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Reactors could be dangerous says safety watchdog

Issue No. 2180

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) last week said that it could not recommend the government’s plans for new nuclear reactors because of safety concerns.

The HSE report raised concerns with reactor designs from Westinghouse and Areva—two companies that are competing to construct reactors for EDF Energy in Britain.

It said, “We have identified a significant number of issues with the safety features of the design that would first have to be progressed.

“If these are not progressed satisfactorily then we would not issue a design acceptance confirmation.”

Ed Miliband, the energy secretary, announced last month that the government wants to build ten new nuclear power stations.

But the HSE’s report has thrown the plans into chaos—and activists should use it to pile on the pressure against dangerous nuclear power.

Tories want to slash safety law

If David Cameron is elected at the next general election, future safety problems with Britain’s nuclear reactor plans may not come to light. The Tories are planning a major attack on health and safety laws.

Cameron launched an attack this week on what he called Britain’s “over the top” health and safety culture.

He ominously said, “For every piece of health and safety legislation, we need to ask whether it fulfils a useful purpose—and if not, it must go.”

Cameron wants to exempt whole categories of workers and organisations from legislation that is designed to protect them. As he puts it, “We all have to accept that there are risks in life.”

The Tories have announced that Tory peer Lord Young will conduct a review of health and safety laws and scrap any that are not “useful”.

Meanwhile the shadow justice secretary, Dominic Grieve, says that he plans to give British courts the right to ignore European law on human rights.

Perhaps the Tories feel so confident to attack over this issue because of the example New Labour has set.

Labour has carried out a sustained attack on the HSE since it was elected in 1997. By the end of 2007, the HSE had lost 17 percent of its staff in just five years.

Cuts at the HSE put workers’ lives at risk. The Tory plans—and New Labour’s actions—show the complete disregard that the entire political class holds ordinary people in.

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Tue 1 Dec 2009, 18:34 GMT
Issue No. 2180
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