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Will build a nuclear power plant close to Norway’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, Mongstad – NRK Vestland

The joint-stock company Norsk Kjernekraft – with the multi-billionaire Trond Mohn as the largest owner – has convinced the local politicians in Austrheim in Nordhordland.

– Nuclear power plants are a positive measure towards a green shift, believes local politician Kristoffer Myklebusthaug (H).

On Thursday evening, the municipal council decided to welcome local nuclear power. The majority will support and contribute to Norsk Kjernekraft AS sorting out plans to establish a small nuclear power plant in the municipality.

Although the Storting last spring voted down two proposals to find out whether a nuclear power plant should be built on Norwegian soil.

Opposition to nuclear power is particularly linked to the danger of radiation and the ethical and practical challenges of producing and storing radioactive waste “for future generations”.

One such power plant that Norsk Kjernekraft is planning is very much smaller than “old nuclear power plants”. It is the size of a football stadium and will be able to provide electricity to 160,000 households.

By comparison, the controversial wind turbines at Fosen can supply 170,000.

“Clean” nuclear power at Norway’s biggest CO₂ emissions?

At the far end of Nordhordland – an hour’s drive north of Bergen – lies the large industrial area of ​​Mongstad on the border between the municipalities of Austrheim and Alver.

Equinor has its oil refinery here. And here lies Energiverk Mongstad – the gas power plant which, according to then-Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, was supposed to be Norway’s “moon landing” in the climate fight, but which never got CO₂ purification.

Mongstad is the town in Norway that has largest emission of CO₂ collected in one place.

Therefore, it has a certain symbolic effect if emission-free nuclear power plants are built next door to the country’s most polluting industrial area.

– For the climate

For a year, Norsk Kjernekraft has been “at liberty” to a large number of Norwegian municipalities.

According to the company, around 40 municipalities have expressed an interest in nuclear power. Four municipalities – Aure, Heim, Narvik and Vardø – have entered into an agreement with Norsk Kjernekraft to start the impact assessment process.

Now the trip has come to Austrheim, one of the country’s largest industrial municipalities.

On 1 February, the company presented its plans at a public meeting at the community centre. And on February 15, the municipal council had its say.

Steffen O. Sæle

Steffen O. Sæle of Norsk Kjernekraft AS has presented the company’s plans to many municipalities over the past year. Archive photo.

Photo: Svein Sundsdal / NRK

In advance, municipal director Bjørnar Fjellhaug had recommended a resounding yes.

– For the climate on earth, nuclear power can be a salvation in the long term, but environmental challenges with uranium mining and safe storage of nuclear waste have not been properly solved in many places, he believes.

– But this case has more positives than negatives. It also creates many jobs locally, he says.

He points out that the alternative is worse: “a massive development of wind power in untouched and valuable coastal and mountain nature in our region and in Western Norway.”

– Too early

The opposition parties Center Party and Samlingslista believe it is too early to make the decision.

They believe that there is too little information about what positive or negative consequences nuclear power will have.

But the majority party Høgre, the Labor Party and INP adopted the municipal director’s proposal:

“Austrheim municipality is interested in being the host municipality for nuclear power with small modular reactors and will cooperate with the company Norsk Kjernekraft AS in their investigation work in our municipality.”

Mongstad processing plant

Here at Mongstad, the Austrheim politicians want to get plans for nuclear power plants paid off.

Photo: Sindre Skrede / NRK

“This must be planned and established in existing larger regulated commercial areas in the Mongstad area. The energy must go to businesses and households locally in the region”.

– We have a great need for power and must find out what opportunities nuclear power can give us for the future, says Per Lerøy (Ap).

Atomkraft shareholders in Lindås in 1974

The contrast is great with the situation 50 years ago. In fact, it was in Nordhordland that the national discussion about nuclear power was “parked” in the 1970s, writes the newspaper Nordhordland in connection with today’s municipal council meeting.

A public uprising in the then municipality of Lindås stopped all plans for a large nuclear power plant there. It actually also puts a stop to the discussion at the national political level.

Popular demonstration in Lindås stopped the plans for a nuclear power plant in Lindås in Nordhordland in 1974.

Popular demonstrations and actions in Lindås stopped the plans for a nuclear power plant in Lindås in Nordhordland in 1974.

Photo: Arvid Hodneland

Not relevant for the Storting

On Thursday, the Austrheim politicians went a big step further than current national politics. Opening up nuclear power plants on Norwegian soil is not high on the agenda in the government or the Storting.

Norsk Kjernekraft AS, on the other hand, does not allow itself to be stopped. The company claims that “all parties in the Storting, except SV, have decided that the other wants to build nuclear power or to consider it more closely”, despite the fact that the Storting voted the proposal down.

Supports the Mohn company

Just like Norsk Kjernekraft AS, Austrheim mayor Morten Sognnes​​​​​​ (H) believes that it is wrong to compare today’s nuclear power technology with that of the 1970s.

– I have got the impression that it is now effective and safe and probably a little more effective than it was before.

– Who did you hear it from?

– I only have it from the briefing I received from the representative from Norsk Kjernekraft.

– This is the leading commercial nuclear power player in Norway. Is it a bit narrow to build the municipality’s strategy only on their presentation?

– Yes, it could well be. But I don’t want to question their knowledge. He seems professionally very strong. He knew what he was talking about, says Sognnes.

Morten Sognnes (Høgre), mayor of Austrheim

Austrheim mayor Martin Sognnes (H) is positive about the plans for nuclear power plants.

Photo: Austrheim Høgre

– Nuclear waste can become fuel

Sognnes comments on possible risks linked to the radioactive nuclear waste from nuclear power plants as follows:

– That is perhaps the negative part. But I have seen that it is possible to use waste for something, for example another type of fuel, or another type of food. I have faith that a solution will be found. Technology is moving forward very quickly.

The municipality has also been predicted a few hundred permanent jobs linked to the nuclear power plant, plus all during the construction period, and the synergy effect for other companies in the vicinity.

STATOIL MONGSTAD

Norsk Kjernekraft wants to establish small nuclear power plants in Norway, for example here at the oil refinery and the gas power plant at Mongstad.

Photo: Harald M. Valderhaug

According to an overview from Norsk Kjernekraft AS, Norway has limited or very limited capacity for more than half of the required work categories.

– I’m not going to comment on that, but then we have to acquire that expertise, says Sognnes.

He believes it is important to get young people on the field.

– It is the young people who must be allowed to decide about their future.

Illustration of a small, modular reactor from GE Hitachi

Norsk Kjernekraft AS is planning such small nuclear power plants around Norway, even if it is not currently a relevant national policy.

Photo: GE Hitachi

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