Britain's Toxic Coast
An interim report commissioned by
the Japanese government reveals:
". . . at times an almost cartoon-like level of incompetence."
Sellafield Energy Coast Toxic Coast Header Caption 2
Japan's nuclear safety agency have said
power plant stress tests do not prove
that a nuclear plant is safe

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The Voice of Experience Editorial
Nuclear Rail Transport

An interesting document has found its way to us from a representative of a small local residents' group, who have grave concerns over the railway lines used for transporting the nuclear waste to and from the various parts of the country.

Apparently the residents have been trying for some time to raise awareness of their concerns, to no avail.   Their local MP's office couldn't understand what the problems were.   Local councillors fared a little better, holding a couple of their beloved meetings to discuss problems, resolving to deal with matters urgently, but after almost a year nothing has changed for the better.

The document makes for interesting reading even as a railway-related article, but when one adds in the nuclear factor, it really does worry one.   We accept that not all nuclear traffic uses the section of line mentioned, but, a considerable amount of nuclear material for and from Sellafield does, as it makes its way around the country or travels to ports for onward distribution.


Altruistic Aims, or Just Another Scam?

According to an article in The Times, 22/11/13, Germany is trying to force Britain and other European countries to build more wind and solar farms.   Ostensibly the 2030 emissions target - which we thought everyone had written off as impractical and unnecessarily tight - is the reason.   Of course, Germany is nuclear-free and a couple of years ago RWE announced that it was withdrawing completely from nuclear development.   The article tells that 405 wind turbines were built around British coasts last year alone.   The majority of people believe that they are unsightly and detract from seascape vistas, yet even more are planned and in the pipeline and there is nothing that can be done by normal people to stop the march.   The sea bed is owned by the Crown, so presumably only the Queen can say when enough's enough, but at present it must be "a nice little earner" (with apologies to Dellboy Trotter).   We would not suggest that there is any chance of bias in the German demands, but all 405 turbines are reported to have been supplied by "corruption is us" Siemens, that well-known German company.

A Non-angelic HAARP

Not much is being said about the problems of the global warming pundits in Stockholm earlier this year, but it seems that not quite as many people nowadays are convinced by the alleged causes.   (Could the I.A.E.A. be losing its grip?)
  However, we wonder whether the following is of any moment. It has long been known that the American Armed Forces are developing methods for controlling waveforms at all frequencies.   From extremely low levels, such as those generated by the eath's own mechanisms through radio waves and higher, up to light waves.   Its stated aim is the "full spectrum domination the yearf 2020".   Ostensibly for the protection of Americans, like so many other scientific projects, the various aspects have alternative uses and side-effects.   Several of HAARP's researchers have presented evidence suggesting that these disturbances can even be used to trigger earthquakes, affect hurricanes, and for weather control.   Interestingly, such events have become even more common these days, and the nuclear industry is cashing in on these unfortunate and devastating phenomenon, so the Americans must be grateful for the global warming lobby presenting a nice distraction.   One has to be mindful that other major powers will also be working along the same line.   According to a CBS documentary, "Directed energy is such a powerful technology it could be used to heat the ionosphere to turn weather into a weapon of war. Imagine using a flood to destroy a city or tornadoes to decimate an approaching army in the desert. If an electromagnetic pulse went off over a city, basically all the electronic things in your home would wink and go out, and they would be permanently destroyed. The military has spent a huge amount of time on weather modification as a concept for battle environments."   Half a century ago the tsunami bomb referred to as Project Seal was tested off Auckland.   As the programme asks, if they could do that half a century ago, what can they do now?
Fried Hamburgers

Back in May the Atlantic Cartier caught fire in the port of Hamburg.   The vessel is an aging member of the ACL fleet, at the end of its commercial life, and carries containers in the old style.   The interesting thing about this incident is that, although not registered as a nuclear-carrying vessel, she had on board nine tonnes of uranium hexafluoride, a highly volatile compound used in the manufacture of nuclear fuel.   Other cargo included flammable ethanol and other hazardous items   Some smart work by the longshoremen removed the necessary containers to a safer place, thus averting a disaster which could have affected a large area of Hamburg.
According to an article in Private Eye, 1349, one consultant described the incident as a very near miss.   Inspection by the Hamburg port authorities revealed a catalogue of 33 deficiencies, including emergency fire pumps, fire detection equipment, fire dampers, and the accessibility of fire-fighting equipment.   Other deficiencies which would have impaired the ship's seaworthiness, were detected.   The ship was nevertheless allowed to leave the port and later docked in Liverpool.

Anyone wishing to know the whereabouts of this and similar vessels can see their current location and other details, including a recent history of their travels at:

What Are The Chances?

Our attention has been brought to a document available on Sellafield sites (the official website for Sellafield).   It was written in May, 2012, and was sent by the Toxicology Department of the Environment Agency to the manager of the Environmental and Monitoring Department at Sellafield.   The contents related to the analysis of a sample obtained from a member of staff of the Nuvia team, employed by Sellafield to survey the beaches along the Cumbrian coast for radioactive particles.  Although the sample seemed to suggest that the individual had ingested Americium241 (half-life over 400 years), the agency were happy to conclude that the sample was most likely contaminated and that there was, in fact, nothing to worry about.   Very satisfactory from Sellafield's point of view, one supposes.

Are we really and truly expected to believe that the handling of such samples is so lax and unprofessional that they can somehow be contaminated in the laboratory, or that such an event is much more likely than an individual who handles such particles on an almost daily basis accidentally ingested one?   Did the laboratory offer any explanation as to how they became so lax:  were any staff disciplined?   We shall never know.

The same agency has issued several documents and written to us directly, stating that the chances of us/our children/grandchildren being unlucky enough to find a particle and be damaged by one of them are very remote, concluding that we have nothing to fear.    However, if the sample from the Nuvia employee was not, in fact, the result of chance contamination (how careless can these people be?) then, despite all their experience and equipment they can still be affected, why can't members of the public?   We and other members of the public spend a lot more time than the Nuvia staff on the beach, and some even build sand-castles and dig for bait.   The  Nuvia vehicle.can detect particles only up to around 4 - 6" below the surface.   The larger lug and rag worms go more than that.

Another thought is that if errors are made so readily, what reliability can be placed on anything they say?

Just how risky are holidays at the beach in Cumbria?   To July, 2011, 766 particles have been found on various beaches around Sellafield - despite the fact that some of the beaches have not been surveyed as they are inaccessible to the vehicle used to perform the survey.   We have often wondered at the seemingly cavalier way in which discoveries are handled.   Nothing high-tech - just a bucket and spade and a big box to place samples in.   Again we would point out, as we have done several times to those with the responsibility to do something, none of the beach bungalow or their environs have ever been checked.   Good job there is nothing to worry about, eh?   What about other locations though, where only a third the number of particles discovered on Cumbrian beaches has resulted in the beaches being closed to the public?   See our entry of the 12/1/12 on the Home page

Source:        and    
Fukushima Two Years On

In a rare and unbiased up-date, the BBC yesterday broadcast a variety of permutations of a report on the current state of the Fukushima site. At 0345 hrs., there was a fairly lengthy report which visited the site and its environs.   The length of the report varied throughout the day, as alternative news events came to the fore - including the jailing of the ex-Energy Minister, C. Huhne and his wife, for perverting the course of justice.   (How many politicians now have been jailed for dishonesty and should we really trust them with spending billions of pounds of taxpayer's money when they can, apparently, be so corrupted by small things?)  

The reporter's conclusions suggested that progress had only been made on devising plans for what they might do to solve the vast array of problems.   Sadly, one of the main problems was that they didn't have any idea what the state of the various cores was.   It is thus difficult to imagine how the plans could be in any way meaningful.   The scene outside the reactors was akin to the aftermath of a bomb attack and the reporter advised viewers that there were "hundreds of tonnes of highly radioactive spent fuel rods exposed to the atmosphere without any covering."   Reactor 3 was "still far too radioactive for anyone to go in and see the state of things".   The commenorative reports from other broadcasters showed roadcleaners decontaminating streets.   Quite how that works is anyone' s guess.   Still, it made for optimistic, if somewhat irrational, viewing.

A copy of one of the reports can be found here:

When Did You Last See Fukushima?

The I.A.E.A. have obviously now got their act together and have come up with the necessary responses to those who question the wisdom of nuclear power generation in the aftermath of Fukushima.   It is now very rare that anything relating to Fukushima comes up on the European television programmes, and when it does, it is just an endorsement of what the Japanese are doing.   There is no bad news, it seems.   Government broadcaster, NKK World, do come up with reports from time to time, but again, nothing too serious.   The standard response from the pro-nuclear lobby is that no-one has died as a result of the melt-downs.   The missing vital word being, "yet".   With Chernobyl it was four to five years before the reports of cancers and other health effects got out.   By then it was increasingly difficult to link them directly with the fallout.

Even so, is it right to forget that radiation-related sicknesses are not the sole result of the disasters.   Other effects can be just as profound:
Shunichi Yamashita, a Japanese expert on the effects of radiation exposure who seems to be lacking in basic tact and any bedside manner - or it may just have got lost in translation, said, "The effects of radiation do not come to people who are happy and laughing, they come to people who are weak-spirited." When pressed as to what he meant about this, by Der Spiegel in an interview, Yamashita said that he was shocked that no-one around Fukushima was laughing, everybody was so serious.   One has to wonder at the apparent shock at finding that an earthquake, tsunami and subsequent exposure to radiation had had a depressing effect.   However, the inteview went on to explain that from experiments on rats, they had discovered that stress was not a good thing.   (!)   Stress is apparently not good for people exposed to radiation, either, as mental stress suppresses the immune system, and therefore may promote some cancer and non-cancer diseases.   Hmm, and what about the effects of radiation per se, we  wonder? A study of two million people is planned, to assess the effects of the Fukushima melt-downs.   Surely that will only add to their stress levels, increasing what Yamashita has termed 'severe radiation anxiety, real radiophobia'. One of the nonsensical things to us lay people is that the study will obviously need to correlate any assessed effects to the amount of radiation exposure.   How are people supposed to know what they were exposed to and for how long?   Seems a bit like the kind of health assessment carried out in Cumbria to us. However, even if we permit the authorities to dismiss radiation effects entirely, we are still left with the effects which are entirely the result of the melt-downs:  the mental effects.   Even Yamashita acknowledges, 'We know from Chernobyl that the psychological consequences are enormous.   Life expectancy of the evacuees dropped from 65 to 58 years - not because of cancer, but because of depression, alcoholism and suicide.   Relocation is not easy, the stress is very big.   We must not only track those problems, but also treat them.   Otherwise people will feel they are just guinea pigs in our research'.   One wonders whether those affected will be compensated by Tepco or the Japanese authorities just as if they had been affected by the radiation.   Or will there be "no direct causal link" as is usually the case with such suffering? An interesting up-date on the current situation at Fukushima can be viewed on Japan television's

The whole response seems to be scripted, which we cynics view as slightly suspect.   We would be very concerned by the presence of the many huge water tanks that can be seen in the video - are they full of contaminated coolant?   Still, provided that they can build the robots capable of working in the contaminated environment, then the 40 year road map for full decommissioning may be reasonable.   Sadly, that doesn't mean that the radioactive material has been finally dealt with, merely moved somewhere else.

The I.A.E.A.'s Director General, Yukiya Amano, has visited the site and said, "So many people are working with passion, so I felt that the outlook is bright."   Still, we know the mission of the I.A.E.A. is to promote nuclear expansion around the world, so he would say that, wouldn't he?   Nonetheless, despite the effort to bring good news, 66% of the Japanese people think that nuclear should be phased out in their country, according to a recent poll.   Needless to say, there was no mention by the Director General of the organised crime syndicates that have moved in.   One yakuza (a sort of Japanese Mafiosa) was arrested last year and another in January this year.   A journalist on a Japanese website says, "They 'find people and send them to the site,' recruiting men who owed money to the yakuza, who were homeless, unemployed or even mentally handicapped."   According to the journalist, this system didn't start with Fukushima – the nuclear industry has always used the yakuza to recruit people for the most dangerous tasks, the jobs no one else wants.   Nice to know that such a high calibre of staff is dealing so honestly with a difficult and dangerous situation that could adversely affect many thousands of people and the environment. Last year, a committee investigating the Fukushima incident decided it would be helpful if they visited the site for themselves.   Tepco erroneously informed them that the building was pitch dark and dangerous.   The committee was investigating suggestions that crucial equipment designed to keep the reactor cool had been damaged by the earthquake before the tsunami struck.   It now seems that the company "made a mistake", having overlooked the fact that 60% of normal ambient light was available and in any case, there were some rather large mercury lights installed. Meanwhile, reports the New York Times, the potential for a disaster occurring as the result of "common cause failures" (i.e. simultaneous failures of more than one piece of equipment or system) was brought to the attention of the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission four years before Fukushima.   Similar scenarios have been highlighed for Sellafield and just as much has been done about them.
The Fault Is Ours

The Japan Atomic Power Company is having a bit of a tizz at the moment.   There have been concerns that the plant at Tsuruga had been built on an active fault-line.   Before the plant could be restarted after the temporary shut-down, a site survey was performed and fault lines - not just one, but two - were found to be active, with volcanic ash alongside them.   JAPC had wanted to know the contents of the survey prior to it being released, but it was leaked by a senior official with the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, so the company could not prepare the usual whitewash.

Honesty and Integrity at the Helm?

The former Energy Secretary, Chris. Huhne, today pleaded guilty to criminal offences and may be facing a jail sentence.   The matter at stake was a driving licence ban;  the offences stemming from his being caught by a speed camera.   For such a comparatively trivial original matter, Huhne has lost his reputation, his job, and now will resign as an M.P.   This is the man who hoped to become Prime Minister.   When considered with the M.P.'s expenses scandal and the apparent lack of any ingegrity of politicians of any colour, what chance is there that the national interest will be placed above self-aggrandisement or pecuniary gain - especially when the stakes concern billions of pounds?

It seems that whether it is dealing with media barons or heads of industry - at home or abroad, the ruling interest is purely financial and anything goes.   How many peers of the realm have now been convicted of criminal offences, and how many more peers and politicians would, if they were ordinary citizens without friends in high places, be languishing at Her Majesty's pleasure?   Yet these are the people who create the laws for the rest of us.   It appears now that one former prime minister may even have scotched a criminal investigation into the head of a government department who now owns property worth £6 million.   Somewhat exorbitant even for a senior civil servant, perhaps.
Who Pays the Cost of Failure?

Électricité de France
 has 73 reactors - 58 in France, the rest abroad.   With that number of reactors under its control it is of concern as to whether Électricité de France could actually afford to have any accident.   One accident would cause severe financial problems, we believe,   Multiple accidents don't bear thinking about.  

Happily, our government's experts seem willing to accept the figures that the various reactor manufacturers have put forward in their applications - their sales pitch if you prefer.    Areva's submission guesstimates an average of one core-damage incident per reactor in 1.6 million years. On the other hand, Westinghouse claims that its AP1000 reactor offers "unequalled safety," in part because the company's probabilistic risk assessment (a wonderful phrase well worthy of Sir Humphrey) calculated that the core melt frequency is roughly one incident per reactor in 2 million years. Older reactors in the US are estimated to have higher frequencies; for example, the NRC calculated an average of about one incident in 10,000 years for the Peach Bottom reactor in Pennsylvania, which is a boiling water reactor with a Mark 1 containment like the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.   Sadly history says otherwise.   One journal, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, suggests:  "The actuarial frequency of severe accidents may be as high as 1 in 1,400 reactor-years. At that rate, we can expect an accident involving core damage every 1.4 years if nuclear power expands from today's 440 commercial power reactors to the 1,000-reactor scenario laid out in the MIT study. In either case, though, our experience is too limited to make any reliable predictions."   Not very reassuring, especially as it comes from an industry-led article.   The various calculations do not take into account multi-reactor sites encountering a domino effect - where a problem on one site directly affects a second site.   The proposed reactor to be built at Sellafield, for example, if it were to encounter major problems could well adversely effect (diminuating euphemism!) the redundant site alongside, wherein are stored the hugely problematic results of earlier experiments.


Despite a high percentage of French consumers being in "energy poverty", the French government has pledged to pay Électricité de France almost 5 billion euros before 2018.   The sum will be recouped by the government by way of yet higher energy costs and increased taxation.

Électricité de France's dividends will this year be cut this year for the first time in four years, as investors are said to be worried that the previous dividend levels are unsustainable.   Électricité de France's  stock has diminished in value by 14% in the last year and by 65% since 2008.   Small wonder they want to hold the  U.K. government over a barrel with future energy costs, guaranteed income, assistance in building new reactors, U.K. taxpayer-funded insurance in the event of nuclear accidents, and by setting out waste disposal costs now when neither the amount or toxicity of the future waste is currently unknown.   Our politicians, aided by Électricité de France's staff working in DECC, are doing a wonderful job for the French company, we think.

Again we have to wonder just how many politicians and peers have a vested interest in promoting new reactors and associated projects.

How Green Is My (Namibian) Valley?

The uranium mining licence for Trekkopje was originally granted in June 2008, and the mine was originally expected to start production in early 2010.   The estimated initial output was projected to be 3000 tonnes of uranium per year.   Typically, and what we would expect from these over-optimistic companies, in 2011, Areva realised that things were not working out too well and announced that the mine was now not expected to reach full capacity until 2013. Because of the very low uranium content of the ore,  approximately 100,000 tonnes of rock per day will need to be processed in order to produce the planned output of 3000 tonnes of uranium per year.   Sadly, this means that uranium extraction from this mine would exceed the current market price.   The project has now been put on hold until uranium has become scarce enough to make the processing of low-grade ore financially viable.   This raises two points (at least!):   i) How is the process even loosely considered to be green when the material has to undergo so many CO2 producing phases to meet even the lowest quality fuel, and ii) what damage to the environment ensues from such large-scale mining where the profit is inevitably too low to ensure adequate rectification when the mine eventually becomes obsolete?   Naturally, Areva state in their publicity material that the "AREVA Foundation supports humanitarian and public-interest projects underpinning the Group’s commitment to society and community involvement in countries in which it develops and conducts business.   The Foundation supports concrete, targeted and sustainable actions, especially those benefitting children, women and students. These actions focus on education, health and culture."   So compensation will be forthcoming for those unfortunate enough to suffer consequences.   It may be a little difficult to analyse damage stemming from multi-national companies who come and dig huge holes in your countryside.   Who will be the judge? Source:

Outside Experts Better Than Tepco's

For some time now Arne Gunderson of Fairewinds has been informing the world of what really happened when reactors at Fukushima exploded.   Tepco and Japanese experts all opined that the containment vessel could not have leaked, something which Fairewinds demonstrated to be incorrect.   An animation on their webpage illustrated what they believed happened.   For a year the Japanese denied it could happen.   However a report issued in September now agrees that the containment vessels did leak.   In fact, despite denying for more than a year that it couldn't happen, they now admit that there were at least nine potential weaknesses that could have caused the leaks.   The original scenarios being declared "unrealistic".   Slide 12 has the statement:  "Also, agreement with the plant data was poor on the containment pressure."


The report referred to can be found here:

Another point made by Gunderson is that the latest report concurs with his original explanation of events in that a detonation did occur.   It seems that the nuclear regulators discount the possibility of a detonation event damaging containment vessels.

The new favourite flavour of nuclear, thorium reactors are explained at the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists in America.   Reading their expert's views, it seems that thorium is of no real benefit, the technology hasn't yet been made to work and the resultant waste is just as big a danger as that currently being produced, but for which no safe and secure disposal method has yet been found.


The Road to Successful Dumping

"Hedgehog", writing in the current edition of Private Eye, seems to marvel at the interest being displayed in expanding the road networks by George Osborne.   In typical London-centric mode, the magazine manages to overlook some areas that do not have roads to the standards enjoyed in the south of the country, especially those around London.

One of the major arguments against the dump is that the road system serving the western Lake District relies on just one main road:  the A595.   When that is blocked there are scant options, especially for large goods vehicles (including those which are required for carrying spoil from the massive hole they want to dig somewhere in the region).   The sole available diversion would involve a journey of around 90 miles extra.   Indeed, the paucity of transport options is also the reason for the coastal railway line being subsidised by the U.K. taxpayer and Sellafield.   Without that link, transport of nuclear waste around the country would be somewhat difficult.   After all, how else could they add to the dangerous and threatening stockpile of nuclear waste at Sellafield with the material from, for example, Dounreay?

What Hedgehog seems to have missed is that a prominent ex-Sellafield manager, now, fortunately for Sellafield interests an even more prominent councillor supporting nuclear expansion, has already been in contact with a large multi-national company of consultants on road development with the remit of finding out what needs to be done to improve Cumbria's road system.   Perhaps a trifle premature, but one has to ensure that everything is in place should the plans for Sellafield's expansion be forced through and imposed on the residents - whether they wish it or not.   Consider, for example, the status of Yucca Mountain, where the residents overwhelmingly decided they didn't want the waste in their backyard, so the stockpiles are building up areound the States.   So much so that it is now being debated whether Nevada will be forced to host the American dump with highly dangerous waste being shipped across the country.   A scenario sinisterly similar to the Sellafield situation.  It increasingly seems that the principle of volunteerism is very likely to be a casualty in the determination by those with vested interests to provide a means of removing the highly toxic waste from public view by shoving it down a hole and forgetting about it.  

In common with most of the facts associated with this large-scale development, there are absolutely no details of how it will affect residents.   Whether digging a huge hole or carving up the countryside to tarmac it over, disruption, noise and substantial delays are glossed over.   The only permitted "facts" are those which relate to money, nothing too adverse is made clear to the residents   The disruption to be caused by hacking at the sole major road has largely been overlooked, as the main focus is kept on nebulous factors involving the dump.   Yet is is difficult to see how the planned expansion at Sellafield and the dump can both be mooted with consideration of the requisite road "improvements".

Finnish Quarry News

In a brief article in The Times on Saturday, 10th November, the assured competence of miners and the predictability of the geology is amply illustrated.   Given that not too far away the Olkiluoto nuclear dump is being advanced, it may be of concern to some.   The article says:
The Misery for Talvivaara Mining Company Shareholders Endures

In the past couple of years, they have weathered a series of setbacks for the Finnish nickel miner.

Pipes froze, production targets were cut repeatedly and police investigated allegations of pollution by its Sotkamo mine in eastern Finland, which caused the shares to slide and Pekka Pera, the founder and chief executive, as well as 20.7 per cent shareholder, to step aside. More recently, a worker died.

Yesterday came news that radioactive uranium more than 50 times higher than the normal level had been discovered in a stream not far from the FTSE 250 company’s mine, which it shut down on Sunday after discovering a leak of waste water.

Though authorities in Finland said it did not see a risk to public health and Talvivaara said the leak was fixed, reports in Finland suggested the problem persisted. The company is setting up a committee to investigate the leak.
Its shares, which changed hands for as much as 625p in February 2011, fell a further 18p, nearly 15 per cent, to 103½p, their cheapest since late 2008.

It was a choppy end to the week for stock markets across Europe, carried still on the ebbs and flows of confidence in the global economy.

Still, we can be assured by Energy Minister, Mr. Davey's statement that the underground dump in Cumbria will be safe, in response to a question by Mr. Farron.   There didn't seem to be any question of the dump not going ahead, or that public opinion might have to be ignored to accomplish the feat.

An Ill Wind Blows Through Public Health

In some amazingly slow correspondence with a member of the Environment Agency, we expressed our opinion that the Cumbria Public Health people were somewhat lacking in their responses to the various events of the last few years.   This was met with the wonderful generic response:  "The Public Health team in Cumbria has done all that was required of them".   Read that as you wish.   Do they mean required of them by the public, or the government, or local politicians or industrialists?   Perhaps we should be glad that they didn't waste time digging into matters that might have proved nasty (and expensive)?

We remain amazed that they (along with all the other statutory bodies) saw fit to do nothing about the Redfern Report, and did not even deem it necessary to perform an impact assessment on the proposals to build the six or more reactors at the three sites within their domain:  Kirksanton, Sellafield, and Braystones.   Not to mention the proposed dump in which to shovel all the nasty stuff we would rather forget about.

We thought that any one of these would have required at least some basic appraisal by the Public Health protectors.   Their remit is, after all, in their title.   Nope.   Despite Freedom of Information requests, we never did get a response from the man in charge.   Don't need to do anything so we won't, it seems.   A scary attitude, we feel, but perhaps not unsurprising considering their record.   Other correspondence with specialist members of the team led us to feel that there was actually very little or no interest in discovering whether the incidents at Sellafield were in any way harming, or had harmed, residents - especially vulnerable children.   Still, Cumbria's record on child health over the past many years is not renowned for being good.

Happily, our low opinion of the Public Health team was seemingly upheld by the statement of the new Chief of Public Health England (another yuppy tittle for a government department who should be above such pointless things?),  who, according to an article in the Health Service Journal (20/9/12) says that Public Health departments have been, to put it kindly, lack-lustre.   Duncan Selbie is reported as saying, " . . . individual colleagues have done good work and made a positive difference over the past 40 years.   However, what you couldn't say is that as a whole we've done much good.   We still have the same gaps in life expectancy and expectation of good health.   That hasn't altered and, arguably, it's getting worse."   The article also reports that commissioners "were required to redo their accounts last year after unexpected ommissions were uncovered in relation to public health".  

Doesn't inspire much confidence, does it?   With any amount of luck, the forthcoming reshuffle of Public Health responsibility to devolve it to the local councils will see a change in attitude and interest.   We just hope that the usual pro-nuclear representatives don't get on the controlling branches of local government!   Sellafield's ability to find friends on a whole variety of committes, sub-committees, panels, and quangos, to further their own interests is quite remarkable.

A Chink In The Country's Armour?

One of the bigger firms you have never heard of is moving steadily in the field of telecoms, Huawei, is Chinese.   Announcing that it is to invest almost £1½ billion in the U.K. over the next three years, the company was welcomed by Cameron, as the expansion will create around 700 jobs.   Sadly, there is the inevitable shadow that large corporations always seem to tug round with them.   The Australian government was concerned that the company has very strong ties to the Chinese government and the Americans have decided to investigate whether the company should have privileged access to the telecommunications network.   In the U.K., it appears not to matter that a foreign government, who is widely regarded as being the major instigator of cyber-attacks attempting to access corporate and government information and who already manufactures the vast majority of networking chips and add-in boards for P.C.s, will have easy access to the spine that almost everyone relies on for their day-to-day business - personal and corporate.

For some time we have drawn attention to the vulnerability of nuclear plants to hacking and malicious coding.   A recent check of computers being manufactured in China revealed that some of them were even leaving the factory with deliberately installed back-door access, which will leave them wide-open to future hacking and the theft of data and personal information.   Earlier this year, Mike McConnell, the former director of National Intelligence at the National Security Agency, told Reuters that the US had indeed attacked foreign computer systems at one time or another, and confirmed that America has “the ability to attack, degrade or destroy” the computer and communications channels of adversaries.   Symantec and Kaspersky, purveyors of anti-virus software, have now studied Stuxnet and three other associated viruses and come to the conclusion that America was behind the attack, possibly with assistance from the Israelis.   Information and control via electronic equipment is now a viable and accepted form of conduct, apparently.

We have suggested that such attacks could leave the likes of Sellafield as vulnerable to hacking as Fukushima was to earthquakes and tsunami.   Did anyone listen?   No, of course not.   We were told that Sellafield does not rely on computer controls alone was the patronising reply.   One is left wondering how much of the code in the control gear has been examined and whether the possibility of another Stuxnet-type virus might be lurking.   After all, if there has been no signs of malfunctioning equipment why bother?   Should any malicious coding decide to reveal itself it will be too late, we reckon.   The lessons of Three Mile Island, where a faulty electrical indicator led to an operator over-riding an automatic process to decrease the flow of cooling water.   A partial melt-down was the result.   The clean-up took over 14 years, with costs amounting to $1 billion, but happily for the authorities no-one was killed or injured.   (Unless you believe the sources that suggest that an increase in cancers in the area are related to the release of radiation.   For some obviously altruistic reason, families in the area with children born with defects received $15 million, whilst a further $82 million was paid in an out-of-court settlement for "loss of business revenue, evacuation expenses and health claims" - with no liability on the part of the plant that was a kind gesture.)   The plant, which was only 18 months old was closed down and is unusable.

As always, together with the "no-one" was hurt mantra, the accident was described as "unexpected, incomprehensible, uncontrollable, and unavoidable".   Aren't they all?   Warnings that there were design flaws similarly fell on deaf ears.   Sound familiar?

On the plus side, Private Eye 1323, gives an explanation as to why the company might have found easy popularity:  Baroness Wheatcroft, Andrew Cahn (former head of U.K. Trade and Investment) and John Suffolk (a former government chief information officer) have all found employment with the company.   The Eye tells us that the latter kindly provided a report for governments advising how good the company is.

The owners of a uranium mine in Australia have sold off one of their mines.   According to an article in The Times, on 29/8/12, BHP Billiton has sold the Yeelirrie mine for $430 million to a Canadian company.   Billiton had to shelve a £20 billion expansion plan at the world's largest uranium mine after its profits fell by 26%.   Shares fell, too.   Perhaps investors have seen nuclear viability problems?
Inconsistent Truths (Whether Convenient or Not)

The BBC's Countryfile programme seems to be a little confused, and seems unsure of whether it believes in global warming or not.    Leastways, so it seems from their programme of the 9/9/12.   Reporters on each side of the country, one in Cumbria and t'other in Yorkshire, presented differing views of the subject, perhaps unintentionally.   The Cumbrian article included evidence of the extent and effects of the last ice age and demonstrated that rocks from a variety of regions around Cumbria were now represented on the sea shores.   Commenting that the depth of ice might have been in excess of two kilometres and thus well over the top of the highest mountains, the rocks now apparent on the Cumbrian beaches had been carried by the glaciers. grinding them very small and eventually depositing them on the edges of the ice sheet ast it retreated.   Over in Yorkshire was being blamed for the poor summer that most of the coutnry had experienced this year.   High winds, frequent storms and torrential rains had all contributed to the poor crops and forced farmers to resort to keeping animals inside and buy food for them, instead of letting them graze.   This weather phenomenon was the result of global warming, sometimes known as climate change as the facts do not confirm global warming.   So far so good, but surely, if there was such a quantity of very thick ice as recently (comparatively speaking) as 10,000 years ago, then global warming must have started way back then.   After all, if the earth had not been warming, the ice sheet would probably have extended further south each year, as more and more of the sun's heat was reflected each year.   As it is, then global warming might just be a natural phenomenon that has become exacerbated by man's activities, rather than one which has been wholely caused by man's activities.   Or is there something wrong with our logic?

Try for an interesting explanation of the various cyclical phases of global warming and cooling.

European projects at Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland flounder in a miasma of escalating costs and stretched deadlines
Ploughing On Regardless

In the middle of June, 2012, it was announced that a £2 billion contract had been awarded by the French company, 
Électricité de France, to build a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset.   The lucky recipient of the contract is French company Bouygues* and with British construction group Laing O’Rourke.   Touted as offering "up to" (yeah, right!) 4,000 jobs, there is no clear idea yet of whence the money for the project will come.   Electricite de France are believed by many to be struggling financially and the source for building new projects is expected to be the U.K. government.   In an article in Moneyweek, Bill Bonner quotes the Telegraph:  

"The debt levels which the country [France] has are as unsustainable as Britain’s, yet its policies are more irresponsible and its remedies more restricted. Although it is considered a core country in the eurozone, France’s economic profile now bears more resemblance to Greece’s the Germany’s.

Public debt in France is at 86.1pc of GDP (146pc if ECB liabilities and bank guarantees are included). The projected budget deficit this year is 4.5pc, with France having exempted itself from the EU’s instruction to bring deficits down to 3pct by the end of the year."   Source:

According to Private Eye, discussions as to the amount which will be extracted from taxpayers in this country are taking place in a smoke-filled room.   Hopefully they are trying to indicate a seedy atmosphere rather than one which may inflict cancers on the participants.   Whatever, the closeted group are being far from open and honest in their negotiations, we think.

As usual there is no breakdown of the workforce figures, and it remains likely that the well-paid high-tech jobs will be for French personnel and the labouring will be done by immigrant workers living in the kind of shanty towns that we have seen in other countries.   It is difficult to discern how contracts can be awarded when the final decision as to whether to build or not has (allegedly) not yet been taken - either by the U.K. government or the French power company.  

However, it keeps the project in the news and helps people get used to the idea that it will go ahead regardless of the wishes of the locals.

Interestingly, the I.A.E.A. (the global sales branch of the industry) has suggested that nuclear fuel itself will run out in about 100 years and says that Europe could be "left out of the nuclear power boom", as capacity is set to decrease.   The stock of good quality (and thus easily-processed) uranium ore has fallen by 14% and the known stock of high-cost uranium ore has risen by 12.5%.   We wonder whether the government's calcualtions have been done on the lowerest-cost alternative, ignoring the fact that commodities in demand but with finite stocks will inevitably rise.   Given the current situation and massive price  increases for the U.K. consumer, any dramatic increase in raw material cost is only going to make the situation worse.   By the time that has become apparent, it is possible that the country will have been forced into developing a power source that is ever more unaffordable and unsustainable than is obviously the case at present.

*We are pretty sure that the construction company devised the project plans several years ago - before the outcome of the farcical "consultation process" had even begun, and will employ non-indigenous labour.  

We Are In (at least) Two Minds

If you look at Gosforth's web pages, you may be forgiven for being a little puzzled.   We are certainly confused.   After initially concluding that they are against the dump for the most obvious reasons:  geology,  impacts ("We have serious concerns about the impacts of a Repository on West Cumbria."), the engagement and siting processes, benefits packages, retrievability, they then go on to say that:  "Our overall view is that Government should now intervene to terminate the MRWS Partnership and associated process, and in its place institute a process along the lines of those already used in Sweden and Finland."   How does that address the points that they have used to refuse the dump?   There are differences between the proposed dump for Cumbria and those being built in Finland.   The main difference seems to be that there is little question as to the suitability of the rock in Finland, compared to the substantial problems already noted by geologists for west Cumbria, and the fact that the people of Olkiluoto have had the dump imposed on them.   Their dump will only be used for medium level waste, too, unlike the proposed Longlands Farm one.   Happily there are more residents in favour over there, on the apparent basis that, as they have benefited from the power generated, they should host the dump for its waste.   We're not sure that the 30,000 future generations will concur with that sentiment.   Even though the plans are being implemented in Olkiluoto, there remain considerable doubts about the moral and practical aspects of it.   We would recommend the film, "Into Eternity", which examines the problems.

The Gosforth website goes on to quote Dr Tim McEwen, an independent and expert geologist who worked with the British Geological Society and NIREX throughout the 1980’s, who said:  

“I understand CORWM’s statement to mean that it is not possible, based on the current level of geological knowledge of the area of West Cumbria, to state that the area is definitely unsuitable for geological disposal. This is a perfectly reasonable statement to make as there is insufficient evidence to state anything more at present, although if it were possible to select anywhere in the UK for repository development, based on geological factors alone, one’s first choice would not be western Cumbria.”

The geologist is then reported as going on to criticise the report used by the government, which apparently deals with the question of suitability of geology of the proposed site in just 2.5 pages out of a total of 65 pages.   This report is said to have been the worst, geologically speaking, that Dr. McEwen has ever read.   The report was labelled as "politically expedient".   Small wonder that the writer was the geologist of choice.   Apparently, even the British Geological Society expressed surprise that the investigation had been concluded in just a few weeks, instead of the many months that one might expect for a proper job to be done.

Referring to the actual problems in the area, there are said to be areas of complex folding and faulting, characterised by strong hydraulic gradients, with the water following an upward course on reaching the Irish Sea coast..   Once again, the reference to the likes of Finnish excavations said to be preferable by the Gosforth committee are somewhat puzzling.

The upshot of Dr. McEwen's contribution is that he believes that there is a "greater possibility that a convincing safety case cannot be made, and thus a repository cannot be developed."

Hoist by Their Own Petard

RWE and others have recently announced that they are withdrawing from their proposals to build nuclear reactors in the U.K.   Being cynical we reckoned it might just be a threat to encourage the U.K. government to be more forthcoming with subsidies - not that there are any, of course.   However, having read their statement, it would appear that they really are getting out.   Interesting that they are following the footsteps of Siemens and other large companies.   However, one wag suggested that they will believe RWE's intentions when they sell the land they bought at Braystones on which they intended to build two or three reactors.   Amusingly, the wag wondered whether they would get their money back as, since RWE announced their original plans, four years ago, property prices have been blighted by the proposed developments.   Never mind, perhaps they will never get fed up with being sheep farmers . . .

Lessons From Greenpeace

A recent publication from Greenpeace makes for excellent reading if you are interested in the situation prior to the tsunami in Fukushima.  

"The failure of the Japanese regulator to anticipate, acknowledge and enforce standards based upon risks posed to the public was a key cause of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.  This failure can partially be attributed to the Japanese regulator’s close affiliation with government policy to promote nuclear policy and its familiar connections with nuclear operators. The nuclear industry is often closely interlinked with its regulators due to the highly specialised nature of nuclear technology. To counteract this tendency, strong structural and policy separation needs to be established between nuclear safety regulators and the industry it purports to regulate."

Throughout our appraisal of the Nuclear Inspectorate's situation in the U.K., we have made the point that there seems to us to be failures to perform their role as inspectors.   The report from Dr. Weightman into his current and future staffing levels perhaps made for an explanation:  he has done the best he can with inadequate resources.   We have already pointed out the lack of inspections, per se, and Weightman covers this by explaining that he prefers the industry to, in effect, police itself. Given the previous history of the industry this seems a forlorn hope, and may explain how accidents can arise and/or be covered up.

Sadly, the separation between the regulators and the industry is, in our opinion, decidedly lacking.   The whole institution is far too familiar to each other to allow proper controls to be enforced.   From the private and state companies that run the various facilities through to the officials that make decisions and influence policy, through to the share-holding peers and policiticians, the whole is too close and introspective.

Of course, politicians seeking personal gain or glory cause their own problems.   On page 37 of the Greenpeace document, "Lessons From Fukushima", referred to above, is a quotation from a book by Marc Gernstein, "Flirting With Disaster":

“Reasonable people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness.

They knew the risks from the beginning, at every stage.

The leaders chose, in the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked disaster .

Men in power are willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short run.”

We would add that when such "reasonable" people are deliberately misled by those purporting to represent the views of the people and the state of science, the self-deception is merely exacerbated.

The nuclear industry has always said that the operation of nuclear plants carries a tolerable risk.   They assessed that risk at one accident resulting a meltdown for every 100,000 years of operation.   (IAEA).   Currently there are around 400 nuclear power plants in operations around the world.   Thus there should only be a serious nuclear accident every 250 years, which may, or may not be tolerable, depending on your viewpoint.   However, reality require these optimistic projections to be revised, in order to reflect the reality that accidents have happened at the rate of one every seven years.

A Recap on The World's Nuclear Accidents

2011    Fukushima,       Japan           (Level 5)
2011    Onagawa          Japan      
    (Level 1)
2006    Fleurus             Belgium        (Level 4)
2006    Forsmark          Sweden   
    (Level 2)
2006    Erwin                U.S.             (Level 2
2005    Sellafield           U.K.             (Level 3)
2005    Atucha              Argentina     (Level 2)
2005    Braidwood         U.S.             (Unknown)
2003    Paks          
     Hungary        (Level 3)
1999    Blayais             France         (Level 2
1999    Tokaimura        Japan           (Level 4)
1999    Yanangio          Peru            (Level 3) 1999    Ikitelli               Turkey         (Level 3)
1999    Ishikawa                       Japan                  (Level 2)
1993    Tomsk                          Russia                (Level 4)
1993    Cadarache                    France                (Level 2)
1989    Vandellos                     Spain                  (Level 3)
1989    Greifswald                    Germany             (Level 3) 
1986    Chernobyl                    Ukraine  
             (Level 7)
1986    Hamm-Uentrop             Germany             (Level 3-5)
1983    Bueos Aires                  Argentina            (Level 4)
1981    Tsuraga                       
Japan                 (Level 2)
1980    Saint Laurent                France                (Level 4)
1979    Three Mile Island           U.S.                   (Level 5) 1977    Jaslovské Bohunice       Czechoslovakia   (Level 4) 1969    Lucens                         Swizerland         (Level not allocated)
1967    Chapelcross                                U.K.                  (Not known)
1966/7 Soviet ship Lenin                         USSR                (Not known)
1966    Monroe                                       U.S.                  (Not known)
1964    Charlestown                                U.S.                  (Not known)
1960    Waltz Mill test reactor                  U.S.                  
(Not known)
1959    Santa Susana Field Laboratory     U.S.                  (Not known)
1958    Chalk River                                 Canada              (Not known)
1958    Vinča                                         Serbia                (Not known)
1957    Kyshtym                                     Russia               (Level 6)
1957    Windscale                                   U.K.                  (Level 5)
1952    Chalk River                                  Canada              (Level 2)

As always, it is necessary to bear in mind that these are just the ones that are so severe they couldn't get away with.   There have been many incidents (as opposed to the accidents listed) that allowed the operators to get away with an entry in the accident table.   In some instances, of course, operators have just omitted to tell the regulators.   Some of the problems have had their root in odd circumstances, such as the jellyfish that blocked cooling water entries in several plants worldwide, forcing emergency shutrdown, or from straightforward poor management, such as when Sellafield's cooling water was greatly diminished when pipes - which had not been checked or replaced in their 50 year life - froze during cold weather.   On at least three occasions in the last few years cooling water has been lost at the plant.

So how many of these incidents have been the result of tsunami or earthquakes?   We make it two.   However, as Naoto Kan, ex-Prime Minister of Japan says, "With 2,000 to 3,000 reactors world-wide, how can the world possibly be safe?"   The vast majority of the incidents have been the result of either experimentation, part of the learning process, equipment failure or faulty operation.   A tsunami is not a pre-requisite for a nuclear incident.
China is building 26 new nuclear power stations.   60 are being built worldwide.   In the U.S. and France, time-served reactors are not being shut-down, they are having their licences extended.   There have been many problems with the reactors in the Carolinas, but in Florida Progress Power have a problem with their Crystal River power station.   De-lamination of the reactor walls (as the result of a botched attempt to cut corners to replace a steam generator), means the company will face a bill of around $2.5 billion to put right.   That presents a bit of a conundrum, as the company's insurers apparently stopped paying out some time ago.   So, who will pay?   Without the power station, or a replacement, Florida could suffer a distinct lack of power.

We note the observation that:

"The blunder shows that a highly experienced nuclear operator with a sterling reputation in the industry is not immune from unforeseen miscues that raise questions about judgment and competence."

There is an excellent timeline depicting the history of nuclear industry here:

75% of those surveyed in France, which, despite a high nuclear contribution is still a net importer of power, say they would be in favour of a withdrawal from nuclear power.   To that end, Socialist French presidential candidate François Hollande pledges that 24 of France's 58 nuclear power plants will be shut down by 2025.  

Nuclear power is also being run-down in
Kuwait, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, South Korea, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden, the Philippines and France (if Hollande is elected).   Most of which leads us to ask what the government's plans are.   If we, out of all Europe are the only ones pursuing nuclear development, will be expected to supply electricity to those other countries, thereby gaining all the waste that caused them to reject it?   That hardly seems fair.

According to newspaper reports (11/3/12), DECC have witheld information supplied to them by the Environment Agency, relating to the risk of flooding at the U.K.'s nuclear power stations.   Apparently the risk exists at 19 out of 26 of the sites, including Sellafield.   This raises some questions:  how did Dr. M. Weightman overlook this when he compiled either of his two recent reports, and why did DECC see fit not to release the information voluntarily?   Surely this is another example of the way in which the public are being deliberately misled over the risks of nuclear expansion?   Were Iberdrola aware of the situation at the Sellafield site when they bought it off the NDA a couple of years back, presumably having been assured that they would be given permission to build a new power station there?

A Very Rapid Learner

Today's announcements on the balance between green power generation and nuclear, left us wondering how a Liberal Democrat could actually be in favour of nuclear expansion when the majority of the population are against it, the industry has such an appalling record on pollution and environmental damage, not to mention the huge risks involved and the failure to deal with its toxic waste for over 50 years.   Looking at the minister's web page reveals these selected quotes:

[Solar power is] 'The sort of thing Liberal Democrats in a government that aims to be the greenest ever should be unequivocally behind.'

'Our commitment to the environment was why I joined the party in the first place.'

The website also has a quote from an article which appeared in the Guardian when his appointment was announced::

'It was, Ed Davey says, his strong views on the environment that pushed him into becoming politically active – and following his sudden promotion to energy and climate change secretary last week, he now has a fantastic opportunity to act on his concerns and play a crucial role in developing a cleaner, safer future.'


All of which leaves us still wondering  . . .   Still needs must when personal gain and/or self-aggrandisement is at stake.

Questioning the Function of Quangos and Local and National Government Bodies
Is it the function of a Prime Minister, or any other minister, to act as a sales representative for big organisations?
Is it the function of local government to promote potentially-damaging industrial expansion on localities?

The reason we are asking is because we are getting a bit tired of hearing about MPs and their entourages toddling off round the world at great expense, to promote the latest fad - from arms deals to aircraft to oil to nuclear.   Cameron has said that the next big scandal will be the lobbying system.   Yet, as we note on our current Home page lead, he is off to act on behalf of the nuclear industry in France.   The majority of people in the U.K. do not want nuclear power expansion.   So just whose interests is he promoting?   Why is he not representing the views of the majority?

In Cumbria, there is a similar set-up, where the industry has in place a couple of Sellafield ex-PR people and their hangers-on who are controlling what the people are told.   That the information being touted by this gang is manifestly lacking in veracity seems to be of no moment.   Yet the local councils are paying for the service.   Why are Cumbrian rate-payers obliged to fork out on propaganda for the nuclear industry?   Who has judged, for example, that the West Cumbria: Managing Radioactive Waste Safely group is what the local councils should be about?   Who gave the group the power and the money?   From its humble beginnings it now commands and controls considerable amounts of ratepayers's funds, which is uses to promote nuclear power.   How many of this group are working on behalf of the nuclear industry, using public funds to do so?   Well done Sellafield.

Currently, the group are heavily promoting the nuclear underground dump.   Their choice of "expert" pales into insignificance against the previously acknowledged leaders in the field.   Yet the team have been travelling round the county talking to the public.   Our favourite tale is the expert's demonstration of a piece of Cumbrian granite, showing how solid the repository walls will be, and thus how safe the proposed system is.   Sadly, there seems to have been a bit of an oversight, in that no matter that granite per se is indisputably solid, if it is in the form of chippings then it is not even airtight, never mind secure for nuclear waste storage.   According to the Nirex enquiry, the geology of west Cumbria is unsuitable for the dump.   Yet the WCMRWS group remain keen to support Dr. Dearlove in his misleading assertions.   Is this their proper role, assuming that they are supposedly representing an honest and independent assessment of the proposals?

We suggest that a short time spent studying the published correspondence regarding the matter would rewarding and a breath of fresh air.   It can be found at: Nuclear Waste Advisory Group   (Kindly note the insinuation of honest independence implicit in that name.)
When In Doubt, Let It Out

Some confusion has arisen over the cold shut-down of the Fukushima reactors.   According to official sources there are problems within reactor No. 2, but observers watching the live camera feeds point out that there appears to be steam or smoke emanating from reactor No. 4.   The official version has it that, despite a more than fourfold increase in the amount of water being poured into the reactor (to 13.5 tonnes/hour) the temperature in the vessel has risen by more than 26 degrees.   Despite their assurances that all is understood and in control, the various bodies cannot explain why, after a period of apparent stability, the temperatures should increase so rapidly.   However, again despite their professed understanding of the situation, they have no idea what can be done to relieve the problems.   Informed Japanese sources also tell us that reactors 3 and 5 are also heating up by more than 70%.   Still, everything is safe . . .

Further problems, to which officials admit, arise from the spent fuel storage ponds near reactor No. 4, which contain more nuclear fuel than the whole of that stored at Chernobyl.   However, we all know that only a few people from Chernobyl were harmed and even fewer killed.   Leastways, that is what the nuclear industry and various government officials would have us believe, aided and abetted, it seems by the BBC.

Elsewhere in Japan, nuclear power plant operators say they will introduce a venting system to pressurized water reactors to enhance safety in case of emergencies.   The idea is to release gas, which includes radioactive substances, from containment vessels to protect them from damage when internal pressure reaches a critical level.   Already used in some designs of reactor, power suppliers had said that pressurized water reactors do not need vents, since pressure does not rise easily in containment vessels of pressurized water reactors.

This sounds a bit like the original ideas for the Sellafield plant, where there had been deemed to be no need for the tall chimneys and integrated filters.   Actually there was, it turned out.   Sadly, the filters didn't last very long in the intense conditions, but some of the material at least must have been collected by them before they disintegrated.   According the Japanese plans, their filters will cut the amount of released radioactive substances to less than 1/1000th and will be capable of being remotely controlled - just in case there is an on-site power failure.

Consulting About Consulting

The government has engaged a firm in Brighton to interview people who have responded to government consultations on the generic design approval for nuclear reactors.   You may recall that this approval process effectively removes another layer of the previous system that allowed objections to be made to unpopular developments on a technical basis.   Basically, the "new, improved" method permits a one-size-fits-all approach to nuclear development.   Now the designs have received generic approval you can no longer object to them on a technical basis.   This might have been alright except that the two reactor types proposed for the U.K. are both known to have design faults.   Happily, that has not stopped the government from granting type approval.   We do wonder, though, if there are already known faults in the design, how many more faults (perhaps hidden, or arising from defective construction or faulty workmanship, or mere as a result of adaptations of the generic design to accommodate site variations) there might be.

Still, those at the helm (including those within DECC who supplied confidential material to the reactor manufacturers) will be able to tick alll the boxes when this process is completed and that is what matters, not the concerns of the public.

It may seem like a tremendous waste of time, effort, and money, after all, what notice was taken by the bureaucrats when people protested about the unfairness of the consultation system at the outset?   From the very first consultation exercise there have been objections yet nothing changed.   Will any change ensue as a result of this costly exercise?   Hardly seems likely to us cynics.

Japan's NHK Broadcaster Assesses the Fukushima Situation

A major broadcaster in Japan, NHK, yesterday gave space to several articles on the current situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.   This follows the publication of reports into what went wrong prior to the melt-down and what lies ahead so far as the clean-up is concerned.   Neither report gives much hope for those in other parts of the world.

Cleaning up just one part of the countryside will involve the removal and storage of 28 million cubic metres of soil.   Workers are currently involved in bagging up the removed soil, and the broadcaster shows pressure-washing of roof-tops.   Quite where any of that contaminated materil might end up is not made clear.   It does look good, though, all those people cleaning up - as if it were merely a matter of removing some sort of superficial dust and that was the end of it.   However, the problems extend to what they are going to do with this 28 million cubic metres of radioactive material.   Strangely, no-one really wants to provide a home for it.   As with the U.K., the government has decided that the best idea is to ask for volunteers.   Sadly, again as with the U.K., these seem to be few and far between.   In the mean-time, growing numbers of bags are littering the streets awaiting some sort of disposal.

Residents removed from the 20 km. exclusion zone also appear to be getting somewhat impatient.   Since the incident they have been in temporary housing in areas away from their home, and their patience is wearing a little thin.   Alarmingly, they seem to want to return home - the location having been returned to normal, having been cleaned of radioactive material.   We are not sure how this could be achieved.   NHK did seem to suggest that within a few more months this might happen.   However, this seems doubtful to us.   Currently all the reactors are said to be in a state of cold shut-down, but there are some suggestions that this is not the whole picture.   Tepco officials admit that they have not got much idea what is going on inside some of the reactors, partly because of the lack of instrumentation and partly because the instruments weren't designed to monitor the current situation.

At some point it will be necessary to drill into the reactor vessel in order to remove the melted material and to get to the remaining fuel to remove that for storage.   Sadly, because they have no idea what the situation inside the reactor vessels really is, this may be subject to some delay.   Hazards include the extremely high levels of radiation, the evidence which would allow "experts" to decide that the situation was stable and safe enough for them to drill the necessary holes, and the lack of experience anywhere in the world in dealing with this type of thing.   The closest was Three Mile Island, and Japanese workers are hoping to be able to study the material that was extracted from the core there, in order to develop the equipment necessary.   Doesn't seem to us that this bodes well for the ex-residents of the area.

In the interim, of course, water with varying degrees of radioactivity, leaks from the plants and into the Pacific Ocean.

The report into the cause of the incident says that the authorities failed to predict the possibility and cater for it.   Appropriate emergency procedures did not exist (presumably, we think, because the authorities lacked the vision to see the possibility).   Other comments related to poor communications and the failure of the authorities to inform either residents or local communities of the true scale of the melt-down.   In our view, these things seem to be exactly what is happening in Cumbria at the moment

In Cumbria, suggestions of potential damaging events are dismissed as impossible to happen, the infra-structure of the area would preclude safe handling of any incident so far as those outside the Sellafield site are concerned, external emergency personnel and equipment would not be able to get to the scene of any incident quickly enough to be effective, and the government have been fooled by the pro-nuclear lobbyists into believing that the proposed developments are ideal.   With regard to the latter point, the only ideal thing is that it is a long way from London, which would mean the politicians would be safe even if there were to be an incident.   Happily, because of the rural nature of the area, residents would remain blissfully unaware.


How Times Change

'Making a fair profit is important but it can't be done in an underhand and predatory way.'

Ed Miliband

A statement from the leader of the opposition, who, when in power, was in charge of the Department of Energy and Climate Change.   We wonder whether he remembers the capping of the liability for costs incurred as a result of a nuclear accident - the shenanigans which allowed the limit to become approved  and the anger of the then Speaker, Michael Martin at what he described as a "gross abuse of parliamentary process".   To our minds, it seems that that abuse of parliamentary process was done in an underhand and predatory way.   We also have to wonder why.   Politicians are not  renowned for altruism.   Nor are energy companies, such as 
Électricité de France.
Blowing Hot and Cold

Although officially described as a "baseless rumour", rumours of a further explosion - this time in Reactor 2's torus - at Fukushima continue.   (The explosion has been both announced and denied by Tepco, apparently.)   Together with the information contained in the Pacific Free Press (see below link), it is worrying that so much is apparently being suppressed.   Not just in Japan, but world-wide.   It is almost as if there is a massive attempt to remove the entire incident from the public's mind.   That an industry can be so  secretive and wield so much power concerns one almost as much as the Murdoch's empire.   Why do politicians feel that such power is acceptable?


Mr. E. Milliband, speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on 15/1/12, told us that the energy producers are "ripping us off".   Strange that his party condoned all this at the time they were in power, and several members of his party are actively engaged in promoting the foreign companies that do this "ripping off".   One has to wonder why the change in attitude now that they are in opposition, and why he is not doing anything to curb his own party members' support for the system.

What Other Sites Are Saying

Hereunder some interesting links to specialist sites, which might indicate that not all is well around the world's nuclear sites.   Strange how the articles never make it to U.K. news channels, only the official text being broadcast.   Can all these other people be wrong?

Some of the material is obviously in need of proper scrutiny - such as the origin of the photographs of corium (melted core and surrounding materials) as the strength of radiation from such material would presumably preclude the use of a digital camera, and would in any case result in the probable very hasty death of the photographer.   However, who would make up a report of an earthquake (if that is what it was) or report that bright lights have been spotted at the base of a reactor?   It seems to us that there is no fire without some sort of melt-down.   The feeling is compounded by the belief that the nuclear industry is already corrupt enough and dishonest enough to be engaged in a full-scale cover-up of the true situation.   A sort of inverse version of the boy who called "wolf".

An Ephemeral Cold Shutdown?

Tepco was speaking of nuclear fission in reactor 2 just a couple of weeks ago. Nuclear radiation is still extremely high in the Fukushima prefecture and contaminated water continues to flow into the sea. High levels of radiation continue to be found in rice, meat, vegetables, seafood, milk and tea in the region. And thousands of people have been displaced by the nuclear disaster and continue to live in evacuation shelters. They will receive a small amount in compensation – but it will be payed out of the pockets of Japanese tax payers and not out of Tepco’s.


The Government Again Choose to Shoot the Messenger

Another nuclear waste problem has reared its ugly head with the decommissioning of the UK's fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.   Although the decision is alleged to have already been made to dispose of them at Plymouth, some inconsiderate members of the panel set up to discuss the move have voiced opinions that this might not be the right thing to do.   The Submarine Dismantling Project is now depleted by two as one member resigned and another has had the temerity to suggest that the government had not liked what she was telling them, and has, consequently, resigned in sympathy.   No doubt there will be a consultation exercise to discover that the people of Plymouth really, truly wish to have nuclear waste coming their way and it will find an overwhelming body of people in favour of the project - just as they are working on Cumbrians to host the dump.   In Scotland, of course, there are even more of these expensive leviathans to be disposed of, as they have been rotting away quietly for nearly 20 years now.   There are suggestions that those ungrateful Scots might not want to take part in their disposal.   Pah!   We remain confident that Dave's Big Society will impose its will on wherever they choose to use for the dismantling project.


Current situation in Japan as seen by Central China TV:

In a typical piece of political shenanigans, those who wish to apply for compensation have to complete a huge complicated form before they can be considered - yet these people are not highly-educated.

According to AFP, some farmland in Japan is too radioactive to be farmed safely.   (Although a report on NHK television showed a stallholder in a Tokyo market deliberately selling produce from the Fukushima exclusion zone.)   The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

Meanwhile a Swedish report suggests that two thirds of the radioactive material from the plant went into the Pacific Ocean.   Along with much of the tsunami debris, this will probably eventually reach Hawaii and the western seaboard of the United States.   However, the main point is that, with just one third affecting the Fukushima area, serious problems are being encountered.   Bear in mind that a similar catastrophe occurring at Sellafield, assuming the prevailing winds are from the west at the time, will devastate a huge area, not just of the U.K., but also of western Europe or Scandinavia.
Clouds Over Kuwaiti Future

The Iranian nuclear facility at Bushehr continues to give concern for surrounding countries, especially the
Kuwaitis.   There is so much doubt about the integrity of the operation that everyone is suggesting it is not a matter of if, but when, there is a nuclear accident.

The scenarios being envisaged include leaks to sea, which would contaminate southern Iran, Kuwait, eastern Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.   Since the sea to be affected (the Arabian Gulf) supplies fresh water (via desalination plants) to several of those countries, the problems could be compounded.   The result is forecast to be mass panic and evacuation of millions of people, although the reports do not suggest how the inhabitants of the desert regions would get to know of the danger they were in.   Although the Kuwaitis have prepared as much as they can, they apparently still see the situation as grave.

What is of greatest concern to western powers is the threat to oil supplies, as these will stop virtually immediately, with a consequent rapid escalation in oil prices world-wide.   Implementation of the plans already in place to protect the Gulf and maintain oil exports would cost the west dearly, and it is recognised that many of the oil workers would simply evacuate, leaving insufficient staff to provide the west's oil and gas.

As Russia was the builder of the plant and already has expertise following Chernobyl, and elsewhere in Russia, together with their assistance to Japan, they are likely to be the responsible for crisis management.

Watch Your Back

We note elsewhere the allegations of involvement of Chinese, U.S., Israeli and U.K. states in the Stuxnet
computer virus and its latest incarnation, Duqu, but it seems that someone is taking things to the next stage.   According to a report in The Times, (Source:, Iran has accused the US and Israel of masterminding the assassination of Dariush Rezaeinejad, who was shot dead by men on a motorcycle outside his home in the Iranian capital on Saturday evening.   His wife was wounded in the attack.

The incident is the latest in a string of attacks on Iranian scientists that have sparked fears in Tehran that a hit squad is stalking anyone who may be connected to Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.   Later, it was confirmed that the victim was a master’s student in electronics at university in Tehran and was reported to have had connections with the Defence Ministry.

In November, an Iranian physicist was killed and another injured after men on motorcycles attached bombs to their cars.   Tehran blames Israel and the West.   Several men were rounded up and one, a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, confessed to working with the Israeli spy agency Mossad to carry out the murder.

In January last year another scientist was killed by a bomb strapped to a motorcycle outside his house.   Activists have claimed that the murdered scientists supported the opposition Green Movement.

Western powers have accused Iran of enriching uranium to build a nuclear weapon, although Iran denies that they have any military nuclear plans.   Last week Iran announced that they were improving the centrifuge process to produce material enriched to 20% - just one step down from that required for a nuclear weapon.

When did you last see your father?
It All Comes Down to (VERY) Big Money

Shares in both 
Électricité de France (alhough for some reason they prefer to be known in this country as EdF - almost as if they are keen to hide their nationality!) and GDF Suez have fallen after an announcement that the Belgian government wishes to "wean itself off nuclear".   The country's two nuclear power stations are currently set to close by 2025, and if the Belgians can find alternative sources of energy they do not wish to continue with nuclear.   In a demonstration of the nature of the industry, suppliers GDF Suez has threatened to take their bat and ball home - or rather to close three reactors early, leaving Belgium to face power shortages.   We always said they were nice people to deal with.

In France, the home of both companies, 75% of the electricity is derived from nuclear.   It seems highly probable that President Sarkozy will be heavily dependent on sales of nuclear equipment abroad to keep his country afloat, albeit heavily dependent on Chineses support.   However, there are national elections in France next year and his position is rather shaky.   The person expected to win is the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, but to bolster his chances Hollande will need to court the environmental lobby.   With 58 nuclear power stations already there may be some demands for a reduction.


Under the Spreading Nuclear Cloud

In Yokohama, officials are testing samples in an area of Kohoku ward after a resident removed sediment from an apartment building roof that laboratory tests showed contained strontium found in radioactive fallout.   A Yokohama city official yesterday [13/10/11] declined to confirm if the first lab tests showed the sediment contained strontium 90.

Strontium 90 has a similar structure to calcium and tends to accumulate in bone and can cause bone cancer and leukemia.   The half life of strontium 90 is about 29 years, thus the sample found in Yokohama is not a legacy of the wars, but is most likely a product of the explosions at Fukushima, probably material from spent fuel rods.   Yet Yokohama is almost 200 miles north of Fukushima.


The Japanese government is to budget 1.1 trillion yen by the end of 2012 to pay for the clean-up after Fukushima.   The cost will pay for decontamination of soil and water.   From interim projections from individual localities, it seems unlikely that the budget will be adequate to complete the task.

Interestingly, given that the chances of a serious nuclear accident have changed to 1 every 20 years, if these are typical costs incurred each time (leaving aside the human and ecological costs) it rather makes a mockery of the figures showing that nuclear can be in any way viable when compared to other energy production methods.

Trusting the Untrustworthy

Last week, in The Times, an article appeared relating to the recently-commissioned Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr.   According to the article, the reactor was commenced in 1975 by the German company, Kraftwerk Union, who pulled out in 1979, long before the reactors were finished.   During the Iran-Iraq war, 1980-88, it is reputed that the reactor's containment vessel was punctured by bullets, leaving 1700 holes and letting in tonnes of rainwater.   One might imagine that rainwater and perforations are not the best thing to be incorporated in a reactor vessel.   According to The Times, much of the original equipment became corroded in the 35 years it lay abandoned.   The problems are compounded by the fact that the site is in one of the most seismologically active regions in the world, but the installation could not withstand a major earthquake.

The Iranian regime, the article continues, revived the project in the 1990s, with just one reactor to be built.   Russian engineers, who had not built a reactor since 1989.   They apparently wished to start all over again, but the Iranians did not wish to write off the $1 billion already spent with the German company, and insisted that the work be continued using the existing construction.   During the construction phase it appears that the Russians identified a shortage of skilled Russian engineering and construction specialists with suitable experience.   The article suggests that much of the necessary work for Bushehr is outside the competence of the Russian consulting engineers, who allegedly consider the project a "holiday".   Iranian sub-contractors simply lacked the experience required for such a complex project, the article says.

In common with nuclear facilities world-wide, the suggestion is that the public should trust the industry, but, as the article says, there is no such thing as "trust us" in nuclear politics.   Over and again the industry has shown it cannot be trusted with its cover-ups, accidents, deliberate and accidental discharges, etc.

The article points out that in February a 30-year-old cooling pump broke, sending metal into the system, whilst three other cooling pumps failed to meet the required standards.   Never mind, the Iranian authorities say that the installation complies with all necessary legislation.

Don't Just Take Our Word For It

An excellent article appeared in The Guardian a couple of weeks back.   This gave a dramatic analysis of the current state of the events leading up to the triple melt-down and the impact on social, financial and health.   Some of the comments are astutely observed - especially those relating to the corrupting influence of the nuclear industry and the strange relationship between the industry, the regulators and governments.   Equally telling is that 70% of the population now want to see nuclear power phased out.   In the U.K., the number is around 56%, but we have been spared the details and direct effects of the melt-downs.   We note elsewhere that the nuclear industry and regulators seem to have a prodigious capacity for suppressing any bad news.   How much have you seen on U.K. television about the continuing difficulties of the Japanese - or even news about the protests taking place in a whole raft of countries?   What kind of influence can persuade broadcasters world-wide not to transmit such material?

The scale of the disaster is at least as great as Chernobyl, and, as the article points out, whereas Chernobyl and its environs was sparsely populated, round Fukushima it was densely populated.


Électricité de France's UK New-build Becomes More Expensive and May Be Delayed

The cost of new-build nuclear plants seems set to rise to double the original cost, if the French experience is any guide.   Despite the U.K. government's rigid adherance to the proposed timetable, regardless of any distractions such as Fukushima and the consequent public-reassurance exercise carried out by Dr. Weightman, the Times (21/7/11) suggests that following the delays encountered at their Flamanville (Brittany) site, the start of any projects in the U.K., such as at Sizewell and Hinkley Point, may be delayed "until the U.K. government needs it".  

The lack-lustre demonstration of the combined Areva / 
Électricité de France's flagship project is still causing the companies problems.   Amusingly (or not!), these problems are advertised as "useful for gaining experience to enable us to become more competent when we next build".   Heaven protect us from P.R. people.   We just hope that someone is taking notes before the lessons are forgotten.

In the five years since they started, the cost has risen from £2.8 billion to last year's £3.4 billion and now stands at £5.3 billion!  

How could the costs have been so wrong, and what does this do to the projected cost of electricity (
henceforward to be called électricité, perhaps?) produced?   Not only that, but the project is now 4 years late.   With typical sang froid, the management are still saying that the build is on budget - not pointing out that the budget is constantly changing.   It is certainly a very long way off the original budget - as witness the nearly doubled costs.

There is a bit of a scrap going on at the moment between the builders and the French nuclear energy inspectorate, as the latter accuse the sub-contractors - Bouygueres - of under-reporting the occupational accidents on the site, and have expressed their concerns about safety.

Over the period of building, there have been many problems.   Last June/July the whole operation was suspended as the inspectors decided that the system for concrete pouring was inadequate.   There had already been problems with suspect welding on the containment vessel and errors made in the installation of steel reinforcement.

If these problems are manifested over here, we are in for trouble.   Sadly, they do sound very similar to the problems encountered by the same companies in their build at Olkiluoto, in Finland, which has ended up with each side suing the other.   Happy times indeed.

The Bouygoueres website is somewhat intriguing.   It seems that it is in for the building of the the U.K.'s sites.   There is to a plan (isn't there always?) which entails an 18 month gap between building each of the sites.   Now, this sounds rather like they are planning on using the same teams for every construction.   Whilst this is a fine and sensible process, we do wonder whether the much vaunted job-creation which the constructions entail, will actually just be French teams (or at least, French managed teams) attending to each site.   Thus politicians would say, 500 men times 8 sites = 4,000 jobs, when in fact is just the same 500 jobs repeated, which, of course, does nothing much for the unemployment figures or the economy.

Jellyfish Invasion Causes Concern
A report on BBC News 24 referred to the exponential growth of the jellyfish population around U.K. shores.   Apparently caused by over-fishing - thereby removing the jellyfish's natural predators - and warming of the seas around the coast.   We have consistently pointed out that the discharge of hot water from nuclear waste and energy generation cooling systems will have an adverse impact on the situation.   Whilst seemingly inoccuous in itself, warming is as much of a problem as the heat allegedly saved by reduced CO2 production.   Consider the cooling required for hundreds of megawatts of electricity, and you get some idea of the scale of the problem.   Not only that, but the Irish Sea was one of the current problem areas.   With so many current and projected nuclear plants all discharging into the limited flows of the Irish Sea and unable to dissipate through the Atlantic, the jellyfish are likely to become even more of a problem.   Elsewhere on the site we have reported on the problems of jellyfish congregating around the inlet pipes for nuclear plants, blocking the screens and stopping the water-flow.   Earlier this year, on 29th June, two reactors were closed down because of this.   The suggestion was that the sea temperatures around the east coast of Scotland were approximately one degree warmer than normal.   The blame for this was put on global warming.   Quite why that was the case, rather than the discharges from the nuclear sites, we don't know.   Further information from Reuters
RWE to Pull Out of Horizon Venture?   Électricité de France (EdF) Moots "Timetable Change"

According to sources in both Germany and the U.K., RWE are likely to pull out of the joint venture with E.ON to build new nuclear plants in the U.K.   According to RWE managers the costs have risen too high.   The failure of the industry in Germany is also said to be influencing the decision.   The first of the Horizon schemes was a 6 Gigawatt station at Wylfa, alongside an existing plant on Anglesey.   Despite no decisions having been made (HA!) and no permissions given (HA!), preparations for expansion at the site were already well in hand.   It is tempting to wonder whether this is a genuine problem for the company, or just a ploy.   Having helped stampede the U.K. government into an expansion scheme with their suggestions that the lights will go out, and touted nuclear as the antidote to global warming, pretended that handing control of the electrical grid to foreign companies helps reduce our dependency and increases our energy security (DOH!), and got so far down the line (decisions are expected to be announced before the parliamentary summer holidays - sorry, recess), these people are now in a prime position to blackmail the government into even greater assistance in new build.   The politicians can hardly say that we don't need it any more, having spent so much time, effort and money in waving the nuclear banner.

On the other hand, there have been rumours for quite some time that there may be financial problems for RWE back in Germany, which could leave them without the investment capabilities required.   The cost of building the proposed plants has risen already from £15 billion to £17 billion.   Not bad when building has not (officially) yet begun.   What is the eventual cost likely to be if the cost is going to increase by £1 billion a year?   What does this meteoric rise say about the future decommissioning costs, and how much will they have risen in 160 years?   Have these rapid rises been forecast and incorporated into the viability of new plant?   We bet they haven't.   As with PFI, the best case scenarios will have been presented for nuclear and the worst case scenarios for other generating methods.   Still, any increase in dumping costs will not be a worry for any of the nuclear generators - it will be the tax-payer who has to cough up, thanks to our highly-biased government ministers and civil servants.  A white paper is expected next week in which the government's support for low-carbon generators (amongst whom they include nuclear) and methods for assisting the financial problems likely to be encountered.

Surely, if this is just a bit of muscle-flexing by the foreign companies in order to extract the maximum financial assistance, it just demonstrates how reliant on their goodwill we will become in future, when conventional methods of generation have been usurped by nuclear.   There are suggestions that the companies will be paid merely for having the capacity to provide electricity - whether it is needed or not.   Nice one.   With a former chairman of British Energy in the driving seat of the Green Investment Bank . . .   Anyone know who owns British Energy these days?

Continuing the farce that is the assessment of U.K. nuclear plant inspections, Dr. M. Weightman is expected to produce a final report into site safety "in the autumn".   Already we are seeing articles in the press that suggest Weightman will see no problems with the current situation and that everything is very safe.   It is amusing to imagine what would happen if the Chief Inspector were to report that there are too many unknown unknowns (with apologies to Donald Rumsfeld) and expansion should be stalled until the problems are resolved.   How likely is that?   We reckon that we can reliably forecast exactly what the report will conclude - and we would be a lot cheaper.

 Ain't politics wonderful?

Misleading Information Continues to be Alleged Whilst The Ecomic Cost Rises
"The amount of radiation released by the Fukushima Daiichinuclear power plant in the days after the 11 March tsunami could have been more than double that originally estimated by its operator, Japan's nuclear safety agency has said.

The revelation has raised fears that the situation at the plant, where fuel in three reactors suffered meltdown, was more serious than government officials have acknowledged."

Justin McCurry


The operator of Japan's stricken nuclear power plant has announced record losses of 1.25 trillion yen (£9.5bn) as it counts the cost of ongoing efforts to contain the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said the losses – the biggest ever by a Japanese firm outside the financial sector – compared with a profit of 134bn yen the previous year.

The firm's beleaguered president, Masataka Shimizu, said on Friday that he would resign to take responsibility for the crisis at the Fukushima plant, now in its third month.

Toshio Nishizawa, managing director, will replace him after a shareholders' meeting on 28 June.


Unassessed Potential - Another Point for a Judicial Review?

The current issue of Cumbrian Wildlife magazine (May, 2011, No. 90) contains an article on Birds and Wind Turbines.   Given the choice we would reluctantly have to go with wind farms, despite their being a blight on the landscape.   However, the penultimate paragraph states:  "At the same time Cumbria's western coast has been designated "The Energy Coast", without any prior environmental assessment."   So, the clever people behind this stampede have now managed to do away with the environmental assessment and the health assessment that such large and contentious developments should have completed before being put forward.   Wonderful, eh?

Oops - Did Someone Really Post This?

A note from a Babcock employee (albeit an ex-Sellafield manager) appeared on the Office for Nuclear Regulation's web-site for two days before it was removed.   We reproduce the questions as submitted, complete with inappropriate capitalisation and strange grammar.   Some key points include:
  • There were occasions when the exercises required the utilisation of “Off Site support" [cranes etc]. These off Site units were never called in to Site on a “Real Time basis ", due to exercise time constraints.
  • Rehearsal of ‘multiple' or concurrent emergencies, was occasionally played out but frequently the scenarios were interrelated. Loss of Services and uncontrolled release of activity to the environment.
  • Only once on the Sellafield Site was an exercise played out in " Real time" and this was abandoned after less than 24 hours: with minimum involvement of replacement Emergency Duty Team Members.
  • It is several years since a “TOTAL Loss of Electricity Supply” to Site were exercised, requiring the coupling of Diesel Back up generators etc.

The writer went on to ask:
  • Have they rehearsed adequately concurrent and inter dependant Emergency Scenarios, such as Loss of Power and other utilities?
  • Have they ‘played out’ an emergency exercise in REAL Time over say a 48+ hour’s basis?
  • Have they ever tried to secure Off Site Support Equipment in 'Real Time': specifically: cranes, Mobile generators, additional /replacement emergency staff etc.
  • Have they considered within their Emergency Planning the possibility of losing ALL the Key Utilities to the Site: Electricity, Water, Steam, Compressed air & other essential gases, concurrent with say Chemical or other toxic releases.
  • Have they got contingency plans in place to secure whatever additional resources they may require.
  • Have they considered the scenario where by staff on site at the time of a Major Incident, also affecting the local area, may demand to be released to go to the aid of their families?

Possible scenarios include:
  • A terrorist team attack from out with the Site Security Fence.
  • The Team could destroy the following, without requiring access to the Site.
  • Take out not only Fellside [for Electricity & steam] but also the adjacent stand-by Diesel & Steam Supply units.
  • Destruction of the standby Gas Turbine and Diesels Generators on the main Site
  • Followed by destruction of the Brow Top Reservoir & pumping station.
  • Destroy a couple of Electricity Supply Pylons to both North & south of the Site, rendering it, and the whole of West Cumbria, completely devoid of electricity supplies.
The Result would be the need to secure large Diesel Generators, pumps & fuel supplies from say Manchester or Newcastle: not an easy task if the attack was timed for say a bank holiday Friday!!

The write concludes with:
  • Had the above scenario been necessary last year when the Bridges in Workington were down, how long could it have taken to secure equipment from those cities???
  • Yes it ma have been possible to provide police escorts but many of these large items of equipment do not travel at speeds greater that approx 30 mph: and require considerable road space. If these items were acquired, what about the logistics of keeping them supplied with diesel fuel etc??
  • Apologies if this sounds negative, but it was a debate that was held by the Duty Engineering Teams following a terrorist attack some years ago, the Sites preparedness at that time was based on minimum personnel infiltration to the Site, where as it was considered that there is the potential for sever damage that could readily and easily be caused, without gaining access to the secure areas, and the impact would not only be to the Site but also the surrounding areas.
Hmm, quite . . .   not sure where we have heard all this said before - perhaps on this site?
Views of the Isle of Man

The Manx government has written to the Office for Public Management (Who?) to put their views on the nuclear future.   Suffice to say, they are not in favour of anything being developed which may increase the risk to residents of the Isle of Man.   Like us, they foreseee the waste from new reactors (more concentrated than the legacy waste) being shipped around the U.K. to find a centralised home at Sellafield where it will await reprocessing (if they - or the French - ever get the process to work) prior to disposal down the Big Hole, where it will remain a threat virtually for eternity.

They also highlight their concerns over the proposal to build a further set of reactors at Sellafield, particularly in such close proximity to the existing stored material.

'"The danger arises from Sellafield's high hazard legacy facilities.   The potential for a major accident at one of these redundant nuclear facilities (e.g. the legacy ponds and waste silos) has been highlighted on numerous occasions and, again only recently, by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) in October, 2009.   The NNI (sic) Principle Inspector at Sellafield reported on the current safety status of these high hazard facilities to the local community as follows:

'. . . NII is concerned that the risk of a major event caused by further degradation of the legacy plants or increased time at risk due to deferrals is far too high.   NII has written to Sellafield to advise that every effort should be given to reduce the risk at the earliest opportunity'.

"Therefore, it is quite clear that there is a potential for a serious nuclear accident at Sellafield if, for example, in cicumstances during decommissioning of one of these high hazard facilities, there occurs some 'major technical failure'.   The nuclear regulator may itself regard the possibility of a serious nuclear accident as extremely remote, but the consequences could be calamitous for the region, including the Isle of Man.   The construction of a nuclear power station at Sellafield creates a potential situation, whereby the UK authorities could face dealing with a major nuclear accident at Sellafield, whilst having to maintain operational safety at an adjacent nuclear power station.   Such a dangerous situation is entirely avoidable.   Furthermore, such a scenario must surely be considered during the planning process for a new power station at Sellafield and will surely also have implications for emergency planning at the Sellafield site."

Further comments, further into the document, include:  
  • 'However, as yet, little evidence has been produced to invalidate previous expert opinion that West Cumbria possesses no suitable rocks in which to site such a repository';  
  • 'The government's assurances regarding the safety and security of surface storage facilities over this timescale [100 years+] have not inspired the high level of confidence Isle of Man expects for such plans;  and
  • 'The accumulation of nuclear waste at Sellafield to the extent that it presently contains the largest part of the UK's total waste inventory is considered to be a danger to the Isle of Man's evironment and its economic interests.'
West Cumbria Managing Waste Propaganda

Intriguing material from the quango devoted to promoting the nuclear dumps in Allerdal and Copeland.   Stangely, not a word about the implications of digging a massive hole under people's property or how they are going to reverse the findings of the Nirex Inquiry.   Everything is hunky-dory in the nuclear waste industry and this is the best way forward - allegedly.   One of the matters which support the process is the finding by a company called GVA Ltd., which says that they "talked to" 740 people, including residents, businesses and visitors.   Hardly an in-depth analysis, then, given that there are around quarter of a million people in Cumbria.   Happily, in true form, he who pays the piper calls the tune, and most people thought that the dump was a good idea.   Most also thought that it would be good for business and improve investment in transport.   How fortunate for the industry and the Partnership.   The document is a little difficult to judge, however, as there is, so far as we can see (but we will keep looking!), no proper indication of how many people were actually interviewed to give the relevant percentages.   Numbers attached to the graphs indicating alternative or uncategorised responses do not translate as a percentage, so it is impossible to tell how many people's opinion/perceptions are being depticted

An annexed document.shows some "case studies".   Hardly the heavyweight stuff one might imagine.   Just a few paragraphs of quotes from reports published elsewhere, such as one from the Swedish town of Östhammar, which has as Fig A1: The change in Östhammar residents perceptions.   This depicts the change in residents' perceptions in relation to something unspecified - showing whether they are "For", or "Definitely For" whatever the idea might have been.   It strikes us as being another smokescreen, designed to look impressive superficially, but not having any real substance in fact.

We also have problems with statements like, "80% of residents think there will be more jobs", etc.   The wording should be a lot more circumspect and include the phrase, "of those interviewed".   Basically the whole thing seems to be what the Partnership wanted to hear, but who ultimately, pays for this sort of propaganda and misinformation?    Let's face it, if it were really that good, why are only those areas subject to this continuous bombardment of propaganda the ones "expressing an interest"?   Everyone is out of step except our Johnny, eh?
How Viable Are New-build Nuclear Projects?
According to an article in the Times, 25/5/11, the German company, RWE , would struggle to fund its share of the multi-billion pound programme even if it went ahead.   Its partner, another German company E.ON, together formed Horizon as a joint venture to build reactors in the U.K., and the first of these in Anglesey was due to have been a contract award stage by early this year.   It hasn't happened.   Now it is likely to be delayed for at least three to six months as the German nuclear industry is still in some disarray following the Fukushima Dai-ichi melt-downs.   Seems like the nuclear issue is somewhat senstitive in Germany at the moment and they feel it would not be right to be building in another country something which they won't have in their own.   Good.   So how much of a subsidy will they get to ease their collective consciences - despite the reassurances to the contrary from Huhne?

Meanwhile, the Spanish company Iberdrola, another  proposer of new-build in the U.K., including at Sellafield, has problems of its own.   The construction group ACS , already owner of 18% of Iberdrola, is making efforts to take over the whole company.   It might take their mind off bring the risks of nuclear to the U.K. for a while whilst they fight off ACS's bid.

In a short note, in the 25/5/11, Robert Lea wrote about the proposed dump being worth £20 million a year and the project will cost £12 billion overall.   The projections are for 1,000 skilled people falling to 550 over the next 140 years (!!).    One wonders whether these figures are like those of Hutton, who, as part of his pro-nuclear stance suggested that 100,000 jobs would be generated as a result of the nuclear new-build.   Decidedly at odds with the forecasts from the companies building the reactors.   £20 million seems pretty small money for the potential of catastrophic pollution.   We're not even sure that $40 billion would be enough.

The idea is to build a 480,000 cubic metre hole and fill it with canisters of nuclear waste.   We still await answers as to what the plan  is.   Will the material be buried so that it cannot under any circumstances be disinterred, or will it be retrievable in the event of a leak or other problem?   It seems unlikely that the mining, processing, and packaging in copper, etc., will have been included in the claims that nuclear is CO2 light, as that might negate the claim.   Will the dump chamber be excavated and then the nuclear waste be placed there, with no expansion of the facility?   If further expansion to the same chamber is to  be permitted, what would happen if geological conditions result in a leak - given the fractured state of the local rock, that is something that is quite possible.

Strangely, there is no mention of the infra-structure difficulties that might ensue from the dump being located in the Gosforth/Sellafield area.   Plainly the locals have not been appraised of the effect of blasting rock on a regular basis for up to three years.   Our property is already shaken by the test-firing of munitions at Drigg.   Goodness only knows what structural damage might ensue from the dump's construction.

Four Month's Wait - for Nothing
Fed up with being ignored and following a request about how to make a formal complaint, we suddenly got some action from Cumbria Constabulary.   In a very poorly-written letter, we have been informed by an Assistant Chief Constable that the constabulary were too busy still dealing with a six-month-old event to write to us.   Strange how, when threatened with a formal complaint they can respond within a week.

Redfern investigated events which took place in Cumbria over a thirty year period!   We had heard some tales, so what were the police doing during that time?   Did none of
them know what was going on?   The police regularly attend post mortems, and it is reasonable to believe that they may have been present when samples were taken inappropriately and illegally for use by Sellafield.   Apart from the action of the medical staff involved, we have to wonder about the involvement of the union representatives.

The upshot of it all is that no action will be taken against anyone, despite the findings in the Redfern Report that criminal offences had occurred, that there had been corruption of the coronial procedures and that everyone had become too close to Sellafield.   To out mind Refern, a highly qualified and competent inquisitor, determined that criminal offences had been committed by certain, named, parties.   Nowadays, it seems, politicians can determine whether crimes should be investigated.   These transient office-holders seem to think that an apology is all that is required to wipe the slate clean.   Perhaps a little too much, "There but for fortune . . "?

The letter from the Assistant Chief Constable tells us that they would only act if the government asked them to, and they hadn't.   She also told us that the government had made a full apology to the relatives of those affected, continuing,  "They were of the opinion that no public interest would be served by bringing a prosecution."    Whether, by that, she meant the government felt that way, or the relatives, is unclear.

Even if no action should be taken by the police over the Human Tissue Act breaches, surely there is prima facie evidence of corruption, perhaps even fraud?   Still, like the Irish Sea, it is best to leave waters unstirred for fear it might become cloudy.   Just how far might those clouds reach?   However, as seems to be the norm these days, if politicians are involved, or big money, an apology will suffice and to heck with the law.

Anti-nuclear Cinematic Heavyweights

Two films showing the impact of nuclear events were shown on More 4:  Nuclear Eternity,  and Heavy Water.   The former shows the debate around Onkalo in Finland, a nuclear dump being developed by Posiva, and near to the Olkiluoto nuclear sites.   Some of the government officials seem to be confident that the dump will
survive for the 100,000 years that the waste will remain active.   Others are more realistic, pointing out that nothing man-made has ever lasted anything like that long.   It also raised the questions about how and what should future generations be told about the dump, and to what extent the site should be sealed - whether virtually eternally, or just enough so that in the event of a method of safely disposing of the waste coming to light, the waste could be resurrected and treated.   There seemed to be confidence about the ability of the dump to be leak-proof, despite evidence of water dripping through the ceiling.   Perhaps that can be rectified before the site becomes the home of the 120 tonnes of high-level waste that Finland expects to produce each year.

Heavy Water is rather arty and, personally, we would have preferred a more documentary commentary.   It did, however, show the real situation at Chernobyl.   It reiterates the "on-the-ground" mortality figures of 140,000 in Belarus/Ukraine and 60,000 for Russia.   Yet the World Health Organisation figure is just 56, as it ignores the almost certainty of thyroid and other cancers from the area as being directly associated with the nuclear explosion.   Another scary fact is that 600,000 children carry cards with them stating that they, or their parents, have been exposed to radiation.   It was not clear what use was made of the cards, or whether the data was processed for any purpose.

5/4/11 (Up-dated 6/4/11)
Pacific Pollution
Amid allegations of incompetence and deceit by TEPCO and Japanese government officials, we are now informed that 10,500 tonnes of "not too radioactive water" has been pumped into the sea.   According to our reckoning, that equates to about 2.5 million gallons, but that would be much more scary than the tonnage.   (Whoever measures water by the tonne?)   Of course, there is the standard rider that accompanies all nuclear bulletins:  the radioactive iodine will have decayed within 8 days to a safe level.   No doubt no-one has been hurt, either.   What damage will be done by the radioactive iodine before it has decayed to an inconsequential level, and what about other substances present in the water?   We are supposed to be reassured by placating remarks that no-one has died as a result of the incident (although two workers have been treated for radiation burns) yet.   It is interesting to note that according to an American publication, "The steepest rise in thyroid cancer in neighbouring Belarus came nearly two decades after the explosion" [at Chernobyl].   The article is very poignant and can be found here. The reason for the dumping is to make room for much more highly radioactive water from the reactors.   How long before that, too, is dumped at sea to make room for even more lethal water?   Japan has also requested assistance from Russia, asking that they send a floating waste-handling barge to Japan to help them dispose of a further 60,000 litres.   The process will not provide ultimate disposal of the material, but will solidify contaminated liquid waste from the country's crippled nuclear power plant. The main idea behind the floating plant is that it treats radioactive liquid with chemicals and turns it into solid cement.   In common with the rest of the world, there are no processes - other than natural decay over decades/centuries - that will render the end product safe.   Japan's nuclear waste disposal plans are unsustainable, although their plan demands safe disposal of all wastes.   The basis of the disposal is underground storage after concentration of the waste to enable encapsulation of the most radioactive materials.   In the light of recent events, the stability of Japan's geology, this may not be seen to be a safe option.   The process, akin to the one at Sellafield, also produces more low- and intermediate-level wastes which also require storage.  

In the interim, Korea has lodged objections to the sea-dumping, claiming it violates universally agreed protocols on reporting nuclear accidents.   Apologising, Japanese government officials claimed that they did not need to inform Seoul as the dumping was taking place on the eastern seaboard - perhaps imagining that once in the sea the material would just stay put and not be affected by the currents which circulate towards Korea from Japan.   Having now realised the scale of the problem, the nuclear industry's PR people seem to have swung into action, and only good news makes it to the world's news agencies.   Apart from the stopping of the high-level waste leak from the concrete bunker, little has been said about the current status by the BBC or Sky.   It is necessary to go to NHK World to gain any insight.   Oh, and the caesium in the fish will decay very quickly.   We have heard nothing much about the other chemicals that are usually to be found in nuclear plants.

A diplomatic source in Tokyo said. "It seems Japan is trying to downplay the scale of the disaster by keeping a lid on information."

Meanwhile, contamination was worsening Tuesday in the sea near the Fukushima plant, with iodine-131 detected in coastal waters at 7.5 million times above normal. Contamination fears have led to a sharp drop in seafood consumption in Japan."

Source: (Korean) .
The reasons for the allegations mentioned above stem from the mistakes made in radioactivity levels made by TEPCO (is it likely, under the circumstances, that a professional - used to taking such readings, would make a mistake of the order of thousands the actual level?), together with the apparent current news blackout.   How much of the latter perceived blackout is the result of the influence of the industry, and how much the desire of the Japanese government to minimise the perceived damage will only be known in the decades to come.

The Power of the Press

An intriguing announcement on Press TV's ticker tape (not expanded to an article as yet, so far as we can discern) says that journalists are becoming rather cross about being denied honest information about the true state of affairs at the Fukushima plant.   Given the nature of the nuclear industry, their political influence, and the financial backing that they have, small wonder that they can even control what the residents are entitled to know.   Nonetheless, we have been told that sea water is now at 4,000 the legal limit, that highly radioactive particles have been found around the site, the basements and lower-level corridors of the reactor houses are full of highly radioactive water, and that very high levels of radioactivity have now been detected in the groundwater.   Farm produce, such as vegetables, milk and beef is also contaminated.

Currently, we are told, the workers are pumping out the radioactive water so that they can go in and attempt to reconnect the cooling system.   According to France 24 (31/3/11), workers were withdrawn from the site after radioactivity reached a new high - said to be a "spike".

President Sarkozy is currently on a visit to Tokyo and has announced "solidarity" with the Japanese.   He has also called for a meeting of G20 nuclear regulators in May (France 24 television, 1/4/11).   Desperate, no doubt to rescue what he can from the increasingly likely loss of £billions of nuclear reactors that would have helped his desperately flagging popularity at home.   Loss of these sales, following on from the collapse of the sale of fighter aircraft would make his re-election even less likely.

On a more mundane level, there has been scant mention of the earthquake overnight centred on Blackpool.   A mere 2.2 on the scale, it is of academic interest only, we suppose, but is there really anything to stop a much larger event occuring?

Nuclear Free Local Authorities Steering Committee Press Release

At a meeting between UK government ministers the Nuclear Free Local Authorities it was confirmed that the 8 joint demands of the Non-governmental Organisations and the NFLA were being fully considered.   The 8 demands have also been passed on to the the detailed review of nuclear safety currently being undertaken by Dr. M. Weightman, head of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

The key 8 demands made by the NFLA and NGOs in its letter to Chris Huhne, Mike Weightman and the Nuclear Industry Association were as follows:-
  • the UK Government’s nuclear safety review must be undertaken in public and be fully open and transparent. It should include non nuclear industry representatives and consider nuclear reactors, spent fuel stores and reprocessing plants;
  • the HSE’s ‘exclusions’ arrangement in the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process and those arrangements, such as deferring issue resolution in order to artificially meet the nuclear new build timetable, must be abandoned. The GDA process and the governance regime of nuclear safety in the UK should be reviewed as a result of the Fukushima incident;
  • there should be NO public subsidies for nuclear new build as per the UK Government coalition agreement. All the groups oppose the development of new nuclear build in the UK and are concerned that the development of the low carbon price gives an indirect subsidy of up to £3.2 billion on the nuclear industry;
  • the health effects of low level radiation on land and in the marine environment need to be independently verified;
  • UK Government Ministerial statements that they have confidence that the proposed arrangements for new build radioactive waste management will exist should cease or be required to be justified or qualified;
  • the UK Government should commission an urgent independent security review on current and projected radioactive waste and spent fuel interim storage arrangements;
  • the UK Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority need to resolve over 100 identified scientific and technical uncertainties before developing a deep-underground radioactive waste repository;
  • the UK Government should abandon the option of using separated weapons-grade plutonium as reprocessed Mox fuel for use by domestic and overseas customers.

Clegg Says the Obvious
Speaking to journalists whilst in South America, Mr. Clegg has been reported as saying that the economics of new nuclear will have to be reappraised in light of the Fukushima melt-down.

Staying with the idea that 10 new reactors could be installed at eight sites around England and Wales, he has said that if those wishing to build could do so to improved safety standards (thereby pre-empting the findings of Dr. M. Weightman's checks) and without any further government money, they would be allowed to do so.   However, he thought that it was unlikely such power stations would be economically viable.

Tokyo Power and Electric's share value has decreased by almost 75% since the problems arose at Fukushima, where engineers now say that they think the fuel rods have melted through the floor of the containment vessel and may be causing the pollution.   (!)   Together with the costs of the earthquake and the tsunami, the repair bill being faced by insurers is now believed to be in the region of $300 billion.   Just who do you think will have to pay for this?   Ultimately everybody, in the form of elevated insurance premiums and increase cost of products from Japan.

Lies, Damned Lies

The current situation in Japan, and the assertions in national press that only 56 people died as a result of the Chernobyl accident, has prompted us to have a look at the evidence available from the Chernobyl accident.

According to
the Guardian, 10/1/10, the official figures proposed that there would be around 16,000 deaths.   However, evidence from hospitals and other institutions who are actually having to deal with the cases, over 200,000 deaths have occurred.

One has to wonder how the discrepancy has arisen and why those with the first-hand experience of dealing with cases have taken second place to theoreticists and "information managers" hundreds of miles away.   Is there not a case for an honest appraisal and an end to the obfuscation?
We find it galling when people suggest that there have been no deaths in the nuclear industry.   The greater majority of these dead people did not even benefit from the industry that caused their suffering - they merely undured the consequences of those with vested interests and an eye to personal gain.

To add insult to injury, the World Health Organisation says that only 56 have died and 4,000 will eventually die.   So the next time someone says that there have been no deaths in the nuclear industry, put them right.

Whilst we are on the subject of statistics, we are intrigued as to why a statistician might take a sample size of 0.00001% as being representative or indicative of a trend and use it to justify a theory which has universal ramifications.   Yet this is what has happened to figures for global warming!
Discrepancy in Cancers


The latest edition of The National Trust's "Near You" supplement has a lovely picture of St. Bee's Head from the Whitehaven side, across lush fields.   The heading says, "Opening up the Colourful Coast".   A far cry from Mr. Reed and his cohorts' "Energy Coast" that will result in the destruction of all this amenity.  

The article describes the area as 'part of the hidden gem of the North West coastline' and associates it with the regeneration of Whitehaven.   The project co-ordinator says, "It offers so much for ordinary people to enjoy:  walking, cycling, wildlife watching, angling [!??], water sports, or simply enjoying the coastal views and beaches."  

The colourful coast project website can be found at the Trust's colourful coast website.   Our advice would be to get there whilst it lasts - before the politicians have undermined it all (literally) and filled it with nuclear reactors, reprocessing plants, and have disturbed the polluted soil at Sellafield, and the sediments in the Irish Sea, transforming the whole into a major unwelcoming construction site.
Cumbrian Outlook
Earthquake Zone?   Ideal for nuclear reactor sites?
An earthquake with an intensity of 3.5 on the Richter scale, centred on Eskdale (well under 10 miles from Sellafield's existing site and a mere 2½ miles from the proposed nuclear dump!), shook buildings at just before 2300 hrs., on Tuesday, 21st December, 2010.   It was felt by residents of towns as far away as  Blackpool and Dalbeattie, in Dumfries and Galloway.   Less than a fortnight later, on Monday, 3rd January, 2011, another quake occurred less than 100 miles away, outside Ripon.   This one measured 3.6 on the scale.    Not being seismologists we don't have a great understanding of the relevance of earthquakes to the proposed (or even the existing) nuclear sites and dumps.   However, it will be interesting to see how the nuclear industry reacts to any challenge relating to this.   What is the betting that there will be a whole range of experts willing to dispute the natural, uneducated, reaction that instability is not a beneficial quality when considering nuclear dumps?   Nothing to worry about there, then.

From other sources we have received confirmation that Sellafield is far from being a favourite with the industry for development, being tenth in the list of popular sites.   Seems like there are worries about something called "contamination" and the poor infra-structure.  We wonder, though, whether those problems are of less concern than the money which will be required to overcome them.

Still, the proposals must be safe as the industry's supporters, including nearly all the local politicians, (has anyone heard the MP, Jamie Reed, actually say anything adverse about the proposals to do away with Braystones and Kirksanton?) are in favour.   So, to heck with the future.   Let us fudge the figures and over-ride the pragmatism of those who value human life and the environment over the greed of a totally unnecessary industry.
Sheffield Forgemasters £80 million Back on the List for Ratepayer Handouts
The £80 million loan to facilitate Sheffield Forgemasters' development of high-grade steel - originally worked out with that master of probity and integrity, Lord Mandelson - is apparently back on the agenda.

The Labour government never actually said what the money was going to be used for.  

Although it was apparent that Mr. E. Miliband had already determined that nuclear development would take place (despite the requirement for him to remain impartial until all the evidence was in - including the public consultations, which had not even begun at that time!).   We noted, even back then, that only one country was producing the required grade of steel for the new reactors, and it wasn't the U.K..   Nowadays, it appears, there is ready acknowledgement that the money was to enable Sheffield Forgemasters to produce steel for nuclear reactors. 

So, we were expected to belive that the Sheffield Forgemasters deal was put together to produce the steel that would be required for the new-build nuclear reactors well before any decision had been made to actually go ahead!   Are we to believe that E. Miliband had not made the decision regarding nuclear development at that stage?   Perhaps it would be rude of us to question how long Mandelson had been involved in putting the deal together, and whether there was any connection between that deal and the mothballing of the huge Corus steelworks on Teesside?
Yet more opportunities to be ignored!

. . .  and still they come!   Yet more "consultations"   One was scheduled for 9th December in the Civic Hall, Whitehaven.   The invitation list included over thirty people, of whom just 3 have anti-nuclear views.   Due to travel and other constraints we were not able to attend, but did send in a submission outlining our opinion on the removal of Braystones and Kirksanton from the list of potential sites.   Click here to read our views.

Apparently there was no appearance from RWE.   Perhaps they are too busy persuading politicians to change their minds and put Braystones and Kirksanton back on the list?

Strangely, No Publicity

No suggestion of bias anywhere - especially not at the BBC - but we do wonder why they haven't picked up on the protest held outside the European Parliament.   No mention of it has been found on the BBC's website, nor was it transmitted by Russia Today, Al Jazeera, or France 24.   EuroNews did carry it on a late night bulletin on 7th October.  

The protest consisted of samples of sand, soil, mud., etc., collected from sites readily accessible to the public, being placed in drums outside the building.
Although not classified as posing a threat when deposited in the sea, once it has been collected together it magically becomes radioactive waste, and thus has to be treated accordingly.

The only channel we could find carrying pictures and the article was Euronews.   Although some American newspapers picked up on the AP report.

Greenpeace activists hoisted flags and held up banners proclaiming, "Nuclear waste, no solution."

You will note that one of the samples is from the U.K., and from the beach at Sellafield
(extreme right of our Home Page heading picture):
Sand (1.2kg) from Sellafield, contaminated by waste water from the nearby reprocessing facility. The sample contains 11,670 Bq/kg Americium-241 and 5,990 Bq/kg Cesium-137. The levels of Americium-241 are 11 times over the limit set by Belgian authorities for radioactive waste of 1,000 Bq/kg. The Sellafield reprocessing facility, owned by the British Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – – a non-departmental public body- - takes spent fuel from nuclear power stations in the UK, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan. It extracts usable uranium and plutonium while producing vast amounts of radioactive waste. Part of that is emitted into the Irish Sea, where it contaminates shores, seabed, plants and fish.

Are we surprised by this article from the Guardian?
EDF ran secret lobbying campaign to reduce nuclear waste disposal levy
Tim Webb

The nuclear industry is being offered what campaigners claim is a taxpayer subsidy on the disposal costs of waste from new reactors following a secret lobbying campaign, the Guardian has learned.

The revelation will put further scrutiny on the new government's promise that there will be no subsidy for nuclear power. Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, the new energy and climate change secretary of state, admitted to the Guardian this week that the government already faces a £4bn funding black hole over existing radioactive waste.

The previous government had planned to charge the industry a high, fixed, disposal levy tied to the amount of nuclear waste it produced. It had also originally told the industry that responsibility for the waste should be transferred to the state only once the waste had been disposed of, at least 110 years from the start of a reactor's operations. Both proposals were deeply unpopular with the industry. In March, the Labour government published revised proposals that made significant concessions on both issues. Consultation on the plans will conclude this month. A spokesman for the energy department said the consultation was continuing but declined to comment on whether the new government would take a different approach to the previous administration.

Documents released under a freedom of information request reveal the extent of behind-the-scenes lobbying last year in Whitehall by EDF Energy, the French firm that wants to build the first new reactors in the UK for decades. The lobbying focused on the two key proposals which were revised in March.

In one meeting with officials from the energy department in July last year, EDF Energy's presentation concluded that the original proposals were "non-acceptable" [sic]. In another meeting in October, the presentation warned: "At current levels, [the proposed] fixed price model will significantly impact the economics of nuclear
new build in the UK and could make an investment unattractive." In a letter in July to the department, the company even warned that the cost calculations could "be open to challenge in future on the grounds of prudency".

A spokesman from Greenpeace said: "These documents blow EDF's claim that they won't need any subsidies for new nuclear clean out of the water. They know full well that the economics of nuclear don't stack up and that new reactors will only ever happen if the British taxpayer is forced yet again to carry the atomic can."   [Our emphasis.]
In an effort to protect the taxpayer from having to pick up the tab, last year the government proposed charging a very high fixed unit price for waste disposal. But EDF argued it was much too high. The revised proposal would allow operators to set aside a much lower amount for the first 10 years of a reactor's operation.

The original plan had also been for the government to assume title – or responsibility – for the waste once it had been disposed of in a new underground storage facility, which has yet to be built. This transfer – and the transfer of funds by operators to the government to cover the costs – would take place after 110 years of the reactor beginning operation, at the earliest. But EDF said this would involve too long-term an investment risk, as the returns from their waste disposal fund would have to cover the costs when it matured over a century later. The consultation instead proposed the transfer taking place once decommissioning has been completed, after around 60 years.

An energy department spokesman said: "The allegation that outcomes of the consultation have been pre-agreed with industry have no foundation. The coalition has committed that there will be no public subsidy for new nuclear."

Rock Solid?

The sole idea for disposing of nuclear waste is to shove it in a hole and leave it for someone else to deal with.   This constitutes Plan A.   When pressed for a Plan B, the answer was, "To make Plan A work."   (Spokesperson on Radio 4 interview.)   The only councils who have expressed an interest are Copeland and Allerdale, yet geology seems to preclude safe disposal in these areas.   Anyone remember the Nirex enquiry?

David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geology at Glasgow University, is not opposed to geological disposal in principle, but he says the scientific evidence carried out in the 1990s which cost the public purse £400M shows that no site in West Cumbria is suitable for geological disposal.

"I was surprised that Nirex had ruled out the feasibility of three-dimensional (3D) seismic surveys at Sellafield, and offered to conduct for Nirex an experimental 3D survey, which took place in 1994. The survey was over a proposed rock characterisation facility (RCF) – a deep underground laboratory planned as a precursor to actual waste disposal.  This was a double world ‘first’ – the first ever 3D seismic survey of such a site, and the first academic group to use this method, which is now an essential tool of the oil exploration industry."

An excellent letter in the Whitehaven News, week ending 23/9/10, from Dr. D. Lowry, who points to the many hidden subsidies enjoyed by the "No Subsidy" nuclear industry.

Dr. Lowry lists many of the differing ways in which the UK government subsidises the industy;  the cumulative total being over £53 million.   This takes no account of the many other costly support measures, such as the £8.44 billion (and rising) to be given to the NDA  for the three years 2008 - 11.   Of  course, such high financing requires the bosses be paid huge bonuses and, sure enough, these materialised in 2010 whilst simultaneously 1200 job losses were announced.   Sadly, there is now insufficient funding left for the planned decommissioning of the Windscale site, which is now to be "mothballed".   Effectively, this means that nothing will be done to remove these highly contaminated structures.   They will be "observed" and, occasionally, "maintained".

Times are hard, too, for West Cumbria's Managing Radioactive Waste Safety Partnership - yet another committee, this one designed to come up with a positive answer to the burial of radioactive waste in the county.   Apparently DECC have withdrawn their funding for further meetings this year.

According to the Whitehaven News, the leader of the local council for Copeland, Ms. Elaine Woodburn, is upset that the managers at Sellafield - Nuclear Management Partners - haven't been talking to the council.   Not altogether sure how this differs from the way the public were kept in the dark - by politicians and the industry - about the potential new build projects which will, if carried out, decimate the area's amenity..   It seems about par for the course in Copeland, whether dealing with the local council or any of the various quangos pursuing their own quiet agenda.

Private Eye, 1272, 1/10/10, has an interesting article about the future of new nuclear.   Apart from the mistaken assertion that nuclear is low carbon, it mentions the involvement of Angela Merkel in the possibly-unconstitutional agreement reached with the German nuclear generators re. the extension of several reactors' life.   The article then goes on to explain the tricky relationship between EdF and Areva.   The EdF president, M. Francois Roussely is apparently proposing a form of merger for the two companies.   Apparently M. Roussely is not impressed with Areva's failure to win contracts overseas and their continuing troubles with the new EPR reactors being built in France and Finland.   Both are grossly over-budget and behind schedule.   M. Roussely also suggests that the EPRs are unlikely to be successful outside France, as most countries want a cheaper version, which Areva does not offer at present.

Presumbably then, efforts will be made to come up with a cheaper (intimating a less-safe version) reactor.   The article concludes with a question as to what would be the reaction of Mr. C. Huhne to such a corner-cutting alternative.   He has already admitted that the government faces a black hole of £4 billion over the disposal of existing radioactive waste.   (Source:   It is still a puzzle as to how such unnecessary investment can be justified.   There seems to be no ability to step outside the box and see that the nuclear industry is not, in truth, financially viable.   The only reason it continues to exist is to use a circular argument.   It presses the government to help it clean the industry up, whilst simultaneously saying it needs to expand - a process that will produce yet more highly toxic waste to be cleaned up.   Do away with the industry, clean up the legacy, then there will be no need for such futile investment.
On 23rd September, 2010, the Manx Government's scientific advisors announced that  Sellafield's polluting discharges to the Irish Sea were at an all-time low.   (Coincidence, given that they need to keep a low profile until the nuclear future is resolved?)   However, they added that the discharges were still affecting the Manx fishing industry, as well as the marine environment - seaweed and molluscs, etc. - and the whole island.

Is it coincidence, or just a morbid sense of humour that the Belgian underground laboratory investigating the feasibility of a deep geological repository is called HADES?

It is not only the UK government that is manipulating the market.   According to our translation, the French Greenpeace website tells us that:

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, signed an agreement on 6th September, with E.ON, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW that will permit these companies to continue producing nuclear energy until 2040.   This is despite her government's commitment to end nuclear power by 2022.   The agreement was signed in camera, [unsurprisingly].

Perhaps worse is that the agreement permits the building of new plants, as energy production is transferred from aging plants.

The public announcement, which was apparently
reluctantly made, has brought to the fore questions into the role of the nuclear lobby and its influence in the Bundestag since 2009.   Opponents say that the plan will bring to an end the expanding job-creation in green industries - which has reached quarter of a million so far.   They also ask whether the 66% of Germans who favour ending nuclear have been ignored.

Germany currently sees itself as a world leader in renewable energy production.

Opposition parties are intending to file a complaint about the agreement in federal courts, with a view to challenging the proposals.

Source: Not given much coverage on any of UK news programmes was the demonstration in Berlin on Saturday, 18th September, 2010, where "tens of thousands" of people demonstrated against the German government's proposals to extend the life of nuclear power stations.   Nor has there been much mention of the above agreement which effectively extends the life of current power stations by up to 12 years.   This means that some reactors will not be phased out until 2030 - somewhat different to nationally agreed policy. 

Interestingly, the agreement guarantees the government will receive €1.4 billion up to 2017.   Quite an incentive.   However, the deal does not rule out the building of new reactors to replace the aging one due to be closed.   However, the agreement may be deemed unconstitutional and several groups are considering seeking a legal opinion.  

Various sources, inc.

Tellingly, one of the stories which doesn't appear on the Sellafield Good News Media Centre web pages is this one:

HSE acts over lax safety standards at Sellafield nuclear plant

                                                                                             • Report highlights widespread failings at Europe's biggest atomic site
                                                                                             • Safety watchdog closes one plant and takes legal action against site's operators

Rob Edwards and Terry Macalister, Monday 31 May 2010 Ref.:

The government's safety watchdog is cracking down on Britain's biggest and oldest nuclear complex after a series of radioactive leaks and safety blunders, despite private sector managers receiving multimillion-pound "performance-related" payments from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has closed down a vital nuclear waste plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, and is taking legal action to force the site's operators to improve their flawed safety procedures.

The HSE has also rejected a £40bn plan for cleaning up Sellafield because of proposed delays in dismantling ageing and potentially hazardous facilities.

The disclosures come at a critical time for the nuclear industry which is trying to convince Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, it is efficient enough to build a new generation of reactors.

But the crackdown is also embarrassing because Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) – a consortium involving Amec, URS and Areva – is believed to have made "profits" of up to £50m over a 12-month period.

NMP took over control of Sellafield in November 2008 and was given the opportunity to win incentive payments if it improved the efficiency of Europe's biggest atomic site over the first 12 months. A spokesman for Amec confirmed "fees were paid" but said he was unable to give further details.

The decommissioning agency said the private companies had received £16.5m for the first four months of their work but it said figures for the last financial year would be published in July. It said the maximum under the contract could be £50m – in line with £16.5m for four months – and independent industry experts believe NMP won close to that top figure.

The HSE's latest report on Sellafield, posted online, discloses a litany of problems at the crowded site which sprawls over six square miles on the edge of the Lake District and is home to more than a thousand nuclear facilities, some dating back more than 50 years.

One of the main plants for solidifying highly radioactive liquid waste has been shut for safety reasons since 31 March, the report said. The case for continuing to operate the facility safely has been deemed "inadequate" by HSE inspectors.

According to the report, HSE has also taken enforcement action after cooling water needed to prevent highly radioactive waste tanks from overheating leaked twice in 10 months. 

Sellafield has been ordered to rectify an alleged breach of its safety licence – failing to give staff proper training – by 18 June.

HSE has taken further regulatory action over a leak of radioactively contaminated water from a pipe during nuclear fuel reprocessing operations. Along with another government watchdog, the Environment Agency, it has ordered Sellafield to correct breaches of radiation rules that enabled the leakage to occur.
The HSE report, which covers the first three months of this year, revealed there had been two other leaks in evaporators which process "highly active liquor". Sellafield is also criticised for taking more than 18 months to fix "known defects" with the fire protection systems at the thermal oxide reprocessing plant.

The HSE said the site will fail to meet a deadline of 1 August for clearing radioactive sludge out of old ponds and repackaging it into steel containers. The watchdog also has "concerns" about the management of change on the part of the site still known as Windscale.

In addition, HSE has refused to endorse the latest "lifetime plan" for Sellafield outlining schedules for decommissioning plants over the next 110 years. "It will not be a plan we can accept," its report said, because of worries about the "deferral dates for some facilities".

Sellafield is home to "the world's most dangerous stockpile of high-level liquid waste," according to Marianne Birkby, from the anti-nuclear group, Radiation Free Lakeland. "The evidence shows the industry cannot safely look after its existing wastes."

Sellafield Ltd, the company that runs the site, conceded there were "challenges" due to "ageing facilities and assets". "The new NMP team has been specifically brought in to improve on the historic record and is already delivering significant improvements and results," said a company spokesman. The site has been given £1.5bn this year – its highest level of funding to date – to reduce the hazards.

The spokesman added: "We have a clear focus on hazard and risk reduction on the site and have prioritised our significant resources at those areas that present the most difficult challenges."

The HSE said it will continue to highlight problems at Sellafield. "Our inspectors closely regulate operations on the site and on occasion where required will take enforcement action," said an HSE spokeswoman. "We are satisfied that Sellafield Ltd recognises, and is taking steps to effectively manage the risks and hazards on the site."
Panic Attack - Again
In the Daily Express, 19/7/10, the front page article is devoted to "when the lights go out", prompting many of the usual comments on-line.

Sadly, the article is just an opinion expressed by an ex-National Grid employee, who coincidentally, has a new book to promote, entitled, "When Will the Lights go Out?"   No conflict of interest or ulterior motive, then?

[There is no consideration of the various alternatives, and statements in other articles relating to the proposed nuclear expansion, like "new nuclear could be on-line by 2017", are risible, especially given the remote locations of most of the sites.   Surely it is impossible to create the infra-structure and design / purchase / build such a complex project with all the necessary safety measures incorporated, in less than 8 years?

The current game is to persuade those in power to increase the cost of all fuels, thus making nuclear-generated power seem more cost-effective.   Part of this strategy includes fixing the price of future waste disposal as soon as possible in order that the tax-payer can be made to pay when the inevitable cost-increases arise in 50 - 100 years' time.   Hopefully our government won't fall for it.]
Nuclear Deadline
Sunday Times - 19/7/10

Power companies will scrap plans to build nuclear power stations in Britain unless electricity markets are radically reformed, according to research from KPMG, the accountancy firm.

Up to eight [?]  new reactors are expected to come on stream from 2017, just as the current nuclear stations are closed down.   To hit the deadline, investment decisions must be taken in the next "6 to 18 months", said Richard Noble at KPMG.
EU probes Areva, Siemens civil nuclear deal 
France 24 News Service

European competition regulators announced they are probing the terms of a deal between French and German nuclear giants Areva and Siemens. AFP - European competition regulators announced on Wednesday they are probing the terms of a deal between French and German nuclear giants Areva and Siemens.

The European Commission is investigating whether "non-compete clauses... in the field of civil nuclear technology may be in violation of European Union antitrust rules," according to a statement.

Areva and Siemens came together in this area in 2001 with a joint venture, Areva NP, that was cleared by the commission with the subsequent acquisition of sole control by Areva also cleared in 2009, Brussels said.

"The non-compete clauses that are now being analysed by the commission relate to the period after Areva took full control," the statement explained, stressing that national competition authorities no longer have jurisdiction.

French daily Le Figaro reported on Wednesday that Siemens wanted the commission to probe the post-divorce ties, which prevent it from concluding a tie-up with Russian group Rosatom, slated since March 2009.

[We note elsewhere the ethical standards of Siemens and their background in respect of bribery, and other dubious practices.]
Greenpeace alerts WHO over Areva Niger mines 
France 24 News Service, 6/5/10

Installations at Somair mineral treatment plant near the uranium opencast mine in Arlit in the Air desert, one of the world's most impoverished regions in 2005. Greenpeace on Thursday reported French nuclear group Areva to the World Health Organisation, accusing it of endangering the local population with radioactive waste from its uranium mines in Niger. AFP - Greenpeace on Thursday reported French nuclear group Areva to the World Health Organisation, accusing it of endangering the local population with radioactive waste from its uranium mines in Niger.

The environmental pressure group sounded the alarm last month over Areva's two mine sites at Arlit and Akokan in northwestern Niger, saying waste was contaminating the soil, air and water in the region.

The WHO is "competent on health issues and we want it to look into the problem," a spokesman for Greenpeace Switzerland told a news conference in Geneva Thursday.

"We hope they will make their own independent investigation and call on Areva to take action," added Rianne Teule a nuclear expert at Greenpeace which is calling for a thorough inquiry into safety standards at the Niger sites.

Half of Areva's uranium comes from Niger, one of Africa's poorest countries despite being the world's third uranium producer, where the company has been mining since the late 1960s.

The world leader in nuclear energy, and Niger's top employer, Areva has struck a deal to start tapping a third mine in the desert nation from 2013 or 2014.

Greenpeace carried out on-site tests in Arlit and Akokan last November, in partnership with the France-based Research and Independent Information on Radioactivity Commission (CRIIRAD) and Niger's Network of Organisations for Transparency and Budgetary Analysis (ROTAB).

It says its research showed abnormal concentrations of uranium in the soil, as well as of radon, a radioactive natural gas in air, while radioactive scrap metal from the mines was available for sale at local markets.

The tests were carried out around the mines as well as in mining villages, located several kilometres (miles) away and home to 80,000 people.

Areva said in January it would before the end of the year carry out a general inspection of its Niger sites to ensure the population was not exposed to radioactivity.
[Small wonder that E. Miliband was happy to suggest that Britain is not responsible for what happens outside the country - even if we benefit from such practices.]
Sakozy Hosts Nuclear Conference

An article (France 24 article) describing the high-level talks promoting the nuclear industry - in which France is a major competitor - explains the current situation in respect of many countries considering a nuclear future.

In a humiliation for Areva, French companies lost out in December to a South Korean-led consortium for a 20-billion-dollar contract to build four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates.
The association estimates that more than 450 new reactors are scheduled to be built worldwide by 2030 -- a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
[Given what some politicians will do for a paltry sum, the temptations must be tremendous.]
Sizewell B fire involved ‘no radioactive material’
Colin Adwent
Monday, 5 July, 2010

A SENIOR firefighter has reassured the public over the scale of a fire at Sizewell B nuclear power station.
Although about 50 firefighters were at the scene for seven hours after fire broke out in a charcoal filter on Friday night.  
Mr. Kevin Burton, area manager for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service who was in charge of the incident, said their presence was mainly precautionary.   Mr. Burton said the heat generated by the small blaze was less than that of a lit cigarette.

The fire began just before 8.45 p.m. in a cabinet measuring about 10 cu.m. The heavy steel construction had a door on either side with a filter containing fresh charcoal taking up about a third of the space inside the cabinet.    Mr Burton said the duct system had not been used for about 18 months.   In the air flow of the cabinet, there was a heater to ensure no moisture got into the charcoal.   It is believed a component of the heater was faulty, causing it to malfunction and the charcoal to burn.   A little flame was seen coming from the filter as it began smouldering.

About 45 firefighters were sent to the power station, including retained crews from the surrounding areas.   However, Mr. Burton said the incident was dealt with by two crews employed at Sizewell B.   Water was put through pipes to extinguish the blaze, but initially it did not seem to make any difference.   Mr Burton said thermal imaging cameras were used to check on the heat and the temperature of the fire was just above 200°C. He added a lit cigarette burned at 300°C.

The effort to put the fire out and cool down the charcoal was hampered as engineers were needed to clamp the cabinet doors shut as the water was pumped in.   Mr Burton said: “The crews carrying out the work were from Sizewell. Our role was providing advice, support and direction for what they were doing.”   He said one of the first officers on the scene had taken the precaution of calling in more firefighters in case the incident spread.   “If the fire had got outside the cabinet and duct work, then we could have been dealing with a bigger incident.   However, it was only a small fire and not a fast-burning one. There was no radioactive material involved whatsoever.”

Jim Crawford, Sizewell B’s station director, said: “At no time was there any risk to the public.”

Sizewell B has been shut down since the end of March and is not expected to be in operation until the third quarter of 2010.
[Hmm.  Not sure about the relevance of the cigarette.   If the temperature was sufficient to ignite other material, then surely there is a more fundamental principle?   Seems a bit of a waste of time and money retaining so many fire service personnel on site for seven hours if they were in, in fact, dealing with such a minor incident.   We note the standard statement re. risk to the public.   We are also a bit intrigued that, given the potential link between nuclear incidents and what was happening with BP in the Gulf of Mexico, so little was made of it.   Nuclear leaks and accidents have the potential for so much more harm than an oil leak - unfortunate though the latter may be, they at least respect some natural boundaries.]
In an intriguing article - made all the more so by what seems to be innuendo - the Sunday Times (Page 3, 18/7/10) reports on our least favourite peer, Lord Mandelson and his link to what is described as "a multi-millionaire French business fixer", by the name of Alain Minc.   For a fee (for part-time work)  of just 150% of what he was getting paid for full-time employment as an MP, Mandelson was able to introduce Minc to eminent business men in Britain when Mandelson was out of government in 2002-4.

Adding to the intrigue is the suggestion that Minc employees just three staff - Minc, an assistant and a chauffeur - yet his company, AM Conseil, has a turnover of £5.5 million a year with Minc believed to be earning in excess of £3 million.   There is no explanation of what the company does to earn such large returns.

The article go on to say that Mandelson stopped working for Minc in 2004, to avoid any possible conflict of interest.   Still, the two have remained good friends . . .

A Clean Sweep for Sooty?
Another interesting revelation in that august journal, Private Eye.   This time in relation to the black art (sorry) of carbon trading.   Noting that carbon trading may be useless at tackling climate change (merely paying someone in another country to take the blame for your company's emissions doesn't reduce the output - almost literallly a case of smoke and mirrors), the article (in Private Eye, 1258) explains the role of the scheme's architect, Richard Sandor, in pioneering the "collateral mortgage obligations" that eventually brought the financial markets to their knees.   He was also the architect of the first pollution permit trading scheme in sulphur emissions, in the US.

Sandors now chairs Climate Exchange plc., which controls more than 80% of the EU carbon emissions trading.   According to the article, he has also been a "big mover" behind plans for a mandatory trading system in the US, from which his company would dramatically benefit.   Business is also booming as the EU countries are in discussion over 30% cuts in emissions and the move to 100% auctioning of allowances in 2011.   Apparently trading worth £70 billion last year, yielding a profit for the company of £11.5 million.   The Eye then gives a brief explanation of why, despite the profits, none of it is taxable in this country.

Yet again we see a motive for encouraging the link between CO2 emissions and any apparent global warming.   Perhaps if the promoters were not making quite so many £ millions from their spiel we might be more believing?   Perhaps a more pertinent question might be:  who gave any company the rights to authorise pollution - whether real or virtual?

Not content with the failures of the University of East Anglia, and their destruction of vital data, we note the article on P. 5 of the Sunday Times, 17th January, 2010:

A warning that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted
after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.

Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.

Professor Murari Lal, who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC report, said he would recommend that the claim about glaciers be dropped: "If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or that it is a wrong presumption, than I will recommend that the assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC assessments."
The IPCC's reliance on Hasnain's 1999 interview has been highlighted by Fred Pearce, the journalist who carried out the original interview for the New Scientist. Pearce said he rang Hasnain in India in 1999 after spotting his claims in an Indian magazine. Pearce said: "Hasnain told me then that he was bringing a report containing those numbers to Britain. The report had not been peer reviewed or formally published in a scientific journal and it had no formal status so I reported his work on that basis.

"Since then I have obtained a copy and it does not say what Hasnain said. In other words it does not mention 2035 as a date by which any Himalayan glaciers will melt. However, he did make clear that his comments related only to part of the Himalayan glaciers. not the whole massif."

The New Scientist report was apparently forgotten until 2005 when WWF cited it in a report called An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier
Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China.

The report credited Hasnain's 1999 interview with the New Scientist. But it
was a campaigning report rather than an academic paper so it was not subjected to any formal scientific review. Despite this it rapidly became a key source for the IPCC when Lal and his colleagues came to write the section on the Himalayas. When finally published, the IPCC report did give its source as the WWF study but went further, suggesting the likelihood of the glaciers melting was "very high". The IPCC defines this as having a probability of greater than 90%.

The report read: "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."

However, glaciologists find such figures inherently ludicrous, pointing out that most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could not melt fast enough to vanish by 2035 unless there was a huge global temperature rise. The maximum rate of decline in thickness seen in glaciers at the moment is 2-3 feet a year and most are far lower.

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, said: "Even a small glacier such as the Dokriani glacier is up to 120 metres [394ft] thick. A big one would be several hundred metres thick and tens of kilometres long. The average is 300 metres thick so to melt one even at 5 metres a year would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistically high.”

Some scientists have questioned how the IPCC could have allowed such a mistake into print. Perhaps the most likely reason was lack of expertise. Lal himself admits he knows little about glaciers. "I am not an expert on glaciers.and I have not visited the region so I have to rely on credible published research. The comments in the WWF report were made by a respected Indian scientist and it was reasonable to assume 
he knew what he was talking about," he said.   Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, has previously dismissed criticism of the Himalayas claim as "voodoo science". Last week the IPCC refused to comment so it has yet to explain how someone who admits to little expertise on glaciers was overseeing such a report. Perhaps its one consolation is that the blunder was spotted by climate scientists who quickly made it public.

The lead role in that process was played by Graham Cogley, a geographer from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who had long been unhappy with the IPCC's finding.

He traced the IPCC claim back to the New Scientist and then contacted Pearce. Pearce then re-interviewed Hasnain, who confirmed that his 1999 comments had been "speculative", and published the update in the New Scientist.

Cogley said: "The reality, that the glaciers are wasting away, is bad enough. But they are not wasting away at the rate suggested by this speculative remark and the IPCC report.

'The problem is that nobody who studied this material bothered chasing the trail back to the original point when the claim first arose. It is ultimately a trail that leads back to a magazine article and that is not the sort of thing you want to end up in an IPCC report.”

Pearce said the IPCC's reliance on the WWF was "immensely lazy" and the organisation need to explain itself or back up its prediction with another scientific source. Hasnain could not be reached for comment.

The revelation is the latest crack to appear in the scientific concensus over climate change. It follows the so-called climate-gate scandal, where British scientists apparently tried to prevent other researchers from accessing key date.

Last week another row broke out when the Met Office criticised suggestions that sea levels were likely to rise 1.9m by 2100, suggesting much lower increases were likely.
Comment: At the "consultation" meeting in Whitehaven on 16th January, the point was raised about the impact any achieved reduction by the UK would have in global terms, especially when other countries, such as India, China, and America emit far more than us.   The point of the question relating not to the value of reducing emissions per se, but the the excessive haste of the UK government to achieve something which, being so rushed will exaggerate the horrendous impact of their policies on rural communities.   Sadly the idea was above the abilities of the "consultation lead" to follow.   He only understood the bit about not immediately reducing emissions and announced that the Copenhagen meeting (which he seemed to think were a success) required everyone to reduce their CO2 output as soon as possible.   Surely a more sustainable result would ensue from a better-judged approach?   Even a better implementation of micro-generation (each home having a generator to contribute to its own power-usage) and better facilitated house-insulation would produce dramatic reductions in grid-based demands.   If all local councils were to become involved in such schemes, there would be an obvious reduction in the need to build contaminating and destructive reactors on any green-field site.

Don't say we didn't warn you:
EDF Energy wants Britain to fix the market if it builds nuclear plants

British families could be forced to pay up to £227 extra on their annual energy bills to help to fund a new generation of nuclear power stations under plans proposed by the French company expected to build most of them.
EDF Energy, which wants to build four reactors in Britain at a cost of about £20 billion, was accused of holding the Government to ransom last night, after an executive told The Times that none would be built unless the Government agreed to underwrite part of the cost. Speaking before a government announcement on Britain’s energy future on Monday, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of EDF Energy’s new nuclear business in Britain, said the nuclear programme would proceed only if the Government ensured that consumers paid more for electricity from fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, which is cheaper but produces more greenhouse gas, making nuclear more competitive. To fix the market in favour of nuclear energy he proposed a minimum price on the permits that energy companies need to buy to emit carbon dioxide. The cost of permits was too low — at about €14 per tonne — for energy companies to be encouraged to invest in nuclear rather than gas-fired power stations, which are far cheaper and quicker to build. He said that a price of €25-35 per tonne of carbon dioxide was necessary to make construction ofnuclear stations profitable. “A floor price for carbon is needed ... The waste product of fossil fuel generation needs to have a cost,” he said. His intervention threatens the Government’s plan to boost the proportion of electricity generated from nuclear power, which is considered critical to Britain’s energy security as supplies of North Sea gas run out, and to meet the Government’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The Government has pointedly refused any kind of subsidy for new nuclear power stations and is relying on private industry to finance the programme. But Matthew Sinclair, research director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, strongly rejected the proposals. He said: “There is no way that the Government should even think of acceding to EDF Energy’s demands for a floor price on carbon.” Mr Sinclair claimed that the cost to British consumers would be about £4.2 billion to £5.9 billion per year, or £162 to £227 per household, and that it would hit poor and vulnerable households hardest. Ben Ayliffe, a campaigner for Greenpeace, accused EDF of holding the Government to ransom over the new build programme. “They have got them by the short and curlies ... Even with the full resources of the French Government behind them, it seems they cannot make the economics of new nuclear stack up.” With supplies of North Sea gas rapidly running out, on Monday the Government will disclose an approved list of sites for new nuclear plants, each of which would churn out enough electricity to power a city the size of Manchester for 60 years. By 2015 it hopes that at least eight will be under construction, with the first, at Hinkley Point, Somerset, due to enter service in 2017. Ed Miliband, the Energy Secretary, will offer a formal justification for the new plants to Parliament. He will also discuss new clean coal plants, wind parks and other key energy projects that the Government wants to fast-track through the planning system, using powers created last month. This national nuclear policy statement comes amid mounting pessimism that a UN climate conference, in Copenhagen next month, will succeed in establishing a high international price for carbon dioxide emissions. This would drive greater investment in low carbon of energy, including nuclear and renewables such as wind and solar power. A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said that the Government had “no current plans” to introduce a floor price for carbon and said “all our efforts are towards an ambitious deal at Copenhagen”.


The Guardian's Potted History

Today's news that body parts were taken from dead workers at the Sellafield nuclear facility is grisly, but not entirely unexpected when considered within the history of what is possibly Britain's longest-running public relations disaster.   Over its half-century of nuclear work, the Sellafield complex, by the village of Seascale on the west Cumbria coast, has attracted the ire of everyone from environmentalists to governments of every political hue in Ireland and Scandinavia.

Sellafield's long lifespan has been due to two factors: firstly, the economic importance of the thousands of jobs it generates, and secondly the sheer complexity and expense of decommissioning the nuclear waste-ridden facility.

The one and a half square mile site's dubious public reputation began almost immediately, when it was still known as Windscale.   A former second world war munitions factory, it became Britain's first nuclear complex in the late 1940s, and its Calder Hall reactors began generating electricity in 1956.   However, a major fire broke out in a reactor chimney a year later, spreading radioactivity across the surrounding countryside in what is generally thought to have been the world's worst nuclear accident before that at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979.   This, more than anything, made Windscale a symbol of hate for environmentalists and opponents of nuclear energy, something that barely changed even when British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) decided to try and banish the bad memories by changing the plant's name to Sellafield in 1981.

The reactor involved in the fire had to be shut down and sealed, but Windscale continued to generate power using its other Magnox reactors and a later, more advanced, gas-cooled reactor housed in the site's distinctive spherical "golfball" building.

From the 1960s, Windscale also began reprocessing nuclear fuel, an operation later expanded to take in spent fuel from other countries.   It was this activity that enraged Ireland and Scandinavian nations including Norway and Denmark, which bitterly oppose the practice of discharging water contaminated with radioactive waste substances such as Technetium-99 into the Irish sea.

The Irish government took its complaints to the UN in 2001, saying pollution from the site broke the UN convention on the law of the sea.

In 2003, UK government tests also found traces of Technetium-99 in salmon bred in farms near the plant.  

Electricity production finished in 2003 when the last of the elderly Calder Hall reactors were closed after almost 50 years of generation.

However, bad publicity has dogged the waste reprocessing work, including a lengthy saga in 2002 when containers of spent fuel were sent back to Japan only to be rejected and returned to Sellafield.   In April 2005, Sellafield's Thorp reprocessing facility had to be shut down after acid containing 20 tonnes of uranium and 160kg of plutonium spilled from a broken pipe.   The accident caused no injuries and no radioactive material escaped, but a Health and Safety Executive report highlighted serious failings, including staff ignoring alarms.   Just three months earlier, the UK Atomic Energy Authority had announced that nearly 27kg of plutonium - enough for seven nuclear weapons - was "unaccounted for", although it stressed this appeared merely to be an auditing error.

These days, however, opposition to Sellafield is largely academic because the complex is being gradually shut down, meaning around three-quarters of its 10,000-strong workforce will lose their jobs by 2011.

While BNFL still manages Sellafield, the complex has been owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which is overseeing the closure process, since 2005.

But there is still plenty of time for more PR trouble ahead- with some waste remaining dangerous for 250,000 years, the authority warns that the closure process could take up to a century.
Israel's threat of military action against Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme is not a bluff, the country's deputy foreign minister has told Sky News.

E.ON UK, RWE npower nuclear joint venture fully established

On 5/11/09, RWE npower and E.ON UK  announced further details of their nuclear joint venture, which is to be called Horizon Nuclear Power.

The company will begin operation from 16 November working from new headquarters near Gloucester.

The 50:50 joint venture was created in January and aims to develop around 6,000MW of new nuclear capacity in the UK - enough to power a city the size of Greater London - by 2025. The first reactor is expected to come online around 2020.

Earlier this year the company secured development land at Wylfa on Anglesey and Oldbury-on-Severn in South Gloucestershire. Its programme of new nuclear power stations could involve more than £15bn in investment and create around 11,000 jobs, including around 800 permanent jobs at each site and up to 10,000 during construction.

Chief Operating Officer Alan Raymant said: "Nuclear energy will form a key part of Britain's low carbon future and Horizon Nuclear Power will play a key role in delivering new nuclear stations, helping achieve the UK's stretching environmental targets and stabilise energy prices."

The company is also progressing its competitive tender process with Areva and Westinghouse for the selection of a reactor technology.

"Choosing our reactor supplier is a significant milestone and the technical and commercial evaluation of our options is well underway," said Alan. "A team of nuclear experts from across RWE and E.ON has been put in place to support this process, with the aim of selecting a preferred supplier for exclusive negotiation early in the new year."

The company will also look to establish local offices close to its development sites at Wylfa and Oldbury. "We've met a lot of local people and groups around our sites at Oldbury and Wylfa and we'll maintain an open, no-surprises approach," said Alan.

"Technical investigations are progressing well and we'll shortly be engaging further with local organisations and the public on the detailed studies required to prepare consent applications.

"The imminent publication of the Government's Nuclear National Policy Statement is also a key step and we look forward to playing our part in the consultation process that follows. It's vital that the Government sticks to the timeline for establishing the regulatory and consenting framework for new nuclear if we are to deliver what the country needs in terms of reliable, low carbon electricity."

Horizon Nuclear Power will have an initial focus on consenting and constructing new nuclear power stations which will have a 60 year lifetime.

E.ON and RWE have interests in 23 nuclear reactors in Germany and Sweden, including two jointly owned reactors at Gundremmingen and one at Lingen.

(Text supplied by RWE)   Source:,+rwe+npower+nuclear+joint+venture+fully+established_41404.html

Interestingly, the joint company is already in the throes of determining the reactor supplier:  Westinghouse or Areva.   Strange, when they don't even have planning permission and the consultation period is still running!      Source:

Electricity prices in France set to double in ten years:  as of 2010, EDF's rivals could buy electricity from the former monopoly's nuclear power plants at about 34 euros ($50.90) per megawatt hour, a price that would gradually increase to 55-60 euros until 2020.   EDF still owns all of France's 58 nuclear reactor, which provide an 80 percent share in overall electricity consumption.   Competitors such as Poweo (ALPWO.PA) or GDF Suez (GSZ.PA) are struggling to attract clients because they do not have access to baseload electricity output.

The government reform plan includes ending state-set electricity tariffs for industries by 2015 and allowing rival power suppliers to buy nuclear-generated nuclear power at production cost.

A UFE spokeswoman said it was not part of the body's remit to decide on a price level but up to the [French] government.   "We are discussing a general industrial framework but it is absolutely not up to us to decide on a price level," she said.   French households and businesses benefit from low regulated prices, making it hard for newcomers to beat EDF's state-fixed tariffs. EDF is the world's largest single nuclear producer.


Ministers refuse to attend debate on price of nuclear power

The government has refused an invitation to attend a public debate on the cost of new nuclear power today, which will be attended by industry figures, academics and many other interested parties.

Paul Dorfman, a senior research associate at Warwick University and the event's organiser, said it showed ministers were scared about the cost to consumers and taxpayers of nuclear power.

Companies at the forefront of plans to build new reactors, such as EDF and Centrica, have said they will attend the meeting at Portcullis House, next to the Houses of Parliament. But the Office for Nuclear Development (OND) – an arm of the Department of Energy and Climate Change – said: "On this occasion ministers and officials have decided not to attend."

Dorfman said the OND had offered to talk through the issues but insisted this happened in private. "The government do not want to be challenged in public. I think it is reasonable to assume that they are deeply concerned about their position and know reactors cannot be built at a competitive cost without public subsidies."

Based on the industry's track record, there is good reason to be sceptical about the economics of nuclear power, even before the debacle in Finland. The last reactor constructed in Britain was Sizewell  B in Suffolk. It was originally budgeted to cost about £1.9bn but eventually came in at about £3bn. The cash was all provided by the public sector – half of it being taken from the nuclear levy that was created to help cover decommissioning and waste disposal costs.

There have also been financial – and technical problems – with other plants such as the mixed oxide (Mox) and Thorp fuel reprocessing facilities at Sellafield, the UK's largest atomic complex. Mox was meant to cost £265m but ended up costing £490m within three years. It produced only 5.2 tonnes of reprocessed fuel between 2001 and 2007, despite an promised annual output of 120 tonnes.

The government has also promised nuclear developers that taxpayers will meet any of their cost overruns from decommissioning the new reactors and storing the waste. Officials are in charge of setting a fixed price for the waste and experts are setting it deliberately high to factor in any cost overrun.

But Gordon MacKerron, who up to 2007 was chairman of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, set up by the government to work out how to deal with the UK's nuclear waste, admits that it will be decades before we know for sure what the bill is and whether the taxpayer will have to pay more.

More on the Infallible Nuclear Industry

In a rare joint statement, nuclear safety bodies in France, Britain and Finland on Monday ordered France's Areva (CEPFi.PA) and EDF (EDF.PA) to modify the safety features on its European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) due to insufficient independence between the day-to-day systems and the emergency systems.

Opponents to nuclear power latched on to the news, with France's opposition socialist party calling for a parliamentary inquiry.

CAP21, a political party founded by Corrine Lepage, a former environment minister, also said more investment should be made in renewable energy rather than nuclear.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has championed nuclear power, both at home and abroad, where he hopes French companies will benefit from a global drive to find ways of generating electricity that produce less CO2 emissions and are independent of oil price fluctuations.

The design problems come as a blow to Areva, which has staked its export growth on the EPR and is hoping that it will beat out American rival Westinghouse, owned by Japan's Toshiba (6502.T), to become the standard-bearer for a new generation of nuclear plants.

Pierre Boucheny head of French research at financial service company Kepler capital markets told Reuters Areva's financial visibility was obscured by unexpected hitches and delays in the construction of the firm's first EPR in Finland.

"This problem (over safety) might cause a delay of a few months, maybe more, but it's hard to say what it will cost," he said.

Non-voting shares in Areva closed 3.9 percent lower at 8.75 euros.

Areva said on Monday it was in talks to modify the design of the EPR plants before the end of the year and insisted the safety of the EPR plants was not in question.

EDF, which operates all of France's 19 nuclear power plants, said on Tuesday it had been asked to conduct a closer study of secondary systems at its Flamanville EPR reactor and would respond by year-end.
Areva has started building two EPRs in China's Guangdong province and in January Sarkozy gave approval for the construction of a second EPR plant in France.

Areva has also joined forces with Total (TOTF.PA) and GDF Suez (GSZ.PA) in a consortium to bid build at least four nuclear power reactors in the United Arab Emirates

Britain also is mulling whether to relaunch its nuclear energy programme with modern plants and the Italian government has signalled that it intends to build four new nuclear plants.


Sellafield land sale agreed
28 October 2009

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is pleased to announce that today, following a period of market engagement and negotiation with interested parties, it has sold an area of land comprising 190 ha (470 acres) lying to the north of the existing site at Sellafield in Cumbria for a value of at least £70 million. The winning consortium comprises Iberdrola S.A, GdF Suez S.A and Scottish and Southern Energy plc.

The sale will result in an upfront payment of £19.5 million for the NDA, followed by a further payment of at least £50.5 million in the next six years. The sale represents further continuation of the NDA's programme of asset disposals, all raising funds which the NDA can put towards its core mission of decommissioning the UK 's fleet of existing nuclear power stations.

The consortium will now progress with detailed site investigations to determine the exact location for its proposed nuclear development and then apply for the necessary planning and licensing permissions. Land surplus to requirements will be returned to the NDA.

John Clarke, NDA Commercial Director said:  "The sale of this land is a significant milestone in our asset disposal programme and follows on from the successful sale of land at three of our sites earlier this year. The £450 million generated from these sales will be utilised to support the NDA's clean-up mission and is good news for the UK taxpayer."  

[ . . .  and probably increase the size of bonuses paid to NDA staff!   Source]

and from the Whitehaven News of the same date:

New lifeline for Mox plant

Sellafield's troubled Mox plant (SMP) has been given a lifeline after picking up its performance.

The plant's future has been hanging in the balance for months but has been given a vote of confidence by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority after a review of itis operations and viability.

Sellafield staff were told the news today (Tuesday) and it comes as a big boost not only to the site as a whole but the 800 workers who operate SMP, which was designed to manufacture nuclear reactor fuel by mixing plutonium and uranium but has been plagued by so many technical problems that it has still not been fully commissioned.

An NDA spokesman said: "The plant first went into production in 2002 and to date has failed to meet its throughput targets, but its performance has improved in the last few months.

"The best course of action at this stage is the continued operation of SMP and to complete the current campaign of fuel manufacture while seeking to improve operational performance further.

"International Nuclear Services, our commercial subsidiary, will continue to explore new commercial arrangements that would make the continuing operation of the plant economically acceptable to the NDA in the longer term."

Sellafield Accidents

In the face of growing energy-related environmental problems, the nuclear power industry and government officials promote it as a clean source of energy. This proposition is based on the myth of nuclear power’s safety as:     Safe;  Sustainable;  A vital contributor to the national energy supply;  Climate-friendly.

Nothing could be further from the truth.
Currently, the primary causes of climate change consist of the emissions of major “greenhouse” gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), through human activities. Emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons, also contribute to global warming. The prime villain in the climate change problem remains carbon dioxide, a constant by-product of nuclear power from ground extraction to manufactured reactor fuel. Throughout the process that produces nuclear power, carbon dioxide is emitted at every stage of the seven phases of the nuclear fuel cycle. In comparison to renewable energy sources, power generated from nuclear reactors releases four to five times more CO2 per unit of energy produced, when taking into account the entire nuclear fuel cycle.  Among conventional power generation methods, nuclear power produces more CO2 than oil-fired power plants (but less than gas-fired power plants). Reducing the rate of climate change can be accomplished by conserving electricity and opting to purchase electricity from renewable sources. Ultimately, citizens should support state and federal legislation to expand renewable energy sources.

By Bill Dougherty - a senior scientist at the Stockholm Environmental Institute. He is a professional engineer with broad experience in engineering analysis and regional planning.  He has worked on projects in Morocco, Sudan, Pakistan, Thailand, and South Africa. His work in the United States has focused on power plant emissions and impacts, emission control technologies and costs, greenhouse gas emissions, fuel cycles, and nuclear power plant aging.

“The only viable solution to the manifold problems of nuclear waste storage and transportation is to stop generating the waste.”

The BBC's "You and Yours" lunchtime programme on 13th October covered quite a range of opinions on the future of energy in the UK.   Only the Lib Dems seemed able to say that nuclear is not clean and green, and is in fact, extremely expensive.   A statement from the SNP indicated that Scotland would not be taking part in any nuclear expansion, pointing out that the production of energy from renewables had risen by 10%, whilst the production from nuclear plants had fallen by 25%.

A range of comments revealed that several contributors had actually fallen for the industry hype, and said that nuclear was low carbon and that the waste could - eventually - be managed when science had come up with the method.   Happily, the nuclear lobby did not win the day, as another contributor illustrated that the actual production of the nuclear fuel required lots of carbon-using resources.

Some Comments from the Experts Source:
In the aftermath of the 1973 oil shock, France launched its first large series of nuclear reactors as a reaction to energy shortages.  Energy conservation was to help in the short term, but nuclear power was supposed to bring the country independence from oil in the longer run.

The strategy was dubious from the start, because the power sector was responsible for less than 12%of the total oil consumed in France in 1973. The key oil problem was not in electric generation but in transport and inefficient buildings, and those uses were neglected.   The result three decades later is stunning. French per capita consumption of oil is higher than in non-nuclear Italy, nuclear phase-outGermany or the EU on average – hardly proof of an enviable level of oil independence.   France’s nearly exclusive focus on (nuclear) energy supply has meanwhile eroded access to affordable energyservices. Even before the recession, the National Housing Agency (ANAH) found that ‘three million French are cold in winter.’ With energy poverty now widespread, requests for social assistance to pay energy bills is rising 15%per year.   Almost one household in four cannot pay its power, gas, water or phone bills.

Effect on Emissions in France
French nuclear policy is neither green nor sustainable.

Electric space heating was heavily promoted and now equips three-quarters of new housing, in particular multi-family homes. Electric heat is not just inefficient end-to-end, it is very costly for the user and creates severe distortion of the power system, with daily peak loads in the winter three times those of summer loads. This in turn leads to increasing use of old oil and coal-fired power plants and to significant power imports.

The Times is reporting massive power flows from Britain to France, mainly because about a third of French nuclear capacity is offline for maintenance, refueling, or insufficient cooling water. Thermal power plants account for over half of France’s freshwater withdrawals or about one-tenth of precipitation.

Cheap power was to make French industry competitive; however, as well as reaching a record trade deficit of EUR58 billion, France has even become a net importer of German coal-based power.

The power-trade trend thus not only further degrades the French trade imbalance but also increases the carbon content of the kWh consumed in France, wherever it's produced.   Per capita greenhouse gas emissions in France, about 9t CO2-equivalent in 2006, are lower than in other European countries, but not by much: Italy, Spain and the whole EU are around 10, the UK 11 and Germany 12.

French soil for dead, not nuclear waste

Nuclear waste is an enormously difficult political problem which, to date, no country has solved.  It is, together with the financial inviability, the Achilles heel of the nuclear industry. Could these problems bring down France's uniquely successful nuclear program?   France's politicians and technocrats are in no doubt:  if France is unable to solve this issue, says one expert, then "I do not see how we can continue our nuclear program."

The Sunday Times, 11th October, 2009, has an interesting and thought-provoking article relating to global warming.   We have long pondered over whether the climate change is being over-hyped (possibly by those with a vested interest in taking our money) as we are aware from archaeology that dinosaurs once roamed our lands, and that an ice-sheet several kilometers deep covered a lot of what is now the UK.   We have a strong belief that nature will deal with those who ignore her power.   Amongst the suggestions from American scientists is the premise that the modern clean air moves have removed considerable amounts of particulates from the atmosphere, thus allowing more sunlight through.   Thus, the planet is returning to its natural state because there is less pollution.   As a result, the article suggests, the seas are warming up, and we all know that warming things causes them to expand.   Thus the sea levels rise.  CO2, far from being a poison benefits plants, and the enhanced growth of plants subjected to a CO2 enriched environment demonstrates that they can deal with the change.
News & Star 21/8/09

A Government report this week revealed what, on the face of it, sounded like a catalogue of incidents at nuclear installations across the country – 81 coolant leaks and 80 fires.

Sellafield say they have a grip on the dangers and every incident is a lesson to be learned. Opponents argue the real effect may not be known until it is too late.

According to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the first leak at Sellafield was in July 2004 and a further problem was reported 12 months later. The next leak was in 2006 when problems were reported with the cooling tower and storage pond, and the final one, in January 2007, was at the Waste Vitrification Plant.

Sellafield Limited say they were all dealt with in a professional manner and no workers were exposed to harm.   But they declined to reveal further details about the incidents and the company is to appear at Carlisle Crown Court tomorrow over health and safety breaches after admitting that two contractors were exposed to radioactive contamination in July 2007.   The two received an internal dose of radiation during the contamination of an area of concrete floor.

Nigel Lawrence, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said the seriousness of the incident was borne “out of the extent” of the contamination.

Fires also caused two problems at Sellafield in 2001, and two Magnox fuel decanning fires were reported in 2004 at the Fuel Handling Plant. The final fire was on the power plant turbine. Loose waste material also combusted at Drigg Low Level Waste Repository in west Cumbria in October 2005, according to the government figures.

Nuclear critics say the problems are a sign of the dangers of the nuclear plants and that the unpredictably of the subject coupled with human error means that we are never very far from a disaster.

Martin Forwood from Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) said that the real effects of the leaks and fires may not be known until it is too late.   CORE was first formed in 1980 and today has hundreds of supporters. They originally campaigned against reprocessing of nuclear fuel at Sellafield but have expanded their arguments and are now opposed nuclear energy entirely.   He told the News & Star: “There has to be more focus on renewables, energy efficiency and conservation. The government pays lip service to renewable energy – wind power is not the only option. Tide and wave power are serious alternatives.   Nuclear power has always taken the majority of resources and development money.   Renewables in the UK are way behind.”

Mr Forwood said the unpredictability of what happens when there are leaks and fires at nuclear power plants was a serious problem.“A lot of the accidents come from human error and there are no safety measure you can put in place to combat this,” he said.   “In 1999 we became concerned because there were a string of accidents one after another at Sellafield.   We appealed to the nuclear installations inspector to carry out an inspection and they did, listing a number of issues. Perhaps it is time that they had another investigation.”

Mr Forwood added that some of the campaigners’ concerns are mirrored by the public.

“The majority of calls CORE get are from people coming to live in Cumbria or for a holiday with their kids, asking us if it is safe,” he said. “We tell them it is safe but the levels of radioactivity along some parts of the coast are high. The last thing we want to do is put people off coming to west Cumbria. The big problem with the argument against nuclear power is influence on jobs. It is difficult to know how all these jobs would be taken up by another employer.   But there is so much work to be done and decommissioning would take hundreds of years of work.”

A spokesman from Sellafield Limited said that the organisation operated a “learn from experience” system where all incidents are investigated and any lessons that can be learned from these are communicated through the workforce. He added that these are also used to review practices and can lead to changes.

The spokesman added: “Sellafield Limited reports incidents, however minor, to the authorities and the public and this is a sign of a rigorous and transparent safety regime.

The incidents referred to were dealt with in a highly professional manner and although some of the incidents caused limited damage to non essential plant equipment, they did not result in injury to personnel. Sellafield’s new parent body, NMP, has brought world class experience and expertise in conduct of operations and are driving disciplined professionalism throughout the workforce.”  

Despite the risks nuclear power still remains high on the government agenda and ministers have given the go-ahead for new nuclear plant and reactors expected to be built in Copeland, along with new build at Sellafield.   Each new reactor built would create up to 10,000 jobs – 9,000 of them in construction and the rest operational.

Critics say there are other ways to secure Britain’s energy needs and have pointed to past problems at Sellafield as proof it is not the solution.   But with the current opposition to windfarms and other renewable energy sources, the debate is far from over.

What the Other Papers Think

The potential threat of theft of nuclear material is a scenario which may seem rather far-fetched, but is it?   In our objection to the proposed developments we pointed out that, despite the presence of a no-fly zone over Sellafield, a light aircraft circled the area for over 15 minutes in 2008, before RAF fighters arrived on the scene to escort the plane away.   A happy ending, but it could have been so different . . .

Nuclear attack fears as terrorist raids on atomic bases revealed
- Dean Nelson in New Delhi
The Taliban and al-Qa'ida have attacked Pakistan's nuclear weapons bases at least three times in the last two years, it was claimed yesterday.   The allegations, by a leading British expert on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, added to fears that terrorists could acquire a nuclear device or bomb an atomic facility.

Professor Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at Bradford University, gave details of three attacks since November 2007 and raised the spectre of more.   He said militants had struck a nuclear storage facility at Sarghoda on November 1st, 2007;  launched a suicide bomb assault on a nuclear airbase at Kamra on December 10th, 2007;  and set off explosions at the entrances to Wah cantonment, one of Pakistan's main nuclear assembly plants, in August 2008.

The attacks were carried out despite an extensive security cordon and millions of dollars in American technical aid to prevent militant infiltration.   Pakistan's nuclear weapons establishments are protected by heavily armed soldiers, while inside, sophisticated sensors guard against intruders.  But despite this system, Prof Gregory said the facilities remained vulnerable because they were in areas where "Taliban and al-Qa'ida are more than capable of launching terrorist attacks".

The risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons was "genuine", he said.


(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Despite government promises that there will be no levies to provide funding for new nuclear sites, the industry has a growing sense that EdF, E.ON and RWE npower, the backers of new nuclear plants, may find that construction is uneconomic without them.   There is also a strengthening feeling that national energy security ought to take a priority over the targets set by the European government that say UK emissions must be reduced by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

The problem lies in the European Union's decree that Britain's dirtiest power stations – the old-style coal and oil generation plants – must be shut down not at a certain date, but after a certain number of hours. These plants, which are used as back-up generators for times of peak demand, are expected to shut in about 2015.

Following in the fashion set by Enron may be another ploy to be used (if it isn't already), by limiting the amount of electricity made available by the six electricity and gas suppliers.   Indeed, the combined efforts of the already-acutely-vulnerable nuclear industry and the electricity suppliers has scared the UK government into ill-considered moves.   We note elsewhere that the profits to be made from the supply of electricity in this country are actually to the benefit of foreign countries, namely Germany and France.

Daily Telegraph 13/8/09

German utility giant RWE saw global pre-tax profits rise by 20% to €3.38bn (£2.91bn) despite revenues down 1% to €24.4bn for the six months to the end of June.

This success is partly due to locking-in power tariffs before the recession, which caused wholesale gas and power prices to slump.

Its focus on reducing costs in the UK comes as its npower division put in a "weak performance due to the above-average price and cost pressure", especially those related to new Government green initiatives and rising bad debt.

The UK cost-cutting programme may result in reduced headcount through unfilled vacancies, although redundancies were not ruled out. "Like all big companies, we are looking at everything from travel costs to mobile phone use," a spokesman for RWE npower said. "There is no big redundancy programme planned."

RWE npower has a 15% share of the UK market, where it has been one of the last electricity providers to reduce tariffs for consumers and businesses, despite falling wholesale prices.     Source:

Of course, one of the main things being touted as an essential which will be met by nuclear new-build is "energy security".   Yet we do seem to have a history of disagreement with both the countries which have been invited to take over large swathes of the UK coast.   Who knows how long it might be before a similar breakdown in amicable relations occurs?

On the 19th April, 2009, the Guardian on Sunday newspaper, ran an article by Robin McKie, science editor, about Sellafield.

Sellafield: the most hazardous place in Europe

Last week the government announced plans for a new generation of nuclear plants. But Britain is still dealing with the legacy of its first atomic installation at Sellafield - a toxic waste dump in one of the most contaminated buildings in Europe. As a multi-billion-pound clean-up is planned, can we avoid making the same mistakes again?

The disused plutonium reactors at Sellafield are a 'slow-motion Chernobyl', according to Greenpeace campaigners against nuclear energy.   Building B30 is a large, stained, concrete edifice that stands at the centre of Sellafield, Britain's sprawling nuclear processing plant in Cumbria. Surrounded by a three-metre-high fence that is topped with razor wire, encased in scaffolding and riddled with a maze of sagging pipes and cabling, it would never be a contender to win an architectural prize.   Yet B30 has a powerful claim to fame, albeit a disturbing one. "It is the most hazardous industrial building in western Europe," according to George Beveridge, Sellafield's deputy managing director.

Nor is it hard to understand why the building possesses such a fearsome reputation. Piles of old nuclear reactor parts and decaying fuel rods, much of them of unknown provenance and age, line the murky, radioactive waters of the cooling pond in the centre of B30. Down there, pieces of contaminated metal have dissolved into sludge that emits heavy and potentially lethal doses of radiation. It is an unsettling place, though B30 is certainly not unique. There is Building B38 next door, for example. "That's the second most hazardous industrial building in Europe," said Beveridge. Here highly radioactive cladding from reactor fuel rods is stored, also under water. And again, engineers have only a vague idea what else has been dumped in its cooling pond and left to disintegrate for the past few decades.

During the miners' strike of 1972, the nation's nuclear plants were run at full stretch in order to supply electricity to a beleaguered nation. As a result, it proved impossible to process all the waste that was being generated. Cladding and fuel were simply thrown into B38's cooling ponds and left to disintegrate.   But the building, like so many other elderly edifices at Sellafield, is crumbling and engineers now face the headache of dealing with its lethal contents.

This, then, is the dark heart of Sellafield, a place where engineers and scientists are only now confronting the legacy of Britain's postwar atomic aspirations and the toxic wasteland that has been created on the Cumbrian coast. Engineers estimate that it could cost the nation up to £50bn to clean this up over the next 100 years.   [Spending on Sellafield's decommissioning is around £1.5 billion per year.]

The figure is, by far, the largest part of the £73bn that has been committed to cleaning up Britain's nuclear-polluted past. It is also an acute embarrassment to the government, which is now anxiously promoting nuclear power as the solution to Britain's energy problems.

Last week ministers revealed a list of 11 sites for new nuclear plants around Britain. Atomic power will be the nation's salvation as it battles global warming and seeks to cut its carbon emissions, they insisted. But the condition of edifices such as B30 and B38 - and all the other "legacy" structures built at Sellafield decades ago - suggest Britain might end up paying a heavy price for this new commitment to nuclear energy. After all, if it is going to cost that much to decommission early reactors, green groups and opponents of nuclear energy are asking, what might we end up paying for a second clean-up if we go ahead with new nuclear plants?

For its part, the nuclear industry is adamant. New reactors will produce little waste and pose few threats to the environment, say UK nuclear chiefs who point to the example of France where almost 80% of electricity is generated by atomic fission and waste is safely reprocessed. Atomic energy today is safe and Sellafield's problems are merely a historic accident - the result of Britain's desperation to be a leading postwar power, they say.   But it will be a tricky job convincing the public that modern nuclear plants are the answer to Britain's energy worries, given that there are buildings in Sellafield filled with "appalling radioactive crap", as one senior nuclear physicist put it, and which will cost tens of billions of pounds to clean up.

"It is going to be a very difficult business," admitted Dr Paul Howarth, executive director of Dalton Nuclear Institute at Manchester University. "The taxpayer now has to pay around £1.5bn a year to clean up Sellafield's waste problems and will have to maintain that investment for years to come.   "That is a very large financial commitment. Nevertheless it would be wrong to dismiss nuclear energy out of hand. Modern reactors are indeed very different creations compared to the first reactors that were built at Sellafield in the 1940s and 1950s. New ones produce relatively little waste, will be easy to decommission and are intrinsically clean and safe. Convincing the public of these points will not be easy, however."

A former second world war ordnance factory, Sellafield was chosen to be the site for Britain's first atomic reactors - known as Pile 1 and Pile 2. These were not built to generate electricity, but to produce plutonium for the nation's independent nuclear deterrent. Construction was carried out at breakneck speed as political leaders pressed scientists to complete the project quickly.   As a result of these efforts, Britain was able to explode its own atomic bombs by 1952. The UK became a nuclear power and won itself a permanent seat on the UN security council, thanks to its nuclear engineers and scientists.   But success came at an appalling price. Those scientists had no time to think about the waste produced by their atomic bomb programme, a point starkly demonstrated by another Sellafield legacy building, B41. It still stores the aluminium cladding for the uranium fuel rods that were burnt inside Piles 1 and 2. That aluminium posed serious disposal problems when it was removed, in a highly radioactive state, from the two reactors as their fuel was decommissioned and their plutonium extracted.

So scientists hit on what seemed to be an ingenious solution: they would dump it in a silo. "If you drive across the plains of North America, you see these isolated grain silos where farmers store their grain," says Beveridge. "And that, essentially, is what B41 is - a grain silo."   Nuclear waste was tipped in at the top of B41 once it was erected and then allowed to fall to the bottom. Later, when it was realised that pieces of aluminium and magnesium among this waste could catch fire and cause widespread contamination, inert argon gas had to be pumped in to smother potential blazes. And so, for the past 60 years, building B41 has remained in this state, its highly radioactive contents mingling and reacting with each other. Now engineers have been told to clear it up.

They do, fortunately, have a plan. In a few years, vast metal-cutting machines will be brought into Sellafield and used to slice into the sides of the B41 silo before mechanical grabs pull out and sort through its contents. Then this radioactive debris will be mixed with liquid glass and allowed to solidify, a process known as vitrification, before it is kept for subsequent storage in underground vaults. Isolating this material will be immensely difficult, however: B41 will have to be covered and sealed to ensure no leakage of radioactive material. At the same time, the giant cutting machines employed to slice open the silo will have to negotiate the treacherous, tight concourses that separate Sellafield's different buildings. These are lined with cabling, ducts and, most worrying of all, elevated pipes, called pipe-bridges, that carry radioactive liquid waste around the site. Damaging or opening up one of these could have disastrous consequences.   Hence the care taken by engineers as they prepare their plans for B41 while their colleagues continue their work at the silo's sister plant, B29, where decommissioning work has already begun.

In effect, B29 is simply a huge covered cooling pond that once stretched between the heat stacks of Piles 1 and 2.   Fuel rods were removed from these two reactors, moved into the cooling pond of B29 and split open. Most of this material was removed for reprocessing but several tonnes of waste and old fuel still lies below the pond's thick milky waters and it is the task of Steve Topping, leader of the building's decommissioning team, to ensure that this is extracted and safely stored.

Calm, with greying hair, Topping has a reassuringly confident air about his work despite the fact he has to deal with tonnes of nuclear waste and old oxide fuel whose exact composition and location is unknown. "The trouble is there is no one left at Sellafield to tell us where things were put down there. The stuff in the pond has been down there for 50 years," says Topping.

Today B29 is showing its age and looks more like a dirty old dock than a pool with its crumbling grey concrete, grimy brickwork and old ducts and sections of corroding pipes. The water is filled with green algae and has the clarity of Milk of Magnesia, which defies all efforts to see what lies beneath.   To clean it up, robot machines will soon begin to split open the submerged skips in which old waste and fuel from Piles 1 and 2 are stored. The radioactive sludge at the bottom of the pool will then be pumped into a new tank that is now under construction beside B29. Then the internal linings of its walls will be scraped clean of radioactivity before the edifice is taken down, concrete section by concrete section. At the same time, the most dangerous waste will be vitrified ready for disposal.   The whole process will take at least 10 years to complete - and that is just for a single building. On top of the dismantling of B29 and B41, in which the waste from Britain's atom bomb programme is stored, there are the headaches that will be involved when dealing with the contents of B30 and B38.

These hold the leftovers from the nation's first civil reactor programme, a series of reactors known as Magnox plants. Eleven of these were built and two are still in operation. Piles of the waste they have generated is to be found around Sellafield awaiting the attention of engineers like Topping, who has spent his working life at the site.   "Sometimes I think this is the best job in the world," he said. "There are real skills needed to dismantle buildings like these. Every action has to be carefully planned. I love being among it all. On other days, though, it is really frustrating work. Everything has to be done in such a slow, safe and controlled manner."

The key problem for Sellafield is that so much of its highly radioactive waste has been stored in water. This was done to cool fuel rods and cladding as they emerged from reactors heated to hundreds of degrees celsius. But once in water, they disintegrated and immediately posed a hazard in case a pond wall became breached, and that is why Sellafield is now undergoing its massively expensive clean-up. Those pond walls are getting old and their contents - forgotten by politicians for half a century - must be turned into solid waste that can be contained safely and buried once Britain has finally decided on the location of a deep underground repository.

"We are delivering the largest environmental restoration programme in Europe and making safe and disposing of some of the most hazardous material anywhere in the world, much of which originates from early nuclear research and military projects," says Richard Waite, acting chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. "At the same time we are providing essential services to enable current nuclear sites to 'keep the lights on'."

Nuclear opponents have less complimentary views about what goes on at Sellafield, of course. The place is "a slow-motion Chernobyl", according to campaigners from Greenpeace, a group which has a reputation for never missing out on the catchy phrase.   Nevertheless, Greenpeace has a point. Many of Sellafield's buildings are, essentially, no more than containers of highly radioactive scrap whose disposal is set to devour tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers' money.

The site has become the biggest, and mostly easily waved, stick in the armoury of the green movement. As one senior employee admitted: "If you want to object to anything nuclear, you just have to point to Sellafield."   In fact, Sellafield is a classic illustration of the failure of British industry. We were pioneers of nuclear power but in our desire to build our own atomic weapons, failed abysmally when it came to developing and managing our own civil reactors and reprocessing plants.  As a result, we have been left with a multibillion-pound clean-up bill and the prospect of buying either American or French reactors for our next generation nuclear plants. The lesson of Sellafield is not so much that nuclear power is dangerous but that Britain seems incapable of implementing any long-term engineering plan that comes its way, from high-speed trains to wind turbines or rocket launchers.


We have to ask what is the true cost of electricity generated in this fashion?   By the time all the cleaning up costs have been added, it is surely not economically sensible, nor can it be sustainable.

Sellafield's former managing director Brian Watson is joining the KeySource Group as senior associate consultant and director of its UK and European strategic consulting services.

Mr Watson said: “I feel both privileged and delighted to join with KeySource given their track record of strategic successes working in the US and UK nuclear markets.

“With the recent award of the Sellafield PBO contract, upcoming major decommissioning programmes, and the wave of new-build power plants, KeySource is well positioned to help shape the future of the nuclear markets in the UK and Europe.”

Ref.:  Whitehaven News Article, 3/10/08   -   Not that any of the public - let alone the politicians for the area, would know anything about this wave of new-build power plants back then, of course.

And the Politician says:

Mr. J. Reed announced an interest:  "I should declare an interest in Sellafield.   Although I have no direct financial interest, I am a former employee of the plant."  

We have to note the qualification there, and ask whether Mr. Reed has any indirect interest?   If nothing else, he has surely earned a seat on the board for his stirling assistance in promoting the nuclear industry!

Actually, the problems of Sellafield have even been acknowledged by the arch-supporter, Mr. J. Reed.   In a debate on "Energy Security and Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Hansard 1 July, 2009, Column 133WH, Mr. Reed said:

"There have been significant processing problems at SMP, which have caused Sellafield management, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the government to assess the future of SMP for a number of years.   That is not a new development."

"[It]  has underperformed, but it will have a use until a new MOX plant is built at Sellafield."  
Why build more underperforming plants?   How many more plants will it take to do the work that the original plant was supposed to achieve?

“Electricity is but the fleeting by-product from nuclear power. The actual product is forever-deadly radioactive waste.
The product is poison.”
Michael Keegan, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes

Tim Farron (Westmorland & Lonsdale, Liberal Democrat):

In all of that, it is essential that local communities are in control of their own destiny. As we have seen from the loss of post offices, the decline of many communities and the cuts to rural health services, there is an overwhelming sense of anger at things being done to us without our consent. We are sometimes offered consultations, but that has become a meaningless word under this Labour Government. Never have we been more consulted and less listened to. The top-down decisions to close jobcentres in rural areas, rob our rural communities of post offices, take away rural tax offices, force through the reduction in social housing stock and remove acute hospital services have all damaged our rural communities, but we were given no say in them.
Source:  Hansard  HC Deb, 15 June 2009, c62

Nick Herbert (Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Environment, Food & Rural Affairs; Arundel & South Downs, Conservative)

During the construction of THORP, a heavily contractorised work force from all over the United Kingdom created an unsustainable spike in the local economy. Neither the rise nor the fall of the spike was properly planned for. Consequently, the local economy overheated and, once construction came to an end, the spike rapidly disappeared, leaving a deflated economy and an enfeebled supply chain.

For markets to grow, take hold and work, economies need businesses that are not only flexible and responsive but socially responsible.

Source:  Hansard  HC Deb, 15 June 2009, c692

I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend. It is important to remember that rural areas are not a theme park. We cannot allow rural communities to be dormitories, where people only live, then go to work somewhere else. We must have sustainable, vibrant communities and remember the importance of farming and agriculture in those communities to manage the land. Farmers need to be allowed to get on with their businesses.
Source:  Hansard  HC Deb, 15 June 2009, c41
Does he agree that we need to do an awful lot more in this country to ensure that supermarkets exercise a much greater duty of care towards our farmers? Source:  Hansard  HC Deb, 15 June 2009, c59
Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Environment, Food & Rural Affairs: "There is no such thing as a separate rural economy."
Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove, Conservative) How much of the UK's energy production will be sourced from nuclear by 2020?
Edward Miliband (Secretary of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change; Doncaster North, Labour) That depends on how quickly the plans move forward. From 2018, the new stations will start to be built. As I said, the companies have plans for about 12 GW, which is more than existing capacity. I do not think that all of it will be built by 2020, but it will probably be built in the early part of the following decade. Source:  Hansard  HC Deb, 15 July 2009, c305

A member of Cumbria County Council, who for many years has been responsible for the county’s emergency plan should anything like a radioactive leak happen at Sellafield has criticised the proposed scheme at Kirksanton.

Of the proposal for a power station on land owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) next to Sellafield he said: “I don’t have much of a problem with that because we already have a well developed emergency plan and a well educated local population.

“What does concern me is the new reactors at Kirksanton and Braystones. What this does is it brings in an entirely new population being put at risk from these reactors.

“As an emergency planner it creates major new problems but it all sounds as if the land has been sold and the job has been done.

NW Evening Mail, 19/3/09   (ref:

[COMARE] did find an excess of leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma near other nuclear installations including Sellafield.

Between 1950 and 2000 there have been 21 serious incidents or accidents involving some off-site radiological releases that merited a rating on the International Nuclear Event Scale, one at level 5, five at level 4 and fifteen at level 3. Additionally during the 1950s and 1960s there were protracted periods of known, deliberate, discharges to the atmosphere of plutonium and irradiated uranium oxide particulates.  These frequent incidents, together with the large 2005 Thorp plant leak which was not detected for nine months, have led some to doubt the effectiveness of the managerial processes and safety culture on the site over the years.

Svend Auken, the Danish minister, called for urgent talks with Britain. He said it was "unpleasant to have a report which shows how poorly the safety work at Sellafield functions".   The independent, 23/2/2000, in relation to the discharges from Sellafield into the Irish Sea, and the falsification of documentation in relation to a fuel rod shipped to Germany.   In fact, the Nuclear Inspectorates report found that data had been falsified for over 4 years, and fuel assemblies shipped to Japan, Switzerland and Germany had been unsafely shipped.

Nine years on and two more incidents are reported widely.   Of course, rough justice does exist:  on the very day the Prime Minister visited the plant last January, a drip was discovered: there was a slow leak of radioactive liquid from a valve flange on a condensate drain line from a ventilation duct which serves the Magnox fuel reprocessing plant.   Initially the leak was recorded as an "anomaly", but in June this was raised a level, to "incident".

On the more positive side, a leak which existed for half a century was finally sealed.   However, the Irish were not overly impressed.

"It defies belief that an organisation responsible for handling lethal radioactive waste would do nothing about a leak for such a long time.

"It shows how the plant's management are contemptuous of both the Irish people and those British people living in Sellafield's vicinity. I've been there with a geiger counter, and it goes wild as you approach the plant.

"People need to realise just how dangerous this place is," said Louth TD, Arthur Morgan.  

Sir Bernard Ingham,  (Ref. 20club.doc)   (Not contiguous paragraphs.) "I shall sum up the politics of nuclear energy at the start. Until last week policy was made by impractical crackpot zealots dominating politicians with no backbone or, even less, knowledge of the subject. We have drifted for years.  

"Last week the Government, in some desperation, broke out of the Green straitjacket by opening the way to a new nuclear future. This has been a long time coming – and possibly too late for the good of the economy. "

"This is a classic example of the results of a vigorous, committed tail wagging a passive and cowed dog."

"For sake of completeness, there have also been some expensive problems with nuclear processing technology at Sellafield."

"I doubt whether we would now be going nuclear if politicians were not becoming acutely aware that they could be marked down in history any time in the future as the foolish virgins who allowed the lights to go out." 

With management like this, the input from an ex-PR manager, now MP, and the various committees all stuffed with ex-industry employees and pro-nuclear lobbyists, we should be greatly afeared of any further nuclear development on the Cumbrian coast.   Let each area around the country develop the power stations it requires; why should Cumbria be despoiled for the next hundred years or so, merely to export energy to those not willing to do their own dirty work?   We are given one reason:  employment.   With Sellafield closing within ten years (unless the MP has his way and they build more processing plants) unemployment is set to rise dramatically.   The figures suggest that all those employed at Sellafield are Cumbrians.   Is this truly the case?   We think not.   We believe (and the Doll Report seems to confirm this) that there was a great influx into the area from Northumberland and elsewhere.   After all, how else could the higher incidence of leukemias in the area be explained, without blaming the industry?
From  (Ref.:  we learn:

UK authorities should ensure the Thorp plant at Sellafield remains permanently closed down, it was claimed today as the nuclear operators were fined €743,000 following a radioactive leak.

Around 83,000 litres of acid containing 20 tonnes of uranium and 160kg of plutonium escaped from a broken pipe into a sealed concrete holding site at the Thorp plant in west Cumbria in April 2005.

Environment Minister Dick Roche stressed safety issues and concerns remain around Sellafield.

The operator of the plant, British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd, were fined €743,000 and €101,000 costs by Carlisle Crown Court today.

The operators had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of breaching conditions attached to the Sellafield site licence, granted under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.

Mr Roche welcomed the actions of the UK Regulator in holding the operators accountable for the serious lapses in safety procedures at the plant.

“The level of this fine, together with the fines already imposed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority earlier this year, goes some way towards reflecting the serious issues which resulted in the leak of this large volume of toxic material.

"However it gives little comfort that the poor, ongoing safety culture identified can, or will, be tackled by the UK authorities,” Mr Roche said.

“We have been here before. The new safety dawn promised, and ultimately signed off on, by the UK regulatory authorities has proved to be false. The Irish Government’s concerns are in no way diminished by this episode.

"This leak provides further evidence, if such were needed, that the UK authorities should make the current shutdown of the Thorp plant a permanent feature.”

Richard Matthews, prosecuting, said the first indication of a leak at the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp) was on August 24, 2004 when 50 grams of uranium was detected following a sample test.

The full extent of the leak was finally uncovered on April 14, 2005 and Thorp was shut down four days later and remains closed.

The minister said the Irish Government would continue to hold the UK government accountable and responsible for the operation of the Sellafield plant.

“As Minister for the Environment, I will continue to articulate these concerns clearly and consistently, not only to the UK Government and Administration, but also to the European Commission,” Mr Roche said.

The court heard that the leak should have been detected within days rather than eight months.

Mr Justice Openshaw said British Nuclear Group Sellafield did not have a good safety record.

The court heard that the company had seven previous convictions on safety related matters and had received fines totalling more than €171,000 but none of these involved a leak.

The court was told that a change in the handling process had caused the leak.

In a statement the Health and Safety Executive, which brought the case, said: “Our extensive investigation into the events at Thorp has shown that British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd fell well below required standards for a considerable period of time, something we are not prepared to tolerate.”

Anyone in any doubt about the current series of magazines issued with the Whitehaven News each week, entitled, somewhat pretentiously, "West Cumbrian Futures", need only to read the sub-title - "In association with the NDA and Energus".

Issue 34:  August 2009 edition  has a wonderful piece of guff from Energus' chief executive.   Surprisingly, not everyone comes to Cumbria to look at industrial developments.   We wonder if this person is unique, or just in need of his job?

Eat your heart out Julia Bradbury!   Who needs all that Wainwright stuff?

Not propaganda!

It will come as no surprise to you that there is a slight element of bias, apart from his salary, of course, which allows the chief executive to wax so lyrically.   To quote from the Energus web site:

'ENERGUS is a limited company overseen by a partnership between the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the Northwest Development Agency, West Lakes Renaissance and Sellafield Ltd. Additional representatives from local industry make up its Board of Directors. In addition to the partners referred to above funding has also been secured from the Northern Way and the European Regional Development Fund initiatives.

This iconic development is a key part of a drive to turn West Cumbria into a global centre for energy, environment and technology, consistent with the aims of the West Cumbria Masterplan and the Energy Coast initiative.'

Or, as we know them, the usual manipulative quangos out to enhance their status at the cost of the Cumbrian coastline, with no mention of personal gain.   Sometimes referred to as Jamie's Gang.

[As an aside, we approached the Northwest Development Agency for assistance in tarmacing a dirt track leading to the railway station at Braystones.   Beyond the railway station the lane crosses the Barrow to Carlisle railway line, via a self-operated crossing, to serve the beach community.   It is a difficult proposition to maintain it - almost as difficult as trying to find out who owns it.   In the past Sellafield and Network Rail both chipped in with assistance towards the cost of materials.   Volunteers then fill in the pot-holes.   Sadly, it has become more heavily-used and needs almost constant refurbishment - hence our approach to the Northwest Development Agency.

After they managed to lose our initial request, after several weeks we made a personal visit to their Workington office.   Here we were given hope;  the mail was eventually found and forwarded to the regional headquarters, where it got lost again.   After further enquiry we were eventually told that the agency don't actually have any money to distribute, they merely make recommendations to the government with regard to funding of projects.   

What they really meant to say was, "NO".   Strange then that they are credited with so much of the funding for the nuclear industry.   (Or that they even managed to fund  new drainage, new seating, a new stand and a new scoreboard for Old Trafford Cricket Club.   The area headquarters is in Warrington - not very far away from Old Trafford.)]

As if to confirm our deep concerns about the secret gang-mentality of those supposedly improving the area, we note two articles on the front page of the Whitehaven News for 30/7/09.   The first relates to a Conservative councillor being turned away from a meeting at which future healthcare plans were to be debated.   We are not in the slightest bit political, recent events having amply demonstrated the nature of the beast, but the local MP tried to justify his colleague's action by reportedly saying, ". . .  This was not a political meeting - only those people who have helped bring the new build to this point, who have a genuine focus and who are committed to its success were invited".   Would a fair interpretation be, only "Yes" men are allowed a voice in Mr. Reed's kind of democracy?   Certainly our experiences of meetings to discuss the future have met with the "only if you're in our gang" mentality.   

As another example of this restriction on free speech:  why was the subject of the nuclear industry's effect on health and the environment taboo at the April and May meetings to "consult" residents?   

"The nuclear industry is here, and here to stay.   We will not permit matters of health and the environment to be included in these discussions."  

Yet these are the prime arguments against the industry.   Without these considerations there is little to object to, surely?   With these, however, it is entirely different.   

"Radiation is thought to have been contributed to the death of the former Sellafield worker . . ."

"Whitehaven magistrates heard that two workers received an internal dose of radiation during the decontamination of an area of concrete floor."   

"Sellafield admitted that it had breached health and safety laws."

Surely, these are important matters?   They are in one week's newspapers, (the Whitehaven News for the week ending 31/7/09) and there are similar stories almost every week.

What about RWE and its purported concerns for good practise and observation of proper processes?   

"Firefighters have brought under control a major blaze at Tilbury Power Station in Essex.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said the fire covered an area measuring 200 metres by 300 metres.

A spokesman for energy firm RWE npower said: "We can confirm that a fire broke out within the turbine hall at Tilbury Power Station this afternoon at approximately 3pm."

In another example of the secrecy that surrounds these people:  RWE n-power, who are proposing to build at Braystones wrote to a few selected people the day before concluding the purchase of farmland, to advise them.   The letter, of course, arrived the day the deal was concluded.   So much for openness and transparency.

Interestingly, Copeland Council, not the highest ranking outfit in New Labour's targets and performance league table in any category,

is rated 323rd out of 352 councils in permitting locals to influence decisions.
You do indeed have to be in the "gang" to have any influence.   Yet Sellafield and the NDA seem to have no difficulty in communicating their ideas to either Copeland Council or Cumbria County Council.   We note elsewhere the presence of employees, or ex-employees, associated with Sellafield in both organisations, as well as the many quangos and sub-groups.   Chance?   Does the money distributed by the nuclear industry have no influence at all?   If not, why do they continue to distribute it?

Each week the propaganda tells us how much we are in favour of new build for nuclear power stations and how much more money the NDA and Sellafield are pouring into the local economy.  

We note the forthcoming 400 acre land sale of "agricultural land" around Sellafield.   We see the plans for an industrial estate in Beckermet.   We read of the bigoted policitians' "Energy Coast Masterplan" and the developments at Kirksanton and Braystones.

It doesn't take much imagination to see that from east of Barrow to north of Maryport will become a huge ribbon of industrial estates in a throwback to the Victorian industrial age, where there was little or no consideration of the damage being done to the populace and the environment.   How little our politicians have learned.

Even queries to central government about  the planning procedures are countered by the planning system - with its already scant regard for public  input - being amended so that approval can be made much more quickly!  (i.e. with even less chance of the public having a say in their local amenity.)   So said Mr. Miliband talking on the Andrew Marr Show.

The following article has been written by an expert from the group Radiation Free Lakeland. 
It is a chilling indictment of the government's laissez-faire attitude to the nuclear industry.

Nuclear power trashing the climate      
Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Nuclear Fuel cycle produces greenhouse gases thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Following a Freedom of Information request from Radiation Free Lakeland it has come to light that Sellafield (no longer producing electricity) quadrupled its emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from the period 2007 to 2008.   HFC’s are hundreds, and can be thousands of times, more powerful than carbon dioxide.  

The reporting threshold is 100kg but Sellafield produced over 4 times this amount in 2008 alone.

Last week’s  report urging new nuclear build published by former energy minister Malcolm Wicks (now the government’s “Special Representative on International Energy”) proclaims new nuclear build would “boost energy security” and “tackle climate change.” 

Regarding “energy security,” the  known UK resource of uranium is on Orkney where the Orcadians successfully won a battle in the 1970’s to keep their uranium in the ground.

Regarding climate change Wick’s report misleads the public into believing  that nuclear power does not produce Green House Gases. This assertion is clearly untrue.

Far from being the saviour of planet Earth, it was nuclear power that first blew a hole in the ozone layer.   

Apart from hydrofluorocarbons and other potent greenhouse gas emissions, the nuclear cycle absolutely relies on the production of  chemicals such as concentrated nitric acid in large quantities.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is produced by nitric acid production and is not only 310 times more powerful than CO2 but it lasts over 100 years in the troposphere.

According to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield is home to the most dangerous concoction of tens of millions of gallons of nitric acid (1086.7 m3) in High Level Liquid Waste tanks holding “nitric acid solution containing fission products, some actinides and some solids”.

One teaspoon  (0.2 ounces) of nitric acid  is corrosive to mucous membranes and/or fatal.

Fossil fuel and the internal combustion engine has done much to trash the environment but fossil fuel is well and truly  trumped by nuclear power at the top of the polluting industrial food chain and reliant on all other polluters for its existence.

For instance, Sellafield spent £30 million last year on gas at the nearby “Fellside” gas plant built at the nuclear industry’s behest to insure “security of supply” for a nuclear plant that no longer produces electricity.

A spokesperson for Radiation Free Lakeland said, “Malcolm Wick’s dodgy dossier is in the same spirit as the dodgy dossier presented as an excuse for the Iraq ‘war’.   Never mind the known link between nuclear power plants and cancers,  it is obvious that nuclear power is neither “home grown” no “climate friendly, ” to pretend otherwise is the most  vicious confidence trick imaginable."

HFC’s are hundreds and can be thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide.   (Ref.:

Some estimates suggest that increases in HFC use could overwhelm all the planned cuts in CO2 emissions by 2040, releasing the equivalent of hundreds of gigatonnes of CO2.

Following a Freedom of Information request from Radiation Free Lakeland it has come to light that Sellafield (no longer producing electricity) quadrupled its emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from the period 2007 to 2008:

(10689349) - initial NDA response extract: Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs):    2007: 176kg (Figure from Magnox, Thorp and FCHP).
                                                                                                                   2008: 431kg (Figure from Magnox, Thorp and FCHP).
the reporting threshold for HFCs is 100kg.

Energy Security Paper backs Dash for Homegrown Energy   (Ref.:

In Feb '77, the Orkney Islands Council had unanimously rejected an application from the SSEB for permission to begin uranium prospecting.  (Ref.: h

Nuclear Power first blew a hole in the ozone layer, “In July 1962 NASA announced that high altitude nuclear tests had created a new radiation belt 750 miles deep, girdling the earth. …………military tests have massively contributed to ozone depletion and global warming”.
(Ref.:  Dr Rosalie Bertell -  "Planet Earth the Latest Weapon of War" - The Women's Press, London, 2000.)

The nuclear cycle absolutely relies on the production of  chemicals  (Ref.:  The Nuclear Fuel Cycle – Royal Society of Chemistry,

Sellafield is home to the most dangerous concoction of tens of millions of gallons of nitric acid (1086.7 m3) in High Level Liquid Waste tanks holding “nitric acid solution containing fission products, some actinides and some solids”.   (Click here for reference.)

Known link between nuclear power plants and cancers.

Just to further illustrate our point about Sellafield events taking a regular chunk of the Whitehaven News, the August 6th edition has the headline on P. 3,

 "Sellafield's knuckles rapped over radioactive water spill"
We mention the leak (noticed, somewhat embarrassingly, during a visit by the Prime Minister) elsewhere.   The leak had been extant for at least 14 months.    A report on the incident by the Environment Agency (not always known for perspicacity) stated:  

"An initial investigation has identified a number of areas where the company failed to comply with the requirements of its certificate of authorisation, notably in the use of inadequately designed and installed equipment;  in not carrying out sufficient inspection and maintenance of equipment and in not establishing clear responsibility for managing the equipment in question."
The report points out that the public are not allowed into the area which was contaminated, so there was no danger to them at any time.   Surely employees are just members of the public who happen to work at Sellafield?   Somewhat lamely, the customary spokesperson  stressed, "Since taking over control of Sellafield Ltd., in November, the new executive team is continuing to emphasise the importance of safety, disciplined professionalism and first-class conduct of operations".   One has to wonder just how many of the established managers actually got changed when the new regime came in.   If, as we suspect, not many, then were they not the ones responsible for the failure in the first place?   How long will they keep playing the New Kid on the Block card?   What guarantees are there that any company will fare any better - especially one trying new designs?   Sellafield has had over half a century to get things right.   RWE, we are led to believe, will be able to design and commission a new type of reactor (of a similar type to the one causing the Finnish government to despair) on greenfield sites, with no infrastructure in place, no means of obtaining resources without considerable environmental damage, and distribute it without detracting considerably from the amenity of the whole area, with no problems and on budget.   Hmm.   Dream on . . .
Also a shortened version from the past:
  by Jason Adkins, a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

"Everyone knows the whole area near the Sellafield nuclear plant is radioactive," explains one nearby resident, a British Rail conductor who won't let his family near the beaches there.

British Nuclear Fuels is waging a defensive credibility campaign to convince its critics at home and abroad that its plant is safe.

Government records indicate that over a quarter of a ton of highly radioactive plutonium has been discharged into the Irish Sea since 1952".

Barrow Action Group head Jean Emery argues that British Nuclear Fuels has violated the human rights of local people with the radioactive discharges. "Everything we know about it scares me," she says, "from the presence of radioactive isotopes in fish, to the fact that many birds are no longer breeding in local estuaries, to the high incidence of cancer in the area."

The radioactive slick originated when Windscale workers inadvertently discharged large quantities of radioactive solvents used to flush out storage tanks during maintenance operations. The discharge of 1,500 curies did not exceed permissible levels of 3,000 curies over a three month period. But the company conceded that concentrations of radioactivity or particulate material could have a "significant health risk" if handled for a period of several hours or if ingested.   Plant critics claim that the most severely contaminated flotsam and beaches from the November discharge had produced a radioactivity count that would reach up to the permissible annual exposure in several hours. Normal background radiation measures ten counts per second. By contrast, the contaminated beaches near Sellafield had counts above 1,000 per second for over nine months. (The United Kingdom's permitted levels for public exposure to radioactivity are the highest in the world, some 20 times higher than those in the U.S.)

Although British Nuclear Fuels performed extensive cleaning of 15 miles of contaminated beach and removed thousands of tons of sand, flotsam with considerable levels of radioactivity was found on the seashore 25 miles north of Sellafield. Seven months after the contamination took place, restrictions on the use of area beaches were relaxed so that people could walk there, but not pick up anything. Parents were advised to keep children away.

To the dismay of BNFL, in early August [1984] the Director of Public Prosecutions decided to prosecute the company for last November's radioactivity release, charging that BNFL failed to maintain proper records, and to keep radioactive materials under control and discharges "as low as reasonably achievable." Company executives may be named in the suit.

Sir Douglas Black confirmed the high incidence of local leukemia, and acknowledged that radiation is the only "known" cause of leukemia in children. While the report stopped short of saying that Sellafield was responsible for the cancer, it didn't rule out that possibility, and Black called for more extensive, historical inquiries into local residents' health.

Back in 2001, Greg Palast wrote a very cogent analysis of the Enron fraud in America.   The basis of this is that George Bush Sen. brought in deregulation in return for the energy companies donating $16 million to the Republicans.   (7 times what was given to the Democrats.)   Regulation prior to G. Bush Sen. had resulted in several US companies being fined very heavily for manipulating prices of electricity and maximising profits by cutting maintenance down-times and reducing staff levels, subsequently lying to the regulators and falsifying data to cover up what they were doing.   When the market was deregulated, Enron and a few others saw the opportunity to blackmail electricity users and California was the first to suffer.   The energy companies spent $39 million on defeating a referendum which would have resulted in the industry controls being retained, capping the charges to users and specifying maintenance levels, etc.   A further $37 million was used to "lobby" and assist in politician's campaigns.   So deregulation was achieved.   A promised price cut of 20% in San Diego actually resulted in a rise of 300%.

The supplies to the state were deliberately manipulated so that the energy companies could charge whatever they liked.  

According to this article, the British National Grid also had a play on this market, by buying Niagra Mohawk, getting rid of 800 workers - thus saving on the wage bill, enabling a bonus for stockholders approaching $90 billion.