England couldn’t cope with a nuclear accident at Hinkley Point. An EDF board meeting today could spell the end of the wretched Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and its hugely over-priced electricity, for which electricity distribution companies would be obliged to pay double the current wholesale electricity price for 35 years. EDF’s finance director Thomas Piquemal resigned in March claiming that the project could put the entire future of the company at risk. The UN’s Economic and Social Council has put its own boot into the project, saying that the UK has failed to consult with neighbouring countries over the risk of a nuclear accident. But never mind neighbouring countries, the government has failed to take into account the economic consequences of a nuclear accident on local populations. The crushing problem with nuclear accidents is the economic cost of having to evacuate large areas. At Chernobyl, a 30 km exclusion zone still applies. The Fukushima disaster of 2011 was also followed by the evacuation of residents up to a 30 km radius. A 20 km exclusion zone remains in place, which the Japanese government has suggested may begin to be relaxed from next year. If such an accident were to occur (if not a tsunami, the Severn Estuary is nevertheless prone to tidal surges – and there are plenty of possible causes of a nuclear accident other than flooding) the following areas could require evacuation: 10 km: Burnham-on-Sea (population 20,000); 20 km: Bridgwater (41,000) and the southern half of Weston-Super-Mare (76,000); 30 km: Taunton (109,883 with surrounding villages). In addition the M5 might have to be abandoned, along with the main railway line to the West Country, as the latter falls into the 30km zone and the former the 10km zone. Has the government assessed the economic costs of an accident on this scale? If it has, perhaps it would care to publish its assessment. The blunt reality is that nuclear power might be a risk worth taking in lightly-populated areas. The experience of the world’s two major nuclear disasters to date suggests that it is a risk too high in crowded southern England.