Britain's Toxic Coast
"Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary has allowed Électricité de France
to take the British government for a ride, allowing the
company to make £1 billion profit a year before tax for over 35 years.
"

Lord Lawson, The Times, 8/11/13  


Last up-dated: 22/11/13
Quote from J. McSorley's Living in the Shadow When did plutonium, caesium, tritium, et al
become less injurious than CO2?

Even if the nuclear industry does produce
less CO2 (which we do not accept), why are
these products more acceptable?

(this page)
Opinion The Voice of Experience Editorial

Braystones Beach

The beach bungalows at Braystones, Cumbria.   The proposed RWE power station would have been on the hill in the centre.  
In August, 2012, a landslip derailed a train on the left of the picture, a further one stranded the rescue train.   See 27/7/13 article for further news on land stability.  
(The railway serving Sellafield's nuclear flask trains runs halfway up the embankment at bungalow roof height.)


7/11/13 further edited 12/11/13
Important New Campaign Website

Whether you are pro- or anti-nuclear, but nonetheless wish to protest against the despoilation of the beautiful countryside and further proliferation of the ugly nuclear sites, you will find this website of considerable interest:

 
http://www.cumbriatrust.org/


The current propaganda suggests that there will be tremendous economic and social benefits to Copeland and Allerdale districts of Cumbria if the dump were to get the go-ahead.   Yet even the ex-Sellafield PR manager and MP for Copeland, Jamieson Reed, a major supporter of the nuclear industry, was quoted in The Times, 4/11/13, pointing out that "health services around Sellafield are suffering major cuts,  local courts and police stations are closing and major civic amenities are closing down".   Not much obvious in the way of benefits there, despite the passage of half a century, as people have tolerated the dirtiest and most polluting industry around.   Will any promises of future largesse - sorry, compensation - be better honoured?   Unlikely, we think.   Once they have achieved their objective the rest will become just rhetoric.   Just as interesting will be how far the tame geologists will go before acknowledging that the terrain is in fact unsuitable.   How much money will that take?   Or will they press on regardless, with large construction companies insisting that they can "engineer a solution" with their main goal being to line their own pockets with the prolonged profits that the government, once committed to this course of action, will be obliged to maintain despite the inevitable burgeoning costs and delays - or risk losing face.   Still, many of those decision-makers will have had the foresight to invest in the construction industry.

In the best traditions, being against the nuclear dump has provoked the plan's protagonists into ire, not least the local ex-Sellafield PR man, now (happily for Sellafield) the local MP, who has published statements about the trust's ambitions and questioned their motives.   Pretty standard stuff, really, but is this really what an MP should be doing - or is he supposed to be representing the views of all constituents rather than pushing for one small group?   Still, he didn't even have a Plan B for when things went awry with the multiple nuclear reactors proposed a short while ago.   Should that not have been  part of his brief if he truly had the interests of the region at heart?

7/11/13   further edited  12/11/13
Lies, Damned Lies and Politicians

Five years ago the politicians announced several criteria that would have to be met before any consideration could be given to nuclear expansion:


  • no subsidies;
  • a method and location for the disposal of nuclear waste - legacy and new to be in place before further expansion could be undertaken;
  • designs would have to be generically approved and safe in operation;
  • energy security needs would have to be met; 
  • approval of local residents obtained before any project was permitted to start.
  • all three of the groups involved in the "Partnership" - Cumbria CC, Allerdale and Copeland - must all agree.   A negative result from ony one would mean the end of the pruject.

If you believed the Liberal Democrats, as many did back then, there would be no nuclear development except over the dead body of one prominent member, who reiterated that stipulation at a meeting we attended in Westminster.   That was a stated policy which must have won them many thousands of extra votes, but a promise that went the way of so many others when that particular party ostensibly became eligible for a bit of a say in national affairs.

The latest announcement of an unpopular, subsidised development at Hinkley Point by Électricité de France using 50 year-old designs and financed by China, illustrates how well the criteria have been met.

There is still no plan or location approved for the disposal of nuclear waste.   Residents of the unique location in Cumbria having voiced their disapproval many times.   This time round the government consultation exercise is prefaced with the usual rhetoric about local opinions.   What in fact they have done, is to remove the county council from the equation - their objections to the proposals resulting in a no vote last time - meaning that all efforts to cajole residents can now be concentrated on just two areas:  Allerdale and Copeland.   One can imagine that if this exercise should fail the only people with any input will be the residents of Copeland, where most of the population are engaged in the industry and its suppliers.   If that fails, and opposition does seem to be mounting quite quickly according to letters in the local press, then the government will have to whittle down the eligible to those based around, say, Sellafield canteen.   Or perhaps consult just the local MP and his cohorts?   That way success is inevitable.

The scope of the consultation can be found here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239237/Consultation_Review_of_the_siting_process_for_a_GDF_FINAL.pdf .  Please feel free to appreciate the wonderful new jargon, like "The Learning Phase", "The Focusing Phase", along with old favourites like representative authority.   Whatever happened to good old English language?   Somewhat amusingly, one of the final criteria calls for a positive demonstration of local support.   Given that the area being focused on is Sellafield, then it would be very surprising if NMP and all the other greedy companies could resist the temptation to fund huge demonstrations with its staff.   What chance the small guy against such odds?   Like lobbying MPs, the people with the money have the most access and influence.   A good critique can be found here: http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ANDREW_BLOWERS_GDF_Siting_Consultation_Sept._2013.pdf

Anyone wanting to have their say in the consultation process should address their correspondence to:  consultation.coordinator@decc.gsi.gov.uk to arrive before the 5/12/13.

The DECC document goes on, in the best manner of a government department with a set objective - but very remiscent of a wide-boy car salesman, "Beyond this point, any proposed development would, of course, remain subject to statutory planning and regulatory regimes, and their accompanying public and stakeholder engagement and consultation requirements."   Yeah, right, that's why the government have removed most of the rights to object to such major proposals.   What kind of say will residents have when politicians have given the go-ahead?   Precious little we think.   It may be worthwhile at this point to indicate that the proposed Nuisance Bill currently making its way through parliament will put an end to any form of protest which causes a nuisance.   Hmm.   Not, of course, that politicians would ever want to stifle criticism or protests . . .

Naturally, none of the cost burden for waste disposal will fall on those who wish to profit from nuclear development.   It will all be paid for by the U.K. taxpayer, ultimately for the benefit of private companies - most of whom have little interest in what would be best for the U.K.


One of the other main planks of the "Localism" touted by Cameron and his ilk is that there will be adequate rewards for any community agreeing to host the nuclear dump.   An example of just how rewarding Cumbria's involvement with nuclear has been is quoted in The Times of 4th November, in a statement from the pro-nuclear at any cost MP, Jamieson Reed:  ". . .health services around Sellafield are suffering major cuts,  local courts and police stations are closing and major civic amenities are closing down."   The alternative viewpoint might be that such deprivations are vital and are being deliberately introduced in order to indicate to the local residents just how vital the nuclear industry is - whether they like it or not.   At the very first meeting we attended, in Whitehaven, five years ago, we objected to the many posters around the room as they indicated that many of the projected improvement to social and health amenities and services were dependent on residents approving the nuclear developments which would have a devastating effect on the beautiful countryside of Copeland.   We were concerned, too, that the majority of those pushing so hard for the development had links to Sellafield, either in the way of past employment, or because they were in some way beholden to the industry.

It would be very interesting to learn how many MPs, their families and peers of the realm - especially those involved in the decision-making - stand to gain from nuclear development.   Some of them seem to have very close links indeed.

The Citigroup report, "New Nuclear - The Economics Say No", dated 9/11/09, was clear in the fact that nuclear was too expensive compared to alternative generation methods.   It is interesting, therefore to study the way in which the six major companies have manouevred to bring their prices in line with the promised subsidy which will be enjoyed by Électricité de France when/if the Hinkley Point reactor is commissioned.   Much grumbling by the politicians indicates either stupidity or, more likely, cunning.   It must have been apparent to all that the prices being demanded by Electricite de France would become the base line for all of them.   In the same way that the 30 m.p.h. speed limit becomes the minimum as well as the maximum speed in a built-up area.

Much posturing by Mr. E. Miliband about Labour fixing prices until 2017.   He seems to deliberately overlook the fact that the main price rises that will ensue once Hinkley is in operation will certainly not have come into play by 2017.

People are still pushing the global warming mantra and reiterating stories about the lights going out.   Whatever one believes about the former, the U.K.'s contribution, when compared to the likes of China and America, is minimal and any reduction even more so.   There should certainly be no need to stampede into an even more dangerous energy policy.   With regard to both matters, if a sensible and financially viable energy policy is developed and acted on then a reduction in CO2 and a secure continuing energy production programme will result.   Sadly, that idea is not likely to line MP's pockets.

It is apparent that politicians have once again waved fingers at the public in their efforts to secure benefits for themselves.   So many of the criteria have now been disposed of, it is now only a matter of time before the matter of a nuclear dump is resolved by ignoring the "localism" which has rejected it.   It is, after all, just a matter of whittling down the number of consultees to just those who work for Sellafield and those who expect to gain as a result of a positive vote.   After all it would be a shame to waste the ground-work put in by those MPs who manipulated the parliamentary system (a gross abuse of parliamentary process - Michael Martin, Speaker) to ensure that insurance for nuclear incidents remains with the taxpayer, thereby making nuclear slightly more viable.

So, no waste disposal capability, no energy security, most equipment manufactured abroad, no secure source of raw materials, no local approval, 50 year-old designs that have never been completed on time or on budget,  and heavy index-linked subsidies to foreign companies.   Sounds good to someone.
10/10/13
Food for Thought

Sellafield exists solely to service the needs of Sellafield and the nuclear industry - mainly cleaning up pollution caused by Sellafield.    Although the contrary illusion is maintained, Sellafield does not make a profit and thus has no spending power other than that provided by the tax-payer.   It is now just a £1½ billion a year drain on the public purse.   As it does not earn any money, the largesse spread (albeit very thinly) around the communities in Cumbria stems purely from central government.   Stories that Sellafield are to fund such and such a project are thus totally illusory - they are in fact just spending tax-payer's money whilst skimming off substantial payments for the companies and individuals involved.   Any other project could be funded in this way without the corruption and pollution of the nuclear industry and the local community would be a lot better off.

Generation of electricity for the National Grid ceased more than ten years ago.   Since then the site has been a considerable consumer of electricity and gas, the latter via the 168 MWatt Fellside gas-powered power station.

Although considerable quantities of radioactive materials have been discharged by Sellafield, as part of a deliberate policy or by carelessness or accident, the quantities being recovered from the beaches is negligible in comparison.

A recent BBC programme gave further food for thought   One of the most illustrative sentences being "Whatever you do, do not put anything on the ground."

Read the article here:  
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-24206028

The much vaunted "clean up" and the alternative, but not quite so graphic "decommissioning", of Sellafield does not mean the safe and complete disposal of nuclear materials.   It merely means the re-packaging (at best) of the contaminated material to a different location within the site.   There is currently no way of cleaning up radioactive material in the sense that it is rendered completely free of radiation and thus safe.   Some of the materials contaminated to a somewhat lesser degree are dumped at the Drigg site, where, apparently due to an oversight, illegally dumped higher-level contaminated materials were found by Greenpeace.   Other material is sent to landfill sites with no independent check on what it is that is being dumped.   Historically, of coure, Sellafield management have a reputation for being open and honest.   (Ahem.)   Most recently, equipment designed to check the levels of materials due to be dumped was found not to have been calibrated and was, naturally, indicating that everything that passed through it was safe to dispose of in a normal landfill site.   How much radioactive material ended up being dumped in this manner is open to conjecture.   Other materials are handled by Studsvik in Workington.   The U.K. President of that company left rapidly around the time that a discrepancy of £1million was found in the accounts.

23/9/13
Another Special Delivery for the White Elephant?

Sellafield Barge Aground 2

The tug Valour arrived off Sellafield this morning with a large barge, the Terra Marique, whereon was some kind of plant equipment destined for Sellafield.   This is the second time this procedure has been used:  the barge is pushed into the shore at high tide and is grounded.   When the tide retreats vehicles from Sellafield transfer the equipment ashore.   The tide then returns and the barge is pulled off the beach by the tugboat.   Whilst the towing must be very expensive, this system at least obviates the need for special road transport treatment.

Actually, some wag commented that it was a Tesco barge delivering Sellafield manager's bonuses, but we think not.   The delivery was of a new evaporator - basically a giant kettle used for reducing the volume of liquid so that its concentrated form reduces the volume to be stored with no ultimate destination.   The last pieces of equipment designed to do this job rotted much faster than expected due to the intensely corrosive nature of the task.

True to fashion for jobs at Sellafield, the project for which the new plant is to be installed is alteady £244 million over budget and two years late.   Still, so long as the bonuses keep on coming . . .

22/9/13
The Price of Power

In a highly complex document issued by the governement - interestingly just before their long summer holiday break, the subsidies available to electricity generating companies amounts to six times the current price of electricity.

11/9/13
More Shenanigans from the Nuclear Industry

Sellafield bosses have paid back more than £100,000 of improperly paid bonuses.   Given that the bonuses, which have already been criticised by the Public Accounts Committee, totalled around £6 million, that is not a very high percentage returned to the public's coffers, especially when the results include missing 12 out of 14 targets.

http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk/outrage-over-sellafield-expense-claims-for-cats-and-golf-trips-1.1083410

A new arrival on the beach at Braystones is the new dune-buggy style vehicle for Nuvia, subcontractors to Sellafield for finding particles on the beach.   (Click on "The Voice of Experience" tab for photos.)   Earlier this year there was a tripling of the number of finds, which caused a bit of an outcry.   Happily, the powers-that-be had the answer:  it was all down to a storm.   This is particularly difficult to accept as there have been several hundred storms in the area over the last half century, so what was special about this one?   Nothing so far as we can ascertain.

The number of beach finds is now set at 1353 between Seascale and St. Bees Head.   Sandside beach near Dounreay was closed and warning notices posted about removing shells and pebbles, etc., when the total there reached 208.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-17098948

When activists posted warning notices - which should have been the duty of the local council, except they are too biased towards Sellafield - a councillor followed them and tore the notices down.   Thus holiday makers visiting the area have no idea what risks they are taking.

In Fukushima there are still problems with the storage of water used for cooling the reactor cores following the melt-downs at reactors 1, 2, and 3 two and a half years ago.   Further restrictions were imposed by the Japanese government on fishing in a large area, including some parts which had previously had restrictions lifted.   An official from the Japanese Nuclear Inspectorate admitted that the departrment had not given the fullest details of the contaminated water leakage earlier last month, and that it was in fact worse than had been admitted.   Good news for all the bosses, civil servants and politicians, though.   No-one is to be prosecuted.

2/9/13
The Not-So-Good Nuclear News

We mention below the pro-nuclear Cumbrian weekly paper, the Whitehaven News' report on the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Thorp reprocessing plant, which conveniently omitted to mention many of the negative things about the plant.   It was heartening, therefore to read the reply by a knowledgeable correspondent pointing out some of the deficits in the subsequent edition.   These include the serious leak of highly radioactive nuclear fuel dissolved in concentrated nitric acid which closed the plant.   The leak involved around 22 tonnes of fuel - enough to fill half an Olympic swimming pool (83 cubic metres).   The ONR's report into the incident concluded that 160 kg of plutonium had leaked out, possible from a cracked pipe over a period of almost a year.   As the incident demonstrated breaches of the company's operating licence, they were fined a total of £½ million in 2006.


Happily for Sellafield, none of this appeared in the original article at a time when the renewal of the operating contract was under review and rumours were rife that the whole operation was being considered for re-nationalisation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23918882
http://fukushimaupdate.com/new-radioactive-hotspots-suggest-more-leaks-at-fukushima/


Christina Consolo, IAEA spokesperson, told Russia Today that: “Historically, everything TEPCO says always turns out to be much worse than they initially admit.” 

With all the technology and industry co-operation that is being directed at Fukushima, especially with the monitoring that is allegedly being undertaken to ensure safety on the site, one might be surprised to find that tyhe levels of radiation present in the ground around the water tanks that recently were discovered to have leaked tonnes of material,are 18 times higher than the authorities had said.   Apart from the apparent incompetence (which some might cynically interpret as being deliberate misinformation) the levels have grave importance to those workers who have been in the area trying to detect the source and attempt to rectify leaks.   Tepco suggested that the level was around 100 milliSieverts, whilst in reality levels of 1,800 milliSieverts are being recorded around some of the tanks.   Readings range from 70 to 1,800 milliSieverts around the tank bases.  

When even the IAEA are critical of an industry member you can believe that things are really bad.  

The IAEA has been reported as being critical of Tepco's failure to step up monitoring so that the true scale of radioactive material leaking from the site can be detected.   In late August, 2013, the ban on fishing in the coastal areas around Fukushima has been reinstated.   150,000 people were evacuated following the initial melt-downs, and they cannot return even now, some 2½ years later.   All that the authorities seem able to do is to pour cooling water over the debris until such time as they or someone - anyone, can come up with a proper solution.   There seems to be little prospect of that just yet.   Meanwhile the used water has to be contained on-site, resulting in hundreds of huge water containers, some of which are leaking.   In the event of another tsunami or earthquake there seems to be a grave prospect that many of these temporary storage vessels will be damaged and leak.   Quite a risk, one might think.



Friends in Very High Places

The ubiquitous Barbara Judge visited Fukushima on 31/8/13, to talk to workers following her appointment as deputy chairman of TEPCO's Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee.

According to http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/05/business/lady-judge-fukushima-japan-nuclear, she said, "It was fantastic; it was absolutely hope and enthusiasm, not despair."   Actually, there aren't many people who could come away from something like that and say something so banal.

In an amazingly pro-nuclear report, especially following the announcement of Tepco's failures, the article continues:  'Judge met TEPCO employees, some of whom had been on duty on the day of the accident and others who had been working at the plant ever since to clean up the debris and radiation and to make the site fit to reopen.'   It quotes her as saying, "I was extremely impressed that these people were so dedicated.   They were heroes."'

Amazingly, she is then said to have concluded, "I was amazed at how much work had been done to clear up the site and the high aspiration to make the site the safest in the world."   The world really needs that kind of safety!

Judge, who was chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority for two years from 2004, is relishing the unenviable task of helping TEPCO restore its nuclear energy production.   There does seem to be an emphasis on hype and spin rather than hard facts in this report.


Lords A-Leaping

The majority of Cumbrian polititicans seem almost to have been seconded from Sellafield, the way that they support such a polluting industry and continually promote its expansion.   According to an esteemed august journal, there are friends in even higher places.

Former cabinet minister 
Lord Strathclyde apparently wasn't short of work when he stepped down from being Leader of the House of Lords last January.   In yet another wonderful example of the nuclear industry finding friends in high places - particularly at times of crisis (the current five year contract for Nuclear Management Partnership is due to end soon) - he has taken up the rôle of adviser to the URS Corporation, one of the founder members of NMP, the consortium running Sellafield.  

No doubt Lord Strathclyde's contacts and knowledge will prove useful when it comes to negotiating the next contract, which will last until 2026 and would be worth a further £22 billion for the group.   Not something that a greedy company would care to pass up without exerting some sort of influence.   You will recall that NMP have been taken to task by the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office for paying out £64 million in bonuses to a company that failed on 12 out of 14 project deadlines at Sellafield.   (We have seen nothing about any attempts to get the money reclaimed, though.)   

The current edition of Private Eye (1347), goes on to say that although the advisory committee on business appointments said that Lord Strathclyde must not lobby the government for two years, the terms and conditions of such stipulations meant that they were not very effective.   The article also suggests that the noble lord also has the ear of the Prime Minitster - always useful.

21/8/13
Fascinating Developments and Yet More Failures

All of a sudden there are lots of things happening in the strange real world.   Someone in America has been jailed for 35 years for telling the truth, another American is on the run and fearing for his life for spilling the beans about the National Security Agency's illegal spying activities both at home and abroad (including "friends"), yet another army officer is being investigated for revealing the presence of the Stuxnet virus, the San Ofre nuclear power station is to close permanently - an exercise which is expected to cost around $4½ billion, but the company that owns it wants the public to fund the clean-up of the mess.   Further problems, too, at Fukushima, where 300 tonnes of highly irradiated water has disappeared into the Pacific Ocean.   Meanwhile, The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. has been stamped on for having gained access to some of the details of the fugitive American.   There seems to us to be a strange sort of moral judgement coming into play.   As the spies and those imposing draconian laws on the public always say:  if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.   What is it that they are frightened we will discover?

Even the BBC has pulled its head out of the sand and has run a programme about Stuxnet and the potential for even more malicious payloads to be incorporated now that the virus is "out in the wild".   Like the genie, it is impossible to get it back under control now is has been released.   Whilst the original virus specifically targetted nuclear fuel centrifuges, causing them to become uncontrollable yet having the ability to patch in "normal" operational data in the system log which made detection of the virus rather difficult, that was only one payload.   There is obviously no reason why the payload should/could not be adapted to suit other purposes.   The majority of those purposes would inevitably be malicious.   Virtually every system that is based on a Windows operating system will be vulnerable.   All that it would take is a memory stick or a CD.   Happily, (or otherwise!) our own protective organisation seems quite able to ignore such things - after all, it can't happen to us.   How many computers are there at Sellafield that run the Windows operating system, we wonder.   How many unblocked CD drives and USB ports are there?   Are staff checked to ensure that nothing is taken in to the plant?

Most of the news networks have picked up on the Fukushima story.   Even though people were specifically employed to check for leaks, those 300 tonnes have gone missing.   People are now allowed back onto the beaches at Fukushima, but one does have to wonder whether this is just politically expedient and the fact that Tepco want to re-open their biggest plant very quickly is having some bearing on the decision.  

The American people might not like having to pay up for the mess that is San Ofre.   We understand that some consumers there pay 1% on top of their fuel bills to fund nuclear clean-up and decommissioning.   Whether this should cover normal closure and decommissioning of commercial plants (where profits have already been taken) may be a moot point.

The Whitehaven News published a story about the 25th Anniversary of the Thorp re-processing plant.   http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk/news/thorp-celebrates-25-years-in-business-1.1077454   In a typically pro-nuclear story, it relates how the plant cost £2.8 billion back in 1988.   It doesn't say how much more it has cost the U.K. taxpayer to keep running, even though it has been out of operation for considerable periods and has failed to meet the expected processing targets.   Still, the staff are happy, apparently, and the usual politicians have come out to voice their support for the current management, conveniently ignoring all the failures.

The same journal has related several stories about the future of both Sellafield per se and Thorp.   Some nasty people have claimed that insufficient benefit has been received by the local community from both the NDA and Sellafield management.   The contract for the running of Sellafield is coming up for renewal and some mischievous politicians have suggested that it may be better to get rid of Nuclear Management Partners (NMP, who are currently running the place) and re-nationalise the whole enterprise.   What that will do to productivity is debatable, but the record of NMP is certainly lamentable, as illustrated by the caustic comments from Margaret Hodge's Public Accounts Committee report.

As well as the programme on hacking (and the Stuxnet virus) the BBC has actually managd to cover events at Fukushima and on North West Tonight this evening, managed to include an article on whether signs should be erected warning unsuspecting visitors about the dangerous particles being found on west Cumbrian beaches.   One official, suggesting that the chance of anyone being affected by one of the particles was extremely low, even went so far as to say that no-one had been affected thus far.   Quite how that individual and his cohorts presumably, know that is rather puzzling, as there are no checks on people leaving the beaches.   As we have long pointed out, even the permanent residents at Braystones have been untested, despite their obvious vulnerability.   Again, as we have long pointed out, Sandside Bay near Dounreay has been closed because of particles being washed up there - the number being less than those being found at Braystones and Sellafield to which the public have unrestricted and unwarned access.

Below we point out that beach monitoring is suspended during school holidays, and even the trials of the latest survey vehicle have been held in abeyance until the end of the month, by which time most of the holiday-makers wlll have returned to their homes, mostly blissfully unaware of any potential damage they have have had inflicted on them merely because they chose to play on the beach and in the sea in this part of the country.   Still, any after-effects will no longer be attributable to Sellafield once they have left the area, so they won't be able to link any problems with their visit.


12/8/13
Pulling All The Right Strings

On Friday, 9th August, the Metro newspaper discovered that the profits being made by energy companies such as British Gas, E.On and 
Électricité de France, have risen by 74% in just 48 months.   Domestic users having faced a 29% increase in their bills in the same period.

All this is, in our opinion, directly as the result of government policy - especially the pandering to Électricité de France's demands for a minimum tarriff for their new-build reactors.   Costs of electricity production by non-nuclear methods having been increased (with a corresponding profit rise) purely in an attempt to make nuclear costs seem viable.   Nuclear is not viable and never will be so long as all the relevant overheads, insurance and capital investment, plant decommissioning and waste disposal costs are included.

Heated Exchanges

Back in 2011, those nuclear salesman who take advantage of the confused belief that they are in some way independent inspectors of the global nuclear industry, the IAEA, apparently sensed a shift that will be detrimental to their cause.   According to Bloomberg Business Week, (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-10/energy-costs-to-rise-viciously-without-nuclear-iea-says.html) they need an internationally binding commitment to expand nuclear generation.   Using the well-trodden path of climate change and energy security - both of which are becoming more mythical - they suggest that they want a share of $1.5 trillion that they say is needed to meet future energy demands.   Sadly, the article couldn't find any room to mention that even the Met. Office are struggling to find a correlation between their computer predicitons for global warming and the factual data.   Somewhat amusingly, a science programme giving the history of the earth's creation mentioned that 3,000 years ago a temperature rise of 10° occurred in just one century - the "crisis" today involves a mere 2° in a similar period.   

Whilst happily continuing the suggestion that nuclear is somehow, in some strange way, better than any other form of generation, they don't mention the hot water output directly to the oceans, the rather nasty forms of pollutions that act like an aura round the various plants, how the waste will be deal with or how that equates to anything like a green form of energy production.

What's In It For Us?

The current deal with Nuclear Management Partners, the consortium running the Sellafield complex - not very satisfactorily according to most sources, including the Public Accounts Committee, is coming to an end and the government will shortly make a decision on whether to continue with the current lack-lustre management or to take it back under a national umbrella and run it themselves.   According to the Whitehaven News, the mostly pro-nuclear local newspaper for Copeland, the latter option will not benefit local communities.   It says:

'NMP has put £22.5 million into West Cumbria’s economy over the last five years but the NDA, which has invested more than £50 million in the same period, has to decide whether to allow the private sector consortium another five years.'

It goes on to say:

'Coun Woodburn said: “It’s fair to say NMP have not delivered to my expectations over the past five years, but at the same time I think they should be given the next five years to do better.”'

http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk/news/fears-over-sellafield-s-future-1.1076066

The figure allegedly put into the local economy is somewhat poor when the cost to the U.K. taxpayer handed over the Nuclear Management Partnership has been over  £7½ billion in the same period.   Once again the reports overlook the proper source of the bribes handed out to keep the communities happy.   Given the damage to the environment and people's health in the half century of the Cumbrian nuclear industry, these look like even poorer returns.   In the event of the industry being re-nationalised it seems that even these poor amounts will decrease.

Dur . . .

An article on BBC News 24 last week covered the proposed increase in wind farms off the Lincolnshire coast.   The reporter was not in favour of the development, in part because the windmills were not even made in the U.K., but in Holland.   He wanted to see development and manufacture of the windmeills carried out in the U.K. by that well-known German company, Siemens.   (Remember the phrase corruption is us?)

Click here to see occasional further news up-dates
27/7/13
RWE's Unstable Base + Editorial Comment on Recent Events

Landslip2013

Further to the above-mentioned landslips that occurred last year at Nethertown revealing the obviously unstable nature of the banking at Braystones and along the coast, here's a picture of the repaired banking after he most recent fall, which occurred in January, 2013.   It is at the edge of the land purchased by RWE on which they proposed to build their reactor and, as we mention in the heading picture, the railway line visible in the lower quarter of the photograph is used for nuclear traffic between Sellafield and the port of Workington and elsewhere - something we would consider a risk.   However, just what kind of survey did the company carry out in order to decide that this was a suitable site for a nuclear installation?   Happily RWE have now decided that they are bored with being sheep-farmers and have now sold the land back to local farmers.   One has to wonder how much the poorly-designed nuclear development plan cost them.

On the 23/7/13, a lightning strike killed Network Rail's signalling around Piccadilly Station in Manchester.   Not only did it cause signalling problems - with some of the impact affecting as far afield as Workington - but the surge also took out the telephone sytem and the communications network.   It is fortunate for us that the nuclear inspectorate have deemed that no natural disasters will affect any of the plants operating in the U.K. as we have no history of tsunami.   (Except for the eight that have occurred at odd intervals from 6100 BC through to 2011. )   There are, of course, so many things that the U.K.'s nuclear industry is immune from and have contingency plans for anyway.   (Ahem.)   We can all rest assured that every forseeable event has been covered;   they probably still have some old Strowger switch mechanisms in a telephone exchange to cater for the eventuality a huge discharge of static electricity kills their electronics, computer and phone systems.   Actually, we worry more about the unforseeable.

Earlier this week, Braystones beach residents were advised that a new vehicle would be testing the beach access.   This is the new H5 model for Nuvia, which has been commissioned to find radioactive particles on the beaches along the Cumbrian coast, especially at Sellafield and Braystones.   Since this is the peak time for holiday makers, the timing seemed a trifle odd.   Local councillors are much happier when any such surveying takes place outside school and public holiday periods.   Sure enough, a couple of days later arrived another message to say that the tests had been delayed and would now take place in late August.   We reckon that it is more likely to be September, when all the visitors have left at the end of school holidays, and only the residents, who are now used to the current vehicles and surveys, will be witnesses.   Will they ever get around to surveying the other parts of the hinterland, or the beach bungalows?

Local politicians, with their intrinsic devotion to all things to do with Sellafield, have been upset by proposals to move some of the businesses currently contracted to Sellafield, but based in Copeland and Allerdale, to Risley - 125 miles away, with probable losses in local employment and earning for the region.   An interesting figure suggests that £1 billion has gone into the local "supply chain" in five years.   Given that Sellafield costs the taxpayer £1½ billion each year, that means that an awful lot is going somewhere else.   Still, you don't really expect a fair deal from those lining their own and their company's and their shareholder's pockets so successfully.   It amply demonstrates how little would be diverted into the local economy if the proposed dump were to go ahead, and how scant reliance can be attributed to promises of a fair compensation package.   One local pointed out that in the past all the money has been handed to councils, and areas from where they can't ever see Sellafield.   Almost none of the rewards have been shared with those areas worst affected by the plant's presence.

The bosses at Sellafield have had their bonuses cut after so-called profits at Sellafield dropped appreciably.   The cost of the clean up at the site is now put at £67½ billion, and the current consortium has missed 12 out of 14 targets.   The head honcho is on over £1 million a year and several others must be on over £½ million p.a., so one has to wonder if that represents value for money.

Proposals to build a new MOX reprocessing plant (the last one is referred to elsewhere - many times) at a cost of £5 billion (that's just the current estimate, these things just keep growing, especially after they have reached a critical mass) are still seriously being contemplated thanks to the efforts of local politicians and their supporters.   The original one was described as the greatest scientific white elephant of all time.   The next one promises to eclipse that.   Even so, the cost of cleaning up the original mess is currently (see above comment on projected costs) estimated to be £2.2 billion.  
There really does not seem to be any end in sight for all this wasted money, which is happily being absorbed by the large companies involved and their shareholders - some of whom are involved in the decision making process.

A cynic suggests that recently-announced government plans to spend £100 billion on the nation's infra-structure without spending any of it in Cumbria is merely retribution for the county rejecting the plans to build the nuclear dump there.   Surely not?   Perhaps the £5 billion that they are proposing to waste on another extremely large white mammoth could be put to better use?


Meanwhile in Fukushima, those nice people at Tepco "didn't wish to worry Japanese residents about the leaks" which are continuing to poison the Pacific.   Even a new device designed spedifically for the purpose of removing multi-nuclides has been found to leak as corrosion has affected the welds.   (Ref. http://www.asahi.com/english/articles/TKY201307260118.html)

There are stories about workers failing to submit to eye tests, despite the increased risk of them contracting cataracts, and others about the true number of  workers who received a potential cancer-inducing dose of radioactivity:  up from 178 to 1,978, apparently.   Sadly, too, the groundwater is even now as contaminated as it was back in 2011, despite all the efforts.   Some comments to the fukushima-update site (http://fukushimaupdate.com/) suggest that nothing is being done to remedy the situation.   Another comment suggests that it is necessary to thoroughly assess every aspect of any engineering solution before implementing it.   It seems a pity that this did not take place before Fukushima was built, along with several others - some of which are built on active fault lines.


Affairs in the United States continue to cause concern and in at least one case is leading to legal action.   At the San Onofre nuclear generating site in California legal documents present the case of Mitsubishi's alleged failings.   There have been allegations that the Japanese company which designed and built the plant did not have the necessary expertise in all fields.   As a result there have been leaks and the plant has suffered shut-downs and equipment failures.  

A document available on the internet reveals the current state of the claim against Mitusbishi:  http://www.power-eng.com/content/dam/pe/online-articles/documents/2013/07/NoticeOfDispute.pdf

For those with an interest in the effects of radioactive exposure from dumped material, have a look at http://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/radioactive-waste-film-blocked-in-the-uk/
Although shown in several European countries, it has not been picked up by any of the mainstream broadcasters in the U.K.

3/5/13
Too Demanding and Not Quick Enough?

According to Old Sparky in Private Eye 1339, negotiations between Électricité de France and DECC have stagnated and slowed down to a crawl as the price demanded by the company for new-build nuclear is at last being recognised as being too high.   The entirely fabricated rise in energy prices are already hurting too much, for residential consumers especially.

The headlong rush, that was instituted by and always to the advantage of the nuclear industry, stampeded politicians and those civil servants not already working for Électricité de France into the spiral of ever-increasing energy prices with the aim of demonstrating that nuclear was in some quirky way financially viable.   However, the demands were too high and the process has now stalled, thus losing the imperative and allowing the uncommitted to reappraise the situation and, indeed, query whether nuclear really needs to be part of the energy mix at all.

Old Sparky also goes on to point out (as we did some time ago) that Électricité de France has considerable debts - he mentions €40 billions.   Before the economic collapse the French government's guarantee for Électricité de France meant that it was a safe investment, especially so long as the U.K. government was allowing it to dictate terms.   Sadly, France's economic downturn has left the euro nations pondering on the future and most of the original participants have taken their bats and balls home, writing off several million pounds doing so.   Électricité de France may well have thought that the withdrawals strengthened its case, and would allow it to force through its demands.

Even the reactor design specified (one of two types generically approved for use in the U.K.) for Électricité de France's expansion in the U.K. (the European Pressurised Reactor, or EPR) has failed to meet the sales hype put forward by Électricité de France and its sister company, Areva.   As Old Sparky notes, the two attempts to build this design thus far have both been disasters.   He reports that French newspaper, "Le Figaro" published an article which quotes Électricité de France's head of engineering, Herve Machenaud, as saying it is now considering ditching the EPR for a smaller, more commercial design.   If this is true, then it raises even more doubt about the wisdom of building what are, in effect, already-obsolete reactors, whilst at the same time a change in plans will necessitate further delay as generic design appraisal has to be undertaken.   Even on present plans, nothing would be ready until 2022, with further delays incurring even greater expense, nuclear could well be (as we already believe it to be) dead.

3/5/13
More on the Mighty Oaks From Acorns Do Grow Premise

Over the many decades we have heard the mantra repeated after every incident at any nuclear facility, "There was no risk and nobody was exposed to radiation".   Combined with the complacency over natural events and cybersecurity, the theme is wearing a bit thin.   On 23/4/13 (see entry below) we were treated to the same response over a fire at 
Électricité de France's Hartlepool plant.   Although largely kept quiet, the BBC's North West Today programme has reported a similar-sounding incident at their Heysham 1 site.   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-22394359

Once again we are reminded of the old Chinese adage about even the longest journey begins with a single step.   How many more times can Électricité de France hope to avoid a major problem?   The odds must be reducing rapidly.  

By a strange quirk of fate, some years back Greenpeace published several articles on how the design flaws at 
Électricité de France's Torness and Heysham plants would lead to fires.   They also seemed to be suggesting that Électricité de France were putting profits ahead of safety, but we are sure that cannot be the case!

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/nuclear/british-energy-puts-cash-before-safety-to-keep-stricken-lancashire-nuclear-power-station-running
23/4/13
Spot the Similarities

The chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, M.P. has just discovered that financial advisors specialising in taxation were seconded to the Treasury to assist in the development of new taxation measures.   When they subsequently returned to their employers (the likes of KPMG) they produced plans, using what most reports refer to as "insider knowledge", to assist large companies avoid paying tax to the ultimate advantage of the employing company and the detriment of the nation.   Ms. Hodge seems to think that kind of thing is wrong.  

We wonder when she will turn her attention to large number of 
Électricité de France employees within DECC.   Can she really have been so naiive as to think that huge corporations are in any way altruistic?   There is always a quid pro quo and, nowadays, a revolving door for suitably kindly-disposed employees to benefit from keeping quiet about things which the public don't need to know.   Why else would Électricité de France (and others) wish to utilise so many of their staff if not to gain something in return?

http://www.itn.co.uk/UK/74625/big-companies-get-insider-information-on-tax-avoidance
23/4/13
Applying Leverage, or Some Kind of Blackmail?

The Times for today tells us that 
Électricité de France is preparing to cut jobs at its new nuclear reactor site at Hinkley.   No mention is made by the company of the number of men who will be at risk, but more than 800 people are employed on the site.

The government is still pondering how many of 
Électricité de France's demands it can agree to without making it obvious to all that the Grand Scheme for Nuclear New Build is far too costly to be viable.   To do that it must give out subsidies - something that all parties have said they won't do (we all know about political promises!) but if they go ahead and concede to Électricité de France's demands they may fall foul of the EU's rules and thus be open to challenges in the European courts.

Needless to say, the unions are not happy with the situation which would see its members being made unemployed.   We do have doubts, though, about the statement reportedly made by a Unite national officer, which seems to ignore the adverse effects that working in the nuclear industry can have on its members.  We recall similar comments about the ability of the unions to side with the managers when we attended a meeting in Bridgewater when nuclear expansion was being mooted.   One ex-union member being very vociferous about safety and health issues which she felt had been ignored by the unions in deference to management pressure.

Whether the potential lay-offs make for good business sense or not, it is yet another lever that 
Électricité de France are using to pressure the government to meet their demands.

The union officer is attributed as adding that, "It is time for the government to give 
Électricité de France the certainty it needs so the company can get on with the job of meeting the U.K.' energy needs."   Naturally this overlooks the alternatives to nuclear, and also appears to denote acceptance that the propaganda issued by Électricité de France and the nuclear energy providers - both parties with their own obvious vested interests - that nuclear energy is clean, green and safe.   We don't accept any of those attributes apply.   As we have repeatedly asked, what is clean, green and pollution free about plutonium, caesium, tritium, americium, et al?
23/4/13 (edited 27/4/13)
Yet Another Fire at Nuclear Site

Despite their claims to be experts and safety conscious, there was yet another fire at an Électricité de France nuclear site.   This time an oil leak lead to a "small fire" involving the lagging on a turbine.   Needless to say, there was no danger of radiation leaks and no-one was injured as a result of the blaze.   This, of course, is the standard response to any incident at a nuclear site, regardless of the facts.   One has to wonder how an oil leak on its own could cause a fire of any sort.   What kind of maintenance permits potential oil leaks in the first place.   Unless the oil was leaking onto an incandscent heat source it is difficult to visualise quite what would cause the fire - other than the leak has caused a bearing to run hot enough to set fire to residual oil, but that should surely have been prevented by the safety-consious managers.   In any case, the low oil level and causative leak should surely have been spotted long before a fire ensued.   Although we are treated, again, to the usual rhetoric from the PR people about successful shut-downs, we can't help thinking of the old adage that runs, "From little acorns mighty oaks do grow."   They were, perhaps, fortunate this time, but . . .

We love the line in the local paper's report that says that there was no threat to public or staff from this fire.   Naturally, all nuclear power station staff are immune to injury from conventional fires.   Ah, well, good practse for staff and emergency services for when things do get out of hand, perhaps.   Will Électricité de France be required to pay for the turn out of the ten fire engines, we wonder?

One of the two reactors at the site is still shut down.

Source:   http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/local/hartlepool-power-station-blaze-review-after-fire-at-nuclear-site-1-5602859

Sadly things are far worse at Électricité de France's sites in France.   The number of incidents occurring at its sites increased last year by more than 10% on the previous year.   Risimg from 747 in 2011 to 830 in 2012.   Amazingly, despite all these incidents, the French Nuclear Safety Authority managed to conclude that things were quite satisfactory.   Amusingly, the French appear to have a different calendar to everyone else around the world, as their Fessenheim plant, which is due to close in 2016, needs work to be done before June 30th, and the paperwork related to its closure will take 5 years to complete!   Other plants haven't fared any better, with five being singled out for their impact on the environment:  Belleville, Chinon, Civaux Tricastin and St. Alban.   How these incidents affect the odds on a serious events happening is unclear.

http://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/2013/04/16/20002-20130416ARTFIG00622-les-incidents-dans-les-centrales-nucleaires-d-edf-en-hausse-de-10-en-2012.php

17/4/13
Helping to Keep the Lights On - by Not Paying Any Corporation Tax For Three Years

A government committee is currently looking at the state of the energy industry and professes to be angry and surprised that some huge multi-national corporations are paying no corporation tax at all.   Where have these MPs been?   What did they think the companies were up to?   Somewhat unfairly, RWE, the German company who put forward the ridiculous plans to build a series of reactors at Braystones - but the chappy in charge of the project hadn't even bothered to visit the area, never mind the actual proposed site - were singled out for paying no tax at all despite profits of over £766 million over the last three years.

Other figures include: 
  • Scottish Power - £102m in 2012 on profits of £1.2bn;
  • E.ON - £532m on profits of £5bn between 2007 and 2011;
  • Surprisingly, not quite the bad guy we might expect (leastways in this instance), considering its history, Électricité de France paid "over £200m" last year on pre-tax profits of £1.7bn   Looking at that vague sort of figure one has to wonder at how it was arrived at when the tax is currently running at 20%.   Happily for some, and Vodafone's £4 billion saving springs to mind here, special arrangements can sometimes be made with tax inspectors for those with the right contacts, or who are in the right clubs.
The committee chairman, Tim Yeo, told the executives that their schemes had resulted in tens of thousands of customers paying more than they needed to.   Whose duty was it to bring the rip-off to the attention of the public?   One has to wonder what DECC, the energy regulators and others, have done to keep the energy costs fair and reasonable.   They have certainly got enough staff and should have the information and competence to be able to assess the overall situation, so what action have they taken?   We stand by our opinion that the entire situation has been manufactured by the government, especially DECC, in order to produce some semblance of viability for nuclear projects.   They have been ably assisted in this by those well-respected (not to say well-placed!) and competent secondees from the likes of Électricité de France.   We mention elsewhere the ability of Électricité de France to provide employment for relatives of people in government, which is obviously just pure coincidence.

We presume that the MPs are stupid enough to fall for the excuses being made by the corporations:  that they have spent significant amounts investing in the U.K. in order to help it "keep the lights on".   Even though this is a panic-inducing and emotive ploy without real merit, so many people now believe it that it seems like a self-fulfilling prophesy, the truth is that the companies involved have not been altruistic.   Indeed, that is not the nature of big business.   The money invested has come, and will continue to come - with handsome interest - from the hard-pressed consumers, whose energy bills will double again within the next few years.   The nil payment of corporation tax is merely a triumph for the financial manipulators, who, like the executives, are well rewarded for their success.

According to an article in the Guardian, Labour MP John Robertson, referring to the mis-selling scandals (see article on SSE below), asked E.ON chief executive Tony Cocker, "Are you squeaky clean?", Cocker replied,  "It's too early to say."   Not quite the response that would satisfy many people.

Criticising the companies for their over-complex tarriffs, which made it unclear which was the most suitable for any individual, the chief executive of Energy U.K., the industry trade association, said that part of the problem working out tax liability for a company was because of the complexity of their organisation.   Confuse and confound, eh?   Flint suggested that she was surprised and concerned to learn that, "Out of Britain's six energy companies, three have effective tax rates significantly less than would be expected, and one has paid no tax at all."   Mind you, she also managed to defend the actions of the banks when she worked for the British Bankers Association . . .    Surely, with some apparent expertise in the financial world she might have guessed?

At least, SSE, paid over £200m corporation tax on profits of £1.3bn, whilst another U.K. company the British Gas owner, Centrica, has been paying higher tax rates: £651m corporation tax in 2011 on £2bn.   Even so, they still managed to invest in new infra-structure.   If they can do it, whilst paying tax, why can't the others?   SSE now has to pay the £10½ million fine, too.   Still, that is probably claimable against tax liability somehow.

According to the Guardian article, "The big six energy suppliers were accused last week of "cold-blooded profiteering" after official figures showed they had more than doubled their retail profit margins over the last 18 months and were now earning an average of £95 profit per household on dual-fuel bills. The industry regulator Ofgem, which produced the estimates, said profits per household would reach £100 over the next 12 months."   This would mean a doubling of the present level of profit - strangely coincident with the amount that Électricité de France are demanding for building nuclear reactors that few people consider viable, but which the consumer will be expected to foot the bill for for the next 40 years!   No responsibility for cleaning up or safely disposing of the resultant radioactive waste and only a £1 billion liability in the result of any industrial incident.   The Fukushima meltdowns are currently said to be costing £33 billion;  so the U.K. taxpayer has to pay for building, running, servicing, and still provide insurance, waste disposal and clean up in the event of leaks, whilst Électricité de France are rewarded with a guaranteed profit for the next half century.   Neat?   Unless you are a U.K. resident, of course.   Shades of a very, very expensive PFI?   

Source:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/apr/16/big-six-energy-suppliers-tax?CMP=twt_fd and others.

Of course, some of the companies, like our old favourite,
Électricité de France, have previous experience of hiding their business afffairs from scrutiny and not paying taxes.   Back in 2003, for example, the Europeand courts found:
  • (156) This Decision has been drawn up on the basis of the information provided by the French authorities. It should be stressed that, despite the injunction to provide information issued in October 2002, the French authorities persisted in their refusal to supply the Commission with full copies of some of the documents requested. In particular, they communicated only extracts from the French Court of Auditors' reports covered by the injunction.
  • (160) The Commission finds, lastly, that the non-payment by EDF, in 1997, of corporation tax on some of the provisions created free of tax for the renewal of the RAG constitutes State aid that is incompatible with the common market. Such tax aid amounts to EUR 888,89 million.
Article 1
  • The unlimited guarantee granted by France to Electricité de France (EDF) constitutes State aid that is incompatible with the common market and must be withdrawn by 1 January 2005.
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32005D0145:EN:NOT

Électricité de France have a very nasty history, including a conviction for industrial espionage, hacking into computers, etc., and yet our wonderful politicians keep treating them as reputable business people, then feigning surprise when proved wrong.

Besides which, there seems to be so much taking without much giving.   With so many large companies successfully avoiding paying tax, surely it is time for some proper accounting by those responsible for the country's finances.

(Edited)  17/4/13

Fukushima's Radioactive Material May be Dumped Into the Pacific

In typical fashion, the ability to handle radioactive material safely is proving to be beyond the scientists given the task.   Tepco discovered that one of the pools that is has filled with radioactive water was leaking.   So it decided to transfer all its contents to
another pool.   Triple-lined with heavy duty plastic, the pools were thought to be robust enough.   Sadly it has proved not to be the case and the second pool has now developed a leak, too.   Over 26,000 gallons have now leaked into the surrounding soil.  

By coincidence, Tepco does not have a sufficient alternative space for the water, which is rapidly becoming an embarrassment and further liability.   The Japanese are currently debating what to do with the accumulating stockpile and one of the options being considered is just to dump the lot into the Pacific.

According to the New York Times, 'At least three of seven underground chambers at the site are now seeping radioactive water, leaving Tepco with few options on where to store the huge amounts of contaminated runoff.   Readings around the No. 1 pool, to which the remaining water from the No. 2 pool was being transferred, suggested that it too was seeping water', said Masayuki Ono, general manager at Tepco’s Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division.   A third pool, the No. 3 pool, was also found to have sprouted a small leak on Sunday.   Asked whether the plant’s other underground pools might also be prone to leaking, Mr. Ono had no clear answer. “We are still assessing the situation,” he said.'

Even the normally silent BBC News managed to afford the problem some space, describing the situation as a "Tremendous worry".   The short report said, 'The suspected leak was detected at the plant’s number one pool, the destination for contaminated water from the number two pool, which was also leaking. The transfer has now been stopped.'

We understand that we have caused tremendous worry to the people of Fukushima and the wider public and we apologise for that”, Tepco spokesman, Masayuki Ono, told reporters.


Source:  http://enenews.com/tremendous-worry-emergency-operation-halted-at-fukushima-plant-contaminated-water-from-leaking-tank-put-into-another-leaking-tank, and others.

At present there seemsto be no firm idea of what the situation is at the site, and no idea whatsoever about the state of the cores.   Even the location of the latter appears to be unknown.  

Still, lots of plans are being developed . . .  
"It is extremely regrettable that incidents keep occurring at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant," Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary said in a press conference. "The government has instructed Tepco to carry out a fundamental review of how it is
dealing with the problems."   While the president of Tepco, was summoned to appear before the minister of trade and industry on Monday and was given a severe dressing down.

In recent times there have been two failures of the emergency cooling system to the plant, the latest one on 5th April, 2013, was when a failure in the cooling system left the plant unable to cool radioactive fuel rods in one of the reactors for about three hours.   We mention elsewhere the incident in March, when a rat chewed through an electrical cable in a parked vehicle, and caused a 29-hour blackout in parts of the plant and led to temperatures in the reactors rising once again.

According to various source, there have been other equipment failures, including devices to measure levels of air-borne radiation.   Even after all this time, the company is finding it difficult to stop groundwater seeping into the damaged reactor buildings.   Kiyoshi Kurokawa, chairman of the committee appointed by the Japanese government to investigate the disaster, told a new inquiry that the situation at the plant is "clearly yet to be settled".   More than two years after the accident, he added, "We are unable to see what is going on with melted nuclear fuel, the concrete of the reactor containers and injected cooling water".   Some parts of the plant are so contaminated it is impossible for humans to remain there for more than a few minutes at a time.

Source:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/9980933/Radioactive-water-leaking-from-pits-near-Fukushima-nuclear-plant.html, and others.


No Guarantees of Safety for Nuclear, Even In America

The former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman, Gregory Jaczko, is reported as saying that the current fleet of operating plants in the US should be phased out.   He says that regulators 'Can’t guarantee against an accident causing widespread land contamination'.   Jaczko said the agency had, 'Damaged significantly” its international reputation for upholding safety and accused the five current commissioners of, 'Just rolling the dice”, when dealing with severe accidents.   The current status of the Hanford site which is the American equivalent of Sellafield is giving serious cause for concern, but little urgent action is being undertaken to resolve the problems.

Source:   http://enenews.com/former-top-u-s-nuclear-official-u-s-nuclear-plants-should-be-phased-out-cant-guarantee-against-accident-causing-widespread-land-contamination
3/4/13
Scottish and Southern Electricity Fined a Record £10½ million For Mis-selling

SSE have been fined a record amount by Ofgen for misleading customers into changing their suppliers in the belief that SSE's tarriffs would save them money, when, in fact, the change would result in 
customers paying a lot more for energy.

We were amused to note the headline on an ISP's home page:

SSE Fined £10.5m By Ofgem Over Mis-Selling (Yahoo Home page) and the current home page of SSE, which reads: "SSE - We do things differently."

A news article on SSE's site states that, "SSE plc can confirm that it will be accepting the £10.5m penalty announced by Ofgem today." (http://betterway.sse.co.uk/) Did they really have any option?

Good to see that they are maintaining the ethics of the industry.

1/4/13
To Be Perfectly Franc . . .

Apart from most of the other "facts" on which the proposed nuclear expansion programme is predicated we have long contended that one does not achieve energy security by selling off all the manufacturing capacity to foreign companies.   One might steer well clear of any company which is not only foreign, but also has an "unfortunate criminal record".   So it is even more nonsensical to suggest that the government is "near to concluding a 35 year deal with Électricité de France".  

The French company is apparently sticking out for a 40 year period, during which virtually every aspect of the nuclear development in the U.K. will be underwritten by the tax-payer and consumer - so the latter will be paying twice.   Every householder will have to pay around £200 (variable according to source) extra each year for the next 40 years - even with no addition costs presenting themselves and with no incidents releasing radiation.

Then, of course, there is the problem of waste disposal - for which, again, the U.K. taxpayer will be expected to cough up and provide the dump for.   No method or location has been arrived at, but that hasn't stopped DECC from setting a price for it!   Just how does Électricité de France gain such influence and acquire such good friends amongst the decision-makers?   How many politicians, businesses, individuals and peers of the realm stand to make enormous sums off the back of this enterprise?   There seems to be no other rational reason to proceed with the plans.   The record of selling off national industries, such as the railways, the N.H.S., British Gas, utilities, nuclear, etc.,  have all demonstrated that only the fat cats benefit.

1/4/13
GIGO

This is an old computer term, standing for "garbage in = garbage out".   Any calculation based on erroneous data input will obviously result in a wrong output (even if the computer modelling technique is correct).

News, insider pricing information, and future trends for a variety of fuels on which industry pundits can gauge the future costs of the energy provided therefrom have been supplied for many years by ICIS-Heren, whose website proudly proclaims:

"Our reports aim to bring liquidity and transparency to power and gas hubs, giving you the information you need to help you closely follow, analyse and evaluate changes in the marketplace.

"For over a decade ICIS has been a trusted source of independent data, relied on by businesses in the energy industry to support their commercial planning and decision-making."

Source:  http://www.icis.com/energy/

Sadly, according to a Private Eye article by Old Sparky, their independence may not be quite that independent at all.   The article tells that our revered friends at Électricité de France have been supplying data to th ICIS organisation for a considerable period.   Where the system seems to be remiss is that there may not have been many other companies supplying data, or at best, not to the same extent.   Also, for some reason, once the situation became public knowledge, the supply of data is said to have ceased.

If a result is to be drawn from a supply of data, then it obviously makes sense to have as many sources of that data as possible.   From smaller companies as well as large.   That way a fairer and more honest result is obtained - the broader the data base the better the ability to forecast trends.   If, as seems to be the inference to be drawn from the Private Eye article, the sole supplier of data is Électricité de France, then it seems possible that the data could be unfortunately skewed, thereby distorting the market's figures.   Électricité de France have been known to be playing hardball over the future cost of electricity and are using the minimum cost per unit as a bargaining point, but we are quite sure that any distortion of the market, even if it is correct, would not have been the aim of Electricite de France, even though they do, of course, have an interesting history when it comes to honesty and integrity.   Put it down to another coincidence, eh?   Perhaps someone could check the figures that have been supplied and check them against those of another energy supplier - just for completeness?   Would the other company(ies) have supplied similar data to that put forward by Électricité de France?

It seems that the Eye article may be a follow-up to the one which was widely reported in November, last year, such as this one from the Belfast Telegraph:

"The whistleblower, named as Seth Freedman, claimed the gas market has been "regularly" manipulated by some of the big power companies, the Guardian reports. Mr Freedman, who works as a price reporter for ICIS Heren, a company responsible for setting so-called benchmark prices, raised the alarm after identifying what he believed to be attempts to distort the prices reported by the company.

"It was also reported that Ofgem has been warned by ICIS Heren that it has seen evidence of suspect trading on September 28, the date that marks the end of the gas financial year."

Source:  http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/uk/city-watchdog-probes-gas-market-28921395.html

Although the Hansard record for 13th November, 2012, suggests that there may have been an earlier-reported alleged manipulation:

              http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121113/debtext/121113-0001.htm#12111384000011

1/4/13
Decluttering the Clyde

The Ministry of Defence has apparently changed its mind about the fate of nuclear submarines currently awaiting disposal at Rosyth, and has now decided that they will be broken up there.   There are now 18 submarines there awaiting their fate.  
Britain's first nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought, was commissioned in 1963, being decommissioned in 1980.   Containing an intensely radioactive reactor vessel, it is sitting in Rosyth.

Another 17 other decommissioned nuclear submarines are already there, and in the near future there will be a total of around 27.   The age of many of the submarines means the radioactive contamination has spread.   Some are suspected of having radiation leaching into the air.   Many hundreds of tonnes of radioactive material will be produced by the breaking of these vessels, and there seems to be no firm plan as to the ultimate destination of it all.   It is quite possible that substantial amounts may need to be kept stored on the site until it becomes safer to move.   Given the nuclear-free desires of Scottish politicians, that may not be a popular move.   The only other possiblitity at present would appear to be transport to Sellafield, where it could join the hundreds of tonnes of material lying around, gradually decaying and posing a huge risk to the population and the environment.   Apparently, the original plan may have been to use the original Sellafield idea of dumping everything into the sea - scuttling the submarines in this case - with the premise that any radioactivity will become infinitely diluted.   Sadly, and with the result that large-scale contamination has ensued - this wonderfully scientific solution was fatally (sic!) flawed.

Source:  http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/scotland/article1238789.ece
             http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/scotland/article1238763.ece

Politicians have said the base was being used as an “experimental dockyard”, describing the risks as, “Too high to accept”.


The MoD’s decision, it is reported, would spark “outrage, the length and breadth of Scotland”.    One campaigner said, “There will be alarm that Rosyth should be used as the testbed for an untested high-risk procedure.”

Still, we can be reassured by an Ministry of Defence spokesman, who said, “No radioactive waste will be removed without a storage or disposal solution being agreed.   Dismantling will be independently regulated to stringent standards.”   By whom, by what system, or where, is not yet known - by anyone!

12/3/13  -  Decc issue very strange press release.

It was with some amusement that we listened to the BBC North West Today programme as they announced that Sellafield had undertaken a controlled shut-down to allow staff to go home early because of severe weather conditions - snow and high winds.   How wonderfully altruistic of them.   It was almost as if they had done something brave.   How many of those listening to the report even guessed that Sellafield does not generate any power and hasn't for many years, having become a consumer instead.   Still, the propaganda machine must earn its keep.   Was there really any danger to the plant from such minor events?   No.

22/3/13
Vacancy For A Rat-catcher Announced by Tepco

The spectre of even more radiation releases from Fukushima arose on 19/3/13, when cooling systems to two spent-fuel ponds and another common pool that contains 6,377 nuclear fuel assemblies was disabled by a "15 cm. rat-like creature" gnawing through the cables in a makeshift switchboard mounted on the back of a lorry.   In all, nine systems were affected, including equipment to remove radioactive substances from cooling water.   A spokesman for Tepco is quoted as saying that it will take several days to get temperatures back to normal after the 30 hour power failure.


Tepco were apparently intending to stop using the switchboard and moving to a permanent one by the end of March.   One has to wonder, given the obvious vulnerability demonstrated by this failure, whether they have merely repeated to stupidity of duplicating the existing wiring, so that any repeat will have an identical effect and place at risk the same nine systems.

Surely some sort of armoured cable should have been used, given the area's susceptibility to earthquakes and tsunami.   Even rats have been known to balk at damaging their teeth on steel wires.

Source:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/03/21/national/tepco-smells-rat-in-fukushima-no-1-fuel-pool-cooling-glitch/#.UUwmyRfOt8E

On BBC 4 television, last Tuesday evening, was a very revealing programme, "Surviving the Tsunami:  My Nuclear Aunt", on the plight of residents from the village of Namie, about 25 miles north of Fukushima power station.   Having been evacuated from their homes to Tokyo, their current probelms were amply demonstrated.   The main participants were allowed to return briefly to Namie and the state of their homes and businesses was obviously very moving for them.

Interestingly, prior to the earthquake and tsunami over two years ago, almost all the residents of Namie were in favour of nuclear development and were, apparently, somewhat jealous of their neighbouring village for winning the Fukushima-Daiichi plant.   Having seen the devastation and felt the effects of the incident that has caused so much pollution and hardship first-hand, they are now so anti-nuclear that they have even taken part in protests against restarting existing nuclear power stations.   It will be impossible for any of the ex-residents of Namie to return as the pollution will last far longer than them.

It is a rare event for the BBC to produce something that criticises the nuclear industry, even those abroad, so for it to show something as movingly dramatic as this was a breakthrough.   Happily, it was screened late at night (repeated in HD on 21/3/13 - again late at night) so not too many people will have been influenced by its message.   Nonetheless, it does seem as if this one has slipped past the I.A.E.A.'s propganda filters.   Congratulations and thanks to the producer for showing the situation as it really is.   It was not difficult to translate the devastating effects to areas like Cumbria, where vast tracts would become uninhabitable for eternity should anything go wrong with Sellafield.

An earlier and very worrying report on the current situation at Fukushima seems to suggest that everything is pretty much as it was immediately after the event - only now there are numerous plans (which may or may not be effective) to one day get round to dealing with the massive pollution and clean up.   The sight of workers on house-roofs using pressure washers to "clean up" nuclear waste does not augur well, however.   It is just moving any contamination from one place to another - in this instance in a totally uncontrolled way.   As with the thousands of containers of contaminated soil and water, there is nothing much being done that will permanently cure and make safe the debris.   The nuclear aunt was correct to have been concerned about the high levels of radiation even in areas which had allegedly been cleaned.

Small wonder the rats are proliferating!


Challenging Decisions

Energy Secretary, Edward Davey - whose brother works for a company which has handled billions of pounds worth of transactions for 
Électricité de France and whose department has accepted secondees from the company - seems to think he has been independent and rigourous in awarding Électricité de France planning permission for development at Hinkley Point in Somerset.   Yet despite all the hooray Henrys making lots of noise about this announcement "kick-starting" nuclear development in the U.K., (some motor-cycle!) Électricité de France are still demanding a minimum price for the power it may eventually produce.   All that seems to have happened here is that the government have backed themselves even further into the corner and Électricité de France can apply even more pressure - which, to us, amounts to blackmail.   One really does have to question the impartiality of the evidence that the policitian has given a detailed analysis of!

One of the key issues which the government were promoting was that there would be no nuclear development until such time as there was a working system for the safe disposal of nuclear waste, which is currently being stockpiled around the country, especially at Sellafield.   No such system exists.   The recent rejection of the nuclear dump in Cumbria has put paid to even the half-baked system that was being put forward as a solution.   Is this to be just another of the key principles that will be overlooked in the haste to satisfy the pro-nuclear lobby?   Will the government be surprised when they find that, having given control of dangerous and vital infra-structure to a foreign company, they are being held to ransom for ever-higher prices for electricity and the profits are going to, er, France?   Given the corruption illustrated by 
Électricité de France and Areva in the past (would you buy a used car from either of them?   Anyone remember the nasty business with Électricité de France conducting a spying operation a while back?), one does have to wonder just how naiive politicians can be accepting glib sales propaganda talk.   Does nothing sound an alarm bell for these people?   Or ar they just in a rush to make money out of their short-lived positions of power?   The similarities between the nuclear propaganda machine and the corrupt parts of the newspaper industry currently hogging the limelight are quite striking.   Or is it really just coincidence that siblings and colleagues of those making the decisions are so beholden to the industry?

According to newpaper reports, a variety of groups are considering the announcement with a view to seeking a judicial review.   Combined with the threat of action in EU courts, it may be a trifle premature to be celebrating.

Back in the funny farm, Areva have resumed shipment of MOX fuel to Japan after a lapse of four years.   According to some sources Japan may be considering restarting up to two thirds of its reactors.

Source:  http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/business/T130321003958.htm

12/3/13
Nuclear Power - All It Is Cracked Up To Be

Along with many other more enlightened countries, Belgium has decided that nuclear power is nonsensical and will close it all down by 2025.   However, last June,  cracks were detected in one of the pressure vessels at the Doel No. 3 reactor.   One of many similar designs around the world, for example, in Germany, America and Spain, the reasons for the cracks depend on whom one choses to listen to.   Independent sources suggest that the cracks are an inevitable consequence of neutron bombardment and all reactors will face the same problems as they get older.   Meanwhile, the utterly open and honest nuclear industry sources suggest that the detected cracks are merely artifacts produced as a result of imperfect casting by Dutch company, Rotterdam Dry Docks, who closed down last year.   An even better explanation - possibly a later and better thought from the nuclear industry's PR machine - is that the cracks don't exist at all and are some kind of "noise" produced by the surveying equipment.   As usual, the industry wants to press on with restarting the reactors and sod the consequences, it is costing them money.   Sadly, another reactor, at the Tihange site near Liege, has shown the same sort of problems.   Unless one is in the business, it is difficult to imagine that two different vessels would show the same sort of flaws.   However, both the owners, Electrabel (part of GdF Suez) and the Belgian regulator seem to want to restart the reactors.   The more cautious wish to have the vessels at least repaired or, preferably, replaced.   The latter, of course, would be impracticable if they are to be shut down anyway in the near future.     These reactors would not have failed the stress tests carried out post-Fukushima, either.

Elsewhere around the world, an MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) reactor at the San Onofre site in California, which is the most complained about and unreliable of all American sites, with a history of radiation leaks and steam-tube failures, is the subject of a report which blames faulty computer modelling for the majority of its woes.   According to the report, MHI repeatedly assured owners SCE (Southern California Edison) that all was well with the design.   The report says, "SCE is disappointed that MHI decided on its own to redact some information in its evaluation about the flaws in the computer codes."   As reasssuring to us as the suggestion that the stress tests performed on reactors following the Fukushima incidents in any way mean that the current batch of designs are intriniscally safe.

Both SCE and the U.S. regulators were aware of the problems and the report's contents but these were not made public by them until forced to do so.

The cost of rectification of the problem reactors is assessed at $671 million, which SCE wish to recoup from its customers.   Friends of the Earth are considering whether to press for an inquiry into whether the substitution of a design which differed substantially from the approved one is a matter for legal proceedings.   Amazingly, the known flaws and the risks they posed to the public of southern California were deliberately overlooked in what has been described as an imprudent triumph of construction haste over safety.

Various sources, including World Nuclear News, Euronews, France 24, & NHK World.  

Friends of the earth release relating to the matter can be found here:  http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2013-03-san-onofre-report-confirms-edison-knew-about-problems

27/2/13
Nothing To Worry About - It Cannot Happen Here

200 miles south east of Seattle lies the Hanford nuclear site, America's equivalent of Sellafield in many ways.   The site stores some of the worst of America's nuclear waste in an array of buried tanks.   Originally designed for about 20 year's service, which
period expired several years back, the tanks should have been emptied and the contents rehoused.   Sadly, as with every other country around the world, the disposal system has yet to be devised and implemented.   Over the years that the tanks at Hanford have been in use, more than a third of them have leaked.   The leaks account for up to a million gallons, so it is not a small thing.   The latest discovery suggests that one tank is leaking at the rate of 300 gallons per year.


The State Governor, Jay Inslee, is reported as being "very disturbed" by the news.   We don't suppose that it would have been helped by the official statement from the Department of Energy at Hanford, who said that most of the tank's contents had been removed in 1995, following attempts to stabilise the situation, but that almost half a million gallons of "sludge" had remained!   According to official records, there are some 50 million gallons of waste stored at Hanford.   Naturally, because the scientists back then knew almost as much as the current scientists do, they knew that a single-shelled tank would suffice.   It seems they might have overlooked the rabbits.   However, it seems, even one of the new, specially-designed (we know what we are doing) and super-safe double-skinned tanks has sprung a leak, too, which is puzzling Department of Energy officials, allegedly.

The situation may be worse than is immediately apparent as the tanks have not only been letting the toxic waste out, they have been letting rain and ground water in, which upsets the readings.   No-one knows how much of the stuff in the tanks has really leaked only to be made up by the ingress of rain-water.  
As usual, there is "no immediate public health threat, because it may take years, or even decades, for the leaked material to reach the groundwater and move on to the Columbia River".   So that's alright then.   Yes, it will eventually leak out and people and the environment will suffer accordingly, but it won't happen for a long time and it will be someone else's problem.   Just like the U.K.

Problems from outer space are a rare occurence, but one has to wonder about the recent explosion of a meteorite over the Russian Urals town of Chelyabinsk.   Did the checks carried out recently by our esteemed scientists look at that possibility or did they just dismiss earthquake and tsunami events?

Regular readers will be aware that, for some time, we have been endeavouring to persuade those whose function it is to take seriously the threat from hacking of computer networks.   The most recent reply, from an official in the Nuclear Waste Assessment Team of the Environment Agency (still awaiting a reply after over five months!), told us that there was nothing to worry about with Sellafield.   Small wonder that the Defence Select Committee warned that 'much more needed to be done to identify the type or extent of cyber-attack that would warrant a military response'.   The Americans have reported over a million attacks on their infra-structure per hour.   The Environment Agency's complacency is worrying.   It is almost as if they have never heard of the current array of smart phones and similar portable devices.   Anyone care to guess at how many unsecured operational ports there are on the Sellafield network, or how many external network connections could be hacked?   The main hacker, according to most reports is an elite section of China's military.   Interestingly, the Chinese are now by far the main manufacturer of networking circuits (i.c.s and add-in cards).   Does anyone go through the lines of in-built coding to check that they only do what they are supposed to, with no back door access or Trojans?   As the Select Committee have at last realised, by the time hacking has been detected it is too late.   Horses and stable doors?   We must not be complacent about out complacency . . .   It hasn't happened yet, so it never will.

Satellite photographs of the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons sites seem to show row upon row of jet fighter aircraft lined up ready for a quick take-off.   One report suggested that the planes could be air-borne within four minutes.   Compare that to the 15 minutes that it takes for an RAF plane to get to Sellafield to defend its airspace.

22/2/13
Électricité de France Takes a Step Too Far

Électricité de France's rival,   Scottish and Southern Electricity, one-time member of the Iberdrola consortium who bought a plot at Sellafield to build a new reactor or two before pulling out in late 2011, has asked the European Commission to consider if the arrangements currently being debated in London with the U.K. government (see Tilted Tables and Smoke-Filled Rooms below) breaches the rules on unfair subsidies.   The generous subsidies being demanded by Électricité de France in return for building a few new reactors have already proved a sticking point, but it had been assumed by DECC that the process, because it fitted with the desire to reduce CO2 emissions, would be rubber-stamped.   Now it seems that is not likely to be the case at all.   It looks as if Électricité de France have over-egged the pudding.

Processes within the European Commission are slow-moving - the slower the gravy train the more gravy for the passengers.   It is expected that it will be 2015 at the earliest before the commission comes to any conclusion.   Thereafter the process will be liable to challenge by judicial review.   That would probably take a further couple of years, too.   It seems that the only beneficiaries of the huge sums that will be involved will be wasted on the usual suspects:  lawyers and politicians.   However, we should be grateful for any delay, which will, naturally, give cause for huge increases in build-costs and more in the way of demands for subsidies-by-any-other-name.

The problem with this subsidy business is that, to make things appear fair to all forms of energy production, every scheme has to receive something vaguely similar in terms of subsidy.   Ultimately this will be recouped from levies on the unit cost of electricity and the end result is that consumers will have to pay ever increasing amounts.   With just the current
Électricité de France's demands, it was expected that these levies would lead to a doubling of the already-over-priced electricity bills in the next four or five years.   Whilst that level of subsidy may be necessary to pander to Électricité de France's demands, it does seem rather unnecessary for the likes of wind and solar power, not to mention the other sources.

For the time being, it seems, no new reactors will be built until 8 years hence at the earliest.   Combined with the utter mess made of the nuclear dump and legacy waste storage, the whole thing is an utter shambles.

12/2/13
Tilted Tables and Smoke-filled Rooms

It seems that even with the tilted table in the smoke-filled room, with lots of staff seconded from 
Électricité de France, all is not well.   Despite having so much insider influence and so many friends in high places, Électricité de France still seems to be struggling with its insistence that it be allowed to make 10% return on its £14 billion plans to build new nuclear reactors in this country.   10% might seem a little high in these days of zero to 3% interest rates (the rate of inflation announced today is at 2.7%), especially when so much else is already agreed in the various subsidies.   The true levels of subsidy from the U.K. taxpayer are actually unquantifiable.   One serious accident and the taxpayer will be paying up for ever, as there is an agreed cap on the liability of the operator in the event of any accident, following the coup in parliament which the then Speaker, Michael Martin, described as a "gross abuse of parliamentary process".   On top of that, the deal - if one is reached - will endure for 20 years.   This means that, given with a fair wind and no accidents, Électricité de France will pocket £45 billion from the U.K. taxpayer.   At the end of that, and for at least 50 years thereafter, we will be left with the clean-up bill less whatever has been agreed now by the crystal ball gazing politicians.

The original cost, which seems now to have been a carrot dangled in front of the gullible M.P.'s noses, was £3 billion for each reactor.   However, for some reason, the cost has risen now to an estimated £14 billion for two.   Not much of a special offer, we think.   Not exactly buy one get one free, we think.   The record for new-build is far from impressive;  even on their home ground, at Flamanville, there are budget over-runs and the project is running very late.   The consequence is that the cost has now almost tripled and the plants, assuming all goes well from now on and there are no commissioning problems, will not start to produce power before 2016 - four years late and the construction will have taken twice as long as the original forecast.   Thus no profits or return on their investment can occur for some considerable time yet.   Small wonder that the French company is getting edgy.

We mention below the difficulties that are extant for 
Électricité de France in terms of its financial situation.   According to the newpapers, the debt at present for Électricité de France is around £35 billion.   The company already receives subsidies from the French government.

Following the withdrawal of Centrica from the consortium, announced earlier this week, there have been endeavours to interest the Chinese in taking their place.   The latter, however, seem to be somewhat lukewarm.   Since the nuclear industry in China is rated at 29 out of 32 in the safety league.   As always, it will be the Chinese people, not the operator, who will have tol pay the bills for any accident in their home country.

Interestingly, with the Chinese expected to build several reactors of their own, and with no supplies of uranium of their own, it seems very likely that the cost of uranium  will go very much higher.   Quite what effect this would have on the cost of nuclear power is unclear at present.   Energy security is one of the basic tenets of the politicians' policies and there are two main areas of weakness in their case:  the cost, and their inability to deal with the waste they produce.  So, with the failure of three out of three of the alleged advantages of nuclear, one has to wonder why there is any interest in perpetuating the myth about it and allowing it to develop the stranglehold that it already has over Cumbria.

Almost as if they doubt their own figures,
Électricité de France are now said to want an investment of around 49% rather than the 20% that was held by Centrica.   According to some sources the company is threatening to take their bat and ball home - something which a lot of the pro-nucldear lobby seem to be doing at present as they don't get their own way.   If this game goes on for much longer it may seem more sensible for the politicians to use a home-grown company to build their new reactors.   After all, Sellafield has a remarkble record and is a centre for nuclear expertise.   After all, they haven't been in court since, er, last week . . .
11/2/13
Nuclear At Any Price - Now, How Do We Hide The Subsidies?

Financial figures from 
Électricité de France on Thursday confirm our comment in an earlier article, that the state-controlled French nuclear generator is weighed down by debt.   Experts expect to see a sharp fall in earnings this year due to the problems at home, as France’s economic problems begin to bite.   Neither can it expect help from the impoverished new government in Paris, which, in any case, are not exactly supportive.

So the current situation in the U,K., is that the only remaining interested party,
Électricité de France, cannot afford to build the projected reactors without massive government subsidies.   Yet the idea of subsidies, by any name and whether overt or covert, would be against the policies of all political parties.   As mentioned in Hansard, one M.P. has pointed out that Électricité de France is already subsidised by the French government, so in effect it will be receiving a double subsidy - not something that will be available to alternative generating methods.   The situation for energy generation is sinking even further into the mire, it seems.

In a debate in the House of Commons this week, the Energy Minister, Ed Davey (who belongs to a party that
, prior to the election promised no nuclear development - a promise that seems to have gone the same way as all their others!) spoke of the recent decision by Cumbria County Council not to progress, before getting to the crux of the debate.   He said, " . . . the Government agreed that Cumbria county council also needed to vote in favour in order to proceed to the next stage, but it did not, which is disappointing. However, the invitation for communities to come forward remains open.

The views in Copeland and Allerdale make me confident that the programme will ultimately be successful."

To us, this smacks of a thinly-veiled threat to return to the two local councils who wished to progress to the next stage, even though that went against the agreement that all three councils needed to agree or the matter was ended.   Given the integrity of politicians it is still feasible that they will come back and try again.   The nuclear lobby are not renowned for being straightforward, open and honest, after all.   Mr. Davey then went on to illustrate that, despite all the assurances, the nuclear development programme will continue at any cost, and subsidies - by whatever name - will be set in private discussions with
Électricité de France:


"Our aim is for a broadly standardised approach to contracts for difference that will allow for comparability between technologies and the introduction of competition for CFDs. I do not think that what is needed is a line-by-line comparison of the terms of each contract. That is not what our policy says or requires. In fact, there are likely to be variations in CFD designs between one technology and another, and perhaps also between different projects within the same technology. What is important is that the terms agreed deliver a similar result across technologies and projects, and that they result in a proper allocation of risk. In addition, each contract will need to deliver value for money for the consumer and be compatible with state-aid rules. A contract with a nuclear developer that does those things would be compatible with our no-subsidy policy.

"We are embarked on the largest infrastructure programme in Government, with £110 billion of investment over 10 years. Are there risks? Of course, but the risks to the country and to the planet if we do not meet this challenge are infinitely worse. Affordable, low carbon new nuclear is just one part of the answer, but let the House be in no doubt that it is part of the answer.

Source:  http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/436/

Note the final paragraph's commitment to spend £110 billion over ten years.

We have made some brief jottings of salient comments from the debate, as recorded in Hansard on the other News page.

Électricité de France's abilities in securing the services of close relations of cabinet ministers is quite remarkable.   Remember Gordon Brown's brother?   Well, now it seems that Energy Minister Ed Davey's brother, Henry, may also be slightly beholden to the same company, along with several others.   It seems that he works for Herbert Smith Freehils as a corporate partner.   According to their on-line CV, he leads the oil and gas team, having been involved in advising on multi-million pound deals for Petrobas, Sojitz, Renewable Energy Holdings, Chevron, and Électricité de France.   His role is advising clients on acquisitions, disposals, project development and commercial contracts.

It goes on to say that he has already advised on the acquisition or disposal of numerous oil and gas fields around the world, distribution assets for gas and electricity, as well as renewable energy.   Happily, he also recently represented 
Électricité de France on the sale of its electricity distribution business for £5.8 billion.   The C.V. goes on to mention several other multi-billion pound transactions.

Source:  http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/people/henry-davey

7/2/13
Taking His Bat and Ball Home

We mention elsewhere the comments made by an M.P. last week following the Cumbria County Council decision not to go to the next stage in the dump hosting process.   The comment was to the effect that "whoever had been charged with selling the dump to the people of Cumbria [
sometimes referred to as "grooming"] have done a very, very poor job."   One of the main protagonists in the process has now resigned.   As with the county council decision, we welcome this move.   Perhaps he could take a few more of his pro-nuclear campaigners with him?

Seeking retribution appears now to be the name of the game, as one of the honourable & illustrious peers of the realm has announced in the House of Lords that he is concerned that one of the anti-dump campaigners may have overstepped the mark and used what the peer referred to as "intimidation" in an e-mail.   He then read out a passage which merely stated that each of the councillors concerned in the decision might be personally culpable if they made the decision carelessly or recklessly.   Our understanding is that this is a true statement.   The only bit that was in any way intimidatory, if anything was, was where the e-mailer said that the intention was to "scare the crap out of the councillors".   Certainly, if they were not aware of the possibility of personal culpability then they may well have been scared to find that out, but for a peer of the realm - presumably a big boy used to the cut and thrust of politics - to endeavour to convey the sentiments as threatening is surely a step too far?   Baroness Verma who has been active herself in Cumbria of late suggested that the e-mail would be examined closely to see if matters should be taken further.   Grief!   Hell has no fury, etc.   It is fine when they pour millions into endeavouring to buy the people of Cumbria, but when someone gets under their skin, wow!  

How many of these people have shares in the various schemes that are now thwarted?   Or perhaps they all just dislike being seen to have been beaten by people they regarded as inferior?


Source:  http://www.itv.com/news/border/story/2013-02-07/exclusive-cllr-tim-knowles-resigns/

Also of note today is the attendance in court of Sellafield management over the dumping of medium level waste at Keekle tip.   Apparently a machine used to assess radioactivity levels of materials to be disposed of had been set to give a zero reading.   Only by chance was the "error" discovered when a training exercise used a bag known to be contaminated failed to give an alert.   We wonder how long the machine had been operating in this manner and how it came about.  

Whatever the reason, the magistrates have today determined that the matter is so serious they have referred it to the Crown Court for sentencing, after commenting that tip operatives could well have inhaled radioactive material when handling the bags.   This was followed by an official from the industry saying that it was extremely unlikely that cancers would ensue from any such inhalation.   What if it did though . . .

6/2/13
More Vested Interest Statements?

The Times today has an article in which "a senior Tory M.P.", i.e. Tim Yeo, suggests that if the U.K. needs nuclear power then they should be willing to pay for it and fund the supplier's profits at a guaranteed level.   Sadly, there was no room to mention the other funding that the U.K. will be required to provide:  the insurance in case of nuclear disaster;  the future cost of waste at a guaranteed maximum level - being set now, despite the quantity and toxicity of the future waste being unknown and the ultimate method of dealing with such waste not being known at this stage.   Altogether this makes for an extremely expensive package.   Currently the estimate (without any accidents and before any waste is fit for disposal - should such a practice ever become available - is that electricity costs will have to double in the next few years.   Needless to say, it can be expected that all other forms of energy production would rise commensurately, too, as evidenced in recent months.  
Source:  http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/leaders/article3679271.ece

Neither did the article have room to mention Mr. Yeo's other interests.   Mr. Yeo, according to the Wikipedia entry, is chairman of Univent plc, Chairman of TMO Renewables (bio-fuels) and non-executive chairman of Eco City Vehicles plc and AFC Energy plc. (hydrogen fuel cells);  Yeo and his wife Diane are sole directors of Locana Corporation (London) Ltd., Anacol Holdings Ltd. and General Securities Register Ltd.;  Yeo is also a director of ITI Energy Ltd. (waste material to gas to power vehicles)  He also writes articles for Golf Weekly and Country Life magazines and, occasionally, the Financial Times, and occupies a seat on the board of Eurotunnel.

Elsewhere in the paper, the Editorial includes:
"Britain’s obligations under the Climate Change Act cannot be held to ransom by a single French contractor and its shareholders, and nor can Britain’s consumers.

"Vincent de Rivaz, EDF’s chief executive, has said since Centrica’s announcement that the Government knows perfectly well what it has to do to keep its nuclear policy on track — namely, to agree a preferential price for nuclear-generated power in future decades that is high enough to tempt a new investor to take Centrica’s place.   EDF has already invested £800 million here that it can ill afford to write off."

The Times really doesn't seem to know its own policy;  expressing differering viewpoints almost every day, sometimes concurrently.   Today's editorial comments seems to be siding with the expansion of the shale gas exploration programme, but the wisdom of using a process which is believed by many to cause earthquakes within 40 miles of Sellafield and Heysham nuclear facilities has to be wondered at.   Still, the head of the nuclear inspectorate has stated that we are not on fault lines and don't experience earthquakes of sufficient magnitude to cause danger.   So that's alright, then.


5/2/13
(Edited 7/2/13)
The Cost of Sellafield Clean-up Reaches £67½ billion and Continues To Cost Over £1½ billion Each Year!
Costs Almost Doubled in 8 Years & Seem Set To Continue To Rise Ad Nauseum
Lack of Incentives and Killing Geese Laying Golden Eggs

"Electricity too cheap to meter" was the cry back in 1954.   Yes, people did believe it then.   Politicians and scientists of the time have been shown to be somewhat lacking since those halcyon days.   Now it is difficult to work out the true cost of the electricity produced by Sellafield (which hasn't produced any at all for many years).   Today's report by the Public Accounts Committee says:
"The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) believes that its decommissioning plan is credible but it has not been sufficiently tested and uncertainties remain - not least around what precisely is in the waste that lies in the legacy ponds and silos. "It is unclear how long it will take to deal with hazardous radioactive waste at Sellafield or how much it will cost the taxpayer. Of the 14 current major projects, 12 were behind schedule in the last year and five of those were over budget."

Kindly note that it may only be the NDA (whose one-time head was on over £500,000 p.a., which pales into insignifcance alongside the approx. £2 million shared by the two top men of NMP, the consortium currently running Sellafield, so why rush to kill the goose which lays the golden egg?) which believes that even its Ultimate Cunning Plan, Mk2(b) amended, is credible.   Still, we suppose, that is an improvement on the last few plans that haven't proved to be achievable - something which must have been apparent to those at the helm for some time.   Yet the government gave Nuclear Management Partners, the international consortium, £
54 million last year alone for performance-related work, despite the failures.   It would probably be a bit picky to crib about the money for the "standard relocation package costs" of bringing personnel in from out of the country.   As with so many national institutions and utilities, more money pouring abroad with little in return.   Anyway, the idea is that we need to continue to trust these experts and keep giving them money in the hope that one day they will magically make all this nasty stuff go away and the skies will be permanently blue and not only the civil servants will have champagne . . .   Hmmmm.


Not content with spending £1½ billion a year, the pro-nuclear people - everyone of whom seems to have a vested interest, either because they work at Sellafield, or are in some way beholden to it - are upset because, despite all the public money spent on propaganda to promote the dump, democracy has won the day.   Obviously this was not meant to happen after DECC invested so much money in grooming the area.   How ungrateful these rustics are!   Part of the panic must also be around what they can actually do next.   Without Cumbria there is the nightmare of disposing of the waste down some other poor person's hole in the ground with fingers (and toes!) crossed.   Quite a substantial problem when retrieval of whatever nasty chemicals are stored at Sellafield and transportation of them across the country to the new site is considered.   No records as to what is stored where and with what means that recovery and safe (ahem!) disposal will be incredibly difficult if not impossible to do safely and cheaply.   So, what will the true ultimate price of the nuclear experiment be?   We are currently paying for the comparatively cheap electricity generated by nuclear for the past half century.   If these additional costs had been incorporated in the original bills, nuclear would never have gained a foot-hold.

Today's reactors budgeted at £3 billion are set to reach over £8 billion and are years later than was proposed.   What will the actual eventual price of reactors built in the U.K. be?   With subsidised waste disposal and insurance cover being foisted onto taxpayers as separate entities, the true costs will be huge.   Even more so in the event of a nuclear accident when the ratepayer will be obliged not only to suffer the mess, but to pay for it, do the actual cleaning up and suffer the consequences.   Where will the owners be then?

We really like the suggestion made by a Times correspondent that 
Électricité de France are told to go home, where they can build as many nuclear sites as they wish, and we will buy the electricity from them supplied via a cable under the English Channel.   That way we can be as gung-ho about nuclear safety as the French, they can keep and dispose of all the waste they produce without impinging on us and, since we no longer have to build and run any new nuclear sites, we can concentrate all our efforts on a truly safe method of disposing of the mess that we already have, without having to store even worse stuff all over the country whilst we work out what we can do wtih THAT!.   Energy security is obviously not important any more, as we can be held to ransom by anyone of the many foreign companies who own and run not just our energy plants, but all of our utilities, too.    The French are our Best Friends and we will never fall out with them, will we?

Also announced today is the news that Centrica, owners of British Gas, which earns £3 million every day - which could have been state money if the utilities hadn't been privatised for short-term gain - have pulled out of any nuclear projects.   The reasons given are not those we would have liked, but nonetheless we are content.   The statement from their chief executive blames spiralling costs and delays for the withdrawal.   Centrica has launched a £500m share buyback. of the shares on which it held an option on in respect of the venture with 
Électricité de France at Hinkley Point.   Pundits now believe the only chance of that going ahead will require substantial Chinese investment.  

The statement went on:
"Since our initial investment, the anticipated project costs in new nuclear have increased and the construction timetable has extended by a number of years,"
Source:    http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/centrica-pulls-project-build-uk-103305599.html Happily the money to be returned will be distributed amongst shareholders.   There appears to be no thoughts of reducing the gas bills which have doubled in less than five years for no real reason, other than to make nuclear seem more viable.   The move does, however, beg the question:  what do Centrica know that DECC don't?   We believe that it is likely that if the figures that DECC has come up with were to be supplied to the Public Accounts Committee, whose leader, Margaret Hodge is doing an excellent job of exposing the truth about the nuclear situation, they would surely demonstrate that even the likes of Hinkley will not be cost-effective.

Eon and RWE of Germany, 
Électricité de France, and Iberdrola, the Spanish owner of Scottish Power, are lumbered with nearly £120bn of debt between them.   Given debts on this scale should any credence be given to the idea that any of them are suitable candidates to build nuclear establishments of any kind?   How much debt can they achieve before they are deemed to be bankrupt?

Debt figure source:    http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/energy_and_environment/article1206396.ece

Therein might lie the key.   With problems in their home finances, why not turn to the U.K. with their schemes to raise money?   It was said long ago that nuclear science is an awfully expensive way of boiling a kettle, and most of the experts agree that, financially at least, nuclear energy is not viable, so it is only vested interests and dogmatism that are keeping it going.   With the difficulties now over waste disposal, does it really make sense to propose increasing the stockpile?   The other major problem is that the only other source of finance is China.   The withdrawal of Centrica means that there is no U.K. company engaged in the process, which well mean the U.K. is entirely dependent on foreign companies to provide such a basic necessity.   Wasn't there some mention of energy independence as being one of the goals forcing us in the direction of new nuclear?

So far as the Cumbrian decision is concerned, the pro-nuclear lobbyists are in a huddle over what to do next.   Will the government renege on its principle of volunteerism and say that the dump must go ahead in  the greater national interest?   If so, what happens if no suitable site - geologically speaking - can be found?   That would mean that millions more had been wasted and nothing achieved.   Nothing new there.   One is tempted to shout, "DO THE DAMNED JOB PROPERLY!".   Get rid of all the special advisors who are nothing more than industry plants and lobbyists, look at the mess in its entirety, then come up with a proper plan.
31/1/13
Cumbria County Council Decide Against Dump

Surprisingly, despite all the work put in by the pro-nuclear lobbyists, Cumbria County Council voted not to ask to move on to the next stage of the process to quarry a huge nuclear dump under west Cumbria.   Copeland, where a greater proportion of the population are dependent on Sellafield, voted in favour of going further.   Early reports suggested that neighbouring Allerdale had also voted against continuing with the expression of interest, but they now have been corrected.

Although the reasons given for the decision by the county council leave a little to be desired, we mustn't be ungrateful.   Jamie Reed, M.P., and Woodburn - the local councillor who has done so much to promote Sellafield, both seemed rather shell-shocked by the result.   Two dodgy polls, lots of "insider" activity,  and millions of pounds invested in a huge amount of propaganda which happily ignored the disadvantages of the dump whilst over-hyping the positives, had failed.   Where now their pot of gold we wonder?   One usually vocal supporter and ex-Sellafield worker, was conspicuous by his absence again.   For some strange reason, he didn't want to appear on Inside Out on Monday, either.

Reed nevertheless valiantly tried to suggest that he would "fight on" and perhaps west Cumbria could go it alone, suggesting that a poll had shown that most people were in favour.   This is utterlly untrue.   The poll showed what it had been set up to show.   West Cumbrians are almost totally beholden to the nuclear industry and the further away from the plant the interviewees were, the less likely they were to support any dump.   The overwhelming rejection of the plan by the parish councils also demonstrates the fallacy of his statement.   Does he think that it is possible to build a nuclear dump in one area and totally ignore the impact it would have on its neighbours and the risks to which he would be subjecting them?   Reed also attempted to dismiss the suggestion that the county was worried about tourism being affected, suggesting that the nuclear industry earned more than tourism and employed more people.   What he conveniently forgot was that the tourism industry had already been badly affected by the presence of Sellafield - would you want to holiday near a nuclear site that was responsible for more pollution than Chernobyl and Fukushima?   How many holiday brochures have you seen boasting of proximity to Sellafield and its polluted environment?   Every caravan site brochure photograph is looking in every direction except Sellafield's.   Perhaps Reed thinks people come to watch the vehicle surveying the beaches for active particles and finding them?   Perhaps he thinks that they would enjoy digging through the sand to assist Nuvia staff recover their finds?

What may also prove a bit of a problem for the ex-Sellafield PR man, now M.P., is that geological surveys have already demonstrated that there is nowhere solely within Copeland that would be suitable for quarrying the dump.   Amusingly, now it no longer matters, the size of the dump was likened to that of a large town, or small city.   Not quite the picture that was presented prior to the decision, we think.

DECC, meanwhile had apparently already accepted defeat and ruled that Cumbria would not be forced to host the dump.   The agreement from the start was that it would require all three councils to vote in favour of going to the next stage, a rejection by any of the parties would remove any possibility of the dump being in Cumbria.   It is good to see that DECC at least (so far) accepts that, even if Mr. Reed doesn't.   However, even Mr. Reed may struggle to find an area the size of a small city within Copeland that is geologically suitable.

The most sane comments came from Tim Farron, M.P. for the South Lakes, who suggested that it was now time for the government to stop looking for gullible (our phrase) people who could be persuaded to host the dump, and the whole country be surveyed with a view to finding somewhere that does have the proper geological attributes.   This is a view that we find difficult to endorse 100%, as we wouldn't wish to foist this kind of thing on anyone else.   However, at least rom the practical point of view, it does make sense.  

Quite what impact the decision will have on the future of nuclear generation in this country is unclear.   The inability to process its own waste may mean that nuclear has no future in this country.   Seemingly problematical at the moment, necessity is rumoured to be the mother of invention, so the impending difficulties with energy supply (which may or - more likely - may not manifest itself) may focus people's minds on producing truly green supplies.   We have never believed the hype put forward by the nuclear industry that it is in any clean (see top right box) or green.   The idea that it is alright for us to use power that produces pollution, health, and environmental problems elsewhere in the world isn't our concern has to be wrong, despite what Ed Miliband apparently believes.  

Reading comments on some of the national newspaper websites has proved entertaining.   One nuclear scientist from Loughborough, sounding rather angry, says that Cumbria County Council have taken a short-term view and ignored the science.   Not sure that that is correct.   Material that stays dangerous for over 150,000 years isn't something that requires a short-term view - in fact, quite the opposite.   A couple of amusing ones suggest that there is already a suitable underground site off the coast of Kent:  in fact, between the Kent and French coasts.   It is already well-connected with a high-speed railway line which would facilitate the process.   Another suggests that, as the Isle of Wight is under-populated and largely rural, it could be used not only for storing the nuclear waste, but also the new reactors.   We think a further suggestion that it could also be used for testing nerve gas during Cowes Week a little extreme.
29/1/13
Whose Money Is It Anyway?

In the BBC's Inside Out programme on 28/1/13, much was made by interviewees around Whitehaven of the largesse being spread around by Sellafield and the nuclear industry and how indebted they had been made.  

"This facilty would not exist without Sellafield" was the theme.

What has possibly been overlooked by these people is the fact that it wasn't Sellafield's money in the first place.   The funding comes from the U.K. taxpayer via the government.   We have suggested for five years now that a similar or lesser amount of money spent in the area, could have provded all these services - and more - without any of the disadvantages of the nuclear industry;  its pollution and serious health effects, the destruction of the amenity that is the essence of the Lake District.

£67 billion would buy an awful lot of goodwill, improve services and provide an awful lot of healthy jobs which will not destroy the unique qualities that the district naturally enjoys.
We say cut out the middleman, it will be cheaper and healthier in the long run.
"I deeply regret believing in the security myth of nuclear power."
Naoto Kan, 8/9/11
"Just the thought of Tepco's name is disgusting."

Tepco's Chairman, Kazuhiko Shimokobe, after figures reveal that 70.5% of Japanese want to see an end to nuclear power.
“It’s just hard to justify nuclear.   It's really a gas and wind world today, at some point economics must rule.”

U.S. company, General Electric's Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Immelt. (GE is one of the world’s major power-generation engineering companies.   Together with Japan’s Hitachi, the company designs and builds nuclear reactors and is currently seeking generic design approval for their reactor.)
Click here to read   What Cumbria County Council Will Be Deciding On
27/1/13
The Next Best Thing Ever to Deal With Nuclear Waste:  the Ultimate Solution Mk. VII
URS, an American engineering company suffered at the hands of the National Audit Office for the failures in the way the company attempted to decommission Sellafield and its running of the Sellafield site ater winning a contract worth up to £22 billion over the lifetime of the deal.   It seems that one result was the failure to get onto the shortlist for a Magnox contract which is worth £7 billion.   According to The Times, the NDA had "discouraged" the company from bidding.

The current head of Sellafield is "stepping down" after less than two years in the job, too.   URS have apparently declined to comment to the paper.   12 projects out of 14 have failed to achieve what they were supposed to and the overruns had increased costs by £900 million in ten months.

One has to wonder what any other company or consortium will manage that URS have failed to achieve.   However, there are the old favourites on the short-list:  Babcock, Amec, the trendily-named CH2M Hill, Areva, Serco and Betchtel.   Annoyingly, each time a new contract comes up, the winner is hailed as having the best and only way to deal with the problem - whatever it may be.   For a long time URS were blue-eyed boys getting everything right . . .   until they weren't.   This situation just keeps occurring.   Whatever, the mess will continue to cost the taxpayer dearly for some time to come.

27/1/13
What Price The Natural World?

We have long been disappointed with the attitude of several of the national institutions who claim to care for the environment.   When the plan to turn Cumbria's coast into a 40 mile-long highly dangerous and polluted industrial estate was announced, we wrote to several of them asking for comments.   The replies, when they materialised, were disappointing, to say the least.

Most seem happy to toe the government line - apparently some of them are in receipt of funds from various politically-minded bodies and their funding is somewhat more important than the cause, it seems.   In typical fashion, the more prominent of the groups have pro-nuclear lobbyists at their core and Sellafield appears on the list of donors on several.

We had expected that any project which was likely to destroy swathes of the countryside and establish a precedent for industrial development on a huge scale would have met with antagonism from these environmental groups.   Not so.   The changes made to the planning process in order to accommodate the nuclear development have been passed without much more than a murmur.   Now the Environment Secretary has suggested that since the nuclear industry's bribery works so well, it could be extended to buying off communities who have an affinity with nature and wish to preserve their local environment.   So stuff the natterjack toads, for example;  we will offer to give a lot of money to the community if the toads are in the way - as they would be in some Cumbrian locations.   What is the price per toad, we wonder?   Where does this trend end?   What price will they put on human life eventually?   That is what will be put at risk by these "experts" when they come to bury highly hazardous nuclear waste down a hole in an unproven process.

19/12/12
Head-in-The Sand Safety:  50 years of Lessons, and They Have Yet to Learn Anything
The nuclear salesmen at the I.A.E.A. have succeeded in turning a conference about the lessons to be learned from the Fukushima incident into more propaganda.   Emphasising that lessons will be learned (sound familiar?) the world can expect (albeit via a non-binding agreement - sign here then forget about it) to enhance safety and effectiveness of future decommissioning and remediation activities.   However, the positive outlook was apparently not shared by the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, whose chairman found the situation "exceedingly unsatisfactory", adding that reactors should not go on-line until people are convinced of their safety.   When there is dissent even amongst those in the industry then we know there are severe unresolved problems.   Still, mustn't let that get around.   Only good news is acceptable and to heck with facts.   Sadly, even the Germans believed that the conference had failed, saying it was too little, too late.   Even those obedient to the cause reckon that the regulators should be more independent - what chance when the NDA are having to promote nuclear to sell their "decontaminated" land?

With typical lack of independence, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (happily with an easier acronym:  UNSCEAR) is expected to release a study of the impact of radiation from Fukushima in the middle of next May.   Who provided the finance for the report?   Why, Japanes energy providers, who else.   Not much impartiality there.   Once again we are offered the premise that low levels are harmless or negligible.   Haven't we heard before that there are no safe levels of radiation?   Yet once again we are being told that up to some ephemeral level (which will no doubt, coincidentally, include a lot of Japanese land previously said to be contaminated and a danger to health) it is all fine.   No doubt the huge number of cases of thyroid growths in Japanese children are unlinked to the incident and any increase in the level of cancers in 5 to 10 years' time will be sheer coincidence and covered up.

After a mere 18 months of denying culpability, Tepco have now admitted that its lack of safety culture (where did that begin and end?) and poor practises were behind most aspects of the world's worst nuclear accident for 25 years.

Various sources, including:  http://www.dw.de/fukushima-conference-wraps-up-on-positive-note/a-16462720

There is news, too, of the Finnish nuclear underground dump, touted as the method to be used - it being able to house containers of waste without danger of leakage for 100,000 years.   We have been sceptical of this claim since it was first announced.   Now it seems that there is a little difficulty with the integrity of the containers which were to be used.   According to the Institute of Concerned Scientists in America, the latest containment methods will only survive for 100 years.   Ho hum.   Once again, it seems that, despite our "ignorance", we have been proved right.

The recent hurricane that afflicted the east coast of America put at risk 16 nuclear reactors.   In fact many of the reactors had to shut down because of grid failures.   Happily all went well . . .  this time.

The Union of Concerned Scientists points out in an article reprinted in the Huffington Post that the American regulators have taken to censoring reports in order to minimise adverse findings.   Several reactor sites being at severe risk in the event of failures of containment dams.   Still, the public don't need to know.

Source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/are-nuclear-plants-safe-i_b_2063329.html

The scientists also point out that storms and earthquakes are not necessary for nuclear sites to be disrupted.   They mention solar flares.   We are aware that most industrial processes these days are controlled by micro-processors which depend on very low voltages and current.   Over the last few decades there have been huge steps in reliability of such devices, but they are still susceptible to outside interference - especially from the static fields that accompany solar flares.   These can swamp the delicate circuitry.   Modern devices use very low voltages and currents because they have to operate at high speeds.

We haven't heard much from elsewhere about the amount of damage being done by the extraction of uranium ore, but this article supports our statements:

http://www.helencaldicott.com/2012/12/caldicott-speaks-of-toxic-nuclear-legacy/

In the interim, Lady Judge, erstwhile chair of the U.K.A.E.A and government advisor on nuclear to the Labour party - as well as many, many, other chairmanships (how did she find time to do them all justice?) - sticks to the script devised to counter those who were horrified by the events in Japan:  "No-one has died as a result of radiation from Fukushima."   The missing vital operative word being "yet".   However, she perhaps has a message, too, for the people at Sellafield, when she says that "We will not shoot the messenger.   In fact we will reward the messenger."   So, bad news is to be welcomed, not viewed as a threat.

17/12/12
Government Policy Leaves People in the Cold

According to a variety of sources, including the BBC, The Telegraph and The Guardian,  more than 300,000 people will be pushed into "fuel poverty" before Christmas.   By 2016 this figure will continue to increase so that over nine million people will be suffering.   Noteworthy is the alleged reason for the dramatic increase - over 7% this year alone:  Ed Davey has said it is necessary as there is a need to improve the infra-structure, such as the National Grid.  

Our problem is that we don't believe this is the real reason at all.   The real reason is that the government have to find the money to subsidise the nuclear industry and its clean-up.   (By the latter we mean dispersal of high-level materials rather than the implied actual curing of the problem.   In the main, the supposed clean up involves building a huge hole in which to shove the stuff in the hope that it won't escape before 100,000 years have elapsed.)  


The figures and projections have come from the Fuel Poverty Action Group, which is apparently sponsored by DECC, who also sponsor many employees from Électricité de France.

A further problem for us is that the beneficiaries of the increased revenues are supposedly private companies, so is it right that the taxpayer should be giving them money and the government imposing the rises on us?   It seems that this is the price for privatisation:  basic services and utilities have been farmed out to private companies who are now holding everyone to ransom.   These companies took over, usually at knock-down prices, the literally-vital services and should surely be paying for any improvements they deem necessary to maintain their "services".   They have been making high enough profits to enable substantial investment in future service-provision - why haven't they done so.   Why are the politicians supporting their demands?

Anyone wanting to help scotch the government and nuclear industry's plans to tunnel a radioactive dump under Cumbria should visit:  http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-nuclear-dump-in-the-lake-district and sign up.

15/12/12
New Power

It seems that 
Électricité de France's plans are succeeding, as new plans are announced to give some extraordinary powers to the Secretary of State.   In a wonderful document, full of up-to-the-minute power speech, once so beloved of the Labour party's spin maestros, it seems that power to determine just about every salient point in respect of energy provision will be down to the said Secretary of State.   It is beginning to look as the promise of localism and volunteerism that was trumpeted loudly by Conservatives at the time of the election, has now gone the way of all political promises.   The power to decide which power stations will be built and the price of power produced will be decided by, you've guessed it, the Secretary of State.   However, because it is a bit dodgy, no culpability will be incurred at a personal level by the Secretary of State.   Immunity from the consequences of wrong decisions is usually something that we see in dictatorships, for people like Berlusconi and, more recently, Morsi.   Overall the plans are, as stated by Private Eye, very akin to the PFI schemes that have cost the country so dear over the last several decades.

However, no doubt whilst people are otherwise engaged over the festive period, we will be told the details of minimum price to be paid and what the new subsidies that arent' subsidies because they are called something else will entail.   There can be little doubt that 
Électricité de France's employees, currently seconded to DECC, will have earned their keep and the company will be able to go ahead with their Areva/Électricité de France reactors, regardless of the wishes of the local residents or, indeed, the overall wishes of the U.K. residents and the sky-high costs of nuclear which make the whole technology financially unsound (see article below).   That these outstanding matters are now almost resolved, Électricité de France will be able to go ahead and announce the good news:  that they will build multiple reactors and there will be nothing residents can do about it.   By a strange coincidence, Électricité de France did say that no final decisions would be taken until the end of the year.   How could they possibly know that all would be resolved in their favour by then?   Answers on a postcard, please.
10/12/12
When Even The Sunday Times Condemns Nuclear . . .

The Times newspaper is not renowned for being anti-nuclear.   In the past it has managed to gloss over many of the salient facts about the industry and its background.   Wind farms appear to have been of far higher priority to them, until now.   It is encouraging that our cries in the wilderness may at last have been heard.

Jonathon Leake, the Sunday Times' environmental editor writing on 9/12/12, reports:


'“The total provision for the task of cleaning up Britain’s nuclear legacy is now more than £100bn, and it will take at least 120 years,” said Clarke in an interview.

'The figures mean the cost of the cleanup now bears comparison with the total value of the electricity produced by atomic power stations.

'Figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that, since Britain’s first nuclear power station opened in 1956, they have generated 2.5 billion megawatt hours of electricity — worth £125 billion at today’s prices.

'If the cost of building Britain’s 20-odd nuclear power stations (around £10bn-£12bn each in today’s money), is included, it would far exceed the value of the power produced, say experts.'

Source:  http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/National/article1173042.ece

Despite all this, the government, persuaded by those with a vested interest in lining their own pockets and protecting their jobs, still plans to encourage further development of reactors which will produce even more concentrated toxic waste.   Does that seem reasonable?

The article concludes with the suggestion that the demolition debris will be packaged and placed in an underground dump.   The material is so dangerous that robots will have to be designed to deal with it.   However, happily for those promoting the idea, the packaged material will remain uncorroded and intact - with no leaks or other failures - for over 100,000 years.   Much, much longer than any previous man-made structure.   Sadly, there don't seem to be any plans for any mishaps occurring a kilometre underground, with only a single access point.

It is no surprise then that the unions are a bit concerned, as we note in our editorial.   Maybe, too, it is just time newspapers review their policy re. printing potentially libellous letters?

3/12/12
Fire In The Tunnel

The news of the Sasago tunnel collapse in Japan  raises again the problems of wall and roof collapses, often accompanied by fires, in tunnels.   In our Editorial column we have pointed out the difficulties of rescuing people and removing equipment from afflicted tunnels.   More than 90 people have been killed in road tunnel fires in the last ten years in Europe.   Any fire rapidly spreads because of the chimney effect of the tunnel.

The Japanese are highly regarded in terms of construction projects, so it might seem that if they can suffer such a catastrophic failure it could very easily happen over here.   Problems with access and the safety of would-be rescuers add to the rescue problems.   Yet this is on the surface, with accessibility from two directions normally.   Imagine how much more difficult things will be with only one access point and a whole warren of tunnels over a kilometre underground, cluttered with radioactive material.

Faced with defending nuclear expansion despite the Fukushima incident, our regulator could only come up with the fact that Sellafield is not on a fault line and we do not have a history of earthquakes and tsunami.   We do not agree that such immunity is either perpetual nor exclusive of other phenomena.   Although interestingly, despite two earthquakes in two years, Cuadrilla's "fracking" programme, just over the border in Lancashire - widely believed to be responsible for causing earthquakes in the region - has been licensed to continue, despite the obvious risks.   Even a basic power failure will cause immense problems - as has been witnessed by the cooling water failures in the last few years.   Should an earthquake disrupt the availability of coolant from Wastwater then "the heat sink of last resort" (i.e. the Irish Sea) would have to be deployed.   The impact of such panic measures has been apparent at Fukushima.   However, there is no suggestion that an earthquake is responsible for the Sasago Tunnel failure - just an engineering failure in a process much simpler and straightforward than an untried storage dump underground for highly toxic materials.   Are we really so immune that this cannot happen here either?

When even the Audit Commission say that the people of Cumbria are being put at risk by Sellafield's storage system, it is surely time to close the place down - at least stop adding to the stockpile until a means of disposing of it safely has been devised?   This does not include shoving it down a deep hole and praying that nothing goes wrong for the rest of time.

30/11/12
Recent Events and News

While the majority have been watching for the Leveson Report into the press the Energy Bill was explained by the Energy Minister, Ed. Davey.   Despite decades of "there will be no subsidy for new nuclear"; yet as widely expected, that promise looks likely to be yet another politician's word of honour, akin to the Lib Dems' no nuclear promise and Cameron's promise to comply with Leveson's findings.  

Apart from allowing the internal rigged-market (where one part of a supplier company sells to
another at a rate determined by profit need and, perhaps in collusion with other similar companies) to continue, each generating company will be allowed to triple the size of the levy they impose to pay for renewables, nuclear and "environmental measures".   We assume that the latter term is meant to cover the nuclear dump and the (alleged) improvements to transport resources to the various new builds.

With another example of government ability to forecast the future, this levy will be capped at £7.6 billion up to 2020.   Most pundits reckon that this will add around £180 a year to the energy costs of a typical family (is there one?)   Strangely, the headlines on 29/11/12 suggested that there will be a cut in energy costs of £80 a year.   What is not made clear is that this is just an additional levy - it does not include the "normal" profit-linked rises, such as the recent hikes of around 12% despite the raw materials' cost falling.   If one adds these in, then an awful lot of people are going to find themselves in what is euphemistically known as 'energy poverty' - and that will occur long before 2020!

The report says that energy firms will be allowed to triple the amount of money they add to customers' bills to pay for renewable power, nuclear and other environmental measures, but there is still fierce debate about what this will mean for average household energy bills.   Strangely (in a manner which we don't understand yet) these increases will all lead to a reduction in bills at some point.   If a reduction did ensue, it would be wonderful miracle and completely contrary to our expectations of the market.   We reckon that the likes of 
Électricité de France would be long gone if there were to be no subsidies, let alone if they were required to dispose of the waste they propose to produce.

Nuclear expansion will, naturally, be rewarded by the bill, but the level is as yet undetermined.   There is a viewpoint that this would be illegal state aid, and contrary to European legislation.   No doubt there are ways round that minor obstacle.   The nuclear industry is not poverty-stricken and could well afford some cute barristers and offer "compensation packages" (euphemism!) to assist in decision-making.   As most of the proposed nuclear developments are not planned to come on line until after 2020, by which time the various green initiatives provided for by the levy will have come to the end of the first phase, 
Électricité de France can relax, assured that there will be enough in the trough for them after that.

Perhaps amusingly, within just a few hours of the announcement in the bill that fracking will be allowed to continue in, for example, Lancashire, there was an earthquake just over the border in Cumbria.  Not that that will have any impact on the underground nuclear dump proposals.   Very small compared to most other quakes, this one was only 2.1, and centred about 10 miles south east of Keswick, it may just be coincidence that fracking was resumed after being given consent in June.   Just under two years ago there was a slightly larger one (3.6) centred on the other side of the Lake District, about 20 miles south west of Keswick.   There have been many links between fracking and geological instability.   In typical big-company mode, Cuadrilla, the company engaged in the fracking process in Lancashire, has been accused of exceeding a 90-day drilling limit and breaking wild-life agreements.   For some reason, which we cannot understand, rules don't apply to such matters.   Nothing new there, then.   How many politicians have a finger in the anticipated profits, one wonders?

Happily, and perhaps to avoid antagonising big industries by the new bill, a scheme is proposed which will enable those engaging in energy-reduction projects to claim discounts.   Strangely, those industries using huge amounts of resources will be exempt, for example, the steel and cement producers.   (Look forward to a rash of board appointments for MPs.)   Instead, they will be allowed to claim for each kilowatt hour they save.   What a wonderful ruse, and even wider open to abuse than the carbon trading game.   One wonders whether there will be anything similar for the average customer who installs energy-efficient light bulbs, or will they only be available to those who are likely to be engaged in building nuclear plants?

So it looks to us cynics that the 
Électricité de France staff comfortably embedded in DECC have won the day and earned their keep.   Whether the others embedded in various positions in Cumbrian political life will manage to earn theirs remains to be seen.

Happily, the bill also proposes the establishment of a single counterparty (wow, a great new buzzword - anyone care to hazard a guess at its meaning?) to decide on "strike prices".   (Yippee, another one!)   No doubt this, too, will provide a further large trough for the elite.
Another announcement this week has been that The Cunning Plan (with apologies to Tony Robinson) to maintain energy security by selling off every supplier to foreign companies has been assisted by BP's sale to Abu Dhabi of several of their North Sea oil and gas fields for £633 million.
14/11/12 & 15/11/12
"Ofgem has long had a reputation for being too close for comfort to the people it is meant to be regulating."
(Editorial, "The Guardian", 13/11/12)
Two whistleblowers have now come forward to inform the world of the manner in which gas prices are being manipulated - allegedly.

Quite why anyone should be shocked and surprised is beyond us.   We have repeatedly said that large corporations, whose contributions to the tax pool are minimal or non-existent, are not altruistic by nature.   The greed culture from the Thatcher era is too embedded to be excised even if the will of millionaire politicians wished it.   However, the annoucement may well cause embarrassment, if our beliefs are correct.   We think that the energy market is currently being drastically manipulated by those in power (no pun intended) - energy companies working with the government - to raise the viability of nuclear generation.   This would fit with the recent Hitachi payment of more than twice the market value for two sites where nuclear power stations have been tacitly approved by the government and the continued interest of Électricité de France in expanding into the U.K. market, despite the many analyses showing that without subsidy nuclear is far too expensive and a grave insurance risk.

Apart from the machinations of the politicians, we would like to think that questions will be asked about the failure of either DECC or Ofgem to spot any apparent dodgy dealings.   Surely this is what they are paid to do?   Why has it taken a worker to draw their attention to what appears to be blatant interfernce in market prices?   Will the FSA manage to find sufficient evidence to prepare a case, or with this go the way of other high-profile investigations?   Happily, they are not renowned for moving swiftly, so any investigation will not reach conclusion until after decisions about nuclear have been confirmed.    No doubt the level of subsidy to Électricité de France, etc., is already decided by those nice civil servants with expensive tastes but absolutely no eye on a future career.   All that remains now is to fix the price of other forms of fuel at a higher-still price that makes nuclear the viable argument that it was always going to be.

In these pages we have suggested several times that the position held by 
Électricité de France means that the U.K. can be held to ransom if they are so determined to press ahead with nuclear regardless of the logical, security, and financial implications.   The current edition of Pirvate Eye has arrived at the same conclusion.   "Old Sparky" says, 'Ministers should now be able to gain the upper hand in fraught negotiations with France's EdF, which is negotiating a price for its own nuclear project at Hinkley in Somerset and since March has been the only game in town.'  

At present there are obvious Conservative currents which are decrying wind farms, but this may well be part of the policy to make nuclear more attractive rather than a belief that wind farms have reached saturation point.

Old Sparky continues, 'So how can Hayes [an Energy Minister] disarm the French gun at his head over how much it will be paid for the electricity it generates?   Sadly, a more likely scenario looms.   Citing the need to do a thorough job for the GDA [generic design assessment - the Hitachi reactor has not been approved for use in the U.K.] process, which on past experience could take four years, Hitachi will decline to be rushed, leaving EdF a clear field to screw every last penny for the first new U.K. project.   Hitachi will then replace EdF in the smoke-filled negotiating room - and go through the whole blackmail process again for the second project in the programme.'

Nice to see we are not alone . . .

7/11/12
The Only Thing That Works is the Propaganda Machine

The government's National Audit Office has today issued an assessment of the waste managegment at Sellafield (Press Notice 65/12, 7/11/12.   http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/press_notice_home/1213/1213630.aspx).   Happily for the site, the funding has now risen from £47 billion to £67 billion - over £1,000 each for U.K. citizens.   According to the report, a previous plan aimed at cleaning up the mess was "unrealistic".   One has to wonder at the competence of those who put forward the original plan and those who allowed it to be implemented and funded.   Still, the propaganda machine would surely have announced it with great fanfare as being demonstrative of how well Sellafield are coping with in intrinsically dangerous situation, and the public would be spared any risk.   Except, now, it seems that the risks are still too high.   What steps will be taken by the propagandists to inform the public?   Can we expect those who have enjoyed the benefits of nuclear's largesse to concur with us that the risks are unacceptable?   Fat chance.   Yet the cost of cleaning up - with what degree of competence and success is yet to be seen - rising more than 42% in just three years with no commensurate reduction in risk, does not instill any degree of confidence.   What will the costs be three years hence?

Interestingtly, in the documents produced back in 2004 to support nuclear expansion, it was said that it would be immoral to burden future generations with the cost of waste disposal.   We were told the same thing at a meeting in Westminster by Michael Meacher, M.P.   So where is the £67 billion going to come from, and how many generations are really going to bear the brunt?   We have to note the immorality of some of those in government and the incompetence of civil servants, bolstered by Special Advisors - especially within DECC - and the lobbying that was going to be the "next Big Thing" according to Cameron, who has, predictably, done absolutely nothing about it.   When civil servants have an eye on their retirement careers, chances are that they may well be susceptible to patronage.

However, even now, and with this level of investment, it is apparently "too early to judge whether the appointment of Nuclear Management Partners Ltd. as the parent body of Sellafield is delivering value for money".   Grief, how much longer and how much more will it take?   The press release mentions that, "there is considerable uncertainty over the time required and cost of completing facilities to treat and store highly radioactive material held in deteriorating legacy ponds and silos".   Hardly a new situation, and one which was even criticised by the Nuclear Inspectorate several years back.   Still, the majority of effort seems to have been spent on convincing the politicians that nuclear is safe enough to be shovelled into an underground dump and forgotten about.

Even if one accepts the prima facie view that things could still be resolved with suitable application and further injections of huge wads of cash (many of those on the payroll - including peers of the realm and politicians - earn exorbitant amounts, so there is much benefit to be had by prolonging the inevitable). there is plainly no plan to deal with the proposed nuclear expansion and the much more radioactive material that the new plants will produce.

Some of the 14 projects, ranging in cost from £21 million to £1.3 billion, are acknowledged by the Audit Commission report to have failed, and as a consequence, there has been a less-than-expected lessening of risk and of hazard reduction.   Reading between the lines, one might think that little has been achieved, despite the huge costs.   Certainly, similar remarks have been made over many years, but the juggernaut rumbles on, relying on its well-organised and superbly-funded propaganda machine to convince the world that those in charge know what they are doing and are fully in control.   The head of the National Audit Office says:

"Owing to historic neglect, the Authority faces a considerable challenge in taking forward decommissioning at Sellafield. It is good that the Authority now has a more robust lifetime plan in place but it cannot say with certainty how long it will take to deal with hazardous radioactive waste at Sellafield or how much it will cost.   Notes for editors tell us that 55 buildings have already been decommissioned.   Great, that only leaves another 1,400 to be done!
 
"Securing future value for money will depend on the Authority’s ability to act as an intelligent client, to benchmark proposed levels of performance and to provide better contractual incentives for making faster progress towards risk and hazard reduction."

Where is the incentive?   The longer they can prevaricate the longer their jobs are secure and the billions of pounds can continue to be milked.   Of course, the much-vaunted (alleged) community benefits of the huge investment may be countered a little by the risks to which they are being exposed - in the main unwittingly - but what the heck.

Sadly, the NAO didn't notice the shift in the NDA's stance, which runs contrary to their remit:  with them openly promoting nuclear expansion in order to sell off the spare land at Sellafield.   We still have to wonder at the presence of the NDA lobby at the various meetings to discuss RWE's and other generator's plans for Braystones, Sellafield and Kirksanton.   Acting like glorified estate agents, they had little to contribute to the discussions, but eavesdropped on conversations -even those between the M.P. and members of the public.   Such is what passes for professionalism and integrity these days.

28/9/12
Iberdrola Get On The Bandwagon

The parlous state of the Spanish economy is behind the proposed disposal of a number of assets by Iberdrola - the company which a couple of years back proposed building a nuclear power station at Sellafield.   Despite debts of around £24 billion, the company, which owns Scottish Power, still thinks it is wise to spend up to £12 billion on new projects in the U.K.

Seemingly following the lead set by 
Électricité de France, Iberdrola's managers have  been in talks with the U.K. government.   The official version of events has it that they did not talk about Scottish Power.   We would imagine, however, that they would have managed to find just a few moments to discuss the future of nuclear in Cumbria.   Probably sensing that the U.K. government is now well and truly against the wall with its proposals to extend nuclear power generation - but with only a couple of expressed interests, we imagine that there would have been considerable talk about how much the government are willing to give Iberdrola in the way of subsidies, future energy profits, and concessions regarding the disposal of the high-level nuclear waste that will be produced.

With such considerable debts it seems rather strange that any company (and its investors and bankers!) would want to incur even more when the global economy is struggling and, according to the pundits, is set to do so for many years yet.   We can only hope that the mess the U.K.'s finances are in will prevent any silly face-saving gestures by Osborne and co., but on past form we do have to wonder.

Perhaps further illustrating the politician's desperation, they have been approached by
 China Guangdong Nuclear Power and State Nuclear Power Technology, who may consider developing projects in the U.K.   Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear energy corporation, has also expressed an interest in the UK nuclear market.   The ethics of these companies is discussed by Dr. P. Dorfman in an article in the Guardian, on 21/9/12:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/sep/21/nuclearpower-energy   Suffice to say that they do not demonstrate traditional English values, shall we say?

Chairman of Iberdrola, Mr Galán, is reported as saying, “The energy sector remains a significant driver for economic growth and employment in the UK.

“The U.K. will be one of the main destinations for Iberdrola’s investments in the coming years given the energy requirements and the stable regulatory framework it provides.

So, once again, the fundamental principles of business may not be followed in a drive to provide the government with a bit of short-term popularity by reducing unemployment for a few people at tremendous long-term cost.

The Times, 28/9/12 has an article
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/utilities/article3552063.ece which reports that "Iberdrola has made two other courageous, multibillioneuro acquisitions: Energy East of the US in 2008 and Elektro of Brazil in 2011. While the deals have helped to turn the group into a global player, Iberdrola continues to pay a high price for its ambitious expansion.

Most large Spanish companies find it extremely difficult to access capital markets at affordable rates. Last year Iberdrola sold 6 per cent of itself to Qatar Holding, an investment arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund for €2 billion to bolster its balance sheet.

Net profit for the first half of the year at Iberdrola rose to €1.8 billion, from €1.56 billion the year before."

So, 14 years-worth of debt already . . .    Tell me again how the current problems with finances arose.

21/9/12

An Alternative Meaning to Bog Off

According to The Times, 21/9/12,
"Hopes of building a new generation of nuclear power stations have suffered a setback after a council ruled out hosting a storage facility for Britain’s nuclear waste"

The poplarity of nuclear waste is even further on the wane as Councillors in Kent have voted to drop talks with the Government about the possibility of storing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of radioactive material underneath Romney Marsh.   Some reason residents were unappreciative and, indeed, very ungrateful for the suggestion that they risk their environment, health and amenity, and have voted overwhelmingly against the proposal.

Copeland and Allerdale are now the only districts still officially interested in hosting the dump - allegedly.   With remarkable powers of deja vu, Mr. Jamieson Reed, local MP for Copeland, has said to the Whitehaven News that he has been told that Cumbria will vote against the dump at a meeting - which will be held on October 11th.

The Times article explains that without a destination for the waste, the future of nuclear in the U.K. will be under threat.   The former chief scientific officer to the government, Sir David King, has been reported as saying that if Cumbria Council were to vote against the plans, it would seriously affect the results of the government’s talks with Électricité de France, the only company currently expecting to build in the U.K. and thus holding the government over a barrel with regard to negotiations over energy costs from nuclear generation.   The company is already expected to receive insurance from the taxpayer in respect of nuclear accidents, and is the beneficiary of many perks which amount to a subsidy - despite politician's ruling this out.

The Times article also points out that the public opinion is against the proposals even before the geological survey has been conducted.   It is thought by many that the geological survey in Cumbria has already pronounced on its unsuitability for hosting the dump at the Nirex Enquiry in the 1990s.   It is hoped that the government's desperation to deal with the waste will not persuade them to impose the dump on the area;  as Professor Blowers has said, the main principle has to be volunteerism.   The possibility is that the powers-that-be will find a tame geologist to find a suitable site - whether one exists or not.   Indeed, this may be behind the statement by the nuclear dump project head, saying the local authority that was chosen to house the nuclear waste would be in line for a “community benefits package” of up to £1 billion (despite its use in many other similar statements, e.g. broadband speeds up to 8Mbytes/sec, "up to" is meaningless!), and that Cumbria had enjoyed greater government investment simply by opening up talks with the DECC.   He went on to say that, “There are some intangible benefits.   Cumbria has already had investments in schools and hospitals linked to the negotiation process.”   Anyone who looks at the fabric of the buildings he refers to, especially Whitehaven Hospital, would demur.   The only things that we have seen improved are those which also have a beneficial impact on Sellafield.

Amusingly, the Times article conclude, "A spokesman for the DECC said it was eager for more local authorities to come forward".   They will have a very long wait we think.


17/9/12
Dumping the Dump?

According to the Whitehaven News, 13/9/12, local Labour member of parliament, Jamieson Reed has announced that the decision of Cumbria County Council's Executive Cabinet is not to go on to the next stage in hosting the nuclear dump proposed for west Cumbria.   This, of course, raises more questions than it answers:  
  • According to the article, Mr. Reed was told by a senior member of the cabinet, but when was the decision made and by whom?  
  • If it has already been decided, why can't the public be told straightaway, instead of waiting until October 17th for the official version?  
  • Will there be an enquiry into who leaked the decision and the culprit be disciplined?  
  • Will the projects announced for "improving" the area go ahead, or were they part of the softening up process - or bribery as we call it?  
  • If correct, will the decision be final and irrevocable over time and location, or will Copeland and Allerdale do as was suggested by the Leader of Copeland Council and go it alone, thereby over-riding the wishes of the majority of Cumbrians?  
  • Will the failure to dispose of the nuclear waste cause a rethink on future development of the industry, in line with most countries around the globe - including that major promoter of nuclear, France*?  
  • Or is this whole thing merely an exercise in political shenanigans, designed to get people to react to the possibility that nuclear's days are limited?

If the forecast is correct, then perhaps it is time to consider just how much time, money and effort has been put into promoting the dangerous idea and at what expense to the local populace.   Many times we have asked whether the money that is lavished on nuclear is well-spent, or whether a small fraction of it could have been better spent improving west Cumbria's lot.

* François Hollande has announced measures which will reduce France's dependency on nuclear power, in line with his election promises, and the closure of the Fessenheim site - scene recently of a steam leak which injured workers.   Hollande aims to reduce the current 75% nuclear share to 50% initially, but 
Électricité de France are claiming around £2 billion compensation if the closure goes ahead.   (Not bad for such an aged site whose problems will only get worse in the future!)   Source:  http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/09/14/us-france-environment-nuclear-idUKBRE88D0CP20120914
17/9/12
PRISM - Through a Glass Darkly

Much has been made of the claimed ability of the GE-Hitachi developed PRISM reactor's ability to utilise some of the material that is currently classed as high-level waste.   Sadly, reporters appear to have assumed that this would be the end of the problems of dealing with both the future and the legacy waste.   Patently it is not.   Virtually all the material currently stored at Sellafield will still have to be buried or dealt with in some way.   Despite intense lobbying of local and national politicians by the company (see above for the chief executive of General Electric' s view on the future of nuclear) and Copeland Council Leader's announced support for the project (Energy Coast supplement to the Whitehaven News, August) - which would HAVE to be built at Sellafield to avoid transporting dangerous materials around the country - the design has not been finalised or developed.   The U.S. government has withdrawn support for the project.   It seems that the company is now asking the U.K. government to fund its Research and Development costs for a project that could well fail.   As with most of these nuclear plans, once funded, indemnified and guaranteed by the U.K. ratepayers, profits will go abroad.   Seems a bit strange to us.

31/7/12
Not Just 600 Unexplained Deaths to Account For . . .

Two months ago TEPCO stated that the Fukushima incident, "May have released twice as much radioactivity than originally estimated".   With potential errors such as this, how can anyone estimate long term health effects?   To be sure, one has to define the actual exposure rate.   In our article of the 27/7/12 (below) we note that 600 deaths following the earthquake and tsunami are unexplained.
The sixth report of the Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey, released last April, revealed that a survey had examined 38,114 Fukushima children of whom 36% have abnormal thyroid growths.   The same survey revealed that 13,460 children - 35.3% - had thyroid cysts or nodules growing on their thyroids and .5% of them had growths larger than 0.197 inches.

It is well understood that thyroid problems arising from nuclear events occur when radioactive iodine is leaked into the atmosphere.   Thyroid cells may absorb too much of this radioactive iodine and can become cancerous.   The very young being particularly susceptible.

Thyroid cancer also seems to be the only cancer whose incidence rises after a radioactive iodine release.   Babies and children are at highest risk.   Although estimated lifetime radiation doses among the children are still low, they do exist.   The National Institute of Radiological Sciences conclusions refute the government's assertion that Japanese children in effect received zero thyroid radiation doses from Fukushima.

Australian pediatrician Dr. Helen Caldicott, observed that "It is extremely rare to find cysts and thyroid nodules in children."   She added that "You would not expect abnormalities to appear within the first year or so, therefore one must assume that they must have received a high dose of radiation.   It is impossible to know, from what Japanese officials are saying, what these lesions are."

Dr. Caldicott also noted that Japanese officials are not sharing the ultrasound results with foremost experts of thyroid nodules in children.   She said that she thought the data should be made available and consultation with international experts should be commenced urgently.   She thinks that the lesions revealed by the ultrasound scans should all be biopsied.   They are not.   According to Dr. Caldicott, to ignore such a basic procedure is irresponsible, pointing out that if some of these children have cancer but are not treated they will die.

In June, 2012, the newspaper "Tokyo Shinbum" reported that 60% of Fukushima children under 12 have tested positive for diabetes.   In the interim, the nuclear cover-up continues and the facts continue to be suppressed.

On a less profound note, nearly 2,000 workers cleaning up at Fukushima were surveyed in May.   62% of them were unhappy with the radiation protection measures in place.   Elsewhere in Japan, 200,000 protesters turned out to show their feelings about the resumption of nuclear power stations.   However, the official sales body, the I.A.E.A., conveniently avoiding facts, accentuates the positive and says that despite Fukushima, nuclear is set to expand world-wide.   One wonders what would happen if the undistorted facts were made available.

In the interim, and despite the total absence from our own media, radioactive materials are still pouring out of the damaged Fukushima plant.

27/7/12
No-one Has Died As a Result of Fukushima?

Recently, there seems to have been a shift in policy regarding leaked radiation.   In the past the various nuclear groups got together and organised a cover-up.   Over the decades they became very efficient at such things - as could be seen with the breaking news of Fukushima.   It was within 24 hours that the first distortions were being broadcast and gullible reporters slavishly followed the opinions of "experts", without bothering to check facts.   The Energy Minister Brian Wilson even published an article in one journal saying there had been no melt-down.   Happily the journal was obliged to retract such nonsense, despite coming out with a pile of waffle about the facts not being known at the time of publication, etc.   (Obviously they should have waited for the information before publishing the article.).   However, the BBC has broadcast several programmes now which suggest that rather than cover up leaks, the bias has shifted to a "so what" stance.   One professor was quite happy to say that no-one had died as a result of the nuclear leaks at Fukushima, so what was the problem?   This was bolstered by a visit to Chernobyl, where he said pretty much the same thing.   We had a problem, as we cannot find any data relating to Fukushima fatalities solely as a result of the nuclear leaks.   Other causes are well documented.   We have struggled, to find the truth, but now, it would appear, that 600 people died following the leaks - but after the earthquake and tsunami.   No cause for these deaths has yet been given, but officials are "looking into them all".

16/7/12
Co-operation, Collusion or Corruption?
There must surely come a time when infiltration of government departments by staff from external companies is seen for what it is.  
Large corporations are not usually altruistic,
and do little without reward or at least something in return.

We have, since our first involvement in fighting nuclear expansion in Cumbria, commented on the "behind the scenes" chumminess of the government officials and those representing the nuclear industry.   First-name greetings at Select Committee Enquiries were just the starter.   We then noted the number of Électricité de France staff who happened to be engaged in "advising the government".   Should this have happened when the company is now the only one still in the running for expanding Britain's nuclear stockpile?  

Cameron said in 2010 that lobbying is the next big scandal - yet in typical political fashion has chosen to do nothing about the elephant called nuclear.

The Guardian has done some work which shows that 50 employees of the French company have been placed within government to work on energy issues in the past four years.  That the staff are provided free of charge surely should sound alarm bells akin to those which afflicted Quasimodo's hearing.   Guess what kind of "advice" such an industry would provide - perhaps how to answer some of the allegations of corruption, nuclear accident histories, how to provide subsidies which aren't subsidies, how to fudge the issues of nuclear waste, etc.   As we have said in the past, how can small groups like ours fight such embedded experts and persuade (without us being able to offer any kind of incentive) civil servants and their masters that what we say is true?

DECC has hosted nearly 200 meetings with the energy industry and 36 people from the likes of Électricité de France, Centrica, ConocoPhillips, a nuclear waste treatment company and financial representatives from those paragons from the accounting world, KPMG and Ernst & Young.

According to information supplied to Green Party M.P., Caroline Lucas, even the Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has taken in 13 staff who work in the energy industry, including three from Électricité de France, one from British Energy (now part of Électricité de France) and employees from nPower and Shell.   Seems like these companies are the government, with their desires being rubber-stamped by M.P.s who haven't the integrity or skills to do the work themselves.
Lucas commented, "You need look no further than the covert collusion between BIS and Decc officials and the nuclear industry on a positive PR campaign in the days following Fukushima to see what can happen if this asymmetric relationship is left unchecked."   She was, of course, referring to the flurry of communications unearthed by Freedom of Information Act requests between the various nuclear bodies and civil servants as they attempted to cover-up, then down-play the disaster.   Quite why these people felt able to distort the facts is open to conjecture;  more important, perhaps is the question of WHY?

Other questions have been asked about the number of fires aboard nuclear submarines.   In a typically stupid response, which admitted to 266 such fires in 25 years and 74 on U.K. boats carrying nuclear weapons alone - the number world-wide must be tremendous, the MOD suggested that because their reporting system is so strict even the most minor of fires is included.   Surely that is to miss the point entirely:  if the system were any good at all then there would be no fires at all and it is purely down to good fortune that a disaster hasn't yet occurred.   Akin to the ridiculous statements by U.K. experts who suggest that Japan-style melt-downs cannot occur here because there are no fault lines near-by.  

How can they ignore the fact that it does not take an earthquake or tsunami to cause a melt-down.   Recent reports, especially from Australia, categorically state that the Fukushima disaster is a man-made one.   The collusion between relevant parties who should have been entirely independent of each other - and the complacency exhibited when potential weaknesses were pointed out - are just contributory factors.   More importantly to the U.K., those same factors have been exhibited by our own "experts".   We may be safe from tsunami and earthquakes, but . . .

Undaunted, the government has set up an ad hoc advisory board for Nuclear Research and Development.   The list of attendees is amusing as it represents solely, the interests of the industry.

Various substantial reports have emerged over the past few weeks, all of them pointing out the unviability of nuclear power.

A variety of sources have been used in setting out this article:

http://world.time.com/2012/07/05/report-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-was-manmade/
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article3462393.ece
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/dec/05/energy-companies-lend-staff-government
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/jul/09/nuclear-power-energy-secrecy?newsfeed=true
http://www.worldnuclearreport.org/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18761040
bit.ly/K4K2zd is a report on the world of virus software and its effects
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-18188007 illustrates the situation vis a vis the link between Sellafield and the Dounreay plant.
Elsewhere, The Times tells us that "time is running out for the nuclear expansion, and it seems that two Chinese companies and one Russian company are being seriously considered to fill the gap left by the departure of RWE and E.ON.   Given the technological history and reputation for adhering to safety aspects of such plant, it may be preferable to be insecure when it comes to energy provision.   One interesting aspect of the recent Times reporting has been that a subsidy is inevitable and that is what the current debate between the energy companies and the government are about.   Interestingly, the price of two new reactors seems to have risen from £2 billion each to an amazingly eye-watering £15 billion for two.   The suggestion is that, whilst domestic consumers will face swingeing increases in their tarriffs, commercial users will suffer even more.   In the current economic climate that will surely be a none-starter even for this particularly inept bunch?  

Apart from the rapid escalation of electricity costs in the near future, U.K. residents are being made to foot the bill for the upgrades and modernisation proposed by the National Grid.   Something around £11 per householder bill, apparently, although that is just a starting figure and will undoubtedly rise once the scheme is approved.   Forgive our lack of understanding, but surely the National Grid is a private company;  if so, why do we have to pay for its infra-structural necessities as well as its costs and profits?

Our colleagues from Bradwell have sent us a report of a visit from a Japanese expert, who addressed a meeting of theirs:

PR Fukushima Public Mtg.pdf

Various newspapers have reported that tens of thousands of Japanese people have turned out to protest against the restarting of the nuclear power stations.

However, we would point out that we have suggested that these infiltrations and collusion with the companies involved was the only rational answer as to how such a tainted and
poisonous industry can still, despite all the risks, hold such sway.   The facts against nuclear now speak for themselves, leaving only the question of WHY?


22/5/12
Électricité de France to Gain Subsidies After All

According to a report in The Times, Edward Davey, the DECC minister has been in discussions with 
Électricité de France and others to discuss how the government money can be forthcoming for the French company and its sister, Areva, to build nuclear reactors in the U.K.   Despite promises and denials going back many years, that any form of subsidy would be offered to the industry, it appears that this is no longer the case.   Électricité de France, of course, as we forecast some time ago, now have the government over barrel.   The choice of looking even more silly than they presently do, or doing what is almost expected of every politician - breaking long-standing promises, has left the politicians with little choice.   Naturally, there will be no similar subsidies on hand for other forms of technology.

Some time ago, Citigroup published a report illustrating for the benefit of all potential investors, the nonsensical nature of investing in the nuclear industry.   Apart from the serious risks demonstrated by the Fukushima meltdowns, the time before recouping the capital and profit is just too great.   The same group have produced another report, this time explaining how the government's preoccupation with promoting nuclear at any cost (literally!) will lead to domestic electricity bills increasing by up to 50%.   Once again we have to ask why this expensive business is even briefly considered.   Then again, we don't know how many civil servants' pensions/retirement plans at at stake.   Nor do we know how many of those making these irrational decisions have pecuniary interests therein.   Do any of the politicians or peers have shares in the companies whose business they are so deliberately promoting?

Ipsos Mori Poll Results Announced in Cumbria

Although apparently leaked to some last week, the official result of the poll conducted by Ipsos Mori into whether west Cumbria should move on to the next stage of the process to host the nuclear dump was officially announced to a meeting in Whitehaven today, of the West Cumbria: Managing Radioactive Waste Safely quango.   This snappily-named group ceratinly failed to engender any faith in their abilities or intellectual prowess.   Some were quite obviously angered by the public questions sessions which rendered them late for their lunch.   so aggravated was one councillor that he called one lady questioner a "silly bitch".   Most of the rest of the room were oblivious, perhaps due to the lack of nourishment.

The BBC's local evening news report managed to get the basic principle completely wrong, managing to say that 68% of Copeland residents had voted to host the dump.   Wonder where they got that line from.   We think that the line should have been have agreed to move on to the next stage in the selection process, which includes site selection and geological survey - something which (unless more of the amenable geologists can be found) may prove somewhat troublesome,   In our opinion, this is yet another glaring example of the sloppy reporting that seems to suffice today.   Surely a prime reqjuisite for any journalist engaged on such missions is a basic understanding  of the process and background.   This is equivalent to running to Wikipedia for the truth.    We have to presume that the headline came from within the quango - the leaders of which are not renowned for attention to detail.

A finding of the survey (of 3,000 residents) was that the more knowledge that people had of the dump, the more in favour they were of its being built.   We made the point to the pollsters that those who would best understand the dump's details would be those who worked in the industry and thus would indeed be expected to favour the preservation of their livelihood.   We are not at all sure that they had seen it that way - seeming to prefer the interpretation that if Farmer Giles were given an in-depth talk about the nuclear industry's needs he would be very much in favour of them burrowing under his fields.   Our experiences would not support that.

One group of attendees at the meeting were not at all happy:  the Cumbrian Association of Local Councils.   Since almost every one of these parish and local councils had rejected the plans, they were not impressed by having their decisions ignored.   Sadly, because their views did not meet the official requirements, there was no way that the Partnership quango was ever going to listen to them.   On a prosaid level, it may seem that by virtue of its nature, a local council is more in touch with the wishes and thoughts of the local people.   Not that that is of any moment to the quango, whose aims are as obvious as the propaganda that they have been issuing for several years now.

Needless to say, the prime movers of the quango are the usual suspects.  

Greenpeace's representative brought up the matter of who was making a lot of money out of the process, others pointed to the lack of governance and oversight.   It is unlikely anything will change, however.   The basic premise incorporated in the group's title: managing radioactive waste safely, has gone by the board as the group are herded into supporting the principle of shoving the stuff in a hole and hoping that it will remain untroublesome until such time as the instigators have collected their largesse and shuffled off the coil, leaving others to sort out their mess.   From being set up to ensure safe disposal of highly toxic material currently being stored in rapidly-decaying ponds at Sellafield, the group is now being directed to support large-scale dumping from all over the U.K.   It is the government's sole answer to the problem of future waste, without which they have no answer to give those who point out the flaws in that aspect of new-build power stations.   Indeed, so fixed is the establishment, that some counties are already of the opinion that the waste problem has been solved!

We wanted to say, except we were not permitted to, due to being out of time, is that there have been many years of propaganda in support of the nuclear industry's development and the hosting of the dump, but even now there are no examples of how the proposed developments will affect normal people.   Indeed, the article in the Whitehaven News last week illustrates the lack of practical information from the group.   People were apparently surprised that the reactors to be built at Sellafield would be connected to the national grid via a series of pylons!   These would take either a southern route (according to the BBC's report last November) or a northern route (according to an article this month from, er, the BBC.)   Quite why people should be shocked is a puzzle.   How else did they think the power was going to be connected to the big cities who need it, but don't want the inherent risks of hosting nuclear reactors?   We have heard nothing at all from the "Partnership" in relation to the noise, dust, vibration, traffic problems, railway development, etc., that is inherent in building the new expansions.   The only material issued to demonstrate the impact of the dump has been a pretty picture showing a very small industrial complex of a couple of buildings.   We do not believe that this is indicative of the impact the dump will have.   Why else is the ex-PR man from Sellafield seeking opinion from international consultants as to what changes need to be incorporated to "improve" the areas roads.   (i.e. to render them suitable for the traffic the dump will engender.)

BBC Pylon Route~11~11
BBC's Map of pylon route, November, 2011
BBCsPylon Route~5~12
BBC's Map of pylon route, May, 2012
16/5/12
Some Excellent New Communications

It has been a busy couple of weeks for news material and publication of reports.


The scheme to inflict an underground nuclear dump, housing not just the legacy waste, but other material, including the waste from any new-build reactors, is described as "a scam" in this:  http://www.opendemocracy.net/openeconomy/stuart-haszeldine/how-to-bury-nuclear-waste-under-democratic-carpet-in-cumbria.  The author is described as, "Professor of Sedimentary Geology at the University of Edinburgh. He has been a government advisor on many energy policy issues. His current research interests include Carbon Capture and Storage technologies as well as radioactive waste disposal methods."   One imagines, therefore, that he knows what he is talking about.   A lot of what he says coincides with what we have been writing about in our amateurish way over the last four years.   We believe that there needs to be an in-depth enquiry into who is doing what and why in Cumbria.   The Leveson Inquiry into Murdoch's organisation has already found corruption in the civil service and amongst politicians, with many others being drawn in.   Our opinion is that a similar state of affairs is extant in Cumbria.   The nuclear industry is more powerful and far-reaching in influence than Murdoch's empire.

Radiation Free Lakeland (who seem to have been hyperactive of late, earning our profound gratitude) organised a talk by Dr. Helen Wallace which explains the true situation in respect of the proposed dump being built in Cumbria.   It is quite long, but well worthwhile, as so many different questions are answered - a totally different picture to that painted by West Cumbria: Managing Radioactive Waste Safely's propaganda.   Despite the talk covering a lot of ground, it did leave us with a few other questions.   We also find ourselves puzzled as to why/who/what is behind the whole scheme and why it is so desperately urgent to forge ahead, not just with the dump, but with new-build reactors, too.   One lady mentions one of the things that puzzles us, too:  why, if the whole scheme is so nebulous as yet, are the various bodies pushing ahead with their plans?   Rock Solid Lecture by Dr. Helen Wallace.

Some of the articles illustrate their lack of knowledge (e.g. the Mirror, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/the-lake-district-nuclear-waste-bunker-831824
whose reporter seems to think that West Cumbria is in some way related to the Lake District.   He obviously hasn't heard about the divorce announced by the Lake District Nation Park Authority.   Despite the unanimous nature of the plan's rejection by the parish councils in Cumbria and their association, the reporter also suggests that local people are in favour of the development of the dump.   He really should get out from behind his hot desk more.   Perhaps a holiday in Cumbria would assist?


There have been some notable successes in the fight against those who would impose radioactive materials on west Cumbria.   Radiation Free Lakeland  also spoke at the meeting at which plans to dispose of "low-level waste" into a disused coal mine at Keekle Head, near Whitehaven, were rejected.   The site was largely unmonitored during earlier dumping, and it is open to conjecture what was classed as "low-level".   A further outcome was that there seemed to be a concensus that spreading the nuclear waste around the area was not sensible and that it should be properly stored and managed where it was produced until such time as safe final disposal could be demonstrated.

Dr. Gerry Wolff of Energy Fair has pointed to the financial problems which would preclude any sensible company from being even remotely interested.   His report can be found here:  http://bit.ly/JhdNtL   (It is an Acrobat file.)

As an aside, we note that the figures from the Meteorological Office indicate that, coinciding with the decline in the sun's activity, we have just had the thirteenth successive cool winter.   It is sometimes difficult to balance global climate change (once known as global warming until research proved the contrary case) and the reality.

All the news of withdrawals and concerns about investment has lead to increasing interest in helping us in our energy crisis from the Chinese and the Russians.   Apparently, these proposals are nowhere near as interesting as the European ones.   Something about poor quality of design, implementation, and commissioning, allegedly.   Nice to know that these other countries are, despite what some may see as shortcomnings, are major users of nuclear power.   We have already seen Chernobyl and Fukushima along with many other nuclear incidents where poor practices or workmanship have played a major part - how long before there is another?

See our news page for further articles.

28/4/12
An Uphill Struggle for the Stooges

The Lake District National Park Authority announce:
We welcome the additional research on Brand Protection and await the outcomes of the research. This will hopefully build on the perception research undertaken by GVA Consultants which highlighted concerns amongst visitors to the Lake District National Park and Cumbria in general.   It remains a concern that significant media interest highlights the potential location of the geological disposal facility in the ‘Lake District’ rather than ‘West Cumbria’. As a result of the association of a geological disposal facility and the Lake District we remain very concerned that there may be a direct impact on businesses operating within and trading off the brand of the Lake District.”  

Quite how they came to be preserving the Lake District "brand" instead of considering the potential effect on the environment and people's well-being is unclear, but a useful tactic for diverting from the real matters which need to be considered.  
We have only just been supplied with the GVA data after a year-long wait - now it is too late to do any good with.   Unsurprisingly, WC:MRWS appears to be outside the FOI remit.   Given that they are merely a tripartite collaboration of three bodies who do lie under the FOI's remit, we have to wonder . . .

Actually, there is a very good reason why the dump is being highlighted as being in the Lake District, and that is because the proposed site, Gosforth is in the Lake District National Park.   Not only that, but the water supply for the reprocessing that is being proposed, will presumably come from Wastwater;  any problems encountered with quarrying the huge hole will inevitably have an impact on the National Park, as will the future development of nuclear reactors at Sellafield and the required pylons to carry away the generated power.   We are also quite sure that any "accidental" damage from any of the various stages of the dumping process will have a devastating impact on areas of the National Park - radiation is not a great respecter of man-made boundaries.   Then, of course, there is the obvious increase in traffic through the Lake District National Park and its supply routes, which one might also expect to have some impact on the already-horrendous traffic jams the county experiences.   However, as usual, there is an ex-Sellafield man at the helm.   Is it really a coincidence that virtually every committee has an ex-PR manager or senior manager from Sellafield in command?   Lord Clark, a non-executive director of Sellafield, with a salary "not in the public domain" but between £40,000 and £200,000 p.a., is chairman of the Lake District National Park Partnership.   It is also noted in his Wikipedia entry that his parliamentary support depended largely on "regional trade union barons".

The authority's decision sits very awkwardly with that of the Cumbrian Association of Local Councils.   They have also considered the information available and have revised their position statement so it now reads:

"In view of the absence of clear support from parish councils and the community generally and the number of serious shortcomings in the prospective MRWS process in West Cumbria, CALC does not consider the programme as currently envisaged to be credible or viable."

They point out that 70% of respondees are against the proposed dump.   Seems that the Sellafield effect is very local and depends on certain influences being imposed.

The full statement can be found at:  
http://www.calc.org.uk/news/news1.asp.   However, the idea seems to be that the already over-visited areas of the county are to be considered as exempt from any nuclear event, so heads back in the sand folks.   If we can't see it then it won't exist.   Happily, the Local Councils' Association decision may well mean an up-hill struggle for the ex-Sellafield mob.

26/4/12
Finishing Off Nuclear Waste

An interesting article appeared on NHK (Japanese national television) on 25/4/12.   It demonstrated the difficulties in disposing of nuclear waste and the current state of affairs.   There were references in the article to the film "Into Eternity", which was based on the Finnish plans for disposal of their nuclear waste.   One scary fact that stood out was that the decisions being made now will affect 30,000 generation of people in the future!

Watch it here:  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/movie/feature201204252008.html

On 6/3/12, a webcast was staged to inform people of Cumbria of the progress in the hosting of the nuclear dump process.  

It was an interesting two hours (a recording is currently available on the Partnership's website:  http://view6.workcast.net/?pak=8901291574709989
.)  

For our take on the programme see the Editorial page.   We think the programme is very enlightening, especially in so far as it relates to consent and withdrawal, compensation and exactly who will be making the ultimate decision on whether or not to "move on to the next stage".   Even more problematic might be the idea that some members of the Partnership, so lovingly cultivated and expanded by the pro-nuclear lobby over a long period, might not take to the idea that some members are more important than others, and that decisions which are meant to represent the Partnership actually can be ignored if just a couple of members wish to do their own thing.

2/3/12
(Dinner) Party Policy for Sale?

The recent "revelations" by the Sunday Times about the Tory fund-raiser suggesting that political influence can be gained for a donation of only £250,000, fits in nicely with what we have believed all along.  

Actually, investing that kind of money to influence decisions on the future of nuclear would be chicken-feed for the international companies involved.   Siemen's bribery around the world would pay for a visit to Downing Street many times over, and, according to the suggestions in the newspaper, go a long way towards changing any adverse policy.   The nuclear industry would have similar amounts of money to invest.   What kind of returns could be expected for a mere £¼ investment?

Such influence might go a very long way to ensure the good-will of civil servants and ambitious ministers - many of whom have mysteriously changed their mind for no evident reason.

What is perhaps a little more puzzling is that the Labour Party were also well-known for the practice, but are now loudly condemning it.   Indeed, Dave Miliband was trying to make a distinction between the smaller amounts demanded by them for similar access and contact, compared with the much larger sums involved here.   We think there may be a bit of a PR exercise going on.   Surely corruption is corruption no matter the price charged, or largesse offered?   Admittedly, £250,000 might buy a more attentive ear, but the principle is the same.   We still wish someone would take a close look at the situation with the nuclear industry and its influence on politicians - especially in Cumbria.   Nationally, how did the likes of
Électricité de France and RWE, etc., manage to achieve such changes to planning controls, caps on liability, etc.?

Being a bit old-fashioned, we don't believe that any honest politician (a bit of a contradiction in terms?) would sell access to anyone.   The only reason we can see that anyone would pay for access is in the expectation of something in return.   No doubt it is a long-established practice, but that Labour Party only charged smaller amounts does not make their own scheme any better.   We sometimes have dinner parties, of a private nature in our own home, but we would never dream of asking for anything in return, let alone charge people for the pleasure.

9/3/12
Misleading Apology for Misleading Customers
Électricité de France (EdF) Energy agrees to pay a £4.5m 'fine'

Regulator Ofgem found the company had breached marketing licence conditions, with salesmen at the company failing to offer customers full information on the doorstep and over the telephone.   The company will now make the biggest ever payment of its kind from an energy company in a bid to make amends, in lieu of an official fine being imposed.
Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17309882 Yet, in a wonderful example of contrition, openness and honesty, Électricité de France suggest that:
EDF Energy works together with Ofgem to build consumer trust in energy industry

     • Collaborative approach between EDF Energy and Ofgem improves sales processes for customers and establishes best practice

     • EDF Energy recognised for open and transparent approach and for proactively  improving procedures

     • £4.5 million package to help vulnerable customers demonstrates EDF Energy’s commitment to doing the right thing

Source:  http://www.edfenergy.com/media-centre/press-news/EDF-Energy-works-together-with-Ofgem-to-build-consumer-trust-in-energy-industry.shtml

It is a matter of personal opinion whether it is the BBC or 
Électricité de France that are telling the truth.   Given the criminal history of Électricité de France and that it is the BBC's version which appears in the majority of daily newspapers in the U.K., we believe that Électricité de France are telling porkies.   (The polite version of what we really think.)
8/3/12
Gilding the Lily?

According to a short article in the Business Section of "The Times" today, Électricité de France are to invest a further £200 million in making their reactors safer following the Fukushima disaster.   Makes one wonder why it would take a disaster to make them do the work.   Surely it should have been done anyway.   Would it be churlish to ask why so much needs to be done to make the reactors safe when they have already been inspected by the Nuclear Inspectorate's Dr. Weightman and declared to be safe.   The report was commissioned by the now-absent Chris Huhne very soon after the disaster last year.   In our opinion the reports' outcome was eminently foreseeable and he didn't disappoint.   Quite how he managed to spare his scant staff in order to do a thorough job, we don't know.   The last we heard he was talking of seconding personnel from the companies being inspected.   We prefer to think that it hasn't yet come to that.
2/3/12
Yet Another Report Released

DECC has today released the Mackerron Report into "Evaluation of nuclear decommissioning and waste management" (due to the present financial strictures there is no funding for capital letters) which sets out to explain the past, present and future situation of the nuclear industry and how the various types of waste will be processed and who will pay for it.

Obviously there has been no pre-judging matters as Annexe 3 states that by 2040 Deep Geological Disposal Facility (what we term a nuclear dump) will be available.   No ifs or buts there.   Despite the "volunteerism" intrinsic in the White Paper "Managing the Nuclear Legacy", 2002, it might be that cynics see imposition as being more likely.   Interestingly, we see that Threlkeld Parish Council agree with us (perhaps unwittingly!) and have unanimously opted for withdrawing from the nuclear dump proposal, saying:
"Copeland, Allerdale and CCC may believe that ‘volunteering’ may secure jobs for their constituents
but their safety, our safety, the safety of our children and our future generations should be their first priority."


Threlkeld is a few miles along the A66 towards Penrith from Keswick.   It has thus not been stuffed with ex-Sellafield staff, unlike those other councils mentioned.   It is interesting that, the further away from Sellafield's influence one goes, the less people are in favour of the industry.   Perhaps there is a correlation between the stuffing of councils and committees, the degree to which propaganda is circulated and threats and bribery remain effective?

Back in the Mackerron Report, one term we particularly like is:  "
Commitment to the reprocessing of spent fuel, which continued long after there was any evident rationale in economic terms, added substantially to the cost and complexity of managing the legacy."  (P.2,, para 2) One has to wonder, therefore, why a further reprocessing plant is even being remotely considered.   However, the report continues to illustrate that the problems of Sellafield were exacerbated by poor management practice and neglect, causing the legacy material to deteriorate.   The summary does tend to skip over the fiasco that was British Energy in 1996.

Without mentoning the merit or otherwise of continuing with new nuclear sites, with the inevitable perpetuation of the waste problems, the report explains that current stocks of waste and decommissioning costs have been provided for by the Nuclear Liabilities Fund.   Interesting when one considers how many other private companies have their waste problems dealt with the government.   If we have read the paragraph properly, it seems that the National Loans Fund will provide low-cost finance for any company wishing to build a nuclear power station.   We recognise that this is not the same a subsidy.


2/3/12
A Bit of a Squabble Amongst Our New-found Best Mates

According to an article in The Times, 29/2/12, Westinghouse, the American and Japanese company that produce a nuclear reactor to rival the French Areva one, have threatened to use EU competition rules to challenge the expected award of multi-billion pound contracts to build at Oldbury and Wylfa.   Given that 
Électricité de France are Areva's sister company it is highly unlikely that any proposals to build at other sites by Électricité de France would use any other reactor than the Areva one.   Surely this will pose an interesting dilemma when it comes to energy security - a much vaunted weakness that nuclear would be the solution to.   Not content with sharing a French aircraft carrier (another multi-billion pound mess over suitable aircraft design) we are now to put our energy supply in the hands of two countries whose history of being at war with us is second to none!   Smart thinking.  

What we find strange also is that all these companies are making huge losses.


1/3/12
Tripping The Light Fandango

Without too much ado the nuclear power station at Oldbury closed a couple of days ago.   There wasn't much of an ado, as the plant is to be taken over by Horizon - a joint venture between RWE and E.on.   Both these, of course have German parent companies.   In Germany there has been such a protest against nuclear power that the government has reluctantly agreed to close every site down.   No such qualms affect the U.K.'s government.   How long before these nuclear sites are producing excess power that can happily be exported to Europe?   What a wonderful wheeze!   They get all the benefits of nuclear power without any of the adverse effects.   No troubles about unfortunate incidents, or disposing of waste.   The U.K. government can accurately forecast exactly what the disposal of high radiation material will cost over 150 years in advance.   Not only that, but they even have a site for an underground nuclear dump lined up in Cumbria.   All problems solved.


27/2/12
Électricité de France Bully a Protest Group:  Summoned to High Courts in London
A small group of protestors against the Hinkley Point development have occupied a derelict farm on land owned by Électricité de France.

Source:  http://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/occupation-of-langborough-farm-somerset/

Some of 
Électricité de France's managers haven't yet been jailed for corruption.  

The protestors have been told to appear in court in London to demonstrate why they shouldn't be evicted from the land, and 
Électricité de France also want an injunction which would prevent any member of a protest group from re-occupying the land in future.   Somewhat draconion demands one might think from a company whose record on rights is somewhat sullied.   Hopefully the court will recognise the rights for peaceful protest that exists in the U.K. (allegedly), even if the company can try to ignore the law in France.  

Noteworthy has been the deluge of paperwork delivered to the protest by the company's solicitors.   A rather shy cameraman was shown to be videoing the delivery of the papers, with collar pulled up, balaclava covering the lower part of his face , , ,   such bravery.   One wonders what he was hiding from.   Of course, this is obviously not an attempt to bully the not-very-rich protestors into submission.   Does democracy in the U.K. now demand that anyone who disagrees with the establishment and large multi-national companies faces the risk of bankrupcy to make their point, whilst a company like 
Électricité de France can gain very peculiar favours via a network of contacts in government - even managing to get the planning regulations changed so that they build whatever they like wherever they like with only minimal interference from those who health and well-being will be affected?   We do like to think that the appointment of Gordon Brown's brother to Électricité de France's position as Head of Media Relations was solely on merit . . . Ed Miliband and his team, who set the wheels in motion, happily followed by the Lib Dems (Nuclear expansion?   Over my dead body!) and the Conservatives (who has got shares in all these companies then?), all ignoring the public's wishes, whilst acting on evidence which, in the last few weeks, has been shown to have been falsified - apparently with the deliberate attempt to promote nuclear expansion at any cost.  

Whether there is anyone with sufficient funds to mount a legal challenge, or seek a judicial review of the whole shameful process we wonder.   It is our belief that the manipulation of democracy would not stand up to examination by an impartial review process.   We have long believed that there is extensive corruption at the root of the proposed expansion of nuclear generation and dumping of waste.   Small wonder that Cameron has suggested that lobbying is the next major scandal about to happen - a pity he chose not to investigate prior to the agreement signed with Sarkozy recently.   To us it seems that such indecent haste is, perhaps, necessary in order to achieve objectives before that indubitable scandal does break.

27/2/12
'We Don't Have Earthquakes and Tsunamis in the United Kingdom'

So said Dr. M. Weightman in his report on the state of this country's reactors following the Fukushima incident.   Out of such complacency is born the "it can't happen to us" mentality which has thus far prevailed over common-sense precautionaries.   There have been more than 33 serious nuclear accidents since 1952.   Only one of those has been due to earthquake or tsunami.   The rest are down to equipment failures, human failures and carelessness.   How does the head of the Nuclear Inspectorate plan to cover those eventualities?   We note elsewhere that the U.K.'s reactors are the least independently inspected in the world.   We have all seen (and many of us are still experiencing) the effects of "light touch" regulation in the finance industry.   Whether a similar culture should have been allowed to develop in the nuclear industry is doubtful.   One has to wonder whether the light touch is the result of financial strictures rather than faith in the industry.

At the moment, fortunately, there has been no similar fire to that presently out of control at Tilbury power station, at a nuclear site.   We believe it is only a matter of time.

22/1/12
Supporting the Green Industries

In "The Times", 22/2/12, we read:

Drax:  The owner of the largest coal-fired power station in Britain has scrapped plans to build a pioneering green power plant that burns only biomass material after the government decided that such plants are too expensive and refused to provide sufficient subsidy to make them viable.

From the government's DECC website we can more plainly see just how green those at the helm are from their announcement of:
  • A groundbreaking deal worth £400m on nuclear reactors between Rolls Royce and Areva, including the first EPR reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset. This will underpin a new Rolls Royce factory in Rotherham and support 1,200 new jobs across the nuclear supply chain in Britain;
  • A new engineering contract between EDF and Kier/BAM for the UK’s first proposed new nuclear project at Hinkley Point, Somerset, meaning another £100m for companies operating in the South West and 350 jobs;
  • A £15m investment in a new world class training campus in Bridgwater, Somerset for EDF employees, new starters and the local community.
Welcoming the strength of the UK- France energy relationship and their joint commitment to the transition to a low carbon economy, the two Governments agreed:
  • A call for further studies into electricity interconnection between the UK and France;
  • A deal to extend cooperation on civil nuclear security and share best practice on security at nuclear sites;
  • An agreement to cooperate closely on research and development in the nuclear industry;
  • A commitment to work closely to ensure that both nations’ nuclear industries have the necessary skills in place.
The press release goes on, 'Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Today's summit shows the strength and depth of Britain's ties with France. At our last summit, we signed a historic partnership on defence.   Today, we are matching that ambition on nuclear energy. As two great civil nuclear nations, we will combine our expertise to strengthen industrial partnership, improve nuclear safety and create jobs at home.

“The deals signed today will create more than 1,500 jobs in the UK but they are just the beginning. My goal is clear. I want the vast majority of the content of our new nuclear plants to be constructed, manufactured and engineered by British companies. And we will choose the partners and technologies to maximise the economic benefits to the UK. Today marks an important first step towards that. A good deal for Britain and a good deal for France."'

The principle is supported by the newly-arrived Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change:

“There are plans for new nuclear in Somerset, Suffolk, Cumbria, North Wales and Gloucestershire. Supply chains will spring up too, and extend the reach of economic benefit across the country. This investment could be worth around £60billion and create up to 30,000 jobs.

“The deals signed today reflect our ongoing desire to work closely together with our French allies and the private sector on nuclear, and across the energy mix."

Source:  http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn12_012/pn12_012.aspx

See our Opinion page for comment.

19/2/12
Cockermouth Council Kicks Dump Out

According to Cumbria's Times and Star newspaper, like its sister paper The Whitehaven News, not renowned for its anti-nuclear views, Cockermouth Town Council voted not to proceed to the next stage of the expression of interest in hosting the nuclear dump in the region.   For a view on the decision see the Editorial page of today's date.

19/2/12
Franco/British Nuclear Deal Signed

Cameron and an entourage have headed off to France today to sign a £500 million deal on civilian nuclear energy.   This is despite recent polls showing that the vast majority of UK residents do not wish to have nuclear power plants.   We are given the usual guff about the number of jobs which will be produced by the plans;  this time around 1,500.   Needless to say that this is a political statement and thus deliberately misleading. A breakdown of the figures would probably show that there will be short-term employment for the construction crews and very few skilled permanent jobs.

Anyone care to guess what will happen once the reactors are up and running?   What will the sudden influx of redundant construction workers do to local economies?

Forgive our cynicism, but are we seeing yet another scam whereby the policiticians and civil servants, advisers, etc., all have shares in the companies that will benefit from the expansion?   If they cannot keep their fingers out of the comparatively meagre expenses pot, what chance that they will resist this chance of easy money?   How many of those involved with the decision-making process (whose outcome was so blatently and obviously biased we forecast it nearly four years ago!) stand to benefit?   Whether they will benefit directly as a result of their financial dealings, or as a result of "positions on the board" remains to be seen.

Sarkozy, whose flagging popularity at home is going to jeopardise his chances in the forthcoming elections, is not particularly happy with Cameron.   Given the comparative political skills of Cameron and Sarkozy, who do you think will gain the better deal?   Britain with its need for new power stations, or France, whose generating companies already own considerable shares in our market and have worked hard for decades to install people in the right places to gain influence and buy friends?

By pure coincidence, of course, President Sarkozy, who notably told Cameron to shut up and snubbed him in front of EU leaders to demonstrate the friendship between our two countries, announced on the same day that he is to stand for a second term in the forthcoming presidential elections.   Oh, and his rival, Strauss-Khan is in trouble again.   No links between any of these events . . .   One wonders what will happen if there is ever a re-run of the world wars and we find outselves on opposite sites of the fence with a shared aircraft carrier (hope it will be out turn!) and them in control of all our amenities.   This is what is referred to as energy security, presumably?

12/1/12
Nuvia's radioactive-particle-finding vehicle amongst holiday makers at Braystones.

Nuvia's particle-finding vehicle amongst Braystones holiday-makers.


Sellafield from Braystones

What you don't see on brochures - (above) Sellafield site from Braystones, and (below) unrestricted fishing near the buoys marking the end of the discharge pipe.

Fishermen at the Sellafield discharge pipes.

Particle finds on Cumbrian beaches

This graph, derived from Sellafield's own figures (to July, 2011) show the number of particles found at various sites on the west Cumbrian coast.   From Allonby on the left, to Drigg on the right.

What may not be clear is that the figures, whilst scary enough, do not show the whole story.  

At
two points, Parton and Nethertown, the graph shows zero finds.   This is because the vehicle used cannot access the beach as it is too rocky - thus no in-depth survey has taken place.   It is not because there are no particles there.   Presumably, if these points could be incorporated, the graph would show a continuously increasing trend to Sellafield, and a gradual decline thereafter.

We are currently unaware of the reason for low readings at Seascale and Drigg (the points to the right of the peak).   It is especially puzzling as the consistent tidal flow along the beach is from north to south - we would thus have expected either a slower tail-off or even higher readings at these points.   Over the whole of the Irish Sea there is a clockwise circular flow.   Happily, even though no assessment has been made of the sea's content, the authorities are happy to assume that all is well.   They mention the shellfish and crustaceans on the beach, but fail to notice that there are virtually none at all these days.   In days of yore it was possible to gather a bucket of shrimps and shellfish in a very short time.   Not any more.

Not including unsurveyed, and thus zero recorded areas, the graph shows what logic says would happen to heavy metal particles - where it is coming ashore close to where it was discharged into the sea.


Braystones has a total of 230 finds - but the greater part of the stony north beach has not been surveyed, as residents have to bank up the stones to form storm defences.   This precludes Nuvia's use of the particle-finding vehicle - again, it does not mean that there are no finds to be found there, merely that the area has not been surveyed.  

The foregoing facts can be corroborated from the map contained in the environmental report.  

The stoney part of south Braystones and Sellafield beach are easy to do with the vehicle, with
numerous finds noted on the stones near to Sellafield (hence the peak on the graph), but there are virtually no finds to the north-west of the railway station at Braystones - which is the point from where the residents pay to have the stones banked up.   Residents' homes aren't surveyed, either.   Nevertheless, officaldom, having done nothing much produced a report which said that there was virtually no problem, adding the rider:

However, it should be noted that , even for these beaches, the information available is limited and robust assumptions have to be made.   *HPA Report

Sunburn or Other Radiation?
We have noted with some concern the proposed closure of some beaches, whilst others remain open to the public despite the undoubted presence of radioactive particles thereon.   For example, Sandside Beach, near Douneray, is said to be too dangerous for the public, as "between 400 and 500" radioactive particles have been found there.

Following the demolition of WWII aircraft near Dalgety, Fifeshire, the beach will be closed by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency if the radioactive contamination is not "substantially reduced" by the end of February, 2012.   Yet even fewer particles have been found there:  around 200 up to last November.  

Compare those places with the figures from Sellafield's own website, which contains the report on environmental pollution on west Cumbrian beaches.    The documents are buried some way down the tree and our experience was that the annual report Acrobat file seems reluctant to download.   Amazingly, despite the levels at Braystones and Sellafield being higher than those at the Scottish sites, the beach has not been closed to the public.   Indeed, caravan hire in the area is advertised by national firms.   One has to wonder whether these people have a duty of care and honesty, or just one of producing profits.   For some strange reason, not one of the photographs accompanying the advertisements shows the Sellafield site, despite its prominence in the area.   After all, it is only a couple of miles away from the caravan sites and cannot be missed.   Neither do the advertisers point out the radiation finds.  

A total of 766 particles - mainly from Braystones and Sellafield's beaches have been found up to July, 2011. 
5/1/12
A Happy New Year?

Those shining examples of nuclear safety, the French, are perhaps not quite so shiny as they would have us believe.   According to various sources the computer system of Areva - manufacturers of reactors to a design they hope to persuade the U.K. to purchase - has been under attack by hackers for over two years, with considerable success, it appears.   The origin of the attacks is alleged to be Asian, but we understand that the company has also been a victim of the Stuxnet virus.   In a classic example of honesty and integrity, for which the nuclear industry is renowned, workers were told that the computer system would be closed down for "routine maintenance".   According to the reports, however, the real reason was to improve security of the network.   As is usual, there was never any danger and the integrity of the manufacturing side was never affected.   The company admits that it does not know whether its military activites have been compromised in any way, neither does it preclude the possibility that some sort of malware or trojan could have been hidden away in the system.


Sister company, Électricité de France, allegedly has a policy of total openness.   This did not include admitting that they were hacking into Greenpeace's e-mail system and employed private detectives to do the company's dirty work.   A report into the role of Kargus and the recent jailing of two Électricité de France's senior executives can be found further down our home page.

The French equivalent of the Nuclear Inspectorate, the ASN, have now published their version of the Weightman Report.   The French inspections, like Weightman's, were set up following the events at Fukushima and nuclear establishments throughout France.   Apparently not all is hunky-dory, and the inspectorate has recommended that all nuclear establishments in France improve their safety measures and adopt more stringent standards.   It also recommends that staff be given emergency response training.

Source:  http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90777/7695456.html

Sadly, in every nuclear incident around the world, the circumstances have inevitably been described as "unpredictable" and "unforeseen", so quite how anyone is expected to render such installations truly safe is not understood.   It seems a bit like driving off in a car with no brakes on the premise that one will never have to stop quickly.

Anyway, what the truth of the matter seems to be that the safety system is subjected to review and the conclusions result in a fudged outcome - with implementation costs rating very highly in the decision-making process.   Together with a disproportionate input from the nuclear lobby this makes for an unhappy result with safety taking a lower priority than should be the case.   Any list of nuclear incidents and their causes has at its heart human fallibility.   Elsewhere we have made the point that any alarm or control system is only as good as the person devising it and the ability and bravery of those faced with operating it.   With computer systems these days comprising many millions of lines of code, there can be no guarantee that trojans or malware is not incorporated, or even that the system will operate as intended when the time comes.

Best keep praying . . .

Elsewhere, the Japanese are still struggling with their cold shut-down.   Some sceptics, having no faith in the official line, are suggesting that the whole affair has been covered up by the global nuclear interests and that, far from being over, the situation at Fukushima is still dangerous.   With the Spring imminent, the prospect of radioactive pollen being dispersed by irradiated plants is a possibility.   Just don't mention the Russian nuclear submarine fire.   After all (altogether now) no-one was hurt and no radioactive material was released.

20/12/11
Monkey Business

As scientists in Japan struggle to assess radiation levels after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, they have hit on a novel method of measuring them using the area’s wild monkey population.   Radiological survey meters incorporating GPS transmitters enable readings to be taken in areas which may not be safe for humans, or in inaccessible areas.   Currently helicopters are used, but these cannot cover some areas for obvious reasons.


A team, led by Professor Takayuki Takahashi, intends to recover the devices and collect data one to two months after releasing the monkeys back into the wild.

The project will also check radiation exposure in wild animals.    Because of their habits, the monkeys will allow the scientists to compare radiation levels on the ground and in the air, as they spend much of their time sitting high up in trees.

Source:  http://rt.com/news/monkeys-fukushima-radiation-measure-495/

17/12/11
The Industry Has Developed - Not Necessarily to Our Advantage

A little further down this page is the report from Greenpeace about the fines imposed on Électricité de France in French courts for spying, computer hacking, etc., at the same time as two of the Électricité de France employees were jailed for three years for it.   Currently, Greenpeace is contemplating legal action following the release, under FOI rules, of correspondence from the government which indicates the level of collusion between them and the nuclear industry, including details of files and evidence to be used by Greenpeace in their action in the French courts.  We comment further on our Editorial page. The control of information from Fukushima continues, and it is necessary these days to search outside the mainstream U.K. media to find current reports, as the BBC stopped mentioning it some time ago.   Instead, we have been deluged with programmes suggesting that radioactive material has little, if any, effect on health or the environment.   Even so, it is somewhat amusing to note that liquid quantities are reported in terms of tonnes rather than the more indicative measures that people can visualise, such as gallons or litres.   Reports last week on NHK television tell of 45 tonnes of radioactive water having leaked outside the plant being used to treat it, with the possibility that a further 250 tonnes might also have escaped undetected into the Pacific.   All this, of course, is on top of the 20,000 tonnes already discharged into the ocean at the outset.   On 16/12/11, however, the BBC did manage to broadcast a short article in the main news, the upshot of which was that everything at Fukushima is now under control and the plans for a cold shutdown are following the projected path.  

The latest information from the government's nuclear development office tells us that all is well with the generic design assessment and Westinghouse and Areva/Électricité de France reactors are suitable for use in the U.K.    It mentions that it has "fully considered" the report from Dr. Weightman - the contents of which we accurately managed to forecast over six months ago - and all is well.   The same department have also made strange noises about the disposal of waste, which will apparently take place at a central repository.   (What we call a nuclear dump.)   The civil servants suggest that the industry will be responsible for the cost of such processes (will that include the cost of construction of the reprocessing plant and the dump itself?) and the eventual cost of decommissioning the nuclear power station.   Happily, all costs will be determined at today's prices, which, one might expect, could be considerably less than its eventual true cost.   Not that that is any kind of subsidy.   That picture of probity, Mr. C. Huhne, says that we should have one new nuclear power station in the U.K. each year from 2020.   That is not what the civil engineers who will be doing the construction are expecting, we think.   Instead, it will be one at a time and built by the same teams with an 18 month gap in between completion of one and start of another.   Fortunately for the industry, the plans to amend the planning regulations to enable builders to wreak their havoc wherever it suits them, are will in hand.   It will be interesting to see whether the likes of the National Trust, etc., have sufficient clout to stop the stupidity of giving an alcoholic the keys to the wine cellar.

Funnily enough, some time ago we heard a story about the visit by peers of the realm to Sellafield.   Looking at the covered-over access points to the test drillings for the underground nuclear dump, one of the peers was heard to comment to a senior Sellafield manager, "We'll soon get the covers off this lot for you."   Wonder whether the worthy gentleman buys shares?

Areva has announced plans to cease investment in nuclear developments in the United States, South Africa and in France.   According to the French unions, up to 1250 jobs could be lost at home, although this is denied by the relevant minister, who apparently feels it may not be a clever thing in the lead up to an election in the country.   As an aside, one has to wonder the sense in sharing an aircraft carrier when leaders of both countries shout rude names at each other and try to undermine their respective antagonist's financial security by suggesting that one level of indebtedness is worse than the the other side's.

We should count our blessings that Siemen's has withdrawn from the nuclear industry.   Six of its senior executives, including a former board member, have been accused of bribery.   Not, of course, that that has had any adverse impact on its business in the U.K. or U.S.   Both countries having awarded substantial contracts to Siemens.   The U.K. giving them the £1 billion rail contract and the U.S. total contracts expecting to rise to over £2 billion soon.   In the latter case, it probably helps that the company has recruited an ex-PR person from the U.S. government to advise them.   In the U.K. there is to be a review of the rail contract award.   Strange, if Siemens has changed its ways to something more honest and ethical. In India, a Russian aided nuclear power plant has stalled because of local protests.   Ignoring the wishes of those who will be directly at risk, the responsible official has said that there is too much invested in the plant already to let it stand idle.   Now, there is a good argument for forcing ahead the nuclear dump in Cumbria - even if the local councils (well stuffed with ex-Sellafield employees and pro-nuclear people) withdraw their expression of interest.

19/11/11
What The Pollsters Reveal

Following comments on the future lifting of restrictions on the movement of sheep on the Cumbrian and Welsh fells, our attention was drawn to the statistics published this June by IPSOS/Mori.   It makes clearer the picture of public opinion in respect of the proposed nuclear expansion:  Mori Poll Results So, the next time someone tells you that the majority of people are in favour, direct them to study this.

19/11/11
The Modern Japanese Syndrome

In the middle of August, there was a spate of claims that the earth around Fukushima plant was crumbling and that steam could be seen arising.   It was surmised that the problem was associated with the melt-down and was part of the "China Syndrome", where the radioactive core kept on burning out of control, consuming all in its path until it either catastrophically exploded or emerged on the other side of the earth.   (The idea was that China was opposte America across the globe, and that a nuclear melt-down in America would melt the earth's core and keep on going until it emerged on the opposite side of the earth, i.e. China.   Although impossible - we hope - the idea of the meltdown hitting the water table and exploding is perhaps not so far-fetched.)    Intriguingly nothing further on this scenario has arisen, so we are left wondering what the true situation is and whether the "cold shutdown" envisaged by the Japanese authorities will go ahead as forecast, leaving a mere 30 years (minimum) of clear up to go.

Source:   http://www.fukushimaaccident.com/

10/11/11 (Further edited 19/11/11)
Électricité de France (EdF) Executives Jailed For "Industrial Scale" Spying On Greenpeace

A statement issued by Greenpeace says:
"At 14.00 hours, 10/11/11, French Judge Isabelle Prévost-Desprez pronounced a verdict of guilty in the trial of French state owned energy giant EDF, which was accused of industrial scale espionage against Greenpeace. She sentenced EDF executive Pierre-Paul François to 3 years imprisonment, with 30 month suspended and Pascal Durieux 3 years imprisonment, two years suspended and a 10,000 Euro fine for commissioning the spying operation. "The judge also handed down a guilty verdict in the case of Thierry Lorho, the head of Kargus, the company employed by EDF to hack into the computers of Greenpeace. He has been sentenced to three years in jail, with two suspended and a 4,000 Euro fine.  "Additionally, EDF has been fined 1.5 million Euros and ordered to pay half a million Euros in damages to Greenpeace. "Speaking from outside the courtroom in Paris, Greenpeace's Executive Director in France, Adelaide Colin, said:  'The fine against EDF and the damages awarded to Greenpeace send a strong message to the nuclear industry that no one is above the law. This case should send a signal to any country considering building reactors with EDF that the company can't be trusted. Instead of working with the nuclear industry, countries should invest in clean, safe sources of renewable electricity.' "During evidence presented to the court by the French prosecutor the judge heard that EDF had been hacking into the hard drives of Greenpeace computers and had placed a 'Trojan Horse' in the hard drive of one computer that enabled the company to access private emails and documents being written by Greenpeace. "It also emerged at the trial that EDF had hired the industrial espionage company Kargus to compile a dossier on the work of Greenpeace UK. This was during the period EDF was attempting to get its foot in the door of the UK nuclear energy market through the purchase of British Energy."

Somewhere down near the bottom of this page is an article on Kargus and their previous illegal activities.   Scary to think that our politicians have such scant regard for honesty and integrity that they can even consider handing over the life-blood of our country to such criminals.   Then again, "integrity" and "politicians" don't fit very comfortably together in the same sentence these days.   The main question, however, is whether the criminal management of 
Électricité de France - who have consistently denied that they sought the information supplied by Kargus (forgive our cynicism - where did they think the information was from and why didn't they even consider that the methods by which it was obtained were illegal?) - are suitable people for the UK government to put the nation's trust in, especially when the power is literally, the lifeblood of the nation.   What are the chances of a politician asking that question in the House? Meanwhile, further illustrating the devious nature of those employed in supplying the nation's power, Private Eye's Old Sparkey relates how the power station recently-announced by David Cameron to be built on Humberside is actually the product of a chain of very small companies, none of whom have the wherewithall to fund the £2½ billion project.   However, it seems from what the article says, the ultimate owners are Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE Ltd.), who recently pulled out of the Iberdrola consortium, and ESB, the Irish state-owned electricity board whose stated aim is to own 3 GWatts of generating capacity in the UK by 2020.   One has to wonder why such a convoluted trail has to be laid down for these companies to hide behind.

Even the BBC, not reknowned for showing interest in anything that contradicts the government's edicts, carries an article announcing the same story.   Not that it made the television news, but that is the power of the nuclear lobby.   That story can be found at:  
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15683090

19/10/11
"Commercial Lobbying" or Just Plain Old Corruption?

Three months before becoming Prime Minister last year,  David Cameron said, "Commercial lobbying is the
next big scandal waiting to happen".   Strangely echoing our view of many moons ago - which specifically related to the nuclear industry's access to high level stategists, local and national politicians, many of whom have subsequently had a rapid and dramatic change of heart regarding nuclear development.   (We note elsewhere, that Select Committee members were on very friendly first-name terms with industry representatives, whilst the chairman also sought to limit the already-scant time allotted to our witnesses.)   Also elsewhere we have noted the preponderence of ex-nuclear industry employees, especially PR personnel and managers who have spread the pro-nuclear gospel far and wide.   The generating industry figures are almost always in the billions of pounds, so one might imagine the temptations when, for example, a mere £50,000 buys direct access to the Prime Minister.

So, it comes as no shock then, to read that 'David Cameron was last night accused of pandering to the lobbying industry – as it emerged an extraordinary network of his own friends has taken up key positions in the sector.'

An article in the Daily Mail continues:
'Campaigners claimed a planned crackdown on the industry had been delayed because of the influence of a string of powerful lobbyists, who include a number of close friends of and former advisers to the Prime Minister.

'They warned that lobbyists had successfully established a ‘revolving door’ between Mr Cameron’s inner circle and the industry, giving their clients direct access to the heart of Government.

'Downing Street was on the defensive yesterday over the Coalition’s failure to impose a statutory register of lobbyists, 
but insisted it would go ahead in the wake of the scandal that engulfed former Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

'A crackdown on the industry was included in the Coalition agreement last year, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pledged it would be put in place this year.

'Change is now likely to be delayed until at least 2013 – with lobbyists hoping it could be put off still further once the row over Dr Fox has died down.

Aides to Mr Clegg – whose wife Miriam is a senior figure at law firm DLA Piper, which offers lobbying services – was unable to say why it had been delayed.'
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2050302/As-David-Cameron-delays-lobbyist-crackdown-Downing-Street-network-revealed.html#ixzz1bDlBWZ00

It would certainly make sense to delay any enquiry until after the nuclear expansion agenda has been fixed, shares cashed, seats on company boards allocated, etc., but that is a cynical view.

13/10/11
Dumping the Spoil, or Spoiling the Dump

As part of the on-going manipulation of facts to suit the building of an underground nuclear dump in west Cumbria, back in May the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority wrote to Cumbria CC to say that they have, ". . . assumed that all the excavated rock spoil could be stored on the surface and then either used in construction and backfilling, or for the landscaping and site restoration.   Therefore there would be no transportation of this material off-site."

 
Sadly for the NDA, they have been caught out.   An expert has worked out that the project would require the excavation of 17,930,487 tonnes of rock.   Given a capacity of 44 tonnes per lorry-load, that means 407,511 journeys.   Over a ten year period (the maximum scheduled for construction) that means 112 loads a day for each 8 hour day of the week for the whole ten years.   The number of actual journeys will, of course, be double that, as the empty lorries will need to return.
 
The alternative would be a berm, 1,000 metres long, by 200 metres wide and 35 metres high.   Unlikely to gain approval in the Lake District National Park as it would need to be active for around 50 years.
 
Even if one accepts that the rock formation suits the underground dump - which experts don't - this amount of heavy traffic down the narrow roads of west Cumbria is going to cause intolerable pressures.   However, what is perhaps more indicative is the manipulation of facts in order to support the nuclear-at-any-cost lobby.   This also happened at the Nirex Enquiry back in the late 1990s.   Sad to see that they still cannot be trusted.

Interestingly, for a body not supposed to become involved in promoting the nuclear industry, there is no mention of increases in transport TO the site of equipment, materials, etc., nor of the housing requirements of the construction workers.   In fact, there is no mention of these things from any of the bodies supposedly stating an independent view.   Even the noise, dust, etc., that is an integral part of constructing a hole 1 km. underground remains unmentioned.
Other News

Elsewhere, the local M.P. states categorically that 5,000 jobs (where this workforce will come from is unspecified) will be created by the new MOX 2 plant that he also says will be approved very soon.    He adds that he has been working on this project for six and a half years now, and is happy that it is coming to fruition.   Yes, well, we are sure that Sellafield and the nuclear industry will also reward their loyal ex-employee well, too.   One has to wonder what he did in the same period to represent the views of the anti-nuclear residents, although the answer seems to be quite obvious.

Despite the future plans not yet having been announced or approved, a spokesman for Cammell-Laird ship-builders of Birkenhead, announced on 12/10/11:

Ansaldo Nucleare, a member of the Italian high technology group Finmeccanica, has signed a partnership agreement with Warrington based Nuvia and Birkenhead based Cammell Laird to design and build heavy modules and components for the UK’s multi-billion pound civil nuclear programme.

The partnership strengthens the initial partnership deal struck in August 2010 between Nuvia and Cammell Laird to enter the nuclear module market. Ansaldo Nucleare now becomes the third essential partner in this ‘best-in-class’ alliance. Ansaldo brings 30 years experience in the nuclear power sector with capabilities that include plant design, engineering, fabrication management, construction, commissioning, operational assistance, maintenance and decommissioning. In particular, Ansaldo Nucleare is the designer of the major modules for the Westinghouse AP1000 plant and currently involved in the design and construction of the Containment Vessel at Sanmen nuclear power plant in China. Ansaldo Nucleare is fully owned by Ansaldo Energia, a key player among the European power generation suppliers.

The partners propose to build super modules for AP1000 and EPR nuclear power plants, initially for the UK market, using an off-site ‘weather protected’ construction hall and sea access load-out facilities at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead capable of handling modules up to 5000 tonne.

Source:  http://www.clbh.co.uk/news/newsitem.php?id=47

3/10/11
National Trust Petition Against Changes to the Planning System

The last government decided that the planning regime which permitted people to object to development in their own area was holding up their friends and might impede the proposed changes to the infra-structure entailed by wholesale destruction of green-belt land.   Things like nuclear power stations and underground nuclear dumps could potentially be held up for years as objections were heard.   Ed Miliband's department at DECC came up with the wizard wheeze of an overall (sorry, forgot the jargon there, over-arching!) planning authority.   Happily this was demolished by the incoming coalition in theif bonfire of the quangos.


Not so happily, the unprepossessing figure of Eric Pickles, resurrected the key ideas with his introduction of the "Localism Bill".   He is supported in this by Vince Cable.   The stated aims of the bill are to make the default result of any planning application to be in favour of development.   The lobbyists for the construction industry, probably, we believe, including those involved in nuclear development - whether the dump or new build reactors, have obviously spent their money wisely.   If the bill goes ahead then there will be virtually no proctection against any development on any type of land.   How convenient for those whose aims are to make money regardless of cost to the amenity of others.

Where nothing is said in local development plans, planning approval is to be assumed. It is also to be assumed wherever the plan is silent, indeterminate, or where relevant policies are out of date.   (Having been so deemed by . . .   Guess!)

David Cameron, appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, on Sunday, 2/10/11, seemed a bit puzzled by the suggestion that the bill was poorly thought out and a charter for unlimited development by unscrupulous companies.   He kept repeating that he had no wish to see his part of the world (Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds - conveniently far from any nuclear dump or site) spoilt, and he would no more do that than put his own family in jeopardy.   Does he have any idea of the content of the bill and the manner in which it will be exploited?   Do any M.P.s actually understand the laws they are constantly changing, innovating and passing?

This bill will not just affect the housing industry!   One can imagine the reaction of Mr. Cameron and his friends to a large industrial estate (with nuclear reactor and reprocessing plant!) being constructed in their area.   Heavens forfend that the development could be seen from their residences.

See:  https://www.planningforpeople.org.uk/?campid=NPPFOA

23/9/11
House of Cards Begins Collapse

Welcome news to those opposed to nuclear development as Scottish and Southern Electric pull out of Iberdrola, citing financial rewards as reason:

http://www.sse.com/PressReleases2011/DisposalOfStakeInNugenerationLtd/

We don't like to say we told you so (well, actually, we do - it is so rewarding!) and that everything we had been told about the financial viability of nuclear was untrue;  largely a figment of the fertile rabidly pro-nuclear lobby in Cumbria.   Sadly, however, Iberdrola on their website say that the decision by SSE will not affect their development plans.

21/9/9/11
Substantial Up-date
The Chief Executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Tony Fountain, has resigned, ostensibly to return to the oil industry from whence he came.   However, most press reports seem to suggest that the real reason is a difference in policy between himself and government, though none are specific.

Despite tens of thousands of people in Japan turning out to protest against nuclear power, there was not a single mention of this on any of the U.K. news channels so far as we can discern.   Reports did appear on Al Jazeera and Japanese NHK World channels.

http://articles.boston.com/2011-09-20/news/30181008_1_fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-reactors-nuclear-power  


Similar protests are being held in India: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/anti-nuclear-plant-protesters-in-tamil-nadu-stall-pms-n-power-dream/1/152074.html,

and
in Turkey:  http://www.todayszaman.com/news-257395-taksim-hosts-delightful-anti-nuclear-protest.html,

whilst elsewhere there are protests against the sea transport of nuclear waste:

http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Protest-at-Dounreay-nuclear-waste-gamble-20092011.htm,


and in Germany:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-34011/German-nuclear-protest-halts-train.html


Siemens have announced that they are pulling out of the manufacture of control equipment designed for the nuclear industry.  

Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14963575  


Again, it is an interesting development which says more by not saying anything.   As the nuclear industry represented a considerable income for the company (corruption Is a way of life) the suggestion that they are merely bowing to home pressures suggests that there is more to it.   Perhaps in time all will be revealed?   In the meantime, our minister continues to suggest that nuclear is the only way ahead, whilst the investigation into allegations of peverting the course of justice seem to be taking an inordinate length of time.   Only a cynic would suspect that his attempt to placate his ex-wife (rumoured to be the source of the allegations regarding speeding cameras) had anything to do with his legal situation.   In common with the early release of two M.P.s jailed for expenses fraud, it is difficult to see that the delay is due to anything other than influence from "friends in high places".   Huhne, as the minister responsible for energy - including nuclear power - was heckled when he reiterated at the Lib.Dem party conference that the way ahead included nuclear development.   Given that many people changing their vote to Lib Dems did so because of the party's anti-nuclear stance, this is not surprising.

More independent reports are saying that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi site is far, far worse than anyone is saying.   Some suggest that the core meltdown is continuing and is out of control.   There are also anecdotes of children with swollen necks, sore throats, vomiting and diarrhoea - all symptoms associated with exposure to radiation.   See also:  http://www.fairewinds.com/

The BBC, in support of the government's nuclear policy, broadcast a programme on Horizon, on 14/9/11.   A scientist, Professor Jim al-Khalili, was charged with finding the truth about the situation at Fukushima and whether we are right to be fearful of nuclear energy.   In an hour-long programme which seemed only too ready to accept official versions and data, less than five minutes was spent dealing with nuclear waste and its problems.   For a pseudo-scientific programme this superficiality was extremely poor.   Needless to say, the scientist concluded that nuclear energy was necessary and that the major problem with it was the scaremongering that always accompanied leaks and incidents.   So it would seem that the people of Fukushima and Chernobyl are merely hysterical but otherwise healthy people.   This was proved by the figure of around 37 suffering from thryroid cancers - a far cry from the hundreds of thousands seen by the doctors on the ground.   The figures seen and accepted by the reporter were supplied by a Russian doctor.   One has to wonder, even if one accepts the premise, whether such mental anguish caused by the nuclear industry should be another reason for discontinuing development.   Is mental injury of no consequence?   The trauma of homelessness is surely of some consequence?   We prefer the non-scientific opinion of Japanese Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, who has said that nuclear safety is a myth.

A visit to the site at Fukushima was prevented by officials, because of the high levels of radiation and the presence of the exclusion zone.   However, some footage was acquired by a resident who was being allowed to return home for two hours in order to collect personal effects from the home he would never be allowed to live in again.   Sadly, it was impossible to tell really whether the desolation was due to the earthquake, tsunami, or nuclear meltdowns.   The whole scenario was depressingly similar to the one that pertains at Chernobyl.


Scientists and doctors are calling for a new national policy in Japan that mandates the testing of food, soil, water, and the air for radioactivity still being emitted from Fukushima's heavily damaged Daiichi nuclear power plant.

"How much radioactive materials have been released from the plant?" asked Dr Tatsuhiko Kodama, a professor at the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology and Director of the University of Tokyo's Radioisotope Centre, in a July 27 speech to the Committee of Health, Labour and Welfare at Japan's House of Representatives.  "The government and TEPCO have not reported the total amount of the released radioactivity yet," said Kodama, who believes things are far worse than even the recent detection of extremely high radiation levels at the plant.

There is widespread concern in Japan about a general lack of government monitoring for radiation, which has caused people to begin their own independent monitoring, which are also finding disturbingly high levels of radiation.   Kodama's centre, using 27 facilities to measure radiation across the country, has been closely monitoring the situation at Fukushima - and their findings are alarming.

According to Dr Kodama, the total amount of radiation released over a period of more than five months from the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster is the equivalent to more than 29 "Hiroshima-type atomic bombs" and the amount of uranium released "is equivalent to 20" Hiroshima bombs.   Kodama, along with other scientists, is concerned about the ongoing crisis resulting from the Fukushima situation, as well as what he believes to be inadequate government reaction, and believes the government needs to begin a large-scale response in order to begin decontaminating affected areas.

Distrust of the Japanese government's response to the nuclear disaster is now common among people living in the effected prefectures, and people are concerned about their health.

Recent readings taken at the plant are alarming.   When on August 2nd readings of 10,000 millisieverts (10 sieverts) of radioactivity per hour were detected at the plant, Japan's science ministry said that level of dose is fatal to humans, and is enough radiation to kill a person within one to two weeks after the exposure.   10,000 millisieverts (mSv) is the equivalent of approximately 100,000 chest x-rays.   It is an amount 250 per cent higher than levels recorded at the plant in March after it was heavily damaged by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), that took the reading, used equipment to measure radiation from a distance, and was unable to ascertain the exact level because the device's maximum reading is only 10,000 mSv.   TEPCO also detected 1,000 millisieverts (mSv) per hour in debris outside the plant, as well as finding 4,000 mSv per hour inside one of the reactor buildings.

The Fukushima disaster has been rated as a "level seven" on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). This level, the highest, is the same as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, and is defined by the scale as: "[A] major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures."   The Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters are the only nuclear accidents to have been rated level seven on the scale, which is intended to be logarithmic, similar to the scale used to describe the comparative magnitude of earthquakes. Each increasing level represents an accident approximately ten times more severe than the previous level.

Doctors in Japan are already treating patients suffering health effects they attribute to radiation from the ongoing nuclear disaster.   "We have begun to see increased nosebleeds, stubborn cases of diarrhoea, and flu-like symptoms in children," Dr Yuko Yanagisawa, a physician at Funabashi Futawa Hospital in Chiba Prefecture, told Al Jazeera.   She attributes the symptoms to radiation exposure, and added: "We are encountering new situations we cannot explain with the body of knowledge we have relied upon up until now."

"The situation at the Daiichi Nuclear facility in Fukushima has not yet been fully stabilised, and we can't yet see an end in sight," Yanagisawa said. "Because the nuclear material has not yet been encapsulated, radiation continues to stream into the environment."

Health concerns

Al Jazeera's Aela Callan, reporting from Japan's Ibaraki prefecture, said of the recently detected high radiation readings: "It is now looking more likely that this area has been this radioactive since the earthquake and tsunami, but no one realised until now."   Workers at Fukushima are only allowed to be exposed to 250 mSv of ionising radiation per year.


Junichi Matsumoto, a TEPCO spokesman, said the high dose was discovered in an area that does not hamper recovery efforts at the stricken plant.   Yet radioactive cesium exceeding the government limit was detected in processed tea made in Tochigi City, about 160km from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, according to the Tochigi Prefectural Government, who said radioactive cesium was detected in tea processed from leaves harvested in the city in early July.   The level is more than 3 times the provisional government limit.

Yanagisawa's hospital is located approximately 200km from Fukushima, so the health problems she is seeing that she attributes to radiation exposure causes her to be concerned by what she believes to be a grossly inadequate response from the government.   From her perspective, the only thing the government has done is to, on April 25, raise the acceptable radiation exposure limit for children from 1 mSv/year to 20 mSv/year.   "This has caused controversy, from the medical point of view," Yanagisawa told Al Jazeera. "This is certainly an issue that involves both personal internal exposures as well as low-dose exposures."

Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director, said: "It is utterly outrageous to raise the exposure levels for children to twenty times the maximum limit for adults."

"The Japanese government cannot simply increase safety limits for the sake of political convenience or to give the impression of normality."

Authoritative current estimates of the health effects of low-dose ionizing radiation are published in the Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation VII (BEIR VII) report from the US National Academy of Sciences.   The report reflects the substantial weight of scientific evidence proving there is no exposure to ionizing radiation that is risk-free.   The BEIR VII estimates that each 1 mSv of radiation is associated with an increased risk of all forms of cancer other than leukemia of about 1-in-10,000; an increased risk of leukemia of about 1-in-100,000; and a 1-in-17,500 increased risk of cancer death.
Dr Helen Caldicott, the founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a group that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, is equally concerned about the health effects from Japan's nuclear disaster.

"Radioactive elements get into the testicles and ovaries, and these cause genetic disease like diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and mental retardation," she told Al Jazeera. "There are 2,600 of these diseases that get into our genes and are passed from generation to generation, forever."

So far, the only cases of acute radiation exposure have involved TEPCO workers at the stricken plant. Lower doses of radiation, particularly for children, are what many in the medical community are most concerned about, according to Dr Yanagisawa.   "Humans are not yet capable of accurately measuring the low dose exposure or internal exposure," she explained, "Arguing 'it is safe because it is not yet scientifically proven [to be unsafe]' would be wrong. That fact is that we are not yet collecting enough information to prove the situations scientifically. If that is the case, we can never say it is safe just by increasing the annual 1mSv level twenty fold."   Her concern is that the new exposure standards by the Japanese government do not take into account differences between adults and children, since children's sensitivity to radiation exposure is several times higher than that of adults.

Al Jazeera contacted Prime Minister Naoto Kan's office for comment on the situation.   Speaking on behalf of the Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations for the Prime Minister's office, Noriyuki Shikata said that the Japanese government "refers to the ICRP [International Commission on Radiological Protection] recommendation in 2007, which says the reference levels of radiological protection in emergency exposure situations is 20-100 mSv per year. The Government of Japan has set planned evacuation zones and specific spots recommended for evacuation where the radiation levels reach 20 mSv/year, in order to avoid excessive radiation exposure."

The prime minister's office explained that approximately 23bn yen ($300mn) is planned for decontamination efforts, and the government plans to have a decontamination policy "by around the end of August", with a secondary budget of about 97bn yen ($1.26bn) for health management and monitoring operations in the affected areas.   When questioned about the issue of "acute radiation exposure", Shikata pointed to the Japanese government having received a report from TEPCO about six of their workers having been exposed to more than 250 mSv, but did not mention any reports of civilian exposures.

Prime Minister Kan's office told Al Jazeera that, for their ongoing response to the Fukushima crisis, "the government of Japan has conducted all the possible countermeasures such as introduction of automatic dose management by ID codes for all workers and 24 hour allocation of doctors. The government of Japan will continue to tackle the issue of further improving the health management including medium and long term measures".   Shikata did not comment about Kodama's findings.

Kodama, who is also a doctor of internal medicine, has been working on decontamination of radioactive materials at radiation facilities in hospitals of the University of Tokyo for the past several decades.    "We had rain in Tokyo on March 21 and radiation increased to .2 micosieverts/hour and, since then, the level has been continuously high," said Kodama, who added that his reporting of radiation findings to the government has not been met an adequate reaction. "At that time, the chief cabinet secretary, Mr Edano, told the Japanese people that there would be no immediate harm to their health."

Kodama is an expert in internal exposure to radiation, and is concerned that the government has not implemented a strong response geared towards measuring radioactivity in food.  "Although three months have passed since the accident already, why have even such simple things have not been done yet?" he said. "I get very angry and fly into a rage."   According to Kodama, the major problem caused by internal radiation exposure is the generation of cancer cells as  the radiation causes unnatural cellular mutation.   "Radiation has a high risk to embryos in pregnant women, juveniles, and highly proliferative cells of people of growing ages. Even for adults, highly proliferative cells, such as hairs, blood, and intestinal epithelium cells, are sensitive to radiation."
'Children are at greater risk'

Early on in the disaster, Dr Makoto Kondo of the department of radiology of Keio University's School of Medicine warned of "a large difference in radiation effects on adults compared to children".   Kondo explained the chances of children developing cancer from radiation exposure was many times higher than adults.   "Children's bodies are underdeveloped and easily affected by radiation, which could cause cancer or slow body development. It can also affect their brain development," he said.

Yanagisawa assumes that the Japanese government's evacuation standards, as well as their raising the permissible exposure limit to 20mSv "can cause hazards to children's health," and therefore "children are at a greater risk".

Nishio Masamichi, director of Japan's Hakkaido Cancer Centre and a radiation treatment specialist, published an article on July 27 titled: "The Problem of Radiation Exposure Countermeasures for the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Concerns for the Present Situation".   In the report, Masamichi said that such a dramatic increase in permitted radiation exposure was akin to "taking the lives of the people lightly". He believes that 20mSv is too high, especially for children who are far more susceptible to radiation.   "No level of radiation is acceptable, for children or anyone else," Caldicott told Al Jazeera. "Children are ten to 20 times more sensitive than adults. They must not be exposed to radiation of any level. At all."

In early July, officials with the Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission announced that approximately 45 per cent of children in the Fukushima region had experienced thyroid exposure to radiation, according to a survey carried out in late March. The commission has not carried out any surveys since then.   "Now the Japanese government is underestimating the effects of low dosage and/or internal exposures and not raising the evacuation level even to the same level adopted in Chernobyl," Yanagisawa said. "People's lives are at stake, especially the lives of children, and it is obvious that the government is not placing top priority on the people's lives in their measures."

Caldicott feels the lack of a stronger response to safeguard the health of people in areas where radiation is found is "reprehensible".

"Millions of people need to be evacuated from those high radiation zones, especially the children."

Dr Yanagisawa is concerned about what she calls "late onset disorders" from radiation exposure resulting from the Fukushima disaster, as well as increasing cases of infertility and miscarriages.   "Incidence of cancer will undoubtedly increase," she said. "In the case of children, thyroid cancer and leukemia can start to appear after several years. In the case of adults, the incidence of various types of cancer will increase over the course of several decades."

Yanagisawa said it is "without doubt" that cancer rates among the Fukushima nuclear workers will increase, as will cases of lethargy, atherosclerosis, and other chronic diseases among the general population in the effected areas.

Yanagisawa believes it is time to listen to survivors of the atomic bombings. "To be exposed to radiation, to be told there is no immediate effect, and afterwards to be stricken with cancer - what it is like to suffer this way over a long period of time, only the survivors of the atomic bombings can truly understand," she told Al Jazeera.

Radioactive food and water

An August 1 press release from Japan's MHLW said no radioactive materials have been detected in the tap water of Fukushima prefecture, according to a survey conducted by the Japanese government's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters.

The government defines no detection as "no results exceeding the 'Index values for infants (radioactive iodine)'," and says "in case the level of radioactive iodine in tap water exceeds 100 Bq/kg, to refrain from giving infants formula milk dissolved by tap water, having them intake tap water … "   Yet, on June 27, results were published from a study that found 15 residents of Fukushima prefecture had tested positive for radiation in their urine.

Dr Nanao Kamada, professor emeritus of radiation biology at Hiroshima University, has been to Fukushima prefecture twice in order to take internal radiation exposure readings and facilitated the study.   "The risk of internal radiation is more dangerous than external radiation," Dr Kamada told Al Jazeera. "And internal radiation exposure does exist for Fukushima residents."

According to the MHLW, distribution of several food products in Fukushima Prefecture remain restricted. This includes raw milk, vegetables including spinach, kakina, and all other leafy vegetables, including cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and beef.   The distribution of tealeaves remains restricted in several prefectures, including all of Ibaraki, and parts of Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, Kanagawa Prefectures.   Iwate prefecture suspended all beef exports because of caesium contamination on August 1, making it the fourth prefecture to do so.

Due to caesium-contaminated straw, beef exports have been banned in four Japanese prefectures [EPA]   Jyunichi Tokuyama, an expert with the Iwate Prefecture Agricultural and Fisheries Department, told Al Jazeera he did not know how to deal with the crisis. He was surprised because he did not expect radioactive hot spots in his prefecture, 300km from the Fukushima nuclear plant.   "The biggest cause of this contamination is the rice straw being fed to the cows, which was highly radioactive," Tokuyama told Al Jazeera.

Kamada feels the Japanese government is acting too slowly in response to the Fukushima disaster, and that the government needs to check radiation exposure levels "in each town and village" in Fukushima prefecture.   "They have to make a general map of radiation doses," he said. "Then they have to be concerned about human health levels, and radiation exposures to humans. They have to make the exposure dose map of Fukushima prefecture. Fukushima is not enough. Probably there are hot spots outside of Fukushima. So they also need to check ground exposure levels."

Caldicott said people around the world should be concerned about the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Radiation that continues to be released has global consequences.   More than 11,000 tonnes of radioactive water has been released into the ocean from the stricken plant.   Scientists warn that tuna caught off the Pacific coastal prefecture in northern Japan are now at risk of being radioactive [EPA]. "Those radioactive elements bio-concentrate in the algae, then the crustaceans eat that, which are eaten by small then big fish," Caldicott said. "That's why big fish have high concentrations of radioactivity and humans are at the top of the food chain, so we get the most radiation, ultimately."

On August 6, the 66th anniversary of the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said: "Regarding nuclear energy, we will deeply reflect over the myth that nuclear energy is safe. We will thoroughly look into the cause of the [Fukushima] accident, and to secure safety, we'll implement fundamental measures while also decreasing the degree of dependence on nuclear power generation, to aim for a society that does not rely on nuclear power."   But doctors, scientists, agricultural experts, and much of the general public in Japan feel that a much more aggressive response to the nuclear disaster is needed.

Kodama believes the government needs to begin a large-scale response in order to begin decontaminating affected areas. He cited Japan's itai itai disease, when cadmium poisoning from mining resulted in the government eventually having to spend 800 billion yen to decontaminate an area of 1,500 hectares.    "How much cost will be needed if the area is 1,000 times larger?"


From:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/25/us-japan-nuclear-decontamination-idUSTRE77O3LI20110825
Nearly six months after the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years at the Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan faces the task of cleaning up a sprawling area of radioactivity that could cost tens of billions of dollars, and thousands may not be able to return home for years, if ever.

Fuel core meltdowns at the facility in March, triggered by a huge earthquake and tsunami, released radioactive material into the air which mixed with rain and snow and covered dozens of towns as well as farmland and woods, mainly along the northeast coast of Honshu.

Tokyo has been slow to provide a plan for rehabilitation, leading some residents near the plant exposed to high levels of radioactive cesium in homes and food, have started their own cleanup instead of waiting for the government to act.

"I was worried about the radiation exposure impact on children and felt that I had to do something to reduce the radiation levels," said Hideaki Takita, a 37-year-old resident of Koriyama city, about 60 km west of the plant, who has been cleaning houses. Takita and other volunteers use their weekends to scrape off layers of dirt in yards, wash walls and windows and bury or store the radioactive waste in the corners of properties in an effort to reduce radiation levels in the air. "We are trying to bring the levels down for families who want to but can't evacuate, since they might feel slightly better," he said.

The government is set to announce cleanup guidelines this week that will include goals on cutting the radiation air dose rate in residential areas by half in two years, media reports said.

DAUNTING TASK

Still, the tasks Japan faces are daunting. The accident at the Fukushima plant, about 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo, is likely to have released about 15 percent of the radiation that went into the air in the 1986 Chernobyl accident, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said. But that is still more than seven times the amount of radiation produced by Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979, and includes cesium 137, which has a half life of 30 years.

"The technology for decommissioning and cleaning up plants has been studied for a while, but we hardly have any experience in decontaminating materials that were released into the environment," said Tetsuo Iguchi, a Nagoya University professor. "Fukushima is mountainous and such large-scale and highly concentrated contamination has not taken place on earth before in an area like this. How things will go is unpredictable."

The area in need of cleanup could be 1,000 to 4,000 square km, about 0.3 to 1 percent of Japan's total land area, and cost several trillion to more than 10 trillion yen ($130 billion), double what it took to build six nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi plant, some experts say.

The government has banned people from entering an area in a 20 km radius surrounding the crippled plant and some 80,000 people have evacuated. Residents are calling on Tokyo Electric Power Co, the plant operator, to clean up the area, but the firm is still struggling to bring the reactors under control.

Another major headache is where to store the radioactive waste like dirt and water generated from cleanup work.

Currently, as with Takita's efforts, the waste is stored within the property where the cleanup took place. Some schools have a heap of radioactive dirt in the corner of their playgrounds, covered with plastic sheets, and residents bury sacks of contaminated waste in their yards.

"The issue of disposal zones is the most important for decontamination and unless plans are made, it won't move forward," said Kunihiro Yamada, a professor at Kyoto Seika University who does cleanup work in Fukushima city.

The amount of radioactive waste from decontamination is likely to be tens of millions of tonnes and the government in the long run plans to build an underground disposal facility to store this, though when and where is unclear.

18/7/11
The Infrastructure Planning Committee

Parliament tonight approved the implementation of the Infrastructure Planning Committee, with an exceedingly poor showing of MPs - only half of whom could be bothered to take an interest.   Just under 300 MPs voted for the motion and 14 (!) voted against.   This is the first step towards the approval of nuclear power stations to built in this country.   As we have pointed out since the beginning, locals will have no input whatsoever on applications to build anything substantial wherever the applicant wishes to put it.   At the outset, we tried to obtain some idea of whether approval of a major development would automatically give approval to such things as roads, services, etc.   We still do not know after two years, but it does seem highly likely that that will be the case.   Another example of Dave's  Big Society controlling what happens in their own backyard?

10/7/11
Time For An Even Bigger Clean-up?

The acceptance by David Cameron that politicians got too close to the Murdoch empire, and a pledge (albeit half-hearted and somewhat lacking in substance thus far,) to remove themselves from future influence, might ring some bells with those who sympathise with our view that exactly the same mistakes have been made with armaments companies and the nuclear industry.   The main motives seems to be power, influence, and money - something which the nuclear industry has in abundance.   Looking back at the events over the years, we see that the meeting related by Harold Bolter in his book, "Inside Sellafield", was the starting point for two main influences designed to persuade the politicians and the public that nuclear is safe, clean and beneficial in terms of global warming.

The phrase used was " . . . to capture the minds, if not the hearts" of the young.   The meeting was apparently attended by Sir Bernard Ingham.   (According to current web information, Sir Bernard owns a communications company and holds consultancy appointments with British Nuclear Fuels plc and the British Nuclear Forum.)   The idea was to seize on the global warming theory and push it, so that conventional generating plants were made to look evil due to their CO2 production and, secondly, to suggest that obtaining energy or supplies from outside the U.K. was in some way insecure and left us vulnerable.   Strange when so much of our fortune had depended on energy supplies from within our own boundaries for so long.   Now we are to be reliant on France - a country with whom we have never been to war, except . . .

Even now there are many who suggest that global warming is completely the opposite of what is happening.   In the last month there have been several newspaper articles which point out that we seem destined for a mini Ice Age, pointing to a diminishing amount of solar flare activity.


Looking at the close ties between Murdoch's empire and the politicians, we were reminded quite sharply of the familiarity between DECC, politicians, nuclear lobbyists and industry members at the various meetings and inquiries.   We have always been puzzled by the arguments used to promote the industry when they are so demonstrably incorrrect.
A change of mind is understandable when there is a change of fact, but not otherwise.  

Three years ago it was pointed out that the cost of nuclear development and the energy it produced would be too high.   This was published by Citigroup, as well as many others.   Even on that basic metric, we are still told that nuclear-produced energy is cheap.   The only way it can become cheaper that that which we are currently using is by distorting the market.   So that is exactly what is happening.  


Labour and Lib Dems both announced that there would be no nuclear development - it was too dirty and expensive.   Described usually as an experiment that has failed, we were suddenly faced with a complete change of mind.   There was no new evidence to support the change - just a change of heart that meant nuclear was clean, cheap and CO2 free.   The latter was interesting, as 10% of Australia's CO2 output comes from mining the ore used by nuclear.   As at the top of the page, we asked when CO2 became worse than plutonium, caesium, tritium, technetium, etc., especially if nuclear was to be described as clean.   We still have no answer.

Labour's change of heart seems to stem from around the time that Blair and Mandelson and all their entourage became enmeshed in worshipping the big industries.   Money was a powerful influence, with several people having to leave the political machine as cash-for-access scandals became published.   Derek Draper, Mandelson's spin doctor, was fired over his links with lobbyists.   With corruption and fraud seemingly widespread in politics, there was an ideal opportunity for the pro-nuclear lobbyists to step in.

As the campaign for global warming took hold and a variety of events worldwide pointed to a need for energy security, we solved the latter problem by selling off most of our generating capacity to foreign companies, such as Électricité de France, Iberdrola and RWE.   There are many examples of the links between the nuclear industry and politicians.   So many, in fact, that it seems impossible for them to be happenstance.   Brian Wilson, a former energy minister, is now a non-executive director of Amec Nuclear - who does a lot of work for Sellafield and BNFL.  Amec's chief executive, Samir Brikho was appointed U.K. Business Ambassador by Gordon Brown.

A lobbyist for the nuclear industry since about 2004 - when it was taken on by BNFL, PR group Weber Shandwick, is headed by a former Labour chief press officer, Colin Byrne.

Far and away the biggest player in the nuclear lobby though, Électricité de France.   It seems to us that currently the company seems to be pretending to be a British one and, again to our perception, is attempting to blur the distinction between a foreign company buying influence and being an altruistic U.K. company investing in the country;  they no longer use their full name - EdF being far less obviously foreign, presumably.   There were several complaints to the Advertising Standards Association about the company's use of the Union Jack in adverts - albeit that the flag's colours were filtered to various shades of green.   Purporting to be clean, green, and presumably - as indicated by the country's flag - not all that foreign, they even managed to team up with the Eden Project to perpetuate the myth.   It is, in our opinion, a great shame that such a noble cause as that should have allowed itself to become so tainted.

Back to the contacts:  the most obvious being Gordon Brown's brother, Andrew.   He has a background in journalism and was appointed head of media relations in the U.K. for Électricité de France.   At the recent Select Inquiry into the telephone hacking, it was interesting to learn that, despite Brown's rant to the House of Commons that he had declared war on the Murdoch empire, Rupert Murdoch said that the prime minister to whom he was closest was Gordon Brown - visiting him many times at No. 10, and the two family's  children playing together.   Murdoch senior went on to say that he hoped when the furore died down the two could be friends again.

Yvette Cooper, married to Edward Testicles, and deemed to be a close political ally of Gordon Brown, is the daughter of Tony Cooper, a fomer chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association and a former director of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).   According to BBC news articles on-line, Mr. Cooper has been "one of the most ardent champions of the industry's green credentials".

The former leader of the Labour group in the European Parliament, Alan Donnelly, owns a company called Sovereign Strategy.   This represented an American company, Fluor, which is one of the world's largest nuclear contractors.   Strangely, and coincidentally, this company wanted to gain a slice of the £70 billion decommissioning programme in the U.K.   One of the most blatant adverts on the Sovereign Strategy website is, "Pathways to the decision-makers in national governments."   On the board at one time was Conservative peer, Lady Maitland, and the Labour ex-M.P. for the north Cumbria area of Copeland, Lord "Jack" Cunningham.   Apart from a very long history of supporting Sellafield and the nuclear industry, Lord Cunningham also chaired the Friends of Sellafield propaganda group.   He is also chair of the Transatlantic Nuclear Energy Forum, an organisation which he founded with the above-mentioned Alan Donnelly, whose stated aims are to foster strong relationships between nuclear generating companies and the government.

As might be expected, Blair has spoken at events organised by Donnelly's company, and at one in Blair's Sedgefield constituency, was reportedly introduced by a Fluor executive.

Donnelly's links with David Miliband were the subject of an article in the Sunday Times, when they ran a story about a lobbyist paying £2,000 towards Mr. D. Miliband's office.   Naturally, Mr. Donnelly and Mr. Miliband both denied any impropriety,   Donnelly suggesting, quite correctly, that a mere £2,000 gift would not be likely to buy a minister's favours.   Perhaps not.   Wouldn't do any harm though, eh? However, as it is not a member of the professional association for political consultants, the APCC, there has been nothing to prevent Sovereign Strategy having parliamentarians on its payroll.   At least two peers are on the payroll.

According to an article by the BBC, even the trade unions have banded together to promote the nuclear cause.   Five unions have formed Nuklear21:  AMICUS, GMB, PROSPECT, T&G and UCATT.   It seems strange to us that unions should support such a polluting industry which may well have been damaging the health of their members, but then, the findings of the Redfern Inquiry also seem to indicate union participation in practices which were, according to Redfern, corrupt and illegal.

The BBC article goes on to say that Blair is thought to have made the decision for an energy review - which led the way for nuclear to change its colour - in September, 2005.   Apparently this was shortly after a meeting with advisors and representatives of the nuclear industry:  Lord Birt (he of the unintelligible "Blue Skies Thinking" fame), Geoffrey Norris,  and Sir David King.   In March 2005, the Independent on Sunday reported how, "Within government, Geoffrey Norris, Tony Blair's special adviser on industry and business, is pressing the nuclear case.   It is understood that he was instrumental in the creation of the DTI's Future for Nuclear team."   One Whitehall source told the paper, "Norris has fought hard to keep nuclear on the agenda."   Sir David King, a former government chief scientific officer, recently suggested on Radio 4 that one would be exposed to more radiation on a flight between London and New York than one would get from Fukushima.   Naturally, we dispute that assertion and most definitely dispute the inferred benign nature of the radiation at Fukushima, which today has been forecast by Prime Minister Kan to "take decades to clean up", and which, jointly with the tsunami, has caused the homelessness of up to 80,000 people,   Several people from outside even the 80 km protection zone have been admitted to hospital suffering from radiation exposure.   Hundreds of thousands of children and adults will face up to 30 years of medical tests as a result of the nuclear meltdowns.   Not something which follows on from a flight across the Atlantic.   Then, of course, there is the cost to the country's economy.   But then, pro-nuclear people don't have to tell the truth, just gain the ear of the gullible and greedy.

We are still left wondering what influenced Mr. E. Miliband's departure from stated Labour Party policy, and, more recently, Mr. C. Huhne in his sudden and dramatic change from "over my dead body", etc.

1/7/11
We Told You So

From the begining we have said that we believed the whole nuclear consultation process was a sham.   We have previously raised the question as to how the Copeland M.P. could possibly have known so far in advance that only Sellafield would be developed, with Braystones and Kisrksanton falling by the wayside, if the process of consulting people were genuine.   That those in Whitehall have become to cosy and close to the industry representatives is now revealed, as today the Guardian and the Times both have articles relating to the collusion between H.M. government and the nuclear industry.

From the content of e-mails obtained, there is an obvious attempt by civil servants to minimise the impact of Fukushima on the proposed (but obviously, as we have always said, already-determined) nuclear expansion in the U.K.   The material, which can be read here:

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2011/jun/30/email-nuclear-uk-government-fukushima,

demonstrates quite clearly that, without even waiting for the full scale of the Japanese disaster to be revealed, the official view is that there is a need for the information to be kept pro-nuclear and that the plans for the U.K. have to be kept within the established timetable.   Even the explosions at Fukushima, which ultimately released radioactive material from the melted-down cores into the atmosphere, were to be promoted as safety devices!
  • Is it the rôle of a civil servant to distort the democratic process?  
  • Is it the rôle of a civil servant to pass information to the private companies?  
  • Is it the rôle of a civil servant to promote the hiding of relevant information from the public who have a right to know?  
  • Is it the rôle of a civil servant to promote nuclear power regardless of demontrated dangers?  
  • On whose behalf was the civil servant sending the e-mails?  
  • Why was the civil servant stating what the industry's response will be in order to promulgate misleading information on a co-ordinated front?  
  • What is the government and civil servants' reward for this publicity service?  
  • What benefits will be forthcoming to those involved?  
  • Is this just another example of what we see as the corrupting influence of the nuclear industry?
  • Why is it necessary for civil servants to be anonymous?   Surely, like us, they should have their heads on the chopping block.
Repeatedly we are assured that we are nowhere near fault lines and need have no worries about tsunamis.   Yet the 2000 incidents which have been admitted by the industry over the last seven years, but which fortunately did not escalate to full-blown catastrophe clearly demonstrate that human failings are just as important.   Amusingly presented as an abnormal event, the two reactors at Torness in Scotland, owned by Électricité de France, had to be shut-down after jellyfish blocked the cooling water intakes.   This happened on 29/6/11.   [With so many reactors planned to pour their hot water into the country's coastal waters, the ecological factors may yet become as vital as the geological ones.   Japan, amongst other countries has already experienced the phenomenum.]   [Another problem - that of recirculating radioactive material discharged into the Irish Sea by Sellafield - we included in our objections to the Cumbrian plans.]

We have intimated our opinion elsewhere that the initial office-based (!) review of safety by Dr. Weightman had only one possible conclusion.   This premise is revealed in one of the e-mails (quote below) between Whitehall and one of the developers.  

Hopefully, those with the resources will attempt to obtain a judicial review of the whole process - with civil servants and ministers being interrogated and prosecuted where wrong-doing is established.   Will it happen?

With quotes (sadly, such is the shyness of those involved, a great deal of black marker pen obscures both the originator's and recipent's identities) such as:

"We need to quash any stories trying to compare this to Chernobyl - by using the facts to discredit.

"We do not want to be on the back foot with this.   People at new build sites are likely to be following closely.

"We should all work together - including with the NIA to be robust.   Everything in life is with risk - but the mitigation with nuclear is so high that the risk is minimal - as demonstrated in Japan - despite the extraordinary context the plant has gone through."

We query why these suggestions for a common response to legitiamte public concerns originated from a government department, whose responsibility remains to protect the public - not blindly promote nuclear.

Mark Higson, Office for Nuclear Development:  "But he [Huhne] might, if pressed, wish to say he is asking Mike Weightman to provide a full assessment of the implications and lessons to be learnt.   If he does it would be good if EdF could welcome.   Not sure if EdF unilaterally asking for a review is wise.   Might set off a bidding war."

Unknown (obliterated with marker) at the Office for Nuclear Development to unknown industry recipient:

"That's why we commissioned the report from Dr. Mike Weightman.   I don't anticipate that is going to lead to enormous changes but we have to wait and see the result of it, based on the facts."

[We read that as a nod to a blind donkey.]

The original article can be found at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/30/british-government-plan-play-down-fukushima
or as an Acrobat file:                       Local Acrobat copy of the article from above site

We would recommend anyone interested to spend some time going through the e-mails, as they give a good perception of the closeness between those paid to represent out interests, yet who have chosen to become P.R. managers for the industry.   Small wonder they prefer to remain anonymous.

30/6/11
Dramatic Change of Mind - If Not Heart

An article on the Energy Minister, Mr. C. Huhne, from the Times, 30/6/11:
  • In 2007, he described nuclear as “tried, tested and failed” and urged ministers to stop the “sideshow of new nuclear power stations now”.
  • Earlier he had said that no private sector investor in the world had built a nuclear power station without “lashings of government subsidy” since the tragedies at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. “Our message is clear, no to nuclear, as it is not a short cut, but a dead end.”
  •  Mr Huhne’s decision to pick out France, in his most passionate argument in favour of nuclear power yet, has infuriated Liberal Democrat colleagues. Martin Horwood, the Lib Dem MP for Cheltenham who has argued against an expansion in nuclear power since the disaster at the Fuku- shima plant in Japan, called it “very disappointing”. Lib Dems promised before the general election to oppose a new generation of nuclear power stations.
  •  In the run-up to the Government’s White Paper on electricity market reform, Mr Huhne said: “Some countries already have a head start. Electricity prices in France are set to rise by around 3 per cent this year; compare and contrast with Britain, where prices are rising by three times as much.
  • “It is no surprise France is the European country with the least reliance on fossil fuels, and enjoys some of the lowest prices — 9.4 per cent below ours.”
  • Although Mr Huhne also praised renewables, his decision to highlight France, which has 58 nuclear reactors compared with 19 in the UK, will be interpreted as a call for the energy source to receive a particular boost.

We have already included previous statements attributed to Mr. Huhne, who is currently being investigated for two criminal offences.   The favourite one being, "Over my dead body", in relation to nuclear expansion.

Any suggestions as to what might have persuaded Mr. Huhne to change his mind?  
Of course, another minister, a couple of years ago, having awarded a £20 billion contract for submarines using nuclear power, very soon took up employment with an American company, Hyperion, who just happen to manufacture small reactors suitable for use in nuclear-powered submarines.   The ban on that M.P. lobbying on behalf of his new employer has only just expired.   Consequently, a campaign has recently appeared, supporting nuclear but suggesting that small nuclear power plants - like those used in, er, submarines, could be installed near to where they are needed.   Reducing the infra-structure requirements and transmission losses as well as reducing the need for planning controls from the IPC.   By careful design they could keep under the level at which referral to the planners have to be involved.   Happily that reduces the ability of locals to object, but profit is the main thing for any company with shareholders.

Comment:

The comparison with other countries is somewhat spurious, as the market in the U.K. has been deliberately distorted by the government in order to make nuclear power economically viable.   We are still trying to find out about the Speaker Martin investigation into how the industry's liabilities were capped at a ludicrously low level - described at the time as a gross abuse of parliamentary process.   Apart from other distortions, there is the unbelievable idea that it is possible today to estimate how much it will cost to decommission plant and deal with nuclear waste 160 years in the future.   Even Huhne's apparent preoccupation with France seems to overlook that 3% of the population there live in fuel poverty, even though there is a very good social system to ensure minimum living standards, and that, despite having 58 reactors, France is still a net importer of electricity.   Which companies are upping the cost of electricity in the UK?   Will the new chairman of the Green Investment Bank look favourably on any loan application from Électricité de France?   Will any loan be at proper market rates, or is this the way in which a subsidy can be given without being a subsidy?   Aren't politicians wonderful?

29/6/11
Events Move More Quickly As We Get Close To The Summer Recess

Apparently conscious of the need to find a counter to the problem of nuclear waste in order to justify the headlong rush into new-build reactors, the "solution" has been put forward.   Sadly, it is nothing new - merely burying anything they don't know what to do with in a hole in the ground, thereafter forgetting it.   We have argued this point on this site since we began.   We still have no idea whether they intend to bury it and make it irretrievable - in which case how will they deal with any leakage arising whether as a result of, say a seismic event, or accident - or whether they will make it retrievable, in which case there are security risks.


It seems that, in order to keep to the timetable, a decision has to be made on where to dig the 25 sq. km. hole.   Not that it will take a genius to come up with what their answer will be.   Out of the whole U.K., only one area has "expressed an interest".   Allerdale and Copeland Councils in West Cumbria are the only ones;   coincidentally, that is where the Sellafield influence is at its greatest.   The politics of the area depend on a few dedicated people with a strong connection to the Sellafield publicity machine.   They have steered almost every decision-making body in the nuclear direction.   Almost invariably there is a past, present. or future connection with the industry.   The propaganda machine is quite remarkable.   Amazingly, a £25,000 survey reveals that 56% of the population of West Cumbria think that nuclear will have benefits for the area and are thus in favour of expansion.   Yet, looking at the figures, we see that only 740 people were "spoken to" by the surveying company - whose main business is as a land agent . . .   We have requested, but are still awaiting, a copy of the relevant data.   In our response to the West Cumbria:  Managing Radioactive Waste Safely newsletter, we pointed out that it is not a good practice to try and extrapolate the views of half a million people from the base of just .15% of them.   We would have expected a much larger sample size.   We have no idea who was "spoken to", but it does not take much imagination to see that if the majority of the respondents had some connection with Sellafield, then there may just be some sort of bias skewing the figures.   As we put it, if the questionnaires were distributed in the works canteen, then there might be some distortion.   See the Editorial page, 14/6/11, for further details.

DECC actually published the guidelines for consultation, and it will be interesting to see whether the company responsible for this latest survey have followed anything like those rules.   However, when their document shows that 100% of respondents have a view, whether negative or positive, in respect of a question, then show alongside that graph the number who have not expressed an opinion, we are left with a conundrum.   Firstly, we cannot work out what percentage the number of non-respondents represents, as there is no "missing percentage", nor can one be calculated from the figures given.   In our experience of dealing with questionnaires, it is unusual for anything like 100% of respondents to reply to every question.   What are the number representing each result and what is the percentage of those out of the overall respondents?

However, the problem must be seen to be solvable.   Hence we now have a DECC release, including yet another consultation exercise, relating to what we call an underground dump, but which, in best Sir Humphrey Appleby traditions, is referred to officially as a Geological Disposal Facility.   Having looked at the consultation documents, which can be found here:  DECC Nuclear Dump Consultation Documents, we are little the wiser.   Once again, the terminology and jargon-rich documents are, it appears to us, intent on excluding any but the professionals from offering comments.   Which of these professionals has the best resouces to respond, do you imagine?   Yet again we have to wonder at the degree of consultation we are offered.

Despite lots of problems world-wide with nuclear facilities, such as the two reactors in Nebraska threatened by floods, the Los Alamos facility in New Mexico being threatened by fire, the escalating problems with Fukushima, etc., we are still being told that the technology is safe.   Yet it appears that there is growing concern in the United States about the fact that 75% of the nuclear sites have leaked tritium into the groundwater.   The response to this by the licensing authorities?   Change the terms of the licence to accomodate the new levels . . .   It is true that money makes quite a difference in this world.   Meanwhile, we still have grave reservations about the headlong stampede into new nuclear.   It is not necessary, so why is everything being rushed through before the summer holidays?

One thing that does remain certain:   the geology of west Cumbria, no matter what the wishes of politicians and the pro-nuclear lobby are, has already been found to be unsuitable for housing a nuclear dump - no matter what you call it.   Remember Nirex and the lies that that enquiry was told?   One has to wonder where Mr. Hendry will be putting his first load of highly toxic material by 2029.

See our Editorial page for more news.

23/6/11
Selective Broadcasting

We never believed that the BBC was biased.   They do have a somewhat unexpected approach to matters nuclear, however.   It seems that it is possible to make statements on air that do not stand up to inspection, but no effort is made - or is permitted to be made - to correct them.   We have made several complaints to the regional broadcasters in attempts to rectify incorrect statements, all to no avail.   Recently, the ex-Government Chief Scientific Officer, Sir David King, made another amazing statement which seems to us to indicate his preference for political dogma whilst pretending to be stating scientific facts.   Speaking on 29th March, 2011, Sir David stated that the amount of radiation absorbed on a flight between London and New York was far higher than that which may be absorbed at places such as Tokyo and Fukushima (at 7:38 mins on iPlayer's timeline:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9439000/9439385.stm).   Mind you, the same chappy swallowed the global warming story without hesitation, transforming the theory into fact and labelling it the most important challenge facing the planet.   Examination of the data tends to give a more ambivalent outcome, with such things as the global cycles of ice ages interspersed with milder periods.   Indeed, some scientists are now suggesting that we are heading into a new ice age.   No doubt new data will prove that case, too.   What is more concerning is that a challenge from a highly-respected scientist was ignored by the BBC.   Either the statement by Sir David is correct and we are all worrying about nuclear unnecessarily, or he is very wrong.   Whatever the truth, the challenge is valid and the BBC should permit discussion of the subject.   We don't fly from London to New York - ever - but we do find it difficult to accept that the admitted high levels of radiation around the Fukushima plant are less injurious.

Strangely, Sir David also seems to think that, against the 15,000 people killed by the tsunami, the death toll from the nuclear accident equates to zero.   Whilst that may be the case AT PRESENT, the consequences of nuclear exposure are often not measurable in statistical terms until decades afterwards.   We find his pro-nuclear stance (we would point out that the was the Chief Scientific Officer at the time nuclear changed from being vastly too expensive to contemplate to being the new clean power-source) very worrying.    We thought the rôle of scientists was to produce the scientific evidence and allow others to draw conclusions.   It seems that some scientists merely wish to prove a theory and risk biasing the facts to suit.

Bad Vibrations

Elsewhere on the site we queried whether the storage of millions of gallons of highly-radioactive materials in large plastic drums around Fukushima was sensible and indicative that lessons had been learned.   We asked what might happen if there was to be another earthquake and tsunami, especially as scientists were forecasting the possibility of more events near to Japan following the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Late evening on 22/6/11, Al Jazeera television announced that there had been a 6.8 earthquake 80 miles south of Honshu province and that a tsunami was likely to follow.   This was eventually picked up by the other broadcasters, Press TV, Euronews, Russia Today, France 24, then Sky News.   Over an hour later it found its way to the BBC news channel.   Less than eight hours later it had disappeared from the BBC.   It did still appear on the ticker-tape on the others for some time.

We searched in vain, too, for the Nebraska nuclear event on BBC.

21/6/11
Weighty Matters

The UN report on the unfortunate nuclear disaster in Japan has been issued.   Interestingly the main inspector was Dr. Mike Weightman, whose opinion was, "You can make nuclear plants safe against natural events, but you have to understand those events."   The report went on:   Japan has a well organised emergency preparedness and response system but "complicated structures and organisations can result in delays in urgent decision making", it added.  

The report also listed wider lessons for improving nuclear safety worldwide and help avert any repeat of the disaster, saying reactors should be built so that they can withstand rare and "complex combinations" of external threats.   Interesting.   Wonder how that relates to such things as 50 year-old cooling water pipes freezing up between Wastwater and Sellafield?
A report in the Sunday Times of 19/6/11, informs us that a solar flare-up is imminent within the next 18 months   (see also:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12493980).   The electro-magnetic field it will generate could cause tremendous damage to the sensitive circuits of computers and control gear.   The report suggested that even the heavier-duty stuff, such as the national grid, would be damaged, leading to electricity cuts.   Has the industry, which recently got the all-clear from Dr. Weightman in his interim report, prepared for such eventualities?   Or will this be yet another unforseeable unforseeable situation?

Some cruel journalists even questionned whether Dr. Weightman, who  is someone who has for many years been responsible for the safety current reactors and designs of new ones the right person to stand back make an unbiased judgement on their reliability?   Some of them were even more sceptical about his allowing the reactor manufacturers to decided for themselves what safety equipment they need to install.   This despite the grave concerns about the Areva's control and safety circuits being linked together, so that should one fail it will bring down the other.   Not exactly fail-safe then?


We are still having problems accepting that 1,750 incidents in seven years shows that the industry is safe.  About half were subsequently judged by inspectors as serious enough "to have had the potential to challenge a nuclear safety system".  

Typically, following an incident at Sizewell A in 2007, the NII declared that their resources were too stretched to allow a prosection to be mounted.   No doubt the public were never in and danger and no-one was hurt.
Dr. Weightman seems to have the idea that self-regulation is satisfactory, with minimal input from the Inspectorate.   However, given the honesty and integrity demonstrated in the past, we would have grave doubts and would be extremely uncomfortable relying on some of the characters to tell us about something which might adversely affect their livelihood.  

Our opinion would be that it is down to lack of man-power and under-funding, with poor planning leading to a lack of recruitment.   As we note elsewhere, there is the potential that staff might be recruited from abroad - who might not know about the English regulatory system, or, even worse, seconding staff from the companies it is inspecting.   We can see possible flaws in that system.   In his 2007 report, Weightman says that his department is short of 26 inspectors, and his system has a ratio of inspectors to nuclear plants which is only a third of the international average.   Far below that of Mexico, Spain or South Korea.   Given the scale of the proposed development, this seems to be a recipe for disaster.   Indeed, an independent nuclear engineer, John Large, told a Guardian reporter, "Some of these incidents were potentially disastrous.

We already have evidence that their staffing crisis is compromising their regulation of nuclear safety. Without a strong and effective regulator, the risk of a large release of radioactivity increases."


Source:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/21/nuclear-power-stations-inspector-watchdog
and        http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2009/08/secret-report-reveals-1750-accidents-at-nuclear-plants/


An HSE report identified several safety concerns;  one focuses on the non-separation of the safety protection system from the control system on the EPR reactor, such that a fault on one could disable the other as well. Secondly, the EPR has a concrete shell encasing the nuclear reactor where the steel cables are grouted over, preventing maintenance checks as the reactor ages, whereas British practice is that the steel cables should be able to be inspected and removed. Third, there are problems with the positioning and operation of fire doors and alarms. HSE also believes that the Westinghouse safety case has significant shortfalls, with questions also about the mechanical engineering and structural integrity.


Source:  http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2009/11/the-nuclear-bandwagon-hits-the-buffers-again/


Throughout the unfolding saga of Fukushima Dai-ichi, we have heard all the interested parties doing their usual thing of minimising the dangers of the leaks.   The Deputy Director General of the IAEA, Dennis Flory, announced, "The total amount of radiation released is expected to be only a ‘small increase from what it is today’ if ‘things go as foreseen", on 20/4/11.  

Of course, they didn't go as foreseen.   Perhaps they should have asked Dr. Weightman for his understanding?   By the 15th June, 34,000 children were being issued with radiation monitors, and up to 2 million people will be checked over a long period (i.e. probably over 30 years).   The Japanese were being asked to take siestas to save power.   Tepco were accused of incompetence in dealing with the problems and, in a gesture akin to the bombing of the reactors with water from helicopters, the whole reactor building will be entombed in a sarcophagus.   Hopefully it will be a bit better built than the Chernobyl one.

Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed.   "Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed," he said, "You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively."

TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water - as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of.

"The problem is how to keep it cool," says Gundersen. "They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?"

"The data I'm seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man's-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can't clean all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after Chernobyl."

Source:  http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/06/201161664828302638.html

One of the other points raised in the UN report on Fukushima concerns the management of the incident.   There seems to be a suggestion that there was some difficulty in determining who was actually in charge at the beginning.   It also mentions the site's remoteness adding to the difficulties.   One can only wonder about the potential for even bigger problems at somewhere like Sellafield, whose remoteness is one of its raisons d'etre.

American equipment to remove caesium from the radioactive water hit problems when levels rose:  "The level of radiation at a machine to absorb caesium has risen faster than our initial projections," the spokesman said.   He added that until they knew what was causing the rising levels they would not know when the operation would be able to resume.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13819767

More about the current status of things can be found at:  http://www.metro.co.uk/news/861472-fukushima-nuclear-zone-to-be-sealed-off-by-japan#ixzz1Po8d52tC

Meanwhile, without any notice being taken by the BBC, the Americans are involved in problems of their own.   Following prolonged rain, the Missouri has flooded and a nuclear power station at Fort Calhoun in Nebraska is now an island.   Last week an electrical fire caused problems, but these were resolved.   Despite reassurances from the usual sources that all is well, and the problems are only of a minor nature, the Federal Administration for Aviation issued a directive banning aircraft from entering the airspace within a two mile radius of the plant.   The ban was stated to be "for security reasons that we can't reveal".   Omaha Public Power District has declared a notification of an unusual event.

Source:  http://www.businessinsider.com/faa-closes-airspace-over-flooded-nebraska-nuclear-power-plant-2011-6#ixzz1Po4oHxTs

14/6/11
No New Nuclear for Italy

Despite Berlusconi's best attempts to nullify the referendum, opponents of the planned nuclear development in Italy have reached a majority.   Obviously bad news for the French who hoped to supply many of the reactors.   Berlusconi tried to get the vote declared illegal, and there was little mention of it on his television channels.   (Italian law requires that 50% of the population have to vote for a motion to be carried.)   What is it with these politicians that makes them so pro-nuclear despite all the evidence?   Answers on a post card, please.

In some ways, however, this may be bad news for the U.K.'s anti-nuclear lobby, as the French now have to try and resurrect something from their nuclear sales programme.   With less distractions they will be able to concentrate on those whose governments are more amenable.   Already the events at Fukushima have virtually vanished from our television screens - despite 8 people having received more than three times even the radiation dosage introduced as an emergency measure following the disaster;  plutonium, caesium and strontium all being found in the environment around the plant;  and discussions taking place on whether to evacuate Fukushima city - over 80 kilometers away from the power station!   Already 90,000 residents have been evacuated and are in "temporary" accomodation three months after the events.

10/6/11
Is a Loan Not a Form of Subsidy?

Vince Cable has announced that the chairman of the Green Investment Bank is to be Sir Adrian Montague.   Amongst several jobs held by Sir Adrian is chairman of British Energy, part of the French electrical company, EdF, and prime candidate to build the first of the nerw-generation of nuclear plants in the U.K.   One has to wonder whether any loan obtained by a nuclear company will actually be approved as green when the end product is highly dangerous nuclear waste;  when radioactive waste became less injurious than CO2;  whether the transactions will just be a way round the "no subsidy" statements by the Liberal Democrats, whose change of heart over nuclear is so depressingly familiar.   Will the French government have to guarantee any loans made to the company by the U.K., or will EdF miraculously change to a British company?

3/6/11
More Expensive Kit for the "Greatest Scientific White Elephant of All Time"
Evaporators Arrive off Sellafield

Two new evaporators arrived at Sellafield aboard the barge "Terra Marique", which will be grounded at Sellafield while the evaporators are unloaded.
Nearly there    

Empty Barge Aground
   

By the high tide at lunchtime the barge was aground.     As the tide ebbed so the ground-based
operation began, and by early evening, the vessel had been unloaded, ready to be refloated on the night-tide.

28/5/11
A Right Pickle
(The Real Implementation of Dave's BIG SOCIETY)

After many months of consultation, figures show that 96% of the locals were against a low-level nuclear dump being established at  King's Cliffe, near Peterborough.   However, this did not suit the nuclear-at-any-cost government.   The whole concept of locals establishing their own environment - as promised by Cameron before the election - cannot apply when dealing with nuclear waste as no-one in their right mind would want one.   Thus, Eric Pickles, Minister for Communities and Local Government, ignored the wishes of the people affected and the decisions by the local and county councils.   The successful applicant, Augean, has no previous experience in handling nuclear waste of any kind, and has been fined on several occasions for breaches of regulations.   Again one has to wonder at the influence of the nuclear lobby, which causes basic community feelings to be over-ruled in this way.

Extending the principle further, if the residents of King's Cliffe have to have the dump regardless of their wishes, what chance for Cumbria, whose Copeland and Allerdale Councils have "expressed an interest" in hosting one?   On the Pickles Principle, there is absolutely no chance that, even if the interest were to be withdrawn, then the justification for proceeding against the wishes of the area would be the "national interest" (i.e. the cities want to continue living the way they do, but don't want the inconvenience or risk of nuclear power stations or their associated dumps) and the cost of starting all over again from scratch with no community wanting to be involved.   Actually, this is something that we said over two years ago . . .   Any takers for the geology of Cumbria soon being found suitable for the dump?   He who pays the piper, etc.

19/5/11 (amended 22/5/11)
As Predicted:  Nothing to Worry About

Dr. M. Weightman has issued his interim report on the implications of the Japanese tsunami on the UK nuclear industry.


Practically everything in it could have been written from his desk and adds nothing to what we don't already know.   Some of the information is just common-sense and follows on from the evidence submitted at all the "consultations" by DECC by experts and lay people alike.   Anyone who stops to consider the potential pitfalls of building highly dangerous chemical plants could have come up with the same findings.  

Still, Dr. Weightman and Chris. Huhne have to show they are doing something.   Hopefully it will help the latter forget his more pressing problems for a while.


We would take issue with one point particularly:  that the U.K. has one of the most tightly regulated nuclear industries in the world.   His style of regulation relies on not inspecting the plants very often, but relying on the honesty and integrity of the managers.   We have seen very many examples of their honesty and integrity over the decades.   The U.K. ranks very low down on the global scale of annual/regular inspections.   Can anyone recall any other light-touch regulatory practices that failed - perhaps in the financial world?   We believe that, like naughty schoolboys, the nuclear industry has to be controlled and cannot always be trusted to be open and honest.  

According to http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/22/nuclear-inspectors-safety-breaches there were two more things to worry about.   This time in Scotland, by one of the major players in new build.   "Correct operational procedures appear not have been observed,"   Two reactors at Torness in East Lothian suffered failures in electricity supplies, several "unplanned shutdowns", and a seaweed blockage.   Seems like EdF didn't want too many people to know.    Worrying to believe that they can still trot out the same old line:  no-one was injured and the public were never at any risk.   Och aye, we believe you.
The thrust of the report seems only concerned with new-build reactors, and says very little about the legacy stuff which causes the most immediate concerns.

Dr. Weightman also suggests that the government and his department have the protection of the public as their main concern.   There can only be one course to follow if that is truly the case, and it does not include nuclear expansion.   He also says (Para1, P. 7) that the U.K. has a good safety record.  This suggests that the 2000 incidents which haven't yet resulted in devastation are acceptable.   We believe that fate only has to win once.   Quite how this statement can be squared in Dr. Weightman's mind with shoving highly toxic waste down a hole underground and forgetting it for 100,000 years, with the hope that it will not leach out into the environment before those responsible exit the planet, thus helping them avoid culpability, we know not.   There is nothing safe or good about it.

To ensure that he hasn't missed anything, Dr. Weightman will now go on a trip to Japan.   A further report is to be issued in autumn, but it will not be any more difficult to predict what he will say then.   The nuclear development timetable will no doubt continue unswervingly - which seems to be what the exercise is all about.   Happily for the industry, Dr. Weightman did not issue any adverse findings about the proposed reactors.   This is despite the material published by French sources on the internet about known design flaws.   Perhaps he could have saved the expense of the trip by watching NHK World television and having a Skype conference call?   The problems at Fukushima continue unabated, and the situation there is still listed as "critical", despite Prime Minister Kan's acceptance of Tepco's "roadmap" to deal with the leaking radiation.   The ex-residents are currently being allowed back to their homes (where they still exist) for no more than two hours a day.   Nothing to worry about there then, either.

The Climate Change minister didn't add anything in his statement to the house on the matter.   Merely wasting the MP's time by reading the executive summary aloud for the sake of those MPs too lazy to read it for themselves.   His conclusion was that nuclear development could and should go ahead (after all he now had a scientist to carry the can if it all goes wrong!) but reiterated the amply-demonstrated fallacy that there would be no government subsidy.   Forgive us for staying grumpy.

It is tempting to go on at length, but we are sure that anyone with even the slightest doubt about nuclear and its waste, will spot the obvious flaws.   It is our opinion that the adage, "He who pays the piper calls the tune", applies.  

Source:  http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/

16/5/11
What Price Integrity?

The continuing revelations and allegations about the politician at the head of the decision-making process for future power generation, leave us wondering about the impartiality and honesty of his soon-to-be-revealed twenty year plan.   It is still difficult to accept his sudden change of heart over nuclear once he became Energy Minister.   His statements give no clue as to what has happened since the election, or what evidence he has now been supplied with, that merit such a change of heart.


We were firmly of the opinion that, unlike the other parties - except the Green Party, of course - the Lib Dems were anti-nuclear.   The current dicton du jour is, "Nuclear will be part of the energy mix".  Whilst we have no political brief, we had hoped that the expenses scandal followed by the election might have led to a more honest group of politicians.   Sadly, it would appear not.

One does have to wonder at the appointment of a Lib Dem as Energy Minister, given their basic policy rejects nuclear development.   Could this be a clever bit of political manipulation?   The coalition agreed that Lib Dems could abstain on nuclear, which might leave its future in doubt.   However, it will be difficult for Clegg and Co., to reject the policy being proposed by their own man . . .  
Seems like someone is going to have to go.

16/5/11
Plus Another 15%
(Or Possibly More!)

Consistent with the current policy of distorting the energy market to make nuclear generation more viable, gas producers have announced yet another increase to be imposed in the next few months - getting it well established before the high-usage winter months.   Over the past year energy prices have already risen by 56% - with some of the blame being put on the events in the middle east.   Difficult to believe, really.   However, in Larne, Ireland, one supplier - Phoenix Gas, has announced an increase of 39% in one go.


Japan's Prime Minister Closes Another Nuclear Plant - What Future for Sellafield's MOX Plant Now?

According to The Independent, 9/5/11, Sellafield is likely to be closed - leastways according to the headlines.   In fact, reading the article reveals that they are only referring to the MOX plant.   The future of this is at risk following the Japanese Prime Minister's request to Chubu Electric Company to close down the Hamaoka
nuclear plant, 150 miles from Tokyo, following demonstrations against nuclear power.

The Hamaoka plant is deemed to be at risk from tsunamis, but was contracted to the NDA who were to manufacture the MOX fuel rods for the Japanese site.   Quite what the Japanese were thinking of when contemplating the Hamaoka site
is worrying.   It sits on two geological fault lines.   Now experts from Japan's Ministry of Education had predicted that there was an 87% likeliehood of an earthquake of 8M or higher within 30 years.   This might produce a major tsunami akin to the one that hit Fukushima.   When the reprocessing deal was announced last year, it was trumpeted as safeguarding the jobs of 800 plant workers and a further 200 in Sellafield.   A much better account than the one contained in The Independent can be found at http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Japan+shut+nuclear+plant+quake+fears/4749964/story.html
More Dangerous Leaks From Fukushima

Many experts - especially those not beholden to the nuclear industry - say that the Fukushima plants will keep on leaking for months, if not years.   The amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs that which was at Chernobyl.   It is caesium-137 that still contaminates much of the land in Ukraine around the Chernobyl reactor.   As the New York Times notes, radioactive caesium is the main danger from the Japanese nuclear accident:  "Over the long term, the big threat to human health is cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years.   At that rate of disintegration it will take over 200 years to reduce it to 1% of its former level.

The article points out that caesium-137 mixes easily with water and is chemically similar to potassium, and thus mimics how potassium gets metabolized in the body and can enter through many foods, including milk.  

The magazine, The New Scientist,  reports that caesium fallout from Fukushima already rivals Chernobyl, 'Radioactive caesium and iodine has been deposited in northern Japan far from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, at levels that were considered highly contaminated after Chernobyl.

'The readings were taken by the Japanese science ministry, MEXT, and reveal high levels of caesium-137 and iodine-131 outside the 30-kilometre evacuation zone, mostly to the north-north-west.'

The article goes on:  'After the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the most highly contaminated areas were defined as those with over 1490 kilobecquerels (kBq) of caesium per square metre. Produce from soil with 550 kBq/m2 was destroyed.

'People living within 30 kilometres of the plant have evacuated or been advised to stay indoors. Since 18 March, MEXT has repeatedly found caesium levels above 550 kBq/m2 in an area some 45 kilometres wide lying 30 to 50 kilometres north-west of the plant. The highest was 6400 kBq/m2, about 35 kilometres away, while caesium reached 1816 kBq/m2 in Nihonmatsu City and 1752 kBq/m2 in the town of Kawamata, where iodine-131 levels of up to 12,560 kBq/m2 have also been measured. "Some of the numbers are really high," says Gerhard Proehl, head of assessment and management of environmental releases of radiation at the International Atomic Energy Agency.'

Source:  http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2011/03/caesium-fallout-from-fukushima-already.html


18/4/11
Fukushima's Problems Continue

NHK's news on Sunday, 17th April, said that the future of the area around the Fukushima-Dai'ichi nuclear plant will be considered again at the end of the year.


Plant radiation monitor says levels immeasurable:  A radiation monitor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says workers there are exposed to immeasurable levels of radiation.

The monitor told NHK that no one can enter the plant's No. 1 through 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. He said even levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places.

Pools and streams of water contaminated by high-level radiation are being found throughout the facility.

The monitor said he takes measurements as soon as he finds water, because he can't determine whether it's contaminated just by looking at it. He said he's very worried about the safety of workers there.

Source:  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/05_38.html

Criticism following failure to explain:  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/06_12.html


4/4/11

Japan's Government Hides Nuclear Situation and is Accused of Stifling Information

Typically for the nuclear industry, lack of proper information and misleading advice, combined with secrecy results in a worse situation being perceived by the public.  

Japanese television channel, NHK World, has accused the Japanese government of stifling information about the true situation at Fukushima.   It also suggests that the exclusion zone should have been extended.  

A computer modelling system was used to predict likely fall-out levels, but the results were not circulated:
"The estimates showed that the radiation would exceed 100 millisieverts in some areas more than 30 kilometers from the nuclear plant if people remained outdoors for 24 hours between March 12th and 24th. That is 100 times higher than the 1 millisievert-per-year long-term reference level for humans as recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. The Nuclear Safety Commission says it did not release the projections because the location or the amount of radioactive leakage was not specified at the time."

Source:  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/


A petition initiated by Phase Out Nuclear Energy Fukushima Prefecture Network and Citizens' Nuclear Information Center and signed by 258 groups and 1010 individuals was handed to officials from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.   The petition includes the paragraph stating:  TEPCO and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency have not appropriately disclosed relevant information about the accidents and radiation levels. By not disclosing this information and by repeatedly stating that the current situation will not “immediately” affect people’s health, the government is increasing a sense of uncertainty and anxiety


Source:  http://www.panorientnews.com/en/news.php?k=900


A possible explanation of why President Sarkozy is so active in both the nuclear generating field and militarily in Africa can be found on our Editorial page.   You may wish to read the following to judge quite what is at stake for the increasingly unpopular French president:  
Indian situation:

 http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i0xmGDQMprYt38FCWJEXUgFYcDEw?docId=CNG.276f10547dfe0aeeaaf1c86d88bbf200.5c1  

The number of reactors potentially to be supplied by Areva would have considerable positive benefits for the French economy.   Their loss as a result of the Fukushima debacle could have serious repercussions.

30/3/11
Recent News

A vaguely amusing report was released yesterday.   By the ex-chief scientific officer, Sir David King, his findings were that new nuclear should continue unabated.   In an eery echo of Mr. Jamieson Reed, M.P.'s statement last year, Sir David also recommended that the huge (128 tonne) stockpile of plutonium at Sellafield be turned into an asset.    Thus a huge expansion of the infamous white elephant, the MOX plant, should be implemented.  Amazing.   Wonder where the resultant fuel would be used?   An earlier comment explains all - Keith Allott, head of climate change at the World Wildlife Fund, says: "There have been some concerns that some of the advice that he's been giving is actually veering on the political rather than the scientific."   Quite so.   Why is MOX fuel dangerous - even in comparison with "normal" fuel?   See the paragraph on The Voice of Opinion page.   Despite the unbelievably huge costs incurred so far (£2 billion and rising!), the MOX plant has failed consistently.   An article appeared in the Independent of 29/3/11, and this can be seen on our Voice of Experience page.


The problems at the Fukushima plant continue, with plutonium now being found 'in five places around the site'.
   Authorities play down the seriousness of the event, making much of the short half-life of some of the material.   Russia Today is currently running a programme showing what happened to the area around Chernobyl, together with current footage of the deserted city, as a benchmark.   It does seem that Fukushima is approaching those levels, but it seems unlikely the PR managers are going to volunteer the truth..
The cost of sorting out the Fukushima plant has now been brought into focus.   According the various eastern sources there is little likelihood of Tokyo Power and Electricity, the plant's owners, having insufficient funding to deal with future requirements.   Their shares have already plunged by almost 20% in a single day, as the financial institutions try to divest themselves.   
The fall in share value is also now affecting the banks and insurers as the financier realise just how far the vulnerability speads.   Most observers think that the only solution will be for nationalisation of the company.   Of course, the reactors flushed with sea water will just be so much dangerous scrap.   Even the cost of insuring TEPCO's large debt against default has risen tenfold.  Anyone still feel that new nuclear is financially viable?   Whilst the nuclear component is difficult to isolate, the total estimated cost for repairing Japan is something like £300 billion.   We think the nuclear component will keep on adding to this as the full extent of the leaks become better known.
15/3/11
Nuclear Safety Demonstrated by Japanese Events

We offer our sincere commiserations to the public of Japan in their present difficulties.   It must be difficult to understand how and where the clean-up should commence.

If ever the problems of a nuclear industry were to be demonstrated, that time is now, as the Japanese problems show the pitfalls of these "unforeseeable events".   So "unforeseeable" in fact that many of those submitting evidence to the various public "consultations" over the last two years managed to see them, and offered them as reasons for the government not to continue with nuclear development.   Sadly, as is now the norm with a "listening" government, the industry had the greater say and manipulated the decision-making process to their own benefit.   Only money produces results - not common-sense.   Be anti anything that the politicians are in favour of and you are labelled a wierdo or worse, which, of course, makes it easy to rubbish what you say.

BBC television commentators inform us that the public of Japan are sceptical about the information being given to them, in respect of the over-heating reactors at Fukushima.  Apparently they have become used to being misinformed, misled, and lied to, and have witnessed both the industry and the Japanese governments covering up accidents and incidents.   29 incidents in recent times suggest that they are right.   In the U.K. we have been subjected to the same appalling attitude and ploys.   Small wonder that the Japanese, like a large percentage of British public, no longer have any faith in nuclear.

" We must also raise the question of if we in Europe, in the foreseeable future, can secure our energy needs without nuclear energy," - EU Energy Commissioner (Reuters)

We offer more comment on our editorial page.

Questions, Questions

Intrigued by the statement by Mr. Huhne that he has commissioned Dr. M. Weightman, Chief Nuclear Inspector, to carry out a system of checks on existing nuclear facilities, we compiled a list of questions which we think need to be answered.   They can be found here.  

The main concern stemmed from a 2009 report by Dr. Weightman, in which he informed the government of his concerns about the staff situation in the nuclear inspectorate.   The report stated that, because of natural wastage and also because many of his staff were approaching retirement age, there would be difficulties in respect of workload.   We obtained a copy of the report under FOI rules.  

In it, Dr. Weightman suggested that the only way to ensure continued (it appears to us, basic) cover would be to recruit from abroad - with associated difficulties stemming from language and other country's nuclear rules or from the industry itself, or by seconding staff from the industry.   None of the options seems to us to be very satisfactory.   Least of all the last one, which would have industry employees checking on their employers!  

The nuclear industry does not have a healthy stock of good will, or a record of honesty and openness, so how will Dr. Weightman find the staff to do this extra six month's worth of work?   Something will have to give.


Fat Catastrophe

As an aside, we were wryly amused to hear the CEO of Westinghouse lambasting China, et al, for withdrawing from their proposed nuclear expansion programmes.   Nothing to do with his bonus being affected, presumably.


Carbon Discredits

What a surprise!   The system set up to distribute carbon credits is falling apart as people misuse it to generate wealth for themselves.   How unexpected.   Now, who could these nefarious individuals be?   Given the inside knowledge of the entire system is required, it seems unlikely that it is your average everyday hacker.   (Most of the thefts are apparently due to computer-related incidents.)   Those in charge of issuing carbon credits have asked SOCA to investigate.   One need not point out the success rates achieved by SOCA as they frequently get mentioned in Private Eye.

Ask Us Yet Another . . .

Another day, another public consultation exercise.   We are not sure just when we became expected to know everything about nuclear energy, but the publication attached to the latest epistle from the Department for Energy seems even more confused than we are.   Having read and re-read it we are still no wiser as to the proposals re. the future of plutonium.   Currently, stored around the UK, are 128 tons of plutonium - enough to provide the TNT equivalent of 28.672 million tons according to our calculations.   However, the document produced by the government suggests firstly that re-use is the answer, except that Sellafield have only ever produced 9 tons of re-processed material in 15 years, and that at an exorbitant cost!   So that solution seems to have been dismissed and the alternative is to store it, except that is not too easy - especially when the storage vessels corrode so fast, nasty by-products are produced, and the cooling sytem required results in environmental pollution, so that is not a good solution.   Have a read of the document (it is in Acrobat format) and ask whether you are any the wiser, or those who produced it are lacking in coherence.   Some of the stranger points can be found in our notes.

Other recent news includes Chris Huhne visiting Hinkley Point to admire the site for EdF's new nuclear reactors - not that the decision has yet been made, yet, of course!   In fact the visit took place on the day the consultation process - set up to allow comment on the removal of Braystones and Kirksanton from the approved-site list - ended, so no doubt he will give all due consideration to all those submissions, too, before making any decision.   (!)   We note elsewhere that Sellafield is the least preferred site, due to the existing contamination that would be disturbed by development.   A similar situation has been found at Hinkley Point.   Green Audit's Report, states that, "Significant radioactive contamination at proposed sited for nuclear power station, is based on data provided in an environmental impact assessment commissioned by EDF Energy as part of the process towards building two new reactors next to the existing power station at Hinkley Point."   A bit cynical of Huhne to praise the site when he must surely have known about this.

Some time ago we endeavoured to find out what happened to the enquiry set up by the last Speaker, Mr. M. Martin, into the abuse of parliamentary procedures that led to the capping of private liability in the event of nuclear accidents.   Despite writing to Lord Hunt (he ignored our request for information), over a year later we still cannot find out.   However, Mr. Huhne announced that the limit will rise seven-fold to €1.2 billion.   The limit approved by "scurrilous manipulation of parliamentary process" was set at just £120 million, so it is obvious why, and to whose benefit, our "impartial" politicians were avoiding proper process.   Would they have done so without expecting some return?

We have compiled some comments on the current 25 sq. km. nuclear dump being foisted on the area with the complicity of all the usual suspects.   See here for our comments.   Not much is being said about the extent of the proposed dump, and graphics depict just a few office buildings and processing facilities on a very small site.   Surely this is not another attempt to mislead locals?

Cumbrian Wildlife magazine has once again managed to ignore Braystones' plight, preferring to mention only Kirksanton, despite the obvious close parallels between the two proposals for development.   We wrote to them last May, and understood that a little more tact would be used in future.   Seems like they forgot.

Private Eye has at last managed to catch up with what we have been saying for months!

The long-awaited publication of the Redfern Inquiry into the harvesting of body parts reveals that (surprise, surprise!) "the relationship between the coroners, the pathologists and the Sellafield medical officers became too close.   There were failures to adhere to professional standards".   (Finding 96 in the report.)

For the official report and its horrific findings, visit the Redfern Report's official site.   We comment on our Editorial page.

The failures demonstrate how the nuclear industry contaminates not only people and the environment,  but also the systems in place to protect employees and members of the public.   Can we now hope for a police enquiry into the illegal practices that carried on long after they were made unlawful by the Human Tissue Act, 1961?
Braystones, Kirksanton 'dropped from N-reactor list' - Perhaps!

For a variety of reaons, most of which we put forward in our submission to the Select Inquiry, it would now seem that
(as per Mr. Jamier Reed, M.P.'s amazingly accurate forecast several months ago - how could he have known?)
neither Braystones nor Kirksanton fit the criteria for the NPS any more - did they ever?

There is a report in the Whitehaven News which concerns the announcement:
 Whitehaven News, 14/10/10
Sadly, RWE, whether in a fit of pique or just sheer bloody-mindedness, have written to confirm that they do not consider the decision to be final.   At present they are contemplating appealing against their removal from the NPS.   In an e-mail an RWE manager stated:  “As we understand it, if Braystones is excluded this time around we could nominate it again in any future round, with a higher chance of success if there is increased need for new nuclear build.   However, we will have to review internally whether it is worth continuing to manage sheep farms indefinitely!”   However, for some strange reason, they are suggesting that the best way to protect Braystones (and presumably, Kirksanton, too), is to lend full support to the Sellafield proposals. Being cynical, we would suggest that the altruism is insincere, and that they are merely hoping to hang on to the coat-tails of their rivals.   Once Sellafield plans have been drawn up, the missing infra-structure that precluded Braystones and Kirksanton from the current requirements, could be installed (although it is important that these highly necessary improvements are not seen as subsidies;  even if, without nuclear development, they wouldn't have been necessary!), thus putting both places back in the firing line.   Consider the convenience of having Braystones, Sellafield, the new nuclear dump at Gosforth, Drigg, and Kirksanton all on a single site . . .

This is something we have warned about for many months.   The best way of preventing the destruction of huge swathes of the Cumbrian coastline is to stop any further development - even that at Sellafield. This is not just anti-nuclear rhetoric, either.   It would not matter if it were a chemical company or a soap works;  if the plans are to bring about the destruction of a much-loved part of the world with its own unique charm, then we would be against it.   Nevertheless, we would expect any company to be able, sensibly and safely,  to dispose of any waste it produces - not just shove it in a hole and leave if for future generations to deal with.

In the interim, property-owners will find their properties blighted.   Every time that RWE chooses to have another go there will be another drop in property prices.   Surely it cannot be natural justice to allow this continue?   The threat, contained in e-mails to a resident, seems to extend at least up to 2025, and the correspondence also mentions the potential for obtaining compulsory purchase orders.
At the same time as the above announcement was being made, Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary approved the design of both nuclear reactors being proposed for building in the UK (ah, except Scotland).   Sounding more like he was just fed up with the whole thing and wished to get it out of his in-tray, before he died of boredom - or perhaps had to actually read the material, he said, "I'm fed up with the stand-off between advocates of renewables and of nuclear which means that we have neither."

Despite (in the long-forgotten past) saying that nuclear would only advance over "his dead body", he used the inevitable weasel words to imply something whilst actually meaning precisely the opposite.   The bald statement was unequivocal:  that there would be NO SUBSIDY.   He has now changed this to, "There will be no public subsidy for new nuclear power - no levy, direct payment or market support (unless similar support is also being made available more widely)."   Now what do you suppose the latest add-on means?

22/3/11:  Pre-budget announcements are being broadcast to the effect that there will be £200 billion investments for "clean, secure power generation".   Guess what they will consider to be clean and secure.

Mr. Huhne continues the pro-nuclear work of Ed Miliband and apparently shares the latter's ability to forecast what will be reasonable prices for nuclear waste disposal in 160 years time!
We would congratulate all those who took the time and effort to speak up against the plans, which we always believed to be ill-conceived and impractical.   We have found it an object lesson in all that is bad about politicians:  from deliberate lies and deceit through to devious manipulation, together with failures to correspond and address questions posed, these proposals have suffered from all these afflictions as the nuclear industry wielded its contacts - covert and overt - and financial muscle.
Allerdale council debated withdrawing the "expression of interest in hosting the nuclear repository" on Wednesday, 3/11/10.   We were unable to attend, but Radiation Free Lakeland released the following press release with an account of the meeting:

At the Allerdale Borough Council Meeting last night Councillor Joe Sandwith called on fellow councillors to “formally withdraw Allerdale’s expression of interest”  in geological disposal of high level nuclear waste.

The council heard presentations from two speakers.  The first was Dr Helen Wallace, Executive Direcor of Genewatch UK and the second was Professor Brian Clark, who served on the Committee for Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM).

Dr Helen Wallace described how a deep nuclear waste repository would pose significant risks to future generations.  Once the site is sealed it is accepted that water would fill the area and the intense heat combined with water and microbes would corrode any engineered barriers.  The hotter the waste, the further apart the containers have to stand;  which would mean a geological dump (or two)  having an area of at least 10km.    Last year’s CoRWM report suggested using more than one site dependent on how hot the waste is, the geology, and the number of new reactors and reactor lifetimes (new build waste would be hotter as it proposes ‘high burn up’ ie burning uranium for longer).  Dr Wallace pointed out an article in the Whitehaven News  from 1999 which tells the story of  an anonymous tip off  to Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment following a House of Lords visit to Longlands Farm.  The letter writer describes how they overheard the eminent visitors saying that despite the inquiry ruling against the site, the covers would be coming off the £200M worth of bore holes and not only would the rock lab be built but the geological dump itself would go ahead.   The Lord’s report recommended:  changing the planning law so scientific evidence could never again be cross examined.   Paying local compensation.   Setting up a new committee to devise a process to make putting the waste in West Cumbria ‘publicly acceptable’ cue the MRWS Partnership.   Dr Wallace provided councillors with an information pack which included links to the Nirex inquiry and Professor David Smythe's response to the 2007 Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Consultation

Professor Brian Clark described the work of CoRWM and insisted that this was a long term process to find the best possible solution to disposing of nuclear waste.  He suggested to councillors that Allerdale would be in the running for large compensation payments, even if they pulled out of the ‘volunteer’ process a long way down the line.  Professor Clark did not point out however that volatile nuclear wastes continue to wing their way to Cumbria as they have done so for the last 15 years - ever since  the findings of the Nirex inquiry that Cumbria is “not suitable” for geological disposal.   Professor Clark went on to say that we should have faith in the regulators.   The Professor is a member of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, the same Agency that has rubber-stamped the new law allowing low level radioactive wastes into landfill.  These radioactive wastes – largely asbestos laced with tritium, are now arriving at Lillyhall landfill from Chapel Cross nuclear plant.  They have been reclassified as “exempt.”  The Environment Agency recently rang up Radiation Free Lakeland to ask if we would like a look around the landfill to see how “safely” they are containing the radioactive rubble.  We asked them if there was any point at which the Environment Agency would refuse to rubber stamp a new law.   They replied that the EA “is there to regulate the law – not question it.”

The law is being changed as you read this to accommodate the nuclear industry.  Nine Councillors supported Councillor Joe Sandwith's proposal to withdraw and 19 opposed.  The option to withdraw from this dodgy MRWS process which has only one outcome may not be on the table forever.

In formulating our questions, we came across the information that £400 million had been spent in investigating the geological potential for such a dump, in the Nirex Enquiry.   (An appeal following Cumbria County Council's refusal of plans for Longlands Farm, near Gosforth.)

For those who complain that without nuclear the area would be doomed, can we ask them to contemplate what could be done with alternative investment - the NDA spends £1.5 billion a year at Sellafield, add to that the £400 million and the savings from disposing of the quangos and substantial development could be funded, perhaps as an extension of the National Park?   That kind of money might focus the attention of the Tourist Board, too, who seem obsessed with only the over-populated areas of Kendal, Windermere, Keswick and Ambleside, etc.

The report last week from the British Geological Society has already ruled out large swathes of Allerdale as being unsuitable.   Seems oddly convenient that south of St. Bees Head, there is no red hatching.
Map Showing Areas Not Suitable for Nuclear Dump

The study was set up with the remit of determining which areas of Cumbria were not suitable to host an underground nuclear dump.   Interestingly, some dumping - at a much shallower level - is already taking part within the parts of the district marked in red.

The society has some interesting information, too, on climate change.   http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/index.html
The report can be found here:   http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/mrws/742-west-cumbria-3-8-10-14.pdf

Chris. Huhne, the Secretary of State for Energy, speaking at the Liberal Democrats' conference in Liverpool on 21/9/10, stated that new nuclear would be part of the "energy mix".   So, once again, we are being told that, no matter what we say, the government will do what it wants, and what it always has done:  pander to the influence of big industries.   Unsurprisingly, the Lib/Dems' share of the latest polls show yet another fall.   Only one of their MPs  stated that he was in favour of the proposed expansion of the nuclear industry - the proposed candidate for Copeland (again unsurprisingly!) - otherwise the general policy was against any expansion.   Strange how things change.   We recall meeting Simon Hughes and Michael Meacher at a the Palace of Westminster, earlier this year.   Their views were unequivocal - no expansion of nuclear, and a run-down of existing sites.   How can such apparently sincere views become so watered down?

Like most people, or so we believe, we understood the Lib/Dems were against new nuclear plants.   Apparently we got it wrong.   Now, says Mr. Huhne, the situation is that they are in favour of nuclear - provided that it doesn't require a government subsidy.   He apologised for the intimation that their original policy intimated that no developer would go ahead, resulting in the no-to--nuclear misunderstanding.

Mr. Huhne is continuing the mantra that no public money will be spend on new nuclear power stations.   (Although even that meagre qualification was missing from the statement at the conference.)   What a deceit.   [See our Opinion page for some of the hidden subsidies already being enjoyed by the nuclear industry.]   It is quite obviously the case that huge sums of money will have to piled into the scheme.   After all, someone, somewhere, has to give these companies their profit.   Whether the money comes directly from the public in terms of much higher bills, or indirectly through the government is of little moment.   The end result is the same - the public will have to pay.   Small wonder that his party's popularity is falling dramatically after its election peak.   Their manifesto stated categorically that the Lib Dems would "reject a new generation of nuclear power".   Apparently, before the election, nuclear was an uneconomical way to produce electricity . . .   Hmm, funny how things change once MPs have secured their own future.

By a strange coincidence, the MP has written to Babcock Engineering to enquire about job security for the large number of personnel employed by the VT Group whose English HQ is in his constituency.   Babcock Engineering has considerable interests in nuclear engineering, its infra-structure, and associated industries.   It may not look too good if their MP, whilst minister-in-charge, is seen to be responsible in some way for large-scale job losses in his own constituency at this difficult time.   Out of interest, Babcock, with partner Balfour Beatty, have just won a large contract to build a waste storage facility at, er, Sellafield.

Anyone know the difference between Mr. Huhne and Ed Miliband?

We note elsewhere the devious ploys used by the last government to pave the way for foreign companies to build their new reactors in this country (conveniently leaving their own home country to be just a customer, with none of the immediate drawbacks and risks inherent with proximity to reactors).   Parliamentery procedures were so manipulated that they even appalled the last Speaker of the House, Mr. M. Martin!   Despite our best efforts, we have made no progress on discovering what has happened to the investigation set up by Mr. Martin to discover whether the ploy was illegal.   How strange.   Lord Hunt still hasn't condescended to respond to us.

A similar problem has arisen with the Redfern Inquiry Report:  our local MP tells us that, ". . .  the Department for Energy and Climate Change had hoped to lay the report before Parliament in advance of the summer recess.   Unfortunately, that was not possible and the House of Commons Library, following direct consultation with the department, advises that they hope to publish the report in October."

Neither could she find us any news about the COMARE report on the health risks to people living in proximity to nuclear sites.

An excellent critique of the myths and data surrounding the promotion of new nuclear has been published by campaign group No Need for Nuclear, which ably disposes of the scare story of the lights going out.   If nuclear is allowed to tail off, as was originally proposed, to 2040 - with no nuclear supply thereafter, capacity would still be more than double the demand for electricity!   (Demand expected to increase to 386 Twh nationwide, with a capacity of 858 Twh, with no input required from nuclear sources.)

Copeland MP, Jamie Reed, still pushes the employment issue, saying Cumbria needs the jobs that the nuclear industry provides.   Yet the No Need for Nuclear website illustrates clearly that far more jobs would be provided by microgeneration.   Thousands of jobs have already been lost as a result of the government failing to implement the requisite policies to encourage the growth of these alternative generators.   Mr. Reed quite happily repeats that there is "No Plan B".   Small wonder when his party failed to make one.   One of his cohorts, Mr. Tim Knowles, speaking on Radio 4 on  21st September, made it clear that the only plan - should Plan A in respect of a subterranean repository (dump in a hole) fail, then Plan B was merely to make Plan A work.   Should there be any dissent or difficulty then the plan would go ahead anyway.   So much for volunteerism.

None of the figures touted around by the last government, and now sadly being repeated by the current one, make sense.   A wide range of experts has analysed them and demonstrated the figures to be flawed.    Why the determination to force this dirty industry on the nation?

In the interim, Cumbria County Council is to debate the dumping of what is described as "low-level waste" at Keekle Head, a disused coal mine just outside Whitehaven.    Given what has happened elsewhere (Drigg dumping high level waste illegally, the failures to curb pollution, the encouragement of dissipation of nuclear waste throughout the county, et al,) and the pro-nuclear bias inherent in the composition of the council, the future does not bode well.   Again, there is the conundrum of whether material should be securely dumped and utterly irretrievable, or whether it has to remain accessible in case of unforeseen leakages.


Fishing off the Sellafield discharge pipes. The somewhat unclear picture alonside shows two fishing boats alongside  depicts a situation that has worried us for some time;  that is the uncontrolled fishing in an area which attracts fish because of the warmth of the water, but which nonetheless is very contaminated with Sellafield's waste.  

There are no controls over fishing here and what happens to the catch is apparently of no moment to anyone in authority.  

CEFAS note in their report that some seafood from the area is marketed as far away as Spain!   Although, for some reason, mussels needed to spend three months in a bed off the east coast before being marketed, via Glasgow, to France and Spain.  Worryingly, the locals are referred to in official documents as the "the critical group".

(ref. www.cefas.co.uk/publications/environment/RL0404.pdf )  

We have not yet found anyone who has been informed they are part of this experimental critical group.   The rest of the 2004 report, albeit couched in impressive scientific jargon, is little better tnan guess-work - but guesswork that influences those uncritical groups known as politicians!

(Photo taken 27/9/10)

Whether marine life is affected by the depleted uranium ordinance fired from the test site at Drigg is anyone' guess, but many members of the U.S. and U.K. forces seem to be suffering from mysterious illnesses after being exposed to the material whilst serving in the Gulf.
The recent visit of the cruise ship "The World" to Whitehaven was hyped up by the local press and tourist promoters.   Whitehaven harbour was promoted as the gateway to the Lake District, as if the area has no attractions of its own.  

One does have to wonder the likeliehood of further visits in order to regard the beauty of up to nine nuclear reactors and the sole vista seaward of windfarms.   Perhaps the area should become accustomed to the sound of helicopters shuttling overhead, taking the visitors to Windermere, etc.?   Ah - that might be a trifle difficult as the area will become a no-fly zone to protect the reactors.

It would appear that tourists are getting a bit disgruntled by omissions on the part of local hostelries, camping and caravan sites to mention their proximity to Sellafield.   Several we have spoken to tell us that they were utterly surprised to find how close their holiday location was to the site, especially as they would have expected it to be mentioned in the holiday information pack.    Apparently they will not be returning.
Nuvia Amongst the Holiday-makers Nuvia's Argocat Finds a Particle-just where children were playing.
The  Nuvia Argocat following its grid patterns amongst the holiday-makers, who were oblivious to its purpose.
A find near a pool which, the preceding day, had been the playground for some 2 and 3 year old children.  

The investigation has been going on for several years, and each tide, it seems, more particles are found.   The basic idea is to use the front-mounted electronics box to provide a rough location for any findings.   On discovering a particle, the vehicle is manoeuvred back and forth to more finely locate it.   Then a spade is used to remove sand, which is scanned by a geiger counter.   The spadeful containing the radioactive material is then placed in the box visible at the rear of the vehicle, before being taken away for laboratory analysis.

N
uvia work on contract to Sellafield.   The results of their explorations are published at irregular intervals.   In response to an FOI enquiry, Sellafield tell us that the report for 2009 will be published in September/October, 2010.   Previous reports can be found here:

www.sellafieldsites.co.uk/what we do/ EHS&Q/environmental/annualdischarge & monitoring reports.

DECC Announcement, 15th July, 2010

Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, announced in Parliament today that DECC plan to re-consult on the Energy National Policy Statements this Autumn, saying:  

Today I am announcing that the Government will be launching a re-consultation in the autumn on the draft energy National Policy Statements following the consultation undertaken by the previous administration earlier this year, and in particular due to changes which have been made to the Appraisal of Sustainability for the Overarching Energy National Policy Statement.”

I am aware that many consultation respondents live locally to sites that were nominated to be included on the Nuclear National Policy Statement as suitable for new nuclear power stations, and are very keen for further information on what is happening on sites. We are currently analysing the responses received on sites and in the Autumn we will publish the latest Nuclear National Policy Statement and the Government response to the consultation which closed in February 2010. This will include further information on the sites that the coalition Government view as potentially suitable for deployment of new nuclear power stations by 2025.

We take this as confirmation of our assertion that the original process was flawed and a manipulation by the previous government to defeat democracy.
Since our first involvement with the nuclear expansion proposals, we have expressed concern that the policitians were not being honest or impartial about the situation.   Indeed, in our presentation to the Select Inquiry at Westminster, earlier this year, we stated our view that, despite his protestations to the contrary, Mr. E. Miliband had already formed an opinion - even before the evidence had been gathered in for him to assess.   We said then that the consultation was merely a box-ticking exercise and that the decision had already been made.   This was, naturally, denied.

It was interesting to listen to the ex-DECC minister talking, on Radio 4's news programme on 19th June, 2010, about the decision by the new government to stop the multi-million pound loan that would provide Sheffield Forgemasters with the wherewithal to build a new plant to manufacture the specialised steel required for nuclear reactors.   (We note elsewhere that there may well be difficulties in obtaining such supplies as currently the sole supplier is in Japan.)

Mr. E. Miliband repeatedly stated that the decision to halt the loan would seriously impede the nuclear development programme.   He spent some time stating why the nuclear expansion - for which the special steel would be required - was vital for future power production.   This left no doubt in our mind that he had, as we suggested, already made the decision, and that the whole of the "consultation" process thereafter was sham.   After all, the closure of some steelworks and the setting up of new ones doesn't happen overnight;  long-term plans are required.   Add to that the involvement of a certain Labour peer whose morals seem to us to be highly questionable . . .

Back in March, one of the last things to be "buried" by the old government was yet another consultation exercise, this time to ignore (sorry - gather,) opinions on proposals to set a fixed price for waste and spent fuel disposal from new build.    The basic idea being akin to a subsidy by another name:  allow the developers to set a price for the future clean up and disposal of their waste.    Naturally, this can be done well in advance of any decommissioning date, with the result that (inevitable) cost over-runs and the effects of inflation would be the responsibility of the tax-payer.

We tried to complete the on-line form, but sensed that it was yet another sham.   We have no doubt that the mechanism was correct, in the same way that 2+2=4, but that didn't make the basic premise correct.   The crux of the matter was that there was really no need for such a system to have been mooted!   All polluters are responsible for their waste, why should the nuclear industry be any different?

Greenpeace have circulated some informative documents:   European Commission Green Paper, Independent Assessor's Report, Greenpeace Briefing on the Proposals.

Conspiracy theorists might be intrigued to note the EC proposals for a European grid for electricity and gas.   Given that most European countries do not like nuclear, it may seem that the UK is set to become a dirty boilerhouse, supplying electricity to other countries - whose own residents don't want to host nuclear development.Amongst some of the very first revelations from the new coalition government is the fact that the out-going group had substantially disguised the true cost of the nuclear clean-up.
reactor cleanup coverup
The theme has continued in the Sunday Times of the 23rd May, stating that, "Future costs of safe waste disposal had not been properly accounted for."  It went on to say that there appeared to be a £3 billion 'black hole'.   In the interim, lots of investigations continue into frauds involving carbon trading.  Manipulation of the cost of carbon emissions continues apace.
Elsewhere, the bandwagon rolls on with continued misleading statements re. the credentials of the nuclear industry, including an article in the Guardian.   This article seems to have a strange attitude to the deaths of coalminers and oil-rig workers, and promotes nuclear as being a cleaner option resulting in fewer deaths.   We're not altogether sure that the uranium miners will go along with this idea.   Perhaps we should quote power costs as the number of megawatt hours produced per death?   Call us picky, but we feel that no death is "acceptable".  

The writers assure us that the nuclear waste will be safely disposed of in concrete and steel containers from which no radioactive material will ever leak, as it  is a tried and tested method.   This prompted one reader to ask how this could be known and whether there were any 17th century containers which demonstrated the infallibility of the method.   An obvious counter to this, of course, would be the abandonment of the U.S. Yucca Mountain dump (repository - sorry).

Others compare the BP oil spill off the coast of Florida with the Chernobyl disaster.   Sad though the effect of the oil-spill are, they pale into insignficance alongside the potential and actual consequences of a nuclear accident.  

We have received an up-date from Stop Hinkley, which tells us of a recent book from the New York Academy  of Science, "Chernobyl:  Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment".   It has been authored by Alexey Yablokov of the Centre for Russian Environmental Policy in Moscow, and Vassilly Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenkov of the Institution of Radiation Safety in Minsk, Belarus.   More than 5,000 published articles were examined - most written in Slavic languages and never before translated.   The authors concluded that the accident, which occurred as a result of human error (and is thus eminently repeatable elsewhere in the world) resulted in radiation 100 times the contamination of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.   They also point out that radioactive pollution is no respecter of boundaries - "One nuclear reactor can contaminate the entire northern hemisphere."  " Contaminate" seems to hide the true devastation that would be experienced.
Total fallout from Chernobyl is now estimated to have been in the region of 10 billion curies, and this has resulted in the death of 985,000 people between 1986 and 2004.   There has also been an alarming decrease in the percentage of healthy children being born to irradiated parents in Belarus, the Ukraine, and European Russia - down from 80% to under 20%.   Strangely, although figures on deaths rsulting from the Chernobyl incident, according the World Health Organisation, state on 56 people died, on-the-ground figures from Russia state 60,000, and from Ukraine/Belarus, 140,000.   Greenpeace suggests that one third of a million people will ultimately die as a result of the incident.  
Such wide-ranging figures should be cause for alarm, surely?

The Public Accounts Committee seems not to rate the Department of Energy and Climate Change very highly.  
The Public Accounts Committee Report can be found here.

Misleading Information

We have now received a breakdown of the figures supplied to the Energy Select Committee's Inquiry in respect of consultations carried out in the region. In Braystones and its neighbourhood, a total of 37 leaflets were "dropped".   It may be churlish to suggest that this actually confirms our statement that very few of the residents were aware of the proposals.  The figures seem vastly inflated, which would appear to make the exercise more worthwhile whilst supporting the industry's assertions that they have consulted widely - when they haven't!   The figures supplied to us by DECC are:

West Cumberland Times & Star (including the Whitehaven News):  43,811
West Cumbrian Gazette:  45,003
Whitehaven News:    35,023

This, they suggest, makes a total of 124,000 in an average week.   In fact, you will have observed, the Whitehaven News figures appear to have been counted twice.   Not only that, but by using "readership" figures rather than circulation figures, the number of potential consultees  is again enhanced.   The main supplier of such readership figures is the Press Gazette, which admits that they are not realistic figures at all.   In fact,  a reader can be someone who has looked at the paper once, for as little as ten minutes, in the preceding year!

The circulation figures, which we think should have been used,  from the Press Gazette's website, are as follows:
West Cumberland Times & Star (including the Whitehaven News):  16,182 West Cumbrian Gazette:  27,792

Thus the total likely readers of  the Department of Energy & Climate Change adverts would be more like 43,794 - almost a third of the  figure supplied to the Select Committee.   Strange the way the bias always works in their favour!
A rough guess would suggest that as few as one in four residents actually received information in this form.

Carbon Trading News

The trading in permits to pollute stemming from the Kyoto protocol seems to be yet another permit to gamble by trading in nebulous intangible articles.  
The intangible assets being difficult to trace, also lend the system open to fraud.   The market is deemed to be worth in excess of £60 billion, so it will attract the big players.   At least two companies have been suspended already:  SGS UK and DNV in Norway.   Seven people have already been arrested in a £38 million fraud , and there are investigations taking place in France and the Netherlands.

Arguments from ill-informed people elsewhere in the country in favour of new-build nuclear,  have tried to reiterate the fallacy that there have been no deaths as a result of the nuclear industry.   We have also been told that more people get killed on Cumbria's roads.   The fact of the matter is that  the compensation scheme has paid out claims on 122 deaths since 1982.   Perhaps not as bad as one might imagine, but a different complexion is bestowed by the other figure of a total 1500 claims in the same period.   The restrictions imposed when assessing claims could well be the reason for the small percentage being successful.


A seminar, "Justifying UK Nuclear New Build - Call for Independent Inquiry", was held in the Palace of Westminster on 11/3/10.  Our report can be found here.   A newspaper article can be found here

The inquiry into the future of nuclear in the north west heard evidence from selected people, including Phil Woolas, M.P., on 9/11/10.   Again we were told that there is overwhelming support for the developments.   Again, we have to ask, where is the justification for this repeated assertion?   An application under the FOI for his evidence to substantiate this statement suggests that there is none!   Further snippets from the "debate" are on the Voice of Experience page.

Submissions to the inquiry on Portcullis House, London, were made by people with an interest in the area on the 27th January, 2010.   A video recording of the event can be found here.

Apparently DECC "went out of their way" to ensure consultation with local residents, recognising that even though Sellafield and Braystones were so close together they should have counted as one, it would be kinder to the residents to have separate meetings, hence the Beckermet and Calder Bridge ones.   How kind.   Sadly, no mention of how the meetings were unanimously against the Braystones and Kirksanton proposals!
How to mislead an inquiry without actually lying.   Sir Humphrey lives! For an opinion on the Whitehaven meeting click here.   We have to record that the local M.P., Mr. Jamie Reed was absent, and has not been seen at any of these meetings, which some found rather odd.

Transcripts of the various meetings around the country have been published on the DECC website:  DECC transcripts  We would urge you to read not just the one for Braystones (Braystone - transcript of meeting on 16/1/10) and Kirksanton, but others, too.   Especially the one of the meeting at Hartlepool  which might indicate the emerging pattern of subterfuge employed by the politicians.   There does seem to be a certain consistency - as if a successful method of dealing with inconvenient protesters has been found and universally applied.

Wow!   Only nine months after the event, the Whitehaven News seems to have latched on to what is going on.   See the Editorial page.

Welcome news from the Environmental Law Foundation, whose submission can be found here.   Other pertinent news can be found here.

The impact of the nuclear industry on wildlife might be gathered from the following link:  Sunday Times article, 28/2/2010

Energy forecast to 2020 Forecast comment
 

View the effects of the recent storms on the River Ehen - 1 mile away from the proposed
new nuclear developments.   One of three links posted by local residents.

During the course of development of this webpage we have come across so much material of a truly scary nature.  
It goes back to the early days of the deregulation of the power industry, in this country and overseas, and some of the antics are worryingly conducive to the conspiracy theorist.  
One particular comment triggered a train of thought - it may help explain some of the material.    Following the discovery of new material, we have added to the original.
Click here to read a bit of fiction based on that comment.
Does anyone else find this quotation scary?   It seems a bit like a recommendation for brainwashing to us:
'I remember how we discussed ways of getting the greenhouse effect, caused by burning fossil fuels, onto the political and environmental agenda. At several of the blue sky meetings we also talked about education and my belief that we must capture the minds, if not the hearts, of young children, who were clearly influenced by the stream of anti-nuclear programmes appearing on television and, it has to be said, by the attitude of many of their teachers.'

(Harold Bolter, "Inside Sellafield", Quarter Books, 1996.   ISBN 0 7043 8017 X)

Out of Control?

Despite the objections of local councillors, 56,000m
3 a year of radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear plants is planned for Keekle Head and Lillyhall, near Workington, in Cumbria.   However, 26,000m3 of radioactive waste is already coming to Lillyhall landfill each year. 


A meeting to discuss the proposed expansion of the dumping is scheduled to take place on 25th May in Kendal. This is a widely opposed proposal - even the normally very pro-nuclear MP, Mr. Jamie Reed, has opposed the plan. Radiation Free Lakeland will speak in opposition. GdF Suez Watch are also opposing.

The current situation of dumping radiation waste at Lillyhall is unknown to anyone it seems - including the council officers in charge of the license, according to RAFL, whose enquiry revealed:

     according to the County Council and Copeland officials under "present conditions" the operators of Lillyhall landfill site can bring in as much high volume "Very Low Level" radioactive waste as they like;

     they have "no need" to apply for permission to do this- the "present conditions" run out in 2014 - there is no mention of radioactive waste.

Despite European legislation from 2004 - 2006 introducing even more stringent controls on what can be dumped in landfill sites, the council are of the opinion that Waste Recycling Group & Energy Solutions, who run the  Lillyhall site, do not need planning permission.

No monitoring checks are carried out to control just what is being dumped - we are mindful of the Greenpeace video depicting the dangerously high levels of materials dumped at Drigg, see here (scroll down that page to find the video) - except in the event of a complaint, when an official might attend to inspect the site.   What skills or expertise that official might have to competently assess the dangers, we know not.  
An example of the voluntarism professed necessary by central government and a foretaste of what will happen at Gosforth?

An M.P. Demonstrates Déjà vu on Radio 4 (or puts foot in mouth)

Local MP, Mr. Reed, has been interviewed live on Radio Cumbria and categorically stated that only one development will go ahead - that at Sellafield.   When questioned on how he knew this, he became flustered and said that he had arrived at an "informed opinion", before realising that that had not improved things.   What information is he not sharing with those whose coast he is promoting the destruction of?   How can he possibly know what the outcome of an incomplete public consultation will be - if the outcome has not already been determined?   What is the purpose of RWE's purchase of land at Braystones otherwise?

Listen to what the MP has to say and wonder how he knows these things:  First Interview
                                                                                                    and  Follow-up item


Also noteworthy is the fact that he states three reactors will be built on the land near Sellafield.   Our experience is that most people have the impression only one reactor is being considered.   Consequently this will be a massive expansion of the failing Sellafield site.

The IPC - A Fair and Independent Arbiter?

According to the Private Eye, 1257, the new head of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, John Saunders, has purchased shares in the National Grid, National Power, Powergen (now E.on), Innogy and Norther Ireland Electric.   The information was originally put as a straight-forward request for information, but that was declined, so the Eye requested the same information under the Freedom of Information Act, and believes that the nature of the information revealed may be the cause of the original rejection.   We trust that the Eye is not suggesting that there might be any bias merely because of any pecuniary interest!


Another source of information has uncovered dealings between the government and E.on in respect of land deals.   A sort of  "we'll give you that if you give us planning permission for that" thing.   Nice to know that, despite what the Miliband and Browns of this world say, nothing has yet been decided, but it does make one wonder how these things can be discussed at all until a decision has actually been fairly arrived at.

A Mess of the Mosses

A disappointing submission on behalf of Natural England, ostensibly protector of the landscape, flora and fauna of the greater countryside.   Their response makes barely any objection to the proposed removal of Braystones from the Cumbrian landscape.   This despite the listing on their own site that observes, in respect of Silver Tarn, Hollas and Harnsey Mosses:


These wetland habitats are becoming increasingly scarce in the intensively farmed lowlands both locally and nationally. This is one of only two known examples in the country of a suite of intact, small, kettlehole formations, the other being Whitlaw Mosses National Nature Reserve in the Borders Region. The broad range of communities supported by this small site complement those of other lowland wetlands in West Cumbria. In addition Harnsey Moss is the best example of a small, nutrient rich tarn in this scheduling unit.

Source:  http://www.sssi.naturalengland.org.uk/citation/citation_photo/1001998.pdf

It is difficult to see quite how the proposed RWE site could be built without changing the environment to the degree that all three of these SSIs will be destroyed.   Furthermore, it is patently obvious that no relocation or mitigation could overcome the unique features of these sites.

The head of Natural England, Dr. Helen Phillips was appointed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), in 2006.   97% of the quango's funding of £273 million comes from the taxpayer via the department.

Natural England's current annual report contains the keynote statement:
Natural England is here to conserve and enhance the natural environment, for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people and the economic prosperity that it brings.
However, it would seem that when big industry is involved, conservation and the enhancement of the natural environment must take a back seat.   Quite how they justify the acceptance of 240' high reactor buildings in a rural environment is unknown.   The  website is stuffed with impressively designed documents studded with phrases like:  "Natural England will be a distinctive public body committed to the environment and people", and  "Sustainable use of the natural environment, so that the use of the land, freshwaters and seas does not compromise the natural environment."

Tell us again how they see the proposed nuclear development doing any of the things they profess to be protecting.   If they cannot, then surely they should have put up far more in the way of objection when making their submission or at least demanded information on how these private power companies believe they can mitigate the impact on the natural beauty of this undeveloped countryside.

A polite protest letter met with the response that a proper objection would be formulated when a planning application had been submitted.   Given the manipulation of the planning system, we fear later objections will arrive too late.

The House of Lords Debates the Policies

The link below takes you to debates in the House of Lords regarding EN-1.   Lord Judd raised concerns on the cumulative impacts in West Cumbria and the Infrastructure Planning Commission decision-making.   He also demonstrated the limits to the single-stage process vaunted by E. Miliband, showing that there will still be a requirement for consents and licensing to be acquired even before an application can get as far as the IPC..

EN-6, the site-specific nuclear paper will be discussed on the 9th March.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldhansrd/text/100223-gc0002.htm


Lord Mandelson ready to go nuclear

Government close to signing a £170m agreement with Sheffield Forgemasters, the firm famous for the ‘supergun’ affair

LORD MANDELSON is close to sealing a £170m government-backed deal for a nuclear manufacturing facility just days after Corus mothballed its steel plant on Teesside.

The business secretary has been leading talks between Sheffield Forgemasters, the engineering firm, and Westinghouse, the nuclear reactor maker, for months about arranging a financing package for a 15,000-tonne press that would be used to make pressure vessels and castings for nuclear reactors.

Today these are made by a handful of highly specialised facilities, all located in Japan.

The deal with Sheffield, which gained notoriety in the 1990s when it was embroiled in the “Supergun affair” over arms sales to Iraq, would secure a critical piece of infrastructure for a new generation of nuclear reactors in Britain.
 
It is understood that a memorandum of understanding between the companies, the government and the European Investment Bank (EIB) is nearly complete.

Mandelson is under pressure after the Teesside closure left 1,600 industrial workers jobless. He hopes to make an announcement on the Sheffield deal as soon as this week. This could be delayed as final details were still being worked out this weekend but a broad outline has been agreed.

The government is expected to put up roughly half of the £170m project cost in cheap loans structured to comply with European Union rules on state aid. Westinghouse would contribute £50m, in the form of an upfront payment for reactor components, and the EIB would provide a smaller portion. Final investment would be subject to further due diligence.

The business department declined to comment.

Mandelson’s role in the talks is a reflection of his effort to involve the government more intimately in industrial policy. Nuclear is at the centre of Whitehall’s plans to reshape energy infrastructure and meet climate-change targets. At least six reactors are expected to be built over the next two decades — all by foreign-owned utilities.

The government has encouraged them to invest here but has pushed to keep as much work as possible in Britain. The programme is expected to create thousands of construction jobs. Sheffield Forgemasters’ history dates back to the 18th century. It ran into financial trouble in the early 2000s but has since been turned round by Tony Pedder, its chairman, who took over after a tough time running Corus.

The Sheffield negotations are part of a wider lobbying campaign among companies angling for a share of the nuclear building boom.

EDF, the French state-owned utility that bought British Energy last year, expects to build up to four new reactors. It has teamed up with Centrica, owner of British Gas, to share the cost.

Rivals Eon and RWE have formed a joint venture called Horizon Nuclear Power and intend to build at least two plants.

They will be able to use one of two reactor designs, the AP1000 from Westinghouse, and the EPR from Areva, the French state-owned group, that are being reviewed by the Nuclear Industry Inspectorate, the regulator.

EDF is expected to use Areva’s design. Eon and RWE, however, remain uncommitted and are thought to be under pressure from the government to go with Westinghouse so that the country is not reliant on a single design.

The first new reactor is not expected before 2017 and industry experts say the timeline is already slipping. This is due in part to wrangling between industry and government over subsidies.

Utilities are lobbying for a mechanism that ensures a minimum price for power so they can be sure they will be able to recoup the large upfront building costs. The government has said from the outset that it will not subsidise the industry.

Source: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/utilities/article7034860.ece  (Sunday Times, 21/2/2010)


Cost to date: £80 billion   Future cost: £73 billion
Nuclear jobs number crunch#   Nuclear Jobs Reality
                                                             

The projected cost has nothing to do with nuclear new-build or proposals which will require dramatic changes to the area's infra-structure.  

Please note also, that the changes which will ensue should any of the new reactors go ahead will not involve local opinion.   The new Planning Act seems likely to be so poorly draughted (as is the norm these days) that permission for a major project to go ahead will almost certainly grant automatic permission for the associated works.   Thus ensuring that any local planning constraints will be over-ridden.

To quote from an informed source in Radiation Free Lakeland:

"The Infrastructure and Planning Committee is the result of ‘streamlining’ the planning process, which means that issues like the unsolved nuclear waste problem, safety, health and environment will be excluded from the public’s input into decision making.

In other words, community groups, individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations could present conclusive evidence that Heysham is on a geological fault line, or that there is a link between radiation and diseases, but this would not be considered as relevant by the IPC.

The Infrastructure and Planning Committee was successfully lobbied for by the nuclear industry, which now wants to exclude even the recommendations from government experts."

Source:  http://www.getnoticedonline.co.uk/news/general-news/nuclear-misinformation-is-pulling-the-wool-over-people-s-eyes-claim.html


Mr. Miliband has announced (9/11/09) that ten of the eleven proposed sites for nuclear development, including Braystones, Sellafield, and Kirksanton, will be considered satisfactory to go to the next stage of the process.   That the person who will ultimately decide the unfortunate sites has proved to be such a staunch supporter of the nuclear industry sets a very worrying precedent.  Mr. Miliband has made it patently obvious that he approves of nuclear development, despite the consultation process not yet having been completed.   We can only hope that those with the necessary resources, abilities and knowledge will fight the proposals to the best of their abilities.   Hopefully, even a legal challenge to his rôle as judge and jury.

No matter what the cost of construction, commissioning and waste disposal, the companies behind the projects will expect to make a profit.   These costs will, therefore, be recouped from the UK public, plus any profit margin.   It is impossible to see that electricity produced this way can ever be viable.   That the cost of each reactor is at least (even at the loss-leader levels to be expected from these people when they submit an initial "tempter" bid - which will bear no relation to the actual envisaged costs) £7 billion, is sufficient cause for the public to be really, really, worried.   Practically all this money will go abroad - from the cost of the reactors to the profits.   We are talking tens or hundreds of billions of pounds.   The amount which will be returned to the UK is a pittance in comparison to what will be taken out - yet we will be carrying the risks and suffering the despoilation of our countryside.

We note that the local plan for West Cumbria requires any major development to include funding for infra-structure improvements required as a result of a project to be borne by the developer.   We hope that the government will refuse to fund any of the building that is set to destroy the West Cumbria environment so comprehensively.   The government have been conned into believing the industry's claims that they will fund everything and there will be no cost to the UK.   Now its the time to call their bluff - make them pay for it all, from land purchase to infra-structure to the necessary improvements to the national grid and waste disposal.   Sadly, as we note elsewhere, the manipulators have already made the UK responsible for insuring the risks - not an auspicious start.

Comments in parliament with regard to the "spike" of employment suffered by West Cumbria during the building of nuclear installations reveal that the pattern of ten years boom, followed by 13,000 people simultaneously being made redundant over a very short period, is likely to be repeated.   A bonus being the killing of any other sustainable industry, thus ensuring West Cumbria becomes even more reliant on just one major employer.

A great deal of rubbish is being touted on behalf of interested parties - not least those who stand to gain large amounts of money should nuclear new-build go ahead.   Nuclear is not the answer for the following reasons:

1.     Finance

Despite assurances, nuclear is not financially viable.   The premise on which this was founded ignored the cost of building the power stations - which, because they are private projects were originally to be paid for by the companies without taxpayer input (something which is already changing);  the insurance - which, following a devious plot by some MPs is now to be underwritten - without the benefit of commercially-equivalent premiums - by the taxpayer;  the storage and handling of waste - which themselves will never be commercially viable;  the damage to health and environment caused by current establishments and which will be exacerbated by any new developments;  the cost of new infra-structure in the remote areas likely to be selected for any new-build.   Without government subsidy people will end up in fuel poverty.   In France, 25% of people can no longer afford to pay their energy bills - despite the heavy government subsidy to the nuclear industry.   France, often held as an example of good nuclear practice, was a net importer of fuel in 2007/8.   Anyone who doubts the financial basis for our arguments should have a look at what the Citigroup decided in response to Miliband's statements in the House on the 9th November, 2009.   It is an Acrobat file - click here to download.

2.     Climate Change

Nuclear energy production is neither clean, green or CO2 neutral.   Every stage of the process, from extraction to production to waste product, produces more CO2 than any other method of energy production.   In addition, it has a multitude of by-products, such as HFCs, antimony, and a range of heavy metals.   Because of the need for uninterruptible power to cool the stored waste, alternative sources have to provide the required energy.   This is in the form of conventionally powered generating stations - each of which produces more CO2.   (Other factors, such as the energy consumed in back-up and safety processes ancillary to the generation are noted throughout this site.)

[Critics, mostly on the political right and among global warming sceptics, say Mr. Gore is poised to become the world's first "carbon billionaire," profiteering from government policies he supports that would direct billions of dollars to the business ventures he has invested in.]
3.     Waste

Currently there is no known method of safely disposing of the waste from nuclear energy production.   The waste includes the radioactive materials, together with the many chemicals that they are mixed with to facilitate various processes - including the reprocessing.   At present the major part of this waste is in the form of millions of gallons of highly radioactive nitric acid.   The initial premise was that a second generation of nuclear power stations would produce waste that could then be used again.   This failed to materialise and the few existing power stations using that process are being phased out.

Every country producing power by nuclear means has a serious problem with the waste produced.   The sole solution that does not involve horrendous costs is to find a hole in the ground and bury it, thus imposing a future burden for the next generations.   It is surely our problem and not theirs?   Unlike most waste, there is no quick decay - these materials will be highly toxic for thousands of years.   Burial implies that they will not be recoverable, meaning a reliance on the stability of tectonic plates that does not exist in nature.

Questions around waste include whether it should be buried in a way so that it can be recovered, or just buried for eternity.   What happens if the latter material is discovered to be leaking and causing damage?   Monitoring only tells of events that have occurred - it does not provide a failsafe.   Sadly, permanent interment is not viable as there is no known method which is infallible.   There is a requirement for suitable geological formation, but that does not exist in the areas volunteering to be considered - Copeland, and Allerdale, the two council areas around Sellafield.   It seems that the surveys may be amended to produce satisfactory results for the politicians in order that they can persuade people the waste is not a problem anymore.

The next generation of power stations will produce waste seven times more toxic than the current ones.   This will be stored on the site of the generators, making for a wider target for terrorists.   Sellafield's on-site storage is already in serious difficulty due to corrosion.   It was not designed to be impervious to terrorist attack, and even a light aircraft crashing into the appropriate storage area could cause widespread damage.

4.     Health

Despite a variety of deflecting enquiries, the most recent scientific research has found that there is an increased risk of leukemia in proximity to nuclear power stations.   Body samples from around the UK were removed, without seeking consent, for analysis to assess the up-take of materials from the nuclear industry.   The 
Redfern Enquiry, set up by Alistair Darling in 2007 to establish the facts, has been adjourned for some time now and their website has not been up-dated since 2007.   Two e-mails we have sent to their web address, enquiring as to progress, have not been acknowledged or replied to.   (See Editorial Page for more.)

There are moves afoot to ensure that not just the Sellafield workers gain compensation when they suffer from radiation-induced illnesses.   Questions remain as to why the unions involved in worker compensation claims are happy to go along with the secrecy that seems to surround individual cases.

5.     Environment

The land around Sellafield is already polluted.   The body responsible for cleaning up the area is also responsible for producing the pollution.   Products from Sellafield can be found throughout the Irish Sea, around the Scottish coast, across to Scandinavia and the Bering Sea, and across to Nova Scotia.   These products, some of which were deliberately discharged (source:  Click here to read the report on Dunster statement.   A synopsis of the article can be found in the notes attached to this website.) to find out what effects they have on people and the environment - part of a large experiment conducted without consent of the participants - are so long-lived that to all intents and purposes they are going to last for ever.

6.     Risks and Threats

Despite the policitians' statements to the contrary, the supply of raw materials for the nuclear industry is not secure.   Some of the main suppliers are politicallly unstable, others require the transport of the material half way around the world.   In 5. above, we note the potential for terrorist attack that is extant, and which will be exacerbated by having more storage depots/more frequent transportation of raw and waste materials.   We have also noted that the new processes will produce waste seven times more toxic even than the current levels.

Burying materials is not a viable option as the methods are, as yet, imperfect and untried.   In some parts of the world it is being tried, but these are in areas with very low rainfall.   With almost a metre of rainfall per year, Cumbria is not a sensible option - even if the government manage to ignore the unsatisfactory rock  formation.   The current flooding in Cumbria highlights the dangers of both irretrievable nuclear waste, the potential for accelerated decay of the casing, the problems related to transport and other parts of the infra-structure in the region when catastrophes occur.

7.     Accountability.

There will be no long-term accountability or enforceable correction measures.  

The companies involved in these proposals are almost entirely of foreign origin.   It seem that the expenses will rest on the UK taxpayer whilst any profits will go abroad.   In the event of a nuclear incident, the UK taxpayer will be required to foot the bill.  


There is currently a consultation exercise being conducted by the government.   The decision will be made by the minister from the Department for Envrionment and Climate Change, Mr. Miliband.   He is already on record as saying that nuclear is the only option.

The land surrounding Sellafield was sold in November, 2009, for £70 million.   (To be more precise, just over £5 million was agreed for the option to buy the land, the rest to be paid later.)   There was an assumption on the part of all concerned that the buyer would be building at least three reactors on the site.   No planning consent has yet been given and the consultation process has not been concluded.   There has been no local consultation over the Energy Coast proposition, which has been promoted by ex-Sellafield staff and quangos set up using pro-nuclear organisations funds - such as money from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
The government are proposing changes to the planning legislation to enable faster approval of major projects such as this.   Inevitably this will mean that there will be less opportunity for the public to make their voices heard.  As one sage said, "Never before has the public been so consulted by government, and never before have the public been less listened to."   With the proposed changes to the planning legislation there will be even less likelihood of public opinion being aired.   Such is what passes for democracy under these posturing, spinning (a euphemism for lying) politicians.

It will be interesting to see how many of these people become employees of the generating companies when the next election leaves them jobless.   Surely, many of them will follow the examples of one of the original Champagne Socialists - "Nuclear Jack" and, more recently, Mr. Hutton, below?

Braystones
For over 60 years Braystones has lived quietly and peacefully in the shadow of neighbouring Sellafield.   Sadly, like so many other Cumbrian, Manx, Welsh, Irish, Scottish and Scandinavian coastal communities, it has discovered that the pollution from the nuclear plant has been washed up on its shores.   Nearly 700 radioactive particles have been found on the beach (ref. Beach Monitoring Summary Report, from the official Sellafield website:  http://www.sellafieldsites.com) in the last few years, and the area is still scanned on a regular basis by a team from Sellafield using a tracked Hillcat vehicle (see picture below).   Monitors with geiger counters also check the tidelines for any particles.  

The beaches are used by holiday-makers, whilst commercial and competitive fishing takes place all along the coast.   Despite the fact that, more than 25 years ago, the beaches here were declared "safe" after a radioactive slick caused widespread pollution to the shores, these radioactive particles are still being found.   (We recommend readers unfamiliar with the situation to have a look at our Bellona Report Highlights page or, even better, read the actual report from this link: http://www.bellona.org/filearchive/fil_sellaengweb.pdf   

To see some notes from Copeland Council's Planning department and puzzle over how any of the proposals can be made to fit, click here.

We note elsewhere that the BBC seem to be especially biased when it comes to nuclear new-build.   A proposed policy of nuclear development on this scale should surely have been brought to the attention of the wider audience.   We can find no interest in educating the UK audience as to what the effect of the ten or eleven proposed developments will be.   Despite our letters to a variety of programmes and presenters (Coast, Panorama, Look Northwest, Julia Bradbury, etc.) the omission is still painfully obvious.   A pity, as most people are seeing only the nuclear is clean, green and CO2 free claim - which is blatently misleading.  

"Coast" these days always seems to deviate when they get to Barrow or Morecambe, making their way to the Isle of Man or to Ireland, only returning when safely past Sellafield.   However, we have come across a Series 1 Coast programme from 2005, which was obviously made well before the contraversial new developments were announced.  

Click here to view the clip from "Coast".   (.flv - Flash - file, 21 MBytes - about 8 minutes.)   It is a worthwhile exercise, if only for the animation depicting the plume of technetium 99.  (With its long half-life, 212,000 years, Tc-99 remains in the environment, to all intents and purposes, for ever.   Air, sea water, soils, plants, and animals contain very low concentrations of Tc-99.   Organic matter in soils and sediments slows the transport of Tc-99.   In the presence of oxygen, plants readily take up technetium compounds from the soils.   Some plants such as brown algae living in seawater are able to concentrate Tc-99.   Technetium-99 can also transfer from seawater to animals.   Ingestion is the primary entry route for Tc-99 into the body.   This may occur by eating food or drinking water contaminated with Tc-99.)  
Source:  http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/radionuclides/technetium.html

Beach particle finds

Seafood cocktail anyone?   Actually, the commercial gathering of cockles and other seafood existed until a short while ago, particularly around Nethertown Head.   Fishing from small boats is still very popular around the outfall pipe, including trippers from Whitehaven.   We have to wonder whether this is a sensible practise.
 
Here is another clip:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8107470.stm   This one, despite depicting Gosforth residents opposed to the siting of a nuclear dump (sorry, repository) in the village, is headed, "Councils compete for Nuclear Dump".   Even that is factually incorrect.   All that has happened is that two councils have consented to permit investigations to take place into whether the locations are suitable.   Neither has yet expressed any actual interest.   Mind you, there is a possibility that, once the investigations have been concluded, the government will decide that too much has been invested to go anywhere else, thus removing the voluntary nature of the deal.   It is unclear whether the local councillors have considered this aspect of things.   Don't mention the Nirex enquiry findings! Throughout all this the community has suffered in silence, mindful of the employment and financial rewards offered by the plant.   Along with radioactive materials - land-borne, marine-borne, and air-borne - there is the constant hum and the nocturnal light pollution.   Children have played on the beach through all these decades.   Fish and shellfish have still been caught and eaten.

The Plans for Braystones
RWE's Marine Offloading Facility Plans The view from the Nethertown road which will be concreted over.

The Braystones to Nethertown road, which will be subsumed by RWE's site.

Looking south along the Braystones to Nethertown road - which, if plans are approved, will become part of RWE's proposed site.   The beach is approximately 1/3rd mile to the right.   Egremont and the nearest main road, the A595, are 3 miles to the left of the picture.  
In the distance, about 15 miles away is the edge of the Cumbrian mountains.   It will be noted that the terrain is not conducive to heavy construction traffic, and would not be of much use for emergency evacuation purposes, either.

In the centre of the picture the pile of Sellafield can be discerned.   This is one of the casualties of the 1957 fire and is taking a lot of decommissioning.  

There are three Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the area, on both sides of the road:  Silver Tarn, Harnsey Moss and Hollas Moss.   Being dependent on the hydrology of the area, it is amazing that the Natural England quango can submit the opinion that the effects of flatteninng these hills and levelling off, inserting foundations for a 240' high reactor building and all its ancillary work can be "mitigated".   We don't understand how this fits with Natural England's mission statement, either.


The plans on the left above were first put forward at the April meetings, and show the proposed effects on Braystones beach in the area shown in the heading photograph.   The beach bungalows would, obviously, be very much in the way.   Even if they are not removed, there would be a devastating effect on the quality of the beach and its environs.   Interestingly, plans were recently approved by Copeland council for a similar "marine off-loading facility", but at Sellafield - about 4 kms south of the area depicted above.   The ostensible reason for the requirement being to facilitate the installation of a replacement evaporator to replace one which has become defective.   Strangely, there was apparently no need for one when the original evaporators were installed.   Cynics might believe that this is another manipulation by the NDA to increase the value of the land they are trying to auction at Sellafield.   They might also wonder at the ameniability of the local councillors and council officers.   Taken in isolation these plans are drastic enough, by see how Braystones will become sandwiched by the additions to the proposed Iberdrola site at Sellafield.  These diagrams take no account of the likelihood of services springing up in "industrial parks".   How long before the two sites join together and the whole thing becomes one big industrial area like those in the worst excesses of the Victorian era?   Then, of course, there are the proposals for Kirksanton . . .
Although there would be an urgent need for development were the above plans to be implemented, nothing appears to have been done to secure additional track or railway facilities, despite the somewhat tight deadline.   A Network Rail manager said it would take at least seven years before anything could begin but, to June,2009, they had heard nothing in the way of requests for such development.

Secret Meetings

In very early 2008, (e-mails requesting information have been ignored) a group of people got together and decided that Braystones would be an ideal place to build a nuclear power plant.   For over a year the residents were kept in ignorance of the Master Plan being hatched by The West Cumbria Renaissance Group and others.   Our MP would have us believe that, despite his extraordinarily strong bias in favour of the nuclear industry (being an ex-PR man for the firm no doubt helped his beliefs)  he, too, was kept in the dark until just after Christmas, 2008.   By this time, plans were well advanced.   The Renaissance Group, having ear-marked a couple of "suitable" sites had, by then, been looking round for a suitable power generator to convince.   It found one in RWE n-Power, a German company.  Germany is phasing out nuclear sites on health and environmental grounds and the subject is likely to be a major issue in the forthcoming elections in September, 2009.   Their government discovered that if it pursued the ambition to be nuclear-free it may have to rely on outsiders to meet the increasing energy demands of Germany.   Some of their neighbours are not people with whom they would like to do business, so it is necessary to find a suitable source, where the politicians are suitably gullible/biased and easily persuaded of the merits of a highly toxic process.

Mr. Reed's denials worry us - the West Lakes Renaissance quango, proposers of the Energy Coast concept - minute a meeting in June, 2008, when they met the Prime Minister and Mr. Darling to put forward their ideas.   Can we honestly believe that they went to Downing Street for such a vital meeting without informing such a staunch supporter of the nuclear industry?   But why would an MP lie?

5/9/09
Unfit for Germans - eminently suitable for Cumbrians

In Britain, already panicking about the potential energy shortfall and rapidly-rising unemployment, the fag-end Labour government would not take much persuading to follow any rainbow in the hope of finding the pot of gold.   Although the NDA (Nuclear De-commissioning Authority) was set up to clear aging sites, its business rapidly turned to buying good will from the people of Cumbria.   New roads, new public buildings, new health facilities have all been within the ambit of the "decommissioning" authority.   Their largesse has caused great concern.   Some of the things they are doing have absolutely nothing to do with decommissioning nuclear plants.   In fact, the agency has been likened to a slush fund.   The future development of many projects has been linked to the area's acceptance of nuclear new-build;  do this or you won't get these improvements.   Several projects even have nothing at all to do with industry, and many people believe that improvements to, for example, the local hospital, should be nationally funded by central government, not dependent on nuclear development and the decommissioning agency.   In most other areas this is certainly the case.

The Energy Coast Masterplan has now been brought out into the open.   Residents were told just ten days before the deadline for consultation closed.   Small wonder then that a crowd of over 300 people crammed into the Civic Hall in Whitehaven to have their say on the 18th March, 2009.  

Have a listen to this from You and Yours.  (Broadcast on 4/5/09, .mp3 file - 15 mins approx.)


Lying about Resident's views

This was followed a couple of weeks later by smaller, local meetings, hosted by RWE.   At the Beckermet meeting residents voted unanimously against nuclear new-build on green-field sites.   Conveniently, minutes were not taken at either the Whitehaven or Beckermet meeting.

However, the minutes of the West Cumbrian Sites Stakeholders Group of Copeland Council, for the subsequent meeting - which was, conveniently, minuted, recorded that David Moore, chairman, had said:  '. . . the meetings had been well attended with over 300 people, which he felt showed significant commitment from the people of West Cumbria and a clear message was received that there was very strong support for new build . . . '     (WCSSG minutes for the 2/4/09, Para 10, Page 3).   A letter objecting to this distortion was sent on 23rd July, 2009.   A few weeks later we received a reply saying that Mr. Moore was just stating his impression, and that we should read further.   In fact, we had read further, but the impression was still that Mr. Moore was deliberately trying to mislead by stating something that was, to most people at least, untrue.   Consider, if you will, that there has been no attempt to seek the views of residents over such important matters.   All that has happened so far is a series of announcements.   At the end of this period (of ten days), we were allowed to put our views to the government who have repeatedly said that the nuclear industry is the only viable option - in other words their minds are closed and the decision has been made.

As confirmation of our view that residents were not in favour, we were happy to read the following in the Whitehaven News article, dated 26/11/09:

'At a lively public meeting last March many Braystones/ Beckermet residents voiced strong opposition to any reactor development and will have another chance to make their feelings known when energy company RWE npower unveil its plans at an exhibition early in the New Year.'

Source:  http://www.whitehaven-news.co.uk/news/tide_turns_on_site_for_nuke_plant

At a meeting in Manchester, of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities, on the 18th September, 2009, the point was made that investigations will be made into where the hole for burying the waste will be sited.   The residents might have a say in whether they want this facility.   However, each of the proposed nuclear reactors will also be repositories for high level waste - each storing their own until it can be buried or dealt with in some unspecified manner.   No mention has been made of consulting the residents around the proposed sites as to whether they want to take part in this high-risk strategy.   The sole consideration so far has been the presence of the reactor.   We believe that far greater honesty is required, so that people (including those without technical expertise) can make a fully-informed decision.

At a lecture at Sellafield's Visitor Centre, on 16th June, a Mr.Tim Knowles, from Cumbria County Council, stated that there was very strong support for nuclear new-build in West Cumbria, and he showed slides on which this same point was made.   When questioned, he could not justify his statements, nor could he explain his basis for them.   Both Kirksanton and Beckermet communities have expressed their strong antagonism to the proposed developments.   Mr. Knowles told the audience that he had worked for Sellafield for 20 years.

Nice People to Deal With?

Naturally, most people would like to think that there is such a thing as honesty and openness involved in the information made available regarding nuclear power and its effects on health and the environment - so that they can make an informed decision when it comes to future energy production.   Sadly, there is no such thing.   Several good short films can be seen at Tenner Films. (Then click on "Completed to view a selection of projects completed and available.   Please complete the on-line vote for/against nuclear new build.)   Our favourite film is entitled Minister.   It has Tony Benn explaining how, as Energy Minister, he was never told the things which he was supposed to know - like the Windscale fire, for example!

Generally, people would like to think that these big energy companies are straightforward and honest people to deal with - as that is certainly the image they try to project.   Sadly, generally speaking, they are not.   Sometimes, with state backing, they do things which an ordinary citizen would spend years in jail for.   For example, back in 1985 the French government got a bit depressed about Greenpeace messing up their atomic bomb tests.   As a result of their frustration the French decided to blow up the Greenpeace vessel, Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland harbour.   Such was the diligence of the French agents that they overlooked the presence of a photographer on board when they decided to Do Their Thing. Sadly, he died.

Back in 1974 there was the mysterious case of Karen Silkwood.   As a result of books and a film, starring Meryl Streep, the basics are well-known world-wide.   A union activist who became contaminated at the nuclear power plant where she worked, she decided to become a whistle-blower, making public the poor safety procedures and disregard of regulations at the plant, including exposure of workers to contamination, faulty respiratory equipment and improper storage of samples.   She also alleged that safety standards had slipped because of demands for increased production, which had resulted in employees being given tasks for which they were poorly trained. She also alleged that Kerr-McGee employees handled the fuel rods improperly and that the company falsified inspection records.   En route to meet a New York Times reporter - apparently with a sheaf of evidence - her car was involved in a fatal accident.    No papers were found in the car.   The plant owners, Kerr-McGee, ultimately settled out of court for $1.38 million, admitting no liability. According to Richard L. Rashke's book "The Killing of Karen Silkwood", investigators into Silkwood's death as well as into the Kerr-McGee corporation and Cimarron plant received death threats, one of these investigators disappeared under mysterious circumstances. One of the witnesses to the Silkwood incident apparently committed suicide very shortly before she was to testify in court against the Kerr-Mcgee corporation under oath about the alleged happenings at the plant.

According to Rashke's book, the Silkwood family's legal team were followed, threatened with violence, and even physically assaulted. The book also claims that the 44 pounds of missing plutonium (enough to make four nuclear weapons) at the plant were stolen in part of a secret underground plutonium smuggling ring that many government agencies including the highest levels of government and international intelligence agencies were involved with.

Of course, as is the case with many employers, it is much easier to get rid of troublesome staff intent on adhering to "The Rules", rather than actually amend practices to ensure that good protocols are followed.   The nuclear industry has its own rogues gallery of people who thought they knew better than their bosses, and threatened to embarrass management by revealing what really goes on behind the high-security fences.   People like Rodney Fordham, John Taylor and Ross Hesketh paid the penalty;  being forced out of employment because they dared to illustrate failings that endangered not only those on the site, but also the public.

A few years after Rainbow Warrior, there was a bit of a scandal over the French government's involvement with Elf.   Then, EDF were accused of hiring a company of private detectives, "Kargus Consultants", to spy on environmental groups such as Greenpeace.   According to the Sunday Times, on 26th April this year, these investigators also infomally sought information on campaigners from MI5.   Nice to know that by objecting, quite legally and rationally to the nuclear industry you are sticking your neck out so far that it attracts the attention of Big Brother (who, somewhat annoyingly, otherwise doesn't want to know your views), and may prove fatal.

Kargus Consultants, run by Thierry Lorho, a French ex-intelligence officer, apparently admitted to breaking French laws by organising the hacking of Greenpeace's computer systems in France.   However, according to the reports, he insisted that he was obeying instructions from EDF security officials.   (Who were sacked when the facts became known - there has to be un bouc émissaire.)   Needless to say, EDF said they wholeheartedly condemn any method aimed at obtaining information illegally.   One has to try very hard not to be cynical and suggest that they were happy enough to use whatever information they were given without any qualms as to its origins.   Did they never think to ask how such material had been obtained?   Hmm.  Keep trying to believe that.

Studsvik is a company which has commenced operations in the UK.   It has places in Workington and Whitehaven.   Our understanding is that the idea behind the plant at Lillyhall, Workington, is that radioactive materials are sent to be mixed with other metals before being shipped out for re-use.   A bit like diluting any poison.   By spreading the radioactivity over a larger area, the harmful effects are diminished.   This may mean that the metals end up being very close to vulnerable areas, but who cares?   In June, 2009, a report appeared in the local press:
THE BOSS of the £6 million Studsvik recycling plant at Lillyhall has left the company.

It was announced that Studsvik UK president Mark Lyons, right, was leaving after an audit with “immediate effect”.

A statement said that an internal audit found income from projects, mostly in 2008, to be overstated by about £1 million, primarily attributable to 2008. The amount will impact results for the second quarter.”

Mr Lyons has been succeeded by Sam Usher.

The statement added: “The changeover of presidents is taking place after continued losses in project operations.”

Mr Lyons, from Northumberland, worked for Studsvik since the Swedish firm bought his company in 2005.

Mr Usher was previously vice president of business development in Studsvik UK.

The Joseph Noble Road facility was opened officially by Phil Davies, head of waste and nuclear materials at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, on May 6.

The Metal Recycling Facility (MRF) decontaminates scrap metal from the nuclear industry for further use in industry.It was the first plant of its kind to open in the UK and the first new nuclear site licence to be granted in two decades.The facility is expected to begin work next month, when the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate (NII) will be requested to give final consent for the receipt of contaminated metals onto the site.

The plant, which created up to 30 jobs, was first granted a Nuclear Site Licence by the UK Health & Safety Executive in 2008.

The Lillyhall facility was given the RoSPA occupational health and safety award for the engineering construction industry sector in 2009.
Source:  http://www.timesandstar.co.uk/news/business/studsvik_boss_leaves_after_cash_audit_1_570199?referrerPath=home

Of course, bribery is rife in large industries where huge sums of money are involved.   The sheer scale of it means that inevitably, government becomes embroiled in it.   Areva, manufacturers of one of the reactors being considered for new sites in the UK, is 66% owned by the French government (whose ethics are obvious from the Greenpeace story above) and 33% by Siemens.   Anyone interested in the background to Siemens can find references on the internet.   The results might include how the company ended up paying $1.6 billion - the largest fine in modern corporate history, or the article about the whistleblower - a former Siemens employee - whose "life was thrown into chaos" when he reported financial irregularities to his superiors.   Bribery was just a "line item", according to one source.   "A mid-level accountant called Rheinhard Siekaczek says that from 2002 to 2006 he oversaw an annual bribery budget of about $40 million to $50 million at Siemens."  

Source:  http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/bribe/2009/02/at-siemens-bribery-was-just-a-line-item.html


Are you beginning to see how attractive new nuclear might be to people about to be made redundant who have become used to the champagne lifestyle?

Not yet convinced?   Try this:  Michael Christoforakos, the former Siemens boss in Greece who was arrested in Germany last week, could become a key witness in the ongoing investigation into the bribery scandal at the German engineering giant. While Greek prosecutors want the German authorities to extradite Michael Christoforakos back to Greece to face corruption charges there, prosecutors in Munich may prefer to hold on to him.  

Source:  http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,633198,00.html


So, we have allegations of premature deaths (whether deliberate or accidental), body-part-snatching, data falsification, half a century of pollution of almost every conceivable kind, with scientists readily acknowledging that they are deliberately releasing toxic metals and chemicals into the environment to discover the effect on living things - including humans, and yet we are still supposed to accept that they are decent, honest, caring people.   What is more disturbing is that they have convinced people in power to believe their falsehoods.   There is nothing green, sustainable or economically viable about this industry.   
So how can anyone justify its expansion?   That we have MPs so gullible might illustrate why they came to be preoccupied with their expense fiddles.

Take the gold, leave the cyanide

Of course, Sellafield is not alone in the pollution stakes.   No matter which plant you look at there are environmental consequences.   Have a look at Savannah River sites - http://www.bredl.org/pdf/SRSfactsheet12oct02.PDF if you are in any doubt.   There are many, many more examples on-line.

The integrity of politicians, now just a joke, extends to the way they treat Scots, too.   Have a look at the posting here about Machrihanish Airbase Community Company.


Political Incentives

On the 9/12/09, Fernandez Rick wrote, commenting on an article about Al Gore having misled the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change:

"Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.

“Scientific Method is supposed to allow for others to double-check the work leading to the theory. In other words, starting with the same data and applying the same methods, I should get the same results. But in the case of Anthropocentric Global Warming, this is impossible. The CRU, in response to Freedom of Information Requests for the raw data on which they based their dire predictions of doom, first stalled, then admitted they had destroyed the raw data! We mere mortals are expected to simply take their word their conclusions are accurate. I have to wonder with all the tens of millions of dollars in funding CRU enjoyed, why they could not purchase an extra hard drive to save that raw data!

The Russians are also questioning the validity of the data.

We can see that a lot of money and political power has been invested in so call “global warming” that if the general population sees this as a lie and a hoax, many well-known institutions of government and media will likely collapse from the scandal. The establishment is desperate fighting for its life. And we should expect them to take any and all desperation measures to prolong and preserve their status."

Source:   http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/copenhagen/article6956783.ece

Al Gore, the former US vice president, could become the world's first carbon billionaire after investing heavily in green energy companies

Last year Mr Gore's venture capital firm loaned a small California firm $75m to develop energy-saving technology.   The company, Silver Spring Networks, produces hardware and software to make the electricity grid more efficient.

The deal appeared to pay off in a big way last week, when the Energy Department announced $3.4 billion in smart grid grants, the New York Times reports. Of the total, more than $560 million went to utilities with which Silver Spring has contracts.   The move means that venture capital company Kleiner Perkins and its partners, including Mr Gore, could recoup their investment many times over in coming years.

Few people have been as vocal about the urgency of global warming and the need to reinvent the way the world produces and consumes energy as Mr Gore. And few have put as much money behind their advocacy and are as well positioned to profit from this green transformation, if and when it comes.   Critics, mostly on the political right and among global warming sceptics, say Mr. Gore is poised to become the world's first "carbon billionaire," profiteering from government policies he supports that would direct billions of dollars to the business ventures he has invested in.

Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, has claimed that Mr Gore stood to benefit personally from the energy and climate policies he was urging Congress to adopt.

Mr Gore had said that he is simply putting his money where his mouth is.   "Do you think there is something wrong with being active in business in this country?" Mr. Gore said. "I am proud of it. I am proud of it."

Source:   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/6491195/Al-Gore-could-become-worlds-first-carbon-billionaire.html

Mr. Gore, whose book and film, "An Inconvenient Truth", successor to a somewhat less successful earlier tome, "Earth in the Balance", sparked the current paranoia over global warming, is already reaping the rewards of his efforts and scaremongering, it would seem.   According to reports, it would appear that Mr. Gore's attendance at Copenhagen was scheduled to include a talk with what are referred to as "$1200 handshakes".   In other words, attendees of his lectures would pay $1200 for the priviledge of listening to the great man.

Frankly, there is a lot in this paragon's background that doesn't lend itself to close inspection.   There is too great an interest in making millions of dollars for a start.   Then there is the incompatibility of his stance on the envrironment with that of his business history and investments.   Like the Bush family's links to oil companies.   Try http://www.realchange.org/gore.htm for an appraisal.


A contract John Hutton bestowed on EDF was for £12.5 billion   . . .  it is reported that  Mr Hutton will be appointed to nuclear power company EDF’s Stakeholder Advisory Panel, which advises the firm’s senior management, and includes Lord Patten, the former Tory Cabinet Minister

The energy deal saw EDF – which is controlled by the French government – take over British Energy and its eight UK nuclear power stations.   It also gave the firm control of most of the sites earmarked for building new nuclear power stations in Britain, including Sizewell in Suffolk and Dungeness in Kent.

If his move goes ahead, Mr Hutton will join a steady stream of former senior Labour colleagues taking highly paid jobs in the private sector, such as former Trade and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, former Home Secretary David Blunkett and ex-Defence Minister Ivor Caplin.

Source:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1213023/Minister-lands-job-French-power-firm--just-year-giving-ahead-British-nuclear-plants.html:

How long before others join the gravy train?   Some local politicians must surely be assured of an lucrative extra-curricular job as a reward for their distortion of the truth and first-class salesmanship?   The elevation of Copeland MP, Mr. Reed, to minister for the North West is only the first step on this grungey ladder, we're sure.

Back to the Bad Old Days

Mr. Mayall, of the Environment Agency, said at the above-mentioned WCSSG meeting that:
"One particular issue that has arisen this year is in relation to the discharges of a radionuclide known as antimony 125;  it is discharged almost entirely by the Fuel Handling Plant at Sellafield. . . .  there has been a slight increase in discharges of this particular nuclide to atmosphere." (WCSSG minutes for the 2/4/09, Para 93, Page 21)

'A decision by SL to resume the reprocessing of spent fuel is almost certain to led to a breach of the [antimony] 125Sb limit to air, however we are satisfied that this would not cause any harm to members of the public or the environment.' (Briefing note for West Cumbria Sites Stakeholder Group by the Environment Agency.)


The (German) KiKK study covered the period from 1980 to 2003.   It was divided into two study periods: the first eleven years of operation of a power reactor and the remaining years. This was necessary as studies had shown that the risk was higher in the first case than in the second.   The potential for different results according to reactor age was addressed in the KiKK study.    The environment around 16 German nuclear power plants was studied. To quote from the report (http://www.bfs.de/en/kerntechnik/kinderkrebs/kikk.html):

The distance of the home to the nearest nuclear power plant site on the day of diagnosis (for cases), or, respectively, to the analogue reference day (for controls) was determined as measure of the distance.

Radiation exposure could not be taken into consideration since no measured results are available nor is a modelling of radiation exposure reasonably possible. The distance between home and reactor was taken as an alternative to radiation exposure.

Study population: 1,592 cases and 4,735 controls

Overall, the study confirmed the correlation between the vicinity of the home at the day of diagnosis and the risk to contract cancer or leukaemia before the 5th birthday. However, the study cannot produce evidence, as to which risk factors cause this relationship. 

The distance of the home to the nearest nuclear power plant site was determined  within an accuracy of 25 m on average.

•    It was found that all types of cancer as well as leukaemia occurred significantly more frequently in the vicinity of nuclear power plants (within a radius of 5 km) than in further distant areas. The findings for all tumours can be essentially attributed to the findings for leukaemia. •    This results in a negative downward trend; meaning the cancer risk increases with the increasing vicinity to the reactor site.

•    It was found that the willingness of the cases or controls to participate in the study strongly depended on the distance from the home to the reactor.  Thus, there is a self-selection in Part 2 (case-control study with interviews) which does not allow a transfer of findings from this part of the investigation to the first part (without interviews). However, this had no influence on the overall study findings.

In detail, the following trend was found: a statistically significant monotonously decreasing trend of risk by distance was found: for all the diseases under study, largely caused by leukaemia

In other words, the closer you live to a nuclear power plant,  the greater the risk.

The KiKK report adds:  "What this case-control study cannot answer, is what causes cancer."
  
Interesting then that so many people - some desperately unqualified, tell us that Sellafield and the nuclear industry is safe.   How can this be verified if they don't know what has caused the link discovered in the above report?

Happily, as is usual in such instances, government advice was sought.   WCSSG's Environmental Health sub-group wrote to the Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) asking for a view on this KiKK report.   The response was duly read out at a subsequent WCSSG meeting, although it wasn't put on the website.   It appears (in the view of at least one expert) that the COMARE response sought to "downplay" the relevance of the KiKK report.   When challenged about some aspects of the view sent to WCSSG, COMARE stated that their response "did not represent a formal position and that they had not issued a formal statement on the KiKK study".   One wonders just what their response was meant to be, in that case.   Formally asked by a formal group for a statement, they produce something that apparently, when challenged on its content they cannot justify, they then change to being something unofficial!   What would be the purpose of anyone approaching them for anything other than the official view?   What would have happened if they had not been challenged?   Also, whether this was made clear to the WCSSG at the earliest opportunity has yet to be clarified.   Hopefully they will not have been left with the impression that the earlier (albeit a satisfactorily pro-nuclear) view was the official one.   (ref:  Dodging the evidence, leukemias and nuclear power plants)

Nuclear Directorate's Struggles

We are all used to hearing about the need for "zero tolerance" and how no incident is acceptable.   How come then that, after more than five decades of operation, Sellafield still had more than 1767 "incidents" in seven years?   [Source:  "Briefing on Nuclear Programme", Mike Weightman, Chief Inspector at HSE Nuclear Directorate.   Obtained via Freedom of Information Act.]   This august body has the aims of protecting people and society from the hazards of the nuclear industry.   (HSE Nuclear Directorate's purpose statement.)   The directorate is so starved of inspectors (many of whom will also be retiring in a couple of years time) that they have taken, or are about to take on, people from abroad (mainly China) and are seriously considering seconding people from the very corporations they are supposed to be inspecting!   A variation on the self-regulatory system that has failed so abysmally in other, less vital, industries.

The NII needs to have recruited new inspectors and professionals by the end of the first quarter of 2009 so the implementation of the short-term recommendations must receive the focused efforts and attention of government and the HSE in particular.   Failure to do so will seriously jeopardise the delivery of a key element of this government's energy policy. (Recommendation from the Stone Review.)


Nuclear agency defends pay-outs
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has said that the bonuses paid out to members of staff would be good news for taxpayers.   The Cumbria-based agency, which was set up to oversee the clean-up of the UK's nuclear sites, has released the information in its annual report.

It revealed that some staff members received pay-outs of up to £25,000 on top of their annual salary.    An NDA spokesman said it was important to retain top people.

Speaking on BBC Radio Cumbria, Bill Hamilton from the NDA, said that all bonuses were performance-related    "Everyone, from the admin assistant to the chief executive, is eligible for bonus dependent on a number of individual or corporate objectives," he said.   Source.:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cumbria/8159960.stm  

Tell me again, whose money is it?

The original item was written in 2009, but, surprise, surprise, here we are in 2010 and what do we read?   How about  this:

NMP in line for £50m fee from NDA

By Alan Irving

SELLAFIELD overlords Nuclear Management Partners are set to pick up a £50 million “well-done” fee on top of a £16.5 million dividend already earned.   The money – from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority kitty – is for NMP’s good performance and efficiency managing Sellafield over the past 16 months.

The Whitehaven News can also reveal for the first time the salaries paid to Sellafield’s top executives who succeeded the former BNFL directors, seven of whom received loss-of-office pay-offs amounting to some £8 million.  These included former managing director Barry Snelson. He parted from the company with £2 million largely in compensation.

The 2008-9 accounts reveal that seven Nuclear Management Partner executives were paid more than £1 million between them for their first four months’ work at Sellafield. These included American managing director Bill Poulson and Bob Pedde, who was in charge for a short time before returning to the United States.   Based on the first four months figures the present 19-strong Sellafield executive team will receive around £8.6 million between them in salaries for the 2009-10 financial year which will end shortly.

A Sellafield Ltd spokesman told The Whitehaven News: “Our team of executive directors are world leading experts in their respective fields with decades of experience of the nuclear industry both domestically and internationally.   Their remuneration is a matter for the (consortium) companies which employ them - URS (American), Areva (France) and Amec (UK).

In comments to The Whitehaven News, Barry Snelson, also points out that of his £2 million loss of office compensation some £788,508 has gone in tax.   He goes on: “I won’t protest about the coverage [in The Whitehaven News] or attempt to defend it, but I want to correct some of the untruths which relate to the (previous) executive team. They won’t speak up for themselves but firstly they did not fare equally well.   “BNFL always had a good redundancy scheme from which many generations have benefited especially those with long service and a high salary. Long serving executives did well but those with much shorter service much less well.   “I just fortunately, or unfortunately, was Sellafield’s highest paid employee and had 30 years’ service with the company.   “It is also unjust to claim that ‘they took their windfalls to other jobs in the industry.’ None of them work in Cumbria and only one could be said to have found permanent employment in the UK nuclear industry. One has had to move to America. One has moved to London for a job outside the industry. One works for an international project company on all sorts of projects, some nuclear.   None of the other four have found permanent employment but have either only worked in a series of temporary jobs, all over the country, or have not worked at all.”   

We may be missing something, but surely the assets being sold off belong to the taxpayer, not the NDA.   The employees are already being amply rewarded for their efforts, so why does the taxpayer have to pay twice?

This site is under continual development.   We intend, by using this site, to show the pro-nuclear propaganda to be the pack of lies and half-truths  that it is.   It is acknowledged that there has to be a change in the way in which we use energy, and that the continued use of resources and production of CO2 cannot continue.  We do not accept that the Cumbrian coast is a suitable place for what amounts to an overgrown industrial estate stretching from beyond Barrow-in-Furness to Maryport.   We do not accept that it is prudent to produce the most toxic substances known to mankind and store them in vats until technology permits their safe disposal some time in the future.  

We do not accept that it is responsible behaviour on anyone's part to permit any industry to discharge such noxious substances into the atmosphere or the sea, or to leach into the ground, or that it is the government's rôle to permit such discharges.

This site has been compiled over more than four years, and it would be remiss of us not to express our gratitude to all who have helped with advice and
information - sometimes several times a day.  
To those people, who have supplied material, inspiration, support and information, many thanks.



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