Fight over N-plant continues

PROTESTERS opposed to nuclear power have welcomed Government changes to its energy policy but remain determined to fight plans to incinerate radioactive oils at Bradwell Power Station.

PROTESTERS opposed to nuclear power have welcomed Government changes to its energy policy but remain determined to fight plans to incinerate radioactive oils at Bradwell Power Station.

The Government's Energy White Paper, Our Energy Future – Creating a Low Carbon Economy, revealed there were no plans to build more nuclear power stations, although it did not rule out the possibility in the long-term.

The move was welcomed by residents living near Bradwell, but they feel this is not enough and have vowed to continue to oppose the current incineration plans.

The thrust of the Government's strategy is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% over the next 50 years. It will work alongside a major expansion of renewable power sources and more effect to save energy.

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The White Paper says the priority is to boost renewables and energy efficiency. It noted nuclear power is an important source of carbon-free electricity, but "its current economics make it an unattractive option".

The former nuclear plant on the banks of River Blackwater closed last March, but British Nuclear Fuels has been given permission to carry out the controversial process of burning off atomic waste.

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The company defended its proposed action, due to start in June, claiming it would not be a danger to the public.

Protestors including a group of mothers with young children at Mersea Island, remain opposed.

A spokesman for the Blackwater Protectors, which was formed in 2001 to fight incineration of nuclear waste at Bradwell, said: "Of course we are pleased that the Government has decided against new nuclear building for the next few years. The nuclear option is a threat to public health, the environment, as well as national security. 

"The Government is also stinging from its recent £650 million bailout of British Energy. In addition, ministers have had to establish the liabilities management authority which will soon start spending billions of taxpayers' money cleaning up the toxic mess left by this so called "clean" form of energy."

Anne-Marie Jacobs, 32, of Rewsalls Lane, East Mersea, said: "I am very worried, I have a two-and-a-half-year old and a nine-month-old and we live directly downwind from Bradwell.

"At the moment very little is known about the effect of low-level radiation and it is extremely worrying especially when you think your children could be breathing in the air.

"It seems they don't care about us as nobody told us about the proposals," she said.

Bobby Teague, for the Mersea objectors, said Mersea Island is directly downwind and two miles away from Bradwell and has grown into a busy seaside resort with beaches centred on a watersports area all around the power station.

"Ninety-nine percent of people polled in West Mersea in the summer voted for developing renewable energy in favour of nuclear power," she added.

"However problems about decommissioning the power station, security issues and radioactive waste are not going to go away. We cannot believe that incinerating radioactive oils and solvents has been authorised amid so much uncertainty about radiation and health."

A British Energy spokesman said: "The incineration process will not be changed as a result of yesterday's announcement – less than one ten thousandth of the site's limit for gaseous discharges will be used.

"We will only be using one of the two incinerators at the station and it will be for a very low level of oils and it will only be used for incinerating materials produced at Bradwell."

John Whittingdale, MP for Maldon and Chelmsford East, which includes Bradwell, said the incineration would not be allowed to go-ahead without stringent safety checks.

"My position has always been that at the moment, investment in any form of nuclear energy is not economically viable."

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, at a London news conference to launch the White Paper, said: "Our country needs a new energy policy.

"We need to make sure we have secure energy at affordable prices, but we need to use energy more efficiently and urgently address the impact we make on the environment.'

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