Going Nuclear

“We can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities. I can’t single-handedly build a new
Jerusalem but I can protect our green and pleasant land.” – John Hayes

Well isn’t this just fantastic? Finally we can stop building these pointless pylons and get cracking on
with some proper energy systems; the time for Nuclear power has never been clearer, it is the way
forward for a modern Britain. It is as simple as that, but for you non-believers out there, I am going
to explain why our futures lay within the glowing green embrace Nuclear power plants.

Imagine the fossil fuel power plants in the 60s and 70s, the seemingly endless piles of black gold
littering the pit lands of the North along with the limitless grey pillars of smoke slowly rising out into
the stations and into the clear blue sky. Now think of how many tons of CO2 and other dangerous
gases that released into the air. Nuclear power plants do not release anything aside from the steam
used to cool the reactors, not only does this reduce the overall carbon footprint, it improves the
quality of air for the surrounding areas.

I ask you now to think back to the 80s, to the Miners’ Strike. Remember how Thatcher had to plan
years in advance? Stockpiling a huge amount of coal to prepare for the long drawn out battle with
the shock troopers of the Trade Union movement. Nuclear power plants won’t be vulnerable to
trade union strikes, or more relevant to the modern day world, international relations. Iran stopped
selling oil to France and Britain as tension between us heightens further and further. Uranium is
more or less equally deposited around the globe; all we need to do is to start digging.

Speaking of mining, the amount of deaths in America from coal mining and transporting coal is
roughly 300 a year, a further 10,000 to 50,000 people die from respiratory problems caused by the
gases released into the air via the burnt fossil fuel. How many people die from problems stemming
from Nuclear power plants I hear you ask? None. In America, zero a year die. So Nuclear power is
safer, more reliable and it releases much less pollution than coal burning plants, this tends to be
the part where the anti-Nuclear brigade pops up with their counter arguments, I’m going to debunk
them.

Meltdowns. If I had a penny for every time I’ve been in or seen a normal and rational debate about
nuclear power during which there is always that one person who just can’t seem to help themselves
but leap to their feet and cry out: “What if Chernobyl happens again? We can’t risk it!” I’d have
seven pennies. The rebuttal is painfully easy however, cars. Cars in 1986 weren’t as safe as they
are in 2012 because technology improves. Simple as that, safety has improved to the point we can
be sure we won’t be blowing a huge hole in the side of one of our reactors. Lately, however, anti-
Nuclear crowd can bring up Fukus- Fukshm- Fukim- (Dammit)The plant in Japan that encountered
problems during the tsunami last year, this again, is easily defused. Britain doesn’t suffer from many
tsunamis and even our problems with flooding can be deal with by investing in some flood defences
for the surrounding area. Furthermore, during the tsunami, there was a nearby earthquake that hit
the plant, the core was still intact, these things are built to last and if they can survive an earthquake and a tsunami.

Radiation comes next on the list. “But Nuclear power plants will increase the amount of radiation
and therefore cancers and the like will increase!” No. The Three Mile Island accident happened in
1979, radioactive gases and radioactive iodine were released into the surrounding environment.
Surely this would have led to a huge leap in local cancer rates, actually, however, there was an
increase of two cancer related deaths and it is impossible to tell if that was due to the accident itself.
People living within 50 miles only received an extra 3/10 of one per cent of their average annual
radiation count. I have to stress this again; it’s safer, so incidents like Three Mile Island have a much
further reduced chance of happening in the first place.

The only proper counter argument to Nuclear power is how we deal with the nuclear waste
formed by the energy process. Thankfully, the UK has quite a few uninhabited islands to the west
of Scotland. St Kilda was my first choice; miles away from another island, let alone the main land,
nuclear waste can be safely stored there until we find a more permanent way of dealing with
it. Not only would using a minor Scottish island help us deal with the nuclear waste it will also
boost the local Scottish economy, one of the worse hit in the UK. There is a way of making the
stored waste even safer, however. Vitrification is a proven technique in the disposal and long-
term storage of nuclear waste or other hazardous wastes. Waste is mixed with glass-forming
chemicals in a melter to form molten glass that then solidifies in canisters, immobilizing the waste.
The final waste form resembles obsidian, this makes it a durable material that effectively traps
the waste inside. The waste can be stored for relatively long periods in this form without concern
for air or groundwater contamination. Bulk vitrification uses electrodes to melt soil and wastes
where they lay buried. The hardened waste may then be disinterred with less danger of widespread
contamination. According to the Pacific Northwest National Labs, “Vitrification locks dangerous
materials into a stable glass form that will last for thousands of years.” This could be our way of
securing the waste while we research a more permanent way of dealing with it.

If that doesn’t convince you, maybe I can scare you. What other choice do we have but to expand
our nuclear power? We could build more coal plants, import more oil and in the long term, screw
over our children’s children, or, we could expand our green energy sector. Constant and never
ending white pillars attacking our green and pleasant land, is that what you want? Solar panels in
a country where the sun dreads to tread? Until we can harness the power of moaning and rain,
Nuclear power is the way forward.

 

 

Gareth Shanks is the current Elections Officer for Young Independence as well as being Secretary for Young Independence in Yorkshire. A former infantryman in the Territorial Army, he tweets as @Garathshanks

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