MALCOLM Parkin’s letter (December 29) is most unfair to Angus McEachran (Letters, December 28), who pointed to the risk of nuclear-powered electricity generation.

To this end, he suggests Mr McEachran would have “stopped flying after two jumbo jets collided on the ground at Tenerife in 1977, and Malaysian flight MH370 vanished with all on board”. However, Mr Parkin’s is by no means is an appropriate comparison.

The two air disasters Mr Parkin cites were certainly tragic for those on those aircraft. However, they had no implications for anyone else, beyond making us all question the safety of air transport. They are, as Mr McEachran points out, “local”. Nuclear accidents are not.

Has Mr Parkin forgotten Chernobyl in 1986 which has had incalculable consequences, including a World Health Organization computer modelling which predicts an eventual 4,000 deaths in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia? The surrounding area had to be cleared and a new city built for the inhabitants of Pripyat, the nearest town to the reactor.

The cost of Chernobyl alone was estimated in 2019 to be $68 billion. As Mr McEachran points out in the present conflict between Ukraine and Russia, several nuclear plants are potentially at risk, which could include being the next Chernobyl, or worse, through direct military damage to a reactor (there are 15 in four stations), or to safety systems or loss of electricity supply (necessary for reactor control), or damage to the spent fuel pool and its cooling systems.

Then, with any nuclear power station, there are issues about storing its waste, but also the potential of nuclear power technology to contravene the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

All of this renders Mr Parkin’s comparison with an air transport disaster absurd and wholly inappropriate. The issue is not just one of risk, but the scale of the consequences when/if disaster does strike.
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton

• MALCOLM Parkin states in his closing sentence: “As we move forward, we leave old technology behind, and we take any new risks it brings into our calculations.”

Re-reading Angus McEachran’s letter it seems to me that this is what he has done and, for him, found an unacceptable level of risk. In 2016 Thomas Rose & Trevor Sweeting wrote an article for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists entitled “How safe is nuclear power?” The authors analysed all past core-melt accidents and estimated a failure rate of 1 per 3,704 reactor years. Depending on your source there are currently approximately 440 active civilian nuclear power stations. Arithmetic is not my strong point but I reckon that currently this means a risk of nuclear accident once every 8.5 years (remember this is pre the current situation in Ukraine), a figure considerably significantly worse than Mr McEachran’s 1:10,000 reactor years.

What we need when discussing nuclear energy is reasoned factual discussion. Personally I think there is no one answer, but surely reasoned argument and debate is what is needed to help our decision-makers formulate policy.

Mr Parkin believes the benefit of a reliable source of power outweigh the risks. I don’t know how you can reliably assess benefit versus risk but, as my my old maths teacher used to insist (to no avail really in my case) “show us your working”.
Alastair Clark, Stranraer

Nothing wrong with regional accents

DOUGLAS Cowe (Letters, December 29) complains about grammar and word pronunciation by BBC Scotland presenters.

This is Scotland. This is how we speak. As it should be in Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and beyond.

He might not recognise them but on the BBC UK national news there are also regional accents and dialects from different parts of England and elsewhere, and that in my view is all for the good.

Does Mr Cowe just have a problem with Glaswegians?

Nothing wrong in my book with the Doric, Dundonian, Lallans, and other wonderful ways with our language on the airwaves.

He's right however to say "in the main" the BBC Scotland presenters are Glasgow-based. That's because the main studios are here. But he's absolutely wrong to say they were born and bred here.

Maybe he should move to the north or south-west of England. That would wake him up.

Yes, grammar is absolutely the number one priority, but diction and pronunciation are always open to where you are from.
Andy Stenton, Glasgow

Why must they ruin church music?

I AM an atheist but was brought up in the tradition of the Church of Scotland. I still very much enjoy church music, in particular that so typical of Christmas, and I cannot but agree with James Watson (Letters, December 27) in his comments about the service from St Mary's, Edinburgh, on Christmas Eve.

I found it dire in every respect, but even worse, however, was that old favourite, Carols From Kings, aired earlier the same evening, which I described later on Twitter as being "alright" until the end of the first carol (Once in Royal David's City), then descending to cacophonous hell in a high church choirmaster's handcart.

Why do these elitists (not to mention TV channels) treat us so – have they just stopped thinking about or considering the likes of audiences? I for one would rather watch a 1950s test card.
Niall McKillop, Fort William

Torture of the football drums

THE return of Scottish football, albeit highlights, to our TV screens is appreciated by many. Not so the ever-increasing number of would-be drummers in attendance. The continual cacophony detracts from the observations of the match commentator. The latter will occasionally apologise for the odd foul language expressed, but never a word on the drum merchant's unswerving flow of expression.

If annoying to armchair viewers like me it surely must be torture to those standing/seated next to the solo stick man.
Allan C Steele, Giffnock

Get off your bike

HAD Kirkpatrick Macmillan invented the bike today, our Elf’n’Safety guardians (Letters, December 29) would ban it. It looks dangerous, and people might fall off it.

Mark my words, this Elf’n’Safety will one day be the death of us all.
Gordon Casely, Crathes


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