Hidden risks of the nuclear industry

Re proposals to build new nuclear power stations in the UK, the International Energy Agency has said any new nuclear programme must be funded entirely from the private sector.


Re proposals to build new nuclear power stations in the UK, (Leader, 4 June) the International Energy Agency has said any new nuclear programme must be funded entirely from the private sector. And Lord Truscott, parliamentary under secretary of state for energy, has said there would be no subsidy, levy, nuclear obligation or market intervention to help launch a new nuclear programme.

But there are massive hidden subsidies for the nuclear industry. Here are just three examples:


 – Throughout the world, the nuclear industry pays only a small fraction of the cost of insuring fully against the costs of a Chernobyl-style accident or worse. In the US, the industry’s liability is limited to $9.1bn (£4.5bn), less than 2 per cent of the $600bn guaranteed by the Congress. (Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Power is Not the Answer). Similar limitations on liabilities in the UK are a huge subsidy for the nuclear industry.

 – In July 2006, a Daily Mirror reporter managed very easily to plant a “bomb” on a flask of nuclear waste in a railway siding. The public has to carry the risk, and the corresponding costs, that arise from allowing the industry to run these trains in the UK without a full armed guard on every train. This is another large subsidy for the industry.

 – Future generations are being made to pay for the costs arising from nuclear waste that will be dangerous for thousands of years. This represents a very large subsidy from those people, yet to be born, to the nuclear industry of today.

Before any new nuclear power stations are built in the UK, the first two hidden subsidies must be removed and the problem of long-lived nuclear waste must be solved.

Marianne Jones

Menai Bridge, Anglesey