'Dirty, Destructive, Damaging': Critics Slam UK Approval of First New Nuclear Plant in a Generation
The British government has given the green light for a nuclear plant that is set to be the first new British nuclear station in a generation, the first in Europe since the Fukushima meltdown, and the first ever in Europe to be guaranteed state backing. Critics are slamming this development as a monumental step backwards at precisely the moment the ongoing Fukushima crisis is exposing the human and environmental costs of nuclear power.
“This is an extraordinary effort to keep nuclear in the mix,” said Damon Moglen, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, in an interview with Common Dreams. “The British government is acting out of a 20th century mentality, not a 21st century mentality.”
The British government and the French state-controlled EDF group announced Monday that they are moving forward with plans to build a new plant—Hinkley Point C plant—next to existing plants in southwest England. Two Chinese companies, China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation, will also be major investors with 30-40 percent stakes.
At a price tag of £16 billion, or $26 billion, energy consumers and British taxpayers will bear most of the cost of the government’s long-term commitment to the nuclear plant, which is not slated for completion until 2023. As part of the deal, the UK government is guaranteeing a price of up to £92.50, or $150, per megawatt-hour, which is over two times the current market rate.
“The British nuclear industry has been dirty, destructive, polluting, and damaging to the environment and public health for decades in Britain,” Moglen said. “The idea that we are going to turn a corner on that history by outsourcing the industry and asking the rate payer to pay twice as much for nuclear power is laughable.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron declared that the deal signals a “kick-start” to the British nuclear industry, stating, “This is a very big day for our country: the first time we’ve built a new nuclear power station for a very long time.”
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