Britain Breaks Ground On First New Nuclear Power Plant Since Fukushima Disaster

by , 10/21/13

Britain, UK, nuclear, nuclear power, nuclear power plant, energy, renewable energy, Fukushima, nuclear disaster, safety

The Fukushima nuclear power plant remains a toxic disaster more than two years after an earthquake and tsunami struck coastal Japan. While damages to local residents and the environment are still being discovered, the 2011 catastrophe did compel the rest of the world to take a long, hard look at the true risks of nuclear power and many countries announced they would begin to phase out their nuclear programs in favor of renewable alternatives. That lesson seems to have been lost on British leadership, however. This morning, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his government has signed an agreement with French-owned EDF to build the first new British nuclear power station in 20 years. According to the Guardian, Cameron hailed the agreement as “a very big day for Britain” that “would kickstart a new generation of nuclear power in the UK.”

Britain, UK, nuclear, nuclear power, nuclear power plant, energy, renewable energy, David Cameron, Prime Minister, Fukushima, nuclear disaster, safety

Cameron’s statements are troubling for two reasons: first, Britain has already fallen far behind in its mission to meet the EU’s strict renewable energy targets. Only three percent of the UK’s energy currently comes from renewable sources, such as sun and wind, compared with a European average of 12 percent. Britain previously committed to producing 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 – something most government officials say has no chance of happening.

Cameron’s glee over the new plant should also be troubling for Brits since it moves the country backward, rather than forward. Instead of redoubling efforts to boost renewable energy technology, as Germany and other countries have done, Britain seems content to stick with business as usual despite the numerous risks associated with nuclear energy. Fukushima proved, yet again, that nuclear disaster can strike at any time, and that even with all of our best efforts it’s impossible to protect people and the environment once a leak has occurred. The new nuclear power plant takes more funds from the future and invests them in technologies of the past.

According to the Guardian, the new reactors, which will cost £14bn, won’t start operating until 2023 (that’s if they’re built on time) and will only run for 35 years. Even when operating, they’ll only be capable of producing seven percent of the UK’s electricity – equivalent to the amount used by five million homes. Maybe that’s one reason British journalists have started to refer to Cameron as “out of touch with reality.”

Via The Guardian

Images via Montgomery County and bisgovuk

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1 Comment

  1. b October 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    You make it sound like 7% of the country’s energy is a drop in the bucket. Do you realize the US only gets about 10% from nuclear? It is important to keep the energy discussion in perspective and cost per kWh generated needs to be understood. Comparing the US to countries like Germany is a bit disconnected considering Germany is a third the size of the US, pays 3 or 4 times as much for their energy and pays twice as much in taxes on top of it and they’re nowhere near getting 100% of their energy from renewables. The UK is similar in this regard. And how susceptible to earthquakes and tsunamis is the UK? You compared Fukushima, which was caused by a record breaking earthquake followed by a record breaking tsunami. Its not as if the Fukushima reactors were just working fine one day and then melted down on their own. A major catastrophe occurred resulting in widespread damage and multiple failures. The quake and tsunami alone killed tens of thousands of people whereas the nuclear meltdowns might not kill anyone. Only time will tell on that.

    Do you know what it would cost to get that 7% from renewables instead of nuclear? No really, do you know, how does the cost compare? Germany and Japan are proof of what happens when you become too dependent on any one resource or mentality.

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