A default government pushes more nuclear power pollution.

"We don't want to scare the country to death."
Dwight D Eisenhower, in 1953, forestalling tactless truths about nuclear stockpiles of destruction.

Rear Admiral Daniel Gallery... asserted it was wrong for a civilized society like the United States to have as its broad purpose in war "simply destruction and annihilation of the enemy." That kind of war was not as simple as the prophets of the "10 day" atomic blitz seemed to think..."Levelling large cities has a tendency to alienate the affections of the inhabitants and does not create an atmosphere of good will after the war."

"...on the President's desk when he took office in January 1953...was the report of a special commission...Forecasting to the year 1975, the study predicted oil shortages and concluded: "Nuclear fuels, for various technical reasons, are unlikely ever to bear more than about one-fifth the load...It is time for aggressive research in the whole field of solar energy -- an effort in which the United States could make an immense contribution to the welfare of the world."
In the intervening years, some $200 billion have been spent throughout the world in attempts to develop nuclear power. Solar has received perhaps one-thousandth that amount.

Quotations from The Nuclear Barons, first published in 1981, by Peter Pringle and James Spigelman.

Misplaced ambitions.

More nuclear fission power stations are the worst energy option of all: deadly dangerous, insecure, costly, inefficient and inequitable. That the Labour government should be promoting them in its 2006 energy review makes no sense at all. This debate should never have been re-opened after the 2003 energy review. The policy reversal may be put down to the anti-democratic centralism of over-bearing leaders serving monopolistic opportunism. A conclusion to be drawn from their fatuous decision is that politics pursues vested interests, such as the nuclear lobby.

Who will prevent future generations forever being left with corporate government legacies of poisonous wastes? The government is unscrupulous in pursuing more nuclear power. But the public, in a free society, could prevent them on this and other attempts to over-ride their wishes. Not only government incompetance is to blame but also public ineffectiveness.

A people's response to this situation is that the public interest must be made foremost in politics. Two minimum but neglected conditions for this are firstly, for all official elections, the democratic voting system, the Single Transferable Vote, which seems to terrify most politicians more than another Chernobyl. Secondly, the principle of "equality of lobbying" implies universal vocational suffrage. All occupational and professional elections could include proportional representation by STV to the second chamber of government.

No-one could fail to be impressed by the energy released from an atomic bomb, not least the physicists and engineers and administrators who released it. Seeking to make amends,"atoms for peace" has been hand in glove with bomb production from the early years. Both became conventional wisdom. I remember in my impressionable youth believing that nuclear energy was the science fiction-like debue of an awesome power of the future. That is not entirely wrong but it has proved seriously premature.

Fission energy stations are the Professor Branestawm of big government and big business. They are one means of many for powering a dynamo or electric generator. But so-called "nuclear electricity" is just the stupidest possible means of turbine-turning. Using radioactivity, to boil water for steam turbines, loads the planet with highly diffusive and more or less permanent pollution.

Every other means of generating electricity, from harnessing the various renewable natural forces down to the wind-up radio or wind-up torch, are models of sanity and practicality, in comparison.

The argument that nuclear power reduces carbon emissions is specious, because its pollution is far deadlier than the carbon emissions of conventionly fueled power stations. And chemical pollutants might just as well be contained from fossil fuels, so that a new generation of coal and gas power stations could then be labeled environmentally friendly.

Coal-fired power could be modernised to run more efficiently at higher temperatures and pressures, cutting carbon emissions. This would be radicly cheaper than a new power station. This is not to forget that fossil fuels are inherently dirty and that organic chemicals really are much too valuable to burn, when renewable energies are available.

However, with new carbon-capture technology, carbon dioxide, from coal and gas, may be pumped into the ground, making such power stations minimal contributors to global warming. Again, renewables are preferable, because we cannot be sure carbon sequestration is secure. As to accidental carbon emissions from such up-graded stations, it would be no serious matter. Whereas if there are radio-active emissions, it may be a matter of life and death, for who is in the way of their dispersion, or whether the land and water they blight will be habitable, harvestable or drinkable for the forseeable future.

There is an other reason why we should not go for a new generation of nuclear power stations, which Ive not heard mentioned in Britain's current energy debate. So, I'll mention it here to give it some prominence on this page. Current nuclear technology is, of course, fission energy. It takes ten or twelve years to commission a new station. They wouldnt all be built at once.

In a few decades, they will be obsolete. The real new nuclear generation of power stations has just begun in France, site of the world's first fusion energy station. This is the biggest joint scientific venture on the planet, second only to the inter-national space station. This has no radio-active by-products, with their unsolved problems of storage or contamination, weapons or security and costs. Tho, the fusion reaction would still need a radio-active trigger.

If humans endure to build space-ships, they would be powered by fusion reactors, probably using helium-3. They would have other independent sources of power, such as solar sails, that already power some satellites. If the fusion reactor breaks down and you have no other means of propulsion, you may be not only lost in space but dead in space. Helium-3 is not obtainable on earth but could be mined from the moon. The helium-3 process does not need a fission trigger reaction.

Any risk of radioactive contamination, in the confined area of a space-ship, would surely be eliminated from the design, because there is no-where else for a crew to go.
The moral is the same for space-ship Earth. We should not be building more fission reactors to spread their permanent poison over the planet. The poison, like less durable but still lingering chemical poisons, may or may not be harmful at low levels but that isnt any reason not to prevent their build up.

Most people may feel they could live with fusion power. Nevertheless, fusion is not the ideal form of domestic energy production. It removes most of the danger but danger is not the only issue. It is extremely centralised power and as such vulnerable. It also makes a population dependent on it, vulnerable and over-charged. Small is Beautiful, as E F Schumacher's book says.

Decentralised energy would be transmission-efficient and less costly for local consumption. Energy independence is in the interests of the people, the human race as a whole, rather than conglomerates making monopolistic profits from the centralised supplies of power stations, conventional or nuclear, that we have now.

Friends of the Earth may be right in prefering tidal lagoons as less damaging to the environment than one grandiose Severn barrage. Britain has by far the best tidal power potential in the world. Making use of many tidal lagoons around the British Isles would be more transmission-efficient and less vulnerable to accident and sewage build-up. It would also spare one of the most important bird migration spots in the world. The wonder-of-the-world can turn out to be a monumental folly. It's called: putting too many eggs in one basket.

The return of the radioactivists.

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Just before the 2005 election, The Independent carried a leak of the Prime Minister's intention of a new energy review, to legitimise more nuclear power stations, rejected by the 2003 review. Labour kept it quiet so as not to lose anti-nuclear votes to the Liberal Democrats. But Labour could lose another million votes or so, in the next general election on this issue alone, if they elect the likes of Gordon Brown as the new leader. This would deservedly lose them the election. On 14 april 2006, Liberal Democrat David Howarth said: "Going through a long review process, only to come up with whatever answer Tony Blair wants to hear, is no use to anyone."

Trade and Industry secretary Alistair Darling said he wants to make it easier to replace ageing power plants "to meet our energy needs." Presumably, this means the Confederation of British Industry's ( CBI ) energy demands. Also, such as the white collar-union Amicus. Maybe a third of Labour MPs support more nuclear power. It is a jobs issue in often marginal constituencies. People will vote with their pay packets. But this is not necessarily in the long term interest of everybody.

In Parliament's energy review debate, a Labour MP said 17,000 of the 40,000 nuclear workers were in his constituency. He said they would take another nuclear power station. He appeared willing to take on more than one more. But it might be charitable not to presume on such gallantry. What cannot be cured must be endured. And, it seemed from this MP, might as well be endured with some braggadocio.

It's one of the cases against single member constituencies. If there's a nuclear power station in the constituency, on which a living depends, then they can sway who gets to be MP. With a multi-member constituency, candidates have to face opposing arbitrators, and can make rational choices the public can respect, rather than be in the pocket of one vested interest.

That's only one example of the general vulnerability of single member constituencies to particular interests, regardless of the public interest. It may apply to constituencies with prisons, if prisoners are given votes in accordance with new European Rights directives.

We already knew the government want to "streamline" major planning inquiries. In january 2006, The Independent learnt that "senior nuclear industry figures also want to strip public inquiries of the power to investigate the safety of Britain's new generation of nuclear reactors."

The Prime Minister twice addressed the CBI on more nuclear power, suggesting who is pulling the strings here. Greenpeace activists disrupted the first meeting. And the CBI's Sir Digby Jones, just like a self-serving government minister, went on about the PM being the democraticly elected government.

Actually, he and his government are nothing of the sort. It is a usurping government with a usurping review. For one thing, Blair is not a president and would most probably not have been elected a third time. His governing party was elected only by default on 35% of the votes. They are not there with the consent of a majority of the British people. They are there because of a deficient electoral system, which is too beneficial to the two main parties for either of them to have the decency, honesty or integrity to democratise it. Tho, it is perfectly within the wit of man to have a democratic voting system, rather than various party-controlled shams they pass for voting systems.

Reported on 17 may 2006, Blair's second address to the CBI said that a new generation of nuclear power stations was "back on the agenda with a vengeance". It is up to this generation not to have to take "Blair's vengeance" on future generations from permanent contamination by radio-activity. Blair's vengeance is just a melodramatic gloss on a failed experiment's refusal to suffer private loss, as long as the public may be made to suffer.

Despite any follow-my-leader effect, an IBM poll, for The Sunday Telegraph, 21 may 2006, showed that 47% opposed new nuclear power stations in Britain. 40% were in support. 12% said they did not know. 1% refused to answer. 56% of men but only 26% of women supported new reactors. The report by Melissa Kite didnt say how many women were opposed. But 60% of women were said to be fearful of nuclear power stations. 49% of people said they were fearful of them and 47% said they were not.

British women have been culturally permitted to show their emotions more than men. The foot-baller Paul Gascoigne crying, over an unjust penalty at the World Cup, was voted Britain's most memorable sporting moment. For a man to show distress, in public, was traditionly held to be an admission of weakness. Women may be less frightened of showing justifiable fear.

Kite's article said Westminster was taken by surprise because the PM had pre-empted the out-come of his own energy review. Greenpeace's director Stephen Tindale also accused the PM of prejudging his review. The PM's bias leant weight to the widespread criticism that the review was a front all along.

Why did the PM take the offensive, giving offense to many? The Sunday Telegraph suggested several things like "sticking up two fingers to his own party and the CND."
Well, he'd already done that, when he pawned the Labour party, without even its treasurer knowing, to scrape his phoney victory in the 2005 general election. This financial usurpation is just one symptom of general elections turned into a degenerate presidential election for a party leader, without electoral reform to an effective choice of parliamentary representatives.

The Telegraph also suggested he was asserting his authority by setting the agenda. This is what an authoritarian, who has announced "the end of the liberal consensus" in British politics, would do. As The Times' Simon Jenkins said, Blair and Brown are "natural authoritarians." The assumption of power is the enemy of questioning assumptions by which people learn. Knowledge depends on freedom as freedom depends on knowledge. Seeking to suppress or brush aside that freedom turns back or perverts human progress.

The PM's out-burst over-shadowed and over-rid a recent rejection of nuclear power by the government's own advisors, chaired by Sir Jonathon Porritt. The Independent summed their verdict on fission energy as: dangerous, expensive and unwanted. The growing waste disposal problem has not been solved. It is a target for deadly attack and use in nuclear weapons. They warned that the public could end up footing the huge bill, as they had for the previous economicly failed generation of nuclear power stations. The public would, in any case, be effectively paying a huge policing bill of defending the indefensible. An expensive nuclear programme would divert limited resources and attention from a great variety of useful solutions with important contributions to energy production and saving.

Asked what he thought of Blair not waiting for his energy review evidence, minister Malcolm Wicks said: "Well, he is the Prime Minister."
That's a response that invites a fresh look at that office and its powers, which have burgeoned with the lack of democracy in general elections. The single members are monopoly nominations of a local party. Local party choice over-rides local individual choice. And national party choice over-rides local party choice. In the absence of presidential elections, general elections are substantially a choice between party leaders, because offering a mostly ineffective choice of local representatives.

Margaret Beckett's previous environmental advisor said, on 10 july 2006, on radio, that Tony Blair's favoring more nuclear power stations had been the worst kept secret in politics.

Jonathan Leake said:

although nuclear power provides about a fifth of Britain's electricity, this translates into only 7% of the nation's total energy needs.
About a third of the energy that we consume is in the form of oil and petrol for transport while the rest - mainly gas and coal - is used by industry and for heating buildings. Nuclear energy simply cannot replace fossil fuels for such purposes...
[ The 2003 energy white paper ] set out licenses restricting companies' carbon emissions, grants for energy saving insulation and a range of measures that could all be used to reduce demand without affecting the economy or people's lifestyles. Such measures could, it suggested, slash 25m from the 183m tons of annual carbon emissions in Britain.

The day before the Blairite energy review was due, The Trade and Industry Committee expressed concern that its out-come should not be rushed thru without consultation. They suggested energy short-falls may have been over-estimated and that prolonging the life of some existing nuclear power stations would be better than rushing into a new generation of nuclear plants. And they criticised the government for failing to carry out a "full assessment" of energy needs. MPs urged the government to ensure it has "broad support" for its policies and criticised it for failing to build a cross-party consensus.

But this is the problem with government under an exclusive political system. The partisan electoral system and whipping system, the lobby system etc empower exclusive vested interests' politicians with closed minds incapable of good judgment. Until people learn this lesson, they are always going to have this problem.

Politicly correct talk about "inclusion" is hypocrisy under party oligarchy. The PM's "Respect" agenda belies its intentions by setting up yet another wasteful bureaucracy. Most politicians do anything but empower the people with, for a start, the democratic voting system and a vocationly representative second chamber, which actually would respect everybody politicly and economicly. Place-holding politicians appear without self-respect, let alone for any-one else.

A University of East Anglia poll, reported, on 17 january 2006, said 63% accepted a mix of renewable and nuclear energy. This was interpreted as Britons "accepting nuclear power". But it is not clear from the other statistics that it means that at all. 62% said it doesnt matter what the public thinks as new stations will be built anyway. Obviously, such a state of mind is not conducive to taking the trouble to assess for oneself what is best for the country's future, as one's efforts will be wasted anyway.
As the 2006 Power Inquiry said: "The current system is killing politics in Britain." And one might add that top-down decision-taking may kill more than politics.

In the same study, 78% thought renewable technologies and energy efficiency were better ways of tackling global warming. That suggests that Britain "accepting nuclear power" is a case of putting up with what big business and government are determined to shove on the country.

54% said they'd accept nuclear power stations if they helped to fight climate change. This is one of my favorite candidates for Disraeli's "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." The conditional question is based on a false premise. Critics say carbon dioxide emissions would only be reduced three to four per cent, at a giant cost, from new nuclear generators, that could be better spent. Eight new reactors were not projected to be fully operational till 2020.
Hardly a recommendation for meeting the global warming emergency.

The question is like pointing a climate-change "gun" at the inter-viewer's head and demanding nuclear power stations or else. The surprise is that nearly half the questioners refused to be intimidated by the bluff.

There is what lawyers call "a leading question". In other words, nuclear power versus climate change is a mis-leading question.
The "leading question" really meaning a misleading question reminds me of the Labour party accepting "the principle" of its Plant report that there should be different voting systems for different political bodies. That is to say their "principle" is they dont have any principle. The Labour party in government dont know the difference between law and anarchy. To quote John Reid about his new ministry: They are "not fit for purpose."

On 11 july 2006, the Green Party came up with their own poll of 500 Britons. They found almost 9 out of 10 reject the nuclear option. 98% back greater investment in renewable energy. And 99% said that more should be done to promote energy-saving measures in the home.
The Greens said: "This puts paid to any suggestion that nuclear power is accepted."


The dependent energy review (2006).

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On 11 july 2006, Alistair Darling heralded the energy review by saying nuclear power had always been part of the energy mix and "should remain so." This statement is illogical. It doesnt follow that because something has been, it should remain. And if it's not meant to be a reason, then it's mere assertion, which there is no reason to follow. Because the Minister, or his Prime Minister, says so, is not a reason for doing something. We do not have to acquiesce in an ignorant politics of unquestioned authority.

The Tory opposition spokesman said the energy review was not so much carbon free as content free. The Liberal Democrat spokeman welcomed the positive aspects of the report on increasing the use of renewables from 4% to 20% by 2020 and energy conservation in households and appliances. But he accused the government of "surrendering" to the nuclear lobby instead of building a cross-party policy on energy. The Lib Dems are against the building of new nuclear stations. The current Tory thinking is that they should only be "a last resort."

Darling interpreted or misinterpreted this as meaning that the Tory leader didnt want nuclear till later. It must be admitted that Lib Dem policy is more forth-right. They are renouncing any more of these hostages to fortune. Whereas the Tory reformers havent recognised there is no point in having even a few more hostages to fortune.
Darling took comfort from recently leaked Tory party e-mails that there was a rebellion against the Zac Goldsmith anti-nuclear stance. The Tories showed themselves to be as divided as Labour. This was Darling's excuse against a cross-party consensus on energy policy.

The Tory pro-nuclear rebels gave the Labour government a big let-off. David Cameron is going to have to get a grip on this issue, if it isnt to undermine confidence in his leadership and his party. Blair and Brown have already revealed themselves as lost souls to nuclear power, not to mention other kinds of power.

The government are going to make planning permission for windmills and nuclear power stations easier. Some local authorities already give automatic clearance for domestic wind-mills. Anyway, that shouldnt be much of a problem. That is not much of a bargain if it is also not much of a problem for some consortium to put a nuclear power station by your house. So much for government even-handedness between big business and the public.

Yet, politicians dare not give permission to build a reactor in a built-up area. If it blows, it takes the city with it. Also, some research on the density of cancer-related illnesses, suggested their radio-active leaks might be deleterious to health. The government can only bully sparser communities into having to put up with nuclear fission hazards.

The Labour government has been cited as wanting six new nuclear power stations. They hope to follow ( according to Finnish Greenpeace ) the "stupid" decision of Finland, which has ample renewable energy sources but, after repeated pressure, needlessly paid for the multi-billion pound costs of turbine-turning radio-activity. This sends the wrong signal to Britain, which also has a wealth of renewable energy resources. The government no doubt counts on people having to make the best of its impositions.

A few new nuclear stations would make a negligible contribution to combating carbon dioxide emissions. So, that isnt the real reason for it. It is also not so big a contribution that could not be spanned otherwise by Britain's potential, tidal, wave, wind and geo-thermal, hydro-electric and solar power resources, plus energy conservation. So, that's not the real reason for it.

Darling's statement gives a possible clue: maintaining the status quo. The government is not really looking at a change in direction that would be in the public interest. These leaders are really agents of business as usual, regardless of the general interest. Also, vested interests' reason for being is to aggrandise themselves, not put the general welfare first. So, one could expect a few nuclear stations to be expanded up to the original ambitious twenty threatened. Economies of duplication would be cited, a dishonest limit on ambition forgotten, after the foot is in the door.

Joan Ruddock MP asked how long would nuclear power take to make a contribution and how big would the contribution be. Darling just brushed the questions aside, by saying he didnt think they were important. By refusal to answer her questions, he ungraciously conceded that new nuclear power stations have no significant contribution to make against global warming, indeed waste limited resources. And that the real reasons for them are the usual one that government puts the interests of the big business lobbies before the public interest.

To appreciate Parliament, one only had to listen to how MPs' questions probed the weak points in the government's position. Darling said the nuclear industry would pay its full share in the commissioning and decommissioning of plants. Some MPs wanted a more explicit definition of full share, such as 100% of costs. But the minister wouldnt be pinned down.

Another MP wanted to know if this nuclear self-financing included security.
It didnt. The minister couldnt wriggle out of that one, for fear of scaring away private investments in fission plants. He tried to make his admission as unobtrusive as possible, by merely saying he didnt agree with the questioner. But this means that limited resources for public protection are diverted and concentrated on these white elephants. Private profits are massively subsidised at public expense to the detriment of public safety.

Another MP asked what about the supposed profit from nuclear if the price of uranium rose. And another MP asked was it not inevitable that once nuclear power was in place, the country would have no alternative but to accept the going price, not being able to do without. The Liberal Democrats likened more nuclear power stations to another stealth tax.

Ned Temko, of The Observer reported, on 9 april 2006, that the government would cap companies' liabilities and guarantee a minimum energy price before business risk takers would take any risks with nuclear power.

The environmentalist Tom Burke claimed: "since the Treasury will never agree to pay for the power stations, the electricity market will have to be rigged for 30 years to guarantee a return for nuclear investors."
Jonathan Leake concluded:

Three decades of bigger energy bills for homes and businesses: will that be Blair's real legacy?

Michael Meacher MP wanted to know from the government why the new nuclear stations, given that we already dont know what to do with all the radio-active waste, the huge insecurity and uneconomic expense to the public. Some MPs tried to shout him down. The Speaker had to call for order to let him be heard. Darling appeared to try to forestall his question by saying "I know where you're coming from."

The Minister as witch doctor sounded as if he'd seen an approaching asteroid from outer space, and hoped to divert it by saying "I know where you're coming from." Darling's reaction personified the charade of private-interests government. It pretends it is doing something but really does little more than hope Earth misses the "asteroids" of vested interests and their disasters.

The threats of these disasters were illustrated in two stories, I happened to see on the same day, 23 july 2006. One was in The Sunday Post. It revealed that several truck loads of radio-active waste had been side-lined in a heavily populated area for eight years. This was excused on the grounds that the British government couldnt come to some sort of agreement with the Egyptian government.

The other story was of a radio-active truck-load intercepted on the Bulgarian border, on its way from a British firm, with apparent export approval, to Iran. The contents were refered to the Bulgarian atomic agency. According to the Mail account, the lead containers were destined for the Iranian Ministry of Defence. They contained Americium-beryllium capable of use for manufacturing a "dirty bomb." Such material is "mainly found in spent reactor-fuel elements and is not at all easy to get hold of."
A similar incident happened in august 2005, this time concerning a ton of zirconium silicate.

These chance news items high-light Meacher's concern that all the nuclear waste sloshing around the country and the world is ominous.
Michael Meacher might have made a good Labour party leader. He espoused radical remedies before they became fashionable enough for David Cameron to make a sensation by Toryising them. Meacher was reviled for what now earns Cameron credit of being a Nice Man, Pity about the Party. To date, only one little-known Labour MP, McDonnell, has put up against that spend-thrift, Gordon Brown's coming leadership "coronation".


The renewed nuclear reign of terror.

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Private profits at social costs have already been responsible for serious radio-active pollution of the planet, just as business products have chemicly contaminated the world. A september 2005 study, of the chemical industry's legacy, found lingering traces of everyday chemicals, in mothers and children, which can lead to birth and growth defects.

In June 2005, it was revealed part of a Thermal Oxide Reprocessing plant at Sellafield Cumbria could be closed for months due to a leak undiscovered for up to eight months. Safety regulators claimed the discharge could result in criminal charges. These were brought in May 2006.
In august 2005, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority wanted to speed up the cleaning of twenty civil nuclear sites from 125 years to 25 years. It gave a cost for decommissioning waste and its storage of up to 56 billion. The figure in The Sunday Telegraph, 21 May 2006, is 70 bn, which the taxpayer is already having to pay for. This is as well as the many billions of subsidies that nursed nuclear power over fifty years.

Even Malcolm Wicks, the energy minister, in charge of the current review, said this is a "disgrace". And, I stand corrected, if he was not the man who notoriously said he wouldnt have any "prejudice" over nuclear power.
Radioactivity afflicts alike the prejudiced and unprejudiced.

Elliott Morley was reshuffled out of the environment ministry, as one can understand from the following sane remark:

To have new nuclear power is going to involve very large sums of money. If nuclear power was so great then you would have the private sector willing to invest in it. The reality is that economically the risks are great and the returns are low.

In april 2006, Florida Power called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and offered $100,000 reward to find out who drilled a small hole in a cooling system pipe for one of its reactors, and whether or not it was an accident.

Just consider that accident or no, in the light of apologies for more nuclear power stations. James Lovelock, of the "Gaia" concept, at first alleged that these plants would not be subject to sabotage - because he said so, one supposes. Later he wrote an article for Readers Digest, in which the punch-line was that the concrete casing of a reactor core could not be penetrated by a crashing air-craft. Yet Florida Power goes into red alert because some-one happened to drill a little hole in a pipe. Invulnerable indeed!

5 July 2006, applying under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that the Nuclear Safety Directorate issued warnings over unexplained cracks in reactor cores of UK power stations including Hinkley Point B. British Energy was also criticised but no immediate public risk was found.
So, there it is! Reactor core coats in future allegedly cannot be cracked. But for the present reactor cores themselves have, well, cracks in them.

The Independent, 14 january 2006, reported a nuclear physicist as saying: "The public have the right to know the danger. The government says the terrorism threat is real." He predicted an attack on a nuclear power station could kill over two million. The report continued:

The worst-case scenario could see 2,500 kg of caesium-137, the most dangerous isotope, escape - 100 times more than that released in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

On 18 april 2006, official UN figures predicted 4000 extra cancer deaths from Chernobyl's fall-out. But Greenpeace claimed that recent studies estimated there will be 100,000 extra, many in the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The BBC docu-drama on the 20th anniversary re-called the terrifying disaster that Soviet scientists did not know whether they could avert. Unchecked, Chernobyl would have resulted in a massive thermo-nuclear reaction, with millions of casualties, and amongst other things, the permanent poisoning of the water supply from two of the great river systems.

27 april 2006, security specialists told the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management that ministers must act against terrorist attack. "Deep disposal" was recommended, but where, they would not say. Well, the golden rule is that if you dont want it in your back yard, then you shouldnt inflict it on any one else. So, there's no point in producing more unwanted radioactivity. Our undemocratic government is moving inevitably to over-riding local communities on waste disposal, as it promotes the producing of more.

The Mail on Sunday subsequently carried an article by Jason Lewis that Britain's shortage of scientists meant an influx of foreign experts had to be screened. 18,000 last year meant the Office for Civil Nuclear Security was already struggling with the work-load. The head of the Office warned that Blair's plan to build a new wave of nuclear plants posed a major risk of terrorism.

"It would make no sense to authorise someone to construct a site who then passed that knowledge to someone with malicious intent."

Britain's intelligence service, MI6 admits its recruitment drive has resulted in attempts at inflitration.

The report continued: "This month the Prime Minister struck a deal with France to create a new wave of atomic power stations in the UK."

That useful investigative paper, The Mail, also revealed that Chancellor Gordon Brown's brother Andrew is on board of the French nuclear industry. No wonder then that he supports an extension of nuclear power in Britain. The Mail also revealed that the American nuclear firm, whose cover-up was told in the movie "Silkwood", had bought on board Tory tv personality and newspaper columnist Michael Portillo.


The nuclear weapons connection.

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In 1945, the Hiroshima atomic bomb killed some 80,000. In the following months, some 60,000 died of radiation poisoning. At Nagasaki, the second nuclear bomb, killed 39,000 out-right with another 75,000 dying from radiation poisoning.
These were only minor fission explosions compared to the hydrogen fusion bomb tested a few years later.

The Mail carried an article recently of a big increase in recruitment at Britain's nuclear weapons facility. All this is going on as if it was administrative routine, when it signals major policy decisions taken without leave of the public.
In the same paper, on 25 june 2006, Suzanne Moore commented on Gordon Brown:

We are to have a replacement for Trident whether it works or not, whether the military wants it or not ( many don't ), without a debate.

This is the biggest spending commitment Brown has ever made...

An increasing number of people, not just on the Left, feel that no one is representing their views in Parliament at all. This decision, which appears to have already been made, is not a deterrent to anything except a properly functioning democracy.

A few pages on, William Rees-Mogg defends Brown's decision. He is well stocked with dreadful memories of the Cold War lasting some forty years after 1945. Indeed, The Sunday Times of 9 july 2006, carried a piece about the increasingly Soviet style repression of opposition opinion. It's fair to say, he thinks, that in a world of increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons among unstable nations, it makes sense for Britain to maintain its own.

Rees-Mogg says that Britain is America's junior partner with its deterrent - America supplies the missile system - whereas France has an independent nuclear deterrent. Actually, the United States did give France secret help with developing the neutron bomb. We remember President Chirac's reckless national pride in coming to office by setting off nuclear explosions in a Pacific atoll - some-one else's irradiated back yard. Crack the foundation of the island and you would have major radio-active ocean contamination.

A Commons committee suggested that Britain no longer needed Trident's 24-hour state of alert and called for a scaled-down deterrent. There no longer is an expansionist, much less a Stalinist, Soviet Union.

On the 10 july 2006, twenty bishops wrote in The Independent that Trident was "evil" and that "possession and use are profoundly anti-God acts." Nuclear warfare would kill millions of innocents and rain sickness on the earth. The guilty would be the best prepared in their bunkers.
The bishops said the money would be better spent on helping developing countries. It would show courage that could be respected. This could spread good will, prosperity and progress. That is, if, as usual, public money isnt thrown away on corrupt and undemocratic administrations. I repeat the need for the moral power of example in the proper democratic standard of voting system and two-chamber representation of the economy as well as the polity.

The nuclear submarine has been the capital ship for over forty years time. That's an unusual length of time in a faster changing world. And the Trident replacement is being projected for decades ahead.

The battleship was the capital ship from the turn of the twentieth century up to the second world war, when events proved that, within a forty-year span, it had been superceded by the aircraft carrier. Meanwhile, magnificent battleships were still being built, tho these armoured dinosaurs would be sunk like floating tin baths. The Bismarck was a marvel of German naval engineering but its fate was sealed when its steering was jammed by a torpedo from a few obsolete carrier-planes called "stringbags." All the contending naval powers lost costly battleships by post-Jutland battle rules of engagement. The world moves on.

Perhaps the moral is that if the world is serious about containing war, it must limit the means to fight it, by due process of international law. And outstanding national grievances must be attended to. As the bishops say, money is better spent on plow-shares than swords.

The G8 powers met in St Petersburg with "global energy security" top of their agenda. On 9 july 2006, Teletext reported a leaked action plan for mass expansion of nuclear power for G8 countries with a network of nuclear fuel plants along with reactor sales to developing countries.

Typically, some plan, that the politicians know many people dont want, has to be leaked before we find out about it. The title of this page refered to "a default government" meaning my own country with its spurious electoral system. But a world-wide default government is the periodic world council of the G8 premiers, when it routinely takes fateful decisions over every-one's heads.

For domination in action, it is as if the aggression of nuclear warfare is ritually displaced on the populace thru the pollution threats from unwanted new nuclear plants.

The 8 july Washington Post reports the Bush administration will pay Russia billions "to dump spent nuclear fuel there." This agreement promises to be unpopular across the Russian political spectrum. American government protests, against declining democratic standards in Russia, look like a bad act, when they are evading domestic protests against nuclear power, by dumping its waste on a country undefended by America's constitutional tradition.

British attempts to reproach the Russian presidency were met by Vladimir Putin's retort that at least he didnt sell seats in the legislature. Peer nominations, who happen to be party donors, go on under the smug delusion that Britain is a democracy.

What is wrong with politics?
Ministers have become Fixers and the Prime Minister has become the Prime Fixer. Politics have become party wars between lobby alliances. Force and fraud, as against freedom and reason, have become institutionalised in an obsolete constitution. Public-spirited causes have found party politics so futile that they are mainly extra-parliamentary pressure groups. This disaffection is an index of the electoral inefficiency of representation, that allows party government to be hi-jacked by unpopular policies.

The whole political and economic system from the ground up needs opening to the general public. This web site deals with some neglected essentials, tho by no means all issues, such as campaign finance reform, that does not owe the parties a meal ticket. There's not much here about freedom of information, which is under renewed threat after being belatedly introduced. There's not much about parliamentary procedure and the balance of power between the branches of government, or a Bill of Rights. Others are more expert on these and other constitutional reforms.


A biased Horizon: when science is misused for propaganda.

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The early advocates of nuclear power promised it would bring electricity "too cheap to meter." As late as 1977, perhaps up to the eve of the Three-Mile Island melt-down, The McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, which consists of authoritative articles by hundreds of experts, gave a table of probabilities for fatalities. They ranged from one in several thousand for motor accidents to one in a quarter of a million for tornados or hurricanes. But the rate given for nuclear reactors ( over 100 plants ) was one in five billion.

This was given as an average chance per year.
So much for the geological eras that life needs to be protected against radio-active waste.
In fact, there had already been some deaths kept secret and maybe many more.

On 13 july 2006, a BBC 2 Horizon program appeared on evidence challenging the risk of radiation exposure. The Chernobyl wild-life researcher himself said he had doubted his own findings. This means that tho his findings may be valid, they are puzzling in the light of other findings, and that scientists do not yet know all the ins and outs of their discipline. This research was not an occasion for jumping to conclusions.

Unfortunately, the program makers ran with the study to minimise the Chernobyl accident and conclude that more nuclear power might be desirable after all, allegedly to combat global warming. This was very timely political backing by "Science" with a big-s for the just published government's 2006 energy review. Instead of the Government becoming scientific, Science became propagandist.

Good information about the exact risks of radiation exposure remains desirable. But Horizon just took one side of the conflicting evidence and jumped to conclusions that will not promote the public image of radiation experts. The book, The Nuclear Barons, shows they have been discredited before for unreliable assessments.
Mass abortions, carried out on women in the after-math of the Chernobyl explosion, may have been largely unnecessary. There are, however, many serious reports of evidence of mass deaths and illnesses, despite official suppression and cover-up. ( See the Chernobyl 20th anniversary web page linked below. ) The truth is great and will prevail. We are still waiting.

Horizon didnt mention that the Soviet Union already had a disaster with radio-active fall-out from some sort of explosion at a nuclear waste dump. No public protection measures were taken till radiation sickness appeared. Mass evacuations and foodstuff destructions followed. Two years later, a physicist driving thru ( advisedly at speed with windows shut ) recalled:

"It was like the moon for many hundreds of square kilometers, useless and unproductive for a very long time, maybe hundreds of years."

A decade later, local doctors were still advising pregnant women to have abortions.

The Kyshtym explosion, at end 1957 or start 1958, was covered-up but the experience may have motivated policy at Chernobyl. A speaker on Horizon used the term "hysterical" to describe public opinion on radiation hazards. The term "radio-phobia" was also trotted out. So, it is perhaps fitting to recall what Peter Pringle and James Spigelman, in The Nuclear Barons, describe as "a hysterical reaction from Western nuclear advocates" in 1976, to news of Kyshtym.

In the future, mankind should not be putting itself into situations where it has to make marginal decisions on levels of radio-active fall-out. Human beings and their welfare should not be a secondary consideration to nuclear energy investments.

Having said that, the Horizon characterisation of the Chernobyl accident was just plain wrong. To quote from the wind-up statement: "Chernobyl was as about as bad as a power station accident gets -- a complete melt down of the reactor core --".
The truth is the consequences could have been incomparably worse. The core "melt down" may become an unstoppable temperature increase characterised as "The China Syndrome." American critics warned of uncontainable radioactive pollution, fancifully pictured as sinking right thru the Earth to China.

The Horizon program says most of the Chernobyl accident deaths were to the clean-up workers, citing 47. Unofficial sources have put the death rates much higher among the
thousands who were conscripted.
And Horizon doesnt refer to the heroic men who gave their lives, in containing the reactor melt-down, to prevent millions of people from dying from a nuclear holocaust. The 2006 BBC docu-drama on Chernobyl offsets the BBC Horizon misrepresentation. As the 20th anniversary docu-drama said: It was like 1941 all over again. But all Horizon could do was dismiss an alleged 56 deaths over-all, as "less than the weekly death toll on Britain's roads."

Never again! should have been the program message, if they'd had their priorities right.

The Horizon presentation of the Chernobyl accident measured the decline of radiation from the source. But there was no mention that it was pure luck that the radiation was not blown onto Kiev. One of the directions, it blew, blinded a Polish farmer, as The Sunday Times reported.

The balance of the official Chernobyl death toll was made up from nine deaths of children from thyroid cancer. You would think from Horizon that was it. However, Bernice Davison in The Telegraph, 22 april 2006, reported in Minsk

the new and large children's cancer hospital, which specialises in looking after "Chernobyl victims". For it was Belarus that bore the brunt of the radioactive cloud that poured north after the Chernobyl explosion...

Leukaemia and thyroid cancer rates (especially in children) in countries across eastern and northern Europe increased,..

28 countries are donating billions of dollars and limitless expertise to building a further new overcoat for this troublesome building.
I had expected the reactor to be cordoned off and abandoned, but workers were being disgorged from buses outside, preparing to cross the road for their next shift. Hundreds of people - electricians, carpenters, doctors, hydrologists, miners, meteorologists, scientists, cooks and cleaners - work each day in the heart of the dead zone, still trying to contain and clean up the reactor...for 15 days at a stretch,...

The Chernobyl sarcophagus will remain radioactive for at least 100,000 years. And the world is having to slave to rebuild it after only 20 years. The most enduring of human monuments, the Egyptian pyramids were built 5000 or 6000 years ago and their civilizations are long forgotten.

Perhaps future legends will say that the earth's radioactive hot-spots were the work of certain conceited but malicious apes, who called themselves "wise" but were just too clever for themselves.

There is a danger that Chernobyl could happen to one of India's many unsafe plants, described as disasters waiting to happen, in highly populated areas. The humanitarian relief problem could strain world efforts, as never before, in an age when mankind already can hardly cope with all the global emergencies.

This is virtually all India has to show for an enormity of misapplied effort and expense over nuclear power. That is fearful hazards and, of course, the bomb. This drove Pakistan to make its own nuclear bomb and test fire missile systems. And Pakistan's nuclear secrets were illegally passed on. So, India's bomb hardly enhanced national security. India's folly is not so different from that of the West, except that its poverty was less able to bear it.

So, peaceful nuclear power has been the road to nuclear weapons proliferation. The Third World wasted its substance on its own Cold War.

A recent Swedish research found a higher than expected long-term effect of Chernobyl on cancer levels. (Unlike Finland, Sweden has had the sense to go for renewable energies instead of fission energy.) The purpose of research is not about what levels of radio-active leakage a nuclear plant can get away with, so that investments are not threatened.

The Horizon conclusions on nuclear power might be likened to making some program, not to worry about ozone layer depletion, and not muzzle the chemicals industry, because low levels of ultra-violet radiation could be beneficial rather than carcinogenic.
But it was scientists who discovered the hole in the ozone layer and ( not too effective ) action against it has become one of their causes.

Physicists, however, were responsible for discovering nuclear energy and some seem to feel they have to justify fission energy at least for peaceful use. Scientists, above all, as their progressive profession demands, should be able to admit mistakes. There should be no mistakes too big to admit.

Some energy alternatives.

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Taking subsidies and environmental costs - including the to-be colossal global warming costs - into account, relatively poorly invested renewable energies are far cheaper than fossil or nuclear fuels.

Costings conclusion of an e-mail letter by Aidan Constable to The Guardian, Life, 10 feb. '05.

Costs of nuclear reactors were made to appear lower by an estimate based on supposed achievement by an 8th reactor in a series. Also construction costs more in wealthy countries. First of a kind design-cost increases, delays and cost over-runs are endemic to massive technical projects. Supposed performance levels are higher than those typically achieved. Also to be costed are risks from terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation and accidents.

MIT estimated increasing nuclear power world electricity from 17 to 19 per cent by 2050 would mean nearly trebling capacity or 1000 to 1500 more plants. But known supplies of uranium only last another 85 years at 2002 levels of use.

Graham Sinden of Oxford university's Environmental Change Institute has researched, for the Carbon Trust, a viable mix of alternative energies to meet continuous demand, Looking at past weather records, he estimated that the best mix was 65% wind, 25% domestic Combined heat and Power (dCHP) boilers, producing electricity as they heat water, and 10% solar cells.

Wind is most important because it blows most in winter and the evening when demand highest. The dCHP also produces more at peak times with combined demand for hot water and heating. Solar helps when the production of the other two are lowest.
The wind or solar generators need to be dispersed so that they produce electricity if wind is blowing or sun shining somewhere, if not always in the windiest or sunniest parts.

Sinden worked out the need for stand-by capacity would be reduced from 90% to just 11%. Sinden also points out that a combined wave and tide system works better in meeting demand than tide alone, which is predictable but variable.

Altogether, Sinden reckoned that more than half of Britain's electricity could ultimately be derivable from intermittent renewables.

Oliver Tickell, The Guardian, Life, 12-05-05.

Andrew Simms said:

A flexible, safe, secure and climate friendly energy supply can be delivered by renewables. A broad combination of wind, solar and geothermal power tapped into with a range of micro, small, medium and large scale technologies, applied flexibly, could more than meet all our needs.

Thomas Edison's first power plant was in 1882. He believed in a decentralised energy industry. In 1907, 59% of American electricity was from small scale generation: more secure supply less prone to black-outs, more energy efficient than a national grid. OFGEM says the National Grid loses power as heat that costs the UK nearly 1 bn a year.

The Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment was that if 10 m consumers installed 2kW of microgen solar PV or wind systems, they would supply as much power as a UK nuclear program.

The Ashden awards for sustainable energy ( www.ashendenawards.org ) judged two winners. ALI energy, a Scottish program of biomass heating, geothermal heat pumps, wind and solar energy, plans to make Argyll the first part of Britain entirely on renewables. The island of Gigha built a wind-farm, producing 75% of their electricity, which was the first community-owned and grid-connected.

Another award went to the Edinburgh-based Swift roof-top turbines. This is a small quiet wind generator capable of producing much of the average house-hold's electricity, and also supplying back to the grid. 4000 were ordered for 2006. The company is currently tooling up for mass production.

Guardian Life 30-06-05. Andrew Simms "Power to the people". Co-author of Mirage and Oasis: energy choices in an age of global warming.

A Russian wind turbine is being developed by scientists from the Makeyev State Rocket Centre near Miass. The blades, made of light glass fibre, move around twice wind speed, which is slow enough for birds to see, and almost silent. It looks like an egg-beater, is much cheaper than conventional design and of wider application, such as fitting to top of a house. The US company Empire Magnetics supplies the turbine's alternators. It is being commercially developed with funding from US Department of the Environment.

Guardian Dispatch 25-11-04.

Infra-red solar cells.

Edward Sargent and colleagues from University of Toronto, in Nature Materials, report creation of tiny semi-conductor crystals that can soak up infra-red light, half the sun's energy, producing much more electricity than conventional solar cells. New nanocrystals as plastic solar cells are efficient and cost-effective. They are cheap enough to produce, large scale, and small enough to remain in solution such as paint, or they could be contained in tarmac or textiles. One-thousandsth of the US is paved with roads, which could supply all US energy needs if it could convert the sun's power into electricity.
The new technology should be available within 10 years.

Guardian Dispatch 13-01-05.

Stanford university scientists' global wind map.

In Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, Cristina Archer and Mark Jacobson analysed wind speeds from around 7500 surface stations and 500 wind balloon stations to work out speeds at 80m height of modern wind turbines. They found 13% of sites, with winds of at least 6.9m per second, could generate power - enough for world energy demands.

At around 72 terrawatts ( 72 x 1bn watts ) of power, this is equivalent to more than 500 nuclear reactors or thousands of coal fired plants. North America has greatest potential. Some of strongest winds in North Europe are along the North Sea. South tip of South America and Tasmania also recorded sustained strong winds.

Guardian Life Dispatch 19 - 05 - 05.

Greg Barker the Tory environment spokesman was quoted by Sunday Telegraph, 21 May 2006, as saying:

... decentralised energy (DE)... may offer the best way of using the market to stimulate the necessary research, development and innovation required to...harness...renewable energy technologies...also...delivering energy to consumers in a far more efficient method...
DE could offer a truly substantial reduction in UK CO2 emissions... also...enhanced energy security -- less susceptibility to power failure cascades, terrorist attack or energy dependence on other states.

DE implies local combined heat and power generators and household roof turbines, and perhaps solar panels, with surplus electricity sellable back to companies, as in Germany. Ultimately half of electricity would be locally generated rather than from the National Grid.

In the 2006 Energy review debate, Alistair Darling couldnt contemplate the prospect of winding down the National Grid. Again the attitude was, it had always been there and served well. To this Pangloss government, its existing in its present state made it the best of all possible worlds, that must be protected from change (like obsolescent voting systems and vested interests monopolising the nation's interests in the second chamber).

Jonathan Leake says:

Britain wastes more than half the power it produces through generation and transmission losses in the National Grid. Inefficient homes and businesses lose another 13%. Better transmission systems and insulated homes could reverse the growth in demand.

The above reports on energy alternatives are doubtlesss only a tiny sample. The few innovations mentioned here dont all know about each other, so that there must be scope for greater integration and more effective use of renewable sources of energy.
The lack of resourcefulness and imagination of so-called leaders makes them look about qualified to work a tread-mill. David Cameron has tried to break with that image but he and his party are sending conflicting signals.

A moral of the nuclear debate is that you have to conclude that governments fight policies as they fight elections. The purpose, of our undemocratic voting methods, is not to represent the people but to win power. The purpose of policy debates is not to represent the public realities but the private interests that drive the parties. Politicians are not interested in the true representation of issues any more than they are in the true representation of the people's judgment thereon.

The truly representative voting system ( transferable voting ) and two truly representative chambers, political and economic, are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for bringing honest debate into political economy.



References:

In writing this page, I havent taken my cue from the environmentalists, tho I'm interested to know just what they make of the latest efforts of the nuclear pushers and apologists. I felt an obligation to counter, as much as possible, further spoiling of the planet for future lives, who are defenseless against present recklessness.

"Twenty Years After Chernobyl - April 26, 1986."
This gave many more reports of Chernobyl-related mass deaths and illnesses. Recommended as an alternative to Horizon's condescension and complacency. Also there are many in-depth links and coverage of related issues.

"The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal." Has a web site on lack of safety standards in the nuclear, as well as the chemical, industry. Bhopal, of course, was scene of the world's worst chemical pollution accident. India's obsolete plants are among the world's worst, with many serious accidents and near disasters, covered-up by government secrecy.

Peter Pringle and James Spigelman (first published 1981): The Nuclear Barons. The inside story of how they created our nuclear nightmare.

...exposes the deadly accidents, cynical cover-ups, ruthless profiteering, megalomanic ignorance and wilfull evasions of democratic control which characterise the nuclear industry.

Jonathan Leake, The Sunday Times, 27 november 2005: Now for Blair's dodgy nuclear dossier.

like its predecessor that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq, it will not be an independent inquiry but one led by members of Blair's own strategy unit...


Richard Lung.
July 2006;

modified 27 july '06.


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