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Letter from Radiation Free Lakeland:
31st July 2017

Dear Royal Institute of British Architects and Landscape Institute,

Nuclear Beautifying Competitions –Endorsing the Safety of New Nuclear Reactors?

Amber Rudd the (then) Energy Secretary made statements in 2015 that new nuclear power stations must be designed to look beautiful in order to garner essential public support.

The RIBA and LI agreed to lend kudos and prestige to this unethical PR project by running competitions for the architecture and for the earth mounds (resulting from deep excavation for the foundations).

I would like to ask if you are endorsing the safety of the Moorside plan? If not will you please make a public statement clarifying that the design competition does not in anyway endorse the safety of Moorside. If you do not do this you are aiding and abetting the public being hoodwinked into embracing dangerous new untried untested reactors using “high burn” fuel next to Sellafield. Sellafield is widely acknowledged as the worlds most dangerous nuclear waste site, adding to an already intolerable risk is an abuse of the rights of all Europeans (and further afield) to expect a safe environment.


Below are just a few of the many reasons why the RIBA and LI should make clear that their beautifying competitions do not in any way endorse the safety of the Moorside plan.

• Arnie Gundersen former US nuclear regulator has described the proposed Moorside AP1000 reactors as: Chernobyl on Steroids (1)

• Spent fuel arisings from Moorside would amount to 85% of the radioactivity contained in all existing legacy wastes from the UK’s nuclear power industry. (2)

• By applying the widely used fatal cancer risk factor of 10% per sievert we can calculate around 4 deaths will occur somewhere in the world for every year the station operates. Over 60 years the total would be 240 deaths. (3) (note this does not include accident or incident)

• The new reactors would be vulnerable to a very large release of radioactivity following an accident if there were just a small failure in the steel containment vessel.

In that event gases released from the reactor would be sucked through existing ‘pinhole’ containment flaws in the AP1000 Shield Building due to the ‘chimney effect’, potentially leading to the rapid venting huge amounts of radioactivity to the environment. (4)

• In 2013 Cumbria County Council suggested that a proposed low level radioactive landfill site should be located on or near the Sellafield site instead of at Keekle Head. The reply from the Keekle Head applicants, Endecom was that: it is not possible to site a low level nuclear dump at or near to Sellafield: there is insufficient space on the site ..and.. large areas of contaminated land would have to be excavated to develop a VLLW Facility ie deep excavation near Sellafield would disturb decades of nuclear seepage from the site. The Moorside Landscape Mounds would leach that contamination currently held underground to the nearby village of Beckermet which regularly floods. (5)

• According to the designers, the rainbow installation was inspired by a William Wordsworth poem remarking on the beauty of Cumbria, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky”. The poem is actually about mans relationship with nature. Every aspect of nuclear power is an assault on the natural world from the ripping out of uranium in Greenland to the plan to dump high level nuclear wastes in Borrowdale Granite. No amount of beautification can hide the obscenity of nuclear.

Lending prestige to the Moorside plan is unethical at best an assault on human rights at worst. Radiation Free Lakeland ask both the RIBA and LI to make clear to the public that they are not in any way endorsing the safety of these three nuclear reactors on the greenfields and river Ehen floodplain next to Sellafield.

Yours sincerely,
Marianne Birkby,
Radiation Free Lakeland
Cumbria UK

1. Chernobyl on Steroids : Article in the Independent
2. Spent Fuel Arisings: Environmental Impact Report by EEEC July 2017

3. 240 deaths : Environmental Impact Report by EEEC July 2017

4. rapid venting of huge amounts of radioactivity to the environment : The Ecologist 2016 http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2988356/ap1000_reactor_design_is_ dangerous_and_not_fit_for_purpose.html
5. Radiation Free Lakeland presentation to the Keekle Head inquiry 2013 https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/presentation-to-keekle-head-inquiry/ and Endecom: Addendum Environmental Statement 2011


Mining Awareness Blog Comment:
Note that cancer rates will be much higher than fatalities and have both personal and social costs, including medical care. There are well-known risks of heart disease and cataracts, too. Cataract-heart disease damage occurs at lower doses than previously admitted. The cancers are life-shortening by about 14-15 years, as well. Scientists keep discovering that nuclear is more deadly than initially thought. Based on the Oct. 2015 multi-government-funded study of nuclear workers, cancer risk appears around 15 times higher than even BEIR VII (ca 2005) concluded, maybe even higher: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/another-look-at-the-recent-low-dose-radiation-exposure-study-inworks

Clustered DNA damage is considered a signature of ionizing radiation: “clustered DNA damage sites, which may be considered as a signature of ionising radiation, underlie the deleterious biological consequences of ionising radiation…ionising radiation creates significant levels of clustered DNA damage, including complex double-strand breaks (DSB)” See: “Biological Consequences of Radiation-induced DNA Damage: Relevance to Radiotherapy“, by M.E. Lomax et. al. Clinical Oncology 25 (2013) 578-585. “The formation of clustered damage distinguishes ionising radiation-induced damage from normal endogenous damage: https://cordis.europa.eu/pub/fp5-euratom/docs/non_dsb_lesions_projrep_en.pdf More here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/on-the-unique-dna-damage-done-by-ionizing-radiation-nuclear-materials-and-on-metting-hultgren-et-al-misleading-the-us-congress-in-this-matter