Hinkley C: A Poisoned Legacy.

10th of March 2012 was a beautiful early Spring day, dazzling sun in a cloudless blue sky. I headed towards Hinkley Point in Somerset to join a protest. A huge gathering had assembled there, folk from lands across the globe, all ages, all religions and cultures. An amazing, vibrant gathering with flags, drums and singing filling the air, enough people to encircle the massive construction site of Hinkley C Nuclear Power Station, much of it still the ancient woodlands and meadows which had been there for centuries..

On that vibrant and vital day there seemed to be such hope, such optimism, that this barbarity could be halted in its tracks and the beautiful coastline and precious woodlands preserved. How wrong we were........

I have always opposed nuclear power and those insidious weapons that stem from it. (I supported the campaign to halt Sizewell B in Suffolk in the 1980's.) Having moved to Bridgwater in 2011 I soon became aware of the campaign opposing Hinkley C, the construction of a giant concrete mausoleum intended to house a currently unbuildable reactor decimating acres of beautiful Somerset coastline 8 miles from this town. I have always opposed nuclear energy in all forms because I know that it is the most deadly and poisoning man-made element on this Earth and one over which we have no control. Remember Fukushima and the tsunami in Japan in 2011? This resulted in a Level 7 nuclear meltdown releasing radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean. This deady toxic outflow has now reached the American coast poisoning everything in its path. Seven years on radioactive waste is still being released into the sea.........

 

We are told that this cannot happen here. But remember the Bristol Channel has a tidal range of 14 metres, the second highest in the world; and much of the surrounding land is on or below sea level......Cannot happen here?

The story of Hinkley C is a political story, a saga of unwise decisions motivated by greed and false promise, of vested interest by those in power who have little concern for the health and well-being of the local community, of the town of Bridgwater and the surrounding villages. It is a story too of the acceptance of short-term bribes in exchange for long-term suffering....

Bribery! Yes, at all levels. It relates notably to EDF and the money dished out to local people and communities for "worthy" causes. The company even gave households in Cannington the firewood from the ancient woodlands it had destroyed! There is endless promise of jobs and local prosperity of course, always a juicy carrot in these matters. Politics and vested interest in the project exists at all levels in the different companies involved in construction work. I am not a journalist so am unable to comment further on this. A thorough investigation I suspect would be most revealing. Most of us ordinary folk remain unaware of the background dealing and double dealing although social media,thankfully, is changing this.

I see all this as bribery and vested interest - the sugar coating on a toxic pill which so many of us continue to swallow. Others no doubt will see it differently.

Many in Bridgwater wear the yellow daffodil supporting the Marie Curie foundation which helps people with cancer. The radiation from nuclear energy is a most powerful carcinogen - cancer causing agent. In a callous marketing excercise to enlist public support EDF donates money to this charity with clear displays in its shop window in Angel Place, Bridgwater.....Callous indeed!

The full implications of the construction of the Hinkley C Nuclear Power Station for many communities across Somerset are now beginning to hit home and very hard indeed. A beautiful coastline with ancient woodlands and hedgerows is now destroyed forever; communities are being chocked and shaken to death by heavy quarry lorries speeding through their villages day after day, week after week whilst road developments and traffic bring daily chaos for Bridgwater residents. Businessess, promising jobs, are “cashing in” on the potential money to be made here, building hotels, warehouses, shopping outlets and seemingly endless housing estates as we lose more of our precious green areas around the town.

The local college, generously funded by EDF, is currently full of young people learning an outdated and dangerous technology. What deception and what a lost opportunity for a generation of students!

The traffic chaos now confronting Bridgwater, set to continue for years, should come as no surprise to anyone. There have been many warnings and many meetings to discuss the problem and its solution. I remember attending one chaired by EDF whose representative said this to the angry gathering: “......we as a company have the right to use public roads!” and they do at the expense of communities alongside the A39. But be aware: this is just the beginning!

Hinkley C is a catastrophe in every way. We all now know that it is economically and financially disastrous as households in their fuel bills will be paying for it for years to come. We know too that it is not needed because renewable energy is increasingly widely available and becomes cheaper by the day. Hinkley C is a bottomless pit financially and will be a burden for future generations long after its delayed completion.

Add to this the poisonous legacy of nuclear power stations as toxic waste is stored, for hundreds of years, or pumped into the Bristol Channel. Currently tons of radioactive soil from the site are being dumped, illegally, into Cardiff Bay. We live with the potential threat of an accident to be told " it won't happen here". Who do you believe? We are witnessing the unfolding of a heart-breaking tragedy of a high order and for what, for whom?

Mahatma Gandhi pointed to the need for a spiritual dimension in politics to guide the decision-making process, a dimension that embraces compassion, service, Love and a concern for the Earth and all that live upon her. This dimension is missing in politics today. Sedgemore, Mendip and Somerset County Councils, alongside National Government and the greedy, exploitative construction companies set to profit greatly from this project, are determined to continue with this development ignoring the long-term cost, financial and environmental, and the effect on the lives of so many communities and the health of the land itself. Why? Who benefits?

In a letter to the fledgling American Government in 1854 Chief Seattle, in an effort to protect his tribe's ancient lands, wrote:

"Contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste".

His wise words were ignored and his lands destroyed to become the city we know as Seattle.

In Somerset it seems we are experiencing something similar as our precious land and the people who live upon it are sacrificed on the high altar of politics and greed: communities destroyed, air polluted, water poisoned, land lost forever and lives put at risk. For what and for whom? There are safer and cheaper alternatives to nuclear power and all of us, living in greater awareness, must be less greedy in our consumption of resources.

Bridgwater can now look forward to endless chaos effecting us all, and for what? Should a reactor ever be placed in this giant concrete tomb it is likely to be of technology redundant before it is even installed. The history of Hinkley C, for me, sums up well the chaotic state of British politics today and its lack of integrity, compassion and concern for human health and the precious natural environment that supports all that lives.

God may forgive us but will our children?

Michael 10/2018