Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

Nuclear time bomb on our doorstep:

In A.Graham on February 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm

The Oldbury nuclear power station, situated down river from Lydney docks, is now on its last legs. But rather than merely decommissioning it, the Government has been backing plans to replace it with a new nuclear energy site that will be some seven times the size of the present one!

Because of its the size, it will be the only nuclear installation in Britain that will need cooling towers. These would either be 200-foot “short” ones, or 600-foot edifices that would dwarf the Severn Bridge. How that would affect the natural beauty and habitats of the Severn Vale remains to be seen! Inhabitants of communities around Thornbury have been campaigning against this monster on their doorstep for some time. All the inherent dangers in a nuclear power station will be multiplied by the sheer size of the project. And in a leaflet issued last month, the campaigners add the point: “did you know that you’ve been volunteered for high level radioactive waste to be stored there for 160 years, the ‘interim’ solution for nuclear waste storage?”

We can assume that a decision on whether to go ahead with this hazardous development is imminent. The “consultation” period closed on January 24 – and no doubt an announcement will emerge fairly soon.

Oldbury on fire in 2007, from the Dean side

It will follow a long and sustained campaign by local communities who are concerned not only about the disruption to the locality but also, for many, the presence of what could be a ticking time bomb on their doorstep. So far there is no such thing as completely “safe” nuclear energy.

The possibilities range from low-level leakage of radiation (which has occurred in many cases) to the kind of full scale disaster that happened in Chernobyl, and nearly took place at Three Mile Island in the USA. That, of course, is a “worst case scenario”!

But add the problems of security at such sites, the pollution caused by mining for uranium, and the mounting problems of nuclear waste storage and disposal, and one is left wondering why it’s considered worth it.

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