NuGen Boreholes in the Irish Sea near Sellafield will churn up and resuspend what is effectively the worlds biggest nuclear dump sitting on the sea bed. Please write, oppose, take a stand. This is due to start in late February.
NuGeneration Limited (NuGen) wants to build three nuclear reactors (Moorside) near Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria UK. NuGen is a consortium of Japan’s Toshiba and France’s ENGIE (GDF-Suez). Like all nuclear reactors, they will legally discharge lethal radioactive materials into waterways. Although ocean dumping of nuclear waste is supposed to be illegal, offshore pipelines apparently remain a loophole. Radioactive discharges from the offshore pipeline(s) of Moorside would add to the already heavy radioactive burden of the Irish Sea and ultimately the Arctic. Not only Britain, but Ireland, Norway and those concerned with the Arctic should be alarmed. Additionally, cooling water intake pipes trap and kill marine life. Of current concern, borehole surveys for the intake and outfall pipes will disturb over half a century of radioactive sediment from nearby Sellafield’s discharges. Artwork by Marianne Birkby
As explained by Marianne Birkby of Radiation Free Lakeland:
“NuGen plan to drill/blast 40…
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab):
I beg to move,
That this House has considered new nuclear power.
Nuclear power was promised as an energy source that would be too cheap to meter. It is now too expensive to generate. If we were planning a nuclear policy from scratch, would we choose to do a deal with two French companies, one of which is bankrupt, while the other, Électricité de France, has a debt of €33 billion? Would we also collaborate with a country with a dreadful human rights record—China, whose national investment department is coming into the arrangement—and with Saudi Arabia, with its atrocious record on human rights, where people are executed on the street? We are left with the dregs of investment from throughout the world—fragile and tainted. The
sensible money deserted Hinkley Point years ago. Centrica had an investment of £200 million, and it abandoned it and ran away, because it saw the project as a basket case.
Still, nuclear power has wide support in this House, from almost all parties except the Scottish National party. I hope that this morning the new Minister, whom I welcome to her new work, can apply her distinguished forensic skills to taking a fresh look at the situation. Many people are gravely disturbed by the prospect of new nuclear power. That is particularly so among Treasury civil servants. We are in an extraordinary situation, where there is still public support in spite of Fukushima. One of the main reasons for that is that the British public were “protected” by a skilled public relations operation from knowing the terrible cost of Fukushima—between $100 billion and $250 billion. Radiation is still leaking four years after the event, and tens of thousands of people cannot return to their homes. Other populations were not protected from knowing about Fukushima by an obedient press. However, former lobbyists for nuclear power appeared as independent witnesses, such as Malcolm Grimston, who was on television every day during the Fukushima events, praising the explosions of hydrogen as something of benefit.
There is ludicrous PR spin, to the extent that this week two different people from a public relations agency that works for nuclear power rang me up and offered to write my speech for me. They inquired who the Chair would be, as if that might be important. Those are lobbyists and spinners, presenting a favourable case for
nuclear power. Hinkley Point B is a European pressurised reactor. There are some under construction in Finland, France and China. Not one of them has produced enough electricity to light a bicycle lamp. They are all in serious trouble, so why do we continue with our belief in Hinkley Point C? The EPR in Finland was due to generate electricity in 2009. There has been a series of delays, problems and cost overruns, which have themselves now overrun, and the bill is €4 billion greater than anticipated. The possible opening date has been moved year after year and is now set at 2016, at a
cost of €8.3 billion. However, other problems have come up. There is another station
under construction at Flamanville. It was due to be completed at a cost of €3.3
billion and now has an overrun of nearly €5 billion. There is a serious problem at
Flamanville which will affect all the reactors—the carbon level in the steel for the
pressure vessel is too high. That means that the steel is brittle and could crack
open, with catastrophic results. That affects the planned reactors in China,
Finland, France and of course at Hinkley Point. It is a catastrophic problem and
will mean a major delay. There is no way of reconstituting that steel.
The way the deal was done is almost unbelievable. We agreed under pressure, because
there were Government promises and political pressure, to do a deal at almost any
price to justify Hinkley Point C. We struck a deal for £92.50 per MWh. That is twice
the going rate for electricity now, and we said that we would guarantee that deal
for 35 years. That was two years ago. Since then, the price of energy throughout the
world has gone down a great deal, because of shale gas and the drop in the price of
oil. The price we agreed was ludicrous at the time—far too generous. The head of
INEOS, the company in Grangemouth, has struck a deal since then with the same
company— Électricité de France—for less than half that price. The country was ripped
off, and we cannot seem to get out of it. We must do something about the strike
price that we agreed.
In the world as a whole, nuclear powered energy generation peaked in 2006. Since
then it has been in decline. It has gone down by 10% in Europe. Most energy
consultants say that the total cost of the project is indefensible. We omit
something from our calculations of historical costs and pretend that nuclear is
cheap, when we forget about the cost of waste. In fact we do not know what the cost
of the waste from Sellafield is. We are still adding up the bill. The latest
estimate for clearing up Sellafield—just one site—is £53 billion. It is thought that
the figure will exceed £100 billion eventually. When those costs are added to the
historical costs of nuclear power it will not be found to be competitive any more.
Also, we now have alternatives. We are not in a situation where nothing else is
available. The world has moved towards renewables, including the clean renewables,
to a far greater extent. The Government are to be congratulated on having put
forward a package and the money for tidal lagoons in the Severn estuary. An enormous
tide of water sweeps up that estuary twice a day. That is vast untapped
energy—British, free, eternal and entirely predictable. The technology involved is
simple and has been working successfully in France for 50 years, producing the
cheapest electricity in the world.
It is a curious thing, but the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in
the previous Parliament had an impeccable record on energy some years ago, when he
launched the Liberal Democrat energy policy under the heading “Say No to Nuclear”,
“a new generation of nuclear power stations will cost taxpayers and consumers tens
of billions of pounds”.
That is absolutely right. He went on:
“In addition to posing safety and environmental risks, nuclear power will only be
possible with vast taxpayer subsidies or a rigged market”.
That was the man who, when the red boxes and chauffeur-driven car arrived, changed
his mind altogether and did a terrible financial deal to get Hinkley Point on the
road. We will be paying for that for many years. The cost of Hinkley Point has been
estimated as an additional £200 a year for every consumer in Britain. That is
billions of pounds in subsidy over 35 years. The Government have guaranteed £16
billion in subsidy for a technology that has not been proved to work and is not
working anywhere. Almost any alternative is better than pressing on with Hinkley
Point. There are older nuclear designs that we could use, but we are heading into a
technological jam where there will be difficulties. We are proposing to invest tens
of billions in a system that has not been proved to be effective, and has certainly
never proved to be economic.
There have been many problems at Flamanville, near Cherbourg, which are not limited
to the pressure vessel. There have also been problems with the valves and the whole
cooling system, following a warning in April from the French nuclear safety
regulator about an excessive amount of carbon in the reactor vessel. That is not a
journalist causing trouble but the head of the French nuclear industry talking about
a potential disaster in the making.
What is likely to happen in future? There is a nuclear disaster almost every 10 to
15 years, due to various causes. The result of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and
Fukushima has been great fear among the population. That is what happened in
Germany, which felt the full force of the truth about Fukushima and sensibly
cancelled its whole nuclear programme. Germany is now going into solar power and
many other alternatives that are available to us. Tidal power is not available to
Germany, but we have that great opportunity ahead.
There will almost certainly be problems in future. Some hazards today were unknown
in the past. I recall going to an exhibition called “Atoms for Peace” as a young boy
in 1948, when we believed that nuclear would be the answer, but experience has
taught us otherwise. The possible accidents range from simple mechanical errors,
such as not having enough carbon in the steel, to the simple human errors that
happened at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Technical faults also occur, but the
greatest risk we now face is terrorism. Older nuclear power stations were not built
to withstand terrorist attacks by drones and all the means by which people could
attack them. Anyone living anywhere near a nuclear power station must be in a state
of anxiety about that possibility, because of the accidents and disasters we have
Fukushima was built to withstand a tsunami, but it could not withstand the tsunami
and earthquake that came together. Any of these natural disasters are possible. We
have not had a tsunami for some time along the Severn estuary, but we had one in
1607 when part of the area that I represent and the area where Hinkley Point now
stands was flooded by a tsunami that came up the Bristol channel. It is believed to
have come from underwater activity out in the deep ocean, so a tsunami is unlikely
but possible there. We cannot guard against it. Why on earth risk a catastrophic
accident when alternatives are available?
I am encouraged to see reports that many civil servants in the Treasury are deeply
unhappy about the financial situation of nuclear power. There was a story that if
Labour had been elected, it would have turned its back on nuclear power. I believe
that to be true. There have been reports in The Times and elsewhere—authoritative
reports from serious journalists—that groups in the Treasury are saying that it will
be a terrible mistake and a financial catastrophe if we go ahead. May I say to those
civil servants that it is their job to speak publicly? We know now what happened in
Scotland during the referendum debate, when Sir Nicholas Macpherson decided to
leak—to publish—a report of his advice to the Chancellor. His reason for doing so
was that he thought the likely effects of Scottish independence would be
catastrophic for the country and for Scotland. He justified that leak, which was
almost unprecedented among senior civil servants, on the basis that it was in the
national interest. He was supported by the head of the civil service, Sir Jeremy
Heywood, and condemned by a Committee of this House.
Look at the past; look, for example, the commercial advantages of the
steam-generating heavy water reactor, which produced nothing and was useless, but
cost £200 million. That was many years ago. There was also the decision to treat
Concorde as a commercial venture that would succeed. There were civil servants who
quite rightly opposed those, but the ethos of the civil service is the unimportance
of being right. The careers of civil servants who go along with the ministerial
folly of the day prosper, while the careers of those who are right in the long term
wither. It is different now. There is some heroism in civil servants speaking truth
to power and saying to their masters, “This should not go on. There are
alternatives. The time has gone for nuclear power.” Civil servants who know the new
ethos in the civil service should regard it as their patriotic duty to speak truth,
not only to power but to the nation, by saying that the time for nuclear power is
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Andrea Leadsom):
It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone. I congratulate the
hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) on securing the debate. New nuclear is an
important topic, and Members’ challenges and questions are very much welcomed. I
would particularly like to assure the hon. Gentleman that my fellow Ministers and I
listen carefully to civil servants’ views. There is no sense in which they are not
allowed to give their opinions, and they very much do so. I hope that reassures him.
I note his interest, as demonstrated by his recent parliamentary questions on
Hinkley Point C, the geological disposal facility, and safety and security at
licensed sites. I hope to reassure him further on those topics, but I will first set
the scene for the benefits of a new nuclear programme.
Nuclear energy plays a critical role in the Government’s security of supply and
decarbonisation goals. The UK’s nine existing nuclear power plants generate around
20% of our electricity. However, all but one of them are currently expected to
retire by 2030. Nuclear power is one of the cheaper forms of low-carbon electricity,
reducing pressures on consumer electricity bills, relative to an energy mix without
nuclear. Nuclear power provides reliable base-load electricity with lifecycle carbon
dioxide emissions similar to those from wind power and much less than those from
fossil fuels. New nuclear power is a vital part of the investment needed in our
electricity sector that will boost the economy, create thousands of jobs and help to
keep the lights on.
As set out in the Conservative party’s manifesto, we are committed to a significant
expansion in new nuclear in the UK. The Government have prepared the ground for new
nuclear power stations through a package of reforms and regulatory measures that
will remove barriers to investment and give developers the confidence to take
forward projects that will help to deliver secure, low-carbon and affordable energy.
We have also ensured that operators of new nuclear power stations put in place
robust plans for the finance and management of their waste and decommissioning from
We are seeing significant progress. The first new nuclear power station in a
generation moved a step closer last year, as the European Commission announced on 8
October 2014 that it has approved the Hinkley Point C state aid case. The Government
and EDF are currently in discussions to finalise the contract for Hinkley, which is
expected to start generating electricity from 2023. In total, industry has set out
plans for five new nuclear projects in the UK for a total of up to 16 GW of new
nuclear capacity, providing around 35% of electricity generation.
I would have been grateful if the hon. Lady had left behind her civil service brief,
which is the conventional one we know, with much repeated claims. Is it true that
the Chinese company is threatening to withdraw its investment unless it has a stake
in building Sizewell, Bradwell and Wylfa Newydd? That would mean that the new jobs
in nuclear were jobs in China and France, not here, because what it is offering to
provide is almost a ready-made nuclear power station, made by Chinese people with
Chinese money. We are using investment to create jobs not in this country, but
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that each project is taken on its merits. Britain is
open for business. We are very keen to see investment from overseas in our new
nuclear, but it is very clear that the UK supply chain will provide an enormous
amount of the jobs and growth that we are looking for in this country.
Will the hon. Lady give way?
I will not give way. I want to go on to answer the hon. Gentleman’s other questions
and I will not get the chance to do that if this becomes a debate between the two of
us—a conversation between the two of us.
In total, industry has set out plans for five new nuclear projects. The Government
are clear that the UK is open for business. We want to see high-quality investment
from overseas. The nuclear programme represents a tremendous opportunity to
establish the UK as a key nuclear country, with the potential to export capabilities
to other countries. That includes capabilities in decommissioning, in which we are
already a world leader. This offers us an opportunity to develop our domestic supply
chain and to realise economies of scale. It is also an opportunity to make the UK an
even more attractive partner for international research and development
This is utter nonsense. The person decommissioning at Sellafield is an American
company. We do not have any expertise. Will the Minister give us some idea, looking
at the historical cost, of what the cost of cleaning up Sellafield will be? It is
already admitted to be £53 billion; it is uninsurable, so the taxpayer has to take
the risk; and it will probably cost more than £100 billion, which wrecks her
argument that nuclear power has ever been good value.
The hon. Gentleman is exactly right to point out that there is an enormous nuclear
legacy, which this Government have been committed to sorting out, unlike previous
Governments, such as the one that he was part of. The nuclear provision currently
stands at £70 billion discounted and £110 billion undiscounted. That is the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority’s best estimate of the total lifetime costs of the
decommissioning mission across the whole estate. Nobody welcomes that cost.
Nevertheless, this Government have been determined to get to grips with it and to
ensure that the material can be safely, carefully, thoroughly and properly disposed
To deliver the ambitious new build programme on time and on budget, a skilled
workforce in the UK is essential. The scale of the industry’s new build aspirations,
the length of time since the last new build project and the high average age of the
existing nuclear workforce mean that it is essential to take action now to prevent
skills gaps from developing in the course of the new nuclear programme. The
Government recognise that this is a big challenge, particularly with the ongoing
need to maintain and decommission existing nuclear power stations, so we have
introduced the National College for Nuclear, which will work collaboratively with
the wider industry, skills bodies and training providers, and will utilise
international best practice to develop an industry-wide curriculum.
Moving on to the vital issues of safety and security, we are confident that the UK
has one of the most robust regulatory regimes in the world. As the global expansion
in nuclear continues, the UK will ensure that any technology used in this country
meets the rigorous safety, security and environmental standards. The importance that
we attach to safety is shown through the UK’s independent nuclear regulators—the
Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency—which ensure, through
regular reviews and inspections, that operators are fulfilling their duties and that
robust safety and security measures are in place right across the industry.
With plans for 16 GW of new nuclear capacity in the UK, the Government are firmly
committed to delivering geological disposal as the safest and most secure means of
managing our higher-activity waste in the long term. We need a permanent solution
following more than 60 years of producing radioactive waste from various sources,
including electricity generation from nuclear power.
The hon. Lady has been very generous to me. I think that she is probably too young
to remember the Flowers report in 1968, which said that the nuclear industry in
Britain was being irresponsible, because it did not have an answer on waste
disposal, and it should not continue. That was 1968. The solution then was to dig a
hole and put the nuclear waste in it. In 2015, the British answer is to dig a hole
and put the waste in it. There has been no progress on disposal of waste, except at
Let me very gently say to the hon. Gentleman that ever since I was a very small
child, nuclear has been an enormous personal priority for me. In fact, it was the
reason why I went into politics—I did so because of the threat of a nuclear world
war—so I am slightly offended by his presumption that I do not know what I am
talking about. I can assure him that a geological disposal facility is not as simple
as digging a hole in the ground and stuffing a load of radioactive waste in it.
What is it, then?
As the hon. Gentleman will know, a geological disposal facility is internationally
recognised as the safest and most secure means of permanently managing our
higher-activity waste, and countries such as Sweden, Finland, Canada and the USA are
also pursuing that route.
I would like to get on to answering the hon. Gentleman’s specific questions. He
talked about delays at other sites where there are EPR reactors. I can tell him that
officials have visited Olkiluoto to get first-hand experience of the build programme
there, as well as the other EPR builds at Flamanville in France and Taishan in
China. Experience gained through the EPR family—it is a new technology, as he points
out—is now being systematically shared between the three current build sites, and
Hinkley Point will become part of that arrangement. Experience in Finland and
France, particularly in relation to the order in which key parts of the nuclear
island are built and how they are fabricated, has benefited the project in Taishan,
such that that project is now running to time and to budget.
The hon. Gentleman also asked about the strike price potentially being too high in
relation to the EDF plant. I can assure him that our estimate of the future price of
wholesale electricity is that it will rise into the 2020s. That has been a careful
assessment. Nuclear electricity is a key part of our energy mix. He will know that
other technologies also involve a very high cost to the consumer right now. The mix
is vital, so we believe that this is not too generous. EDF aims to have the plant up
and running in 2023. We expect that, with a significant proportion of our power
stations due to close over the coming decades, we will need that level of investment
to replace that capacity.
The hon. Gentleman also asked about tidal power. Personally, I am as excited as he
is about the prospects for marine and tidal power, but again he will accept, I am
sure, that this is another new technology, as yet unproven. We have taken the first
steps. We expect it to be a big contributor to our energy mix, but not the only one.
I emphasise that, as Energy and Climate Change Minister, I have two priorities:
security of supply and keeping the lights on. In securing those priorities, I want
to keep bills as low as possible. With new nuclear in the energy mix, I believe we
can achieve all those things. Nuclear power is a low-carbon, proven technology that
will increase the resilience of the UK’s energy system and, rather than costing more
money, the full nuclear programme will, on current projections, save households
about £78 on their bills in 2030.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Newport West on his attention to this very
important subject, but I want to be clear that the Government believe that
developing energy from new nuclear is the right thing to do in the UK.
Mr Peter Bone (in the Chair):
The Question is that this House has—
Mr Bone, there is some time left. It is normal to allow the proposer to use that time—
Mr Peter Bone (in the Chair):
Order. Will the hon. Gentleman sit down? He may not know the new procedure, but the
Question is put. If we reach 11.30, the Question cannot be put. If he wants to have
what I would call a Division on this, we have to do it before 11.30, and the
Minister quite correctly sat down in time to do that.
There is time left. This is the normal practice. I just want to say that it was a
very disappointing response from the Minister, who stuck to a civil service script
that had been carefully manicured and presented by her, with a series of platitudes
that we all know about. She is not facing up to the crisis that exists in nuclear
power at the moment—
Mr Peter Bone (in the Chair):
Order. Before hon. Members go, I point out that the new procedure asks for the
Question to be put. The Minister kindly sat down at the right time, but the hon.
Gentleman in charge has talked himself out of that.
Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 10(6)).
Windermere’s Free Paper, Windermere Now has published an anonymous article (pg 8) promoting Moorside and Geological Dumping.
Radiation Free Lakeland are grossly misrepresented as being “Not in My Back Yard” when what we have been consistently saying is NOT IN ANYONE’S BACK YARD.
What would the Lakeland men and women of old think of this? Wordsworth?Ruskin? Beatrix Potter? I think they would be horrified to see such a blasé and toadying attitude to the most extreme and abusive industry.
I think their views would be more akin to Duncan Ball a Sellafield Foreman. Duncan’s poems chronicled the nuclear industry and include one that was read out publicly at the international “Lakes for Living” conference in Windermere.
For nuclear waste growing bigger and hotter
They’re draining the life from Lakeland and Otter
Cooling the poison they’ve shipped from afar
Condemning the Angler and Arctic Char
“What’s the harm? There’s water aplenty!”
Say the loudest mouths with heads near empty,
while for son and daughter the waters spoil
cooling waste in the kettle I fear will boil…”
We have written a reply to the “Woolly Thinker” article – will wait to see if it is published……
Today outside Whitehaven Civic Hall we sang our songs, spoke to lots of people and handed out leaflets countering the propaganda from the nuclear industry. Lots of people stopped to tell us that they are opposed to new build “but what can we do – they’re gonna go ahead anyway” Well certainly that is what the criminal companies hiding behind the bland NuGen brand want the public to think and that is how the CONsultation is designed. Sandy Rupprecht, NuGen’s Chief Executive answered ITV’s Samantha Parkers question thus:
ITV – Q: What would you say to these demonstrators.
NuGen – A: One of the aspects we really like about West Cumbria, it’s not just the nuclear heritage, but it’s also the passion that’s here for the environment. We need that passion to come out to educate us and give us information so that we can build that into our plans and make sure that we disturb the environment as little as possible if not actually enhance it.
Demonstration this Saturday 16th May from 11am outside Whitehaven Civic Hall STOP MOORSIDE London based group Kick Nuclear have sent a message of support for the Stop Moorside demonstration: The group Kick Nuclear wish to express their support for Radiation Free Lakeland in their objections to plans for building a new nuclear power station at Moorside.The plans are for three very large nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of3,400MW of energy to be built at the site. The present joint owners of the projectare 60% the Japanese company Toshiba and 40% the French one, GDF Suez (renamed“Engie” last month) and the reactors they intend to build are AP1000 pressurisedwater reactors, which are also designed and built by Toshiba,.We wish to put four objections to these plans:1) Many studies have shown that nuclear reactors leak radiation into the surroundingground and air and cause a rise in radiation-linked disease such as leukaemia inchildren living in the surrounding area. [See:http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/childhood-leukemias-near-nuclear-power-stations-new-article/%5D2) The Sellafield area is already the most polluted area in the British Isles interms of radioactivity and the aim should be to get rid of all the radioactivepollution in the area and not add to it.3) When things go wrong with nuclear reactors, as at Chernobyl and Fukushima, theconsequences can be catastrophic. We should not take that risk.4) Nuclear reactors produce large amounts of nuclear waste containing manyradioactive substances some of which have half-lives lasting tens of thousands ofyears. We should not leave such a legacy for future generations to have to dealwith and suffer the health effect of.The News and Star have reported on the forthcoming demonstration“No one, but no one, remembers when Sellafield was a beautiful fresh water tarn full of fish and thought to be a site of neolithic lake dwellers.“We ask people to join us in making sure that future generations know Cumbria as a fertile bountiful home rather than a nuclear sacrifice zone”.
Every paper this week in Cumbria has a double page spread about the plan to build 3 diabolic reactors on ancient green fields and hedgerows .
The nuclear industry and their government cronies have done everything in their power to steamroller Cumbria down this vicious radioactive route. But still that is not enough for them. They are lying to Cumbrians about the amount of electricity these 3 untried untested “Chernobyl on steroids” reactors would produce.
The double page advertorials printed in every local newspaper proclaim that
“NuGen’s Moorside Project aims to provide approximately 7% of the UK’s current energy requirement.”
This is a blatant lie
If NuGen do not know the difference between electricity and energy then why should we believe their other blatant lies that this will be “safe” “low carbon” and the biggest lie of all is the pretence that nuclear is not killing us with increasing radiation linked diseases.
Cumbrians Wake Up – don’t rely on Radiation Free Lakeland to counter the lies and oppose this poisoning of our land and our DNA.
You are the Resistance!
Mobilise to Stop Moorside –
Petition: there is a petition which has not had the benefit of double page advertorials or any media publicity but has already gathered 7167 signatures.
Write to Open Spaces, the NFU, Friends of the Lake District, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, The Scottish Parliament, The Irish Parliament, Norway – all those who would be disastrously impacted on by this development (everyone!) and urge them to OPPOSE. The consultation by the developers does not allow for opposition it is designed like an old fashioned mangle to pull you along in one direction with no means of disengagement. The only sane option is for people to create their own platforms and OPPOSE.
My week in the UK was exciting and full of surprises. I spoke to hundreds of people in London and Cumbria who are committed to a new energy future for Europe. They know that the dated model of big business centralized electricity production is ending, and they see a clean, disaster free viable alternative in locally distributed generation. Still, it seems that the established British utilities are so fixated on nuclear power that they just offered to charge their customers twice the current market price for electricity for the next 35-years, so that a French nuclear company could build a fancy and untried new nuclear design at Hinkley Point.
The United Kingdom is anything but united when it comes to how it will produce electricity in the 21st century! Britain has experienced the dangers of nuclear power first hand as the site of the world’s first major nuclear disaster at Windscale, receiving huge amounts of contamination from Chernobyl fallout in Wales, and contaminating the Irish Sea with Plutonium at its waste reprocessing plant at Sellafield. With that background, I understand why the citizens of the UK embrace a nuclear free future. When I spoke at the House of Commons, it was clear that only a minority of the MP’s (like US Representatives) could envision an energy future different than the past. Similar to the US, the financially influential electric power monopolies have convinced a majority of the MPs that there is no alternative to nuclear power.
Thankfully, many people in the UK disagree and see a nuclear free future! Surprisingly, it was in Cumbria that I saw the most poignant reminder of how dangerous nuclear power is. There in the fog and rain stood “Cockcroft’s Folly”, a ventilation stack on the old Windscale reactor. Filters on that stack, thankfully, captured most of the radiation released during the 1957 Windscale catastrophe. When Windscale was under construction, Sir John Cockcroft, a great engineer and Nobel Prize winner, insisted that filters be added to the ventilation stack. The British nuclear establishment laughed at him, but he was unyielding and persisted in his cause until the filters were added to Windscale. Naysayers nicknamed the filters “Cockcroft’s Folly”, and no one believed they were necessary.
Then came the Windscale nuclear core fire and those “unnecessary” filters saved thousands of lives. Too contaminated even now to be removed, “Cockcroft’s Folly” stands in the middle of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, part of a more than $60 Billion cleanup planned for the neighboring stretch of coastline along the contaminated the Irish Sea. Three new AP1000 reactors are proposed to be built in Cumbria within sight of “Cockcroft’s Folly”. Since 2010, I have repeatedly said that the AP1000 design suffers the same design flaw as the old Windscale reactor. Like Sir John, I believe that filters must be added to the top of the AP1000 shield building to prevent huge amounts of radiation from being released during a meltdown. I call this problem “the chimney effect” and wrote a paper about it entitled “ Nuclear Containment Failures- Ramifications for the AP1000 Containment Design”. The Independent, a major newspaper in the UK, courageously wrote about my concerns with the headline: Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen warns of ‘Chernobyl on steroids’ risk in UK from proposed Cumbria plant . Fairewinds received hundreds of tweets praising that story, and as can be expected, some of the 20th century paradigm pro-nukes pushed back, attacking my credibility. Sir John Cockcroft must be spinning in his grave, wondering “When will they ever learn?”
PANELISTS ISSUE NUCLEAR WARNING TO KESWICK AUDIENCE
A packed public meeting in Keswick on Wednesday evening heard two experts warn of the dangers of building new nuclear reactors in West Cumbria.
Arnie Gundersen and Dr Ian Fairlie were introduced as two internationally-respected authorities on the nuclear industry at the event organised by Radiation Free Lakeland.
They addressed more than 70 people at the Skiddaw Hotel about current plans to build third generation AP1000 reactors at Moorside near Sellafield.
Mr Gundersen is a former nuclear industry executive, engineer and licensed reactor operator. He said the proposed new Moorside reactors had two design flaws and that there had been five international reactor meltdowns in 35 years – at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and three at Fukushima.
Dr Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the atmosphere, said it was immoral to build nuclear power stations as he claimed they were “killing children.” He told the audience: “There have been four-fold increases in leukaemia in children who live within five kilometres of nuclear plants because of radiation leaks – and more than 60 world- wide studies either ignored or covered up by governments.”
He added that in Germany, 440,000 jobs were directly related to renewable energy and a million indirectly, while in the UK, just 6000 worked in renewable energy.
Fellow panellist Ruth Balogh, from West Cumbria and North Lakes Friends of the Earth, said West Cumbria didn’t have to rely on the nuclear industry for jobs. “Many more could be created in renewable energy industry. Nuclear technologies continue to become more expensive whilst renewable technologies get cheaper,” she said.
Marianne Birkby from Radiation Free Lakeland, added: “The Moorside project is to build the largest nuclear power station in Euorpe close to the largest stockpile of nuclear waste in Europe.”
The meeting was primarily to discuss the Moorside project, rather than the separate plans to create a vast underground nuclear store to house nuclear waste at an unidentified site in West Cumbria.
More than 600 people had attended a public meeting about this in Keswick two years ago, mostly to oppose it.
Former Keswick mayor Cllr martin Pugmire was among the audience on Wednesday. The talk took place in the Skiddaw Hotel after Keswick School had refused to host it because it was organised by an anti-nuclear campaign group. Head teacher Simon Jackson said the school was following its policy which prohibited the hiring out of its facilities for any event which could disturb the “principles of community cohesion” or bring the school into disrepute. He added that man of the school’s families also relied on employment in the nuclear industry.
Mr Jackson said: “In this case it would not be appropriate for the school to appear on either one or other side of what is fundamentally a political argument. We also have to consider our own school community where many of our families rely on employment in the nuclear industry.” he added that the same principle would apply to the “nuclear lobby” if they asked to use the school premises.
Mrs Birkby said: “Keswick School is more than happy for students to take part in days organised by Sellafield, building pretend nuclear reactors, but is not prepared to allow a friendly, informative public talk by eminent scientists on the subject of building real AP1000 reactors in Cumbria.”
The meeting was called We Need To Talk About Moorside. It marked the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
On Wednesday the House of Lords under the Chair of Baroness Verma will be discussing in Grand Committee in the Moses Room at 3.45pm the plan to push through legislation that will remove our right, and the right of Cumbria County Council, to object to burying radioactive waste underground. This would potentially be at levels where fresh water circulates.
They hope to do this by 2016 by adding geological disposal facilities (GDFs) to the list of NSIPs (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects). NSIP forces through the government’s plans for New Nuclear by denying communities the voice usually afforded to them via public inquiries.
The government hoped the Nuclear waste ‘problem’ was going to be solved by communities coming forward to volunteer to take the waste, now that plan has fallen by the wayside the government want to impose it on us by designating it as NSIP. The hard won protections of planning permission, listed building consent, scheduled monument consent and conservation area consent amongst others ARE NOT REQUIRED for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. This already seems to be happing with regard Moorside where 100 boreholes up to 150 deep are being dug on what should be protected land on the say so of one official in Copeland Borough Council. This total lack of scrutiny will escalate should Geological Disposal Facilities (including “borehole disposal” of nuclear wastes) be added to the already undemocratic NSIP legislation.
Radiation Free Lakeland fully support the letter sent by No Nuclear Waste Dumping to the House of Lords. We urge everyone to send similar letters to Cumbrian Lords and whoever else you can think of to oppose this diabolic plan.
The Full Letter is reproduced below – please use all or part as a template for your own individual letters.
I am writing to ask you to consider speaking out against and voting against the proposed addition of radioactive waste geological disposal facilities (GDFs) to the list of nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) which will REMOVE THE VOICE of local and county councils and their respective communities from the decision-making process.
This debate is due to take place in The Moses Room, 3.45pm, Wednesday 25th February 2015 in The House of Lords.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has laid this draft Order with an Explanatory Memorandum (EM) on Jan 12th 2015. The Order will bring certain development relating to geological disposal facilities (GDFs) for radioactive waste, and the deep borehole investigations necessary to determine the suitability of potential sites, within the nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) regime in the Planning Act 2008. Where development falls within the NSIP regime, developers are required to apply for development consent from the Secretary of State under the 2008 Act.
This Statutory Instrument is subject to affirmative resolution procedure. No date has yet been set for this issue to be dabated in the House of Commons. The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments found no reason to report the SI to the House. BUT the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee did find a reason/reasons to report it to the House:
As you can read in the scrutiny committee’s report (above) DECC have not correctly interpreted the results of the public consultation 2013 consultation, entitled “Review of the Siting Process for a Geological Disposal Facility”, which ran for 12 weeks from September to December 2013. These proposals included the preliminary view that GDFs, and associated intrusive borehole investigations for the purposes of site characterisation, should be brought within the definition of NSIPs in the 2008 Act.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change FALSELY claimed that a minority of respondents were not in favour of these proposals.
You will also note the relatively small number of respondents to this GDF-Siting Consultation (719) when contrasted with the public response to the Consultation on Proposal for Underground Access for the Extraction of Gas, Oil or Geothermal Energy. The consultation ran from 23 May to 15 August 2014 and received in total 40,647 responses from individuals and variety of organisations – 99% of whom were AGAINST the proposals.
One explanation for this huge difference in public participation, is how much publicity there has been on Fracking – which the Government has actively promoted and has been a hot topic in the media for several years.
By contrast the public have been largely unaware of the plans for GDFs; including the distinct possibilty of a Deep Borehole Disposal method of burying canisters of Higher Activity Waste at depths of between 3 – 5Km.
The expressed public objection to Fracking was largely due to the scientific evidence, published in the United States that PROVED 5% of all initial deep boreholes FAIL. This finding, as reported in the Washington Post, “points to different culprits: faulty drilling and well completion techniques.” and has lead to widespread contamination of drinking water supplies.
A study published in 2014 conducted by Durham Energy Institute, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, that looked at data from onshore wells all over the world found, “the percentage of wells that have had some form of well barrier or integrity failure is highly variable (1.9% – 75%)”
The Nirex Study investigating the suitability of siting a GDF in Eskdale (which cost £400Million and included 70 exploratory boreholes) found that the geology and hydrology of the area was too complex. Despite the local councils of Allerdale and Copeland being in favour the scheme, which came with the financial incentive of, “community benefits” for agreeing to the so-called ‘voluntarist approach’ the Cumbrian County Council wisely DECLINED the scheme based on the sound scientific evidence that proved it was unsafe.
The 2013 public consultation into the siting of a GDF document states:
“Any planning application will need to take account of community views where they are relevant – but there is no requirement for community support inherent in the planning process itself.”
This is inherently undemocratic and shows a high level of disdain for those who would oppose GDFs, both locally and those who could be affected should water contamination occur. The consultation goes on to say:
“Through application of this voluntarism and partnership siting we would go further and require a demonstration of community support before development could proceed.”
How can community support for such a scheme be demonstrated if the decision is taken OUT OF THE HANDS of the local layers of government and placed squarely into the hands of the Secretary of State?
Cumbria County Council opposed the siting of a GDF in their area based on their careful scrutiny of the thorough scientific evidence; yet the local councils were swayed by the “community benefits” which is arguably tantamount to bribery. There are inherent dangers in the so-called ‘voluntarist approach’ especially since UKOOG has defined ‘community’ as perhaps being the sole tenant on any given site. But to abandon the democratic process completely, by adopting the process for a NSIP and EXCLUDE locally-elected councillors, county officials and removing the need for public consultation will result in the British populace feeling like they have had this GDF rammed down their throats.
The GDF has to remain secure and safe for 100,000 years and it is simply OUTRAGEOUS to exclude local government, and thereby the people that they represent, from planning decisions on a facility with such widespread far-reaching consequences for current generations and all future generations.
Involvement of the county council, planning inspectors, members of the public and the experts they may call upon is ESSENTIAL to provide the level of scrutiny that is required when considering a project such as a GDF.
In this instance it seems clear that the motivation behind the move to add GDFs to the list of NSIPs is fueled by a wish to divert democracy, rather than streamlining the planning process, which is what the creation of NSIPs was supposed to achieve.
We would ask the Lords to agree that the remit of the parent act (2008 Planning Act) is NOT SUFFICIENT GROUNDS to hand the responsibility of making such a HUGE decision over to the Secretary of State.
A scheme as crucial to the health and safety of our entire nation requires the full attention of every layer of government, after a public awareness campaign of equal size to the one that has promoted Fracking.
The waste DOES have to be properly put to bed, and the sooner the better. What to do with this waste is THE question for our generation. Fukushima is an indescribably catastrophic living nightmare, illustrating how lethal these radioactive poisons are – to all living things. Parts of the UK are still contaminated from the 1956 Windscale fire and the Chernobyl accident.
The consequences of entombing nuclear waste underground are largely unknown. Where this has been tried at WIPP in New Mexico, they had a criticality incident and the radionuclides reached the surface and leaked into the surrounding area. The collapsed ceiling at WIPP remains an unsolved problem over a year after the accident.
There is no guarantee that a geological disposal facility can contain the radionuclides long-term, and not enough knowledge of how water flows underground, or how it travels though faults in rocks. Dangerous levels of radioactivity could end up in aquifers that supply drinking water, or into the atmosphere and geosphere.
As far as we are aware, all of the research used in evidence to show the process is safe has involved computer modelling. It would be impossible to list all the variables in a computer program and the real life scenario could be very different, and result in radionuclide escape and transport to groundwater sources far quicker than predicted.
The REASON for the change of gear and approach in dealing with nuclear waste is because the EU decreed that ‘the UK must have a robust plan in place for the stored waste and future waste legacy’ to get the green light for the New Generation of Nuclear Power Stations (Hinkley C and Moorside)
To summarize, the outrageous reality of this sudden urgency to deal with the waste and bypass the planning consent of the local authorities is this:
1) The Research & Development in this brand new field is simply NOT READY and an artificial speeding up of the planning and consent process is unwise. The technology to achieve this aim SAFELY does not exist yet. And the plans on the table rely on computer modelling that the programmers themselves admit the limitations of (this fact is published.)
2) A lot of the funding for the ongoing R&D is coming from the Nuclear Industry itself. There is a clear conflict of interests, given that plans to dispose of the waste will lead to the development of new Nuclear plants and the astronomical profits that industry creates.
3) The £400Million Nirex Study into a potential GDF at Eskdale concluded that THE GEOLOGY AND HYDROLOGY OF THE AREA WAS TOO COMPLEX to safely site a GDF there.
4) Rather than ACCEPT the Cumbrian County Council’s decision to say NO to this plan, the government is instead proposing to REMOVE the powers of this planning authority by classing this activity as NSIP, thus excluding due democratic consideration at all levels of representative government – whilst claiming that it is in fact pursuing a ‘voluntarist’ approach.
In conclusion, we would ask you to VOTE AGAINST the draft Statutory Instrument that would make the GDF fall under the process of NSIP and slap democracy in the face.
We beseech you to consider that the only SAFE way of tackling the waste is if the BEST scientists, geologists and engineers were working on such a project NOT constrained by time or budget in a NOT-FOR-PROFIT setting.
We believe that existing nuclear waste should be stored in a retrievable manner at the surface, or near to the surface, in line with Scotland’s Higher Activity Radioactive Waste Policy 2011. Waste could then be monitored and managed appropriately without risk of exposure to water supplies, and without additional cause for concern for future generations.
The recent experience of the NMP (Nuclear Management Partnership) private consortium (now sacked!) up at Sellafield PROVES that profit-making and safety DO NOT MIX and that system is wide-open to abuse. The private sector cannot be trusted to dispose of this waste, especially given how financially lucrative the contracts are and that cash grants are being made available to the tune of £10,000 to encourage companies to apply for Decommissioning work under the F4N, Fit for Nuclear, scheme.
Yes, BEFORE either House has affirmed this Statutory Instrument!
This demonstrates the flagrant disregard the government has for democratic due process in it’s haste to wish to claim that it has a plan to deal with this waste, which will allow Nuclear new build to commence.
We ask you to intervene to prevent the progress of these plans which we feel sit outside of the law and are NOT in the best interests of the United Kingdom, it’s people, land and environments and all future generations.
Furthermore, given the inherent and dramatically demonstrated disastrous consequences caused by the existence of Nuclear Power Plants and it’s legacy of waste, we believe that no more should be generated, especially in light of advancements in the renewable energy sector, and the opportunities available to make our homes far more energy efficient than they are at present.
Regardless of opinions on nuclear power, the inclusion of GDFs in the list of NSIPs would be undemocratic, and unlikely to meet with favourable community feeling.
This list of concerns is from the ‘Rock Solid?’ report by Gene watch UK produced for Greenpeace:
Copper or steel canisters and overpack containing spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive wastes could corrode more quickly than expected.
The effects of intense heat generated by radioactive decay, and of chemical and physical disturbance due to corrosion, gas generation and biomineralisation, could impair the ability of backfill material to trap some radionuclides.
Build-up of gas pressure in the repository, as a result of the corrosion of metals and/or the degradation of organic material, could damage the barriers and force fast routes for radionuclide escape through crystalline rock fractures or clay rock pores.
Poorly understood chemical effects, such as the formation of colloids, could speedup the transport of some of the more radiotoxic elements such as plutonium.
Unidentified fractures and faults, or poor understanding of how water and gas will flow through fractures and faults, could lead to the release of radionuclides into groundwater much faster than expected.
Excavation of the repository will damage adjacent zones of rock and could thereby create fast routes for radionuclide escape.
Future generations, seeking underground resources or storage facilities, might accidentally dig a shaft into the rock around the repository or a well into contaminated groundwater above it.
Future glaciations could cause faulting of the rock, rupture of containers and penetration of surface waters or permafrost to the repository depth, leading to failure of the barriers and faster dissolution of the waste.
Earthquakes could damage containers, backfill and the rock.
We have reproduced it below. It is clear that government are keen to get shot of nuclear wastes in any way they can. One hundred 150m deep boreholes are being drilled right now adjacent to the Sellafield site on the greenfield area earmarked for “Moorside.” While “Moorside” may well be “delayed’ for years what are the 100 boreholes for – and why were they given planning permission on the say so of one Development Manager?
Parliament is considering rapid legislation that would remove the right of County Councils to object to burying radioactive waste underground, potentially at levels where water circulates.
You might want to write to your MP asap, asking him not to vote for this proposal. If so, there is a template letter at the end of this article you can use if you like.
This proposed legislation is the ConDem government’s response to the 2013 refusal of Cumbria County Council to accept plans to bury highly toxic nuclear waste under the Lake District. This decision was a major blow to government ambitions to build new nuclear power plants.
Coalition government wants to move goalposts
Now the ConDem government is trying to move the goal posts, through the Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geological Disposal Facilities) Order 2015. This extends the Planning Act 2008 to cover nuclear waste disposal.
To pass this extension of the Planning Act into law requires the ‘affirmative procedure’ of approval. This means it must be positively approved by each House of Parliament before coming into force. Writing on 26 Jan 2015 in a law firm blog, specialist planning and infrastructure lawyer Angus Wilson explained that this approval should happen in the next couple of weeks.
In the same blog post, Angus Wilson wrote,
“Of course this isn’t a random extension to the [planning] regime, the government has in mind the creation of one such facility, likely to be in Cumbria. It tried before but in January 2013 the project was vetoed by Cumbria County Council. It’s trying again and for obvious reasons has removed the ability for a county council to veto the process.”
Related removal of landowners’ right to deny access to underground fracking?
Hebden Bridge anti-fracking activist Helen Chuntso told Plain Speaker,
“The UK does not have the land mass, simple geology or low population density to recreate the shale gas boom seen in the USA. Economically, it doesn’t make sense (except maybe in very gas rich areas, certainly not 2/3 of the country, which is why the DECC are wavering on the fracking National Parks like N Yorkshire Moors). One possible explanation for the drilling is to look for places to bury nuclear waste. The government has forced through legislation that will remove our right to deny access to underground fracking, and now this new bill attempts to remove the right of the county council, to object to burying radioactive waste underground, potentially at levels where water circulates.”
If you would like to take action, writing to your MP is a good start. You can find their email address here.
Here is a template letter to your MP
I am writing to ask you to consider speaking out against and voting against the addition of radioactive waste geological disposal facilities (GDFs) to the list of nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs).
It is undemocratic to remove county councils from the process, along with the opportunity for proper scrutiny of development plans and the chance for people to object. In Cumbria, where a GDF proposal has been on the cards for some time, there has been significant resistance from local people and the county council. Given that Cumbria County Council is a pro-nuclear council and they had legitimate concerns about the GDF plans it would be extremely unwise to exclude this level of government and thereby the people that they represent from planning decisions.
I oppose the dumping of nuclear waste underground since the consequences are largely unknown. There is no guarantee that the facilities can contain the radionuclides long-term, and not enough knowledge of how water flows underground, or how it travels though faults in rocks. Dangerous levels of radioactivity could end up in aquifers that supply drinking water.
I believe that existing nuclear waste should be stored in a retrievable manner at the surface, or near to the surface, in line with Scotland’s Higher Activity Radioactive Waste Policy 2011. Waste could then be monitored and managed appropriately without risk of exposure to water supplies, and without additional cause for concern for future generations.
Here is the link to lawyer Angus Wilson’s blog post