Carl Clowes on Wylfa B

This letter from Dr Carl Clowes in Wednesday's Western Mail provides a very welcome perspective on how unlikely it is that Wylfa B will ever be constructed.

Nuclear power is not worth the risks

   

SIR – Despite numerous attempts by pro-nuclear politicians to push the propaganda that Wylfa B will go ahead, there is little chance it will ever be built – we have been here before!

Does the following sound familiar?

In the early 1980s Mrs Thatcher had a plan to build 10 nuclear power stations in the UK. The Central Electricity Generating Board built the first one, Sizewell B, over about 13 years, from planning to starting generation.

The second of the 10 reactors was scheduled to be Hinkley C in Somerset, a copy of the Sizewell reactor. But even though Mrs. Thatcher had the authority to build Hinkley C following a lengthy public inquiry, and with all the taxpayer money available via the CEGB, Hinkley C was never built.

Why not? It was a combination of two key factors.

The first factor was the rising costs of nuclear energy. During an extensive public inquiry the true escalating costs of nuclear compared with other forms of generation were exposed to the public and the government.

Post-Fukushima, the costs of building untried EPR reactors have risen dramatically to £14bn and are still rising. In fact so much so that initial claims by the government, that in today’s free market, the mature nuclear technology would be built without subsidies from the taxpayer no longer have any credibility.

The present Westminster government is trying to rig the market to force electricity consumers to pay prices for electricity well over the odds for the next 35-40 years. This will enable the French government, 90% shareholders in EDF, scheduled to build Hinkley C, to make huge profits at our expense.

Westminster also wants taxpayers to guarantee the building costs of these reactors by providing a £10bn government loan if construction costs overrun as they are doing everywhere else.

Both electricity consumers and taxpayers will pay through the nose for any new nuclear reactors and our children, for generations to come, will be paying the unknown and ever rising costs of dealing with the very hot radioactive waste produced by the reactors for thousands of years to come.

In this context the government faces a judicial review and challenge from Greenpeace which questions the validity of the government progressing with new reactors when there is no known way of dealing with the long-term disposal of nuclear waste.

The second factor was that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred in Ukraine but the environmental problems spread on the wind to many countries, including our own.

Today, in Japan, 2½ years after the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, there is a never-ending crisis. Three nuclear reactors are in meltdown and need to be constantly cooled.

As a result, 400 tons of radioactive water is being produced everyday with an ever-growing problem of storing hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated water. Space is limited and many of the tanks and reservoirs are leaking into the ground water and now into the sea, contaminating important stocks of fish.

The costs of the Fukushima disaster, both financially and environmentally, are being dismissed by the nuclear industry, Thankfully, however, the financial investors of the world are at last realizing the disastrous costs that can arise from investing in nuclear.

Mrs Thatcher could not fulfil her nuclear dream and there is little chance of David Cameron doing so. The main difference in the interim, as Germany and other countries have seen, is the increasing emphasis on energy conservation and the rapid development of alternative energies.

Developed sensitively, these resources, some of the best of which are found on and around Ynys Môn, have the capacity to more than meet the energy requirements of Wales and meet our own particular employment requirements on the island.

Why are we even contemplating the risk?

Let’s get on and do today what is practical within our own resources, both human and financial.

Dr Carl Iwan Clowes
Rhoscefnhir, Ynys Môn

Western Mail, 14 August 2013

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