Monday, 28 December 2009

Old blog moved from Celtic Herbs site!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Mass Protest against radioactive shipwrecks

Il Manifesto 25 October 2009 Tonino Perna.

The Revolt of the population of Calabria


Over the last few days the Quotidiano della Calabria has collected more than thirty thousand signatures in protest against the inertia of the government. The protestors want the government to clean up the seabed around Cetraro, Vibo and Capo Bruzzano, where they know that there are shipwrecks with cargoes of toxic and radioactive waste. They are also demanding that proper research be carried out to find the other shipwrecks with toxic and radioactive cargoes in their holds.

Trades Unions from Alto Tirreno, Calabria have gone to Rome to protest. Hundreds of Trades Unionists from all over Calabria will go to Amantea to take part in the mass protest. There has never been such an angry rebellion in Calabria.

Neither the seven hundred people killed by the ‘ndrangheta in 1985 and in 1992, nor the hundreds of kidnappings that have affected many local professionals, nor the tens of scandals that have involved most of the Calabrian politicians have caused such an angry reaction from the people of Calabria. Not even the Fortugno murder, which resulted in the movement of young people “now kill us all”, succeeded in involving all the people of Calabria.

Whoever transported these tens of ships with cargoes of toxic and radioactive waste, has produced an ecological disaster that looks as if the consequences for the food chain could be as bad as Cernobil. ‘Ndrangheta got involved in this and they look really bad now, but they were only the workmen for a vast criminal organisation.

The real people responsible are the multinationals, the managers of nuclear power stations, important people in Government and secret services. The network of people involved goes way beyond what we can imagine.
Powerful people from many countries, including Colombia, Mexico, Russia are involved in this.

Experts such as Umberto Santino and the attorney for the Republic of Italy, Piero Grasso, have been talking about “borghesia mafiosa” rather than mafia, camorra and ‘ndragheta.

This is the first time there has been an conflict with the mafia, who are doing everything they can to cover up, to block the investigation, stop the inquest, prevent any more shipwrecks being found. It is an unequal fight.

But this time, you can be sure that the people of Calabria will not run away and hide in the mountains.

This is not just a local problem. This is a national and international problem that must be resolved because the sea cannot be contained within national borders.

Posted by Angela Paine at 04:23 0 comments Links to this post

Nuclear New Build is not compatible with a real Renewable Energy Policy

Infant Leukemias near all German Nuclear Power Stations is not an Example of Bad Science

John Mclevy (letters Dec 24) alleges that the German study on infant leukemias near all German power stations is an example of bad science being used for political purposes. However he fails to back this claim with any evidence from the study itself. It is doubtful whether he has read the study.

In fact, the German study is extremely robust: it was commissioned by the German Government and carried out by a expert team of epidemiologists at the University of Mainz. These scientists actually supported nuclear power, so there was no "political purpose" as he falsely alleges. The reality is that the German study is thoroughly competent and its findings are scientifically valid, as vouchsafed by the German Government itself.

Contrary to Mclevy's view, the study is not bad science, but very good science. The problem is that its findings are, in the words of Al Gore, "An Inconvenient Truth" for Mclevy and his pro-nuclear bias.

Faced with this incontrovertible evidence of infant leukemias near nuclear reactors, what should we do? Should we, as the cigarette companies did for decades, seek to distort, deny, and smear the clear evidence of increased cancers, as Mclevy seems to do? Or should we seek safer healthier alternatives to generate electricity?

Mclevy states that he supports nuclear as "we need to stop burning carbon". But does he consider the huge amounts of carbon released during the nuclear fuel cycle, especially by uranium mining, uranium milling, and uranium fuel enrichment?

Renewable energy and energy efficiency measures are a better future for us, not the old-fashioned dangerous WW II technology of nuclear power.

Reg Illingworth

Thursday, 24 December 2009


What kind of a consultation process does not include the city of Bristol, the outskirts of which are a mere eight miles from a proposed new nuclear power station? This is the question that the people of Bristol have been asking, since they discovered that Oldbury has been chosen as the sight for a huge new nuclear power station, eight times bigger than the one that is already there.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have welcomed a move by a Liberal Democrat councillor to commit the city to oppose the building of new atomic power stations near Bristol. Cllr Mark Wright has put forward a motion for the full council meeting on January 19 calling on any consultation for the new plants at Hinkley Point and Oldbury to include people within Bristol.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Top environmentalist Professor Tom Burke CBE is giving a boost to Stop Hinkley's campaign to oppose Hinkley C by speaking at a public meeting together with Greenpeace's Ben Ayliffe. Later Jonathon Porritt will also speak in Taunton.

'Nuclear Power: Do we need it?'
Prof Tom Burke CBE & Ben Ayliffe, Head of Greenpeace nuclear team
Town Hall, High Street, Bridgwater
Wednesday 6th January 2010 7.30pm

The meeting is part of a wider campaigning programme including a planned talk by environmentalist Jonathon Porritt (2), leafleting 9,000 homes in the area (3) and a planned protest outside the Electricite de France (EdF) Bridgwater offices (4). Stop Hinkley campaigner Crispin Aubrey also has just returned from the Copenhagen Climate Change conference where he was part of an international group demanding a nuclear-free climate agreement (5).

Tom Burke is a visiting professor at Imperial College, an environmental advisor to international company Rio Tinto and director of Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G) a sustainability policy group. As Special Advisor to three environment ministers in the 1980's and '90's and Director of Friends of the Earth he has been a professional environmentalist for thirty years. He also participated in the Copenhagen Climate Change conference, where he promoted a truly sustainable approach which he defines as excluding nuclear power.

Despite his respected status he was 'disinvited' from speaking at meetings on energy issues at all three major political party conferences in October. The sponsors of the fringes, nuclear company EdF who propose to build Hinkley C, apparently took the draconian step of preventing Professor Burke debate with other experts and our politicians about his non-nuclear approach (6).

In his publication 'Decoding Nuclear Nonsense' last year (7), he showed that the two premises upon which the Government has proposed to build new nuclear power stations are flawed:

"The Government’s case for new nuclear build in Britain rests on two key propositions: that it is essential to maintain Britain’s energy security and that without it Britain cannot meet its climate change emissions. Neither proposition is valid. Nuclear power can do nothing to improve Britain’s energy security or help it meet the urgent challenge of climate change."

Supporting his view he elaborated on these points:

- Even if an order were placed today there would be no new nuclear electricity before 2020.

- The capital cost of nuclear power has tripled in the past three years to $6,000 per Kw.

- The world’s nuclear capacity increased by 2GW in 2007 compared to some 15GW for wind power alone.

- In the next three years, Britain will spend £2.8 billion/year on cleaning up the nuclear legacy of the past and nothing on deploying carbon capture and storage.

Jim Duffy spokesman for Stop Hinkley said: "Tom Burke is a major player in the environmental movement and a thorn in the side of the nuclear industry. It's a boost to our campaign that he and Ben Ayliffe will speak in Bridgwater hopefully convincing many that, despite all the hype, Hinkley C is not necessary for our energy needs or to combat climate change. There is much rage in the local villages against EdF's intrusive plans for expansion. Tom will argue that there is ultimately no case for the disruption."

"The meeting is part of our wider programme which includes another public meeting with well known environmentalist Jonathon Porritt in March, extensive leafleting by volunteers, a delegate at Copenhagen and a protest outside the EdF offices in Bridgwater."

Jim Duffy
Stop Hinkley Coordinator 07798 666756


(1) Description of Prof Tom Burke CBE:

(2) Jonathon Porritt CBE will speak at the Temple Methodist Church, Upper High Street, Taunton, opposite Vivary Park on Tuesday 16th March at 7.30pm.

(3) A copy of the leaflet encouraging residents to write to EdF, objecting to Hinkley C:

(4) A protest will be held outside the EdF offices in King Square, Bridgwater on Friday 15th January at 11am. Protestors will wear tape over their mouths to highlight the confined and undemocratic nature of the speeded up planning process aimed at ushering in Hinkley C and other nuclear power stations.

(5) Photograph of Stop Hinkley campaigner Crispin Aubrey at an anti-nuclear protest at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference:

(6) The Guardian 1st October 2009:

"And so it was that Tom Burke – a former executive director of Friends of the Earth; special adviser to Michael Heseltine, Michael Howard and John Gummer when they were environment secretaries; and co-founder of Third Generation Environmentalism – found himself in May booked to speak at a series of debates at all three party conferences; and then, last month, found himself unbooked again. The events were sponsored by EDF. The company, having agreed to his appearances, appears to have thought better of the idea. Did it get cold feet? Wouldn't that be something."

(7) "Decoding Nuclear Nonsense: a reader's guide to the Government's announcement on the future of nuclear power in Britain":

Monday, 21 December 2009

Bristol Lib Dem councillor Mark Wright submits a motion committing Council to opposing nuclear new build

A motion has been submitted for debate by Liberal Democrat councillor Dr Mark Wright (Cabot ward) that notes the many problems that nuclear power presents and that none of the public consultations on the new reactors have come to Bristol even though Oldbury is just 8 miles from the city boundary.

The motion would commit the Council to opposing the building of new reactors, and calls for all future rounds of consultation to come to Bristol so that residents can have their say too.

"Nuclear power is hopelessly uneconomic once you factor in all the costs of decommissioning and radioactive waste disposal. No nuclear power plant has ever been built without considerable public subsidy and guarantee - without those, no company will touch it. If we are going to subside energy then we should develop the vast renewable resources we have here in the South-west instead," said Cllr Wright.

"Diverting our cash and attention to nuclear power will very likely cripple the fledgling renewable power industry. There will be no point in companies investing in developing technologies when multinationals are flooding the energy market with tax-payer subsidised power."

"Then there is the overlap between the technologies of nuclear weapons and nuclear-fission power, which allows countries to hide weapons programs inside civil power programs; the fact that nuclear power stations will arrive too late to fill a possible energy gap; the remaining uncertainties on health and safety issues; the lack of an agreed solution to nuclear waste - the list of problems goes on!"

Alan Pinder of Friends of the Earth said "This is really good news. There is growing anger about the nuclear proposals and the narrowness of the consultations. It is as if they were trying to keep it secret. There should have been exhibitions in Bristol about the proposals. These power stations will affect Bristol, so the City Council and people of Bristol should be closely involved at every stage."

Jim Duffy, Coordinator of Stop Hinkley said: "People from Bristol were very involved in the previous Hinkley C inquiry in 1988-89. It will be an important message if the City Council votes to oppose the new development. Being downwind from Hinkley and so close to Oldbury, Bristolians should not be excluded from deciding on something that could profoundly affect them."

Reg Illingworth of Shepperdine Against Nuclear Energy (SANE) a local group concerned at the development of a new nuclear power plant at Oldbury added, "This motion leads the way for Bristol to be a truly green city showing concern for the earth and its inhabitants."

The motion will be on the agenda at the Council meeting on 19th January.


Should we be debating whether to build new nuclear power stations or not?

The British Government, who want to push through nuclear new build as fast as possible, introduced something they called the “Justification Process” as part of the “Consultation Process.” What this means is that government advisors are debating the pros and cons of building new nuclear power stations i.e.: whether nuclear generation of electricity can be justified against any possible harm to the health of society.

Ever since the KiKK study produced incontrovertible evidence that childhood leukaemia has increased within a five kilometre radius of ALL German nuclear power stations, there can be no doubt that nuclear power is bad for human health.

How can our government propose that the sacrifice of a few babies and children is “justified” since we will produce so much electricity with nuclear power?

There are some things which are beyond debate. Some points of view that are beneath civilized society.

Of course our British government argues that although there is an increase in childhood leukaemia near to all German nuclear power stations, this just might be a coincidence, or it might be caused by “population mixing” i.e. by workers coming into these areas bringing viruses that cause cancer. No such viruses have ever been found and the German scientists who produced the KiKK study did not even consider the population mixing theory. Frankly they thought it was laughable.

Should we, the general public, even be entering into the consultation process, that is if we are aware that such a process is happening? Or should we be protesting as loudly as we can against this demon technology, that is harmful to human health, produces radioactive waste that will remain radioactive for thousands of years and that we do not know what to do with, that poses a terrorist threat, that is hugely expensive to build and relies on a fuel that will be exhausted within our lifetimes?

No, I say. No debate. Protest and Survive.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The New Nuclear Reactor being built at Okiluoto may not be safe

Finnish nuclear watchdog STUK has ordered welding of the reactor cooling system to a halt at Olkiluoto 3 construction site, Finland. A welder had failed to consult or comply with welding specifications and consequently too high electric current was used in welding. Substandard practice had passed three layers of inspections: subcontractor, French Areva and Finnish investor TVO. The experiences from Olkiluoto show that as far as nuclear is concerned, safety and economics don’t mix.

"Greenpeace exposed already a year ago, that welding without required tests and paperwork was a common practice in welding of Olkiluoto 3 containment building. STUK failed to crack down on rampant violations at the time, claiming that quality of welds was sufficient at the time. Greenpeace warned already back then that neglect of quality requirements would affect even more critical phases of work," Greenpeace energy campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta reminds.

The cooling system is the most central and vulnerable part of a nuclear reactor, because its failure can lead to a full-scale nuclear accident. Components of the cooling system are not replaced during the entire lifetime of the reactor. There have also been problems with other parts of the cooling system. During welding of the largest pipes of the system, the ones connected directly to the reactor core, cracks were observed aroubd the weld seams. The cause can be either defective material or unsuitable welding method.

"The unrealistic price and timetable of Olkiluoto 3 project are leading to more and more violations of quality requirements. The combined impacts of all the problems is impossible to assess when there are severe flaws in both the design and the construction of the reactor. Proposed new reactor projects are based on equally unrealistic assumptions, so the problems would be bound to reoccur," Myllyvirta said.

Contact: Lauri Myllyvirta, energy campaigner: +358 50 3625 981

This is the type of reactor that Horizon want to build at Shepperdine. If they can't get it right in Finland, what hope do we have that they will get it right in Britain? Lauri Myllyvirta

Friday, 18 December 2009

Anti Nuclear Campaigner goes to Copenhagen

Stop Hinkley campaigner Crispin Aubrey will be attending the Copenhagen climate conference and objecting to the use of nuclear power to try and solve climate change.

At midday on Monday he plans to help hand in a 50,000 strong petition against nuclear power put together by a coalition of European groups, 'Don't Nuke the Climate'(1).

Crispin, from Nether Stowey in West Somerset, was the Stop Hinkley Coordinator during the 1988-89 Hinkley C Public Inquiry and has recently returned to active campaigning for the group since plans were put forward for a twin reactor. As a wind energy journalist he campaigned in favour of the twelve turbine West Hinkley Wind Farm which has now been withdrawn by EdF who bought out the rights to the wind-farm when they bought 500 acres of land for their proposed EPR reactor.

The Sustainable Development Commission has said that replacing all existing nuclear generation will reduce UK carbon emissions by just four percent (2). Crispin says there are better, faster ways of solving the climate crisis:

"Nuclear power produces harmful greenhouse gases during construction, uranium mining, fuel production and decommissioning stages. We could have cleaner renewable energy, harnessing natural resources providing quicker cuts in carbon emissions if only governments would listen. Losing the wind-farm at Hinkley to a massive reactor with its dangerous nuclear waste to be stored locally for 160 years is a lost opportunity."

(1) Don't Nuke the Climate events at Copenhagen:

(2) Reducing CO2 emissions - nuclear & the alternatives

Antinuclear Meeting in Bristol 17 November 2009

Representatives from:
South Gloucestershire Friends of the Earth (FOE)
Stop Hinkley,
Shepperdine Against Nuclear Energy (SANE),
Bristol Greenpeace
and Bristol City Council
met in Bristol to form a coalition against nuclear new build at Hinkley and Oldbury.

Reg Illingworth from SANE reported on his recent visit to Finland. He went to have a look at the nuclear power station being built at Okiluoto. He said that although the build is three years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget the local council love it because they receive massive funding from the 4,200 foreign workers who are all paying high local taxes. He was interested to see the Okiluoto nuclear power station because the same type of reactor is proposed for Shepperdine, near Oldbury, home of the decrepit forty year old nuclear power station still producing power, despite its dangerously eroded graphite core. The council that represents Shepperdine is also in favour of building a new nuclear power station, because they say that it will provide lots of jobs.

One of the problems at Okiluoto has been the multinational nature of the workforce. This would very likely be a problem at Shepperdine too. The local council at Okiluoto is perfectly happy about the extended build time since they are raking in huge amounts of local taxes. This could well be the case in Shepperdine too.

Of course Okiluoto is on an island and much of the building material is delivered by boat. At Shepperdine a huge landing stage would have to be built, which would cause considerable ecological damage to the Severn estuary. The nuclear power station at Okiluoto uses sea water to cool down, but the nuclear power station proposed for Shepperdine would be too big to use the Severn River. It would have to have huge cooling towers.

Mark Wright, Liberal Democrat Bristol City Councillor and Parliamentary candidate told the meeting that he is about to propose a motion to Bristol City Council condemning nuclear power and nuclear new build. He will put out a press release to this effect. The meeting asked Mark if he would also propose that Bristol should become a Nuclear Free Local Authority again.

Stop hinkley have produced a leaflet giving a list of reasons why we should oppose the building of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley, together with the address to send these objections to, as part of the "consultation process". You can get a copy of this leaflet from the stop hinkley website
We will soon have a similar leaflet for oldbury.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


They said it would never sink. They said Cernobyl would never blow up. They said three mile island would never happen. They said nuclear power would generate energy too cheap to metre.
How long are we going to continue to swallow these lies? When are we going to wake up to the danger of messing around with radioactivity, taking something radioactive out of the ground, making it more radioactive, putting it into a nuclear power station where it generates huge amounts of heat and even more radioactivity, until it is used up, but still hot and still highly radioactive. What are we going to do with all this radioactive waste?

Monday, 14 December 2009

Building New Reactors Damages Attempts to Tackle Climate Change

“We concentrated so much on nuclear that we lost sight of everything else … And nuclear has failed to deliver. It has turned out to be a costly gamble for Finland, and for the planet.”

Oras Tynkynnen, a climate policy adviser, Finnish prime minister’s office. (1)


Jurgen Trittin – Former German Federal Minister for the Environment – describes calls for more nuclear power to tackle the problem of climate change as “fighting one risk with an even bigger one”. (2) And Environment Ministers from Ireland, Norway, Iceland and Austria agree saying the current debate about the use of nuclear energy as a solution to climate change is downplaying the environmental, waste, proliferation, nuclear liability and safety issues. (3) But, in fact the risk associated with building new reactors is much worse than simply increasing the risks associated with nuclear power. As The Independent highlighted in an editorial after the 2007 Energy White Paper, the danger is that nuclear investment will crowd out investment in renewables and undermine energy efficiency. (4) If we divert attention political effort and resources from the urgent programmes needed to effectively tackle climate change not only will we miss our targets, but as past experience suggests we could end up with carbon emissions still rising in 2025 because the nuclear programme has been hit by the problems and delays we have seen in the past and by then it will be too late to start implementing alternative strategies.

In February 2003 the Government itself had similar concerns. After the 2003 Energy White Paper (5) was published, Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at the time, said:
“It would have been foolish to announce …a new generation of nuclear power stations, because that would have guaranteed we would not make the necessary investments in energy efficiency and renewables.” (6)

The White Paper promised a "step change" in policies and programmes to deliver energy efficiency. (7) Six years later we are still waiting for that step change. The trouble is that electricity only provides around 18% of UK energy demand. (8) Transport and most space heating are provided by other sources of energy.

Nuclear power provides around 20% of UK electricity, which only amounts to about 8% of total energy. Allowing for losses at the power station, nuclear power’s current contribution to the UK’s final energy
consumption is only 3.6 % (80 TWh/y out of a final consumption of about 2,250 TWh/y). (9) So it is absolutely essential that we make sure building new reactors does not hinder efforts to reduce carbon emissions from the rest of the UK energy system providing the other 96% of final energy consumption.

The Domestic Sector For example the domestic sector uses around 30% of the final energy consumed in the UK. If the UK Government is to meet its target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, it will need to implement a set of policies which can cut emissions from the domestic sector by 80% by 2050. It should be doing this anyway to meet its legal obligations on fuel poverty. Every house will need excellent insulation and some form of Low and Zero Carbon Technology – microgeneration or community heating schemes. This means carrying out installations in all of the UK’s 25 million dwellings over the next 40 years or 625,000 dwellings every year between now and 2050. (10)

A long-awaited government consultation on energy efficiency published in February 2009 (11) – the Heat and Energy Saving Strategy (HESS) – sets out the need to reduce household carbon emissions to almost zero, in order for the UK to achieve its ambitious targets. It plans for reductions from households of a third by 2020, and by 2030 aims is for whole-house improvements to be available to every householder. Unfortunately, while the targets are ambitious, the document fails spell out a coherent strategy for achieving them. And much of what is planned won’t start until 2013. Friends of the Earth says targets won’t be achieved if we wait four years to begin. (12) It is difficult to avoid the conclusion the Government wants to get the nuclear programme started before it turns its attention to implementing a long overdue energy efficiency and microgeneration strategy. (13)

The contrast between the amount of Government effort, energy and funding which goes into
 promoting new nuclear reactors compared with energy efficiency and renewable energy is
staggering. In June 2008, for example, the Government created the Office of Nuclear Development (OND), to build more effective cross-Government working on nuclear energy, and facilitate new nuclear investment in the UK. The OND has staff drawn from both the civil service and from industry, bringing together the relevant Government teams and resources to achieve its objectives. (14)

Opportunity Costs
Advocates of nuclear power argue that, because climate change is serious we need to promote
renewables, energy efficiency and nuclear power. This suggests we have infinite sources of finance to spend on energy projects, which is obviously nonsense. A scarcity of resources means anything we spend on nuclear power will not be available to spend on other projects.

If nuclear power diverts attention and resources from renewables and energy efficiency you might think this wouldn’t be too serious for the climate, as long as we are reducing carbon emissions somehow. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth, because nuclear power has such a high “opportunity cost”. The opportunity cost of any investment is the cost of forgoing the alternative outcomes that could have been purchased with the same money.

So, of course all investments will forego other opportunities. Tackling climate change is urgent, so we need to spend our limited resources as effectively as possible. In other words we need to maximize the carbon reductions we can achieve with every pound we spend. Investing in expensive nuclear power is just about the worst thing we can do. Energy efficiency can be up to seven times more cost effective. So investment in new
reactors effectively worsens climate change because each pound spent is buying so much less 'solution’ than if it were spent it on energy efficiency measures. (15)

Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute says:-
"Each dollar invested in electric efficiency displaces nearly seven times as much carbon dioxide as a dollar invested in nuclear power, without any nasty side effects. If climate change is the problem, nuclear power isn't the solution. It's an expensive, one-size-fits-all technology that diverts money and time from cheaper, safer, more resilient alternatives." (16) As a consequence investment in nuclear power will, in effect, worsen climate change because each pound spent is buying less solution than it would do if it were spent it on efficiency. (17)

Nuclear damages alternative carbon abatement techniques. OK, you might think, nuclear power might not be the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions, but as long as we spend enough we should still be able to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, this also turns out to be wrong. Nuclear power’s contribution can only ever be really small, so we are going to have to develop energy efficiency and renewables, but we will be in real trouble if reactor construction programmes damage our efforts to develop alternative carbon abatement programmes. With nuclear power only providing around 4% of the UK’s final energy consumption, (18) we need to make absolutely sure that spending on building new reactors is not going to hinder our efforts to reduce carbon emissions from the rest of the UK energy system providing the other 96% of final energy consumption.

The UK Government’s Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), (19) Warwick Business School (WBS) (20) and the Environment Agency (21) have all warned that a decision to proceed with new reactors could seriously undermine the development of a low carbon energy system.

Warwick Business School (WBS) argues that, far from complementing the necessary shift to a low carbon economy, the scale of the financial and institutional arrangements needed for new nuclear stations means they would fatally undermine the implementation of low carbon technologies and measures such as demand management, and therefore will ultimately undermine the shift to a true low carbon economy. (22) Dr Catherine Mitchell (23) of WBS, who was a member of the previous Energy Review team, says the 2007 White Paper has nothing to do with placing the UK on a path for carbon reductions that might meet the
challenge of climate change. It has sealed the fate of the UK in not being able to meet its future carbon dioxide reduction targets. Nor will UK businesses be able to benefit from the enormous opportunities a sustainable non-nuclear future offers. (24)

“Britain has visionary goals”, says Mitchell. We have made commitments to the European Union to provide 15% of our total energy from renewable sources by 2020, and to cut projected energy demand by 20%. “If the UK meets these legally binding targets, there is no need for new nuclear or coal plants. Why does government - ie Treasury - policy seem to concentrate on technologies we don't need?” (25)

The UK Government’s Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) points out that, even with a doubling of nuclear capacity from current levels, cuts of at least 50% would still be needed from other measures if the UK is to meet its climate targets for 2050. (26) So it is important that our capacity to implement other carbon abatement measures is not damaged by any decision to go ahead with the construction of new reactors. SDC says a new nuclear programme would give out the wrong signal to consumers and businesses, implying that a major technological fix is all that’s required, weakening the urgent action needed on energy
efficiency. The Commission says a decision to proceed with a new reactor programme will require “a substantial slice of political leadership … political attention would shift, and in all likelihood undermine efforts to pursue a strategy based on energy efficiency, renewables and more CHP.” (27) Sir Jonathon Porritt, chair of the Commission, says nuclear power is already seriously diverting attention from the hard decisions required to solve the UK's energy challenges. (28)

Jeremy Leggett of Solar Century believes there has already been a deliberate focus on nuclear to the detriment of renewables. He was a member of the Renewables Advisory Board established in November 2002 to advise ministers on how to implement a plan, based on renewables and energy efficiency. By September 2003 the board’s industry members were already troubled by slow progress and issued a statement of concern. Leggett says he was warned that DTI officials would deliberately go slowly to keep hopes for nuclear alive and renewables would be teed up to fail. The slow-motion UK treatment of renewables since then, while renewables markets abroad have grown explosively, now makes it clear they were successful. (29)

In a memo to the House of Commons Trade and Industry Committee the Environment Agency expressed concern about the impact of investing billions of pounds in a new generation of reactors because it could siphon away resources from greener alternatives.

Officials at the agency fear the energy review is biased towards the nuclear option. The Agency’s Energy Review submission says it is “…concerned about the displacement effect that a large programme of investment in one capital-intensive technology like nuclear may have on energy efficiency, CHP and renewable technologies ... There is a danger that an excessive focus on nuclear power and electricity supply will mean an insufficiently robust approach to all primary energy, including heat and transport”. (30) And globally, decisions taken in the UK and the West can impact negatively on efforts to reduce carbon emissions around the globe. Vijay Vaitheeswaran, The Economist’s environment and energy correspondent (31), says:-

“Decisions taken in the next few years about energy in rich countries like Britain and the United States will shape investments made in energy infrastructure around the world for a generation or more. After all, nuclear and coal plants and oil refineries last for decades – and that sunk investment displaces or discourages nimbler, cleaner, and more distributed options like micropower. If we want to shift to a clean, secure, low-carbon energy system during this century, the time to start is now”. (32)

What if reactors fail?

If reactor construction fails to result in the replacement of existing capacity because of construction delays or public opposition, we could end up in a worse position than we are today. (33) Gordon MacKerron, former Chair of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), puts forward a worst-case scenario that following a commitment to nuclear new-build there is a sterilisation of non-nuclear investment and then the nuclear programme itself stalls. Such a scenario is far from a remote chance - the last time a UK government committed to 10 nuclear stations (Margaret Thatcher's in 1979) only one station was built, Sizewell, and then only after 15 years. If that were to happen again, carbon dioxide emissions would continue to increase. (34) Similarly, Bridget Woodman of Warwick Business School suggests a “nightmare scenario” in which a commitment to new reactors leads to a stalling of renewables and combined heat and power stations, but nuclear power fails too leading to an inevitable rise in carbon emissions. (35)

Another former CORWM member, Professor Andrew Blowers of the Open University, warns that nuclear power provides the illusion of a solution. He says: “It is this business-as-usual aspect of nuclear that is its most insidious characteristic. … The danger is that by focusing on nuclear we refrain from recognizing the scale of the challenge we face and shirk our responsibility for dealing with it”. (36)

So nuclear power is probably the most expensive way of reducing carbon emissions, but, because its contribution can only ever be small, we need other carbon abatement techniques if we are going to tackle climate change effectively. The trouble is, nuclear power could well damage our prospects of implementing those alternative carbon abatement techniques, and then, experience tells us there is a high risk that nuclear might not even be able to deliver the small contribution to reducing carbon emissions expected of it.

The Finnish experience

Very soon after the Finnish Parliament voted in 2002 to build a new reactor, Olkiluoto 3, according to Finland's former environment minister, Satu Hassi MEP, the country lost interest in alternative energy sources. (37) Measures promised in the climate report of 2001 were not implemented. Under the Kyoto Protocol, Finland agreed to keep its greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels during the target period 2008-2012. After falling in 2001 and 2002, Finland’s carbon emissions have been rising. Emissions were around 9% above 1990 levels in 2002. Measures will have to be implemented to address this issue given that business-as-usual projections by the government indicate further increases in greenhouse gases, reaching 15% above 1990 levels during the first target window. Now many people – industry and trade union leaders - who had argued that because of Finland’s Climate Change commitments a new nuclear power station was necessary, have been saying that the commitments Finland had signed up to at Kyoto were a big mistake, unfair to Finland, far too costly and, in practice, impossible to achieve. (38)

The International Energy Agency has highlighted the risk to Finland of relying on the new reactor to meet its climate commitments in case the operation of the plant is in any way delayed. (39) In fact construction of Olkiluoto 3 is now three years behind schedule and 50% over budget. (40) Its original target date for completion was 2009, so there is a danger that it will not be available in time to contribute to meeting Finland’s target. A Finnish Government climate policy advisor now admits that Finland has “concentrated so
much on nuclear [that it has] lost sight of everything else.”(41) It is beginning to look like we may be heading for exactly the same problem here in the UK.

Pete Roche, June 2009


(1) Blake, M. Bad Reactors: Rethinking your opposition to nuclear power? Rethink again. Washington
Monthly Jan/Feb 2009

(2) Frank Barnaby and James Kemp (Eds), Secure Energy? Civil Nuclear Power, Security and Global
Warming, Oxford Research Group, March 2007.

(3) Liam Reid, “Ireland Joins Campaign Against Use of Nuclear Energy”, Irish Times, March 27, 2007.
See also: IOL, March 26, 2007

(4) Leading Article: There is still time to avoid this nuclear folly. Independent 24th May 2007

(5) Energy White Paper: Our Energy Future – Creating a low carbon economy. DTI. February 2003

(6) Hansard; 24 February 2003 : Column 32

(7) Warren, A. Energy Efficiency Step Change? More like a soft shoe shuffle. Daily Telegraph 5th February 2008.

See also “Why has Labour broken its promise not to build new nuclear power stations” by Andrew Warren, February 2008

(8) Hansard 31st March 2009 Column 1168

(9) Adam, D. Nuclear power cannot tackle climate change, Guardian 17th January 2006,,1688034,00.html

(10) Boardman, B. Home Truths: A Low Carbon Strategy to Reduce UK Housing Emissions by 80% by 2050, FoE (EWNI) and Co-operative Bank, November 2007.

(11) Be part of the great British refurb - to cut emissions and cut energy costs - Ed Miliband, DECC Press Release, February 12, 2009

(12) Friends of the Earth Press Release, February 12, 2009.

(13) For a longer discussion see Great British Refurbishment, NuClear News No.4 March 2009.

(14) BERR Press Release 12th June 2008

(15) Lovins, A. More Profit with Less Carbon, Scientific American, September 2005

(16) Vidal, J. Nuclear Plants Bloom, Guardian 12th August 2004,,,1280884,00.html

See also: Lovins, A. Why Nuclear Power’s Failure in the Marketplace is Irreversible (Fortunately for
Nonproliferation and Climate Protection), Transcription of a presentation to the Nuclear Control Institute’s 20th Anniversary Conference, “Nuclear Power and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons: Can We Have One Without the Other?,” Washington, DC, April 9, 2001.

(17) Lovins, A.Wise up to nuclear folly, Green Future Magazine, March/April 2006

(18) Adam, D. Nuclear power cannot tackle climate change. Guardian 17th January 2006,,1688034,00.html

(19) The role of nuclear power in a low carbon economy, UK Sustainable Development Commission,
March 2006.

(20) Mitchell, C and Woodman, B. New Nuclear Power: Implications For A Sustainable Energy System, Warwick Business School for Green Alliance, April 2005.

(21) Woolf, M. Don’t rush to nuclear power warns Blair’s environment adviser. Independent on Sunday, May 21, 2006.

(22) Mitchell, C and Woodman, B. New Nuclear Power: Implications For A Sustainable Energy System, Warwick Business School for Green Alliance, April 2005.

(23) Catherine Mitchell is now Professor of Energy Policy at Exeter University.

(24) Letter from Dr Catherine Mitchell, FT 30th May 2007

(25) Mitchell, C. These Fossil Fools, Guardian 27th February 2009.

(26) The role of nuclear power in a low carbon economy, UK Sustainable Development Commission, March 2006.

(27) Is nuclear the answer? Sustainable Development Commission, March 2006

(28) Porritt, J. Nuclear is the soft solution to tackling climate change. Guardian 5th July 2006,,1812324,00.html

(29) Leggett, J. Yes Minister, Nuclear’s best. Guardian, January 3, 2008.

(30) Environment Agency, Response to the DTI Consultation: The Energy Review, 2006.

(31) See

(32) Vaitheeswaren, V. Power to the People, Earthscan, 2005.

(33) For a historical look at the disastrous record of the UK nuclear industry see: Olaf Bayer and Chris
Grimshaw, Broken Promises: Why the nuclear industry won’t deliver, Corporate Watch, July 2007

(34) MacKerron, G. Who Puts Up The Cash?, Observer, December 4, 2005.,,1657015,00.html

(35) Nuclear power: unnecessary, dangerous and expensive. Conference held at Portcullis House,
Westminster, on 28th November 2006.

(36) David Elliott (Ed), Nuclear or Not?Does Nuclear Power Have A Place in a Sustainable Energy
Future? Palgrave, 2007

(37) Harding, L. Caught between global warming and an energy crisis: Blair looks north for answers.
Guardian 14th April 2006,,1753914,00.html

(38) Satu Hassi MEP, Finnish Environment Minister 1999 – 2002, Deciding on Nuclear, UK Parliamentary and Sustainable Energy Group (PRASEG) briefing November 2005,

See also “Finland: How Kyoto was used as an argument and what happened afterwards” October 18th
2005, Satu Hassi MEP,

and “Nuclear decision: myth and reality” speech by Satu Hassi MEP, 24th April 2006, Kiev.

(39) International Energy Agency (2004), Energy Policies of IEA Countries; Finland 2003 Review.

(40) Gow, D. New-generation Finnish nuclear reactor hit by fourth delay. Guardian October 18, 2008

(41) Blake, M. Bad Reactors: Rethinking your opposition to nuclear power? Rethink again. Washington Monthly Jan/Feb 2009

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Jonathan Porritt against Nuclear Power

Jonathan Porritt:
Right now, those who still feel that nuclear power has no role to play in a genuinely sustainable world are completely downcast at having to fight those same old battles all over again – this time with the added problem of a growing number of serious environmentalists who’ve thrown in their lot (holding their noses as they go) with the nuclear option.

It has to be said that there’s no enthusiasm for the fight. How could there be? And at the moment, there’s no clear sense of where the leadership is going to come from. Who is going to rub people’s noses in the continuing scandal of nuclear waste mismanagement, and remind people that this government promised time after time that there would be no expansion of nuclear power in this country until it had sorted out the problems of nuclear waste? Who is going to hold to account politicians and industry leaders for whom secrecy remains ! the default mindset? Who is going to expose the near-fraudulent accounting practices endemic within the nuclear industry that continue to blind people to the true economic costs and penalties involved in nuclear power? Who is going to interrogate the philosophical and moral implications of one generation imposing on the next a set of problems and security hazards for which they themselves have absolutely no solution? And who is going to take on those sincere but utterly misguided environmentalists who’ve “gone nuclear” over the last few years because they feel there’s no alternative?

24 Dash 8th Dec 2009 against-nuclear-distractions/

Are People Aware?

Are people aware??

I have been attending a number of very informative lectures in Oldbury, given by eminent specialists in a variety of fields, which have really opened my eyes to the inherent dangers of what Horizon is proposing, to replace Oldbury Nuclear Power Station, both to us as local residents and to the environment.

Having seen Horizon’s exhibition, based on their proposal, the most in your face concern is its size and impact on the local area. It is seven times the current output of the existing Oldbury power station. The land acquired is five times the size of the existing site. Either two French designed reactors, of which examples currently under construction in Europe are beset with problems, or three of an American design, are proposed. Both have major cooling requirements. These will need either three or four cooling towers, each of which will be, 200 metres (700 feet tall) and 150 metres in diameter. That’s 2/3rds the height of the Eiffel Tower. Further more, when they are in use, there will be a steam plume on top making it even more visible!!

This proposal is MASSIVE and will affect everybody in this area. The beauty of the River Severn and the Severn Vale will be blighted by the enormity of this structure which, according to Horizon’s own Scoping Report, will be visible downstream as far as Cleveden, up stream to Bishops Cleve, as well as affecting the whole of Thornbury and anybody on the opposite bank from Chepstow through to Gloucester!

So don’t think “well the existing power station is OK so why not have another one.” The above is just one reason why.

We have also learnt, that a recent German government backed study (known as the KiKK report) has confirmed, that there is a severe risk of leukaemia to pregnant women and young children living near Nuclear Power Stations. These findings were such that the German government have apparently decided they will not build any more nuclear facilities. Notwithstanding Eon, which is a German based company, feels free to come and build in the UK. Apparently a report was subsequently issued by HMG and came up with similar findings. However we were told that they decided to leave out a major site, namely Sellafield, from the statistics!! This must lessen the impact and if that is true then you must draw your own conclusions as to the real truth of the matter.

We have also seen reports that the current financial case for these proposals is totally unfounded. One outcome could be that, in the end if these stations are built, the companies involved will have to ask for a UK Government subsidy. It is suggested that this may only happen when the work is well advanced and the UK will be totally reliant on the work being completed to support our future energy needs.

There are many further issues such as, which independent body in the UK will oversee Nuclear safety in future and how little we are spending on renewables (3rd lowest in Europe after Luxembourg and Malta) despite being No1 for natural resources e.g. we have the longest coastline, highest tides, strongest winds etc etc.

I recognise that we have to have power and that we need an urgent solution but my plea is that everybody should inform themselves on these projects so that a considered judgement can me made and it is not solely based on past experience of the Oldbury site. This proposal is VERY different.

Everybody will have an opportunity to make their voice heard over the coming months, in various forums, and I only hope that many more people will take an active interest in this massive topic and its affect on us and our environment.

Allan Taylor

Oldbury on Severn

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Huge New Nuclear Power Station for Oldbury

I wonder how many people in our area realise that they are downwind of 
the site for a huge new nuclear power station?

What is proposed is a power station of around 3,300Mw capacity - over 
seven times the current output of the existing Oldbury power station. 
This will involve either two French designed Areva EPR reactors, of 
which the first examples currently under construction in Finland and 
France are both beset with problems, or three of the American 
Westinghouse AP1000. Both designs are based on the pressurised water 
design (or PWR), which will rely on the integrity of its steel pressure 
vessels for its up to 60 years design life. Finally, even our mighty 
Severn seems insufficient to supply the cooling requirements. It may 
need three or four cooling towers that could be nearly 700 feet tall, 
with a steam plume on top.

So there will be a considerable visual impact. But that is not what 
worries me. I am worried about the safety of the pressurised water 
design, which, over the years, has given us both the Three Mile Island 
reactor meltdown, admittedly by another manufacturer (Babcock & 
Wilcox), and many scares concerning problems with corrosion and 
metallurgy. Yes, lessons will have been learned from these incidents, 
yes, we have an independent nuclear regulation and inspection system. 
But for a proposed sixty year reactor life?

A serious accident at the Oldbury nuclear sites would give rise to 
airborne contamination, and the prevailing south-westerly winds will 
bring any contamination to us first. Nuclear power carries with it a 
massive potential risk and it is not right that those of us who are 
concerned about such issues won’t get our say at a public enquiry. 
Additionally after over 50 years of nuclear energy production there is 
still no site identified for the long-term internment of nuclear waste. 
Apparently this merely requires a technical solution. Well where is it?

It beggars belief that the government still spends far more on nuclear 
power research than it does on benign, natural sources such as wave 
power and that the energy agenda is only ever really addressed and 
meaningfully funded in terms of increasing capacity and never in terms 
of smart ways to decrease demand.

As a country we do need to plan for the energy gap as many of our 
current power stations come to the end of their lives, North Sea oil 
runs out and gas supplies risk political interruption. We need a 
coherent programme of large-scale renewable installation, AND a 
programme of meaningful energy efficiencies measures. Without these in 
place the case for new nuclear has not been made.

Martin Whiteside – Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stroud
Thrupp, GL6 7LU

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Map of toxic ships

The Calabria ora daily paper published a map showing thirty odd toxic ships in this italian style bermuda triangle

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Radioactive Shipwrecks

Radioactive Shipwrecks in Italian Waters

By Angela Paine

Nov 14 2009

On 25th October 2009, twenty thousand people marched in Amantea, in the province of Cosenza, Calabria, southern Italy, in protest against the Calabrian Mafia (’ndragheta), who they say have been deliberately sinking ships carrying toxic and radioactive wastes along their coastline.

During the preceding week, trade union representatives from Alto Tirreno, a Region in north Calabria, petitioned the Rome government to deal with these toxic and radioactive shipwrecks. They met with little success.

The Quotidiano della Calabria newspaper collected more than thirty thousand signatures protesting the government’s inertia. The protestors demanded the government to clean up the seabed around Cetraro, Vibo and Capo Bruzzano, (near Brancaleone) the sites of known shipwrecks with radioactive and toxic cargoes. They also demanded the government search for other shipwrecks with radioactive and toxic cargoes, but the ’ndragheta are understood to be blocking investigations in order to prevent more shipwrecks being found.

The radioactive shipwrecks have unleashed a political storm in Calabria. Fisheries and tourism are the two major industries of Calabria, so the contamination of fish and the reduction of tourism threaten the livelihoods of many in this poor Italian region. Interestingly, the seven hundred people killed by the ’ndragheta between 1985 and 1992, the hundreds of ’ndragheta kidnappings, and the scores of ’ndragheta scandals involving most Calabrian politicians, appear to have caused less anger than the alleged radioactive shipwrecks, as this is the first time Calabrians have raised their voices en masse against ’ndragheta.

It is feared that the sinking of ships has gone on for many years, but the issue came to a head on the 12th October, when a wreck was discovered 14 miles off the coast of Cetraro, near Amantea, Calabria. On October 20, an ’ndragheta boss, Francesco Fonti, confessed in an interview published by L’Espresso magazine that he had sunk the Cunski exactly where the wreck was found and that its cargo was radioactive waste. He told L’Espresso that he took orders from multinational corporations to dispose of radioactive waste sent to him in ships.

The Italian government has been aware of shipwrecks containing deadly cargos around its southern coasts since 1994, when Legambiente, an Italian environmental organisation, started an inquest in Reggio Calabria. According to Lloyd’s Shipping Register, 39 ships were sunk in the Ionian sea between 1979 and 1995. Fonti has stated 30 were sunk by the local ’ndragheta.

The inquest first focussed on the ship, Rigel, which sank on 21 September 1987, 20 miles from Capo Spartivento, in the municipality of Brancaleone, near Reggio Calabria. It was believed that the captain, Giorgio Comerio, a go-between for arms dealers, mine manufacturers, and various ‘ndragheta clans, played a pivotal role in the nuclear waste dumping business. This ship was probably carrying radioactive waste, as raised radioactivity levels were found in the sea near the wreck.

The Marco Polo, which sank in the Straits of Sicily between Calabria and Sicily, was carrying a cargo of containers, some of which were found in 1994 along the coast of Campania, the region to the north of Calabria. Scientists found increased levels of radioactive thorium 234 in environmental samples. Presumably the ship was carrying radioactive waste when it sank. The Koraline sank near Ustica, a small island, 53 kilometres north of Capo Gallo, Sicily. Its containers were highly contaminated with thorium.

After months of investigation, the Legambiente inquest began to realise the extent of the contamination of the south Italian coast. However as the evidence of radioactive waste dumping mounted, the Environment Ministry brought the inquest to an abrupt halt and refused to allow the authorities in Reggio Calabria to investigate the ships sunk near Capo Spartivento.

The inquest at Reggio Calabria found contracts in connection with some of the sunken ships. It appears that some European governments may have sent radioactive waste to ’ndragheta clans through intermediaries. The contracts stated that waste should be inserted into steel tubes, inside steel containers with sonar systems, so that they could be found if necessary in the future. The containers were to be deposited 50-80 metres deep in the sea or buried deep on land. The ’ndragheta clans appeared to have decided to avoid all this work and simply sink the ships in the Mediterranean, with the ship-owners subsequently claiming the insurance.

Fonti told L’Espresso “For years, no-one wanted to listen to what I had to say in court. I always admitted that I was involved in dumping this waste in shipwrecks, both toxic and radioactive. I told them where to find the shipwrecks along the coast of Cetraro, and indeed on 12th September, the Calabria Region government ... found one of the ships, the Cunski, exactly where I told them to look.”

A robot operated mini submarine was sent down to photograph the wreck and its cargo. The video showed the old ship with a hole in its hull, through which several barrels could be seen, one of which was empty.

Francesco Fonti explained to L’Espresso how he sank three ships, including the Cunski in 1992. “I put dynamite inside a big lump of concrete on board the ships with a long fuse, then I blew them up. It was easy." He and members of his ’ndragheta clan also sank the Yvonne A at Maratea in the Gulf of Policastro, and the Voriais Sporadais at Melito Porto Salvo near Reggio di Calabria. All three ships were carrying toxic and radioactive cargoes. Fonti said that ’ndragheta had carried out these sinkings for the arms dealer, Ignazio Messina. He added “I sank 3 ships but I know from ’ndragheta bosses that at least 3 other ships were sunk between Scilla and Caribdes, another one near Tropea and others near Crotone. I can’t remember exactly where they sunk the others.”

Fonti said that he worked for various Italian politicians, including De Stefano, Dc Ciriaco de Mita and Riccardo Misasi. Misasi would tell him whether to dump the waste on land or at sea, and Dc Ciriaco de Mita asked him to dispose of waste for the state. “We could get between 4 and 20 billion lire for dumping a load. The money was deposited in a Swiss Bank in Lugano, or in a bank in Cyprus, Malta, Vaduz or Singapore. We did it all through the banker Valentino Foti.” These politicians deny involvement, but the absences of investigation and media coverage are notable.

Although it is tempting to point a finger at the Mafia, Camorra and ’ndrageta in Italy, these perform just the dirty end of a business that originates in other parts of Italy, Northern Europe and other parts of the world. For example, some of these ships were carrying waste for international arms dealers who were paid for the disposal of radioactive waste and who collected money fraudulently from insurance companies when the ships sank. Fonti named some of the arms dealers, including Saud Omar Mugne from Somalia, but Fonti has not yet revealed the origin of all the waste, perhaps because he does not know. He added that ’ndragheta stopped dumping toxic and radioactive waste off the coast of Italy several years ago and started sending ships to Africa, mainly to the coast of Somalia.

Of course, Fonti may not be a credible witness since he is a member of ’ndragheta, under house arrest for drug trafficking offences. But he is not the only person to indicate a link between the radioactive waste business and illegal arms dealing. The Italian journalist, Ilaria Alpi, discovered a link between toxic waste dumping by the Mafia and arms traffic in Somalia. She was killed in March 1994 in Somalia. Her death certificate has disappeared, but a photocopy was found on the property of the arms dealer Saud Omar Mugne. He is suspected of buying and selling arms between East Europe, Italy and Africa. According to Fonti and Ilaria Alpi, he was also involved in the toxic and radioactive waste disposal business. Several secret service operatives from various countries, who were trying to get to the bottom of this affair, were also killed in mysterious circumstances.

The inquest started by Legambiente in 1994 discovered a web of international financiers from big banks involved in a money-laundering programme called the “Roll Programme.” Fonti also points to the involvement of international financiers in the toxic and radioactive waste disposal business, with its links to the arms trade.

Silvestro Greco, a Calabrian Environment Councillor, who attended an emergency meeting at the Environment Ministry in Rome on 22nd October, said the shipwreck discovery should not just be considered a problem for Calabria. ‘‘There are perhaps another 30 ships still missing that were used to hide toxic, harmful and radioactive waste,’’ he said. ‘‘This pollution is a problem for all areas, not just those along the coast, because illegal trafficking in waste knows no international boundaries’’. He pointed out that ‘‘the entire Mediterranean, from the Adriatic Sea to the Tyrrhenian Sea, and from the Straits of Sicily to the Aegean Sea’’ was damaged by the sinking of toxic waste ships. ‘‘Cleaning and removing the load will be particularly complex in terms of financing, given that a vast area is involved,’’ Greco added. ‘‘In our opinion, the European Union should get involved, as well as the Italian government”.

Mario Pirillo, a Calabrian Member of the European Parliament, together with seven other MEPs, filed an official request with the European Commission on Tuesday asking for its assistance. The request pointed out that Italian investigators believed the Cunski was sunk by an international criminal network involved in Europe-wide illegal waste disposal. It is important to recall that Italy only ever had one small nuclear power station. So though some of the radioactive waste in these shipwrecks may have originated in Italy, most almost certainly did not.

Then suddenly, on the 29th Oct, the environment minister, Stefania Prestagiacomo, held a press conference in Rome to announce that the shipwreck found at Cetraro was not a ship carrying a cargo of radioactive waste. It was the Catania, a passenger ship, which sank in 1917. The attorney Grasso then announced that the inquest into the Cetraro shipwreck was closed.

This, however, was not the end of the story. L’Espresso, once again, delving into the matter, interviewed Pippo Arena, the pilot of the remotely operated vehicle. He said that when he inspected the shipwreck near Cetraro in September, he saw two hulls and they were full of barrels. “Full of what I don’t know, but full” he said. This is in sharp contrast with the results of the other inspection, carried out from the ship, Mare Oceano, also off the coast of Cetraro. The shipwreck Catania that they found here had empty hulls. The two videos showed shipwrecks of different sizes, and the coordinates of the first shipwreck and those of the Catania demonstrated that they were about three and a half miles from each other. It was beginning to look as if there were more than one wreck off the coast of Cetraro.

This was born out by evidence recently leaked from the unpublished minutes of a meeting in the Italian parliament on 24th January 2006, to discuss the iniquitous waste recycling business. It emerged from this document that there were three shipwrecks off the coast of Cetraro, not one. None of the measurements of the three ships corresponds to the measurements of the Catania, the wreck found by the Mare Oceano. At the time, the MP Franco Greco told the commission that the fishermen of the area had found some barrels in the sea. So many questions have been raised that the WWF has entered the fray:

“There are inconsistencies between the declarations of the Environment Minister and the Region of Calabria and the report of the pilot of the ROV, who said that the two hulls of the boat during the first inspection were full whereas the Dda of Catanzaro talked about one ship with one empty hull,” a WWF spokesperson said.

So the WWF, which on the 2nd of November already officially requested a public comparison of the two inspections, repeated their request to Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo and the head of the national antimafia organisation Piero Grasso. They asked to be allowed to choose experts to compare the two videos made by the ROV. They also want the coordinates to be taken into consideration, and the technical details of the ships that were found. The Environment Minister responded by putting the two videos on the website “for complete information, transparency and so that the public can make comparisons.”

Clearly the mystery surrounding the toxic and radioactive shipwrecks off the coast of Calabria remains. The Italian Government, despite continued calls from the Green Party and many other MPs to get to the bottom of it, appear to be dragging their feet. But since there are clear indications that the waste business is international, Italy should not be left to deal with this problem on her own. The European Union should be involved, both to provide funding and expertise.

(URLs as of 11 Nov 2009)

This blog talks about the book The Lost Ships. Police detective Commander Natale de Grazia died suddenly while investigating shipwrecks carrying nuclear and toxic waste. There is a picture of the red ship, Jolly Rosso, that landed on the beach. It had a cargo of nuclear waste, which was spirited away. The ship was broken up and taken away in lorries. No one knows where the nuclear waste went, but a quarry near the beach is now radioactive.

This discusses 30 ships that disappeared. Some were found and observed to have increased levels radioactivity near them, but there is no political will to remove their cargoes.


A spokesperson for the Italian environmental organisation, Legambiente, talks about the international traffic in nuclear and toxic waste. Many countries pay to get rid of their waste, which ends up being dumped by ’ndrangheta (the southern Italian equivalent of the Mafia)


This shows an interview with the former ’ndrangheta boss, Francesco Fonti, who confessed that he blew up three old ships carrying toxic and radioactive wastes, off the coast of Italy. He told the authorities exactly where to find them, and they found one, where he said. It had a cargo of radioactive waste. The Government sent down a mini submarine to take photos of it but don’t want to do anything about it.

This shows local fishermen protesting about the damage to their livelihoods. They ask how can we live when the fish are radioactive and tourists will not want to come to our beaches again.

This shows the people in charge of the inquest, and the two journalists who were beginning to uncover the link beween the illegal sale of arms and radioactive and toxic waste dumping in Somalia before they were murdered.

These show the shipwreck found fourteen miles off the coast of Calabria, five hundred metres deep. There are holes in the side of the ship and you can see some of the barrels of radioactive cargo, one of which is empty. Calabria Region hasn’t got the money or the expertise to do anything about it.

video-footage of a shipwreck 12 miles from Molfetta with a highly toxic cargo. The main Italian press agency

Public enquiry on waste recycling for the Basilicata Region

Parliamentary Request by the foreign minister, the environment minister and the justice minister for an enquiry into the international network of toxic and radioactive waste traffic

Public enquiry into the illegal disposal of toxic and radioactive waste.

Riccardo Bocca; "Naufragio radioattivo" (Radioactive Shipwreck); L’Espresso, 9 September 2004, page.34 onwards

Riccardo Bocca; Indagini Radioattive - colloquio con Paolo Russo (Radioactive Enquiry – interview with Paolo Russo); L’Espresso, 16 September 2004, page.76 onwards

Riccardo Bocca; Nella memoria si รจ aperta una falla - colloquio con Gianfranco Messina (There seems to be a crevasse opening up in the collective memory – interview with Gianfranco Messina.) L’Espresso, 23 September 2004, pag.76 onwards,21515162.html

Toxic ships. The pilot of the robot operated submarine raises doubts about the second film. So the environment minister puts both films on the website.

Navi al veleno, buone nuove a Cetraro (Poison Ships, good news at Cetraro) by Paolo Poggio ROMA 29/10/09 - 20:13

WWF asks for a new enquiry