Many people are unaware that trains carrying nuclear waste pass through their area; few people understand the hazards that radiation poses; and government and the nuclear industry peddle the lie that nuclear power is necessary. Here are some of the things you can do towards a balanced view and reduce the justification of nuclear power.
Although campaigners have not yet completely stopped nuclear power, public oppostion over the last few decades has successfully slowed down the building of nuclear power stations, and thus also the amount of radioactive waste in our environment.
Simply by asking questions you can help raise the issues, as well as increasing your knowledge. You never know but asking a question in informal talk may make other people realize how little they know about it; you might trigger their interest. It's always better to ask a question you would really like the answer to than to say "Did you know ... ?".
Local newspapers in several London boroughs have carried articles and letters about the nuclear trains. If you have some personal experience (for example seeing a train, or a friend asking you a question about them) or have got an unsatisfactory response from your Council, MP or a government department, this is good material for a letter.
You can ask why trains carrying hazardous waste are routed through such densely populated areas. You can ask what emergency plans are in place in case of an accident. (The Emergency Planning Officer of the local council should know this, but it is better not to ask directly: what you want is for the councillor/MP to find out themselves - and they are more likely to get a fuller response from the EPO than you would.). You could ask about the trains as terrorist targets. If you live in London you could write to the mayor.
There may be residents groups or green groups in your area; or local branches of national organisations such as CND, Greenpeace, or Friends of the Earth. You can try the web, the library, local advice centres, or just ask anyone you know whether there are any relevant groups in your area.
If you are already in a community or environmental group, you can put nuclear waste transport on their agenda for a discussion (and maybe arrange a speaker). You can contact us for suggestions on speakers, or we may be able to provide one..
Demonstrations at stations on lines which carry nuclear waste provide an opportunity to inform the public through discussion and leaflets. Colour, humour and the unusual can often help. If you know a singing group or street theatre group, they're worth asking
If you live close to a railway line that carries nuclear waste, keep an eye out for trains. We don't have many regular spotters, so if you see one let us know the date and time, location and number of wagons. We also need photos of nuclear trains, and of the poor state of track, tunnels and bridges on the routes.
Check how much energy is used at home or at your place of work. Many local councils give free energy advice. From time to time there are schemes for subsidized insulation. Consider using energy-saving lightbulbs: these save about 80% of the electricity and are now relatively cheap (one or two pounds) and soon pay for themselves - they usually last several years.
Lots of electrical equipment has a 'stand-by' button in place of an on-off switch. Unless you really need the equipment on to hold something in its memory, switch it off at the socket - otherwise the electricity is just heating up its power supply. You're not only saving electricty, but saving money too.
If you have a kettle (electric or gas), only boil as much water as you need. This might sound a bit obsessive, but soon you will do it without even thinking about it. If we had to chop logs for a fire or pedal a dynamo for electricity ourselves we would be a lot more conscious and careful of our use of energy.
Change to an electricity supplier that guarantees their electricity comes from non-nuclear sources. Many electricity suppliers say they have "green electricity" but you need to read the fine print: you may have to pay extra, or wait for months to get on their specific list. Avoid any association with EDF (Electricity De France) as they are responsible for many nuclear power stations in France.
Small wind turbines are not suited to most urban dwellings, but are very popular on canal barges. Passive solar heating of water is cost effective. Solar power (electricity) is currently very expensive but is now being sold for domestic use and may drop significantly in cost.
When writing letters asking questions:
If you get an interesting reply (whether informative or outrageous) do let us know so that we can put the information on the website.