Thursday, 19 December 2013

Nuclear lessons unlearned

Thirty four  years ago yesterday Mrs Thatcher's Conservative  Government made its ill-fated Parliamentary announcement it wanted to build 10 new American-designed PWR  nuclear power plants  in the UK.

The then Energy Secretary David ( now Lord) Howell  - our current Chancellor's father -in-law, no less -  announced to Parliament:

"The Future success of our nuclear programme is of great importance to the prosperity of this country. I ask all concerned to give active support  to the decisions that I have announced. (Official Report, 18 December 1979, columns 287-291)

The Financial Times 34 years ago today editorialized:

"With its nuclear policy statement yesterday the Government hopes to  end a decade of uncertainty within the nuclear firmly believes it has a national asset of great value [in the nuclear industry]."

The "Programme" managed to build one reactor: Sizewell B.

Fast forward 34 years, and what have we learned?

One  thing not learned is to make a decision to build a fleet of new  nuclear reactors in the wake of a major nuclear accident  -- Three Mile Island in 1979, Fukushima in 2011-- with all the uncertainties, safety and economic they create, is imprudent!

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