Wednesday, 28 March 2012
Minister of State (Pensions)
Steve Webb MP (LD)
Dear Prof Webb,
Nuclear Emergency Planning . South Gloucestershire
I object most strongly to the building of new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point , 60 km from my home, Oldbury, only 14 km from my home, or anywhere else. I joined the Liberal Democrat Party in 1999 mainly because I supported the party’s environmental policies. I am now very disappointed and puzzled at Ed Davey’s willingness to agree to building new nuclear power stations, especially considering his statement in 2006, as follows:-
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Rt Hon Mr Edward Davey MP (LD)
As Lib Dem Trade and Industry spokesman in 2006 Mr Davey said: ‘in addition to posing safety and environmental risks, nuclear power will only be possible with vast taxpayer subsidies or a rigged market. ‘It is an issue that crops up in my postbag time and again. People don’t want nuclear, but they don’t know what the alternatives are. Now they do, and the alternatives are cleaner, safer, greener and better for the environment and the taxpayer.’”
In my opinion any financial arrangements where nuclear energy can be classified as “renewable”, “clean” and “sustainable are unforgivable as nuclear energy certainly does not belong in any of these categories.
Nuclear radiation leaks and accidents do occur. I believe that residents who live within a 1.5 km radius of Oldbury Nuclear Power Station are provided with instructions about procedures of what steps to take in a nuclear emergency and also given Potassium Iodate Tablets to take to prevent the uptake of radioactive Iodine. In 2004 South Glos FOE asked Boots in Thornbury to stock Potassium Iodate 85 mg Tablets for the general public to buy, which was reported in the Gazette. I bought some of the tablets myself but unfortunately the tablets only have a shelf life of 30 months. http://www.gazetteseries.co.uk/archive/2004/02/06/South+Gloucestershire+Archive/6672667.Tablets_available_in_the_event_of_an_N_plant_attack/
In August 2011 the nuclear accident in Japan was very much in my mind when I decided to personally investigate what were the nuclear power emergency procedures in Yate, South Glos, as I was under the impression that all public bodies hold a folder with specific instructions as what to do in case of such an emergency. I went into Yate Library to ask them if they had such a folder and the librarian did try to find out if such an item an existed and the librarian even emailed me at my home a few days later to say no, they hadn’t got such a specific folder on the premises. I then went into the new Health /Minor Injuries Centre in Yate, and the reply was also that there not such a folder held by them . I finally went into Boots the Chemist, and spoke to a very helpful pharmacist. The Boots pharmacist said they had been overwhelmed with requests from members of the public wanting to buy Potassium Iodate Tablets when the Fukishima earthquake and tsunami caused the nuclear power reactor accident in Japan in March 2011. In particular she said flight crew members were trying to buy Potassium Iodate tablets as their employer airlines had asked them to do so. The sympathetic pharmacist had contacted Boots head office and was informed by them that as a company Boots do not stock the tablets and would not provide them.
I think that all schools, hospitals, office blocks, public transport etc. should stock these tablets and have a responsibility to include awareness of nuclear radiation dangers as well as the usual health and safety and fire procedures. I am not sure if South Glos is a member of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities but others in this group share my concerns, see below:_
28th February 2012 Nuclear Free Local Authorities raise nuclear emergency planning concerns in Greenpeace International report with Dept Energy and Climate Change and the Office for Nuclear Regulation.
The nuclear free local authorities have raised new issues around nuclear emergency planning following the publication of one of the most definitive analyses of the Fukushima disaster by Greenpeace International. The report „Lessons of Fukushima‟ has been developed by independent specialists for Greenpeace International as the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster approaches on March 11th. A detailed chapter on nuclear emergency planning outlines that it was human factors and a weak nuclear emergency planning regime in Japan that was as much at fault as the natural disasters that hit north eastern Japan (1). The chapter on nuclear emergency planning was written by Professor David Boiller of the French ngo acro, a group that were also responsible for doing a considerable amount of independent marine sampling in the Fukushima area (2). Key points on nuclear emergency planning from the report include:
1 Emergency planning for dealing with the nuclear accident at Fukushima was not functional, and the evacuation process became chaotic, leading to many people being unnecessarily exposed to radiation.
2 Despite early public announcements that the radiation releases would not harm public health, the evacuation radiuses changed several times.
3 Evacuation planning based on circles with diameters of several kilometres is too rigid and hopelessly inadequate in the case of nuclear power plants.
4 Special software for predicting fallout patterns was not used correctly. In some cases, people were evacuated to areas with more, not less, radiation.
5 Evacuation procedures of vulnerable people failed. Patients from one hospital and a nearby home for the elderly were sent to shelters: 45 of 440 patients died after staff fled. In another incident, more than 90 elderly people were left without carers. Hospitals in Fukushima prefecture have had to suspend services because hundreds of doctors and nurses in the area resigned to avoid radiation.
6 The Fukushima crisis also exposed that one of the key principles of nuclear emergency plans – confinement (recommending people to stay in their homes to avoid radiation exposure) – simply does not work in practice.
7 Communities where people were confined for up to 10 days ran out of food, as well as fuel needed for eventual evacuation. In addition, specialised workers – such as drivers, nurses, doctors, social workers and firemen, who were needed to help those confined – were not prepared to stay in an area receiving large amounts of radiation.
8 The post-emergency situation is also riddled with problems – including dealing with contaminated food and land, higher radiation safety limits, insufficient monitoring of radiation levels and major problems with long-term decontamination.
The nuclear free local authorities have forwarded this report to leading officials in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the UK nuclear emergency planning liaison group. A full review of uk emergency planning was expected to be completed by the end of 2011, but to date it has still not been published (3). Some of these issues are also being considered by nuclear site stakeholders groups across the UK
. Organising such efficient and effective safeguards would add to the already huge financial burden of nuclear power on our country, the billions of pounds involved would be far better spent giving every householder and public building free solar panels and support for community truly renewable energy groups!
Can you please express my concerns to Ed Davey about the disastrous financial implications for many centuries to come if new nuclear power stations are built , and my fears for everyones’ safety.
Posted by Reg Illingworth at 14:27