Photographers' Blog

Uncovering Nuclear Britain

By Suzanne Plunkett

It sounds like the road trip from hell: a journey around all Britain’s functioning nuclear power stations.

After all, when the UK has so much to offer the traveller – from the bright lights of London to the ancient ruins of Stonehenge – why would anyone go out of their way to visit the far-flung places where the country has stowed its grim industrial reactor halls?

Memories of the Fukushima and Chernobyl meltdowns don’t help. For all its green credentials, nuclear energy seems forever tainted by the consequences of its few disasters. Thoughts of abandoned cities, stark yellow and black hazard symbols and the sickening effects of leaking radiation are never far away.

With all this at the back of my mind, and an itinerary that featured bleakly-named destinations like Hinkley Point B, Heysham 2 and Sizewell B, I wasn’t exactly expecting an uplifting experience.

I was wrong.

My first stop was Dungeness, a sparse, low landscape of scattered pebbles and salty marshland that bulges out of the coastline of England’s otherwise leafy southeastern county of Kent. Here the sky is vast, dwarfing the wooden houses and tumbledown fishing shacks that litter the landscape.

Inside the world’s biggest nuclear plant

Kashiwazaki, Japan

By Kim Kyung-hoon

“Sleeping nuclear giants” – That was my first impression when I visited the world’s biggest nuclear power station, Kashiwazaki Kariwa power plant in Japan’s Niigata Prefecture.

GALLERY: IMAGES FROM THE PLANT

With seven reactors which can produce a total of 8,212 megawatts of electricity, this power station is officially registered as the largest nuclear power station in the Guinness Book of Records. But the reality of the power station is much different than its reputation. Two of its reactors were shut down for a time after the 2007 earthquake and the remaining reactors were taken offline for safety checks and maintenance due to public concerns about the safety of nuclear energy in the quake-prone country after Fukushima’s nuclear disaster.

However its operator Tokyo Electronic Power Co (TEPCO) hopes to get this power plant operating because they are overwhelmed by the soaring cost of fuel as well as radiation cleanup costs and compensation payments to displaced residents. TEPCO invited the Reuters multimedia team into the nuclear power plant in order to show their upgraded safety practice.

“Bring the generator, and a chainsaw”

By Gary Cameron

Finishing the last day of a nice Canadian fishing vacation, (in 70 degree temperatures with no humidity I might add), I got “the call” from my wife Joann last Saturday. She had just returned to our Silver Spring, Maryland home of 29 years.

“Bring the generator, and a chainsaw.” Oh, oh, sounded like vacation time was over.

Heading home on Interstate 81 south, I saw plenty of power company trucks from various U.S. states and Canada going in the same direction. Little did I realize that quite a few of those trucks were heading for my very own neighborhood in Montgomery County, Maryland. I stopped for gasoline just over the Pennsylvania-Maryland line to fill up as I wasn’t certain if gasoline pumps were operational in my home area. A man approached, asking if that was a generator on my hitch carrier. He said that they were already sold out regionally and admired my 5300 watts of surge power.

Living without electricity for 29 years

By Cathal McNaughton

John McCarter is 77 years old and has been living without mains electricity at his home at Downhill, Londonderry county, for 29 years.

It seems incredible that a pensioner who lives so close to the prosperous Causeway Coast tourist area in Northern Ireland is allowed to live in such basic conditions.

However, John is the perfect host and couldn’t have made me more welcome when I arrived at his modest wooden cottage set against the backdrop of the dramatic Co Derry coastline.