Letter: Nuclear industry pleads not guilty

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The Independent Online
James Buchan ('The Grand Illusion', Review, 16 August) seemed sure there was a sleight of hand in Nuclear Electric's accountancy methods. 'Running these stations is simply a waste of the public's money,' he writes. What nonsense] Continued Magnox operation has an economic and environmental benefit to the country.

These stations now operate at a cost of less than 1.2p per kilowatt-hour (kWh) while the extra generation from continued life will save the emission of 100 million tonnes of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide.

Furthermore, nuclear power stations do not add to the increasing problem of nitrogen oxides which contribute to acid rain and summer smog, nor to the emissions of sulphur dioxide, a prime component of acid rain. To describe such a vital saving to environmental pollution as a 'wildly opportunistic argument' beggars belief.

It is simply not true that our Magnox stations have produced more nuclear waste than the rest of the world put together. True, they may produce more per kWh than recent technologies such as the pressurised water reactor. However, no mention was made of the fact that Department of Environment data show that of all the toxic waste produced in Britain only 1 per cent is radioactive.

Mr Buchan seems to think a revenue of pounds 200m a year is not significant. Five years of continued operation will amount to an extra income of more than pounds 1bn for Nuclear Electric and hence to the Treasury. To achieve this Nuclear Electric will have invested pounds 80m. Not a bad rate of return by our reckoning]

Dr Robert Hawley

Chief Executive, Nuclear Electric