The controversial debate concerning the UK’s dependence on nuclear power has been reignited. In the aftermath of Fukushima, many UK citizens have grown doubtful of the safety of nuclear power.
Certain branches of the public have called for a re-evaluation of the UK’s safety measures in the event of a nuclear disaster. Some people are even beginning to take matters into their own hands by investing in nuclear bunkers. Online companies, like Tool-net, have noted an increase in the number of portable generators sold as people prepare for potential power cuts.
Some experts claim that the concerns are unwarranted, because the United Kingdom is not susceptible to severe earthquakes. The worst earthquake ever recorded in UK history only measured 5.75 on the Richter scale. This is comparatively mild when placed next to the 9.0 rating afforded to Japan’s disaster in March.
Approximately 15% of the United Kingdom’s electricity is supplied by 19 nuclear reactors in various locations. Nuclear meltdown at any of these reactors would leave thousands of UK citizens without electricity. This fear, when coupled with risk of radiation poisoning, has left many wondering whether the UK’s reliance on nuclear power is a good idea.
UK nuclear history has been marred by three accidents. In 2005, 20 tonnes of Uranium leaked from a cracked pipe at the Thorp nuclear processing plant. Although no radiation reached the environment, the British Nuclear Group was fined £500 000 for a breach of safety regulations.
This recent case illustrated that design errors pose as great a risk as natural disasters. Even if the UK is safe from devastating earthquakes, there is no guarantee that plants have been designed perfectly.
Many members of the public refuse to remain complacent and have chosen to protect themselves from the danger of nuclear fallout. Small portable generators, like the Clarke IG1000, can already be found in nuclear bunkers throughout Europe. The Cold War may have ended, but the fear of radiation remains as real as ever.