thing as a 'safe' amount of
exposure to radiation, yet
make the vague suggestion that
being exposed to 100 millisieverts
of radiation per year is all right."
the scale of the Fukushima nuclear leaks was discovered, it
that, "many decades worth of suffering was about to begin."
above was true, after spending $11 billion digging out the Indian Holy
Place, Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the problems were too great.
3" annual rainfall was a problem. Cumbria has 15 times that, but
it will not be a problem - allegedly.
the recent years there have been a number of intriguing developments in
the field of hacking. Nowadays, as well as the big national
hacking rings, there has been an increase in the almost vigilante
actions by small groups of otherwise disconnected people. The
methods have, on occasion, been very clever. For the most part
the intent has been to reveal the poor security that is given by large
companies and organisations to their data. However, that
situation may not prevail for much longer. Malware can be
deleloped to do all kinds of nasty things. From damaging the
safety mechanisms of nuclear enhancement centrifuges to exposure of
corrupt correspondence and commercial confidences.
Sadly, the people at the helm still adhere to the idea that a person is
an IP address. Wherever the mobile phone or laptop or iPad is,
there is the owner. Blatant stupidity. Not only can IP
addresses be falsified, but so can MAC addresses (each device
connecting to a network has one). Basically, anyone can pretend
to be anyone. For years now, the Big Brothers of the world -
purely with our best interests at heart, you understand - have been
monitoring our every telephone call, e-mail, instant message, etc.
They even hacked into the manufacturer of the chips embedded in
the SIM card installed in every mobile phone network device to acquire
the unique identifier contained therein. Anyone spot the fatal
flaw again? Yes, they are identifiying a device not a person,
and even then they may be being misled. Of course, the more
knowledgeable hackers go for specialist methods. To quote from
one well-known website: "Tor
aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance
that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business
activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are
bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers,
protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests,
local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit,
and even the onion routers themselves." What would be the
advantage of making it almost impossible to track the origin of a
message or understand its content? Well, if you can pretend to
be somone else, using a device whose identity has been either removed
or changed to something else, and develop a nice little programme, what
might you do with it? Answers on a postcard please.
What has this to do with Cumbria's second most major industry?
Wouldn't it be interesting if the hackers attempted to access the
nuclear industry's networks? A bit too serious for normal
people, but could it be done, and if so, to what extent might it
compromise the processes? Amusingly, we have read of an incident
where someone introduced a virus into a network by plugging in a
Chinese-made electronic cigarette. Apparently these things
can be recharged by connecting to a computer's standard USB port.
Probably the most amazing thing is that someone in China had had
the foresight to write code that would introduce the malware.
How many USB ports do you think there might be in use around
Sellafield, or the nuclear industry's offices? Has anyone ever
had the patience to sit for hours to wade through the software known as
firmware which is embedded in every modem and router to try and detect
malicious code? Who do you think makes the greater number
of the dedicated chips contained in routers?
Honesty and Integrity at the Helm?
For some time now we have expressed our complete contempt for not only
the procedures and policies which are under the control of politicians,
but also the politicians themselves. The recent exposees of
the ex-head of the Co-op Bank and his connections to the Labour party
have permitted Cameron to antagonise Milliband in the
House. Milliband in defence pointed out the millions of
pounds handed to the Conservative party by people with questionable
backgrounds, including one high-ranking member whose company was
investigated for fraud. The Lib Dems have refused to hand
back millions donated by a corrupt businessman. What is
most amazing is that each of these parties and the individual
politicians seem not to understand the fundamental point, they are so
busy playing yah boo with each other. The fundamental point
being that the public expect that the people setting standards for them
and imposing laws and taxes on them should themselves be bound by them
and that the whole process should have a sound, honest base with
accountabilty. It has been reduced to a very nasty fight,
but the losers, as always, will be the honest men in the
street. Should we really be subjected to this
less-holier-than-thou unedifying brawl? This being the
standard is it surprising that the majority of people believe
politicians to be self-seeking dishonest rogues? It is very
disconcerting that people like this should be in charge of nuclear
matters - we must be forgiven for thinking they will do whatever brings
them, personally, the most benefit. It seems that Cumbria CC's
draft response to the MRWS: Siting Process, aka the nuclear dump, has
been written by the very person who tried, unsuccessfully, to call in
their decision. (i.e. presumably he was greatly puzzled
that there had been a no vote and wanted MPs to find a way to change
it.) As one campaigner says, this is clearly a conflict of
interest. Mind you, given the bias in every consultation and the
selective editing of responses, together with the carefully selected
questionnaires . . .
Perhaps one of the biggest problems for honest people is the fact that,
although a person has already demonstrated certain perhaps undesirable
traits, no-one seems to have the courage to stand up and say, this is
wrong. There have been several high profile cases in the press
in recent times, highlighting an individual's background and the
strange lack of those benefiting from illegally-gained largesse to take
the honest route.
When a person, allegedly highly educated, rises to become Prime
MInister, are we wrong to expect more? Mind you, if his "sense
of humour" permits him to accuse a senior colleague of being on drugs,
what chance is there? Perhaps we are just getting old and this
is the standard to be expected henceforth? Along with the
refusal of the most senior civil servant to hand over important
documents recording the contents of conversations between an ex-prime
minister and the president of the United States, we are of the opinion
that corruption and deceipt have taken over and honesty and integrity,
along with intelligence, are things of the past. How sad.
Further Comment on
to the article of the 17/11/13, we were amazed that despite there being
no time to mention what was going on in Fukushima in the main news
bulletins of the day - more important to the world in the long term
than the hurricanes and typhoons affecting the Phillipines and mid-west
America - a whole three minutes could be spent extolling the
anniversary of Dr. Who. This is dumbing down in the
BBC Bias? Surely
to our old friends Électricité
de France. We note on the home page the blanket advertising on
Classic FM (we don't know about other stations, sorry), now we have
just seen an excellent report on Countryfile tonight. Completely
missing the point that pumping hot water into the sea is a form of
pollution responsible for global warming, the presenter waxed lyrical
about how wildlife is thriving. Great stuff - and just a time of
need for Électricité
de France - as they struggle to convince investors that building a
nuclear plant anywhere is a good idea and worthwhile investment.
No mention either of the waste and its fate. Still, that might
have been construed as a criticism of the company and could possibly
have upset the government just when the latter is pondering the renewal
of the BBC's broadcasting licence. So, just as with a protest
recently in London, where several thousand people marched for some
cause or other it was not given even a brief mention on the BBC,
nothing must be done that might upset the apple cart.
One might also have expected that the potentially disastrous removal of
400 tonnes of fuel from the Number 4 reactor would be worth a word or
several. Not so. That, too, might reflect badly on
Rooney-alike's decision to susidise the industry responsible.
The fuel rods are believed to be brittle and possibly damaged
forllowing the melt-down in 2011. Special equipment has had to
be built in order to facilitate the attempts. Any accident has
the potential to release highly-radioactive material into the
atmosphere. One observer has likened the process of removing the
15 feet long containers as being like trying to remove cigarettes from
a crushed packet without tearing the paper or losing any tobacco.
Original low water levels meant that emergency supply of coolant
was obtained from the ocean and some of the containers may well be
corroded due to heat and salt water. The process has never been
attempted before and will be done manually. The building housing
the assemblies has already tilted considerably and it is thought that
another earthquake could cause it to collapse, or the cooling water
ponds to fail, exposing the rods to the atmosphere, which would
probably cause a fire and result in the release of more radioactive
material than in the original meltdown, affecting Tokyo. So,
nothing newsworthy there. The condition of the other reactors is
still unknown, as radiation levels are still too high to permit
examination of them. The operation is still in the hands of
Tepco, whose credentials are not very impressive when it comes to
openness, honesty and trustworthiness.
These days, it seems, one has to turn to other countries' media for a
more complete picture than that supplied by the BBC.
Going Off The Beaten
have long been concerned about what we perceive to be a lack of
maintenance on the coastal railway line between St. Bees and
Sellafield. Elsewhere on this site we have articles and
photograhs depicting the various lanslides. One of these
actually occurred during a visit by a member of the Office of the Rail
Regulator. We pointed out the various deficiencies that we were
at that time aware of, and the occasion was made even more interesting
by the fact that, despite phone calls to the Sellafield signaller to
warn of debris blocking the line at Braystones level crossing, the
message didn't get through to the train driver. When asked why
he had not stopped at, for example, St. Bees station, the driver
replied that communications were always rubbish and, although he had
received a message, it was almost impossible to make out what was
said.. Three lay people heard the comment, but, sadly, the
gentleman from the ORR could not remember it a few weeks later.
Murphy's are engineering a new culvert between Nethertown and
Braystones, in an attempt to forestall any further landslips, there
having been three so far in the last two years. A recent storm
seems to have undones a lot of the preparatory work, however, which
does not bode well for their understanding of the tidal properties of
down the coast a nuclear flask train came off the rails at a junction
in Barrow-in-Furness. As usual, there were the claims that it
was all very safe; the flasks were empty at the time, there was
never any danger to the public, and no animals had been hurt,
etc. The accident happened (allegedly) at a speed of just 5
m.p.h. Bearing in mind the parlous state of the track around
Braystones, one has to wonder about the safety of nuclear flask trains
hurtling along at over 40 m.p.h. and the ability of the two locomotives
to stay on the line in the event of an accident.
Global Warming and
Sellafield's Diminishing Returns
scepticism about global warming stems from the fact that the premise
formed the basis of the push for nuclear power generation, leastways
according to Harry Bolter's book "Inside Sellafield". With
all the resources of the industry behind it, it will not have been hard
to persuade gullible politicians and lobbyists to believe that the
climate was changing very rapildy and that every other method of
generation was responsible, whilst the nuclear industry was,
unbelievably, promoted as being clean and green. Total nonsense,
of course, but a huge number of people believed in it.
Taking a comparatively small sample size meant the effect
of global warming was indisputable. However, as a whole,
including the other three billion years or so, it was also obvious that
the figures were meaningless - unless, of course, you had an industry
does global warming exist? No doubt there are changes around the
world, but then there always have been. There were before the
discovery of electricity and the steam age or the invention of the
motor car. The earth has natural cycles and it is evident from
some statistics that the abnormality in the most recent figures is that
a well-established trend towards cooling had temporatily been halted.
This could be the result of a wide number of factors, including
the sun's level of activity. After several years of having
global warming pushed at us as an established "fact", it seems that the
computer models might have got it wrong. (Any programme is only
as good as the programmer's intelligence.) The various climate
change lobbyists are now looking for a reason for the decrease in the
melting of the polar ice-caps. Inconveniently, these have not
melted as predicted, but this year have actually increased in size.
Strange when the alleged causes have changed so little.
According to the Health Protection Agency
Braystones Beach residents were issued with
some handy advice and guidance earlier this year, in the form of a
series of publications, including one from the Health Protection
Agency. We have never found the agency very interested in the
welfare of beach residents and have pointed out on many occasions that
visitors to the area are not informed of the situation vis a vis the
particles being found on the beach, that there are areas of the beach
that have never been checked because they are inaccessible, and that
none of the beach bungalows have ever been checked for radiation, even
though most of them have been extant since well before the Sellafield
plant's fires and copious discharges. Some of them are
permanently inhabited, which might mean long-term exposure if particles
from the beach have found their way into the bungalows.
In its official and imposing publication,
the agency demonstrates the "Average Radiation Exposure of U.K.
Residents" in a prettily-coloured pite chart. Some of the labels
are a trifle confusing, such as <0.1% nuclear discharges;
<0.1% products (of what and from where/when?); and 0.2%
fallout (again, from what, where, why and when?) What
the chart does not show is the actual exposure to those living in areas
which have been closest to nuclear activities - such as Braystones.
There is no information on what might be a typical exposure rate
for them. Even more aggravating is the breakdown of what
the various types of particle can be contained by. According to
the agency, radiation from alpha particles can be stopped by a sheet of
paper, beta particles by thin sheets of aluminium, and gamma rays by
thick heavy shielding. If these things are so inoccuous, what is
the rationale for these huge flasks being labouriously tugged up and
down the coastal railway line by two class 37 locomotives, both of
which make very heavy going of the job. Why not just wrap the
contents in yesterday's fish and chip papers and pop them in the post?
new toy and support vehicle.
and dogs oblivious to the particle-finders.
officer collects seaweed from Braystone beach.
Information booklets from Cumbria CC and Sellafield Ltd. explain what
to do in the event of an emergency at the Sellafield site. The
whole is based on the predication that people more than a mile away
will be able to discern that there is an emergency situation in place.
Quite how that might work is not explained, other than
suggestions that there will be either a siren or a foghorn noise.
I'm sure people on the beach or in their beach homes will be
listening out for those! It is a good job that the head of the
Nuclear Inspectorate has determined that nothing untoward will ever
Yet a Whitehaven News report in May, said that a report from teh
Environment Agemcu concluded: “The current population size,
activity distribution and movement of offshore particles are not
sufficiently well known to reassure regulators and other stakeholders
that the health risk to seafood consumers and other beach users are
ALARP (as low as reasonable practical) and will remain so in the
Just A Hot-headed
thought did strike us that one of the not-so-obvious pollutants of
energy production is heat itself. There are many ways to boil a
kettle, amongst them the nuclear way. However, with most forms
of generation there is little residual heat once the process has ceased
production. This is patently not the case with nuclear fuel,
which goes on producing copious amounts of heat long after is has
ceased to be useful. Yet heat itself - that generated to boil
the kettle, for example, will surely contribute to climate change
- once referred to as, er, "global warming". The heat sink of
the Irish Sea, for example will receive many gigawatts of heat as a
result of nuclear generators discharging into it. Someone
clever once pointed out that the overall efficiency of a nuclear power
station is only about 37%, which would mean that the outstanding ⅔ are
just waste heat, which is then discharged (mainly) via the cooling
waters into the nearest available ultimate heat sink.
Changes to Climate Change
(Cold and Old, The Bear Facts)
A whole series of
interesting articles in the newspapers currently expose the nonsense
that is behind so many of the proposed changes to our energy structure
and the promotion of nuclear energy as a financially-viable alternative.
Although we have no
political motive - having been disillusioned many years ago by the poor
quality of the politicians and their propensity for dishonesty, lack of
integrity and, on many occasions, criminal behaviour - but it is
increasingly becoming clear that those currently in
power would be struggling to hold a festive occasion in a
brewery. Days were when every change in legislation and
policy was mulled over, all the ramifications considered and only when
potential problems eradicated were they put into effect.
Nowadays, it seems, there is so much haste that any Good Idea (with
apologies to A. A. Milne) is rushed past people too stupid or bigoted
to see potential adverse effects. It is a sad comment on
the party politics of today that party policy and unity is thus more important than
sensible, well-considered and well-implemented policies and
regulations. Even more ridiculous is that, having stampeded
into these ill-judged moves, even more time is wasted in trying to
justify them when there can be no justification for them, and then,
ultimately, accepting the obvious and either re-doing it properly, or
scrapping it altogether.
A good example being
the rush to expand the nuclear industry when the evidence world-wide
points to the fact that it is too dangerous and too polluting, as well
as being too expensive - even before incidents occur.
One of the many
adverse results of this unseemly rush is the continuing rise of energy
prices. So much so that a spoof song appeared on the
internet, to promote the idea that young Africans should "come
together" to raise money for those freezing in the north.
Although comic, the idea is not so far-fetched. Those who
promote the theme of global warming, subsequently changed to climate
change when the evidence demonstrated that global warming is a figment
of some scientists' imagination, are quite happy to enumerate
the number of people who die as a result of heatwaves (claimed to be
'more serious than terrorism' by Sir David King), but the seasons
excess mortality figures actually
show that winter is far more serious, particularly
when people are frightened into turning off their heating on the
grounds of cost. With the unjustified rise in energy costs,
the number of people who will die as a result of the cold will jump
dramatically, it seems.
An interesting and
frightening set of figures can be found in this article:
concludes, "Fuel prices have doubled
over seven years, forcing millions to choose between heat and food
– and government has found itself a major part of the problem."
It also points out that if it were not for the taxes and
add-in costs which form the basis for making nuclear energy seem
financially viable, energy costs by 2020 would have fallen by
£123 instead of rising by £76. Almost the
entire £199 being the result of the manipulations to meet
Électricité de France's demands for a minimum price for
which will have to be met before they will kindly consent to build new
reactors in the U.K. Yet any additional costs arising from
incidents from the reactors will be underwritten by the U.K.
taxpayer. How sharp these salesmen must be.
of polar ice melting and causing the extinction of polar bears is the
subject of another article in the Daily Telegraph. Giving
some stick to Sir David Attenborough, it says, ". . . an array of
experts and bodies such as the US National Biological Service and the
International Union for the Conservation of Nature point out that,
thanks to curbs on hunting in the Seventies, the world’s polar
bear population had, in fact, risen from 10,000 in 1966 to 25,000 or
more in 2006; that all but one of their 19 main groups were
significantly increasing in numbers; and that, based on observed data
rather than highly questionable computer models, there was not a shred
of evidence of any threat to the bears from climate change."
Cashing in on Carbon Trading
It has been a while since we mentioned the carbon trading
nonsense. However, a very good summary of the scheme can be
found here: http://www.fern.org/sites/fern.org/files/tradingcarbon_internet_FINAL.pdf
truism is that, "A cap puts a limit on emissions. It is only the cap
that leads to emission reductions, not the offsetting or the trading."
Quite where the sense is in merely shuffling round considerable
volumes of paperwork - at a considerable cost, both financial and
environmental - without actually having a working system to reduce
pollution is unclear. The scheme also seems to have attracted a
fair bit of criminal activity, again reducing the integrity of the
also notes that, ‘It is not an exaggeration to brand the
mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol as “Made in the
USA”.' Michael Zammit Cutajar, former Executive
Secretary of the UNFCCC, 2004.
Despite this, the
United States did not ratify their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.
Still, by making all the acknowledged CO2
producing energy suppliers even more expensive, it does make nuclear
seem a tad better.
By Winter Weather
The announcement of a
controlled shut-down at Sellafield to enable staff to get home sparked
a certain cynicism. The image of the invulnerable and
inpregnable fortress power provider took a little dent. All the
assessments by the various experts since Fukushima have arrived at the
conclusion that there is nothing to fear from events such as
earthquales and tsunamis. We have already said, many times, that
such dramatic events are not required - there are many more which the
experts haven't thought of. As one sage said, "You cannot prepare for the unexpected".
On Friday, 22/3/13, most papers, including the local ones in Cumbria,
mentioned only the staff aspect of the closure. This is what
prompted our cynicism - the record of Sellafield's PR people is not one
of openness and honesty, after all. A spokesman is widely
reported as having said: "In
response to the current and
predicted adverse weather conditions on and around the Sellafield site,
as a precaution, a site incident has been declared and the plants have
been moved safely to a controlled, shut-down state.”
Apart from the image of the whole Sellafield site being wrapped
in cotton wool and loaded onto a lorry to be transported to warmer
climes ("moved safely to a controlled, shut-down state?)
something seemed to be missing.
It was reassuring to find our jaundiced view was correct, as today we
read in The Times that, 'Officials at
Sellafield, in Cumbria, powered down the two main re-processing plants
yesterday and ordered non-essential staff to leave because of worries
over road closures and
electricity failure." One
wonders how the majority of reporters managed to miss the bit about
failure. Obvously nothing to do with the excellent propaganda
Hopefully, given the
early warning of impending cold weather, the management at the plant
will have carried out an inspection of the cooling water pipeline from
Wastwater this time, lessons having been learned following leaks that
caused considerable problems on at least two occasions a few years ago,
when water stopped flowing through the storage pools. At
that time, it was said that there had been no inspection of the pipes
since they had first been installed half a century earlier!
Amusingly, many contributors to the comments in The Times seemed to
have missed the fact that Sellafield has not produced electricity for
many years, having been decommissioned in 2003, and is involved in
cleaning up its own mess, including the
legacy waste. We understand that, far from generating
power, Sellafield nowadays is a consumer of copious amounts and relies
on the Fellside (gas-powered) plant for emergency back-up.
Sellafield managers announced that, even though they were sending staff
home early those people who are shift workers should still turn up . .
. If conditions are that bad one wonders how.
Access is one of the many reasons why we feel that Sellafield is a
stupid place to build new reactors. In the event of a true
emergency - not one which considerately provided a couple of day's
notice - how would the roads and transport links cope? Even the
orderly shut down required the "phased" departure of staff to avoid
grid-locking the neighbourhood. As we have seen, even during
normal peak hours the traffic queues through Egremont and Whitehaven
are considerable. How much worse would this be if local
residents' traffic were obliged to add to the congestion?
Still, the evacuation scenario provides good practice for the site,
following the scathing criticism of its emergency procedures in
December, 2011, by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), an arm of
the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which said errors by senior fire
officers in a preparedness exercise earlier in the year at Sellafield
“could have led to delays in
responding to the nuclear emergency and a prolonged release of
radioactive material off-site”.
Lord knows, they need the practice then, eh? Moving on to when
they actually start to clean up Sellafield, how will things change
when, as well as all the existing traffic there is the construction
traffic for the new reactors and the 77 lorries a day for 20 years
forecast to be required for removing the contaminated topsoil, too?
Happily those responsible for the mess are some distance removed
and won't be affected by any of this.
Censorship and Sinister Threats
A group of people opposed to the dumping of nuclear waste placed
hazard warning signs at the entrance to Seascale beach, advising
unsuspecting member of the public of the presence of nuclear particles
both on the beach and in the water. This was done using the data
from sellafieldsites.com website (the official source). The
group then walked along the coast to the Sellafield site.
To mark the second Fukushima anniversary a candle-lit vigil was held
outside Sellafield's gate, and a moment's silence observed.
Whitehaven News and Border TV reporters covered the event.
Somewhat unnecessarily, and giving a sinister feel to the whole,
the group were followed throughout by Special Branch officers.
Demonstrating their priorities, some of the warning signs were removed
by a local councillor following the group's departure. Yet the
accumulation of radioactive particles is a continuing blight, not just
on the beaches and in the sea, but also on land. The councillor
who removed the warning notice from Seascale’s public notice
board took it upon himself to censor this information, saying “it
has no standing.” Yet it was on a public notice board and
the information is taken directly from Sellafield and the Health
Protection Agency documents. In the interests of openness and
honesty, this is information that should be out there in the public
domain and on notice boards throughout Cumbria.
To maintain the pretence that there is nothing to worry about, the
local politicians have apparently asked that the monitoring of public
beaches be suspended during school holidays. Quite who
determined that there is no need for the public to know the hidden
dangers is unclear.
We have further information on the monitoring programme on the Home
page (scroll down to 12/1/12).
See also: http://www.itv.com/news/border/story/2013-03-09/anti-nuclear-protest/#anti-nuclear-protest-on-west-cumbria-beach_172653
The pro-nuclear response is as is to be expected by the usual
Sellafield accolytes: http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/sellafield-protesters-will-drive-tourists-away-1.1040825?referrerPath=news
Quite what was wrong in the sentiments and data being put forward by
the group is unclear from the responses. It is our belief that
people unfamiliar with the area do have a right to know. A
chance in a million it might be, but should they not be allowed to make
an informed decision? Those saying that the advisory notices
amount to "scaremongering" are always supporting the industry and
have little credence.
Shock And Awe As The
Blindingly Obvious Happens
five years now we have been pointing out that energy security, one of
the keystones of the government's "energy policy" is a total
myth. The supposed experts at DECC seem to have overlooked
the fact that most of the energy major suppliers is dominated by
foreign companies. E.on and RWE are German, Électricité
de France, is
from, er, France, and Iberdrola is mainly Spanish. Given
that situation, is it really - no really - surprising that when things
get sticky at home, the parent companies are going to be collecting
donations from wherever they can. Hence the almost-amusing
article over Iberdrola's decision to take a dividend of £900
million from its U.K. arm, Scottish Power. Last week, Électricité
upped the dividend by 8%, most of which will go to the French
government who own an 84% stake in the company.
Effectively, we are being taxed by external countries. The
root cause being the U.K. government's pursuit of nuclear expansion at
any cost. The game has seen the initial group slowly
retreat as they realised the true cost. This has left Électricité
de France as
the sole surviving nuclear plant aspirant and the government over a
barrel when it comes to subsidising the future of nuclear, yet the
government hasn't even managed to sort out what it will do with current
and legacy waste. When in a car with no brakes, take your
foot off the accelerator!
having so many employees seconded to the department, (corruption, or
what?) it seems that Électricité
de France are
not altogether getting their own way Reports in the press are
suggesting that the negotiations are "in trouble". Happily,
another news item today has pointed out that prices of electricity and
gas will rise again because of the need to import gas - another
pressure on the rush to get nuclear under way. Given the profits
being made currently by the likes of British Gas, on the back of the
tilting of the tables to make nuclear seem more viable, one has to
wonder why they can't absorb any slight increase in the cost of the raw
material themselves instead of passing it on. As with oil
prices, these things go up to reflect any slight change in costs, but
rarely do they come back down again. According to current
figures, 10% of the U.K. population is in what is termed "energy
poverty". Not as bad a nuclear France, but give them time.
Surprising though the difficulties in achieving a satisfactory outcome
de France are, we have to wonder
why. Perhaps they should have placed more people in the
Treasury? Even so, if the company get their way, the future
cost of nuclear generated electricity will be at least double that of
today. In the last five years household bills have already
doubled. In France almost 25% of the population are in
"energy poverty". A phrase which nicely masks the desperate
situation that many low-paid or unemployed workers, the disabled and
the aged, will find themselves in this country.
all the companies are happy to dip their bread into the gravy
(Centrica's profit from residential market is around £3 million a
day!), it seems to us that the whole thing is being driven by this
stupid and totally unnecessary rush for new-build nuclear generation,
which we see as the result of Électricité
sales pitch being taken as gospel by politicians and civil servants who
are pursuing their own agenda.
de France's stock
has underperformed despite its ever-increasing income because the
French government, which owns 84.4 percent of its shares, limits
electricity prices at home, while demanding high dividends.
This cycle pushes Électricité
deeper into debt.
a shareholder, the French state wants the highest possible
dividend. As a regulator, it wants to control electricity
chief executive, Henri Proglio.
company is facing a trying time, with debts increasing and the reactors
it runs getting old. In the last year the stock has
deteriorated by 14% and by 65% since 2008. Despite all this
the dividend this year has been set at 7.7%. Whether this
is sustainable or not is questionable. Moves to reduce
their costs are in hand and they hope to get some relief by increasing
the life of each reactor from 40 years to 60. Quite how
that will affect safety remains to be seen. Our view is
that as things get older they become less reliable and more prone to
unexpected failures. In the case of nuclear reactors this
Democracy Is Fine, So Long As It Gives
Us What We Want
There are over a
million people in Cumbria, plus the many millions who visit the area
each year, who also have an interest in the county. They have as
much right at the nine thousand workers at Sellafield to have a say in
what happens to their environment. Not just for themselves but,
effectively, to preserve it for eternity. (Or until the
government disposes of the volunteerism principle and over-rides
Cumbria County Council's decision on the grounds of "national
Far from accepting
defeat, possibly because they aren't used to not getting their own way
in everything, the local lobby are now looking for ways to circumvent
democratic process. Initially costed at £12 billion, there
is no doubt in anyone's mind that the cost of the dump will far exceed
that, in the manner of all such projects. A scathing report out
today demonstrates the efficiency and effectiveness of the industry:
12 out of 14 projects are behind schedule and five over budget.
The report also goes on to say that there is no sign of a
conclusion to the escalating costs.
The NDA took over the
decommissioning process in 2005, but even after eight years there is
seemingly little value for money if one reads between the lines of the
report, so one has to wonder at their suitability to do the job.
Recently we were treated to yet another Cunning Plan which was to
replace the previous best-ever Cunning Plan which, sadly, was
"not realistic". Still, we are told, there is no
alternative. Yes there is. Do the job properly. If
there is a determination to dispose of the nuclear waste down a hole in
the ground, then at least find somewhere where the geology is
demonstrably suitable. That is surely the most basic
requirement. It may not be politically expedient or the easiest
route, but, we believe, politics should take a back seat in the
interests of public safety and the environment. When that
basic asset has been found, then is the time to start working out how
to achieve the objective of "winning over the hearts and minds of the
people" by bribery.
Whatever else, it is surely time that this immense waste be brought to
an end and the bottomless pit that supplies Sellafield with no motive
to achieve any conclusion be capped. Can Cumbrian residents not
see that the £1½ billion invested in Sellafield each year
could be far better spent? How would Cumbria look now if it had
been the lucky recipient of the whole £67½ billion?
How much of the money actually goes into curing the real problem?
Very little if the results are any gauge.
In the national press over the weekend there have been numerous letters
debating the decision by Cumbria CC. Almost all of them seem to
have factual errors. The majority seem to have the impression
that the people of Cumbria are in favour and there are no comments to
the contrary, which perpetuates the myth. Residents aren't
wholly in favour, as anyone
who has seen the figures and the votes from parish councils will know.
Taking a small unrepresentative sample from some of the
population, then extrapolating the results and pretending that, in some
way, it now reflects the feelings of the whole of Cumbria, is surely
statistically wrong? (We are disappointed, but not surprised,
that the leading question for the survey most often quoted - composed apparently by one of the nuclear promoters, implied
that the current generation could actually deal with the nuclear waste
in a safe and permanent way. An earlier survey, which
didn't show the desired result has now been expunged from the
Other comments say that the waste is already in Cumbria and thus it
remain there. Why? Just because it is there, and has been
for decades, does not mean
it can be safely dealt with there, regardless of how much is spent
before the geology proves to be unsuitable and another site has to be
found elsewhere. Any requisite expertise can very quickly be
transported to wherever it is requiired. Most of the people
working in Sellafield are not indigenous Cumbrians, but they, or
parents, have moved to the area to find employment. We see no
reason why they could not move again if necessary. Others say
that Sellafield provides employment and without it west Cumbria would
die. Why? As we point out in the article of 31/1/13 on
the home page,
Sellafield does not produce money. The entire cost falls on the
U.K. taxpayer, hence the oversight by the Public Accounts Committee
leading to their second scathing report in three months.
However, west Cumbria existed well enough before 1945, so why should it
not continue to do so in a future without the nuclear industry?
Speed may be of the essence, however, as the decision-makers seem
intent on destroying the entire beauty of the region, covering the land
with a huge industrial site stretching from Barrow up to Maryport and
inland to Ennerdale and Eskdale, whilst covering the sea with huge
colonies of wind
turbines, despoiling even the sea vistas.
Some degree of comfort can be found in the comments of the union
representative, who is reportededly critical of the quango set up to
sell the dump idea to the residents. According to the BBC report
"There is an increasing lack of trust
in the consortium that runs the site both amongst the workforce and the
needs to be
immediate change at the top of the consortium and a radical
re-evaluation of the piecemeal hiving-off of the nuclear sector to
private companies that are clearly ill-equipped to cope and have little
interest in ensuring Britain has world-class nuclear facilities."
So, nothing to do with the overall scheme or the basic premise, then?
Do world class facilities really have such bad practices that
result in the stockpiling of hazardous waste which pose an imminent
danger to the people and to the environment? Surely not.
When they start falling out with each other it is a sign of
desperation, we think. As one senior politician put it, "Whoever
was given the job of selling this to the residents of Cumbria did a
very, very, very poor job". So, what was the cost
of that failed exercise? Several million at least, presumably.
What a waste! Yet not even a Plan B, either, Mr. Reed?
Could you not have been devising an alternative instead of just
promoting Sellafield's interests?
According to The Times today, the Scottish
Tory party's Ruth Davidson is calling for nuclear power to be "included
in the mix" of sources for energy in Scotland. Small wonder,
when the country has already rejected the nuclear option, that there is
only one Tory M.P.s representing Scotland after they were wiped out in
1997!. Strange idea of being in touch with the people, but no
doubt those of his colleagues with shares in the industry have
encouraged him. Mr. Salmond's popularity can only be increased
by such ignorance and will hopefully achieve his stated aim of having
100% of Scotland's energy developed from renewable resources by 2020.
More On Software Flaws
attacks on Iran's nuclear development equipment prompted a train of
letters with the relevant person at the Environment Agency.
His answer (which took around four months each time to arrive!) was
that there was no danger as Sellafield had no external
control links. Excellent. Er, except that that
isn't the real problem either. One doesn't have to attack
control equipment in real time. The majority of networking
components are now out-sourced to Chinese companies and examples of
deliberate flaws in the control software have been found.
These flaws would enable a back-door access to the machine in which the
electronics are installed. This is not just a minor event
carried out by disgruntled individuals. The flaws have been
found on brand new computers. Evidence has recently
appeared, too, which suggests that a precursor to the Stuxnet virus,
the Red October virus, has been embedded in control gear since at least
to Kaspersky, "the main objective of the attackers was to gather
sensitive documents from the compromised organizations, which included
geopolitical intelligence, credentials to access classified computer
systems, and data from personal mobile devices and network
equipment." The virus is still active and avoiding
detection to date.
is not known is whether there is anything else of a similar nature
hidden away. The only way of telling would be to analyze
reams of code, and that is just not going to happen. Until
it does, however, we wonder at the Environment Agency expert's
complacency. Still, it is no worse than that demonstrated
by the government's chief advisor, who somehow managed to come up with
the idea that
because we are nowhere near a fault line we will never have a tsunami
or major earthquake. We believe that anything which
interrupts the flow of cooling water to the nuclear plants can trigger
devastation on a scale in line with Chernobyl and
Fukushima. We find ourselves singularly unimpressed with
these assertions and the apparent refusal to contemplate differing
scenarios. Even something as simple as the loss of a USB
stick, which was left behind at the Ennerdale Country House Hotel, a
popular venue with the nuclear afficionados, back in October,
2010. According to the article, this was not the first
time. We feel it won't be the last, either.
from what was described as business information, there was the
intriguing suggestion that,
"There was also information on the
that suggested that the International Atomic Energy Agency technicians
visiting the site were not sufficiently briefed on health and safety
We're not sure that we like the sound of
that, which smacks of the now customary dishonesty about the reality of
Sellafield's operations. Perhaps more importantly, why was the
stick unencrypted - not a difficult thing to set up and use - and
where else do they permit USB sticks around Sellafield? Is
the practice widespread? We note that some viruses have
been installed (including the Red October version above) by just this
means. Yippee. We are supposed to be reassured by the
usual patronising piffle: "We
control sensitive nuclear
information in line with strict security regulations".
Convinced? Anyone remember the impossible fudging of
critical figures at the time of Japanese fuel reprocessing which turned
out not to be too impossible at all? Still, those in charge
of such things are happily complacent that nothing untoward can
happen. Will it take a hacking attack to demonstrate the
intrinsic fallibility of modern technology? To what extent
are modern communications devices permitted on the site and are there
no dangers inherent from them, either?
A Thorn In Their Side
The head of the
unions at Sellafield is obviously feeling a bit miffed.
We've been informed that, in a letter to the Westmoreland Gazette, he
libellously accuses this website and the Radiation Free Lake District
group of "terrorising" the people of Cumbria, especially the southern
parts, into being against the proposed dump. Quite how we have
achieved such status is beyond us. Far from "terrorising" people
we have merely sought to give people an alternative view to that
perpetuated by the propaganda emanating from the industry he is a
member of. As John Edmunds, from 1977 the National Officer for
the Energy Section of the General and Municipal Workers’ Union
(GMWU) told the Redfern Inquiry:
"a trade union has to deal with
potential conflicts and divided loyalties. Every workforce will want
its employment to continue but the workforce will also want good
working conditions and terms of employment … those issues would
perhaps have been more acute in West Cumbria given the fact that
Sellafield was the dominant employer … we supported the nuclear
industry and its growth and that was our commitment to the continued
employment of our members, but we also recognised that this was a
particularly dangerous industry and our support for it was conditional
upon decent health and safety standards."
which has proved, perhaps, to be more dangerous than even he thought,
and which is currently being pilloried by the Public Accounts Committee
for imposing an intolerable risk on Cumbrian residents - not just
Sellafield workers, note! At least those workers are getting
rewarded for their risk-taking. According to an article in The
Times, 9/12/12, the costs of cleaning up have risen from £40
billion, from a recent Cunning Cleanup Plan, (sadly, now so much of the
money has been dissipated, this excellent plan has been branded
"unrealistic") to an even
better one which will cost £67 billion, but will, according to
the estimates in the article, actually be over £125 billion.
Yet, even when such huge sums have been spent, the radioactivity
will not have gone away, merely moved somewhere else. The
affected buildings are too dangerous to even allow humans in for a
short time, so more highly-dangerous materials will add to the
To normal thinking people, our contribution to the debate is, almost
entirely illustrated by quotes from other articles and various items in
the media, and is - so far as is practicable - always attributed
correctly. Can we really "terrorise" people by merely having a
website which people can access or not, according to choice and
viewpoint? Or are the villains of the peace those who corrupt
society by bribing them with projects designed to make them look
benign, whilst all the time hiding the truly dangerous state of the
Trying to impress, the union man suggests that he represents the views
of 10,000 people. We're not convinced that that is correct.
We know people who work at Sellafield who wish they didn't have
to be involved in such a dirty, dangerous place, but need the money.
Is the union man representing their views accurately? Or
is he just putting words into their unwilling mouths? Even so,
as a further correspondent has written, that number is only 0.1% of the
population of Cumbria, and their views (even if accurately stated) are
distorted by being indebted to the industry for their livelihood.
Hence the observed trend (in both of the two sampling
exercises) for people closest to Sellafield, those living in Allerdale
and Copeland, to be more in favour of the dump, whilst the majority of
the county remains against.
To repay the writer's
compliment, we should perhaps ask the questions: should unions be
negotiating a compensation scheme for people killed, or otherwise
affected, as a result of poor practices? Or would they have been
better employed seeking to protect the health of those afflicted
individuals and their families? Should they have pressed for
prosecutions and changes to a system which, according to the Redfern
Report, the unions were aware of and yet was illegal? The
illegal practices had been going on for years and involved the tissue
sampling and body-part removal of those who died of cancer - in many
cases the deceased having previously worked at Sellafield. In
our opinion, it seems
that the unions were not only aware of the practices, but they actually
took part in the racket. As Finding 37 in Redfern's reports
says, "The unions knew that organs
were removed and analysed in the course of proposed or actual
litigation arising out of the death. They did not bring the matter to
the families’ attention but they were under no legal duty to do so."
Whether a legal duty or not, it is our opinion that they
certainly had a moral duty. Yet they apparently chose not to do
Redfern raises an even more interesting point in Findings 37
& 8, where he states that the unions must have been aware that the
tissue sampling and body-part removal was not a requirement as evidence
in any application to the compensation fund, and, indeed, no samples
were taken expressly for such a purpose. Should the unions have
aware of that a post-mortem had been requested and ensured that the
legal processes were being followed? A close relative being
subject to post-mortem examination can be a distressing thing.
Yet in 57 cases it seems
they were either not aware, or at least did nothing material.
"West Cumbria Hospital supplied organs to Sellafield taken from 57
former nuclear workers." Redfern Enquiry, Finding 79, first
This website spends
infinitely small amount on putting forward an alternative view to that
perpetuated by the letter writer, whilst the industry spends billions
of pounds, not just in this country, but worldwide, extolling the
virtues of an industry whose products have killed thousands of people
and polluted and put at risk the health of millions. With, for
example, Fukushima, it took a while for the I.A.E.A. to step in with a
coherent response whilst the U.K. government colluded with industry
propagandists to formulate a proper statement. In passing we
have to reiterate our view that it is deplorable for the I.A.E.A. to
make use of the illusion that it is an independent body, in the main
brought about by its nuclear weapons section, which is independent.
The stated aim of the I.A.E.A. is the advancement of nuclear
technology. Billions of pounds are spent globally to that end.
However, returning to the letter-writer, we would suggest
that he is either extremely sensitive, or insecure. Given
the scurrilous and patently absurd allegation that we terrorise people,
we think it could
even be both.
We remain firmly of the opinion that someone has to stand up to the
juggernaut that is the nuclear industry, with its history of lying,
manipulating, fabricating data, and pollution on a truly industrial
If that can be achieved merely be bringing alternative facts to
the attention of the public, for them to accept or reject, then that is
what we should do. It is a pity that the unions in the industry
cannot see the facts for themselves and prefer to write ludicrous
letters to the local press pretending to be offended by us; accusing us
quite libellously of terrorising people. The end lesson has to
be, if you don't like what you read then read elsewhere. Perhaps
the union man can read the book about Gemma D'Arcy without being moved,
we can't. If our little website can do anything to redress such
wrongs, then that is what we should be doing. We think a union
man should be fighting for the underdog, not his own secure,
comfortable life-style and sod the rest.
More on Global Warming
Of late there
has been a spate of programmes on "serious" channels, such as BBC 4
television, each commenting on various matters to do with the earth's
natural history. These include items on the effects of the solar
winds on the magnetosphere and the effects of the molten core movements
on the earth's magnetic fields. In each one of these programmes,
there has been the inference that the effects on the earth's
weather can be readily accounted for without recourse to the
standard explanation man's production of CO2.
continue to believe that the climate changes being noted are nothing
new, but are a perfectly natural result of normal changes which have
happened on many many occasions throughout the earth's existence.
It also remains our belief that there is a normal cycle of
events which occur determined by these natural events, including global
warming and cooling alternately. Most weather scientists still
believe that there is no global warming and that the planet is, in fact
resuming an ice age.
obvious question, therefore, is who stands to benefit from the global
warming/climate change rhetoric? Which organisation made a
conscious corporate decision at board level to promote the role of CO2 in
relation to global warming - a scenario that only fits if it is true.
would indeed probably cause global warming if it had any great
influence, but the earth is demonstrably cooling, so there may be a
flaw there. That being the case, it was necessary to change the
premise to climate change. Given the unpredictability of the
earth's weather at the best of times, this was a much better and safer
option, but no-one seems to have noticed the change, which no longer
depends on CO2 for
its cause. If CO2 is
not the cause, then why the haste to cut down emissions and why has
no-one pointed out that nuclear is no longer necessary. Answers
on a post-card . . . In the meantime, lots of people are going
to make lots of money from the game, and the public are going to pay.
On Track or Off The
some time we have been pointing out the deficiencies in the railway
line serving the Cumbrian coast, especially its rôle in the
transport of nuclear materials. Our local level crossing is a
manually (self) operated affair with limited views to the south -
towards Sellafield. Since the line arrived in 1850, the crossing
has been labelled as dangerous by many users. Following numerous
complaints early on in its life, the Furness Railway decided that
enough was enough and padlocked the gates. A local JP and
stalwart member of the Beckermet community smashed the locks so that
access to the beach was restored. The padlocks have never been
The crossing, however, is a
vital link for the members of the beach community. Despite
appeals to Network Rail and the Office of the Rail Regulator and two
inspections by members of the latter, little has been done to improve
safety. Complaints have also been made to various people about
the speeds achieved on this single-track line by the transport company,
DRS, when hauling nuclear flasks to and from Sellafield. Around
three years ago, conveniently for residents, a visit by an ORR
inspector coincided with torrential rain that washed away a substantial
portion of the ramp on the seaward side of the line, leaving a
precarious drop less than two metres from the track. The
signaller at Sellafield was informed and asked to stop trains. A
few minutes later a train approached from the Whitehaven direction.
Questioned as to whether they had received any messages telling
them of the problem, the reply was that "We did receive a radio
message, but it was too difficult to make out what it said.
There are always problems with communications on this stretch of line."
Not reassuring. Even less impressive was the failure of
the inspector to recall that part of the conversation at a subsequent
following a similar storm, a two-car passenger diesel set was
approaching Nethertown from Whitehaven, when it was derailed by mud on
the line following a landslip. Fortunately no-one was hurt and
the coaches remained upright. A relief train was sent from
Barrow and approached Nethertown from Braystones to collect the
passengers stranded on the first train. A further landslip
behind the second train meant that it was as marooned as the first one.
the 1970s a train carrying materials from Whitehaven to Ellesmere Port
for use in detergent manufacture, was derailed rather more
after the collapse of an accomodation bridge just south of Braystones
station. 100 tonnes of material was disgorged onto the beach and
two bungalows (happily unoccupied at the time!) were demolished, never
to be rebuilt.
this kind of history one might think that Network Rail and the ORR
would be somewhat cautious and endeavour to implement every kind of
safety feature in an attempt to minimise the threat of an accident
involving nuclear material. Strangely not, as it would be too
One has to wonder just what kind of costs would be involved in
the event that the next derailment involves a nuclear train being
driven at high speed. Since there is now ample written evidence
that people have felt strongly enough about the problem to have written
to the various bodies to draw their attention to the perceived dangers,
a court or inquest may well find some personal culpability on the part
of those who have ignored warnings. Meanwhile, not just the
nuclear material shipped around the world from Workington is passing
along the ill-maintained line, but so too is traffic carrying waste
from Dounreay for storage at Sellafield.
Still Waiting for An
our comments in a response we'd formulated for the consultation
process, we were contacted by the company paid to do the analysis
thereof. Apparently they were concerned that we were suggesting
that all was not well with the process, and that our views on the
Cumbrian aspects of the consultation were unfavourable to put it
mildly. A couple of phone calls later, we were put in contact
with someone "high up" in the Environment Agency, who would be able to
answer all our complaints - allegedly. So, we composed a couple
of pages-worth of questions and observations, without much hope, it has
to be said.
Several weeks later came a reply. One of the most patronising we
have had. The respondent advised us to read a couple of reports
and to engage with the consultation process. We sent back a 12
page missive which contained our comments on his response and posed
even more questions. After a couple of months we received
another message advising us that the material was outside the scope of
the particular Environmental Officer, who really did seem to have
become despondent. However, on the bright side, he had passed it
all to the Chief Scientific Officer of the Nuclear Division. So,
a few weeks later, came a message from said specialist.
Sadly, he seemed as daunted as the previous chappy, and asked if we
really, really, wanted responses to all the points we had covered.
None of the points had been intended to be rhetorical, and we
told him so. More time passed. Then we got a note saying
that the task was taking a bit longer than expected, but we should be
able to have a full response by the middle of June. As the
correspondence had begun around the New Year, there was little sense of
urgency. Come the end of June, a further missive arrived telling
us that the matter was even more complex than expected; would it
be alright to delay the full response to the middle of July?
Again, there is little that we could do, but we did mention that none
of the matters we were raising were particularly innovative that they
should not already have been considered BEFORE embarking on a project
of nuclear expansion. We did feel quietly chuffed that we were
causing officialdom some disquiet, but in all honesty, the health and
environmental issues we were asking about should have been thoroughly
investigated and concluded so that a response could have been readily
forthcoming. Apparently not. Here at the end of July we
are still waiting. The holiday season is now in full swing and
the beaches at and around Braystones are still being checked by the
Nuvia argocat vehicle. Presumably radioactive material is still
being found or the exercise would have been concluded by now.
Thus we have to conclude that visitors to the beaches in this area are
still at risk - no matter what the Environment Agency et al tell us. Could it
really be that the basic questions we have sought answers for have
never previously been asked? If so, why has no-one considered
the matters? Such tardiness does little to reassure us that our
environment is safe, even without the proposed developments.
Stress tests under
only 38 out of 147 nuclear reactors tested so far, the EU commissioners
have delayed stress test results instigated as a reaction to
Fukushima's melt-downs. The tests examine the ability of
reactors to survive emergencies, including plane crashes and natural
disasters such as major earthquakes and tsunami. The
results were due to be announced in this quarter, but have now been put
back to the autumn. (Source: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/20120427_08.html)
Whilst our own regulators have already announced
that everything in the U.K. is wonderful, we still have to wonder about
the other factors that affect the seriousness of any nuclear
incident. Japan and Canada have both realised that their
plans for coping are just not up to the job. With the
complacency we feel has been demonstrated by the U.K. industry, local
and national government, regulators,
et al, we find it quite disturbing that, after the Sellafield
site has been in existence for over half a century, the road system
could not cope with any necessary evacuation. Back in 1957,
of course, they just didn't bother and Cumbrian people were left
ignorant. Of course, those who worked at the plant knew and
were afforded some degree of safety and control.
2011 a small group of people were on Braystones beach distributing
leaflets advising residents what to do in the event of the emergency
alarm at Sellafield sounding. Being somewhat deaf, and
having not heard a previously-announced practice sounding, we asked how
we would know to get out of the area. The flippant answer
was to keep an eye in Sellafield's direction at all times; if we
saw an orange glow then we should get as far away as possible as fast
as possible. Nice to know that our safety has been truly
considered. How many other people, in similar isolated
areas, would also be left to fend for themselves?
the Ukraine, work has commenced on building a more permanent concrete
shell over the remnants of Chernobyl's nuclear power plant.
It was feared that the original structure, described as a sarcophagus,
might collapse, releasing huge quantities of radioactive materials once
more into the atmosphere. Most pro-nuclear people suggest
that the death toll from the incident is minimal, whereas activists
like Greenpeace suggest that overall the numbers of those affected by
cancers will reach one million. Even the WHO seems to have
no real idea. Interestingly, support for the Greenpeace
figure is include in the speech made by Ukrainian president,
Yanukovych, in an address to the people announcing the commencement of
the work. Thanking the outside countries for their
assistance in finding the £1.2 billion for the project, he went
on to say that 2 million people are still in need of support after the
Waste Disposal and Theft
aspects of the industry are equally ignored. The prime
example is Russia, where there is scant regard for international
nuclear regulations. According to a U.S. report sufficient
up to 150 kgs of plutonium, sufficient to make 25 Nagasaki-sized bombs,
is missing from Soviet-era Russia. In Romania a further
73.5 kgs are missing. Goodness only knows how much material
is missing from Sellafield, but a few tonnes of it is resting on a
sandbank somewhere in the Irish Sea.
regulations prohibit the import of radioactive waste, and that is the
case in Russia, where legislation bans the import of pure radioactive
waste. Nevertheless, uranium tailings are imported to Russia via a
variety of contracts between Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom and
the German-British-Dutch enrichment giant Urenco, the French Eurodif
enrichment concern, and others. The current contract for
Eurodif will expire in 2014. The Urenco one expired in
2009, and at that time there were no plans to engage in further
contracts. The tailings (uranium hexachloride) amount to a
stockpile of 900,000 tonnes in Siberia, and is increasing at the rate
of 30,000 p.a. The rate is expected to dramatically
increase as the Russians attempt to reduce the usage of natural gas by
increasing the number of nuclear reactors. In theory, of
course, the material incoming to Russia should be processed and the
ensuing waste returned to the country of origin. France
actually got caught out when someone checked the balance.
At a meeting in 2010 the paucity of basic checks at the storage sites
was revealed. Several Russian sites not being monitored at
At Last - An Explanation of "The Gross
Abuse of Commons Procedure"
Regular readers may recall that we have been chasing an answer to one
of our questions for two years now. The question was about the
outcome of an enquiry set up by the then Speaker, Michael Martin, into
what he had called a "gross abuse of Commons procedure". It was,
of course, in relation to the cap on liabilities being set on private
companies in the event of an incident. Naturally, the abuse
favoured the nuclear industry. In the interim, we have been all
round the political scene: from local M.P. to Sir Gus O'Donnell,
from No. 10's office to Lord Hunt. We have been told we couldn't
have the information until we proved who we were, by means of copies of
passport, photo-type driving licence, and two utility bills.
Even after pointing out the stupidity of that, all we got were copies
of letters we had sent - and of course still had copies of ourselves.
Happily, the current Speaker, John Bercow, managed to understand the
question we were asking and has responded very fully and helpfully.
Much obliged, m'lud. Basically, it seems that any changes
proposed which will have an impact on government liability has to be
presented to the House or a relevant committee. The relevant
papers have to be sent in advance and placed in the library.
It is necessary to avoid periods of holidays, etc., to enable
sufficient time to be given to consideration of the proposed change.
By some strange quirk of fate, this did not happen when the
government's liabilities in the event of a nuclear accident were
increased substantially, thereby assisting nuclear power generators to
avoid the consequences of their industry. Needless to say, one
of the mandarins prepared an adequate excuse, which no-one seems to
have been prepared to query, as to how and why
the abuse came about. All is well that
ends well (for the nuclear industry, at least).
|6/3/12 last edited 14/3/12
Official: Sellafield is Not a
Fresh from watching a
webcast, perhaps better described as "The Elaine Woodburn Show", we
must admit to a certain feeling of righteousness. Taking
part in the show were three pro-nuclears, just one seasoned
one who was difficult to describe, but managed to make the rest seem
competent - not an easy feat. It was announced that although
Greenpeace, CORE, Friends of the Earth had been invited to join the
panel, they had all declined. No reason for this refusal was
offered. We did ask, but apparently no reason had been given.
Seems a strange bit of consultation if the main parties
presenting a contrary point of view are so disconnected they won't take
part? Could there be a flaw in the process?
The whole idea of burying waste in the ground had been predicated on a
suitable site being found - essentially, and uniquely, this being
on a site near Longlands Farm, near Gosforth. Contrary to
what the geologist said during the programme, we think we are right in
saying that boreholes have already been drilled there and were capped
off after failing to satisfy the Nirex Inquiry that even the least
unsatisfactory site in western Cumbria was unsuitable for the burial of
highly radioactive waste. (We would be happy to be
about the presence or otherwise of bore holes.)
For two hours we watched a very competent presenter (pity about the
checked shirt which gave the camera indigestion) put points to the
interspersed with clips from a WC:MRWS Partnership DVD, or propaganda
video as we would describe it. As usual, in the guise of
being independent information, it was little better than animations
showing Bob the Builder characters and buildings.
Everything was under control and squeakily and hermetically clean.
In a wonderful confident statement, typical of her style,
Elaine Woodburn said, "Sellafield is not a dirty industry".
In terms of getting overalls or hands classically dirty with good clean
(?) soil, perhaps not, but it does have its own special kind of dirt,
surely? Not to Woodburn, apparently. She
likened the expansion of the industry in Copeland/Allerdale to the
building of a supermarket. Whether she thinks that a bit of
bribery, sorry, a community compensation package, at the level of that
used to facilitate supermarket building is likely to achieve anything
in Cumbria was unclear. We think there is rather more
involved here than a Tesco or Morrisons - even one with a petrol
Woodburn floundered considerably when the question was put about the
rôle of other members of the Partnership, and it became very
clear that some pigs will be decidedly more equal than
others. If, for example, Copeland/Allerdale were to accept
"going forward", i.e. going to the next stage of the process, even
if all the other councils in the Partnership (a term which seemed
increasingly wrong) decide otherwise, they can get lost.
Only those two councils
accepting the process will be sufficient to carry on.
Conversely, if, within those two councils there were to be any dissent,
the larger bodies would still hold sway. Thus, whatever
negative decisions are made, Copeland/Allerdale will make the end
decision. Democracy Woodburn style.
She also came up with a whole new phrase: "We will go at the
speed that the community wants us to go at". (Sounds
typical bit of pre-prepared P.R. talk to us, but we are
cynics.) There is an obvious flaw in that statement, in
that the process of first stage consultation will come to an end
in, er, just 17 days time.
The opinion was expressed by the environmentalist that there were 900
safety issues that had been identified and needed to be resolved before
the process of building the dump could start. The NDA
chappy floundered for a bit but then rallied to say that one of
had already been resolved, and some would be dealt with in the next
phase, but a lot of them were site-specific and could only be resolved
when the site had been determined. Strange that site-specific
problems do not apply to generic designs. Our hero went on to
he felt the information that had been presented thus far to the
residents was insufficient to allow them to make an informed
decision. This is something that we feel strongly about,
too. We have repeatedly said that, in our opinion, the
whole process was too rushed (solely for the benefit of the government
and the nuclear industry) and the information presented to residents
strong pro-nuclear bias.
Woodburn looked a bit miffed by the suggestion that things were not at
a stage where a decision could be made, and that matters were being
rushed. There were questions about who owns the right to
determine a whole county's future, too, so Woodburn used the £3
already spent on propaganda to bolster her argument. Sadly,
it did not explain why spending £3 million on such pro-nuclear
sensible, nor why so many in the council were so
pro-nuclear. Being cynics we
wonder where the £3 million was spent. A lot of the
movers and shakers of Cumbria seem to be on the gravy train.
A good two-part question from Professor Andy Blowers (ex-CorWM) was not
answered. Woodburn talked all around it, but, despite the
presenter putting both parts of the question to her again, no
You Can't Do That
For us, the gem of the whole thing came just ten minutes from the
end. The geologist had been waffling on about why the
decision back in 1997, about the whole of west Cumbria being
with Longlands Farm area being perhaps the least unsuitable (but,
presumably, still unsuitable) meant nothing (without providing evidence
to support the suggestion) and was becoming increasingly vague, when
the presenter threw a curve ball. (No idea what that means,
but we've read about them in American whodunnits.)
A question had been sent in asking whether, if the only area suitable
to host the
dump was in Borrowdale granite around Keswick with
the entrance in Cockermouth, approval would still go
ahead? Of course the panel had plainly never even remotely
considered that the host site would be anywhere other than Longlands
Farm! Everything thus far had been centred on the one
site! Brilliant question; congratulations to whoever
it was submitted it. There was a great deal of
confusion. The geologist had no idea what kind of rock was
present around Keswick or Cockermouth, obviously. Some sort
of failure there, one might suspect, but one which bears out our
complaint about his inferiority to Professor Smythe. For
once, even Woodburn was unable to come back with the pro-nuclear
rehearsed statement - she had never been told what to answer that
question with. Eventually she waffled, it seemed to us with
a certain temerity, about the Lake District National Park being very
important (erm, erm,) and that they would have to consider any impact
amenity very carefully. She admitted that the residents of those
areas may not be willing to play host. (Wonder why she felt
that? Anything to with the recent votes rejecting progress to
the next stage, from a whole variety of local councils?)
So the idea seems to be: sod
Longlands Farm - that's the
only place we have considered and that is where it is going to go.
We have slanted everything to suit over the last four
our efforts have been to
that end, and there is where it will go. Besides, we'd
convince Keswick or Cockermouth - they're outside our comfort
zone. (Cynically we would suggest outside the pro-nuclear
largesse and propaganda zone.)
We scribbled a lot of questions during the programme and forwarded some
of them via
webcast facility. Sadly, there was no way of getting out of
question-asking box without closing down the whole window, which
resulted in us missing a few seconds of entertainment from time to
time. A pity really, for, as we say, it was very well
done. Congratulations to the tech. team who put it together
and thanks for the neutrality of the presenter. (We'll even
forgive him the shirt once our eyes get back to normal.)
Our summary of the event is that the people of west Cumbria are being
asked to approve an extremely deep or shallow hole in the ground, very
close to their property, or far away from it, but in some instances
undermining it. The hole will be of indeterminate size, in
an imprecisely-known location; perhaps in, or under, the Lake
National Park, or not, and be at (and of) any depth, depending on the
type of geology they find when they dig the hole. Residents
can be assured that, whatever geology is found, it will be entirely
suitable for the purpose of the dump, and copious supporting evidence
will be supplied from independent experts to prove that.
(Naysayers need not apply.)
The dump may be close to Sellafield, or not, but wherever it is, it
will be served by a totally inadequate infra-structure with poor
transport assets, which may (despite the difficult terrain), or may not
(because of the difficult terrain), have to be improved to cope.
Furthermore, it may host waste which has, or has not, been treated by
some unknown and untried process (the existing White Elephant plant
will be decommissioned at a very good rate - to be replaced by an even
larger White Elephant at even greater expense), which will achieve its
annual target over a ten year span, perhaps. The longevity of
Elephant will be increased by its producing more waste than it cures,
which is, of course, a Very Good Thing (with apologies to A.A. Milne
for the inappropriate upper case letters) in terms of employment.
Waste, whilst still "quite hot", will then be placed in containers
whose construction has not yet been designed, or proven, but made of
material yet to be decided. Such containers will be perfect
for the job and will last for at least twice as long as the 100
thousand year lifespan that some of the material - which has yet to be
identified - may have. It is not yet known how much waste will
be stored in the dump, but it may be "quite a lot". To make
the project worthwhile, waste will originate from all over the country
(possibly, eventually, even abroad) and will be of an unknown quantity
and toxicity, but whatever it is, and however much there is of it, will
remain highly toxic for "a very long time". Although "quite
hot", the interred material will make no contribution to global or
marine warming. All gases will be safely vented at all times
with no danger to the environment whatsoever. Build up of gases
will not be tolerated. The approved system will perform
perfectly throughout its design life - as soon as we get round to
Tip: now may be a good time to invest in Tupperware shares.
It is unfortunate that the (w)hole will be the final straw for any
non-nuclear industry, such as tourism and leisure, but they will
benefit from a compensation package akin to that used currently for
shopping malls, called a Community Benefit Package. The
amount for which is currently not determined. It may (or may
not) be a substantial fund. Sadly, if such a package is not
accepted, the project will still go ahead and any compensation reduced
due to the adverse impact of a nuclear dump in close proximity to your
property diminishing its value. Please note that, due to
planning law changes, Cumbrian residents will be limited to choosing
the colour of the factory gates. No other arguments will be
permitted, sorry. (By special arrangement with
Électricité de France.)
The foregoing demonstrates that the proposed dump has been very well
researched, is entirely sustainable, and is a practical way of dealing
with some of the worst poisons known to mankind, (except if they leak,
which they won't, but even if they did, it will be for future
generations to deal with, by which time the technology may, or may not,
be available to deal with it). The development is
financially viable and self-sustaining, so long as the subsidies, which
don't exist, are forthcoming.
The only certain thing seems to be that contracts for its construction
are already being awarded and the gravy train already
rolling. (The slapping sound is not the sound of what used
to be the Irish Sea, which now forms the effluent discharge pond, it is
the sound of pigs at a trough.) It is reassuring to know
that, even in these straightened times, we can help out German, Spanish
and French électricité companies by permitting them to
employ low-cost loans provided by the tax-payers of the U.K. to
generate profits in order to support their respective home
countries. We are quite sure that our new-found best mates
will not cause us to wonder whether energy security is in any way
compromised by the scheme. We remain convinced they will still
be around in 150 years time when it comes to cleaning up what is left
of the sites around the country. (Accidents and unfortunate
incidents excepted.) (Carbon credits at favourable rates
are now available, and capped accident insurance liability benefits
will be supplied on demand.)
The "trickle-down" effect will ensure that all strata of the Cumbrian
community will gain from these plans although, naturally, those
most-deserving will be at the forefront when it comes to time to
distribute the benefits.
Please be assured that residents will not be inconvenienced at any
time. All projects in West Cumbria come with the guarantee
of "No Adverse Effect" - for the lifetime of the guarantee (two days or
more.) (Unless withdrawn sooner).
Please be assured at all times that Sellafield is NOT a dirty industry,
and there is no reason to be nervous, as confirmed by our
history. (Er. . ., or not.)
Now it is time for a prayer led by our "Churches Together" Nuclear
turkeys vote for Christmas? In Allerdale and Copeland
they do, it seems.
|Nuclear Incident Assessment - Level 7 at
release of radioactive material with widespread health and
environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended
According to experts, a 1000 megawatt nuclear reactor
generates around 600 lbs. of plutonium per year: Plutonium
remains radioactive for 250,000 years. Other byproducts are
almost as injurious, and have serious harmful effects for periods of a
few hours up to that of plutonium. Some of the most common
products being injurious for around 30 years. The
industry, meanwhile, has promoted new modular and
“advanced” reactors as better alternatives to traditional
reactors. Indeed, one of the first qualifications dreamed up by
the PR people for the industry was that the reactors are nothing like
the new ones, the Fukushima ones were more than 40 years old, they
said. The new breed are, however, subject to the very same
risks: accidents, terrorist attacks, human error, equipment failure,
etc., as the traditional reactors.
In the past, the nuclear industry has used the civilian power stations
as a front for the generation of fissile material - sometimes without
even the relevant minister knowing what was happening, according
to the Rt. Hon. Tony Benn. If these individuals will happily lie
to ministers while taking public money -
and have the backing of the civil servants in that endeavour, what
chance nowadays for openness and honesty?
In one of the few
studies on human contamination in the months following the Fukushima
over half of the more than 1,000 children whose thyroids were monitored
in Fukushima City were found to be contaminated with iodine 131, which
means that many of them are likely to be condemned to thyroid
cancer years from now. Happily, albeit somewhat strangely,
neither the BBC's Science Editor,
nor Professor J. al Kalili, found anything to worry about when they
visited Fukushima a few months after the tsunami. The latter,
whilst bemoaning the fact that the school - in whose playground he was
filming - was bereft of children (as they had all been moved to
"safety"), rather spoilt his deprecating statements about the need for
evacuation by donning radioactive-proof footwear just to walk on the
very same ground for the short duration that he was being filmed.
Why did he do that if there truly was nothing for the children
to be worried about? The former appeared on Newswatch to explain
why there was so little about the continuing problems at Fukushima on
BBC news programs. He explained that he had visited the scene,
"waved a Geiger counter around", but could find nothing about which to
be worried. Levels were, he suggested, too low to worry about.
classified as a grade 7 accident on the International Atomic Energy
Agency scale; something which it merited very soon after the incident
became unmanageable, but the I.A.E.A. are renowned for hushing things
up, and it was very apparent that soon after the incident went global,
huge efforts were being made to quieten things down. One
almost permanent interviewee from Chatham House, in particular,
suggesting that there was
nothing much to it all and the tsunami was far more serious. He
pointed out that no-one had died from the nuclear incident, without
saying that future deaths from the fall-out could potentially dwarf the
immediate ones - and not just in Japan. This then became the
standard response from the nuclear industry. Sadly, it seems the
interviewers don't have the capacity to point out the future
potential and the fact that nuclear is no respecter of boundaries or
any other demarcation.
It was some time before anyone actually got around to making the
incident a Level 7 - denoting “widespread health and
environmental effects.” (A cynic might think that that was
because the PR specialists - who abound in the nuclear industry - were
doing their best to stop it being so labelled. They must have
their money on that one!). The number of reactors and the fact
that they were so out of control that Tepco wanted to abandon the whole
site, meant that the incident was actually much worse than the only
other Level 7 incident - Chernobyl. Happily for the industry
there is no higher
number on the agency’s scale.
Eventually the full propaganda machine of the nuclear industry
collaborating withthe I.A.E.A, the N.I.A. and the U.K. government,
got into gear
and everything disappeared from the U.K. television channels if it was
in any way injurious to the nuclear industry. After
all, any adverse publicity
would have had an impact on the many consultations, some of which were
still to be held, from DECC. Not least of these was the nuclear
dump under Cumbria. The most obvious Achilles heel of the
industry is that it has dealt with none of its waste - ever.
After the incident,
lobbying groups touted improved safety at nuclear installations
globally and advances in reactor design. In Japan, it is alleged
that Tepco and the government have sought to
control the reporting of negative stories via telecom companies and
Internet service providers. This may be unfair on the
government, though, as it could be that they were not told the full
facts by Tepco. In the U.K., major investors and the various
nuclear expansion, worked with the government to downnplay the incident
and to suppress adverse news. According to The Guardian, Areva,
Électricité de France and Westinghouse were amongst those
minimise the impact.
The number of deaths
following Chernobyl, which is the only other Level 7 event, and its
impact on the health of survivors and the
environment, are very hard to discern. The International Atomic
Agency has predicted that there will be only about 4,000 deaths from
cancer, but a 2009 report published by the New York Academy of Sciences
says that almost one million people have already perished from cancer
and other diseases. The WHO has only 67 and, according to
the programme on Fukushima by Professor J. al Kalili, it may even be
less, rendering the whole Level 7 incident of little consequence.
According to doctors
in Belarus and the Ukraine, the consequences are somewhat different.
According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, a nuclear expert, the high
doses of radiation caused so many miscarriages that we
will never know the number of genetically damaged fetuses that did not
come to term. Both Belarus and Ukraine have group homes full of
deformed children, apparently.
will never cease. We’re decades if not generations away
from seeing the full effects of the radioactive emissions from
Chernobyl. Data from the various events - including the Nagasaki
and Hiroshima bombs - seems to indicate that the effects will reach a
peak in about 25 years' time. By then various factors will
probably come into play which will make meaningful assessment
impossible. This is especially so in the highly-mobile world in
which we now live. How many people affected by Sellafield,
Chernobyl or Fukushima would stay around the immediate location to
await the consequences,
knowing that the whole area remains contaminated?
Having muttered about the bias in the BBC, we were astounded to see a
far better programme on BBC 2 television on 23/2/12. Entitled
"This World: Inside the Meltdown", it was a documentary about the
event thus far. Congratulations to the programme makers for
getting out from under. It is available on BBC iPlayer for a
little while yet. Memorably, Naoto Kan, the then Prime Minister,
says in the programme that he was seriously considering extending the
exclusion/evacuation zone to 250 - 300 kms. from Fukushima. That
would involve a terrific amount of people, including those in Tokyo.
Hinkley Point, the recently-announced new reactor is only 140
miles from London.
Kan also illustrated his new-found anti-nculear credentials by pointing
out that, "Nuclear incidents will continue to occur. With
between 2000 and 3000 reactors world-wide, and more being planned, how
can the world ever be safe?"
A Resounding and Reassuring Rejection
to the following article relating to the rejection of the dump by
Cockermouth Town Council, two more councils have had their say and they
have overwhelmingly rejected the plan. The two additional
councils are Seaton and
Above Derwent. Reassuringly, and happily, it seems that what we
see as the deliberate corruption hasn't yet reached as far as we
thought. The Above Derwent council went on to declare:
We believe that “West Cumbria”
should now withdraw from the MRWS process because:
- We have no confidence in the right to
- We are convinced by the argument that
nowhere in Cumbria has suitable geology;
- We believe that it is a waste of time
and money to continue the process in Cumbria when there are other, more
promising, areas in England;
- Continuing the process puts part of
the National Park and its tourist and agricultural businesses at risk;
- We consider that the potential
economic benefits to Cumbria do not justify searching for a site
geology or spoiling part of a national park;
- We have concerns that
Government’s aspiration to accelerate the MRWS process will lead
- We have concerns about safety,
particularly gas emissions;
- There is insufficient information
about additional waste and the inherent increased risk;
- Far too little
information is available on impacts for the community to make a
meaningful Decision to Participate.
Regular readers might recognise that campaigners, such as Radioactive
Free Lakeland (http://mariannewildart.wordpress.com) and
Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (http://www.corecumbria.co.uk/) and ourselves have
been voicing exactly these concerns for a long time now. There
are many other groups, nationally and globally who regularly give the
lie to the claims of the nuclear industry. Sadly, the industry
still has the ear of those in government. The likes of Cameron
having no qualms about spouting nonsense supplied to him by civil
servants whose own sources are industry sales representatives.
Miliband did the same thing. It was a vain hope that the Liberal
Democrats would do what they claimed.
Without wishing to sound be in any way patronising, we
congratulate these councillors on their stand and are truly grateful
that they have
seen through the various manipulations that have been used to promote
the nuclear industry. The process involving the pretence that
the process is open, honest
and independent. It is none of these things. Those with a
vested interest - not just money, but power, politics, and status, too
- have, in our
opinion, corrupted a whole county to further their selfish aims.
We have seen what we believe to be corruption in almost every aspect of
Cumbrian life. Redfern has already investigated one side of that
corruption, which involved Sellafield, the NHS, government departments,
and even coroners. His 97 findings, published after the
Body Part Removal and Tissue Sampling Inquiry, and which allege
criminal offences have been committed, have not been investigated by
the police - allegedly because it was not in the public interest.
Tosh. We reckon they were afeared just how far the
investigation would take them. Perhaps one Murdoch Enquiry is
enough? Anyway, from the above, it seems that we have been
unnecessarily pessimistic. We retain our belief that everything
is pre-determined and the rest is just window-dressing. Now,
however, we have the hope that others share our cynicism that what are
being lied to about is in any way impartial.
Please can anyone tell us why a company is being given £5 million
over the next three years to discover whether the nuclear dump will
affect tourism in west Cumbria? Are there any tours to, or
holidays around, Chernobyl? Why did the Sellafield Visitor
Centre get wound up? Does anyone think that if the truth about
the discharges from Sellafield were known there would be any market at
all for tourism in the area? That is before any expansion!
Why are there no warning signs on the region's beaches?
They are polluted and demonstrably so.
There are several more councils to come
back with their vote, but in any case, one has to wonder - as we
suggest below - whether the relevant minister, Pickles, will use his
cudgel and force the area to go ahead even if all the councils do
reject it. The long-range plans being put in place by the
in the quangos holding meetings in dark corners, making plans for their
own aggrandisement, certainly suggest that they know something that
else does. It would be nice to find that we are again being
unduly pessimistic. If we are, then an awful lot of money will
have been wasted. Any truly honest and impartial system would
have seen that the earlier enquiry ruled out any possibility of
development of a dump, yet these individuals have persisted.
alternative for processing the waste - legacy or future - one also has
to wonder about the development at places like Hinkley Point.
The likelihood of Pickles imposing the venture could prove interesting.
After all, who does own Cumbria?
Manipulation, and Evil Doings
hidden amongst the notices for Cockermouth Town Council in the Cumbrian
newspaper, the Times and Star, for Friday, 17/2/12, is the announcement
that the town council have voted against going to the next stage of
consultation for the nuclear dump.
displayed (after all, like so many institutions in the area, the
paper has to defer to the revenues it gains from the nuclear industry)
is the insidious next step which might see the plan go ahead despite
any objections. With the redoubtable Mr. Tim Knowles at the
helm yet again. This time leading a study into the
transport system of the west of Cumbria and how it might be affected by
such things as housing developments at, er, Cleator Moor, or -
distinctly low key, nuclear developments. The computer
program will be able to analyse traffic flow for buses, private cars,
(no doubt horses and carts, too,) and lorries. Once again,
the relevance of the latter is muted, but will be of paramount
importance to those on the various bodies fronted by Mr. Knowles
promoting nuclear expansion regardless of public opinion.
There have already been complaints that the impact on the region's
roads will be excessive. So to get around these objections,
this part of the county will be resurfaced with tarmac, if the
requirements of the nuclear lobby are heeded. Just who do
these few vociferous and influential people represent?
Surely not the great majority?
Whilst the tide of
opinion is against nuclear expansion, the power to make an ultimate
decision lies with the "Executive Cabinet" - a grandiose-sounding
sub-division of those who apparently consider themselves
infallible. Back in 2008, it was this small select band who
made the decision to "express an interest" in hosting the dump without
recourse to public opinion or even the town councils. Who
and what is influencing these cliques? Suspiciously, the
same names keep recurring. Are people being told the real
truth as to what these shadowy characters are doing in their
name? What will the government do in the unlikely event
that the "better pigs" (with apologies to George Orwell) withdraw their
favours? No knighthoods for them then, eh? No
seats on the various boards if it all goes pear-shaped. Big
bonuses might just evaporate a little better than the stuff at
what will be done with the rapidly decaying waste in the legacy ponds
at Sellafield? The need to bury the stuff (akin to the
ostrich burying its head in the sand, to our way of thinking,) is
becoming urgent. With no method of dealing with it and
nowhere to put it, it remains a huge reason for not proliferating
nuclear power stations, which, of course, goes against the government's
wishes. Besides which, that great god Money has been spent
promoting the idea all over the county, so how much can be spent (on
top of the huge amount already spent) before the powers-that-be decide
that too much has been invested for the withdrawal to be
permitted? Then it will be the quintessential fat cat,
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles,
who will come riding in with the imposition because it is for the
greater good of the country. Place your bets now.
There also seems to
be the somewhat naiive idea that it will ever be possible to get out
from the commitment, as specified in the original invitation to take
part in hosting the dump. To us it is highly significant
that no other council in the whole of the U.K. wanted to be
involved. The only place stupid enough is Cumbria, where so
many institutions have, in our opinion, been corrupted by the
industry. Is it not time to put an end to the corruption
and the contamination, with its impact on the environment and
health? When even the geology of the area - thoroughly
investigated by a whole raft of competent people and a few others, back
in 1997 - is being changed to suit the proposals, you know they are on
a very slippery slope. Tell us again how much transport
will be involved in creating the dump. Will this operation be
concurrent with any further reactor building at Sellafield by
Iberdrola? Or will that be put on hold until the dump is
commissioned? Where are the new roads to be built and what
will be sacrificed for them? An international company has
been involved in the transport forecast and a computer program produced
at great cost, who paid for it and how? Who selected the
company? To us it is another burden to be added to the
they being told the truth about all the aspects of the proposed dump
and nuclear expansion? When the dual carriageways are
covering the green valleys and coastal plains, what possible objections
could be raised to more and more reactors and treatment
plants? Our original spectre of 40 miles of industrial
estate from beyond Barrow up to the Solway looms ever larger.
Suffer The Little Children
Although the consensus of opinion amongst broadcasters may seem to
suggest that not a single person has died as a result of the Fukushima
incident, figures from studies elsewhere seem to indicate otherwise.
An American study looked at both infant and adult death
during the time when Fukushima occurred, as well as in previous months
and years. It found that during the 14 weeks prior
Fukushima, infant deaths had been declining by 8.37%, while in the
weeks following the disaster they increased by
among adults, a 4.46% death rate was observed in the weeks after
Fukushima, compared to 2.34%, which is about half that rate, the
From the same source we learn that nearly a year after the incident,
Meiji Step Infant Powder (a baby milk product) has been recalled
because it has been tainted with radiation. Meiji
Co., the maker, is recalling 400,000 cans of the product because of
contamination with radioactive cesium.
According to the article, "The Times of India" reports that the
recalled product contains excessive levels of radioactive cesium
measuring as high as 30.8 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of both
cesium-134 and cesium-137. Though this amount is
the 200 Bq/kg maximum threshold set by the Japanese health ministry, it
is still too high for comfort for both the company and the public,
which is why Meiji has issued the voluntary recall.
There is, of course only one source of such contamination: a
nuclear power plant. Interestingly, and perhaps worryingly,
baby milk was manufactured in a factory 124 miles away from Fukushima.
It is always a bit worrying when an expert seems to be saying something
very wrong on a programme broadcast by what was always regarded as the
world's premier organisation. Not only from the point of
that our own knowledge is inevitably more scant than theirs - leading
to worries that we have got something wrong, or missed a vital point -
but also because the BBC uses its reputation as a shield to protect it
from challenge. If you disagree with something that has
on the BBC then you are wrong, as the organisation is too experienced
to make mistakes, seems to be the premise. Happily for the
anyone who dissents from their view can be quickly labelled a bit of a
loon who cannot accept reasoned argument. In our case, we
very quickly be labelled rabid greenies. However, we know
isn't the case in fact.
So, when we saw the programme on Fukushima with a professor, whose
previous work in connection with science, scientists, astonomy and
general physics, we had understood, enjoyed, and appreciated,
watched with interest. The content was a considerable shock!
After all, everything we put on this website is gleaned from
respected sources and seems to have the same general theme that
confirms the idea that there is no safe level of radiation - something
that has been admitted even by the International Atomic Energy
Professor Jim al-Kalili's programme was broadcast last year, four
months after the Fukushima events. In it he suggested that
upheaval of the evacuation had done more harm than anything the tsunami
and subsequent melt-down of the reactors had achieved. He
on to note that no-one had died as a result of radiation leaking from
the plant. The obvious inference was that, in the event of a
nuclear incident - even one on the maximum level of the scale for
nuclear disasters - no-one should be removed from the area.
Happily, we were not on our own in considering this programme to be
grossly misleading. A video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-4YJfwF1MQ&feature=related
(together with many others in a similar veing) takes issue with the
"facts" given in the programme. It demonstrates the basic
made by al-Kalili, from his statement that there had been a "partial
meltdown", when in fact both the IAEA and Tepco had issued data stating
that there had been complete meltdowns at three of the reactors -
something that was obviously known at the time the broadcast was
The video shows official documentation which informs how exposure to
radiation not only causes cancer - especially thyroid cancer from the
ingestion or inhallation of iodine - but also leads to vast increases
in other illnesses. The data for this being derived from
of the exposure of Japanese to the two atomic bombs. The
of the bombs became evident after 25 years and they are not expected to
peak until around 2015. So, why does al-Kalili expect to see
effects after just four months?
Even more astonishing was the visit to Chernobyl, and the ludicrously
low figures for ensuing deaths given by a Russian professor.
Happily, al-Kalili was content to accept what he was told, and seems to
have made no effort to chase up data from other sources.
sources put the figures for people affected at 980,000.
different from the Russian professor's. Amusingly, the video
shows al-Kalili after he has spoken to the camera about the unnecessary
evacuation, especially of a school, donning protective boots for a
brief walk across the playground. Quite why he needed those
boots when there is patently no danger he didn't explain.
why the Japanese government, together with many other countries where
nuclear incidents have occurred, spend so much money on cleaning up
apparently unnecessarily, is not explained either. There is
little mention, too, of the hundreds of tonnes of toxic (or is it?)
material being dumped into the Pacific Ocean. Why should
be any concern about it. Taking al-Kalili's expert views to
their logical conclusion, there will be absolutely no adverse effect
On 21st January, this year, an article relating to the coverage of
Fukushima was included in Newswatch early in the morning.
To give some authority to the theme, a BBC science editor was
interviewed about the situation at Fukushima. He continued
infer that the incident was over and no-one had died, the reactors
were now in a state of cold shut-down, and that the whole thing had
been a lot of fuss about nothing.
Further research from a wide range of sources, shows that the situation
is not as described by the BBC's science interviewee, but as we
believed to be the case. In fact we had only the previous
watched a documentary programme on Japanese national broadcaster, NHK
World (see the Opinion page, article on 20/1/12) which, contrary to
what the BBC were saying, opined that things were far from well at
So, we are left with the question of why? Why is a
respected broadcaster putting out such material? Do they use
different science to us? Whose evidence is flawed?
possible that they are being "leant on" by the industry and/or
government? Why did they not explain how their amazingly low
figures for people afflicted could possibly diverge so much from the
accepted ones - and were even lower than those published by the World
Health Organisation? If their science editor is so
how can the BBC ever honestly give an impartial opinion? Can
anyone offer an explanation of why such material can be broadcast and
then not corrected or retracted?
We don't consider ourselves "rabid greenies", yet if we challenge such
an institution, isn't that what we will appear to be - no matter that
we can justify our case with facts?
announcement that the company owned by the head of Cumbria Tourism, Mr.
Robson, is to be involved (see
article below on 27/9/11) in
the assessment of whether a deep
hole will undermine tourism in west Cumbria (a multi-million pound deal
which will no doubt be utterly transparent and honest - with no
leanings towards the wishes of the payer) we have come up with a couple
of items which may be of interest to anyone pushing for souvenirs of
the area to be afflicted. Given Cumbria Tourism's previous
history of ignoring the west of the county, preferring instead to
heavily promote the over-popular lakes - Windermere, Coniston, etc. -
we doubt whether any real change in policy can be expected.
question, apparently, is whether the proposed nuclear dump will
adversely affect tourism in the west of Cumbria. A little
obvious that, as tourism has not been promoted since the demise many
years ago of the Sellafield Visitor Centre(!) , it may be a strange
question. Perhaps it should have been whether, given a
degree of promotion to the east of the county, tourism could provide a
viable future for west Cumbrians.
Excessive Influence for
Industry Distorting the Government's View?
can we be assured
of transparency and accountability when the government and nuclear
power industry are both responsible for and have a large stake in
finding plausible solutions to nuclear crises? This
collusion neutralises any public interest. What
is there of impartial public health information when it depends on the
whim of a nuclear consortium working with an amenable
government? What is the moral position of an army
servants passing on information to the nuclear industry without any
transparency except when such is forced by the Freedom of Information
requests? How did the nuclear industry acquire this
influence? Why is no-one in the investigative
field interested in following up the position, for example in Cumbria,
where every committee and council has been stufffed with pro-nuclear
lobbyists? Leaving aside issues - such as why it is taking so
long for a police investigation to be completed into whether the Energy
Secretary, Chris. Huhne, and we get the feeling we would not receive
the same consideration, it is strange that he should have recently
announced cuts to solar panel installation and the price paid for the
surplus energy produced by them. It may well be, as
says, that the price of producing the panels has fallen, but the cost
of installation hasn't fallen, and energy prices are set to rise (even
by Huhne's own figures) by 2020.
Huhne is reported to have written to Lord Lawson and the Global Warming
Policy Foundation, to attack the suggestion of that group that global
warming is largely a natural phenomenon. This
that we agree with, notwithstanding that modern lifestyles add
considerably to the changes in climate. After all
has been around for quite a while and temperatures globally have
fluctuated considerably during its life-time. Parts
England, for example, were subject to a tropical climate which changed
when the ice age arrived. Clearly this was not due
exhausts or power stations. Whatever the nuclear
protagonists would like us to believe, their pollution is worse than
CO2 and the earth will do whatever it does
outcome will be that the earth will survive regardless of human
activities (even including Huhne). Whether the
does or not is a moot point.
strikes us as
rather odd that Huhne is quite happy to follow the advice of climate
change scientists but impervious to complaints that the geology of
Cumbria is unsuitable for an underground dump, as per the four year
investigation of the Nirex enquiry. Even with
methods of examining rocks the situation remains the same, but is Huhne
to that particular scientific opinion?
only are policemen looking younger these days, but corruption amongst
the "ruling elite" is apparently become more obvious, too.
things are any worse than they used to be be, are more apparentt these
days because of better communications, or we are indeed getting older,
we don't know. What we do know is that our long-voiced
suspicions that some politcians and peers of the realm are corrupt and
devious is becoming more obvious. We have suggested for the
three or four years that the outcome of the "consultations" over the
various aspects of nuclear expansion were aimed to provide the system
with a ticked box. There was no other reason that we could
of to explain the many versions on a theme that only multi-national
corporations and industry-funded groups could have the resources to
tackle properly. Every aspect of the plans was allocated its
"consultation" process totally unnecessarily. Huge volumes
addtional information was put forward by the government at the last
minute, leaving lay people like ourselves bewildered and overwhelmed.
After a while we realised that it was all part of a Cunning
devised by a latter-day Baldrick in DECC. The whole
was aimed at granting the likes of Électricité
the various sites around the country to build their French-built Areva
reactors. Of course, Électricité
are Siamese twins owned and controlled by the French government.
Quite what there influence over the U.K. government is we have yet to
see. Few people in politics do things without expectation of
reward, in our experience.
the Home Page is the report from Greenpeace about the
fines imposed on Électricité
de France in French courts for spying, computer hacking, etc., at the
same time as two of the Électricité
de France employees were jailed for three years for it.
Currently, Greenpeace is seeking action following the release, under
FOI rules, of correspondence from the government which indicates the
level of collusion between them and the nuclear industry, including
details of files and evidence to be used by Greenpeace in their action
in the French courts. This is not democratic and should
never have happened. Again, it begs the question:
in it for the perpetrators? Let us not pretend that they are
doing it out of altruism.
recently been drawn to a report concerning further corruption and
collusion in respect of the government's dealings with the nuclear
industry - at least some of which may have been illegal, let alone
Greenpeace has the resources to take on this sort of conduct.
does, however, beg the question as to who is being so influenced that
they are bending over backwards to facilitate this expansion?
Answers on a post-card please. We have already expressed our
concerns that this is not what we expect an (allegedly impartial)
department of government to be up to.
control of information from Fukushima continues, and it is necessary
these days to search outside the mainstream U.K. media to find current
reports, as the BBC no longer mentions it. Even so, it
is somewhat amusing to note that liquid quantities are reported in
terms of tonnes rather than the more indicative measures that people
can visualise, such as gallons or litres. Reports last week
NHK television tell of 45 tonnes of radioactive water having leaked
outside the plant being used to treat it, with the possibility that a
further 250 tonnes might also have escaped undetected into the Pacific.
All this, of course, is on top of the 20,000 tonnes already
discharged into the ocean at the outset. Not, of course that
this presents any problem to the health of residents or the environment
- just as the pollution from Sellafield is utterly innocuous.
Which, of course begs the question as to why the amount discharged at
the latter institution was stated to be only one fiftyeth of the true
We have had to accept defeat in our efforts to persuade the Cumbria
Constabulary to act on the findings of the Redfern Report.
Despite the findings of corruption in the coronial system, the NHS,
etc., and criminal offences having been committed over decades, the
whole enquiry looks like being a total waste of time, effort and money.
Nothing, other than the closure of a couple of pathology
(not including the one at which most of the events occurred!) will
result. Whether the matter is of public interest or not is a
moot point. According to our reading of the considerations
listed on the website for the Director of Public Prosecutions, there is
good reason to proceed with an enquiry. Sadly, the Assistant
Chief Constable disagreed. The Independent Police
Complaints Commission declared that they couldn't act on our
complaint was we had failed to name the person who made the decision
not to act. We had asked, but the question was ignored.
letter to Redfern directly has been ignored. We come to the
conclusion that the whole enquiry was just another PR exercise and
no-one was supposed to take it all seriously whilst successfully lining
the pockets of legal eagles with no public benefit ensuing.
Three years after asking for information on what he described as "a
gross abuse of parliamentary process", we are still asking for the
result of the enquiry which Speaker Michael Martin had announced.
Sir Humphrey abounds - he is not just a figure of a
comic-writer's imagination, and there are lots of him. (?)
Our local M.P. has ignored our questions (she is good at
sort of thing) and even our completed forms complaining to the
Parliamentary Ombudsman languish on her desk as they have done since
September. There is no way to complain about an M.P.,
or not. The best that can be done is to write to the Chief
of the party concerned. We did this almost two weeks ago,
are still awaiting at least an acknowledgement.
latest information from the government's nuclear development office
tells us that all is well with the generic design assessment and
Westinghouse and Areva/Électricité
de France reactors are suitable for use in the U.K.
mentions that it has considered the report from Dr. Weightman - the
contents of which we forecast over six months ago - and all is
We are aware that there are design flaws in both reactors.
Apart from our concerns that one size does not always suit
the reassurance that "no reactors will be built in the U.K. until the
design flaws have been rectified" does not make us feel any safer!
Funnily enough, some time ago we heard a story about the visit
by peers of the realm to Sellafield. Looking at the
access points to the test drillings for the underground nuclear dump,
one of the peers was heard to comment to a senior Sellafield manager,
"We'll soon get the covers off this lot for you." Wonder
the worthy gentleman, his colleagues and friends all buy shares?
Long And Winding Road
nearly two and a half years to obtain information about an alleged
"gross abuse of parliamentary procedure" instigated by the then
Speaker, Michael Martin, we have decided with reluctance to submit the
matter to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Of course, these
this requires the signature of the local M.P. - the very person who has
failed to obtain the information in the first place. With
hope of success we completed and submitted the appropriate forms back
at the beginning of October. Having heard nothing (not even
acknowledgement of receipt) in a month, we wrote to the Ombudsman's
Office asking whether the documents had been received. A
delay, then came the information that the forms were apparently still
with the M.P. Great stuff.
Complaints Commission, as helpful as everyone else involved in
assisting members of the public with complaints, has declared that they
cannot act on our complaint about Cumbria Police's failure to act on
the outcome of the Redfern Enquiry into Tissue Sampling and Body-part
Removal by Sellafield. Our request for the name of the
individual who made the decision not to do anything at all was
addressed to the Asst. Chief Constable, who chose to ignore it.
The IPCC have informed us that because we cannot name an individual
officer they won't act either.
letter direct to
Michael Redfern regarding the matter was, according to his office,
forwarded to him. Our hope that he might deign to offer a
seems optimistic as a month has gone past already with no further
response. Isn't accountability great?
background to the recent Dr. Liam Fox debacle makes for an
interesting, if somewhat scary (still, it is Halloween!) pastime.
Money, it appears controls most things in a politician's
Leaving aside the deep politics of Atlantic Bridge, ALEC,
the Koch brothers, the Daily Telegraph today has an article on the
manner in which the future of planning was "hijacked" by four Treasury
officials, with only a token Defra official in attendance.
article says that the idea was to remove objections from environmental
groups and was done to facilitate expansion by businesses in order to
assist in the recovery from the depression. Somewhat
the complaints have been led by the Labour party, despite the fact that
they were in government for most of the time the policies were being
implemented. Goldfish memory syndrome springs to mind.
the time of the
National Planning Policy Framework consultations, we noted that they
were very effective at removing any local input and handed control to
the large corporations (whose share will no doubt be owned by those
making these decisions) to the detriment of the environment and David
Cameron's much vaunted Big Society and localism. Still, as
as they continue to make money, who cares about the environment?
tempting, too, to recognise that the likes of Électricité
(why are they so reluctant to use their full nomenclature - surely
nothing to do with the fact that they are a foreign company?) will be
able to press ahead with their plans to build nuclear reactors wherever
they wish with the default position being an approval and the
opposition being substantially handicapped by the changes included in
There Will Be NO
Subsidy (Unless There Is)
RWE npower, apparently one of the most unpopular companies in the
country, is "likely to look for investors, or a partner, to share the
cost once the subsidies for nuclear power have been set". Strange,
when the government have said there will be no subsidies - but the
company already has debts of £23 billion, and is supposedly
to build four nuclear power stations at a cost of a further
billion! Do we really believe that the U.K.
taxpayer is not
about to fund these proposed developments? Yet
have to ask, why should the U.K. provide capital for foreign companies
when the profits will go abroad?
according to the article in the Sunday Times, 2/10/11, is higher
electricity costs for consumers. So much for energy
security. Having sold off the utilities to foreign
companies, we are at the mercy of them and will remain so as long as
basic utilities are seen as a profit-making asset instead of a basic
need. It seems that, whichever way we go in the
energy companies will continue to increase costs to the consumer,
whether justified or not.
Miliband, who changed the New Labour policy on nuclear, is now reported
to have listed the energy groups as the most predatory businesses
ruining Britain in a speech last week at the Labour Party
conference. Of course, this didn't relate to his
for nuclear when he was in charge of DECC; the current
seem quite happy to condone the actions of civil servants seeking to
downplay the impact of the Fukushima meltdowns by colluding with EDF
Energy, Areva, and Westinghouse, just two days after the earthquake in
order to stop bad publicity affecting plans for new nuclear stations in
Britain. Sad to see that honesty and integrity are
not a requirement in this "great" country. One
hoped for better following the expenses debacle, which showed just how
corrupt our politicians can be at even the most basic
level. If they can lie, steal and cheat for a few
what chance is there when there are £billions at stake?
the Andrew Marr Show on 2/10/11, and seemed to get a little flustered
when asked about the National Trust's opposition to changes in the
planning regime (see Home Page).
Despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of homes already
consented to but not yet built, it must have been very difficult for
him to justify the premise of selling off brown and green belt sites in
order to meet the needs. That the needs are purely
profit in the construction industry appears not to concern
him. Whether he understood the full impact of the
changes seems a moot point. His answers steadfastly
concerned houses - not a single nuclear reactor or underground dump (of
which there is only one, of course) seemed to occur to
Sadly, Marr no longer seems up to the job and failed to press the
only two weeks
in the American media, the BBC finally got round to mentioning the
strike that has been taking place over the fortnight in Wall
Street. The demonstrators, over 700 of whom have
arrested already, being deeply concerned about the disproportionate and
unfair influence that large corporations and wealthy individuals have
in setting government policy. Fortunately, that
happen in this country - er, except for the Murdoch empire and the
defence industry and the power sector. (Not to
now feared to be capable of making its own nuclear bomb within a few
weeks. Having just started up its first
reactor, with a great deal of aid from the Russians, it was only a
matter of time. Never mind, perhaps the Americans
persuade the Israelis to bomb the factory again.
Mainichi Daily News, http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20111002p2g00m0dm083000c.html,
Tepco's own nuclear accident manual was useless, as it assumed that
even if everything else failed, the emergency generators and cooling
systems would continue to function. We recall an
experienced emergency planner attended the Whitehaven meeting a couple
of years back and pointed out the basic flaws in the ideas of expanding
the Sellafield site. Still, they will never have an
accident, will they?
individual has calculated that the odds on a severe nuclear accident
occuring have reduced considerably since Fukushima, and now stands at 1
in 5,000 (down from the previous estimate of 1 to
This means that a severe accident can be expected to occur somewhere in
the world every 20 years - down from every hundred
Still worth a gamble?
India, there are
problems with legislation relating to compensation in the event of
accident. The World Nuclear Association (yet
well-funded propaganda and integration promoter for the nuclear
industry), promotes nuclear power and supports the many companies that
comprise the global nuclear industry. Its Director
(impressive title!), John Rich, is reported in the Indian publication
Business Standard as saying that safety had been quite a strong feature
of the nuclear sector prior to Fukushima and subsquently as
well. We presume that he hasn't heard of the 2000
events in the U.K. over the last seven years. Rich
reported as trotting out the old line about there being more accidents
and deaths in mining, coal (are they different?) and natural gas based
projects. Yes, perhaps, we haven't seen the
we wonder whether Rich has either. However, those
tend to be contained on-site (in reality - not just as per the mantra
uttered after every nuclear incident that there was no off-site leak)
and do not result in the death or severe health problems of those not
even vaguely connected to the industry. Nor do they
the environment contaminated for centuries. We
makes a slight difference.
General, this time of the IAEA - the sales team for the industry, has
taken the initiative and issued a positive message.
Amano says that the use of nuclear power globally will continue to
says that the
events at Fukushima, which his organisation did its best to suppress
knowledge of, did little to diminish the growth. A
strange when Switzerland, Germany, India, Italy and the likes have all
changed their plans. Even in the U.K. the economic
situation is placing ever-greater strain on the ability of private
companies to build these expensive reactors. We
is already the case that the only body with sufficient funds will be
the government, yet the public will need some hefty persuading that
building these unpopular edifices is a good use for their taxes when
there are so many other demands to be met.
Japan, the Asahi Shimbun has calculated that 100 million cubic meters
of soil from 8,000 sq. km. will have to be removed.
after it has been removed, it will still form radioactive waste and
need to be treated and disposed of. There is little
information on the quantities of radioactive water that is being stored
on-site at Fukushima, nor the quantities leaking into the Pacific
Ocean. Currently it is being suggested that the
being noted close to shore are the result of a very large whirlpool
effect which apparently exists in the area. Thus
does not get dispersed very far, merely rotates ad
infinitum. Naturally, the bulk of the material will
absorbed - one way or another - by marine life and remain in the chain
for either decades or centuries. Some 80,000 people
displaced by the leaks. We think it would take a
significant mining disaster to get anywhere near these
figures. Then again, we are not selling nuclear,
financial cost of
all this has not yet been quantified, although estimates seem to range
from a figure in excess of $50 billion up to $250
Although not mentioned in the "happy talk" from the nuclear industry
and its tame regulators, some experts suggest that the clean up will
take decades to achieve. (The official view
all will be well by the end of 2011 when a "cold shutdown" can take
disaster get anywhere near this level? Patently
not, so why
do the officials press this point? Perhaps more
importantly, why do they consider us to be so stupid as to believe
it? Do the civil servants at Whitehall understand
really going on? We
believe that if
even a very small percentage of this potential cost had been invested
in alternative power sources, research and development of the many
promising leads, then there would be no reason to risk nuclear
development. Necessity is, as they say, the mother
are told over and
again that the reactors that have caused pollution are old ones, and
the sales pitch is that the new ones don't have the same
problems. Yet there are still 440 old reactors and
highly-toxic wastes in existence today. Just
additional new ones does not remove the threat the old ones present.
article in the Guardian,
24/9/11 reveals the
latest rent-a-celebrity tactic.
content with having just the local
politicians and church leaders spouting propaganda on their behalf, the
pro-nuclear lobby have employed Osprey Communications, a PR company
owned by Mr. Eric Robson (who chairs Gardener's
Question Time on BBC radio), to look at whether nuclear plants or dumps
in Cumbria would undermine the Lake District's £2 billion a
tourist industry. Given what we perceive to be the complete lack of interest in promoting
tourism in the west
of Cumbria, demonstrated by the group thus far, it might seem that the
Lake District encompasses only those sites situated in the east of the
county and which are readily served by the M6
motorway. (Even the visit in recent times by huge
liners only served to help passenger to helicopter (!) from Whitehaven
to the eastern hot-spots in order to see the eastern lakes and fells -
thus ignoring the beauty of the western district.)
counters the allegations of
self-interest by saying his colleagues are aware of his views and
pecuniary interest. One wonders who these
and whether they, too, are dependent in any way on
the nuclear industry.
Who, amongst the general public, is made aware of the potential
conflict of interest and has any influence on the chairmanship of the
group? After all, Mr. Robson's media connections
the BBC, who ostensibly pride themselves on impartiality and
independence. (Mr. Robson
appeared regularly on the Wainwright programmes, with the latest one
being last Sunday evening, 25/9/11, on BBC television.)
Surely the major point is not whether his colleagues
are aware of his nuclear viewpoint, but whether those
not-so-well-informed people who might rely on his stance are aware of
his pecuniary interest. We have to wonder what his
the dump's funding will be?
looks like just another insidious extension of the Sellafield
corruption to us. Is there any influential body in
who is not funded by the nuclear lobby, has no ex-Sellafield managers
on board, and is thus demonstrably immune and
How can ordinary people counter such expertise as
Mr. Robson's in order to counter what is purely pro-nuclear
propaganda? Who are these people who determine the
wholesale destruction of a beautiful part of the
highly probable that the only part
of the Lake District which is of concern to this inappropriately-named
group will be the protection of those areas already rich and
over-populated as a direct result of their biased
support. Places like Keswick, Windermere,
Kendal, Coniston, etc., which are already bursting at the seams with
tourists and holiday makers. Yet the place recently
as the most beautiful in the
deserves no protection or promotion.
Sellafield cooling water comes from there, and there are wonderful
views of Sellafield's sprawling industrial site from most places around
Sadly, money buys politicians and influence world-wide. With
the west of Cumbria
being abandoned to nuclear, surely
it is time the title of Cumbria Tourism be changed to something more
the head of policy for
Cumbria Tourism can acknowledge that the proposed dump is
"probably not going to be a benefit", then surely the group - including
Mr. Robson, even if only in his official capacity - should be opposed
to the proposals?
Mr. Robson says that there is democratic debate, yet what democratic
debate is there? Any anti-nuclear stance is
"green rant" and none of the adverse effects of the huge developments
are mentioned in the vast propaganda exercise being run with
of local councils,
publishers. That the outpourings of these
extremely biased and funded by either the Energy Coast quango,
Sellafield, or the NDA are removed from fact and
fail to give a complete picture of the scale of the
problem. We refer to them as "nuclear-at-any-cost"
recent complaint to the PCC has revealed, honesty and adherence to the
true facts are not required.
people does it take to ruin a beautiful part of the
Who is being paid by whom? What influence is being wielded
of sight? We believe it is time for a full
investigation into what we see as the corruption endemic in Cumbria's
political and social
structure - along the
lines of the Murdoch enquiry. Let us see who is
and what their rewards are. Let us hear why there
little in the way of open, accountable democracy.
have you read
magazines, or discussion documents, about the adverse
effects of the
proposed developments in the area? Is it possible
nuclear reactors and vast underground dumps without some
impact on the extant
environment? Are jobs
the be-all and end-all of the debate? How many of
jobs currently being touted around are real jobs for local
people? What happens to those people when the
ends? What is the impact likely to
be on residents whilst the building phase lasts? We
seen nothing on these matters, and the proposed changes in the planning
legislation will remove any ability for
locals to have any say once the policy has been approved by central
government (another classic example of Mr. Cameron's Big Society in
action - localisation only if it suits the government and then on their
terms, with Mr. Pickles the ultimate arbiter). We
the future holds just one
outcome at the moment: here's your nuclear power station,
colour do you want the gates, only now this has been extended to the
dump as well. If there was any real chance of Copeland and
Allerdale backing out, how much further down the line and how much more
money is to be spent before they decide? When will the
money invested in the process outweigh any local objections?
are no alternatives being sought elsewhere in the U.K.?
Anyone care to place bets on what findings Osprey Communications will
Were We Up To . . .?
article published in the Britain's Energy Coast supplement,
distributed on May 26 (‘Lessons will be learned from events
Japan’), stated that the reactors at the Fukushima
plant ‘remained intact in spite of both earthquake and
tsunami’. We would like to make clear
that, in fact,
all three of the reactors failed following failure of the cooling
system. The events led to a failure of the power
water cooling systems, with the result that the cores melted through
the bottom of the reactors, releasing radioactive chemicals. We
apologise for the misleading statement.
by-product of the proposed political boundary changes
will be the integration of a wider area of Cumbria as they become
subsumed by the pro-nuclear areas of Copeland and Allerdale.
wonders whether these additional constituents will be permitted any
objections to the
destruction of the west coast. Despite the huge impact that
proposed development will have if it goes ahead, only a survey will be
used to discern public feeling. Given what was published a
while back in the WC:MRWS publication, it seems that anything will do
as long as it superficially supports The Cause. We are still
endeavouring to obtain the data used for one published survey carried
out on behalf of Copeland Council (and presumably thus paid for with
tax-payers money). It was undertaken by GVA Ltd, a property
company, who gained £25,000 for doing the small job.
believe that, as the data was obtained on behalf of the public of
Copeland, the material (suitably cleaned of any personal data) should
be available for us to analyse. However, we have been told
it belongs to GVA Ltd., and thus is removed from availability supplied
by the Freedom of Information Act. Neat? We have
the Information Commissioner to assist. The basic premise
remains: what use is a small survey when it could merely
standing in the canteen at Sellafield and effectivelty asking workers
whether they want to keep their job? Surely there must be
openness about the findings if they are to have any credibility?
Council upheld our view that an article by Energy
Minister, Brian Wilson, which appeared in one of the increasing number
of pro-nuclear propaganda publications designed to brow-beat people
into believing the myth that nuclear energy is safe,
and of benefit to the planet.
The article appeared in the Energy Coast
supplement which was published back in April and Mr. Wilson stated
that no damage had been incurred by the reactors at Fukushima
despite the earthquake and tsunami, and the nuclear infrastructure had
also remained intact. As this was patently untrue and a
straightforward breach of the requirements that a publication publish
true articles we complained. The publishers argued firstly
the article was merely Mr. Wilson's viewpoint, as if that excused them
from the requirement to be honest and make necessary corrections to
what they print. Then it was the "believed to be true at the
time" scenario - at the time the article was being prepared the full
facts were unknown. Blatently untrue, again. It
required a couple of channel hops on the television to have the
potential revealed within a few hours - with Mr. Wilson's contacts and
insider information, he
would (or at the very least should) have had up-to-the-minute
information, long before anything was broadcast - even with the strange
lethargy that overcomes the U.K. broadcasters in matters nuclear.
When we argued against that, they attempted to suggest that
melt-downs were not due to the earthquake and tsunami, but a failure of
the cooling system. The obvious fact that the system had
at least adequately for decades prior to the disaster seemed to end the
arguments. A correction and apology was published in the
complaint to the
Press Complaints Commission that a reference to the
damage sustained by the Fukushima nuclear power plant following the
recent earthquake and tsunami was inaccurate and misleading.
complaint said that, contrary to the author’s claim, the
did not ‘remain intact’, but suffered significant
resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the
following correction, as well as appropriate amendments to the
E-edition and online version:
not as fulsome
as we would have liked (our suggested full-scale
explanatory version 8-) was rejected by the publishers) we hope it may
salutory reminder of basic publisher's standards. http://www.pcc.org.uk/case/resolved.html
got into a
circular correspondence with M.P. and Cumbria
Constabulary over the latter's failure to act in any way following the
findings of the Redfern Inquiry we have now taken our M.P.'s advice and
"escalated the complaint". The police said that the
made by that picture of probity and rectitude, Mr. C. Huhne, in the
Houses of Parliament, following the report's findings, absolved them
from having to do anything, despite the 96 findings including
corruption of the coronial system, etc. Our M.P.
our view that the judicial system should be uninfluenced by political
statements and referred us to the police, who referred us to our M.P.
Hoping to break the cycle we have now complained to the
two years of
pressing our M.P. to find out what happened to the
inquiry by Speaker Michael Martin into the abuse of the parliamentary
process which resulted in an unbelievably low cap on nuclear companies'
liabilities in the event of accident, we have now completed the forms
of complaint for the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
forms asked what
we wished as an outcome, so we have suggested a
full Select Committee Inquiry into what we see as the corruption of
social systems in Cumbria by the nuclear industry. In
the role of the M.P. and others. That all the obvious
have been (or perhaps still are?) employees of Sellafield is surely a
suspicious and obvious modus operandii? When even the chair
Tourism Cumbria, Brian Robson, is engaged (via his PR company)
a pro-nuclear lobbyist things must surely be reaching the stage where
there should be an investigation into what is going on?
This be Right?
this map on the BBC website. We have long been somewhat
that the U.K. sites which were so badly affected by fallout from
Chernobyl were the same as those which hosted nuclear power stations
already. We were assured at the time that the normally
winds experienced in this part of the world were, unfortunately, from
the east on this occasion. Not only that, but there just
happened to be patches of rain falling in parts of Britain.
water droplets in the rain absorbed the Chernobyl radioactivity and
brought it down to earth. For that reason, farmers in large
areas of the country were prohibited from selling their livestock,
especially for human consumption. This situation pertained
over 25 years. Movements are afoot to reduce the
at the map
above, which depicts the levels of fallout from Chernobyl, we find it
rather awesome that the higher-level indicated to have fallen on the
U.K. just happens to be centered on Sellafield. In fact, if
rest of the map is ignored, one might even think that the centre of the
pollution is actually Sellafield, with perhaps a little more from
Wylfa. That would be cynical, though, wouldn't it?
all the ructions world-wide, Sarkozy has announced that he will
continue with his "big loan" policy by investing a further €1
billlion in nuclear develpment, with the emphasis to be on improved
reactor design leading to safer equipment. Throughout this
we have pointed out that France must be heavily dependent on the
nuclear vision, with everything depending on sales of their Areva
reactor. Sadly, with so many now-cancelled orders following
changed perceptions following Fukushima Dai-ichi, the president must be
somewhat nervous that his new-found friends across the Channel might
also change their minds. With a director of British Energy (
subsidiary to Électricité de France - EdF) appointed as
the head of the
Green Investment Bank, he must be feeling a little easier.
Provided that there are no immediate catastrophes involving nuclear
plants, and the British politicians can be encouraged to pursue their
lemming-like rush to embrace EdF's plans, all may yet remain well for
French politics. The alternative - even more French people
caught in the energy poverty trap - does not bode well for a peaceful
election next year. The longer it takes for other countries
sign on the dotted line, the greater the possibility that events might
change and countries abandon the nuclear dream, as Germany has done.
to American press sources, there is a growing concern about the safety
of their own nuclear plants, especially after it was disclosed that 75%
of their installations had leaked tritium, a radioactive form of
hydrogen which travels easily through the soil and binds with
In the interim, the backlash to Fukushima which we forecast would
occur, has now built up steam. Russia Today television has
had two consecutive nights with experts extolling the virtues of the
nuclear industry. One was a former head of
Industry Association, who voiced the now-familiar rhetoric, that not
one death has been attributed to Fukushima's nuclear problems, compared
with over 15,000 from the earthquake and tsunami. How
disingenuous can one be? Death from exposure to radiation is
rarely instantaneous, and the gentleman must know that very well.
According to NHK television (Japan) 15 residents of an area
outside the 20 km. exclusion zone have been treated for severe
radiation sickness. No mention of that in the Russsian
programme. Mind you, with a discrepancy such as that between
WHO figures and those of the medical staff on the ground near to
Chernobyl, the figures for radiation-related deaths will be pretty much
We are still following up the revelations from Cumbria Constabulary's
Asst. Chief Constable that no action will be taken following the
findings of the Redfern Report relating to body-part removal and
tissue-sampling in West Cumbria. We asked what action was
taken. Four months later, following a complaint over being
ignored, we were informed that no action was being taken because of
political comments. We asked who, what and when.
transpires that they are depending on the statement made to the House
of Commons by that model of integrity and honesty, Chris. Huhne.
It puzzles us as to how a politician - of whatever standing - can
determine whether people accused by a highly-qualified barrister of
breaking the criminal law are investigated and, where necessary,
prosecuted. We honestly believed that the law applied to all
was above politics.
We are still waiting for our local MP to come up with the answers to
questions first posed over two years ago. Apparently, for no
explained reason, the aide delegated to deal with our request has not
dealt with it. One could get quite paranoid.
We wrote to West Cumbria: Managing Radioactive Waste Safely
asking for the data which they had published in their newsletter
following a survey done by land agents, GVA Ltd. We objected
several things in the newsletter, including the fact that more than
100% of respondees were depicted in the accompanying graphs.
Each of the categories depicted as an element of the graph was labelled
with a perrcentage, which in each case totalled 100. Yet
were also number (not percentages - thus the two categories could not
be correlated) of those who did not answer. We have never
report that failed to include the number/percentage of no responses in
the main graph. Even so, there is no way of discerning the
criteria used to obtain the result. How did they eliminate
How did they ensure that the people were representative.etc.
We are still waiting for the data which we will analyse for
ourselves. The number of those whose views were
740 - not much out of the 500, 000 residents of Cumbria - a mere .15%.
Yet the newsletter tells the world that 56% of residents had
favourable view of new nuclear. Is it safe or wise to
extrapolate such a small sample to such a degree? We think
Our feeling is that the surveying company knew what outcume
desired and the exercise reflects this need. We asked
the company would have any interested in future land deals in the area,
but no answer was forthcoming.
Suggestions About Being
In a Radio 4 discussion on 28/6/11, the benefits of multiple small
reactors, such as those in use in nuclear-powered submarines, installed
in large quantities around the areas which needs more electricity, were
mooted. In some ways, it is an interesting proposition:
those who use the power suffer the consequences of having the
source in their own back-yard; much reduced transmission
as a consequences of being closer to the customer, far less intrusive
changes to the infra-structure, minimisation of detriment to the
amenity, can be built underground, only need refuelling every ten to 25
years, etc. We do seem to recall that a certain Barrow M.P.
the name of Hutton (now chairman of the Nuclear Industries Association)
resigned his place as Minister of Defence after awarding a substantial
contract (£20 billion) for nuclear-powered submarines to the
Barrow shipyards and went to work for an American company, Hyperion
Power Generating, who manufacture and sell nuclear reactors of the type
used in submarines. (In his spare time he works for
the law firm.) The
Advisory Committee On Business Appointments stipulated
that he should
not lobby his former department for 12 months - a period which
conveniently expires this month, so any old contacts may come in handy.
the Daily Mail
said at the time, "Last
appointment sparked renewed concern about the rules governing former
ministers looking to cash in on the contacts and privileged information
they pick up in government.
MP Paul Flynn said: 'This has a bad smell about it. In office John
Hutton was bewitched by the "Pied Piper" of the nuclear industry.
new rules governing former ministers moving into industries which they
used to regulate. There should be no financial involvement for at least
Hutton, who has already taken up a well-paid job as an adviser with the
law firm Eversheds, could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
Power Generation, based in New Mexico, is a leader in the emerging
market for socalled 'mini nukes' designed to power small communities
and industrial areas.
have branded them 'just another bombmaking threat' that risked the
spread of nuclear technology to rogue regimes.
few days ago we
looked at the latest bulletin from the West Cumbria:
MRWS (Managing Radioactive Waste Safely) quango. Sadly,
of the impartial appraisal of the facts that we had hoped for, it
turned out to be just another propaganda sheet for the nuclear lobby.
It is amazing really just how much propaganda is being aimed
the West Cumbrian population: there is all the stuff in the
Whitehaven News - which at times seems to be struggling to maintain its
impartiality - and the Energy Coast quarterly publication printed by
the Whitehaven News, etc., etc. However, we were distinctly
puzzled by the results of two polls referred to in the MRWS sheet.
Apparently the quango (guess who are members and controlling
things) commissioned a land agent, GVA Lrd., to conduct a survey.
We have requested a copy of the terms of reference.
second survey was requested from Ipsos MORI for some reason.
Other people are dealing with the latter, so we will leave them to do
it. The results of the GVA survey caused us some concern,
though. There seemed to be a preponderence of residents in
favour of hosting a nuclear waste dump, which seemed against our
perceptions. We thus spent some time perusing the documents
submitted by GVA in support of their claims. According to
report, Document 168 at www.westcumbriamrws.org.uk,
they "spoke to" 740
people. As conducting surveys is quite an established fine
we would like to assume that the company complied with the guidelines
for representative sampling as per
DECC's published suggestions for
such things. On examination, it seems perhaps they didn't.
Not satisfied with some limited sampling (selected by an
undisclosed method; most of them seem to be linked to Sellafield in
some way - did they stand in Sellafield canteen and ask who was
pro-nuclear?) they then took the very low figures and
extrapolated them to represent the views of Cumbria as a whole.
In our experience, it is necessary to ensure that the sample taken is
truly representative of the community it is purporting to discern the
views of. It does not seem that that is the case here.
the survey was conducted pre-Fukushima, it seems unlikely that the
views expressed will have remained the same, so, despite the pretence
that it "avoids being skewed by Fukushima", ultimately it is very
biased as it takes no account of the event. Whether the
or this quango like it, opinions have changed as a result.
only option seems to be to redo the survey - more completely this time.
the documents break up the relatively small
amount of text quite nicely, but sadly, the text doesn't say very much
about how the figures were arrived at, nor do the graphs make a lot of
sense to us. When we have analysed such data in the past we
always included a "bin" category for those whose answers don't fit the
more obvious divisions. Nonetheless they comprise part of
chart, so all charts add up properly to 100%. The charts
supplied in Document 168 do add up to 100%, but then there are
some no responses listed, and whatever else doesn't fit the
There is no indication of how many people have answered the
questions, so the inference is that all 740 people have answered all
the questions (rare in our experience) and that none have answered mere
than once. However, how can a chart show 100% of responses
a number of others? 'T'ain't right. It is not
possible to calculate how many people are represented as there are only
percentages or numbers, not both. Thus we have a chart that
up to 100%, plus a number (but no percentage!!) of others.
further, some "case studies" are included, Document
168A, which depict perceptions at places like Finland's Onkalo - not
quite the same as Sellafield, one might think. These case
seem to be aimed at telling MRWS how to win over the public's
perceptions. In actual fact, they have little bearing on
about to hit West Cumbria should the politicians and pro-nuclear lobby
have their way.
our view, a
triumph of style over substance. He
who pays the piper? How could supposedly intelligent people
offer such poor work as this as evidence?
gravely concerned that such patently flawed evidence is
accepted and ciculated by a body which, we believe, should be giving
people the facts - not just the gospel according the St. Sellafield.
have heard of an
eminent geologist who, when allocated only a very
short period to put a considerable volume of technical material to a
group, declined to attend until such time as they allocated him proper
space. (He has offered to travel to anywhere in the U.K. to
a talk.) All that was reported, of course, was the fact that
had declined to attend. We think the way the absence was
reported was deliberate and aimed at distorting people's perceptions of
the strength of science and geology against nuclear waste dumping in
is this group
only interested in promoting the destruction of a
beautiful part of the world? Why is it not giving the facts
an impartial way? Why does it not bring attention to the
effects that the proposed 25sq. km. underground dump will have on
people, property, and the environment? Is it possible to
construct such a vast hole without considerable nuisance to the
residents? Where is all the spoil going to go and how will
get there? . . . and what about noise, dust,
etc.? These things have never been mentioned to our
Even if the basic principle was correct, and we fervently
believe it isn't, then there is still all this to go through -
just when it is being built, but also when it is commissioned.
We have always believed that once a dump has been settled on, then all
the material from around the U.K. will be sent there, once it has
cooled sufficiently to allow it to be handled. How is this
material likely to be transported? Railway? Road?
Sea? (We have to hope it is not the latter, despite the
successful off-loading of the evaporators on the beach.)
are all aware of the problems being faced at Fukushima, with thousands
of tonnes of contaminated water being flushed out to sea with
consequent environmental damage, but there are now hundreds of
thousands of gallons of highly radioactive water being stored on the
site. We note elsewhere the current leakages, but in the
of the two strong earthquakes in New Zealand and the warning that these
may trigger further quakes elsewhere, we have to ask what will happen
if there is to be another quake and tsunami at Fukushima?
exposure problems at Fukushima
The health and labor ministry says six other workers at the Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear power plant may have received radiation doses above the
allowable emergency level. Tokyo Electric Power Company
to the health ministry on Monday on the results of the latest checks of
workers at the power plant. The ministry says the
amount of radiation exposure was up to 497 millisieverts for each of
six TEPCO male employees. The maximum allowable dose was formerly 100
millisieverts, but it was raised to 250 after the crisis started.
One of the men was working in the control center, while the
other five were performing maintenance work. Six additional
workers received doses of between 200 and 250 millisieverts, and 88
were exposed to between 100 and 200 millisieverts.
The ministry has instructed the utility to have the workers undergo
thorough examinations, saying it is regrettable that so many workers
have received such high doses.
In late May, two TEPCO employees on duty at Reactors No. 3 and 4 were
confirmed as having received doses more than twice the emergency limit.
Russian vessel despatched to assist in the storage of contaminated
water arrived in May to assist with the storage of 90,000 tonnes of the
radioactive material. This equates (roughly) to 25 million
gallons of effluent which needs to be found a safe haven.
Japanese plans for nuclear waste was to put it in a hole somewhere in
Japan . . . On April, 5th, Tepco said it
had dumped almost
10 million litres (2.6 million gallons) of radioactive water into the
sea from the Fukushima plant. This has led to radioactive
caesium being found in fish at levels exceeding health guidelines.
The company said at the time that the decision was the
two evils, as it needed to find space for storing water that was highly
radioactive and more toxic than that which was released into the sea.
brief letter to the Sunday Times, 5/6/11, (Business Letters), a
correspondent from Warrington (and thus, we conjecture, possilbly
connected to the nuclear industry) seems to be proposing the use of a
process which has received little mention in the alternative generators
field: thorium molten salt reactors system. The
mentions that thorium is as common as lead and the process does not
produce plutonium which could be used for bomb-making.
he continues, the process can burn up plutonium and other toxic waste
from the older reactors (including Sellafield's legacy waste, perhaps?)
and act as an "eco-cleaner". This is not a process with
are familiar. If it is correct, then we have to wonder why
powers-that-be are so intent on digging holes in inappropriate places
to bury the stuff.
spring to mind when wondering about the character of those charged with
deciding on whether or not to proceed with new nuclear establishments.
The original chairman of the Select Inquiry to which we gave
evidence last year was an Elliott Morley. The same gentleman
was recently jailed for 16 months for dishonesty. The
Climate Change minister is becoming increasingly beleagured over
allegations that he asked his then wife to take the penalty for a
speeding offence. That was before he left her to live with a
colleague. With such paragons at the helm, is it any wonder
some decisions are somewhat suspect, too?
in the Public
phrase this is turning out to be. Especially for
whose criminal activities will not result in prosecution, such as the
employees engaged in gathering
tissue samples on behalf of Sellafield - a practise carried on for over
thirty years without police detection or interference.
received a belated response (see our Opinion page) to our
four-month-old enquiry as to who would be facing investigation as a
result of the Redfern Enquiry's findings
last November. The answer is no-one, as it is "not in the public interest".
Yet a quick assessment of the factors listed on the Crown Prosecution's
web site: http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/code_for_crown_prosecutors/codetest.html,
would tend to suggest otherwise. Certainly,
think of nothing more directly reassuring to the public than to know
that the corruption and collusion which led to the illegal removal of
body parts and tissue
local area and wider, on behalf of Sellafield, has been firmly dealt
with and the lessons have not only been learned, but also that
penalties have been demonstrated. As it is, there
punishment and nothing has been tested in a court of
There may well be a shortage of staff and other matters to attend to,
believe this corrupt system deserves proper investigation and the
evidence, including that which was presented to the Redfern Enquiry,
should be tested in the traditional
way - not
determined by a police officer without explanation or
accountability. Our reading of the Crown
would have us believe that 13 out of 19 conditions in favour of the
public interest aspect would
have been met,
merely as a result of the findings of Michael Redfern,
With proper police investigation that number could rise. Another
example of "not
in the public interest"
is the case of Roy Walker, from Heysham. This was
by a judge, the Honourable Justice McCombe, at Leeds Crown
week. The matter which was to be tested was whether
Climate Change Minister had ignored the impact on health of the
proposed nuclear expansion,
considering matters for the justification process.
suggested that the European law required some considerable body of
evidence demonstrating an
paramount national need for new nuclear plants, sufficient to over-ride
any health concerns, and that that was not
present in the evidence before the minister.
had been granted legal aid, but the Legal Services Commission asked for
£16,000 to be paid up-front towards court costs in the event
the case went ahead.
gather that this is somewhat unusual, and the reason given was that
there was a need to know there was public support for his
case. Despite the difficulties, the
money was found,
by donations from ordinary people - amply demonstrating that there was
a public interest, one might think. Paradoxically,
judge found that the potential health detriment
public from nuclear new build was of no public
to our informant, there seemed to be some difficulty for the judge with
the fact that legal aid had been granted - albeit with conditions (what
price justice?) - which, apparently, he said was,
"Unattractive". DECC's solicitor told the court
suggests there is no increase in cancers near nuclear power stations -
that is the end of it."
The presumption being that he is
citing the COMARE report which omitted the Sellafield group of cancers
for some reason. So we appear to be back to the stuff
Doll days, when some mysterious and unidentified virus was causing all
the health effects because of population mixing.
the same effect was
not present in,
say, Liverpool, Bristol, Southampton, Glasgow,
Dover, etc. Yet those very effects are
result from exposure to radiation - of which there is abundance in the Sellafield
well as around many other nuclear facilities.
the saying, "The law is an ass"? Here's a new one:
nuclear lobby is very powerful."
Future of Battersea Power Station
who does the architectural column "Nooks and Corners" in Private Eye,
was musing over the future of the Battersea Power Station, and
bemoaning the plans to convert it into offices and flats. We
thought it worth a try:
ponders the future of Battersea Power Station in the current edition,
may I suggest:
it is a large industrial site;
no problems with planning permission;
close to densely populated area using copious amounts of electricity;
adequate supply of fresh water;
little risk of flooding due to presence of Thames Barrier;
no inherent pollution of environment with attendant risks from
readily available connection to national electricity grid;
situated so transmission losses would be minimal;
close to the seat of power
easy connection to infra-structure and transport links;
employment gains for the hard-hit south-east work force;
remote enough from Ireland and Isle of Man to preclude their objections.
are no dangers inherent in the running of nuclear power stations and
the proposed 160-year-long on-site storage of the more concentrated
form of radioactive waste and effluent gases, such as tritium, produced
by them, I can see no better site for their development. As we
ungrateful Braystonians don't want our homes demolished - or rendered
valueless by RWE's plans, you can have ours. Will you tell them, or
"It Can't Happen
Some of the stories emerging from the internet, making allegations
about recent events at Fukushima are rather concerning. One
that Reactor 4, on being initially installed, was found to be
distorted, but as such a finding would
mean the whole £250 million thing being reduced to scrap -
thereby bankrupting the
company - an engineer felt obliged to fudge the figures and approve it.
Of course that would never happen here. Anyway,
breed of reactors are very different. Perhaps so, but we are
already aware of suggestions of a design flaw in the Areva reactor -
even though it has been type-approved by our experts and Mr. Huhne.
There are allegations, too, that Areva knew of the flaw but
not resolve it. We cannot believe that. Even back
the Japanese reactors were being installed and commissioned, experts
were saying how safe they were and how the integral safety and back-up
systems would prevent any problems.
source, the Daily News (http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre72s2ua-us-japa-nuclear-risks/)
suggests that engineers knew that a tsunami could overwhelm the plant.
In an interesting article, it mentions the manner in which
Japanese nuclear industry did not feel obliged to follow improved
safety measures arising from, for example, the United States.
varying figures in respect of the number of incidents that have
occurred in recent times in respect of TEPCO, some say 39, others
prefer a lower figure. Even to our inexpert eye, it seemed
unlikely that the restoration of cooling water to the reactors was
going to be achieved merely by reconnecting the electricity supply.
With damage from the earthquake, the tsunami, and
from the explosions at the plant, it was highly probable that the
gauges, wiring and pipework would be damaged, requiring extensive
repairs to become functional again. According to internet
sources, reported in the national press, guages and controls damaged in
a previous earthquake, in 2007, had gone unrepaired,unreplaced,
limiting the amount and quality of data available to those now wishing
to have a clear picture of conditions within the plant.
It worries us, too, that there is so much made of the modern design
reactor being fail-safe. Most of the (often biased) experts
suggest that it would be impossible for the current era reactor to
behave the same way as the Japanese ones. (Yes, well . . .)
However, they omit to say that every site for the new
will have to incorporate storage for the spent fuel for up to 160 years
(depending on the life-cycle of the reactor). One of the
problems at Fukushima has been the spent fuel rods. These
not contained in the same way that fuel is when being used.
Merely being stored - either on racks for air cooling, or underwater.
It is our understanding that the new reactors will produce
lesser quantities of more highly-concentrated radioactive waste.
Currently, the only proposal for disposing of this material ultimately
is bunging it all down a hole in Cumbria and hoping it doesn't do
anything nasty for 100,000 years. How many other man-made
edifices have survived that long intact?
Nevertheless, it is important to note that a problem does not have to
be directly to do with the reactor vessel itself. Any
failure or unfortunate event can cause the same result. For
example a failure of the cooling system - whether for the plant or the
waste ponds. Our own view is that human failure is far more
important than installed control systems. In many events
intervention has caused far greater problems than it has saved.
We would also note that alarms and control systems can only respond to
pre-programmed eventualities. Certain thresholds have to be
reached before they draw attention to a problem. By then it
be too late, or the protocols and parameters might not have been
considered properly - or not at all. Engineers tend to guard
only what they consider a threat at the time. Naturally, as
Japanese professor said, anything is possible and may happen at some
point. Reassuringly, the reactors behaved impeccably in
to the earthquake. It was only secondary failures that have
caused the melt-down.
Nuclear Was CO2
At last, a letter in the Telegraph, 30/3/11, pointing out what we have
been saying for so long: nuclear is not CO2
Apparently, if the whole cycle of production, enrichment,
processing, etc., is considered, wind farm equipment produces 25 times
nuclear. We are not sure whether that figure includes the
disposal, which will require thousands of tonnes of copper and cement -
not to mention the construction of the huge underground city called
"Repository". Actually, this is something we asked the
Mr. E. Miliband about, but received no reply. So, another
figment of the politicians' imagination.
France Comes Riding to the
Rescue - or Does
The recent antics in France are somewhat amusing. Very
EdF and Areva apparently sent robots capable of withstanding highly
radioactive environments, to assist in ascertaining the damage
thus working out a repair plan. They were not used, as such
had to come from the Japanese government, according to one engineer.
One cynic has pointed out that President Sarkozy has lots of
reasons to go to war in Libya, not least because it removes Japan's
nuclear problems from the front pages around the world. The
nuclear industry, France's in particular, has worked very hard
sell the myth of nuclear and thus their reactors, and was sitting
pretty. $Billions were at stake, and the financial status of
likes of RWE, EdF, etc., depended on pursuing the Master Plan.
(Interestingly, we have heard comments questioning the financial
viability of some of these companies - so there may be even more at
stake than we imagine.) A full nuclear plant order book
look good when it comes to Sarkozy's election next year. His
popularity has waned, and he really does need some good news.
Billions of dollars-worth of nuclear reactors being sold to its allies
would look good, especially after the loss of the Libyan fighter plane
order to rival Russia. Sadly a number of countries have
to either abandon or delay plans for nuclear expansion. The
situation is not helped by reports such as:
Andre-Claude Lacoste, France's head of nuclear safety, said, "It would
not be surprising to find, here and there, contamination well beyond a
radius of 100km. It is obvious that managing
areas is going to take years if not decades. The
remains extremely serious, and we remain in a major crisis."
Nuclear Goes Wrong . . .
no natural resouces, such as coal, oil or gas, 30% of Japan's
generation is based on a range of nuclear reactors (those currently
in trouble are apparently 10 and 40 years old) around the country -
invariably at coastal locations to take advantage of the supply of
cooling water. This, as has been demonstrated here, can
sometimes add to the original danger, rather than removing it.
What is noteworthy in the current case is that the built-in backup
failed. This is a common experience in previous
accidents. What seems -
on paper - to be a safe system suddenly becomes unsafe and it is the
public who are then put at grave risk. Sadly, there
the inevitable universal iterations of the statements that there had
been no leaks of radiation and that no-one had suffered from
radiation. Each of these statements was marred
the inclusion of qualifying remarks, such as "so
Various reports then appeared suggesting that 160 people had been taken
to hospital having been exposed to radiation. The
radiation released (albeit not from the reactor vessel itself,
allegedly) mentioned caesium and other components which, we understand,
only encountered when there has been a leak from the reactor vessel.
The BBC trotted out the usual experts, almost all of whom seemed to
have a vested interest in the nuclear industry. The
own reporter was remarkably balanced and fair, but the others trotted
out the inevitable answers: the reactor is of an old design
does not meet today's standards; it couldn't happen in this
country as we don't have tsunamis; the explosions will not
the reactor vessel and therefore no radioactive material will
escape. If it were no so serious we might have
on what the next bit of rhetoric would be. It was
a pleasure to get away from the pro-nuclear propagandists and hear from
Shaun Bernie, a nuclear advisor to Greenpeace
International. Sadly, it was then back to Chatham
specialists. True one could build an impregnable container
would withstand anything thrown at it, but that does not remove the
vulnerability from external pipework failing, control systems not
working, power or cooling systems failing - for whatever reason.
Anything built to withstand an atomic explosion would end up like a
tennis ball on the end of a piece of string. The ball may
survive, but what chance the string holds?
The most interesting bulletins came from the affected area of
residents showed their cynism that the government had their best
interests at heart, by going out and buying sodium iodide tablets.
We don't know whether the affected plants in Japan are also
for storage of the waste material, but it is inevitable that the risks
for extremely serious pollution would be greatly increased if there
were to be a similar sort of storage system as that in place in
Sellafield - and shortly to be incorporated in every new nuclear power
station. Even if the politicians ignore the obvious
from the incident, surely they should at least stop and assess what it
is that they are committing the country, especially Cumbrians,
to. In Japan, 200,000 people had to be moved
People over 60 miles away were not allowed to enter the area as it was
"too dangerous". The reactors were effectively
double-skinned - or as the official jargon has it, they have two layers
of containment. The ones proposed for this country
only one. Whilst the explosions may, or may not,
damaged the fabric of the reactor itself, there must surely be some
damage to the control systems.
Observations have been made about the poor implementation of safety
procedures. Easy at this distance to criticise, we know.
However, even basic things such as issuing the sodium iodide tablets
and issuing protective wear to those passing through the "hot" areas
seems to have gone by the board.
Unlike a conventional power station, which, in a worst-case scenario
will simply go bang - after which the clean-up can commence,
the effects are far more widely felt. The fall-out
nuclear power station cannot be contained even in the country of
origin; it will remain highly
polluting and a risk to health for decades or even centuries - whether
directly or by proxy (such as eating polluted fish or vegetables).
this is written, the Japanese are trying to flood the damaged reactors
with sea water. There is no mention of what will happen to
environment when that sea water is returned to the environment.
When Sellafield managers lost control of the cooling in the 1950s this
is exactly what they tried. Truly a "do or die" manoeuvre.
Literally. There was a very good chance that the
site would have been wiped off the map and most of the U.K.
contaminated for decades. They got away with it.
no guarantee that this last desperate measure will work every time.
On the matter of control systems, it was intriguing to read about the
Stuxnet virus which had apparently been introduced into control gear
designed for the nuclear industry by ("corruption was a way of life for
them") Siemens. Given the complexity and
they were designing, it is unbelievable that a virus could be fed into
the equipment via a USB port (memory stick). Least of all
the virus could lie undetected through all the systems analysis checks.
Besides, one might be
forgiven for thinking that such easy access port should have been
from the outset. Then there was the assertion that
virus (which fortunately limited itself to control of the motors used
in the fuel production process) was the product of a
"State". The general feeling seems to be
U.S. had been spiking the equipment to prevent Iran gaining access to
In the same vein as the virus is a peculiar story in the
Sunday Times of 13/3/11, relating to the fiasco of the SAS "dropping
in" on the
Libyan rebels for a chat. This mentions computer codes found
the soldiers. These, when tried by the
rebels, gave access to "hidden computers" and the U.K.'s security
network. Surely this should make one wonder about the
nature of security, vulnerability not just from natural incidents but
built-in trojans and other sleeping traps. The relations
European nations is not renowned for amicability over long periods.
How many times have we been to war in the last 150 years?
Will other nations trust us to do the honourable thing for eternity -
or at least till the operation remains profitable for them?
So, it would seem that as we suspected, there is another agenda for
nuclear development. Our concerns will make little,
difference to what the government and the nuclear industry do, and this
would remain the case no matter how many accidents there were around
Of course, one hope might be that the companies proposing to build in
the U.K. like EdF and RWE, etc., will gain a better appreciation of the
risk to their finances. Accidents can, and will,
happen. With the recent whopping
increase in their liability cap we can be hopeful that their
tempered. Instead, what is more likely is that the subsidies
become even more obvious than they now are, with the consumer then
having to pay the price of their disastrous policies. What
is it that
causes anti-nuclear people to suddenly change their minds when they get
to power? It is almost as if the nuclear industry had some
hold over the politicians. Every now and again one might
someone to change long-held views, but not every minister responsible
for the generators, surely? We wonder what the threat/lure
Practically all the foregoing points and forecasts were submitted in
evidence to the MPs as potential dangers for the proposed development
in the U.K. They were dismissed as impossible, or at best,
remote as to be so. They then went on to commit themselves
160 years of local storage as sites all round the country and capped
the price of subsequent storage and treatment of the waste
without knowing what might happen in the interim. Can this
be stupidity, or is there, indeed, another agenda?Angela
announced a 3
months freeze on new nuclear. However, as she has already
worked one devious trick to the benefit of the industry, we are not too
sure of how important this is. Elsewhere, there has been
concern about the ability of some countries, such as India, to cope
with a disaster of the size now occurring in Japan. However,
Berlusconi (Italy), Huhne (UK), Putin (Russia), Nathalie
Kosciusko-Morize (France's Environment Minister), have stated that they
will continue their existing plans. Shares in the companies
producing nuclear reactors have dropped by over 6% in one day.
Their PR managers are going to have their work cut out.
If India decides to cancel its Areva
contract there could be wide
repurcussions for the company, we believe.
really any better to
on nuclear rather than any other form of energy, and
is the price worth
when it exceeds the cost of the electricity produced?
Japanese experience says not. We believe that the cost of
alone will render new nuclear unviable - unless the government work
another deplorable abuse of parliamentary procedure as did the last
government. (Wonder what happened to that Michael Martin
enquiry - we
never managed to find out.)
Want to dispose of some inconvenient radioactive material?
The stormwater drains at Sellafield aren't monitored for
radioactive material . . . ;-)
Think that everything is hunky dory at Sellafield and that they have
cleaned up their act? Have a look at this map
Sellafield management, depicting particle finds on nearby holiday
beaches. Funnily enough, neither Haven Holidays nor the
caravan site owners advertising accommodation mention this local
difficulty. Do you think they have an obligation to?
Mystery of the
quite sure that there is nothing untowards in the fact that two
footpaths, that have to our certain knowledge been extant for over 60
years, appear to have disappeared. (If you follow.)
that one sign-posted path, after being moved from one side of the road
to the other - sometimes pointing in very different directions to the
footpath's location - has now disappeared
there was once an entry into the field there is now barbed
wire. Following the proper procedures, we asked
Highways and Byways for advice. They didn't
any of the questions posed (but there is nothing new in that) but
included a map depicting the location of public rights of way round
Braystones and Nethertown. Neither the footpath
above nor another, from a green road nearer the Braystones station
lane, appear on it. We checked the OS maps and both
footpaths certainly appear on those. We are sure it is just
coincidence that both paths run through land purchased for the building
of a nuclear power station by RWE.
concern is the apparent spreading of slurry very close to the SSSIs of
Silver Tarn, Hollas and Harmas Mosses. Although we
experts, it seems to us that there may be a potential for pollution
affecting the special hydrology's flora and fauna.
The One-Sided Big Society
- It Only Applies
When It Suits Politicians
Mr. Cameron's much-vaunted "Big Society", which, like
touted by the
Lib Dems, must have won them quite a few votes, now seems to have hit
Professor Blowers' group, Bradwell Against New Nuclear,
presented a 10,000 signature petition to the Energy Minister, Mr.
Hendry, on Tuesday, 1st February. (Click
here for ITV Anglia's video clip.)
Sadly, the "Big
Essex, where signatures were so willingly given (no computer clicking
here), doesn't count for very
much, as the government has indicated that it
knows what is best for the area after all. We note elsewhere
change of heart encountered by the Lib Dems re. their nuclear policy.
Not much of a change from what happened in the past, then.
Except, of course, that the planning regime is going to make
much easier for the big businesses to obtain planning permission,
regardless of the wishes of the local population. As someone
once said, it is a case of "Here's
your new nuclear reactor, what colour do you want the gates painted?"
Another brick in the wall of imposing nuclear and other forms of
generation on unwilling communities is the plan for a power-line to run
through the Irish Sea from Scotland, coming ashore on the Wirral, then
going inland to join another part of the national grid. Once
place, no doubt it will permit connection from new reactors anywhere
along the west coast, including Braystones, Sellafield and Kirksanton.
Like the plans for a small underground dump
repository) which will, because it is unique, have to serve all new and
existing nuclear sites, it is the thin end of a very large wedge.
As a prominent MP once commented, "Something very strange seems to
happen to people once they become MPs and pass through the doors into
Ignoring communications seems to be the stock-in-trade when awkward
questions are being asked. Despite tackling the problem from
various angles, we are still not in receipt of answers from the Prime
Minister, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Sir Gus
Lord Hunt, the Chief Constable of Cumbria (whose action was to pass our
letter to the senior detective who has not bothered to respond at all).
Following an article which appeared in the press last year
regarding the obvious blight on properties following the announcement
and subsequent uncertainties about nuclear development, we wrote to
Cumbria County Council - whose officer had stated that there was a
blight - asking whose responsibility compensation would be.
After sitting on it for a couple of weeks, they forwarded it to
Allerdale (even though one might reasonably have expected them to know
that Braystones is in Copeland!), who passed it on to Copeland the same
day. We are still awaiting acknowledgement, never mind a
response, from them.
We have long been
forecasting what will happen to electricity prices and how the
subsidies will be levied. At long last Private Eye has
to catch up with us. Their "Old Sparky" has come to the same
conclusions as us: that the non-nuclear generators will have
charge increasingly higher rates until such time as nuclear becomes
"comparatively viable". With a crystal-ball intuition as to
cost of decommissioning nuclear plant in 160 years' time under their
belt, the politicians are demonstrably losing their grip on reality.
11th January, 2011, E.ON UK
announced a 9% increase in the cost of electricity supplied to
residential users. EdF introduced a new tariff from the same
date, having stopped two cheaper ones at the end of December.
Most other suppliers introduced similar increases. The
- the cheapest estimate reckons on around £50 per year on the
average bill - might go some way to making nuclear a viable option.
ask again, why is so much
being handed to foreign companies on the
basis of such flimsy and factually incorrect evidence? A
transcript of the article can be found here.
example of the largesse which buys goodwill for the nuclear industry,
albeit with strings: a new sports stadium for Whitehaven is
of the ideas behind Sellafield donating £11
It is disturbing that BNFL, (ably assisted by Britain's Energy Coast
West Cumbria and the West Cumbria Development Fund) are willing to
spend so much on something that is of little benefit to their current
operation and more than fifteen miles away from their site.
We wonder how much more decommissioning could have been achieved with
Amazingly, Copeland Council have committed the ratepayers to being
guarantors for a current £75,000 loan. Is
what councils are for, or have they lost the plot altogether? A
Tory leader on Copeland Council describes the
as, ". . . uncomfortably incestuous". Which aspect
he is referring to is unclear.
We would comment that the whole
relationship with Sellafield and the
NDA, together with the raft of pro-nuclear quangos is, in our opinion,
just as incestuous.
What do these people think Sellafield et
al expect in
recent publication of the Redfern Report demonstrates just what happens
when a relationship gets too close. Then again,
adverse commentary on anything mentioning nuclear is ignored and no
For a Whitehaven News report see: http://www.whitehaven-news.co.uk/news/warning-over-pow-beck-cash-1.786012?referrerPath=home
report was published last week (16/11/10). It has
findings, all of which bear out what we were
is unclear from the report just how many bodies were actually used in
the harvesting of samples, but seems to be in excess of 3500, plus 95
fetus, and the exercise was not limited to just West
Cumbria. Redfern states, "Pathologists often
at both coronial and hospital post mortem examinations, without consent
and hence in breach of the provisions of the Human Tissue Act
1961." (P.562, para. 86)
of the findings are worrying, but some stand out:
Coroners who did know that organs which did not bear upon the cause of
death had been taken for analysis without their consent failed to act.
Coroners ignored the constraint that the law permitted them to request
radiochemical analysis, which was a special examination, only if they
had decided to hold an inquest.
Coroners asked BNFL to prepare analytical reports and used the
information to guide them when determining whether the death was the
result of an industrial disease. They ignored the potential conflict of
interest in asking the deceased’s employer to comment on the
likelihood of the death having been caused by the deceased’s
not ensure that the results of organ analysis were made available to
them; in particular, on several occasions inquests were held and the
results of the analysis, performed at the request of the coroner, were
not adduced in evidence.
Coroners assisted BNFL, the NRPB and the MRC to obtain organs for their
research, heedless of whether the necessary consent was obtained.
relationship between the coroners, the pathologists and the Sellafield
medical officers became too close. There were failures to adhere to
the full extent of the practices is difficult to ascertain, the report
is quite damning. It can be found at http://www.theredferninquiry.co.uk/
industry can thus be seen to be polluting not just the environment but
also local community processes, whilst concurrently ignoring the law.
comment by Redfern states that Sellafield's records were "assiduously
kept", yet acknowledges that several organs in one case remain
unaccounted for. Pity the poor relatives.
Without a trace of
irony, Mr. C. Huhne,
speaking in the House on the 16th November, 2010, stated that the
"benefited from the
support of the nuclear
industry and other key stake-holders"!
We find ourselves wondering whether the
police will now initiate an enquiry into the various findings of
The industry has
reassurances that the practices have now ceased (- and these are, after
all, people of integrity!) However, we would point out that
public are still being used as guinea pigs, especially those who live
in close proximity to the plant. Naturally, the
Agency distance themselves from responsibility for their own inaction
and ineffectiveness at protecting the public by saying that they only
implement the law, they are not involved in setting policy.
might be forgiven for thinking that they were employed to protect the
public and the environment . . .
As noted on our home page, for all the
reasons which we, as residents, submitted to the Select Enquiry at
Westminster, both Braystones and Kirksanton have now been removed from
the government's list of suitable sites. It is
they were ever included in the first place.
whether out of
pique at losing, or just sheer bloody-mindedness, RWE have communicated
to residents that they are considering appealing against that decision,
and imply that they will return whenever it suits them, to apply again
for both sites. We wonder how Mr. Huhne would feel
his own property that was at risk and blighted for the foreseeable
More Things Change . . .
view following the
reading of two articles on the Nirex Inquiry
here to read the
might seem that
the methods of the nuclear industry are nothing
new. Indeed, the ideas haven't changed much since
at the outset.
someone in a remote location, say London, comes up with an
idea for locating something very nasty and potentially
Because it is nasty and potentially lethal, they want it as far away
from London (and themselves) as possible.
idea having been sown, the publicity machine swings into action,
and the benefits of the industry are touted loudly and
adverse argument is published, of course. Only the
economic benefits - using figures that rank with the Iraq "Dodgy
Dossier" in terms of integrity. That the Cumbrian
will suffer with their health - some with their lives - will be kept
quiet. Next the Londoners have to come up with a
might happen if the plan is thwarted. Preferably
to do with
the security of the nation and/or its vital resources, such as power.
avoid the complications of the naysayers, everything to do with the
scientific justification is kept quiet until disclosure is
unavoidable. Then barrow-loads of highly complex
(rendered all the more difficult by using the best jargon currently
available) are released simultaneously in order to swamp these
starts and contracts are commenced - even before permission has
been obtained to proceed with the plan. This is, of
save time when approval is granted, and has nothing at all to do with
the notion that they have friends in high places who have agreed the
outcome before public consultation has even begun.
publicity machine grinds away, encouraging those in power to accept
facie case whilst
dismissing the arguments of anyone not in
from the industry is diverted away from its intended use - to
build roads, social venues and sports stadia - and is used to generate
good-will, an added benefit being that of ensuring that outsiders are
in no doubt that their health/social/sport amenities will suffer if the
proposal is not accepted.
the good news is permitted to be published and adverse material,
such as previous global pollution, is ignored. Even
problem that the legacy pollution will be recirculated is ignored.
matter that the region is totally unsuitable for further
development; roads, rail links, power distribution
may all be missing, but they can be installed. Pity
destroyed amenity. Although these facilities and
paid for by the government, in the name of development and improvement,
it must not be considered as a subsidy to power generators.
protection agencies, long subservient to the management
bullies and political leverage, nod sagely; their doubts secondary to
their need to line their own pockets. In some sad
even begun to believe the hype that they and the industry have been
people who are basically lazy and amenable can be allowed to
become responsible for monitoring the area's health
order to minimise discomfort. Plan B will always be prepared
well in advance, and will reassure the public that everything is well (whether
the case or not) and that no-one has been hurt by the unfortunate
leakage (of information). After all, telling
may upset their gullibility.
those with good
(i.e. useful) connections are encouraged.
Politician's, their friends and families, are appointed to nebulous
positions on the board of the various interested
much is required of them, other than their ability to promote the
nuclear industry in the right places - in return for a suitably
Local politics can be infiltrated and
pro-nuclear associates appointed to as many councils, committees and
quangos as possible. To have a national politician
better. Who better than an ex-Sellafield PR man? With
everything in place, it is now necessary to stampede everyone into
making a rapid decision before the bucket of ideas begins to
Typical leaks which might cause problems would be the unravelling of
the pseudo-scientific interest, in which the data has been "adjusted",
rendering the findings somewhat at odds with the actual
finding of snags which have so far been successfully kept from view.
history of the nuclear industry is remarkably consistent.
senior managers who have, for whatever reason, been found to be wanting
or have misled official enquiries, remain in post.
has become pretty much the norm these days, experts struggle to
remain impartial and objective. In the case of the
the desired end result is known, so the science is manipulated to fit.
Geoscientist, Vol. 7, No. 7, reported on the enquiry in 1997 into
plans to deposit nuclear waste in a hole at Longland Farm, near
Sellafield. NIREX managers apparently made various
statements as to the suitability of the hydrogeology for such a dump.
is intriguing to note the similarities between the processes
employed then with those being used now. For
drilling in the fields above the beach at Braystones several years ago,
enquiring residents were merely told that tests were being carried out
to ascertain the probability of gas/oil/coal being
that, the politicians in the area set up various quangos to organise
the Energy Coast Master Plan. What these quangos
merely the Sellafield pipe-dream: lots more reactors producing work and
profit, and, to keep the
"greens" on-side, wind farms and tidal generators.
The plans were
very advanced when RWE, together with a consortium interested in
building at Sellafield, announced that they intended to apply to build
at Braystones. By this time, a decision was about
Leaving just four weeks to prepare more than four consultation
Needless to say, the politicians denied any prior knowledge of the
Master Plan, but nonetheless supported it
Sellafield PR background, the local MP said that he knew nothing of the
plans for Braystones until three months before the residents
Whether this is likely or not can be determined by the fact that a
presentation was given to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the
Exchequer two years earlier, especially to promote the Energy Coast
Master Plan to politicians - as Cumbria seemed to be missing out on
development funds and opportunities. Such things
minuted in the Rennaissance group's records.
That a matter so close
own (and his previous employer's) ideals could have passed under
the man's radar seems rather unlikely to us.
from a government
planning meeting week-ending 22/9/10:
consultation on new nuclear was in November 2009 – February
consulting on draft nuclear National Policy Statements, to be used as a
mechanism by which the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC)
processed all new planning applications.
Government and, as part of future spending cuts, the IPC is to be
abolished, though they are now in receipt of applications from energy
companies, e.g. for Somerset (planning officers from Somerset
now engaging with and responding to EDF, NGOs and
campaigners) and West Wales, and these are, and will continue in the
short-term to be processed through this procedure.
abolition of the
IPC is not likely to be until April 2012.
thereafter, applications will form part of the responsibility of the
respective Secretary of State (DECC), with a three month timescale to
consider and with a similar examination approach to IPC.
Department of Energy
and Climate Change (DECC) is still considering the responses to last
winter’s consultation but intends to publish its response to
issues raised in future parliamentary scrutiny this coming
Government will be
re-consulting on the National Policy Statements. Consultees
be informed of the key changes made to the NPS as a result of the last
consultation, and it was made clear that they would only expect
previous respondents to comment on the changes, though accepting some
responses will be from new consultees."
on the Public Accounts Committee report on the government's sale of its
interest in British Energy
substantial interest in British Energy was sold off to EdF by the
government in January 2009. Because British Energy was going
bust, it was unable to invest in new nuclear power stations, so the
sale was important. The company owned land viewed
industry as being valuable development property. Even at this stage,
the Government had decided that new nuclear power stations would have
an important contribution to make when existing power stations close,
so the land owned by British Energy was perceived as being valuable in
its own right. It is these sites (plus a few other
make-weights) that from the basis of the current raft of proposed
primary objective of the sale was to ensure nuclear operators would
be able to build and operate new nuclear power stations with no public
subsidy - and the government committed itself to this principle very
early on. (Not, of course, that any decision has
in advance of the completion of public consultation -
much!) However, due to inefficiency and
incompetence - with
a soupçon of arrogance and infallibilty, DECC didn't get a
commitment from EDF to build new nuclear power stations. A glance at
the background of EdF's nuclear building might have proved illuminating
for them. Sadly, this did not happen, and the
appears to have believed its own hype. Because of
of a binding commitment, EdF are actually under no obligation to build
anything at all - whether conventional or nuclear, with or without a
subsidy. Actually, some might believe that they
hamper any other company's proposals, too, if they chose to be a dog in
the manger and use the "ransom strips" purchased for the
purpose. We believe that several companies were
on the infra-structure to be provided for EdF to be forthcoming in
order to smooth their own proposed developments.
this infra-structure in place, nuclear will become even less viable
to the report: "This Committee is not convinced the
Department's reliance on a rapid acceleration in renewable energy to
fill any gaps in future energy supplies is adequate, but note the
Department is working with the Treasury to determine whether the
current configuration of the United Kingdom’s energy market
fit for purpose for the longer term."
to say, despite the in-house expertise that DECC pretends it
has, it spent £4 million to obtain help from financial
UBS. A bit reminiscent of the NDA paying bonuses
what they were paid to do in the first place.
response to a question by Annette Brooke, MP, (Libdem member for Dorset
Mid and Poole North):
To ask the Secretary
of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps have been taken to
ensure that geological disposal of nuclear waste is safe in relation to
the possibility of a seismic event in the future. 
5 Feb 2010 : Column 619W
The consultation on my
right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's proposed decisions that the
API000 and EPR nuclear power station designs are Justified under the
terms of the Justification of Practices Involving Ionising Radiation
Regulations 2004 states that several of those who responded to the
previous consultation on the Nuclear Industry Association's application
for Regulatory Justification of new nuclear power station designs
raised the impact of uranium mining. My right hon. Friend took account
of all responses received in coming to the proposed decisions on which
we are consulting. The decision documents set out my right hon.
Friend's view that he is not bound to take practices outside the UK
into account in making his proposed decisions, but that in view of
respondents' concerns he has sought further information on the safety
regime for uranium mining, and set out the information he has taken
into account, including technical advice from Integrated
Appraisal of Sustainability published as part of the consultation on
the draft Nuclear National Policy Statement is intended to assess the
environmental and sustainability impacts of the draft Nuclear National
Policy Statement and therefore focuses on those impacts which arise
from the draft Nuclear National Policy Statement itself. The draft
Nuclear National Policy Statement provides guidance to the
Infrastructure Planning Commission on the construction and operation of
new nuclear power stations. It does not cover mining or milling of
in who Integrated Decision Management were, we looked them up at their
More than 70% of the executives (12 out of 17) have previous
high-level connections with
BNFL! How independent is that?
Is Mr. Miliband correct to say that what happens in the course of
mining, transporting and processing uranium and the security of its
from around the world is no concern of the U.K. customers, or do we
school ‘faces bulldozer if
nuclear plant gets go-ahead’
By Alan Irving
risks losing its village school and Haverigg its biggest
employer if nuclear reactors get the go-ahead at Braystones and
Kirksanton, it emerged this week.
The same fate could befall a host of caravan sites and beach chalets
along the coastline if they also find themselves in the middle of the
nuclear “critical incident” zones needed for quick
in the event of a serious nuclear accident.
itself has an
immediate evacuation zone extending two kilometres from the site but
this has already been extended to six kilometres so that the correct
sheltering and if necessary evacuation procedures are carried out in
potentially the most affected villages. Emergency
police, Sellafield specialists and community leaders met this week to
consider what impact new nuclear power stations might have on the
“potentially suitable” sites of Braystones, near
near Millom, and Sellafield.
The chairman of the West Cumbria Stakeholders emergency planning sub
committee, David Moore, from Seascale, told The Whitehaven News:
emerged is that there are serious emergency planning issues for
Braystones and Kirksanton, but no real problems at Sellafield and
the scenario we looked at was the building of three reactors
– so in these
terms Sellafield is looking the preferred site for any new
School, three caravan
sites and many beach bungalows and
mobile homes would fall within a two kilometre critical incident zone atBraystones.
If it was reduced to one kilometre only one caravan park
would be affected, Tarnside.
But at Kirksanton, even if the zone was down to one kilometre, the
presence of Haverigg Prison along with a windfarm would present a
dilemma if it came to evacuation. The prison has
inmates and is
one of the major employers in the Millom area. Coun Moore said:
“Any designated critical zone has to be
self-evacuating and so this has to be seen as a major problem as far as
Kirksanton and Haverigg is concerned. Clearly the prison is not
self-evacuating. “Can you take the risk
to get through to evacuate hundreds of inmates and staff or prisoners
deciding to try and evacuate themselves in the
asked. In emergency planning terms, the committee took the
this was not acceptable.
Regarding the Braystones site, the prospect of school children being
put at risk was also not desirable, said Coun Moore. “As
no other local school stands inside the two kilometre Sellafield zone.
Like the situation at Haverigg, this is a scenario which the
prospective developers would have to overcome, but both Beckermet
School and Haverigg Prison are obviously major
“There would be
nothing to stop
the energy company concerned offering to build a new
school for Beckermet outside a critical incident zone, offering to buy
out caravan sites,
beach and holiday homes as a way
planning permission, but with a prison it might be a different
matter. Trying to create new jobs for the Millom
but Haverigg Prison is an established major employer. If push comes to
shove this will have to be balanced against the employment benefits a
nuclear power station would bring, although this would be mainly in the
shorter term from construction work. We will be
and conclusions to the Department of Energy’s consultation
and also the Commons Select Committee which is on a fact-finding
mission in the area,” said Mr Moore.
The committee was given advice by the man charged with drawing up the
plans to protect the public from radiation
emergency planning officer David Humphreys told a public meeting in
Whitehaven last March he was worried that people living in Copeland
communities could face unnecessary hazards from nuclear new build.
“What concerns me is having new reactors at Braystones and
bringing in entirely new populations which could be put at risk. I
can’t see any logic in having reactors away from
Sellafield,” he said
at the time. Regarding Sellafield, Mr Humphreys
have much of a problem with this because we already have a
well-developed emergency plan for Sellafield and a well-educated local
population with regard to it.”
the Private Eye,
1247, 16th to 29th
the political events company and publisher of epolitix.com, ran
its usual fringe events at this year's party conferences, a popular
topic being climate change. It even arranged a mini-roadshow
three major parties, billed as a panel discussion on "Delivering a Low
man who could legitimately claim to be an expert on this topic is
Tom Burke, whose career highlights include running Friends of the Earth
and the Green Alliance, advising three environment secretaries, being a
visiting professor at Imperial College, advising the Foreign Office on
climate strategy and receiving numerous awards and accolades, including
a CBE, for his efforts.
Burke has been a strong voice against the expansion of nuclear
power, preferring emerging technologies such as carbon capture and
storage, and he has advocated massive investment on other clean
technologies. Dods duly invited him to be a panellist at the
events and he was pleased to accept.
before the Liberal Democrats congregated in Bournemouth,
a highly embarrassed e-mail. The organisers
at Dods were terribly sorry, they
said, but he was no longer needed to
be a speaker and was summarily, er, disinvited from all three
How could this be? Had someone intervened behind the scenes?
may be the corporate sponsor of the conference meetings - EDF Energy,
the French energy giant that is a leading contender to build Britain's
new generation of nuclear power stations.
Presumably EDF Energy
didn't want to be embarrassed by an authority on climate change at its
own event - especially not when its own communications director Andrew
Brown has been so successful in persuading his brother, one Gordon
Brown, of the benefits of nuclear power!
Mr. Burke was also due to speak at the TUC Congress on a platform with
climate and energy secretary Ed Miliband, again on how to deliver a
low-carbon future. Even though the event wasn't sponsored by
shortly beforehand he was disinvited from this, too.
It seems the
Labour machine is working hard to make sure Burke's views on nuclear
receive as little airing as possible.
the conference the
Tories seemed keen to pick up the contaminated nuclear baton from
Labour, too. Shadow
spokesman Charles Hendry not only appeared on a platform sponsored by
EDF Energy (which hopes to build
generation of nuclear power stations - See Climate Change Latest,
but also, on one
paid for by rival wannabe nuclear generator, Eon.
even praised former Labour energy minister John Hutton for erecting the
"big nuclear tent" and was joined at the EDF breakfast by Labour's
nuclear waste adviser, Tim Stone, as well as an EDF spokesman.
Conservatives say they want new nuclear power stations but will not
subsidise them. However, future storage of waste is key to
nuclear programme, and unless the government (of whichever hue) builds
an underground storage facility and agrees to
waste at a cost
acceptable to the industry, the new power generators will simply not be
As Hendry said, the lights might start going out in 2017, so the
nuclear industry has a lot of bargaining power; and low waste
costs could become a massive hidden subsidy for it.
sandwiches, Stone suggested to the Conservatives that the public sector
has to bear the liabilities of strategic industries, and that some
companies are too big or too important to fail.
Just like the banks,
in other words, the power firms are in line to pass their losses and
failures on to the taxpayers.
is Doing What
Government said in 2008 it wanted to develop nuclear power generation
and was ready to invite Italian companies to build plants.
BULGARIA - Plans to build two 1,000-megawatt Russian reactors at
Belene, expected to begin operations in 2014. It faces financing and
cost problems which have seen German utility RWE abandon the project
and delay construction.
BRITAIN - Many of Europe's leading utilities have bought land to build
new nuclear power plants in England and Wales.
CZECH REPUBLIC - Czech utility CEZ launched tenders in August to build
two reactors at its Temelin power plant.
FINLAND - Building a fifth nuclear reactor, the 1,600-megawatt
Olkiluoto-3 European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), expected to come online
in mid 2012 but which could be delayed further, Finnish utility TVO
said in October.
FRANCE - Building a 1,600 MWe EPR at Flamanville, which is expected to
begin operation in 2012. France announced plans in January 2009 to
build another one at its Penly power station.
GERMANY - The new center-right government plans to extend the lives of
Germany's 17 nuclear plants but is expected to uphold an existing ban
on building new nuclear power stations.
HUNGARY - Government agreed in April to allow preparations for building
another unit at the Paks nuclear plant to begin. It could take over 11
years to build. Paks' existing four reactors supply about a
ITALY - Italy, the only non-nuclear Group of Eight industrialised
nation after deciding in 1987 to shut its reactors following the
Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, plans to rebuild the sector.
It signed a cooperation deal in
September to enlist
U.S. companies to
build power stations across Italy, ending a 22-year ban by the Italian
- Gets about
three-quarters of its electricity from its
Ignalina plant but it must shut the Soviet-era facility by the end of
2009. Poland, Latvia and Estonia have shown support for a 3,200-3,400
MW plant to replace Ignalina but it is not expected to be ready until
NETHERLANDS - Dutch utility Delta plans to build a nuclear power plant
in the Netherlands which could be operational by 2019. The government
has agreed not to approve any new nuclear plants during its mandate,
which runs until 2011, but Delta expects its proposal to be handled by
the next administration.
POLAND - The government wants one or two nuclear power plants of its
own to be built, the first by 2020, to break its reliance on coal for
ROMANIA - Plans to build two 720 MW reactors at its existing
two-reactor power station at Cernavoda by 2016.
SLOVAKIA - Two 470 MW units being built at Mochovce and expected to
operate from 2011-12 in a project led by Enel unit Slovenske Elektrarne.
Czech utility CEZ and Slovak state energy company JAVYS also plan to
build a nuclear plant at Jaslovske Bohunice.
SLOVENIA - State-owned energy firm Gen Energija expects to build its
second nuclear power plant by 2020. The government could approve the
plan next year.
SWITZERLAND - Swiss energy groups Axpo and BKW plan two nuclear power
plants for commissioning after 2020 to replace two existing reactors at
Beznau and Muehleberg. Rival Atel may consider one of its own.
TURKEY - Plans to have three nuclear power plants with a total capacity
of 4,500 MW operating by 2012-15 but higher than expected costs could
see Ankara abandon the project.
Trials and Tribulations
According to http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/news/2009/september/10_09_2009-115256.asp,
Cumbria County Council and Sellafield Ltd hosted an exercise,
named "Oscar 9". Lasting throughout Thursday, 24th of
September, and was based around the Sellafield site and the West
Cumbria Emergency Control Centre at the Summergrove complex near
Also participating in the exercise were Whitehaven School, which
acted as a mock media centre and St Benedict’s RC High
hosted a reception centre for acting evacuees. The
site siren apparently sounded., although, in my home, a mere 2 miles
away I was blissfully ignorant of any warning.
All the agencies who may be involved in any potential emergency
response such as this were testing their readiness during this
Mike Smyth, Head of Resilience for Cumbria County Council, said: "This
county has been at the forefront of developing plans for dealing with
emergency situations for many years, including an incident at
"These exercises are held every three years and provide not only an
opportunity to test the plans, but also provide an opportunity for many
of the agencies to meet and work together to enhance their
effectiveness in response to a major incident."
In an interview on BBC Radio Cumbria, Mr. Smyth seemed a bit sensitive
to the suggestion by the representative from CORE, that the episode was
merely a public relations exercise, yet it is hard to see it as
it may be necessary to demonstrate that something does actually exist
in the way of emergency planning, all that was demonstrated was that,
that sufficient notice is given of any impending incident, all will be
how effective this emergency planning would be with several reactors in
the area is a moot point.
The usual procedure is for
those employees currently on-site to be interned in their workplace for
the duration. Whether this is for the benefit of the
employee is debatable. (Presumably it makes it easier to
who amongst them has had the greatest exposure and eases the proper
distribution of medication.)
Besides, sadly, accidents/incidents don't always play fair.
It is our understanding that once radioactive material has escaped then
it cannot be successfully recovered. All that then remains
containment and iodine tablets. A religious aptitude could
be of benefit. For the participants, no doubt, it meant many
hours standing round idly, wondering what on earth is going on, whilst
those in charge played their games and the press took lots of
to convince the public everything is under control.
No doubt the copy will appear next week, saying what a success the
day was, and how everything went according to plan, thus reassuring the
populace that, no matter what might happen, the officials are capable
of dealing with it. Ah, the
benefits of fore-knowledge.
interested in controlling the flow of
information and making sure reporters were used to convey instructions
to the public.
conscious of the need to instruct, were equally
interested in the “story”. What, exactly, had
casualties? What was their condition? How serious a threat was this to
public health? What, precisely, was the radioactive material that had
seasoned hacks, much of this information was slow to
arrive. A helpful Sellafield press officer apart, exact details of the
incident were too scarce for too long.
bare bones of the
accident: The fact a crane had toppled onto a
pipe bridge which then released radioactive material was not properly
confirmed until about three hours in. And a not unreasonable request about whether the
Sellafield fence was not dealt with until even later.
contained information that was already out of date and did not do
enough to clarify the situation.
Wright, a deputy
head of site at Sellafield, was given a severe
grilling by reporters on the complex’s safety record and a
feature of his response was his refusal to give an apology.
reporter would have
come away from Mr Wright’s address with an
impression of an uncaring organisation interested only in the welfare
of its workforce and the protection of its reputation.
main objective of the
exercise: To quickly issue clear and accurate
instructions to the public in the event of a nuclear incident was well
achieved, however. And the measures
in place to deal with
occurrence appear robust.
elements of the scenario, the actual shifting
of thousands of people to reception centres, were obviously not tested
and never can be.
repeated requests for them not to, one can’t help thinking
a fair proportion of the population would jump into their cars and
attempt to flee the area.
section of the main
A595 road was ‘closed’ to prevent a mass exodus,
and to allow the emergency services a clear run, but the vast network
of side roads leading out of the county could quickly become blocked
that lies the major
hurdle for the authorities: It is one
distribute information and instructions to the public, it is another to
ensure they are followed. (Our emphasis.)
with any doubts
about the integrity of the companies involved in this industry might
care to watch the Greenpeace video about what was found on a nocturnal
trip to the Low Level Dump (sorry, repository) at Drigg. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49_IU4wzVG8 Although
the events took place in 1994, one has to wonder how long the dumping
of what seems to be high-level waste had gone on, and what controls
are in place nowadays to ensure that only properly low-level waste is
dumped there. As with so much else, we have to wonder where
regulators are and how such a situation could arise without them
knowing of it.
main requirement for nuclear expansion is 'a change in its PR
- According to an Energy supplement in the New Statesman.
According to an article in a 32-page supplement in the New Statesman
back in July, 2007, what is needed is to make the nuclear industry's
image much "sexier" by making such environmentally friendly changes
such as doing away with Magnox (not actually doing away with the
process, you understand, but merely changing the name to something less
indicative of a '1950s B movie leader
of a robot army that plans to invade and conquer the earth');
images should be 'of "fit"
young men in hard hats, like one of those guys in the Diet Coke
commercials. Sexy sells';
reactor stacks are 'ugly
and scary' - they should be made to look pretty by painting them 'sky blue, as nothing sky
blue was ever
Happily for the writer (Gia Milinovich) the change of image was already
happening and her article was part of it. The consensus of
whole 32 pages was that clean, green environmentally-friendly nuclear
is the way to go. It was sponsored by, er, e-on.
Surely, it was not just a cynical marketing ploy?
Whatever it was, the suggestion obviously struck a chord with the
sceptics are to be targeted in a hard-hitting government advertising
campaign that will be the first to state unequivocally that Man is
causing global warming and endangering life on Earth.
campaign, which begins tonight in the prime ITV1 slot during Coronation
Street, is a direct response to government research showing that more
than half the population think that climate change will have no effect
the campaign because of concern that scepticism about climate change
was making it harder to introduce carbon-reducing policies such as
higher energy bills.
attempts to make adults feel guilty about their legacy to their
children. It features a father telling his daughter a bedtime story of
“a very very strange” world with
consequences” for today’s children.
depicted as rising in clouds of black soot from cars and homes,
including from a woman’s hairdryer. The soot gathers into a
jagged-toothed monster menacing the town. The
daughter asks her
father if the story has a happy ending and a voiceover cuts in, saying:
“It’s up to us how the story ends” and
viewers to the Government’s Act on CO2 website.
Energy and Climate Change publishes research today showing that 52 per
cent of people think climate change will not significantly affect them.
Only 33 per cent think that it will and 15 per cent do not know.
per cent of
people think that climate change will have no effect on Britain, even
in their grandchildren’s lifetime. Twenty-six per cent said
could think of no action they could take that would help to reduce
asked how they
would react if they knew climate change were going to have a serious
effect on their children’s lives, 74% said that they would be
willing to change their lifestyle. 15% said that they would not make
Met Office has
predicted that the 2003 heatwave, which resulted in 2,000 premature
deaths in Britain, could happen every other year from the 2040s. Joan
Energy and Climate Change Minister, said: “The survey results
show that people don’t realise that climate change is already
under way and could have severe consequences. With over 40 per cent of
the UK’s C02 emissions a result of personal choices, there is
huge potential for individual behaviour change to lower
Emeritus Professor of Biogeography at the University of London and a
critic of the Government’s plan to cut CO2, said the advert
an attempt to manipulate people with alarmist language and apocalyptic
imagery. “It is straight out of Orwell’s 1984: an
to control with images of a perpetual war against something, in this
case climate change.”
utilities have formed a lobby group fronted by a former BBC journalist
to lead the under-fire industry’s fightback amid public fury
high household energy bills.
new organisation, Energy UK, will bring communications of the
sector’s four trade bodies under one umbrella and provide a
“united voice” for an industry that has become a
post for the public and consumer groups. It is expected to play a
bigger role in explaining the immense costs of cleaning up the
highly-polluting sector and the need for all of us to share the burden.
McGourty, the former BBC science correspondent, who travelled to
Antarctica to cover the effects of climate change, has been hired to
lead the effort. She said: “The industry realises that it has
do better because it has often been caught on the back foot. That is
the main reason for my appointment.” She will answer
“directly” to industry’s leaders and said
she was in
regular contact with them. “The chief executives are the
appointment comes at a critical time. The industry is being asked to
lead Britain’s low-carbon revolution, a transition that will
hundreds of billions of pounds as old fossil-fuel stations are replaced
with more expensive wind, tidal and nuclear plants. Yet bosses are
regularly pilloried by MPs for not bringing down bills, which have
doubled in the past five years. They claim they need to keep charges
high to pay for clean forms of electricity.
week Ofgem, the regulator, warned that household energy bills, now
about £1,200 a year, could soar to £2,000 by 2015.
Sunday Times, 11/10/09
The strange thing
is that, whilst
there is no doubt that there needs to be a proper appraisal of our use
of electricity, there is absolutely no case for the generator to be
nuclear - a point which our politicians seem unable to grasp.
We've pointed out elsewhere that the gullible ministers have listened
to the big industry sales patter and fallen for it. They
seen nuclear new-build as the "silver bullet" that will cure the future
energy needs. That being the case, they have ignored other,
renewable forms of energy. Have you heard, for example of
geothermal generation process?
Neither had we,
until we came across
this interesting paper:
of the idea is that water is sent down pipes to where the rocks are
hot, causing the water to boil, returning to the surface to turn
turbines. A closed circuit with no waste. Cute?
from the obvious damage to the marine environment, the materials that
have been deposited by Sellafield over the years are probably best left
where they are. Any major disturbance of the sea-bed,
from engineering or from recirculating water action is likely to bring
these toxic materials to the shore again.
Presumably monitors will have to be installed on the circulation system
of any new plant to indiate any leaks of nuclear material.
will the sensors make of material being picked up off the sea bed and
entering the system that way, and how would any such monitoring system
be able to differentiate between old and new materials?
|Do you want to tell
them, or should I?
As noted elsewhere, it is human nature to assume more and more
importance until such time as someone says "enough". The
quangos seem to be so incestuous that there is no room anymore for
Anyone who disputes what these bodies say is labelled some disparaging
name, to indicate that they are outside the main stream and that their
views are thus unimportant - the dangerously naiive notion that "if you
aren't with us you are against us", and thus have to be derided!
strange times we live in.
The government tells us that they are opposed to using green field
sites when there are alternative (brown-field) sites
available. The Prime Minister himself confirmed
parliament on 3 Jun 2009 (
ref: Daily Hansard: Column 269
Prime Minister’s Question Time).
On Page 10 of the Whitehaven News, 23/7/09, we read:
Henwood [NDA Chairman] also addresses the prospect of new
the NDA set to sell of acres of land around Sellafield to commercial
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is indeed a glorified estate agent
with pretentions to nobler things.
The idea was that the government would fund the authority for a
start-up period, but after the initial period it should be selling off
the land that has been decommissioned, the funds accrued being used for
further decommissioning, so the "authority" became
self-financing. Possibly a Good
in theory - like
most of these ideas, but in practise - again like
these half-baked, ill-considered ideas - it fails.
to have lost its direction, the authority now funds large developments
in areas in which there is no decommissioning taking
One website, www.nuclearspin.org,
. . a Freedom of Information request from South Lakeland Friends of the
Earth, showing that £34m has been given to hospitals,
and wildlife and heritage groups since 2005.
County Council has a staffer sponsored by the NDA, as does Made in
Cumbria, established to help businesses involved in the food and craft
sectors. Money has been given to a lifeboat appeal, footpaths, and a
harbour wall scheme. The Citizens Advice Bureau in Copeland (the part
of Cumbria which includes the Sellafield nuclear facility) has received
almost £80,000. In addition to the £34m, the NDA
“investing” £10m over three years in the
of Cumbria. According to The Guardian, the NDA is
taxpayers’ money on 'social” projects' as if
Sellafield, earlier in 2009, announced the donation of £20
million to community bodies, to enable them to 'purchase whatever they
(presumably as opposed to whatever the politicians thought they shoukl
have). It seem strange to us that a company which is costing
taxpayers £1.4 billion per year can hand this amount out.
All told, this is quite a considerable amount of money and will
probably buy a large amount of good will. In fact
only a taster for what is promised. The nuclear
enjoying some popularity as people panic about where the electricity
will come from to “keep their lights
wonderfully emotive phrase, repeated frequently at any energy
meeting. In many ways a bit like the constant
terrorist threat - keep people frightened and we can manipulate them
picture then is that the NDA will shortly be auctioning off several
acres of land at Sellafield. All the resources in
are concentrated on the Sellafield site. The site
licence and there would be no need to go outside, into the public
domain, with containers of radioactive materials - should the time ever
arise when the concentrated waste products could actually be
processed. Why then would energy companies even
looking elsewhere - least of all at green field sites with their need
for massive infra-structure with intrinsic high costs?
Perhaps the most obvious reason would be cost. The
NDA is a
profit-making entity - just like an estate agent.
sole rights to the proceeds from the forthcoming auction and
duty to maximise its profits”. Almost a
situation, one might think. A cynic might be
wondering whether the residents of Braystones and Kirksanton are being
used as pawns in a big game. The loser being the
who have become what is referred to in war as collateral
damage. Perhaps if the NDA were not so greedy or
concentrate on decommissioning . . . ?
is some sleight of hand here.
While, ostensibly, the income for the NDA will come from the industry,
who will ultimately be paying the bill? Our guess
companies are not altruistic by nature.
the large bonuses handed to the NDA staff have been merited merely for
the way they have persuaded the gullible politicians that they have
earned it and for keeping them panicked?
Hunt is reported as saying, in the same article in the Whitehaven News,
that the competition for the low-level waste repository near Drigg,
have brought world-class capability to the UK for the delivery of safe,
secure and environmentally responsible decommissioning and
Hmm. So safe in fact that there have been 1767
seven years. With the paucity of meaningful
consider that there is little environmentally responsible in what has
been going on.
How safe, secure and environmentally
responsible is it
to merely shrug one’s shoulders, admit that reprocessing
impossible, put it in a glass bottle and shove it down a
hole? It is
noteworthy that only Copeland, out of all the councils approached, has
registered an interest. Could the largesse be
is it just the propaganda? How environmentally
sound is a
leak of radioactive material? Will the buried material be
recoverable, so that if, in the future, a method for processing it is
developed it can be dealt with? Or a leak require its
The failure would only be obvious after its effect has been
obvious, of course. Monitoring will be useless until then.
Reed, MP, seems to have fallen into the usual trap of believing his own
hype. (Isn’t it strange, too, how, once
infallible and the wishes of the people they purport to represent are
ignored, as they get involved exclusively in their circles of
Yes-men?) Say something often enough and you
matter how untrue it is. A typical statement is
West Cumbria are in favour of nuclear new build - note the absence of
any qualification. How was this opinion arrived
at? Has anyone been
asked? The only recent poll we saw actually had a
new build outside of Sellafield. The meetings of
Braystones and Kirksanton also unanimously rejected the proposals.
So, who will represent their views? Why
are the quangos
and committees all stuffed with pro-nuclear
lobbyists? Is it really all about employment and to
natural attibutes of the area? Why does Mr. Reed
people that plutonium is an asset? An asset for
building bombs? Even the big boys, the Americans
are seeking ways to decommission their nuclear
government, too, has announced plans to reduce the number of nuclear
devices they have. Apparently something
like 97% of
the fuel used by
the nuclear generators is recyclable. So we are
cannot be handled. That is quite a lot of extremely
be left holding. The government (and the
own) answer is to
keep it all on the individual sites until such time as it can be
disposed of or reprocessed. Not the same thing, of
Thorp plant has been a resounding failure and has cost
keep going. The MP’s
answer? Build two
more. Strange logic one
understand that only seven tonnes has actually
been dealt with in the last three years. Still
go, then, eh? Actually, on the figures given, it
almost seem as
if the stockpile will grow faster and faster. That
distributed across several sites does nothing to actually reduce the
total pile. It also increases the risk of misuse or
process of vitrification (encapsulating in glass) is a difficult one
and one has to wonder about the wisdom of just dropping these capsules
into a hole in Gosforth for future generations to reap the benefits
Drigg, the newly developed open-cast coal mine at
Keekle Head will be filled with material that cannot be disposed of -
usually because it would be took costly to deal with and thus not
economically viable. This project will, if it goes
over 50 years and cover around 173 acres. That is a
Reassurance that all will be safe is a little suspect,
rainwater filtering through the piles of rubbish will inevitably
contain radioactive material. This will be
if of good quality, discharged into the River Ehen.
Hmm. Who will
be the judge of the quality, we wonder? How
that the sites will not be “tips”, nor even
sites”. A new
piece of gobbledegook has arrived to herald the Energy
arrival. These disposal sites will henceforward be
Geological Disposal Facilities.
Henwood, Chairman, NDA in
the annual report for
enough to merit a
bonus on its own!
Actually, the chairman’s foreword reads more like the
awestruck Hollywood actress at an awards ceremony.
does not include anyone like the residents - only
those who support the rush for new-build. The rest
reads like something an august journal refers to as
all the achievements (how was the industry ever permitted to get into
such a mess in the first place?) of removing radioactive material
(where did it all end up?) is one
which says: “We have therefore reprioritised funds
projects to address our higher priority objectives, and have continued
to review plans for decommissioning sites in line with our top
NDA Annual Report, P11)
Surely this doesn’t
mean that they were so busy distributing their largesse that they ran
out of money to do the basics? Or does it?
addition to the
direct funding associated with socio-economic activity, we have
contributedsignificantly to the wider socio-economic aims of our
priority areas. In particular, the Sellafield competition has delivered
a PBO committed to introducing their own funds to the West Cumbria
(Ref.: NDA Annual
Some people might
refer to this strategy more directly: as bribery.
is hunky-dory according to the report, it might be churlish to mention
things like Sizewell, where 40,000 gallons of radioactive contaminated
water has leaked - discovered not by the operators but by outside
consultants. Or statements culled from a variety of
reports, such as
the one about Magnox staff, noting that they had
mistakes which call into question their suitability to carry out their
roles”; that the nuclear safety control arrangements and its
implementation were “inadequate”; that a vital
in the pond
area “had never beencommissioned”; and that there
regarding the suitability of people to control operations on
(None of these concerns were expressed to SSG members at the time and,
particularly, even though the Magnox had seriously breached several of
its nuclear safety site licence conditions, the NII opted not to
prosecute, one reason for this being that it would require a lot of
extra work at a time when its own “resources are
some strange reason, not much detail is given of the prosecutions of
the various sites in the NDA’s “estate”
(their term -
encompassing all sites), for breaches of Health and Safety
legislation. Noteworthy is the prohibition notice
Sellafield by the Department of Transport. This
inadequate container for plutonium dioxide (powder) The first
several loads was shipped to Cherbourg. Later, the
discovered there had been a breach of the transport regulations in
respect of the transport. The failure related to
limit of the plutonium transport containers used.
passed to the Department for Transport who then issued the
Notice. The prohibition is still
Shouldn’t make too much of
it, especially in an annual report. The report notes that
number of International Nuclear Even Scale
events increased to 15.
could go on and on citing the various failures of the nuclear
industry. It does have the potential to provide
needs in the
future - but only when it has cleaned up its act and ceases to pollute
on an international scale. When its waste can be
efficiently and not just stuffed down a hole and forgotten
recently read about the barrels of high-level waste that had been
misplaced for several decades, and regularly read - in connection with
areas of Sellafield - that no-one has any idea what is in there,
because the material was dumped so long ago and there is no paper
and be forgotten before a system has emerged to deal with the buried
treasure? The only method for monitoring the
material will be measuring how much has leaked!
it a bit late
At present it is not sustainable nor clean. Sadly,
the industry has seized an opportunity to panic the politicians into
believing it is both. Given an investment of
by the industry (with the hope of high yeilds!), the promise of
thousands of jobs and freedom from Russian and Middle Eastern fuel
supplies, and the politicians (whose integrity has been highlighted
over the last few months with claims for 50 pence bathplugs and
wreaths, etc.,) are suitably blinded.
It might appear to some that
they would have no problem starting a car with no brakes, either.
|From the Sunday
Energy firms in
talks on nuclear ‘levy’
forced to subsidise Britain’s nuclear renaissance through a
tacked on to household fuel bills under plans being developed by the
executives have told ministers that their
pledge not to
use public aid to fund the the £40 billion rollout of new
power stations is no longer realistic. The
levy is one of
several proposals tabled. Talks about how to structure an aid mechanism
are at an early stage, but there is a consensus in the industry that
without help the new power plants will not be built.
help from the public would be embarrassing for the government, which
had made a virtue of the fact that this key part of its power strategy
would be funded by the private sector. An energy department spokesman
that position this weekend, saying: “It is for energy
to fund, build and develop these, not the taxpayer.”
sources said, however, that talks had begun on how to devise
subsidy by another name” that would allow the government to
by its promise of no direct taxpayer support. At
billion each, nuclear reactors cost up
to four times more
than a gas-fired plant.
In theory, the difference would be
recouped because of the need for fossil-fuel generators to buy carbon
emission permits. Nuclear
operators need a carbon price of €30
a ton to be
competitive. Today it is €14.35.
The price is
expected to rise from 2013, when the market will switch to 100%
auctioning of the permits. Today most are given away free. Industry
say, however, that a predicted rise in carbon prices is not enough for
them to make the necessary investment decisions. A nuclear levy that
varies according to the carbon price could be a solution.
which plans four reactors in the UK, said the government should set a
minimum price for carbon permits, supported by a pool of funds provided
by high-polluting fossil fuel generators. Meanwhile,
Royal Dutch Shell was reported last night to be behind a A$3 billion
(£1.5 billion) takeover approach for Australian gas producer
Arrow Energy. Shell declined to comment.
|From The Sunday Times
August 16, 2009
EDF attracts big
auction of £4bn UK electricity network
An international cast of billionaires, pension funds and utility groups
is lining up to bid for the biggest electricity distribution network in
Britain, worth more than £4 billion.
The French nuclear giant EDF recently appointed Deutsche Bank and
Barclays to prepare for auction its UK network arm, which supplies
nearly 8m homes in east and southeast England.
The proposed sale is part of the French group’s effort to
a €24.5 billion (£21.2 billion) debt pile built up
buying British Energy, Britain’s nuclear monopoly.
EDF is not expected to start the auction until the middle of next
month, once executives in France have returned from summer holidays,
but in recent weeks, potential bidders have stepped up talks to form
They include Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the Middle East
sovereign wealth fund; Cheung Kong Infrastructure, the group owned by
Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man; and three Canadian pension
funds: Borealis, Ontario
Teachers, and Canadian Pension Plan. Utility company Scottish &
Southern, network monopoly National Grid, investment group GIP and
Morgan Stanley Infrastructure are also holding talks.
None of the potential suitors has yet agreed to team up.
“Everyone is talking to everyone but nobody has got together
yet,” said a banking source, adding: “It would be
difficult for anyone to do this alone.”
The deal would require cash financing of up to £1.4 billion.
Barclays is standing by to provide the debt.
The business, comprised of three regional networks in London, the east
and southeast, is likely to be sold as a whole.
The sale has caused ructions within EDF. Vincent de Rivaz, chief
executive in the UK, is said to oppose the move as the business is
Need to Be Learned - The Residents of Copeland Cannot Trust the
Politicians, Councillors, the NDA or Sellafield
Whitehaven News, 19th August, 2009:
Nuclear waste sites
set for thumbs
radioactive waste disposal are set to get the thumbs down from Cumbria
County Council even though one – at Lillyhall – has
taken small amounts.
councillors next week are expected to approve a recommendation
that the low level radioactive waste is kept at Sellafield rather than
sent to Keekle Head or Lillyhall.
it emerged yesterday that the Lillyhall site already has low level
waste buried under it and will not need planning permission to dispose
of any more. Tim
Knowles, county council cabinet member for the environment, told
The Whitehaven News: “The
is that they are
talking about a massive increase in volume.
is wrong, it is not
in the interests of the community. We would hope that at the end of the
day the NDA does not allow proliferation in this way.”
Recyling Group and Energy Solutions have applied to the
Environment Agency for a new authorisation, and if this is granted
could be taking very low levels by the end of the year.
external affairs general manager Mike Snell said: “Our
that under the Radioactive Substances Act we don’t need
permission to go ahead.”
yesterday Coun Knowles said: “Sellafield waste should be
at Sellafield. What we don’t want is a proliferation of
waste, it should not be put in holes around West Cumbria and imposed on
Keekle Head, French company subsidiary Endecom is already drilling
boreholes to see whether it will be suitable. It also has an agreement
to buy the derelict 173-acre site.
|The firm recently
plans to local councillors and environmental experts and will need
planning permission as a former opencast coal site. Public
presentations are also being arranged for Distington and Moresby
pending a full planning application.
Waste Recycling Group and Energy Solutions have the support of
Distington parish council for the Lillyhall landfill to be used.
1972 the site has been taking non-hazardous household and commercial
waste as well as the small amounts of slightly radioactive material in
of the waste would be Sellafield Ltd, Chapelcross and LLWR
the country’s only
designated disposal site for low level
order to free up more space at Drigg
allow the site to operate for another 60 years, the government is
looking for alternative disposal routes such as landfill. These would
take very low levels of radioactive waste.
Consultations on the national strategy to manage future arisings of
waste will close on September 11. Cabinet
will consider a
county council response on the lines that “LLW produced at
should be disposed of near to Sellafield and should not be dispersed in
sites further afield in West Cumbria.”
Although the county council wants to see a reduction in the volume of
waste for final disposal, it says, “There should be
a more proactive
approach from the NDA to manage the material on site at nuclear
The NDA has pledged £1.5million a year towards Copeland
benefits for every year the Drigg site continues to operate, with a
million kick start.
WRG and Energy Solutions are now planning a “drop
learn more about the plans in Distington community centre on September
18 (8pm) .
the true nature
of the nuclear-waste mob are being revealed. It will be
interesting to see how they react when the heavy mob lean on them,
drawing attention to the fact that perhaps now is not the best time to
be demonstrating to residents that, despite promises from the
pro-nuclear brigade, they will have absolutely no control at all - even
after this batch of manipulators have been voted out of office.
We are somewhat amused to watch the video on on the Whitehaven
News 19~8~09 website.
How many of the beautiful
features they list as their Favourite Things will cease to exist or be
visiting once their plans have been foisted on the residents?
Would you want to visit an area which has 240' high reactors to blemish
the coastline? What about the plans for the windfarms and
distribution network? Will you be paying good money to come
see them, too? It would appear that the only areas of
to Cumbria Tourism are the already-over visited centres around
has already made the decision.”
Free Local Authorities
in January, 2007, Mr. Justice
Sullivan said information
given on waste had been "not merely inadequate but also
have not been
given any indication of the nature of potential waste, nor of the
which it will be securely and safely held or how, when, or where it
went on, "Fairness
required that consultees should be given a proper opportunity to
that substantial amount of new material before any decision was taken." Shadow
trade and industry secretary Alan
Duncan said: "This
is an astonishing
ruling. What it really says is that the government has been shown up as
An English Heritage
regional planners have found it difficult to work through these
documents in the time allotted to give authoritative comments, and in
the case of the North-West Region, the Planner had four sites, was on
leave for part of the period and working on submissions for a large
planning enquiry for much of the rest of the time.”
Sadly, this did
not stop them submitting an extremely poor response to DECC, basically
giving them a green light to concrete over 40 miles of coast -
apparently considering the nuclear new-build in isolation, disregarding
all the necessary support industries and other proposals for power
stations. Which, of course, is just what DECC
after giving us a copy of the appraisal, they asked us to keep quiet
about it, as DECC didn't want material to emerge piecemeal.
course, a cynic might say that by releasing a tonne of material
simultaneously they stand a very good chance that people will be
overwhelmed and might miss some salient points. Surely not?
government released a GREEN
PAPER, entitled "A European
Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive
and Secure Energy"; a very strange document.
Despite mentioning Germany and France (and a few others) as
partners with whom the UK should be involved, when it comes to energy
security, surely the history of relations with these countries needs to
be considered? Are we wrong in thinking that we have been to
- comparatively recently with some of them? When an energy
begins to hurts, surely there is at least a risk that friction might
recur? Or that the companies running our vital supplies
withdraw their co-operation? Not sure where the uranium
come from in an internal supply market.
about us having to supply a European grid, too? Aren't there
some drawbacks with that? The phrase mentioned elsewhere in
relation to Poland being looted for gold ore comes to mind.
"They will take the gold and leave the aresenic." In this
we could end up having to supply a considerable portion of Europe,
enduring the hazards and wastes of the nuclear industry, whilst others,
like Germany, will abandon the technology comptetely as being too
dangerous and dirty.
|From The Times January
reward nuclear sell-off boss for raising £8bn
for raising £8.3
the Treasury by selling off
some of the country's most
controversial assets is poised to receive a bonus of £766,200
successfully winding up British Nuclear Fuels.
Mike Parker, chief executive of BNFL, which used to own Westinghouse,
the nuclear reactor maker, as well as Sellafield, could receive the
bonus before the end of the financial year, The Times has learnt.
Mr Parker, who joined the state-owned company in 2003, is in line for
the payout - 150 per cent of his basic salary, after selling a string
of nuclear assets for the Government. The disposals have seen BNFL,
which once employed 10,000 people, reduced to a shell with fewer than
The businesses sold by Mr Parker and his team include Westinghouse,
which was sold to Toshiba, the Japanese industrial giant, and an
engineering business known as Project Services, which was sold to VT
Group, the shipbuilding to education business.
Mr Parker, who joined the organisation from Dow Chemical Company, also
oversaw the sale of BNG America, BNFL's Reactor Sites Management
business, and a one-third stake in AWE Management - a joint venture
with Lockheed Martin and Serco to manage the Atomic Weapons
Establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield.
At the same time, he established the BNFL technology services
operations as a standalone public sector science business, known as
Nexia Solutions, on a similar footing to the National Physical
Laboratory, and handed over responsibility for Sellafield to the
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The
Westinghouse transaction alone provided an exceptional profit on
disposal of £2.1 billion for the Treasury.
Government officials are considering when Mr Parker's bonus should be
paid, as his work at BNFL will effectively end on April 1 when the
company's one-third stake in Urenco, a uranium enrichment business, is
handed back to the Shareholder Executive, an arm of the Treasury.
A partial payout could be made before the end of this financial year,
although there is pressure to hold back the money until October when Mr
Parker's duties at BNFL will be fully discharged and private firms take
over responsibility for decommissioning the vast Sellafield site.
After that time, BNFL will cease to exist except for a handful of legal
and financial staff who have to wind it up. It will then be the
responsibility of the Shareholder Executive to achieve a sale of the
Government's stake in Urenco, one of the world's largest uranium
enrichment companies. The
Treasury is hoping for a final £2 billion windfall from this
sale, benefiting from the soaring price of uranium.
However, it is facing opposition from the other shareholders
governments of Germany and the Netherlands - which have long resisted
Downing Street's efforts to privatise its holding.
Toshiba-Westinghouse, the former BNFL arm, is now competing with Areva
of France for a huge order to build atomic power stations in South
Africa. Final bids are due in today and construction could start as
early as 2010. But the plant could be the first of as many as 20 new
reactors, each costing about £1billion, that could be built
the country over the coming years.
South Africa is focusing on nuclear power generation as the solution to
its energy needs.
The Times August 26, 2006
Surge in orders at
Urenco as BNFL
to sell stake
By Angela Jameson,
the uranium enricher that is one-third-owned by British Nuclear Fuels
(BNFL), has increased its forward order book by €5 billion
(£2.6 billion) in the past year, even
before an expected surge in global demand for nuclear power.
surge in orders is expected substantially to increase the value of the
which has facilities near Manchester and in
Holland and Germany - at a time when BNFL is looking to sell its stake.
observers have suggested that the BNFL stake is worth between
£1.5 billion and £2 billion, but the state-owned
group’s Dutch and German partners appear reluctant to
its sale, which has to pass the strict criteria
Treaty of Alemo, by which Urenco was established.
insiders said that any sale was likely to take some time - at least 18
months - and that there was no obvious buyer, despite reported
approaches from EDF, the French electricity giant, and Cameco, the
Canadian mining group.
order book has soared to €11 billion since last year, partly
boosted by the granting of a licence to develop a uranium enrichment
plant in New Mexico - the first new licence to be granted in America
for more than 30 years.
new plant will cost €2 billion to develop and should come on
by the end of 2008. A
billion will also be spent extending three existing facilities in
Germany, Holland and the UK to cope with booming demand for enriched
prices for the metal have trebled, power companies have demanded more
enriched uranium and have been attracted to Urenco’s
which uses less energy than some other methods.
Le Blanc, chief finance officer of the group, said: “We are
expecting an increase in demand as more countries see the potential of
nuclear power. But even before that new demand comes on stream we are
seeing a significant increase
from new and existing customers.”
the first half of the year, earnings at the uranium group grew by 21
per cent to €214 million. Net profits reached €74
from €51 million in the first half of 2005.
said that first-half increases in profit were unlikely to be sustained
in the second half as they were affected by seasonal delivery patterns.
However, the outlook for the rest of the year was encouraging. Helmut
chief executive, said: “These results confirm the success of
‘growth through investment’ strategy. This provides
an immensely strong position both to underwrite our investment plans in
Europe and the
and to secure our continued growth.”
Le Blanc declined to comment on whether there had been any approach for
the BNFL stake. BNFL'S
— the nuclear reactor maker is being sold to Toshiba of Japan
£5.4 billion BNG
America — small decommissioning business, sold for
million to EnergySolutions Still
to be sold:
Group — to be sold off in pieces Urenco
— a one-third stake in the uranium enrichment business Nexia
Solutions — the nuclear research group wants to stay in
FOR THE WORLD
jointly owned by BNFL, effectively an arm of the British Government,
UCM, an arm of the Dutch Government, and RWE and E.ON, the German
companies in the world providing uranium enrichment services for civil
power generation, Urenco has a 19 per cent market share and about 100
customers, mostly utilities that run nuclear-fuelled power stations
natural state contains only 0.7 per cent of the active isotope Uranium
235 (U-235), which by fission inside the nuclear reactor releases the
thermal energy necessary for electricity generation .
concentration the uranium will not sustain fission in modern reactors;
it has to be enriched or concentrated to a level that will sustain
nuclear reaction in a nuclear power plant .
firm finds path to enrichment
eerie tick-tock greets you as you enter E23, a plain industrial
building on Urenco’s sprawling campus at Capenhurst, near
Chester. The noise, like an amplified grandfather clock, is everywhere
in the cavernous building, crackling out of tannoys perched above the
banks of machines.
The noise should never stop. It signifies that the building’s
radiation monitoring system is working properly. It gives a clue to
what goes on in E23 - the uranium-enrichment process that
provides fuel for nuclear power stations and is one of
Britain’s best-kept industrial secrets.
has housed Britain’s efforts to turn
uranium into something suitable for use as a nuclear fuel since the
1950s. Now, in E23 and two other similar buildings, thousands of
centrifuges - the exact number is not disclosed
- spin night
and day, separating the useful uranium atoms from the ordinary ones.
which is owned by the British and Dutch governments and the
German utility groups Eon and RWE, is reaping the rewards of 40 years
of taxpayer-funded investment in centrifuge technology.
“It’s a classic case of their having made a much
mousetrap than anyone else,” said one nuclear industry
recent years the trinational group has enjoyed a boom, its turnover
rising from €700m (£600m) in 2004 to €1.1
year as it grabbed market share from its international rivals. It now
makes about a quarter of all the enriched uranium used in civil nuclear
plants and has an order book that extends beyond 2025. More than
three-quarters of Capenhurst’s production is exported, with
American power plants among its big customers.
is also profitable in a way that most businesses can only dream
of, turning that €1 billion of sales into an operating profit
€460m. Last year, in the depth of the credit crisis, it was
to raise nearly €700m (€500m from a bond issue,
a loan from an insurance group) to help pay for a large expansion
programme, including the construction of a facility in America.
good times, however, could soon get even better thanks to what
promises to be a bonanza for uranium enrichers. All around the world
governments are pressing ahead with big reactor programmes, with China
alone planning to have dozens in operation or under construction in the
next 20 years. In Britain, up to 10 reactors could be built or started
over the same period.
this renaissance could be just the tip of the iceberg. Many energy
experts think that to address climate change, we will have to curtail
the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. This could bring
an even faster rate of construction. Malcolm Wicks, a former
energy minister, said in a report published recently that Britain
should plan to double the proportion of its energy generated from
nuclear power, from 20% to 40%.
Engelbrecht, Urenco’s chief executive, is optimistic
the prospects but warns that the company’s competitors will
competitors are in the process of changing their
methods to centrifuge technology. This will enable them to supply
customers under comparable conditions to Urenco. While we expect to
continue to grow our share of an expanding market, that
may be moderate in the future. The overall demand for nuclear fuel will
definitely increase when the new reactor construction programmes are
realised and that will create additional demand for our
services,” he said.
of the technology in use at Capenhurst remains closely guarded,
and not just for commercial reasons. Enriched uranium is also used in
the construction of atomic weapons, and international worries about
nuclear proliferation led to the 1970 treaty that created Urenco. At
first a marketing organisation for state nuclear bodies such as BNFL,
it took over the manufacturing operations in 1993.
arrives at Capenhurst in crystals that look a bit like sugar.
This is uranium hexafluoride, the end result of the chemical processing
of mined uranium ore. At the plant the crystals are heated and uranium
hexafluoride gas is piped into the centrifuges.
uranium has a tiny percentage of slightly lighter atoms in it,
called Uranium 235. These are the ones that are useful for atomic power
plants. The centrifuges spin the gas at high speed, with the lighter
atoms moving to the centre of the drum. This stream of gas is siphoned
off and sent to the next centrifuge, where it is enriched again. The
Capenhurst machines typically increase the proportion of 235 atoms from
0.7% - the natural rate of occurrence - to about 4%.
the tick-tocks in the factories are a reminder that it handles
radioactive substances, the main safety threat is not radiation but the
uranium hexafluoride itself, which is extremely corrosive and toxic.
stellar financial record means that it has
been mentioned as a potential candidate for privatisation, although the
trinational ownership structure makes a sell-off unlikely in the near
term. Senior investment-banking sources say, however, that a
fundraising through the sale of shares - perhaps to fund an acquisition
in America - cannot be ruled out. Engelbrecht said he is confident of
having sufficient funds to invest in whatever expansion will be
required when the nuclear power boom arrives.
invest only when customer commitments require an
capacity,” he said. “Our strategy of growth through
investment is mainly based on our own earnings. Fifty percent of all
our profits are spent on growing our business. In addition to that, we
use the capital markets to fund our growth. We are confident that,
based on our conservative business model, we will be able to secure our
future financial needs.”
Again, it appears, we are to be lied to, as the requirement for
subsidies to fund private (i.e. profit-making) companies is thrown onto
the public - despite promises to the contrary. When the
potential profits will not even end up in this country is surely
rubbing salt in the wounds? However, having been conned into
promoting the nuclear industry as the clean green future for
electricity generation, complete with the full might of the spin
industry now has the government over a barrel.
rules must now change. Instead of the risks associated with
new-build nuclear generators being carried by those who ultimately will
make the profits, the tax-payer will now have to hand over billions of
pounds to ensure that the hype they have now begun to believe
themselves, is brought to fruition.
we have to ask, what is the true cost of the electricity generated by
this means? It is convenient to overlook the subsidies now
demanded, together with the infra-structure costs and the insurance
being carried by the tax-payer, but surely these items must also appear
on the balance sheet somewhere?
That the nuclear industry is clean and green is an untruth in itself.
We have no idea how the reporter managed to get that
past the editor.
has a useful appraisal of the subsidies currently being
by the nuclear industry and explains why this is unfair and distorts
the whole energy market.. It is written by the Energy Fair
have been somewhat
puzzled by the consistent bias shown on the BBC
television programmes that have had anything to do with either
Cumbria's Energy Coast specifically or just the nuclear industry in
general. Whatever the local opinion, the items have always
a preponderence of opinion in favour of the nuclear industry's proposed
development. This runs contrary to our perception.
Sometimes the bias has been so acute that we have just had to make a
formal complaint to the programme maker. Despite our
bias and incomplete factual evidence being presented, nothing has
changed. A banal report on the One Show on BBC 1 television
so bad that we didn't even bother to complain. The feeling
that the BBC, like the Whitehaven News has lost its impartiality.
In the case of the latter journal, the pro-nuclear stance
explained by the NDA's largesse buying good will. The
publication of the NDA's mouthpiece, the highly biased Futures section
will surely help in these difficult times for newspapers.
However, we were at a loss to understand the BBC's perceived bias, and
began to suspect that we were losing sight of the truth.
we read the following in the Sunday Times for 23rd August, 2009, where
A.A. Gill wrote:
of Food was surprisingly,
programme about food security presented by George Alagiah that just
happened to come out within a few days of the minister for farming and
the environment, Hilary Benn, making a government statement on
precisely the same subject. And lo, here he was interviewed
George. It must have been happenstance, because I
can't believe the
BBC would be so stupid, partisan or gullible as to use a national
broadcast to in any way support or increase awareness of a partisan
£billions at stake for the nuclear
industry and the
people responsible for the short-sighted energy policy could be looking
for jobs shortly, could this spur have had a similar effect .
Surely not? How else to explain the obvious bias
articles and the complete failure to ask probing questions to reveal
the flaws in the proposed energy plans? What
could the government have over the national broadcaster whose main
claim is to impartiality and an over-riding duty of truth and
integrity? Surely not knighthoods and licence fees?
following page is comprised of jottings - some
statements taken as part of our
research. Eventually they will be included more fully and
integrated into the relevant pages. Most are culled from
documents available on-line, appropriately highlighted in red, and
comments in blue. When time permits we will also be
table of links to the various other groups fighting this industry and
its consequences for health - human and animal, finances, and the
environment. We acknowledge the help and advice given by a
variety of organisations with gratitude.
here to view jottings.