Sue Roaf writes that evacuation plans for Hinkley Point would have to involve at least a million people; while Diarmuid Foley says that, in the modern world, the route to weapons-grade material is not taken through the civilian nuclear fuel cycle
Justin McCurry (Fukushima looms large as Japan plans to restart world’s biggest nuclear plant, 28 December) quotes critics of the proposed reopening of the 8.2GW Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Japan, who say chaos would ensue if the plant failed and the 420,000 people who live within 20 miles of it had to be evacuated. But when the three Fukushima reactors failed on 11 March 2011, the radioactive plume spread over 40kms from the plant to the north-west, engulfing a large number of towns and villages. Everyone within 20kms of the plant was immediately evacuated. Iitate village, located 40kms away, and in the path of the toxic plume, was also evacuated. Many in the 20km zone may never return home but in the “return zone” villages they began to trickle back in early 2015. A 20-40km long radioactive plume issuing from the Hinkley nuclear facility could engulf both Cardiff (348,000 population) and Bristol (428,000 population), causing the evacuation of at least a million people from the region. The UK government is the only organisation brave enough to take on that level of catastrophic risk, with our money – happy to do so no doubt because the individuals who make the decisions on our behalf will be long retired when the cesium hits the fan.
Emeritus Professor Sue Roaf
• David Lowry’s fact-finding mission to 1958 (Letters, 28 December) is correct – at the dawn of the nuclear age, the UK’s civilian nuclear fuel cycle was seen as a precursor to weapons-grade material. However, for technical and other reasons, it was soon realised that the route to weapons-grade material was not through the civilian nuclear fuel cycle. In the current (and real) world, the peaceful use of civilian nuclear energy specifically, clearly and strictly breaks any such linkage. This is enshrined in IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group protocols.
Link : Short-term thinking of UK nuclear policy | Letters