Japanese Nuclear Waste Heading for the UK?

It's a curios thought. Japan have a nuclear disaster in their country. Areas the size of Somerset are uninhabitable and they massive amounts of nuclear waste to deal with. Everything from radioactive cars, to livestock, plants, books, roof tiles and soil. Yet despite this, Japan has no nuclear waste storage facilities. Where are they going to put all of this contamination and could they export it to the United Kingdom?

In the UK we have extensive storage facilities, we have re-processing facilities and we have commitment to nuclear power and weapons that continue to feed the growing demand for further and more permanent storage mechanisms.

We, I am sure, could make significant amounts of money from such a transaction. Enough to put a good dent in the deficit, bring the balance of trade deficit more into line and provide an on-going financial commitment from Japan to the UK.

But is money all that we care about?

We are such a small island that any type of nuclear accident would impact every part. The reactors in Somerset would, with the standard prevailing wind, devastate South Wales, the Midlands and the North. Our nuclear waste sites are located on existing nuclear sites.

Any accident or deliberate attempt to compromise the storage facilities are also likely to cause devastating damage to the UK and our neighbours in the EU. Can we morally or financially withstand such an event? It is doubtful.

A Fukushima type breach and release of radioactivity in the UK would impact huge numbers of people and cripple our economy for decades. Our children and their children would not thank us for selfishly choosing Nuclear Power because other options seemed a little too difficult.

So why has the debate in the UK been closed? Lobbyists from big energy business want nuclear, for them it's a government guaranteed license to print money. The subsidies for nuclear are immense. Decommissioning, clearing sites, storage of waste, security – are all long term things. None of them are cheap and yet the nuclear operators don't seem accountable for these costs.

There are better options out there, starting with higher efficiency, local micro generation and renewable energies. There are 22 million homes in the UK – if each one of them generated 100W of locally produced electricity, it would contribute hundreds of megawatts of power to the local grid and without the loss factors from existing power stations.

So I call for a change in the planning process: each new build, renovation or extension must support a minimum of 100W of solar electricity for each bedroom; with the expectation that new builds and renovations provide significantly more. Commercial properties should also be subject to increasing requirements for renewable energy and efficiency savings.

Let's get on top of this now and not regret our inaction.

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Japanese Nuclear Waste Heading for the UK? by Adrian Hollister is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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