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Friday the 13th: what's the worst that could happen?

Dunno... Nuclear apocalypse?

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It's Friday the 13th - day of ill omen and inauspicious portent. It's also a really bad day to take your kids walking on a beach next to one of the UK's nuclear power stations. Click here to find out why.

<short pause for cup of camomile tea />

Well, you have to hand it to Greenpeace - its members don't beat around the bush, do they? The press release which accompanied the link to this Armageddon alert was similarly to the point:

Building more nuclear power stations will dramatically increase the risk of a catastrophic terrorist attack, which could claim millions of lives, Greenpeace warned today (13 January 2006).

A shocking dossier of expert evidence released by the environmental group shows how a terrorist strike, targetting dangerous radioactive waste held at the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria, could kill more than two-million people.

UK nuclear sites are not built to withstand a deliberate crash by a jumbo jet full of highly explosive aviation fuel, and an attack on Sellafield could dwarf the consequences of the Chernobyl accident in 1986.

And so on. The dossier in question is available here (PDF). We just hope that Greenpeace's slightly hysterical approach to the proposal to build more nuclear power stations does not detract from the real concerns that it is, at best, a hole-plugging measure provoked by the West's lamentable failure to tackle the energy question before the fossil fuels started to fizzle out.

On the other hand, nuclear power stations do have their advocates. They are, in fact, relatively clean as long as they don't blow up or leak radioactive waste and you can work out a proper, grown-up way to dispose of the waste. Oh yes, and they're safe as long as someone doesn't deliberately crash an airliner fully loaded with fuel into them while screaming children hit the pebbled beaches of Cumbria. Crikey. ®

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