The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) All Ireland Forum welcomes a decision of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government to engage on the possible transboundary effects on Ireland of the proposed Hinkley Point C new nuclear reactor.
The Joint Committee will discuss Hinkley Point C at midday on Tuesday 1st May in Committee Room 1, Leinster House. It will hear from expert speakers Professor John Sweeney of the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, Professor Stephen Thomas of Greenwich University and Attracta Ui Bhroin of the Irish Environmental Network. (1)
The meeting coincides with a recent consultation, organised by the Irish Government and facilitated by Irish Councils, that has allowed environmental groups and concerned members of the public to put forward their concerns to the UK Government over the transboundary effects of the proposed Somerset new nuclear site.
In its response to this consultation, the NFLA All Ireland Forum concluded:
- In a report by ESRI for the Environmental Protection Agency, a nuclear disaster in North West Europe (originating from the UK or France in particular) could create total economic damage (in the worst-case scenario) to the Irish economy of €161 billion.
- Irish agricultural production would grind to a halt, with the tourism industry and exports also incurring substantial damage.
- Even the most benign scenario considered by ESRI, where no radioactive contamination occurs, could still see a total loss estimated at €4 billion, due to the reputational damage this could have on Ireland.
- By comparison, the total value of corporation tax collected in the first nine months of 2016 (when the report was originally published) was €4.16 billion.
- ESRI also acknowledge that their analysis underestimates the true extent of such an incident to its cost on the economy.
- In the absolute worst-case scenario in the ESRI study, 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 potential emigration out of Ireland.
- In the NFLA’s analysis, gaseous and liquid emissions from the UK’s proposed new nuclear reactor programme could mean up to 23 theoretical deaths somewhere in the world for every year all of the reactors operate according to the weight of scientific research on exposure to low level radiation, as has been noted in a large number of international studies. Since they are each expected to operate for 60 years the total number of theoretical deaths could be 1380.
- The new reactors would produce extremely high levels of radioactive spent fuel. In the year 2200 spent fuel arisings would amount to almost five times the radioactivity contained in all existing legacy wastes from the UK’s existing 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. (2)
NFLA have closely cooperated with Irish environmental groups to ensure Councils and the public can fully participate in this consultation. NFLA are delighted that TDs will now hear much more detail on such an important issue that Ireland needs to be fully engaged with.
NFLA All Ireland Forum Co-Chair, Councillor Mark Dearey said:
“I am delighted that the Oireachtas Joint Committee is considering the potential impacts of a UK new nuclear programme on the island. NFLA have been calling for a much more vocal response from our Government on developments that would have a profound effect on Ireland should a nuclear incident, either accidental or via a malicious attack, take place across the Irish Sea. Our response to the consultation has highlighted publicly available reports which show such an incident would present untold economic damage and serious health concerns. NFLA see new nuclear power stations as an unnecessary risk when renewables are cheaper, clean and sustainable. Ireland needs to highlight the folly of Hinkley C and urge the UK to think again on new nuclear, joining with it in developing decentralised, renewable energy technologies instead.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244 or Pete Roche, NFLA Scotland Policy Advisor on 0131 444 1445.
Notes for editors:
(1) See http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=38278&&CatID=60 for further detail on the committee meeting.
(2) NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 53, March 28th 2018 https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NFLA_New_Nuclear_Monitor_No53_Ireland_HPC.pdf