Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Quote of the Day (Nuclear-edition) (updated)

Arch-green environmental evangelist and Guardian columnist George Montbiot writes:

"You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology. 
A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation. 
... Atomic energy has just been subjected to one of the harshest of possible tests, and the impact on people and the planet has been small. The crisis at Fukushima has converted me to the cause of nuclear power."

Read it all here.

UPDATE: Readers might be interested in the below latest Press Release from Horizon:

Horizon Nuclear Power, the company behind proposals for a new nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey, today said it is continuing with its development programme and will take full account of the learnings from recent events in Japan.

Alan Raymant, COO of Horizon said:

"The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan have shocked the world and our greatest sympathies are with all those affected by the events.

"At the same time the problems with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant must be, and are being, taken very seriously by the nuclear industry.

"The geology on Anglesey, and the technologies that my company, Horizon Nuclear Power, is considering for a new power station at Wylfa are both different to the circumstances in Japan.  Nevertheless its right that we learn the lessons from those events.

"We are continuing to develop our proposals.  Safe, clean nuclear power generation is increasingly important as part of the UK's energy mix and to the economy of Anglesey and North Wales.

"What we must and will do is make sure our plans reflect the learnings from the forthcoming Chief Nuclear Inspector's report into the events in Japan.

"We are privileged to enjoy strong local support for new nuclear build and we have always promised the people of Anglesey and North Wales that safety is our number one priority.  That remains the case and is the basis on which we'll go forward."


Anonymous said...

And dropping nuclear weapons results in the loss of less life in a war but it doesn't make it right.

Groundhog Day said...

As I said in an earlier post, I have been heartened by how these older generation plants have coped with what has been thrown at them. Yes there has been radiation but not on the scale many predicted and nothing like the amount thrown out by Chernobyl. Lessons will have been learned from these expereinces but as far as we on Anglesey are concerned we are not exposed to the natural disasters that Japan is, the plants stood up to the biggest earthquaqe ever recorded there and it was the tsunami that damaged the back-up systems. I take my hat off to the Japanese people for their stoicism in the face of such a horrific disaster. I have many Japanese friends out there and I am pleased that they have all survived relatively unscathed.

kp said...

It is always the 'unknown unknowns' that will get us, not the 'known knowns or known unknowns'.

Mr Monbiot knows this only too well.

The Red Flag said...

The Japanese were lucky in that nothing serious went wrong with the reactors and the structural integrity of the cores remained intact.

I think what people people are concerned about is worst case scenarios - ie comparing what would happen if a gas-fired generation palnt were to be completly destroyed as compared to what would happen if a nuclear plant were completely destroyed.

You could build a gas-fired one at Wylfa and it could completely explode. Might smash a few windows down Cemaes Bay. Build a nuclear one and it completely explodes and no-one will be allowed to live on Anglesey for decades.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Ref Flag.

Medra said...

Monbiot is an idiot - and getting paid good money to wind up the Guardianistas.
The key phrase is "as far as we know, no-one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation"
How long did it take for the truth to leak out over Chernobyl and Three Mile Island? Or the 1957 Windscale fire?
Monbiot is not writing with the full facts at his disposal. As Red Flag says, a Fukoshima at Cemaes would see the island evacuated. Perhaps for generations.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should get the Japanese rather than the French to build Wylfa B, especially if the French build their power stations the same way they build their cars.

The Red Flag said...

As Red Flag says, a Fukoshima at Cemaes would see the island evacuated. Perhaps for generations.

Not quite what I said but the sentiment is there. I said if there were a full explosion we'd be away for donkeys years.

If Fukushima were repeated here we'd be looking at a temporary evacuation and probably the humane destruction of all the livestock to preserve the food chain. (provided Fukushima doesn't detoriate further)

Richard Sletzer said...

As the prevailing wind is from the West there's probably no reason for Anglesey to worry too much about the remote chance of some wort of nuclear emission.

C'mon guys - let's get with the program. This nuclear power station is going to be a major jobs provider. In fact it would make sense to develop a third power station at Wylfa - as has already been done at Hinkley Point.

Anonymous said...

Richard. Nuclear burn-outs go on for days whereas the wind changes direction as the weather front moves across. If a full scale disater happened at Wylfa it would cover all of Anglesey and most of north and north west Gwynedd and Conwy/Llandudno. It even has the potential to stretch from Dublin to Liverpool.

There's no reason why a gas power station or even a series of them cannot be built in Anglesey. Just the same number of jobs.

The Chinese - as was reported in yesterday's Telegraph - are moving to Thorium liquid salt reactors (Israel, India and others are also working that way). Vastly safer than anything else, can be used to destroy existing nuclear waste, tens of thousands of years of available fuel and wherever there's granite there's extractable Thorium - even here in Wales.

If what we are building nuclear-wise is so safe, build them inside major population centres closer to the bulk of consumption. Battersea would look cool with a reactor and I'm sure the MPs would think it was a brilliant idea.

Anonymous said...

Does Richard Stetzer have a death wish?

Maybe he just hates kids?

Prometheuswrites said...

Well the Irish Government don't seem to be too happy about either Wylfa B or Sellafield.

And Mr Monbiot may yet end up eating his own words. I guess he doesn't listen to the World Service in the small hours.
(see my post on Photon)

I'll wait till all the chickens have hatched before totting up the final score.

Can someone please tell me just how many jobs are going to be created for LOCAL people from building Wylfa B? (an estimate would be fine give or take +/- 10 people).

Creating jobs for incomers to the area won't do much in the way of reducing unemployment, though it may help keep house prices up.

If we had full employment would we want to campaign for a new nuclear power station - why not campaign for bio-composters and waste recycling plants to take ALL of Wales waste and refuse? - that would create jobs as well - probably more locally sourced employment than the nuclear opition.

Did anyone catch the article (World Service again) about the Pentagon being both the worlds largest user of oil and also the worlds biggest investor in green alternative energy schemes (they don't want to be dependant on oil - it costs $400 a gallon to deliver oil to troops in Afghanistan.

Photon said...

Monbiot is in the business to make money. No better way to achieve fame and fortune than generate a bit of controversy. Has he really forgotten all about Chernobyl?

Prometheuswrites said...


"Wylfa, Anglesey, nuclear firm 'takes stock' after Japan"

"investors are nervous" - I'd say this is a consequence of putting what to my mind should be, for various reasons, (health and safety, strategic power supply, weapons grade by-products, waste disposal, unit costs of generation, etc), an industry that is run by the state, with properly seperated regulation and inspection bodies.

If you have the time listen on BBC i-player to 'The World Today' 02.05 edition, about 8.30 & 12.00 minutes in; the articles are about the current situation in Japan re: TAPCO faking safety reports and the accompanying interview about the effect of chief executives on corporate cultures with regard to transparency and trust. (The latter part applies to IOACC too).


Anonymous said...

The reality is that the U.S Dollar is king, and we are pawns in a struggle, between France. EDF, and the Americans, whoever, builds Wylfa B, will have a large stake in the Energy Business, it won't affect us as a major employer, all they are interested in is building, getting it operational and making big money, the local employment issue is not factored in as part of the investment, power stations are similar to a bank that makes money for the next 100 years. The issue of safety is a bind to them, it costs them money, and the more we moan, the harder the Goverment will come down on us, what this Westminster Government wants, they get. If you decide to protest against Wylfa B, then the Government will do everything in it's power to win, the people of Anglesey don't bother this Government, all they are interested in, is electricity and profit and money.

The Red Flag said...

Little over 400 uranium burning reactors.

80 years of uranium at current rate of usage. Should all the uranium reactors planned for the next 20 years be built then a around 40-50 years worth of uranium is all there actually is. In 25-30 years or so the price of uranium will make it cost prohibitive for a lot of countries unless they have their own internal supply (such as Australia or Russia). At the same time we will be well into 'peak oil'.

Thorium however is plentiful - wherever there is granite there is Thorium - even here in Wales. Thorium reactors can burn nuclear waste and can even burn their own waste. Thorium reactors have the potential to produce electricity cheaper than any other method currently in existance.

We will build Wylfa B by 2020. We'll be lucky if we can afford to operate it by 2050.

Meanwhile the BRIC countries will have Thorium reactors on-line and be lit up like Christmas trees.

Like the anon above I reckon Thorium is the way at least until we stabilise fusion.

Anonymous said...

In China, they can knock a power station out in a couple of weeks, when they had an earthquake in China, they knocked up a 1000 bed hospital in a week, incredible, if they were to come here and build Wylfa B, by the time the job applications were printed and sent to the jobcentre the place would have been built.

The Red Flag said...

Anon - I lived in Hong Kong in the 80's. We watched them build Shenzhen on tyhe Sino-Hong Kong border. They changed a collection of little hamlets consisting of less than 50,000 people in total into a city of over a million in less than 2 years complete with factories, schools, hospitals, water works - the full monty.

Anonymous said...

So Red Flag, I reckon it would take them a month to build Wylfa B, and the last week would be spent tidying up after them.

Anonymous said...

PW, isn't it TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co) not TAPCO? Or maybe the search engines are smart enough to correct these things these days.

Anyway, a quick overview of the lies and errors in the recent history of the Japanese nuclear power industry can be found on the New Scientist website:

"the Chinese can knock a power station out in a couple of weeks"

Not a nuclear one they can't. Pressure vessels and similar specialised essential components have a very limited number of suppliers (Sheffield Forgemasters being one?). Obviously that situation could change in a year or three, but right now these suppliers allegedly have long queues of people waiting for product. Well, they did. Not sure they still will; I don't think Monbiot is convincing anyone, and nor are TEPCO and friends.

Prometheuswrites said...

Anon 19.51

Nothing wrong with the search engines, just my fingers and my brain.

Anonymous said...

Puzzled I am....

I worked on the construction of Wylfa and have supported the proposal of Wylfa B


What would we be doing now if Nuclear Power Generation had never been invented?? I am sure we would be surviving in some other way. Could it be that inventors, scientists and of course the money men have always taken the 'easy option'?

Anglesey Islander

Richard Sletzer said...

Seriously, I don't believe the people of Anglesey don't need to be worried about nuclear power - but - given the way things have happened on the island in the past - I can understand why they are concerned.

That's because of the terrible track-record of Anglesey Council Council over the last 50 years which has seen the imposition of one crazy socialist experiment after another on the population - without the slightest public consultation.

Anglesey was the first local authority to destroy its (excellent) grammar schools and replace them with socialist-inspired comprehensive schools. There was no public consultation. Now we know what a disaster that decision was.

Anglesey Council Council also became the first council to introduce the deliberate poisoning of the island's water supplies in 1955 with sodium fluoride in a crazy socialist mass-medication experiment worthy of North Korea. Again there was no public consultation.

"Anglesonians" (as I suppose we must now call ourselves) were never told they should NOT be using fluoride toothpaste because that, along with the water, took their daily dose above safe levels.

When fluoridation finally petered out in 1992, Anglesey County Council - true to form as ever- again decided not even to inform, never mind consult, the people of the island. Probably they didn't want to publicly admit to having been wrong for 37 years.

Richard Sletzer said...

CORRECTION - Sorry - one too many "don't"s in the first sentence of the previous post.

...That's what comprehensive education does for you!

kp said...

I prefer the sentence when it has the extra 'don't' in it.

The Red Flag said...

@Richard Sletzer said...

"without the slightest public consultation."

I believe these did take place and were known as 'elections'. The fact that the people kept voting a certain way could be said to be merely a reflection of the piss-poor alternatives.

Puck said...

It would appear that George Monbiot was after all only auditioning for the part of the typewriter in a new version of David Cronenberg's film adaption of William S. Burroughs book, 'The Naked Lunch'.

For those of you that haven't seen this cult film the typwriter in question communicates by means of a 'talking asshole' in the middle of the keyboard.

All the better for Monbiot to eat his own words ...

(Tokyo's tap water is unfit for babies to drink after radiation from Japan's quake-hit nuclear plant affected the capital's water supply, officials said.) - BBC today.

Photon said...

I think it has to be said that Horion ought to be careful not to use local politicans and their blogs as mouthpieces for their industry.

Paul can be in favour if he chooses, but he musn't forget he might soon represent people who aren't quite so welcoming of nuclear on the island.

Anonymous said...

Photon, you need to get out of the house a bit more mate. Weather is really nice out today you should stop stop slaving over your hot blog and go and smell the fresh air.

Paul Williams said...

Photon - I don't consider myself a 'mouthpiece', but I do think local people, on both sides of the argument, are interested in what the developer of Wylfa B is saying in light of the incidents at Fukushima.

Prometheuswrites said...

This is off topic, but deserves consideration. I'm not criticizing the council as I think they are showing foresight in warning us what is going be happening.

Looking at the Anglesey Council's web site and the announcement about changes to housing benefits, brought about by new measures introduced by the coalition government it says:

"There will be a reduction in the Local Housing Allowance rates for new claimants and within 9 months of their annual review for current claimants i.e. so that about 3 in 10 properties for rent in the area should be affordable to people on Housing Benefit. At the moment about 5 in 10 properties are affordable".

I had to read this twice as it says that there will be reduction of 20% in affordable rentable housing for people receiving housing benefit.

Given the concerns raised, by pundits and various politicians, that the least well-off in the population are being the hardest hit by these cuts, this policy will inevitably create hardship for our poorest residents.

The Red Flag said...

Prometheus - It's also designed to force rents down in the private sector by stopping private sector landlords milking the benefit system.

Whether it will work or not remains to be seen and given that most landlords are probably tory voters and given the amount that are BTL and therefore be in a very difficult position should interest rates rise but be unable to pass it on to their tenants, then it is potentially suicidal for the tories to persue this. Coupled with their aims to raise council rents bit by bit until they are on par with market levels and within a few years people at the bottom end are going to be extremly squeezed.

But we're in this together I'm glad to note.

Anonymous said...

Paul you are most certainly not a mouthpiece but almost as certainly speaking out of of the other part of that extremity of the human body!

Anonymous said...

"Two workers at the Fukushima nuclear plant reactor three have been hospitalised after being exposed to high levels of radiation."


Anonymous said...

Radioactivity levels are soaring in seawater near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, two weeks after the nuclear power plant was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami.


The Red Flag said...

On oter matters, India has just ad a 5.7 quake. Guess what was nearby - 2 nuclear reactors.


the outsider said...

the situation at Fukushima is now officially as bad as happened at chernobyl. The problem is as I understand it that the back up cooling system failed. It does not matter therefore why it failed, a bomb,an earthquake, an act of war etc. the system and safety measures put in place have failed.
If you want a few jobs from a new nuclear plant on this island be careful what you wish for. I do so hope that MCT (marine current technology) works out. Tides are both reliable and fairly well understood in this part of the world, and Bangor University is well placed to contribute to the development of the technology and to generate more local jobs in the research and manufacturing that will be required.