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Sizewell: Fears over N-plant’s emergency planning

PUBLISHED: 16:24 08 July 2011

The Sizewell nuclear power plant

The Sizewell nuclear power plant

FEARS over the adequacy of the Sizewell emergency plan and concerns over the threat of a terrorist attack were voiced last night as the public got an opportunity to give its views about the local implications of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Power to the cooling systems of the ageing reactors failed as a result of the tsunami which followed the severe earthquake on March 11, causing the cores of three of them to melt. An estimated 80,000 people moved out of the area as an initial five kilometre evacuation zone was extended to ten kilometres and then 20 kilometres amid confusion over the seriousness of radioactive emissions. Food grown in the area has been banned from consumption.

Last night’s meeting, hosted by the Sizewell Stakeholder Group (SSG) – set up to improve the flow of information between the Suffolk site and the local community – was attended by about 50 people.

There were claims that the UK Government was colluding with the nuclear industry to play down the implications of the Fukushima accident and that a reassuring interim report from the chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman was “whitewash”.

Several people expressed concern about the adequacy of the Sizewell emergency plan to respond effectively in the event of a major 
accident and the possibility of a terrorist attack.

Bill Howard, a member of the local Campaign Against Nuclear Expansion (CANE) and a Leiston town councillor, said: “It is obvious from Fukushima that our emergency planning arrangements will fail if anything happens at Sizewell.”

Joan Girling, who chairs CANE, called for greater truth and transparency from the Governernment and the nuclear industry. “I don’t think we know half of what is going on at Fukushima,” she said.

Nigel Smith, a Middleton parish councillor, said the big lesson from Fukushima was that the risks had been underestimated.

Catherine Hoy, a Middleton resident, said she had phoned the Sizewell site to inquire where she should take her six-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, in the event of a radiation accident at the plant.

“I was told to look on the website. I looked but there was nothing to help me,” she said.

The SSG is to invite Mr Weightman to a further public meeting in October.


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