It has recently been reported that up to fifty nuclear power stations could be built in Britain under plans currently being considered by the government. This is ten times the amount that is openly being admitted to, and is occurring at the expense of renewable forms of electricity, which are apparently to take a backseat.
Of course, the advocates of nuclear power will argue that it's perfectly safe, that less people die due to nuclear radiation than are killed in coal mines, and that it is essential that something is done to address climate change, which is a dire threat to the whole of humanity.
Certainly when things go wrong with nuclear power, they go spectacularly wrong. One doesn't need to delve too far into recent history to gives examples of this, and going over the precedent of Fukushima and Chernobyl in depth hardly seems necessary. But the average person in the street is perhaps not aware of the dangers of background radiation, and how very qualified individuals have questioned the safety of nuclear power plants.
Dr. John W. Gofman was a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D. in nuclear-physical chemistry and an M.D.) who was the first Director of the Biomedical Research Division of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory from 1963-65 and one of nine Associate Directors at the Lab from 1963-1969. He was involved in the Manhattan Project and was a co-discoverer of Uranium-232, Plutonium-232, Uranium-233, and Plutonium-233, and of slow and fast neutron fissionability of Uranium-233. He was also a co-inventor of the urnayl acetate and columbium oxide processes for plutonium separation. He taught in the radioisotope and radiobiology fields from the 1950s at least up into the 1980s, and conducted research in radiochemistry, macromoloecules, lipoprotiens, coronary heart disease, arterioscleroisis, trace element determination, X-ray spectroscopy, chromosomes and cancer and radioation hazards.
Here's what Dr. Gofman had to say about nuclear power plants and background radiation:
"Licensing a nuclear power plant is in my view, licensing random premeditated murder. First of all, when you license a plant, you know what you're doing - so it's premeditated. You can't say, "I didn't know." Second, the evidence on radiation-producing cancer is beyond doubt. I've worked fifteen years on it, and so have many others. It is not a question any more: radiation produces cancer, and the evidence is good all the way down to the lowest doses."
The reason that Britain's energy future is being steered towards nuclear power is quite simple. Some very big players, such as General Electric, want it to happen, and they have ways of getting what they want, such as spending vast amounts of money lobbying the most powerful and influential government in the world, including the British government.
It would be a total disaster for any electricity company if a way of generating electricity that was very stable and genuinely renewable was ever developed. Imagine if anyone with a small garden could place a small generator in it, and never need to pay an electricity bill again. Such a notion may seem fanciful, but it will certainly never be achieved if there is a reluctance to even bother researching the issue, and instead energy policy is steered down a familiar road of relying on a remote material that can only be controlled by huge corporations.
The decision to build 1,000% more nuclear power stations than is being publicly admitted will be eventually be presented as a facile one, and those that are concerned about the safety aspects will be derided as scaremongering, paranoid and eventually conspiracy theorists. It's always the same. We would do well to remember that it is vested interest, and ultimately money, which is driving this decision-making process. Not public safety.
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