Nuclear despair

I AM writing to you having read the news that our Prime Minister has given the green light to the development of new nuclear reactors, pre-empting the Government s energy review which is due in the summer. I was utterly dismayed to learn that Mr Blair bel

I AM writing to you having read the news that our Prime Minister has given the green light to the development of new nuclear reactors, pre-empting the Government's energy review which is due in the summer.

I was utterly dismayed to learn that Mr Blair believes that nuclear power is a solution to the problem of climate change. It is in fact a costly, dangerous and unsound choice - new nuclear reactors will not come on line until 2017, by which time it will be too late.

We cannot ignore the fact that no solution yet exists as to what to do with the radioactive waste produced. The proposed nuclear power development could increase the amount of waste in Britain by up to 400 per cent, and what does Mr Blair propose we do with that waste? Bury it in the ground and forget about it. Where does he propose we do this? Potentially in our communities.

In the 1980s NIREX published a list of prospective dump sties, based upon geological factors. There are 537 sites on the list, which will once more be opened up to consideration given the current proposals to develop the nuclear option. There are 14 such sites in Cambridgeshire, the closest one to Cambridge being at Barton Road, near Coton.


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Another notable site on the list is at Grafham, approximately a kilometre from the reservoir, which supplies water to a huge area and is surrounded by nature reserves. It doesn't bear thinking about the large-scale contamination a leak from a dump in such an area could do.

The construction of a dump site in such an area would present a persistent and deadly threat to future generations, thanks to the fact that the waste, once buried, cannot be monitored and would be impossible to contain indefinitely. It would also mean the transport of radioactive waste through and around the area.

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Radiation is known to cause cancer and genetic defects, and has been linked to numerous other health problems.

We need to take real action on climate change now, by implementing the massive expansion of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, as well as decentralising our energy supply. Decentralised energy works, as shown by Woking Council, which has reduced its carbon emissions by 70 per cent since 1990.

LUCY GREAVES

Newnham College

Cambridge

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