To Mark the 7th Anniversary of Fukushima Here is Our Reply to the UK’s latest Vicious New Build CONsultation

The government has yet another consultation out on new build – on where to site new nuclear reactors.

This entirely vicious consultation to enable new nuclear build has been difficult to reply to as there should be no new reactors anywhere.  Today is Mothers Day and this is for all those whose children are no longer here to wish them a happy Mothers Day.  It is for all those in Fukushima who are suffering 7 years after the tsunami caused a terrible and ongoing nuclear disaster.  It is for my own peace of mind that I as an individual and as a volunteer with Radiation Free Lakeland, am doing everything I can to protect my family and our water, our air, our earth and our sea from ever more pernicious nuclear developments.

Here it is.  It isnt perfect – just like me and just like those running existing nuclear installations.

Please do write to UK government yourselves and let them know that new nuclear would be mad, bad and dangerous, the email to write to before the 15th March is newnuclearNPS@beis.gov.uk

 

Radiation Free Lakeland

boreholes-being-dug-now-amongst-ancient-hedgerows-which-would-be-trashed-by-moorside
Boreholes where the land runs down to the sea – Moorside

 

UK Government updated National Policy Statement for new nuclear above 1GW post 2025: siting criteria and process.

NEW NUCLEAR SITING CRITERIA?

there should be NO NEW nuclear!

Radiation Free Lakeland is a volunteer nuclear safety group who formed 10 years ago. Our aim is to work to ensure the safety of Cumbrians and the safety of our land, fresh water and sea.

Summary

In 2003 the UK government rejected nuclear power in an energy review, stating that the massive investments required to build new nuclear power plants would mean no money to invest in renewables and energy efficiency. The Headlines read: “Nuclear energy’s place usurped by wind and waves, Green revolution as Britain turns to renewable fuel, No more nuclear power stations will be built in the foreseeable future as the Government turns to wind and wave energy to provide Britain’s future electricity needs. The long-awaited energy white paper will plunge the nuclear industry into fresh crisis by rejecting demands to build new plants. ”

The then Prime Minister Tony Blair and his colleagues in the UK’s nuclear military industrial complex were keen to overturn this. It may (or may not) be a coincidence that at around the same time as this, NGOs UK Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth put their energies into fighting fossil fuels and climate change and shifted focus away from nuclear.  While mainstream NGOs retreated away from nuclear campaigning, (with the honourable exception of CND), voices with a platform in the mainstream media repeatedly spoke of ‘a green future needing nuclear’. The result? A whole new generation in the UK has grown up to view nuclear as at worst a ‘necessary evil’ while the unique dangers of nuclear have been hidden from view or underplayed.

This is in stark contrast to other countries worldwide (Where Greenpeace and FoE continue to campaign vigorously against nuclear power). Our European neighbours Germany, Switzerland and others are working towards a logical and necessary Energy Transition, which includes nuclear phase out as an essential key to achieving transition.

Nuclear has never ever been “cost effective” or able to mobilise infrastructure quickly, precisely because it is so dangerous and it is militaristic. This applies also to the much-hyped Small Modular Reactors. New nuclear build has nothing to recommend it apart from the obvious military ‘advantage’ in keeping nuclear infrastructure as a means to an end.  This military ‘advantage’ is somewhat undermined by the worlds first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant at Springfields in Preston, routinely supplying nuclear materials to Russia.

Radiation Free Lakeland strongly objects to this “siting criteria” consultation. Instead of there being a “need” for the “siting criteria” for new nuclear build, we say there is an urgent need to stop new nuclear and close down already dangerous and aging nuclear plants which include those in sites of large populations such as Heysham. This nuclear phase out should not be done in the same inhumane way as the coal mine closures but should minimize the impacts on nuclear workers by a) transitioning jobs to renewables/ energy efficiency and b) to focus jobs and expertise on nuclear “decommissioning.” This should be monitored containment rather than the present “decommissioning” policy of dispersal to landfill/incineration/metal recycling/geological disposal.

UNIQUE DANGERS

The industry has not been honest with the public.

Extreme Weather. The recent extreme weather in Cumbria highlighted the vulnerability of the Sellafield reprocessing plant. Extreme weather events such as earthquake, freezing ground and snow are the time when the Sellafield plant is most likely to suffer an accident such as loss of cooling or damaged emergency generators.   In this scenario, with the roads impassable, there would be no way of a) evacuating the public b) bringing in millions of gallons daily of emergency water supplies c) bringing in emergency diesel generators.   To consider adding to this already intolerable risk with three new untried untested reactors is unthinkable.

Geology. The geology of the Sellafield area is under threat from cumulative dangerous developments. The load bearing of new nuclear build would be enormous with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of concrete and steel. At the same time there is a plan to open a new coal mine under the Irish Sea off St Bees. The coal mine developers West Cumbria Mining have told us that they plan to mine within five miles of Sellafield. This combination of geological stresses in the vicinity of Sellafield is likely to cause induced seismicity. This is of concern not only to us in Cumbria but also to our European neighbours.

New Build at Sellafield. The public were originally told the new build proposal was at Sellafield. This was at the same time as Cumbrians were shocked to see proposals for new build at the greenfield sites of Kirksanton and Braystones. We now know the new build that was being promoted as at Sellafield is actually the green fields and flood plain of the river Ehen at Beckermet. At 700 metres away the proposal is nearer to Beckermet Primary School than it is to Sellafield. Calling the proposed nuclear new build “Beckermet Primary School” rather than “Sellafield” would have been more honest.

Wildlife. NuGen the “Sellafield/Moorside” developers have told the charity BugLife that:

““NuGen has undertaken a variety of ecological surveys to inform the environmental impact assessment for the Moorside Project, including for freshwater pearl mussel. Results for its publicly-available ecology surveys up until May 2016 are contained in the Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) available on NuGen’s consultation website. Due to the European protected status of the freshwater pearl mussel, this information is confidential and only available to statutory regulators. As a qualifying feature of the River Ehen Special Area of Conservation (SAC) (ref: UK0030057 as designated under article 4(4) of the Directive (92/43/EEC)), NuGen will have to design and implement mitigation measures to ensure that the freshwater pearl mussel population, and its symbiotic partner the Atlantic salmon, in the River Ehen are not adversely impacted by the construction and operation of the Moorside Project. This will be demonstrated by the Habitats Regulation Assessment to be prepared and submitted when the project is submitted for its Development Consent Order. There are no plans for translocation of the freshwater pearl mussel.”

This is in direct contrast to the publicly available PEIR documents which describe the potential ‘relocation’ of Freshwater pearl mussel populations. The vulnerability of the Freshwater pearl mussel both at the Ehen and European level is the reason why freshwater abstraction is to cease from Ennerdale in order to protect the river Ehen. Sellafield however have no plans to cease freshwater abstraction from the Ehen, which is additional to their abstraction from Wastwater.   New build would make an already intolerable situation far worse, both for the freshwater pearl mussel, and for our already stressed fresh water resource.

REFUSAL TO RELEASE INFORMATION

We have asked many Freedom of Information questions to which we have been denied answers. All of them are essential for the public to be fully informed and the information should be in the public domain as a matter of course.

GAS/FOSSIL FUEL USE In 2009 Sellafield spent £30m on gas . Since then reprocessing activity has increased. Most of the gas will go towards the insane crash programme of reprocessing activity and the rest to keep the wastes cool. (FOI NDA REPLY 9781940). Sellafield stopped producing electricity in 2003.  When asked, the NDA could give no reply as to how a secure energy supply to new build would be met or how Sellafield’s own energy requirement would be met post fossil fuel. Our latest request for sight of Sellafield’s gas consumption was denied, “We are not in a position to release the price paid for gas used at Sellafield, as this would damage the commercial interests of our gas supplier.”

WATER USE When asked, the NDA could give no indication of how new build water supplies would be met. “it would be a matter for the supplier.”   NuGen (Moorside) have given no indication of fresh water usage or where it would come from but we do know the waste from new build would be far hotter than existing wastes, requiring cooling for far longer. We have asked Sellafield for sight of a 2014 report detailing the “Business case for Future Investment in the Water System” which describes “Current and Future Site Demand Profile”. By law Sellafield should have answered this Freedom of Information request by 13th February 2018.

We are still waiting as of the 11th March 2018

The B30 pond showing a full loading with fuel rods
The B30 pond showing a full loading with fuel rods and radioactive debris

 

To Russia from Preston with Love

Containers of Uranium Hexaflouride- Springfields, Preston

Image: Springfields Nr Preston

The nuclear fuel for all the UKs nuclear reactors is made from uranium ore transported to Springfields, Near Preston. The Springfields site is run by Westinghouse (now taken over by an asset management company on a lease from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Springfields not only produces nuclear fuel but also carries out contracts for the Ministry of Defence and also provides nuclear materials for other countries worldwide. When we asked about the contracts to sell ‘depleted uranium’ (residue left over after enrichment) to Russia the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said that to find such information, (which they hold) would be “too burdensome … due to the cost and time required to review and process information”.  This is a scandal – the public are burdened with paying for the UKs obscene nuclear weapons program to protect us from supposed enemies who the UK government are also providing nuclear materials to.     This is happening at the same place where all the nuclear fuel is proposed to be made for new nuclear reactors. Springfields Nuclear Fuels is under the new ownership of a Canadian asset management company. ‘Out of control’ is a phrase that springs to mind.

HEALTH.

The nuclear industry has its own Compensation Scheme for Radiation Linked Diseases as listed below on the CSRLD website:

“The following cancers are included as specified eligible diseases because the parties accept,

for the purposes of the Scheme, that they are capable of being caused by radiation:-

Bladder Bone
Brain & Central Nervous System Breast (female)
Colon Leukaemia (excl chronic lymphatic leukaemia (CLL))
Liver
Oesophagus Respiratory / Lung
Prostate Ovary
Skin (non-Melanoma)
Uterus Thyroid
Other Tissues Cataract”

 

Radiation linked diseases do not stop at the military fences of nuclear sites. The most vulnerable are women and children and they are not “compensated” for the release of radioactive isotopes during routine refuelling or during accidents and incidents. It has been acknowledged for many years that every exposure to ionizing radiation carries risk of harm and there is no “safe” dose of ionizing radiation. It is not safe for adult males. Ionizing radiation is even less safe for children and for females. Instead of acknowledging this, the industry tries to hide its genocide in the red herring of “population mixing” ie large numbers of workers migrating to a rural area to build nuclear installations. The explanation of “population mixing” as a catalyst for an unknown leukaemia inducing virus is laughable   This is like saying it is not cigarettes to blame for lung cancers, it is smokers congregating in social groups and “population mixing.” Lung cancer is on the list of radiation-linked diseases that a nuclear worker can claim compensation for.

 

The cost to the NHS for existing radiation linked diseases both those acknowledged by the nuclear industry and the larger number of unacknowledged cases is beyond reckoning. This collateral damage of human lives would increase many times over with new build. This consultation aims to to force new nuclear build on the UK despite the certain radioactive pollution and the knowledge that new nuclear is not even “needed”. It is an intolerable act of disregard for human life from a supposedly civilised society.

 

Our European neighbours who have banned new nuclear and are adopting nuclear phase out, look upon the UK Government’s gung ho nuclear new build policy in disbelief.

 

Cancer Research UK says that “For cancers in boys, age standardised incidence rates in the UK increased by 11% between 1993-1995 and 2013-2015. For cancers in girls, age standardised incidence rates in the UK increased by 15% between 1993-1995 and 2013-2015. These statistics do not include all radiation-linked diseases so give only part of the true picture.

 

SPRINGFIELDS NUCLEAR FUEL MANUFACTURING PLANT TO MAKE MOX FUEL?

This sham consultation on the siting of new reactor sites makes no mention of the fact that the nuclear fuel for all of the proposed new reactor sites below would be produced at Springfields Nuclear Fuel Manufacturing site, in Salwick, Near Preston.

  • Sellafield    – Fuel made at Springfields

 

  • Wylfa        – Fuel made at Springfields

 

  • Sizewell   – Fuel made at Springfields

 

  • Bradwell   – Fuel made at Springfields

 

  • Oldbury  – Fuel made at Springfields

 

  • Hartlepool – Fuel made at Springfields

 

  • Heysham – Fuel made at Springfields

The nuclear fuel for all these sites is proposed to be manufactured at Springfields, near Preston.   Springfields started out as a Royal Ordnance Factory in 1940 producing chemical weapons despite the UK signing up to the Geneva Convention in 1925 banning the use of those weapons.   The chemical weapons factory then became the first nuclear fuel plant in the world. It produced fuel for the Windscale Piles. The resulting plutonium was used to make atomic bombs.

Springfields

“Ministry of Supply Factory –Springfields On instructions from the Ministry of Supply M.S Factory Springfields has been constructed by the Special Products Department of I.C.I (General Chemicals) Ltd, for the use of H.M. Government. It is designed for the production of dichlordiethyl sulphide (mustard gas) products”  PDF of document – Ministry of Supply – https://rhydymwynvalleyhistory.co.uk/documents/Springfields.pdf

Springfields, Nr Preston: “Nuclear Safety Starts Here”

Plutonium features strongly as a wonder fuel of the future in the Beacon Museum at Whitehaven, Cumbria. This is despite the unacceptable risks of deadly mixed oxide fuel with rods of 94% uranium, with 6% plutonium stirred in (MOX).

Sellafield Ltd took over the running of the Beacon Museum in 2014 to promote its future plutonium plans and it is essentially the new Sellafield Visitor Centre. It was opened to huge fanfare by the BBCs favourite scientist and nuclear power enthusiast Professor Brian Cox. The latest exhibition at the Beacon is also a highlight of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Fumio Obata is known for being even handed and honest so we can be sure this exhibition is a fair portrayal of the information he has been given by the nuclear industry.

The information is that:

  • Hinkley C would burn MOX fuels.

That is news to us!

Why is this being promoted as the truth through the filter of a comic artist?

Is it to soften us all up to accept the burning of plutonium in new reactors as a ‘natural progression’ of the oncoming nuclear juggernaut?

The BBC reported in 2013  “In a statement, an EDF spokesman said: “We have not used MOX in any of our stations and have no plans to do so in the future in our existing stations or new nuclear stations.” Mixed oxide fuel was contrived as a method of getting rid of Britain’s stockpile of civil plutonium – the largest in the world – accumulated from years of reprocessing foreign and UK nuclear waste.

But there is no active plan to dispose of the material, which is now seen as a terrorism target and a proliferation risk because it can be used to make nuclear bombs.

Turning plutonium into MOX fuel was thought to be the answer. But the Sellafied MOX plant built to make it failed dramatically at a cost of £1.4bn and was closed in 2011. A planned new MOX facility has a price tag of between £5bn and £6bn to the taxpayer.

But the business case is controversial. To the astonishment of MPs on the committee, Mr Higson explained: “The value of the fuel, we would expect to be less than the cost of operating and building the MOX plant.”

In other words, it would be done purely to dispose of the plutonium, with no certain market for the fuel.

EDF says it won’t use MOX and Horizon, the other major nuclear company hoping to build reactors in the UK, which is backed by the Japanese firm Hitachi, said it has no plans to use MOX either.”

The propaganda does not end there with the promotion of burning MOX, The Lakes International Comic Art exhibition in the Beacon also tells of “connections between the nuclear plants at Fukushima and Sellafield”. Massive Japanese opposition to the UKs controversial MOX shipments to Japan is airbrushed out.  MOX fuel with its plutonium is arguably the most polluting part of the Fukushima disaster. Sellafield and Springfields made the MOX in the UK. The plutonium emitted in Fukushima today will still be around in half a million years. The UK government’s and the UK nuclear industry’s culpability in the Fukushima disaster goes unchallenged.

Instead Sellafield is given an opportunity for self-serving promotion

Sellafield and Fukushima

Exhibition Panel by Fumio Obata

 

TEXT  

“SELLAFIELD EXECUTIVE: The Fukushima Daichi Plant is a reactor site as opposed to a reprocessing site. So when you talk about it you must be aware of the differences. Before, our relationship was perhaps more business like, with the reprocessing contract. It may sound Sellafield working commercially but it was a contract between *NDA and Japanese utilities.

But with the accident the contract had to be terminated. It led to the closure of the MOX plant at Sellafield. But none of the workers complained about the situation. Since then, it has become all about offering help to the Japanese Not making profits. Despite that there were some companies bring about what they call ‘solutions.’

(They say that Sellafield were the first people to send all sorts of special equipements to the Fukushima plant when the accident took place back in 2011. They started decommissioning about 20 years earlier than the Japanese counterparts.)

Sellafield is perhaps what people call-the first of the kind. We might do it first Now we find some of the things we did are useful at Fukushima Diichi .   Nice to be able to share some of that.

FUMIO OBATA: So considering the longer history and perhaps more experienced in decommissioning, Japan works most closely with Britain in this?

SELLAFIELD EXECUTIVE: Well, Sellafield would like to think they are offering the best. Best means thoughtful, well intended and mostly timely help.

FUMIO OBATA : I could tell the complexity and challenge of the mission. And there were some emotional tones that I didn’t expect to hear from their accounts.

*Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – a non-departmental public body created through the Energy Act 2004. Sellafield Ltd is a Site Licence Company controlled by NDA. Its main role is to deal with the nuclear legacy in the West Cumbria “

Sellafield is promoting itself, (through the filter of a respected comic artist), as some kind of saviour in the Fukushima disaster.   A more accurate analogy would that of an arsonist pissing on a burning building and grinning smugly “happy to help.”

Radiation Free Lakeland strongly oppose the direction of this consultation in leading the UK down a radioactive road from which there is no return. We agree with the Nuclear Free Local Authorities who state in their response to this sham consultation on ”siting criteria” that:

“The rapid changes in the electricity system in the past decade, as renewables have been deployed and new nuclear has generally stalled and been delayed by technical and economic problems, shows that there is no particular need for new nuclear power stations. Whereas the Government has predicted a large upswing in energy demand there has instead been a rapid fall, which has not damaged the economy one jot, indeed has enhanced it. NFLA calls not for a new national policy statement for new nuclear, rather a reappraisal of wider energy use and generation. Renewables have delivered, will continue to deliver and remain the primary answer for future UK energy policy. Government should take on board these changes rather than moving ahead with long-term and expensive support for new nuclear.” NFLA English Forum Chair, Councillor David Blackburn

We would go further and say that not only is nuclear “not needed” but the UK urgently needs to stop all new nuclear build and to phase out dangerous old existing reactors. This is essential for the health and wellbeing of the UK and neighbouring countries.

 

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland

6 thoughts on “To Mark the 7th Anniversary of Fukushima Here is Our Reply to the UK’s latest Vicious New Build CONsultation

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