Britain's Toxic Coast
"The 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. ISBN  0-450-05108-0

Last up-dated
:   28/6/18

Home  (this page)
Facts (1) Facts (2) Archived Pages

Braystones from the air
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 is the scene of a further landslip in 2014. (The 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.)
                          
Ref.: 1 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmnwest/memo/nuclearindustry/ucm1502.htm
2 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/47792/1975-aos-braystones-en6.pdf


14/8/18

'"Come into my parlour", said the spider to the fly . . .'

It is with some wry amusement that we observe that two of the world's largest powers, Russia and China, are being accused of "ignoring the niceties of convention and, on occasion, even the legalities of their actions", yet the powers that be are still willing to do business with them.

Russia, supplies gas to a large number of EU countries:  Estonia,Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia are totally reliant on Russian supplies, whilst Bulgaria (97%), Hungary (83%), Slovenia (72%) are also under unsurmountable obligations to Russia.   Even the likes of Greece (66%), the Czech Republic (63%), Austria (62%), and Poland (57%) are highly dependent on Russian goodwill and thus susceptible to Russian influence.   Since their decision to abandon nuclear power completely, Germany has been using Russian-supplied gas for 46% of its needs, while Italy (34%), and France (18%) would still struggle without Russia's gas.

In 2012 the European Commission opened formal proceedings to investigate whether Gazprom is hindering competition in Central and Eastern European gas markets, in breach of EU competition law. The Commission is looking into Gazprom's use of ‘no resale’ clauses in supply contracts, alleged prevention of diversification of gas supplies, and imposition of unfair pricing by linking oil and gas prices in long-term contracts. To combat this, Russia responded by issuing blocking legislation which introduced a rule prohibiting Russian energy firms, including Gazprom, to comply with any foreign measures or requests.   The Russian government decides on whether any company should comply with European rules or requests.

Ref.:  Jones, Dave; Dufour, Manon; Gaventa, Jonathan (June 2015).  https://www.e3g.org/docs/E3G_Trends_EU_Gas_Demand_June2015_Final_110615.pdf

It has been alleged to the EU commissioners that 'Gazprom manipulated, blackmailed and threatened the Central European Member States in order to maintain its monopoly of gas supplies. Unfair pricing, territorial restrictions, making the gas supplies conditional upon granting control of transmission infrastructure – these are just examples of the grim picture reveales by the Commission in its Statement of Objections.'

The Nord Stream 2 project will render the extant Baltic pipeline virtually obsolete in terms of European supplies.   A major worry should be that, once the Europeans are being supplied via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the Russians can control more easily the amount of gas supplied to the likes of Belarus and the Ukraine, making them very vulnerable.

On 13/9/18, the American Energy Secretary is reported as having told his Russian counterpart the Russian should stop using its resources for "influence and disruption".   Stating the obvious weakness of having a single pipeline supplying energy to a huge part of Europe, controlled by Russia, the Americans are threatening to impose yet more sanctions on the Russians.

Ref.:  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-13/u-s-warns-russia-it-may-sanction-new-gas-pipeline-to-germany

Currently engaged in military "manoeuvres" with Russia, China is following a similar method of gaining control of other countries' economics.   The extent to which an ever-growing number of countries are beholden to China for their development has been noted in Australia and New Zealand in particular.   In the U.K. our politicians seem to be oblivious to any potential threat and continue to welcome China's money and are willing to accept handing control of the most important part of our infra-structure to them.   Just as Germany is under threat from its dependence on Russian gas supplies, so the U.K. is vulnerable to control by external countries of its electrical supplies.   Although ostensibly engaging in dialogues with leaders around the world, there are those who believe that, far from broadening its views, the Chinese government is intent on expanding its socialist status.

The methods used are very familiar to those who have studied the methods of promoting the nuclear industry in the U.K.   The Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University is reported to have said of China's United Front Work Department, “It uses a tapestry of methods to achieve its goals: political donations, control of Chinese language media, mobilising community and student groups; and engaging in coercive activities that involve CCP proxies and even consular officials.”

A Chinese company, Landbridge, owns the lease on the port of Darwin, a military base for U.S. marines!   The deal, in 2015, was hailed  by politicians at the time as "a fantastic outcome for taxpayers" (familiar?).   However, there is growing antagonism to the perceived Chinese interference in Australian and New Zealand political and economic affairs.Development in China has led to it becoming a major threat to western markets.   As with Russia, it was once trailing behind in developing such things as electric cars and the so-called "intelligent machinery".   By copying - something the Chinese have always been acknowledged as being masters at - successful models, they have now become a threat to the originals.

Once seen as a major marketing opportunity, China has changed the logic which stated that they needed outside help to improve, so that now many countries are heavily reliant on China.

A report in Der Spiegel says that, "China is growing stronger, America has become unreliable and Germany has to figure out what its new rôle will look like".   The report asks what will happen when China begins exporting its own electric vehicles or building its own high-tech machines, and points out that a considerable stake in Daimler is under Chinese control.   A global leader in industrial robotics, KUKA, was taken over by the Chinese company, Midea.   Whilst they have not changed anything much - the company headquarters remains the same, the number of jobs has been preserved - there seems to be little appreciation that the management now have access to all the company's industrial secrets.  Similarly with other specialist companies such as Krauss Maffei (hi-tech injection moulding equipment) and Putzmeister (pumps for a wide range of different materials, for example slurries, fly ash, sewage, compost and water).   These companies have branches, and thus influence, in multiple countries.   China, obviously, now has access to all their research and development plans.   Strangely, many people only see the potential market in China, rather than the detrimental aspects.   Yet there is an asymentrical balance in play, with the bias being in favour of China.  

America has accused the Chinese of unfair trade practices and "massive theft of intellectual property".   The consequent threats loom large and will put EU countries in the middle, which may well increase their dependence on Chinese resources.   Should the U.K. be inviting any foreign country to handle control of their electrical supplies?   What will happen when the major companies around the globe are owned by China?

According Bloomberg (https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-china-business-in-europe/) more than 670 China-related entities have invested in Europe over the last ten years.   At least a hundred of these were state-backed and invested in almost £125 billion of transactions.

Has western Europe become a branch of China - helping them to become the global manufacturing super-power it has set out to be?

It may, then, be of little wonder that the likes of Électricité de France wish to build new nuclear reactors as an alternative.   Even better is that gullible people in the U.K. will allow this.   An international grid could see the reactors situated remotely whilst the waste would have to be treated and disposed of in the country of origin, not that of the electricity consumer.

An amusing aside to the Hinkley debacle is the comment reported in the press this week by France's Energy Minister, who seemingly has doubts that the design will ever work.   The Times report says that "Électricité de France needs to show that a new generation nuclear reactors work well, which is not presently the case, new environment minister François de Rugy said in remarks published on Monday".   He went on to say that any decision on whether to build more plants using the European pressurised reactor (EPR) design would be based on economic factors.   In the face of growing labour unrest, the French government is expected to outline in late October a plan to cut the share of nuclear energy in its electricity production by 25%.   Having the nuclear builder as a state asset, this may be difficult to implement.   Whether the proposed cut includes the construction of new nuclear reactors is politically sensitive for President Macron, who is already unpopular following his fights with the unions.

De Rugy reportedly told Le Monde newspaper in an interview that 'his gut feeling was that nuclear power was not an energy source for the future, but added that there should be no "war of religions" on the issue'.   Quite how that can be reconciled with the continuing salesmanship abroad is difficult to imagine.

The Energy Minister continued, "The important thing is to know the economic data for both nuclear and renewable energies."   Yet the construction of the first plant in France to use an EPWR reactor has run billions of euros over budget and is years behind schedule.   Reports of quality failures in castings and weldings have been circulating for many years.   Strangely, none of these difficulties will attend the Hinkley construction - allegedly.

Asked whether Électricité de France should build another such plant after it completes the station in Normandy, De Rugy said, "Électricité de France should demonstrate that the EPWR works, which is not the case yet.   Nobody is able to guarantee a date for its connection to the grid. It also needs to demonstrate the Électricité de France is competitive in terms of costs."

The previous environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, who was widely viewed as an impediment to the nuclear industry's drive to remain as France's main power supplier, resigned abruptly in August.

Blame the Investigator, not the Polluter

In an article in The Times, 14/9/18, a reporter notes that Dr. Chris Busby, well known for his outspoken views, had been arrested.   Police searching his home complained of feeling unwell and it was noted that in his laboratory were mysterious samples, including (apparently written with shocked tones) mud samples from round Sellafield.   We've written to enquire whether the residents of Ravenglass and Seascale will also be investigated for having Sellafield's radioactive materials in their homes.  
  We do not expect an answer.   The BBC report states that Dr. Busby was released with apparently no further action to be taken, although Sky News suggests that he was released pending enquiries.    Amongst the indignant report was the observation that Dr. Busby had appeared on RT (Russia Today), but, for all its faults, that channel has not yet been proscribed by the powers-that-be, and it seems unlikely to us that he would ever be invited to air his views on either the BBC or Sky News.

NuGen Retreat

NuGen has announced it is to cut its workforce by around 60% due to delays in the sale of the business.   An employee consultation process has been completed, and a "phased reduction" in the number of employees will follow.   The developer said: “This consultation served to identify the posts that will be required to finalise and complete a transaction for the sale of NuGen and as a result, the team of over 100 will reduce to fewer than 40.”

A sale of the business to south Korean company, Kepco, stalled, resulting in that company being stripped of its preferred bidder status in last month after negotiations failed to reach a conclusion.

NuGen said, “For over a year, Toshiba has pursued a sale of NuGen to Kepco.   Due to the prolonged time it has taken to reach a conclusion, NuGen has undertaken a review of its size and scale.”   Doubt was first cast on the project last year when Toshiba posted an $8.4bn loss, largely due to a $6.3bn writedown of CB&I Stone & Webster, which was owned by Toshiba’s US subsidiary Westinghouse Electric.   Westinghouse, was due to manufacture the AP1000 reactor intended to be used at the Moorside plant, but filed for bankruptcy in March, 2017.   This prompted Toshiba’s partner Engie to exit the scheme by triggering a get-out clause in the contract, enabling it to sell its 40% stake to Toshiba.   After that it was a dismal task trying to sell the concept to others.

The National Infrastructure Commission called on government to withhold financial support for all but one of the planned new nuclear projects until at least 2025.

Ref.  https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/markets/sectors/nuclear/moorside-developer-nugen-halves-headcount/10035055.article


12/8/18

Up Up and Huawei

Around ten years ago when our politicians were in thrall to RWE's executive, were pointed out that it would be folly to become dependent on a foreign power to provide electricity;  at the same time we suggested that merely using the hardware, firmware and software from foreign users - whether in computers or, more seriously, in control circuits - was putting the country at an unacceptable risk.

Over the years, and in every one of the responses we have made to the various consultations, we have pointed out the vulnerability potentially inherent even in such comparatively simple devices such as routers and network cards.   It seems that our forecasts were correct:

Huawei is the world's biggest producer of telecoms equipment and is a major supplier of broadband and mobile network gear in Britain.

The latest report was written by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC), which was set up in 2010 in response to concerns that BT and others' use of the firm's equipment could pose a threat. It reports to the National Cyber Security Centre which is part of GCHQ, the Government's listening post.

In its latest report, the HCSEC's oversight board warned that “identification of shortcomings in Huawei’s engineering processes have exposed new risks in the UK telecommunication networks and long-term challenges in mitigation and management”.

In America, where there have already been attacks on power distribution networks and nuclear power stations, 
FBI Director Wray said last Tuesday:

"We're 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 that provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure."   He went on to say, "It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, and it provides capacity to conduct undetected espionage."


Source:  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/626110/20170413_HCSEC_Oversight_Board_Report_2017_-_FINAL.pdf

Because of the deep concerns regarding Huawei's products, the HCSEC (Huawei cyber security evaluation centre) Oversight Board was set up to assess security of the Chinese mobile phones made by the company.   The deputy chairperson is a senior executive from Huawei.

Our government is seriously considering allowing China to build its own nuclear power stations, despite the obvious risks.

How many millions of other lines of code, on which the country (and, of course, the nuclear industry,) relies have been assessed for latent malware?   We rest our case.


10/8/18

Losing One's Cool, or Wastwater Becomes Waste Water

One of the many deficits of nuclear power is that it needs lots of water to operate, and we are constantly told about the alleged role of CO2 in the global warming scenario.   According to supporters of the theory we are already beyond redemption.

What then is the future for nuclear power stations that need constant supplies of cold water to cool them down?   There have been droughts in Greece and Sweden, and in central and northern parts of Europe, whilst the normally-green UK looks brown.  

The heatwave and the consequent drought is forcing nuclear plants either to shut down or curtail the amount of power they
produce.   French utility Électricité de Franc was obliged to shut four reactors at three power plants on Saturday;  Earlier in the week Swedish utility Vattenfall shut one of two reactors at a power plant, and nuclear plants in Finland, Germany, and Switzerland have been obliged to cut back the amount of power they produce.

Yet this particular problem is not mentioned, although we are often told that the wind won't blow, causing problems for wind-farms, and the sun doesn't always shine, causing problems for solar generation.   Hence we need the good old nuclear power to see us through.   Yes, well . . .

One of Private Eye's "Number Crunching" panels a couple of weeks back seemed to have missed a few of United Utilities problems.   Basically about the lack of water, it failed to give a complete picture.   Ever helpful, we wrote pointing out the ommissions.   The current edition includes most of our information, under the title of Mussel Strain.   It tells of the scarcity of water for West Cumbrians, despite them living in an area of very high rainfall, and sounds a bit cynical that Sellafield's needs come first over the needs of the 67,000 people affected by the new supplies being provided to replace the Ennerdale water that has been the staple for 150 years.   The supply is now comprised of 20% borehole water and 80% Ennerdale water.  

People have complained in the local press about the alleged effects of the change, suggesting that they are suffering from rashes and upset stomachs as a result.

Sellafield is licensed to draw over 24½ billion litres of water a year from the area's resources:  6½ billion litres from the River Ehen, the rest from the River Calder and Wastwater.   They pay nothing for the water in the way that normal customers do, but they do pay for the extraction licences.   We don't know who mon itors that the extraction quantities are comensurate with the terms of their licence..

One of the tenets of the base load model is that nuclear can fulfill any short-fall virtually instantaneously.   Although this model is now old hat, the industry has done a good job of keeping it alive, promoting the disadvantages of windfarms (the wind doesn't always blow) and solar (the sun doesn't always shine) whilst failing to note detrimental conditions that would cause a nuclear reactor to go off line.   However, during the most recent heat wave four French reactors had to go off line to avoid overheating their cooling sources - which would have killed native wildlife in the respective sources.   A while back, we noted several incidences of reactors having to be shut down due to the jellyfish, appreciating the nuclear industry's contribution to global warming, congregating in huge swarms, thus blocking the water intake for the cooling systems.   Why doesn't anyone remind the decision-makers of these flaws?

10/8/18
The Nuclear Industry Improve Whitehaven

The peculiar relationship between Sellafield and west Cumbria has escalated with the announcement by ex-M.P. Jamie Reed, now head of corporate affairs at the Sellafield site, that £2.6 million to convert the old bus station in Whitehaven to a “hub for start-up businesses”.   It will be called, somewhat unimaginatively, The Buzz Station.   The building is currently a Witherspoons.

Sellafield has a long history of what some see as undue interference in the local community, following on from the decision to 'capture the minds, if not the hearts of the young children', as mentioned in the book “Inside Sellafield”, by (ex-Sellafield PR manager) Harold Bolter.   The plan has seen the company infiltrating virtually every aspect of community life in the area, especially those which will influence young minds.

The problem for some is that the majority of the donations and initiatives emanating from Sellafield, are those which should be coming directly from the government – local and national.   Instead, pitiful amounts are fed into those areas which will most benefit the nuclear industry image, having been filtered through Sellafield’s £2 billion (and rising) annual budget.

Another beneficiary of this type of largesse is the “Whitehaven Campus”; a £30 million investment for which comes from partners including the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (£14.5 million), Sellafield Ltd. (£10.6 million), and the county council.   Copeland Community Fund is investing money for the provision of new, accessible, community sports facilities.

Small surprise then that most young people, who have been subjected to this kind of education see little harm in Sellafield’s other, less savoury activities.   One does wonder, though, why the NDA and Sellafield are permitted to distribute taxpayer’s money in this manner.   Surely the NDA and Sellafield are both funded to deal with cleaning up the Sellafield site, not to perpetuate the nuclear industry in this manner, by brainwashing youngsters?

With the industry in decline, there is a need for future industry in the area and it looks like the “Moorside” development of 500 acres of farmland is faltering and may not go ahead.   The emphasis seems now to have changed from new nuclear to the underground nuclear dump, following the announcement that even National Parks will not be immune from hosting them or having them imposed by the National Infrastructure .   No prizes for guessing which National Park is the most susceptible.


10/8/18
A Game of Bluff - or is Moorside Really Doomed?

NuGen seem to be taking their bat and ball home, having announced that if funding and better terms are forthcoming within a few months, they will have to end the Moorside project and sack all their staff, who seem mainly to be office-based nearly 100 miles away, in Manchester.   No doubt those staff would have moved to Cumbria in due course, continuing the illusion that NuGen have provided local jobs.

Or was it all just a ruse to enable more boreholes to be drilled with a view to imposing the underground dump on Cumbria, burying the stuff under the lakes and mountains of the National Park.   Sellafield representatives have certainly been inserted into the relevant committees and financial assistance suitably benfitted the amenable.


20/7/18

The Power Behind the Power

Throughout our meanderings we have often (too often for comfort?) drawn attention to the coming of age of the plans laid down decades ago by the managers and, especially, the PR men from Sellafield in respect of damage limitation and insertion of nuclear industry personnel into government - whether as "special advisors", or, indeed, MPs.   The current crop of promoters, ably assisted in Cumbria by local press, is no exception.   We will draw again from that august journal, Private Eye.   In an article headed "Nuclear Families", (Issue 1474,) it says:

Business secretary Greg Clark's department has all but dropped any pretence that UK nuclear policy is determined objectively and more or less handed the task to industry itself.

Among measures announced last week in what it calls a special "nuclear sector deal" were £200m of taxpayer cash for research and technology facilities, plus commitments to the latest forms of nuclear build such as approving smaller "modular" reactors now in vogue in the business.   Industry, meanwhile, merely agreed to some vague targets to reduce building and decommissioning costs.

The small print of the plan reveals that the deal "has been developed by the Nuclear Industry Council . . . in partnership with the government."   But who exactly is the Nuclear Industry Council?   It is chaired by former New Labour minister John Hutton, who kicked off the nuclear renaissance as business secretary in 2008 (declaring falsely that "there will be no public subsidies) before heading into the industry himself.   Members include EdF (behind the £20 billion Hinley Point C power station), Horizon (owned by Hitachi and pencilled in for a new plant on Anglesey), as well as builders like Laing O'Rourke, Babcock's Cavendish nuclear group and the consultancy Arup.   Hutton himself is well placed to boost the nuclear companies' prospects.  He also chairs Energy UK, which brings together energy producers and the suppliers that have to decide where to buy their power.

When it comes to cleaning up the nuclear mess, the sector deal sets out what it calls "a long-term vision of innovation-led growth that delivers successively lower generation costs and a 20 percent reduction in decommissioning costs to the taxpayer".

Just a couple of days earlier, the government's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said it was taking back in-house the job of cleaning up 12 Magnox sites from a consortium of Babcock and Fluor, after the NDA botched the contract.   The price had risen from £3.8 billion to £6 billion over the two-year procurement.   As ever, condessions, subsidies, bail-outs and unmeetable promises keep the nuclear family together.'


Not sure whether the author has been reading our web-site, but most of that has already been said here.  How long will it be before the industry convinces those at Westminster that it should be allowed to fulfill the forecast by Mike Weightman, former CEO of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, back in 2009, when he suggested that ultimately the industry would ba allowed to regulate itself.   We all know how well that system works.   Still, observing the changes occuring around the Whitehaven and Egremont areas, especially with interference in educational fields, along with the constant barrage of pro-nuclear propaganda published by the local press, it seems the industry is well on its way to achieving the objectives set out in Harold Bolter's book, "Inside Sellafield".   One has to wonder what kind of conscience these people have.
 
28/6/18

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 Shell.

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.


28/6/18

Qualified Success


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

Ref.:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43816717

Police chief: Big city drug gangs are carrying out turf wars in Cumbria

Ref.:  http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/Police-chief-Big-city-drug-gangs-are-carrying-out-turf-wars-in-Cumbria-e2516577-ff7d-44fb-a934-e259a820524d-ds

Gangs in Cumbria running drug deliveries like a takeaway service

Ref.:  http://www.timesandstar.co.uk/news/Gangs-in-Cumbria-running-drug-deliveries-like-a-takeaway-service-a8568225-9bbe-48b8-b87a-5bc3f92da134-ds

Still, fortunately, the nuclear industry has high standards.


28/6/18

Under The Stone

As 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 infrastructure group.

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.

10/5/18

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 financing is 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, Dungeness, and

Source:  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180504_07/  and
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/confusion-over-financial-backing-for-nuclear-project-xqjltp0h3


8/5/18

What Do They Know?  
(As opposed to what they think 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.

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 by Électricité de France.   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

https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/environment/power-supply-fears-prompt-call-to-keep-kilroot-open-1-8489681



8/5/18

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:

Sir,

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 chief 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:



8/5/18


Électricité 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 Électricité 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 Électricité 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?

Source:  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-edf-flamanville/padlocks-stolen-from-edfs-flamanville-nuclear-site-edf-says-no-impact-on-safety-idUSKBN1I80HK



30/4/18


The "Experts" Must Try Harder

That 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.)

That 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!

After 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.

Other 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.

Source:  http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/Sellafield-rapped-for-legionella-control-ea6269e3-cbcf-4311-85b6-fe1e0a73c356-ds



26/4/18

Are We Nearly There Yet?

SSE's 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 the company.

SSE is owned by Iberdrola, a Spanish company.   Old friends Électricité de France managed to produce a small loss.   One might wonder, is this solely to do with financial advantages?

The 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.

The 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

            https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/08/31/sse-revealed-profit-hungry-big-six-margins-climb-third-year/, and

           https://www.constructionproducts.org.uk/news-media-events/blog/2017/june/a-comparison-of-electricity-prices-between-the-uk-and-eu/, and

            https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/31/profit-margins-at-big-six-energy-firms-hit-highest-level-on-record, and

            The International Energy Agency

27/4/18

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:

FBI 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 espionage.”

Source:    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/13/chinas-hauwei-top-us-intelligence-chiefs-caution-americans-away.html

               https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/14/17011246/huawei-phones-safe-us-intelligence-chief-fears

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 -
Ghost 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 plants?

27/4/18

BBC Countryfile Does the Cumbria Coastal Way - Sort of

On 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.

Of 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 Head.

There 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.

Despite 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 development.

Were 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.


12/4/18

Moving With The Times - or, We Told You So (Many Years Ago)

A 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 energy/power needs.


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 de France".


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, after all?


22/3/18

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 that:

"There 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 foreign companies.)



22/3/18

Departure from Euratom Would Mean a Return to Dickensian Standards - Apparently

According to the Guardian:

"For the 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."

Source:  https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/10/what-is-euratom-and-why-does-it-matter

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 Commons.

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 agreement.

Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43476337



1/3/18

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:

 NPS~2018


10/2/18

It Is Not a (Raw) Turkey!

Private Eye’s Old Sparky writing in issue 1463 (February, 2018) again points to the way that the country was stampeded into accepting Électricité de France's 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 de France 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 de France to cost around £24/MWh, this has now escalated to nearly £100/MWh.   Although he fails to mention the Électricité de France 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?

Scary 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 de France 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 de France 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 poor customer.


28/1/18

Sky High News

Over 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:  

"Organisations 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.

Energy, transport, water, health and digital infrastructure firms could be fined if they fail to develop robust safeguards protecting themselves from cyberattacks."

Ref.:  https://news.sky.com/story/government-warns-critical-industry-firms-to-prepare-for-cyberattacks-11226555

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 . . .


27/1/18


Purposeful Consultation?

With 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.


27/1/18

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.)

The 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 thing, 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 reality.

Experience 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.

Looking 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 8802
people 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 beer.   (Except it would only buy a pint per month.)

Attack From the North

It 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?

Then 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

Not 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 :

"We 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:

"Members 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.

Ref.:  http://carbcap.geos.ed.ac.uk/sellafield/Section0.pdf

As an 
Électricité de France 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?

Anyone 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.

27/1/18

Due Diligence Applies Sometimes - Apparently

Following 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 decommissioning costs.

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?


16/1/18

Failure of Government to Exercise Due Diligence

The 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 billion.  

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 de France, 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 go-ahead.  

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.


16/1/18

Enquiries Afoot

We 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.


16/1/18

Jobs for All?

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

1/1/18
Left Hand Doesn't Know There is a Right Hand


To 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.

We 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.

KPMG 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.)

Nearly £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 few decades.  

Nothing to see here, kindly move on. 

For 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:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/21/hinkley-point-c-dreadful-deal-behind-worlds-most-expensive-power-plant


31/12/17
Following One's Nose

Einstein once observed that scientists can go wrong 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.  



30/12/17
Yet Another Year - a Progress Report?

Back 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.  

The 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.

Source:  https://www.edf-group/dedicated-sections/finance/investors-analysts/credits/net-financial-debt-and-cash-flow  

Needless 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 home.

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 "Moorside" project.

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:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/10/what-is-euratom-and-why-does-it-matter  

A 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 late.

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 Areva.

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 skewed advice.

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 corrupt.

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.  

In 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.

September 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.  

Still, 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%"  

Source:  http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/

Although 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.  



22/12/17

Stop Hinkley

An excellent 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 Sellafield".  

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 being wrong.)

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


29/12/17
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 points:  
  • 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.
  • Sellafield  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!


21/8/17

Smugness and Contentment
It 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 malware.

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.

8/8/17
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.
Électricité de 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 Fukushima-style meltdown.  

Ref.:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/19/new-south-korean-president-vows-to-end-use-of-nuclear-power  

However, did Osborne know way back then about Toshiba's forthcoming problems?  

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 diligence"?

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 France 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 month.

Ref.:  http://world-nuclear-news.org/NN-US-nuclear-construction-project-to-be-abandoned-0108177.html

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.

Ref.:  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/03/fukushima-daiichi-radiation-levels-highest-since-2011-meltdown

8/8/17
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 subjected 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 compulsory purchase.

Re.:  http://your.heathrow.com/newpropertycompensation/

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 in Cumbria?  

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 Infrastructure proposals.

Source:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/499282/Your_property_and_our_road_blight_Digital__.pdf

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.


15/2/17
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 that.  

Due Diligence?

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.  

Local Glee

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.   Some risk!

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
Électricité de 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 government.

Not So Smart
Électricité de 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?

11/2/17
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 Nagasaki.

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 steel.

Anyway, 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.

(Source:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/557400/Annual_Fuel_Poverty_Statistics_Report_2016_-_revised_30.09.2016.pdf)

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 engines.  

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.

7/2/17
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 by 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 development.

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 such actions!  

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 necessary.

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 Japan".

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 involved?

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.


4/2/17
Euratom Departure

Some sources have expressed concern about the problems with regulation of the nuclear industry once we have left the Euratom partnership.  

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 requirements.

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.


28/1/17
Editorial Up-date

Over 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.

Following 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.

A 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.

(https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dr-mike-weightmans-interim-report-japanese-earthquake-and-tsunami-implications-for-the-uk-nuclear-industry-written-ministerial-statement-by-the-rt-hon-chris-huhne-mp-18-may-2011)

There 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.

Unreported Errors


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 de France's 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.

Last 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.

One 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 de France 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?


The 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.

The latter company has been reported as having liabilities greater than its assets in various blogs, following shenanigans in America.   Since Électricité de France 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.

Neither 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 de 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 de France

As part of the Stop Hinkley campaign, the Green Party on the Mendip council have commenced action to persuade people to switch from using 
Électricité de France and pick up £40 for doing so.   See http://switchÉlectricité de Franceoff.org.uk/

25/7/16
Response to NuGen's Consultation Process, Stage 2.

Not one of the points we raised has been answered, nor has any attempt been made to contradict anything we have said in our document.

We 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 "Moorside" project.


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. Bridget's Church?


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)


A 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:

http://www.copeland.gov.uk/sites/default/files/attachments/record_of_correspondence.pdf

Sadly, the authorities have no objection so far to this huge development in the "Safeguarding Zone" of Sellafield.
24/11/16
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 the contents.  

One 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.
We 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:

ONR Web Page

Elsewhere on their site the ONR profess openness and favours public engagement.
29/10/16
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 expansion.

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".

The 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.

The 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.
29/10/16
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 mix".

Engie 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 were expected 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 the proposals.

Source:  https://uk.news.yahoo.com/nuclear-remain-part-engie-strategy-152034102.html
 
"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
ISBN 0-7221-7029-7
7/9/16
Panoramic View
The 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?

Ref.  http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2611216/leaked_sellafield_photos_reveal_massive_radioactive_release_threat.html

9/9/16
Mushrooms and Ministers

We 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 official rôle.

The 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.

By 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 said.

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 accidents!

Ref.:   http://www.itv.com/news/wales/story/2015-02-25/ex-leader-of-japan-calls-for-wylfa-nuclear-plant-plans-to-be-scrapped/

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


"The 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.

The 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”.

When 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”.

It 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
That 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 things are.

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 government?

Up-date

7/9/16
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?

http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2240101/toshibas_nuclear_project_cheaper_than_hinkley_c.html


1/9/16

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 great benefactor?

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.

13/8/16

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 distinct advantage.  

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?

31/7/16
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?


In a kindly effort to alleviate embarrassment to the NDA, the judge offered that, "They may have been suffering from over-work".   Given what we 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 wonder.

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

31/7/16
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?

31/7/16
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.
So, 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.

31/7/16
Dump Criteria

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 very interesting:

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 irrigation.

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.

31/7/16
Political Buck-passing
.

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:
Regarding 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 (CDG) 2009. 

All duty holders (consignors, carriers, consignees) have legal obligations under the UNECE modal regs (ADR, RID and ADN) which are implemented in GB through CDG

ONR 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.

ONR 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:
ONR’s 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.

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.
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.
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 being well.


7/6/16
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
i.    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
Are NuGen 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
The proposed site is immediately alongside "the most dangerous chemical works in Europe".   An event at either could have devastating and exponential effect.

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 hydrological phenomena.

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
Land 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 NuGen’s expert consultants.   

6.    Unnecessary development of amenities
The alleged “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 visitors.  

The development would kill off the tourist industry, in the same way that visitors are already deterred by Sellafield.


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
The 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.

9.    Infra-structure
Construction 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 the area.

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 underground dump.)   

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 dangerously active.   

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 encapsulation.

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
The plan 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
Suggestions 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
NuGen should 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 own homes

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 contaminated land.

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?

8/6/16

 "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Benjamin Disraeli Crichton, 1965

Reading 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 therefrom.   

Were the Allerdale respondents included to dilute the responses from those who object to the proposals?   Surely not.

However, 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.


28/6/16
Toshiba's Plans Branded "Unrealistic"
Nuclear Fallout After Referendum

The plans 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 term,

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."

Ref.:  http://uk.reuters.com

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."

Ref.:  http://www.hitachi.co.uk/about/press/pdfs/Hitachi%20EU%20statement.pdf
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 Staffordshire, perhaps?

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!


28/5/16
Consultation?

Does 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 can like 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 position to 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 terrorists.

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?

Also 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?


The 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 like:

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 times?   (88%)

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 built here."

Ref.:  https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/

You 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 response.

Amusingly, 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?
NuGen's Misleading Picture Sellafield from the air.

What 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?

One wonders, too, where the fresh water supplies and site drainage facilities are, but perhaps they are too unsightly to be shown.

It 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.

The 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.  

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.  
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.
14/6/16

Sorry, In The Heat of The Moment We Missed Something: Deceipt By Omission

Our attention has been drawn to the following passages in Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report, Volume 1:

Ref.:  https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/wp-content/ipc/uploads/projects/EN010047/EN010047-000067-150805 Scoping Opinion FINAL.pdf
2.24 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 marine environment.

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.
No 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 Wikepedia:  

"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:
"Being 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.
Sellafield from Moorside A trick they missed . . .
A 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 visible.    
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.

Last 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 this project.
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 pictures.

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.

Still, 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?

The 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?

8/6/16
Social Services?
We 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.

Nothing 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.

The 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.?

All 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
NuGen 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 fatalities.

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 crossing users.

Nugen's 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. nuclear loads].

3/6/16
Helping With Global Warming - How?

The 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.

3/6/16
Harbouring Doubts

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 silts.

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.
Re.:  http://corecumbria.co.uk/briefings/regulatory-red-lights-warn-of-impending-delay-to-nugens-moorside-project/

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 think.

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 so much information that it is a bit difficult to digest it all in one sitting.  

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.   
This is 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.   Democracy?

3/6/16

Political Inaction

For 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.

1/6/16
We Told You So

In our 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.

Ref.:  http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14523232._UK_underestimating_risk_of_terrorist_attack_on_nuclear_sites_/

25/5/16
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 nuclear industry.

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?
Nugen 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 sample correspondence.

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 :
  • 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. 
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 expense.)

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 de 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, either?

The organisation "Stop Hinkley" have just sent their newsletter, in that has a report which further illuminates the FOI request:
"The 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 higher bills.

"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.""
Ref.:  http://stophinkley.org/StopPress.htm   (Newsletter for June, 2016.)

1/6/16
On Railway Lines

Reading 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):

3.   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.
Ref.:  http://nonucleartrains.org.uk/demands.html

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. The 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.

1/6/16

More Reliable Than Wind?

In an article on the Herald Scotland website on 14th December, its 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 in 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.
25/5/16
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 in the alleged global warming.   (Subsequently changed to climate change.)   It was also decided that it was necessary to "capture the minds, if not the 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 doubt that 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:
"We 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.

Ref.:    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/sep/23/gardeners-question-time-conflict-interests

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.  

25/5/16
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 election.

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.

Ref.:  http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/08/andrea-leadsom-family-links-offshore-bank-donations-tories

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, apparently.

None of this comes as any surprise, of course.   From the engagement of 
 Électricité de France 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 France 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 . . .  

28/5/16

Weeding Out the Truth

In 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 spawning.


Does 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?

A 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?

The 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.


According 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?

As 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 Blair-style spin.

Less 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 chance!

The Select committee's report has noted that the work is also behind schedule

As 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.

Hopefully, 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 Sellafield.  

"Poor 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!

The 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 necessary.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31725365
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/article4372375.ece

24/2/15
Masters of Integrity?

So, 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 have 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 supposed 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 much 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 it alright to say nothing is wrong?


Maybe there 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 and 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.   How 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 realm 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 communications that permits Joe Public to see the facts.

On 25th 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 entitle it to be elevated to a development which requires no local input.   Local councils will be unable to control the development and the 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:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/1