Nuclear Power No Answer to Climate Change: Hinkley Point – Dawn Blockade


Dawn blockade leaves nuclear workers locked out

At 6 am. this morning 10 protestors blockaded access to EDF energy’s nuclear sites at Hinkley Point, preventing the morning shift from starting work. Four people in arm-locks formed a barrier across the main access road at Wick Moor Drove in a bid to prevent further ground clearance work at the planned Hinkley C site and to protest at EDF’s plan to extend the life of ageing reactors at the Hinkley B station.

Sitting beneath a banner saying “Nuclear Power – not worth the risk”, Bristol tree-surgeon Zoe Smith said, “We want the destruction of land at the proposed Hinkley C site to stop. EDF still don’t have planning permission for the new nuclear plant, the governments energy policy is in tatters. With Centrica pulling out and the long awaited Electricity Reform Act delayed, there is not even enough investment to finish the project. If the Tories fix the electricity price for nuclear so that the project can go ahead it will leave a radioactive waste dump here for hundreds of years.” The early morning blockade caused long tailbacks for scores of workers contracted in to perform maintenance work on the the existing reactors at Hinkley B, EDF have signalled their intention to re-licence the reactor again in 2016.

Bridgwater mum Nikki Clark from South West Against Nuclear said, “Not only do we not need new nuclear, we certainly don’t need to extend the life of the existing reactors even further. Just this year alone reactor no 4 in the B station has scrammed at least three times. EDF like to call these emergency shutdowns ‘unplanned outages’ , but this deliberately conceals the fact that these ageing

reactors are now in a dangerous condition. In 2008 the regulators threatened British Energy with closure of the site. The reactors do not have any fewer cracks in the graphite core now than they did then. Do we have to have our own Fukushima here in Somerset before we abandon this insanity and embrace a renewables revolution in the UK?”

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Theo Simon said, “We support this protest. New nuclear is dead in the water. We need public investment in a renewables revolution which could create a million climate jobs and cut energy bills through a programme of home insulation and energy-efficiency. With its massive marine energy resource, West Somerset is perfectly placed to lead the way in renewables, but EDF’s plans would turn it into a toxic waste dump for our grandchildren.” 1)

Campaigns such as this are necessary to alert the public, where mainstream media fails us. Dirty Fossil Fuels and wasteful use of energy is churning out carbon dioxide at levels which is catastrophic for the planet. The scientific evidence is clear. To deny it is foolish, and those responsible for funding the argument against fossil fuels are the most foolish of all. The corporate power is nothing – against the power of nature which they seek to deny. Labour Leader Ed Miliband knows this, and it will be at the forefront of Labour’s manifesto. The Liberal Party have sold out any pretence for green issues, and I am at a loss to understand why the Green Party in my constituency stood down at the General Election in favour of the LibDems who support this government. The Coalition government’s policies are short-sighted and foolish. Like ostriches, they seek to deny the truth, and like headless chickens, they panic but will not address the issue. I believe the Labour Party are committed to addressing Climate Change.

3) Labour’s leader, Ed Miliband, said:

“David Cameron promised that this government would be the greenest government ever. But this government is not up to the task. We now have a Minister for Energy who is against building new wind turbines – and a government that has delayed crucial decisions on the Green Investment Bank and de-carbonisation targets.

“George Osborne is trying to undermine the Climate Change Act, leading the dash for gas, and pandering to the climate sceptics on the back benches. We even had the spectacle of the campaign manager for one of their by-elections conspiring with the anti-wind farm candidate, and undermining their own candidate.

“Already billions of pounds in investment is going elsewhere or being put on hold. Thanks to this government, the investors who want to invest in our green sector are shutting their wallets or going elsewhere. Since this government came to power, investment in renewable energy hasn’t gone up, it hasn’t even stagnated – it has halved.
When we were in government, we passed the Climate Change Act which gave those investors the certainty they needed to invest. We take climate change seriously. We all have a responsibility to act now rather than expect our children to suffer the consequences. Only this week the World Bank talked of catastrophic flooding, droughts, and millions of deaths if climate change is not addressed.

“Other countries around the world are watching to see whether Britain signs up to the 2030 decarbonisation target. We are not getting leadership from this government in Westminster. All we get is dither and delay.

To the current government, if it is not too late to avert global catastrophe, we must insist on alternatives for energy sources than deriving energy from carbon producing fossil fuels – coal, oil, and gas.
Yet the government’s policy:

  1. Encourages a dash for use of gas as a fuel source, (4)

  2. Supports more gas trapped in shale by fracking, with disastrous geological consequences (5) which could cause earthquakes.

  3. Suggests CCS (6) as a clean-coal option (when in reality it will release further methane into the atmosphere, and is not feasible anyway)

  4. Plans to build new nuclear power stations despite the dangers of from contamination by waste, of the dangers of nuclear weapon development, and environmental damaged as evidence by Chernobyl (7) and Fukushima. Ironically, they are encouraging support from the Japanese firm Hitachi. (8)

  5. Is influenced by lobbyists 9) who profit financially from energy corporations.

  6. Proposes to delay Carbon reduction targets until 2016. (10)

The recent Hurricane Sandy, and floods in the UK (11) in Autumn 2012, may be wake up calls for some. In Devon a canal constructed 200 years ago, broke its banks and may be lost forever – indicators that climate change is a reality. ( some scientific evidence here (12).

The solution is to limit energy use, and to invest in renewable energy, which will provide jobs for many and once installed has minimal maintenance costs compare with nuclear and fossil fuels. Energy requirements can be met by wind, solar, wave, HEP, geothermal and tidal. Germany is rejecting nuclear power (15) , yet the UK lags behind. While on a similar latitude to Germany, the Uk has additional resources Germany does not have. There is an enormous source of tidal power at the mouth of the River Severn, and coasts surrounds our islands which could harness wave power. We need to act, and act now, not procrastinate for future governments and our grandchildren, in order to for some to profit today.

We reject nuclear power as an alternative. A major problem is the disposal of dangerous nuclear waste which remains radioactive for centuries. It is not acceptable that we leave our dirty waste for those yet unborn, potentially exposing future generations to the horrific effects of dangerous radioactive waste.

The issue with nuclear waste is that serves no peaceful purpose, yet remains dangerous for many centuries and continues to emit radiation. No matter how we are reassured of the safety of Nuclear Power, accidents happen, and accidents are more likely happen when costs are cut, where profit is the motive.

Support for nuclear energy on financial grounds is flawed. EU calculations for financing nuclear expansion for mining of Uranium in the Ukraine ignores the cost of disposal of the toxic waste 20). Following Fukushima, the The World Bank estimated the cost of the nuclear crisis at $235bn (£144bn) (17, 18, 19)– making it one of the world’s most expensive disasters.

There is also the risk of further accidents occurring in nuclear power stations whether caused by human error as in Chernobyl, or by natural disasters, as in Fukushima as seen in Japan, which resulted from an earthquake.

Nuclear waste can continue to emit radiation for centuries, and it could potentially become unstable, if handled and stored improperly, setting off a chain reaction which could create a nuclear accident. If it fell into the wrong hands, it could be used to make a dirty bomb, which could spread radiation over an inhabited area. Nuclear waste storage focuses on finding safe and secure ways to store spent nuclear fuel and other forms of nuclear waste, until they have stabilized enough to pose no threat to humans, wildlife, and the environment.

Without doubt, we must halt the damage to the world’s climate by the use of carbon-emitting fuels. But to look from one disaster to another is ludicrous, and unnecessary. That we should risk accidents, from geological disaster or terrorism, a dependence on nuclear energy for the future is madness. The risk to life is so huge it should not be contemplated.

  1. South West Against Nuclear
  3. Labour Party: Ed Miliband: By Tackling Climate Change we can be better off together
  4. Guardian Government supports Gas for power
  5. RT: Fracking hell: UK government set to green light risky gas drilling
  6. Think Left: Think Left: Clean Coal (Another Financial Device for the City?)
  7. BBC: Chernobyl: Wildlife study 25 years on
  8. ITV Boost to Britain’s nuclear plans
  9. Guardian Energy Bill and Carbon Target delayed until 2016
  10. The Lost Democracy and the role of Think Tanks
  11. BBC: Man dies and transported disrupted by England’s storms
  12. Think Left Some of the Scientific Evidence – Climate Change
  13. Lessons from Japan: Left Futures
  14. No2NuclearPower
  15. BBC: Germany announces non-nuclear
  18. Fukushima: Lethal Levels workers never allowed home
  19. Fukushima Workers find ultra high radiation levels
  20. Think Left: The Energy Trap
  21. EU: Ignoring safety risks in financing nuclear expansion in Ukraine
  22. Think Left: Energy or Tidal
  23. Greenpeace: Why do some Energy Companies support decarbonisation while others support it?

3 thoughts on “Nuclear Power No Answer to Climate Change: Hinkley Point – Dawn Blockade

  1. Pingback: Naomi Klein on Capitalism and Climate Change | Think Left

  2. Pingback: Safety concerns over lack of qualified Poundland shelf-stackers at nuclear reactor sites « Pride's Purge

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