Guest Blog: Why Stop Moorside? – from one of NuGen’s close neighbours

Sellafield from Moorsidea

A view of the Sellafield site from the north.
The farmland in the foreground includes where they are proposing to dig to install Moorside.   Note Black Combe and Corney Fell in the background;  round to the left are the lakeland fells and some of the highest mountains in England, including Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Lingmell, with the Langdale Pikes also visible.

The following is a Guest Blog from a close neighbour of the proposed Moorside Project.

Seven years ago we were horrified to learn that RWE, with the backing of DECC and the government, were planning on building a nuclear power plant on fields immediately behind us.  We were even less impressed to find that we had just two weeks to formulate a response which might help protect us.  Despite having no knowledge we did it. We even stood up to the bullying MPs of the Select Committee, who tried to cut short our measly 15 minute allocation.  Along with so many others we eventually managed to get sense to prevail and the Kirksanton and Braystones submissions were both abandoned.  E.on RWE and subsequently Germany as a whole, abandoned nuclear expansion.

Today, the reasons given by government for abandoning Braystones and Kirksanton remain just as valid and apply too, to the Moorside site.

Anyway, we heaved a sigh of relief.  We could now get back to enjoying a peaceful retirement in our chosen location; one which our family has had connections with for 100 years.

Now, the Big Boys are back: this time with plans to build a three reactor site.  They even came up with a brand new name for the area, “Moorside” , a green field site that has been re-labelled a brown field site for no good reason.

The various sales brochures that pose as NuGen consultation documents illustrate the cleanest, most modern buildings imaginable (just look at the vehicles depicted!).  The impact of every adverse factor is deliberately, and  misleadingly, minimised.  Although, literally, just accross the road from the most dangerous site in Europe, there is no view in NuGen’s material  that contains even a glimpse of Sellafield’s ugly and highly contaminated sprawl.  In real life the composite of the two in such close proximity would seriously detrimentally affect the landscape.

The documents are not aimed at “normal” people who don’t know their NPS from their PROW.  Every document is a prime example of how to fail to communicate in basic, good English.  When their vocabulary failed, they made up words that certainly don’t appear in our dictionary e.g. “de-trunking” to the average person might imply a painful elephantine operation, not the reduction in status of a main road.

The proposed development would impose on local services and resources but such matters are simply not addressed in any of the documentation.  Health services, social services, sexual and mental health provisions for the 6,500 (originally announced over 20,000) incomers have not been catered for.  Currently the NHS in Copeland is struggling, even with the current level of need.

How could any emergency service cater for a rapid influx of over 6,500 people?  Where are the requisite numbers of staff coming from?  They couldn’t deal with an incident at one nuclear facility, let alone both simultaneously?

No schools, nurseries or maternity services are mentioned, so all the incomers must be childless and unmarried.  If they actually bring a partner and child, then the numbers being added to the communities would be far greater than we are being told, and the loads on services and resources commensurately greater.

NuGen are so careless or deliberately misleading, that they have managed to omit a second harbour wall that could well go out to five kilometres – if they wished.   The heavy loads that would be brought in by boat would require substantial works, so permanence seems likely.  The smaller version of the harbour would only permit off-loading at certain states of the tide. As this might inconvenience NuGen the much larger one is likely to be very necessary.  Yet this is missing from all the plans and artists impressions.

Have they considered the impact of these changes on the waves of a winter storm would have insofar as say Braystones Beach is concerned?  Would they lesson or exacerbate problems for beach residents?

We know from Sellafield’s own documentation that the site, indeed the whole area is contaminated, particularly from the 1957 incident.  Marine discharges deliberate and “accidental”, legacy and current, pollute the Irish Sea.  Again, Sellafield’s own data shows that the most contaminated part of the beach is exactly where NuGen are proposing to dig for the harbour, roads, pipelines etc.  The sea bed is currently being drilled to facilitate the building of cooling water heat exchangers which would have a temperature differential of between (depending on which NuGen “expert” you talk to) 2 degrees and 13 degrees. NuGen admit they have no idea what the impact of so much heat would have on the environment – marine or terrestrial. Yet we are supposed to believe that they have every contingency covered.  Their boring operations are meanwhile disturbing huge amounts of sand and sediment and potentially altering the ground-water flows.

Spinning by the Lead Planner for NuGen, who just happens to have been the Lead Planner for the rabidly pro-nuclear Copeland Council, endeavours to convince us that 73% of people are in favour of the project.  This response is to a compound question which conflates three questions as to the need for a new power station and that it needs to be nuclear and that it needs to be at Moorside.  It is not possible, therefore, to agree that there needs to be additional capacity on the National Grid without agreeing that it has to be nuclear and that the only site is Moorside.  This type of “clever” questioning has been seen so many times before especially during the dump consultation.

However, examination of the figures says differently: the responses to the dismally- failing consultation exercise show that, in fact, the figure is based on only 375 people.  This is even after some meetings were held in Sellafield’s canteen!  The 375 responders represents 0.5% of the population of Copeland area, and the 73% allegedly in favour of the build (ignoring for the minute that some of the positive responses came from outside the area) represents a mere 0.38% of those who would be affected.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the project, nor of the consultation exercise which, despite its huge cost, has only reached such a small proportion of its target.  Adding in the Allerdale district reduces the percentages by nearly half. So, then only 0.25% of residents have responded and those “in favour” drop to 0.19%.

The lead planner failed on a £5.5 million project for Copeland.  One hopes that he will fail on this too.  The planner’s previous history does provoke the question: why hire someone who has already demonstrated failure?  If a £5.5 million project fails, why hire them for a £10 billion one?

The large capital requirements of such construction projects always results in tempation, it appears.  When large sums of money are involved there will always be those who wish to profit, whether legally or otherwise.  Dishonesty seems to be a common trait amongst nuclear companies and those who service and supply them?  Toshiba are no exception.  More than forty companies such as various subsidiaries of Amec, Amey, Balfour Beatty, Costain’s, Wimpey, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Morgan Est, Sir Robert McAlpine, Carillion and many other big names have been recently obliged to come to an agreement with GMB union after more than 3,200 construction workers were found on an illegal blacklist database run by The Consulting Association.  The database had been compiled over 40 years and contained personal details of workers who had raised concerns, for example about health and safety.  The firms admitted they “engaged in a terrible abuse of the civil rights of thousands of UK workers.”  Would any of these companies be barred from tendering to build?”

Each generation of nuclear physicists assure us that they know what they are doing.  They tell us that they now have a greater understanding than their predecessors and thus can obviate any and all of the risks.  We can trust them only  to do what is right and safe.  Each generation has failed.  We can see no reason why this projected development should not fail too.  The consequences would be just as horrific, whether the result of accident, act of God, equipment failure, or just – and much more likely – human failure.

The project at Moorside would survive,  in one form or another, for hundreds of years.  Its legacy would endure far beyond that, probably for millenia.  Is that really the best that West Cumbria can think of – to leave this dangerous, untreatable, toxic mess to pertetuity?

The human race has a history of defecating on its own doorstep. Can we not stop doing it, NOW please?



1. Flawed design which has no secondary containment

i. Potential for corrosion in reactor vessel – exacerbated by the dampness and salty atmosphere from its position on the coast.

ii. Would not withstand a terrorist attack, even with a concrete outer shell.

iii. Untried and untested design – despite what the NuGen staff told the public at the Braystones consultation meeting, there are no AP1000 reactors “up and running.”

iv. Reactor widely condemned as unsafe; allegations that the design has cut corners to reduce costs.

2. Environmental Impact

The only way to dissipate the output of the thermal equivalent of 6 Giga Watts (6,0000,000,000 Watts – the equivalent of 2,000,000 three-bar electric fires) is via direct discharge to the atmosphere/environment.  In essence, a tremendous amount of heat needs to be got rid of, either by heating the air considerably (auxiliary cooling towers ‘an option’), or by warming the Irish Sea considerably; neither are likely to have a beneficial effect.

NuGen have confirmed they do not know what impact discharging that amount of heat into the Irish Sea would have.  Attendees at consultations have regularly been given misleading, incomplete, conflicting or incorrect information eg the disparate statements from two member of staff over the heating impact of the discharges were confusing.  Would it be  1-2 degrees or 10 – 13 degrees?

3. No Published Financial Data

Are NuGen going to gain from the Electricite de France (EDF) negotiations, which have been widely recognised as an extremely expensive and long-term committment?

Would they gain the saime £92.50 per kw/h?  This is 2 and a half times the current price of electricity.

The deal with EDF guaranteed this level of income, index linked, for 50 years.  Have NuGen been promised the same?

What subsidies and guarantees have the UK government made to NuGen and are the EU authorities aware of them?

Where is the money coming from for the new build and all the additional resources – NuGen or the British taxpayer?

Toshibal recently had to admit to overstating their profits by $122,000,000 – a fact known about by top management who were subsequently obliged to resign in disgrace.  Are they deserving of our trust to build and supply our power?

4. Breach of Planning Guidance

The proposed Moorside site is immediately alongside Sellafield.  An event at either could have devastating and exponential effect.

How would the alarm systems by made distinctive and recognisable?

Any changes to the topography and ground-water flow may have an adverse effect on the River Ehen’s Special Area of Conservation and the area’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest, that are based on singular hydrological phenomena.

It is not possible to forsee all consequences and mitigate against them.

NuGen propose mitigation for animals, but none is mentioned for residents.

5.  The Proposed Sites are Contaminated by Radioactive Material

Land contamination at the adjacent Sellafield/Calder Hall/Windscale site amounts to 13,000.000 cubic metres of soil.  The contamination is known to have affected the Moorside site, with the potential for affecting construction workers and local communties.

At least one aquifer near Sellafield is known to be radioactively contaminated.  Digging large holes in its vicinity may change ground water flow.

The two harbours proposed, together with the cooling water pipelines, are in the area where the highest nuclear of finds of radioactive materials occurs.  The disturbance of these sediments, sands and soils would inevitably pose a risk of more radiation-related illnesses amongst residents and workers.  Furthermore, the area is a designated Marine Conservation Zone.  The immediate area affected is the only remaining section of undeveloped beach and is admired by visitors and holiday makers from all over the country.

6.  Unnecessary Development of Amenities “Atom Water Park”

The alleged “improvements” to the area are unnecessary and only of benefit to NuGen and its potential employees.  Existing resources are mainly adequate for the current usage by locals and visitors.  The development would kill off the tourist industry, in the same way that visitors are already deterred by Sellafield.

The current landscape is natural and will not be improved by anything that NuGen designs.

The development would be a significant encroachment on the seascape and an ugly intrusion, visible for long distances, thus producing an even greater loss of visual amenity from land and sea.

7.  Outmoded Concept

The large-reactor template is supposedly to be superseded by smaller reactors which can be located nearer point of need, thus reducing transmission line losses and costs, major expensive changes to the National Grid while also providing more flexibility in the National Grid.

8. The Consultation Process is Flawed

Braystones beach residents (and others) failed to recieve the NuGen communications in a timely fashion.

The data from the current borehole survey would not be available until the consultation has closed.

That the consultation has failed is evidenced by the small number of respondents ie 0.5% of Copeland’s population.

9. Unsuitable Infra-structure

Construction traffic – goods and personnel – would be using roads totally unsuitable for the traffic which would be generated and there are no means of by-passing any accident or incident which blocks the road.

The current road situation cannot handle even a single exodus of staff during shift changes, so, should there be an “incident” – at either one or both sites, or if shift changes at Sellafield and Moorside coincide, it will be impossible for emergency vehicles to get through and departing staff and the public to escape the area.

A detour could require a 90 mile trip.

In the event of, say, heavy lifting equipment being required, or additional emergency services, it would take too long for them to get to the site.

Braystones residents have long complained about the state of the level crossing and railway infra-structure to no avail. They have pointed out that the line still relies on an infra-structure designed by Stephenson over 160 years ago. It is single-tracked and remotely controlled. No attempt is made to address the danger. None of the proposed railway spurs around the main site are included in the make-believe pictures provided by NuGen.

Ninety three incidents occurred between 5/1/10 to 3/4/15 (Network Rail data). Other incidents include derailments, bridge collapse under a chemical train which resulted in the destruction of two bungalows, and several landslips. There are still a number of complaints about the state of the railway line outstanding and unresolved. The proposed changes would not improve that section of line.

10. Ultimate Waste Disposal

There is no statement about the amount of waste that would be produced, nor its ultimate disposal.

It is likely that all high level waste would need to be stored on the site for at least 50 years. This means that there would be an even greater spread of highly toxic materials with all that would attract a terrorist attack.

The sole means of disposal of highly radioactive waste is a GDF (Geological disposal facility – or underground dump.)

Where is this dump? None has been built, its location remains undecided, and its long-term ability to contain the high levels of radioactive materials is almost impossible to predict. Even if one were built, the necessary treatment of such waste needed to enable its dumping, is proving impossible to achieve and of insufficient longevity.

Statements about half-lives mislead. No human-built structure has ever lasted the many tens of thousands of years over which some of the materials would remain dangerous and need to be kept safe. For some of the products, the passage of one half-life is insufficient to render them safe, and some would need the expiration of several half-lives before they can be handled. Ultimately, the underground dump would leak. Is this a satisfactory solution – just leave it to other generations?

NuGen’s documentation (Consultation Document, Stage 2, May, 2016, P. 47, Para 5) envisages encapsulation in buildings which haven’t yet been built and whose process is not adequate to make the waste safe for the entire time that some of it would remain dangerously active.

Encapsulation does not endure indefinitely. Eventually, the capsules break down and the radioactive materials enter the environment. The higher the radioactivity contained in a capsule the shorter the lifespan of the encapsulation.

How would the waste be removed and transported to the envisaged encapsulation process and, ultimately, the underground dump?

When the inevitable leak occurs, deep underground and in a highly radioactive environment, how would it be resolved and who would clean it up?

11. Intrusive Nature of the National Grid Connection

The plan necessitates the construction of a chain of highly intrusive pylons several miles long in an area only just outside the Lake District National Park, and they, the Moorside site and the Sellafield complex would all combine to produce the effect of a highly-industrialised area in a totally inappropriate setting.

The attractions of natural long-distance landscapes and seascapes will be adversely affected. Permanently.

12. Distortion of Political and Social Scene

Suggestions have been published that the nuclear industry has been having an excessive influence on the area – from commercial, educational, social, and political standpoints.

When the need for construction workers abates, the area would become further depressed and unemployment would further exceed the national norm.

Housing stock proposed to be built would become redundant as workers move away, thus depressing house- prices.

13. Overuse of natural resources

The site would demand copious quantities of water which would be drawn from a variety of sources. Most of these contribute to the natural beauty of the Lake District landscape.

14. Impinges on basic human rights

For all the above reasons it seems likely that NuGen’s plans would impinge on the human rights of residents, who are entitled to a peaceful enjoyment of their own homes.

NuGen should accept that their plans would have a devastating effect on residents during the construction and commissioning phases of the project and effectively for ever. Just the announcement of the plans has blighted property prices and caused hardship, as well as feelings of stress, insecurity and instability.

For the above reasons, we believe that the flaws in the consultation process, together with the above concerns, are conducive to an application for a judicial review. Some of the failures and deliberate untruths must surely merit legal challenge, too.

Another true fact is that……

when the nuclear plants have worn out, all that would be left for local Cumbrians is the toxic waste and contaminated land.

3 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Why Stop Moorside? – from one of NuGen’s close neighbours

  1. You need to stop Moorside for the same reasons we need to stop Hinkley C. It is illegal to run a business which routinely discharges sea, land and air pollution causing premature deaths. The crime is an infringement of our right to life under the EU Human Rights Act. There is also a requirement in the 2012 Health and Social Care Act that the public must be protected from exposure to nuclear radiation. So Moorside, Hinkley C and any other new nuclear build anywhere in the world are all illegal.

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