Tuesday, 13 October 2015

5 Reasons To Say No To Hinkley C

5 Reasons to Say No to Hinkley C

Hinkley Point C is to be the first of a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain. Its proponents argue that it will deliver cheap electricity, minimal carbon emissions, and a revitalisation of the local ecomony. The reality isn't quite so rosy. Read on for five reasons why you should just no to Hinkley C:

#5. Whatever Will Be, Will Be

In other words, none of us can foresee the future. It's all well and good to say that nuclear power is clean and safe, but it can and does go wrong. There are natural disasters, accidents, wars (and the accompanying bombs), terrorism (with cyberterrorism being particularly relevant), and good old human error. Fukushima might have been declared fit for human habitation, but how many of us would really be happy to live in an area where rates of childhood thyroid cancer are now 50x the national average, and young children are recommended not to spend more than 15 minutes outside per day?

The Office of Nuclear Regulation claims that in the event of a disaster at Hinkley only those in a 1km radius would need to be evacuated. In the aftermath of Fukushima the US government advised its citizens to observe an 80km evacuation zone. Depending on wind direction, a disaster at Hinkley C could result in evacuation for people as far away as Abergavenny.

#4. Better The Devil You Know

The proposed design for Hinkley C is for the new, and therefore untested, EPR - European Pressurised Reactor. There are only four others in the world, all of which are currently facing costly delays due to problems like anomalies in the steel, and faults in the cooling system safety valves. It just doesn't fill you with confidence, that's all I'm saying.

#3. The Neverending Story

Hinkley C will, so its colourful info page tells me, avoid 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, over its 60 year lifespan. It doesn't tell you that Hinkley C will still be producing tonnes of radioactive waste, in addition to providing a dumping ground for ILW (Intermediate Level Waste - i.e. will be relatively safe again in about 100 years) from three plants around the country. There is a reason why Nuclear Decommissioning is the industry to be in; the clean-up at Sellafield alone has been estimated to reach almost £70billion. With nuclear power you're not just paying for it here and now, you'll be paying for it for decades if not centuries to come, both financially and environmentally.

Electricity consumption is actually trending down not up - we can expect a blip as heating switches from gas to electric, but overall the emphasis on energy conservation will see this continue.

#2. Jobs For The Boys

Just as Anglesey has been won over by the thought of the skilled work available at the planned Wylfa B plant, West Somerset Council and its neighbours are looking forward to the massive job creation promised by Hinkley C. But these aren't necessarily local jobs for local people. The high paying positions will require specialised skill sets and, given that EDF are in charge, the likelihood is that those jobs will go to French engineers and technicians.

#1. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

For me, nuclear power should be scrapped because of what it is - as a committed Nuclear Unilateralist, I don't need any further convincing. But the figures connected with Hinkley C are enough to make even the staunchest nuclear advocate think again.

Hinkley C is going to cost money. Lots and lots of money. At first it was going to cost £10 billion. Then £16.5 billion. Now it's going to cost £24.5 billion. It's predicted the final cost could be as high as £75 billion. Going on this year's figures, that could fund the Welsh NHS for twelve and a half years. Once it's built, it's still going to be costing us over the odds. The government has agreed an electricity unit price with EDF at twice the going rate. That 'strike price' is also index linked, so it's only going to go up. So much for cheap electricity.

Yes, renewables are expensive, and they do struggle to generate the single site quantities nuclear is capable of. But. If we're going to just chuck money around, why not chuck it at something which is sustainable and beneficial, rather than at something which is such a potential health hazard and will carry on costing us huge sums of money long after it's ability to generate power is at an end? The more money invested in renewables, the more efficient they will become, the more the unit price will drop. It would still generate energy, still create jobs, and provide an opportunity for the UK to actually become market leaders instead of having to outsource on hugely disadvantageous terms.

Because there are only two groups Hinkley C will really benefit - EDF and the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency.

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