safer and low cost designs were developed, but there would have to be widespread public acceptance.

A major stakeholder and public consultation was launched in May 2002. It was the largest ever on energy policy. There followed a white paper which concluded that diversity of supply was the best protection against sudden price increases, terrorism and other threats to reliability of supply.

On renewable energy the review had concluded that “the UK resource is, in principle, more than sufficient to meet the UK’s energy needs” and that “the UK’s wind and marine resources are the best in Europe”. Both publications were strongly focussed on the need to mitigate climate change. The review had already stated that while achieving a 60% cut in CO2 emissions would be challenging it could be done while still achieving economic growth of 2.25% per year.

It did not make sense that global warming and security of supply should be cited as the reasons for another energy review in 2005. But that is what happened and the prime minister who had written the preface to the first review and endorsed the detailed conclusions on those matters declared that the building of new nuclear power stations should be “facilitated” by ‘fast track’ planning inquiries and ‘pre-licensing’ of new reactor designs. Another public consultation followed.

This writer responded to these events with some dismay and the writing of a paper with the title Nuclear Reactors: do we need more?. The paper was published by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in the Socialist Renewal series and a review and an abstract appeared in the Spokesman journal.

It examined the historic claims that nuclear power was peaceful and safe and asked ‘Is the risk from terrorism too awful to be acknowledged?’. It described the failure to comply with a European directive on the provision of information to the public on possible emergencies, examined the lack of data on costs, discussed the known costs but lack of solutions on nuclear waste management and listed the, so far, neglected sources of safe, sustainable renewable energy.

The response of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to the government’s proposals was reassuring. The Health and Safety Executive endorsed the concerns of the Nuclear Safety Directorate by publishing a 150 page expert report with the title The Health and Safety Risks and Regulatory Strategy Related to Energy Developments which emphasised the importance of the licensing process to control risk by the design of license conditions after detailed appraisal of a reactor design and the builder’s safety case. The HSE made no concessions to the prime minister’s proposals. It explained that if the (13) vacancies for government inspectors were filled quickly the study of a designer’s safety case and proposed reactor for a specific location would take several years (as it always had) depending on the quality of the application. If more than one new design had to be appraised concurrently it would take longer. The publication reported on earlier experience of ‘prelicensing’ and mentioned the Commission’s finding in a 1994 review that the regulatory systems were “comprehensive, internationally recognised, vindicated by public inquiries, and that there was no reason to change them in any fundamental way to deal with changes to the nuclear industry or new construction.”

It is difficult to imagine a more severe reprimand of a lay prime minister’s interference in a process vital to public safety. Public concern about the government’s methods was not alleviated by the HSE response. Greenpeace, with the support of other organisations such as the Welsh Anti-nuclear Alliance (WANA) and the Nuclear Free Local Authorities, applied to the High Court for judicial review of the way in which the government had consulted the public while giving every indication of having already decided the matter.

Mr Justice Sullivan in the High Court on 15 February 2007 ruled that the government’s second consultation on energy policy was “seriously flawed” and thus “illegal”. There had been no consultation at all, he said, because the government had provided information “wholly insufficient for the public to make an intelligent response.” In fact the government had also blacked out the economic data in papers obtained by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

The government is obliged to start again. This time it has published two white papers one, Planning for a Sustainable Future, dealing with planning procedures and the other, The Energy White Paper is linked with a consultative document on nuclear power. The documents, like the process criticised in judicial review, show the government’s commitment to nuclear power, this time described as a ‘preliminary view’. The energy white paper is 343 pages long and is characterised by enhanced optimism and a lack of vital facts. I have tried hard to find, for example, data on the present and historic costs of generating electricity by nuclear power but I found none. Instead there are unattributed forecasts of future costs only one of which favours nuclear power – that which assumes high gas prices and generous carbon credits. There is frankness combined with optimism in the discussion of the dangers of nuclear power, as in

“Not all costs are considered. The analysis does not attempt to monetise all costs and benefits. Specifically, a monetary value associated with potential accidents is not estimated. Evidence suggests that the likelihood of such accidents is negligible, particularly in the UK context.”

The justification for the above is found in a footnote which reads

1 The literature suggests a range for the probability of major accidents (core meltdown plus containment failure) from 2×10-6 in France, to 4×10-9 in the UK. The associated expected cost is estimated to be of the order £0.03 / MWh to £0.30 / MWh depending on assumptions about discount rates and the value of life; using the figure at the top end of this range would not change the results of the cost benefit analysis. Introducing risk aversion, the results of the cost benefit analysis in the central case (defined in Section 3 below) would be robust for a risk aversion factor of 20 at the highest estimated value for the expected accident cost. For a summary of the relevant literature, see “Externalities of Energy (ExternE), Methodology 2005 Update”, European Commission.

One in four billion reactors years! The debate on whether or not our nuclear reactors are capable of nuclear explosion is not yet settled. In evidence put to our last public inquiry (Hinkley Point ‘C’) an estimate of one loss of containment in one million years was treated with caution by our inspectorate and modified to 1 in 100 000 by the then director general of the Health and Safety Executive in consideration of the acknowledged lack of data on human error. On waste management the consultative document is no better, eg

We have technical solutions for waste disposal that scientific consensus and experience from abroad suggest could accommodate all types of waste from existing and new power stations.

Note that ‘disposal’ has replaced mention of a ‘repository’ and that the findings of CoRWM, the committee on radioactive waste management, have been improved to turn a topic requiring further research and a suitable site into a solution and that new waste, which CoRWM expressly excluded from its considerations, is now lumped in. If we have a solution one has to ask why we have not made use of it in the 30 years since the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution recommended that there should be no more nuclear power stations until a solution was found for the management of nuclear waste.

The local nuclear power station at Oldbury is not producing electricity because a fire affecting electrical equipment on 30 May 2007 caused reactor 2 to be shut down. Repair work and a report by investigators will have to be completed before the reactor can be started again. A report by BBC News 24 to the effect that the power station is unlikely to produce electricity again is disputed, but not vigorously, by British Nuclear Group who run this ageing Magnox station.

The condition of the Oldbury graphite cores and losses of initial integrity featured in an internal report revealed by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. The report shows that reactor 2 is not considered safe enough to operate until its planned closure date of December 2008 and that the permission to restart after its recent two years closure for safety work was conditional on a new safety case being acceptable in November this year. It is reassuring that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate are making such conditional approvals. Similar considerations will apply to reactor 1 where a safety case for a restart is already with the inspectorate. Pressure on the inspectorate is envisaged given that the company desperately needs the income from electricity sales almost as desperately as the Prime Minister wishes us to believe that all is well. He has asserted that reactor safety can now be assumed and thus that events such as fuel fires, burst cladding and structural collapse of a reactor core leading to a total loss of control are impossible.

On Planning for a Sustainable Future, on the proposed Infrastructure Planning Commission and on local planning inquiries being required to exclude matters of national policy from their considerations a letter to The Guardian on 23 May summed up the argument very well.

If the government builds a nuclear power station on the site of London’s derelict Battersea power station then the rest of the country will know that these stations are completely safe. The new streamlined planning system should take care of any local opposition.

If you are satisfied that spending billions more on nuclear power will not impede and distract from the investment that we need to make in several forms of renewable energy, particularly tidal energy; if you are sure that the industry has nothing whatever to do with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and if you know why every young person in Britain has plutonium in his teeth and you do not care you may want to respond to the consultation with your approval for a new nuclear future.

Christopher Gifford

11 June 2007

NUCLEAR REACTORS: DO YOU WANT MORE?

This article is about getting up to date with the government’s proposals and trying to make sense of the processes used by government in deciding policy.

In 2002 the Government published an Energy Review. In over 200 pages of detail it discussed options for future supplies of energy. It was written by the Performance and Innovation Unit of the Cabinet Office and it has since become clear that the Department of Trade and Industry, although involved, was not the principal author.

On the generation of electricity in nuclear power station the review said that concern about radioactive waste and “low probability but high consequence hazards” may limit or preclude its use. It added that nuclear power seemed likely to remain more expensive than fossil fuelled generation and that nowhere in the world was there new build in a liberalised electricity market. Thus two of the objections of those opposed to nuclear power were conceded. It was not safe and it was not economic. Similarly the report mentioned the vulnerability to terrorism, the long lead times in planning and building new stations, the extent of public opposition and the need to gain public acceptance for any new development. It concluded that the option of new investment in nuclear power should be kept open, especially if safer and low cost designs were developed, but there would have to be widespread public acceptance.

A major stakeholder and public consultation was launched in May 2002. It was the largest ever on energy policy. There followed a white paper which concluded that diversity of supply was the best protection against sudden price increases, terrorism and other threats to reliability of supply.

On renewable energy the review had concluded that “the UK resource is, in principle, more than sufficient to meet the UK’s energy needs” and that “the UK’s wind and marine resources are the best in Europe”. Both publications were strongly focussed on the need to mitigate climate change. The review had already stated that while achieving a 60% cut in CO2 emissions would be challenging it could be done while still achieving economic growth of 2.25% per year.

It did not make sense that global warming and security of supply should be cited as the reasons for another energy review in 2005. But that is what happened and the prime minister who had written the preface to the first review and endorsed the detailed conclusions on those matters declared that the building of new nuclear power stations should be “facilitated” by ‘fast track’ planning inquiries and ‘pre-licensing’ of new reactor designs. Another public consultation followed.

This writer responded to these events with some dismay and the writing of a paper with the title Nuclear Reactors: do we need more?. The paper was published by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in the Socialist Renewal series and a review and an abstract appeared in the Spokesman journal. The paper is available as an A5 booklet of 33pp with 61 source references price £2-00 from Spokesman Books telephone 0115 970 8318. It examined the historic claims that nuclear power was peaceful and safe and asked ‘Is the risk from terrorism too awful to be acknowledged?’. It described the failure to comply with a European directive on the provision of information to the public on possible emergencies, examined the lack of data on costs, discussed the known costs but lack of solutions on nuclear waste management and listed the, so far, neglected sources of safe, sustainable renewable energy.

The response of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to the government’s proposals was reassuring. The Health and Safety Executive endorsed the concerns of the Nuclear Safety Directorate by publishing a 150 page expert report with the title The Health and Safety Risks and Regulatory Strategy Related to Energy Developments which emphasised the importance of the licensing process to control risk by the design of license conditions after detailed appraisal of a reactor design and the builder’s safety case. The HSE made no concessions to the prime minister’s proposals. It explained that if the (13) vacancies for government inspectors were filled quickly the study of a designer’s safety case and proposed reactor for a specific location would take several years (as it always had) depending on the quality of the application. If more than one new design had to be appraised concurrently it would take longer. The publication reported on earlier experience of ‘prelicensing’ and mentioned the Commission’s finding in a 1994 review that the regulatory systems were “comprehensive, internationally recognised, vindicated by public inquiries, and that there was no reason to change them in any fundamental way to deal with changes to the nuclear industry or new construction.”

It is difficult to imagine a more severe reprimand of a lay prime minister’s interference in a process vital to public safety. Public concern about the government’s methods was not alleviated by the HSE response. Greenpeace, with the support of other organisations such as the Welsh Anti-nuclear Alliance (WANA) and the Nuclear Free Local Authorities, applied to the High Court for judicial review of the way in which the government had consulted the public while giving every indication of having already decided the matter.

Mr Justice Sullivan in the High Court on 15 February 2007 ruled that the government’s second consultation on energy policy was “seriously flawed” and thus “illegal”. There had been no consultation at all, he said, because the government had provided information “wholly insufficient for the public to make an intelligent response.” In fact the government had also blacked out the economic data in papers obtained by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

The government is obliged to start again. This time it has published two white papers one, Planning for a Sustainable Future, dealing with planning procedures and the other, The Energy White Paper is linked with a consultative document on nuclear power. The documents, like the process criticised in judicial review, show the government’s commitment to nuclear power, this time described as a ‘preliminary view’. The energy white paper is 343 pages long and is characterised by enhanced optimism and a lack of vital facts. I have tried hard to find, for example, data on the present and historic costs of generating electricity by nuclear power but I found none. Instead there are unattributed forecasts of future costs only one of which favours nuclear power – that which assumes high gas prices and generous carbon credits. There is frankness combined with optimism in the discussion of the dangers of nuclear power, as in

“Not all costs are considered. The analysis does not attempt to monetise all costs and benefits. Specifically, a monetary value associated with potential accidents is not estimated. Evidence suggests that the likelihood of such accidents is negligible, particularly in the UK context.”

The justification for the above is found in a footnote which reads

1 The literature suggests a range for the probability of major accidents (core meltdown plus containment failure) from 2×10-6 in France, to 4×10-9 in the UK. The associated expected cost is estimated to be of the order £0.03 / MWh to £0.30 / MWh depending on assumptions about discount rates and the value of life; using the figure at the top end of this range would not change the results of the cost benefit analysis. Introducing risk aversion, the results of the cost benefit analysis in the central case (defined in Section 3 below) would be robust for a risk aversion factor of 20 at the highest estimated value for the expected accident cost. For a summary of the relevant literature, see “Externalities of Energy (ExternE), Methodology 2005 Update”, European Commission.

One in four billion reactors years! The debate on whether or not our nuclear reactors are capable of nuclear explosion is not yet settled. In evidence put to our last public inquiry (Hinkley Point ‘C’) an estimate of one loss of containment in one million years was treated with caution by our inspectorate and modified to 1 in 100 000 by the then director general of the Health and Safety Executive in consideration of the acknowledged lack of data on human error. On waste management the consultative document is no better, eg

We have technical solutions for waste disposal that scientific consensus and experience from abroad suggest could accommodate all types of waste from existing and new power stations.

Note that ‘disposal’ has replaced mention of a ‘repository’ and that the findings of CoRWM, the committee on radioactive waste management, have been improved to turn a topic requiring further research and a suitable site into a solution and that new waste, which CoRWM expressly excluded from its considerations, is now lumped in. If we have a solution one has to ask why we have not made use of it in the 30 years since the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution recommended that there should be no more nuclear power stations until a solution was found for the management of nuclear waste.

The local nuclear power station at Oldbury is not producing electricity because a fire affecting electrical equipment on 30 May 2007 caused reactor 2 to be shut down. Repair work and a report by investigators will have to be completed before the reactor can be started again. A report by BBC News 24 to the effect that the power station is unlikely to produce electricity again is disputed, but not vigorously, by British Nuclear Group who run this ageing Magnox station.

The condition of the Oldbury graphite cores and losses of initial integrity featured in an internal report revealed by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. The report shows that reactor 2 is not considered safe enough to operate until its planned closure date of December 2008 and that the permission to restart after its recent two years closure for safety work was conditional on a new safety case being acceptable in November this year. It is reassuring that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate are making such conditional approvals. Similar considerations will apply to reactor 1 where a safety case for a restart is already with the inspectorate. Pressure on the inspectorate is envisaged given that the company desperately needs the income from electricity sales almost as desperately as the Prime Minister wishes us to believe that all is well. He has asserted that reactor safety can now be assumed and thus that events such as fuel fires, burst cladding and structural collapse of a reactor core leading to a total loss of control are impossible.

On Planning for a Sustainable Future, on the proposed Infrastructure Planning Commission and on local planning inquiries being required to exclude matters of national policy from their considerations a letter to The Guardian on 23 May summed up the argument very well.

If the government builds a nuclear power station on the site of London’s derelict Battersea power station then the rest of the country will know that these stations are completely safe. The new streamlined planning system should take care of any local opposition.

If you are satisfied that spending billions more on nuclear power will not impede and distract from the investment that we need to make in several forms of renewable energy, particularly tidal energy; if you are sure that the industry has nothing whatever to do with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and if you know why every young person in Britain has plutonium in his teeth and you do not care you may want to respond to the consultation with your approval for a new nuclear future.

Christopher Gifford

NUCLEAR REACTORS: DO YOU WANT MORE?

This article is about getting up to date with the government’s proposals and trying to make sense of the processes used by government in deciding policy.

In 2002 the Government published an Energy Review. In over 200 pages of detail it discussed options for future supplies of energy. It was written by the Performance and Innovation Unit of the Cabinet Office and it has since become clear that the Department of Trade and Industry, although involved, was not the principal author.

On the generation of electricity in nuclear power station the review said that concern about radioactive waste and “low probability but high consequence hazards” may limit or preclude its use. It added that nuclear power seemed likely to remain more expensive than fossil fuelled generation and that nowhere in the world was there new build in a liberalised electricity market. Thus two of the objections of those opposed to nuclear power were conceded. It was not safe and it was not economic. Similarly the report mentioned the vulnerability to terrorism, the long lead times in planning and building new stations, the extent of public opposition and the need to gain public acceptance for any new development. It concluded that the option of new investment in nuclear power should be kept open, especially if safer and low cost designs were developed, but there would have to be widespread public acceptance.

A major stakeholder and public consultation was launched in May 2002. It was the largest ever on energy policy. There followed a white paper which concluded that diversity of supply was the best protection against sudden price increases, terrorism and other threats to reliability of supply.

On renewable energy the review had concluded that “the UK resource is, in principle, more than sufficient to meet the UK’s energy needs” and that “the UK’s wind and marine resources are the best in Europe”. Both publications were strongly focussed on the need to mitigate climate change. The review had already stated that while achieving a 60% cut in CO2 emissions would be challenging it could be done while still achieving economic growth of 2.25% per year.

It did not make sense that global warming and security of supply should be cited as the reasons for another energy review in 2005. But that is what happened and the prime minister who had written the preface to the first review and endorsed the detailed conclusions on those matters declared that the building of new nuclear power stations should be “facilitated” by ‘fast track’ planning inquiries and ‘pre-licensing’ of new reactor designs. Another public consultation followed.

This writer responded to these events with some dismay and the writing of a paper with the title Nuclear Reactors: do we need more?. The paper was published by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation in the Socialist Renewal series and a review and an abstract appeared in the Spokesman journal. The paper is available as an A5 booklet of 33pp with 61 source references price £2-00 from Spokesman Books telephone 0115 970 8318. It examined the historic claims that nuclear power was peaceful and safe and asked ‘Is the risk from terrorism too awful to be acknowledged?’. It described the failure to comply with a European directive on the provision of information to the public on possible emergencies, examined the lack of data on costs, discussed the known costs but lack of solutions on nuclear waste management and listed the, so far, neglected sources of safe, sustainable renewable energy.

The response of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to the government’s proposals was reassuring. The Health and Safety Executive endorsed the concerns of the Nuclear Safety Directorate by publishing a 150 page expert report with the title The Health and Safety Risks and Regulatory Strategy Related to Energy Developments which emphasised the importance of the licensing process to control risk by the design of license conditions after detailed appraisal of a reactor design and the builder’s safety case. The HSE made no concessions to the prime minister’s proposals. It explained that if the (13) vacancies for government inspectors were filled quickly the study of a designer’s safety case and proposed reactor for a specific location would take several years (as it always had) depending on the quality of the application. If more than one new design had to be appraised concurrently it would take longer. The publication reported on earlier experience of ‘prelicensing’ and mentioned the Commission’s finding in a 1994 review that the regulatory systems were “comprehensive, internationally recognised, vindicated by public inquiries, and that there was no reason to change them in any fundamental way to deal with changes to the nuclear industry or new construction.”

It is difficult to imagine a more severe reprimand of a lay prime minister’s interference in a process vital to public safety. Public concern about the government’s methods was not alleviated by the HSE response. Greenpeace, with the support of other organisations such as the Welsh Anti-nuclear Alliance (WANA) and the Nuclear Free Local Authorities, applied to the High Court for judicial review of the way in which the government had consulted the public while giving every indication of having already decided the matter.

Mr Justice Sullivan in the High Court on 15 February 2007 ruled that the government’s second consultation on energy policy was “seriously flawed” and thus “illegal”. There had been no consultation at all, he said, because the government had provided information “wholly insufficient for the public to make an intelligent response.” In fact the government had also blacked out the economic data in papers obtained by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

The government is obliged to start again. This time it has published two white papers one, Planning for a Sustainable Future, dealing with planning procedures and the other, The Energy White Paper is linked with a consultative document on nuclear power. The documents, like the process criticised in judicial review, show the government’s commitment to nuclear power, this time described as a ‘preliminary view’. The energy white paper is 343 pages long and is characterised by enhanced optimism and a lack of vital facts. I have tried hard to find, for example, data on the present and historic costs of generating electricity by nuclear power but I found none. Instead there are unattributed forecasts of future costs only one of which favours nuclear power – that which assumes high gas prices and generous carbon credits. There is frankness combined with optimism in the discussion of the dangers of nuclear power, as in

“Not all costs are considered. The analysis does not attempt to monetise all costs and benefits. Specifically, a monetary value associated with potential accidents is not estimated. Evidence suggests that the likelihood of such accidents is negligible, particularly in the UK context.”

The justification for the above is found in a footnote which reads

1 The literature suggests a range for the probability of major accidents (core meltdown plus containment failure) from 2×10-6 in France, to 4×10-9 in the UK. The associated expected cost is estimated to be of the order £0.03 / MWh to £0.30 / MWh depending on assumptions about discount rates and the value of life; using the figure at the top end of this range would not change the results of the cost benefit analysis. Introducing risk aversion, the results of the cost benefit analysis in the central case (defined in Section 3 below) would be robust for a risk aversion factor of 20 at the highest estimated value for the expected accident cost. For a summary of the relevant literature, see “Externalities of Energy (ExternE), Methodology 2005 Update”, European Commission.

One in four billion reactors years! The debate on whether or not our nuclear reactors are capable of nuclear explosion is not yet settled. In evidence put to our last public inquiry (Hinkley Point ‘C’) an estimate of one loss of containment in one million years was treated with caution by our inspectorate and modified to 1 in 100 000 by the then director general of the Health and Safety Executive in consideration of the acknowledged lack of data on human error. On waste management the consultative document is no better, eg

We have technical solutions for waste disposal that scientific consensus and experience from abroad suggest could accommodate all types of waste from existing and new power stations.

Note that ‘disposal’ has replaced mention of a ‘repository’ and that the findings of CoRWM, the committee on radioactive waste management, have been improved to turn a topic requiring further research and a suitable site into a solution and that new waste, which CoRWM expressly excluded from its considerations, is now lumped in. If we have a solution one has to ask why we have not made use of it in the 30 years since the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution recommended that there should be no more nuclear power stations until a solution was found for the management of nuclear waste.

The local nuclear power station at Oldbury is not producing electricity because a fire affecting electrical equipment on 30 May 2007 caused reactor 2 to be shut down. Repair work and a report by investigators will have to be completed before the reactor can be started again. A report by BBC News 24 to the effect that the power station is unlikely to produce electricity again is disputed, but not vigorously, by British Nuclear Group who run this ageing Magnox station.

The condition of the Oldbury graphite cores and losses of initial integrity featured in an internal report revealed by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. The report shows that reactor 2 is not considered safe enough to operate until its planned closure date of December 2008 and that the permission to restart after its recent two years closure for safety work was conditional on a new safety case being acceptable in November this year. It is reassuring that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate are making such conditional approvals. Similar considerations will apply to reactor 1 where a safety case for a restart is already with the inspectorate. Pressure on the inspectorate is envisaged given that the company desperately needs the income from electricity sales almost as desperately as the Prime Minister wishes us to believe that all is well. He has asserted that reactor safety can now be assumed and thus that events such as fuel fires, burst cladding and structural collapse of a reactor core leading to a total loss of control are impossible.

On Planning for a Sustainable Future, on the proposed Infrastructure Planning Commission and on local planning inquiries being required to exclude matters of national policy from their considerations a letter to The Guardian on 23 May summed up the argument very well.

If the government builds a nuclear power station on the site of London’s derelict Battersea power station then the rest of the country will know that these stations are completely safe. The new streamlined planning system should take care of any local opposition.

If you are satisfied that spending billions more on nuclear power will not impede and distract from the investment that we need to make in several forms of renewable energy, particularly tidal energy; if you are sure that the industry has nothing whatever to do with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and if you know why every young person in Britain has plutonium in his teeth and you do not care you may want to respond to the consultation with your approval for a new nuclear future.

Christopher Gifford

11 June 2007

11 June 2007

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