Tuesday, 2 August 2011

EDF allowed to clear Hinkley site

Anti-nuclear campaigners have slammed a council’s decision to allow EDF Energy to begin clearing land earmarked for a nuclear reactor. And they pledged to step-up their campaign of direct action against the energy giant.

Activists from the Stop New Nuclear network branded West Somerset Council’s decision yesterday to allow EDF to start bulldozing 400 acres next to Somerset’s Hinkley Point nuclear power station as a ‘circus and a travesty’. The planning committee’s decision paves the way for preparatory work to begin on the Hinkley C mega-reactor.

Local Bridgwater resident and activist, Nikki Clark, said campaigners are now gearing up for a mass blockade of Hinkey Point on October 3rd. ‘‘The planning committee was more concerned about the road layout that the social and environmental impact of such a huge power plant. Our only hope now is to physically stop the trashing of much-loved woodlands and pastures with our bodies.’

She added: ‘The travesty of the event was emphasized by the fact that permission for a wind farm on the same site was refused two years ago because of concerns about its environmental impacts. These will be dwarfed by the devastation planned by EDF.’

Campaigners maintain that ‘new nuclear’ power is dangerous and expensive. ‘After the Fukushima accident in Japan, the government should be pausing to consider the lessons rather than ploughing mindlessly ahead,’ said Stop Hinkley spokesman Crispin Aubrey. ‘Other countries are showing that a non-nuclear renewable future is feasible – we should be following their lead.’

The German government recently announced a complete phase-out of nuclear power within a decade. Its report, Germany’s Energy Turnaround – a collective effort for the future also rules out a increase in the use of fossil fuels.

‘The secret ingredient is an upscaling in the use of combined heat and power – a proven technology that will support a national energy efficiency programme,’ says Camilla Berens from Kick Nuclear. ‘The burning question is, if the German government can do, why can’t ours? We want a future, not a disaster.’

The Stop New Nuclear network objects to EDF's preparatory works because:

• There is no certainty that EDF will go ahead with building Hinkley C, partly for financial reasons. The company’s prototype power station at Flamanville in France is now four years behind schedule and its cost has almost doubled to £6 billion.

• If the French company does not gain approval for the power station from the Infrastructure Planning Commission, over 400 acres of beautiful countryside will have been needlessly trashed. EDF claims that it could be returned to its original state is a nonsense.

• The amount of time allegedly to be saved – about a year – is insignificant compared with the overall timescale of building nuclear plants of up to 10 years. This is simply an exercise in EDF “jumping the gun”.

• There is no energy gap which cannot be filled by other means, as nuclear supporters claim. Other non-nuclear power stations can be built faster and cheaper while we move towards a safer, cleaner future based on renewable sources.

• Any supposed economic benefits to the area from this work will be outweighed by the disruption it will cause. The Planning Officer's report accepts, for example, that the employment benefits are “likely to be relatively small… compared to the local impacts”.
More information on the Stop New Nuclear mass blockade can be found at:

radiation leak in Indian nuclear power plant - Kakrapar

Yet again, poor temporary workers have been exposed to radiation working in a nuclear power plant, this time in India. And yet again the nuclear power plant tried to cover it up. It was only when the exposed workers went to the District Collector that the matter became public knowledge.

Officials of the Kakrapar atomic power station (KAPS) confirmed on Monday that four contract workers were exposed to nuclear radiation in the plant on May 30, 2011 due to human error of the control room staff. However, they said that the radiation was of a very minor level and that it had no effect on the health of the workers. (Well they would say that wouldn't they. I find it hard to believe that the radiation they were exposed to was minor, considering how highly radioactive spent fuel is. Angela)

KAPS is 75 km from Surat and about 12 km from Vyara which is the main city of Tapi district. It produces 440 MW from two units of 220 MW each which went critical in 1993 and 1995. Two more units of 700 MW each are being built and the work will be completed by 2015.
The four daily-wage labourers were exposed to radiation when they were cleaning and painting a tunnel called the Spent Fuel Transfer Duct (SFTD). The control room released a pair of spent fuel bundles in the duct while the labourers were in it. According to Dutta, "The workers came out when realized that something was amiss as their thermo luminiscence detectors started glowing.''

Dutta said that a team of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board visited KAPS on June 1 to inquire about the accident and make an inspection. However, the matter became public knowledge only when the four workers petitioned the Tapi district collector last week, saying that they wanted permanent jobs as compensation for suffering nuclear radiation. The collector sought an explanation from KAPS.

Dutta said all the four affected labourers worked in the nuclear plant for at least 20 days each in the months of June and July 2011, i.e. in the two months after the accident. "The two members of the staff responsible for the error have been put back into training and relieved of their duties of control room," he said.

The affected workers hail from Kalavyara village and their names are Jaysingh Chaudhary, Bachu Chaudhary, Dinesh Chaudhary and Dilesh Chaudhary. According to the KAPS report, they suffered radiation effects of 90.72 MSD, 66.12 MSD, 58.70 MSD and 23.23 MSD, respectively.

Himansshu Bhatt, TNN  The Times of India  Aug 1, 2011

An informal information platform for activists and scholars concerned about the dangers of Nuclearisation in South Asia