Britain's Toxic Coast
"There's no such thing as a 'safe' amount of
exposure to radiation,  yet authorities
make  the  vague suggestion that
being exposed to 100 millisieverts
 of radiation per year is all right."
Sellafield Energy Coast Toxic Coast Header Caption 4 When the scale of the Fukushima nuclear leaks was discovered, it was said that, "many decades worth of suffering was about to begin."

Sadly, whilst the above was true, after spending $11 billion digging out the Indian Holy Place, Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the problems were too great.  
3" annual rainfall was a problem.   Cumbria has 15 times that, but it will not be a problem - allegedly.

Home Opinion The Voice of Experience Editorial
(this page)

24/2/15
Hacked Off

Over the recent years there have been a number of intriguing developments in the field of hacking.   Nowadays, as well as the big national hacking rings, there has been an increase in the almost vigilante actions by small groups of otherwise disconnected people.   The methods have, on occasion, been very clever.   For the most part the intent has been to reveal the poor security that is given by large companies and organisations to their data.   However, that situation may not prevail for much longer.   Malware can be deleloped to do all kinds of nasty things.   From damaging the safety mechanisms of nuclear enhancement centrifuges to exposure of corrupt correspondence and commercial confidences.

Sadly, the people at the helm still adhere to the idea that a person is an IP address.   Wherever the mobile phone or laptop or iPad is, there is the owner.   Blatant stupidity.   Not only can IP addresses be falsified, but so can MAC addresses (each device connecting to a network has one).   Basically, anyone can pretend to be anyone.   For years now, the Big Brothers of the world - purely with our best interests at heart, you understand - have been monitoring our every telephone call, e-mail, instant message, etc.   They even hacked into the manufacturer of the chips embedded in the SIM card installed in every mobile phone network device to acquire the unique identifier contained therein.   Anyone spot the fatal flaw again?   Yes, they are identifiying a device not a person, and even then they may be being misled.   Of course, the more knowledgeable hackers go for specialist methods.   To quote from one well-known website:  "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."   What would be the advantage of making it almost impossible to track the origin of a message or understand its content?   Well, if you can pretend to be somone else, using a device whose identity has been either removed or changed to something else, and develop a nice little programme, what might you do with it?   Answers on a postcard please.

What has this to do with Cumbria's second most major industry?   Wouldn't it be interesting if the hackers attempted to access the nuclear industry's networks?   A bit too serious for normal people, but could it be done, and if so, to what extent might it compromise the processes?   Amusingly, we have read of an incident where someone introduced a virus into a network by plugging in a Chinese-made electronic cigarette.   Apparently these things can be recharged by connecting to a computer's standard USB port.   Probably the most amazing thing is that someone in China had had the foresight to write code that would introduce the malware.   How many USB ports do you think there might be in use around Sellafield, or the nuclear industry's offices?   Has anyone ever had the patience to sit for hours to wade through the software known as firmware which is embedded in every modem and router to try and detect malicious code?   Who do you think makes the  greater number of the dedicated chips contained in routers?
21/11/13
Honesty and Integrity at the Helm?   Forget It!

For some time now we have expressed our complete contempt for not only the procedures and policies which are under the control of politicians, but also the politicians themselves.   The recent exposees of the ex-head of the Co-op Bank and his connections to the Labour party have permitted Cameron to antagonise Milliband in the House.   Milliband in defence pointed out the millions of pounds handed to the Conservative party by people with questionable backgrounds, including one high-ranking member whose company was investigated for fraud.   The Lib Dems have refused to hand back millions donated by a corrupt businessman.   What is most amazing is that each of these parties and the individual politicians seem not to understand the fundamental point, they are so busy playing yah boo with each other.   The fundamental point being that the public expect that the people setting standards for them and imposing laws and taxes on them should themselves be bound by them and that the whole process should have a sound, honest base with accountabilty.   It has been reduced to a very nasty fight, but the losers, as always, will be the honest men in the street.   Should we really be subjected to this less-holier-than-thou unedifying brawl?   This being the standard is it surprising that the majority of people believe politicians to be self-seeking dishonest rogues?   It is very disconcerting that people like this should be in charge of nuclear matters - we must be forgiven for thinking they will do whatever brings them, personally, the most benefit.   It seems that Cumbria CC's draft response to the MRWS: Siting Process, aka the
nuclear dump, has been written by the very person who tried, unsuccessfully, to call in their decision.   (i.e. presumably he was greatly puzzled that there had been a no vote and wanted MPs to find a way to change it.)   As one campaigner says, this is clearly a conflict of interest.   Mind you, given the bias in every consultation and the selective editing of responses, together with the carefully selected questionnaires . . .

Perhaps one of the biggest problems for honest people is the fact that, although a person has already demonstrated certain perhaps undesirable traits, no-one seems to have the courage to stand up and say, this is wrong.   There have been several high profile cases in the press in recent times, highlighting an individual's background and the strange lack of those benefiting from illegally-gained largesse to take the honest route.   

When a person, allegedly highly educated, rises to become Prime MInister, are we wrong to expect more?   Mind you, if his "sense of humour" permits him to accuse a senior colleague of being on drugs, what chance is there?   Perhaps we are just getting old and this is the standard to be expected henceforth?   Along with the refusal of the most senior civil servant to hand over important documents recording the contents of conversations between an ex-prime minister and the president of the United States, we are of the opinion that corruption and deceipt have taken over and honesty and integrity, along with intelligence, are things of the past.   How sad.
21/11/13
Further Comment on the BBC

Referring to the article of the 17/11/13, we were amazed that despite there being no time to mention what was going on in Fukushima in the main news bulletins of the day - more important to the world in the long term than the hurricanes and typhoons affecting the Phillipines and mid-west America - a whole three minutes could be spent extolling the anniversary of Dr. Who.    This is dumbing down in the extreme, surely?
17/11/13
BBC Bias?   Surely Not?

Congratulations to our old friends Électricité de France.   We note on the home page the blanket advertising on Classic FM (we don't know about other stations, sorry), now we have just seen an excellent report on Countryfile tonight.   Completely missing the point that pumping hot water into the sea is a form of pollution responsible for global warming, the presenter waxed lyrical about how wildlife is thriving.   Great stuff - and just a time of need for Électricité de France - as they struggle to convince investors that building a nuclear plant anywhere is a good idea and worthwhile investment.   No mention either of the waste and its fate.   Still, that might have been construed as a criticism of the company and could possibly have upset the government just when the latter is pondering the renewal of the BBC's broadcasting licence.   So, just as with a protest recently in London, where several thousand people marched for some cause or other it was not given even a brief mention on the BBC, nothing must be done that might upset the apple cart.

One might also have expected that the potentially disastrous removal of 400 tonnes of fuel from the Number 4 reactor would be worth a word or several.   Not so.   That, too, might reflect badly on Rooney-alike's decision to susidise the industry responsible.   The fuel rods are believed to be brittle and possibly damaged forllowing the melt-down in 2011.   Special equipment has had to be built in order to facilitate the attempts.   Any accident has the potential to release highly-radioactive material into the atmosphere.   One observer has likened the process of removing the 15 feet long containers as being like trying to remove cigarettes from a crushed packet without tearing the paper or losing any tobacco.   Original low water levels meant that emergency supply of coolant was obtained from the ocean and some of the containers may well be corroded due to heat and salt water.   The process has never been attempted before and will be done manually.   The building housing the assemblies has already tilted considerably and it is thought that another earthquake could cause it to collapse, or the cooling water ponds to fail, exposing the rods to the atmosphere, which would probably cause a fire and result in the release of more radioactive material than in the original meltdown, affecting Tokyo.   So, nothing newsworthy there.   The condition of the other reactors is still unknown, as radiation levels are still too high to permit examination of them.   The operation is still in the hands of Tepco, whose credentials are not very impressive when it comes to openness, honesty and trustworthiness.  

These days, it seems, one has to turn to other countries' media for a more complete picture than that supplied by the BBC.
23/9/13
Going Off The Beaten Track

We have long been concerned about what we perceive to be a lack of maintenance on the coastal railway line between St. Bees and Sellafield.   Elsewhere on this site we have articles and photograhs depicting the  various lanslides.   One of these actually occurred during a visit by a member of the Office of the Rail Regulator.   We pointed out the various deficiencies that we were at that time aware of, and the occasion was made even more interesting by the fact that, despite phone calls to the Sellafield signaller to warn of debris blocking the line at Braystones level crossing, the message didn't get through to the train driver.   When asked why he had not stopped at, for example, St. Bees station, the driver replied that communications were always rubbish and, although he had received a message, it was almost impossible to make out what was said..   Three lay people heard the comment, but, sadly, the gentleman from the ORR could not remember it a few weeks later.

Currently Murphy's are engineering a new culvert between Nethertown and Braystones, in an attempt to forestall any further landslips, there having been three so far in the last two years.   A recent storm seems to have undones a lot of the preparatory work, however, which does not bode well for their understanding of the tidal properties of the beach.

Further down the coast a nuclear flask train came off the rails at a junction in Barrow-in-Furness.   As usual, there were the claims that it was all very safe;  the flasks were empty at the time, there was never any danger to the public, and no animals had been hurt, etc.   The accident happened (allegedly) at a speed of just 5 m.p.h.  Bearing in mind the parlous state of the track around Braystones, one has to wonder about the safety of nuclear flask trains hurtling along at over 40 m.p.h. and the ability of the two locomotives to stay on the line in the event of an accident.
23/9/13
Global Warming and Sellafield's Diminishing Returns

Our scepticism about global warming stems from the fact that the premise formed the basis of the push for nuclear power generation, leastways according to Harry Bolter's book  "Inside Sellafield".   With all the resources of the industry behind it, it will not have been hard to persuade gullible politicians and lobbyists to believe that the climate was changing very rapildy and that every other method of generation was responsible, whilst the nuclear industry was, unbelievably, promoted as being clean and green.   Total nonsense, of course, but a huge number of people believed in it.   Taking a comparatively small sample size meant the effect of global warming was indisputable.   However, as a whole, including the other three billion years or so, it was also obvious that the figures were meaningless - unless, of course, you had an industry to promote.

So, does global warming exist?   No doubt there are changes around the world, but then there always have been.   There were before the discovery of electricity and the steam age or the invention of the motor car.   The earth has natural cycles and it is evident from some statistics that the abnormality in the most recent figures is that a well-established trend towards cooling had temporatily been halted.   This could be the result of a wide number of factors, including the sun's level of activity.   After several years of having global warming pushed at us as an established "fact", it seems that the computer models might have got it wrong.   (Any programme is only as good as the programmer's intelligence.)   The various climate change lobbyists are now looking for a reason for the decrease in the melting of the polar ice-caps.   Inconveniently, these have not melted as predicted, but this year have actually increased in size.   Strange when the alleged causes have changed so little.
11/9/13
The Gospel According to the Health Protection Agency

Braystones Beach residents were issued with some handy advice and guidance earlier this year, in the form of a series of publications, including one from the Health Protection Agency.   We have never found the agency very interested in the welfare of beach residents and have pointed out on many occasions that visitors to the area are not informed of the situation vis a vis the particles being found on the beach, that there are areas of the beach that have never been checked because they are inaccessible, and that none of the beach bungalows have ever been checked for radiation, even though most of them have been extant since well before the Sellafield plant's fires and copious discharges.   Some of them are permanently inhabited, which might mean long-term exposure if particles from the beach have found their way into the bungalows.

Nuvia amongst the holiday-makers

Nuvia's new toy and support vehicle.
Nuvia's new toy on the beach amongst holiday makers

Holiday-makers and dogs oblivious to the particle-finders.
Environment Agency collect seaweed at Braystones

Environment officer collects seaweed from Braystone beach.

In its official and imposing publication, the agency demonstrates the "Average Radiation Exposure of U.K. Residents" in a prettily-coloured pite chart.   Some of the labels are a trifle confusing, such as <0.1% nuclear discharges;  <0.1% products (of what and from where/when?);  and 0.2% fallout (again, from what, where, why and when?)   What the chart does not show is the actual exposure to those living in areas which have been closest to nuclear activities - such as Braystones.   There is no information on what might be a typical exposure rate for them.   Even more aggravating is the breakdown of what the various types of particle can be contained by.   According to the agency, radiation from alpha particles can be stopped by a sheet of paper, beta particles by thin sheets of aluminium, and gamma rays by thick heavy shielding.   If these things are so inoccuous, what is the rationale for these huge flasks being labouriously tugged up and down the coastal railway line by two class 37 locomotives, both of which make very heavy going of the job.   Why not just wrap the contents in yesterday's fish and chip papers and pop them in the post?

Information booklets from Cumbria CC and Sellafield Ltd. explain what to do in the event of an emergency at the Sellafield site.   The whole is based on the predication that people more than a mile away will be able to discern that there is an emergency situation in place.   Quite how that might work is not explained, other than suggestions that there will be either a siren or a foghorn noise.   I'm sure people on the beach or in their beach homes will be listening out for those!   It is a good job that the head of the Nuclear Inspectorate has determined that nothing untoward will ever happen, eh?

Yet a Whitehaven News report in May, said that a report from teh Environment Agemcu concluded: “The current population size, activity distribution and movement of offshore particles are not sufficiently well known to reassure regulators and other stakeholders that the health risk to seafood consumers and other beach users are ALARP (as low as reasonable practical) and will remain so in the future.”'

http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk/news/number-of-radioactive-beach-particles-soared-threefold-1.1055311

27/4/13
Just A Hot-headed Thought

The thought did strike us that one of the not-so-obvious pollutants of energy production is heat itself.   There are many ways to boil a kettle, amongst them the nuclear way.   However, with most forms of generation there is little residual heat once the process has ceased production.   This is patently not the case with nuclear fuel, which goes on producing copious amounts of heat long after is has ceased to be useful.   Yet heat itself - that generated to boil the kettle, for example,  will surely contribute to climate change - once referred to as, er, "global warming".   The heat sink of the Irish Sea, for example will receive many gigawatts of heat as a result of nuclear generators discharging into it.    Someone clever once pointed out that the overall efficiency of a nuclear power station is only about 37%, which would mean that the outstanding ⅔ are just waste heat, which is then discharged (mainly) via the cooling waters into the nearest available ultimate heat sink.
1/4/13
Changes to Climate Change
(Cold and Old, The Bear Facts)


A whole series of interesting articles in the newspapers currently expose the nonsense that is behind so many of the proposed changes to our energy structure and the promotion of nuclear energy as a financially-viable alternative.

Although we have no political motive - having been disillusioned many years ago by the poor quality of the politicians and their propensity for dishonesty, lack of integrity and, on many occasions, criminal behaviour - but it is increasingly becoming clear that those currently in power would be struggling to hold a festive occasion in a brewery.   Days were when every change in legislation and policy was mulled over, all the ramifications considered and only when potential problems eradicated were they put into effect.   Nowadays, it seems, there is so much haste that any Good Idea (with apologies to A. A. Milne) is rushed past people too stupid or bigoted to see potential adverse effects.   It is a sad comment on the party politics of today that party policy and unity is thus more important than sensible, well-considered and well-implemented policies and regulations.   Even more ridiculous is that, having stampeded into these ill-judged moves, even more time is wasted in trying to justify them when there can be no justification for them, and then, ultimately, accepting the obvious and either re-doing it properly, or scrapping it altogether.

A good example being the rush to expand the nuclear industry when the evidence world-wide points to the fact that it is too dangerous and too polluting, as well as being too expensive - even before incidents occur.

One of the many adverse results of this unseemly rush is the continuing rise of energy prices.   So much so that a spoof song appeared on the internet, to promote the idea that young Africans should "come together" to raise money for those freezing in the north.   Although comic, the idea is not so far-fetched.   Those who promote the theme of global warming, subsequently changed to climate change when the evidence demonstrated that global warming is a figment of some scientists' imagination, are quite happy to enumerate the number of people who die as a result of heatwaves (claimed to be 'more serious than terrorism' by Sir David King), but the seasons excess mortality figures actually show that winter is far more serious, particularly when people are frightened into turning off their heating on the grounds of cost.   With the unjustified rise in energy costs, the number of people who will die as a result of the cold will jump dramatically, it seems.

An interesting and somewhat frightening set of figures can be found in this article:

     http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/elderhealth/9959856/Its-the-cold-not-global-warming-that-we-should-be-worried-about.html

The article concludes, "Fuel prices have doubled over seven years, forcing millions to choose between heat and food – and government has found itself a major part of the problem."

It also points out that if it were not for the taxes and add-in costs which form the basis for making nuclear energy seem financially viable, energy costs by 2020 would have fallen by £123 instead of rising by £76.   Almost the entire £199 being the result of the manipulations to meet Électricité de France's demands for a minimum price for electricity which will have to be met before they will kindly consent to build new reactors in the U.K.   Yet any additional costs arising from incidents from the reactors will be underwritten by the U.K. taxpayer.   How sharp these salesmen must be.

The problem of polar ice melting and causing the extinction of polar bears is the subject of another article in the Daily Telegraph.   Giving some stick to Sir David Attenborough, it says, ". . . an array of experts and bodies such as the US National Biological Service and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature point out that, thanks to curbs on hunting in the Seventies, the world’s polar bear population had, in fact, risen from 10,000 in 1966 to 25,000 or more in 2006; that all but one of their 19 main groups were significantly increasing in numbers; and that, based on observed data rather than highly questionable computer models, there was not a shred of evidence of any threat to the bears from climate change."

Source:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/globalwarming/9934109/Sir-David-Attenborough-should-check-his-facts-on-polar-bears.html


Cashing in on Carbon Trading

It has been a while since we mentioned the carbon trading nonsense.   However, a very good summary of the scheme can be found here:  http://www.fern.org/sites/fern.org/files/tradingcarbon_internet_FINAL.pdf


The main truism is that, "A cap puts a limit on emissions. It is only the cap that leads to emission reductions, not the offsetting or the trading."   Quite where the sense is in merely shuffling round considerable volumes of paperwork - at a considerable cost, both financial and environmental - without actually having a working system to reduce pollution is unclear.   The scheme also seems to have attracted a fair bit of criminal activity, again reducing the integrity of the whole.

The website also notes that, ‘It is not an exaggeration to brand the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol as “Made in the USA”.'   Michael Zammit Cutajar, former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, 2004.

Despite this, the United States did not ratify their commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.   Still, by making all the acknowledged CO2 producing energy suppliers even more expensive, it does make nuclear seem a tad better.
23/3/13
Sellafield Shut-down By Winter Weather

The announcement of a controlled shut-down at Sellafield to enable staff to get home sparked a certain cynicism.   The image of the invulnerable and inpregnable fortress power provider took a little dent.   All the assessments by the various experts since Fukushima have arrived at the conclusion that there is nothing to fear from events such as earthquales and tsunamis.   We have already said, many times, that such dramatic events are not required - there are many more which the experts haven't thought of.   As one sage said, "You cannot prepare for the unexpected".

On Friday, 22/3/13, most papers, including the local ones in Cumbria, mentioned only the staff aspect of the closure.   This is what prompted our cynicism - the record of Sellafield's PR people is not one of openness and honesty, after all.   A spokesman is widely reported as having said:  "In response to the current and predicted adverse weather conditions on and around the Sellafield site, as a precaution, a site incident has been declared and the plants have been moved safely to a controlled, shut-down state.”   Apart from the image of the whole Sellafield site being wrapped in cotton wool and loaded onto a lorry to be transported to warmer climes ("moved safely to a controlled, shut-down state?)
something seemed to be missing.

It was reassuring to find our jaundiced view was correct, as today we read in The Times that, 'Officials at Sellafield, in Cumbria, powered down the two main re-processing plants yesterday and ordered non-essential staff to leave because of worries over road closures and electricity failure."  
One wonders how the majority of reporters managed to miss the bit about electricity failure.   Obvously nothing to do with the excellent propaganda machine.

Hopefully, given the early warning of impending cold weather, the management at the plant will have carried out an inspection of the cooling water pipeline from Wastwater this time, lessons having been learned following leaks that caused considerable problems on at least two occasions a few years ago, when water stopped flowing through the storage pools.   At that time, it was said that there had been no inspection of the pipes since they had first been installed half a century earlier!

Amusingly, many contributors to the comments in The Times seemed to have missed the fact that Sellafield has not produced electricity for many years, having been decommissioned in 2003, and is involved in cleaning up its own mess, including the legacy waste.    We understand that, far from generating power, Sellafield nowadays is a consumer of copious amounts and relies on the Fellside (gas-powered) plant for emergency back-up.

Sellafield managers announced that, even though they were sending staff home early those people who are shift workers should still turn up . . .   If conditions are that bad one wonders how.  

Access is one of the many reasons why we feel that Sellafield is a stupid place to build new reactors.   In the event of a true emergency - not one which considerately provided a couple of day's notice - how would the roads and transport links cope?   Even the orderly shut down required the "phased" departure of staff to avoid grid-locking the neighbourhood.  As we have seen, even during normal peak hours the traffic queues through Egremont and Whitehaven are considerable.   How much worse would this be if local residents' traffic were obliged to add to the congestion?

Still, the evacuation scenario provides good practice for the site, following the scathing criticism of its emergency procedures in December, 2011, by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), an arm of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which said errors by senior fire officers in a preparedness exercise earlier in the year at Sellafield “could have led to delays in responding to the nuclear emergency and a prolonged release of radioactive material off-site”.  

Lord knows, they need the practice then, eh?   Moving on to when they actually start to clean up Sellafield, how will things change when, as well as all the existing traffic there is the construction traffic for the new reactors and the 77 lorries a day for 20 years forecast to be required for removing the contaminated topsoil, too?   Happily those responsible for the mess are some distance removed and won't be affected by any of this.
12/3/13
Censorship and Sinister Threats

A group of people opposed to the dumping of nuclear waste placed hazard warning signs at the entrance to Seascale beach, advising unsuspecting member of the public of the presence of nuclear particles both on the beach and in the water.   This was done using the data from sellafieldsites.com website (the official source).   The group then walked along the coast to the Sellafield site.

To mark the second Fukushima anniversary a candle-lit vigil was held outside Sellafield's gate, and a moment's silence observed.   Whitehaven News and Border TV reporters covered the event.   Somewhat unnecessarily, and giving a sinister feel to the whole, the group were followed throughout by Special Branch officers.  

Demonstrating their priorities, some of the warning signs were removed by a local councillor following the group's departure.   Yet the accumulation of radioactive particles is a continuing blight, not just on the beaches and in the sea, but also on land.   The councillor who removed the warning notice from Seascale’s public notice board took it upon himself to censor this information, saying “it has no standing.”   Yet it was on a public notice board and the information is taken directly from Sellafield and the Health Protection Agency documents.   In the interests of openness and honesty, this is information that should be out there in the public domain and on notice boards throughout Cumbria.  

To maintain the pretence that there is nothing to worry about, the local politicians have apparently asked that the monitoring of public beaches be suspended during school holidays.   Quite who determined that there is no need for the public to know the hidden dangers is unclear.  

We have further information on the monitoring programme on the Home page (scroll down to 12/1/12).

See also:  http://www.itv.com/news/border/story/2013-03-09/anti-nuclear-protest/#anti-nuclear-protest-on-west-cumbria-beach_172653

The pro-nuclear response is as is to be expected by the usual Sellafield accolytes:  http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/sellafield-protesters-will-drive-tourists-away-1.1040825?referrerPath=news

Quite what was wrong in the sentiments and data being put forward by the group is unclear from the responses.   It is our belief that people unfamiliar with the area do have a right to know.   A chance in a million it might be, but should they not be allowed to make an informed decision?   Those saying that the advisory notices amount to "scaremongering" are always supporting the industry and have little credence.
19/2/13
Shock And Awe As The Blindingly Obvious Happens

For five years now we have been pointing out that energy security, one of the keystones of the government's "energy policy" is a total myth.   The supposed experts at DECC seem to have overlooked the fact that most of the energy major suppliers is dominated by foreign companies.   E.on and RWE are German, 
Électricité de France, is from, er, France, and Iberdrola is mainly Spanish.   Given that situation, is it really - no really - surprising that when things get sticky at home, the parent companies are going to be collecting donations from wherever they can.   Hence the almost-amusing article over Iberdrola's decision to take a dividend of £900 million from its U.K. arm, Scottish Power.   Last week, Électricité de France, upped the dividend by 8%, most of which will go to the French government who own an 84% stake in the company.   Effectively, we are being taxed by external countries.   The root cause being the U.K. government's pursuit of nuclear expansion at any cost.   The game has seen the initial group slowly retreat as they realised the true cost.   This has left Électricité de France as the sole surviving nuclear plant aspirant and the government over a barrel when it comes to subsidising the future of nuclear, yet the government hasn't even managed to sort out what it will do with current and legacy waste.   When in a car with no brakes, take your foot off the accelerator!

Despite having so many employees seconded to the department, (corruption, or what?) it seems that 
Électricité de France are not altogether getting their own way   Reports in the press are suggesting that the negotiations are "in trouble".   Happily, another news item today has pointed out that prices of electricity and gas will rise again because of the need to import gas - another pressure on the rush to get nuclear under way.   Given the profits being made currently by the likes of British Gas, on the back of the tilting of the tables to make nuclear seem more viable, one has to wonder why they can't absorb any slight increase in the cost of the raw material themselves instead of passing it on.   As with oil prices, these things go up to reflect any slight change in costs, but rarely do they come back down again.   According to current figures, 10% of the U.K. population is in what is termed "energy poverty".   Not as bad a nuclear France, but give them time.

Surprising though the difficulties in achieving a satisfactory outcome for
Électricité de France are,   we have to wonder why.   Perhaps they should have placed more people in the Treasury?   Even so, if the company get their way, the future cost of nuclear generated electricity will be at least double that of today.   In the last five years household bills have already doubled.   In France almost 25% of the population are in "energy poverty".   A phrase which nicely masks the desperate situation that many low-paid or unemployed workers, the disabled and the aged, will find themselves in this country.

Whilst all the companies are happy to dip their bread into the gravy (Centrica's profit from residential market is around £3 million a day!), it seems to us that the whole thing is being driven by this stupid and totally unnecessary rush for new-build nuclear generation, which we see as the result of 
Électricité de France's sales pitch being taken as gospel by politicians and civil servants who are pursuing their own agenda.

Électricité de France's stock has underperformed despite its ever-increasing income because the French government, which owns 84.4 percent of its shares, limits electricity prices at home, while demanding high dividends.   This cycle pushes Électricité de France deeper into debt.

"As a shareholder, the French state wants the highest possible dividend.   As a regulator, it wants to control electricity tariffs," 
Électricité de France's chief executive, Henri Proglio.

The company is facing a trying time, with debts increasing and the reactors it runs getting old.   In the last year the stock has deteriorated by 14% and by 65% since 2008.   Despite all this the dividend this year has been set at 7.7%.   Whether this is sustainable or not is questionable.   Moves to reduce their costs are in hand and they hope to get some relief by increasing the life of each reactor from 40 years to 60.   Quite how that will affect safety remains to be seen.   Our view is that as things get older they become less reliable and more prone to unexpected failures.   In the case of nuclear reactors this is worrying.

Source:  http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/Industry/article1215493.ece
4/2/13
Democracy Is Fine, So Long As It Gives Us What We Want

There are over a million people in Cumbria, plus the many millions who visit the area each year, who also have an interest in the county.   They have as much right at the nine thousand workers at Sellafield to have a say in what happens to their environment.   Not just for themselves but, effectively, to preserve it for eternity.   (Or until the government disposes of the volunteerism principle and over-rides Cumbria County Council's decision on the grounds of "national interests".)

Far from accepting defeat, possibly because they aren't used to not getting their own way in everything, the local lobby are now looking for ways to circumvent the democratic process.   Initially costed at £12 billion, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that the cost of the dump will far exceed that, in the manner of all such projects.   A scathing report out today demonstrates the efficiency and effectiveness of the industry:  12 out of 14 projects are behind schedule and five over budget.   The report also goes on to say that there is no sign of a conclusion to the escalating costs.

The NDA took over the decommissioning process in 2005, but even after eight years there is seemingly little value for money if one reads between the lines of the report, so one has to wonder at their suitability to do the job.

Recently we were treated to yet another Cunning Plan which was to replace the previous best-ever Cunning Plan which, sadly, was "not realistic".   Still, we are told, there is no alternative.   Yes there is.   Do the job properly.   If there is a determination to dispose of the nuclear waste down a hole in the ground, then at least find somewhere where the geology is demonstrably suitable.   That is surely the most basic requirement.   It may not be politically expedient or the easiest route, but, we believe, politics should take a back seat in the interests of public safety and the environment.    When that basic asset has been found, then is the time to start working out how to achieve the objective of "winning over the hearts and minds of the people" by bribery.  

Whatever else, it is surely time that this immense waste be brought to an end and the bottomless pit that supplies Sellafield with no motive to achieve any conclusion be capped.   Can Cumbrian residents not see that the £1½ billion invested in Sellafield each year could be far better spent?   How would Cumbria look now if it had been the lucky recipient of the whole £67½ billion?   How much of the money actually goes into curing the real problem?   Very little if the results are any gauge.

In the national press over the weekend there have been numerous letters debating the decision by Cumbria CC.   Almost all of them seem to have factual errors.   The majority seem to have the impression that the people of Cumbria are in favour and there are no comments to the contrary, which perpetuates the myth.   Residents aren't wholly in favour, as anyone who has seen the figures and the votes from parish councils will know.   Taking a small unrepresentative sample from some of the population, then extrapolating the results and pretending that, in some way, it now reflects the feelings of the whole of Cumbria, is surely statistically wrong?   (We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the leading question for the survey most often quoted
- composed apparently by one of the nuclear promoters, implied that the current generation could actually deal with the nuclear waste in a safe and permanent way.   An earlier survey, which didn't show the desired result has now been expunged from the propaganda.)  

Other comments say that the waste is already in Cumbria and thus it should remain there.   Why?   Just because it is there, and has been for decades, does not mean it can be safely dealt with there, regardless of how much is spent before the geology proves to be unsuitable and another site has to be found elsewhere.   Any requisite expertise can very quickly be transported to wherever it is requiired.   Most of the people working in Sellafield are not indigenous Cumbrians, but they, or perhaps their parents, have moved to the area to find employment.   We see no reason why they could not move again if necessary.   Others say that Sellafield provides employment and without it west Cumbria would die.   Why?   As we point out in the article of 31/1/13 on the home page, Sellafield does not produce money.   The entire cost falls on the U.K. taxpayer, hence the oversight by the Public Accounts Committee leading to their second scathing report in three months.   However, west Cumbria existed well enough before 1945, so why should it not continue to do so in a future without the nuclear industry?   Speed may be of the essence, however, as the decision-makers seem intent on destroying the entire beauty of the region, covering the land with a huge industrial site stretching from Barrow up to Maryport and inland to Ennerdale and Eskdale, whilst covering the sea with huge colonies of wind turbines, despoiling even the sea vistas.

Some degree of comfort can be found in the comments of the union representative, who is reportededly critical of the quango set up to sell the dump idea to the residents.   According to the BBC report (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-21298117)  he believes:

"There is an increasing lack of trust in the consortium that runs the site both amongst the workforce and the wider community.

"There needs to be immediate change at the top of the consortium and a radical re-evaluation of the piecemeal hiving-off of the nuclear sector to private companies that are clearly ill-equipped to cope and have little interest in ensuring Britain has world-class nuclear facilities."

So, nothing to do with the overall scheme or the basic premise, then?   Do world class facilities really have such bad practices that result in the stockpiling of hazardous waste which pose an imminent danger to the people and to the environment?   Surely not.   When they start falling out with each other it is a sign of desperation, we think.   As one senior politician put it, "Whoever was given the job of selling this to the residents of Cumbria did a very, very, very poor job".      So, what was the cost of that failed exercise?   Several million at least, presumably.   What a waste!   Yet not even a Plan B, either, Mr. Reed?   Could you not have been devising an alternative instead of just promoting Sellafield's interests?
29/1/13
A Representative Political Opinion?

According to The Times today, the Scottish Tory party's Ruth Davidson is calling for nuclear power to be "included in the mix" of sources for energy in Scotland.   Small wonder, when the country has already rejected the nuclear option, that there is only one Tory M.P.s representing Scotland after they were wiped out in 1997!.   Strange idea of being in touch with the people, but no doubt those of his colleagues with shares in the industry have encouraged him.   Mr. Salmond's popularity can only be increased by such ignorance and will hopefully achieve his stated aim of having 100% of Scotland's energy developed from renewable resources by 2020.
27/1/13
More On Software Flaws

The attacks on Iran's nuclear development equipment prompted a train of letters with the relevant person at the Environment Agency.   His answer (which took around four months each time to arrive!) was that there was no danger as Sellafield had no external control links.   Excellent.   Er, except that that isn't the real problem either.   One doesn't have to attack control equipment in real time.   The majority of networking components are now out-sourced to Chinese companies and examples of deliberate flaws in the control software have been found.   These flaws would enable a back-door access to the machine in which the electronics are installed.   This is not just a minor event carried out by disgruntled individuals.   The flaws have been found on brand new computers.   Evidence has recently appeared, too, which suggests that a precursor to the Stuxnet virus, the Red October virus, has been embedded in control gear since at least 2007.

According to Kaspersky, "the main objective of the attackers was to gather sensitive documents from the compromised organizations, which included geopolitical intelligence, credentials to access classified computer systems, and data from personal mobile devices and network equipment."   The virus is still active and avoiding detection to date.

Sources:

http://www.kaspersky.com/about/news/virus/2013/Kaspersky_Lab_Identifies_Operation_Red_October_an_Advanced_Cyber_Espionage_Campaign_Targeting_Diplomatic_and_Government_Institutions_Worldwide

http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/14/16507760-red-october-is-latest-super-cyberspy-virus-firm-says?lite

What is not known is whether there is anything else of a similar nature hidden away.   The only way of telling would be to analyze reams of code, and that is just not going to happen.   Until it does, however, we wonder at the Environment Agency expert's complacency.   Still, it is no worse than that demonstrated by the government's chief advisor, who somehow managed to come up with the idea that because we are nowhere near a fault line we will never have a tsunami or major earthquake.   We believe that anything which interrupts the flow of cooling water to the nuclear plants can trigger devastation on a scale in line with Chernobyl and Fukushima.   We find ourselves singularly unimpressed with these assertions and the apparent refusal to contemplate differing scenarios.   Even something as simple as the loss of a USB stick, which was left behind at the Ennerdale Country House Hotel, a popular venue with the nuclear afficionados, back in October, 2010.   According to the article, this was not the first time.   We feel it won't be the last, either.

Source:  
http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/nuclear-station-suffers-data-breach-from-lost-usb-stick-10731

Apart from what was described as business information, there was the intriguing suggestion that,

"There was also information on the stick that suggested that the International Atomic Energy Agency technicians visiting the site were not sufficiently briefed on health and safety regulations."  


We're not sure that we like the sound of that, which smacks of the now customary dishonesty about the reality of Sellafield's operations.  Perhaps more importantly, why was the stick unencrypted - not a difficult thing to set up and use - and where else do they permit USB sticks around Sellafield?   Is the practice widespread?   We note that some viruses have been installed (including the Red October version above) by just this means.  Yippee.   We are supposed to be reassured by the usual patronising piffle:  "We control sensitive nuclear information in line with strict security regulations".   Convinced?   Anyone remember the impossible fudging of critical figures at the time of Japanese fuel reprocessing which turned out not to be too impossible at all?   Still, those in charge of such things are happily complacent that nothing untoward can happen.   Will it take a hacking attack to demonstrate the intrinsic fallibility of modern technology?   To what extent are modern communications devices permitted on the site and are there no dangers inherent from them, either?
9/12/12
A Thorn In Their Side

The head of the unions at Sellafield is obviously feeling a bit miffed.   We've been informed that, in a letter to the Westmoreland Gazette, he libellously accuses this website and the Radiation Free Lake District group of "terrorising" the people of Cumbria, especially the southern parts, into being against the proposed dump.   Quite how we have achieved such status is beyond us.   Far from "terrorising" people we have merely sought to give people an alternative view to that perpetuated by the propaganda emanating from the industry he is a member of.   As John Edmunds, from 1977 the National Officer for the Energy Section of the General and Municipal Workers’ Union (GMWU) told the Redfern Inquiry:

"a trade union has to deal with potential conflicts and divided loyalties. Every workforce will want its employment to continue but the workforce will also want good working conditions and terms of employment … those issues would perhaps have been more acute in West Cumbria given the fact that Sellafield was the dominant employer … we supported the nuclear industry and its growth and that was our commitment to the continued employment of our members, but we also recognised that this was a particularly dangerous industry and our support for it was conditional upon decent health and safety standards."  

An industry which has proved, perhaps, to be more dangerous than even he thought, and which is currently being pilloried by the Public Accounts Committee for imposing an intolerable risk on Cumbrian residents - not just Sellafield workers, note!   At least those workers are getting well rewarded for their risk-taking.   According to an article in The Times, 9/12/12, the costs of cleaning up have risen from £40 billion, from a recent Cunning Cleanup Plan, (sadly, now so much of the money has been dissipated, this excellent plan has been branded "unrealistic") to an even better one which will cost £67 billion, but will, according to the estimates in the article, actually be over £125 billion.   Yet, even when such huge sums have been spent, the radioactivity will not have gone away, merely moved somewhere else.   The affected buildings are too dangerous to even allow humans in for a short time, so more highly-dangerous materials will add to the stock-pile.

To normal thinking people, our contribution to the debate is, almost entirely illustrated by quotes from other articles and various items in the media, and is - so far as is practicable - always attributed correctly.   Can we really "terrorise" people by merely having a website which people can access or not, according to choice and viewpoint?   Or are the villains of the peace those who corrupt society by bribing them with projects designed to make them look benign, whilst all the time hiding the truly dangerous state of the Sellafield site?  

Trying to impress, the union man suggests that he represents the views of 10,000 people.   We're not convinced that that is correct.   We know people who work at Sellafield who wish they didn't have to be involved in such a dirty, dangerous place, but need the money.   Is the union man representing their views accurately?   Or is he just putting words into their unwilling mouths?   Even so, as a further correspondent has written, that number is only 0.1% of the population of Cumbria, and their views (even if accurately stated) are distorted by being indebted to the industry for their livelihood.    Hence the observed trend (in both of the two sampling exercises) for people closest to Sellafield, those living in Allerdale and Copeland, to be more in favour of the dump, whilst the majority of the county remains against.


To repay the writer's compliment, we should perhaps ask the questions:  should unions be negotiating a compensation scheme for people killed, or otherwise affected, as a result of poor practices?   Or would they have been better employed seeking to protect the health of those afflicted individuals and their families?   Should they have pressed for prosecutions and changes to a system which, according to the Redfern Report, the unions were aware of and yet was illegal?   The illegal practices had been going on for years and involved the tissue sampling and body-part removal of those who died of cancer - in many cases the deceased having previously worked at Sellafield.   In our opinion, it seems that the unions were not only aware of the practices, but they actually took part in the racket.   As Finding 37 in Redfern's reports says, "The unions knew that organs were removed and analysed in the course of proposed or actual litigation arising out of the death. They did not bring the matter to the families’ attention but they were under no legal duty to do so."   Whether a legal duty or not, it is our opinion that they certainly had a moral duty.   Yet they apparently chose not to do so.   Redfern raises an even more interesting point in Findings 37 & 8, where he states that the unions must have been aware that the tissue sampling and body-part removal was not a requirement as evidence in any application to the compensation fund, and, indeed, no samples were taken expressly for such a purpose.   Should the unions have been aware of that a post-mortem had been requested and ensured that the legal processes were being followed?   A close relative being subject to post-mortem examination can be a distressing thing.   Yet in 57 cases it seems they were either not aware, or at least did nothing material.   Source:   "West Cumbria Hospital supplied organs to Sellafield taken from 57 former nuclear workers."   Redfern Enquiry, Finding 79, first bullet point.

This website spends an infinitely small amount on putting forward an alternative view to that perpetuated by the letter writer, whilst the industry spends billions of pounds, not just in this country, but worldwide, extolling the virtues of an industry whose products have killed thousands of people and polluted and put at risk the health of millions.   With, for example, Fukushima, it took a while for the I.A.E.A. to step in with a coherent response whilst the U.K. government colluded with industry propagandists to formulate a proper statement.   In passing we have to reiterate our view that it is deplorable for the I.A.E.A. to make use of the illusion that it is an independent body, in the main brought about by its nuclear weapons section, which is independent.   The stated aim of the I.A.E.A. is the advancement of nuclear technology.   Billions of pounds are spent globally to that end.   However, returning to the letter-writer, we would suggest that he is either extremely sensitive, or insecure.   Given the scurrilous and patently absurd allegation that we terrorise people, we think it could even be both.

We remain firmly of the opinion that someone has to stand up to the juggernaut that is the nuclear industry, with its history of lying, manipulating, fabricating data, and pollution on a truly industrial scale.   If that can be achieved merely be bringing alternative facts to the attention of the public, for them to accept or reject, then that is what we should do.   It is a pity that the unions in the industry cannot see the facts for themselves and prefer to write ludicrous letters to the local press pretending to be offended by us; accusing us quite libellously of terrorising people.   The end lesson has to be, if you don't like what you read then read elsewhere.   Perhaps the union man can read the book about Gemma D'Arcy without being moved, we can't.   If our little website can do anything to redress such wrongs, then that is what we should be doing.   We think a union man should be fighting for the underdog, not his own secure, comfortable life-style and sod the rest.
7/11/12
More on Global Warming

O
f late there has been a spate of programmes on "serious" channels, such as BBC 4 television, each commenting on various matters to do with the earth's natural history.   These include items on the effects of the solar winds on the magnetosphere and the effects of the molten core movements on the earth's magnetic fields.   In each one of these programmes, there has been the inference that the effects on the earth's weather can be readily accounted for without recourse to the standard explanation man's production of CO2.

We continue to believe that the climate changes being noted are nothing new, but are a perfectly natural result of normal changes which have happened on many many occasions throughout the earth's existence.   It also remains our belief that there is a normal cycle of events which occur determined by these natural events, including global warming and cooling alternately.   Most weather scientists still believe that there is no global warming and that the planet is, in fact resuming an ice age.

The obvious question, therefore, is who stands to benefit from the global warming/climate change rhetoric?   Which organisation made a conscious corporate decision at board level to promote the role of 
CO2 in relation to global warming - a scenario that only fits if it is true.   CO2 would indeed probably cause global warming if it had any great influence, but the earth is demonstrably cooling, so there may be a flaw there.   That being the case, it was necessary to change the premise to climate change.   Given the unpredictability of the earth's weather at the best of times, this was a much better and safer option, but no-one seems to have noticed the change, which no longer depends on CO2 for its cause.   If CO2 is not the cause, then why the haste to cut down emissions and why has no-one pointed out that nuclear is no longer necessary.   Answers on a post-card . . .   In the meantime, lots of people are going to make lots of money from the game, and the public are going to pay.
19/9/12
On Track or Off The Rails?

For some time we have been pointing out the deficiencies in the railway line serving the Cumbrian coast, especially its rôle in the transport of nuclear materials.   Our local level crossing is a manually (self) operated affair with limited views to the south - towards Sellafield.   Since the line arrived in 1850, the crossing has been labelled as dangerous by many users.   Following numerous complaints early on in its life, the Furness Railway decided that enough was enough and padlocked the gates.   A local JP and stalwart member of the Beckermet community smashed the locks so that access to the beach was restored.   The padlocks have never been replaced.

The crossing, however, is a vital link for the members of the beach community.   Despite appeals to Network Rail and the Office of the Rail Regulator and two inspections by members of the latter, little has been done to improve safety.   Complaints have also been made to various people about the speeds achieved on this single-track line by the transport company, DRS, when hauling nuclear flasks to and from Sellafield.   Around three years ago, conveniently for residents, a visit by an ORR inspector coincided with torrential rain that washed away a substantial portion of the ramp on the seaward side of the line, leaving a precarious drop less than two metres from the track.   The signaller at Sellafield was informed and asked to stop trains.   A few minutes later a train approached from the Whitehaven direction.   Questioned as to whether they had received any messages telling them of the problem, the reply was that "We did receive a radio message, but it was too difficult to make out what it said.   There are always problems with communications on this stretch of line."   Not reassuring.   Even less impressive was the failure of the inspector to recall that part of the conversation at a subsequent date.


Recently, following a similar storm, a two-car passenger diesel set was approaching Nethertown from Whitehaven, when it was derailed by mud on the line following a landslip.   Fortunately no-one was hurt and the coaches remained upright.   A relief train was sent from Barrow and approached Nethertown from Braystones to collect the passengers stranded on the first train.   A further landslip behind the second train meant that it was as marooned as the first one.

In the 1970s a train carrying materials from Whitehaven to Ellesmere Port for use in detergent manufacture, was derailed rather more dramatically, after the collapse of an accomodation bridge just south of Braystones station.   100 tonnes of material was disgorged onto the beach and two bungalows (happily unoccupied at the time!) were demolished, never to be rebuilt.

With this kind of history one might think that Network Rail and the ORR would be somewhat cautious and endeavour to implement every kind of safety feature in an attempt to minimise the threat of an accident involving nuclear material.   Strangely not, as it would be too expensive.   One has to wonder just what kind of costs would be involved in the event that the next derailment involves a nuclear train being driven at high speed.   Since there is now ample written evidence that people have felt strongly enough about the problem to have written to the various bodies to draw their attention to the perceived dangers, a court or inquest may well find some personal culpability on the part of those who have ignored warnings.   Meanwhile, not just the nuclear material shipped around the world from Workington is passing along the ill-maintained line, but so too is traffic carrying waste from Dounreay for storage at Sellafield.
27/7/12
Still Waiting for An Expert Response

Following our comments in a response we'd formulated for the consultation process, we were contacted by the company paid to do the analysis thereof.   Apparently they were concerned that we were suggesting that all was not well with the process, and that our views on the Cumbrian aspects of the consultation were unfavourable to put it mildly.   A couple of phone calls later, we were put in contact with someone "high up" in the Environment Agency, who would be able to answer all our complaints - allegedly.   So, we composed a couple of pages-worth of questions and observations, without much hope, it has to be said.  

Several weeks later came a reply.   One of the most patronising we have had.   The respondent advised us to read a couple of reports and to engage with the consultation process.   We sent back a 12 page missive which contained our comments on his response and posed even more questions.   After a couple of months we received another message advising us that the material was outside the scope of the particular Environmental Officer, who really did seem to have become despondent.   However, on the bright side, he had passed it all to the Chief Scientific Officer of the Nuclear Division.   So, a few weeks later, came a message from said specialist.  

Sadly, he seemed as daunted as the previous chappy, and asked if we really, really, wanted responses to all the points we had covered.   None of the points had been intended to be rhetorical, and we told him so.   More time passed.   Then we got a note saying that the task was taking a bit longer than expected, but we should be able to have a full response by the middle of June.   As the correspondence had begun around the New Year, there was little sense of urgency.   Come the end of June, a further missive arrived telling us that the matter was even more complex than expected;   would it be alright to delay the full response to the middle of July?  

Again, there is little that we could do, but we did mention that none of the matters we were raising were particularly innovative that they should not already have been considered BEFORE embarking on a project of nuclear expansion.   We did feel quietly chuffed that we were causing officialdom some disquiet, but in all honesty, the health and environmental issues we were asking about should have been thoroughly investigated and concluded so that a response could have been readily forthcoming.   Apparently not.   Here at the end of July we are still waiting.   The holiday season is now in full swing and the beaches at and around Braystones are still being checked by the Nuvia argocat vehicle.   Presumably radioactive material is still being found or the exercise would have been concluded by now.   Thus we have to conclude that visitors to the beaches in this area are still at risk - no matter what the Environment Agency et al tell us.   Could it really be that the basic questions we have sought answers for have never previously been asked?   If so, why has no-one considered the matters?   Such tardiness does little to reassure us that our environment is safe, even without the proposed developments.
27/4/12

Stress tests under stress

With only 38 out of 147 nuclear reactors tested so far, the EU commissioners have delayed stress test results instigated as a reaction to Fukushima's melt-downs.   The tests examine the ability of reactors to survive emergencies, including plane crashes and natural disasters such as major earthquakes and tsunami.   The results were due to be announced in this quarter, but have now been put back to the autumn.   (Source:  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/20120427_08.html)   Whilst our own regulators have already announced that everything in the U.K. is wonderful, we still have to wonder about the other factors that affect the seriousness of any nuclear incident.   Japan and Canada have both realised that their plans for coping are just not up to the job.   With the complacency we feel has been demonstrated by the U.K. industry, local and national government, regulators, et al, we find it quite disturbing that, after the Sellafield site has been in existence for over half a century, the road system could not cope with any necessary evacuation.   Back in 1957, of course, they just didn't bother and Cumbrian people were left ignorant.   Of course, those who worked at the plant knew and were afforded some degree of safety and control.  

In 2011 a small group of people were on Braystones beach distributing leaflets advising residents what to do in the event of the emergency alarm at Sellafield sounding.   Being somewhat deaf, and having not heard a previously-announced practice sounding, we asked how we would know to get out of the area.   The flippant answer was to keep an eye in Sellafield's direction at all times;  if we saw an orange glow then we should get as far away as possible as fast as possible.   Nice to know that our safety has been truly considered.   How many other people, in similar isolated areas, would also be left to fend for themselves?

In the Ukraine, work has commenced on building a more permanent concrete shell over the remnants of Chernobyl's nuclear power plant.   It was feared that the original structure, described as a sarcophagus, might collapse, releasing huge quantities of radioactive materials once more into the atmosphere.   Most pro-nuclear people suggest that the death toll from the incident is minimal, whereas activists like Greenpeace suggest that overall the numbers of those affected by cancers will reach one million.   Even the WHO seems to have no real idea.   Interestingly, support for the Greenpeace figure is include in the speech made by Ukrainian president, Yanukovych, in an address to the people announcing the commencement of the work.   Thanking the outside countries for their assistance in finding the £1.2 billion for the project, he went on to say that 2 million people are still in need of support after the disaster.

Source:  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/20120427_11.html


Waste Disposal and Theft

Other aspects of the industry are equally ignored.   The prime example is Russia, where there is scant regard for international nuclear regulations.   According to a U.S. report sufficient up to 150 kgs of plutonium, sufficient to make 25 Nagasaki-sized bombs, is missing from Soviet-era Russia.   In Romania a further 73.5 kgs are missing.   Goodness only knows how much material is missing from Sellafield, but a few tonnes of it is resting on a sandbank somewhere in the Irish Sea.

International regulations prohibit the import of radioactive waste, and that is the case in Russia, where legislation bans the import of pure radioactive waste. Nevertheless, uranium tailings are imported to Russia via a variety of contracts between Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom and the German-British-Dutch enrichment giant Urenco, the French Eurodif enrichment concern, and others.   The current contract for Eurodif will expire in 2014.   The Urenco one expired in 2009, and at that time there were no plans to engage in further contracts.   The tailings (uranium hexachloride) amount to a stockpile of 900,000 tonnes in Siberia, and is increasing at the rate of 30,000 p.a.   The rate is expected to dramatically increase as the Russians attempt to reduce the usage of natural gas by increasing the number of nuclear reactors.   In theory, of course, the material incoming to Russia should be processed and the ensuing waste returned to the country of origin.   France actually got caught out when someone checked the balance.   At a meeting in 2010 the paucity of basic checks at the storage sites was revealed.   Several Russian sites not being monitored at all.
27/3/12
At Last - An Explanation of "The Gross Abuse of Commons Procedure"

Regular readers may recall that we have been chasing an answer to one of our questions for two years now.   The question was about the outcome of an enquiry set up by the then Speaker, Michael Martin, into what he had called a "gross abuse of Commons procedure".   It was, of course, in relation to the cap on liabilities being set on private companies in the event of an incident.   Naturally, the abuse favoured the nuclear industry.   In the interim, we have been all round the political scene:  from local M.P. to Sir Gus O'Donnell, from No. 10's office to Lord Hunt.   We have been told we couldn't have the information until we proved who we were, by means of copies of passport, photo-type driving licence, and two utility bills.   Even after pointing out the stupidity of that, all we got were copies of letters we had sent - and of course still had copies of ourselves.

Happily, the current Speaker, John Bercow, managed to understand the question we were asking and has responded very fully and helpfully.   Much obliged, m'lud.   Basically, it seems that any changes proposed which will have an impact on government liability has to be presented to the House or a relevant committee.   The relevant papers have to be sent in advance and placed in the library.    It is necessary to avoid periods of holidays, etc., to enable sufficient time to be given to consideration of the proposed change.   By some strange quirk of fate, this did not happen when the government's liabilities in the event of a nuclear accident were increased substantially, thereby assisting nuclear power generators to avoid the consequences of their industry.   Needless to say, one of the mandarins prepared an adequate excuse, which no-one seems to have been prepared to query
, as to how and why the abuse came about.   All is well that ends well (for the nuclear industry, at least).
6/3/12 last edited 14/3/12
Official:  Sellafield is Not a Dirty Industry

Fresh from watching a webcast, perhaps better described as "The Elaine Woodburn Show", we must admit to a certain feeling of righteousness.   Taking part in the show were three pro-nuclears, just one seasoned anti-nuclear, and one who was difficult to describe, but managed to make the rest seem competent - not an easy feat.   It was announced that although Greenpeace, CORE, Friends of the Earth had been invited to join the panel, they had all declined.   No reason for this refusal was offered.   We did ask, but apparently no reason had been given.   Seems a strange bit of consultation if the main parties presenting a contrary point of view are so disconnected they won't take part?   Could there be a flaw in the process?

The whole idea of burying waste in the ground had been predicated on a suitable site being found - essentially, and uniquely, this being centred on a site near Longlands Farm, near Gosforth.   Contrary to what the geologist said during the programme, we think we are right in saying that boreholes have already been drilled there and were capped off after failing to satisfy the Nirex Inquiry that even the least unsatisfactory site in western Cumbria was unsuitable for the burial of highly radioactive waste.   (We would be happy to be corrected about the presence or otherwise of bore holes.)

For two hours we watched a very competent presenter (pity about the checked shirt which gave the camera indigestion) put points to the panel, interspersed with clips from a WC:MRWS Partnership DVD, or propaganda video as we would describe it.   As usual, in the guise of being independent information, it was little better than animations showing Bob the Builder characters and buildings.   Everything was under control and squeakily and hermetically clean.

In a wonderful confident statement, typical of her style, Elaine Woodburn said, "Sellafield is not a dirty industry".   In terms of getting overalls or hands classically dirty with good clean (?) soil, perhaps not, but it does have its own special kind of dirt, surely?   Not to Woodburn, apparently.   She likened the expansion of the industry in Copeland/Allerdale to the building of a supermarket.   Whether she thinks that a bit of bribery, sorry, a community compensation package, at the level of that used to facilitate supermarket building is likely to achieve anything in Cumbria was unclear.   We think there is rather more involved here than a Tesco or Morrisons - even one with a petrol station!

Woodburn floundered considerably when the question was put about the rôle of other members of the Partnership, and it became very clear that some pigs will be decidedly more equal than others.   If, for example, Copeland/Allerdale were to accept "going forward", i.e. going to the next stage of the process, even if all the other councils in the Partnership (a term which seemed increasingly wrong) decide otherwise, they can get lost.   Only those two councils accepting the process will be sufficient to carry on.   Conversely, if, within those two councils there were to be any dissent, the larger bodies would still hold sway.   Thus, whatever negative decisions are made, Copeland/Allerdale will make the end decision.   Democracy Woodburn style.

She also came up with a whole new phrase:  "We will go at the speed that the community wants us to go at".   (Sounds like a typical bit of pre-prepared P.R. talk to us, but we are cynics.)   There is an obvious flaw in that statement, in that the process of first stage consultation will come to an end in, er, just 17 days time.

The opinion was expressed by the environmentalist that there were 900 safety issues that had been identified and needed to be resolved before the process of building the dump could start.   The NDA chappy floundered for a bit but then rallied to say that one of them had already been resolved, and some would be dealt with in the next phase, but a lot of them were site-specific and could only be resolved when the site had been determined.   Strange that site-specific problems do not apply to generic designs.   Our hero went on to add that he felt the information that had been presented thus far to the residents was insufficient to allow them to make an informed decision.   This is something that we feel strongly about, too.   We have repeatedly said that, in our opinion, the whole process was too rushed (solely for the benefit of the government and the nuclear industry) and the information presented to residents contained a strong pro-nuclear bias.

Woodburn looked a bit miffed by the suggestion that things were not at a stage where a decision could be made, and that matters were being unduly rushed.   There were questions about who owns the right to determine a whole county's future, too, so Woodburn used the £3 million already spent on propaganda to bolster her argument.   Sadly, it did not explain why spending £3 million on such pro-nuclear waffle was sensible, nor why so many in the council were so pro-nuclear.   Being cynics we wonder where the £3 million was spent.   A lot of the movers and shakers of Cumbria seem to be on the gravy train.

A good two-part question from Professor Andy Blowers (ex-CorWM) was not answered.   Woodburn talked all around it, but, despite the presenter putting both parts of the question to her again, no answer was forthcoming.

Er, You Can't Do That

For us, the gem of the whole thing came just ten minutes from the end.   The geologist had been waffling on about why the decision back in 1997, about the whole of west Cumbria being unsuitable, with Longlands Farm area being perhaps the least unsuitable (but, presumably, still unsuitable) meant nothing (without providing evidence to support the suggestion) and was becoming increasingly vague, when the presenter threw a curve ball.   (No idea what that means, but we've read about them in American whodunnits.)

A question had been sent in asking whether, if the only area suitable to host the dump was in Borrowdale granite
around Keswick with the entrance in Cockermouth, approval would still go ahead?   Of course the panel had plainly never even remotely considered that the host site would be anywhere other than Longlands Farm!   Everything thus far had been centred on the one particular site!   Brilliant question;  congratulations to whoever it was submitted it.   There was a great deal of confusion.   The geologist had no idea what kind of rock was present around Keswick or Cockermouth, obviously.   Some sort of failure there, one might suspect, but one which bears out our complaint about his inferiority to Professor Smythe.   For once, even Woodburn was unable to come back with the pro-nuclear rehearsed statement - she had never been told what to answer that question with.   Eventually she waffled, it seemed to us with a certain temerity, about the Lake District National Park being very important (erm, erm,) and that they would have to consider any impact on its amenity very carefully.   She admitted that the residents of those areas may not be willing to play host.   (Wonder why she felt that?   Anything to with the recent votes rejecting progress to the next stage, from a whole variety of local councils?)

So the idea seems to be:  sod Gosforth/Sellafield/Beckermet/Braystones/Seascale, etc.   Longlands Farm - that's the only place we have considered and that is where it is going to go.   We have slanted everything to suit over the last four years;  all our efforts have been to that end, and there is where it will go.   Besides, we'd never convince Keswick or Cockermouth - they're outside our comfort zone.   (Cynically we would suggest outside the pro-nuclear largesse and propaganda zone.)

We scribbled a lot of questions during the programme and forwarded some of them via webcast facility.   Sadly, there was no way of getting out of the question-asking box without closing down the whole window, which resulted in us missing a few seconds of entertainment from time to time.   A pity really, for, as we say, it was very well done.   Congratulations to the tech. team who put it together and thanks for the neutrality of the presenter.   (We'll even forgive him the shirt once our eyes get back to normal.)

Trust Us!

Our summary of the event is that the people of west Cumbria are being asked to approve an extremely deep or shallow hole in the ground, very close to their property, or far away from it, but in some instances undermining it.   The hole will be of indeterminate size, in an imprecisely-known location;  perhaps in, or under, the Lake District National Park, or not, and be at (and of) any depth, depending on the type of geology they find when they dig the hole.   Residents can be assured that, whatever geology is found, it will be entirely suitable for the purpose of the dump, and copious supporting evidence will be supplied from independent experts to prove that.   (Naysayers need not apply.)

The dump may be close to Sellafield, or not, but wherever it is, it will be served by a totally inadequate infra-structure with poor transport assets, which may (despite the difficult terrain), or may not (because of the difficult terrain), have to be improved to cope.   Furthermore, it may host waste which has, or has not, been treated by some unknown and untried process (the existing White Elephant plant will be decommissioned at a very good rate - to be replaced by an even larger White Elephant at even greater expense), which will achieve its annual target over a ten year span, perhaps.   The longevity of the White Elephant will be increased by its producing more waste than it cures, which is, of course, a Very Good Thing (with apologies to A.A. Milne for the inappropriate upper case letters) in terms of employment.  

Waste, whilst still "quite hot", will then be placed in containers whose construction has not yet been designed, or proven, but made of material yet to be decided.   Such containers will be perfect for the job and will last for at least twice as long as the 100 thousand year lifespan that some of the material - which has yet to be identified - may have.   It is not yet known how much waste will be stored in the dump, but it may be "quite a lot".   To make the project worthwhile, waste will originate from all over the country (possibly, eventually, even abroad) and will be of an unknown quantity and toxicity, but whatever it is, and however much there is of it, will remain highly toxic for "a very long time".   Although "quite hot", the interred material will make no contribution to global or marine warming.   All gases will be safely vented at all times with no danger to the environment whatsoever.   Build up of gases will not be tolerated.   The approved system will perform perfectly throughout its design life - as soon as we get round to designing it.

Editor's Tip:  now may be a good time to invest in Tupperware shares.

It is unfortunate that the (w)hole will be the final straw for any non-nuclear industry, such as tourism and leisure, but they will benefit from a compensation package akin to that used currently for shopping malls, called a Community Benefit Package.   The amount for which is currently not determined.   It may (or may not) be a substantial fund.   Sadly, if such a package is not accepted, the project will still go ahead and any compensation reduced due to the adverse impact of a nuclear dump in close proximity to your property diminishing its value.   Please note that, due to planning law changes, Cumbrian residents will be limited to choosing the colour of the factory gates.   No other arguments will be permitted, sorry.   (By special arrangement with Électricité de France.)

The foregoing demonstrates that the proposed dump has been very well researched, is entirely sustainable, and is a practical way of dealing with some of the worst poisons known to mankind, (except if they leak, which they won't, but even if they did, it will be for future generations to deal with, by which time the technology may, or may not, be available to deal with it).   The development is financially viable and self-sustaining, so long as the subsidies, which don't exist, are forthcoming.

The only certain thing seems to be that contracts for its construction are already being awarded and the gravy train already rolling.   (The slapping sound is not the sound of what used to be the Irish Sea, which now forms the effluent discharge pond, it is the sound of pigs at a trough.)   It is reassuring to know that, even in these straightened times, we can help out German, Spanish and French électricité companies by permitting them to employ low-cost loans provided by the tax-payers of the U.K. to generate profits in order to support their respective home countries.   We are quite sure that our new-found best mates will not cause us to wonder whether energy security is in any way compromised by the scheme.   We remain convinced they will still be around in 150 years time when it comes to cleaning up what is left of the sites around the country.   (Accidents and unfortunate incidents excepted.)   (Carbon credits at favourable rates are now available, and capped accident insurance liability benefits will be supplied on demand.)

The "trickle-down" effect will ensure that all strata of the Cumbrian community will gain from these plans although, naturally, those most-deserving will be at the forefront when it comes to time to distribute the benefits.

Please be assured that residents will not be inconvenienced at any time.   All projects in West Cumbria come with the guarantee of "No Adverse Effect" - for the lifetime of the guarantee (two days or more.)   (Unless withdrawn sooner).

Please be assured at all times that Sellafield is NOT a dirty industry, and there is no reason to be nervous, as confirmed by our history.   (Er. . ., or not.)

Now it is time for a prayer led by our "Churches Together" Nuclear Disciple.
 
Do turkeys vote for Christmas?   In Allerdale and Copeland they do, it seems.

Nuclear Incident Assessment - Level 7 at Fukushima

"A major release of radio­active ­material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended ­countermeasures
."

According to experts, a 1000 megawatt nuclear reactor generates around 600 lbs. of plutonium per year:   Plutonium remains radioactive for 250,000 years.   Other byproducts are almost as injurious, and have serious harmful effects for periods of a few hours up to that of plutonium.   Some of the most common products being injurious for around 30 years.   The industry, meanwhile, has promoted new modular and “advanced” reactors as better alternatives to traditional reactors.   Indeed, one of the first qualifications dreamed up by the PR people for the industry was that the reactors are nothing like the new ones, the Fukushima ones were more than 40 years old, they said.    The new breed are, however, subject to the very same risks: accidents, terrorist attacks, human error, equipment failure, etc., as the traditional reactors.

In the past, the nuclear industry has used the civilian power stations as a front for the generation of fissile material - sometimes without even the relevant minister knowing what was happening, according to the Rt. Hon. Tony Benn.   If these individuals will happily lie to ministers while taking public money - and have the backing of the civil servants in that endeavour, what chance nowadays for openness and honesty?


In one of the few studies on human contamination in the months following the Fukushima incident, over half of the more than 1,000 children whose thyroids were monitored in Fukushima City were found to be contaminated with iodine 131, which means that many of them are likely to be condemned to thyroid cancer years from now.   Happily, albeit somewhat strangely, neither the BBC's Science Editor, nor Professor J. al Kalili, found anything to worry about when they visited Fukushima a few months after the tsunami.   The latter, whilst bemoaning the fact that the school - in whose playground he was filming - was bereft of children (as they had all been moved to "safety"), rather spoilt his deprecating statements about the need for evacuation by donning radioactive-proof footwear just to walk on the very same ground for the short duration that he was being filmed.   Why did he do that if there truly was nothing for the children to be worried about?   The former appeared on Newswatch to explain why there was so little about the continuing problems at Fukushima on BBC news programs.   He explained that he had visited the scene, "waved a Geiger counter around", but could find nothing about which to be worried.   Levels were, he suggested, too low to worry about.

Fukushima is classified as a grade 7 accident on the International Atomic Energy Agency scale; something which it merited very soon after the incident became unmanageable, but the I.A.E.A. are renowned for hushing things up, and it was very apparent that soon after the incident went global, huge efforts were being made to quieten things down.   One almost permanent interviewee from Chatham House, in particular, suggesting that there was nothing much to it all and the tsunami was far more serious.   He pointed out that no-one had died from the nuclear incident, without saying that future deaths from the fall-out could potentially dwarf the immediate ones - and not just in Japan.   This then became the standard response from the nuclear industry.   Sadly, it seems the interviewers don't have the capacity to point out the future potential and the fact that nuclear is no respecter of boundaries or any other demarcation.

It was some time before anyone actually got around to making the incident a Level 7 - denoting “widespread health and environmental effects.”   (A cynic might think that that was because the PR specialists - who abound in the nuclear industry - were doing their best to stop it being so labelled.   They must have earned their money on that one!).   The number of reactors and the fact that they were so out of control that Tepco wanted to abandon the whole site, meant that the incident was actually much worse than the only other Level 7 incident - Chernobyl.   Happily for the industry there is no higher number on the agency’s scale.
 

Eventually the full propaganda machine of the nuclear industry collaborating withthe I.A.E.A, the N.I.A. and the U.K. government, got into gear and everything disappeared from the U.K. television channels if it was in any way injurious to the nuclear industry.   After all, any adverse publicity would have had an impact on the many consultations, some of which were still to be held, from DECC.   Not least of these was the nuclear dump under Cumbria.   The most obvious Achilles heel of the industry is that it has dealt with none of its waste - ever.

After the incident, lobbying groups touted improved safety at nuclear installations globally and advances in reactor design.   In Japan, it is alleged that Tepco and the government have sought to control the reporting of negative stories via telecom companies and Internet service providers.   This may be unfair on the government, though, as it could be that they were not told the full facts by Tepco.   In the U.K., major investors and the various instigators of nuclear expansion, worked with the government to downnplay the incident and to suppress adverse news.   According to The Guardian, Areva, Électricité de France and Westinghouse were amongst those seeking to minimise the impact.

The number of deaths following Chernobyl, which is the only other Level 7 event, and its impact on the health of survivors and the environment, are very hard to discern.   The International Atomic Energy Agency has predicted that there will be only about 4,000 deaths from cancer, but a 2009 report published by the New York Academy of Sciences says that almost one million people have already perished from cancer and other diseases.   The WHO has only 67 and, according to the programme on Fukushima by Professor J. al Kalili, it may even be less, rendering the whole Level 7 incident of little consequence.

According to doctors in Belarus and the Ukraine, the consequences are somewhat different.   According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, a nuclear expert, the high doses of radiation caused so many miscarriages that we will never know the number of genetically damaged fetuses that did not come to term.   Both Belarus and Ukraine have group homes full of deformed children, apparently.

Nuclear accidents will never cease.   We’re decades if not generations away from seeing the full effects of the radioactive emissions from Chernobyl.   Data from the various events - including the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs - seems to indicate that the effects will reach a peak in about 25 years' time.   By then various factors will probably come into play which will make meaningful assessment impossible.   This is especially so in the highly-mobile world in which we now live.   How many people affected by Sellafield, Chernobyl or Fukushima would stay around the immediate location to await the consequences, knowing that the whole area remains contaminated?

Having muttered about the bias in the BBC, we were astounded to see a far better programme on BBC 2 television on 23/2/12.   Entitled "This World:  Inside the Meltdown", it was a documentary about the event thus far.   Congratulations to the programme makers for getting out from under.   It is available on BBC iPlayer for a little while yet.   Memorably, Naoto Kan, the then Prime Minister, says in the programme that he was seriously considering extending the exclusion/evacuation zone to 250 - 300 kms. from Fukushima.   That would involve a terrific amount of people, including those in Tokyo.   Hinkley Point, the recently-announced new reactor is only 140 miles from London.

Kan also illustrated his new-found anti-nculear credentials by pointing out that, "Nuclear incidents will continue to occur.   With between 2000 and 3000 reactors world-wide, and more being planned, how can the world ever be safe?"
21/2/12
A Resounding and Reassuring Rejection

Further to the following article relating to the rejection of the dump by Cockermouth Town Council, two more councils have had their say and they have overwhelmingly rejected the plan.   The two additional councils are Seaton and Above Derwent.   Reassuringly, and happily, it seems that what we see as the deliberate corruption hasn't yet reached as far as we thought.   The Above Derwent council went on to declare:

We believe that “West Cumbria” should now withdraw from the MRWS process because:
  • We have no confidence in the right to withdraw;
  • We are convinced by the argument that nowhere in Cumbria has suitable geology;
  • We believe that it is a waste of time and money to continue the process in Cumbria when there are other, more promising, areas in England;
  • Continuing the process puts part of the National Park and its tourist and agricultural businesses at risk;
  • We consider that the potential economic benefits to Cumbria do not justify searching for a site in unsuitable geology or spoiling part of a national park;
  • We have concerns that Government’s aspiration to accelerate the MRWS process will lead to corner-cutting;
  • We have concerns about safety, particularly gas emissions;
  • There is insufficient information about additional waste and the inherent increased risk;
  • Far too little information is available on impacts for the community to make a meaningful Decision to Participate.
Source:  http://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/above-derwent-parish-council-says-no-to-nuclear-dump/

Regular readers might recognise that campaigners, such as Radioactive Free Lakeland (
http://mariannewildart.wordpress.com) and Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (http://www.corecumbria.co.uk/) and ourselves have been voicing exactly these concerns for a long time now.   There are many other groups, nationally and globally who regularly give the lie to the claims of the nuclear industry.   Sadly, the industry still has the ear of those in government.   The likes of Cameron having no qualms about spouting nonsense supplied to him by civil servants whose own sources are industry sales representatives.   Miliband did the same thing.   It was a vain hope that the Liberal Democrats would do what they claimed.

Without wishing to sound be in any way patronising, we congratulate these councillors on their stand and are truly grateful that they have seen through the various manipulations that have been used to promote the nuclear industry.   The process involving the pretence that the process is open, honest and independent.   It is none of these things.   Those with a vested interest - not just money, but power, politics, and status, too - have, in our opinion, corrupted a whole county to further their selfish aims.   We have seen what we believe to be corruption in almost every aspect of Cumbrian life.   Redfern has already investigated one side of that corruption, which involved Sellafield, the NHS, government departments, and even coroners.   His 97 findings, published after the Body Part Removal and Tissue Sampling Inquiry, and which allege criminal offences have been committed, have not been investigated by the police - allegedly because it was not in the public interest.   Tosh.   We reckon they were afeared just how far the investigation would take them.   Perhaps one Murdoch Enquiry is enough?   Anyway, from the above, it seems that we have been unnecessarily pessimistic.   We retain our belief that everything is pre-determined and the rest is just window-dressing.   Now, however, we have the hope that others share our cynicism that what are being lied to about is in any way impartial.

Please can anyone tell us why a company is being given £5 million over the next three years to discover whether the nuclear dump will affect tourism in west Cumbria?   Are there any tours to, or holidays around, Chernobyl?   Why did the Sellafield Visitor Centre get wound up?   Does anyone think that if the truth about the discharges from Sellafield were known there would be any market at all for tourism in the area?   That is before any expansion!   Why are there no warning signs on the region's beaches?   They are polluted and demonstrably so.

There are several more councils to come back with their vote, but in any case, one has to wonder - as we suggest below - whether the relevant minister, Pickles, will use his cudgel and force the area to go ahead even if all the councils do reject it.   The long-range plans being put in place by the self-appointed "elite" in the quangos holding meetings in dark corners, making plans for their own aggrandisement, certainly suggest that they know something that no-one else does.   It would be nice to find that we are again being unduly pessimistic.   If we are, then an awful lot of money will have been wasted.   Any truly honest and impartial system would have seen that the earlier enquiry ruled out any possibility of development of a dump, yet these individuals have persisted.   With no alternative for processing the waste - legacy or future - one also has to wonder about the development at places like Hinkley Point.   The likelihood of Pickles imposing the venture could prove interesting.   After all, who does own Cumbria?
19/2/12
Skulduggery, Manipulation, and Evil Doings

Quietly hidden amongst the notices for Cockermouth Town Council in the Cumbrian newspaper, the Times and Star, for Friday, 17/2/12, is the announcement that the town council have voted against going to the next stage of consultation for the nuclear dump.

Source:  http://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/birthplace-of-wordsworth-says-no-to-nuclear-dump/

More prominently displayed (after all, like so many institutions in the area, the paper has to defer to the revenues it gains from the nuclear industry) is the insidious next step which might see the plan go ahead despite any objections.   With the redoubtable Mr. Tim Knowles at the helm yet again.   This time leading a study into the transport system of the west of Cumbria and how it might be affected by such things as housing developments at, er, Cleator Moor, or - distinctly low key, nuclear developments.   The computer program will be able to analyse traffic flow for buses, private cars, (no doubt horses and carts, too,) and lorries.   Once again, the relevance of the latter is muted, but will be of paramount importance to those on the various bodies fronted by Mr. Knowles promoting nuclear expansion regardless of public opinion.   There have already been complaints that the impact on the region's roads will be excessive.   So to get around these objections, this part of the county will be resurfaced with tarmac, if the requirements of the nuclear lobby are heeded.   Just who do these few vociferous and influential people represent?   Surely not the great majority?

Whilst the tide of opinion is against nuclear expansion, the power to make an ultimate decision lies with the "Executive Cabinet" - a grandiose-sounding sub-division of those who apparently consider themselves infallible.   Back in 2008, it was this small select band who made the decision to "express an interest" in hosting the dump without recourse to public opinion or even the town councils.   Who and what is influencing these cliques?   Suspiciously, the same names keep recurring.   Are people being told the real truth as to what these shadowy characters are doing in their name?   What will the government do in the unlikely event that the "better pigs" (with apologies to George Orwell) withdraw their favours?   No knighthoods for them then, eh?   No seats on the various boards if it all goes pear-shaped.   Big bonuses might just evaporate a little better than the stuff at Sellafield.

More importantly, what will be done with the rapidly decaying waste in the legacy ponds at Sellafield?   The need to bury the stuff (akin to the ostrich burying its head in the sand, to our way of thinking,) is becoming urgent.   With no method of dealing with it and nowhere to put it, it remains a huge reason for not proliferating nuclear power stations, which, of course, goes against the government's wishes.   Besides which, that great god Money has been spent promoting the idea all over the county, so how much can be spent (on top of the huge amount already spent) before the powers-that-be decide that too much has been invested for the withdrawal to be permitted?   Then it will be the quintessential fat cat, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, who will come riding in with the imposition because it is for the greater good of the country.   Place your bets now.

There also seems to be the somewhat naiive idea that it will ever be possible to get out from the commitment, as specified in the original invitation to take part in hosting the dump.   To us it is highly significant that no other council in the whole of the U.K. wanted to be involved.   The only place stupid enough is Cumbria, where so many institutions have, in our opinion, been corrupted by the industry.   Is it not time to put an end to the corruption and the contamination, with its impact on the environment and health?   When even the geology of the area - thoroughly investigated by a whole raft of competent people and a few others, back in 1997 - is being changed to suit the proposals, you know they are on a very slippery slope.   Tell us again how much transport will be involved in creating the dump.  Will this operation be concurrent with any further reactor building at Sellafield by Iberdrola?   Or will that be put on hold until the dump is commissioned?   Where are the new roads to be built and what will be sacrificed for them?   An international company has been involved in the transport forecast and a computer program produced at great cost, who paid for it and how?   Who selected the company?   To us it is another burden to be added to the taxpayer's account.

Are they being told the truth about all the aspects of the proposed dump and nuclear expansion?   When the dual carriageways are covering the green valleys and coastal plains, what possible objections could be raised to more and more reactors and treatment plants?   Our original spectre of 40 miles of industrial estate from beyond Barrow up to the Solway looms ever larger.
7/2/12
Suffer The Little Children

Although the consensus of opinion amongst broadcasters may seem to suggest that not a single person has died as a result of the Fukushima incident, figures from studies elsewhere seem to indicate otherwise.   An American study looked at both infant and adult death rates during the time when Fukushima occurred, as well as in previous months and years.   It found that during the 14 weeks prior to Fukushima, infant deaths had been declining by 8.37%, while in the weeks following the disaster they increased by 1.8%.   Even among adults, a 4.46% death rate was observed in the weeks after Fukushima, compared to 2.34%, which is about half that rate, the previous year.

Source:  http://www.naturalnews.com/034586_Fukushima_USA_fatalities.html

From the same source we learn that nearly a year after the incident, Meiji Step Infant Powder (a baby milk product) has been recalled because it has been tainted with radiation.   Meiji Holdings Co., the maker, is recalling 400,000 cans of the product because of contamination with radioactive cesium.

According to the article, "The Times of India" reports that the recalled product contains excessive levels of radioactive cesium measuring as high as 30.8 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of both cesium-134 and cesium-137.   Though this amount is lower than the 200 Bq/kg maximum threshold set by the Japanese health ministry, it is still too high for comfort for both the company and the public, which is why Meiji has issued the voluntary recall.

Source: http://www.naturalnews.com/034357_Fukushima_powdered_milk_radioactive_cesium.html#ixzz1lhkfExLQ

There is, of course only one source of such contamination:  a nuclear power plant.   Interestingly, and perhaps worryingly, the baby milk was manufactured in a factory 124 miles away from Fukushima.
31/1/12
Challenging the BBC

It is always a bit worrying when an expert seems to be saying something very wrong on a programme broadcast by what was always regarded as the world's premier organisation.   Not only from the point of view that our own knowledge is inevitably more scant than theirs - leading to worries that we have got something wrong, or missed a vital point - but also because the BBC uses its reputation as a shield to protect it from challenge.   If you disagree with something that has appeared on the BBC then you are wrong, as the organisation is too experienced to make mistakes, seems to be the premise.   Happily for the BBC, anyone who dissents from their view can be quickly labelled a bit of a loon who cannot accept reasoned argument.   In our case, we could very quickly be labelled rabid greenies.   However, we know this isn't the case in fact.

So, when we saw the programme on Fukushima with a professor, whose previous work in connection with science, scientists, astonomy and general physics, we had understood, enjoyed, and appreciated, we watched with interest.   The content was a considerable shock!   After all, everything we put on this website is gleaned from respected sources and seems to have the same general theme that confirms the idea that there is no safe level of radiation - something that has been admitted even by the International Atomic Energy Authority.

Professor Jim al-Kalili's programme was broadcast last year, four months after the Fukushima events.   In it he suggested that the upheaval of the evacuation had done more harm than anything the tsunami and subsequent melt-down of the reactors had achieved.   He went on to note that no-one had died as a result of radiation leaking from the plant.   The obvious inference was that, in the event of a nuclear incident - even one on the maximum level of the scale for nuclear disasters - no-one should be removed from the area.

Happily, we were not on our own in considering this programme to be grossly misleading.   A video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-4YJfwF1MQ&feature=related (together with many others in a similar veing) takes issue with the "facts" given in the programme.   It demonstrates the basic errors made by al-Kalili, from his statement that there had been a "partial meltdown", when in fact both the IAEA and Tepco had issued data stating that there had been complete meltdowns at three of the reactors - something that was obviously known at the time the broadcast was transmitted.

The video shows official documentation which informs how exposure to radiation not only causes cancer - especially thyroid cancer from the ingestion or inhallation of iodine - but also leads to vast increases in other illnesses.   The data for this being derived from studies of the exposure of Japanese to the two atomic bombs.   The effects of the bombs became evident after 25 years and they are not expected to peak until around 2015.   So, why does al-Kalili expect to see effects after just four months?

Even more astonishing was the visit to Chernobyl, and the ludicrously low figures for ensuing deaths given by a Russian professor.   Happily, al-Kalili was content to accept what he was told, and seems to have made no effort to chase up data from other sources.   Some sources put the figures for people affected at 980,000.   Somewhat different from the Russian professor's.   Amusingly, the video shows al-Kalili after he has spoken to the camera about the unnecessary evacuation, especially of a school, donning protective boots for a brief walk across the playground.   Quite why he needed those boots when there is patently no danger he didn't explain.   Quite why the Japanese government, together with many other countries where nuclear incidents have occurred, spend so much money on cleaning up apparently unnecessarily, is not explained either.   There is little mention, too, of the hundreds of tonnes of toxic (or is it?) material being dumped into the Pacific Ocean.   Why should there be any concern about it.   Taking al-Kalili's expert views to their logical conclusion, there will be absolutely no adverse effect whatsoever.   Hmm.

On 21st January, this year, an article relating to the coverage of Fukushima was included in Newswatch early in the morning.   To give some authority to the theme, a BBC science editor was interviewed about the situation at Fukushima.   He continued to infer that the incident was over and no-one had died, the reactors were now in a state of cold shut-down, and that the whole thing had been a lot of fuss about nothing.   Further research from a wide range of sources, shows that the situation is not as described by the BBC's science interviewee, but as we believed to be the case.   In fact we had only the previous day watched a documentary programme on Japanese national broadcaster, NHK World (see the Opinion page, article on 20/1/12) which, contrary to what the BBC were saying, opined that things were far from well at Fukushima.

So, we are left with the question of why?   Why is a supposedly respected broadcaster putting out such material?   Do they use a different science to us?   Whose evidence is flawed?   Is it possible that they are being "leant on" by the industry and/or government?   Why did they not explain how their amazingly low figures for people afflicted could possibly diverge so much from the accepted ones - and were even lower than those published by the World Health Organisation?   If their science editor is so pro-nuclear, how can the BBC ever honestly give an impartial opinion?   Can anyone offer an explanation of why such material can be broadcast and then not corrected or retracted?

We don't consider ourselves "rabid greenies", yet if we challenge such an institution, isn't that what we will appear to be - no matter that we can justify our case with facts?
16/1/12
Promoting West Cumbria (Ahem)

Following the recent announcement that the company owned by the head of Cumbria Tourism, Mr. Robson, is to be involved (see article below on 27/9/11) in the assessment of whether a deep hole will undermine tourism in west Cumbria (a multi-million pound deal which will no doubt be utterly transparent and honest - with no leanings towards the wishes of the payer) we have come up with a couple of items which may be of interest to anyone pushing for souvenirs of the area to be afflicted.   Given Cumbria Tourism's previous history of ignoring the west of the county, preferring instead to heavily promote the over-popular lakes - Windermere, Coniston, etc. - we doubt whether any real change in policy can be expected.   The question, apparently, is whether the proposed nuclear dump will adversely affect tourism in the west of Cumbria.   A little bit obvious that, as tourism has not been promoted since the demise many years ago of the Sellafield Visitor Centre(!) , it may be a strange question.   Perhaps it should have been whether, given a similar degree of promotion to the east of the county, tourism could provide a viable future for west Cumbrians.

Kendal Ming Cack

More Mint Cack

21/12/11
Excessive Influence for the Nuclear Industry Distorting the Government's View?

How can we be assured of transparency and accountability when the government and nuclear power industry are both responsible for and have a large stake in finding plausible solutions to nuclear crises?   This collusion neutralises any public interest.   What likeliehood is there of impartial public health information when it depends on the whim of a nuclear consortium working with an amenable government?   What is the moral position of an army of civil servants passing on information to the nuclear industry without any transparency except when such is forced by the Freedom of Information requests?   How did the nuclear industry acquire this influence?   Why is no-one in the investigative journalism field interested in following up the position, for example in Cumbria, where every committee and council has been stufffed with pro-nuclear lobbyists?  Leaving aside issues - such as why it is taking so long for a police investigation to be completed into whether the Energy Secretary, Chris. Huhne, and we get the feeling we would not receive the same consideration, it is strange that he should have recently announced cuts to solar panel installation and the price paid for the surplus energy produced by them.   It may well be, as he says, that the price of producing the panels has fallen, but the cost of installation hasn't fallen, and energy prices are set to rise (even by Huhne's own figures) by 2020.


Back in November, Huhne is reported to have written to Lord Lawson and the Global Warming Policy Foundation, to attack the suggestion of that group that global warming is largely a natural phenomenon.   This something that we agree with, notwithstanding that modern lifestyles add considerably to the changes in climate.   After all the earth has been around for quite a while and temperatures globally have fluctuated considerably during its life-time.   Parts of England, for example, were subject to a tropical climate which changed when the ice age arrived.   Clearly this was not due to car exhausts or power stations.   Whatever the nuclear protagonists would like us to believe, their pollution is worse than CO2 and the earth will do whatever it does naturally.   The outcome will be that the earth will survive regardless of human activities (even including Huhne).   Whether the human race does or not is a moot point.

It strikes us as rather odd that Huhne is quite happy to follow the advice of climate change scientists but impervious to complaints that the geology of Cumbria is unsuitable for an underground dump, as per the four year investigation of the Nirex enquiry.   Even with enhanced methods of examining rocks the situation remains the same, but is Huhne listening to that particular scientific opinion?
17/12/11
Corruption in Government

Not only are policemen looking younger these days, but corruption amongst the "ruling elite" is apparently become more obvious, too.   Whether things are any worse than they used to be be, are more apparentt these days because of better communications, or we are indeed getting older, we don't know.   What we do know is that our long-voiced suspicions that some politcians and peers of the realm are corrupt and devious is becoming more obvious.   We have suggested for the last three or four years that the outcome of the "consultations" over the various aspects of nuclear expansion were aimed to provide the system with a ticked box.   There was no other reason that we could think of to explain the many versions on a theme that only multi-national corporations and industry-funded groups could have the resources to tackle properly.   Every aspect of the plans was allocated its own "consultation" process totally unnecessarily.   Huge volumes of addtional information was put forward by the government at the last minute, leaving lay people like ourselves bewildered and overwhelmed.   After a while we realised that it was all part of a Cunning Plan devised by a latter-day Baldrick in DECC.   The whole manipulation was aimed at granting the likes of Électricité de France access to the various sites around the country to build their French-built Areva reactors.   Of course, Électricité de France and Areva are Siamese twins owned and controlled by the French government.   Quite what there influence over the U.K. government is we have yet to see.   Few people in politics do things without expectation of reward, in our experience.

On the Home 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 seeking 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.   This is not democratic and should surely never have happened.   Again, it begs the question:  what is in it for the perpetrators?   Let us not pretend that they are doing it out of altruism.

Our attention has recently been drawn to a report concerning further corruption and collusion in respect of the government's dealings with the nuclear industry - at least some of which may have been illegal, let alone immoral:  http://www.robedwards.com/2011/12/uk-government-shared-intelligence-with-nuclear-industry-documents-show.html.   Fortunately Greenpeace has the resources to take on this sort of conduct.   It does, however, beg the question as to who is being so influenced that they are bending over backwards to facilitate this expansion?   Answers on a post-card please.   We have already expressed our concerns that this is not what we expect an (allegedly impartial) department of government to be up to.

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 no longer mentions it.   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.   Not, of course that this presents any problem to the health of residents or the environment - just as the pollution from Sellafield is utterly innocuous.   Which, of course begs the question as to why the amount discharged at the latter institution was stated to be only one fiftyeth of the true amount.

We have had to accept defeat in our efforts to persuade the Cumbria Constabulary to act on the findings of the Redfern Report.   Despite the findings of corruption in the coronial system, the NHS, etc., and criminal offences having been committed over decades, the whole enquiry looks like being a total waste of time, effort and money.   Nothing, other than the closure of a couple of pathology units (not including the one at which most of the events occurred!) will result.   Whether the matter is of public interest or not is a moot point.   According to our reading of the considerations listed on the website for the Director of Public Prosecutions, there is good reason to proceed with an enquiry.   Sadly, the Assistant Chief Constable disagreed.   The Independent Police Complaints Commission declared that they couldn't act on our complaint was we had failed to name the person who made the decision not to act.   We had asked, but the question was ignored.   A letter to Redfern directly has been ignored.   We come to the conclusion that the whole enquiry was just another PR exercise and no-one was supposed to take it all seriously whilst successfully lining the pockets of legal eagles with no public benefit ensuing.

Three years after asking for information on what he described as "a gross abuse of parliamentary process", we are still asking for the result of the enquiry which Speaker Michael Martin had announced.   Sir Humphrey abounds - he is not just a figure of a comic-writer's imagination, and there are lots of him.   (?)   Our local M.P. has ignored our questions (she is good at that sort of thing) and even our completed forms complaining to the Parliamentary Ombudsman languish on her desk as they have done since September.   There is no way to complain about an M.P., believe it or not.   The best that can be done is to write to the Chief Whip of the party concerned.   We did this almost two weeks ago, and are still awaiting at least an acknowledgement.

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 considered the report from Dr. Weightman - the contents of which we forecast over six months ago - and all is apparently well.   We are aware that there are design flaws in both reactors.   Apart from our concerns that one size does not always suit all, the reassurance that "no reactors will be built in the U.K. until the design flaws have been rectified" does not make us feel any safer!

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, his colleagues and friends all buy shares?
10/11/11
The Long And Winding Road

Having tried for nearly two and a half years to obtain information about an alleged "gross abuse of parliamentary procedure" instigated by the then Speaker, Michael Martin, we have decided with reluctance to submit the matter to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.   Of course, these days, this requires the signature of the local M.P. - the very person who has failed to obtain the information in the first place.   With little hope of success we completed and submitted the appropriate forms back at the beginning of October.   Having heard nothing (not even an acknowledgement of receipt) in a month, we wrote to the Ombudsman's Office asking whether the documents had been received.   A slight delay, then came the information that the forms were apparently still with the M.P.   Great stuff.


The Independent Police Complaints Commission, as helpful as everyone else involved in assisting members of the public with complaints, has declared that they cannot act on our complaint about Cumbria Police's failure to act on the outcome of the Redfern Enquiry into Tissue Sampling and Body-part Removal by Sellafield.   Our request for the name of the individual who made the decision not to do anything at all was addressed to the Asst. Chief Constable, who chose to ignore it.   The IPCC have informed us that because we cannot name an individual officer they won't act either.

A letter direct to Michael Redfern regarding the matter was, according to his office, forwarded to him.   Our hope that he might deign to offer a reply seems optimistic as a month has gone past already with no further response.   Isn't accountability great?
13/10/11
More For The Conspiracy Theorists

Reading the background to the recent Dr. Liam Fox debacle makes for an interesting, if somewhat scary (still, it is Halloween!) pastime.   Money, it appears controls most things in a politician's life.   Leaving aside the deep politics of Atlantic Bridge, ALEC, and the Koch brothers, the Daily Telegraph today has an article on the manner in which the future of planning was "hijacked" by four Treasury officials, with only a token Defra official in attendance.   The article says that the idea was to remove objections from environmental groups and was done to facilitate expansion by businesses in order to assist in the recovery from the depression.   Somewhat amusingly, the complaints have been led by the Labour party, despite the fact that they were in government for most of the time the policies were being implemented.   Goldfish memory syndrome springs to mind.


At the time of the National Planning Policy Framework consultations, we noted that they were very effective at removing any local input and handed control to the large corporations (whose share will no doubt be owned by those making these decisions) to the detriment of the environment and David Cameron's much vaunted Big Society and localism.   Still, as long as they continue to make money, who cares about the environment?   It is tempting, too, to recognise that the likes of Électricité de France (why are they so reluctant to use their full nomenclature - surely nothing to do with the fact that they are a foreign company?) will be able to press ahead with their plans to build nuclear reactors wherever they wish with the default position being an approval and the opposition being substantially handicapped by the changes included in the policy.

Source:  
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/8858853/Hands-Off-Our-Land-Treasury-hijacked-planning-reforms.html
3/10/11
Subsidy?   There Will Be NO Subsidy   (Unless There Is)

RWE npower, apparently one of the most unpopular companies in the country, is "likely to look for investors, or a partner, to share the cost once the subsidies for nuclear power have been set".  
Strange, when the government have said there will be no subsidies - but the company already has debts of £23 billion, and is supposedly about to build four nuclear power stations at a cost of a further £20 billion!   Do we really believe that the U.K. taxpayer is not about to fund these proposed developments?   Yet again we have to ask, why should the U.K. provide capital for foreign companies when the profits will go abroad?

Yet the alternatives, according to the article in the Sunday Times, 2/10/11, is higher electricity costs for consumers.   So much for energy security.   Having sold off the utilities to foreign companies, we are at the mercy of them and will remain so as long as basic utilities are seen as a profit-making asset instead of a basic need.   It seems that, whichever way we go in the future, the energy companies will continue to increase costs to the consumer, whether justified or not.

Interestingly, Ed. Miliband, who changed the New Labour policy on nuclear, is now reported to have listed the energy groups as the most predatory businesses ruining Britain in a speech last week at the Labour Party conference.   Of course, this didn't relate to his support for nuclear when he was in charge of DECC;  the current government seem quite happy to condone the actions of civil servants seeking to downplay the impact of the Fukushima meltdowns by colluding with EDF Energy, Areva, and Westinghouse, just two days after the earthquake in order to stop bad publicity affecting plans for new nuclear stations in Britain.   Sad to see that honesty and integrity are still not a requirement in this "great" country.   One might have hoped for better following the expenses debacle, which showed just how corrupt our politicians can be at even the most basic level.   If they can lie, steal and cheat for a few pounds, what chance is there when there are £billions at stake?

Cameron appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on 2/10/11, and seemed to get a little flustered when asked about the National Trust's opposition to changes in the planning regime (see Home Page).   Despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of homes already consented to but not yet built, it must have been very difficult for him to justify the premise of selling off brown and green belt sites in order to meet the needs.   That the needs are purely for profit in the construction industry appears not to concern him.   Whether he understood the full impact of the proposed changes seems a moot point.   His answers steadfastly concerned houses - not a single nuclear reactor or underground dump (of which there is only one, of course) seemed to occur to him.   Sadly, Marr no longer seems up to the job and failed to press the matter.

After only two weeks in the American media, the BBC finally got round to mentioning the strike that has been taking place over the fortnight in Wall Street.   The demonstrators, over 700 of whom have been arrested already, being deeply concerned about the disproportionate and unfair influence that large corporations and wealthy individuals have in setting government policy.   Fortunately, that cannot happen in this country - er, except for the Murdoch empire and the defence industry and the power sector.   (Not to mention the nuclear lobby!)

Elsewhere, Iran is now feared to be capable of making its own nuclear bomb within a few weeks.   Having just started up its first power-generating reactor, with a great deal of aid from the Russians, it was only a matter of time.   Never mind, perhaps the Americans can persuade the Israelis to bomb the factory again.

According to the Mainichi Daily News, http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20111002p2g00m0dm083000c.html, Tepco's own nuclear accident manual was useless, as it assumed that even if everything else failed, the emergency generators and cooling systems would continue to function.   We recall an experienced emergency planner attended the Whitehaven meeting a couple of years back and pointed out the basic flaws in the ideas of expanding the Sellafield site.   Still, they will never have an accident, will they?

Some clever individual has calculated that the odds on a severe nuclear accident occuring have reduced considerably since Fukushima, and now stands at 1 in 5,000 (down from the previous estimate of 1 to 100,000).   This means that a severe accident can be expected to occur somewhere in the world every 20 years - down from every hundred years.   Still worth a gamble?

In India, there are problems with legislation relating to compensation in the event of accident.   The World Nuclear Association (yet another well-funded propaganda and integration promoter for the nuclear industry), promotes nuclear power and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry.   Its Director General (impressive title!), John Rich, is reported in the Indian publication Business Standard as saying that safety had been quite a strong feature of the nuclear sector prior to Fukushima and subsquently as well.   We presume that he hasn't heard of the 2000 or so events in the U.K. over the last seven years.   Rich is also reported as trotting out the old line about there being more accidents and deaths in mining, coal (are they different?) and natural gas based projects.   Yes, perhaps, we haven't seen the statistics and we wonder whether Rich has either.   However, those accidents tend to be contained on-site (in reality - not just as per the mantra uttered after every nuclear incident that there was no off-site leak) and do not result in the death or severe health problems of those not even vaguely connected to the industry.   Nor do they leave the environment contaminated for centuries.   We think that makes a slight difference.

Another Director General, this time of the IAEA - the sales team for the industry, has taken the initiative and issued a positive message.   Yukio Amano says that the use of nuclear power globally will continue to grow.   http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/IAEA-Chief-Nuclear-Power-Growing-Despite-Japanese-Accident-130364228.html  

Amano says that the events at Fukushima, which his organisation did its best to suppress knowledge of, did little to diminish the growth.   A bit strange when Switzerland, Germany, India, Italy and the likes have all changed their plans.   Even in the U.K. the economic situation is placing ever-greater strain on the ability of private companies to build these expensive reactors.   We believe it is already the case that the only body with sufficient funds will be the government, yet the public will need some hefty persuading that building these unpopular edifices is a good use for their taxes when there are so many other demands to be met.

Meanwhile, back in Japan, the Asahi Shimbun has calculated that 100 million cubic meters of soil from 8,000 sq. km. will have to be removed.   Even after it has been removed, it will still form radioactive waste and need to be treated and disposed of.   There is little current information on the quantities of radioactive water that is being stored on-site at Fukushima, nor the quantities leaking into the Pacific Ocean.   Currently it is being suggested that the high levels being noted close to shore are the result of a very large whirlpool effect which apparently exists in the area.   Thus material does not get dispersed very far, merely rotates ad infinitum.   Naturally, the bulk of the material will become absorbed - one way or another - by marine life and remain in the chain for either decades or centuries.   Some 80,000 people remain displaced by the leaks.   We think it would take a significant mining disaster to get anywhere near these figures.   Then again, we are not selling nuclear, unlike the I.A.E.A.

The financial cost of all this has not yet been quantified, although estimates seem to range from a figure in excess of $50 billion up to $250 billion.   Although not mentioned in the "happy talk" from the nuclear industry and its tame regulators, some experts suggest that the clean up will take decades to achieve.   (The official view suggests that all will be well by the end of 2011 when a "cold shutdown" can take place.)  

Could ANY mining disaster get anywhere near this level?   Patently not, so why do the officials press this point?   Perhaps more importantly, why do they consider us to be so stupid as to believe it?   Do the civil servants at Whitehall understand what is really going on? We believe that if even a very small percentage of this potential cost had been invested in alternative power sources, research and development of the many promising leads, then there would be no reason to risk nuclear development.   Necessity is, as they say, the mother of invention.

We are told over and again that the reactors that have caused pollution are old ones, and the sales pitch is that the new ones don't have the same problems.   Yet there are still 440 old reactors and their highly-toxic wastes in existence today.   Just building additional new ones does not remove the threat the old ones present.
27/9/11
Suspicions of Partiality?

An article in the Guardian, 24/9/11 reveals the latest rent-a-celebrity tactic.  

Not content with having just the local politicians and church leaders spouting propaganda on their behalf, the pro-nuclear lobby have employed Osprey Communications, a PR company owned by Mr. Eric Robson (who chairs Gardener's Question Time on BBC radio), to look at whether nuclear plants or dumps in Cumbria would undermine the Lake District's £2 billion a year tourist industry.   Given what we perceive to be the complete lack of interest in promoting tourism in the west of Cumbria, demonstrated by the group thus far, it might seem that the Lake District encompasses only those sites situated in the east of the county and which are readily served by the M6 motorway.   (Even the visit in recent times by huge cruise liners only served to help passenger to helicopter (!) from Whitehaven to the eastern hot-spots in order to see the eastern lakes and fells - thus ignoring the beauty of the western district.)

Source:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/sep/23/gardeners-question-time-conflict-interests

Mr. Robson counters the allegations of self-interest by saying his colleagues are aware of his views and pecuniary interest.   One wonders who these colleagues are and whether they, too, are dependent in any way on the nuclear industry.  

Who, amongst the general public, is made aware of the potential conflict of interest and has any influence on the chairmanship of the group?   After all, Mr. Robson's media connections include the BBC, who ostensibly pride themselves on impartiality and independence.   (Mr. Robson appeared regularly on the Wainwright programmes, with the latest one being last Sunday evening
, 25/9/11, on BBC television.)

Surely the major point is not whether his
colleagues are aware of his nuclear viewpoint, but whether those not-so-well-informed people who might rely on his stance are aware of his pecuniary interest.   We have to wonder what his cut of the dump's funding will be?   However, it looks like just another insidious extension of the Sellafield corruption to us.   Is there any influential body in Cumbria who is not funded by the nuclear lobby, has no ex-Sellafield managers on board, and is thus demonstrably immune and unaffected?  

How can ordinary people counter such expertise as
Mr. Robson's in order to counter what is purely pro-nuclear propaganda?   Who are these people who determine the wholesale destruction of a beautiful part of the world.   It seems to us, highly probable that the only part of the Lake District which is of concern to this inappropriately-named group will be the protection of those areas already rich and over-populated as a direct result of their biased support.   Places like Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Coniston, etc., which are already bursting at the seams with tourists and holiday makers.   Yet the place recently voted as the most beautiful in the U.K., Wastwater, deserves no protection or promotion.   Coincidentally, Sellafield cooling water comes from there, and there are wonderful views of Sellafield's sprawling industrial site from most places around the western fells.  

Sadly, money buys politicians and influence world-wide.
  With the west of Cumbria being abandoned to nuclear, surely it is time the title of Cumbria Tourism be changed to something more accurate?   If the head of policy for Cumbria Tourism can acknowledge that the proposed dump is "probably not going to be a benefit", then surely the group - including Mr. Robson, even if only in his official capacity - should be opposed to the proposals?  

Mr. Robson says that there is democratic debate, yet what democratic debate is there?   Any anti-nuclear stance is dismissed as "green rant" and none of the adverse effects of the huge developments are mentioned in the vast propaganda exercise being run with the 
collusion of local councils, newspapers and publishers.   That the outpourings of these publications are extremely biased and funded by either the Energy Coast quango, Sellafield, or the NDA are removed from fact and fail to give a complete picture of the scale of the problem.   We refer to them as "nuclear-at-any-cost" and, as a recent complaint to the PCC has revealed, honesty and adherence to the true facts are not required.  How many PR people does it take to ruin a beautiful part of the world?   Who is being paid by whom?   What influence is being wielded out of sight?   We believe it is time for a full investigation into what we see as the corruption endemic in Cumbria's political and social structure - along the lines of the Murdoch enquiry.   Let us see who is involved and what their rewards are.   Let us hear why there is so little in the way of open, accountable democracy.   How much have you read in "official" documents, magazines, or discussion documents, about the adverse effects of the proposed developments in the area?   Is it possible to build nuclear reactors and vast underground dumps without some impact on the extant environment?   Are jobs the be-all and end-all of the debate?   How many of these jobs currently being touted around are real jobs for local people?   What happens to those people when the building ends?   What is the impact likely to be on residents whilst the building phase lasts?   We have seen nothing on these matters, and the proposed changes in the planning legislation will remove any ability for locals to have any say once the policy has been approved by central government (another classic example of Mr. Cameron's Big Society in action - localisation only if it suits the government and then on their terms, with Mr. Pickles the ultimate arbiter).   We mention elsewhere the future holds just one outcome at the moment:  here's your nuclear power station, what colour do you want the gates, only now this has been extended to the dump as well.   If there was any real chance of Copeland and Allerdale backing out, how much further down the line and how much more money is to be spent before they decide?   When will the amount of money invested in the process outweigh any local objections?   Why are no alternatives being sought elsewhere in the U.K.?

Anyone care to place bets on what findings Osprey Communications will report?
21/9/11
Where Were We Up To . . .?

An interesting by-product of the proposed political boundary changes will be the integration of a wider area of Cumbria as they become subsumed by the pro-nuclear areas of Copeland and Allerdale.   One wonders whether these additional constituents will be permitted any objections to the destruction of the west coast.   Despite the huge impact that the proposed development will have if it goes ahead, only a survey will be used to discern public feeling.   Given what was published a short while back in the WC:MRWS publication, it seems that anything will do as long as it superficially supports The Cause.   We are still endeavouring to obtain the data used for one published survey carried out on behalf of Copeland Council (and presumably thus paid for with tax-payers money).   It was undertaken by GVA Ltd, a property company, who gained £25,000 for doing the small job.   We believe that, as the data was obtained on behalf of the public of Copeland, the material (suitably cleaned of any personal data) should be available for us to analyse.   However, we have been told that it belongs to GVA Ltd., and thus is removed from availability supplied by the Freedom of Information Act.   Neat?   We have asked the Information Commissioner to assist.   The basic premise remains:  what use is a small survey when it could merely involve standing in the canteen at Sellafield and effectivelty asking workers whether they want to keep their job?   Surely there must be more openness about the findings if they are to have any credibility?


The Press Complaints Council upheld our view that an article by Energy Minister, Brian Wilson, which appeared in one of the increasing number of pro-nuclear propaganda publications designed to brow-beat people into believing the myth that nuclear energy is safe, sustainable and of benefit to the planet.

The article appeared in the Energy Coast supplement which was published back in April and Mr. Wilson stated that no damage had been incurred by the reactors at Fukushima despite the earthquake and tsunami, and the nuclear infrastructure had also remained intact.   As this was patently untrue and a straightforward breach of the requirements that a publication publish true articles we complained.   The publishers argued firstly that the article was merely Mr. Wilson's viewpoint, as if that excused them from the requirement to be honest and make necessary corrections to what they print.   Then it was the "believed to be true at the time" scenario - at the time the article was being prepared the full facts were unknown.   Blatently untrue, again.   It only required a couple of channel hops on the television to have the potential revealed within a few hours - with Mr. Wilson's contacts and insider information, he would (or at the very least should) have had up-to-the-minute information, long before anything was broadcast - even with the strange lethargy that overcomes the U.K. broadcasters in matters nuclear.   When we argued against that, they attempted to suggest that the melt-downs were not due to the earthquake and tsunami, but a failure of the cooling system.   The obvious fact that the system had worked at least adequately for decades prior to the disaster seemed to end the arguments.   A correction and apology was published in the August edition:


Britain’s Energy Coast

A complaint to the Press Complaints Commission that a reference to the damage sustained by the Fukushima nuclear power plant following the recent earthquake and tsunami was inaccurate and misleading.   The complaint said that, contrary to the author’s claim, the reactors did not ‘remain intact’, but suffered significant damage.

The matter was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following correction, as well as appropriate amendments to the E-edition and online version:

AN article published in the Britain's Energy Coast supplement, distributed on May 26 (‘Lessons will be learned from events in Japan’), stated that the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear  plant ‘remained intact in spite of both earthquake and tsunami’.   We would like to make clear that, in fact, all three of the reactors failed following failure of the cooling system.   The events led to a failure of the power supply and water cooling systems, with the result that the cores melted through the bottom of the reactors, releasing radioactive chemicals. We apologise for the misleading statement.

Whilst not as fulsome as we would have liked (our suggested full-scale explanatory version 8-) was rejected by the publishers) we hope it may be a salutory reminder of basic publisher's standards.  http://www.pcc.org.uk/case/resolved.html
Others:

Having got into a circular correspondence with M.P. and Cumbria Constabulary over the latter's failure to act in any way following the findings of the Redfern Inquiry we have now taken our M.P.'s advice and "escalated the complaint".   The police said that the statement made by that picture of probity and rectitude, Mr. C. Huhne, in the Houses of Parliament, following the report's findings, absolved them from having to do anything, despite the 96 findings including corruption of the coronial system, etc.   Our M.P. corroborated our view that the judicial system should be uninfluenced by political statements and referred us to the police, who referred us to our M.P.   Hoping to break the cycle we have now complained to the I.P.C.C.

After two years of pressing our M.P. to find out what happened to the inquiry by Speaker Michael Martin into the abuse of the parliamentary process which resulted in an unbelievably low cap on nuclear companies' liabilities in the event of accident, we have now completed the forms of complaint for the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

The forms asked what we wished as an outcome, so we have suggested a full Select Committee Inquiry into what we see as the corruption of social systems in Cumbria by the nuclear industry.   In particular the role of the M.P. and others.   That all the obvious culprits have been (or perhaps still are?) employees of Sellafield is surely a suspicious and obvious modus operandii?   When even the chair of Tourism Cumbria, Brian Robson, is engaged (via his PR company) as a pro-nuclear lobbyist things must surely be reaching the stage where there should be an investigation into what is going on?
15/8/11
Can This be Right?
Chernobyl Fallout Map

We recently found this map on the BBC website.   We have long been somewhat confused that the U.K. sites which were so badly affected by fallout from Chernobyl were the same as those which hosted nuclear power stations already.   We were assured at the time that the normally westerly winds experienced in this part of the world were, unfortunately, from the east on this occasion.   Not only that, but there just happened to be patches of rain falling in parts of Britain.   The water droplets in the rain absorbed the Chernobyl radioactivity and brought it down to earth.   For that reason, farmers in large areas of the country were prohibited from selling their livestock, especially for human consumption.   This situation pertained for over 25 years.   Movements are afoot to reduce the restrictions.


Looking at the map above, which depicts the levels of fallout from Chernobyl, we find it rather awesome that the higher-level indicated to have fallen on the U.K. just happens to be centered on Sellafield.   In fact, if the rest of the map is ignored, one might even think that the centre of the pollution is actually Sellafield, with perhaps a little more from Wylfa.   That would be cynical, though, wouldn't it?
29/6/11
France Ploughs On

Despite all the ructions world-wide, Sarkozy has announced that he will continue with his "big loan" policy by investing a further €1 billlion in nuclear develpment, with the emphasis to be on improved reactor design leading to safer equipment.   Throughout this site we have pointed out that France must be heavily dependent on the nuclear vision, with everything depending on sales of their Areva reactor.   Sadly, with so many now-cancelled orders following the changed perceptions following Fukushima Dai-ichi, the president must be somewhat nervous that his new-found friends across the Channel might also change their minds.   With a director of British Energy ( a subsidiary to Électricité de France - EdF) appointed as the head of the Green Investment Bank, he must be feeling a little easier.   Provided that there are no immediate catastrophes involving nuclear plants, and the British politicians can be encouraged to pursue their lemming-like rush to embrace EdF's plans, all may yet remain well for French politics.   The alternative - even more French people caught in the energy poverty trap - does not bode well for a peaceful election next year.   The longer it takes for other countries to sign on the dotted line, the greater the possibility that events might change and countries abandon the nuclear dream, as Germany has done.

According to American press sources, there is a growing concern about the safety of their own nuclear plants, especially after it was disclosed that 75% of their installations had leaked tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen which travels easily through the soil and binds with ground-water.

In the interim, the backlash to Fukushima which we forecast would occur, has now built up steam.   Russia Today television has now had two consecutive nights with experts extolling the virtues of the nuclear industry.   One was a former head of the Nuclear Industry Association, who voiced the now-familiar rhetoric, that not one death has been attributed to Fukushima's nuclear problems, compared with over 15,000 from the earthquake and tsunami.   How disingenuous can one be?   Death from exposure to radiation is rarely instantaneous, and the gentleman must know that very well.   According to NHK television (Japan) 15 residents of an area outside the 20 km. exclusion zone have been treated for severe radiation sickness.   No mention of that in the Russsian programme.   Mind you, with a discrepancy such as that between the WHO figures and those of the medical staff on the ground near to Chernobyl, the figures for radiation-related deaths will be pretty much meaningless anyway.
Still Awaiting

We are still following up the revelations from Cumbria Constabulary's Asst. Chief Constable that no action will be taken following the findings of the Redfern Report relating to body-part removal and tissue-sampling in West Cumbria.   We asked what action was being taken.   Four months later, following a complaint over being ignored, we were informed that no action was being taken because of political comments.   We asked who, what and when.   It transpires that they are depending on the statement made to the House of Commons by that model of integrity and honesty, Chris. Huhne.   It puzzles us as to how a politician - of whatever standing - can determine whether people accused by a highly-qualified barrister of breaking the criminal law are investigated and, where necessary, prosecuted.   We honestly believed that the law applied to all and was above politics.

We are still waiting for our local MP to come up with the answers to questions first posed over two years ago.   Apparently, for no explained reason, the aide delegated to deal with our request has not dealt with it.   One could get quite paranoid.

We wrote to West Cumbria:  Managing Radioactive Waste Safely asking for the data which they had published in their newsletter following a survey done by land agents, GVA Ltd.   We objected to several things in the newsletter, including the fact that more than 100% of respondees were depicted in the accompanying graphs.   Each of the categories depicted as an element of the graph was labelled with a perrcentage, which in each case totalled 100.   Yet there were also number (not percentages - thus the two categories could not be correlated) of those who did not answer.   We have never seen a report that failed to include the number/percentage of no responses in the main graph.   Even so, there is no way of discerning the criteria used to obtain the result.   How did they eliminate bias?   How did they ensure that the people were representative.etc. ?   We are still waiting for the data which we will analyse for ourselves.    The number of those whose views were sought was 740 - not much out of the 500, 000 residents of Cumbria - a mere .15%.   Yet the newsletter tells the world that 56% of residents had a favourable view of new nuclear.   Is it safe or wise to extrapolate such a small sample to such a degree?   We think not.   Our feeling is that the surveying company knew what outcume was desired and the exercise reflects this need.   We asked whether the company would have any interested in future land deals in the area, but no answer was forthcoming.

Suggestions About Being Small

In a Radio 4 discussion on 28/6/11, the benefits of multiple small reactors, such as those in use in nuclear-powered submarines, installed in large quantities around the areas which needs more electricity, were mooted.   In some ways, it is an interesting proposition:  those who use the power suffer the consequences of having the source in their own back-yard;  much reduced transmission losses as a consequences of being closer to the customer, far less intrusive changes to the infra-structure, minimisation of detriment to the amenity, can be built underground, only need refuelling every ten to 25 years, etc.   We do seem to recall that a certain Barrow M.P. by the name of Hutton (now chairman of the Nuclear Industries Association) resigned his place as Minister of Defence after awarding a substantial contract (£20 billion) for nuclear-powered submarines to the Barrow shipyards and went to work for an American company, Hyperion Power Generating, who manufacture and sell nuclear reactors of the type used in submarines.   (In his spare time he works for Eversheds, the law firm.)  
The Advisory Committee On Business Appointments
stipulated that he should not lobby his former department for 12 months - a period which conveniently expires this month, so any old contacts may come in handy.

As the Daily Mail said at the time, "Last night the appointment sparked renewed concern about the rules governing former ministers looking to cash in on the contacts and privileged information they pick up in government.

Labour MP Paul Flynn said: 'This has a bad smell about it. In office John Hutton was bewitched by the "Pied Piper" of the nuclear industry.

'We need new rules governing former ministers moving into industries which they used to regulate. There should be no financial involvement for at least a decade.'

Mr Hutton, who has already taken up a well-paid job as an adviser with the law firm Eversheds, could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Hyperion Power Generation, based in New Mexico, is a leader in the emerging market for socalled 'mini nukes' designed to power small communities and industrial areas.

Critics have branded them 'just another bombmaking threat' that risked the spread of nuclear technology to rogue regimes.


Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1286901/Ex-Labour-energy-chief-walks-nuclear-post.html#ixzz1Qfv8pZ00
14/6/11
West Cumbria MRWS

A few days ago we looked at the latest bulletin from the West Cumbria: MRWS (Managing Radioactive Waste Safely) quango.   Sadly, instead of the impartial appraisal of the facts that we had hoped for, it turned out to be just another propaganda sheet for the nuclear lobby.   It is amazing really just how much propaganda is being aimed at the West Cumbrian population:  there is all the stuff in the Whitehaven News - which at times seems to be struggling to maintain its impartiality - and the Energy Coast quarterly publication printed by the Whitehaven News, etc., etc.   However, we were distinctly puzzled by the results of two polls referred to in the MRWS sheet.   Apparently the quango (guess who are members and controlling things) commissioned a land agent, GVA Lrd., to conduct a survey.   We have requested a copy of the terms of reference.   A second survey was requested from Ipsos MORI for some reason.   Other people are dealing with the latter, so we will leave them to do it.   The results of the GVA survey caused us some concern, though.   There seemed to be a preponderence of residents in favour of hosting a nuclear waste dump, which seemed against our perceptions.   We thus spent some time perusing the documents submitted by GVA in support of their claims.   According to their report, Document 168 at www.westcumbriamrws.org.uk, they "spoke to" 740 people.   As conducting surveys is quite an established fine art, we would like to assume that the company complied with the guidelines for representative sampling as per DECC's published suggestions for such things.   On examination, it seems perhaps they didn't.   Not satisfied with some limited sampling (selected by an undisclosed method; most of them seem to be linked to Sellafield in some way - did they stand in Sellafield canteen and ask who was pro-nuclear?) they then took the very low figures and extrapolated them to represent the views of Cumbria as a whole.   In our experience, it is necessary to ensure that the sample taken is truly representative of the community it is purporting to discern the views of.   It does not seem that that is the case here.  As the survey was conducted pre-Fukushima, it seems unlikely that the views expressed will have remained the same, so, despite the pretence that it "avoids being skewed by Fukushima", ultimately it is very biased as it takes no account of the event.   Whether the industry or this quango like it, opinions have changed as a result.   The only option seems to be to redo the survey - more completely this time.


The graphs throughout the documents break up the relatively small amount of text quite nicely, but sadly, the text doesn't say very much about how the figures were arrived at, nor do the graphs make a lot of sense to us.   When we have analysed such data in the past we have always included a "bin" category for those whose answers don't fit the more obvious divisions.   Nonetheless they comprise part of the chart, so all charts add up properly to 100%.   The charts supplied in Document 168 do add up to 100%, but then there are some no responses listed, and whatever else doesn't fit the chart.   There is no indication of how many people have answered the questions, so the inference is that all 740 people have answered all the questions (rare in our experience) and that none have answered mere than once.   However, how can a chart show 100% of responses plus a number of others?   'T'ain't right.   It is not even possible to calculate how many people are represented as there are only percentages or numbers, not both.   Thus we have a chart that adds up to 100%, plus a number (but no percentage!!) of others.

Possibly to impress further, some "case studies" are included, Document 168A, which depict perceptions at places like Finland's Onkalo - not quite the same as Sellafield, one might think.  These case studies seem to be aimed at telling MRWS how to win over the public's perceptions.   In actual fact, they have little bearing on what is about to hit West Cumbria should the politicians and pro-nuclear lobby have their way.

In our view, a triumph of style over substance.   He who pays the piper?   How could supposedly intelligent people offer such poor work as this as evidence?   We are gravely concerned that such patently flawed evidence is accepted and ciculated by a body which, we believe, should be giving people the facts - not just the gospel according the St. Sellafield.

We have heard of an eminent geologist who, when allocated only a very short period to put a considerable volume of technical material to a group, declined to attend until such time as they allocated him proper space.   (He has offered to travel to anywhere in the U.K. to give a talk.)   All that was reported, of course, was the fact that he had declined to attend.   We think the way the absence was reported was deliberate and aimed at distorting people's perceptions of the strength of science and geology against nuclear waste dumping in Cumbria.

Why is this group only interested in promoting the destruction of a beautiful part of the world?   Why is it not giving the facts in an impartial way?   Why does it not bring attention to the adverse effects that the proposed 25sq. km. underground dump will have on people, property, and the environment?   Is it possible to construct such a vast hole without considerable nuisance to the residents?   Where is all the spoil going to go and how will it get there?   . . .  and what about noise, dust, congestion, etc.?   These things have never been mentioned to our knowledge.   Even if the basic principle was correct, and we fervently believe it isn't, then there is still all this to go through - not just when it is being built, but also when it is commissioned.   We have always believed that once a dump has been settled on, then all the material from around the U.K. will be sent there, once it has cooled sufficiently to allow it to be handled.   How is this material likely to be transported?   Railway?   Road?   Sea?   (We have to hope it is not the latter, despite the recent successful off-loading of the evaporators on the beach.)
13/6/11
Could Lightening Strike Twice?
We are all aware of the problems being faced at Fukushima, with thousands of tonnes of contaminated water being flushed out to sea with consequent environmental damage, but there are now hundreds of thousands of gallons of highly radioactive water being stored on the site.   We note elsewhere the current leakages, but in the light of the two strong earthquakes in New Zealand and the warning that these may trigger further quakes elsewhere, we have to ask what will happen if there is to be another quake and tsunami at Fukushima?
Growing exposure problems at Fukushima

The health and labor ministry says six other workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have received radiation doses above the allowable emergency level.   Tokyo Electric Power Company reported to the health ministry on Monday on the results of the latest checks of workers at the power plant.   The ministry says the provisional amount of radiation exposure was up to 497 millisieverts for each of six TEPCO male employees. The maximum allowable dose was formerly 100 millisieverts, but it was raised to 250 after the crisis started.   One of the men was working in the control center, while the other five were performing maintenance work.   Six additional workers received doses of between 200 and 250 millisieverts, and 88 were exposed to between 100 and 200 millisieverts.

The ministry has instructed the utility to have the workers undergo thorough examinations, saying it is regrettable that so many workers have received such high doses.

In late May, two TEPCO employees on duty at Reactors No. 3 and 4 were confirmed as having received doses more than twice the emergency limit.

Source:  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/13_29.html

The Russian vessel despatched to assist in the storage of contaminated water arrived in May to assist with the storage of 90,000 tonnes of the radioactive material.   This equates (roughly) to 25 million gallons of effluent which needs to be found a safe haven.   The Japanese plans for nuclear waste was to put it in a hole somewhere in Japan . . .   On April, 5th, Tepco said
it had dumped almost 10 million litres (2.6 million gallons) of radioactive water into the sea from the Fukushima plant.   This has led to radioactive caesium being found in fish at levels exceeding health guidelines.   The company said at the time that the decision was the lesser of two evils, as it needed to find space for storing water that was highly radioactive and more toxic than that which was released into the sea.
7/6/11
Thorium Molten Salt Reactors

In a necessarily brief letter to the Sunday Times, 5/6/11, (Business Letters), a correspondent from Warrington (and thus, we conjecture, possilbly connected to the nuclear industry) seems to be proposing the use of a process which has received little mention in the alternative generators field:  thorium molten salt reactors system.   The writer mentions that thorium is as common as lead and the process does not produce plutonium which could be used for bomb-making.   Indeed, he continues, the process can burn up plutonium and other toxic waste from the older reactors (including Sellafield's legacy waste, perhaps?) and act as an "eco-cleaner".   This is not a process with which we are familiar.   If it is correct, then we have to wonder why the powers-that-be are so intent on digging holes in inappropriate places to bury the stuff.
22/5/11
Honesty and Integrity

Two interesting facts spring to mind when wondering about the character of those charged with deciding on whether or not to proceed with new nuclear establishments.   The original chairman of the Select Inquiry to which we gave evidence last year was an Elliott Morley.   The same gentleman who was recently jailed for 16 months for dishonesty.   The current Climate Change minister is becoming increasingly beleagured over allegations that he asked his then wife to take the penalty for a speeding offence.   That was before he left her to live with a colleague.   With such paragons at the helm, is it any wonder that some decisions are somewhat suspect, too?
18/5/11
Not in the Public Interest

What a convenient phrase this is turning out to be.   Especially for those whose criminal activities will not result in prosecution, such as the employees engaged in gathering organs and tissue samples on behalf of Sellafield - a practise carried on for over thirty years without police detection or interference.

We have recently received a belated response (see our Opinion page) to our four-month-old enquiry as to who would be facing investigation as a result of the Redfern Enquiry's findings published last November.   The answer is no-one, as it is "not in the public interest".   Yet a quick assessment of the factors listed on the Crown Prosecution's web site:  http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/code_for_crown_prosecutors/codetest.html, would tend to suggest otherwise.   Certainly, we can think of nothing more directly reassuring to the public than to know that the corruption and collusion which led to the illegal removal of body parts and tissue samples in local area and wider, on behalf of Sellafield, has been firmly dealt with and the lessons have not only been learned, but also that penalties have been demonstrated.   As it is, there is no punishment and nothing has been tested in a court of law.   There may well be a shortage of staff and other matters to attend to, but we believe this corrupt system deserves proper investigation and the evidence, including that which was presented to the Redfern Enquiry, should be tested in the traditional way - not determined by a police officer without explanation or accountability.   Our reading of the Crown Prosecution Code would have us believe that 13 out of 19 conditions in favour of the public interest aspect would have been met, merely as a result of the findings of Michael Redfern, QC.   With proper police investigation that number could rise. Another example of "not in the public interest" is the case of Roy Walker, from Heysham.   This was dismissed by a judge, the Honourable Justice McCombe, at Leeds Crown Court last week.   The matter which was to be tested was whether the Climate Change Minister had ignored the impact on health of the proposed nuclear expansion, when considering matters for the justification process.   It was suggested that the European law required some considerable body of evidence demonstrating an urgent and paramount national need for new nuclear plants, sufficient to over-ride any health concerns, and that that was not present in the evidence before the minister.

Mr. Walker had been granted legal aid, but the Legal Services Commission asked for £16,000 to be paid up-front towards court costs in the event that the case went ahead.   We gather that this is somewhat unusual, and the reason given was that there was a need to know there was public support for his case.   Despite the difficulties, the money was found, by donations from ordinary people - amply demonstrating that there was a public interest, one might think.   Paradoxically, the judge found that the potential health detriment to the public from nuclear new build was of no public interest.  

Form your own opinion.  


According to our informant, there seemed to be some difficulty for the judge with the fact that legal aid had been granted - albeit with conditions (what price justice?) - which, apparently, he said was, "Unattractive".   DECC's solicitor told the court that, "The best evidence suggests there is no increase in cancers near nuclear power stations - that is the end of it."   The presumption being that he is citing the COMARE report which omitted the Sellafield group of cancers for some reason.   So we appear to be back to the stuff produced subsequent to the Richard Doll days, when some mysterious and unidentified virus was causing all the health effects because of population mixing.   Strangely, the same effect was not present in, say, Liverpool, Bristol, Southampton, Glasgow, Dover, etc.   Yet those very effects are known to result from exposure to radiation - of which there is abundance in the Sellafield area, as well as around many other nuclear facilities.
 
Remember the saying, "The law is an ass"?   Here's a new one:  "The nuclear lobby is very powerful."
18/4/11
The Future of Battersea Power Station

Piloti, who does the architectural column "Nooks and Corners" in Private Eye, was musing over the future of the Battersea Power Station, and bemoaning the plans to convert it into offices and flats.   We thought it worth a try:

Dear Sir,
 
Piloti ponders the future of Battersea Power Station in the current edition, may I suggest:
 
i)     it is a large industrial site;
ii)    no problems with planning permission;
iii)   close to densely populated area using copious amounts of electricity;
iv)   adequate supply of fresh water;
v)    little risk of flooding due to presence of Thames Barrier;
vi)    no inherent pollution of environment with attendant risks from disturbance;
vii)   readily available connection to national electricity grid;
viii)  situated so transmission losses would be minimal;
ix)   close to the seat of power
x)    easy connection to infra-structure and transport links;
xi)   employment gains for the hard-hit south-east work force;
xii)  remote enough from Ireland and Isle of Man to preclude their objections.
 
As there are no dangers inherent in the running of nuclear power stations and the proposed 160-year-long on-site storage of the more concentrated form of radioactive waste and effluent gases, such as tritium, produced by them, I can see no better site for their development. As we ungrateful Braystonians don't want our homes demolished - or rendered valueless by RWE's plans, you can have ours. Will you tell them, or should I?

Regards,
30/3/11
The "It Can't Happen Here" Mentality

Some of the stories emerging from the internet, making allegations about recent events at Fukushima are rather concerning.   One says that Reactor 4, on being initially installed, was found to be distorted, but as such a finding would mean the whole £250 million thing being reduced to scrap - thereby bankrupting the company - an engineer felt obliged to fudge the figures and approve it.   Of course that would never happen here.   Anyway, the new breed of reactors are very different.   Perhaps so, but we are already aware of suggestions of a design flaw in the Areva reactor - even though it has been type-approved by our experts and Mr. Huhne.   There are allegations, too, that Areva knew of the flaw but did not resolve it.   We cannot believe that.   Even back when the Japanese reactors were being installed and commissioned, experts were saying how safe they were and how the integral safety and back-up systems would prevent any problems.


Another source, the Daily News (http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre72s2ua-us-japa-nuclear-risks/) suggests that engineers knew that a tsunami could overwhelm the plant.   In an interesting article, it mentions the manner in which the Japanese nuclear industry did not feel obliged to follow improved safety measures arising from, for example, the United States.


There are varying figures in respect of the number of incidents that have occurred in recent times in respect of TEPCO, some say 39, others prefer a lower figure.   Even to our inexpert eye, it seemed unlikely that the restoration of cooling water to the reactors was going to be achieved merely by reconnecting the electricity supply.   With damage from the earthquake, the tsunami, and subsequently from the explosions at the plant, it was highly probable that the gauges, wiring and pipework would be damaged, requiring extensive repairs to become functional again.   According to internet sources, reported in the national press, guages and controls damaged in a previous earthquake, in 2007, had gone unrepaired,unreplaced, limiting the amount and quality of data available to those now wishing to have a clear picture of conditions within the plant.

It worries us, too, that there is so much made of the modern design reactor being fail-safe.   Most of the (often biased) experts suggest that it would be impossible for the current era reactor to behave the same way as the Japanese ones.   (Yes, well . . .)   However, they omit to say that every site for the new reactors will have to incorporate storage for the spent fuel for up to 160 years (depending on the life-cycle of the reactor).   One of the quieter problems at Fukushima has been the spent fuel rods.   These are not contained in the same way that fuel is when being used.   Merely being stored - either on racks for air cooling, or underwater.   It is our understanding that the new reactors will produce lesser quantities of more highly-concentrated radioactive waste.   Currently, the only proposal for disposing of this material ultimately is bunging it all down a hole in Cumbria and hoping it doesn't do anything nasty for 100,000 years.   How many other man-made edifices have survived that long intact?

Nevertheless, it is important to note that a problem does not have to be directly to do with the reactor vessel itself.   Any external failure or unfortunate event can cause the same result.   For example a failure of the cooling system - whether for the plant or the waste ponds.   Our own view is that human failure is far more important than installed control systems.   In many events human intervention has caused far greater problems than it has saved.   We would also note that alarms and control systems can only respond to pre-programmed eventualities.   Certain thresholds have to be reached before they draw attention to a problem.   By then it can be too late, or the protocols and parameters might not have been considered properly - or not at all.   Engineers tend to guard only what they consider a threat at the time.   Naturally, as a Japanese professor said, anything is possible and may happen at some point.   Reassuringly, the reactors behaved impeccably in response to the earthquake.   It was only secondary failures that have caused the melt-down.

We Never Believed Nuclear Was CO2 Friendly

At last, a letter in the Telegraph, 30/3/11, pointing out what we have been saying for so long:  nuclear is not CO2 free.   Apparently, if the whole cycle of production, enrichment, processing, etc., is considered, wind farm equipment produces 25 times less 
CO2 than nuclear.   We are not sure whether that figure includes the waste disposal, which will require thousands of tonnes of copper and cement - not to mention the construction of the huge underground city called "Repository".   Actually, this is something we asked the minister, Mr. E. Miliband about, but received no reply.   So, another figment of the politicians' imagination.
France Comes Riding to the Rescue - or Does It?

The recent antics in France are somewhat amusing.   Very kindly, EdF and Areva apparently sent robots capable of withstanding highly radioactive environments, to assist in ascertaining the damage and thus working out a repair plan.   They were not used, as such help had to come from the Japanese government, according to one engineer.   One cynic has pointed out that President Sarkozy has lots of reasons to go to war in Libya, not least because it removes Japan's nuclear problems from the front pages around the world.   The nuclear industry, France's in particular, has worked very hard to sell the myth of nuclear and thus their reactors, and was sitting pretty.   $Billions were at stake, and the financial status of the likes of RWE, EdF, etc., depended on pursuing the Master Plan.   (Interestingly, we have heard comments questioning the financial viability of some of these companies - so there may be even more at stake than we imagine.)   A full nuclear plant order book would look good when it comes to Sarkozy's election next year.   His popularity has waned, and he really does need some good news.   Billions of dollars-worth of nuclear reactors being sold to its allies would look good, especially after the loss of the Libyan fighter plane order to rival Russia.   Sadly a number of countries have decided to either abandon or delay plans for nuclear expansion.   The situation is not helped by reports such as:

Andre-Claude Lacoste, France's head of nuclear safety, said, "It would not be surprising to find, here and there, contamination well beyond a radius of 100km.   It is obvious that managing contaminated areas is going to take years if not decades.   The situation remains extremely serious, and we remain in a major crisis."
15/3/11
When Nuclear Goes Wrong . . .

With virtually no natural resouces, such as coal, oil or gas, 30% of Japan's electrical generation is based on a range of nuclear reactors (those currently in trouble are apparently 10 and 40 years old) around the country - almost invariably at coastal locations to take advantage of the supply of cooling water.   This, as has been demonstrated here, can sometimes add to the original danger, rather than removing it.

What is noteworthy in the current case is that the built-in backup systems have failed.   This is a common experience in previous accidents.   What seems - on paper - to be a safe system suddenly becomes unsafe and it is the public who are then put at grave risk.   Sadly, there were the inevitable universal iterations of the statements that there had been no leaks of radiation and that no-one had suffered from radiation.   Each of these statements was marred somewhat by the inclusion of qualifying remarks, such as "so far".   Various reports then appeared suggesting that 160 people had been taken to hospital having been exposed to radiation.   The type of radiation released (albeit not from the reactor vessel itself, allegedly) mentioned caesium and other components which, we understand, are usually only encountered when there has been a leak from the reactor vessel.

The BBC trotted out the usual experts, almost all of whom seemed to have a vested interest in the nuclear industry.   The BBC's own reporter was remarkably balanced and fair, but the others trotted out the inevitable answers:  the reactor is of an old design which does not meet today's standards;  it couldn't happen in this country as we don't have tsunamis;  the explosions will not breach the reactor vessel and therefore no radioactive material will escape.   If it were no so serious we might have taken bets on what the next bit of rhetoric would be.   It was therefore a pleasure to get away from the pro-nuclear propagandists and hear from Shaun Bernie, a nuclear advisor to Greenpeace International.   Sadly, it was then back to Chatham House specialists.   True one could build an impregnable container that would withstand anything thrown at it, but that does not remove the vulnerability from external pipework failing, control systems not working, power or cooling systems failing - for whatever reason.   Anything built to withstand an atomic explosion would end up like a tennis ball on the end of a piece of string.   The ball may well survive, but what chance the string holds?
The most interesting bulletins came from the affected area of Fukushima, where residents showed their cynism that the government had their best interests at heart, by going out and buying sodium iodide tablets.   We don't know whether the affected plants in Japan are also used for storage of the waste material, but it is inevitable that the risks for extremely serious pollution would be greatly increased if there were to be a similar sort of storage system as that in place in Sellafield - and shortly to be incorporated in every new nuclear power station.   Even if the politicians ignore the obvious lessons from the incident, surely they should at least stop and assess what it is that they are committing the country, especially Cumbrians, to.   In Japan, 200,000 people had to be moved away.  People over 60 miles away were not allowed to enter the area as it was "too dangerous".   The reactors were effectively double-skinned - or as the official jargon has it, they have two layers of containment.   The ones proposed for this country have only one.   Whilst the explosions may, or may not, have damaged the fabric of the reactor itself, there must surely be some damage to the control systems.

Observations have been made about the poor implementation of safety procedures.   Easy at this distance to criticise, we know.   However, even basic things such as issuing the sodium iodide tablets and issuing protective wear to those passing through the "hot" areas seems to have gone by the board.

Unlike a conventional power station, which, in a worst-case scenario will simply go bang - after which the clean-up can commence, with nuclear power the effects are far more widely felt.   The fall-out from a nuclear power station cannot be contained even in the country of origin;  it will remain highly polluting and a risk to health for decades or even centuries - whether directly or by proxy (such as eating polluted fish or vegetables).  As this is written, the Japanese are trying to flood the damaged reactors with sea water.   There is no mention of what will happen to the environment when that sea water is returned to the environment.   When Sellafield managers lost control of the cooling in the 1950s this is exactly what they tried.   Truly a "do or die" manoeuvre.   Literally.   There was a very good chance that the whole site would have been wiped off the map and most of the U.K. contaminated for decades.   They got away with it.   There is no guarantee that this last desperate measure will work every time.

On the matter of control systems, it was intriguing to read about the Stuxnet virus which had apparently been introduced into control gear designed for the nuclear industry by ("corruption was a way of life for them") Siemens.   Given the complexity and sensitivity of what they were designing, it is unbelievable that a virus could be fed into the equipment via a USB port (memory stick).   Least of all that the virus could lie undetected through all the systems analysis checks.   Besides, one might be forgiven for thinking that such easy access port should have been blocked from the outset.   Then there was the assertion that the virus (which fortunately limited itself to control of the motors used in the fuel production process) was the product of a "State".   The general feeling seems to be that the U.S. had been spiking the equipment to prevent Iran gaining access to nuclear weapons.
In the same vein as the virus is a peculiar story in the Sunday Times of 13/3/11, relating to the fiasco of the SAS "dropping in" on the Libyan rebels for a chat.   This mentions computer codes found on the soldiers.   These, when tried by the rebels, gave access to "hidden computers" and the U.K.'s security network.   Surely this should make one wonder about the nature of security, vulnerability not just from natural incidents but built-in trojans and other sleeping traps.   The relations between European nations is not renowned for amicability over long periods.   How many times have we been to war in the last 150 years?   Will other nations trust us to do the honourable thing for eternity - or at least till the operation remains profitable for them?

So, it would seem that as we suspected, there is another agenda for nuclear development.   Our concerns will make little, if any difference to what the government and the nuclear industry do, and this would remain the case no matter how many accidents there were around the world.

Of course, one hope might be that the companies proposing to build in the U.K. like EdF and RWE, etc., will gain a better appreciation of the risk to their finances.   Accidents can, and will, happen.   With the recent whopping increase in their liability cap we can be hopeful that their greed might be tempered.   Instead, what is more likely is that the subsidies will become even more obvious than they now are, with the consumer then having to pay the price of their disastrous policies.   What is it that causes anti-nuclear people to suddenly change their minds when they get to power?   It is almost as if the nuclear industry had some sort of hold over the politicians.   Every now and again one might expect someone to change long-held views, but not every minister responsible for the generators, surely?   We wonder what the threat/lure is.

Practically all the foregoing points and forecasts were submitted in evidence to the MPs as potential dangers for the proposed development in the U.K.   They were dismissed as impossible, or at best, so remote as to be so.   They then went on to commit themselves to 160 years of local storage as sites all round the country and capped the price of  subsequent storage and treatment of the waste without knowing what might happen in the interim.   Can this just be stupidity, or is there, indeed, another agenda?
Angela Merkel has announced a 3 months freeze on new nuclear.   However, as she has already worked one devious trick to the benefit of the industry, we are not too sure of how important this is.  Elsewhere, there has been concern about the ability of some countries, such as India, to cope with a disaster of the size now occurring in Japan.   However, Berlusconi (Italy), Huhne (UK), Putin (Russia), Nathalie Kosciusko-Morize (France's Environment Minister), have stated that they will continue their existing plans.   Shares in the companies producing nuclear reactors have dropped by over 6% in one day.   Their PR managers are going to have their work cut out.   If India decides to cancel its Areva contract there could be wide repurcussions for the company, we believe.

Is it really any better to become reliant on nuclear rather than any other form of energy, and is the price worth paying when it exceeds the cost of the electricity produced?  

The Japanese experience says not.   We believe that the cost of insurance alone will render new nuclear unviable - unless the government work another deplorable abuse of parliamentary procedure as did the last government.   (Wonder what happened to that Michael Martin enquiry - we never managed to find out.)

Psst . . .   Want to dispose of some inconvenient radioactive material?   The stormwater drains at Sellafield aren't monitored for radioactive material . . .   ;-)
In Particular

Think that everything is hunky dory at Sellafield and that they have cleaned up their act?   Have a look at this
map produced for Sellafield management, depicting particle finds on nearby holiday beaches.   Funnily enough, neither Haven Holidays nor the other caravan site owners advertising accommodation mention this local difficulty.   Do you think they have an obligation to?
26/2/11
The Mystery of the Disappearing Footpaths.

We are quite sure that there is nothing untowards in the fact that two footpaths, that have to our certain knowledge been extant for over 60 years, appear to have disappeared.   (If you follow.)

We noted that one sign-posted path, after being moved from one side of the road to the other - sometimes pointing in very different directions to the footpath's location - has now disappeared altogether.   Where there was once an entry into the field there is now barbed wire.   Following the proper procedures, we asked Cumbria Highways and Byways for advice.   They didn't actually answer any of the questions posed (but there is nothing new in that) but included a map depicting the location of public rights of way round Braystones and Nethertown.   Neither the footpath mentioned above nor another, from a green road nearer the Braystones station lane, appear on it.   We checked the OS maps and both footpaths certainly appear on those.   We are sure it is just coincidence that both paths run through land purchased for the building of a nuclear power station by RWE.

Another concern is the apparent spreading of slurry very close to the SSSIs of Silver Tarn, Hollas and Harmas Mosses.   Although we are not experts, it seems to us that there may be a potential for pollution affecting the special hydrology's flora and fauna.
The One-Sided Big Society - It Only Applies When It Suits Politicians

Mr. Cameron's much-vaunted "Big Society", which, like the 'no nuclear expansion' touted by the Lib Dems, must have won them quite a few votes, now seems to have hit reality.   Professor Blowers' group, Bradwell Against New Nuclear, presented a 10,000 signature petition to the Energy Minister, Mr. Hendry, on Tuesday, 1st February.   (Click here for ITV Anglia's video clip.)   Sadly, the "Big Society" in Essex, where signatures were so willingly given (no computer clicking here), doesn't count for very much, as the government has indicated that it knows what is best for the area after all.   We note elsewhere the change of heart encountered by the Lib Dems re. their nuclear policy.   Not much of a change from what happened in the past, then.   Except, of course, that the planning regime is going to make it much easier for the big businesses to obtain planning permission, regardless of the wishes of the local population.   As someone once said, it is a case of "Here's your new nuclear reactor, what colour do you want the gates painted?"

Another brick in the wall of imposing nuclear and other forms of generation on unwilling communities is the plan for a power-line to run through the Irish Sea from Scotland, coming ashore on the Wirral, then going inland to join another part of the national grid.   Once in place, no doubt it will permit connection from new reactors anywhere along the west coast, including Braystones, Sellafield and Kirksanton.   Like the plans for  a small underground dump (sorry, repository) which will, because it is unique, have to serve all new and existing nuclear sites, it is the thin end of a very large wedge.

As a prominent MP once commented, "Something very strange seems to happen to people once they become MPs and pass through the doors into Westminster."

Ignoring communications seems to be the stock-in-trade when awkward questions are being asked.   Despite tackling the problem from various angles, we are still not in receipt of answers from the Prime Minister, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Sir Gus O'Donnell, Lord Hunt, the Chief Constable of Cumbria (whose action was to pass our letter to the senior detective who has not bothered to respond at all).   Following an article which appeared in the press last year regarding the obvious blight on properties following the announcement and subsequent uncertainties about nuclear development, we wrote to Cumbria County Council - whose officer had stated that there was a blight - asking whose responsibility compensation would be.   After sitting on it for a couple of weeks, they forwarded it to Allerdale (even though one might reasonably have expected them to know that Braystones is in Copeland!), who passed it on to Copeland the same day.   We are still awaiting acknowledgement, never mind a full response, from them.

Private Eye Article

We have long been forecasting what will happen to electricity prices and how the subsidies will be levied.   At long last Private Eye has managed to catch up with us.   Their "Old Sparky" has come to the same conclusions as us:  that the non-nuclear generators will have to charge increasingly higher rates until such time as nuclear becomes "comparatively viable".   With a crystal-ball intuition as to the cost of decommissioning nuclear plant in 160 years' time under their belt, the politicians are demonstrably losing their grip on reality.

On 11th January, 2011, E.ON UK announced a 9% increase in the cost of electricity supplied to residential users.   EdF introduced a new tariff from the same date, having stopped two cheaper ones at the end of December.   Most other suppliers introduced similar increases.   The increase - the cheapest estimate reckons on around £50 per year on the average bill - might go some way to making nuclear a viable option.

We ask again, why is so much being handed to foreign companies on the basis of such flimsy and factually incorrect evidence?  A transcript of the article can be found here.
Sporting Behaviour


A fine example of the largesse which buys goodwill for the nuclear industry, albeit with strings:  a new sports stadium for Whitehaven is one of the ideas behind Sellafield donating £11 million.   It is disturbing that BNFL, (ably assisted by Britain's Energy Coast West Cumbria and the West Cumbria Development Fund) are willing to spend so much on something that is of little benefit to their current operation and more than fifteen miles away from their site.

We wonder how much more decommissioning could have been achieved with the £11million.

Amazingly, Copeland Council have committed the ratepayers to being guarantors for a current £75,000 loan.   Is this really what councils are for, or have they lost the plot altogether?
A Tory leader on Copeland Council describes the situation as, ". . . uncomfortably incestuous".   Which aspect of the situation he is referring to is unclear.

We would comment that the whole relationship with Sellafield and the NDA, together with the raft of pro-nuclear quangos is, in our opinion, just as incestuous.

What do these people think Sellafield et al expect in return?   The recent publication of the Redfern Report demonstrates just what happens when a relationship gets too close.   Then again, history proves that adverse commentary on anything mentioning nuclear is ignored and no lessons learned.

For a Whitehaven News report see:  http://www.whitehaven-news.co.uk/news/warning-over-pow-beck-cash-1.786012?referrerPath=home
The Redfern Inquiry
The Redfern Inquiry report was published last week (16/11/10).   It has 96 findings, all of which bear out what we were suggesting.   It is unclear from the report just how many bodies were actually used in the harvesting of samples, but seems to be in excess of 3500, plus 95 fetus, and the exercise was not limited to just West Cumbria.   Redfern states, "Pathologists often removed organs at both coronial and hospital post mortem examinations, without consent and hence in breach of the provisions of the Human Tissue Act 1961."   (P.562, para. 86)

All of the findings are worrying, but some stand out:

91. Coroners who did know that organs which did not bear upon the cause of death had been taken for analysis without their consent failed to act.

92. Coroners ignored the constraint that the law permitted them to request radiochemical analysis, which was a special examination, only if they had decided to hold an inquest.

93. Coroners asked BNFL to prepare analytical reports and used the information to guide them when determining whether the death was the result of an industrial disease. They ignored the potential conflict of interest in asking the deceased’s employer to comment on the likelihood of the death having been caused by the deceased’s employment.

94. Coroners did not ensure that the results of organ analysis were made available to them; in particular, on several occasions inquests were held and the results of the analysis, performed at the request of the coroner, were not adduced in evidence.

95. Coroners assisted BNFL, the NRPB and the MRC to obtain organs for their research, heedless of whether the necessary consent was obtained.

96. The relationship between the coroners, the pathologists and the Sellafield medical officers became too close. There were failures to adhere to professional standards.

Although the full extent of the practices is difficult to ascertain, the report is quite damning.   It can be found at http://www.theredferninquiry.co.uk/


The nuclear industry can thus be seen to be polluting not just the environment but also local community processes, whilst concurrently ignoring the law.
A comment by Redfern states that Sellafield's records were "assiduously kept", yet acknowledges that several organs in one case remain unaccounted for.   Pity the poor relatives.

Without a trace of irony, Mr. C. Huhne, speaking in the House on the 16th November, 2010, stated that the inquiry had "benefited from the support of the nuclear industry and other key stake-holders"!

 We find ourselves wondering whether the police will now initiate an enquiry into the various findings of illegal practices.

The industry has issued reassurances that the practices have now ceased (- and these are, after all, people of integrity!)   However, we would point out that the public are still being used as guinea pigs, especially those who live in close proximity to the plant.   Naturally, the Environmental Agency distance themselves from responsibility for their own inaction and ineffectiveness at protecting the public by saying that they only implement the law, they are not involved in setting policy.   One might be forgiven for thinking that they were employed to protect the public and the environment . . .


As noted on our home page, for all the reasons which we, as residents, submitted to the Select Enquiry at Westminster, both Braystones and Kirksanton have now been removed from the government's list of suitable sites.   It is still surprising that they were ever included in the first place.   However, whether out of pique at losing, or just sheer bloody-mindedness, RWE have communicated to residents that they are considering appealing against that decision, and imply that they will return whenever it suits them, to apply again for both sites.   We wonder how Mr. Huhne would feel if this were his own property that was at risk and blighted for the foreseeable future?
The More Things Change . . .
A view following the reading of two articles on the Nirex Inquiry
Click here to read the articles.
It might seem that the methods of the nuclear industry are nothing new.   Indeed, the ideas haven't changed much since those implemented at the outset.

Basically, someone in a remote location, say London, comes up with an idea for locating something very nasty and potentially lethal.   Because it is nasty and potentially lethal, they want it as far away from London (and themselves) as possible.

The idea having been sown, the publicity machine swings into action, and the benefits of the industry are touted loudly and widely.   No adverse argument is published, of course.   Only the employment and economic benefits - using figures that rank with the Iraq "Dodgy Dossier" in terms of integrity.   That the Cumbrian public affected will suffer with their health - some with their lives - will be kept quiet.   Next the Londoners have to come up with a threat as to what might happen if the plan is thwarted.   Preferably something to do with the security of the nation and/or its vital resources, such as power.

To avoid the complications of the naysayers, everything to do with the scientific justification is kept quiet until disclosure is unavoidable.   Then barrow-loads of highly complex scientific material (rendered all the more difficult by using the best jargon currently available) are released simultaneously in order to swamp these protesters.

Work starts and contracts are commenced - even before permission has been obtained to proceed with the plan.   This is, of course, just to save time when approval is granted, and has nothing at all to do with the notion that they have friends in high places who have agreed the outcome before public consultation has even begun.

The publicity machine grinds away, encouraging those in power to accept the prima facie case whilst dismissing the arguments of anyone not in favour.

Money from the industry is diverted away from its intended use - to build roads, social venues and sports stadia - and is used to generate good-will, an added benefit being that of ensuring that outsiders are in no doubt that their health/social/sport amenities will suffer if the proposal is not accepted.

Only the good news is permitted to be published and adverse material, such as previous global pollution, is ignored.   Even the slight problem that the legacy pollution will be recirculated is ignored.

No matter that the region is totally unsuitable for further development;  roads, rail links, power distribution facilities, etc., may all be missing, but they can be installed.   Pity about the destroyed amenity.   Although these facilities and resources will be paid for by the government, in the name of development and improvement, it must not be considered as a subsidy to power generators.

Meanwhile, protection agencies, long subservient to the management bullies and political leverage, nod sagely; their doubts secondary to their need to line their own pockets.   In some sad cases they have even begun to believe the hype that they and the industry have been issuing.

Only people who are basically lazy and amenable can be allowed to become responsible for monitoring the area's 
health and safety, in order to minimise discomfort.   Plan B will always be prepared well in advance, and will reassure the public that everything is well (whether that is the case or not) and that no-one has been hurt by the unfortunate leakage (of  information).  After all, telling residents the truth may upset their gullibility.
Next, those with good (i.e. useful) connections are encouraged.   Politician's, their friends and families, are appointed to nebulous positions on the board of the various interested parties.   Nothing much is required of them, other than their ability to promote the nuclear industry in the right places - in return for a suitably handsome reward.  

Local politics can be infiltrated and pro-nuclear associates appointed to as many councils, committees and quangos as possible.   To have a national politician on board is even better.   Who better than an ex-Sellafield PR man?
With everything in place, it is now necessary to stampede everyone into making a rapid decision before the bucket of ideas begins to leak.   Typical leaks which might cause problems would be the unravelling of the pseudo-scientific interest, in which the data has been "adjusted", rendering the findings somewhat at odds with the actual result;  or the finding of snags which have so far been successfully kept from view.

The history of the nuclear industry is remarkably consistent.  Even senior managers who have, for whatever reason, been found to be wanting or have misled official enquiries, remain in post.

As has become pretty much the norm these days, experts struggle to remain impartial and objective.   In the case of the nuclear industry, the desired end result is known, so the science is manipulated to fit.

The Geoscientist, Vol. 7, No. 7, reported on the enquiry in 1997 into plans to deposit nuclear waste in a hole at Longland Farm, near Sellafield.   NIREX managers apparently made various unsubstantiated statements as to the suitability of the hydrogeology for such a dump.

It is intriguing to note the similarities between the processes employed then with those being used now.   For example, despite RWE drilling in the fields above the beach at Braystones several years ago, enquiring residents were merely told that tests were being carried out to ascertain the probability of gas/oil/coal being there.   Long before that, the politicians in the area set up various quangos to organise the Energy Coast Master Plan.   What these quangos were doing was merely the Sellafield pipe-dream: lots more reactors producing work and profit, and, to keep the "greens" on-side, wind farms and tidal generators.  

The plans were very advanced when RWE, together with a consortium interested in building at Sellafield, announced that they intended to apply to build at Braystones.   By this time, a decision was about to be made.   Leaving just four weeks to prepare more than four consultation documents.
Needless to say, the politicians denied any prior knowledge of the Master Plan, but nonetheless supported it wholeheartedly.  

Despite his Sellafield PR background, the local MP said that he knew nothing of the plans for Braystones until three months before the residents did.   Whether this is likely or not can be determined by the fact that a presentation was given to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer two years earlier, especially to promote the Energy Coast Master Plan to politicians - as Cumbria seemed to be missing out on development funds and opportunities.   Such things are minuted in the Rennaissance group's records.

That a matter so close to his own (and his previous employer's) ideals could have passed under the man's radar seems rather unlikely to us. 
Notes from a government planning meeting week-ending 22/9/10:

“The last Government consultation on new nuclear was in November 2009 – February 2010, consulting on draft nuclear National Policy Statements, to be used as a mechanism by which the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) processed all new planning applications.

"With a change of Government and, as part of future spending cuts, the IPC is to be abolished, though they are now in receipt of applications from energy companies, e.g. for Somerset (planning officers from Somerset are now engaging with and responding to EDF, NGOs and campaigners) and West Wales, and these are, and will continue in the short-term to be processed through this procedure. 

"The abolition of the IPC is not likely to be until April 2012. 

"It is anticipated that thereafter, applications will form part of the responsibility of the respective Secretary of State (DECC), with a three month timescale to consider and with a similar examination approach to IPC.

"The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is still considering the responses to last winter’s consultation but intends to publish its response to the issues raised in future parliamentary scrutiny this coming autumn. 

"The Government will be re-consulting on the National Policy Statements.  Consultees will be informed of the key changes made to the NPS as a result of the last consultation, and it was made clear that they would only expect previous respondents to comment on the changes, though accepting some responses will be from new consultees."

Comment on the Public Accounts Committee report on the government's sale of its interest in British Energy

A substantial interest in British Energy was sold off to EdF by the government in January 2009.  Because British Energy was going bust, it was unable to invest in new nuclear power stations, so the sale was important.   The company owned land viewed by industry as being valuable development property. Even at this stage, the Government had decided that new nuclear power stations would have an important contribution to make when existing power stations close, so the land owned by British Energy was perceived as being valuable in its own right.   It is these sites (plus a few other make-weights) that from the basis of the current raft of proposed nuclear developments.

A primary objective of the sale was to ensure nuclear operators would be able to build and operate new nuclear power stations with no public subsidy - and the government committed itself to this principle very early on.   (Not, of course, that any decision has been made in advance of the completion of public consultation - much!)   However, due to inefficiency and incompetence - with a soupçon of arrogance and infallibilty, DECC didn't get a commitment from EDF to build new nuclear power stations. A glance at the background of EdF's nuclear building might have proved illuminating for them.   Sadly, this did not happen, and the department appears to have believed its own hype.   Because of the lack of a binding commitment, EdF are actually under no obligation to build anything at all - whether conventional or nuclear, with or without a subsidy.   Actually, some might believe that they could hamper any other company's proposals, too, if they chose to be a dog in the manger and use the "ransom strips" purchased for the purpose.   We believe that several companies were depending on the infra-structure to be provided for EdF to be forthcoming in order to smooth their own proposed developments.   Without this infra-structure in place, nuclear will become even less viable financially.

According to the report:  "This Committee is not convinced the Department's reliance on a rapid acceleration in renewable energy to fill any gaps in future energy supplies is adequate, but note the Department is working with the Treasury to determine whether the current configuration of the United Kingdom’s energy market is fit for purpose for the longer term."

Needless to say, despite the in-house expertise that DECC pretends it has, it spent £4 million to obtain help from financial advisors UBS.   A bit reminiscent of the NDA paying bonuses for doing what they were paid to do in the first place.

In response to a question by Annette Brooke, MP, (Libdem member for Dorset Mid and Poole North):

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps have been taken to ensure that geological disposal of nuclear waste is safe in relation to the possibility of a seismic event in the future. [314724]

Hansard:   5 Feb 2010 : Column 619W

Mr. Kidney: The consultation on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's proposed decisions that the API000 and EPR nuclear power station designs are Justified under the terms of the Justification of Practices Involving Ionising Radiation Regulations 2004 states that several of those who responded to the previous consultation on the Nuclear Industry Association's application for Regulatory Justification of new nuclear power station designs raised the impact of uranium mining. My right hon. Friend took account of all responses received in coming to the proposed decisions on which we are consulting. The decision documents set out my right hon. Friend's view that he is not bound to take practices outside the UK into account in making his proposed decisions, but that in view of respondents' concerns he has sought further information on the safety regime for uranium mining, and set out the information he has taken into account, including technical advice from Integrated Decision Management.
The Appraisal of Sustainability published as part of the consultation on the draft Nuclear National Policy Statement is intended to assess the environmental and sustainability impacts of the draft Nuclear National Policy Statement and therefore focuses on those impacts which arise from the draft Nuclear National Policy Statement itself. The draft Nuclear National Policy Statement provides guidance to the Infrastructure Planning Commission on the construction and operation of new nuclear power stations. It does not cover mining or milling of uranium.
Interested in who Integrated Decision Management were, we looked them up at their website:   http://www.idmsolutions.co.uk

More than 70% of the executives (12 out of 17) have previous high-level connections with BNFL!   How independent is that?

Is Mr. Miliband correct to say that what happens in the course of mining, transporting and processing uranium and the security of its transport
from around the world is no concern of the U.K. customers, or do we have a moral responsibility?

Seismological Boat off Braystones
Whitehaven News
 
Village school ‘faces bulldozer if nuclear plant gets go-ahead’
By Alan Irving
Thursday, 21 January 2010
BECKERMET risks losing its village school and Haverigg its biggest employer if nuclear reactors get the go-ahead at Braystones and Kirksanton, it emerged this week.

The same fate could befall a host of caravan sites and beach chalets along the coastline if they also find themselves in the middle of the nuclear “critical incident” zones needed for quick and safe evacuations in the event of a serious nuclear accident.   Sellafield itself has an immediate evacuation zone extending two kilometres from the site but this has already been extended to six kilometres so that the correct sheltering and if necessary evacuation procedures are carried out in potentially the most affected villages.   Emergency planners including police, Sellafield specialists and community leaders met this week to consider what impact new nuclear power stations might have on the “potentially suitable” sites of Braystones, near Egremont, Kirksanton, near Millom, and Sellafield.

The chairman of the West Cumbria Stakeholders emergency planning sub committee, David Moore, from Seascale, told The Whitehaven News: “What emerged is that there are serious emergency planning issues for Braystones and Kirksanton, but no real problems at Sellafield and the scenario we looked at was the building of three reactors – so in these terms Sellafield is looking the preferred site for any new build.” 
Beckermet School, three caravan sites and many beach bungalows and mobile homes would fall within a two kilometre critical incident zone atBraystones. If it was reduced to one kilometre only one caravan park would be affected, Tarnside.

But at Kirksanton, even if the zone was down to one kilometre, the presence of Haverigg Prison along with a windfarm would present a dilemma if it came to evacuation.   The prison has 600 inmates and is one of the major employers in the Millom area. Coun Moore said: “Any designated critical zone has to be self-evacuating and so this has to be seen as a major problem as far as Kirksanton and Haverigg is concerned. Clearly the prison is not self-evacuating.   “Can you take the risk of transport not 
being able to get through to evacuate hundreds of inmates and staff or prisoners deciding to try and evacuate themselves in the circumstances?” he asked.  In emergency planning terms, the committee took the view that this was not acceptable.

Regarding the Braystones site, the prospect of school children being put at risk was also not desirable, said Coun Moore. “As things stand, no other local school stands inside the two kilometre Sellafield zone. Like the situation at Haverigg, this is a scenario which the prospective developers would have to overcome, but both Beckermet School and Haverigg Prison are obviously major barriers.   “There would 
be nothing to stop the energy company concerned offering to build a new school for Beckermet outside a critical incident zone, offering to buy out caravan sites, beach and holiday homes as a way forward towards planning permission, but with a prison it might be a different matter.   Trying to create new jobs for the Millom area is important, but Haverigg Prison is an established major employer. If push comes to shove this will have to be balanced against the employment benefits a nuclear power station would bring, although this would be mainly in the shorter term from construction work.   We will be feeding in our views and conclusions to the Department of Energy’s consultation programme and also the Commons Select Committee which is on a fact-finding mission in the area,” said Mr Moore.

The committee was given advice by the man charged with drawing up the plans to protect the public from radiation accidents.    County emergency planning officer David Humphreys told a public meeting in Whitehaven last March he was worried that people living in Copeland communities could face unnecessary hazards from nuclear new build.

“What concerns me is having new reactors at Braystones and Kirksanton bringing in entirely new populations which could be put at risk. I can’t see any logic in having reactors away from Sellafield,” he said at the time.   Regarding Sellafield, Mr Humphreys went on: “I don’t have much of a problem with this because we already have a well-developed emergency plan for Sellafield and a well-educated local population with regard to it.”


From the Private Eye, 1247, 16th to 29th October, 2009:
Climate Change Latest

DODS, the political events company and publisher of epolitix.com, ran its usual fringe events at this year's party conferences, a popular topic being climate change.   It even arranged a mini-roadshow for the three major parties, billed as a panel discussion on "Delivering a Low Carbon Future".

One man who could legitimately claim to be an expert on this topic is Tom Burke, whose career highlights include running Friends of the Earth and the Green Alliance, advising three environment secretaries, being a visiting professor at Imperial College, advising the Foreign Office on climate strategy and receiving numerous awards and accolades, including a CBE, for his efforts.

Mr. Burke has been a strong voice against the expansion of nuclear power, preferring emerging technologies such as carbon capture and storage, and he has advocated massive investment on other clean technologies.   Dods duly invited him to be a panellist at the three events and he was pleased to accept.

Shortly before the Liberal Democrats congregated in Bournemouth, however, Burke
received a highly embarrassed e-mail.   The organisers at Dods were terribly sorry, they

said, but he was no longer needed to be a speaker and was summarily, er, disinvited from all three conference events.

How could this be?   Had someone intervened behind the scenes?   A clue may be the corporate sponsor of the conference meetings - EDF Energy, the French energy giant that is a leading contender to build Britain's new generation of nuclear power stations.  

Presumably EDF Energy didn't want to be embarrassed by an authority on climate change at its own event - especially not when its own communications director Andrew Brown has been so successful in persuading his brother, one Gordon Brown, of the benefits of nuclear power!

Mr. Burke was also due to speak at the TUC Congress on a platform with climate and energy secretary Ed Miliband, again on how to deliver a low-carbon future.   Even though the event wasn't sponsored by EDF, shortly beforehand he was disinvited from this, too.  

It seems the Labour machine is working hard to make sure Burke's views on nuclear receive as little airing as possible.
Power Struggle
At the conference the Tories seemed keen to pick up the contaminated nuclear baton from Labour, too.   Shadow Energy spokesman Charles Hendry not only appeared on a platform sponsored by EDF Energy (which hopes to build Britain's next generation of nuclear power stations - See Climate Change Latest, [above]) but also, on one paid for by rival wannabe nuclear generator, Eon.

Hendry even praised former Labour energy minister John Hutton for erecting the "big nuclear tent" and was joined at the EDF breakfast by Labour's nuclear waste adviser, Tim Stone, as well as an EDF spokesman.

The Conservatives say they want new nuclear power stations but will not subsidise them.   However, future storage of waste is key to any new nuclear programme, and unless the government (of whichever hue) builds an underground storage facility and agrees to
accept waste at a cost acceptable to the industry, the new power generators will simply not be built.

As Hendry said, the lights might start going out in 2017, so the nuclear industry has a lot of bargaining power;  and low waste storage costs could become a massive hidden subsidy for it.  

Over bacon sandwiches, Stone suggested to the Conservatives that the public sector has to bear the liabilities of strategic industries, and that some companies are too big or too important to fail.  

Just like the banks, in other words, the power firms are in line to pass their losses and failures on to the taxpayers.

Who is Doing What
ALBANIA - Government said in 2008 it wanted to develop nuclear power generation and was ready to invite Italian companies to build plants.

BULGARIA - Plans to build two 1,000-megawatt Russian reactors at Belene, expected to begin operations in 2014. It faces financing and cost problems which have seen German utility RWE abandon the project and delay construction.

BRITAIN - Many of Europe's leading utilities have bought land to build new nuclear power plants in England and Wales.

CZECH REPUBLIC - Czech utility CEZ launched tenders in August to build two reactors at its Temelin power plant.

FINLAND - Building a fifth nuclear reactor, the 1,600-megawatt Olkiluoto-3 European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), expected to come online in mid 2012 but which could be delayed further, Finnish utility TVO said in October.

FRANCE - Building a 1,600 MWe EPR at Flamanville, which is expected to begin operation in 2012. France announced plans in January 2009 to build another one at its Penly power station.

GERMANY - The new center-right government plans to extend the lives of Germany's 17 nuclear plants but is expected to uphold an existing ban on building new nuclear power stations.

HUNGARY - Government agreed in April to allow preparations for building another unit at the Paks nuclear plant to begin. It could take over 11 years to build.  Paks' existing four reactors supply about a third of Hungary's electricity.

ITALY - Italy, the only non-nuclear Group of Eight industrialised nation after deciding in 1987 to shut its reactors following the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, plans to rebuild the sector.  
     It signed a cooperation deal in September to enlist U.S. companies to build power stations across Italy, ending a 22-year ban by the Italian government.
LITHUANIA - Gets about three-quarters of its electricity from its Ignalina plant but it must shut the Soviet-era facility by the end of 2009. Poland, Latvia and Estonia have shown support for a 3,200-3,400 MW plant to replace Ignalina but it is not expected to be ready until 2018-2020.

NETHERLANDS - Dutch utility Delta plans to build a nuclear power plant in the Netherlands which could be operational by 2019. The government has agreed not to approve any new nuclear plants during its mandate, which runs until 2011, but Delta expects its proposal to be handled by the next administration.

POLAND - The government wants one or two nuclear power plants of its own to be built, the first by 2020, to break its reliance on coal for energy.

ROMANIA - Plans to build two 720 MW reactors at its existing two-reactor power station at Cernavoda by 2016.

SLOVAKIA - Two 470 MW units being built at Mochovce and expected to operate from 2011-12 in a project led by Enel unit Slovenske Elektrarne.

Czech utility CEZ and Slovak state energy company JAVYS also plan to build a nuclear plant at Jaslovske Bohunice.

SLOVENIA - State-owned energy firm Gen Energija expects to build its second nuclear power plant by 2020. The government could approve the plan next year.

SWITZERLAND - Swiss energy groups Axpo and BKW plan two nuclear power plants for commissioning after 2020 to replace two existing reactors at Beznau and Muehleberg. Rival Atel may consider one of its own.

TURKEY - Plans to have three nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 4,500 MW operating by 2012-15 but higher than expected costs could see Ankara abandon the project.

Trials and Tribulations

According to http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/news/2009/september/10_09_2009-115256.asp, Cumbria County Council and Sellafield Ltd hosted an exercise, named "Oscar 9".   Lasting throughout Thursday, 24th of September, and was based around the Sellafield site and the West Cumbria Emergency Control Centre at the Summergrove complex near Whitehaven.

Also participating in the exercise were Whitehaven School, which acted as a mock media centre and St Benedict’s RC High School, who hosted a reception centre for acting evacuees.   The Sellafield site siren apparently sounded., although, in my home, a mere 2 miles away I was blissfully ignorant of any warning.  

All the agencies who may be involved in any potential emergency response such as this were testing their readiness during this exercise.

Mike Smyth, Head of Resilience for Cumbria County Council, said: "This county has been at the forefront of developing plans for dealing with emergency situations for many years, including an incident at Sellafield.

"These exercises are held every three years and provide not only an opportunity to test the plans, but also provide an opportunity for many of the agencies to meet and work together to enhance their effectiveness in response to a major incident."

In an interview on BBC Radio Cumbria, Mr. Smyth seemed a bit sensitive to the suggestion by the representative from CORE, that the episode was merely a public relations exercise, yet it is hard to see it as anything different.

Whilst it may be necessary to demonstrate that something does actually exist in the way of emergency planning, all that was demonstrated was that, provided that sufficient notice is given of any impending incident, all will be well.    Quite how effective this emergency planning would be with several reactors in the area is a moot point.   The usual procedure is for those employees currently on-site to be interned in their workplace for the duration.   Whether this is for the benefit of the employer or employee is debatable.   (Presumably it makes it easier to assess who amongst them has had the greatest exposure and eases the proper distribution of medication.)

Besides, sadly, accidents/incidents don't always play fair.   It is our understanding that once radioactive material has escaped then it cannot be successfully recovered.   All that then remains is containment and iodine tablets.   A religious aptitude could also be of benefit.   For the participants, no doubt, it meant many hours standing round idly, wondering what on earth is going on, whilst those in charge played their games and the press took lots of photographs to convince the public everything is under control.

No doubt the copy will appear next week, saying what a success the day was, and how everything went according to plan, thus reassuring the populace that, no matter what might happen, the officials are capable of dealing with it.   Ah, the benefits of fore-knowledge.

We must congratulate the local newspaper, the News and Star for the article relating to the outcome of the Oscar 9 exercise.   We think it confirms what we felt about the war games mentality, and we would apologise for suggesting the the copy could have been pretyped ready.   The full article can be found by following the link below: http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/focus/sellafield_panic_was_just_an_exercise_1_616927?referrerPath=home


The powers-that-be were interested in controlling the flow of information and making sure reporters were used to convey instructions to the public.

The media, while conscious of the need to instruct, were equally interested in the “story”. What, exactly, had happened? Who were the casualties? What was their condition? How serious a threat was this to public health? What, precisely, was the radioactive material that had escaped?

Unsurprisingly for seasoned hacks, much of this information was slow to arrive. A helpful Sellafield press officer apart, exact details of the incident were too scarce for too long.

The bare bones of the accident: The fact a crane had toppled onto a pipe bridge which then released radioactive material was not properly confirmed until about three hours in. And a not unreasonable request about whether the radioactive material had escaped

beyond the Sellafield fence was not dealt with until even later.

 Media releases contained information that was already out of date and did not do enough to clarify the situation.

Todd Wright, a deputy head of site at Sellafield, was given a severe grilling by reporters on the complex’s safety record and a surprising feature of his response was his refusal to give an apology.

Every reporter would have come away from Mr Wright’s address with an impression of an uncaring organisation interested only in the welfare of its workforce and the protection of its reputation.

The main objective of the exercise: To quickly issue clear and accurate instructions to the public in the event of a nuclear incident was well achieved, however. And the measures in place to deal with

such an occurrence appear robust.

However, the logistical elements of the scenario, the actual shifting of thousands of people to reception centres, were obviously not tested and never can be.

Despite repeated requests for them not to, one can’t help thinking that a fair proportion of the population would jump into their cars and attempt to flee the area.  

A section of the main A595 road was ‘closed’ to prevent a mass exodus, and to allow the emergency services a clear run, but the vast network of side roads leading out of the county could quickly become blocked instead.

In that lies the major hurdle for the authorities: It is one thing to distribute information and instructions to the public, it is another to ensure they are followed.   (Our emphasis.)


Anyone with any doubts about the integrity of the companies involved in this industry might care to watch the Greenpeace video about what was found on a nocturnal trip to the Low Level Dump (sorry, repository) at Drigg.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49_IU4wzVG8  Although the events took place in 1994, one has to wonder how long the dumping of what seems to be high-level waste had gone on, and what controls are in place nowadays to ensure that only properly low-level waste is dumped there.   As with so much else, we have to wonder where the regulators are and how such a situation could arise without them knowing of it.


The main requirement for nuclear expansion is 'a change in its PR  company'  - According to an Energy supplement in the New Statesman.
According to an article in a 32-page supplement in the New Statesman back in July, 2007, what is needed is to make the nuclear industry's image much "sexier" by making such environmentally friendly changes such as doing away with Magnox (not actually doing away with the process, you understand, but merely changing the name to something less indicative of a '1950s B movie leader of a robot army that plans to invade and conquer the earth');  images should be 'of "fit" young men in hard hats, like one of those guys in the Diet Coke commercials.   Sexy sells';  reactor stacks are 'ugly and scary' - they should be made to look pretty by painting them 'sky blue, as nothing sky blue was ever evil'.

Happily for the writer (Gia Milinovich) the change of image was already happening and her article was part of it.   The consensus of the whole 32 pages was that clean, green environmentally-friendly nuclear is the way to go.   It was sponsored by, er, e-on.   Surely, it was not just a cynical marketing ploy?

Whatever it was, the suggestion obviously struck a chord with the politicians:

Climate change sceptics are to be targeted in a hard-hitting government advertising campaign that will be the first to state unequivocally that Man is causing global warming and endangering life on Earth.

The £6 million campaign, which begins tonight in the prime ITV1 slot during Coronation Street, is a direct response to government research showing that more than half the population think that climate change will have no effect on them.

Ministers sanctioned the campaign because of concern that scepticism about climate change was making it harder to introduce carbon-reducing policies such as higher energy bills.

The advertisement attempts to make adults feel guilty about their legacy to their children. It features a father telling his daughter a bedtime story of “a very very strange” world with “horrible consequences” for today’s children.

Carbon dioxide is depicted as rising in clouds of black soot from cars and homes, including from a woman’s hairdryer. The soot gathers into a jagged-toothed monster menacing the town. The daughter asks her father if the story has a happy ending and a voiceover cuts in, saying: “It’s up to us how the story ends” and directs viewers to the Government’s Act on CO2 website.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change publishes research today showing that 52 per cent of people think climate change will not significantly affect them. Only 33 per cent think that it will and 15 per cent do not know.

Fourteen per cent of people think that climate change will have no effect on Britain, even in their grandchildren’s lifetime. Twenty-six per cent said they could think of no action they could take that would help to reduce climate change.

When asked how they would react if they knew climate change were going to have a serious effect on their children’s lives, 74% said that they would be willing to change their lifestyle. 15% said that they would not make any changes.

The Met Office has predicted that the 2003 heatwave, which resulted in 2,000 premature deaths in Britain, could happen every other year from the 2040s. Joan Ruddock, the Energy and Climate Change Minister, said: “The survey results show that people don’t realise that climate change is already under way and could have severe consequences. With over 40 per cent of the UK’s C02 emissions a result of personal choices, there is huge potential for individual behaviour change to lower emissions.”

But Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography at the University of London and a critic of the Government’s plan to cut CO2, said the advert was an attempt to manipulate people with alarmist language and apocalyptic imagery. “It is straight out of Orwell’s 1984: an attempt to control with images of a perpetual war against something, in this case climate change.”

Source: Sunday Times,11/10/09, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6867046.ece
Britain’s utilities have formed a lobby group fronted by a former BBC journalist to lead the under-fire industry’s fightback amid public fury over high household energy bills.

The new organisation, Energy UK, will bring communications of the sector’s four trade bodies under one umbrella and provide a “united voice” for an industry that has become a whipping post for the public and consumer groups. It is expected to play a bigger role in explaining the immense costs of cleaning up the highly-polluting sector and the need for all of us to share the burden.

Christine McGourty, the former BBC science correspondent, who travelled to Antarctica to cover the effects of climate change, has been hired to lead the effort. She said: “The industry realises that it has to do better because it has often been caught on the back foot. That is the main reason for my appointment.” She will answer “directly” to industry’s leaders and said she was in regular contact with them. “The chief executives are the prime movers.”

Her appointment comes at a critical time. The industry is being asked to lead Britain’s low-carbon revolution, a transition that will cost hundreds of billions of pounds as old fossil-fuel stations are replaced with more expensive wind, tidal and nuclear plants. Yet bosses are regularly pilloried by MPs for not bringing down bills, which have doubled in the past five years. They claim they need to keep charges high to pay for clean forms of electricity.

Last week Ofgem, the regulator, warned that household energy bills, now about £1,200 a year, could soar to £2,000 by 2015.


Source:  Sunday Times, 11/10/09   http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_resources/article6869352.ece
The strange thing is that, whilst there is no doubt that there needs to be a proper appraisal of our use of electricity, there is absolutely no case for the generator to be nuclear - a point which our politicians seem unable to grasp.   We've pointed out elsewhere that the gullible ministers have listened to the big industry sales patter and fallen for it.   They have seen nuclear new-build as the "silver bullet" that will cure the future energy needs.   That being the case, they have ignored other, renewable forms of energy.   Have you heard, for example of the geothermal generation process?

Neither had we, until we came across this interesting paper:

   http://geothermal.inel.gov/publications/future_of_geothermal_energy.pdf
The essence of the idea is that water is sent down pipes to where the rocks are hot, causing the water to boil, returning to the surface to turn turbines.   A closed circuit with no waste.   Cute?

Chief Esecutive Warning

West Cumbria Sites Stakeholder's Group Quote

Apart from the obvious damage to the marine environment, the materials that have been deposited by Sellafield over the years are probably best left where they are.   Any major disturbance of the sea-bed, whether from engineering or from recirculating water action is likely to bring these toxic materials to the shore again.

Presumably monitors will have to be installed on the circulation system of any new plant to indiate any leaks of nuclear material.   What will the sensors make of material being picked up off the sea bed and entering the system that way, and how would any such monitoring system be able to differentiate between old and new materials?
Do you want to tell them, or should I?

As noted elsewhere, it is human nature to assume more and more importance until such time as someone says "enough".   The various quangos seem to be so incestuous that there is no room anymore for outside influence.  

Anyone who disputes what these bodies say is labelled some disparaging name, to indicate that they are outside the main stream and that their views are thus unimportant - the dangerously naiive notion that "if you aren't with us you are against us", and thus have to be derided!


The Town Clerk's Views

Editorial
What strange times we live in.  

The government tells us that they are opposed to using green field sites when there are alternative (brown-field) sites available.   The Prime Minister himself confirmed this in parliament on 3 Jun 2009 ( ref:  Daily Hansard: Column 269 Prime Minister’s Question Time).   On Page 10 of the Whitehaven News, 23/7/09, we read:  “Mr. Henwood [NDA Chairman] also addresses the prospect of new build, with the NDA set to sell of acres of land around Sellafield to commercial developers”.


The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is indeed a glorified estate agent with pretentions to nobler things.  

The idea was that the government would fund the authority for a start-up period, but after the initial period it should be selling off the land that has been decommissioned, the funds accrued being used for further decommissioning, so the "authority" became self-financing.   Possibly a Good Idea in theory - like most of these ideas, but in practise - again like these half-baked, ill-considered ideas - it fails.   Seeming to have lost its direction, the authority now funds large developments in areas in which there is no decommissioning taking place.  

One website, www.nuclearspin.org, relates,
. . . a Freedom of Information request from South Lakeland Friends of the Earth, showing that £34m has been given to hospitals, colleges, and wildlife and heritage groups since 2005.

Cumbria County Council has a staffer sponsored by the NDA, as does Made in Cumbria, established to help businesses involved in the food and craft sectors. Money has been given to a lifeboat appeal, footpaths, and a harbour wall scheme. The Citizens Advice Bureau in Copeland (the part of Cumbria which includes the Sellafield nuclear facility) has received almost £80,000. In addition to the £34m, the NDA will be “investing” £10m over three years in the University of Cumbria.   According to The Guardian, the NDA is spending taxpayers’ money on 'social” projects' as if Christmas has come early”.  

Sellafield, earlier in 2009, announced the donation of £20 million to community bodies, to enable them to 'purchase whatever they wanted' (presumably as opposed to whatever the politicians thought they shoukl have).   It seem strange to us that a company which is costing taxpayers £1.4 billion per year can hand this amount out.   All told, this is quite a considerable amount of money and will probably buy a large amount of good will.   In fact this is only a taster for what is promised.   The nuclear industry is enjoying some popularity as people panic about where the electricity will come from to “keep their lights on”.   (A wonderfully emotive phrase, repeated frequently at any energy meeting.   In many ways a bit like the constant reminders of terrorist threat - keep people frightened and we can manipulate them more easily.)


The picture then is that the NDA will shortly be auctioning off several acres of land at Sellafield.   All the resources in the area are concentrated on the Sellafield site.   The site has a licence and there would be no need to go outside, into the public domain, with containers of radioactive materials - should the time ever arise when the concentrated waste products could actually be processed.   Why then would energy companies even consider looking elsewhere - least of all at green field sites with their need for massive infra-structure with intrinsic high costs?

Perhaps the most obvious reason would be cost.   The NDA is a profit-making entity - just like an estate agent.   It has sole rights to the proceeds from the forthcoming auction and “a duty to maximise its profits”.   Almost a monopolistic situation, one might think.   A cynic might be forgiven for wondering whether the residents of Braystones and Kirksanton are being used as pawns in a big game.   The loser being the residents, who have become what is referred to in war as collateral damage.   Perhaps if the NDA were not so greedy or were to concentrate on decommissioning . . . ?   Nevertheless, there is some sleight of hand here.  

While, ostensibly, the income for the NDA will come from the industry, who will ultimately be paying the bill?   Our guess would be the customer. 

Energy companies are not altruistic by nature.   
Perhaps the large bonuses handed to the NDA staff have been merited merely for the way they have persuaded the gullible politicians that they have earned it and for keeping them panicked?

Lord Hunt is reported as saying, in the same article in the Whitehaven News, that the competition for the low-level waste repository near Drigg, have brought world-class capability to the UK for the delivery of safe, secure and environmentally responsible decommissioning and clean-up.”   Hmm.   So safe in fact that there have been 1767 incidents in the last seven years.   With the paucity of meaningful inspection one might consider that there is little environmentally responsible in what has been going on.  

How safe, secure and environmentally responsible is it to merely shrug one’s shoulders, admit that reprocessing waste is impossible, put it in a glass bottle and shove it down a hole?   It is noteworthy that only Copeland, out of all the councils approached, has registered an interest.   Could the largesse be working its charm?   Or is it just the propaganda?   How environmentally sound is a leak of radioactive material?   Will the buried material be made recoverable, so that if, in the future, a method for processing it is developed it can be dealt with?   Or a leak require its removal?   The failure would only be obvious after its effect has been made obvious, of course.   Monitoring will be useless until then.


Mr. Reed, MP, seems to have fallen into the usual trap of believing his own hype.   (Isn’t it strange, too, how, once elected, an MP becomes infallible and the wishes of the people they purport to represent are ignored, as they get involved exclusively in their circles of Yes-men?)   Say something often enough and you believe it yourself, no matter how untrue it is.   A typical statement is that the people of West Cumbria are in favour of nuclear new build - note the absence of any qualification.   How was this opinion arrived at?   Has anyone been asked?   The only recent poll we saw actually had a majority against new build outside of Sellafield.   The meetings of residents of Braystones and Kirksanton also unanimously rejected the proposals.   So, who will represent their views?
Why are the quangos and committees all stuffed with pro-nuclear lobbyists?   Is it really all about employment and to heck with the natural attibutes of the area?   Why does Mr. Reed seek to persuade people that plutonium is an asset?   An asset for what purpose - building bombs?   Even the big boys, the Americans and the Russians, are seeking ways to decommission their nuclear weapons.   Our government, too, has announced plans to reduce the number of nuclear devices they have.    Apparently something like 97% of the fuel used by the nuclear generators is recyclable.   So we are left with 3% that cannot be handled.   That is quite a lot of extremely toxic material to be left holding.   The government (and the industry’s own) answer is to keep it all on the individual sites until such time as it can be disposed of or reprocessed.   Not the same thing, of course.   The Thorp plant has been a resounding failure and has cost £billions to keep going.   The MP’s answer?   Build two more.   Strange logic one might think.

We understand that only seven tonnes has actually been dealt with in the last three years.   Still quite a stockpile to go, then, eh?   Actually, on the figures given, it might almost seem as if the stockpile will grow faster and faster.   That the pile is distributed across several sites does nothing to actually reduce the total pile.   It also increases the risk of misuse or mishap.   The process of vitrification (encapsulating in glass) is a difficult one and one has to wonder about the wisdom of just dropping these capsules into a hole in Gosforth for future generations to reap the benefits from.

Akin to Drigg, the newly developed open-cast coal mine at Keekle Head will be filled with material that cannot be disposed of - usually because it would be took costly to deal with and thus not economically viable.   This project will, if it goes ahead, run for over 50 years and cover around 173 acres.   That is a lot of waste.   Reassurance that all will be safe is a little suspect, perhaps.   The rainwater filtering through the piles of rubbish will inevitably contain radioactive material.   This will be “regularly monitored” and, if of good quality, discharged into the River Ehen.   Hmm.   Who will be the judge of the quality, we wonder?   How wonderful to learn, too, that the sites will not be “tips”, nor even “landfill sites”.   A new piece of gobbledegook has arrived to herald the Energy Coast’s arrival.   These disposal sites will henceforward be known as GDFs - Geological Disposal Facilities.   (Ref.:  S. Henwood, Chairman, NDA in the annual report for 2008/9.)   Impressive enough to merit a £28,000 bonus on its own!   Actually, the chairman’s foreword reads more like the
gushings of an awestruck Hollywood actress at an awards ceremony.   Interestingly, the term “stakeholders” does not include anyone like the residents - only those who support the rush for new-build.   The rest of the report reads like something an august journal refers to as “Birtspeak”.

Amongst all the achievements (how was the industry ever permitted to get into such a mess in the first place?) of removing radioactive material (where did it all end up?) is one which says:  “We have therefore reprioritised funds from lower hazard projects to address our higher priority objectives, and have continued to review plans for decommissioning sites in line with our top priorities.”  (Ref.:  NDA Annual Report, P11  Surely this doesn’t mean that they were so busy distributing their largesse that they ran out of money to do the basics?   Or does it?

In addition to the direct funding associated with socio-economic activity, we have contributedsignificantly to the wider socio-economic aims of our priority areas. In particular, the Sellafield competition has delivered a PBO committed to introducing their own funds to the West Cumbria community.”   (Ref.:  NDA Annual Report, P13.)   Some people might refer to this strategy more directly: as bribery.

As everything is hunky-dory according to the report, it might be churlish to mention things like Sizewell, where 40,000 gallons of radioactive contaminated water has leaked - discovered not by the operators but by outside consultants.   Or statements culled from a variety of reports, such as the one about Magnox staff,  noting that they had  “made significant mistakes which call into question their suitability to carry out their roles”; that the nuclear safety control arrangements and its implementation were “inadequate”; that a vital alarm system in the pond area “had never beencommissioned”; and that there was “an issue regarding the suitability of people to control operations on site”.  (None of these concerns were expressed to SSG members at the time and, particularly, even though the Magnox had seriously breached several of its nuclear safety site licence conditions, the NII opted not to prosecute, one reason for this being that it would require a lot of extra work at a time when its own “resources are stretched”.)

For some strange reason, not much detail is given of the prosecutions of the various sites in the NDA’s “estate” (their term - presumably encompassing all sites), for breaches of Health and Safety legislation.   Noteworthy is the prohibition notice served on Sellafield by the Department of Transport.   This relates to an inadequate container for  plutonium dioxide (powder) The first of several loads was shipped to Cherbourg.   Later, the French authorities discovered there had been a breach of the transport regulations in respect of the transport.   The failure related to the thermal rating limit of the plutonium transport containers used.   The information was passed to the  Department for Transport who then issued the Prohibition Notice.   The prohibition is still extant.   Shouldn’t make too much of it, especially in an annual report.   The report notes that the number of International Nuclear Even Scale events increased to 15.
  
We could go on and on citing the various failures of the nuclear industry.   It does have the potential to provide energy needs in the future - but only when it has cleaned up its act and ceases to pollute on an international scale.   When its waste can be dealt with efficiently and not just stuffed down a hole and forgotten about.   (We recently read about the barrels of high-level waste that had been misplaced for several decades, and regularly read - in connection with areas of Sellafield - that no-one has any idea what is in there, because the material was dumped so long ago and there is no paper trail.   How much will go wrong and be forgotten before a system has emerged to deal with the buried treasure?   The only method for monitoring the condition of such material will be measuring how much has leaked!   Isn’t it a bit late by then?

At present it is not sustainable nor clean.   Sadly, the industry has seized an opportunity to panic the politicians into believing it is both.   Given an investment of several billion pounds by the industry (with the hope of high yeilds!), the promise of thousands of jobs and freedom from Russian and Middle Eastern fuel supplies, and the politicians (whose integrity has been highlighted over the last few months with claims for 50 pence bathplugs and remembrance wreaths, etc.,) are suitably blinded.  

It might appear to some that they would have no problem starting a car with no brakes, either.
Newspaper Cuttings
From the Sunday Times, 16/8/09

Energy firms in secret talks on nuclear ‘levy’

Danny Fortson

Taxpayers may be forced to subsidise Britain’s nuclear renaissance through a levy tacked on to household fuel bills under plans being developed by the energy industry.

Utility executives have told ministers that their pledge not to use public aid to fund the the £40 billion rollout of new nuclear power stations is no longer realistic. The levy is one of several proposals tabled. Talks about how to structure an aid mechanism are at an early stage, but there is a consensus in the industry that without help the new power plants will not be built.

Seeking help from the public would be embarrassing for the government, which had made a virtue of the fact that this key part of its power strategy would be funded by the private sector. An energy department spokesman  reiterated that position this weekend, saying: “It is for energy companies to fund, build and develop these, not the taxpayer.”

Industry sources said, however, that talks had begun on how to devise “a subsidy by another name” that would allow the government to stand by its promise of no direct taxpayer support. At about £4 billion each, nuclear reactors cost up to four times more than a gas-fired plant. In theory, the difference would be recouped because of the need for fossil-fuel generators to buy carbon emission permits. Nuclear power is virtually emission free.

Nuclear operators need a carbon price of 
30 to 40 a ton to be competitive. Today it is 14.35. The price is expected to rise from 2013, when the market will switch to 100% auctioning of the permits. Today most are given away free. Industry executives say, however, that a predicted rise in carbon prices is not enough for them to make the necessary investment decisions. A nuclear levy that varies according to the carbon price could be a solution.

EDF, which plans four reactors in the UK, said the government should set a minimum price for carbon permits, supported by a pool of funds provided by high-polluting fossil fuel generators.  Meanwhile, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell was reported last night to be behind a A$3 billion (£1.5 billion) takeover approach for Australian gas producer Arrow Energy. Shell declined to comment.
From The Sunday Times August 16, 2009

EDF attracts big hitters in auction of £4bn UK electricity network

Danny Fortson

An international cast of billionaires, pension funds and utility groups is lining up to bid for the biggest electricity distribution network in Britain, worth more than £4 billion.

The French nuclear giant EDF recently appointed Deutsche Bank and Barclays to prepare for auction its UK network arm, which supplies nearly 8m homes in east and southeast England.

The proposed sale is part of the French group’s effort to reduce a €24.5 billion (£21.2 billion) debt pile built up after buying British Energy, Britain’s nuclear monopoly.

EDF is not expected to start the auction until the middle of next month, once executives in France have returned from summer holidays, but in recent weeks, potential bidders have stepped up talks to form consortia.

They include Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the Middle East sovereign wealth fund; Cheung Kong Infrastructure, the group owned by Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man; and three Canadian pension funds: Borealis, Ontario

Teachers, and Canadian Pension Plan. Utility company Scottish & Southern, network monopoly National Grid, investment group GIP and Morgan Stanley Infrastructure are also holding talks.

None of the potential suitors has yet agreed to team up. “Everyone is talking to everyone but nobody has got together yet,” said a banking source, adding: “It would be very difficult for anyone to do this alone.”

The deal would require cash financing of up to £1.4 billion. Barclays is standing by to provide the debt.

The business, comprised of three regional networks in London, the east and southeast, is likely to be sold as a whole.

The sale has caused ructions within EDF. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive in the UK, is said to oppose the move as the business is highly profitable.
Lessons Need to Be Learned - The Residents of Copeland Cannot Trust the Politicians, Councillors, the NDA or Sellafield

From the Whitehaven News, 19th August, 2009:
Nuclear waste sites set for thumbs down
by Alan Irving
TWO local sites earmarked for radioactive waste disposal are set to get the thumbs down from Cumbria County Council even though one – at Lillyhall – has already taken small amounts.

Cabinet councillors next week are expected to approve a recommendation that the low level radioactive waste is kept at Sellafield rather than sent to Keekle Head or Lillyhall.

But it emerged yesterday that the Lillyhall site already has low level waste buried under it and will not need planning permission to dispose of any more.   Tim Knowles, county council cabinet member for the environment, told The Whitehaven News: “The difference is that they are talking about a massive increase in volume.

“This is wrong, it is not in the interests of the community. We would hope that at the end of the day the NDA does not allow proliferation in this way.”

Waste Recyling Group and Energy Solutions have applied to the Environment Agency for a new authorisation, and if this is granted could be taking very low levels by the end of the year.
WRG’s external affairs general manager Mike Snell said: “Our belief is that under the Radioactive Substances Act we don’t need planning permission to go ahead.”

But yesterday Coun Knowles said: “Sellafield waste should be dealt with at Sellafield. What we don’t want is a proliferation of radioactive waste, it should not be put in holes around West Cumbria and imposed on people.”
At Keekle Head, French company subsidiary Endecom is already drilling boreholes to see whether it will be suitable. It also has an agreement to buy the derelict 173-acre site.
The firm recently presented its plans to local councillors and environmental experts and will need planning permission as a former opencast coal site. Public presentations are also being arranged for Distington and Moresby pending a full planning application.

Waste Recycling Group and Energy Solutions have the support of Distington parish council for the Lillyhall landfill to be used.  

Since 1972 the site has been taking non-hazardous household and commercial waste as well as the small amounts of slightly radioactive material in the past.


Main sources of the waste would be Sellafield Ltd, Chapelcross and LLWR at Drigg, the country’s only designated disposal site for low level radioactive waste. But in order to free up more space at Drigg and allow the site to operate for another 60 years, the government is looking for alternative disposal routes such as landfill. These would take very low levels of radioactive waste.

Consultations on the national strategy to manage future arisings of waste will close on September 11. Cabinet members will consider a county council response on the lines that “LLW produced at Sellafield should be disposed of near to Sellafield and should not be dispersed in sites further afield in West Cumbria.”

Although the county council wants to see a reduction in the volume of waste for final disposal, it says, “There should be a more proactive approach from the NDA to manage the material on site at nuclear installations.”

The NDA has pledged £1.5million a year towards Copeland community benefits for every year the Drigg site continues to operate, with a £10 million kick start.

WRG and Energy Solutions are now planning a “drop in” for people to learn more about the plans in Distington community centre on September 18 (8pm)
.
So the true nature of the nuclear-waste mob are being revealed.   It will be interesting to see how they react when the heavy mob lean on them, drawing attention to the fact that perhaps now is not the best time to be demonstrating to residents that, despite promises from the pro-nuclear brigade, they will have absolutely no control at all - even after this batch of manipulators have been voted out of office.

We are somewhat amused to watch the video on on the Whitehaven News 19~8~09 website.   How many of the beautiful features they list as their Favourite Things will cease to exist or be worth visiting once their plans have been foisted on the residents?   Would you want to visit an area which has 240' high reactors to blemish the coastline?   What about the plans for the windfarms and the distribution network?   Will you be paying good money to come and see them, too?   It would appear that the only areas of interest to Cumbria Tourism are the already-over visited centres around Windermere, etc.

 “DECC has already made the decision.”
Nuclear Free Local Authorities


Back in January, 2007, Mr. Justice Sullivan said information given on waste had been "not merely inadequate but also misleading".   Yet we have not been given any indication of the nature of potential waste, nor of the manner in which it will be securely and safely held or how, when, or where it will be reprocessed.

 He went on, "Fairness required that consultees should be given a proper opportunity to respond to that substantial amount of new material before any decision was taken."   Shadow trade and industry secretary Alan Duncan said: "This is an astonishing ruling. What it really says is that the government has been shown up as fundamentally deceitful."


An English Heritage appraisal states, Our regional planners have found it difficult to work through these documents in the time allotted to give authoritative comments, and in the case of the North-West Region, the Planner had four sites, was on leave for part of the period and working on submissions for a large planning enquiry for much of the rest of the time.   Sadly, this did not stop them submitting an extremely poor response to DECC, basically giving them a green light to concrete over 40 miles of coast - apparently considering the nuclear new-build in isolation, disregarding all the necessary support industries and other proposals for power stations.   Which, of course, is just what DECC wanted to hear.

Shortly after giving us a copy of the appraisal, they asked us to keep quiet about it, as DECC didn't want material to emerge piecemeal.   Of course, a cynic might say that by releasing a tonne of material simultaneously they stand a very good chance that people will be overwhelmed and might miss some salient points.   Surely not?


The government released a GREEN PAPER, entitled "A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy";  a very strange document.   Despite mentioning Germany and France (and a few others) as partners with whom the UK should be involved, when it comes to energy security, surely the history of relations with these countries needs to be considered?   Are we wrong in thinking that we have been to war - comparatively recently with some of them?   When an energy pinch begins to hurts, surely there is at least a risk that friction might recur?   Or that the companies running our vital supplies could withdraw their co-operation?   Not sure where the uranium might come from in an internal supply market.     

What about us having to supply a European grid, too?   Aren't there some drawbacks with that?   The phrase mentioned elsewhere in relation to Poland being looted for gold ore comes to mind.   "They will take the gold and leave the aresenic."   In this case, we could end up having to supply a considerable portion of Europe, enduring the hazards and wastes of the nuclear industry, whilst others, like Germany, will abandon the technology comptetely as being too dangerous and dirty.

From The Times January 31, 2008

Treasury set to reward nuclear sell-off boss for raising £8bn
in BNFL disposals
Angela Jameson, Industrial Correspondent

The man responsible for raising £8.3 billion for the Treasury by selling off some of the country's most controversial assets is poised to receive a bonus of £766,200 for successfully winding up British Nuclear Fuels.

Mike Parker, chief executive of BNFL, which used to own Westinghouse, the nuclear reactor maker, as well as Sellafield, could receive the bonus before the end of the financial year, The Times has learnt.

Mr Parker, who joined the state-owned company in 2003, is in line for the payout - 150 per cent of his basic salary, after selling a string of nuclear assets for the Government. The disposals have seen BNFL, which once employed 10,000 people, reduced to a shell with fewer than 100 staff.

The businesses sold by Mr Parker and his team include Westinghouse, which was sold to Toshiba, the Japanese industrial giant, and an engineering business known as Project Services, which was sold to VT Group, the shipbuilding to education business.

Mr Parker, who joined the organisation from Dow Chemical Company, also oversaw the sale of BNG America, BNFL's Reactor Sites Management business, and a one-third stake in AWE Management - a joint venture with Lockheed Martin and Serco to manage the Atomic Weapons Establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield.

At the same time, he established the BNFL technology services operations as a standalone public sector science business, known as Nexia Solutions, on a similar footing to the National Physical Laboratory, and handed over responsibility for Sellafield to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.    The Westinghouse transaction alone provided an exceptional profit on disposal of £2.1 billion for the Treasury.

Government officials are considering when Mr Parker's bonus should be paid, as his work at BNFL will effectively end on April 1 when the company's one-third stake in Urenco, a uranium enrichment business, is handed back to the Shareholder Executive, an arm of the Treasury.

A partial payout could be made before the end of this financial year, although there is pressure to hold back the money until October when Mr Parker's duties at BNFL will be fully discharged and private firms take over responsibility for decommissioning the vast Sellafield site.

After that time, BNFL will cease to exist except for a handful of legal and financial staff who have to wind it up. It will then be the responsibility of the Shareholder Executive to achieve a sale of the Government's stake in Urenco, one of the world's largest uranium enrichment companies.    The Treasury is hoping for a final £2 billion windfall from this sale, benefiting from the soaring price of uranium.    However, it is facing opposition from the other shareholders - the governments of Germany and the Netherlands - which have long resisted Downing Street's efforts to privatise its holding.

Toshiba-Westinghouse, the former BNFL arm, is now competing with Areva of France for a huge order to build atomic power stations in South Africa. Final bids are due in today and construction could start as early as 2010. But the plant could be the first of as many as 20 new reactors, each costing about £1billion, that could be built in the country over the coming years.

South Africa is focusing on nuclear power generation as the solution to its energy needs.
From The Times August 26, 2006
Surge in orders at Urenco as BNFL looks
to sell stake
By Angela Jameson, Industrial Correspondent

URENCO, the uranium enricher that is one-third-owned by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), has increased its forward order book by €5 billion (£2.6 billion) in the past year, even before an expected surge in global demand for nuclear power.

The surge in orders is expected substantially to increase the value of the company - which has facilities near Manchester and in Holland and Germany - at a time when BNFL is looking to sell its stake.

Market observers have suggested that the BNFL stake is worth between £1.5 billion and £2 billion, but the state-owned nuclear group’s Dutch and German partners appear reluctant to sanction its sale, which has to pass the strict  criteria of the Treaty of Alemo, by which Urenco was established.

Industry insiders said that any sale was likely to take some time - at least 18 months - and that there was no obvious buyer, despite reported approaches from EDF, the French electricity giant, and Cameco, the Canadian mining  group.

Urenco’s order book has soared to €11 billion since last year, partly boosted by the granting of a licence to develop a uranium enrichment plant in New Mexico - the first new licence to be granted in America for more than 30  years.

The new plant will cost €2 billion to develop and should come on line by the end of 2008. A further €1.5 billion will also be spent extending three existing facilities in Germany, Holland and the UK to cope with booming demand for  enriched uranium. As prices for the metal have trebled, power companies have demanded more enriched uranium and have been attracted to Urenco’s technology, which uses less energy than some other methods.

Bart Le Blanc, chief finance officer of the group, said: “We are expecting an increase in demand as more countries see the potential of nuclear power. But even before that new demand comes on stream we are seeing a significant  increase in busines from new and existing customers.”

In the first half of the year, earnings at the uranium group grew by 21 per cent to €214 million. Net profits reached €74 million, up from €51 million in the first half of 2005.

Urenco said that first-half increases in profit were unlikely to be sustained in the second half as they were affected by seasonal delivery patterns. However, the outlook for the rest of the year was encouraging. Helmut Engelbrecht, chief executive, said: “These results confirm the success of our ‘growth through investment’ strategy. This provides us with an immensely strong position both to underwrite our investment plans in Europe and the United States and to secure our continued growth.”

Mr Le Blanc declined to comment on whether there had been any approach for the BNFL stake. BNFL'S SELL-OFF

Assets sold:

Westinghouse — the nuclear reactor maker is being sold to Toshiba of Japan for £5.4 billion BNG America — small decommissioning business, sold for £50 million to EnergySolutions Still to be sold:

BNG Group — to be sold off in pieces Urenco — a one-third stake in the uranium enrichment business Nexia Solutions — the nuclear research group wants to stay in public hands
POWER FOR THE WORLD

Urenco is jointly owned by BNFL, effectively an arm of the British Government, UCM, an arm of the Dutch Government, and RWE and E.ON, the German energy giants

One of four companies in the world providing uranium enrichment services for civil power generation, Urenco has a 19 per cent market share and about 100 customers, mostly utilities that run nuclear-fuelled power stations -  including British Energy

Uranium in its natural state contains only 0.7 per cent of the active isotope Uranium 235 (U-235), which by fission inside the nuclear reactor releases the thermal energy necessary for electricity generation .

At this concentration the uranium will not sustain fission in modern reactors; it has to be enriched or concentrated to a level that will sustain nuclear reaction in a nuclear power plant .

Uranium firm finds path to enrichment
Dominic O’Connell

An eerie tick-tock greets you as you enter E23, a plain industrial building on Urenco’s sprawling campus at Capenhurst, near Chester. The noise, like an amplified grandfather clock, is everywhere in the cavernous building, crackling out of tannoys perched above the banks of machines.

The noise should never stop. It signifies that the building’s radiation monitoring system is working properly. It gives a clue to what goes on in E23 -  the uranium-enrichment process that provides fuel for nuclear power stations  and is one of Britain’s best-kept industrial secrets.
The 72-hectare site has housed Britain’s efforts to turn mined uranium into something suitable for use as a nuclear fuel since the 1950s. Now, in E23 and two other similar buildings, thousands of centrifuges -  the exact number is not disclosed - spin night and day, separating the useful uranium atoms from the ordinary ones.

Urenco, which is owned by the British and Dutch governments and the German utility groups Eon and RWE, is reaping the rewards of 40 years of taxpayer-funded investment in centrifuge technology. “It’s a classic case of their having made a much better mousetrap than anyone else,” said one nuclear industry executive.

In recent years the trinational group has enjoyed a boom, its turnover rising from €700m (£600m) in 2004 to €1.1 billion last year as it grabbed market share from its international rivals. It now makes about a quarter of all the enriched uranium used in civil nuclear plants and has an order book that extends beyond 2025. More than three-quarters of Capenhurst’s production is exported, with American power plants among its big customers.

Urenco is also profitable in a way that most businesses can only dream of, turning that €1 billion of sales into an operating profit of €460m. Last year, in the depth of the credit crisis, it was able to raise nearly €700m (€500m from a bond issue, €196m in a loan from an insurance group) to help pay for a large expansion programme, including the construction of a facility in America.

The good times, however, could soon get even better thanks to what promises to be a bonanza for uranium enrichers. All around the world governments are pressing ahead with big reactor programmes, with China alone planning to have dozens in operation or under construction in the next 20 years. In Britain, up to 10 reactors could be built or started over the same period.

Even this renaissance could be just the tip of the iceberg. Many energy experts think that to address climate change, we will have to curtail the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. This could bring an even faster rate of  construction. Malcolm Wicks, a former energy minister, said in a report published recently that Britain should plan to double the proportion of its energy generated from nuclear power, from 20% to 40%.

Helmut Engelbrecht, Urenco’s chief executive, is optimistic about the prospects but warns that the company’s competitors will catch up.

“Our competitors are in the process of changing their enrichment methods to centrifuge technology. This will enable them to supply customers under comparable conditions to Urenco. While we expect to continue to grow our  share of an expanding market, that growth may be moderate in the future. The overall demand for nuclear fuel will definitely increase when the new reactor construction programmes are realised and that will create additional demand for our services,” he said.

Much of the technology in use at Capenhurst remains closely guarded, and not just for commercial reasons. Enriched uranium is also used in the construction of atomic weapons, and international worries about nuclear proliferation led to the 1970 treaty that created Urenco. At first a marketing organisation for state nuclear bodies such as BNFL, it took over the manufacturing operations in 1993.

Uranium arrives at Capenhurst in crystals that look a bit like sugar. This is uranium hexafluoride, the end result of the chemical processing of mined uranium ore. At the plant the crystals are heated and uranium hexafluoride gas is piped into the centrifuges.

Natural uranium has a tiny percentage of slightly lighter atoms in it, called Uranium 235. These are the ones that are useful for atomic power plants. The centrifuges spin the gas at high speed, with the lighter atoms moving to the centre of the drum. This stream of gas is siphoned off and sent to the next centrifuge, where it is enriched again. The Capenhurst machines typically increase the proportion of 235 atoms from 0.7% - the natural rate of occurrence - to about 4%.

Although the tick-tocks in the factories are a reminder that it handles radioactive substances, the main safety threat is not radiation but the uranium hexafluoride itself, which is extremely corrosive and toxic.

Urenco’s stellar financial record means that it has frequently been mentioned as a potential candidate for privatisation, although the trinational ownership structure makes a sell-off unlikely in the near term. Senior investment-banking sources say, however, that a fundraising through the sale of shares - perhaps to fund an acquisition in America - cannot be ruled out. Engelbrecht said he is confident of having sufficient funds to invest in whatever expansion will be required when the nuclear power boom arrives.

“We invest only when customer commitments require an expansion of capacity,” he said. “Our strategy of growth through investment is mainly based on our own earnings. Fifty percent of all our profits are spent on growing our business. In addition to that, we use the capital markets to fund our growth. We are confident that, based on our conservative business model, we will be able to secure our future financial needs.”
Comment:

Again, it appears, we are to be lied to, as the requirement for subsidies to fund private (i.e. profit-making) companies is thrown onto the public - despite promises to the contrary. When the potential profits will not even end up in this country is surely rubbing salt in the wounds?   However, having been conned into promoting the nuclear industry as the clean green future for electricity generation, complete with the full might of the spin machine, the industry now has the government over a barrel.   So, the rules must now change.   Instead of the risks associated with new-build nuclear generators being carried by those who ultimately will make the profits, the tax-payer will now have to hand over billions of pounds to ensure that the hype they have now begun to believe themselves, is brought to fruition.

Again we have to ask, what is the true cost of the electricity generated by this means?   It is convenient to overlook the subsidies now being demanded, together with the infra-structure costs and the insurance being carried by the tax-payer, but surely these items must also appear on the balance sheet somewhere?
That the nuclear industry is clean and green is an untruth in itself.   We have no idea how the reporter managed to get that statement past the editor.

Addendum:  http://www.mng.org.uk/gh/resources/nuclear_subsidies1.pdf  has a useful appraisal of the subsidies currently being enjoyed by the nuclear industry and explains why this is unfair and distorts the whole energy market..   It is written by the Energy Fair group (http://www.nonukes.org.uk/home)

Paranoia sets in

We have been somewhat puzzled by the consistent bias shown on the BBC television programmes that have had anything to do with either Cumbria's Energy Coast specifically or just the nuclear industry in general.   Whatever the local opinion, the items have always shown a preponderence of opinion in favour of the nuclear industry's proposed development.   This runs contrary to our perception.   Sometimes the bias has been so acute that we have just had to make a formal complaint to the programme maker.   Despite our protests of bias and incomplete factual evidence being presented, nothing has changed.   A banal report on the One Show on BBC 1 television was so bad that we didn't even bother to complain.   The feeling was that the BBC, like the Whitehaven News has lost its impartiality.   In the case of the latter journal, the pro-nuclear stance can be explained by the NDA's largesse buying good will.   The publication of the NDA's mouthpiece, the highly biased Futures section will surely help in these difficult times for newspapers.   However, we were at a loss to understand the BBC's perceived bias, and began to suspect that we were losing sight of the truth.   Until we read the following in the Sunday Times for 23rd August, 2009, where A.A. Gill wrote:


"Future of Food was surprisingly, coincidentally, a programme about food security presented by George Alagiah that just happened to come out within a few days of the minister for farming and the environment, Hilary Benn, making a government statement on precisely the same subject.   And lo, here he was interviewed by George.   It must have been happenstance, because I can't believe the BBC would be so stupid, partisan or gullible as to use a national broadcast to in any way support or increase awareness of a partisan political policy."

There are £billions at stake for the nuclear industry and the people responsible for the short-sighted energy policy could be looking for jobs shortly, could this  spur have had a similar effect . . .   Surely not?   How else to explain the obvious bias in these articles and the complete failure to ask probing questions to reveal the flaws in the proposed energy plans?   What possible hold could the government have over the national broadcaster whose main claim is to impartiality and an over-riding duty of truth and integrity?   Surely not knighthoods and licence fees?


The following page is comprised of jottings - some statements taken as part of our research.   Eventually they will be included more fully and integrated into the relevant pages.   Most are culled from various documents available on-line, appropriately highlighted in red, and comments in blue.   When time permits we will also be including a table of links to the various other groups fighting this industry and its consequences for health - human and animal, finances, and the environment.   We acknowledge the help and advice given by a variety of organisations with gratitude.

Click here to view jottings.