Dear Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party,
We are a volunteer group in Cumbria made up from all walks of life from scientists, tourist trade, doctors, nurses, teachers, and nuclear workers.
We oppose the planned Moorside nuclear development in Cumbria and feel that you may be underestimating the strength of feeling against plans for the ‘biggest nuclear development in Europe’ on 1,500 acres of greenfields and floodplain next to Sellafield.
When you appeared on the Andrew Marr show you missed the chance to condemn the project with the painfully equivocal response: “I want to see a mix, I want to see a greater emphasis in the long-term on renewables in the way Germany and other countries have done but we do have nuclear power stations, we do have a nuclear base at the moment and that will continue for a long time.”
So I would like to draw to your attention that the North West Evening Mail is running a poll on the issue. Unlike the official government and industry consultations this poll offers the option to say NO and 85% of the 2,321 people voting so far have done just that.
There is also an ongoing 38 Degrees petition to: “Stop Moorside the ‘biggest nuclear development in Europe’.” Despite the virtual media block on the resistance to Moorside (all media attention has been on the pylon route) this poll to Stop Moorside has attracted 11,769 signatures and rising.
‘Weaker containment, less redundancy in safety systems, fewer safety features’
Campaigners have raised funds to commission reports independent of government and industry. A report by the Edinburgh Energy and Environment Consultancy makes shocking reading. Construction has so far commenced on ten AP1000s, six in the US and four in China, and another three are scheduled to begin soon.
Of these two of the ten have been suspended, presumed abandoned, and the other eight are all running several years late and hugely over cost. Not a single one has ever been completed.
But the EEEC report highlights a completely separate problem: the design is intrinsically unsafe.
A design objective of the AP1000 was also to be less expensive than other designs, by using less equipment than competing designs. The design decreases the number of components, including pipes, wires, and valves. The AP1000 has: fewer safety-related valves, fewer pumps, less safety-related piping, less control cable, and less seismic building volume.
Westinghouse claims that this enhances safety because there are fewer active components to go wrong. In contrast the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says that “the Westinghouse AP1000 has a weaker containment, less redundancy in safety systems, and fewer safety features than current reactors.”
There is a great deal of uncertainty about how these passive approaches would actually work in practice, and since, like the EPR reactor proposed for Hinkley Point C, there are no operating AP1000s anywhere in the world, there is no operating experience to draw from.
‘Pinhole containment flaws’
Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, of US-based Fairewinds Associates, has repeatedly warned that the AP1000 design suffers from a design flaw which makes it vulnerable to a very large release of radioactivity following an accident if there were just a small failure in the steel containment vessel.
In that event gases released from the reactor would be sucked through existing ‘pinhole’ containment flaws in the AP1000 Shield Building due to the ‘chimney effect’, potentially leading to the rapid venting huge amounts of radioactivity to the environment.
Cumbria already has the intolerable burden of Sellafield. Adding to that burden with Moorside would be genocidal, the school gates at Beckermet would be just 700 metres from the “biggest nuclear development in Europe” which would be next to Sellafield already the biggest and most dangerous nuclear site in Europe.
Please, please, set aside the siren voices that are working hard to convince you that outright, principled opposition to the Moorside nuclear complex would be a vote-loser in the forthcoming by-election.
Instead listen to the voices of resistance – which include many Labour voters previously encouraged by your rational, well-informed scepticism of the nuclear industry and its taxpayer-funded spin doctors.
All our local knowledge is consistently informing us that the Moorside monstrosity is widely opposed across the community, and that the pro-nuclear brigade represent a small if highly vocal minority. Your firm and outspoken opposition to the project would galvanise and inspire nuclear opponents, and give them a compelling reason to vote Labour!
Marianne Birkby, Radiation Free Lakeland.