Activists opposed to the government’s plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations have launched a nationwide campaign to boycott EDF Energy. The Boycott EDF Action Group is calling for customers of the energy giant to switch their accounts to rival companies.
‘EDF Energy is the biggest player in the UK nuclear sector. We’re asking the public to show their opposition to the company’s plans to build at least four new reactors by hitting it where it hurts most – in its pocket,’ says spokeswoman Camilla Berens.
EDF Energy claims that that nuclear energy is clean and safe but this is clearly not the case. ‘There have been four recorded near-catastrophes at power stations around the world in the past decade and frequent reports of mismanagement and radiation leaks at plants in the UK,’ Berens explains.
The nuclear industry is currently struggling to deal with more than 500,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste being stored in the UK and there is no approved method of long-term storage. ‘The UK needs nuclear power like it needs a flood of Hungarian red sludge,’ Berens concludes.
The Boycott EDF Action group was set up to counter the growing misconception that new reactors are needed to bridge the imminent energy gap. ‘There are plenty of other alternatives such the combined heat and power plants used in by Woking Borough Council and many cities in Scandinavia,’ says Berens. ‘Regionally-based energy solutions are more democratic and don’t leave us with the threat of another Chernobyl hanging over our heads.’
The boycott will enable people to actively demonstrate their opposition to EDF’s bid to profit from a new era in nuclear power. ‘Switching energy provider online is easy these days,’ says Berens. ‘If you aren’t an EDF customer, you’re sure to know people who are. We’ve also put this out on Twitter and Facebook so we hope it will go viral.’
Most of EDF Energy's customers are in London and the South-East and the action group hopes that the boycott will be spread by eco-activists in this region.
The boycott was launched just days after anti-nuclear activists blockaded the entrance to EDF Energy’s plant in Hinkley, Somerset, to protest at plans to build a new reactor on the site and a flawed consultation.
The campaign’s website gives a guide to switching energy providers online and can be found at http://boycottedf.org.uk/
For more information contact Camilla Berens on 07506 006597
The Boycott EDF Action Group is calling for a nationwide boycott of EDF Energy because:
EDF Energy is a world leader in nuclear energy and has most to gain from the proposed development of a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK
EDF Energy dominates the UK market: it owns 8 of the 10 active nuclear power plants and plans to build at least four new reactors.
The campaigns demands to EDF are:
1. Cancel all plans for new nuclear plants in the UK.
2. Shut down of all EDF-owned or controlled nuclear power stations in the UK.
3. No replacement of nuclear with coal or oil-fired power stations
4. EDF to decarbonizes by 2030 by shifting its focus onto renewables. The seeds are already sown: EDF Energy owns two wind farms and is developing an off-shore site. It has invested £3m in tidal energy research and is building a combined heat and power plants in Nottinghamshire.
The Boycott EDF Action Group opposes new nuclear for the following reasons:
Mismanagement of nuclear waste over the last 60 years has meant that radiation has already contaminated our environment(1). Radiation causes cancer and eventually kills.
March 2010: nuclear power station operator, Magnox, fined £250,000 for allowing 14 years of radioactive leaks from a holding tank at Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex (2).
April 2010: Sellafield nuclear processing facility exposed for dumping five bags of radioactive waste in a landfill site after a faulty scanner passed them as safe (3).
August 2010: Serious fire at Aldermaston nuclear weapons factory.
Since 2000, there have been near-disasters at reactors in Sweden (4), the Netherlands (5), Japan (6) and France (7).
The nuclear industry says that the new generation of reactors will be safer. But human error, earthquakes, floods or terrorism can never be ruled out.
The Sustainable Development Commission estimates that a nuclear power programme will only deliver a cut in carbon dioxide emissions of 2.4% by 2020 (8).
Uranium (nuclear fuel) extraction and processing is one of the most dangerous and carbon-intensive forms of mining.
Nuclear waste from new reactors will be even more toxic than existing radioactive by-products (9).
The current decommissioning and clean-up costs for the UK’s existing nuclear industry is equivalent to a bill of over £1,600 for every person in the UK (10).
Construction of the first new EPR reactor in Finland is 3 years behind schedule and more than £1bn over-budget.
UK taxpayers have always subsidised the nuclear industry to manage nuclear waste, insure against accidents and provide protection against terrorism.
When David Cameron says new reactors will be built without public subsidy, he means subsidies will be provided under another name.
It’s likely that the cost of building new reactors will be transferred to our electricity use - so we’ll be billed directly. Moreover, nuclear power only accounts for around 3% of our total energy use.
What’s the alternative?
Reports by respected organisations in both the UK and Europe have shown that there are more than enough renewable sources of power to meet present and future needs. Reducing our energy demand is the key.
Renewables are cheaper, can be built more quickly and have none of the dangers associated with nuclear energy. They could also create thousands of new jobs.
The development of smart-grids will allow a much more flexible supply of power from different sources to meet different demands. Nuclear energy is a dinosaur in the mix. It has no place in our future.
A few of the alternative strategies available can be found via:
Centre for Alternative Technology’s report: Zero Carbon Britain
Sustainable Development Commission’s report: Nuclear power in a low carbon economy
Greenpeace’s report: Decentralising Power: an energy revolution for the 21st century
8. The role of nuclear power in a low carbon economy, Paper 2: reducing Co2 emissions – nuclear and alternatives, Sustainable Development Commission, p 29
10. Switching Power, Greenpeace, March 2006, p2 and http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/decentralised-energy-w