Huhne playing to scaremongers on Japan nuclear fears

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is playing into the hands of nuclear scaremongers following his comments yesterday about Japan’s nuclear reactor blasts. Mr Hunhe said the explosions at Fukushima were being […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is playing into the hands of nuclear scaremongers following his comments yesterday about Japan’s nuclear reactor blasts.

Mr Hunhe said the explosions at Fukushima were being taken “extremely seriously” by the government, although he added that “there is no reason to expect a similar scale of seismic activity in the UK”.

However he stated: “I have called on the Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, for a thorough report on the implications of the situation in Japan and the lessons to be learned. This will be prepared in close co-operation internationally with other nuclear regulators.

“It is essential that we understand the full facts and their implications, both for existing nuclear reactors and any new programme, as safety is always our number one concern.”

But this morning, Simon Jenkins, environment correspondent for The Guardian, said such comments were playing into the hands of nuclear scaremongers. He said fears over nuclear safety were “ludicrous” and added that historically, coal and oil extraction had proved to be more dangerous than nuclear.

He was speaking on a debate on the BBC’s Radio Five Live, which also featured ELN Editor Sumit Bose, who said that moving away from nuclear was not an option in a world which is moving towards a low carbon economy.

He added that nuclear was the cheapest and safest option for delivering the UK’s low carbon energy targets. This view was endorsed by Mr Jenkins, who said that renewable energy, particularly wind power, involved much greater costs with less guarantee of supply.

Later in the debate, a caller who had worked in designing the nuclear power station at Hinckley Point, repeated the assertion that coal has a far worse death rate globally than nuclear, and quoted the figure that in China alone, some 20,000 men are killed every year in the coal industry.

This morning a second reactor plant at Fukushima exploded, with another said to be losing its cooling function.

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