I am deeply worried about the implications this should mean for both the existing power station at Oldbury and the proposals for new build and whether this government has the nerve to do the right thing and admit they are wrong.
I have been watching the news very carefully since Friday morning and have therefore watched the whole ugly story unfold.
It is obvious to me that the events that have led up to the Fukushima explosions and radiation leaks have very little to do with the earthquake or the Tsunami. The reactors survived both (as the Japanese officials very proudly pointed out at the time). What actually unfolded before the world could very easily have taken place following any flood, terrorist attack or even a simple breakdown or human error. Whatever the outcome of further inquiries or investigations reveal I know what I saw with my own eyes and the main cause of the whole thing was a failure of the standby generators. I remember the heat release from the reactors that took place during a fire in an ancillary building at Oldbury only a few years ago. I believe this was a fire in the generator building. It is also obvious to me that no matter how well designed the reactors are you cannot account for every possibility and the risks are simply too huge. This is something we have been trying to say all along, maybe someone will actually listen now?
I am very glad to hear from the PM’s announcement yesterday, that there is to be a review of both existing power stations and the proposals for new build to see if there are any lessons to be learned. There definitely are some lessons to be learned and I trust that the government will now seek to ensure this is undertaken both transparently and independently. There are far too many pro-nuclear experts lobbying this government or working within DECC who have only one interest in mind, to preserve the future of their industry at whatever cost. According to a BBC news report today I was horrified to learn that 50% of DECC employees are working on nuclear power. All of these will presumably be threatened if new nuclear is abandoned and therefore no doubt work very hard at influencing the decisions taken by the DECC ministers! The same is true for the relevant regulatory bodies.
My immediate concern is for the safety of my children and therefore, perhaps selfishly, rests with the ageing existing power station at Oldbury which is older than those at Fukushima and long past its design life. It is time now to call for this to be closed down and decommissioned as soon as possible.
I am also deeply concerned that members of the public in the areas surrounding this power station have no knowledge of what to do in an emergency. I live within 5 miles of this site and have never received any instructions let alone any tablets etc, I do not even know what the warning sirens would sound like let alone where to go or what to do. I know of others, who live even closer in Shepperdine who have had no information or tablets either. So it seems that this community is even less prepared that those who live similar distances from Fukushima. I am told there is an emergency plan but who knows what it is and how will people know what to do/where to go? It strikes me that the governments emergency plans are simply not there, otherwise we would all be properly prepared.
On the proposals to build new nuclear in this country, I sincerely hope that the government now do the right thing and abandon nuclear altogether, Fukushima has surely shown us all that it is simply not worth it. It doesn’t matter how over designed these reactors are nothing is fail safe and the consequences are far too huge to be worthwhile. Nuclear is a distraction from pressing forward with renewables as fast as possible and it is time this country faced up to this.
On the specific plans for Oldbury, it is sheer lunacy to consider building these reactors in a high level risk flood zone and surely if there is any lesson to be learned from what has happened at Fukushima this HAS to be one of them. Sadly it should never have needed a Fukushima to educate people that this is the case but if there was ever a time for this government to learn it IT IS NOW!
It is also sheer lunacy to locate a nuclear power station so close to large populations, if an accident of this scale were to occur at Oldbury they would have had to evacuate some very large populations including the whole of Bristol. The total numbers are probably 3 times those evacuated around Fukushima so far.
However, at the end of the day as I have already said you cannot design these reactors to account for every possibility and the consequences are far too serious to make it worthwhile.
15th March 2011