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Nuclear power stations and national parks Essay

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Who are the interest groups:

*Local unemployed


*National power grid

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*CND (campaign for nuclear disarmourment)

*Green peace

*Friends of the earth

*Ministry of defence

*The government

*National parks

*BNFL (British nuclear fuels)

*Environment agency

*CORE (Cambrians opposed to radioactive environment)

*ICRP (international commission on radiological protection)

*The world

Conflicts with the national parks and nuclear power:

*Pylons and power lines

*Nuclear waste storage

*Environmental pollution

*High potential health hazard

*National park tourism


*Nuclear transportation through national parks

*Increased leukaemia in area surrounding nuclear power stations

See more of the above below;

Pylons and power lines:

There is considerable controversy not just over the sitting to the national park but also because of the associated high voltage transmission lines needed

To connect the stations to the National Grid. Indeed to many observers the

construction of these power lines has caused a greater visual impact on

the landscape than the construction of the stations themselves.

High potential health hazard:

There is a high potential health hazard for nuclear power stations if there is a fire or explosion. In Chernobyl there was a meltdown, which they thought would go down into the earths mantle and start a volcanic eruption, but thankfully it didn’t.

Environmental pollution:

Between 1952 and 1995, Sellafield dumped 182 kilograms of plutonium down a pipeline into the Irish Sea. This amounts to 717 terabecquerels (TBq) of radioactivity–about half the fallout of plutonium in the entire North Atlantic from 520 atmospheric bomb tests in the 1960s.

Nuclear waste storage:

Tonnes of intermediate (liquid and solid) nuclear waste was being produced in sellafield before there was any known way of storing it safely. So it remained in the station until a ditch was dug for temporary storage. Nuclear waste can be stored safely by turning it into glass ingots by adding borosilicate to the waste, which allows waste to be stored for 50,000 years and not radioactive, and also able to be ground to fine powder sill be harmless.

National park tourism:

The tourism in the national park would go if there were an accident or proved high radiation levels in the national park, like in Snowdonia N.P or The Lake District N.P.

There does not have to be an accident or proof of radiation to stop tourists though,

If the plant is despised so much there will be no tourism in the park, then no

Maintenance or conservation to keep it a national park unless funded by government.


The locals livelihood would be affected by a nuclear power station,

E.g. where once was a local green or park is know a towering power station and would be to imposing.

Nuclear transportation through national parks:

There is great opposition on the transportation of nuclear fuel or waste travelling through anywhere, but especially in national parks. If there were an accident or spill the area/park would be devastated for years if not centuries.

There is proof that there is increased numbers of people with leukaemia around nuclear power stations:

Here is a story of three girls that died from the radiation and acute leukaemia in sellafield.

“A couple who say radiation killed three of their daughters have pledged to re-open the investigation into the deaths following a damming report into safety at British Nuclear Fuels. Joe and Stella McMaster of Fulwood, Preson, believe radiation from the nuclear industry is to blame for the deaths of their children, Judith, Jill and Lynn. The couple claim BNFL bosses have never explained the tragedies that have devastated their family and they say the revelations about safety at the nuclear giant’s Sellafield plant come as no surprise. Joe, 77, worked as a research chemist at British Nuclear Fuel’s Springfield plant near Preston for 30 years. He said an incident at the Springfields plant in the 1950’s which caused him to inhale Uranium UF6 gas sparked off a catalogue of health problems. Joe claimed his urine samples after the accident showed his uranium content to be 18 times above the normal level.

Just months later he lost all of his teeth after they became so loose he could twist them around. But nothing prepared the family for the tragedies that were to follow. After already celebrating the birth of two daughters they were delighted when Stella became pregnant with twins. After a problem-free pregnancy the babies were born six weeks premature but one of the twins, Judith, died at just three days old.It was a hard loss to bear, but the couple consoled themselves with the knowledge that they had three remaining lovely daughters. But in 1973 their second eldest daughter Jill was taken ill. She started a nosebleed that would not stop and she was admitted to hospital for tests. The family were horrified when she was diagnosed as having acute leukaemia. She was moved to a hospital in Manchester where she died two weeks later. It was then that Stella began to question whether their deaths could be linked to Joe’s work with the nuclear industry. In 1988 the family suffered another devastating blow when their eldest daughter Lynn, a mother of one, was diagnosed with a rare blood disease and died.

When I worked at BNFL I was sworn for life to the Official Secrets Act, but now I could not care less. Now I just want to find out the truth,” said Joe. (Lancashire Evening Post 19/2/00) Stella and Joe strongly believe that the reactor fire at Windscale (now named Sellafield) in October 1957 played a vital part. At that time they were on a family holiday a few miles from the plant and the children were playing on the beach, drinking the milk and eating locally grown fresh vegetables. When they returned home they found out that the area had been badly contaminated – milk was being thrown down the drains and vegetables were unfit for human consumption.

By then the damage was done. “We have been assured by medical experts that the timescale between exposure and deaths from leukaemia were correct, but oh no, BNFL still say it is unfortunate but really sheer coincidence”, says Stella. She maintains that when Joe retired at 60, his radiation body count showed 300 Becquerels, although it should only have been around 5. A private blood test confirmed chromosome defects due to radiation exposure. Neither his high body count, dismissed by BNFL as being due to a faulty machine, nor his chromosome damage were ever explained by the company. The couple have been trying to get to the truth for 10 years and will continue to do so. They are sure there are other families worldwide, either employed by or living around nuclear installations who are trying to get justice and they wish them luck.

They believe the industry is one big cover-up and condemn the cavalier attitude of the 50’s and 60’s when employees, who were initially selected for being 100% fit, were deliberately exposed to unknown, but now considered unacceptable, risks to their health. They are appalled by the industry’s denials over Joe’s and their children’s health problems. He was never offered compensation for his accident much less any sympathy. “Never in our wildest dreams did we consider the far reaching consequences and the terrible tragedies.

You don’t expect to outlive even one of your children, much less three. If BNFL had to sit at a bedsite and watch each child die, they might be a bit more compassionate” said Stella, “BNFL just do not want to know – they just brush it all under the carpet and hope we will give up our campaign for truth and justice, but we are sorry to disappoint them.” MP Nigel Evans, who has supported them, urged the couple to carry on fighting until they find out the truth. A BNFL spokesman said: We have had a meeting with Mr. McMaster to try and reassure him that his daughters’ deaths were not related to working at Springfield’s.”

Sellafield nuclear power station:

Sellafield, formally Windscale and home of the 1957 reactor fire, lies on the Irish Sea coast and alongside England’s famous Lake District. In an area of just one mile by one mile and a half, the site hosts the lethal legacies of nuclear weapons material production, decades of commercial reprocessing residues – and the reputation to go with them. With faltering nuclear prospects at home BNFL are turning to other countries for expansion with claims of expertise. Their failure to first put their own Sellafield house in order is a mark of their lack of credibility, as are the unsolved and long-term problems they leave behind in England.

Calder Hall, opened by the Queen in 1956, and it generates enough electricity to supply a city the size of Leeds. Sellafield also has a host of other plants, including two reprocessing plants – one to reprocess the waste from the old so-called Magnox nuclear power stations and one, Thorp, to reprocess spent fuel from the newer privatised plants at home and abroad.

Why is nuclear power so unpopular here?

Originally because of its close connection with nuclear weapons. The original stations were built not to produce electricity but to make plutonium for nuclear weapons. But the public weren’t told that straight away – in fact not until the 1980s. The industry’s early habit of lying made people sceptical and suspicious. Add to that the sometimes-irrational fear of radioactivity and the appalling results of the Chernobyl accident and the dislike expand into a wish the industry would just go away.

The UK Environment Agency regulates discharges of radioactive waste from the notorious Sellafield nuclear site into the sea and air. Sellafield discharges some 8 million litres of nuclear waste into the sea every day. These discharges have made the Irish Sea the most radioactively contaminated in the world, and the contamination has spread along the shores of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and as far north as the Arctic. There is no safe dose of radiation – any level may cause cancers and genetic damage.

The Environment Agency is currently holding a public consultation on Sellafield’s discharges of one particularly controversial radioactive substance, known as technetium-99 (Tc-99). Tc-99 has a “half-life” of 213,000 years, which means it remains dangerous to countless future generations. It also builds up to high levels in marine life including lobsters, mussels, limpets, winkles and seaweed. In 1997 levels of Tc-99 in lobsters near Sellafield reached up to 42 times the European intervention level for food after a nuclear accident. High levels were also found in seaweed in Ireland and Nordic countries and, following international protest, the UK Government promised to act to stop these discharges.

Although BNFL reduced its discharges of Tc-99 somewhat between 1995 and 1998, the discharges have since increased again. Discharges of many other radioactive substances have increased too, and there are plans to increase them further. Greenpeace believes that the Environment Agency and the Government are backtracking under pressure from BNFL, the publicly-owned company that operates the Sellafield site. The Government and the Environment Agency could and should act to stop the discharges now.

Greenpeace claims that the ground that sellafield is as radioactive as the ground in Chernobyl.

A reactor in sellafield

Trawsfynydd nuclear power station in Snowdonia national park:

The Trawsfynydd nuclear plant is situated on the shores of the Trawsfynydd Lake in North Wales. It was the first nuclear power plant in Britain to be built on a site inland. Its surroundings offer spectacular scenery and interesting wildlife.

The plant is one of several Magnox reactors that belong to an earlier design generation which employs steel pressure vessels. The name “Magnox ” reflects that the nuclear fuel is contained within a cladding made out of a magnesium alloy.

Magnox stations pioneered the commercial use of nuclear power in the 1960’s and still supply much of Britain’s need for base-load electricity.

Their image as the “workhorses” of the nuclear industry is derived from a reputation for high availability and safe performance.

Trawsfynydd is currently being decommissioned.

The reasons for shutting this plant down reflected some concerns that the steel pressure vessel was gradually becoming embrittled. Since the site is located within the beautiful Snowdonia National Park, it was considered important that the decommissioning should be made in such a manner that would leave the smallest possible impact on the environment. So they use the safe store construction.

Safe store construction

Diminishing the visual impact of the plant was one of the demands that the local public viewed as the most important. This is accomplished by reducing the height of the reactor buildings from 55 meter to 32 meters. That requires lowering the height of the tall structures inside the buildings, such as parts of the boilers and the refuelling machines. Safe-store structures of reduced height can then be constructed.



Trawsfynydd Power Station lies within the boundaries of a National Park of considerable beauty and is located on the northern bank of Llyn Trawsfynydd. Following the decommissioning of the plant, the existing building structure is to be reduced in height and encased in a new ‘Safestore’ envelope. The objective is to reduce and in some cases eliminate the buildings impact within the National Park. The Safestore structure is to provide an aesthetically acceptable, cost effective means of long term, secure storage for specific radioactive materials and structures.

As well as minimising the visual impact of the site the structure is based on the following criteria: The design life shall be 135 years. During the majority of this period it is proposed that the site will be unmanned. The structures shall be intruder resistant with a 9m wall also gives an improved visual balance between the lower and upper levels of the external elevations. The landscape within the site boundary will reflect the character of the natural surrounding landscape so the there are no visible boundaries and the landscape flows naturally through the site.

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