original dream for nuclear power was that it would create a world free
from deprivation and suffering; instead, with its need for a
rigorous security system, it is
opening up the prospect of a repressive
society in which dissent can no longer be tolerated."
Peter Bunyard, "Nuclear Britain", 1981, New English Library.
Last up-dated: 28/6/18
The beach bungalows at Braystones, Cumbria.
Visible in the background is St. Bees Head. The proposed RWE
power station, which was rejected by the government in 2012 as unacceptable1, 2, would have been on the fields to the right.
In August, 2012, a landslip derailed a train at the top of the
picture, a further one stranded the rescue train. The limestone patch on the right of the picture are the scene of a further landslip in 2014.
railway serves Sellafield's nuclear flask trains and is little
changed from when it was completed in 1850. Residents have
complained for years about what they see as an unsafe line.)
Response to NuGen's Consultation Process, Stage 2.
How Close is Permissible?
Chester University has
been ordered to dismantle its £120 million cutting-edge science
and engineering park after the local authority said that the site was
too hazardous for students.
Thornton Science Park, a
66-acre site, has been home to Chester’s engineering and science
faculty since 2014 and incorporates a range of state-of-the-art
laboratories, workshops and lecture theatres for 700 students.
The computer facilities
are among the best in the country and the site is also home to a
three-floor centre to create and test new forms of energy. George
Osborne opened Thornton when he was chancellor of the exchequer and it
has hosted a stream of ministers who have hailed it as a cornerstone of
the northern powerhouse project.
Last week, however,
Cheshire West and Chester council rejected a retrospective planning
application by seven votes to four after the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) condemned Thornton as not fit for purpose.
The site is too close to
Stanlow Oil Refinery, classified as a “hazardous
institution”, and is therefore covered by the stringent control
of major accident hazards regulations, the HSE said. It can be used as
a site for industry and employment but it cannot be used for education.
The university has denied that it was guilty of a serious oversight in
constructing the centre without first seeking planning permission. It
said that senior council planning officials had assured the university
that it did not need to submit a “change of use”
application when it acquired the site as a gift from the oil giant
This was because under
Shell’s ownership the site had unusual sui generis status, which
meant that it was not in any particular category for planning purposes
and could be used for anything.
The problem came to light
only last year when the university applied for planning permission for
a number of new smaller developments at Thornton. Chester decided to
apply to change the status of the site from sui generis to category D1,
“a non-residential institution” and the category usually
used for educational buildings. At that point the council was required
to consult the HSE. Senior university figures were horrified when they
were then told by the HSE that it was too dangerous for students.
Professor Tim Wheeler,
the Chester vice-chancellor, said that it was too important to the
country and the region to close. “The university is surprised and
disappointed that the planning committee has endorsed the
officer’s recommendation to refuse planning permission for change
of use of six buildings at Thornton Science Park,” he said.
“Thornton Science Park is a unique site, bringing an additional
£60 million into Cheshire West and Chester each year in
employment and educational and economic benefits. It is too important
for the university, the wider region and national commercial interests
to accept this decision without challenging it.”
He said that he believed
there were compelling grounds for an appeal and the facility would
remain open while the appeal was heard. It is thought that the
university will argue that as all the students are aged over 18 and are
trained in health and safety procedures before entering the site they
are more like employees than school children.
If the appeal is dismissed the university said it will relocate the science park to one of its other campuses.
This would be a huge
embarrassment, however, for the university, which has received funding
from sources including the Higher Education Funding Council for
England, regional development boards and a host of industrial sources.
Ref. The Times, Tuesday, June 12th, 2018. "Chester told to demolish £120 million science park"
Which begs the question of how close any development could be to
Sellafiield. Especially a development involving three nuclear
reactors literally just across the road from the site described
as the most dangerous chemical factory in Europe. Sadly, despite
making this very point (albeit without any knowledge of the relevant
legislation) in every response to each of the many many consultation
processes, it appears that there are none so deaf as those who don't
want to hear.
Can it be that there
are dubious practises at Sellafield? Surely not! Yet Old
Sparky tells us (Private Eye, 1472) that the strictly regulated
environment at Sellafield proved no barrier to Costain. The
article tells that when Costains needed to justify engaging another
person on site, they made a case for Sellafield that the job needed to
be done by an engineer. Once on site, however, these employees
could be used for any purpose the management dictated. The
article continues, "The people were only called engineers to justify
the rate charged to Sellafield." Costain's claim that quality is
paramount seems a little ambitious in the light of this.
Whilst on the subject of personnel employed at Sellafield, it might be
interesting to query whether employees are regularly tested for drug-
taking, which seems to be particularly prevalent in the area.
Leastways according to the local headlines:
Drugs leave 12 dead since December in a Cumbrian town
Police chief: Big city drug gangs are carrying out turf wars in Cumbria
Gangs in Cumbria running drug deliveries like a takeaway service
Still, fortunately, the nuclear industry has high standards.
Under The Stone
an interesting follow-up to the article below, Private Eye, 1472,
contains explanatory notes. The decision seems to have been
taken to commit £12 billion of public money to the Wylfa project
which is a considerable fillip to Hitachi, one of whose directors is
named as Tim Stone. Working for the government, Stone was
chair of the Office for Nuclear Development. According to
the report in the Eye, Stone was simultaneously running KPMG's global
KPMG subsequently gained contracts worth millions of pounds advising on
financial aspects of the Hinkley project. Despite the
involvement of these supposed experts, the National Audit Office has
heavily criticised the decision to press ahead with Hinkley, saying the
government had not sufficiently considered the costs and risks of its
deal for consumers. According to the NAO, the only reason the
figures added up the way they did was because they had been presented
in the most favourable way. It is tempting to think that this is
the way the nuclear industry has been allowed to develop for decades.
Either plant supporters or "encourage" belief in the science and
provide expert advice to the decision-makers as independent assessments.
The Business Secretary at the time was John Hutton (Baron Hutton of
Barrow-in-Furness). In June 2010, it was announced that Hutton
had joined the board of US nuclear power company Hyperion Power
Generation. Hutton became Chairman of the Nuclear Industry
Association in June 2011.
Having Cake and Eating It
We received an
e-mail last week inviting us to write to the Prime Minister to object
to government funding being provided for the Horizon project at Wylfa,
Anglesey. A meeting between the Prime MInister and
representatives of the Japanese company, Hitachi, was held on 3/5/18 to
discuss an interesting new tack as the consortium struggle to obtain
funding for an unviable and expesive proposal. Horizon are
reported to have asked for direct funding and loan guarantees, on top
of the current commercially unavailable insurance provided by
taxpayers. (Fukushima updates to the total cost now suggest
clean-up costs of £138 billion - a similar event here would cost
at least as much and much of that would be the responsiblility of the
U.K. taxpayer.) The Wylfa site
is now expected to cost more than £20 billion, making it even
more than the current estimate for Hinkley's white elephant - which has
already gone up in mind-boggling leaps from the original £3
billion. Needless to say, Horizon continue to imply that the
cost will be below that estimate.
There appears to be some confusion as to what the
outcome of the meeting with the Prime Minister was. Japanese
press reports suggest that the Prime Minister told the consortium to go
ahead, whilst the government spokesperson declared that, "We don't
recognise these reports."
Perhaps an attempt to force the
situation? After all, if they were in any way doubtful about the
project going ahead, wouldn't the politicians have put a stop to it now
- it was a good opportunity to do so, surely? Perhaps that
omission signalled something different to the Horizon people to the
effect that was intended? That Horizon is struggling to obtain
apparent from the statement last year by its chief executive, Duncan
Hawthorne, that loan guarantees alone would not make the plant viable
and the company had been seeking direct government investment as well
as a subsidy contract.
Quite how much money is available for investment is debatable.
The current estimate for Hinkley puts it around £17 billion.
Horizon and "Moorside" are both likely to require at least the
same level of investment and on the same terms, with the cost of
electricity produced being guaranteed for the duration of the
agreement, which will probably be at least thirty years. Index
linked, naturally. The basic concept seems to be that the U.K.
taxpayer provides the money and opportunity, the foreign company takes
no risk, provides scant investment, yet all the profit goes abroad.
To normal people this may seem like a poor investment of
£60 billion, especially when the clean-up costs are taken into
consideration. One of our perpetual (but unanswered) questions
has always been, "What will be left for locals when production comes to
an end?" If the newish chief executive of the NDA has his way,
it won't be land restored to its original state, but a collection of
derelict buildings and other industrial works and equipment. Actually, the unstated
response should be huge bills and untreatable waste together with a
collection of decaying ramshackle industrial complexes in place of the
beautiful wild countryside that we were bequeathed by our forebears.
Despite the rush to get going before any further adverse
criticism can be levied, a decision is not expected to be made before
next year. Even that seems to be disputed, as Hitachi have said
that they will pull out altogether by the middle of this year should
they not get their way. Or did the Prime Minister offer support
but is too embarassed to tell the world? Should anything go awry
at this stage Hitachi could end up £2 billion out of pocket, that
being the amount they have already spent.
Politicians in Wales have a bit of a problem, having promoted their
green agenda - which, of course, precludes nuclear development - they
have to balance that stance against the number of jobs promised by
Wylfa. However, it does seem unlikely that any great number of
nuclear or other necessary specialist engineeers are currently
unemployed and living on Anglesey. How many can there be in
Wales? Especially when the potential number of vacancies should
all the proposed developments take place. Perhaps there is a
case for motorway connections between "Moorside", Wylfa, Hinkley,
Source: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180504_07/ and
What Do They Know?
Once again, computer modelling, that nefarious
get-out trick that predicts how things might work - provided that the
software developer covers every base, which is, of course, impossible -
has been show to be over-optimistic.
(As opposed to what they think they know)
The predicted rate of cracking in a key part of the reactor Hunterston
reactor number 3 is being exceeded, resulting in a prolonged shut-down
It is difficult to imagine that any repair can be made to the vital
temperature-controlling mechanism, as the graphite blocks are
inaccessible. Some experts are suggesting that other
reactors on the site will be suffering from similar problems and that
it is unlikely that they will reach their planned-for life.
Unexpectedly high rates of cracking in vital parts seem to be par for
the course, as reactors at both Heysham and Hartlepool were taken
off-line following discovery of cracks in the boiler spine, and two
reactors in Belgium also suffered cracking in core tanks.
Ever on the edge, an Irish MLA has said that Kilroot power station in
Antrim - due to close in 2024 for environmental reasons (it is a coal
burner) - should be kept open for longer to compensate for the
reduction in electricity from Hunterston.
Source: http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/hunterston-8-5-18/ and
The Propaganda Machine Rolls On
As noted in the
comment "The Experts Must Try Harder", below, The Times really does
seem to be losing its grasp. Today's article by an Energy
Editor, Sellafield, perpetuates the illusion that you can vacuum up
radioactive material and just dispose of it, without consequence.
Almost touchingly gullible, the writer expounds the PR tale that
the B30 building is being cleaned up and that the "Good Guys" have it
all in hand. Provided the concrete walls of the ponds holds up a
bit longer all will be well.
We wrote to the Editor to put our
view, but it is very difficult to get anything mildly critical
published, so we paste it below:
It is sad to see that those in charge of Sellafield continue the PR
campaign so long associated with the nuclear industry. In
the article "Nuclear waste dustbin is cleaning up its act", your energy
editor seems to imply that vacuuming up radioactive waste means that it
is thus rendered safe and can ultimately be disposed of.
This is to ignore
the true situation: the radioactive material, together with the
seagulls noticed floating on the ponds, the disposed of fuel rods, et
al, retain their radioactivity until the natural processes of decay
have been accomplished. Even the equipment in use to
"vacuum" the pond will have to be disposed of, together with the
mentioned corroded crane, as high level waste. The seagulls
that die as a result of floating on the pond become radioactive,
meaning that any seagull found dead on the shoreline should be treated
as radioactive waste. It is not the simple process implied
to retrieve the radioactive material and dispose of it.
That is why the pile of waste is building up at Sellafield.
Their "reprocessing" merely concentrates the waste, ultimately
producing, I understand, around seven times as much radioactive
material as that brought in to be reprocessed.
The loss of
coolant water from the pond means rather more than just the pollution
ensuing from that radioactive water. If/when that happens
there will be much more serious complications from the overheating
deposits. An escape of this material would potentially
affect a great deal of western Europe and - depending on the wind
direction - the cities of Carlisle and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
In the event of such an incident during an easterly wind-flow, there
would be disastrous effects on the Isle of Man and Ireland, hence their
long-standing objections to further operations at Sellafield and the
proposed adjacent site nominated for NuGen's "Moorside"
fiasco. (If they can find anyone gullible enough to
shoulder the risk and provide the finance.)
There is no
ultimate safe solution for the disposal of radioactive waste and it is
surely unwise to proliferate the production thereof. New
waste from the likes of Hinkley will be even more concentrated, be more
difficult to handle, and will require even longer periods for decay.
Given the costs
involved in the decommissioning processes for nuclear plants, surely it
is readily apparent that electricity generated this way is far too
expensive to ever be viable?
PR information can
be very misleading, often deliberately so. We would have
hoped that The Times would have recognised that.
This article coincides with a proposal by the
executive of the NDA that the £90 billion (at today's reckoning,
but elsewhere put at £162 billion over 100 years) cost of
decommissioning Sellafield and other nuclear installations could be
reduced slightly if they didn't have to do the whole job, but were
allowed to leave some parts (very safe - naturally! Nobody needs
to be alarmed. No animals will be harmed, etc.) for someone else
to deal with, perhaps. The thin end of a very big wedge.
Who will determine what parts of a site can be left intact?
Guess which "experts" will be called on to opine about safety of such
residue. There are over 1,000 diffferent nuclear facilities on
its 1500 acre site. Next door, a further 500 acres is to be
obliterated by the proposed NuGen "Moorside" site. 2,000 acres
of once green moorland buried under toxic materials and buildings.
A more representative view of the situation at Sellafield can be found at:
de France Security
It would be funny if it were not so serious. In a variation of
the "no animals were harmed and there was never any risk" mantra,
our old friends at
de France have now reassure us that "No padlocks were missing from the
cabinets housing the computer equipment for the reactor protection I
& C system". This follows the discovery that 150 padlocks
were missing, presumed stolen. There is no mention as to how
long the padlocks might have been missing, or who might have gained
access as a result. Still, an
de France statement tells us that "This event did not have any impact
on site safety." Now, where have we heard that one before?
How do they know the impact as yet? If they can't even
see that padlocks have gone missing and, as yet, don't know the motives
of the culprits, how can they know whether anything else was done which
might affect safety?
The "Experts" Must Try Harder
paragon of impartial journalism, The Times, seems to be losing its
grip. Over the last few weeks we have had occasion to draw their
attention to incorrect assertions that Hinkley is to produce 7% of the
U.K.'s energy requirements and to criticise their use of stock
photographs to depict, for example, Sellafield. In the latter
case, the energy editor must have been panicking a bit to use one
depicting the Sellafield site complete with the cooling towers that
were demolished in 2007. Hardly relevant to today's site, which
has sprouted many new buildings and very tall chimneys. Despite
our attempts to draw attention to the need to use contemporary
photographs, another article, entitled "Alarm rings over rising nuclear
bills" on Sunday, 29/4/18, uses three cooling towers to illustrate "the
nuclear option". Amusingly, the Alamy stock photograph used is labelled: "White smoke coming from the cooling towers of the nuclear power plant in Temelin, Czech Republic, Europe."
How very strange! How very irrelevant and inaccurate.
Quite why anyone would choose to use a Czechoslovakian site to
illustrate problems in the U.K. is not the only problem. The
discharge visible against the Czechoslovakian skyline is not smoke -
leastways unless something has gone very wrong. If our
assumptions are correct, then it will be steam vapour and will be laced
with the likes of tritium. (You may recall that Sellafield were
warned about the potential for the spread of legionnaires disease from
one of its cooling towers back in 2016 1.)
the story is newsworthy is also a bit of a mystery; as well as
the out-of-date and irrelevant photographs, nothing new is
contained in the text either. Leastways, nothing that should
merit so much space. It boils down to the difficulties being
experienced by Électricité
de France, Hitachi, et al, in raising money for their unsustainable
schemes. Potential backers for new nuclear are patently in short
supply, presumably they have seen the arguments and accepted that these
new builds are pie-in-the-sky projects which are now out-moded.
The Times article, by John Collingridge (presumably an alias of Private
Eye's Phil Space), attempts to engender some interest by saying that, "Experts are warning that new nuclear power plants are likely to blow their budgets and arrive late [i.e. follow the norm] unless their designs are completed before construction starts." Anyone who doesn't already know that is hardly likely to be a Times reader or have any interest in nuclear new build!
noting that Hitachi are trying to persuade politicians to waste (sorry,
inject) money by the public funding of their Wylfa project - thus
putting the entire onus on the U.K. taxpayer to enable the company to
make huge profits to take back to Japan - we are advised of a report by
the researchers (predictable) at the Energy Technologies Institute.
Being astute experts, these people have noted that projects
started before the final designs have been completed tend to exceed
their budgets and take longer to complete. One can see why they
have been accorded their status. The solution to this problem
is, amazingly, not to start building until they actually know what it
is they are supposed to be building.
suggestions are that multiple reactors are built on each site.
Neat. Once the local residents have been ignored and their
amenity destroyed we can expect huge industrial sites to appear where
there was once green-field land. Er, just like NuGen's plans for
"Moorside" then, with their three-reactor designs and suggestions for
turning the natural environment into an industrial theme park.
We are reminded of our complaint to the erstwhile M.P. for Copeland, J.
Reed, about plans for development along the Cumbrian coast from the
planned RWE site at Braystones, on to the "Moorside" site adjacent to
Sellafield, Sellafield itself and, passing the already-despoiled land
that is the nuclear waste tip at Drigg, down to Kirksanton, jumping the
contaminated estuary at Ravenglass in the process. As well as
the surface development, there is a proposed coalmine
at St. Bees, and the hope that eventually Copeland residents will be
defeated and the underground waste dump will be built.
In all, over 28 miles of beautiful coastline to be destroyed.
Then of course, there is the seascape which will be destroyed by
the ever-increasing number of huge wind turbines that litter the area
off Walney Island. How long before they meet up with those at
Robin Rigg wind farm in the Solway, off the Scottish coast
some sixty miles away, we asked. The idea was dismissed,
naturally. The flaw in the argument may just be that those
involved in the construction a) don't know what design they are aiming
for, and b) why do the public have to fund private companies without
getting a share in any eventual profits? Nevertheless, a
spokesperson for DECC is reported as saying that, "This independent report is helpful in looking at cost reduction in the nuclear section" .
Oh, by the way, the grand-sounding institute of Energy Technologies is not an independent body of real experts, but "a collaboration between the government and industrial giants such as BP, Électricité
de France, and Rolls Royce".
Good to see that the industry can still directly access "the
government" (surely not those with financial interests in nuclear
development). The document is, therefore, in no sense independent. Basically, then a propaganda exercise.
If only more impartial, less introspective views could be listened to
so assiduously. Or at least some sort of acknowledgement be made
that the public are being seriously misled by the nuclear industry and
its supporters in government.
1 A nuclear watchdog has slapped an
'improvement notice' on Sellafield Ltd over the condition of a cooling
tower on site. The Office for Nuclear Regulation says that
improvements must be made in the management and control of the
legionella bacteria in the tower at its Highly Active Liquid Effluent
and Storage facility.
No mention of the tritium and other daily discharges, however.
Are We Nearly There Yet?
profit margin rises by 3%, producing profits up by 2.1% to
£1,545.9m. The group is to merge with Npower over the next
18 months or so. Despite forecasting lower than expected
profits as recently as last November, the increase in consumption due
to the recent cold spell has nonetheless resulted in record profits for
is owned by Iberdrola, a Spanish company. Old friends Électricité
managed to produce a small loss. One might wonder, is this
solely to do with financial advantages?
gross profit margin on electric and gas power is around 20.7% to 22.6%
which is considerable when dealing with semi-monopolies with
overwhelming control over the nation's supply.
usual justification has been put forward for the most recent price
rises: cost of wholesale supplies. Sounds plausible
on the surface, until you consider who controls the wholesale
prices. When an internal market is setting prices the
justification struggles. Gas supplier British Gas is
obliged to put up prices because their supplier, a British Gas company,
has increased their charges. Justifiable? Or just a
con-trick? We stand by our earlier suggestion that only by
increasing the cost of energy produced by non-nuclear sources to levels
nearer to those agreed with Électricité
de France for the Hinkley site can nuclear energy
become anything like justifiable. Alternatively, if Électricité
de France can
screw the U.K. for sky-high prices, then why can't everyone
else? Either way it is the consumer who pays and the chief
executives get multi-million pound pay and bonus deals and profits go abroad.
What's not to like?
Source: http://sse.com/newsandviews/allarticles/2017/05/preliminary-results-for-the-year-to-31-march-2017/, and
The International Energy Agency
The Heads of FBI, CIA, and NSA Advise Against Using Huawei Phones
Further to our items on the lack of computer security and vulnerability
to external interference, we note that the second biggest mobile phone
manufacturer, Huawei, are unofficially banned in the U.S.A. because of
security concerns. A report from NBC, says:
Director Chris Wray said the government was “deeply concerned
about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to
foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions
of power inside our telecommunications networks.” He added
that this would provide “the capacity to maliciously modify or
steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected
Er, do they not know who manuactures their computer communications PCBs? Used in modems, network controllers, routers,and data
centres, with general unchecked acceptance of their integrity, these
cards are used in a wide variety of sensitive settings on trust.
Still, the love-in with China continues, despite the evidence.
They are, after all, spending lots of money world-wide. It is
not just David Cameron dipping his noodles in the sweet and sour sauce, of course, although it seems that his
referral to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments is unlikely
to prevent him achieving a high (and lucrative) position in the $96 billion plans for
Chinese expansion. Whether the best interests of the U.K. are
being served in this type of scheme is debatable.
One Harvard professor has already suggested that the Chinese economic
situation is unsustainable and the country poses one of the biggest
risks to the economy over the next five years. The borrowing ($7
trillion) has now reached 237% of China's GDP. If the
politicians' plans for Chinese involvement in nuclear development
continue, then it may not only be the Chinese economy that faces
problems. When facing financial difficulties, it is often the
case that corners are cut to save a few bob. Would that really
be a good thing for new nuclear development? Who in the U.K.
will be left to clean up after any collapse? When the Wall
Street Journal carries articles like, "‘China’s Great Wall of Debt’ Review. The Chinese Growth Charade -
cities, shadow banks, white-elephant state projects: The
country’s pursuit of growth at all costs may come at a high price",
surely there should be a pause for serious contemplation of whether
this is a nation to whom we should offer control of nuclear power
BBC Countryfile Does the Cumbria Coastal Way - Sort of
Sunday, 15th April, 2018, the long-awaited Countryfile visit to the
west Cumbrian coast was screeened by the BBC. With keen
anticipaction we tuned in to watch, fully expecting at least some
mention of the proposed "Moorside" development and its impact on the
amenity of this beautiful area. Nope.
the 182 mile path from Silverdale to Carlisle via Grange, Barrow,
Ravenglass, Sellafield (strangely missing from the list of
way-stations) St. Bees, Whitehaven, Silloth and round to Carlisle, the
programme managed to complete just a couple of miles, out to Peel
Island to look at seals and short sections from Whitehaven and St. Bees
was just a passing mention of "industrial legacy" as the panoramic view
from St. Bees to the south couldn't avoid the huge Sellafield
complex. In every other sequence the camera was angled away
from the eyesore.
having shown the sites of now-defunct coal mines around Whitehaven,
whilst standing on the top of St. Bees Head, there was no mention of
the proposed sub-marine coalmine proposed, together with ancillary
we wrong to expect at least some comment on the proposed development of
over 500 acres of green land? What is the rôle of the
BBC - is it just to present the easy non-contentious itemns or should
it look at the bigger picture? They had time for an interesting
article on how one artisan used seaweed to develop camera film, which,
despite its novelty was not particularly relevant to the unique bit of
English coastline, but not for huge industrial complexes and their
impact on the environment and amenity.
Moving With The Times - or, We Told You So (Many Years Ago)
recent communication from the Stop Hinkley group pointed to the
excellent work they are doing. One of the most notable being the
discovery of a report by the regulators criticising the safety systems
in place with Électricité
de France's development at Hinkley Point. Subsequently there has
been a number of instances of it being picked up by the national press.
The most enlightened being the business commentary by Alistair
Osborne in The Times, 11/4/18. This illustrates the hype that
passes for fact by the company. We all knew about the 1,650 MW
Flamanvillle being three times over budget and six years late, but it
is tempting to extrapolate those facts and suggest that Hinkley, being
twice the size, will be six times over budget and 12 years late.
In the interim, Électricité
de France's can spend the time sorting out the "significant event relating to the detection of
deviations in the performance checks" of the welded joints. The
regulators also require further improvements to its manufacturing and
supply chain. These requirements for improvement are
likely, despite what the senior Électricité
de France managers try to tell us,
to further delay the completion date. Not that this should
bother us, as we are not scheduled to start paying through the nose for
the project until the costs plus substantial recompense can be added to
our bills. Until the plant starts generating the onus is on the
French, with certain exceptions, of course. This has started the
suggestion that there may be a need for us to start paying, perhaps in
stages, so that the company doesn't run out of funds, as predicted by
the last Chief Financial Officer as he resigned.
Source: Re. Stop Hinkley, http://stophinkley.org/StopPress.htm
Re. Osborne's article, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/past-six-days/2018-04-11/business/one-flamanville-is-quite-enough-d0xbq5l9d
Additionally, of course, there is the potential that
the untried plant may never work, which, without a U.K. contribution
would leave the French with a huge amount of debt and us with a huge
industrial complex with no future and no way of putting the land back
to its original state.
Osborne concludes, "As the latest farrago highlights, one mega
Flamanville for Britain is already quite enough. Overpriced
nukes can't be the way of the weld". Yet Électricité
de France is still pressing a case for further development at Sizewell,
and the Chinese are still hoping to develop a site at Bradwell, using
their own designs. NuGen are insisting, without much tangible
evidence, that their plans for "Moorside" are going ahead. Maybe.
Sadly, despite our objections, the other reporters for The Times
persist in suggesting that Hinkley will be responsible for producing 7%
of the U.K.'s energy needs. As we said in our
(unpublished) letter of complaint, there is a substantial difference
between the U.K.'s energy requirements and their electricity demand.
Hinkley will definitely not meet 7% of the U.K.'s total
The Head of Energy at Greenpeace, Hannah Martin, is reported to have
commented, "The reactor designed for Hinkley Point was supposed to be
cooking turkeys for Christmas, 2017. As yet more construction
flaws are revealed at its sister plant under construction in France
[Flamanville] it's starting to look like the only turkey the EPR
reactor design is going to cook is Électricité
Patently the U.K. government, having made so many enemies with their
so-called BREXIT shenanigans, will not wish to upset the French by
doing what is so obviously the right thing - cancelling the whole
project. Leastways until after the BREXIT arrnagements are
completed. Quite what effect President Trumps ridiculous tweets
will have in relations between America, and by proxy, the U.K., remains
to be seen. With any amount of luck they will take their bat and
ball home with them, along with their stuffed wallets.
One final comment has to be on the Russian provocations and their
impact on European countries. How many of our one-time allies
will feel able to support actions and sanctions against the country
supplying their gas needs? It gives a new slant to George
Orwell's, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts
absolutely". Maybe it is not a Good Idea [apologies to A.
A. Milne] to deal with dishonest, corrupt, dictatorial regimes,
Friendly Jousting - Nothing Serious
Ever since we first became involved in fighting to preserve what
we believe to be a wonderful part of England, we have pointed out the
potential vulnerability of a country who farms out its energy
programmes to foreign powers. It seemed so much like commonsense
that we were almost embarrassed saying it. Yet, those given the
power to make decisions about such matters seem impervious to such
logic. Even in the latest consultation document we pointed out
should be a limit to the extent foreign companies and financiers can be
involved in providing electricity, energy and infra-structure services,
in order to prevent the obvious susceptibility to security and to
prevent an over-dependence on foreign largesse - which may not be quite
as altruistic as the government seems to imagine. It is
obvious that, although the U.K. currently has polite relationships with
the likes of France, South Korea, Japan, and China, we have nonetheless
been at war with all of them at various times in the past.
There is, therefore, no bar on circumstances changing and unfriendly
relationships developing. What safeguards can there be
against such changes? Those involved in the construction
are the only ones that truly know and understand what they have
built. For example, these days it would be quite easy to
build in control systems that can be disabled remotely."
Source: NPS~2018 Page 3
It was, therefore, with utter lack of
surprise to find that the latest Spat between Russia and our government
could have put us at risk.
Much was made of the low level of gas imports from Russia - just 0.3%
of our total gas usage comes from there - but that is to overlook a
couple of other points. Firstly, a lot of European
countries do actually rely on Russian-supplied gas to produce
electricity. We do import from Europe a fair bit of
electricity presumably produced by way of Russian gas.
Secondly, and perhaps more pertinently, what has happened to Russian
relations could very well happen with any of the other countries on
whom we will ultimately rely to produce electricity for us, albeit at
huge cost. (We will apparently be required to pay over £30
billion to France for the priviledge of hosting their Hinkley
experiment. We could, allegedly build the reactor ourselves for
considerably less and without the risks inherent in the involvement of
Departure from Euratom Would Mean a Return to Dickensian Standards - Apparently
According to the Guardian:
nuclear industry, rapid departure from Euratom without a clear
replacement spells disaster. Scientists have warned that British
power stations may not be able to source nuclear fuel if it cannot be
legally transported across borders. The shipment of medical
isotopes used in scans and cancer treatment is also said to be
jeopardised. European workers on shared research projects, such
as experimental fusion reactors, face an equally uncertain future
without Euratom’s separate guarantees of freedom of movement.
Some critics have
that abrupt exit means that by 2025 “you could be doing your
writing by candlelight on a typewriter” as the future of
Britain’s nuclear industry hangs in the balance."
Don't you just love the Dickensian illusion - it is a bit more original and illustrative than "when the lights go out", surely?
Still, the House of Lords has now over-ruled ministers over the
government's plans for nuclear co-operation after we leave the
EU. On 22/3/18, the lords voted to insist the UK should not
withdraw from Euratom, until a replacement deal is in
place. They also backed a plan requiring the UK to report
to Parliament regularly on its future arrangements with Euratom.
Getting a bit panicky, MPs are said to be likely to try and overturn
the changes to the Nuclear Safeguards Bill when it returns to the
Euratom covers issues such as the transport of radioactive materials,
including those used in medical treatments, or in nuclear power
stations. It has existed since the 1950s.
Some Tory MPs have urged ministers to seek associate membership of
Euratom amid concerns that patients' cancer therapies could be delayed
if isotopes can't be brought in to the UK without a replacement
Submission to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department
The last few weeks have been spent formulating a response to the
consultation on the National Policy Statement for new nuclear above 1GW
post 2025: siting criteria and process. We have resurrected two
of the original NuGen responses rather than cut and paste the relevant
sections. Nonetheless, the current document has taken a lot of
work. How many others can spare the time or have the inclination
to waste so much of their lives? A copy of the latest document
can be found here:
It Is Not a (Raw) Turkey!
Eye’s Old Sparky writing in issue 1463 (February, 2018) again
points to the way that the country was stampeded into accepting Électricité
terms for Hinkley, thereby awarding business to a company who would
struggle to meet due diligence requirements, being over £30
billion in debt and with massive liabilities coming to fruition in the
near future. (Old Sparky notes that the company is "technically
bankrupt". Something we suggested many years ago.)
In a scurrilous attack (ahem) the article attacks the methods used by Électricité
to frighten and manipulate government officials into agreeing to pay
four times the original proposed cost of any electricity produced at
the plant. Initially said by Électricité
to cost around £24/MWh, this has now escalated to nearly
£100/MWh. Although he fails to mention the Électricité
staff seconded to DECC to assist (!) by offering advice and expertise,
he does suggest that hiring the then Prime Minister’s brother as
chief lobbyist was “canny”. What can he mean?
phrases such as “the lights going out” were all designed to
frighten people into thinking that nuclear was, in some urgent way, the
only way to rescue us. Like knights in lead suits, perhaps?
One might assume that the integrity of the rest of the campaign
is just as solidly based. Past performance demonstrates that the
company's forecasts for costs and schedules are not to be relied on.
However, no-one cooked their 2017 Christmas turkey with
electricity generated by Hinkley, neither did anyone have to put
up with real candles instead of electric ones. Despite
periods of very cold weather, the National Grid has managed to keep
everyone supplied and looks set to continue to do so.
Should this continue, Électricité
de France might need to re-launch its crusade before people latch on to the fallacy.
Not content with Hinkley’s monstrous white elephant / turkey (is there a difference?), Électricité
now want to press ahead with Sizewell. Naturally this will
be 20% cheaper than Hinkley. Probably it will provide
electricity at prices too cheap to meter, too!
Will the vested interests and civil stooges fall for the same ploys again? How many Électricité
employees are still seconded to give “advice and guidance”
to those already very well paid to possess such knowledge? Who
is really making the decisions? Leastways, there will always be
a lucrative job for these people in the power supply industry . . .
Anyone know yet what will happen to all the waste? Actually, we
have problems understanding how construction can commence for a design
that hasn't yet even been finalised, but that just goes to show.
Still, the good news is that the other energy providers have been able
to increase their prices to consumers (using the trick of the internal
market) and are making handsome profits. The only loser is the
Sky High News
the ten years of our existence, we have repeatedly drawn attention to
the vulnerability of any computer system, especially, but not
exclusively, those connected to the internet. Perhaps someone
has read our views and decided that there may be something in what we
say. According to Sky News, 28/1/18, (which has the impressive
recent view of Sellafield, without the cooling towers which most other
publishers lazily use without realising:
involved in critical industry and essential services have been warned
by the Government that they face £17m fines if their
cybersecurity preparations are not up to standard.
transport, water, health and digital infrastructure firms could be
fined if they fail to develop robust safeguards protecting themselves
So, once again, we were right in our advice and opinion. We can
still think of a number of ways in which establishments like Sellafield
can be attacked; all one has to do is consider the
vulnerabilities and the concepts that suggest "this cannot happen to us".
Whatever it is you come up with is possible. The outcome
. . .
yet another consultation in connection with the seemingly
ever-expanding nuclear aims of the industry, we have to ask
(particularly apropos NuGen's
proposals): with so little detail so far available, what is the
point of further consultations? Does anyone yet know where the
main gate is planned to be? Or what changes will be made to our
transport systems, amenity or environment? What the consequences of mining,
nuclear power plant and nuclear dump potentially all being constructed
at the same time are going to be?
As we note below, although they have been happy to blight resident's
lives, what steps have they taken to ensure adequate compensation has
been available? They don't even know which properties their
property support scheme applies to. Nice firms, nice people.
Mountains into Molehills and Copeland's Emmental Aims
In what can only be assumed to be a tongue-in-cheek article, The Times on 26th
January ("£42 million offer to areas that take nuclear waste"),
suggests that the government will give £42 million to any
community that volunteers to consider hosting the nuclear waste
dump. This is, allegedly, without strings. All
one has to do is to 'express an interest'.
Should one wish to discontinue the process at any stage the £42
million is still to be paid. (Some cynic at Cumbria County
Council is reported to be sceptical of the right of withdrawal; a
view which we wholeheartedly support, but then we have a jaundiced view
of those with vested interests and politicians - not always the same thing - alike.)
article specifically targets the Copeland area near Sellafield.
Superficially, of course, it is the logical place to make the hole and
bury the toxic garbage in but, with more thought, perhaps not the best
solution for the long-term. Currently, plans are being drawn up
to limit the number of residents and groups who are likely to
object. The last time they weren't clever enough to exclude the
detractors, which resulted in vastly over-whelming numbers voting
against the dump. Primarily, the aim is to fudge the whole
limiting the powers of those who have already expressed antagonism to
the dump, including almost all the parish councils and Cumbria
County Council. The way things are going, our light-hearted
suggestion of a couple of years back - that the only views that will be
accepted are those gleaned from Sellafield's canteen - will become a
of the biased and cleverly-constructed consultation questions preclude
any faith in the fairness of any proposed scheme to ask those directly
involved. The pro-nuclear Copeland council (headline aim:
"We are encouraging residents
to take pride in our borough and work towards making Copeland a better
place to live, work and visit."
- by permitting these toxic industries to take precedent over tourism
and amenity?) will have a very heavy influence on all the proceedings,
despite the obvious conflicts of interest.
at the "£42 million" bribe produces some amusing explanations,
as, unsurprisingly, things are not as straightforward as the headline
might suggest: for the first five years the community would be
paid £1 million, eventually rising to £2.5 million for ten
to fifteen years while the boreholes are drilled to ascertain whether
the geology is suitable for such a site. The propaganda
says that the money can be spent on "schemes that benefit the local economy, enhance the environment or improve community well-being". Is that vague enough?
Maybe they should just give all Copeland residents a fair share, but that would only work out at £595 a head1. Would you honestly sell your environment and put your progeny at grave risk of radiation-related illnesses for £595?
For that you are also expected to live on a building site for 15
years, even before they get round to doing the truly risky stuff of
moving nuclear waste. Maybe Allerdale will want a cut, too, for
their support of Sellafield, so we have to share with another 94,300,
which reduces the amount per head to just £254.
We are assured, of course, that the method
proposed for dealing with the waste is perfectly safe - after all, the
scientists tell us so. Despite the fact that nothing man-made
has ever lasted intact for 100,000 years. Promising the
nefarious and meaningless "up to"
figure of 2,000 jobs during construction (so, any figure you like
between 0 and 2,000) is rather unsettling as there are only 8802people
in Copeland, 5,355 in the whole of Cumbria - presumably due to seasonal
fluctuations, currently out of work. The shortfall of "up to"
14,645 means we get back to
the problem of "incomers" bringing their virii and causing leukemia and
other strange afflictions normally associated with exposure to
radioactive materials. To us uneducated people, it remains a
puzzle why other major infra-structure projects don't have the same
problem, but that is another story.
Do You Really Want to Sell the County for Under 58 Pence per Person per Week?
If you want more fun, break down the promised amount into its
components. Assuming that the project is completed within 20
years, allowing for the usual "over-runs", then each person would gain
£30 per year, or 58 pence per week for all the inconvenience and
risk. Assuming that inflation will probably continue running at
around 3% per annum, at the end of the 20 year period, the effective
price of disposing of Copeland will be even less.. When
politicians can charge £6,000 per day
to pseudo-Chinese companies, using the contacts and influence they have
gained over their years of (self-) service this might seem like small
(Except it would only buy a pint per month.)
Attack From the North
seems that the entire area is under threat. St. Bees Head
is to become a coalmining hub, with all produce being shipped out by
rail. Along the current railway system with its 150 year
old method of working and vulnerability to landslides?
Really? The coastal line isn't nick-named "avalanche alley"
by railway men for no reason.
It does provoke the thought: who sold West Cumbria's sea bed to
these people? Can anyone just come along to drill and excavate?
NuGen are still making grunting sounds as they try to persuade some
gullible organisation or state (anyone!) to give them £billions
to build a great white elephant along the lines of Hinkley. NuGen, of course, having
blighted the entire Beckermet area have no apparent interest in making
good the losses people will encounter should they try to sell their
property. Whether the project goes ahead or not, property
prices in the immediate area of Moorside will suffer
dramatically. Recent information suggests that NuGen have
so little interest in compensating people that, even though a meeting
specifically to discuss that problem was held, they hadn't even
bothered to look at their own plans to see who and what was
affected or what compensation would be offered to those affected. No doubt they were too busy talking to the clever
people in London to worry about the little people directly affected.
. . . and From Below
only are the terrestial and marine environments - with all their
amenity - under threat, but so, too, is the subterranean.
Despite the many findings, particularly the Nirex Enquiry of the 1990s,
which concluded that the scientific knowledge was insufficient to
prove that disposal was safe for any site. We have seen
nothing to contradict that view. Of course, the figures
produced for the safety case were suitably fudged to the benefit of
those pushing for the dump. Back then, of course, the thin
end of the wedge to the dump was referred to as a "rock
characterisation facility". Nowadays the much less
intrusive term relates to boreholes. The pretence being
that this is a much neater and less obvious and destructive method of
drilling into the ground. Just a step up from a molehill,
then? Given that each square metre of any patch of land is
unique, and the number of studies already carried out proving that the
Sellafield area is geologically unsuitable for the dump, why do these
allegedly brainy people persist in the belief that because they wish it
to be suitable it will eventually be demonstrated to be so?
Maybe they have forgotten the earthquakes caused by fracking just over
the border in Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Just to remind younger readers, we quote from the frontispiece of a report entitled "Radioactive
waste disposal at Sellafield, U.K.: Site Selection, Geological
and Engineering Problems. Edited by Dr. R. Stuart Haszledine &
Professor David K. Smythe", published in 1996 :
are concerned that the scientists may be set, or may be setting
themselves, unrealistic targets in time ... Much of the scientific work
extends beyond the familiar frontiers of science, and needs at each
stage to be subjected to review by peer groups of scientists."
"We were forcibly struck by the extent to which some scientific reports of Nirex are protected from wider scrutiny."
From Disposal of Radioactive Wastes in Deep Repositories - a report of the Royal Society Study Group, November, 1994.
A secondary quotation was also included:
of the public could be forgiven if they came to the conclusion that,
somehow and somewhere, a decision had already been made to construct a
deep repository for radioactive waste at Sellafield."
Sir John Knill - Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology, Vol. 29, 1996.
As an Électricité
man might say, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose,
but revisiting the Nirex fiasco makes one wonder whether, given the
reports into geological conditions around Sellafield, the NuGen site is
in any way following the same path. Do the geological conditions
on the site promote its use for a nuclear establishment? Does
anyone know a tame expert geologist?
who believes that the area would benefit in any way from the bribe for
hosting the dump should consider the state of an area that has already
benefited (if that is the correct term!) from hosting the nuclear
industry for over 70 years already. Over £77
billion is the current estimate for Sellafield's clean-up.
How much of that actually goes into the local economy? The
sad state of many areas in Copeland gives lie to the propaganda.
1 Based on 70,603 residents of Copeland as per the National Census, 2011.
2 Official figures from Copeland JobCentre.
Due Diligence Applies Sometimes - Apparently
the collapse of Carillion with debts of around £1.3 billion,
things may have been tightened up a bit at the BIES. Perhaps it
is just that the connection between Carillion's interim chief
executive, who was in charge until the company went into voluntary
liquidation last week and a fracking company called Third Energy, where
he is a non-executive chairman, but Third Energy will not be able to
start work until such time as they have furnished accounts to business
secretary, Greg Clark.
According to reports, Third Energy had satisfied the requirements for
safety and environmental concerns, but the accounts, which were due
last September (try that at home!) were needed to show that there was a
level of financial resilience. This would require proof that it
had enough money to cover liabilities, including funding
As we note below, these checks seem to have been overlooked by those
supporting applications by Électricité
de France and Toshiba. Both of these
companies have debts and liabilities exceeding those of Carillion, and
Toshiba at least, has a history of financial manipulation which
resulted in grossly distorted profit recording. How can they
still be in the running for government contracts?
Failure of Government to Exercise Due Diligence
collapse of Carillion illustrates prefectly our point about the
apparent carelessness by government in respect of the legal requirement
for due diligence checks to be carried out. We, naturally, wrote
our letter to The Times, but, equally naturally, they didn't print it.
A shame really, as we were very pleased with our quotation of
the old Japanese adage,: you never find just one cockroach.
Perhaps we can use it again soon?
Despite most of the business world knowing some time ago that the
company was "a dead man walking", as it was described in The Times, the
government carried on issuing multi-million pound contracts to it.
Questions are now being asked about the role of the Chief
Finance Officer and the various high payments to managers and
ex-managers, but it is too late now to help some of the smaller firms
tucked under Carillion's wings. The amount of debt (so far as we
can tell, including the Pension Fund deficit) is a mere £1.4
The conundrum is this: if the company was being awarded contracts
despite the due diligence checks that, had they been performed, would
have highlighted the risk, how did it come about that Électricité
with its debts of over £30 billion and liabilities in terms of
nuclear reactor maintenance which are believed to amount to over
£250 billion in the next few years; the fact that the Chief
Finance Officer quit saying the Hinkley project was likely to bring
about the demise of the company; and all the other indicators
that should have sounded warnings to government ministers, still get
the contract to build Hinkley? Just as puzzling is that
Toshiba's problems had been known for several years before they came to
their inevitable conclusion, was still permitted to go along the road
of proposing to build "Moorside". We believe that due diligence
checks would have revealed the risks well before anything was given the
So where, one may ask, was the failure? The losses and risks at
Toshiba were known long before the application was considered, did
anyone in government perform the due diligence checks? Did they
find the risks? How were the results presented and to whom, by
whom? We prefer to think that this was not a case of government
officials getting too close to the company they were supposedly
checking. There is, of course, a lot of money at stake and it is
nice to give your friends benefits when they have helped you.
have recently submitted FOI requests to the ONR following our discovery
of brake failures on DRS railway rolling stock transporting nuclear
materials and to the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership.about
the impact of using the Irish Sea as a heat sink.
A few weeks later we received the response that, actually there had
been no brake failures (interestingly different from the report, which
distinctly said "Direct Rail Services rolling stock suffered brake failures as a result of maintenance issues.")
but that the inspector had noticed that the brake shoes were worn on a
wagon. Further inspection revealed that more than one vehicle
was involved. Direct Rail Services did not know how this had
come about and would be looking into it. That's alright then.
The response concludes, "At all times ONR has been satisfied that nuclear safety has not or could not be compromised by this discovery." No animals have been hurt and there was never any danger, seems to be the mantra.
An interesting and
amusing letter in response to an article in The Times re. zip wire
rides in the county. Our light-hearted look can be found here: Dorking Man Letter - a Response
Left Hand Doesn't Know There is a Right Hand
start the New Year off well, we are advised by The Times that
consultancy firms working for the U.K. government on the Hinkley Point
project were advising the Chinese investor and its French builder at
the same time. How cosy is that? Apparently
KPMG received £4.4 million for their financial advice to the
Energy and Business Departments (originally DECC). This is
despite the company telling officials that they were already working
for the China General Nuclear Power Corporation, one of those involved
in Hinkley's construction.
note below (30/12/17) "Yet Another Year - a Progress Report?" an
earlier report of potential conflict of interest with Jacobs, a U.S.
engineering company, and a subsidiary, Leigh Fisher. The
former company's U.K. branch is working for Électricité
de France at Hinkley, while Leigh Fisher were supplying government
officials with advice about the project.
claims to have "mature policies and procedures . . . to identify and
manage potential conflicts of interest", including "properly
segregated resources . . . to handle projects." Presumably
the company would have noticed the potential conflict of interest and
advised the government officials about it. Why then was the
information apparently ignored? We are informed that a
Freedom of Information request produced documents that were
substantially redacted by the department. Would we be
correct in interpreting this as an admission that those people knew
what they had allowed to happen was wrong? Of course,
commercial confidentiality is a beautiful cover-up for hiding material
that officials don't want others to know about. Happily for
us, one team of Lazard, who produced the tender document, worked out of
the Paris office, where it has "a relationship" with
Électricité de France, whilst the other worked from
London, thus providing high-quality independent advice.
Source: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/advisers-on-hinkley-point-c-nuclear-power-station-had-cosy-ties-to-both-sides-xftxcl9sz (Original article by Alex Ralph.)
£4½ million to KPMG, £2.6 million to Lazard,
£1.2 million to Leigh Fisher, every incentive there to keep
people honest. After all, this is a project that could
yield index-linked profits in excess of £50 billion over the next
Nothing to see here, kindly move on.
an insight into the background of the latest nuclear change of heart
see our entry of the 22/12/17 below and The Guardian article:
Following One's Nose
Einstein once observed that scientists can go
in one of two ways: the Devil can lead him by the nose with a
false hypothethis, or the scientist's thinking is sloppy. Einstein
seems to have overlooked the third possibility: the corruption of science
by large multi-national companies who pursue money with scant
regard to moral issues, the financial goal prevailing over accurate
science. We can think of one prime example. In our view,
it also seems to have spread to government officials. We note
below the Heathrow challenge that is based on the alleged bias of
government officials influencing the outcome of consultations.
We reckon that we can find at least as many examples of bias and
illogical decisions in nuclear history - from public account committee
and select committees all the way to high court findings. Things
may get interesting.
Please feel free to take part in
the latest consultation (how many more?), the snappily-named NATIONAL POLICY STATEMENT FOR
NEW NUCLEAR ABOVE 1GW POST 2025 SITING CRITERIA AND PROCESS. Details can be found at:
Quite the poorest document we have seen from the government, it seems
to have been cobbled together from disparate sources and even the
formatting is different from section to section. It is almost as
if it were done in haste to get it published in the run up to the
festive season in the hope that it might be overlooked. A good
job we aren't cynical. Strange how the majority of these
consultations always avail themselves of public holiday periods, too.
Yet Another Year - a Progress Report?
in 2007, yes a whole decade ago, the Chief Executive of Électricité de France
forecast with confidence that by 2017 the nation would be using electricity
from Hinkley Point to cook their turkeys. He also confirmed that the
lights would go out, too.
So it was that, after many delays the project was eventually approved by the
Prime Minister, Theresa May, and work commenced. Somewhat sheepishly, little
while later, Électricité de France
announced that some of the concrete already laid as trunking for service pipes
and cables was of the wrong specification and cracking, so it would have to be
dug up and redone. The matter of falsified safety inspections of reactor
grade steel by Creuset hardly helped to inspire confidence.
Group’s net financial debt was €36.2 billion as reported by them on 30th
June, 2016, compared to €37.4 billion on 31st December, 2015.
to say, the classic method of putting a positive spin on bad news – that of
ignoring the main problem and concentrating on any comparatively good news -
made it sound that a reduction of €1.2 was A Very Good Thing. (Our apologies to A. A. Milne.) Alright, so they still owed €35 billion,
but, hey, it is coming down! However, the total was not really due to
any change in their practices but, in the main, was down to favourable exchange
rates. It seems likely that these fluctuations will stabilise in the
short-term future, which does not augur well for Électricité de France's
finances. The French government has already had to bail out the company
and may well have to take further measures.
In the interim, government officials are still trying to convince the world
that promising to buy electricity at £9250 per Megawatt, was a sensible option,
even though solar power and wind farms can produce it for around half the
price. It was such a good idea to install Électricité de France
employees in the seat of government. Given the attitude of the French
government to the negotiations for the U.K.'s leaving the European Community
I'm afraid I would be tempted to tell them to take their hole and equipment
Oop norf, NuGen seem to have fared just as badly. Toshiba’s problems,
which lead to that company’s withdrawal from all nuclear development, continue
to affect the proposals to build at "Moorside", which are looking
increasingly unlikely to go ahead. Their chief executive seems to have
lost his tongue of late, muttering - without much conviction - about his
certainty that the project will go ahead with anywhere between 110% and 120%
conviction. Attempts to persuade South Korea to stump up some money and
invest in the project, along with the ubiquitous Chinese money, seems to have
turned into a power struggle as KEPCO apparently wishes to install its own
reactors and not the Westinghouse version on which the NuGen scheme was based.
Presumably this will mean a further delay as the regulators assess the new
designs. That process is likely to take four years. Of course,
that leaves Cumbrians in limbo, and the government apparently sees no reason to
interfere to assist residents blighted by the proposals; a situation that will continue whether the
scheme goes ahead or not.
Government's attitude to nuclear seems to have a clear bias. For
example, just twelve months ago The Times reported that the Office for Nuclear
Regulation suggested that the number of safety issues had remained stable for
decade. Except that between 2010 and 2012 the rate of faults recorded
has doubled and was running at the rate of one a day. Conveniently, the
ONR gave 973 "anomalies" a score of zero on the International Nuclear
Event Scale, thereby indicating that they were of little or no consequence.
Their opinion on most of these events seems rather dubious. The
amusing part of these (as we see them) fudges, is that those incidents rated at
zero have been more serious than those actually logged as safety problems.
These reports led to suggestions that the ONR is too close to the
industry it is supposed to be regulating.
Source: The Times, 27/12/17
and 28/12/17. Dozens of Nuclear Blunders Ignored and Nuclear Watchdog
Under Review, respectively.
January saw hundreds of protesters joining forces to protest against pylons
planned for the Lake District. It still puzzles us how people can ignore
the somewhat larger elephant that is "Moorside". Without
"Moorside" there is no need for the pylons. Why not join
forces and scotch the lot? West Cumbria has done its bit in putting up
with nuclear for half a century; surely it is now time for someone else to
share the load?
More bad news for Hinkley came in the New Year. The Times reported that
taxpayers are now likely to be facing a £2 billion bill for the plant in the
form of cheap loans. Despite denials from the likes of Greg Clark, the
business secretary, ministers were told in a written answer that the loan
remains on the books in case Électricité de France get into difficulties
finding funding. Anyone like to place bets?
By February, the rumblings about Toshiba's likely withdrawal from NuGen were
getting much louder and people became much more aware of the dishonesty at the
heart of the company. As we have already suggested, it might seem that
due diligence has been in short supply. There are, allegedly, government
rules which prohibit companies with inadequate financial resources from gaining
official contracts. For some reason, Électricité de France and Toshiba
seem to have got away with it. How?
In March we learned of a bungle (euphemism!) that cost the taxpayer £100
million as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority had to agree to pay out settlements
to EnergySolutions and Bechtel, after contract awarding had been
"manipulated" and "fudged". Intriguingly, no-one
appears to have been disciplined over this apparently deliberate manipulation.
No investigation into how, where, when and why. It seems that the
nuclear industry is immune to prosecution. Why? Our incredulity
goes back to our first experience when, having asked the ACC for Cumbria,
Michelle Skeer, what investigation had been undertaken following the findings
of the Redfern Committee into tissue retention and other illegal practices
carried out by a wide variety of people in Cumbria. There was no
investigation came the reply. Seven years on, what was the point of the
Redfern Committee? To the best of our knowledge, the only action taken
was the closure of the local mortuary.
Also in March, Toshiba filed for bankruptcy protection in the American courts.
The company announced projected losses of £7.3 billion for 2017.
Aptly, on 1st April, Alistair Osborne wrote in The Times pointing
out that Toshiba had been obliged to pay out $139 million to take full control
of the "Moorside" project which it doesn't want to be involved with
anymore. Toshiba's woes had been compounded by the French company and
partner in the project, Engie, exercising their right to withdraw.
In the same month, Électricité de France, who wished to delay the closure of
the Fessenheim plant, contrary to the wishes of the French government, were
said to be in need of €50 billion to renovate 58 reactors around France.
Further bail-outs by the French government may appear to be necessary.
The end of April saw Whitehall officials being rebuked for "egregious" and “unjustifiable delays” in revealing
details of government contracts for Hinkley and allegations of a conflict of
interest. Surely not! Leigh Fisher, owned by Jacobs Engineering,
an American group, was paid £1.2 million for its advice on the Hinkley project,
while Jacobs Engineering - whose advice helped to justify the government agreeing
to the 35 year term with Électricité de France - was working for . . .
Électricité de France.
By May, Toshiba had announced that it was "mothballing" the
Further troubles appeared as the government suddenly realised that exiting the
European Community would also mean leaving Euratom, the nuclear safety and
research watchdog. Bearing in mind the state of the U.K.'s own nuclear
inspectors, as per the report by Mike Weightman back in 2011, which forecast
staff shortages which might result in the industry inspecting and reporting on
itself, withdrawal from Euratom would produce serious problems. Various
media sources carried a bit of the idea, for example:
second-rate system was proposed in the Queen's speech late in June, but that
has yet to appear.
The concept of small, modular, nuclear reactors closer to the point of
electricity usage arrived at last with the government in the middle of May.
A report on the idea was to appear "in due course". By then it was already nearly a year
Towards the end of May we were getting stories about the potential for Chinese
investment at "Moorside". It seems that the Chinese are using
robust tactics to get their way over various nuclear developments.
They have assisted with Hinkley and want to build at Bradwell, Essex.
In the latter case it seems that they want to use their own reactors,
presumably as a foothold in the world-wide scheme of things. A
successful completion at Bradwell with Chinese reactors would produce
considerable sales world-wide.
Despite all the history, America's Donald Trump decided to dust off the Yucca
Mountain project. (See archived files for details.) $15 billion
had already been invested in the site before it was written off.
However, no other similar sites have been found and the stockpile of nuclear
waste is growing . . .
At the end of May, there was more movement in Europe as, conveniently for
Électricité de France, European competition regulators cleared their takeover
of Areva's nuclear business. Areva is, like Électricité de France,
French state supported and was responsible for the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor,
which is ten years late and seriously over-budget. It was also announced
that the Finnish owners of Olkiluoto site are to drop legal action against
June saw South Korea announce that it was ending atomic energy. Their
president, Moon Jae-in, said that safety was the biggest reason for the change
of heart. He added that the country's 25 nuclear reactors would be taken
off-line as they reach the end of their working lives and that new construction
will be suspended. Sadly, the South Koreans seem to have no qualms about
supplying this presumably dangerous system to the likes of "Moorside"
ably encouraged by those in our own government with their vested interests and
More bad news for the nuclear industry followed later that month when the
National Audit Committee determined what we all already knew: that the
government had "locked consumers
into a risky and expensive project". The report found
that those responsible for the deal had not done a proper analysis, only
considering the impact on bills up to 2030, when the terms have committed us to
paying them until 2060. Who says that the whole process is misguided? Actually, we think it is misguided and
It was an ill-wind that blew the announcement that wind power could produce
electricity 25% cheaper than Hinkley's into the media. The costs
for wind and solar power have been falling as their adoption increases - the
exact opposite of nuclear. Let us not forget that, once a wind farm or
solar farm have fulfilled their useful life they can just be dismantled;
a quick and easy process with no remaining detriment to the sites.
The sorry state of industrial relations at Sellafield came to the fore in July,
and was repeated in subsequent months, with several different factions opting
for strike action following failed pay negotiations.
Also in July, our forecast from first involvement that the answer to short-term
electricity needs could be met if storage of any unused surplus electricity
generated by wind and solar sources from when demand is low could be mastered.
Step forward Elon Musk, who produced such a system in Australia.
It is capable of storing 129 megawatt hours (reportedly enough for 30,000 homes)
and was built in 100 days.
Yet another Select Committee reported, this time at the end of July, concluding
that the government's energy policy is a mess. They suggested that
decarbonisation had been pursued at the expense of affordability. For
some reason, they also suggested that the nuclear plant at Hinkley is "an expensive disaster". They
added that, "[the deal] had locked
consumers into a risky and expensive project and did not consider sufficiently
the risks and costs to consumers." Haven't we said this about
each and every nuclear development? Will anyone ever listen to us?
A reminder of the continuance of Fukushima's problems came in August.
After many failed attempts, those endeavouring to find the molten core of the
reactors managed to build a robot that withstood - at least for a short while -
the intense radiation present at the site.
Every previous attempt failed due to the electronics being overcome by
the intense radiation. Already forecast to be likely to cost over £142
billion, this clean-up knocks Sellafield's own house-keeping into second place.
the same month two American utility companies decided they were flogging a dead
horse and abandoned their "uneconomical"
projects. Unlike the U.K., the companies felt they couldn't ask the
customers to foot the bill. How refreshing.
saw an analysis of the electricity supply market and the unfortunate side
effect of wind-farms on wildlife, which included birds being decapitated when
they flew into the blades. Actually, most reports seem to suggest that
the death of birds flying near to wind turbine blades is more usually due to
the sudden drop in pressure on the down-side of the blades, rather than by the
birds flying into the blades per se,
but what the heck? The analyst, Alistair Osborne, writing in The Times
on September 1st, concluded that the government's continued nuclear
policy was illogical, and, "As
policies go, it's as headless as a poor kamikaze kittiwake".
A subsidy-free solar farm was opened on 26th September. A
combination of falling costs for solar panels, a convenient topography and the
ability to store surplus electricity in giant batteries will enable the plant
to run without a direct subsidy.
In a forlorn attempt to justify the Hinkley deal, officials responsible for it
said that it was the best they dare risk, as otherwise the entire project might
have failed. The influence of vested interests seems to have prevailed
in the end though. We have constantly drawn attention to the flaws in
seconding Électricité de France employees to DECC. The public’s perception
that the government has been distorting facts because of a dishonest influence
is a natural consequence thereof.
October saw the taxpayer getting a bill for £122 million after the National
Audit Office issued yet another damning report of the nuclear industry.
It said that the decommissioning authority's commercial strategy for dealing
with nuclear waste was "wholly inappropriate and needs to be
redrawn". Good to know that those who are supposed to be experts in
the nuclear field can be so wrong, eh? The chief executive who oversaw
the manipulated contracting process announced his retirement and toddled off
with no disciplinary consequences of the debacle. The Audit Committee
also found that the authority had "a poor understanding of what was
happening on its estate" and might have paid a previous contractor for
work it had not done. Forgive us, but who failed to check? Did the
previous contractor not know that it had been paid for work it had not
completed? Did anyone follow the money thereafter? Can anyone be bothered to try to retrieve
the money if it has been incorrectly paid?
Later in the month, army bomb disposal experts were called to attend to
canisters of potentially explosive solvents dating back to the 1990s.
The event was mitigated by the fact that the solvents weren't radioactive, but
then an unnamed expert pointed out that they were actually stored near far more
dangerous materials in a laboratory.
Source: "Sellafield Chemicals Scare Defused by
Army", Robin Henry, The Times, 22nd October, 2017.
no animals were harmed and there was no danger to . . . etc.
Hinkley Point's poor value for the consumer was again highlighted by Alistair
Osborne on the 1st November, following yet another report by a
public accounts committee. The conclusion seems to have been that we
could have built four nuclear power plants of our own for the same price the
Hinkley deal will cost us. Or become nuclear free for far, far less.
In November and December, there were a couple articles in The Times that seemed
to have been inspired by nuclear supporters. One determined that living
in London was as bad for people's health as a nuclear leak. (Oliver
Moody, 23/11/17, "Nuclear Fallout no Worse Than Living in London".)
Based on an article which appeared in a publication of the Institution
of Chemical Engineers, the scenario envisaged bore (in our opinion) little
semblance to a real-life event - especially not the Sellafield and
"Moorside" domino potential. The second article was almost
laughable and was by Rod Liddle. Perhaps he was just trying to be
provocative when he said that only 30 people had been killed by the Chernobyl
disaster. Our complaint was met with the response that the editor had
checked the "facts" by reference to the BBC and Forbes magazine.
When we countered with the World Health Report of 2005, which was the
result of collaboration by over 100 scientists. This had concluded that
"About 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer,
mainly in children and adolescents have resulted from the accident's
contamination and at least nine children have died of thyroid cancer'
however, the survival rate amongst such cancer victims, judging from
experience in Belarus, has been almost 99%"
they may not have died, the majority of victims have certainly suffered.
We also listed a few of the very many (reported) major accidents around the
world. Answer came there none.
By December even the mini reactors were being cast into shadow as ministers
determined that the cost would be even greater than Hinkley. Rolls-Royce
and Nuscale were hoping for government support for their reactor designs,
which, it was hoped would be built by 2020. Having sat on a report by
Atkins for over a year, the government eventually published it on 7/12/17.
The conclusions were that the cost would be almost 10% more expensive even
than Hinkley's £92.50 per megawatt hour.
Sensing some real concern, by the middle of December, 100 MPs called on the
government to maintain close links with Euratom. Failing to maintain the
ties will be expensive and difficult, especially when staff shortages and lack
of experienced English-speaking inspectors pile on the pressure.
More flaws were detected in a reactor of the same design as that planned for
Hinkley. Welding faults were found in the construction of the plant,
Taishan 1, which is being built near Macau in China for the China General
Nuclear Power Corporation. This is the second deferment. Other
Électricité de France sites are, true to tradition, running very late.
By now, of course, as we said at the beginning of this article, the Hinkley
plant should have been up and running and we should all have cooked our
Christmas turkeys using its electricity. Good job we didn't rely on
them. Perhaps it is time that someone
cooked Électricité de France’s goose?
To close the year, we learn that Colchester Borough Council have refused to
accept new nuclear developments in their bailiwick. Perhaps more
relevant to our own cause is the suggestion that consultation plans for the
third runway at Heathrow would be illegal due to bias by ministers towards the
expansion. Sounds like this could be a very interesting development from
a legal standpoint. It is difficult to imagine any subject more biased
than nuclear development. Again we would only have to draw attention to
the secondment of Électricité de France staff to the decision-making body and
the various reports advising against nuclear. Anyone know a good lawyer?
Best wishes for the New Year.
article can be found in The Guardian of 21/12/17. Thanks to
Stop Hinkley for sending us the latest newsletter with a series of
relevant links, including a particularly good synopsis of the reasons
behind the sudden reversal of the fortunes of the nuclear industry.
The article, entitled "Hinkley Point C Dreadful Deal Behind
World's Most Expensive Power Plant", is by Holly Watt and demonstrates
many of the points we have covered over the years, but still misses one
which we believe was crucial: that of the meeting held at
Sellafield as related in the book by Harold Bolter, "Inside
According to Bolter, who was a BNFL director at Sellafield, present were Geoffrey Tucker, a PR "fixer" (obituary: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1418978/Geoffrey-Tucker.html) with many political contacts; Con Allday, CEO, (later Sir) Christopher Harding, (obituary: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-sir-christopher-harding-1132693.html)
a chairman of British Nuclear Fuels and later chairman of SONE -
Supporters of Nuclear Energy, and Harold Bolter. The relevant
report of the meeting says, "We made the greenhouse effect the talking
point of a series of dinners which Geoffrey had organised and, whether
they were effective or not, it is a fact that shortly after, Bernard
Ingham, Mrs. Thatcher's Chief Press Secretary, had attended one of the
dinners, the Prime Minister began to show more interest in the issue."
Ingham then became a consultant to BNFL. (After the
Hillsborough disaster Ingham followed the police misinformation
supplied and blamed drunken yobs. This stance he apparently
maintained even after the 2016 verdict and refused to apologise for
To our minds, the scariest bit then comes, ". . . we also talked about education and [Bolter's] belief that we must also capture the minds, if not the hearts, of young children . . ."
The problem for us mere mortals - no matter that we speak the truth -
is that we do not have the money or resources to buy the ear of those
making the decisions. A good dinner and the offer of a job buys
a lot of good will, it appears.
To read the original article: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/21/hinkley-point-c-dreadful-deal-behind-worlds-most-expensive-power-plant
Reasons not to go ahead with new nuclear in Cumbria.
While the government appears to be fixated on the perceived CO2 levels
of the various methods of electricity generation, we believe that other
environmental factors – the direct and indirect heat discharges,
chemical discharges, and impact on the amenity – should also be
considered in the balance.
Evidence given to the House of Commons, Energy and Climate Change
Committee, printed on 17th March, 2010, included the following
- Contradictions to the
department’s assertions that nuclear electricity generation
is carbon free/climate friendly, safe for the environment, safe
for human health, economic, sustainable, and home grown.
- CO2 emissions
from Fellside, Sellafield’s power station, in a three year period
amounted to over 3 million tonnes with gas consumption of more than
£30 million in the single year.
quadrupled its emissions of
hydrofluorocarbons, which are hundreds
and can be thousands of times more
powerful than carbon dioxide. In 2008 alone Sellafield
produced more than 400 kgs.
- Nitrous dioxide arises from the production of nitric acid, which Sellafield uses in very large quantities. N2O is not only 310 times more potent than CO2, but it lasts over 100 years in the troposphere.
The constant discharges associated with nuclear electricity generating
plants seem to be deliberately overlooked and, as with the NuGen
consultation, results deliberately distorted by PR specialists to give
a positive bias to them, whilst difficult questions to which answers
should be available, for example, the effect of discharging 2½
billion gallons of water per day heated to 14°
above ambient temperature will have
on the Irish Sea, together with
the impact of dissipating over 7
Gigawatts of thermal energy to the atmosphere.
We have continually noted out concerns about the poor quality of the railway serving Sellafield.
Many events have received no publicity, but we note from http://www.onr.org.uk/intervention-records/1718/sellafield-17-042.htm, a series of reports on inspections of sections of Sellafield operations. One seems particularly concerning:
LC28 – Examination, Inspection, Maintenance and Testing
I consider SL needs to
demonstrate that it is adequately undertaking an intelligent customer
role with respect to the delegation of rail vehicle maintenance to its
supplier (Direct Rail Services (DRS)), which includes items
relied on to deliver nuclear
safety; safety mechanisms (SM’s)
– i.e. braking systems. A
number of recent incidents regarding brake failures
underpin this rating.
So, not only do we have a rickety rail system working with 150 year-old
practices, but we also have rolling stock whose maintenance seems to be
suspect. What a great system!
Smugness and Contentment
is always nice to discover that things you have brought up as good
arguments are found to be correct by those who feel they know better.
In this case, the mention we made about the potential for
foreign powers to install "backdoors" into technical equipment used by
major installations, thus giving the foreign power control over the
infrastructure. Commonly called cyber-attacks, these events are
happening with increasing regularity and are now not just the preserve
of those with access to huge resources. From nuclear
establishments to the NHS the attacks have wreaked havoc and cost
millions of pounds to detect and rectify. In some cases, data
has been encoded and ransoms demanded - usually without recovery even
after payment of the ransom demanded.
The complacency which still abound over the matters is indicative of
the ignorance of those responsible for protecting the nation's welfare.
It is trendy to regard the attacks as stemming from established
hackers like Russia, China, and North Korea, but in reality anyone can
discover the weaknesses and embed malware. The effects can be
made to appear instantly or lie dormant until triggered by the hacker.
The malware can be designed to alter the performance of the
circuit, disrupting dependent processes - extremely dangerous in the
nuclear industry - or merely to spy on operations, for the economic or
intelligence-gathering benefit of the hackers.
Over seven years ago we made this point. We were correct, as,
according to The Times, 17/8/17, China may have planted a "snooper's
backdoor in software used by scores of big businesses, including the
National Grid". (Ref. Chinese spies build backdoor in Britain's
business software, Mark Bridge.)
In our original assessment we pointed out that the major producers of
integrated circuits, or "chips", the building blocks of modern devices,
are now in China, Japan, and, to a lesser extent Russis. Some of
the chips contain coding for basic operations but can be electronically
altered to perform specific tasks more precisely and efficiently.
These are known as EEPROMs (electronically erasable programmable
read only memory). The tailoring of the actions of these chips
requires production of thousands of lines of computer code which is
then added to the basic codes already embedded in the chip. The
supplied chips already contain thousands of lines of code already along
with the semiconductors and associated electronic components which
ultimately perform the control operations. Because the basic
functions of the chip are already accepted, any spurious code remains
unspotted. The only way to ensure device integrity is to analyse
every line of code to examine its purpose and relevance to the required
control function. This, of course, is time-consuming and
expensive. It is far easier to accept that the chip performs its
functions without going to all that effort. Inevitably, that is
what happens. However, this acceptance of integrity is the
weakness of the system. Even if a manufacturer specified his own
codes for the basic chip, there is nothing to stop the manufacturer
changing or adding to it. This inherent weakness is what enabled
the Stuxnet and related virii to control centrifuges used in production
of nuclear fuel.
The attacks on the NHS were well publicised, but were down to a
weakness incorporated in the operating system. Obviously it is
easier to spot weaknesses when a specific area of the coding is
breached. However, it is not so easy to dismantle a circuit to
examine its compnonents and ensure that they are doing what they were
designed to do - and nothing more.
Those engaged in the supply of modems we mentioned in the earlier
article would find it very easy to insert malware with a low chance of
being detected. At present the current focus is on server
software, where the Chinese are alleged to have incorporated malicious
code, which allowed hackers to access data and tamper with their
systems. When software has been verified as being malware free,
it is presented to the user with a digital signature, indicating that
it is safe to use. Current virii can now include such
signatures, making it all the more difficult to detect the presence of
The Times article points out that a variety of American, French and
Russian companies have already been attacked. Of course,
those affected make out that they are fully prepared for such attacks.
However, we shall see.
More on Due Diligence
Defined as the measure of prudence, responsibility, and diligence that
is expected from, and ordinarily exercised by, a reasonable and prudent
person under the circumstances, due diligence is one of the basic tenets of business and a failure to
carry out due diligence checks can be used in a court to illustrate
management failures. The term is constant, regardless of
the size of business - from the smallest to the
multi-nationals. One might reasonably expect that the
government would carry out the basic checks before entering into huge
contracts, such as those with Électricité de
France and Toshiba. Yet, and despite many warnings,
those in DECC and DBEIS are hell-bent on forcing through the
projects, seemingly without pursuing due diligence requirements.
Many years ago we attended a meeting in Keswick where a French attendee
pointed out that some would view Électricité de
France as bankrupt. It was a
nice thought - those in charge of the scheme would be thwarted by due
diligence checks carried out on behalf of the government.
All would be revealed, we thought. Yet it wasn't. After a
few stalls, the Prime Minister elected to continue to build this
massive white elephant. This in face of a wide variety of
expert opinions, including a government National Audit committee
finding of conflicts of interests, budget over-runs and delays.
It was, therefore, refreshing to read in issue 1448 (July, 2017) of Private Eye an
article by Old Sparky, which said exactly what the Keswick attendee had
said so long ago.
France is committed to start decommissioning the vast number of nuclear
plants it runs. Starting from a debt position of £37
billion, the estimates are that it will require around £75
billion for the decommissioning and £74 billion is required for
safety upgrades. Then there is the need for a nuclear dump,
which is expected to cost at least £20 billion.
Warnings were given in early 2016 by the company’s chief finance
officer, Thomas Piquemal, who then left the company, saying that he
feared for the financial viability of Électricité de
France if they continued with
Hinkley. By considerably under-estimating the costs of these measures, the company can appear to be financially sound.
What responsible government would even entertain for one minute
allowing such an apparently unstable company, with no ability to
indemnify failures - other than the good will of the French government -
to take on one of the largest nuclear developments in the world?
Then there is Toshiba's financial fiasco, which has caused it to drop
out of the Moorside project. Back in July, 2015, Hisao
Tanaka, Toshiba's Chief Executive Officer, announced his resignation in
the face of an accounting scandal tied to about $1.2 billion in
overstated operating profits. Interestingly for the
conspiracy theorists, on his way back from Japan a short while earlier,
George Osborne, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, called in to see
South Korean policitians to try to tempt them to contribute to nuclear
development in the U.K. This might prove interesting, as
South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, has said he would lead his
country towards a ‘nuclear-free era’ following fears of a
However, did Osborne know way back then about Toshiba's
Even so, how does this reflect on the integrity of
the company. Given the high levels of responsiblility required
to run a nuclear plant, do they meet the requisite standards for "due
Matt Ridley’s appraisal of the nuclear industry in The Times
(“Britain’s Energy Policy Keeps Picking Losers”,
Comment, 31/7/17), concluded that"the future of nuclear – if it
has one - may better lie in smaller nuclear power station".
So why not move the proposed locations away from Hinkley, Bradwell,
Wylfa, Moorside, et al, to nearer where the electricity is required -
to, say, London?
The nuclear industry has long survived on broken promises and failed experiments.
For some considerable time we have asked whether the secondment of Électricité de
staff to government departments, such as DECC, unduly influenced the
deal? Certainly the Audit Committee seem to think so. Why
has it not changed anything?
As Ridley said in the article referred to above, "Nuclear is an obsolete industry". With the emphasis
now on trying to clean up the mess produced over the few decades of
generation - using a highly costly process that involves finding a
remote spot and burying the waste in a hole, in the hope that it
doesn’t leak out.
Sellafield ceased production of electricity over 14 years ago but still costs £1½
billion a year to effect a clean-up. Projected overall
costs being over £70 billion and rising. What then
was the true cost of the power generated? Certainly it
would be dear enough to meter.
Professor Andy Blowers, in his book, "The Legacy of Nuclear Power"
(ISBN 978-0-415-86999-7, Routledge), seems to arrive at the same
conclusion, pointing out that the emphasis now is on phasing out
new-build power stations and concentrating on finding a way to disperse
the waste, both legacy and current.
In America, some have seen the future folly. Scana
Corporation subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCG&E)
has announced its decision to cease construction of two AP1000
reactors at VC Summer. The announcement followed co-owner
Santee Cooper's decision to suspend construction because of projected
completion delays and cost overruns. Scana is to file for
regulatory permission to abandon the project.
Near Augusta, in Georgia, Georgia Power estimates that the net
additional required to complete the two AP1000s under construction at
their Vogtle plant will be $1.0-1.7 billion. It
expects to make its recommendations on whether or not to proceed with
the project to the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) later this
Waste is a major problem everywhere nuclear power has been
pursued. In France, the idea is to dig a hole in a remote
area, Bure, and shove everything in there. Very similar to
what everyone else is doing around the world, with scant regard to the
future generations who will have to live with the consequences and
escalating risks of leakage and difficulty in retrieval should a safer
method of disposal be discovered.
Why is it necessary to involve foreign powers to produce one of
the most important resources for the country? The future
may well be electric, but who will control its supply?
Meanwhile, Fukushima continues to rumble on: a one metre hole has
been found in the floor of the container verssel for one reactor, amid
some of the highest levels of radiation recorded at the site.
In Limbo in The Moorside
The fate of the Moorside in
Cumbria lies in abeyance. Despite Toshiba's troubles and the
financial and logical uncertainty around the place, those whose
properties were threatened by the new development remain unrecompensed
and unable to move away as, let's face it, who would want to buy a
house that was going to be compulsorily purchased, or whose outlook
would be the massive barbed wire fences that inevitably surround
nuclear sites, or whose home is in a road continually patrolled by
highly armed nuclear policemen? From the initial announcement of
RWE's plans and
the subsequent statements about the National Infrastructure Policy,
properties around the
Calder Bridge, Beckermet, and Braystones communitites have been
to what is politely termed "planning blight".
In October, last year the UK Government announced its support for
expansion at Heathrow as its preferred option for new airport capacity.
It further stated that it plans to extend its
property compensation scheme should an additional runway be built at
the airport. In May, the airport announced plans for 25% above
market value compensation for 750 homes that would be subject to
See also: http://assets.hs2.org.uk/sites/default/files/consulation_library/pdf/Safeguarding%20Guide%20to%20Statutory%20Blight.pdf
What moves have been made to compensate those afflicted by the blight
Whether the project goes ahead or not (and the latter
seemingly increasingly likely), there will remain the prospect of the
plant being resurrected at any point in the future, rendering these
unfortunate properties virtually unsaleable at any time on the normal market.. At present we have
managed to find only scant government document about planning blight.
The roads document is relevant only to those whose houses are in the way of
highway changes and the owner must have endeavoured to sell their
property before serving a notice on the Highways Department, but it is assumed that similar schemes pertains to National
Given the difficulties for lay persons to get to grips with such
esoteric schemes as these, is it expecting too much for a helping hand
from the politicians who created this mess? Should they not have
started the initiative immediately the affected areas were announced,
as part of their duty to support their constituency?
Toshiba may well be in a mess, but there is no reason why ordinary citizens of Cumbria should be required to suffer as a result.
Toshiba's Troubles Affect Moorside
Virtually every news service has
carried the news
that Toshiba has such problems with its finances that it is having to
sell major assets to cover the losses. Just a one year ago, the
company was in trouble after over-stating its profits by £780
million. Not exactly the sort of mistake that occurs
accidentally. Those problems were compounded by an unfortunate
venture involving the Westinghouse subsidiary in America and the
acquisition of a construction company are allegedly at the root of
their current problems. Toshiba are to defer publishing their
accounts for a
month, but the initial news articles put the losses at over £5
billion. However, in his resignation speech, the chairman has
hinted that the losses may even exceed
Today Toshiba has announced that it will
sell its shares in NuGen - something it "always meant to do" (yeah,
right) - and will take no part in the construction of Moorside,
although it will happily supply the reactors and turbines. The
government are now in a total
mess, as this was to be one of their flagship projects. When
multi-national companies can find themselves in such accounting messes,
one has to wonder what due diligence processes have been undertaken and
how anyone can now be willing to take over Toshiba's role.
Wouldn't it be nice if the will of the local people were to be accepted
and the whole project consigned to the annals of history? All we
can say is YIPPEEE! Thanks for the reprieve.
On Time and Under Budget?
The financial arrangements to build Moorside were due to be completed
by 2018, and the plant running by 2025. Both deadlines now look
to be unachievable. Despite all the obvious reasons why nuclear
is stupid, our illustrious leaders say that they will "work closely to
see Moorside built". Like Hinkley, it seems the only way that
that will happen is if the U.K. taxpayer foots the bill, as it already
does with Sellafield and insurance matters for the industry.
Toshiba achieved contracts to build four reactors in the U.S.A.:
two at Vogtle, in Georgia, and two more at Virgil C Summer, in
South Carolina, but their contractor was a company called Shaw.
This company had taken over Stone and Webster, which apparently had the
necessary expertise to complete the project. Shaw was sold to
Chicago Bridge and Iron in 2012, after problems arose with delays, some
of which were the result of the regulators requiring changes to the
AP1000 design. (Sounds familiar!) Eventually, Toshiba
bought Stone and Webster from Chicago Bridge and Iron for £184
million after timetables slipped and costs escalated. By this
time, Toshiba itself would become liable for cost over-runs. The
idea was damage limitation, but it soon became clear that the costs and
liabilities of Stone and Webster were far higher than had been stated.
Then it started to get messy, with Toshiba and Chicago Bridge
and Iron becoming involved in a legal dispute. In the meantime,
labour and equipment costs escalated. Of course, that would not
happen in this country.
Chicago Bridge and Iron's view is that the AP1000 design is partly to
blame. As these are the same designs which were supposed to be
constructed at Moorside, this may not be good news. If the
designs still have flaws, which seem to be acknowledged by all
concerned, why have Toshiba started construction? It is akin to
Ford designing a sports car but not checking that it has suitable tyres
and brakes before it goes on sale. However, we have
concerns that, should the Moorside project still go ahead, the losses
sustained by Toshiba may be passed on to the U.K. consumer. With
France's prices already sky high, electricity will become almost unaffordable.
Still, this pattern of tardiness and cost over-runs seems to be endemic
in all nuclear builds - especially those projects backed by the
Not So Smart
France's profits have dropped by 6.7% this year. This is despite
the "highest ever output" in 2016. The company also lost 80,000
customers compared to 2015. To add to its woes, it had to report
a £66 million "sritedown" (isn't corporate-speak a truly wondrous
thing?) in the U.K. due to "the reduction in the value of gas storage
assets." Even in its home market, the generation and supply
business reported a drop of 11.2%. Ain't that sad?
Explosion in the Powerhouse of the future
An amusing article from The Times, Friday, 10/2/17,
by Alistair Osborne, points out that the Électricité de
France fiasco that is Flamanville is now six years late and €7
billion over budget. The article goes on to report a
little-publicised blast that occurred in the turbine hall of an earlier
set of reactors, built on the same site in the 1980s.
Despite the seriousness of such incidents, it is always difficult to
suppress smirks when the time-honoured phrases are trotted out:
"There was no radiation leak and no-one was hurt." The
publicists must be so pleased at the mileage that classic little line
has acquired over the years. It has been announced at the
earliest opportunity after every nuclear event, except Hiroshima and
Osborne continues: "Yet
barely a month goes by without a fresh insight into
Électricité de France’s nuclear prowess: a safety
probe into its French reactors, resulting in shutdowns at some its
58-strong fleet; news that staff at Areva, the nuclear design outfit
partly rescued by Électricité de France, might have
doctored quality assurance records. And still to come? The French
nuclear watchdog’s ruling on whether the new Flamanville plant is
actually safe after carbon spots were found on the reactor’s
that’s the exciting tech Theresa May is bringing to Britain,
forcing consumers to pay twice the present wholesale electricity price
for 35 years. Totally mind-blowing."
Those carbon spots are weaknesses in the material
and have been detected in the main reactor body. They could
lead to sudden and catastrophic cracking of the vessel.
Amusingly, on the day that the tidal lagoon backers suggest that the
cost of electricity produced their way should be nearly four times that
currently produced and twice that proposed by the likes of Hinkley,
several of the large suppliers have announced price rises to the
consumer of around 10%. There is still some way to go
before any of the mooted, allegedly low-carbon methods of generation
can even seem to be viable. As we pointed out many years
ago, the only way to make nuclear power seem anything like viable is
for all energy prices to rise until such time as they match those
proposed by the new systems. Fuel poverty is running at
10.6% in the U.K. and domestic energy prices have risen by 260% in the
period between 2003 and 2014.
Quite how anyone will be able to afford their product in the long-term is difficult to imagine.
The somewhat amusing fiasco of diesel-powered road
vehicles - where the government of the day decided (without any
lobbying from oil companies, naturally!) that diesel engines produced
far less pollution and were more economical than petrol
Unchanged by subsequent governments, the policy
continued until very recent times. Subsidies for diesel
cars offset the slightly greater cost of producing their engines, and
fuel was taxed at a lower level. Then someone pointed out
the damage done to the environment - including humans - by the very
fine particles discharged. So the official policy-makers
have done a volte face. Diesel fuel now costs more than
petrol, and taxes complete the economical persuasion. It is
now rumoured that to avoid further embarassment, a vehicle scrappage
allowance is being considered, whereby owners of diesel vehicles will
receive a bonus for scrapping it. Seems like a recipe for
abuse to us.
However, the push for electric vehicles is now
flavour of the month. Better performance, no charges for
diesel, gas, or petrol, no damage to the environment by pollutant
discharges, lower taxes, etc. What no-one seems to
have realised is that the electricity used to power these vehicles will
have to come from a power station somewhere. The current
trend for closing down power stations will exacerbate this promotion of
electricity usage. Someone has worked out that, if the
promotion works and Joe Public really latches on, there will be
insufficient capacity on the grid to recharge all these
vehicles. The scenario suggests that something like 20
nuclear power stations will be required to provide the
short-fall. What a brilliant job the nuclear industry has
done to put us in this position; where carbon dioxide is
conceived to be more important than the toxic materials they produce at
such great risk, with no means of disposing of the wastes safely,
despite it remaining toxic for thousands of years. What a
legacy to leave to our progeny! Isn't the basic idea of
life to do no harm and to leave the planet (at least) no worse off than
when you arrived?
The future of electrical supply is
intriguing. We have a vague uneasiness about the approval
this week of the cross-channel link between the U.K. national grid and
its French counterpart, RTE. Such are the problems of
France's nuclear power stations, that by the end of 2016, the U.K. was
a net exporter of electricity to France. Could the future
entail large numbers of nuclear power stations in the U.K., with all
the associated problems of risk and waste-disposal, while France and
the rest of Europe utilise the electricity we produce?
Effectively making the U.K. Europe's boilerhouse. How
convenient that would be for the countries averse to nuclear generation
on their own doorstep.
More Pieces for the Jigsaw & Chinese Puzzles
We are quite open
and honest about our disrespect for politicians, almost all of whom
seem far more concerned with their personal fortune, closely followed
party loyalty, than they do about working for their constituents or the
greater good of the nation. This is evidenced by the complete
disregard of local wishes when considering developments including
nuclear, power distribution cables, mining and gas extraction.
In the case of Moorside it is our understanding that the majority of
residents in the area and in in Cumbria are against any further
Friends in High Places
We believe that the
arguments about nuclear expansion - if viewed from an unbiased
perspective - would cause the whole policy to be halted.
The history of MPs who have been involved in the Energy Department is
singularly unattractive, with dishonesty, lack of integrity, and use of
the so-called revolving door - where highly paid and attractive work is
found for those politicians and staff who have helped the industry at
an appropriate juncture - well to the fore.
On 4/2/17, The Times related the story of the
connection between Barry Gardiner, M.P. for Brent North, and a law
firm, Christine Lee and Co. The article states that the
company acts as a legal adviser to the Chinese embassy.
There is no suggestion of impropriety, it continues. Which
leads to the question, why then is it such a newsworthy
story? According to The Times, Mr. Gardiner, who has
declared receiving more than £180,000 and employs Ms. Lee's son
as a researcher, has generally taken a pro-Beijing stance and has
spoken in favour of Hinkley's development which, of course, will
necessitate Chinese investment. The Chinese also wish to
build power stations of their own designs at Bradwell.
Whatever the reasoning, the arrangement is surely open to criticism, or are we expecting too much?
Over many years now, we have been asked to believe
that the secondment of staff from major commercial concerns is entirely
innocent and the best possible arrangement for the public
benefit. Mike Weightman's report
on future difficulties in staffing the ONR was obviously
accurate. Even the Civil Nuclear emergency planning advisor
at DECC was an Électricité de France
secondee. In just two years 49 secondees were used by DECC,
many from the nuclear or nuclear-related construction
industry. Happily, we can be assured that every one of
these individuals was solely interested in giving impartial assistance
to DECC and would never have been tempted to report any information of
interest gained during their secondment to their main employer, nor
would they ever attempt to influence policy-making.
Another major contributor of secondees has been the
Carbon Trust, which promotes itself as "an independent, expert partner
of leading organisations around the world, helping them contribute to
and benefit from a more sustainable future through carbon reduction,
resource efficiency strategies and commercialising low carbon
technologies." How useful it could have been to have staff
making suggestions that would ultimately benefit the company directly
to those responsible for the policies that affect their business, and
how lucky we are that every individual’s integrity would prevent
It does remain our opinion that the civil servants
in DECC should be, and appear to be, sufficiently competent to acquire
any necessary information and act on it, whilst keeping at arm's length
any actions which could lead to public perception of a lack of
integrity. Basically, to do their job.
The main claim of benefit for nuclear development is
that it is low carbon. We express our views on that claim
elsewhere on this website and have always asked whether the pollution
produced by nuclear sites is in any way better than CO2 production,
noting in the process that the carbon dioxide component of the
atmosphere at only 0.04% means that it is only a trace gas.
Many scientists believe that it is highly unlikely that slight changes
to this level will be responsible for global warming.
There is a prediction that sun-spot activity is set
to diminish over the next few years, from its current peak.
The last period when there was similar low activity coincided with a
period of global cooling. It will be interesting to see how
the "experts" cope with any extension to the current 17 year period of
cooling. We have no truck with Trump, but do believe that
it is well past time that climate change science be examined more
closely and with a view to the entire global history, which has seen
parts of the U.K. range from tropical to polar in times well beyond the
industrial age’s influence. There are some interesting and
illuminating views to be found in an article in The Times of the
6/2/17, in an article by Matt Ridley entitled, "Politics and science
are a toxic combination". http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/politics-and-science-are-a-toxic-combination-706jm3hqv?shareToken=ddcc048eb318cd97939cf8dbd4049978
Several years ago, when dealing with RWE's bid to
demolish Braystones, we pointed out that one of the mainstays used,
viz. that of "keeping the lights on" was unfounded. We were
gratified when the head of the National Grid at the time agreed, saying
there was no reason whatsoever for the lights to go out.
This didn't put an end to the threat and it is still used
today. Despite attempts to perpetuate the myth by the likes
of the Guardian, Ofgen has once again categorically stated that the
lights will not go out, and that the spare capacity in the worst-case
scenario is 1.2%, with plans in place to increase that to 6.6% if
On 28/1/17, The Sunday Times advises us that
"Toshiba meltdown puts nuclear project at risk". Toshiba
managers have already said that they wish to get out of building
nuclear plant building to concentrate on design and manufacture of
reactors, and will "review the future of nuclear businesses outside
Meanwhile, in France, our old friends
Électricité de France are reported to have insufficient
cash to dismantle its domestic reactors. Over the next
three years, Électricité de France is planning on cutting
nearly 4,000 jobs. The company is also said to be facing a
choice between privatisation and bankruptcy.
With the two major companies each struggling already
to even contemplate building in the U.K. there is obviously no leeway
for problems at any stage, and, as the insurer is the U.K. taxpayer . .
Would you buy anything from a company that is
apparently so insecure – or rumoured to be so, or so close to
bankruptcy, when your commitment to, and reliance on, them will endure
for at least half a century?
Many moons ago we suggested that the Chinese are
happy to make appreciative and positive murmurings when approached for
finance for major projects. Where the Chinese state is
involved, however, there seems to be a requirement for employment,
equipment and materials to be Chinese, too. How will this
work at Hinkley or other sites where the Chinese are supposedly to be
Although the love affair between China and the U.K.
are said to be cooling, our Prime Minister is once again off to see
what she can do.
Some sources have expressed concern about the problems with regulation
of the nuclear industry once we have left the Euratom
At the Moorside site, literally across the road from Sellafield in
Cumbria, the proposal is for a company reported as having “debts
greater than its assets”; whose previous chairman had to
resign following an accounting scandal to the tune of £782
million; which cannot afford to finance, let alone insure, the
project, to build three reactors of questionable design safety on a 500
acre green-field site adjacent to and clearly visible from a National
Park, on land designated as being a buffer zone for the most dangerous
chemical plant in the world, which was contaminated by the 1957
Sellafield fire, and is utterly without basic infra-structure
The system proposed for Moorside has no secondary containment and will
need 2.5 billion gallons of Irish Sea water per day. The
area of the Irish Sea to be utilised for this is already heavily
contaminated with Sellafield's legacy discharges (deliberate and
accidental). The plan is to treat the water with biocides,
then return it to the environment after heating it to 14° above
intake temperature. The thermal equivalent of 6 Gigawatts
will be discharged into the sea (assuming an efficiency of
33%). The effects of this on the environment can only be
guessed at. NuGen do not know. Other proposed
plants elsewhere around the Irish Sea coast will exacerbate this.
U.K. government policy is that no new nuclear facility will be
permitted until such time as there is a clear method of treating the
waste and a site found for it. Neither requirement has been
met as yet.
We understand that the Euratom partnership was as much concerned with
assisting developers find funding as it was with regulation.
With regulators even considering this sort of development and a 2011
report by Dr. Weightman outlining, very clearly, the current and future
staffing difficulties (raising the spectre of the industry regulating
itself), will the loss of Euratom's regulation be of any import?
The Kinlen theory that population mixing causes the excess of leukemias
and other illnesses demonstrated in the local population, means that
the risks to west Cumbrians will increase dramatically as up to 15,000
in-comers* can be expected.
Presumably, if the radiation doesn't get us then the population mixing will.
Sadly, the regulators seem disinterested in the human side of their industry.
five years ago we obtained, under FOI rules, a copy of a report by Dr.
Mike Weightman, which assessed the vulnerability of the U.K.'s nuclear
establishments due to staff shortages and raised the spectre of the
industry assessing itself.
Fukushima, Dr Weightman’s recommendations required a review of a
wide range of nuclear safety matters, including international and
national emergency response arrangements, public contingency planning,
communications and the review of flooding studies, site & plant
layouts, electricity & cooling supplies, multi reactor site
considerations, spent fuel strategies and dealing with prolonged
accidents. The interim report did not identify any
implications for the strategic siting assessment of new reactors.
subsequent publication of the report by the Department for Energy and
Climate Change, adds the comment from the industry's salesmen, the
I.A.E.A., that the U.K. has "a mature, transparent and independent
regulatory system, an advanced review process, and highly trained and
experienced nuclear inspectors". It also suggested that
Fukushima's problems could not be repeated in the U.K. as we do not
suffer from tsunami.
were some obvious flaws in the basic premise that the scarcity of
natural phenomena meant the nuclear industry was safe. To
us, the main problem is a system failure occuring, regardless of the
cause. It matters not whether the failure is caused by a
very rare event or something unforseen. Any failure can
have disastrous consequences. Putting all (or at least a
large proportion of) the eggs in one basket, as is proposed by siting
the NuGen development within the safety zone of Sellafield, will merely
render those consequences more severe and difficult to deal with.
In an article on 27th
December, 2016, The Times reported that "Dozens of nuclear blunders"
had been ignored. 167 incidents were attributed to
Sellafield. It lists some of the blunders and points out
that the events should have been taken more seriously.
Weightman's report pointed out the staffing problems that were even
then developing, and were set to get worse very quickly. He
raised the spectre of the industry regulating itself. The
article suggested that this down-playing of the incidents' severity is
a result of the ONR's close ties to the industry, compromising the
latter's willingness to expose mistakes.
It has always been a concern of ours that Électricité
staff have been seconded to positions where they can influence
government policy, removing the impartiality that should exist within
government. The appointment of politicians, their relatives
and peers of the realm to various nuclear business boards further
endangers this impartiality. Only those with more than
adequate funds can approach the decision makers, it appears.
July we wrote to HM the Queen, as owner of the coastal sea bed, asking
her to consider the impact of the proposed developments around
Sellafield. A reply advised that it had been passed to the
DBEIS for them to reply fully. It took nearly five months
for that to happen. When we received the response we noted
that it was full of errors, misleading statements and a recommendation
that we engage with NuGen. Having submitted, without
response, many tens of pages of consultation documents, we found this
suggestion somewhat aggravating. Our response to the writer
from the Ministerial Correspondence Unit included a critique of the
statements made in that letter, and a copy of the consultation document
relating to NuGen's proposals illustrating our concerns.
Shortly after, a reply was received from the head of the Correspondence
Unit telling us politely to go away. She added that no
further consideration would be given to anything we wrote and that
there was nothing that could be done to change ministerial
policy. Strange thing this democracy, isn't it?
Legitimate concerns can be fobbed off and only those able to offer
inducements to individuals allowed to change policies which are
obviously flawed and unsafe.
professor mentioned in The Times article is quoted as saying that the
ONR seems to take an approach to INS classification (the scale of
seriousness of nuclear-related incidents) that suits its interests.
In March, 2017, the industry is set to have an even greater influence in its own regulation. How many Électricité
staff will be involved in this? Greenpeace say that their
legal challenge to nuclear development in papers lodged with the U.K.
government were passed to the Nuclear Industry Association.
Surely that is further evidence of an unhealthy relationship?
A Nuclear Cloud?
Times of 27/1/17 points out the low-key announcement that withdrawing
from the EU also entails withdrawing from the Euratom
organisation. Mainly a body concerned with promoting
nuclear expansion, its role also includes assisting developers to find
funding, and has a hand in nuclear regulation. The
withdrawal will have serious repercussions on the proposed expansion in
the U.K. It is seeming increasingly likely that the U.K.
taxpayer is going to have to pay for any development
themselves. Quite whether this can be considered sensible
or not is a moot point, but otherwise where does it leave Électricité
de France and Toshiba.
latter company has been reported as having liabilities greater than its
assets in various blogs, following shenanigans in America.
also have considerable debts (around €38 billion at the last
count) and is responsible for an aging and vulnerable array of nuclear
reactors around France, should the U.K. be involving either of the
companies in such a major undertaking? If a company has no
assets, how can it offer any kind of security or guarantee of its
workmanship? Safety and quality are often the first
casualties as corners are cut.
of these companies has a good record. In 2015, Toshiba had
to admit that it had been overstating its profits for years and had to
announce a loss of £4.7 billion. Recent events involving Électricité
France - another company with huge debts - have revealed falsification of safety records, which resulted in
a number of reactor vessels having to be examined for weaknesses.
Time to call it a day for nuclear expansion? We think so.
Switch Away From Using Électricité
As part of the Stop Hinkley campaign, the Green Party on the Mendip
council have commenced action to persuade people to switch from
de France and pick up £40 for doing so. See http://switchÉlectricité de Franceoff.org.uk/
one of the points we raised has been answered, nor has any attempt been
made to contradict anything we have said in our document.
may have been absent for a few weeks, but we haven't been idle.
We have spent all the time researching, typing, and proof-reading a
comprehensive document to rebut the assertions in NuGen's literature,
especially the bits that say residents are in favour of their
How can anyone even
contemplate building an intrinsically dangerous factory in the buffer
zone of Sellafield - itself denounced as being an unacceptable risk? It
is tantamount to building a match factory alongside an oil refinery.
Despite the obvious link between the "Moorside" and Sellafield
sites, NuGen insist that they don't do anything like what Sellafield
does - except us radioactive materials, lots of natural resources,
pollute the environment, turn beautiful natural countryside into huge
industrial estates, destroying wildlife and people's amenity, etc.
Not the same thing at all . . . Or is it?
A buffer zone is
required round Sellafield in order to provide basic safety to residents
and the environment in
the event of an "incident" occurring, perhaps as a result of something
happening as a result of the "unacceptable risk" as identified by the
Select Committee. The buffer zone was not intended to be a
planning opportunity. Should the NDA have accepted £70
million for the land instead of preserving it for its proper function?
The NDA are prohibited from promoting nuclear development, but
is this not what they have done? Where is the buffer zone now?
How have Copeland Council covered the damage to Beckermet and,
in particular, the setting of the 11th century listed building St.
The submission made in July, 2016, can be found here.
The Submission made in July, 2015, can be found here.
For those who can't be bothered to read so much, a two-page summary of some of the salient points can be found here.
(It is a copy of a letter sent to the Whitehaven News, and was published by them on 11/8/16)
very good analysis of the impact of borehole drilling around the
proposed NuGen site has been drawn to our attention. It can be
found on page 15 of this document:
Sadly, the authorities have no objection so far to this huge development in the "Safeguarding Zone" of Sellafield.
Steel a Cast Iron Case
According to a Times article today, the much-vaunted electricity supply for France under the auspices of our great friend, Électricité
de France, who are the world's greatest and most knowledgeable of
nuclear companies - leastways according to them and their hired
supporters, is under threat. Despite the U.K. being consistently
assured that nuclear generation is "tried and tested" and very safe,
with the highest possible safety standards, it now appears that those
standards may not have been applied during construction of some of
their designs. The detected faults at the Flamanville site have
now spread to other reactors of the same design. Put simply, the
composition of the steel for the reactor vessel has been compromised,
leading to the potential for patches of the vessel to become brittle
and crack. According to the Times article, "excessive carbon
concentration in the steel" has weakened it. Cracks of this
nature can appear very suddenly and, even more concerning, equally
rapidly give way, splitting the entire containment vessel and spilling
of the many problems of nuclear construction is, of course, the
limited availability for specialist metals, with few sources available,
something which we noted long ago when objecting to RWE's designs for
Braystones. If the flaws are present in so many French reactors,
how can anyone be assured that the same design at Hinkley will be free
from defect? Yet this is a design that is allegedly much safer
and incorporates more fail-safe features than the AP1000 reactors
proposed by NuGen for Moorside. It is widely accepted that any
breach of the containment vessel (which of course cannot possibly
happen!) will result in widespread dispersal of highly-radioactive
materials to the atmosphere. If you have any views on this
please send them to New.Reactor-Build@onr.gov.uk The consultation ends on 30/11/16, apparently.
thank Radiation Free Lakeland for the link to this consultation which
seems not to exist elsewhere. We could find nothing on the ONR's
website, which currently states:
Elsewhere on their site the ONR profess openness and favours public engagement.
Signs of The Times
All establishment eyes remain firmly on Électricité
de France's venture at Hinkley, thus averting them from the Moorside
site in Cumbria. That the cost of nuclear - financially and
to the environment - far exceed any benefits, still seems not to be
apparent to the decision makers. Why?
One of the most over-looked points concerns the disposal of nuclear
waste. No method has yet been devised and no facility
constructed, yet those in favour of nuclear expansion happily ignore
the points. We point out elsewhere that the Met. Office's
forecasts for three or more days are rarely accurate, yet pro-nuclear
propaganda would have us believe that forecasts for half a century and
beyond can be accurate, thus enabling them to predict with certainty
that the necessary method and facilities will be available to deal with
the more concentrated wastes that the proposed reactors will
produce. This ability will also allow the government to
predict the cost of disposal - allegedly.
Looking at the escalating costs of "cleaning up" Sellafield (in reality
just moving it somewhere else - usually burying it - or attempting to
dilute it, or giving up on it and just storing on-site), demonstrates the fallacy. Sadly, once a course
has been decided on, loss of face prevents a change of course,
regardless of the wisdom and science. Moreover, why would
any company, such as Sellafield, Électricité de France,
NuGen, or any of the multi-national construction companies, wish to
kill the goose that lays the golden egg?
In past articles we have also asked how many of the peers and
politicians involved in these schemes will benefit in some way from the
plans they are judging. From our admittedly jaundiced
viewpoint, most of those influential figures are keen to enhance their
own personal fortunes, rather than properly consider and balance
arguments. Of course, this is not confined to nuclear
The decision to go ahead with Heathrow's third runway has been at least
partially based on an independent enquiry chaired by Sir Howard
Davies. Having considered the evidence over three years
from 2012, he
finally advocated Heathrow as the only choice. In 2009, Sir
Howard became an advisor to the Investment Strategy Committee of GIC
Private Ltd., later he joined its International Advisory
Board. He resigned from those positions on his appointment
to the chair of the Airports Commission, as GIC Private is a part-owner
of Heathrow Airport. Investments are, of course, long-term
future commitments. On 27/10/16, The Times carried a front
page article about Heathrow expansion being over-valued by £86
billion, as "figures had been incorrect". One wonders how
anyone with financial expertise such as is properly required and no
less than we should expect for such judgements, could have over-looked
erroneous figures of this magnitude.
Private Eye, in issue 1429, illustrates how the level fields can be
tilted to achieve any desired outcome. In an article
entitled "Nuclear Clean-up" the composition of the ostensibly
independent body, Nuclear Liabilities Financing Assurance Board is
examined. As usual the big money advisors, in this case
KPMG, are apparent. The article points out that KPMG have a
vested interest in the outcome of any decision regarding Hinkley, as
Électricité de France are multi-million euro clients of
theirs. A lawyer from Allen and Overy - a company which has
just advised British Energy (also owned by Électricité de
France) on a £10 billion plant on Anglesey, together with a
director from Babcock Engineering, are also on the board.
Babcock was named preferred bidder to supply the pipework and support
structures at Hinkley, so they will patently be independent.
More on Babcock can be seen below: "Something Nasty Which Leaves
a Fishy Smell".
Times, despite several prompts, continues to ignore Cumbria's
plans. Its correspondent, Ben Webster, in an article on
14/10/16 entitled, "Solar panels work properly only on nine days a
year", managed to ignore the disadvantages of nuclear while also using
flawed reporting to attack solar power installations. He
went on to suggest that nuclear power stations could be accommodated on
a one acre site. If this were truly the case, why is NuGen
taking over 500 acres of greenfield site in Sellafield's buffer
zone? No mention is made in the article of the cost and
method of any waste disposal, nor the environmental or infra-structure
issues that pertain to nuclear development.
National Grid are offering yet another consultation on pylons and
associated infra-structure, having conceded that some of the cabling to
distribute power from the proposed Moorside development must go
underground. It's almost as if they are expecting a pat on
the head for being good. Rather that they answer the
question of why they are pressing ahead before any final commitment has
been made to go ahead with Moorside. As with the airports
and Hinkley, it seems that if infra-structure arguments can be overcome
by going ahead before decisions on the main event have become final,
those making the final decision will be swayed. After all,
nobody likes to lose face, least of all politicians. We still
find it somewhat amusing and simultaneously galling, to see BBC news
items featuring reporters interviewing local people around the Duddon
estuary who are upset about the proposed power-lines. Firstly,
they seem not to have twigged that one set of lines will not be
sufficient, and secondly, whilst objecting to a lesser feature of the
nuclear expansion plans, they do not see the elephant in the room.
Without the hideous Moorside development there would be no power
lines. Can they not object to both?
One wonders, too, about the effects of the electromagnetic fields which
surround such power lines. Their effect on health and the
environment is not mentioned anywhere in the literature we have seen.
We believe it should not be possible to build these lines close
to communities. It is known that high voltage power lines,
together with substations and ancillary equipment, can affect people
and the environment, in the same way that cell phone masts can.
Radiation-Free Lakeland are hoping to commission a report into the
design of the AP1000 reactors. If you would like to contribute
you can donate by going to: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/marianne-birkby If you prefer, you can just send her a message via her website: https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com
Radiation-Free Lakeland are also advocating that objectors to the
Moorside scheme write to the Chief Executive Officer of Engie, to
suggest she follows up on her own statement that the future of
electricity generation belongs with renewables. The address to
write to with your objections is: http://engie-globalenergy.com/contact
The statement was reported as under: "Lacking in Engie?"
The much vaunted, leastways by Électricité de France,
reliability of the French nuclear generators is somewhat undermined by
the fact that currently 19 of their reactors are off-line, while a
further 12 are to follow suit. 2016 figures show that Areva has debts of €5.8 billion, and Électricité de France €39 billion. Small wonder they want the business.
Lacking in Engie?
On 28/10/16, Engie Chief Executive Officer Isabelle Kocher told reporters that, "Nuclear is and will remain an important element of our strategy."
However, she went on to add that, "There
was less room now for nuclear power than there was 20 years ago as
other technologies had emerged and were increasingly competitive." Acknowledging the recent rapid improvements in storage technology, she said that, "In
some cases it is better to install renewables with batteries, but that
in some countries nuclear will probably remain necessary in the energy
has a 40 percent stake in the Toshiba-led NuGen consortium to build the
three Westinghouse AP 1000 nuclear reactors at the Moorside site.
Intriguingly, Kocher said Engie was far from taking investment decisions on its British and Turkish projects.
Presumably, if enough objections were raised then it may be
possible to dissuade the company from going ahead. Decisions
in 2018 for the proposed Moorside development, but "Could be
sooner if it becomes clear that the regulatory context and market
environment are not favourable," she said. The final, somewhat
negative-looking, statement is somewhat heartening for those who oppose
"Even without the link to nuclear proliferation, nuclear power carries
dangers of a magnitude that we ought not to accept. There is
something profoundly stupid about continuing to multiply a series of
engineering marvels that contain fifteen billion curies of radiation.
We do not know enough about radiation and cannot be sure enough
of our technical prowess to allow this system to dominate our energy
supply. Moreover, the instinctive fear of radioactivity is not
irrational, as the nuclear advocates assert; it is also so
universal and so enduring that it is a political fact of life."
from "The Nuclear Barons" by Peter Pringle and James Spigelman
BBC screened a very interesting programme about safety at Sellafield on
Monday, 5/9/16. The Panorama programme investigated the site
and, it has to be said, came out with some very troubling information.
Needless to say, Sellafield's supporters could see nothing
wrong. More worrying is that John Clark, Chief Executive of the
NDA, seemed to dispute the evidence presented, not just by the
programme but in official government reports. The Health and
Safety manager was particularly lack-lustre, and could only counter the
evidence with repeated statements that the matters raised are being
attended to. He seemed to be unable to see that his job was not
just to deal with dangerous situations after
they had arisen, but to prevent them happening in the first place.
A good example of this being the storage, in plastic bottles, of
uranium and plutonium, which had been placed in a fume cupboard.
It seems they are now degrading and pose quite a danger. How
could so many bottles of such dangerous material have been stored like
this in the first place, and was it not the job of managers -
especially health and safety managers - to put a stop to the practise?
The overwhelming number of alarms was almost amusing. How long
before an alarm is merely reset when it is indicating a real and serious
danger? How many times can any alarm just be reset before more
intelligent action is taken? Wasn't there something similar in
the Three Mile Island event? (Of course, that couldn't happen in
Sellafield - until it does.)
An article in The Ecologist reports that the Chief Security Officer for the site has sent a memo round,
reminding people of the requirement for secrecy and complains that the
release to the press of photographs of the various areas of concern did
not comply with the official process for communicating with the press.
It almost seems as if worries about outside people being made
aware of the parlous state of the plant is of more concern than is the
dangerous state of the plant. It fits with the political
attitude in Cumbria: don't less the press or the anti-nuclear
people know anything detrimental about nuclear. Yes, it may be
cracking up and in danger of leaking, or catching fire; it may
create a radioactive plume which will cause mayhem across the north of
England and Western Europe, but do not tell anyone. Have they
never heard the phrase "prevention is better than cure"? Who
allowed these problems to even start, never mind develop to their
current level? Why are those people still around to deny things
are dangerous, and promising - yet again - that all is well and these
minor irritations are being dealt with? Just as importantly:
How can anyone be allowed to build nuclear reactors immediately alongside this plant?
Mushrooms and Ministers
are apolitical - our experiences and observations of politicians and
their "advisors" leave us particularly annoyed and amazed at the extent
to which self-interest and corruption can be tolerated in the allegedly
democratic system. Cameron arrived in office as Prime Minister
promising to deal with the massive influx of special advisors, pointing
out that they would be the next big scandal. Sadly, he did
nothing. The special advisors continue to peddle propaganda for
big industry and vested interests, most usually to the detriment of
truth and justice. Private Eye 1426 (2/9/16) contains six pages
of information about how Ministers, MPs and Civil Servants have taken
employment with companies with whom they have been dealing,
including making decisions on contracts, in the course of their
manner in which DECC and its ministers pushed for nuclear development
gave rise to considerable concern for us. When we started this
site the DECC minister was Chris. Huhne. We know now about his
honesty. Next up, (now Sir) Ed Davey, who left government to
work for a lobbying company, MHP Communications, who are the lobbying
firm for Électricité de France - a company who already has employees
seconded to the department! According to Private Eye, Davey was
responsible for "pushing a £20 billion (and rising) nuclear
contract whilst in office." There is, of course (!), no
suggestion of improper conduct, but neither is there any transparency.
a strange coincidence, linking to several other contemporary
stories, together with the Panorama programme we report elsewhere, Reuters report
that 'former Japanese Premier
Junichiro Koizumi has said that current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe told a “lie” by downplaying the damage wrought by the
Fukushima nuclear accident, and claiming that the radioactivity
contaminating the site was “under control.”'
An additional report in The Times, 8/9/16, add that Mr. Koizumi
acknowledged that, as prime minister from 2001 to 2006, he supported
Japan's nuclear power programme but he said he now opposed it.
"I believed what the experts told me, that nuclear energy was safe", he
The prime minister at the time of the disaster, Naoto Khan, attended
meetings in Anglesey last year to support those who were opposing the
Wylfa proposals. The company proposing to build were dismissive
of the opposition, saying that there was no chance of a tsunami
occuring on Anglesey - as if that were the sole cause of nuclear
Fukushima has long-since passed out of U.K. news, even though it is
still continuing to pose serious problems for Japanese residents and the environment.
The abilities of the various nuclear factions to suppress
unwelcome news continues to amaze.
Of course, keeping things secret is one of the keys to nuclear
expansion and the habit started early, continuing to this day.
Many years ago, for example, Tony Benn, M.P., spoke in the House:
From Hansard: 5 Apr 2000 : Column 1000
longer I served in Government – I was a Minister for 11 years
– the more I found that it was easy for people to confuse the
public interest with the convenience of Ministers. That is easy
to do; if it embarrasses Ministers, it cannot be in the public
interest – but in fact, it is not in the interest of Ministers.
real reason why I want to contribute to the debate is because of the
nuclear industry, for which I had responsibility for many years.
Recent events at Sellafield confirm what I learned by experience; even
as a Minister – let alone a Member of Parliament – I was
never told the truth by the nuclear industry. For example, I
found out about the fire at Windscale – now called Sellafield
– only when I visited Tokyo. My officials had never told
me about it. When I asked them why they had not done so, they
said, “It was before you were a Minister”.
the Americans discovered that there had been an explosion at Khysthm,
the major Soviet reprocessing plant, I was never told. I asked
the chairman of the Atomic Energy Authority, “Why didn’t
you tell me?” He replied, “We were told by the
Central Intelligence Agency not to tell British Ministers, because it
could create concern about the safety of nuclear power”.
was not until I left office that I discovered that, while I had been
making honest speeches about atoms for peace, all the plutonium from
our civil nuclear power stations was going to America to make the bomb.
The atoms for peace power stations were bomb factories for the
Pentagon. I felt affronted by that. Had people known the
facts at the time, the development of the debate on nuclear power and
the nuclear industry would have been much better informed. We
should not have had the problem at Sellafield, because the matter would
probably have been dealt with earlier."
From Hansard: Early Day Motion, 413
this House is deeply concerned by the hazards at Sellafield exposed by
the BBC's Panorama documentary, Sellafield's Nuclear Safety Failings;
notes that these failings include the storage of radioactive waste in
degrading plastic bottles and 97 incidents of staff shortages; further
notes with concern the potentially catastrophic damage that could be
caused by any leakage of nuclear waste; pays tribute to the work done
by the BBC and the whistleblowers at Sellafield; urges the Government
to establish an inquiry into improving security at Sellafield; further
urges the acceleration of the nuclear decommissioning program for
nuclear waste; and calls on the Government to avoid worsening the
situation with new nuclear developments at Moorside and Hinkley Point C.
The concerns expressed on the Panorama programme were obviously
notified to the Sellafield management in advance, so the usual
pro-nuclear support leap forward to its defence. (See the Facts page to see what was said by the various M.P.s)
The Minister for Climate Change and Industry (successor to DECC)
N. Hurd, M.P., issued a string of placating rhetoric, including the
best known, "everything at Sellafield is safe" - no doubt no animals
were hurt at any time, and there was no release of radioactive
materials, no danger to the public, etc. However, in one of the
most amusing paragraphs, he states that he has asked the regulators
whether Sellafield is safe. What does he expect them to say?
Can they possibly say no, but perhaps it is a little bit dangerous round the
edges, thereby acknowledging their failures? What of the reports
from Select Committees that were dismissed by the chief executive of
the NDA, Clark, who is obviously in a better position to see how safe
What is more concerning, however, is that Early Day Motion 413
only attracted seven signatures. Is this the result of apathy,
ignorance or idleness? Or do they not watch Panorama?
. . . and those photographs and videos, internal records, government
reports, etc.? Were they all faked? Were the American
company that was dismissed in April, merely spouting sour grapes?
Surely not! Despite the rebuttal of the programme's
logical findings, there was no rebuttal of individual components of the
evidence. Do we see yet more mushroom fodder for the
Elsewhere on this
site we question NuGen staff's assertion that there are identical
AP1000 reactors "safely and reliably up and running". It seems
that in Vogtle, Georgia, U.S.A. - a project which has so far taken
30 years and is still not complete - the costs are already above those
for Hinkley, standing at $900 million over the $14 billion budgeted for
the 2.2 GW development. It is also running 14 months late.
Pretty much on a par with all the other safe, reliable, reactors
from other manufacturers then?
Most things are continuing without too much ado. The Whitehaven
News continues its mainly pro-nuclear articles and "news" stories
provided by Sellafield, its supporters and the local and natrional
politicians. We find it very strange that Sellafield is still
credited with helping to support local causes and helping to build
educational facilities, provide equipment, etc. Yet Sellafield
does not earn a profit. On the contrary, it costs U.K. taxpayers
over £1,500,000,000 every year - increasing annually, of course
to enable the private companies involved to make hefty profits.
So, why does the press, particularly the Whitehaven News, which should
know better, persist in publishing these stories of Sellafield as a
Elsewhere, the stories are of over 6 million visitors coming to the
Lake District. How many of them visited the coastal areas?
How much money could that tourism have contributed to the local
economy of Copeland and its associates?
The BBC managed to get stirred up enough to present a short article in
their North West Tonight programme about the objections of Millom
residents to having the pylons associated with "Moorside" striding
across their patch of land. It seems unlikely that they have yet
realised that one string of the pylons will be adequate to convey the
amount of power produced and include redundancy for faults. So a
miminum of two strings will be required, spaced a few miles apart.
Millom's answer is to bury the cables - without appearing to
consider the concept of not building "Moorside" at all.
Panorama, on Monday, 5th September, is to present an article
on the dangers of Sellafield's legacy wastes and the risks associated
therewith. Again, they seem to be missing the trick. How
can it possibly be safe to build three more highly risky reactors
literally just across the road from such a site as Sellafield.
As we said in our recent letter to the Whitehaven News - which they
published in full - the local councillors may be able to change the
Local Plans, but they can't make the situation safe or sensible by
doing so. Hopefully this view of the situation in Sellafield
will avoid the sanitised verson presented by Professor Jim al Khalili
the last time round.
Our letter to the Queen back at the beginning of July at last elicited
a response. We wrote suggesting that, as Her Majesty owned the
seabed around the U.K. coast, she could put a stop to the idea of power
companies digging ut up, tunneling under it, or bulding structures
thereon. As expected, the response says that Her Majesty cannot
get involved in state matters. Our letter was, however,
forwarded to various departments. Perhaps we should have sent
her the full response to the consultation document - maybe if it came
via H.M. Queen they would have bothered to read it? The copy we
sent to what used to be D.E.C.C. and is now D.B.E.I.S. merely elicited
the response that we were correct about NuGen's proposals to build in
Cumbria. However, as NuGen is a private consortium with private
financial means, it was nothing to do with D.B.E.I.S. Strange
when you think of the guarantees, etc., that are involved. We
believe that it is a lot to do with D.B.E.I.S.
The Times today has a very interesting article by Matt Ridley on the
truth behind climate change. He debunks a lot of the myths that
have annoyed us for so long, and points out that the earth has indeed
been much warmer than it presently is, and that the anomaly of a short
Ice Age - caused by volcanic debris blocking sunlight from the earth -
is the reason behind the apparent rapid increase. The atmosphere
is merely reverting to its long-term trend.
Ref.: Comment: "Ice Scares Aren't All They're Cracked Up To Be", Matt Ridley, The Times, 1/9/16.
Back to the D.B.E.I.S. news. They are currently considering
whether to appeal against the findings of the court over the awarding
of the contract to move radioactive material around the country, under
the guise of a "clean-up". See our article of 31/7/16,
"Something Nasty Which Leaves a Fishy Smell", below.
The political climate in France has deteriorated, with the result that
they are now hoping that Hinkley C is turned down in order that they
can have a real up-to-date reason for hating the British. On the
other side of the world the Chinese are still upsetting our other
hopeful nuclear provider, the Japanese, with their stance over the
South China Sea and some small islands that are now a bit bigger than
they used to be as a result of Chinese construction projects.
Presumably the true motive is the discovery of rare minerals under the
sea bed. However, Japan now wishes to dramatically increase its
budget for its armed forces, to supply them with modern equipment.
Would it be amusing to have both these companies building in the
U.K. at the same time, with the French as referee? Perhaps not.
We've mentioned earlier about the involvement of local and national
politicians. Their allegiance to the nuclear cause has paid
dividends in the past with various awards. The father of the
movement, Nuclear Jack Cunningham - Lord of the Realm - was recently
awarded a Japanese honour: The Rising Sun Gold and Silver Star.
Known for his love of all things nuclear, Lord Cunningham was
certainly influential in developing the dependency of west Cumbria on
nuclear development and this, at least, will have assisted Toshiba to
get its plans for "Moorside" on the table.
Chinese Taken Away
International politics are very strange and
difficult. You think you understand something, then all of a
sudden you don't know anything. Hinkley Point C has been on the
cards for years, each time it is almost due for an official start and
the copious and ostentatious signings of contracts is scheduled, along
comes another hiccup.
The nuclear industry works on the premise of not giving people time to
think about all the ramifications of a project. They have people
in high office (and local policitians, too), who are very willing to
support anything that expands or promotes nuclear development, no
matter what the cost to the community forced into hosting it.
(How many nuclear power stations are there in the Cotswolds?)
So Électricité de France, accompanied by China General Nuclear Power
tried to "bounce" the new Prime Minister into signing up for the
Hinkley project, despite widespread informed opinion that the whole
deal was impossibly expensive, too risky, and relied too much on
foreign powers. China General Nuclear Power is one of China's
state-owned company, under the direct control of the State Council,
comprised of members of the Communist Party of China.
For years now, a host of nations, including Russia, North Korea and
China have been accused of hacking into sensitive networks belonging to
Western powers. Not just individuals are being hacked, but all
the major companies and departments of state. The aim is to spy
on technical and commercial operations so that the hackers have a
The Five Eyes alliance is a secretive, global surveillance arrangement
of States comprised of the United States National Security Agency, the
United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters,
Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Canada, the
Australian Signals Directorate, and New Zealand’s Government
Communications Security Bureau. The idea being that all those
countries share a bit of their intelligence for the greater good.
Australia has banned Chinese companies from being involved in sensitive
operations. It may well be for good reason: a Chinese man
who once worked for Westinghouse but is now a naturalised American, has
been charged with leading a conspiracy to steal American power
companies' secrets in order to speed up the development and production
of China's reactor technology. Because there is no proper
legislation available to support the accusation, the senior advisor to
China General Nuclear Power has been charged under legislation designed
to curtail proliferation of nuclear weapons. The timing is very
interesting, as the U.K. government will not be making the decision on
Hinkley until after the American courts have decided the case.
Meanwhile, in Japan, where 87% of the people are opposed to nuclear
development and the restarting of the reactors stopped following
Fukushima's disaster, there are moves to permit the government to
expand their military arsenal. Perhaps the fears over China's
claim to islands in the South China Sea are the real reason, but could
they have other things on their minds?
Amusingly, immediately after the decision not to decide was made, China
threatened to withdraw from other major projects if Hinkley (and
subsequently their own Bradwell development) did not go ahead.
Isn't that the type of behaviour that people in the U.K. are afraid of?
Something Nasty Which Leaves a Fishy Smell
We have long suggested that the actions of the nuclear industry are
ripe for the attention of investigative journalism. That
misleading statements are made, government and local positions
infiltrated by pro-nuclear activists or even nuclear company staff,
merely adds to our discomfort. Having seen what goes on in
Cumbria, it was of little surprise to learn that Électricité de France
staff had done the rounds in the Hinkley area to offer to place local
businesses on the approved list of suppliers and contractors.
Our view is that this is almost blackmail. The key question is
whether any company refusing to consider Électricité de France's
offer still make it onto the approved list? If the answer is
yes, then what is the point of the exercise? Or is the idea, as
we believe, to make suggestions that a business stands to gain - but
only if they support the Hinkley build?
That the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial
Strategy, Greg Clark, certainly caused a lot of fuss over the decision
to not decide about Hinkley until later in the year. It seems
that a government adviser has thoughts about nuclear and security (has
he been reading our site?) that don't fit with the requisite
pro-nuclear view. We are currently placing bets on their
longevity in the respective roles. Nasty news tends to attach
itself to those who don't agree with the nuclear industry.
People don't refer to the Sellafield mafia affectionately.
Radiation Free Lakeland has drawn our attention to the circumvention of
the rules in respect of nuclear waste dumping. Some controlled
releases into the environment will be permitted, as it apparently will
not affect other countries.
For us, though, the clincher was the High Court ruling that the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority had cooked the books in relation to a
£7 billion contract to decommission a variety of nuclear sites.
The contract was awarded to a consortium of Babcock and Fluor,
known as the Cavendish Fluor Partnership, back in 2014. Babcock
Nuclear's website states, "We are strategic partners to Électricité de France Energy".
(Anyone recognise a pattern here?) The losing
company, Energy Solutions - which may be something of a misnomer, as
there is no solution to the problem of nuclear waste - sued the NDA, as
it considered that its tender was far better economically than the one
that Fluor had submitted. It seems they were right.
The judge, Mr. Justice Fraser, decided that the authority had "manipulated" the assessment and awarding of the contract. He went on, "It
sought to avoid the consequence of disqualification by fudging the
evaluation - to avoid reaching a situation where Cavendish Fluor would
be given a fail." He added that Cavendish Fluor should
have been disqualified, as Energy Solutions' was the most economically
advantageous tender, with a score 6% better than that of Cavendish
Fluor. To avoid any misunderstanding, the judge said, "By
the word 'fudging', I mean choosing and outcome and manipulating the
evaluation to reach that outcome. This was by choosing a score
high enough to avoid that undesirable outcome, rather than arriving at
a score by properly considering the content of the tender against the
scoring criteria." He also said, "There were manifest errors by the NDA in the evaluation of the tender".
The NDA are surely no strangers to evaluating contracts?
How could they make "mistakes" like this? It might almost seem
as if there is some mysterious and nefarious force at work.
However, Energy Solutions has launched a bid to reclaim the costs of
its bid and lost profits, so only the U.K. taxpayer will suffer the
loss. The claim is believed to be between £120 million and
£200 million. If it is successful, will there be a public
enquiry into the matter, or even - Heaven forefend! - a criminal
investigation. Will heads roll? Unlikely. Anyone
have a large tarpaulin to help the cover up?
kindly effort to alleviate embarrassment to the NDA, the judge offered
that, "They may have been suffering from over-work". Given what
see going on around, we think he may be being just a little too kind.
By a huge coincidence, the Chief Executive, John Clarke, has
announced his retirement from the NDA. What will he do next, we
Now the contract has been awarded, Cavendish Fluor have put up the
price by £1.6 billion. Nice work, but what is the point of
tendering for a contract if the bid price can be varied at will
immediately afterwards. Kindly note the euphemism, too, when
they refer to nuclear "clean up". Obviously there is no such
thing. All that happens is that the radioactive materials are
moved around, but the only thing that cleans up radioactivity is time.
Ref. http://www.the times.co.uk/imageserver/image/methode-times_prod_web_2
The National Audit Office's Verdict
It appears that whatever else happens to Hinkley, Électricité de France will
not be out of pocket. Should the British government decide to
come to its senses and put an end to the whole fiasco, it will still
cost the taxpayer £2.5 billion. Well done the experts at
DECC. In the event that it should go ahead, then we will be
committed to paying the French £30 billion in subsidies over 35
years. Of course, if at any time anything goes wrong . . .
Is it possible to force a foreign country to honour its
obligations and contracts? According to The Sunday Times, the
National Audit Office has done some sums and is due to report that :
Hinkley is "the world's largest and least appropriate private finance initiative deal."
Goodness only knows that successive governments have instigated some
scandalously poor private finance initiatives or PFIs as they are
known. The strange thing is that this agreement with Électricité de France
has been around for years and no-one has shown it for what it is.
Why would that be? Aren't DECC's civil servants supposed
to be smarter than this? Given the verdict in the above article
about the awarding of a contract to an less-worthy winner, is there not
something we should know? Who is too friendly with whom?
Who has shares in what? What rewards and awards are/were in the
offing on completion of the Électricité de France deal? Certainly a lot of Cumbrian people should be in line for awards for services to the nuclear industry.
Sadly their legacy will endure for centuries after they are gone.
Which prompts the thought: if the deal does fall through
and nuclear is properly judged for what it is, then will the likes of
Électricité de France, NuGen and Horizon be required to
reinstate the land they have damaged? Obliged to restore it to
its original state? It is a lovely idea - but will it happen?
Should it not happen?
Clean Up or Just Shove It Out of Sight? Burying Bad News
While other sources are concentrating on the cost of the mess that is
Hinkley, the cost of cleaning up nuclear sites is being overlooked.
The amount of the clean up is somewhere aroung £117
billion at the moment, but that is possibly just another fudged figure.
Again, we note the euphemism "clean up". What it means is
burying as much as they can get away with, then shipping the rest
elsewhere for longer term burial or storage. There is no true
clean-up at all. The means does not exist.
Happily, Braystones Beach afficinados can rest secure in the knowledge that the Environment Agency believes:
“The conclusion, based on the currently available information, is that the overall health risks to beach users are
very low and significantly lower than other risks that people accept when using the beaches.”
nothing to worry about, except that the above statement does not say
that there are no risks from radioactive particles and other effluents
pertaining to using the beach. Why, then, are there no signs
warning the unwary of a potential danger? Around the coasts of
the U.K. there are signs advising on local conditions, such as strong
currents, rip tides, pollution, etc. Why is there nothing from
Seascale up to St. Bees and beyond? The authorities are aware
that particles are being found - it is they who are finding them, after
all. Is Dunster's experiment still continuing?
A cynic might believe that if the particles are out there, pose a
potential health and safety risk, however small, then something,
somewhere ought to be being done about it. Instead, akin to
poking a hornets' nest, NuGen are drilling holes in the area so it
resembles something akin to Swiss cheese. Amazingly, it would
appear that they have not found any radioactive materials. They
stated at the outset that if any were found then they would cease
operations. Operations have not been halted.
Looking at the Energy Solutions website, we can see that they have a
site at Clive, in Utah, U.S.A., where they store all the depleted
uranium from obsolete weapons. The specification for the site is
The Clive site lies on top of one of the most stable geological basins
in the United States. Layers of naturally occurring impermeable
clay, which are necessary to safely enclose the waste, are in natural
abundance. The area surrounding the Clive Facility is also
exceptionally arid with low precipitation and high evaporation.
The groundwater that does exist is twice as salty as ocean water,
and therefore cannot be used as a source of drinking water or
So, not a bit like Cumbria then? The average rainfall is 3
metres per year in Cumbria, in Utah they have 470 mm. See if you
can spot the other differences.
We wrote to the Office for Nuclear Development to report our concerns
about the proposed intensification of rail use apropos
the transport of nuclear materials - it being their
responsibility. Despite what the law appears to say, we were
wrong, apparently. It is the Office of Road and Rail. The
ONR are only responsible for the flasks containing the nuclear
material. What they actually said was:
the regulations relating to the movement of radioactive materials in
the UK - ONR is the Great Britain (GB) Competent Authority (CA) and
Enforcing Authority for the civil carriage of UN Class 7 (radioactive
material) goods. The civil transport of radioactive material in GB is
regulated under Part 3 of The Energy Act 2013 and The Carriage of
Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure equipment Regulations
duty holders (consignors, carriers, consignees) have legal obligations
under the UNECE modal regs (ADR, RID and ADN) which are implemented in
GB through CDG
is the regulator and competent authority for the Flasks (Spent fuel
packages) you refer to in your letter. These are assessed against
International Requirements set by UNECE modal regs and we review
the operation and design of these packages on a periodic bases to
ensure they still meet these standards.
is not the regulatory for Network Rail, this is the responsibility of
the Office of Rail and Road and you will need to direct your concerns
about the condition of the track and infrastructure to them.
Previous experience with the ORR or Network Rail does not fill us with
deep respect or faith in their desire, or ability, to do the right
thing. We may give it a try shortly. Whatever else, the
changes that NuGen are proposing will not improve safety along the
line, nor will it improve the amenity for those who live close to it.
However, the final paragraphs say:
Safety Assessment Principles include the principle that “The
safety case should take account of any hazardous installations on or
off the site that might be affected by an incident at the nuclear
facility” (SAP ST.5). This means that NuGen need to
consider the potential impact of incidents at Moorside on safety at
Sellafield throughout the development of the Moorside safety case and
that Sellafield need to consider the potential impact of incidents at
Sellafield on safety at Moorside during routine reviews of the safety
case and the periodic reviews of safety that are required to be
undertaken under Site Licence Condition 15.
We make this observation in our Stage 2
consultation response. It is sheer nonsense to even contemplate
building the proposed "Moorside" site in the buffer zone designed to
protect Sellafield's scandalously vulnerable site.
In addition, both site operators are required to identify hazards from,
evaluate risks of, and mitigate against, radiation accidents
(under the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness & Public Information)
Regulations) – and to review their assessments at least every
three years and following any material change that may impact on their
existing assessment. Therefore, any external hazard that
operations on one site present to the other shall be taken into account
so that each operator shall take all reasonably practicable steps to
prevent any identifiable radiation accident and limit the consequences
of any such accident which should occur.
31/7/16 updated 13/8/16
DECC Moves in Mysterious Ways
We sent in a Freedom of Information request to DECC (as it waa back
then) on the 16th June, 2016. The subject was not directly
connected with NuGen's project, but closely related to it.
Automatic response was received, assuring us that our request would be
dealt with within 15 days, and thanking us for writing to them.
On the 22nd of July, having recieved nothing from DECC, we tried a
reminder. Another automated response, but then nothing.
We have now learned that the reason we received no answer was that the
window was too wide. We have now re-submitted the request with
(for now) a narrower focus. Answers by the 8th September, all
Why Stop Moorside?
A quick summary of the points on which we have based our objections. Most are expanded on in other articles.
1. Flawed design which has no secondary containment
Potential for corrosion in reactor vessel - exacerbated by the
dampness and salty atmosphere from its position on the coast.
ii. Would not withstand a terrorist attack, even with a concrete outer shell.
iii. Untried and untested
design - despite what the NuGen staff told the public at the Braystones
consultation meeting, there are no AP 1000 reactors "up and running".
iv. Reactor widely condemned as unsafe; allegations that the design has cut corners to reduce costs.
2. Environmental impact
The only way
to dissipate the output of the thermal equivalent of 6 GigaWatts
(6,000,000,000 Watts - the equivalent of 2,000,000 three-bar electric
fires) is via direct discharge to the
atmosphere/environment. In essence, a tremendous amount of
heat needs to be got rid of, either by heating the air considerably, or
by warming the Irish Sea considerably; neither are likely to have
a beneficial effect. See the article on the FACTs page, entitled, "Further Thoughts on Cooling Towers", for more details.
NuGen have confirmed they do not know what
impact discharging that amount of heat into the Irish Sea would
have. Attendees at consultations have regularly been given
misleading, incomplete, conflicting or incorrect
information. e.g. The disparate statements from
two members of staff over the heating impact of the discharges were
confusing. Would it be 1 - 2° or 10 - 13°?
3. No published financial data
going to gain from the Électricité de France (Électricité de France)
negotiations, which have been widely recognised as an extremely
expensive and long-term commitment?
Would they gain the same £92.50 per kW/h? This is 2½ times the current price of electricity.
The deal with Électricité de
France guaranteed this level of income, index linked, for 50
years. Have NuGen been promised the same?
What subsidies and guarantees have the U.K. government made to NuGen and are the EU authorities aware of them?
Where is the money coming from for the new-build and all the additional resources - NuGen or the British taxpayer?
Toshiba recently had to admit to overstating
their profits by $1,220,000,000 - a fact known about by top management
who were subsequently obliged to resign in disgrace. Are
they deserving of our trust to build and supply our power?
4. Lack of Planning
site is immediately alongside "the most dangerous chemical works in
Europe". An event at either could have devastating and
How would the alarm systems be made distinctive & recognisable?
Any changes to the topography and ground-water
flow may have an adverse effect on the SSSIs that are based on singular
It is not possible to foresee all consequences and mitigate against them.
NuGen propose mitigation for animals, but none is mentioned for residents.
5. The proposed sites are contaminated by radioactive material
contamination at the adjacent Sellafield/Calder Hall/Windscale site
amounts to 13,000,000 cubic metres of soil. The
contamination is not likely to have been restricted to just those
sites, but would also have affected the Moorside site, with the
potential for affecting construction workers and local communities.
At least one aquifer near Sellafield is known
to be radioactively contaminated. Digging large holes in
its vicinity may change ground-water flow.
The two harbours proposed, together with the
cooling water pipelines, are in the area where the highest number of
finds of radioactive materials occurs. The disturbance of
these sediments, sands and soils would inevitably pose a risk of more
radiation-related illnesses amongst residents and workers.
Furthermore, the area is a designated marine conservation
zone. The immediate area affected is the only remaining
section of undeveloped beach and is admired by visitors and
holiday-makers from all over the country.
Details of the larger of the two harbours are
not made known clearly.
Enquiries produced the statement
that only the smaller one would be permanent - but the larger one may
in fact, also become permanent, according to yet another of
6. Unnecessary development of amenities
“improvements” to the area are unnecessary and only of
benefit to NuGen and its potential employees. Existing
resources are mainly adequate for the current usage by locals and
The development would kill off the tourist
industry, in the same way that visitors are already deterred by
The current landscape is natural and cannot be "improved" by anything that NuGen designs.
The development would be a significant
encroachment on the seascape and an ugly intrusion, visible for long
distances, thus producing an even greater loss of visual amenity from
land and sea.
7. Outmoded concept
large-reactor template is now to be superseded by smaller reactors
which can be located nearer point of need, thus reducing transmission
line losses and costs, major and expensive changes to the National
Grid, while also providing more flexibility in the National Grid.
8. The consultation process is flawed
Braystones beach residents (and others) failed to receive NuGen communications in a timely fashion.
The data from the current borehole survey would not be available until the consultation process has closed.
That the consultation has failed is evidenced by the small number of respondents: 0.5% of Copeland’s population.
traffic - goods and personnel - would be using roads totally unsuitable
for the traffic which would be generated and there are no means of
by-passing any accident or incident which blocks the road.
The current road situation cannot handle even
a single exodus of staff during shift changes, so, should there be an
"incident" – at either one or both sites, or if shift changes at
Sellafield and Moorside coincide, it will be impossible for emergency
vehicles to get through and departing staff and the public to escape
A detour could require a 90 mile trip.
In the event of, say, heavy lifting equipment
being required, or additional emergency services, it would take too
long for them to get to the site.
Braystones residents have long complained
about the state of the level crossing and railway infra-structure to no
avail. They have pointed out that the line still relies on
an infra-structure designed by Stephenson over 160 years ago. It
is single-tracked and remotely controlled. No attempt is
made to address the danger. None of the proposed railway
spurs around the main site are included in the make-believe pictures
provided by NuGen.
At Braystones, there have been 93
incidents between 5/1/10 and 3/4/15 (Network Rail data). Is
such a line suitable for nuclear transport?
Other incidents include
derailments, bridge collapse under a chemical train which resulted in
the destruction of two bungalows, and several landslips.
There are still a number of complaints about the state of the railway
line outstanding and unresolved. The proposed changes would
not improve that section of line.
Increased rail traffic will cause problems for those living alongside
the line: nuisance from greater and more frequent noise and
vibration, more frequent and longer waits to cross the line.
Will trains run during anti-social hours?
10. Ultimate Waste Disposal
There is no statement about the amount of waste that would be produced, nor its ultimate disposal.
It is likely that all high level waste would
need to be stored on the site for at least 50 years. This
means that there would be an even greater spread of highly toxic
materials with all that would attract a terrorist attack.
The sole means of disposal of highly
radioactive waste is a GDF (Geological disposal facility - or
Where is this dump? None has been
built, its location remains undecided, and its long-term ability to
contain the high levels of radioactive materials is almost impossible
to predict. Even if one were built, the necessary treatment
of such waste needed to enable its dumping, is proving impossible to
achieve and of insufficient longevity.
Statements about half-lives
mislead. No human-built structure has ever lasted the many
tens of thousands of years over which some of the materials would
remain dangerous and need to be kept safe. For some of the
products, the passage of one half-life is insufficient to render them
safe, and some would need the expiration of several half-lives before
they can be handled. Ultimately, the
underground dump would leak. Is this a satisfactory
solution – just leave it to other generations?
NuGen's documentation (Consultation Document,
Stage 2, May, 2016, P. 47, Para 5) envisages encapsulation in buildings
which haven't yet been built and whose process is not adequate to make
the waste safe for the entire time that some of it would remain
Encapsulation does not endure
indefinitely. Eventually, the capsules break down and the
radioactive materials enter the environment. The higher the
radioactivity contained in a capsule the shorter the lifespan of the
How would the waste be removed and transported to the envisaged encapsulation process and, ultimately, the underground dump?
When the inevitable leak occurs, deep
underground and in a highly radioactive environment, how would it be
resolved and who would clean it up? By the time it was detected it would be too late anyway.
11. Intrusive Nature of the National Grid Connection
necessitates the construction of two chains of highly intrusive pylons
several miles long in an area only just outside the Lake District
National Park, and they, the Moorside site and the Sellafield complex
would all combine to produce the effect of a highly-industrialised area
in a totally inappropriate setting, and clearly detrimental to the Lake
District National Park which is only a short distance away.
The attractions of natural long-distance landscapes and seascapes will be adversely affected. Permanently.
12. Distortion of Political and Social Scene
have been published that the nuclear industry has been having an
excessive influence on the area - from commercial, educational, social,
and political standpoints.
When the need for construction workers abates,
the area would become further depressed and unemployment would further
exceed the national norm.
Housing stock proposed to be built would become redundant as workers move away, thus depressing house-prices.
More nuclear development means ever-greater dependency on it for the economy, to the detriment of other livelihoods.
13. Overuse of natural resources
The site would
demand copious quantities of water which would be drawn from a variety
of sources. Most of these contribute to the natural beauty
of the Lake District landscape. Water supply is already fully utilised.
14. Impinges on basic human rights
accept that their plans would have a devastating effect on residents
during the construction and commissioning phases of the project and,
effectively, for ever. Just the announcement of the plans
has blighted property prices and caused hardship, as well as feelings
of stress, insecurity and instability. It also seems likely that NuGen's plans would impinge on the human
rights of residents, who are entitled to a peaceful enjoyment of their
For the above reasons, we believe that the flaws in the consultation
process, together with the above concerns, are conducive to an
application for a judicial review. Some of the failures and
deliberate untruths must surely merit legal challenge, too.
When the nuclear plants have worn out, all
that will be left for local Cumbrians is the toxic waste and spoilt and
The project at Moorside, if allowed to go ahead, is set to survive, in
one form or another, for hundreds of years. Its legacy
would endure far beyond that, probably for millennia. Is
that really the best that west Cumbria can think of - to leave this
dangerous, untreatable, toxic mess to perpetuity? Surely we are
better than that?
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Benjamin Disraeli Crichton, 1965
through the NuGen sales brochure - it is not possible to consider it a
consultation document - may unintentionally give some a misleading
impression. We note elsewhere the questions posed, and express
our incredulity at, the published figure of 73% in agreeing in response
to "Do you agree with the need to develop a new nuclear power station
at the Moorside search area?" Then you consider the question:
Are respondents agreeing with the need for a new power station,
that it needs to be nuclear, or that it needs to be at Moorside? Or all three, or any combination of alternatives?
Then look at the published figure of 73% "in favour". This is 263 people out of a mere 375.
NuGen's own documentation says that 12,000 people a day can be
served in Sellafield's canteen, which is where NuGen
held one of their meetings.
Can the 73% figure allegedly in favour of one of the points in the question be extrapolated
to represent a proper indication of the wishes of the general
population? No. Yet that is how it is intended to be interpreted we believe. Utterly deceitful.
How many thousands will be affected by
the proposed development? According to official statistics, in
2011 (the latest we can find) there were 70,603 Copeland residents.
So far then, NuGen have received responses from 0.5% of the
residents and of them 263 people or 0.38% of the entire population of
Copeland agreed. Not quite as pro-nuclear as the NuGen version.
Some of the responses came from Allerdale residents who are
virtually unaffected, but we have not included those in the
calculations, to the benefit of NuGen's propaganda.
Then we have to question why the second most-pro-nuclear council in the land, Allerdale, has been included. Adding in the 90,000 Allerdale residents to the above calculations roughly halves the above results.
Looking at the maps and reading list of changes NuGen are going
to impose, if they have their way, it is difficult to see what impact,
if any, the proposed development would have on those residents.
From the maps, there is no way of telling what connection the respondent
has with the nuclear industry, or any obligation or benefit arising
Were the Allerdale respondents included to dilute the responses from those who object to the proposals? Surely not.
such a low response to the consultation process does confirm our
suggestion that the consultation is flawed and/or just not working.
Properly done a reasonable consultation could be expected to
attract at least 30% of the population, engaging them sufficiently to
prompt them to respond. We believe that a proper census would
reveal that the vast majority of residents would be against nuclear
development, especially on such a large scale and of such longevity.
However, they have not been made fully aware of the impact of the
proposed Moorside development.
Toshiba's Plans Branded "Unrealistic"
Nuclear Fallout After Referendum
for Toshiba's nuclear development are "unrealistic", according to a
Senior Analyst at Moody's. The new CEO of Toshiba claims that
the aims were achievable, despite having only taken over the job last
week following the resignation of his predecessor after a $1.3 billion
accounting scandal. We wonder whether he really knows what is
going on and whether he fully considered the ramifications of the exit
of the U.K. from the European Union - including the fall of the pound
on international markets. This must surely mean that the cost of
building Moorside will rise, making it even less viable in the longer
According to the article published by Reuters, "Given
strong anti-nuclear power sentiment after the Fukushima nuclear
accident in 2011 and delays in plant construction, we believe this
target is unrealistic."
We agree with Reuters as the U.K.'s nuclear authorities criticise the
progress made in rectifying the 51 faults in the Westinghouse AP1000
reactor. (Westinghouse is owned by Toshiba.) They are
also concerned about the quality and tardiness of the associated
paperwork. Still, we are supposed to believe that they are on
schedule. We shall see. How long before the first delays
are announced and how big will be the increases in construction costs.
In our article on the Facts page, "A Matter of Trust", we mention that "Sources
said previously that one of the investigators' theories was that top
executives, worried about the impact of the 2011 Fukushima disaster on
nuclear business, set unrealistic targets for new operations such as
smart meters and electronic toll booths."
Seems like they are never going to learn. Let us hope Toshiba
have stopped cooking the books and won't need to cut any more corners
on the AP1000 design. In any case, given the number of similar
reactors that Toshiba are hoping to build around the globe, won't there
be difficulties meeting the need for specialist steels, construction
materials, control circuitry, and skilled manpower?
Out of interest, Hitachi, who were planning on building a couple of
nuclear power stations, including Wylfa, have said that they will have
to "take stock and assess the situation".
Hitachi's official statement says: "A
potential departure from the EU creates uncertainty in terms of
economics, trade, skills and talent - particularly in manufacturing,
and would affect the stability that we need for continued investment
and long-term growth."
The referendum result caused losses of $2,000,000,000 for investors.
The worst single-day losses in history. Amazing that
Toshiba aren't affected. Britain's sovereign debt credit rating
was lowered by Standard and Poor's agency. Also downgrading the U.K.'s financial status are Fitch and Moody's.
So, no problems with
£multi-billion investments, eh? It is therefore difficult
to understand why some parts of that other really stupid idea, HS2, may
not be built. So 200 mph into a field somewhere in
The other interesting thing is the reaction to the departure from the
EU on the part of our erstwhile firiends. Hopefully their
attitude will cause the politicians here to look at who our friends
really are - after all, we were going to share so much with them all -
and pay them for the pleasure!
issuing reams of propaganda and sales literature, lining the walls
of the consultation venues with huge propaganda posters
and making statements that try to persuade people the matter of
building a nuclear reactor is already done and dusted and the public
it or lump it, constitute a meaningful version of consultation?
We think not.
The engagement of a PR firm to
do their dirty
work for them does not
excuse NuGen from their obligations to properly consult. This is
about a development which is, after all, going to seriously impose on
Cumbria for at least 100 years and probably an awful lot more.
PR companies are glorified salesmen, interested only in pleasing their
client and obtaining their fees. They are not people in a
explain the full impact of the proposals on the amenity, environment
and lifestyle, of thousands of residents.
There should be a moratorium on new nuclear building at least until the
industry can demonstrate (not just theorise) that they can deal with
the waste they produce and keep it safe from the environment and
Please take a look at https://nugenconsultation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Proposed-Scheme-Overview.pdf,
where NuGen have published "illustrative impressions" of the proposed
site. They are noteworthy for omitting the Sellafield site
in its entirety and, according to the illustration, the entire site
appears to be unfenced. Still, they say they will build a
(radioactive?) mud wall. According to our memory, there used to
be a railway line between the site and the sea - where on earth can
that have disappeared to? This is an electricity generating
plant, yet there doesn't seem to be any way of connecting to the
national grid on the pictures. So, why are the National Grid
people saying that they need 150' high pylons stretching across the
landscape? Surely this propaganda is not intending to mislead or
be dishonest in any way?
minimised is the building of a power station, presumably to supply
emergency power. What fuel will this be using and will its
pollution include CO2? Does that CO2 get
counted in the list of nuclear pollutants, or does it, like so many
other parts of the cycle, get ignored in order to perpetuate the myth
that nuclear is in the slightest bit clean?
proposed works include the marine off-loading facility, which we would
call a harbour, and the circulating water system, which we would call
submarine radiators, which will provide cooling water from the Irish
Sea. They can only do that by exchanging the heat generated by
the reactors for cooler water - which means, of course, that the sea
will become a lot warmer, especially in localised areas and during
the summer months when there are relatively few storms to circulate the
waters. There is no mention of the impact that dissipating
twice the thermal output of the reactors into the confines of the Irish
Sea will have, either locally or globally. On the
same page as the illustration above, NuGen continues that it may be
necessary to regulate the use of the marine off-loading facility
(replete with inappropriate capitalisation to make it seem impressive)
and waters around it "in order to provide a safe marine management environment, so the DCO [Development Consent Order] Application is likely to include a request for powers to establish a Harbour Authority".
No mention is made of the proposed longevity of this proposed harbour,
nor any indication as to why marine management - safe or otherwise,
depending on viewpoint - might be necessary.
As well as the reactors themselves there will be "support buildings, a substation and a circulating water system (including a forebay) [whatever one of those might be!] using water from the Irish Sea." Happily, earthworks required to "accommodate
temporary laydown areas and bunds (to be re-profiled postconstruction)
for screening, noise reduction and landscaping" will protect
everyone from any unpleasantness. (Won't the soil be
contaminated from the 1957 Sellafield fire?) The blurb continues,
"Elsewhere on the identified
development site there will be replacement habitats, environmental
offsetting, common land replacement, flood plain compensation (if
required) and Public Rights of Way (“PROW”) diversions and
other amenity diversions." As well as the
capitalised marine off-loading facility, NuGen will build a bridge
across the River Ehen floodplain and (note the inappropriate capitals -
so, again, it must mean something grand) a Heavy Haul Road, and new
rail spurs and facilities. Several new roads in the area are also
planned. When it comes to drainage, everything will
magically disappear down a grid into the Irish Sea. Will it be
checked for radioactivity before being discharged? Fresh water
needs have yet to be achieved, but the River Ehen and a few local lakes
might become somewhat smaller in the future.
Having spent some considerable time reading the sale pitch supplied at
the Braystones meeting, and knowing how people we have spoken to are so
against the project, it was somewhat surprising to read the
overwhelmingly positive view expressed by so many people, to questions
Do you agree with the need to develop a new nuclear power station at the Moorside search area? 73% in favour.
Do you agree with our transport strategy for the Moorside Project being
rail-focused to minimise road usage, particularly at peak
The maps depicting the origin of the responses being analysed provided
no clues of course. Then we recalled reading an earlier
paragraph where a meeting had been held in Sellafield's canteen.
Now where else would you expect to find such supportive evidence?
NuGen say that up to 12,000 people use the canteen each day.
We also have to wonder why Allerdale council are being given
such a strong role, but then remember that Copeland and Allerdale were
the only councils in the whole of the U.K. that wanted to host the
nuclear dump. Allerdale are as pro-nuclear as Copeland.
You can supply your own reasons for that distortion.
At the end of May, in Keswick, 90% of the people spoken to by
representatives of Radiation Free Lakeland were opposed to new nuclear
build in Cumbria. As Ms. Birkby point out, this does not
tally with what NuGen are saying, which is that “Cumbria wants
new nuclear build.” She goes on, "A recent poll in
the Evening Mail indicated that 85% of those voting do not want new
nuclear build in Cumbria. Tourists said they would think
twice about coming to Cumbria if dangerous new nuclear reactors were
just have to love the marvellous lack of vocabulary that the presumably very
expensive, but not very knowledgeable, PR firm staff seem to
have. Apart from the unnecessary capitalisation mentioned,
they invent new words, for example, "signalised"
to describe changes to road junctions. Unknowledgeable?
Well, we haven't yet received any answers to any of the questions
posed. Either they don't know, or 'wait and see' seems to be the
the propaganda goes on to mention the various improvements that will
result to the environment as a result of becoming home to even greater
nuclear hazards than those already extant: completely
ignoring the fact that the area is naturally beautiful and wouldn't
need any of the enhancements that NuGen are proposing if it weren't for
NuGen. Should we really be grateful? The losses
will be far greater than the gains in our opinion. As we
have always said, improvements in road and rail links, health services,
education, sports facilities, leisure facilities, skills and training
are the job of government and local politicians to provide, not the
carrot at the end of the stick in a blackmail arrangement.
Even so, we are at a loss as to understand how and why they think they
can improve the visual amenity, or why there needs to be investment in
landscape and townscape to improve the visual appearance of the
area. Better than God then? How does the
imposition of their great ugly mess, complete with the destruction of a
huge swathe of rural lifestyle, compounded by its proximity to
Sellafield, actually fit into their propaganda?
a misleading picture is the one on the left above, scanned from NuGen's
propaganda - sorry
information sheet. An object lesson in how to mislead the public
without words. This was once a beautiful area, but then came
Sellafield's ugly and dangerous sprawl. Now they propose to add
this in the farmland to the upper left of the Sellafield picture.
So determined are NuGen to mislead the public, missing are
the two harbours (aka Marine Off-loading Facilities), the
railway line - with new spurs into the site, and not least for a power
generating site, no
indication of the hundreds of 150' high pylons that will have to be
built in order to take away the
produced electricity. Or is that little arrangement, which might
possibly be a pylon, in the bottom left truly indicative of the
impact? Isn't it at the incoming power end, rather than
the main National Grid connection end?
Where is the road access and "Heavy Haulage Road" mentioned elsewhere in the glaringly misleading guff?
wonders, too, where the fresh water supplies and site drainage
facilities are, but perhaps they are too unsightly to be shown.
is also difficult to reconcile this with other pictures offered in other
NuGen literature, which we must presume are solely the product of
a fevered artist's imagination.
cooling water pipes, we assume, are depicted at top right, but seem to
be inadequate for the purpose of cooling three reactors, surely?
We note what are possibly the cooling water ponds open to the atmosphere,
with all the
potential for leakage and environmental impact that that implies.
Not only that, but surely, if there are no unshown boundary works, there will be absolutely no protection
from either coastal erosion or the winter storms. Yet for the
last three years there have been huge storms over winter, and this
design is supposed to endure for over 120 years!
So much is
missing the whole thing is a travesty. Still, at least by doing
it from on high they have minimised the vertical intrusion - the
reactor vessel alone is 91' high.
issue a challenge to NuGen: get your artist off his waccy baccy, give
him/her the true plans -- with all the conveniently missing bits like
cooling towers and pylons.
Give instructions that the impression must show how it looks when added to Sellafield, and
let them be drawn from, say, Cold Fell.
Let's see how intrusive this
proposal really is.
Let's issue a challenge to NuGen: get your artist off his waccy
baccy, give him/her the true plans- with all the conveniently missing
bits like cooling towers and pylons, how it looks when added to
Sellafield, and let them be drawn from, say, Cold Fell. Let's
see how intrusive this proposal really is
We wonder, too, about Westinghouse's claim that it achieves "The highest levels of safety" when it relies "100% on natural forces for indefinite passive core cooling".
According to nuclear power expert, Arnie Gundersen (http://www.fairewinds.org/), if anything should cause the reactor vessel to be breached, natural convection currents will dissipate not only the heat,
but also the entire contents over a very wide area, as there is no further method of containment.
Sorry, In The Heat of The Moment We Missed Something:
Deceipt By Omission
Cooling water for the power station is proposed be drawn from the Irish
Sea via an intake structure (or structures) mounted on the sea bed. The
water would then be conveyed via a tunnel (or tunnels) under the sea
bed to the power station via a forebay structure (a large balancing
tank). A pumping station would be used to overcome the head difference.
2.25 Cooling water would be returned to the sea via a dedicated outfall
tunnel, located under the seabed. It is likely to be within 2 to 6 km
offshore, but sufficiently far from the intake(s) to prevent
recirculation of the returned cooling water. The Scoping Report states
that it is anticipated that cooling water demand will result in the
intake and discharge of approximately 45 cubic metres per second
(cumecs) of water per reactor. The three reactors will generate a total
demand of approximately 150 cumecs, which will be discharged into the
2.26 The Scoping Report states that a range of process effluents and
surface water drainage from the operational power station are also
likely to be discharged into the sea with the cooling water.
matter how much water they are pumping through the system, the fact
remains that they have to dissipate huge amounts of heat, either
directly into the atmosphere via the cooling towers, or into the Irish Sea via the under-sea heat exchangers (radiators in effect). CO2
is not the sole producer of global warming. Direct heat cuts out
the middleman, but it is surely just as effective as heat produced by CO2.
As with the developments listed in the foregoing article, there is no
sign of cooling towers in any of the literature. We consider
this to be dishonest and deliberately misleading. The usual
design of tower associated with nuclear power stations is known is a
hyperboloid cooling tower. They are generally between 330' and
660' high. So, very prominent then. Why are they missing
from the "indicative view of the Moorside site" supplied by NuGen?
It is certainly indicative of the misleading information on
offer to the public. How could a professional artist miss two
harbours and at least one, probably more, cooling tower from his
"impression" if it is intended to convey any idea to the general
public. The latter are in for a very nasty shock when they wake
up and find two harbours, two (at least) sets of extremely high pylons
striding across the countryside, conveniently just missing - but still
plainly intrusively visible from - the Lake District National Park, and
a couple of cooling towers rising to over 300'!
One might think cooling towers are innocuous things, merely using water to get rid of unwanted heat. However,
if seawater is used (convenient when near to the coast), the drift of
fine droplets emitted from the cooling towers contain nearly 6%
salt, which is deposited on the nearby land. According to
"This deposition of sodium salts on the nearby agriculture/vegetative
lands can convert them into sodic saline or sodic alkaline soils
depending on the nature of the soil and enhance the sodicity of ground
and surface water. The salt deposition problem from such cooling towers
aggravates where national pollution control standards are not imposed
or not implemented to minimize the drift emissions from wet cooling
towers using seawater make-up.
"Respirable suspended particulate
matter, of less than 10 micrometers (µm) in size, can be present
in the drift from cooling towers. Larger particles above 10
µm in size are generally filtered out in the nose and throat via
cilia and mucus but particulate matter smaller than 10 µm,
referred to as PM10, can settle in the bronchi and lungs and cause
health problems. Similarly, particles smaller than 2.5 µm,
(PM2.5), tend to penetrate into the gas exchange regions of the lung,
and very small particles (less than 100 nanometers) may pass through
the lungs to affect other organs. Though the total particulate
emissions from wet cooling towers with fresh water make-up is much
less, they contain more PM10 and PM2.5 than the total emissions from
wet cooling towers with sea water make-up. This is due to lesser
salt content in fresh water drift (below 2,000 ppm) compared to the
salt content of sea water drift (60,000 ppm)."
If that isn't worrying enough, the entry then continues:
very large structures, cooling towers are susceptible to wind damage,
and several spectacular failures have occurred in the past. At
Ferrybridge power station on 1 November 1965, the station was the site
of a major structural failure, when three of the cooling towers
collapsed owing to vibrations in 85 mph (137 km/h) winds.
Although the structures had been built to withstand higher wind speeds,
the shape of the cooling towers caused westerly winds to be funnelled
into the towers themselves, creating a vortex. Three out of the
original eight cooling towers were destroyed, and the remaining five
were severely damaged. The towers were later rebuilt and all
eight cooling towers were strengthened to tolerate adverse weather
conditions. Building codes were changed to include improved
structural support, and wind tunnel tests were introduced to check
tower structures and configuration."
Let's hope that there are no corners cut to save on costs at Moorside.
See the Facts page for more thoughts on the subject.
view of the Sellafield site from the north.
The farmland in the
foreground is where they are proposing to dig to install Moorside.
Note Black Combe and Corney Fell in the background; round to the left are the
lakeland fells and some of the highest mountains in England, including
Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Lingmell, with the Langdale Pikes also
|Did they miss a trick?
After all, if they really wanted to capture the hearts as well as the
minds of the children in the area, then this might have been a better
piece of propaganda.
Even the 6,400 at peak employees will have to come from outside the
area, so the "virus" that has caused so much trouble with cancers and
leukaemia in the area will become even more prevalent. If it
isn't really a "virus", but down to the pollution from nuclear power
plants, how many more cancers and radiation-related illnesses can we
expect? How many cases before it becomes intolerable?
Radiation is known to cause cancers and leukaemia, so that is where our
beliefs lie. The disturbing of age-old discharges cannot be considered
sensible or safe under any circumstances.
year there were only just over 4,000 unemployed people in the whole of
Cumbria. It seems likely that many of them would not have
the skills required to perform technical tasks to the level required in
NuGen will be helping "improve" the towns in the area, too, apparently. If
the buildings designed by the people working for Sellafield in the area
are anything to go by, then we can look forward to modern blocks which
will have no connection whatsoever with the characterful Georgian style of
Whitehaven and its hinterland. In yet another artist's impression, this time of the main entrance, there
seems to be a high fence between the car park and the main part
of the site. The fence seems to be higher than the
single-storey office block! Funny it doesn't appear on the other
Funny how the old Pow Beck failed so spectacularly, yet is now
available for NuGen to build on. Almost as if it were
preordained. Same old lead planner, too.
we will have the benefit of cycling and walking connectivity, supply
chain opportunities, training, and everything else that even retired
people would regard as Utopia, but don't we already have sufficient for
our needs? Who will be the main beneficiaries? NuGen
staff, perhaps? So, no NuGen, no need . . . Why are they trying to con us this way?
cultivation and nurturing of local politicians is certainly paying off
handsomely. (Play your cards right and you could end up with an
MBE, or even better a well-paid job with, er, Nugen.) How many of these people are in some way
beholden to the nuclear industry? Anywhere else in the
country would be up in arms about the ideas that are being presented by
NuGen as a fait accompli. Here they are being
welcomed. Why? Even if there are no "incidents"
- a euphemism if ever there was one - the nuclear industry continually
produces, and in some cases discharges, considerable amounts of the
most toxic materials in the world. How can they be allowed
to do this?
have examined the sales brochures supplied by NuGen to sell the idea
that the scheme is a fait accompli and that the great majority of
people are in favour. We remain unconvinced.
appears in the brochures to explain how many people will really be
coming into the area. We are told that the peak number of workers
will be 6,500. We know that the majority of these will be from
outside Cumbria. Presumably they will be bringing with them family
and, perhaps, friends. Let us assume that the national norm of a
partner and some children will be brought in with the breadwinner;
this means that there will be around 1300 adults. Families, according
to national statistics are comprised of two adults and an average of
1.8 children - further 5,200. In total then, 18200 new residents can
be expected to arrive. Rather more substantial than NuGen's figures.
next glaring omission is any suggestion as to how the requisite
increases in health and social services provision will be achieved.
Presumably there will be a need for sexual, physical and mental health
service to be greatly increased to meet the likely demand. How many
extra GPs will be required and from whence will they come? Similarly
with all the emergency services. More police, ambulance and fire
service personnel and equipment will be required.
Will the 5,200 additional children all manage to find places in schools, colleges, etc.?
this seems to indicate that those clever people in London, encouraged
by the blinkered NuGen personnel, have completely misunderstood how the
rural community is made up. This is a place where we currently have
four trains a day - not four every three minutes - on none at all on
Sundays and Bank Holidays. The roads do not permit emergency vehicles
to travel at great speeds, and blue lights and two-tone horms have
little benefit down our kind of road.
One of the basics of human
rights is the supply of clean pure water. NuGen are expecting United
Utilities to come up with an answer to their needs - presumably
following Sellafield's example of not paying for anything either. Yet
United Utilities do not magically produce water on demand. It has to
come from a stream, river, well, or spring. in a
treatable form. Because of the great reliance on water to
places like Moorside, the supply has to be guaranteed under all
circumstances. For this area it will mean pipelines being laid,
tapping into a canalised and covered River Ehen, even greater
quantities being extracted from the local lakes. (We note that NuGen
are suggesting they could tap into Sellafield's supply-line, which
would mean further vast drainage of Wastwater, recently voted the most
beautiful view in Great Britain.) Wherever it comes from or goes to
once used, the impact on the environment is not going to be good.
Such schemes may benefit those who live in towns and cities far away
who want electricity to waste, but, rest assured, Cumbria is not going
to be enhanced by any of these proposals.
NuGen documentation "does not include an assessment of the potential likely significant environmental effects of the Freshwater Water Supply". How convenient.
Ref.: Moorside Stage 2 Consultation Document. May, 2016, Item 5.9
We mention elsewhere the unsuitability of the transport network and
roads. There is considerable congestion at peak hours already,
even with only the Sellafield traffic. Nowadays, 40% of families
have second cars, so around another 9100 cars may be expected to add
themselves to the traffic jams. This is without construction
traffic and heavy loads.
|Off The Rails
have grandiose plans for railway "improvements", working with Network
Rail. Well, good luck to them on that venture. We have
been "working with Network Rail" for most of the last decade trying to
bring the Braystones level crossing up-to-date. Virtually
nothing of any consequence has changed, despite residents averting a
passenger train derailment observed by an inspector from the Office of
the Rail Regulator. Sadly, the latter individual didn't recall
hearing the train driver explain why he hadn't received the urgent
message from the Sellafield signaller: "We got a garbled message
over the radio, but couldn't understand it, so decided to continue on
to Sellafield to find out what the problem was. Radio signals
are always rubbish on this stretch". This, of course, meant that
to get to the signaller he would have passed over the very section that
was likely to cause the train to derail. On the FACTS page of
this site we have included a photograph of an accident caused by the
failure of a small girder bridge that had badly corroded. As a
result of the bridge's collapse a railway wagon and load - somewhere
around 70 tonnes - dropped off the embankment and completely demolished
two bungalows. By pure good chance they were both empty at the
time. A slightly different time would have resulted in several
Braystones Residents’ concerns include:
1) The antiquity of the signalling and train-control system. This is
160 years old and does not comply with modern safety standards. It puts
crossing users at risk and would be difficult to justify in the event
of an accident, especially when seen in the light of modern
technological advances. These advances include radar detection of the
presence of people, vehicles, and other obstructions. Such a modern
system would automatically inform all parties – users,
signallers, and train staff – of the status of the crossing, and
is available now.
2) Failure to provide lighting at the crossing after the passage of the
last scheduled train. Such a system would be automatic, cheap, and in
compliance with ORR safety literature.
3) The stability of the banking on the landward side of the track.
4) The integrity of the bridge to the north of Braystones. Not just
from the stream that washes its foundations, but the amount of water
that seeps through the block-work.
5) The physical requirements of the operation of the crossing gates and
the unreliability of the telephone communications system.
6) The state of the ballast due to poor drainage at Braystones station.
7) Failure to achieve any material safety changes at the crossing,
despite several years of lobbying by Braystones Beach residents,
individually and collectively.
8) A survey needs to be conducted to assess whether the angles of the
embankments is suitable for the level of stability required of them.
9) Assessments need to be conducted to assess the impact of the
corrosive salt atmosphere on an infra-structure now over 150 years old
and which has received scant attention in that time.
10) Network Rail should undertake a more positive rôle when it
comes to protecting its assets and ensuring the safety of residents and
plans do not resolve any of these. Even the onus for protecting
the proposed new nuclear site is on Network Rail. The idea being
that it will be Network Rail's responsibility to maintain the sea
defences in the event of storm damage. Only when Network Rail
give up will NuGen think about it.
Residents now have additional questions: how much extra traffic
are they supposed to endure; what mitigation can there be against
the noise and vibration of frequent heavy railway trains; will
the more frequent passage of trains mean that beach residents will have
to spend considerably longer each day awaiting permission to cross;
will there be trains during anti-social hours?
The Braystones level crossing has 65,312 vehicle crossings a year -
substantially more than the 23,180 suggested by a brief assessment by
Network Rail. (Figures from Network Rail. FOI request for Sellafield signaller's log.)
Between 5/1/10 and 3/4/15, there were 93 incidents at the
crossing. Increased traffic will surely mean increased
incidents. As we have said from the beginning, a single accident
involving a nuclear train will cost far more than bringing the line up
to current standards. We posed the question: if you were
building a line here today would you build it like this? There
was no answer.
Due to our concerns, we have written to the Office for Nuclear
Development for their opinion, as they are responsible for enforcing
the legal requirements for the transport of hazardous materials [e.g.
Helping With Global Warming - How?
consultation meeting at Braystones was held yesterday. A strange
mix-up of expert opinion we thought. Firstly, questioned about
the heat exchanger, one "expert" categorically stated that there would
be a 12° differential. We think this a bit strange, as there
seems to be no information on where the rest of the superheated water
is going to lose its heat. Moving on to a different "expert"
produced the opinion that the differential will be 2° to 3°.
The first expert was brought over to confirm his statement.
The second was adamant he was correct. We never did reach
an amicable resolution, so came away with no improved knowledge.
No ideas emerge as to how to resolve the matter, either. We
would have thought that the re-circulating coolant would need to
dissipate an awful lot more than even 14°, which is the figure mentioned in the official information.
Nevertheless, such a large area of the sea being heated by between
2° and 12° must surely bring environmental effects.
Oddly, no-one seems to know (or care!) quite what those effects will be.
NuGen have been quite evasive about the "marine off-loading facility".
Now, it appears, there is a good reason. There are going
to be two of them. One will be very large and intrusive to
facilitate deeper draught vessels at all states of the tide, while the
second one will be smaller and only of use at limited times. We
were assured that the larger one would be dismantled and taken away
after the building of the project at Moorside was completed. The
second one will become a permanent feature. Has anyone seen any
environmental impact assessment to determine the outcome and effects of
these resources? We certainly haven't. The larger harbour
was not on the plans presented at the consultation meeting, but, after
persisting, we were offered a version of the plan on a memory stick.
No explanation was forthcoming as to why the main harbour was
not on the demonstrated plans. Surely, if one constructs a large
barrier - whether for a harbour or as pipework for cooling water -
there will be an impact on the tidal flows and hence the deposition of
sands and silts? Will there be an impact on the holiday beaches
of Braystones and beyond, once the tidal flow has been stopped, or at
least diverted out to sea? What will happen to all the
radioactive toxins that are at present buried under those sands and
Please view the Radiation Free Lakeland (https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/) and Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (http://corecumbria.co.uk/)
sites. The latter has an article about the quality and tardiness
of the process of obtaining generic design approval which concludes:
. . . at
the only four twin-reactor stations currently under construction, two
in the US and two in China, build-time for the AP1000 reactors is
taking over seven years – with criticism levelled at Westinghouse
as having ‘oversold the system, oversold the technology and promised more than they could really deliver’.
Despite this chronic overseas experience, NuGen and West
Cumbria’s nuclear-compliant media continue to peddle the myth
that, with a construction start in 2020, Moorside’s triple
reactors will all be producing electricity by 2026.
The site also points out that, despite Westinghouse's sales pitch
saying that the technology is "tried and tested", in fact these
reactors have not been built anywhere else in the world. That
could explain the problems obtaining Generic Design Approval. It
is a bit worrying to read that the matters that are of concern to the
Regulators relate not only to the major GDA components of the
reactor’s structural integrity and its mechanical engineering as
well as - and we especially like this, as it confirms our assessment of
NuGen's work - the Quality of Submissions. The
regulators’ concern is that, for some of the aspects there
remains significant technical and closure programme risks associated
with completion of the work. They go on to say that the
quality of submissions are significantly below expectations in terms of
scope and/or quality. According to the article on CORE's
site, in the regulators’ view, "a combination of these unresolved
issues and any inevitable GDA slippage caused by them, will affect
regulatory confidence in the subsequent site development programme."
Combined with the various other failures to achieve even basic
credibility, it might seem that legal challenges to the whole
enterprise could be successful - whether in the U.K., or in the E.U.
CORE also point out that the core sampling that is currently
being undertaken by the platform off Braystones will not be completed
before the end of the current consultation process, so how can people
digest and comment on the results? Yet another failure of their
consultation process and another opportunity for legal challenge, we
The CORE website also has news that, even before the build at Moorside
is scheduled to begin, it will be at least two years late. The
former site, Radiation Free Lakeland, is so comprehensive and has
much information that it is a bit difficult to digest it all in one
Our favourite bits from that one include the 2014 letter from the Whitehaven News
about the Sellafield Mafia as they are known, which confirms our views
on the corrupting nature of the industry, and the role of the local and
national politicians: (https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/letter-from-sellafield-worker-exposes-nuclear-corruption/).
Although aimed at the dump consultation, the principles seem to
apply to nuclear development throughout the area.
followed by the way in which the hundreds of bore-holes currently being
drilled were approved after decidedly limited consultation with local
parishes and committees, except Copeland Council, who were too busy
debating the impact of a single wind turbine, apparently. The
ultimate decision was made by a single, delegated council officer.
over a year now residents affected by the proposed Moorside development
have been seeking information as to what the impact will be on their
homes. On the
6th April enquiries were made of the local MP, Jamieson
Reed, who is, of course, an ex-Sellafield employee and pro-nuclear.
As the properties are mainly on land leased from
Leconfield Estates, similar enquiries were made of them and their
solicitors. Only after a reminder did we receive information from the
latter two bodies, advising us that they knew nothing more than we did.
After a month, Reed's office eventually managed to send us an
e-mail saying that our enquiries had been passed to NuGen for their
attention and we would be contacted again when a reply was received.
The result being that, despite the passage of over two months,
nobody has supplied us with any information at all.
A formal complaint has now been lodged. Twelve weeks
should be plenty long enough for anyone to come up with a reply to such
a straightforward question.
We Told You So
earlier articles (now consigned to the Archived Pages section - see top
of page) we have pointed out the vulnerability of nuclear sites to
terrorism and attacks by air - including the use of drones.
In an article in the Scottish Herald, 29/5/16, Rob Edwards reports on
two reports that say exactly the same thing. The reports suggest
that not only would the authorities struggle to deal with the aftermath
of an attack, but they are also failing to consider the potential
threats seriously. Yet, the article says, in October, 2015, a
worker was reportedly marched off the Hunterston nuclear site in North
Ayrshire after he was seen studying bomb-making websites on his laptop.
The report by Dr. David Lowry who is a senior research
fellow with the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in
Cambridge, USA, and a former director of the European Proliferation
Information Centre in London, points to “disturbing”
evidence that suspects linked to the Paris and Brussels terror attacks
in November, 2015, and February, 2016, had files on nuclear facilities,
and had been monitoring nuclear workers.
The second report was for the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA),
and was written by Dr Ian Fairlie, an independent radiation scientist,
and focuses on the stable iodine tablets that can prevent radiation
poisoning after some nuclear accidents.
Over-riding National Interest - or Just Over-riding Local Opposition?
With the inevitable assistance of politicians
and councillors, this picturesque (provided you don't look towards
Sellafield's ugly structures) part of Cumbria is the target of a
foreign consortium who wish to build a vastly expensive and risky
nuclear power station. Immediately adjacent to the existing
Sellafield site - literally just across the road - the project will
blight the Braystones and Beckermet areas.
Even the seas off Braystones and Nethertown are to be spoiled by the
installation of sub-marine inlets and outlets which will dissipate the heat
equivalent of 2,000,000 three-bar fires into the Irish Sea.
NuGen quite happily agree that they have no idea what the impact will
be on the marine and terrestrial environments. Rest assured it
will not be a beneficial effect. However, even ignoring - if you
can - that aspect, the question must surely be how the dissipation of
such large amounts of heat into the environment can in any way reduce
global warming. Ah, sorry, as the planet is actually getting
colder, we now have to refer to it as climate change. The
disposal of waste is also still an unresolved problem. Let us
not forget that some of these chemicals will remain too radioactive to
handle for millions of years. Even the oft-quoted half-life
times fail to indicate the length of time before they become "safe", as
many will require several half-lives to pass before they can be deemed
to be non-injurious, even to the strange and misleading ethics of the
For reasons which patently have no regard to the practicalities or
financial viability of nuclear sites, but may have a lot to do with
shares and personal aggrandisement, the whole national planning system
has been changed to enable politicians to dictate what will be built
where and remove the local residents' right to object. Let's
face it, the kind of money that is involved in building a nuclear power
station and its required resources - where the sums are listed in
£billions - must be hugely attractive for those of a less than
honest nature. Fortunately, as yet, they have not managed to
abandon the principles of the Human Rights Act, so there are obviously
grounds there for legal challenge. Can it be just a matter of
time before the rumblings about doing away with such piffling trifles as public opinion
come to fruition and the state takes on Orwellian control?
are now coming to the end of their mandatory consultation period over
their proposals to build three Westinghouse reactors at the "Moorside"
site. The site extends from Sellafield to the
perimeter of Beckermet. It is obviously debatable quite how
sensible is this proposal to gamble on never having an accident which will
affect Sellafield and its great stocks of radioactive materials.
Last July we added our comments to NuGen's consultation process.
Hopefully it is a comprehensive document. It can be found here:
NuGen Consultation Response. As the changes will bring about increased traffic along the old Furness
railway line, the problems involving use of the level crossing at
Braystones station are incorporated in our consultation response as additional material by means of
With the collusion of various politicians - local and national - and peers, it seems the
entire west coast of Cumbria is about to succumb to nuclear
development, regardless of logic, financial sense, geology, or practicality.
There are many points which we would like answers to - including those
in our consultation document. One additional question would be :
Also to be considered are
the long-term need for appropriate distances between hazardous
establishments, the population, or environmentally sensitive areas, and
whether additional measures for existing establishments are required so
that risks to people in the area are not increased. Should a
major incident occur at either Sellafield (which does have a certain
history) there must inevitably be a risk of a domino-like impact on the
projected plant, and vice versa. Of course it has been deemed
utterly impossible for both plants to suffer incidents simultaneously.
Leastways until it happens.
The National Grid suggests that it is far too expensive to bury cables,
and that 150' high pylons are the only answer to get the power to
London and elsewhere. Yes, we can choose a design, and yes, they
do allow a choice of route from three possible ones, but burial of the cables is not
an option. Yet the organisation has just tabled yearly results:
pre-tax profit rose 15% from the same period in 2015 to
£3.03bn. Adjusted earnings per share were up 10% to 63.5p,
while adjusted operating profit increased 6% to £4.1bn and the
company recommended a full year dividend of 43.34p compared with 42.87p
the previous year. (Ref.: Common to most newspapers and
news programmes.) Is the pursuit of profit more important than
the preservation of the environment and local amenity? How much
extra would burial of the cables cost when expressed in pence per
kilowatt/hour over the lifetime of the programme? (We have
already pointed out that the only reason for the additional pylons
striding across the landscape is the proposal to build Moorside.
Do away with that and the landscape can be preserved without any
How does the planned project fit with Town and Country Planning
Regulations 2012. The requirement (under Part 4, 10-1(c)(i
&ii) is that when preparing their Local Plans, local planning
authorities need to have regard to the prevention of major accidents
and limiting their consequences.
One of the main planks of the argument for developing nuclear power has
been "preventing the lights from going out". Several years ago,
at the time of the RWE application to build at Braystones, we reported
the statement by the head of the National Grid, that there was no
likelihood of the lights going out. That statement was ignored,
in typical "scare the public into submission" style that governments
and politicians so like, Unfortunately, perhaps by accident, the
current incumbent of the Energy Minister post, Andea Leadsom, told a
committee of MPs on 24/5/16 that there was no possibility of the lights
going out. (How many Energy MInister have we had in the last five years?)
Sadly DECC figures point to the fact that in actual fact, despite
assertions by those who should know better (and in all honesty probably
do!) that energy demand is rising, it fell again last year by 2%.
This means that overall the demand for electricity nationally
has been falling for over a decade at more than 1% p.a.
The other main point, stemming from a meeting related in the book "Inside Sellafield", has been the impact of CO2
on the environment. The management of Sellafield decided that
they would promote the idea of a link between global warming and
emissions of CO2. Well, the strategy worked. Yet few seem to ask whether the rise in CO2 levels causes a rise in temperature, or whether, in fact, the rise in temperature causes increased CO2 in the atmosphere. Which is the horse and which is the cart? It is noteworthy that most of the CO2
producing processes utilised to produce nuclear fuel, manufacture the
components for the specialised build demanded by nuclear plant and
ancillary equipment, transport of materials, manufacture of
specialised steel, etc. are all ignored. DECC specifically
dismiss anything which occurs outside the U.K.
We have always asked whether CO2 emissions are worse than plutonium,
polonium, caesium, americium and all the other products of a nuclear
reactor which always seem to have problems not leaking into the
environment for some reason. Of course, the mantra is now well
established: no animals are hurt, the leak was contained before
any damage was done, and there was never any danger. The head of
the U.K. nuclear industry, in a propaganda sheet entitled Britain's
Energy Coast, tried to tell the world that there was no melt-down at
Fukushima, when all three cores had melted. A complaint to the
Press Complaints Council was upheld and a retraction had to be
published. The gentleman tried to pretend that he hadn't known
there had been a melt-down. They knew enough to work with Électricité
France secretly in order to synchronise a cover-up and limit press and
television coverage, aided by the I.A.E.A. - until they got caught out
by the press. Most people think the I.A.E.A. is an independent
and honest body. However, its aims are plainly stated on its
website: To work with its member states and multiple partners
worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
|31/5/16 edited 1/6/16
Deal Us Out
The Times, 31/5/16, carries an article on how
ministers in charge of the £18 billion project at Hinkley -
deemed by rational people to be a rather large white elephant - refuse
to say whether the deal is good for taxpayers.
David Lowry's request on behalf of the
Institute for Resource and Security Studies under Freedom of
Information rules, was turned down as it would "adversely affect
international relations, defence, national security or public safety"
Not to mention the price of beans. Sadly, even the
Information Commissioner backed DECC' s decision apparently. It
does rather seem that there may be something to hide by DECC in terms
of whether Hinkley is good value for money. Actually, we think
it is not. Any more than the "Moorside" one is. Are there
similar terms and conditions, government subsidies and underwriting
available to NuGen, too? Or aren't we allowed to know that,
The organisation "Stop Hinkley" have just sent their newsletter, in that has a report which further illuminates the FOI request:
government said that anyone building new reactors in Britain must
manage and pay for the cost of handling waste products, unlike the
existing situation where all radioactive materials are effectively
dealt with through the public purse via the Nuclear Decommissioning
Authority. However, although the operator must agree to take
responsibility for the spent fuel and other radioactive waste, the cost
is expected to be passed on to the domestic electricity user through
Ref.: http://stophinkley.org/StopPress.htm (Newsletter for June, 2016.)
"Under the new
arrangements, the prospective nuclear operators must enter into a waste
transfer contract (WTC). Those contracts, like the one covering
Hinkley, must be submitted for scrutiny by the EC under its state aid
rules. It is the pricing methodology of the WTC that Lowry
wished to review and which remains under wraps.
"John Sauven, the
executive director of Greenpeace, said, “The government has
repeatedly said that Hinkley is great news for the British public and
our energy security. But they refuse to back this up with hard
evidence. In fact, DECC is incredibly cagey and is failing to answer
questions on where the dangerous radioactive waste will go or how much
Hinkley will cost us.""
On Railway Lines
the above newsletter from Stop Hinkley, we were puzzled by the future
event where they joined up with stopnucleartrains.org. An
organisation of which we were previously unaware. However, a
quick look at their ideals has produced the following (their numbering,
we have omitted those less relevant):
The remaining nuclear power stations (PWR pressurised water
reactors and AGR) should be shut down as they are a continuing source
of radioactive pollution and waste, damage to health, and risks of
accidents and terrorism. [The Westinghouse AP1000 design for
Moorside is a Pressurised Water Reactor - or PWR]
8. Nuclear accidents require specialist treatment, so emergency
services personnel need specific technical training to deal with such
accidents as quickly and effectively as possible.
As part of the concerns about the level crossing at Braystones - with
nuclear trains in both directions sometimes several times a day - we
have pointed out that the cost of just one incident involving a nuclear
flask train would probably exceed the cost of doing the right thing and
making the line safe.
Private Eye's Old Sparky did include some of the problems of the
line in an article last year entitled "Coastal Fission" (transcript here).
While not 100% accurate, it does give a good idea of the parlous
state of the line. The new project apparently intends to
continue using this line, even running spurs of it to service the site.
stopnucleartrains organisation points out that the nuclear flasks are
designed to sustain a drop of 9 metres (29'), which must surely be
somewhere near the drop off the Cumbrian coastal line. Major risk
areas include level crossings - where have we heard that before?
Braystones residents have been pushing for years to get better safety
on the line.
See the article "Off The Rails", above.
More Reliable Than Wind?
article on the Herald Scotland website on 14th
environment correspondent Rob Edwards reports an analysis by nuclear
consultant Pete Roche for 50 NFLA (nuclear-free local authorities) which
reveals that the UK’s 15 reactors have had 62 unplanned shutdowns
the last three years, involving electrical, boiler and valve defects,
fires, storms, vibrations and the discovery of tiny cracks. When
coupled with the hundreds of lucky escapes that nuclear sites,
especially Sellafield, have had, we would undoubtedly be better off
with the wind.
Mysterious Ways Sellafield's Wonders to Perform
The one-time manager at Sellafield, Harold Bolter, wrote a book
entitled, "Inside Sellafield". We have made a habit of pointing
out the section in this book - which presumably is a true account of
events from the time - that refers to the methods proposed in order to
counter the bad publicity the nuclear industry was (deservedly)
getting. In particular the pushing of the role of CO2
alleged global warming. (Subsequently changed to climate
was also decided that it was necessary to "capture the minds, if not
hearts, of younger children". Obviously with the aim of
inculcating them in the pro-nuclear doctrine. (Something similar
used to be referred to as brain-washing.)
There can be little
the aims of that meeting are now coming to fruition. One local
school, the West Lakes Academy in Egremont - about four miles from
Sellafield - has the information that:
are sponsored by two of the most important energy organisations in the
UK and two of Cumbrias largest employers; The Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority and Sellafield Ltd. They provide
invaluable resources and industry support to our specialism in Science."
How about that for capturing the minds if not the hearts of youngsters?
One of the more satisfying pastimes is to look at the manipulation of
the local community by Sellafield's managers. The above
publication is a good example. Another is Sellafield Stories,
which we mention elsewhere, and which is where the management speak and
practical matters diverge. Also interesting is the way in which
critics of Sellafield can become its staunchest supporters when money is
an issue. Several of the more able wordsmiths have started off
being concerned about the practices that have occurred at Sellafield,
but then have been persuaded (by money?) to work on the PR side of
things. They then become so blinkered by their own propaganda
that they think anyone who dares contradict them is (quote) from the
soft, fluffy, green end. Each of the managers tells how they
have considerably improved things, completely failing to see that it is
too late - the toxicity of the materials that were being discharged
into the atmosphere and environment have not gone away, but will
continue to cause illnesses and cancers for decades, perhaps millennia,
to come. Even if one takes them at their word - why should we? -
the Irish Sea and beyond have already received enough to stay
contaminated till the end of time. Every child has plutonium in
their teeth as a result of Sellafield and atomic bomb testing.
At least 50 kg of plutonium has been discharged into the Irish Sea,
along with caesium, americium, et al. Sellafield's contamination
has reached Nova Scotia and beyond, and round the Scottish coast to
Scandinavian countries. How marvellous that they have reduced
the amount they are discharging, but that doesn't make it alright.
These people also seem to have a distorted view of democracy and
integrity. One ex-senior manager boasts that he knew everyone
and everyone knew him, so if he wanted a job done he just picked up the
phone to chief executives of county councils, senior politicians, and
things like that. He is quoted as saying, "I think the reason I was so effective [here] is because I'd created a huge influence network in West Cumbria."
Ref.: "Sellafield Stories", Edited by Hunter Davies, ISBN 978-1-78033-299-4
Is it us, or is this a form of corruption? The more so, as
Sellafield was holding a number of purse strings. Another of the
managers involved in PR work came from television and seems to suggest
that he was offered a job at Sellafield because he had been critical in
his reports on Sellafield. Once in their thrall he seems to
change his opinion, and nothing is as bad as was made out.
Sadly, there is no room to mention his part ownership of, and work for,
a private PR company in its role as adviser to the West Cumbria
Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership, one of the many quangos
set up to promote nuclear in Cumbria.
The Sellafield/Seascale/Braystones areas are no longer suitable for
promotion in tourist guides, leastways without a radiation warning.
Fifty or so years ago, Seascale's beach was packed so tightly
with holiday-makers, brought by six or eight coaches and several very
full trains, that there was hardly room for one to put down a towel.
Sellafield certainly put paid to that. Not to worry, it
is outside the Lake District so Cumbria Tourism with their
short-sighted policies do not need to worry. From Sellafield to
Wastwater is only about nine miles as the radioactive seagull flies.
Happily, the radioactive materials all recognise
boundaries and do not go beyond the National Park boundaries.
Strange, then, that stuff from Chernobyl managed to cross all kinds of
frontiers to end up on Cumbrian and Welsh hill-tops. How
convenient is that? What a strange coincidence, too, that those
were the very same areas polluted by, er, U.K. nuclear sites.
At a meeting of Cumbria County Council not long ago, of the 50 members
present, 31 had to declare an interest when a matter involving the
nuclear industry or Sellafield was to be discussed. Again, how
does this equate to democracy?
All of which suggests to us that Sellafield's policies, as laid down by
the likes of Bolter, have been fully implemented.
More Whiter Than White Politicians
Back in 2014, the brother-in-law of financial services minister Andrea
Leadsom was reported to have donated £816,000 to the Conservative
party since she first successfully ran for parliament at the last
The banker, who lives in Guernsey and is married to Leadsom's sister,
Hayley, also made a further £1m of donations to a party-backed
campaign and a rightwing think-tank. Leadsom herself said that
she was unaware of the donations made by a member of her own family,
but a Labour MP asked whether the payments in effect amounted to a
"cash for political office" arrangement.
It is amazing that such large sums are so mundane as to be unworthy of comment, even in a family environment.
Leadsom is now Energy Minister.
Last year, that august journal, Private Eye, noted that there may be a
potential conflict of interest for Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State
for Energy and Climate Change. She will be making the decisions
about Hinkley Point C, while her brother is head of a company alled
Finsbury, who have a £100 million contract to help build it.
Although questions were submitted, no answer was forthcoming,
None of this comes as any surprise, of course. From the engagement of Électricité de
staff as "advisors" through to the various relations of MPs and even the Prime Minister, we have had
it all. At least two politicians involved have been sent to jail
for dishonesty. See
our 2015 article below, "Masters of Integrity". Are we alone in
thinking that anyone privy to inside information has a decided
advantage in commercial terms and when they are also allowed to
influence decisions, too, surely that is a form of corruption?
Is an Électricité de
staff member going to fail to pass on information to his employer, and
will the employer be able to resist the temptation to direct advice
which is ultimately to the benefit of that company?
All politicians seem to be happy to follow the
official designation of "clean" when referring to nuclear generation.
One has to wonder how they can use this adjective when the
source and wastes are so far from clean. Sellafield has always,
and continues to pollute the Irish Sea and beyond. To any
rational person (i.e. not a politician) the U.K. nuclear industry
contravenes the spirit, if not the letter, of the various agreements to
stop dumping toxic materials at sea. By the time the agreement
came into force in 1998, the U.K. had dumped an unknown number of
containers, totalling 74,052 tons at 15 sites in the north Atlantic,
and at 18 sites off coast of British isles more than 9.4 TBq
The total amount dumped amounted to over 35,000 TBq - over 41% of the
world-wide dumping. It is only a matter of time . . .
Weeding Out the Truth
his book, "The Road to Little Dribbling", (ISBN 978-0-857-52234-4),
writer Bill Bryson comments on the Hanford facility in Washington
state. He notes that the facility released millions of litres of
liquid waste containing strontium, plutonium, caesium, and sixty three
other dangerously toxic substances into the groundwater of the Columbia
River basin. Sometimes, he says, the releases were careless and
accidental, but more often they were intentional. He goes on,
"The Hanford engineers did this and then shamelessly insisted the water
was wholesome and clean, and cited tests on salmon as an example of how
safe it was, arguing that a person would have to eat a hundred pounds
of salmon at a sitting to ingest enough radiation just to reach
detectable levels. What they knew, but didn't say was that
salmon don't eat when they are in the Columbia River." He points
out that the fish are returning to spawn, and don't eat when they are
this sort of behaviour seem familiar? Has anything changed
within the nuclear industry to win our faith in their openness and
honesty. Hardly. Happily for our lot, the marine
discharges were into the Irish Sea, and thus had more room to spread
out, making it more difficult to discern where it had disappeared to -
even if the scientists had any interest in finding it. Nowadays,
with modern methods, Sellafield's wastes can be detected in most of the
waters from Nova Scotia to Sweden. Even worse is that the site
continues to dump radioactive materials, despite agreements, such as
the London Agreement of 1972, which prevent dumping at sea. The
pipeline out from Sellafield continues to pump radioactive materials
into the sea. The agreement didn't mention pipelines.
Bryson points out that by the late 1980s, Sellafield had exposed the
whole of Europe to more radiation than the combined levels of exposure
from . . . all other nuclear sites, weapons testing, the Chernobyl
incident, and packaged solid wastes." Given that the greatest
concentration is likely to be close to the point of origin, does it
really make sense to be disturbing the soils and Irish Sea sediments to
build another of these dangerous scientific dreams?
while back we asked the Environment Agency why there were no longer any
of the seaweeds that we remembered as kids on the rocks along the beach
from Sellafield to Nethertown. In particular the porphyria
variety, which used to be collected by two ladies who lived on the
beach at Braystones. Several times a week the sacks of the
seaweed were despatched by train to Wales to be made into laver bread.
Then the bakers discovered that Cumbrian seaweed was radioactive
and contained sufficiently high levels of Sellafield's pollutants to
make it unsafe to eat. Unsurprisingly the practise ceased.
The official version, however, is that the ladies who collected
it "became too old to continue".
We especially like Bryson's comment, "I am no expert, but it does seem
on the face of it that human beings are not quite grown-up enough yet
to be trusted with nuclear fuels." In a Freudian slip, we almost
wrote nuclear fools.
It does seem that the ultimate aim of scientists is the eradication of the human race.
|5/3/15 edited 28/5/16
Value For Money? Who Cares?
Times and the BBC News both carry the story of the cost of
decommissioning and cleaning up Sellafield, which has increased by
£5bn to £53bn, according to the National Audit Office.*
The price determined by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority,
in June, 2014, had risen again to £79.1 billion.
to the BBC, Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee
(PAC) which commissioned the report, said the cost hike was
"astonishing." Quite why she is so surprised is in itself
surprising. As an astute woman, one might have thought she would
have seen the process for what it is. A large number of
companies are enjoying healthy profits for doing a poor job, and why
shouldn't they prolong it as long as they can get away with it?
is typical with nuclear promises, the forecasts are obviously made by
people with rose-tinted spectacles on. Whether they are talking
about how safe things are, how nobody ever got killed by nuclear power,
how much waste will be produced, how many people will benefit from it,
or how much it will cost to clean up, or how efficient they are at
doing their job, everything carries the hallmarks of excellent
than a year ago, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the people who
decide who gets the lucrative contracts, assured us that the cost would
be a mere £48bn and would be completed on schedule. Fat
The Select committee's report has noted that the work is also behind schedule
a further token of their incompetence, the NDA awarded Nuclear
Management Partners a £9 billion contract to clean the site up
but, it seems, they forgot to provide a get-out clause, so the
cancellation of the contract will cost ratepayers just under half a
million pounds. Rewards for failure anyone? Value for
money? Mrs. Hodge's committee recommended cancellation of the
contract a year ago, but the NDA knew best.
answers will be forthcoming when the Nuclear Decommissioning
Authority, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, NMP, and
Sellafield Ltd. appear before the Committee on 11 March.
Even the (usually supportive) union has deserted NMP management. According to the BBC report, Chris
Jukes, regional officer of the GMB union, said: "GMB has been
absolutely clear all along that the NMP model did not work at
value for money, poor top NMP management and a lack of grip on key
issues in an essential area for the UK energy sector, as well as the UK
economy, have led to unbelievable decisions on expenditure."
Yet it has taken six years to get to this understanding!
National Audit Office reckons the total cost of cleaning up the UK's 17
nuclear sites is "around £70bn" (It had risen to £79 billion by June, 2014.) Surely this begs the
question of the true price of nuclear energy. The Électricité de France deal which
will surely be an albatross fo the U.K. for a very long period, is
already going to increase the cost of electricity and that fails to
take into account insurance and decommissioning costs, both of which
will be provided by the taxpayer.
The Times points out that the “lifetime cost” of cleaning
up Sellafield by the authority’s deadline of 2120 has more than
doubled (actually, tripled!) in five years, from £25 billion in 2010. The NAO said
that the authority had attributed the higher costs to “a better
understanding of the scale and nature of the risks and challenges on
the site”. Is that a confession that they don't know what
they were doing? On the Sellafield News page there is nothing at
all about the Audit Office's views, so, good impartial honesty, then.
No doubt many of the strangely dedicated-to-nuclear peers will
come up with propaganda about why nuclear is so difficult, but so very
two more politicians have been accused of offering to influence
democratic processes for private personal gain. Both are
experienced ex-ministers and, despite being accused by the media of
having offered to "ask questions", or are reported to have
insinuated that they are willing to use their contacts for the benefit
of a private company and their own personal gain; they say they
done nothing illegal. That is as may be, but isn't this a
corruption of the democratic process and thus, at the very least,
immoral? Are we expected to put up with these standards, or are
we entitled to expect more? Aren't MPs
to be making decisions which ensure the best outcome for everyone, not
merely pursuing the ambitions of some private paymaster?
Even if an examination of
the facts fail to prove a breach of the legislation or, on a
lower scale, some self-imposed political protocols - such as the
Parliamentary Standards Committee (whose membership is comprised of:
5 Conservatives, 4 Labour, 1 Lib Dem, and 3 lay members) is
alright to say nothing is wrong?
is a sliding scale of influence that can be bought?
The more a company can invest by obtaining an MP's interest (usually by
inviting them to become a consultant) the more they can hope to
manipulate important and far-reaching decision-making.
Presumably, too, the higher the rank of the poliltician the more they
can charge for their consultancy services and the more the process of
democracy will become distorted. No wonder so many of the
ex-politicians are awarded board memberships of the big companies when they leave office!
Rewards for past performance?
over again the same faces appear, supporting some strange and
irrational policies for no apparent reason. Interestingly, just
as did certain DECC officials, the
lords and ladies of the land have a great interest in the future of
nuclear: both its expansion and its waste disposal.
many of them have connections (current or anticipated in the future) in
the industry or
its civil or nuclear engineering works? With peers of the
failing to see the obvious drawbacks in becoming dependent on and
beholden to foreign companies for finance and technological
development, or to accept that even legal conduct can be
immoral, what price the honours system that made them lords and ladies?
Perhaps it was always this way and it is just modern
that permits Joe Public to see the facts.
February, 2015, a debate is to be held in the Moses Room in the
Houses of Parliament. Hosted by the staunchly pro-nuclear
Baroness Verma, the idea is to get the nuclear dump listed as a
Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. This will
it to be elevated to a development which requires no local input.
Local councils will be unable to control the development and
public will just be told what is going to be put in their locality.
The colour of the factory gates won't even be up for debate.
The Hansard record of the debate can be found here:
Even non-political people might recall David Cameron's talk
"localism". Such an important concept that they had to make
new word for the dictionary! Others may recall being told
if any one of the triumvirate ruled against the dump being built in
Cumbria then the whole matter would be shelved. Naturally,
promise was made on the basis that a) the locals were so stupid as to
agree, and b) that sufficient of the local representatives and press
articles had paved the way for the people at a). Even
County Council's refusal was not on the most obvious matters of
pollution and inadequate infra-structure, but nonetheless they did
refuse. That was officially the end of the proposal for
except that no other council was willing to contemplate placing the
risks in their own backyard. So the voice of democracy is only
to be heard when it suits those in positions of power; some of
who's morals are demonstrably lacking. Time for change as MP
Zac Goldsmith and the Speaker John Bercow have both said.
So, one has
to ask, what are the reasons behind this unflinching push
for nuclear? How many of the regulars are set for rewards,
whether direct or indirect? The daily rates for
with influential MPs seems to be around £5,000 to £10,000 per
day, and even
one comparatively small furniture company seems to see this as a
worthwhile expenditure. One has to wonder what might be on
from the likes of the nuclear industry which sees
many billions of
public money spent each year.
years ago, Électricité de
managed to get DECC officials to agree an exorbitant figure for nuclear
power generation, let alone providing just about everything the company
might need to obviate risk to itself. The figure was over
the then current rate of other forms of generation, and was guaranteed
for 50 years, index-linked, naturally. In recent times the
of energy production has fallen considerably. Has this
anything? Nope, the good old British public will be required
pay through the nose for nuclear generated power regardless of its
viability - commercial or environmental.
|24/2/15, edited 28/5/16
advent of new technology brings both rewards and threats.
the latest fads is the use of drones - akin to miniature flying
bedsteads, and usually having a rotor at each of its corners.
Hobby drones range in price from around £30 (including
over £10,000, they are capable of spying on "sensitive" sites.
In France they have been spotted in ever-increasing numbers
government and nuclear establishments. Attempts to catch the
operators of these devices have failed. Given their size and
portability that is hardly surprising. Even the heaviest of
only weighs about 5 kg (10lbs); they can be controlled from
around 2kms away; may carry either still or video cameras,
use 14 channels to communicate with the controller. The task
finding operators thus becomes almost impossible.
is against the law to fly any machine within half a kilometre of any
nuclear site at a height of less than 1 km. So, catch me if
can, seems to be the idea. What does it mean that people are
willing to play chicken with the authorities? As a bit of a
lark, or prank, not much. As a means for a terrorist to
up-to-the-minute detailed plans and photographs of a nuclear
establishment, very sinister and extremely potentially very serious.
Taking photographs is not going to harm anyone, agreed, but
if the material gathered is given to those who do not have the nation's
interests at heart? How long before a drone is developed
can carry a more malicious payload?
Since we wrote the above, over a year ago, the hobby drone has really
caught on. Along with laser pens, the price of the equipment has
reduced considerably, so that the most recent fully equipped one is
now under £350. Laser pens can be bought or fashioned from the
components of domestic audio equipment. Even at considerable
distances these lasers can blind. There is an obvious scenario
which involves security at nuclear sites.
Another Campaign Website
or anti-nuclear, but nonetheless wish to protest against the
despoilation of the beautiful countryside and further proliferation of
the ugly nuclear sites, you will find this website of considerable
propaganda suggests that there will be tremendous economic and social
benefits to Copeland and Allerdale districts of Cumbria if the dump
were to get the go-ahead. Yet even the ex-Sellafield PR
and MP for Copeland, Jamieson Reed, a major supporter of the nuclear
industry, was quoted in The Times, 4/11/13, pointing out that "health
services around Sellafield are suffering major cuts, local
and police stations are closing and major civic amenities are closing
down". Not much obvious in the way of
despite the passage of half a century, as people have tolerated the
dirtiest and most polluting industry around. Will any
of future largesse - sorry, compensation - be better honoured?
Unlikely, we think. Once they have achieved their objective
rest will become just rhetoric. Just as interesting will be
far the tame geologists will go before acknowledging that the terrain
is in fact unsuitable. How much money will that take?
will they press on regardless, with large construction companies
insisting that they can "engineer a solution" with their main goal
being to line their own pockets with the prolonged profits that the
government, once committed to this course of action, will be obliged to
maintain despite the inevitable burgeoning costs and delays - or risk
losing face. Still, many of those decision-makers will have
the foresight to invest in the construction industry.
In the best traditions, being against the nuclear dump has provoked the
plan's protagonists into ire, not least the local ex-Sellafield PR man,
now (happily for Sellafield) the local MP, who has published statements
about the trust's ambitions and questioned their motives.
Pretty standard stuff, really, but is this really what an MP should be
doing - or is he supposed to be representing the views of all
constituents rather than pushing for one small group? Still,
didn't even have a Plan B for when things went awry with the multiple
nuclear reactors proposed a short while ago.
not have been part of his brief if he truly had the interests
the region at heart?
|7/11/13 further edited
Damned Lies and
Five years ago the politicians announced several criteria that would
have to be met before any consideration could be given to nuclear
Liberal Democrats, as many did back then, there would be no nuclear
development except over the dead body of one prominent member, who
reiterated that stipulation at a meeting we attended in
Westminster. That was a stated policy which must
them many thousands of extra votes, but a promise that went the way of
so many others when that particular party ostensibly became eligible
for a bit of a say in national affairs.
announcement of an unpopular, subsidised development at Hinkley Point
by Électricité de
France using 50 year-old designs and financed by China, illustrates how
well the criteria have been met.
plan or location approved for the disposal of nuclear
waste. Residents of the unique location in Cumbria
voiced their disapproval many times. This time round the
government consultation exercise is prefaced with the usual rhetoric
about local opinions. What in fact they have done, is to
the county council from the equation - their objections to the
proposals resulting in a no vote last time - meaning that all efforts
to cajole residents can now be concentrated on just two areas:
Allerdale and Copeland. One can imagine that if
exercise should fail the only people with any input will be the
residents of Copeland, where most of the population are engaged in the
industry and its suppliers. If that fails, and opposition
seem to be mounting quite quickly according to letters in the local
press, then the government will have to whittle down the eligible to
those based around, say, Sellafield canteen. Or perhaps
just the local MP and his cohorts? That way success is
- a method
for the disposal of nuclear waste - legacy and new to be in place
before further expansion could be undertaken;
would have to
be generically approved and safe in operation;
would have to be met;
- approval of
residents obtained before any project was permitted to start.
- all three
groups involved in the "Partnership" - Cumbria CC, Allerdale and
Copeland - must all agree. A negative result from any one
mean the end of the project.
The scope of the consultation can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239237/Consultation_Review_of_the_siting_process_for_a_GDF_FINAL.pdf
. Please feel free to appreciate the wonderful new jargon,
"The Learning Phase", "The Focusing Phase", along with old favourites
like representative authority. Whatever happened to good old
English language? Somewhat amusingly, one of the final
calls for a positive demonstration of local support. Given
the area being focused on is Sellafield, then it would be very
surprising if NMP and all the other greedy companies could resist the
temptation to fund huge demonstrations with its staff. What
chance the small guy against such odds? Like lobbying MPs,
people with the money have the most access and influence. A
critique can be found here: http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ANDREW_BLOWERS_GDF_Siting_Consultation_Sept._2013.pdf
The DECC document goes on, in the best manner of a government
department with a set objective - but very reminiscent of a wide-boy car
salesman, "Beyond this
would, of course, remain subject to statutory planning and regulatory
regimes, and their accompanying public and stakeholder engagement and
consultation requirements." Yeah, right, that's
government have removed most of the rights to object to such major
proposals. What kind of say will residents have when
have given the go-ahead? Precious little we think.
be worthwhile at this point to indicate that the proposed Nuisance Bill
currently making its way through parliament will put an end to any form
of protest which causes a nuisance. Hmm. Not, of
that politicians would ever want to stifle criticism or protests . . .
Naturally, none of the cost burden for waste disposal will fall on
those who wish to profit from nuclear development. It will
be paid for by the U.K. taxpayer, ultimately for the benefit of private
companies - most of whom have little interest in what would be best for
would be very
interesting to learn how many MPs, their families and peers of the
realm - especially those involved in the decision-making - stand to
gain from nuclear development. Some of them seem to
very close links indeed.
"New Nuclear - The Economics Say No", dated 9/11/09, was clear in the
fact that nuclear was too expensive compared to alternative generation
methods. It is interesting, therefore to study the
which the six major companies have manoeuvred to bring their prices in
line with the promised subsidy which will be enjoyed by Électricité de
France when/if the Hinkley Point reactor is
Much grumbling by the politicians indicates either stupidity or, more
likely, cunning. It must have been apparent to all
prices being demanded by Électricité de
France would become the base
line for all of them. In the same way that the 30
speed limit becomes the minimum as well as the maximum speed in a
posturing by Mr.
E. Miliband about Labour fixing prices until 2017. He seems
deliberately overlook the fact that the main price rises that will
ensue once Hinkley is in operation will certainly not have come into
play by 2017.
pushing the global warming mantra and reiterating stories about the
lights going out. Whatever one believes about the
the U.K.'s contribution, when compared to the likes of China and
America, is minimal and any reduction even more so.
should certainly be no need to stampede into an even more dangerous
energy policy. With regard to both matters, if a
and financially viable energy policy is developed and acted on then a
reduction in CO2 and a secure continuing energy
programme will result. Sadly, that idea is not
line MP's pockets.
politicians have once again waved fingers at the public in their
efforts to secure benefits for themselves. So many
criteria have now been disposed of, it is now only a matter of time
before the matter of a nuclear dump is resolved by ignoring the
"localism" which has rejected it. It is, after all,
matter of whittling down the number of those to be consulted to just those who
work for Sellafield and those who expect to gain as a result of a
positive vote. After all it would be a shame to
ground-work put in by those MPs who manipulated the parliamentary
system (a gross abuse of parliamentary process - Michael Martin,
Speaker) to ensure that insurance for nuclear incidents remains with
the taxpayer, thereby making nuclear slightly more viable.
capability, no energy security, most equipment manufactured abroad, no
secure source of raw materials, no local approval, 50 year-old designs
that have never been completed on time or on budget, and
index-linked subsidies to foreign companies. Sounds
One of the
planks of the "Localism" touted by Cameron and his ilk is that there
will be adequate rewards for any community agreeing to host the nuclear
dump. An example of just how rewarding Cumbria's
involvement with nuclear has been is quoted in The Times of 4th
November, in a statement from the pro-nuclear at any cost MP, Jamieson
Reed: ". .
around Sellafield are suffering major
cuts, local courts and police stations are closing and major
civic amenities are closing down." The
viewpoint might be that such deprivations are vital and are being
deliberately introduced in order to indicate to the local residents
just how vital the nuclear industry is - whether they like it or not.
At the very
meeting we attended, in Whitehaven, five years ago, we objected to the
many posters around the room as they indicated that many of the
improvement to social and health amenities and services were dependent
on residents approving the nuclear developments which would have a
devastating effect on the beautiful countryside of
Copeland. We were concerned, too, that the majority
those pushing so hard for the development had links to Sellafield,
either in the way of past employment, or because they were in some way
beholden to the industry.