At the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Annual Policy Seminar, held on the 25th November in Dublin City Hall, councillors heard of the huge financial costs and damage to Ireland in the event of a major nuclear accident at a UK nuclear site like Sellafield, Wylfa or Hinkley Point spreading a radiation plume over the island.
Dr Paul Dorfman, the NFLA’s representative to the Irish Environmental Protection Agency’s Radiation Issues Committee, outlined the main points of a report by the Economic Social Research Institute, ‘The Potential Economic Impact of a Nuclear Accident – An Irish Case Study’, which had been requested by the committee. (1)
The key points of this report include:
- In the worse case scenario, a nuclear disaster in northwest Europe could cost Ireland €161 billion.
- Agricultural production would grind to a halt, with the tourism industry and exports also incurring substantial financial damage.
- Even under the most benign scenario considered by ESRI, where no radioactive contamination occurs – total loss is estimated at €4 billion.
- By comparison, total value of corporation tax collected in the first nine months of the year in the Republic of Ireland was €4.16 billion.
- The report analysis may actually underestimate the true extent of its cost to the Irish economy.
- Health risks from high levels of contamination could put a significant strain on the health service.
- Total cost of a low-level contamination scenario, which requires the imposition of food controls to reassure the public, would cause restrictions on food imports from Ireland, would be €18 billion.
- The impact on tourism would also be significant, with long-term reputational damage resulting in an economic cost of as much as €80 billion.
- Not only would exports be decimated but the need to import much of the country’s food would lead to far higher domestic costs.
- There could also be significant emigration from the island.
NFLA is alarmed by these stark figures which show the potential huge damage on nuclear free Ireland from the continuing operation of nuclear power facilities in England, Scotland and Wales. While major nuclear accidents do not occur every day, recent research suggests the probability of a major accident affecting a nuclear facility is increasing. NFLA calls on the Republic of Ireland Government to study this report carefully, raise the key issues and concerns from the report with the UK Government, and actively campaign against the development of new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point, Sellafield Moorside and Wylfa. NFLA also calls on the Northern Ireland Government to commission a similar report to consider the economic impact on Northern Ireland of a nuclear accident.
The NFLA Annual Policy Seminar also heard about how Irish and UK energy policy would benefit from central government directly assisting local government with the development of decentralised local energy and community energy projects. The success of the Tipperary Energy Agency (2) in the Republic of Ireland was noted, (3) along with the exciting projects being advanced by many Councils in England, Scotland and Wales developing local authority energy companies, district heating networks, ‘Passivhaus’ zero carbon buildings, energy efficiency programmes and support for community energy cooperatives. (4)
At the NFLA Annual General Meeting, Councillor Ernie Galsworthy (Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council) was re-elected as NFLA Steering Committee Chair for 2017. It was also noted that Councillor John Trainor (Newry, Mourne and Down Council) has been appointed as Co-Chair of the NFLA All Ireland Forum for 2017.
In reference to the ESRI report, NFLA All Ireland Forum Co Chair Councillor Mark Dearey said:
This important report by ESRI confirms what the NFLA in Ireland has been arguing for some time – that nuclear free Ireland would be severely damaged and affected by any accident across the Irish Sea affecting a UK nuclear site.
The economic impact would cripple our economy for generations to come in the worst case scenario. It is why NFLA calls for the decommissioning of existing British nuclear facilities and the cancellation of new nuclear projects. With the economic issues around Brexit already dampening our growth projections for 2017, I would dread to think what damage a nuclear accident could inflict on the island. It is time Britain abandoned new build nuclear and instead committed to a decentralised energy renewable strategy and commitment to energy efficiency and energy storage. The island of Ireland would benefit from such policies too. Such policies are clean, low carbon, safe, completely sustainable and is already the energy future for Germany.”
Dr Paul Dorfman said:
The cost of any serious accident in any of the planned new nuclear reactors in England would, quite literally, bankrupt Ireland. Ireland’s governments, north and south, have to challenge these developments.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on either 00 44 (0)161 234 3244 or 00 44 (0)7771 930196.
Notes for editors:
(1) Economic Social Research Institute, ‘The Potential Economic Impact of a Nuclear Accident – An Irish Case Study’, November 2016
(2) Tipperary Energy Agency saves €760,000 in 2016 for Tipperary Local Authorities
(3) NFLA Policy Briefing on Irish Energy Policy and Futures, November 2016
(4) NFLA Policy Briefing on the decentralised energy revolution in England, Scotland and Wales, November 2016 https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/briefings/nfla-policy-briefing-152-local-authorities-energy-building-low-carbon