Monday, 16 September 2013

Nuclear risks are real

I sent this letter to the  Daily Mail a week ago. It seems certain they have chosen  not to publish it.


I was surprised you chose to highlight a minor accident at a wind turbine near Thurso on Scotland’s northern coast.(“Gone with the wind,” Mail, 5 September).
You point out wind turbines can fail. Of course they can. But when they do, the external impact is tiny. Unlike when a nuclear plant fails, as the horror tales coming from Japan this week of massive radioactive pollution of the land and water supplies around the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant  have horribly demonstrated, as highlighted by Paul Dainton in his letter (“Tell us the nuclear truth,” Letter, 4 September) .
Just along the Caithness coast from the damaged wind turbine is the Dounreay nuclear power research establishment, which has hosted nuclear activities for nearly 60 years. It has suffered many accidents, including a huge chemical explosion that blew dangerous quantities of radioactive waste into the atmosphere in 1977. Nearly 500 radioactive “hot” particles have also been discovered on the local beaches which have leaked from an uncontrolled disposal shaft over the past 30 odd years.
It is not only the general public who are at risk. The plant workers are too.  Just a few weeks ago, the local newspaper, the John O’Groat Journal, reported that the number of personal injuries at Dounreay increased significantly in the year following the takeover of the new management at the nuclear site.
That was the finding of a survey which was carried out by consultants One Point Three Ltd after concerns were raised about safety performance at the plant. The study found there was a “significant” rise in the number of “unusual occurrence reporting” (UNORs).
And this week news emerged that  Dounreay is shortly to embark on shipping so-called “exotic” radioactive waste 6000 miles to a disposal site in the Uniited States. Yet there  has been no formal public scrutiny of these dangerous  plans in Britain.
There are real dangers in providing secure energy for our country. But the media should concentrate on real risks from radioactivity from the nuclear programme, not trivial problems with wind turbines.

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