Protesters call for Capenhurst nuclear plant to be closed down

Many thanks to Cheshire-Live for this report on 50 year anniversary of enriching uranium at Urenco – in Capenhurst, Cheshire

Extract from the report below and full report an be seen here

“Urenco’s nuclear plant at Capenhurst this week celebrated 50 years since the government-owned international company was founded . 

But outside protesters lamented the damage to human health and the environment caused by disasters like Chernobyl in Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan.

Close Capenhurst campaigners argued the sector was unsafe from uranium mining to nuclear power production and the transportation and storage of highly radioactive waste.

Concerns have been raised about the Urenco plant itself which enriches uranium for use as fuel in nuclear reactors with the depleted uranium – a low level radioactive and toxic byproduct of the process – stored on site.

A lorry outside Capenhurst carrying a load marked as radioactive

Marianne Birkby, an anti-nuclear campaigner from Cumbria, speaking at the small demonstration outside the plant, said: “The start of the nuclear fuel cycle is here and where it ends up is Sellafield in Cumbria and every day, virtually, there’s nuclear waste transported on the roads, rail, sea and nobody wants the waste.

“It’s all very well for Urenco to say ‘enriching the future’ and how fantastic it all is but nobody wants nuclear waste at the end of the day. And nuclear waste is the product of nuclear power.”

Japanese campaigner Kaori Mikata-Pralat read out a statement on behalf of a group pursuing legal action against the Tokyo Electric Power Company over the 2011 Fukushima disaster when a tsunami swamped the plant leading to the release of radioactive contamination.

Explaining that Fukushima had alerted her to the dangers, she told CheshireLive: “I wasn’t quite aware of the scale of the problem of this nuclear industry.”

She has met victims of nuclear accidents, adding: “What they want is this tragedy should not be repeated any where in the world. Fukushima people suffered a lot.”

Kaori said the ocean had also been poisoned. Even nuclear power stations functioning normally affected the eco-system as sea and river water was used to cool the reactors with the hot water put back, harming fish and plant life.

Pointing at the sun, fellow protester Philip Gilligan said: “That nuclear power station up there is supplying the energy. It’s the only nuclear power station we want. So the energy coming to earth could easily be used with zero carbon output and zero nuclear. The problem is we need a bomb. And it’s hidden in statements like ‘energy as cheap as water’ which was current when Sellafield went critical in the ‘70s.”

He said in fact nuclear power was ‘hugely expensive’.

Demonstrators outside Urenco at Capenhurst

Urenco highlights the alleged green credentials of nuclear because there are no CO2 emissions during energy generation but the protesters claim the carbon footprint is ‘enormous’ after taking into account uranium mining, transport and the manufacture of thousands of tons of concrete for the installations.

But what of the job losses if plants like Capenhurst, which employs 550 people, were closed? The campaigners argue the Government should reskill the workforce to produce renewable technology like solar panels.”

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