Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Atomic gimmick endangers our security

Letter sent to the Guardian:

Cheerleaders for new nuclear  power plants, including small modular reactors (SMRs) such as Justin Bowden, trades union GMB’s national secretary for energy (“Millions on offer to develop small nuclear plants," 4 December; ) are recklessly promoting this new version of an already failed technology, ignoring the very serious negative  consequences of their  nations wide deployment.

Aside from there being no plan to deal with the very extensive  radioactive waste they would create ( it is like  taking off in an aircraft without  landing gear on board!), they would  have to be  located on multiple greenfield sites very close to  dense urban areas and industrial  parks - which is very unlikely to be popular with local communities -  because the economics of SMRs only makes any semblance of sense if the  excess heat they  create can be  piped into local heat  grids, according to an analysis by the Energy Technology Institute‘s detailed report  published in September last  year (, updated by the institute’s energy programme manager Dr Mike Middleton,  last month (

But the most disturbing aspect of SMRs is the additional security threat they will create, not only by proliferating targets for the multiple terrorist groups who have already identified nuclear plants are prime targets, as the  capture of  documents and hard discs from terror groups demonstrate, but also they would  multiply the number of  nuclear transports by road and rail manifold, at a time when the  national nuclear regulator (office for nuclear regulation, ONR) is under huge  resource pressure, as the responsibility for nuclear ‘safeguards’ is being transferred  to ONR under the  nuclear safeguards bill, currently  undergoing scrutiny in Parliament. (;

When I met with the business and energy department (BEIS) officials at the department over a year ago to discuss the SMR programme, they alarmingly conceded they had not  considered the additional security risks SMRs create; I hope they have done so now.

This SMR strategy is an expensive, dangerous and unnecessary atomic gimmick, alongside the environmental gimmicks of which your second leader warns. (“Environmental policy must be about more than gimmicks,” 5 December;

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