Archive article from The Socialist Issue 516
Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/2008/516/np2408.htm
Stop nuclear power plans NOW!
The government has given the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations, with no limits on how far the nuclear industry could expand.
They claim it is for 'the good of the environment'. The excuse they use is the need to reduce carbon emissions in an attempt to reverse global warming. They also fear rising oil and gas prices and desire to be less reliant on foreign supplies.
But how is something this dangerous good for the environment? The nuclear fallout from the 1986 accident at the Russian plant at Chernobyl resulted in tens of thousands of cancer related deaths.
The new plants will be totally private! The profit motive will inevitably over-ride safety issues. Just remember how safety was relegated on the privatised railways, resulting in a series of disasters. The difference this time is that the potential death count is in the 100,000s! No matter how small the government claims the risk will be - it is not worth it.
The government does not even have a plan for what to do with the nuclear waste. This will remain dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. They will continue to store it in "interim" facilities while they decide what to do with it!
Even on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, substituting nuclear power would only provide a small reduction. Nuclear power produces electricity, but only 14% of oil and gas consumed in Britain goes into electricity production, most is used for other purposes such as transport and heating.
Yes, global warming is a massive threat, but we can reduce carbon emissions without resorting to the dangers of nuclear power. What is needed is huge investment into alternative sustainable energies such as wind and wave power, big improvements in energy efficiency, and a massive improvement in public transport. But capitalism is always concerned about the short term and maximising profits.
That is why so little has been spent on research into alternatives. £6.8 billion has been spent by the government since 1979 on research and development into nuclear fission, yet it has spent only £540 million on renewable energy sources. A socialist solution is needed.
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