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The Technology Context – B101

Sellafield Nuclear Power Station


Article Picture

Sellafield is the name of a nuclear site close to the village and railway station of sea scale. Sellafield is operated by Sellafield limited but owned since April 2005 by the nuclear decommissioning authority. Previously, Sellafield was owned and operated by British nuclear fuel limited (BNFL). Sellafield is located on the coast of the Irish Sea in the Cumbria, England. Sellafield houses the Thorp nuclear fuel reprocessing plant and the Magnox nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. It is also the site of the remains of Calder hall magnox nuclear power station, the world’s first commercial nuclear power station, which is now being decommissioned. This was used to make nuclear weapons for world war.

How does Sellafield benefit the local people?

Sellafield is the backbone of Ireland as it offers a potentially an environmentally friendly and sustainable energy source. Unlike nuclear power, burning fossil fuels cause the emission of green house gases and gases that cause acid rains. Fossil fuels are not renewable and are likely to run out in the next hundred years unlike for nuclear power. There is a wide range of raw materials for nuclear power and are easy to obtain. Sellafield provides power to 70% of the population in Ireland; it also produces power that is exported to other areas for money. Sellafield directly employs around ten thousand people and is one of the two large non-governmental employers in the west Cumbria with approximately 90% of the employees coming from west Cumbria.

Disadvantage of Sellafield

Beside Sellafield being the backbone of Ireland, 60% of the Irish population are not interested in the nuclear power. This is due to the concerns that were raised in the UK about apparent clusters of leukaemia near nuclear facilities. Detailed studies carried out by the committee on medical aspect of radiation in the environment in 2003 found no evidence of raised childhood cancer around the nuclear power plant, however they did find an excess of leukaemia. Sellafield railway station is a train station serving the nuclear facility of Sellafield in Cumbria England. It is operated by the northern rail who provide all passenger train services. The station is also used for transporting Sellafield’s nuclear waste. Having nuclear waste transported by the same train services as passenger is one of the greatest risk because in case of any accident passengers and local people will get exposed to the radiation, which will probably cause cancer and other serious illness.

What has the government done about that?

Sellafield being a matter of some consternation in Ireland, with the Irish government and some members of the population concerned at the risk that such a facility may cause to the country, the Irish government made formal complaints about the facility and recently came to a friendly agreement with the British government about the issue, as part of which the radiological protection institution of Ireland and the Irish police force are now allowed access to the site. This will help to make sure that there is no improper disposal of wastes to the environment. However the Irish government policy remains that of seeking the closure of the facility.

Outcomes of the closure

There will be an increase in local unemployment following the closure of Sellafield operations so the nuclear decommissioning authority is concerned that this needs to be managed. 90% of Ireland’s population uses nuclear power energy in their home so if the power station close down, the public will have to use electricity which is generated for fossil fuels. This will lead to the increase in global warming which is the biggest problem at the moment. The closure of Sellafield will affect Ireland’s tourism business as Sellafield is one of the main tourist attractions in Ireland. This will lead to the decrease in the economy of Ireland.

How the government benefit from Sellafield?

The government of Ireland export energy generated from nuclear power station to the neighbouring areas and it is believed that this contribute up to 10% of their revenue. Beside nuclear power wastes being radioactive, the power station produces energy that the Irish people need to sustain their living standards without at the same time harming the environment. The government also generate around 5% revenue by taxing Sellafield Company limited and its employees. Sellafield has contributed allot to the tourism industry of Ireland as It homes the remains of Calder hall magnox nuclear power station, the world’s first commercial nuclear power station.

Personal relevant

Sellafield nuclear power station is the most debated about power station in the UK and the debates are linked with human lives being put at a risk, most especially for young people. I find this relevant to me because I have young brothers who I would not want to see being affected by the outcome of nuclear power station. Sellafield nuclear station is relevant to me as it is one of the few operating power station in the UK and I as an engineering student, I would like to specialise in nuclear power technology.

Plan of Inquiry

I am going to read the guardian unlimited as I believe that this will keep me up dated on the issue of Sellafield Nuclear Power Station. I will also visit the telegragh.co.uk web site as this has the relevant information for nuclear power station. I will use books such as: a Serious but Not Ponderous Book about Nuclear Energy by Walter Schneider.

To tackle the problem of sustainable energy development in Ireland, I had to consider all possible ways of obtaining energy. Using Solar panels is one way of producing energy without harming the environment but the only downfall was, it is not reliable in winter and this is when energy is in more demand. Building wind turbines is another way of producing energy, but wind power is not reliable; it is expensive to build and it spoils the view of the area. Burning fossil fuel is another way of producing energy, but this produce green house gases which contribute to global warming and fossil fuel are not renewable. After considering possible ways of obtaining energy including their capacities, costs, reliability and effects to the environment, I believe that Sellafield nuclear power station is the suitable way of generating power as it also solves the issue of global warming; which is the biggest threat at the moment.

Secondary Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sellafield
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_stations
http://www.visitcumbria.com/wc/svc.htm
http://www.darvill.clara.net/altenerg/nuclear.htm