Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

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Archive for the category “Nuclear Power”

Now Very Disturbing BBC

I recently wrote about the BBC not reporting the 24hr blockade of Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Research Establishment and today they are not reporting on a blockade of Sizewell nuclear power station in protest at the government’s flawed report approving more nuclear power stations.

This is very disturbing indeed as the BBC is (was?) one of the very few sources of infomation that could be trusted. I and I suspect others, will be demanding an explanation from the BBC and I’ll post any response when received.

If you have any doubts about nuclear power then I urge you to watch this documentary The Battle for Chenobyl. If you think it couldn’t happen here then just remember the radiation leak from Windscale, now called Sellafield, that wafted over Liverpool and Manchester without a warning to the population, or Three Mile Island in the USA.

Update:  I made an official complaint to the BBC and below is their bland response, make of it what you will.

I understand that you were disappointed that we did not cover the anti-nuclear protests at Sizewell and Aldermaston on our news.
The choice and placement of news items is always a very tricky decision for news editors as with such a wide and varied audience it is difficult to select items that will be of interest to all listeners. We appreciate that viewers want as many items as possible, but there are occasions where a particular story may require a greater share of the running time.
I can assure you that there is no collusion, Sizewell experiences regular anti-nuclear power protests, as do most of the nuclear power stations across Britain. However, there was coverage of the blockade at Aldermaston:
I do appreciate your feelings and I can assure you that your comments have been fully registered on our audience log. As you are aware, this is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme executives within the BBC.
It’s very helpful to us to hear the opinions of our audience, whether positive or negative and I’m glad you’ve been in touch with your opinion.
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Nuclear Progress?

President Obama of the USA and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia have signed an agreement to reduce their respective stock of nuclear weapons. This is of course to be welcomed and it’s a START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) However, let’s not get too carried away. Currently they have well over 2000 nuclear bombs each and they have now agreed to reduce the numbers to over 1500 each; progress, yes but still sufficient to destroy the entire globe.

The time must be right for the UK to contribute by not replacing Trident which has never been ‘independant’ anyway while at the same time saving us a massive £70 billion that we can certainly do with in the present economic climate.

No to Trident


Nuclear Hypocrisy

North Korea has exploded two nuclear weapons underground as tests along with firing short range missiles. The UN and major countries around the globe have condemned the Korean leadership for it’s actions.

Way back in 1968 the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty was opened for signatures in which the then nuclear powers, Britain, USA, Soviet Union, China and France agreed never to attack a non nuclear country with nuclear bombs and also to reduce and eventually eliminate their own nuclear weapons.

The original five nations have consistently failed to keep their side of the agreement and have increased their capability and accuracy. They have ‘turned a blind eye’ to perceived friendly countries acquiring their own nuclear weapons such as Israel, Pakistan, India and South Africa. In the face of such hypocrisy how on Earth can they be surprised and outraged when nations such as Iran and North Korea set about building a nuclear arsenal?

Freedom of Information Act

Information regarding the emission of radioactive cooling water from nuclear powered submarines at Faslane in Scotland has just been released.

From this three points spring immediately to mind.

1. If someone or some organisation hadn’t requested the information under the FIA would these leaks have been brought to the public’s notice? I very much doubt it particularly as the first acknowledged leak was in 2004.

2. Rumour has it that the MoD is about to issue a contract for the dismantling of nuclear submarines along with the reactors in Plymouth, against the expressed wishes of the population. Assurances as to safety have of course been made but if radiation can’t be controlled in ‘normal’ servicing what hope is there in breaking down a reactor safely, right in the middle of a large city like Plymouth?

3. The Government seems hell bent on building more nuclear powered electricity power stations, adding more risk to the citizens and if even the comparatively small units on submarines cannot be guarranteed safe eventually there is likely to be a catastrophy. We’ve already had the Windscale disaster which blew radiation over northern England including Manchester. News of which incidentally didn’t creep out until years later.

The Freedom of Information Act could be a two edged sword in that governments may not release information unless specifically asked for it and of course if we don’t suspect something we are not going ask.

Can’t They See?

Gordon Brown, trotting along behind the latest US President, will today make yet another warning to Iran about it’s nuclear programme and threatening even more sanctions if it goes ahead with suspected nuclear weapon manufacture.

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty which means that it agrees not to produce weapons and is subject to inspection and ALSO that the nuclear powers promise not to use nuclear weapons against them AND to progressively reduce their weapon stocks eventually to zero.

Pakistan and India, South Africa too probably, defy this arrangement with no comment from the West. Israel however, never signed the agreement and is reckoned to hold between 75 – 200 nuclear warheads and is therefore exempt from inspection. No sanctions on Israel with any suggestion in the UN being  blocked by the US.

Can’t the West see just how unfair and unjust they are being and make appropriate changes to their policies?

Financial Commonsense

With the Government spending countless billions of Pounds on rescuing banks from their excesses and the financial costs of the economic downturn, it is surely time for them to look at some of their own excesses and look to make savings.

Biometric Identity Cards for a start. The excuse for these is that they are an essential tool in protecting the UK from terrorists. Anyone but a fool can see that against a probably ‘home grown’ terrorist or any other, who is quite happy to die for his/her beliefs they are absolutely useless. As a means of adding to the control and surveillance of us all though, they are quite effective when linked with all the other systems that have crept in during the last decade. The cost is likely to be around £15billion. Well, that’s a good savings starter.

Two new aircraft carriers have been ordered complete with aircraft at an estimated £6bn and we all know that when it comes to most government projects the estimate usually doubles.

Replacement of the Trident nuclear submarines and their nuclear missiles comes in at £78bn for their 23 year life. We know we will never use them against a nuclear armed country and bring about the end of civilisation and neither will we use them against a non nuclear country in violation of International Law to be condemmed by the whole world.

We must learn that the UK is now just another small country in Europe, we stole an Empire in the past but now must move forward in a different and peaceful role. The aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines may make the admirals and air marshalls and politicians feel powerful but they are costing our nation far, far too much.

Taken from British American Security Information Council

“…cancelling the [Trident and aircraft carrier] programmes would
allow the Government to:-
•Take 1.2 pence off the basic rate of income tax; or
•Pay the capital and running costs of around 200 new hospitals; or
•Pay the capital and running costs of around 1,000 new secondary
schools in moderate /high cost areas, with 1,000 pupils each; or
•Pay £10-11 per week real increase in the basic state pension.”

Wind Turbines

It seems that it doesn’t matter in which part of the country you live, as soon as a proposal is put in for planning consent to build wind turbines there is immediately a local campaign set up to oppose them.

In some cases of course there are indeed good reasons for opposition and a perfect example would be the plan (now scrapped thankfully) to build a 420ft turbine at the Eden Project in Cornwall. This turbine at twice the height of Nelson’s Column would be seen for miles in one of the most beautiful parts of Britain. By the way, the Eden Project is a registered charity and has gobbled up huge grants from the Lottery and other sources but is in fact a massive tourist attraction which is probably why they wanted to erect a record breaking turbine.

As a nation we need energy and we need to reduce our carbon emissions and wind generated energy does both. Yes, the wind does not always blow but it usually blows somewhere in the UK so electricity production can be almost continuous. Wave and tidal movement is continuous although conditions obviously pose problems to be solved and ‘clean’ coal fired power stations may also contribute to our needs.

One thing is certain though, if wind powered generation is opposed and rejected at the rate that it is then the Government will have a perfect excuse to say that nuclear power is essential. Now what would you rather have near you, a windmill or a nuclear power station? These in fact create carbon emissions in the mining and extraction of uranium along with huge health problems for those involved who are mostly in the developing world. The risks of a nuclear accident are real, remember Three Mile Island, Windscale, Chernobyl. The radioactive waste must be managed for upwards of 5,000 years and so committing hundreds of generations to vast cost and risk.

When a wind farm proposal comes up near us let’s stop and think for a moment before jumping on the anti campaign. After all, they are really quite beautiful in a modern sculpture sort of way.

Palestinian Crisis 2008 into 2009

The attack by Israel on Gaza escalates with more air attacks and now the beginnings of a ground invasion of troops. There are now approaching 400 deaths of people in Gaza including many women & children in response to four Israelis regrettably killed. If 400 Israelis had been killed there would be massive outrage and action taken by World Governments, are the lives of Palestinians worth so much less? I try to repress the notion that this death and destruction may be a part of an election campaign to be held in Israel in six weeks time.

Demonstrations all over the Globe are making no difference and there are the inevitable calls for a UN Security Council Resolution calling for Israeli restraint. Even if a resolution was passed without the US veto, what difference would this make.

Israel, ….has been the subject of 138 resolutions. Not surprisingly, most of those resolutions call upon Israel to comply with basic principles of international law embodied by the UN Charter. Many of them condemn actions taken by Israel and call upon Israel on more than one occasion to comply with previous resolutions that Israel ignored and continues to ignore to this day.” (From Media Monitors)

In addition Israel has illegal nuclear weopons in defiance of International Law.

This country, Israel, considers itself above the Law and believes, I suspect, that the Holocaust sixty years ago absolves it from any condemnation of any action it may take. Well not any more, that was all several generations ago and Israel will be judged on its deeds. The US should find some courage, resist the Jewish vote and threaten to cease or reduce its financial support unless Israel returns to the original UN recognised borders and co-operates with it’s neighbours, including Palestine.



Cold War Hots Up Again

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered plans to be drawn up for a nuclear ‘umbrella’ to protect Russia from a potential attack along with more nuclear submarines and a space shield.

So here we go again, embarking on yet another arms race, creating tension, fears and an appalling waste of natural resources that no one can afford. So predictable when at the US behest, all the little countries that were formally part of the Soviet Union clamour to join the EU and NATO with their eyes on the financial inducements on offer.  US anti missile missiles are to be based in Poland just west of Russia along with promises of cash and NATO membership to Georgia to the south and so on. No wonder Russia feels increasingly threatened.

Western governments and their media will of course point the finger at Russia and it’s new President but the truth is plain to see for anyone with at least one brain cell.

Nuclear Power – The Big Debate?

So, there we have it, Britain’s nuclear power industry handed over to France with EDF already planning to build four more reactors.

The cost of this takeover is £12.5bn to EDF but didn’t I hear a short while ago that the cost of disposing of the radioactive waste that we already have (if anywhere can be found to put it) will be £76bn and rising? Isn’t it usually the case that when one company takes over another it takes over not just the assets but also the liabilities? Who is going to pay for future waste as we have yet to see the small print, indeed, if we ever do see it. Obvious of course that it will be us, the British taxpayer.

EDF is 86% owned by the French State so what the hell is our Government doing by giving control of our energy to a albeit benign, foreign power. As a matter of passing interest freethinkeruk’s electricity is supplied by EDF with around a 25% increase in cost so far this year. In France EDF was told by their government that 2% increase was the maximum allowed. Put another way we subsidise French electricity users.

We were also promised a ‘Big Debate’ on nuclear power, full public consultation; well at least they didn’t waste money on consultation when they had already made their minds up. Nuclear power is expensive, hugely risky and releases a lot of carbon in the process of getting the uranium out of the ground. Even while planning on more reactors it is still not known where to store the waste for the next 5000 years or more or how it’s ‘safety’ can be guaranteed by generations as yet unborn. On top of all this, safe, green alternatives exist and are getting more efficient all the time and together with energy conservation these dangerous reactors are not needed.

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