Sadly Fukushima is still not under control with emissions of radiation to the environment from the damaged reactors expected to continue for month - 11,000 tons of radioactive waste water discharged into the sea. Below is my submission to the NII.
Photo: Oldbury viewed from Randwick woods
Chris Huhne has urged us not to panic. Britain doesn't have huge earthquakes, he said - although we know that is not entirely true (see my blog here). There will be an inquiry. We are told lessons will be learned - but even he admits that the investment required for Britain's nuclear programme may be hit by the crisis in Japan - and so it should! the economics did not stack up before - they stack up even less now. The Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, Martin Horwood, has tabled an Early Day Motion (1615) calling for a suspension of the Government's plans for new reactors - good on him! Caroline Lucas has also signed.
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Submission - click on read more
The NII has called for people to give evidence for as part of its inquiry into nuclear safety in the UK following the events at Fukushima. The NII has said: “To ensure that we consider major issues as part of the interim report, please send such issues by 15 April 2011 to FukushimaONRReport@hse.gsi.gov.uk. Your full submission should then be sent to the same email address by 15 June 2011. See initial statement on inquiry
Comments to the inquiry:
1. The deadline 15th April means that nothing can be confirmed as the crisis in Japan is by no means over or understood. A deadline of 15th June is also likely to be far too soon in terms of being able to able to submit evidence. The NII should acknowledge this.
2. I am unclear what issues the NII considers will be covered from its perspective. Could this be made more clear?
3. It is also likely that stakeholders will raise issues of concern and again I am unclear as to how these will be incorporated into the review. For example one question I have seen raised is whether the NII review will consider how emergency services work with nuclear plant operators in the event of an accident?
4. I am also unclear as to how nominations to any panel of specialists will be made. Who will make the final decision on who is on the panel?
Cllr Philip Booth
Keep up-to-date with the excellent NuClear News - issue No. 28 April 2011can be downloaded at:
Climate change could spell end to nuclear
One issue covered in that NuClear News issue is about the impact of climate change on nuclear - Natalie Kopytko, an environment researcher at York University, writing in the Guardian, says climate change could spell the end for nuclear power, not vice versa. Incident reports from nuclear power plants provide examples of safety doors being left open during a hurricane, communication problems, access roads flooding and, of all things, algae regularly causing reactors to shut down. No matter how well they build them, nuclear power plants require lots of water. As such, the plants need to be either on the coast or near a large body of water at an inland site. The loss of off-site power commonly happens during storms, particularly at coastal locations. So a strong storm, probably stronger than the historical records used in the estimates for design, could cause flooding that leads to an accident similar to the one we are witnessing. Flooding can be an issue at inland sites as well, and the probability of catastrophic floods is probably increasing as a result of climate change.