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Fighting nuclear power
HUW JONES from People Against Wylfa B spoke to IAIN DALTON about how they are campaigning against the building of a new nuclear plant in North West Wales.
WYLFA, THE nuclear power plant on Anglesey, that has been operating there since the 1960s and is currently coming towards the end of its life, is due to close in 2010.
Last year the government proposed a second generation of nuclear power plants and Anglesey county council and local Labour MP, Albert Owen heralded the coming of a new power plant at Wylfa, which they said would bring jobs and prosperity to the local community.
The reality is far from this. The island's two main employers are Wylfa and Anglesey Aluminium which gets a discounted supply of energy from Wylfa. Local politicians argue that if Wylfa closes, so will Anglesey Aluminium with a huge loss of jobs. However, many jobs would be retained in the decontamination process that could take many years and workers would be needed to maintain any new renewable power generation.
Also, Anglesey Aluminium survived for 18 months whilst Wylfa was closed down, so how much of a difference is it to do this on a permanent basis? Even Anglesey Aluminium's managing director says the company's future doesn't depend on a new nuclear plant at Wylfa.
Furthermore, local politicians don't talk about the inherent dangers of nuclear power. British nuclear power generation has far from a spotless safety record and Wylfa itself has been closed several times.
Moreover, the big problem with nuclear power is what to do with the waste which stays radioactive for thousands of years. There is currently no safe way of storing it. Government suggestions that a safe way may be found in the future is just their way of passing the buck and storing up big problems for the future.
The precedents for a campaign against a replacement plant on Anglesey are there however. In the mid-1980s the Thatcher government proposed a new nuclear power station on the site, which a local campaign (under the same name) organised successfully against, contributing to the proposal being dropped.
The present campaign features some members of the original group (the organisers continued to monitor the situation between themselves), alongside local community activists and some alternative energy researchers who have been working on proposals on how the area's energy needs could be met through renewable energy, which Anglesey is ideally located to harness.
The campaign organised a public meeting of about 40 people last February in Menai Bridge, and has launched an online petition (www.petitiononline.com/nonuke) as well as leafleting the whole of the island. The local politicians behind the proposals have kept quieter on the issue after Blair's bungled consultation temporarily stalled the plans to develop new nuclear power plants.
The campaign, however, is still active, holding regular stalls in Llangefni and running fundraising events to support the campaign.
The Socialist Party says
- No to nuclear power, for massive investment into the development of renewable energy.
- For a socialist plan of production to meet people's needs.
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