The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has published on its website a model response to assist Irish Councils in responding to an Irish Government consultation on the potential transboundary issues to Ireland from the proposed Wylfa B new nuclear power station in Anglesey, Wales. (1) This consultation closes on the 25th January 2019.
Under the auspices of international agreements on assessing transboundary impacts from major developments such as new nuclear power stations, the Irish Government has launched a consultation through Irish Councils allowing for comments to be made on the Wylfa B development.
NFLA has also recently submitted its detailed views to the UK Planning Inspectorate considering the local economic, safety and environmental issues of building Wylfa B. (2)
The core points of NFLA concerns for Irish Councils to raise in their own response are:
- The type of nuclear reactor being proposed for Wylfa B – the Advance Boiling Water Reactor (ABWRs) – have high gaseous emissions which are far more important than liquid emissions in terms of radiation doses to local people.
- Bearing in mind that Hitachi is proposing to build 2 ABWR reactors at Wylfa, it can be calculated around 6 deaths will occur somewhere in the world for every year the station operates from the radioactive emissions to the environment.
- Over 60 years – the expected operating life for an ABWR – the total therefore could be as much as 360 deaths.
- Wylfa B would produce extremely high levels of radioactive spent fuel. In the year 2200 its spent fuel arisings would amount to 80% of the radioactivity contained in all existing legacy wastes from the UK’s nuclear power industry.
- The requirement for ‘Best Available Techniques’ (and clean technology) for producing electricity should rule out building new electricity generating stations which produce such highly dangerous wastes. Especially as less expensive, quicker and safer alternatives are available which don’t produce such wastes.
- Energy efficient improvements could reduce the energy consumed in UK households each year equivalent to the output of six nuclear power stations the size of Wylfa B.
- Offshore wind and solar are now both able to generate electricity more cheaply than nuclear power. If the UK had continued renewable expansion at the same rate as between 2010 and 2015 it could have achieved an all-renewable UK electricity supply by 2025.
- In addition, a report from ESRI suggests, in the worst-case scenario, the economic cost of a nuclear accident impacting on Ireland could be as high as €161 billion.
- A recent submission by NFLA / KIMO to the OSPAR Commission outlines that a full proposed UK new nuclear programme will only compound these issues and threatens the OSPAR Treaty regulations of ‘close to zero’ discharges in the Irish Sea by 2020 and beyond. (3)
- Sea level rises exacerbated by climate change put at risk in the medium to longer term the Wylfa B coastal site.
NFLA is cooperating with a number of Irish environmental groups who are looking to organise local meetings to inform councillors and concerned individuals of the risks and concerns noted above. NFLA also urge Councils not only to promote the consultation locally, but to also submit their own responses into this important consultation.
NFLA All Ireland Forum Chair, Councillor Mark Dearey commented:
“I urge all Councils, environmental groups and concerned individuals to respond to this consultation as it is clear from this NFLA report that there are a whole host of transboundary concerns with the proposed development of the Wylfa B new nuclear station across the Irish Sea. I also urge the Irish Government to be much more vocal in raising concerns over the UK new nuclear programme, particularly should the UK leave the European Union. As the costs of renewables continue to decrease, and with their rapid rise in the past decade, there is no need for new nuclear facilities in the UK or across Europe. The economic impact alone to Ireland would be catastrophic in the event of an accident. Councillors have the chance to be vocal on this development now and they should make their concerns known to the Irish and the UK Governments.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 55
(2) NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 54
(3) NFLA / KIMO International submission to the OSPAR Radiation Substances Committee on the environmental and discharge risks of a UK new nuclear programme, January 2018