Sunday, September 16, 2007

Community benefit and the common good - from nuclear waste??

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The terms ‘community benefit’ and ‘common good’ are in my view ideas inherently incompatible with nuclear waste. Yet both these terms have recently been used in connection with it! A report before West Somerset councillors describes a proposal, from the Magnox Electric firm, to set up a nuclear waste disposal facility near the Hinkley A nuclear station to help with decommissioning, along with a ‘community benefits fund’ to ‘compensate’ residents living nearby.

Is this the beginning of a number of such proposals around the country as old nuclear stations have to be decommissioned? This is the kind of territory that having an ongoing nuclear power program gets you into (including trainloads of nuclear waste flasks through Bristol every two/three weeks).

The Bristol Evening Post (‘Nuclear waste dump spurs cash handouts’, Sep 10) quotes the report as saying,

‘The establishment of a permanent disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste means that a continuing element of risk will continue for the foreseeable future and , as such communities should derive a benefit.’

First, this is an admission of the dangers of even low-level radioactivity!

Second, I certainly wouldn’t feel I’d benefited from having nuclear waste disposed of near me because ‘compensation’ was paid into community development projects.

The report also refers to the ‘substantial financial contribution to a common good fund’. Apparently its ok to sacrifice the common good of public safety provided cash is offered!

Not surprisingly the Stop Hinkley organisation does not like the fund idea, and does not want to see this idea used around the country. Spokesman Jim Duffy referred to the offer of cash as a ‘sweetener’ and ‘pay-off ’ which would be ‘spread very thinly in the community’ and could set a precedent – they are spot on. The idea of trading safety for cash like this should be seen as unethical.

Stop Hinkley’s views and work. The Bridgewater Mercury report on this issue.

Guardian report on how green groups are poised to withdraw from the government’s nuclear power consultation process because the facts are being distorted.

The influence of the nuclear lobby is high so perhaps, whether people generally want it or not, we will get both the nuclear dump plus 'compensation' and a new set of nuclear stations built (each of which will at some point need its waste disposed of).