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Scottish Government's Approach to Civil Nuclear Power

The following content is from a letter sent to Paul Wheelhouse MSP as the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands and cc'd to Office of Nuclear Regulation, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, North Ayrshire Council, East Ayrshire Council and East Lothian Council from Scottish CND, UN House Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Dear Mr Wheelhouse,

Scottish CND, UN House, and Friends of the Earth Scotland thank the Scottish Government for its clear opposition to building new nuclear power stations as well as its opposition to nuclear weapons. Despite these very welcome stances, some aspects of government policy seem to give tacit support to the civil nuclear industry and to turn their back on the justifiable fears and concerns of the public. We are writing to request changes in the Scottish Government's approach to the civil nuclear industry for the following reasons:

  • nuclear power remains inextricably linked to nuclear weapons (re fissile material, tritium supplies and radiological expertise);
  • the health risks borne by the Scottish population from the radioactivity released to the environment at EDF's reactors in Scotland; 
  • the problem of intermediate-level nuclear wastes that are accumulating in Scotland;
  • the problem of high-level nuclear wastes which are potentially linked to nuclear weapons;
  • the declared open-mindedness about Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) which some civil servants are rumoured to be enthusiastic about;
  • the use of the new Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Public Information Regulations (REPPIR) to minimise rather than enhance the safeguarding of the public, and
  • the possibility of catastrophic nuclear accidents in the central belt of Scotland.

We ask that the Scottish Government

  • seeks permanent closure and immediate decommissioning of Hunterston B, 
  • withdraws its support for extending the life of Torness, 
  • rules out small modular nuclear reactors as part of Scotland's future energy supplies,
  • seeks arrangements that will enhance the protection of the affected public in the event of an accident at nuclear power plans, and
  • seeks the immediate distribution of potassium iodate tablets to all families within 30km of the Hunterston and Torness reactors.

Last year, Dr Ian Fairlie, a former advisor to the UK Government, talked to you about the multiple cracks in the graphite cores of Reactors 3 and 4 at Hunterston B. Since then, the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has also identified graphite pieces and debris which have broken off from the graphite core and which could block the cooling gases and control rod channels required to shut the reactor. According to the ONR, these blockages could result in the melting of the cladding of fuel assemblies.

Despite these clear warning signs, ONR allowed the operators, a subsidiary of the French Government's EDF, to restart Reactor 4 for a further four months until 10th December 2019. It was then required to have further inspection and review, still in process. Because of these (and other) doubts about their safety, we ask that the Scottish Government now advocates the permanent closure and the decommissioning of reactors 3 and 4 at Hunterston B. 

We also request that the Scottish Government ceases its support for extending the life of Torness beyond its original intended operational life. In addition, we request that the Scottish Government confirms that it does not support SMRs and acts to protect the public from possible harms of an accident.

I attach an information sheet which provides detail to support the requests made above. Finally, I repeat my heartfelt thanks to the government for its stance on nuclear weapons and to new nuclear power.

We would be delighted to meet with you if that would be useful.

Yours sincerely, 

Lynn Jamieson (Chair Scottish CND, Convenor, Risks of Radiation Working Group)
Gari Don (Executive Director, UN House Scotland)
Richard Dixon (Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland)

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