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Campaigners warn on third nuclear station for Heysham and safety plan failures for Nuclear Waste plans

Chris Satori
A locally-based anti-nuclear campaign group is warning that a third nuclear power station at Heysham will be built by EDF Energy unless local residents unite to oppose the decision.

Lancaster City Council has already issued a response of support to the Government consultation on the National Policy Statements relating to energy which included a proposal for a third power station at Heysham.  Only Green councillors voted against it, and were overruled.

Heysham Anti-Nuclear Alliance (HANA) is a working group of organisations and individuals opposed to the construction of new nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom. It aims to raise public awareness of the issues involved and to campaign against the use of technologies involving radioactive materials that threaten local populations and the environment, both at the Heysham site, and others in the North-West, including Cumbria.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change published a revised draft of the National Policy Statements for Nuclear Power last year. Heysham was one of the eight sites nominated for a new nuclear power station, the first of which would be operational by 2018. 

The DECC provides all of the supporting documents online for members of the public to read, which include the siting map that shows the proposed site includes Heysham Golf Course, and an area to the south and west including Heysham Nature Reserve and Ocean Edge Leisure Park. It is proposed a new reactor could be ready by 2019 or 2020 and at the latest by 2025, and a second reactor was also suggested. 

The French energy giant EDF expects to be pouring concrete foundations by 2013 and complete the work by the end of 2017, with commercial operation beginning within two years thereafter.

Responding to concerns about the dangers being caused after explosions at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant in Japan in the wake of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami, HANA, in a measured response to the continuous stock reassurances being pumped out globally by a nuclear industry trying to distance itself from the Tokyo Electric Power Company, notes that all nuclear power stations use vast volumes of water for cooling purposes. (The failure of the coolant systems is what is believed to have in part caused problems at the Japanese plant).

"In so doing, [these stations] release significant quantities of low-energy radiation such as tritium," says HANA, "which is known to accumulate in the environment and the ecosystem. There has been little scientific research to definitely prove or disprove any impact on human health.

"Sellafield’s cooling system is courtesy of the freshwater of Wastwater, and today four million gallons of water were abstracted to cool the nuclear waste. The high-level wastes need to be cooled for decades, and are much too volatile to risk cooling by corrosive sea water.

"In addition, high-level nuclear wastes are reprocessed at Sellafield including spent fuel from Japan’s nuclear plants. Reprocessing is banned in the USA and makes high-level radioactive wastes even more dangerous and difficult to manage safely."

Radioactive 'Deepstore' Planned for Cumbria

In addition to plans for a new station at Heysham, HANA also notes that there are plans in Cumbria to build a repository deep underground to store high-level radioactive waste.

"The Nirex inquiry in the 1990s found that the Cumbrian geology is unsuitable for deep disposal of radioactive waste," the campaign group notes. "The DECC is keen to be seen to have 'solved' the waste problem in order to press ahead with their pro-nuclear agenda. If the government is determined that high-level nuclear wastes are to be subjected to geological disposal, dependent on cooling systems, rather than above ground facilities, then that geological disposal must be in a more stable region and not in Cumbria.

"The current 'Managing Radioactive Wastes Safely Process' is not representative of all its stakeholders," HANA argues, "and it advocates deep disposal as a permanent solution when it is scientifically controversial. The unsuitable geology of Cumbria means that over a long period of time, with natural corrosion, radioactive waste might percolate into the environment.

"The threat of rising sea levels due to climate change makes storm surges more likely in the future. Sellafield and Heysham, like most nuclear facilities, are on the coastline. Given the 60 year operational life span of the planned new build nuclear power stations, rare natural events become significant risks over longer time periods.

"Therefore when considering all these problems, we believe that the only way to avoid the possibility of another Fukushima or Chernobyl is to abandon this nuclear nightmare and put all that currently wasted money, efforts, and expertise into developing renewable technologies and gradually phase out our nuclear industry as safely as possible."

• Please join other concerned Lancashire and Cumbrian residents and affiliate with HANA online at and sign the petition by Radiation Free Lakeland opposing the geological disposal of nuclear wastes in Cumbria.

• You can download the Geological Study on the proposed site by David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow.

•  Watch the 2 minute trailer for 'Into Eternity' a documentary about the vast 100,000 year toxic radioactive waste storage facility being built in Finland. (The high level waste is radioactive for 100,000 years - after that it is 'just' toxic.)