Chris Huhne, currently giving his speech to conference:
I say again there will be no subsidy to nuclear, for a very clear reason: it is a mature technology, not an infant needing nurture. Every person in my department has a very clear motivation to ensure that the full costs of nuclear – present and future – are fully taken into account. More than half our budget – £1.7bn a year – goes on the clean-up costs of old nuclear facilities. Britain had artificially cheap nuclear electricity for decades.
While I was on holiday in Wales, I met a camper in the caff doing his crossword, and in the conversation that ensued after I filled in “fast growing asian weed (5)” as KUDZU, he told me worked for the government monitoring nuclear pollution in our seas. His job involved cutting up mutated flatfish to work out how old they are. Their eye positioning is apparently particularly susceptible to nuclear pollution and they have rings in their fishy ears that show their age like tree rings.
The last thing he told me was – never go to Dounreay. A dog allowed to run free on the beach died from nuclear related death within six months.
I have no idea whether this guy was someone to take seriously – it all sounds a little unlikely, and I have often been mocked in the past for my scientific ignorance. But Dounreay beach is not at the top of my to-visit list.
Sounds complete bollocks to me – from the camper as well as Huhne, unfortunately. On the former: the scottish quality papers get their knickers in a twist every time a *single radioactive* particle is found on the beach at Dounreay. And what is “dying of nuclear-related death” anyway?
On Huhne: *aspects* of the technology are mature. Unfortunately, they tend to be the old, highly-polluting and low intrinsic safety aspects that we all know about and cause the scare stories. The new stuff needs developed, and not investing in it in the UK means we’ll just have to buy it in wholesale from Germany, Spain, Japan and elsewhere when nuclear becomes an inevitability. Hooray for short-termism!
Keep your ears pealed on short-termism, I think I’ve seen something embargoed about that for tomorrow.
Dying a nuclear related death is my horrid clunky phrase misremembering what it was the camper told me – the dog being dead in months stuck in mind more and it does seem indelicate to quiz on what exactly the dog died of. I’m assuming it wasn’t run over.
And the point of including the Huhne para was more the irritation at the DECC budget being so much more about cleaning up old nuclear than it is about keeping the lights on.
Reminds me of the evergreen Edge of Darkness (1985):
While Jedburgh and Craven prepare to be taken out by a special forces unit, we cut back to Pendleton, Harcourt, the Government minister, and the owners of Northmoor, all cosily tucking into a black tie dinner.
Pendleton: You will come tomorrow?
Minister: Yes, but I have to swim off Sizewell in the afternoon. With all this talk of a nuclear state every weekend sees one of us swimming up and down outside some nuclear power station, while the world’s press takes pictures from a safe distance offshore. Makes me sick.
Pendleton, interested: How sick?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SaKBiT8n8Y at 1:30