Two Welsh local authorities that are considering bids to host a nuclear fusion reactor have been warned of concerns about the proposals being put forward by the UK Atomic Energy Authority. In recent weeks, councillors from the Vale of Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire County Council have shown public interest in potentially putting a site forward to host an experimental fusion reactor. Nuclear Free Local Authorities, a body that seeks to increase local accountability over national nuclear policy and identify the impact of national nuclear policy on local communities, has written to both councils highlighting the experimental nature of the project and warning of the environmental and economic consequences of the project. The conclusions of the NFLA briefing provided to the councils include: Nuclear fusion, like nuclear fission, still produces significant quantities of radioactive waste. Radioactive tritium emissions would be released as part of the fusion process into the environment. A large water source for cooling would be required. It costs huge sums of money that the public exchequer cannot afford after this pandemic. Any local jobs are a long way off. The target is to have a demonstration plant developed around 2040, so any local construction jobs would not take place for at least 15 years. As with fission, in operation, the number of jobs working on such a reactor would be small and highly specialist. Those jobs that come will likely be from staff at the existing site in Oxfordshire moving to the new plant. The site requires a large footprint, with over 100 hectares being requested by the UKAEA. This takes away a large amount of land that could be used for other useful activity, such as developing new renewable energy technology, energy storage or smart energy endeavours. Given the technology will also not make any energy (if at all) till the late 2040s, it will provide the local council or the country with no low carbon benefit in the next two decades, when tackling the climate emergency is required now.
Nation Cymru 14th May 2021 read more »