Press Release - 12 March 2011
Japanese Accident Sends Warning Signal Over Hinkley C Plans
The nuclear accident in Japan is a stark warning of the dangers of nuclear power in this country, the Stop Hinkley campaign said today.
Reports from Japan say that one of the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power station has suffered a serious loss of cooling water following the earthquake that hit the northern part of the country. This allowed temperatures to rise in the reactor core, risking the possibility of a complete meltdown.
An explosion in the plant early on Saturday morning (UK time) sent smoke billowing from the reactor buildings. A government spokesman said that the explosion had destroyed the roof of the power station's “outer building”.
Radiation was released into the surrounding area, including the radio-isotopes caesium and iodine. Plans are in hand to distribute iodine tablets because of the risk that radioactive iodine will enter people's thyroid glands. Japan 's nuclear safety agency said that radiation levels at the plant were "unusually high".
Thousands of people living within a 20 kilometre radius have been told to leave their homes, and many more are fleeing the vicinity. Journalists have been refused access to closer than 60 kilometres from the plant.
Ten other Japanese nuclear plants have been shut down as a precaution.
"If the Fukushima nuclear power station is releasing radioactive gases into the atmosphere then it means that its protection mechanisms have already failed,” said Stop Hinkley spokesman Crispin Aubrey. “The nuclear industry always says that this sort of thing cannot happen with modern reactors. How many more warnings do we need before we realise that this technology is inherently dangerous?”
The UK may not be an earthquake zone but there are many other scenarios which could result in the loss of coolant and a potential meltdown at a nuclear power station. Internal documents leaked from French electricity company EdF last year showed that the European Pressurised Reactor design planned for Hinkley Point could suffer from a control mechanism failure leading to a Chernobyl-type explosion. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the disastrous accident at the Chernobyl No.4 reactor in the Ukraine.
“The events in Japan provide yet more evidence that nuclear power is unsafe,” said Crispin Aubrey. “We should immediately shelve plans for any new reactors in this country, including the Hinkley C proposal.“