Nuclear Insecurities #2 – the terrorist threat

Security of supply and the environment – so simple so compelling – let’s have a new generation of nuclear power.

 Shame the UK doesn’t have any Uranium, so that’ll be the security of supply issue laid to rest (see previous post)

 Whatever, the environmental case is sufficient on its own. Well, if CO2 is the only consideration… Certainly it puts nuclear in the same league as wind, wave, tidal although none of these can touch simply not using the energy in the first place by decent insulation or turning off the switches.

But hold-on a minute – doesn’t this overlook the biggest problem of all – THE TERRORIST THREAT. My challenge to you is to go buy a model aeroplane and fly it into a nuclear power station. It won’t do any damage (just say you’re making a Toyota ad) but it illustrates the point. Think twin towers – think symbolism. Think the familial relationship between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Nuclear energy is now the first stop(s) on the slippery slope to nuclear weapons. When Israel blew up a partially constructed Iraqi reactor, they weren’t making a statement about nuclear power. The current hoo hah over Iran is or is not about nuclear energy depending on which view you take. The reality is that the ‘us and them’ power play that renders the non-proloferation treaty forever impotent makes civilian nuclear power stations into military targets.

What would happen if terrorists flew a fleet of planes into the UK’s nuclear power stations? What would happen? Haven’t a clue, but I’m pretty sure withstanding the impact of a 737 wasn’t build into the structural designs. It’s not just the radiation, it’s the fact you could take out 20% of the engergy generation capacity of the UK and no doubt crash the whole system. Without electricity where would we be?

Nuclear power stations represent static centralised power solution vulnerable to terrorist attack. You might as well paint big targets on them. Say this is far-fetched, and I’ll say not really. In the post 9/11 scenario far fetched isn’t far flung.

Nuclear power is just one of the low CO2 energy sources (only low because you can’t ignore the CO2 released making the cement!), but it’s environmental credentials are compromised by its vulnerability to the terrorist threat – and that’s before the chronic unsolve problem of waste disposal.

What’s this got to do with 1707? It’s about building an energy strategy that’s fit for an independent Scotland 300 years later. The devolution settlement reserves energy policy to London. So, in an energy rich country – hydro, wave, tidal, wind, thermal, as well as oil and gas, why would we want to let London decide our energy polcy and panic us into building more nuclear power?

The fact we’ve got an arse about face risk averse strategy to investing and delivering medium to long term solutions is why we got into this mess in the first place. If we’d put the necessary investment into renewables back when the public enquiry into Torness was going on we’d be laughing now. But THEY didn’t. The renewables tide’s been turning but the incentives are all for shortsighted onshore wind – or nuclear which masquerades as secure and green when the uranium supply is insecure, the waste problem cannot be  solved and inconveniently every site converts into a dirty bomb. What kind of energy future do you want?


McGellie x


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