Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nuclear power - an apology

With apologies to the Eye, here's how John Hutton's announcement on the expansion of the nuclear power industry this afternoon might have read....

"This government, in common with the whole of the UK media, may in the past have given the impression that nuclear energy was the biggest threat to the future of humanity since the demise of Hitler. We were encouraged in this view by the disastrous safety record of the civil nuclear power industry dating from the numerous radiation leaks at Calder Hall Windscale Sellafield from the 1950s onwards to the explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 which left large parts of the former Soviet Union, along with most of the sheep in the Lake District, contaminated.

We now realise that this view was in fact totally erroneous, and that the real threat to the future of humanity comes from global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels. We further realise that because nuclear energy leaves absolutely no discernible carbon footprint - well, except of course for the whole business of building the power stations, and then transporting the uranium half way across the world to burn in them - it is therefore by far the safest and "greenest" way to meet our future energy needs.

It will also save us the embarrassment of having to resurrect our own indigenous coal industry and give new jobs to all those grubby miners who were so sensibly and cleverly got rid of by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, despite the fact that billions of tonnes of coal still lie untouched beneath our feet and notwithstanding the fact that developments in technology since then could probably extract the energy from this source without actually releasing any C02 into the atmosphere.

This will remain our policy until there is another Chernobyl, in which case we along with everyone else will of course change our minds again."

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Jon Worth said...

Spot on! I'm very glad that someone is voicing those sorts of concerns... My take on it here.

Anonymous said...

Such cynicism. I'm appalled (by them.)

John B said...

"notwithstanding the fact that developments in technology since then could probably extract the energy from this source without actually releasing any C02 into the atmosphere"

magic beans?

Trofim said...

Chernobyl in 1986 which left large parts of the former Soviet Union . . . contaminated.

Around 0.75% actually.

Note: nobody ever dies as a result of coal mining.

greenman said...

Good post, Paul.

John Band - Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) for a start, as well as various clean coal technologies which vastly reduce emissions even without CCS.

Tendryakov -Hmmm, and how does Uranium get out of the ground again? Granted the Chinese coal industry is very hazardous. Perhaps they should go completely nuclear and depend on Australia and Kazahkstan for Uranium? When we had a coal industry British deep mined coal was the most efficiently and safely mined in the world. But renewables are what we should all be aiming to maximise long term, CCS etc are only a stop gap.

One of the biggest cop outs is of course that these nuclear plants, if built, (without public funding? Carrying their own decommissioning and waste storage costs?) will be on existing sites, nearly all in coastal locations that will be at risk due to the sea level rises and extreme weather forecast as a result of climate change. And some of these sites are forecast to take up to a century to make safe even if they stop generating in the next 10-15 years.

They are fooling no-one except the media and the commentariat. This is a case of be seen to be doing something in the knowledge that a major cock up/energy gap (and back down on bailing out an industry that very few will insure or invest in) is on the way - due in large part to lack of decisive action by the Party in power for the last 10 years and their inability to overcome the problems facilitated by the party that seeks to replace them. When the inevitable happens (if by a miracle this crowd are still in power) they will blame the greens, the industry itself, the legal profession, the market - anyone but themselves.

Too many unanswered questions.

Poetryman said...

Stop funding the terrorists!

No more Oil Wars!

Energy Independence Now!

Drill in Anwar.

Build more nuclear power plants

Use More coal.

Use more natural gas

Turn trash into energy

Double the efficiency of windmills and solar cells.

If France can do nuclear power so can we.

If Brazil can do biomass/ethanol power so can we.

If Australia can do LNG power so can we.

Domestically produced energy will end the recession and spur the economy.

Stop paying oil dollars to those who worship daily at the alter of our destruction.

Preserve our Civil Rights and defend our Freedom by ending dependence on foreign oil.