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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 May 2008

Nuclear industry's 'green' camouflage

NEW SHOCK figures on climate change show that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at its highest level in 650,000 years. But, instead of calling for massively increased investment into sustainable energy sources, both the nuclear industry and New Labour repeat the lie that nuclear energy is somehow "cleaner and greener" than other energy sources. ROY FARRAR writes.

BACK IN 1976 the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution said it would be "morally wrong" to make a major commitment to nuclear power without making provision for the safe storing of radioactive waste.

Yet New Labour proposes to build at least ten new nuclear reactors, and there is still no site available to dispose of radioactive waste built up over the last 50 years!

These nuclear propagandists bandy about claims that 'our nuclear power plants don't burn anything, so they don't produce greenhouse gases' to imply that nuclear power is the more environmentally sound option.

But from August 2004 to April 2005, radioactive material leaked from a fractured pipe at the Sellafield plant.

Eight months elapsed before anyone noticed the huge volume of concentrated nitric acid containing 160 kilograms of plutonium plus 20 tonnes of uranium that flowed out onto the floor of the building!

In 2005 international radiation expert Keith Baverstock was sacked from the UK government Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CRWM) after raising concerns over continuing problems of dangerous nuclear waste.

Baverstock said the CRWM decided "the fate of hazardous material, in the way one might decide on the location of next year's village fete."

Many nuclear power plants, particularly in Western Europe, dump cooling water from the reactors into rivers. This cooling water is radioactive with tritium, a by-product of the nuclear reaction. Tritium should be isolated and safely stored, but this is not done because the plant operators deem it too costly and uneconomic.

Last year the UK government concluded that tritium's 'hazard risk' should be doubled. The report failed to take into account, however, that tritium is often bound with water molecules and should, therefore, rate a far higher hazard risk.

German studies published this year show far higher incidences of cancers associated with living near nuclear plants. There was a 60% increase in solid cancers and a 117% increase in leukaemia among young children, between 1980 and 2003, who lived close to the 16 German plants.

The German government agreed that children living within five kilometres of the plants were at least twice as likely to develop cancers as those living some distance away.

The Socialist Party says no to nuclear power. We need to renationalise the energy industry under democratic control. There must be a huge increase in research and investment into alternative sustainable energy sources, energy efficiency and high quality public transport. A socialist solution would allow democratic planning for everyone's needs, not just for big business' short-term profits.

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