Facts that make nuclear future fanciful

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I read with some incredulity Keith Burns’s pro-nuclear comment piece trying to suggest there are ten “myths” of nuclear power that need to be de-bunked (Friends of The Scotsman, 5 February). His ten arguments really demand a ­response.

The safest form of energy is without doubt renewable energy. Who has ever heard of a wind turbine, solar panel or small hydro system harming anyone? Yet Fukushima in Japan has led to the evacuation of more than 140,000 people, Chernobyl in Ukraine significantly more and they may never be able to go back home – hardly a safe energy source then when it goes wrong?

There is also a major scientific debate about the effects of low-level radiation on human health with which Mr Burns needs to engage and I urge him to read studies undertaken by the likes of Dr Ian Fairlie before being so blasé about health risks.

It may be true that nuclear facilities have large levels of security, but more than 500,000 packages of nuclear materials are transported in the UK each year, so a determined terrorist could cause a major incident if they so wished without that much ­difficulty.

In terms of waste disposal we are now on, at least, our fourth attempt to get a process moving in England and Wales to find a suitable site for an underground repository, and many decades away from a “solution”.

In terms of cost, Mr Burns ignores the fact that the UK government has signed a deal with EDF to pay for new nuclear energy at £92 a megawatt hour at a time when the cost of renewable energy, particularly solar, is coming down and will continue to come down. A staggering £16 billion for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point alone!

The speed with which renewables can be developed compared with nuclear is also far more favourable and Scotland has shown that such rapid growth can be achieved.

Nuclear fusion still remains a pipe-dream and easy-to-get uranium supplies are running out fast.

Finally, in terms of proliferation, India and Pakistan found ways around international regulations to attain the nuclear materials for developing nuclear weapons, as has North Korea.

Mr Burns would do well to remember that any serious discussion on the subject of nuclear power must be based on the best evidence available and not mere assertion.

(CLLr) Bill Butler

Convener of Nuclear Free Local Authorities Scotland Forum
City Chambers, Glasgow

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