Our trustworthy friends across the Channel, those who are to provide
our nuclear power at exorbitant rates with no risk to themselves, seem
to have upset the nice people in Westminster. Indeed, so incensed are those in command,
that nasty words like "blackmail" have been used since our old mates,
de France, have chosen to use their strangely strong position to change
U.K. government policy. Yesterday's announcement that the
company will only increase prices by 3.9% (rather less than its rivals'
9%) was made with the rider that if the government did not do away with
the ECO policy - which provides subsidies for home insulation, etc.,-
then the price would be increased to match the other companies.
Shock and horror have been expressed that Électricité
de France could behave in this way. Being cynical, we rightly
feel that we have been telling you so for years. No doubt Électricité
de France will have worked out that with the ensuing publicity about
their low increase, many people will switch their supplier to Électricité
de France. Practically all the advertising slots on Classic FM
seems to have been taken over by the company in a well-timed publicity
campaign. Probably not related to this blackmail policy at all.
Of course, this is not the first time that nuclear generators have been
accused of blackmail. Certainly in Cumbria, where so many of the
much-needed improvements to the infra-structure, roads, health service
provision, community projects, et al, almost all of which should have
been supplied by central government, were said to be entirely dependent
on residents agreeing to nuclear expansion at Sellafield, Braystones,
Kirksanton, and, of course, the dump. By coincidence, local
papers are full of altruistic deeds performed whenever the industry
wishes to do something that might seem a bit dodgy without the carrot
being dangled, at which point everyone seems to don blinkers.
These peaks of propaganda are on top of the marvellous publications to
which Whitehaven News readers are treated every few weeks, in which the
industry and all its advertising staff (most of whom seem to have posts
where their presence is of benefit to the industry) and not all of whom
appear on the Sellafield payroll, extoll the supposed virtues of
Yet this is only the beginning. In future years, when the
country has committed itself to going down the nuclear route
regardless, then the company (and through that, the French government
itself) will gain even greater power over the U.K. This kind of
blackmail is one of the reasons why there was much rhetoric about
energy security. It seems that the Wayne Rooney-alike man at
DECC hasn't grasped the idea at all. Électricité
de France has negotiated itself a wonderful deal; the Chinese
will bear the financial risk and Électricité
de France will control the U.K. energy supply with a guaranteed,
index-linked £1 billion a year profit, whilst insurance risks and
waste disposal (the two most costly and difficult areas) will remain
with the U.K.. Yup. Sounds good. Small wonder that
Lord Lawson has criticised the deal vehemently and questioned how one
man can make such a decision without recourse to parliament.
Somewhat scarily, we wholeheartedly agree with him. According to
The Times, 13/11/13, delegates of the trade body, Energy U.K.,
were unimpressed, too. Only 3% of them thinking that energy
reforms would provide "sufficient certainty for future investment".
As a young child, I was impressed by signs in public houses announcing
"Free beer tomorrow", until my father pointed out that tomorrow never
comes. Sadly, DECC's staff never seem to have had that pointed
out to them.
The European Method
has long been apparent that anything that the European government
wishes to enact, despite dissent from the public, is merely presented
over and over again until such time as either the voters get bored with
voting against and leave the field clear for the pro-lobby, or the
politicians just ignore any dissent and carry on regardless.
pretty similar sort of thing is being conducted by the usual
pro-nuclear lobby in Cumbria - effectively by just a handful of people
who have a history of working for Sellafield or in some other way
beholden to the company. For the third time it is being proposed
that the nuclear dump be hosted in the Copeland/Allerdale area, which
could mean anywhere between Maryport and Sellafield. The
original consultation, the Nirex Enquiry, back in 1970, found that
regardless of the alleged willingness of the communities affected, the
geology was totally unsuitable for such a construction. The more
recent one, involving a consortium of Cumbria County Council, Allerdale
Council and Copeland Council, was dismissed when Cumbria County Council
rejected the proposal. We had been told that a rejection by any
single body in the consortium would mean the whole project would be
abandoned so far as Cumbria was concerned. 97% of the parish
councils rejected the proposals, too. DECC officials and an M.P.
all said that they were disappointed with the result (on which an awful
lot of money had been spent to ensure a "Yes" vote, but that was the
end of the Cumbrian connection.
years later and they are back yet again - as if by some miracle the
geology could possibly have changed. When even the Whitehaven
News publishes letters and e-mails from readers indicating
substantial disagreement with the project, one wonders why these people
cannot just accept defeat, collect their rewards from Sellafield and
leave us in peace.
wishing to join in the consultation can do so via:
More From The "You Can Trust Us" Brigade
We have frequently
aired our views on the Environment Agency and its (to our mind) strange
views on the nuclear industry's waste products. In an
article in "Private Eye", issue 1347, the agency's attitude to
naturally-occurring radioactive materials is explained. The
article explains how, by way of a chain of "specialist" companies, the
materials' handling and disposal can be in the hands of "radiation
protection supervisors" who have received just one day's
training. One of the companies involved in this particular
aspect is Studsvik. This company has a factory in Cumbria
where radioactive waste is "treated". In June, 2009, the
U.K. president of Studsvik departed after auditors found that , “An internal audit of the British
subsidiary has found income from a number of projects to be overstated
by, in total, approximately £1m, primarily attributable to 2008".
An error a little too large to be accidental, in our opinion. The
departed president's position was filled by a man who has previously
held senior management positions at AMEC Nuclear and BNFL, so that's
alrright then. We know how good they are, as they keep telling
Still, it seems that
a lack of integrity or ethical rigour is no bar to those wishing to
join the nuclear industry. Some of the biggest companies
winning contracts to work for Sellafield have been accused of illegally
blacklisting trade union members and other "troublesome" workers and
will be explaining their conduct to a judge in due course.
Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour-Beatty, Skanska, Amec, Bam, Carillion,
Laing O'Rourke, and Kier, are amongst those accused of working with the
Consulting Association, which was closed after a raid by the
Information Commissioner's Office. An illegal database of
3,000 workers was uncovered. The case to be heard is
related to an alleged conspiracy and breaches of the Data Protection
It seems that beach
users in Cumbria will have to get used to higher risks of radioactive
contamination after any storm. Earlier this year the
Environment Agency continued its laissez faire approach, saying that a
tripling of the number of beach finds, especially around Sellafield
beach, was due to a recent storm disturbing the seabed. At
long last some testing of the contamination of the seabed may take
place, albeit very limited in geographical extent.
A Whitehaven News
report in May, says:
' An EA report says:
“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.”'
The recent attendance of a Nuvia employee taking samples of seaweed on
Beach led us to check the latest figures on beach finds.
According to Sellafield's figures (unless we have mis-read them) the
number of finds on public beaches between Drigg in the south and
Harrington in the north has now reached 1,749.
Far and away the
greatest number (1,353) being recovered
from the beach at Sellafield,
but nevertheless, 313 were
recorded at Braystones. Both these beaches allow
unrestricted access to the public and there are no warning signs for
Today has seen the first tests of the new vehicle designed
testing by Nuvia on behalf of Sellafield.
The new vehicle for
finding radioactive material on the public beaches.
Its dune buggy style seems better able to traverse the stony
terrain than the original version which sported caterpillar tracks and
was thus somewhat limited. Apologies for the poor quality which
is due to the photographer being more than half a mile away - as it was
the first day of tests it seemed too goo an opportunity to miss.
The following day it was back again, whilst holiday-makers and beach
users shared the beach with it.
The photo (right) shows the support vehicle and a group of staff as the
vehicle starts its tests.
|We were not sure whether
effect over Sellafield was entirely natural . . .
Site Assessment for
The land around Sellafield is currently being investigated
for potential new reactor sites by Nugen, a company owned by a French
company, GDF Suez, and a Spanish company, Iberdrola. The usual
propaganda literature is available with some being found on line at http://www.nugeneration.com A double-sided sheet of information contains all the typical
hype. Lots of questions are posed in the text, but few are
actually answered. The more immediate ones are just fudged with
meaningless promises to do their best. Of course, the
rhetoric explains that all those involved have safety as their top
priority and everything will be carried out in a professional way.
(Wasn't that always the case at Sellafield, yet spills, fires,
and discharges - deliberate and accidental have always continued to
poison the environment.) Happily, heavy lorries will have scant
impact on normal traffic flows, too. We believe that, too.
When the idea of hugely expanding the nuclear industry first
popped into the news five years ago, supported by jubilant politicians
with vested interests, it was accompanied by fanfares and threats of
lights going out, dire warnings about CO2 discharges causing
global warming, etc. Back then, the Nugen site at
Sellafield was the least favoured because of the problems of
radioactive contamination which resulted from the Windscale fires in
the 1950s. (Yes, 60 years on and the legacy still remains.)
It was reported that before any building could be commenced
there would have to be a huge cleaning operation to remove topsoil.
This would be classed as radioactive waste, presumably, and will
cost a lot ot deal with. One wonders just what Nugen thought
they were buying, and who will have to foot the bill for the clean-up. The National Grid, meanwhile, are consulting people on their
plans to extend their cables to accommodate any increase in generating
capacity in Cumbria. This includes wiring up the new site at
Sellafield. To us it seems a trifle premature when no decision
has been made and the site has not yet been determined to be suitable
for new build. However, such decisions are usually made well in
advance of any public consultation exercises , which are held only to
appease Brussels and avert any judicial reviews stemming from a lack of
public involvement. There are already rumblings, especially
de France about the lack of U.K. government funding/provision of
guaranteed prices, and if the Moorside site alonside Sellafield does
need cleaning up, it is quite possible that the already high
commissioning price will just be too much. We like to think that
that will be the case and that the nuclear industry will come to a
long-overdue conclusion. In April, 2012, the Guardian carried a subheading which
read: 'French firm needs more financial incentives if it is to proceed
with new nuclear plant in Cumbria, says CEO Gérard Mestrallet'.
GDF Suez is 35% owned by the French state and is in a similar position
de France in terms of its demands on the U.K. taxpayers' money.
Reading between the lines, one might come to the conclusion that
the majority of the running to persuade the U.K. politicians to hand
over lots of money to the French and Spanish companies was undertaken
de France and it was believed that the prices for future energy
provision would result. Then the Nugen consortium could jump on
the bandwagon. Sadly for both groups the base price has not
reached their demands. Given the parlous state of the European
finances it seems virtually impossible that the necessary funds could
be found to allow new plants to be built. The Guardian article
goes on to say, 'Mestrallet said what
was on offer was "not enough and something is missing"'.
Hmm. Could it be money? He was also apparently at pains to point
out that GDF Suez was a competitor wtih Électricité
de France. Strange when they both work for the French
Even if the project does go ahead, there is no guarantee
that the local residents will stand to gain much. As one
correspondent has already noted, the majority of nuclear money is
handed to the local council and county council, who then make decisions
as to its dispersal. Most of it is spent on projects and
developments far from Sellafield, where, in fact, Sellafield is not
even visible, whilst those whose amenity is affected and whose health
is jeopardised gain nothing. We will see anything different this
time? Not likely.
Has Died as a Result of Fukushima (Or Have They?)
Unexpected increases in excess deaths (a euphemism, surely?) in North
West America following the Fukushima incident have now been put at
around 22,000. Radiation-linked illnesses have also
correspondingly. A study by Joseph Mangano can be
found here: http://www.radiation.org/reading/pubs/HS42_1F.pdf
study, of the decrease in radiation-linked illnesses following the
closure of an American reactor, add to the concern.
One has to wonder
how many people could be saved by closing down Sellafield and its
"RPHPs Joseph Mangano and
Dr. Janette Sherman have
published a first-ever article examining reductions in cancer rates in
Sacramento County after the 1989 shut down of the Rancho Seco nuclear
plant. In the 20 years following
shut down, there were 4,319 fewer cancer cases among county residents.
The information was published in the journal Biomedicine
and announced at a March 28, 2013 press conference."
Walking Can Make the U.K. Healthier
an article on the BBC's website by Robert Peston, he claims that the
long-running problems with achieving a deal for Électricité
de France to
build reactors in the U.K. are costing the company £1 million
every day. To date the cost exceeds £1
billion, apparently. Combined with
the acute loss of face that would be suffered by the prime minister, et
al, it seems unlikely that either side will want to walk
away. On that basis, it seems the U.K. consumer
will be required to pay all the bills for the next 40 years - with all
that money going out
of the country.
there any longer-term plan for nuclear projects in the U.K. to
eventually become exporters to the rest of the world - especially
Europe? We are already regarded as the nuclear dustbin of
the world, after all.
scant ray of sunlight did appear in the article:
may concern supporters of the Hinkley
project, and not just Électricité
is that ministers - and especially George Osborne - seem to me to be
less worried about Électricité
ultimately walking away than about being seen to pay too high a price
for the Hinkley power."
us hope that Électricité
decide to take their bat and ball elsewhere to play.
Suppliers In Short Supply
For the last three years there have been moves to sell off the uranium
enrichment company, Urenco for around £8
billion. The U.K. owns a third of the shares, with
the Dutch government and the two German power companies, R.W.E. and
E.on, owning the balance. The company produces over
a quarter of the nuclear fuel used worldwide.
Various companies have mooted whether to beocme involved,, but more
recently a Canadian company, Cameco Corp, has entered the
fray. According to the Financial Times article
below, the deal could be concluded by the end of the year.
assertions that selling off nuclear and other forms of power generation
to foreign sources makes an utter nonsense of the claim to acting to
make energy secure thus seem to be correct.
Tip of the Iceberg
use of depleted uranium tips as an aid to armour-piercing on ordnance
has long been thought to be the cause of adverse health effects, such
as Gulf War Syndrome.
an article in the national news of 22/3/13 the BBC reports that Iraqi
doctors are increasingly concerned about the huge increase in birth
defects that they are facing. In Basra, defects
by 60% since 2003. Similar stories are coming from
places, such as Falluja. The number of congenital
malformations in Fallujah is fourteen times higher than the rate in
Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the atomic bomb detonations.
types of birth defects are congenital malformations that doctors
don’t even have medical terms for as they have never seen
before. They’re not in any reference
or scientific literature that they have access
According to Dr. Samira Alani, quoted in the under-referenced article,
it’s quite common now in Fallujah for newborns to come out
multiple systemic defects, immune
problems, massive central nervous system problems, massive heart
problems, skeletal disorders, baby’s being born with two
babies being born with half of their internal organs outside of their
bodies, cyclops babies literally with one eye—really, really,
really horrific nightmarish types of birth defects.'
has to wonder about the ordnance being test-fired into the Irish Sea
off Eskmeals. Between the deliberate and "accidental"
dishcarges and this ordnance one has to wonder about the chances for
local residents. Needless to say, the experts know exactly
the effects of their experiments are and the U.S. and U.K. governments
both rely on an old report compiled for the WHO to absolve
them from any blame. The reliability of the WHO's
may appear somewhat suspect at times. Interestingly, armed
forces are also subject to increasing numbers of birth defects on their
Instances of increased health damage around nuclear sites and,
particularly in Seascale, are also dismissed as being unrelated
The reason we include this is that it, once again,
illustrates the fallacy that the scientists pretending otherwise, might
have any idea of the effects that radiation, in whatever amount and for
whatever period, can have on the disparate human body. We
not homogenous creatures and one size does not fit all - in any
A (British) Gas
amusement we have watched British Gas officials struggle to
justify the annual profits of £606 million announced today
11% on last year), especially when they only recently put up their
prices by 6%. To add insult, they also say that this may not
the end of the price rises. Not only did they increase their
retail prices, but they also stopped contracts with a variety of firms
who had been engaged to install various insulation projects in private
houses around the country as part of a government energy efficiency
move. Poor British Gas (part of Centrica, who recently
out of the nuclear new-build consortium with Électricité
de France in
the U.K.) must be
really struggling with their daily profit of only
million! The best excuse they have come up with to justify
high prices is that the money is needed to improve the network and to
help the lights to stay on. Now, where have we heard that
before? Nothing about the whole thing being a
government-organised mess which has resulted in record prices for
energy for no obvious rise in production cost and no tangible benefit
from the infra-structure improvements. (Anyone know what or
where they are?) Maybe they should invest in some better PR
people - like the nuclear industry?
The government have announced that they will ensure the customer gets
the best deal. When properly considered, this is total
meaningless nonsense, of course. We still reckon these rises
purely driven by the need to make nuclear seem viable and to
gets what they are demanding. The latter are now said to be
concentrating on North Africa's gas. Maybe, if they are
in their plans for nuclear stranglehold in the U.K. by their excessive
demands, they can hold us to ransom, by having a virtual monopoly on
imported gas supplies, then?
Happily, the British Gas bossman is in line for £10 million
he leaves this summer, so
he won't have to worry about his huge bills. Anyone else
these people live in a parallel universe?
in The Pipeline
latest generic design assessment - for Hitachi-GE - has been received
by DECC. The relevant notices can be found here:
in the Cold
Gas has pulled out of a contract which was intended to insulate
thousands of homes in the U.K. It seems that cost
important than the environment. Many thousands of
insulation installers look likely to loose their jobs.
Gas only managed to make £2½ billion in the last
years, and is currently making £3 million per day, so they
obviously have to be very careful.
in the month, there was a suggestion of outrage from political quarters
when it was realised that RWE and Électricité
were making a lot of
sending the profit home, not keeping it in the U.K.
to wonder whether these pecunious people can really be that naiive, or
whether it is just a sham.
recent discovery of a fish contaminated to a level 1,500 times the
maximum dose permitted for human consumption has been announced on a
variety of websites. The official response is to
large net to prevent fish in the same area from
We're not sure that that is the real problem. The
fish is a
kind of rock fish and is not normally consumed;
prompted one sage to ask that if it isn't consumed, what is the
problem? Obviously a prime candidate for the NDA
energy suppliers, Électricité
again deferred a decision on its planned new nuclear project at Hinkley
Point. Although Électricité
little elves have
been beavering away within DECC and might appear to have achieved
everything necessary for the company to build a subsidised plant with
guaranteed energy prices and no worries over little things like
insurance or waste disposal - both of which will be carried by the U.K.
taxpayer whilst profits will go home to France, it seems that they want
Private Eye's Old Sparky, the new plant at Flamanville is now expected
to cost almost three times as much as was estimated. This
is the same as that to be built at Hinkley, so it does not augur well.
Old Sparky goes on to say that government ministers have
the services of KPMG to handle business transactions with Électricité
de France on
behalf of the
U.K.government. Strange coincidence it may be, but
KPMG just happen to be Électricité
some of the other companies involved in the joint enterprise are
pulling out and demanding their money back. Amusingly, three
years ago we attended a meeting at which a French citizen was present.
She was amazed at the power obviously held by Électricité
over the British
government, and suggested that no-one should be trusting of the company
as it was hardly financially viable in France.
anyone still disbelieving that the current price of energy is anything
other than a manipulation by the government as part of a plan to make
nuclear seem viable might be interested in the figures announced by SSE
last month. Half year profits of £397½
million - a
38% increase on last year. Sadly, that didn't stop them
up their prices by 9%, a figure strangely similar to most of the other
generating companies. Just coincidence, surely?
Man-made or Natural
We continue to differ from Friends of the Earth in believing that our
(comparatively) modest reduction in gas usage would make much
difference to the overall state of the planet. We
much more wary of the nuclear industry. As we
elsewhere, we have no idea how and why the myth about nuclear being
clean and green came to be believed by so many people, when it patently
isn't - as anyone familiar with Sellafield's history will be
aware. Yet this almost slavish determination to
energy usage for the perceived climate-change scenario doesn't always
make sense. We have suggested for years that the
been extant for over 4½ billion years and has happily hosted
kinds of disasters and their after-effects. It has evolved
cope with everything that is thrown at it. It has had many
ages and temperature rises over the millennia. Yet
now reckon that by taking an extremely small sample of temperature
recordings they can assess the status of the planet with any degree of
accuracy. So firm are their predictions that the initial
story was of global warming. When it proved that some parts
the earth were actually cooling down, this had to change and the phrase
"climate change" was born. This wonderfully broad term
every phenomenon that nature sees fit to inflict. Accuracy
weather forecasting is so high, having used the best computers
available to predict the next six months, that hose-pipe bans were
introduced and the press was full of stories about water tables being
lower than ever before (how do they know?) and a barbeque summer was in
the offing. Insurance companies might well have preferred
to the current deluge that the country is suffering. That,
is probable due to some man-made activity and cannot possibly be a
perfectly natural thing - or can it?
Currently, the Fukushima disaster is being kept very quiet (see earlier
article below). When did you last hear of any
the situation on national news? Yet 8% of Japan has
polluted by the radioactive material. Fish are still being
contaminated - despite projections that the levels would fall away they
are, in fact, increasing. There are still problems
various reactors. It has been pointed out that the
earthquake and ensuing tsunami were natural phenomena which had a
dramatic but limited effect, yet by far the greatest tragedy was the
scale of leakage from the man-made nuclear
piles of the material, especially water, from Fukushima cannot be
expanded infinitely, obviously. The situation at
reactor is still unclear, and the state of the ground under the whole
reactor is giving cause for concern. If the
as suggested by a variety of sources, continuing, or there is another
earthquake and tsunami, then the whole of Japan and a huge part of the
Pacific area will be rendered uninhabitable for eternity.
The solution? Build more reactors around the world.
hasn't Gone Away
testing of children (ages 18 and under) in Japan, resulting from the
Fukushima incident, is around a third completed, with 35% of them
having cysts. Thyroid cancer is one of the many
exposure to radiation and we have commented on the results thus far
before. Yet Japanese
greatly unhappy about the fact that they are not automatically given
copy of the scans performed on their children, or the fact that it will
be a further two years before the next round of scans will be
performed. Two years is a long time in terms of
development. According to articles in the Japanese
very large anti-nuclear protest is being arranged in Japan, with up to
300,000 residents expected to attend. Small wonder
Hitachi are looking elsewhere for business.
the IAEA continue with their propaganda and say that nuclear power is
safer than before the Fukushima disaster. Not sure
might work. Especially when the U.K. government's
committee comes out with reports that say that Sellafield is
increasingly dangerous and is putting the residents of Cumbria at
risk. Despite the £billions already spent
"cleaning up the site", only approximately 3½% of the
contaminated buildings have been dealt with. One
how future clean up costs will be paid for - by the private companies
such as Électricité de
France? We don't find
reports remind us that there are now 200,000 tonnes of radioactive
water being stored at the Fukushima site in
the event of another earthquake and tsunami there will be the potential
for greater disaster if these rupture or get
damaged. A lot
of the water is what has been used to cool down the reactors which
appear to still be in a state of melt-down, with little thus far having
been achieved to render the plants safe.
citizens are greatly unhappy about the fact that they are not
automatically given copy of the scans performed on their children, or
the fact that it will be a further two years before the next round of
scans will be performed. Two years is a long time
of cancer development.
the IAEA continue with their propaganda and say that nuclear power is
safer than before the Fukushima disaster. Not sure
might work. Especially when the U.K. government's
committee comes out with reports that say that Sellafield is
increasingly dangerous and is putting the residents of Cumbria at
risk. Despite the £billions already spent
"cleaning up the site", only approximately 3½% of the
contaminated buildings have been dealt with. One
how future clean up costs will be paid for - by the private companies
such as Électricité
We don't find that likely either.
America, as a result of Hurricane Sandy, three nuclear reactors were
forced to shut down. Happily, weather forecasting
for an orderly shut-down and there should theoretically have been no
problems. Yet one plant, at Oyster Creek near
City, New Jersey, the "unusual event" produced wind, a flow tide and a
storm surge. The facility was out of use for
but lost its grid supply of electricity when more water than normal
entered the plant's water-intake system. Back-up
were relied on to keep the cooling water circulating.
October 16th a Japanese official, Mitsuhei Murata, explained that
Fukushima's Unit 4 is gradually sinking and that the entire structure
is very likely to be on the verge of collapse.
the unit holds more than 1,500 spent fuel rods, that is not good
news. One of the explanations for the sinking
that the nuclear fuel that powered the reactor at the time of the
melt-down is now burning into the ground below the
This would explain the vast quantities of water that are becoming
contaminated, as some of this would be ground water seeping into the
terrain. The problem with the sinking is whether
pumping of concrete under the structure to stabilise it will affect the
flow of contaminated water, causing it to either build up - with
resultant pressures - or find an alternative way to the sea, taking
with it the contamination. An article in "Natural
suggests that over 37 million curies of radiation will, if released by
the failure of the structure, render a great part of the world
uninhabitable. The unit has already sunk over 31"
Natural World article also suggests that the reactor in Unit 4 is
similar to dozens of American reactors, where, according to Murata,
there is the possibility of literally dozens of Fukushima situations
occurring on American soil, should the right disaster situations
arise. It also suggests that the reason why
importance is being down-played is because of this.
Amercans must be really glad they had the foresight to set up the
propaganda unit known as the I.A.E.A, and planted the idea in people's
minds that the I.A.E.A. is in some way open and honest and not
interested in promoting nuclear at any cost - hence the linking to such
things as United Nations, where the unit is required to be independent
so that it can inspect reactors in places like
link and pseudo-independence seems to us to give the other branches of
the organisation an integrity which is totally
It exists to promote nuclear around the world, and has a budget of
$billions to do so. That is its raison d'etre.
Incoming £20 Billion
Cameron and Edward Davey)
A few days ago it was announced that Hitachi were to invest
billion in nuclear for the U.K. Please note the
the head of General Electric, Jeff Immelt on the home page in relation
to the nuclear industry's future. G.E. is partner
Hitachi in the venture.
number of strange things occur to one in relation to the
deal. Firstly, where is the money to come
Japan is hardly awash with money and their nuclear industry is still in
disarray following Fu'kushima. So why did the
market value for the U.K. sites, laying out almost £700
for two sites (Wylfa and Oldbury), previously ear-marked for
development by RWE and Eon, before their hasty retreat from the nuclear
industry? What on earth can they have been promised or been
to expect in return and who will provide the returns? Why
obvious desperation to supply the nuclear industry with a future?
the article on the Home
page re. the National Audit Office assessment of the Sellafield
is the usual stupidity of statements like, "It is
boost for the U.K. and will provide thousands of jobs", from the
(obviously-biased) energy secretary, Edward Davey.
don't like to think the Special Advisors or, as we call them, moles,
have got to
him!) We are, apparently, still supposed to believe
the investment will occur with no view to extracting a
profit! How gullible are we?
thousands of jobs are again most likely to be a figment of the hyped
imagination. As with
every other project, there will be jobs for construction workers which
will be of comparatively short duration. At the end
construction period these people will be out of work -
again. Only a couple of hundred jobs
be on offer to highly-skilled personnel from the U.K. In
of future outlay for U.K. residents that is a very high price to pay
for any short-term benefit. Especially when the market is
currently being distorted by those who have the market in their grip.
Quite how any company can justify an 8% rise in cost, let
de France's 11%, is beyond us. It does, however, fit with
vision of the public being made to pay for the nuclear expansion
programme - the profits for which will just go abroad, along with
profits from future energy charges. We think there is a
case for a nationalised industry - with no nuclear investment plans -
setting a base level.
players like Babcock Engineering and Rolls-Royce are already dipping
their bread in the gravy, of course, and have signed prelimary
contracts. Still, profits must be made. The
concern back in 2010 when Hitachi, against the forecasts, won the
contract to supply train-sets to the U.K. against a Bombardier/Siemens
consortium. Bombardier reckoned in 2011 that the loss of the
Thameslink contract to Hitachi would cost 1400 jobs.
similar to the number of construction jobs that will be created by
Hitachi's plans. Nevertheless, to out manoeuvre Siemens
(corruption was a way of life for us) must have taken some doing.
has not yet
worked out how much it will cost to build six new nuclear power plants
in the UK;
government-guaranteed minimum price for nuclear-generated electricity,
has not yet been worked out - despite the brinkmanship currently being
undertaken by Électricité
de France in order to extract the maximum profits from U.K. users
(strangely the French price for electricity is fixed);
is not clear when
the plants would be completed, nor who would operate them;
even the reactor
system that Hitachi is keen to install has yet to be granted UK safety
truly desperate for some Good News is all we can say.
Governments have been covering up nuclear meltdowns for 50 years and
covering up the dangers of radiation and its effects for 67
years. They have also covered up dumping of nuclear
in the ocean. The International Atomic Energy Agency admits that
thirteen countries used ocean dumping to “dispose”
radioactive waste between 1946 and 1993, including the U.K.
1993, ocean disposal has been banned by agreement through a number of
international treaties, including the London Convention of 1972, the
Basel Convention, and MARPOL 73/78, although, of course, "accidents"
and incidents continue to happen regardless of the politics.
was a favourite for some years as it muddled along with no proper
government, several companies taking advantage of the opportunity to
dispose of unwanted material.
of the nuclear materials being dumped in the Atlantic Ocean belonged to
the UK (35,088TBq). Further contributors included
Switzerland (4,419TBq), USA (2,924TBq) and Belgium (2,120TBq). Sunken
USSR nuclear submarines are not included.
European countries happily used the Atlantic as a dump for years, but
the USA, responsible for dumping 34,282, containers gave no indication
of the volume or potency of the material contained therein.
the Pacific Ocean, Russia dumped 874TBq., America 554 TBq, Japan
15.1TBq. New Zealand admitted to dumping over one
an unknown amount was added by South Korea. Copious amounts were also
dumped by Japan and Russia. Again, the Americans
materials, including 56,261 containers, but did not give volume or
the Sea of Japan, Russia dumped another 749TBq; Japan dumped
15.1TBq south of the main island, whilst South Korea dumped 45 tonnes
of material with unknown potency.
environmental group Bellona Fondation reported that Russia has admitted
that it dumped 19 radioactive ships plus 14 nuclear reactors
some of them containing fissible material – into the
there is also the not-so-slight problem of the nuclear submarine that
was scuttled in 50 meters of water with its two reactors filled with
spent nuclear fuel in in Stepovogo Bay in the Kara Sea in 1981.
that the reactors aboard the K-27 could reachieve criticality and
explode was released at the Bellona-Rosatom seminar in February,
2012. The latter is somewhat scarier even than the
the inventory, as the K-27, a unique vessel, was equipped with a liquid
metal cooled reactor and was irreparably damaged by a reactor accident
(control rod failure) on May 24, 1968. Nine
killed in the reactor accident. After shutting down
reactor and sealing the compartment, the Soviet Navy scuttled her in
shallow water of the Kara Sea on September 6, 1982, contrary to the
recommendation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
out the vulnerability of modern computer controlled equipment to
interference from outside sources. However, physical
interference is also a major problem for the site security staff, here
and abroad. For example, in December, 2011, nine activists
Greenpeace entered a nuclear site at Nogent-sur-Seine, south east of
Paris. A banner, which read, "There is no such
unfurled on the top of the reactor building.
official version, as always, pretends that everything was under control
at all times, it plainly was
That nine people can enter and make their way to the top of the reactor
building without being prevented is an obvious security failing.
recall that in
2008 a light aircraft circled Sellafield for over 20 minutes - that
being the time it took the Royal Air Force to get there from the other
side of the countryand tell the pilot of the light aircraft, who was in
violation of the no-fly zone over the site (see paragraph 6, below) to
the more recent story of how a Greenpeace activist paraglided onto the
roof of the reactor building at the Bugey plant in southeastern
France. A red flare was dropped
plant before the pilot landed nearby and was arrested.
are quite a few
paragliders who make use of the thermal currents caused by on-shore
winds hitting the sharp coastal slopes at Braystones, just 2 miles
north of Sellafield.
One wonders what a stray one of these would cause the authorities to
do. Are they really going to risk shooting down an innocent
hobby paraglider in the belief that they are under attack?
how close would they allow the flier to get to the sensitive bits?
Helicopters, too, are often in the area - either for aerial survey
purposes or transporting members of the various nuclear bodies between
the numerous sites in the
recently a survey helicopter flew close to the no-fly zone as it
checked the railway line between Sellafield and St. Bees following two
landslips caused by very heavy rain and flooding.
2002, emergency planning funding by the government was reduced by
10%. Aerial safety was down to an exclusion zone of
or an altitude of 22,000
feet. (Just over 4 miles high.)
It is believed
that any deviation from commercial routes would be detected by air
traffic controllers before any damage could be caused
in the style of the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre
in America. However, if it takes 20 minutes for
get on the scene, and an airliner flying at 25,000 feet could suddenly deviate
(either as the result of terrorism or malfunction) and crash into the
Sellafield site in around 2 minutes, there seems to be a little missing
in the plans, even if the air traffic controllers manage to spot any
deviation immediately - which on past form appears to be highly
importantly there is the "when do we react"
Obviously a gang of nine people breaking into a nuclear plant should
have triggered a much earlier reaction
authorities, so was there a flaw in the plans, or were they just unable
to meet the challenge - as they would be unable to meet an aerial
terrorist attack on Sellafield?
Let's face it, there is a much higher vulnerability to attack in
Sellafield's stocks than in the French sites.
An article in the Sunday Times illustrates the desperate straits to
which the nuclear industry has sunk. Nuclear batteries are
next Good Thing on the agenda to solve the problem of nuclear waste -
especially the legacy stuff. Apparently, for the cost of a
plant to separate out the Americium, we could propel lots of things
into space. It appears that polluting the whole planet with
nuclear waste is no longer sufficient. Now we have to expand
pollution into space. According to the article, the Russians
have been making these things for years. Even if you accept
we should be firing such material into space and beyond our control,
perhaps we should recall the Russian satellite that came down over the
wastelands of Canada, strewing plutonium over several acres.
We do not believe that the article represents the true facts, and
certainly not that it will solve the problems of legacy waste at
Sellafield. Apart from any other considerations, what would
cost of even a single battery be - even if a process to separate out
the desired materials from the rest were to be found?
If it does, as implied in the article, cure the waste problem, why has
Russia dumped 1500 containers of the stuff in the Karal Sea?
. . . the
volume of waste
“could be between six and eleven
times the size of Albert Hall"
of the vastness of the dumping exercise came from Cllr. Knowles, at a
meeting of the full Cumbria County Council, on 5th September, 2012, and
was in response to a question from a member of the public.
from anything else, it is puzzling how vague the figures are - a bit
like saying it will cost between £100 billion and
billion. Part of the problem may well be that, once the
has been started, it could grow. After all most of the
remaining in the nuclear industry are not from the U.K. and will not
really be concerned if all goes wrong. If it doesn't go
very quickly then it will be hailed as a successful way of disposing of
hazardous high-level waste and a convenient place for all kinds of
dross from around the world to end up. (So the recent
announcement of the development of Workington's port facilities would
be very welcome. How convenient.) By some strange
the councillor also went on to suggest that things might change when
the results of the geological survey were known. Has he
heard of Nirex, or the evidence of respected geologists that was
presented to that enquiry? Was he not present at the
Cabinet meeting in Calder Bridge when MRWS received evidence from
the council's 5th
September meeting it seemed as if the MRWS people were not really going
to take any notice of a majority decision, but would get recalcitrant
councillors "round the table to try to resolve the matter".
Cynically, we think they mean that they will pick off dissenters one at
a time, but that's just us. Even so, there is still the
of whether Copeland and Allerdale should carry on regardless - with
comparisons with the series of films of the same genre being inevitable.
like Cllr. Knowles apparently think that tourism and the nuclear
industry can get on with each other. In our opinion, the
way that tourism has survived in this part of Cumbria is by keeping mum
about the nuclear industry. We have spoken to many people
have arrived at local caravan sites only to find that they are next
door to the world's nuclear dustbin. They were deeply
Their happiness went even further into the negative zone
the purpose of the Argocat on the beaches was explained to them.
At first incredulous, then angry, as they realised that they had been
misled by clever photography (spot Sellafield's ugly scars on the
landscape on any of the publicity brochures for holidays in the area,
if you can). Who in their right mind would leave the
beauty of the Lake District scenery to visit a huge, noisy, dusty and
disturbing nuclear industrial site. What is going
become airborne as a result of the disturbing of the soils?
bit like disturbing the sediments of the Irish Sea to put in submarine
cabling for the new National Grid system. Not particularly
thought-out one might agree.
Happily, however, the MRWS have plans in hand to improve the appeal for
tourism. Like improving port facilities at Workington and
Whitehaven. The former, of course, is obviously just to
the nuclear waste shipments, whilst the latter has been justified as an
attempt to attract cruise liners. We all saw what happened
the last one - attractions laid on purely for the benefit of the
passengers who, ignoring the sop, took to the ship's helicopters to fly
directly to the lakes.
Besides, if the cruise ship routine doesn't work, then ships could
arrive at Whitehaven to handle nuclear waste, thereby shortening the
rail journey by 20 miles each time. No doubt the nuclear
industry would approve.
is Paramount -
(But Secondary to Successful Sales)
people at Areva have been at work again. The
government, panicking after the problems at Fukushima, searched the
equipment to help them deal with the leaked
forward Areva with an offer too good to refuse.
changed hands and
delivered. However, it was not to prove reliable or
for money. A rueful Japanese politician admitted
equipment was second-hand and that the Areva salesmen had been very
good at their job. When it comes to helping, you
need people like
According to the Fukushima Diary website:
"Areva sent their female
Japan soon after 3/11 and she offered various forms of help for
Fukushima. In this context, we [Tepco] asked them for the
decontamination facilities though they planned to ship them somewhere
else. Probably the facilities were secondhand.
and they were skilled in sales.
The final decision of purchase
by Tepco, the government didn’t reject it. However, they had
lot of problems to operate Areva’s facilities. It’s
partially because of the lack of trial operation. Probably the
facilities were secondhand. We thus got to the conclusion that we have
to have multiple facilities except for Areva, and bought
“Sarry” from Kurion." Talking
integrity and honesty, the sub-contractor given the job of cleaning up
the Fukushima plants has admitted to making lead shields to cover
dosimeters it gave to its staff. Apparently the
decided that the constant alarms meant that the job was going to take too
long, so he found
a sheet of lead and made ten shields which were then used to cover the
sensors. The same contractor is reported to have ignored
rates for the job and pocketed up to half the men's daily wage,
too. Despite doing an incredibly dangerous job the
proper health concerns whilst at the same time being paid below the
nuclear salesmen from the I.A.E A. have issued a report which announces
that nuclear expansion will be around 44% this year, up from
forecast of 37% for the period. Their
rôle in the
dimishing news from Fukyushima will no doubt emerge in a short while,
pro-nuclear stance of the BBC will also be explained, together with
some curtailment of the number of industry secondees to
government. Helpfully, a lot of effort has gone
diverting scientific discussion (and world attention to the continuing
situation) into whether Fukushima's
stem from the earthquake or from the subsequent tsunami. In
essence, whether pipework broke due to vibration of the earthquake or
the plant was overwhelmed by the sea-water. While it may be
relevant for future building, at the moment surely
would be better concentrated on getting the whole area clean and
safe? Whatever else, it reminds us that you cannot
plan for the
In June, 2011, Tokyo
Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced the utilisation of
equipment supplied by Toshiba (oil/grease separation), Kurion (cesium
removal), AREVA (cesium removal), and Hitachi (desalination) to handle
external reactor water cooling system rated at 317,000
(about 15 backyard swimming pools/day). The aim of this lash-up was to
reduce the safety and environmental risks presented by the increasing
and very large quantity of highly-radioactively contaminated, oily and
saline water that was creating a high dose concern on site and
restricting entry into the reactor and turbine buildings.
the Pressure - Part of the Carry
On Regardless Masterplan
the BBC seem to have got thoroughly confused over plans to link the
proposed new reactors at Sellafield to the national grid.
November it published a map of the area depicting the route most likely
to be chosen. It incorporated connections to the Heysham
station, near Morecambe, having travelled south from Sellafield.
Fast forward six months and, lo and behold, we are shown a similar map
with pylons this time travelling north to join the main spine of the
grid at Carlisle. Is it any wonder that there is this degree
confusion when the much bigger project to build a nuclear dump is even
via the Front Door
(Come In, It's Unlocked)
we mention the potential for computer firmware programs causing
devastating problems for large numbers of users.
Stuxnet worm was a prime example, and was incorporated into control
logic designed by Siemens - with or without their knowledge is unknown,
but in any case Siemens have now withdrawn from producing equipment for
the nuclear industry. The powers-that-be announced
corruption had probably been installed via a standard USB
connection. We warned then of the dangers to the
industry of malware. We still find it unbelievable
standard port such as a USB connector could have been left open, but we
are cynics. It reminds us of the back-door methods
hacking into Unix computers which was prevalent decades
ago. We have to wonder whether the password to
was PASSWORD and the log-in set to SUPERVISOR. Or perhaps we
supposed to be gullible enough to believe official explanations.
another example, reported recently, Iranian oil ministry and oil
companies have been attacked. The result was that
ministry website was off line for a few days, but the national oil
company is still affected. Data about users of the
also been stolen.
we can assume that the whole U.K. nuclear industry is insulated from
such problems and that there are absolutely no network connections to
the internet, and every single unnecessary port is blocked.
After all, who remembers that British Aerospace's computers were hacked
and the Chinese very quickly brought out a new fighter jet which was
very similar to BAe's but cheaper to produce? (Apparently
U.S. were not impressed that the hacking had not been noticed over a
three year period.)
the potential - ultimately control of every computer-controlled process
- one has to wonder just who might be behind these attacks, although
there are some obvious candidates. Regardless, just
vulnerable to outside influence are the nuclear plants around the
world? Some of these may well have bonus software
integrated - but who is going to spend the man-years going through each
line of computer code to try and trace any malware? The
tests will be meaningless if the control systems cannot be relied on to
perform their safety functions. Safety depends on every
of the process, not just the tin can which houses the reactor.
See the Editorial page of 27/4/12 for further comment and news on the
progress of the stress tests.
home it is reported that energy demand has fallen by
Energy costs have risen by 23%. The latter is
purely as a
result of government policy and its endeavours to make nuclear power
cost-effective by raising the cost of other methods of
generation. Nonetheless, the steepening decline in
usage means that there will be no need for nuclear at
Even on the original projections there was no need, as energy demand
would have fallen below supply capacity by 2020 anyway, but, with the
combined effect of recession and more energy-efficient devices, the
case for nuclear just disappears. Sadly, the "when
lights go out" syndrome is still with us, despite having been refuted
by the head of the National Grid in a Radio 4 news item over three
Not Just Repeating Itself, but
In 1995, then American Energy Department Secretary, Hazel O'Leary,
released documents which showed that the atomic energy establishment
has for decades behaved as if the human population and all living
systems are its rightful guinea pigs. From feeding plutonium to
unknowing children to deliberate releases of radioactive clouds at
Hanford, Washington, and Los Alamos, New Mexico, to the hundreds of
nuclear tests in Nevada and at the Pacific/Eniwetok test sites, the
atomic establishment showed it would stop at nothing. As
expert has said, "Over the 50 years
of the nuclear age, 'scientists' have not had the integrity, courage or
decency to acknowledge publicly the enormous damage they have done to
present and future generations. Instead they hide behind the wall of
secrecy called 'national security.' When they are forced
the open by court proceedings or congressional hearings, they routinely
weasel-word or lie."
of the more honest scientists has said, "The
nuclear establishment will not
tolerate that nuclear radiation is dangerous, and that's not limited
only to the United States. It's true in the Soviet
France, Great Britain. At every opportunity you see
struggling to make it safe on paper. I wouldn't
two cents for any of them. They're the scoundrels
earth. Basically, I wouldn't believe anything
the Department of Defense or the Department of Energy."
Something we think we can concur with.
broadcaster, CNN, have drawn attention to a nuclear power station at
San Onofre, California. The plant has been closed down and
not known when it will reopen. Following a "small leak of
radioactive gas which posed no threat to the environment or public
health" (funny how all such things are so insignificant, even
Sellafield, Chernobyl and Fukushima started off that way!) during the
winter, the plant has been closed while inspections take place.
Two of the reactors have a problem with vibration of the pressurised
water tubes, which is causing them to rub against each other and the
mounting brackets. Whilst the older pipes are prone to
these problematic ones were only installed last year.
The nuclear industry regards the Mitsubishi-built reactors as being
amongst the safest and most reliable, but had it not been for the
increased vigilance as a result of Fukushima, it is quite possible that
the problems at San Onofre would have been just as catastrophic.
50 miles from San Diego and under 100 miles from Los Angeles, the plant
supplied 1.4 million people. An entry on Google Earth for
power stations says, "Groundwater polluted by radioactive materials".
Control: Don't Panic
continue to be kept quiet. The latest news
has attracted very little attention in the world's media - certainly
the BBC has had nothing to say on the matter in its television news
2 reactor has
been assessed by the use of an endoscope inserted
into the reactor vessel. Estimates by the experts said that
vessel was filled with water to a depth of 10 metres. The
checks demonstrate that this is not the case and that less than 60 cms
(.6 metres) were present. There seems to be some confusion
where the rest of the stuff has gone, but a new leak was found this
week and 120 tonnes of radioactive water has escaped.
Authorities in Japan acknowledge that some of the highly radioactive
material has leaked into the sea. The temperature inside the
vessel is said to be under 50°C, and thus the standard
cold shut-down is reached. Sadly, that is not the whole
Anyone reading that the reactor had reached a cold shut-down
might be forgiven for thinking that things were stable and under
control. That is not the case. Inside
the radiation levels have reached 73 sieverts (no, not micro or
millisieverts) - far above what they
expected to find. In the light of that, the period for
with just the one reactor will have to be extended by decades.
The other damaged reactors are likely to be even more seriously
damaged, but they have not yet been assessed.
Fingers - Again
people that are in charge of Areva SA and Siemens AG have offered to
change the contracts that they have used in the past to restrict the
availability of components used in the nuclear
The EU's anti-trust regulator opened an investigation in
Bloomberg's report, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-14/siemens-areva-offer-antitrust-remedies-in-bid-to-end-probe-1-.html,
the changes will
not result in any financial penalty being paid.
proposed changes to contracts without penalty will satisfy the
regulator remains to be seen. Cynics like us might interpret
move as being a ploy to stop a full-scale investigation into the way
the two companies operate. One by-product of such an
investigation might be the extent to which politicians have been
persuaded to push for nuclear new-build, especially in the U.K.
Let's hope the investigation goes ahead.
ethical sister company, Électricité
has announced that
has cancelled a request made to the National Grid for the construction
of enhanced connections to accomodate the construction of more reactors
at its Heysham site. Happily, this means that the
west coast submarine cable is unlikely to be
That, in turn, reduces the abilities of the grid to import power from
the north-west, including Cumbria. Heysham was one
parcels of land which it was anticipated would be sold off to satisfy
E.C. anti-trust rules. Instead, they have sold off
land on Anglesey. Needless to say, and with typical
for the local population, Électricité
suggest that they
may at some point
resurrect the plans.
what should have been a routine test drill turned into a bit of a
fiasco when the wrong emergency message was broadcast by the Heysham
operators. People were advised to stay indoors and
iodine tablets. Typically, however, the majority of
were unaware of the incident and carried on as
Naturally, this is exactly the kind of thing that would happen in a
real emergency, so the cost of emergency planning and the hours spent
in devising plans to cope will prove to be entirely wasted.
Those who need to know won't be told and those who are told won't know
what to do. Just like at Fukushima.
Secure Are All The
Sensitive Computers and Control Systems?
revelation that BAE's computer systems were hacked to steal details
about the design, performance and electronic systems of the West's
latest fighter jet, we have to ask how such lax security can be allowed
to continue? The Chinese allegedly exploited vulnerabilities
BAE's computer defences to steal vast amounts of data on the $300
billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a multinational project to create a
plane that will give the West air supremacy for years to come.
BAE are apparently somewhat sensitive to the theft of what was
described as "several terabytes of information". According
the company they can detect and protect against such attacks - which
prompts yet another question: if their security is so good,
come the Chinese (or whoever) managed to gain access and download
several terabytes? Even with the fastest broadband such a
download would take a considerable amount of time - whether contiguous
That Was Then and
This Is Now
been drawn to the after-effects of the Nirex Inquiry's rejection of
Cumbria as a potential site for the burial of highly-radioactive
material (i.e. over 100,000 year-long life). Frustrated that
Cumbrian geology prohibited the construction of a deep dump, BNFL
linked up with a Swiss company, Aurius, to form a group called Pangea.
The objective to survey the places on earth where suitable
conditions exist. Having settled on a place, they then
the usual propaganda material to demonstrate that the world needed such
a dump and that it would be extremely safe for the 200,000 years which
would elapse before the dumped waste decayed to a similar level to that
of the background radiation.
accidentally released onto the internet in about 1998. We
only just been told about it - all part of our
Suffice to say that there are some rather
strange statements in the video, like, to prevent the rapid decay of
the waste containers the ground needs to be very dry. It
need to have rock which is impermeable, as any rainfall will cause the
decayed containers to leach and then will carry it to the surface,
where it will be extremely dangerous.
The more obvious problems
of earthquakes and climate change are also mentioned.
the search for a dump-site was fairly extensive (and expensive!) and it
selected the required characteristics for the dump before actually
going round the world to find a place that fitted those predetermined
qualities. Why then was there no mention of places like, er,
Cumbria, or at the very least other places in the U.K.? Yes,
does seem rather obvious, but the rejection of Cumbria back then was
based on facts. Sadly, it seemed that the Australian public,
having no nuclear power stations themselves, for some strange and
unaccountable reason, were actually rather against the idea of housing
the world's spent nuclear fuel. Looking at the reactions to
video clip posted on the internet, it seems to have engendered a fair
sprinkling of "F" words.
Amazingly, and counter to all the
criteria that were demanded of the ideal site back then, because they
have been told rather bluntly where to go by the Aussies, the nuclear
waste can once
again be dumped in Cumbria, where it is equally dry and stable, and
where there is virtually no rainfall which might corrode the containers
and bring the leaking waste back to the surface where it could do
immense damage, even for periods greater than anything man-made has
ever survived for.
clip from the
Pangea video, depicting what would happen to a container just
buried underground and subjected to groundwater.
The potential then arises for the highly-radioactive material to leach
out and migrate back to the surface. Even in dry conditions
is possible that the container may decay before its contents have
decayed sufficiently to be the same as background/natural radiation.
(The buried material is likely to have a life of well in
of 100,000 years - no man-made object has ever lasted anything like
the Table? Hardly!
has today stated that they are to spend over three million pounds on
green causes, according to this announcement:
A total of £3.5million in funding
has been announced
today to help train hundreds of people in key green skills ahead of the
launch of the Green Deal, delivering on the Deputy Prime Minister's
announcement in March last year to create 1,000 "Green Deal"
apprenticeships. The "Green Deal" is the
flagship energy efficiency scheme aimed at renovating millions of
draughty, energy-inefficient homes and office buildings across the UK.
This scheme will begin later this year and will support an
estimated 65,000 jobs by 2015.
professionals in assessing home energy efficiency and installing
insulation are crucial for getting the Green Deal off the ground which
is why today's money for training will go a long way to help the UK
prepare for the launch.
the same amount of money has been spent by the West Cumbria: Managing
Radioactive Waste Safely Partnership on propaganda just in Cumbria.
Still, compared to what is spent on cleaning up after
Our People Do
report into the
Fukushima disaster was released this week. Over 300 people
interviewed for it, although Tepco management declined to contribute.
Amongst its findings:
. . . a somber picture of a nuclear industry shaped by
freewheeling power companies, toothless regulators and a government
more interested in promoting nuclear energy than in safeguarding the
health of its citizens.
widespread criticism of nuclear officials for their lax
to safety, as well as for a bungled response
York Times Asia
Pacific Source: http://fukushima.greenaction-japan.org/
There are currently reports of hundreds of thousands of deep-sea fish
being washed ashore dead and dying along the Japanese coast.
report from Association for the Conservation of Energy, which we
comment on below, has highlighted the fact that government facts appear
to have been manipulated in order to make nuclear power generation
viable compared to more conventional and greener methods.
life of power stations has apparently been extended by around 50%,
solely on the basis that Électricité
de France has
told them that is the case. Also in question is the amount
time a reactor will be up and running. Figures in the past
to be fairly consistently around the 75% mark, as incidents and routing
servicing, modifications, etc., all cause either a reduced output or a
complete shutdown. Yet the figures used by DECC to bolster
need for nuclear expansion indicate a running time of 80 -
These facts would have a substantial impact on the unit cost
electricity produced. DECC's figures biasing in nuclear's
The report concludes that, as the government has been misled, there
should be a re-opening of the debate about new nuclear. What
this is likely to produce is an impenetrable cloud of data (cynically
we would suggest, emanating from the nuclear lobby) attempting to
demonstrate that the data is correct. We believe that the
question is not the veracity or otherwise of the data per se, but the
integrity of those producing the flawed guidance given to politicians.
One might also question the gullibility of those at the
but, then again, that has never been in doubt.
was also an unjustified forecast of the rise in energy demand.
When questioned on this by the association, there was no sound basis in
fact. Indeed, the figures issued by DECC today illustrate a
falling demand of around 2% each year, NOT an increase. The
figures can be seen here: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn12_013/pn12_013.aspx
the global warming phenomenon - if that is truly what is happening -
will have a self-limiting effect on the use of energy? In
case, there will certainly be no need for nuclear expansion, and the
reduced emissions from the underused power stations will help meet the
targets. Presumably, at some
point, the situation will resolve itself and everything will settle
become compartively stable once more. Whatever the case, it
certain that the planet will survive.
of the Myth of the Need for Nuclear New-build and Nuclear's
the Conservation of Energy has recently published a
Having ploughed through the skillfully designed mountain of material
emanating from DECC to great effect, they have come to the conclusion
that ministers, MPs and parliament as a whole, have been
misled. Although these individuals have arrived
their conclusions, the association suggests that the information given
to them was false and very misleading. I think we
heard that suggestion before on toxiccoast.com.
Calling for the whole debate on future generation to be reopened, the
association suggests that maximising energy-saving could save
£2.2 trillion less than building nuclear power stations in a
year period. The report also suggests that the last
government did not assess the long-term demand for electricity
(something which was also noted some considerable time ago by a report
from Citigroup). The government has also, according to the
report, failed to consider properly scenarios in which no new nuclear
power stations would be required to meet its energy targets.
current Private Eye, 1308, "Old Sparky" suggests that the association
are shocked that some of the information which should have been made
available had not been. However, for some time, we
suggested that the whole process in Cumbria has been corrupted, with
many institutions becoming out-posts for the nuclear
industry. We would point again at the various
and sub-committees, quangos, etc., which are all imbued with the aim of
selling various aspects of nuclear expansion to the
We have already questioned whether this is the proper rôle of
these bodies. Especially when only information
to the industry is issued, and detrimental evidence suppressed.
Further evidence of what we see as a secret plan, to be pursued
regardless of cost, is the employment of a multi-national company to
look at the traffic flows in west Cumbria. There
suggest, only one reason why such an expensive process should be
commissioned. Yet three local councils who have so
considered the matter have decided against the continuance of plans for
the nuclear dump. Will this put a stop to the
plans of those with the pro-nuclear camp?
there is a
greater danger that in focusing on the various bits of evidence in
order to deduce what has been included and what was omitted, the basic
fact that someone, somewhere, has been filtering the evidence to fit a
particular scenario: that of new nuclear.
that and what was their motive?
The flawed figures used by the government (how strange that they should
benefit the nuclear industry!) have ignored the fact that without new
nuclear, by 2025 there will still be an over-capacity of 66% (more than
45 GW). As we have previously quoted the head of the
Grid saying, there is no reason at all why the lights should go out.
Farce Be With You
would draw your
attention to the comment at the head of the Opinion page, relating to
the level of comptence noted in Japan following the Fukushima meltdown.)
to the Huffington Post (a press service used to adorn AOL's home pages)
a member of staff from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), during a
visit to India for a conference, lost a USB "stick" containing
safety assessment of the nuclear power plant in Hartlepool.
The assessment was undertaken in the wake of the Japanese radiation
scare at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
the ONR explain that there was no "significantly sensitive" data lost,
and the majority of the report has since been put in the public domain.
Er, but surely that means that the incident took place many
months ago? Surely our civil servants haven't covered the
up for that length of time? Isn't there a culture of
and honesty - isn't that what we were told?
data was not encrypted. Have
we not yet
reached the stage where anyone placing data from official sources
(whether nuclear, health, social services information, or banking) on
portable media are deemed to have committed a criminal offence?.
There should never be any reason for sensitive data to be put on a
laptop, memory stick, CD or tape and carried around without concern.
A properly secured computer system would have built-in
safeguards which prevented the downloading of material. It
easy enough to set up secure sytems which would deny access to USB
sticks and optical disks. Surely in the interests of
self-defence these measures should have been taken? The
to use these devices renders the whole system vulnerable to hacking,
data theft, corruption and damage. A USB port was allegedly
route via which the Stuxnet virus was incorporated into Siemen's
enrichment centrifuge control gear.
In the unlikely event that such portability is required then the very
least we should expect is that the medium be encrypted. This
would at least ensure that casual access would reveal nothing.
Even cost is not a factor as 128 bit key encryption can be used free of
charge from a number of internet sources. Let's face it
have been so many previous incidents involving careless loss of data,
we have a right to expect lessons to have been learned.
report confirms our view by stating that,"The use of unencrypted USB
pen drives is not permitted by ONR for transporting documents with a
security classification. An internal investigation has been undertaken
governments agreed last March that, in the wake of the Japanese
earthquake and resulting tsunami which overwhelmed the Fukushima
nuclear plant, all 143 of Europe's plants should undergo stress testing
to common standards.
is Nothing To
Fear From Nuclear - You Cannot Prove Anything
this week the
western press were full of a story about a small German village called
Wewelsfleth, which is on the banks of the River Elbe, near to its mouth
on the North Sea. Apparently every family in the village has
least one member suffering from cancer. Naturally, according
the official line, there is absolutely no connection between the
village and the nuclear power stations nearby. The Brokdorf
nuclear reactors are just a few miles to the west of the village,
ensuring that the residents gain the full benefit from the prevailing
winds as any wind-borne materials go straight to them for maximum
two other nearby
plants are currently shut-down, following Germany's decision to do away
with all nuclear power.
142 cases of cancer have occurred, as against an expected 95, according
to the report from ABC News (Source: ABC
News) but, despite the
globally-common theme that cancer cases
increase in the vicinity of nuclear power stations the scientists will
not accept that this is the case here.
Temperatures Rise & Insinuations Suggest That All is Not Open
Honest Within the Nuclear World
state of the reactors at the Fukushima site are being questionned by
locals, for a variety of reasons. For example, the number of
thermometers that are installed and still working on the No. 2 reactor.
For several weeks now the temperature at some parts of the
remains have been rising according to two of the thermometers.
Sadly, this conflicts with the official line that the whole site has
entered a cold shutdown - where the temperature is below 60 degrees and
stable. Whether there are 38, 40, or 41 thermometers seems a
of a conundrum for the officials. Happily, the two rogue
have now been deemed to be faulty, enabling officials to declare that
everything is going to plan. Naturally there are cynics who
suggest that the "faulty" instruments may have been deliberately
damaged by someone who preferred the official line. There is
much in the way of evidence, however, and it seems a little too scary
that anyone could do such a thing. However, the various
published do demonstrate a steady upward rather than downward trend.
same site noting
the potential problems, the Fukushima Diary, (http://www.fukushima-diary.com/page/3 ,
has a very
sinister or amusing video, according to one's viewpoint.
the plant, and at various locations in the exclusion zones, there are
webcams which are accessible by all and sundry. These exist
satisfy everyone who might be interested that openness and honesty
abound at Fukushima. Nothing to hide, that sort of thing.
Scroll down the diary page to the article headed, "Cloud is erased
above reactor 2 on Tepco live camera" and wonder at the ability of
clouds to magically disappear from the sky. For those
unwilling to seek it out, it may appear to a sceptic that the
bottom left quarter of the video picture is frozen. Clouds
appear in the lovely blue sky, drift across the screen and then
disappear at a rate of knots which would astound even Professor al
Kalili! Obviously, this is easily explained and there is
untoward occurring at all. Sadly, we just don't happen to
of any reason ourselves. We await the information with
to the same
site, large craters are appearing on Mount Fuji. about 350 miles from
Fukushima. Some scaremongers are suggesting that, from a
of the flow of the molten rock under the area, another huge earthquake
is imminent. One scientist actually suggesting that great
efforts should be made to bolster up the defences at Fukushima, as an
earthquake under the site would cause even more devastation given the
current vulnerability of the site.
Don't Have Babies . . .
Environment Ministry has started a study to examine the effects of
radiation from the disaster-struck Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant
on nearby plant and wildlife, particularly their reproductive functions.
(BNFL Health and Safety
ministry, which will be working with the Japanese Wildlife Research
Center and the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, will select
various species of plants and animals based on a selection recommended
for study by the I.C.R.P. (the International Commission on Radiological
Protection) in the event of nuclear disaster. These
mice, shellfish, and pine tree. For comparison purposes, specimens will
be collected from areas with differing radiation levels both inside and
near the no-entry zone around the plant. Today, NHK
has been explaining how earthworms from within the exclusion zone are
contaminated with a variety of radioactive material. Seems
the removal of the millions of tonnes of topsoil will have to be
speeded up a bit.
Meanwhile, of course, samples of excrement and urine from children
around the Fukushima area are showing high levels of radioactive
contamination. Still, as the BBC's Science Editor points
no-one has died. Yet. Unless, of course you count
mentioned in the article on the Editorial page dated 7/2/12, or those
from more independent informed sources.
Hot and Bothered
unknown rise in
temperature at one of the reactors at the damaged Fukushima nuclear
plant is troubling its operator. Tokyo Electric says the temperature
hasn't gone down even after it increased
of cooling water. One
thermometers at the bottom of reactor No. 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi
plant gradually rose to about 70 degrees Celsius since January 27th.
It had stayed around 45 degrees before, which, naturally,
an effort to lower the temperature, the operator increased the amount
of water sprayed on the nuclear fuel by 3 tons to 13.5 tons per hour
Tuesday morning, without
improvement, as Tokyo Electric said readings were down only about three
degrees after some 5 hours of operation.
company spokesperson said the flow of water in the reactor may have
altered after changes to some plumbing in late January.
These changes seem to have resulted in difficulties getting the water
to the parts which most need to be cooled - the melted core and other
materials - hardly a ringing endorsement of the engineering design.
thermometers in the same reactor showed no change (see comments
elsewhere about the ineffective location of these thermometers when it
comes to measuring temperatures after a melt-down). The
said that it will continue to carefully monitor the reactor.
has been unable to visually confirm conditions inside the reactors
since the nuclear disaster last March because of high radiation.
Conditions inside the reactors are such that the cameras being used in
efforts to discern the internal damage are being seriously affected -
resulting in electronic interference, rendering images of only limited
In a typically
running to 139 pages, the government has set out the current state of
affairs for public health.
public health outcomes framework for England, 2013-2016"
and looking very pretty, it is interesting but somewhat scary to note
(in Part One, Para. 3.7)
agreed inter-agency plans for responding to
public health incidents have only a placeholder - in other words there
is no plan whatsoever for the protection of the public in the event of
a major incident.
admits that further
to be done even to formulate a definition for the item, but at present
there are no
co-ordinated inter-agency plans at all to protect
the public. Still, things like nuclear accidents
happen in the U.K., as history has proved. So we can rest
assured that, in the event of a major disaster at the likes of
Sellafield, one tremendous mess will ensure and none of the emergency
services will interact with the others. We can then expect
usual stupid comments that "lessons have been learned", when they
Great news then that the government cuts for the security services will
see a drastic reduction in the number of MOD police employed at nuclear
sites. According to the Guardian, there is to be a cut of up
1,500 staff, causing drastic reductions in available manpower at MOD
establishments and nuclear sites, as well as docks handling nuclear
submarines. Again, we can be reassured by the total lack of
accidents, and the reassurance from the head of the nuclear
inspectorate that all is well with the U.K.'s nuclear industry.
One has to agree that we don't get too many earthquakes on the Japanese
scale, but an earthquake is not a pre-requisite for a nuclear incident.
Stupidity and human error are difficult things to cater for.
failings that led to Fukushima's woes elsewhere. However, a
recent publication explains:
[The interim report into the Fukushima meltdowns]
at times an almost cartoon-like level of incompetence.
data estimating the dispersion of radioactive matter were not given to
the prime minister’s office, so that evacuees like those from
were not given any advice on where to go. That is why they drove
straight into the radioactive
No one seems ever to have tried to
48 out of 54 nuclear reactors across Japan remain
service, almost all because of safety fears.
somebody in power seizes on the report as a call to action, its
findings, especially those that reveal sheer ineptitude, suggest that
the public has every reason to remain as scared as hell.
esoterically named group the West Cumbria: Managing Radioactive Waste
Safely or, more catchily, WCMRWS, has organised a series of meetings
around the county to inform the public of the likely effects of the
underground nuclear dump that they have been promoting for the last few
years. Yesterday, on BBC television's North West programme
of the leading lights of the campaign appeared to express his view of
Sadly, the BBC didn't have time to mention the background of the
interviewee, and his thirty years at Sellafield. Nor did
find time for a full coverage of the history of nuclear waste, the
radioactive pollution, the deaths and deformities which have occurred
over the years and which led to an expert advising sexually active male
employees of Sellafield to avoid having children. No mention
either of the corruption that was found by the Redfern Enquiry, or the
quality of the evidence submitted to a previous enquiry into
suitability of the area for dumping toxic waste. Instead the
view was painted of a small industrial estate which would blend in
quite happily. The 9.5 sq. mile hole, deep underground would
lead to nothing more than a bit of soil having to be disposed of.
We're not quite sure why even the BBC fell for the
that soil extends to the depth of the proposed excavation!
have been assured by an eminent professor, an expert in geology in
Cumbria, that many millions of tonnes of rock will have to be disposed
of. Listening to the WCMRWS spokesman, it was strange to
that all this could be achieved without pain, discomfort, or even the
slightest disturbance to residents and visitors. When the
development was likened to the channel tunnel we expected at least a
smile - if not a guffaw - from interviewer Dave Guest. Nope,
nothing. Happily, the residents of the English Channel were
available to confirm that they had not been in the slightest
inconvenienced. Given the volume of rock to be removed there
will have to be (assuming that the spoil isn't to rival Scafell) huge
numbers of large lorries transporting the materials along the A595 - a
road which is often closed following accidents, and is not altogether
the best environment for 40 tonne wagons. Still, we are
to believe, these extra trips will make no difference to commuters and
other road users.
remains our belief that the expansion of the nuclear industry will
bring more pain and suffering to the area. While we are
altogether in agreement with the solution proposed by Mr. Forwood -
leaving new waste in situ around the country at the places where it is
produced - for a variety of reasons, we see the underground dump as an
extension of the Thorp idea. Can it be possible to continue
nonsensical process without having a final resting place for the
product? It seems unlikely. However, if both
ahead it is only a matter of time before waste from all over the world
heads the way of west Cumbria. After all, no other country
solved the problem of disposing of highly radioactive material.
point being overlooked, we believe, is that Cumbria does not belong
only to the residents. As with the rest of the world, it
be open to all. Should the decision to permanently spoil
part of the world be made purely by some small section of the country?
It may well help the WCMRWS group and the pro-nuclear
to limit the extent of "consultation" but it that adequate.
After all, there are many holiday-makers who might like to express an
opinion, but will not form part of the information/discussion process.
If a researcher were to stand in Sellafield canteen and seek
opinions, would that research be enough? We think not.
article mentioned, too, the voluntary nature of the dump.
when so many of those in charge of the decision-making process are
ex-Sellafield employees, are beholden to the company in some way, or a
plainly pro-nuclear, what chance is there that commonsense will prevail
and the findings of the thorough Nirex Enquiry upheld? How
more money will Sellafield and the government spend before deciding
that Cumbria cannot withdraw because the losses will be too great and
the loss of face too embarrassing?
under the command of Anne Lauvergeon, managed to purchase three uranium
mines in Africa when uranium prices were at their
such institutions as Areva are driven by corporate greed (and personal
greed, on occasion) the take-overs were rushed through before proper
investigations had been completed. Sadly for Areva,
Trekkopje site, which they purchased from the Canadian mining company
UraMin, is not now expected to contain the amount of uranium which they
expected - estimating that only about half the amount could be
mined. Such was the rush that (concludes a report
Eichinger, a consultant appointed to look into the Trekkopje deal) the
deal had been completed before any production had commenced and the
quantity of uranium available discerned. The
not helped Areva's financial position. Eichinger's
was commissioned by Areva's Asset Management Division without the
knowledge of Lauvergeon, even though she was chief executive at the
and charges of US$2.5 billion have caused three separate investigations
to be instituted: by the company itself, by the French energy
ministry, and by the French government. As yet
there is no
was abruptly replaced as head of Areva last June.
from some sources, that there was a disagreement between Sarkozy and
Lauvergeon over policy, which did not help her
The situation was not helped when she turned down Sarkozy's invitation
to become Economy Minister, back in 2007.
month, the former chief executive took legal action over a confidential
intelligence report into whether she or her husband had illegally
benefited from the African transactions.
complained that she had been "slandered, spied on, in an unfair
way". Quite how this might differ from the
spying on, and hacking of environmental groups carried out at the
behest of the company's sister, Électricité
de France, is
not explained by
her. Elsewhere we note that Électricité
jailed for two years and the company fined for those
practices. It seems that perhaps the situation is
unjustifiable when the tables are turned.
was in charge during the cost over-runs at several Areva sites, for
example, in Finland. The loss of a huge deal in Abu
and a public argument with the head of Électricité
de France - a
mate of Sarkozy
- cannot have helped her position.
report for the French parliament, Marc Goua, said that the deal had,
indeed, been rushed, but there was no evidence of
corruption. However, Goua said that the
dollar deals with China for Areva to build reactors in that country,
depended on Areva securing uranium supplies. Thus,
to secure the China reactor deals, the process of purchasing uranium
supplies had been rushed.
to see the ethics are at least consistent. Money
indeed seem to be the root of all evil. Being ultra-greedy
News and Bad News
government has announced that the rice grown in Fukushima province is
too highly radioactive for consumption and has banned sales thereof,
our own politicians have suggested that after a mere 25 years, the
sheep from the Cumbrian and Welsh fells can once again be supplied for
human consumption and restrictions will be lifted soon.
farms and 4,000,000 sheep were affected by the controls which were
imposed back in 1986. We note elsewhere that the maps of
radioactive fallout from Chernobyl depict suspiciously high amounts
near to where the UK nuclear plants have already had an
influence: near to Trawsfynnyd and the Cumbrian fells
Sellafield. Isn't it strange that there is no mention of the
prior fallout which must have occurred in these areas but which owed
nothing to Chernobyl? However, this did ensure that the cost
the exercise (compensation to farmers, monitoring movement of
animals, etc.) did not fall on the nuclear industry.
Views From Independent Sources
presentation entitled "Falling Out With Nuclear", with interviews from
a variety of engineers, local representatives, anti-nuclear
spokespersons, and others. Dispels the myths around the
feasibility of nuclear reprocessing, its carbon footprint (i.e. it is
neither clean nor green, no matter what the pro-nuclear lobbyists and
politicians would have us believe!), and comparisons with more
environmentally friendly methods of energy generation that do not
pollute the environment or expose the population to great risk for no
real reason. Running time is about 38 minutes.
by Cozmic Films. Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ks8w9ca6SO0&feature=share&mid=5055280
Exposure of The Population
of Japan After the Earthquake
The hypothesis that dust contaminated with fallout from the Fukushima
accidents is a source of human exposure to radiation was tested and led
to the conclusion that, although the presence of radioactivity in the
air is now diminishing, there are still many sources which have high
levels of radioactive material present. This
become airborne again, with the potential for ingestion or inhalation -
the usual routes via which people are affected by radioactive material.
The report goes on to say that the 12 mile Japanese evacuation zone
appears inadequate to protect the public health, and asks if it is time
to re-examine the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission 10 mile planning
zone for airborne accidental nuclear releases?
Fallout May Be Thirty Times
Worse Than The Original Estimate
Two reports suggest that the nuclear fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi
plant could be thirty times worse than acknowledged by Tepco and the
Japanese government. One of the reports suggests
amount of caesium, whose half-life is around 30 years, that has leaked
into the Pacific Ocean was the greatest single release of artificial
radionuclides into the sea ever.
is forecast that the levels will reach around twice the levels which
occurred during the atomic weapons testing in the Pacific back in the
1960s. Most people link those 1960s levels with
adverse health effects in the region, especially affecting
children. Although the forecast was that the
soon dissipate into to ocean, where its effect would be smaller, it
appears that there is a gyre (miniature whirlpool) which is bringing
the material back to shore on a cyclical basis, meaning that the
molluscs and shellfish which are most susceptible to the pollution, are
getting higher than anticipated doses.
second report, from the Norwegian Institute for Air Reseach, concludes
that the Fukushima events commenced immediately after the earthquake
and thus the releases of caesium started earlier and have gone on for
longer than other studies have assumed. They
the Fukushima disaster is the most significant event after Chernobyl,
but point out that very little of the Chernobyl fallout, compared to
Fukushima, went into an ocean. With Fukushima it is
estimated that 80% of the caesium released went into the Pacific Ocean,
with only 19% falling on land.
institute suggest that the reason for the large discrepancy between
Japan's figures and their own is due to the fact that the Japanese
monitoring equipment could not detect the material that was blown out
to sea. They also point out that some of the
stations became too contanimated to be reliable sources of data.
are in no position to offer an opinion on the following article which
appears on the Press TV website and which we came across as part of our
information-gathering trawls. Press TV, an Iranian media
is widely despised as being supportive of fundamentalist propaganda
messges. We offer it merely as part of an independent view:
Ministry of Defense (MoD) documents have revealed that the government
has approved a £747 million funding for Project Pegasus to
a new enriched uranium facility at its Atomic Weapons establishment
(AWE), which is responsible for the design, manufacture and support of
UK's nuclear weapons.
is while, the MoD earlier allocated another £500 million for
Project Mensa at AWE Burghfield to improve its warhead assembly
British government has spent £2.6 billion since 2008 to
the nukes production infrastructure at AWE in a clear defiance of the
and its western allies that accuse Iran of leading a military nuclear
program have never presented proofs for their claims as their own
commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation has been always under
his address at the Tory conference, [Dr. Liam] Fox [ex-defence
minister] even went as far as imagining a nuclear-armed Iran saying it
would trigger “a new arms race in the world's most dangerous
regions” by which he apparently meant the Middle East.
did not, however, refer to the Israeli regime's 200 nuclear warheads or
the threat they pose to the region, as it is western practice.
Would such a programme assist in the disposal of the nuclear waste that
we have to get rid off somehow? Sadly, we genuinely do not
People to Do
world's largest supplier of uranium for processing into fuel rods for
nuclear power generation is Rio Tinto. Their mines in
are responsible for a large amount of the CO2
that country, and they have recently announced that they are hoping to
step up production. Back in the 1980s, they were mining
in Papua New Guinea. As is the nature of any body that holds
vast majority of the controlling finances, the company effectively
owned the whole country. Their money was used to finance the
quashing of those who disagreed with their policies or objected to
their way of doing business. Large numbers of Papua New
died as a result. The Times, 27/10/11, informs us that the
American courts are to proceed with a war crimes investigation of the
like Chris Huhne and the other pro-nulcear lobbyists must be aware of
this situation and the nature of the company, yet they still persist in
the fallacy that nuclear is low carbon, and that putting out trust in a
company like Rio Tinto will lead to energy security. More
likely, once a monopoly has been established and the UK is almost
totally dependent on nuclear, we will feel pressure being applied.
With their vast income, Rio Tinto and the other participants
nuclear can buy an awful lot of influence and publish an awful lot of
propaganda - something that is self-evident in the way that news from
Fukushima has been suppressed and the current rash of BBC programmes
supporting the safety of nuclear proves. As someone once
"Get them by their sensitive bits and their minds will follow."
Would you buy a used car from them, let alone hand them control of your
Whether it is ethically correct to say, as Ed Miliband did, that
matters outside our country are of no concern to us, is surely
debatable? Can it be morally acceptable to reduce our
emission merely by
shifting it to somewhere else? Surely the idea is for the
emissions to be reduced - not just shift the blame to somewhere else?
The reduction in quality of mined ore will certainly
happily, lots of aspects of the nuclear process omit their figures in
this regard. A very interesting document assessing the
uranium mining and processing concludes as follows:
Sustainability of Uranium
Milling: Toward Quantifying Resources and
M. Mudd and Mark
summary, the extent of economically recoverable uranium, although
somewhat uncertain, is clearly linked to exploration effort,
technology, and economics but is inextricably linked to environmental
costs such as energy, water, and chemicals consumption, greenhouse gas
emissions, and broader social issues. These crucial environmental
aspects of resource extraction are only just beginning to be understood
in the context of more complete life cycle analyses of the nuclear
chain and other energy options. There still remains incomplete
reporting however, especially in terms of data consistency among mines
and site-speciﬁc data for numerous individual mines and mills, as well
as the underlying factors controlling differences and variability. It
is clear that there is a strong sensitivity of energy and water
consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to ore grade, and that ore
grades are likely to continue to decline gradually in the medium- to
long-term. These issues are critical to understand in the current
debate over nuclear power, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate
change, especially with respect to ascribing sustainability to such
activities as uranium mining and milling.
emissions are rising at twice the rate of the world average - and has
risen by 14% as opposed to a fall of 2% in most other developed
countries. 56% of their emissions are the result of "energy
generation processes", which seems to include everything from nuclear
to coal and the delightfully-named "autogenerators".
(Those companies who generate their own needs and are self-sufficient.)
Development of uranium mines is expected to take place in the Northern
Territories, where there is insufficient power and water for the
processes. Consequently, the mining company will have to
massive desalination plant (with resultant increase in carbon footprint
- but it is alright as it is not in the U.K.) and electricity
generating plant. Surprisingly, Australia does not have
commercial nuclear power stations. Wonder why not?
Threat to Nuclear Processors
the Stuxnet virus which was found in industrial control gear firmware
manufactured by Siemens? The virus was allegedly
into the manufacturing process via a simple USB memory
stick. That virus was aimed specifically at
Iran's nuclear programme, as it was configured to damage motors used in
uranium-enrichment centrifuges, causing them to spin out of
control. Not, of course, that there was ever any
civilians (!), even though Iran did actually admit that the virus had
worked and the centrifuges had been sabotaged. The
complexity and style of the Stuxnet virus caused fingers to point at
governmental involvement, with the United States, China, and others
having a hand in it.
have now moved on, and the latest version, called Duqu, has now
manifested itself. We are not told what the purpose
variant is, but it is believed to have been created either by those who
manufactured Stuxnet, or people who have somehow acquired the source
code for Stuxnet.
despite our concerns about the safety of control equipment in nuclear
establishments, we have to note that there is nothing even in the
latest report from Dr.
Weightman relating to the vulnerability of nuclear processes to outside
interference of this nature. He is, of course, qhite happy
emphasise the safety of everything nuclear (except perhaps
the legacy gunge in ponds at Sellafield) and its robustness to
withstand events like tsunami and earthquakes - not of course that
there is any idea of how they would cope if such admittedly unlikely
events were to take place. What we have not seen is
sort of assessment - office-bound or in the field - of what might
happen should Stuxnet or similar software find its way into a U.K.
takes place at Capenhurst, on the Wirral, a mere 15 miles from centres
like Liverpool, Birkenhead, Chester, and about 30 miles from
Manchester. Scary stuff.
unannounced reasons, Siemens (Corruption is a Way of Life) have pulled
out of manufacturing components for the nuclear
However, we have to wonder at the preparedness of other companies who
remain in the manufacturing chain.
is allegedly up in arms over the death of a disabled French lady who
was recently captured in Kenya and taken to
in no way diminishing the gross nature of the crime, it is nevertheless
a pity that they were not so concerned over the death of a photographer
who was on board the Rainbow Warrior when the French chose to blow it
up because it was being a bit of a nuisance to their exploits testing
nuclear warheads on Moruroa back in 1985.
Firmware is the built-in
software embedded in processor circuitry. Although it can be
overwritten, it is not volatile (i.e. it is not deleted by the removal
of power) and is not really intended to be accessed by anyone other
than for essential programme development and up-dating of the programme
as design flaws come to light and better ways of dealing with
operations come to light. That, in this case, the ability to
change software values via a standard USB port was left in situ is
extremely surprising and suspicious.
Hendry, the Energy Minister, managed to spout about the virtues of
nuclear energy at the Tory Party conference. Apparently he
been trawling round Middle Eastern countries (the only ones with a bit
of pocket money left) and, as a result - no doubt of his marketing
abilities - they are queuing up to spend their idle cash by investing
in the U.K.'s nuclear industry. Mr. Hendry, with all the
and trustworthyness of a used-car salesman, tells us that it will be
more difficult to find the capacity to build than to find the money.
In some respects that could be good news - at least Hendry,
Huhne, et al, won't need to spend their time working out how to
subsidise the projects without actually giving a subsidy.
obverse of the coin is that experts such as Citigroup have already done
the maths and demonstrated to the satisfaction of anyone with an open
mind (which doesn't include our politicians) that "nuclear power
development is uninvestable for public equity markets". (In
other words, it is too risky for a healthy, quick return, so put your
far, the only company able to take on those risks is EDF - effectively
the French government. Given the massive profits being
following their acquisition in 2008 of British Energy, that is hardly
surprising. Yet even they continue to avoid giving
and making decisions. According to Private Eye's "Old
in issue 1299, investment is easier for the Middle Eastern potentates
to talk about politely - it avoids embarrassment; parting
from their money rather more troublesome.
Elsewhere, the amazingly active Stop Hinkley campaign, with lots of
influential members on board, is endeav
Pacific Rim Cities Accelerated Baby Death Figures
Hospitals on the Pacific rim have experienced something of major
significance in terms of the region's infant mortality rate. In spite
of the fact that major media has sought to downplay the danger, the
conclusion that Fukushima related radiation is the culprit is difficult
The Center For
Disease Control (CDC) produces a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
(MMWR), and the just-published edition show a baby death rate increase
of 35% in eight north-western cities suspected of receiving increased
radiation floating over from Japan's critically damaged nuclear plants.
The cities affected are as follows:
Santa Cruz, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
(such as GEO/Christian Media's home base in Southern Oregon along the
Western I-5 corridor) are almost certainly also affected, but the
report focused on larger population centers. The MMWR statement showed
37 dead babies in the 4 weeks ending March 19th, plus 125 deaths in the
10 week period ending May 28th of this year. The period covers the
month before and the 2 1/2 months after the Fukushima disaster, and the
numbers are very significant.
put it into
perspective, while infant death spiked 35% in the affected areas, the
rest of the USA saw a 2.3% increase. In short, something in the
Northwest is killing infants at a sharply higher rate in that same
period. Dr Janette Sherman, a physician examining the data notes the
statistic correlate with patterns seen in the wake of the Chernobyl
nuclear disaster. Similar findings are also seen in wildlife death in
cancer hospital in Minsk, Belarus, and at the Vilne hospital for
radiological protection in the east of Ukraine, specialist doctors are
in no doubt they are seeing highly unusual rates of cancers, mutations
and blood diseases linked to the Chernobyl nuclear accident 24 years
infant mortality hundreds of miles from the stricken nuclear plant has
increased 20-30% in 20 years, or that the many young people suffering
from genetic disorders, internal organ deformities and thyroid cancers
are the victims of the world's greatest release of radioactivity, is
does not prevent the BBC airing the views of two scientists who can
happily ignore the alternative (i.e. from an unauthorised source)
evidence. Happily ignoring the much larger numbers
serious chronic illnesses that have manifested themselves since
Chernobyl, Professor Jim Al-Khalili in a conveniently scheduled
programme gave what was ostensibly an independent overview of the
nuclear situation post-Fukushima. After visiting
where everything was alright and the major problems were not associated
with nuclear radiation but the psychological effects of the trauma, he
moved on to Chernobyl. Here he spoke to a Russian
consultant who demonstrated that the after-effects of the accident
were, actually, minimal. Given the available
elsewhere, we have to wonder why this alternative material was not
considered in a programme claiming to be independent, yet strangely
adhering to the nuclear industry's own propaganda.
weeks later, the BBC's "Bang Goes The Theory" television programme,
screened at 1930 hrs., also debunked the myth of potential radiation
damage to the environment and the population. A
appearing on that show actually said that she thought there would be no
damage emerging from Fukushima. Strangely
on the BBC's news pages, is an article about nearly 8% of children
under the age of 16 living in the Fukushima area having thryoid
problems. Whilst the Japanese authorities will not
making the findings of the investigation public, affected children will
receive treatment. Well, if it isn't made public it
be proved to exist, we suppose.
objections to the bias shown in both programmes have been studiously
ignored. We probably have been labelled "Greenies", which,
some reason, renders our opinions invalid. Besides if the
government supply your income and your pension pot is at stake, it pays
to humour them.
UN's World Health
Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency claim that only
56 people have died as a direct result of the radiation released at
Chernobyl and that about 4,000 will die from it eventually.
Only In Cumbria
radioactive particles retrieved from the shores of the Irish
Sea near Sellafield have a parallel in the Scottish Douneray site.
Many radioactive particles were discovered and eventually
removed, but, as with Sellafield, a significant amount of pollution has
merely been washed out to sea - either as a result of a deliberate
policy to reduce stored contamination or as the result of an accident.
Once it has found its way into the oceans, it can be very
difficult or impossible to locate and retrieve. Hence the
Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has recently admitted that
very many particles will never be recovered, ensuring that the
pollution will remain virtually for ever. As the article
a quote from Friends of the Earth:
"Once again, we see
industry causing a problem it can't solve, and dumping the cost and
consequence on the rest of us," said the environmental group's chief
executive, Stan Blackley.
"Nuclear power is
neither safe, clean, cheap nor low-carbon and it continues to cause
problems and cost the taxpayer a hidden and open-ended fortune. Let's
learn from our past mistakes and consign it to a lead-lined dustbin."
can be discerned from the rest of this
website, this is our view
exactly. Once the genie of nuclear pollution is out of the
bottle, it cannot be returned to it.
MOX Plant to Close
The inevitable closure of the MOX plant at Sellafield was
announced yesterday. The number of job losses proposed
between 300 and 800, according to the source, with the company saying
it would re-deploy as many
as possible elsewhere on the sites. The cost of the plant
reckoned to be in the region of £1.4 billion, during which
it should have handled over 120 tonnes of fuel a year, but in
only managed to do 13 tonnes in 8 years. It was described as
being "the biggest scientific white elephant of all time".
Presumably there will be equally horrendous cleaning up costs to
included in the final reckoning.
MOX (Mixed OXide) was developed to utilise the surplus atomic weapons
materials that were to be disposed of following the end of the cold war
between America and Russia. Both sides having agreed to
the decommissioned warheads. About one third of the American
material (17 tonnes) was to be placed in landfill after treatment to
"immobilise" it, whilst a further 34 tonnes was to be used for the MOX
process. The latter process involves mixing the surplus
plutonium with uranium,
enriching the latter, and then using it as a fuel in commercial
reactors. Except, there weren't really enough reactors to
the amount of fuel proposed to be produced, but on which, we assume the
viability figures would have been founded. In the U.K., the
plutonium is derived from civilian sources. We can find no
mention of any military stockpile, but the amount is reported at 109
tonnes, with a further 28 tonnes from foreign sources.
Only one contract was taken up for the use of the MOX fuel: by a
Japanese generator, Chubu Electric at their Hamaoka plant, which was
constructed over two geological fault lines. Following the
Fukushima catastrophy, President Kan has been averse to re-opening the
Hamaoka plant, which is currently shut-down to facilitate structural
strengthening. It now seems unlikely that the Hamaoka
will ever re-open.
The Japanese plant was intending to take 50% of Sellafield's MOX
output, so the closure of Hamaoka would mean that even if the actual
at Sellafield were ever to be resolved and it managed to
output, there would still be no chance of the plant becoming
Of course, a problem now arises as to what to do with the plutonium
which was to be converted into MOX fuel. Japan has no use
and the only plans for nuclear waste disposal in that country were to
bury it - which may not be too sensible given the number of geological
problems it suffers. Transporting such dangerous
half-way round the world, risking terrorist and pirate attacks doesn't
seem too sensible either, but the proposed new design of reactors will
not use either plutonium or MOX fuels.
Supported by people like Lord Marland, a junior minister, l(who admits
that the Sellafiled MOX plant is unift for purpose - to use the popular
euphemism), local M.P. Jamie Reed's solution to the failing plant was
to build a
bigger and better one at Sellafield, but nuclear industry experts are
reported to view such a move with "extreme scepticism". The
problems with the contracts has meant that in the last few months a
great deal of the work was subcontracted to France. Given
the potential market for any new plant's output, the billions it would
cost seem highly unlikely to be found by the cash-strapped government.
Should it be stored at Sellafield?
to the Times Business Section, 4/7/11, oil companies are being required
to pay increasing amounts towards decommissioning
The ConocoPhillips platform in the North Sea was put up for sale in
January as it nears the end of its productive life.
company's stake of 23.4% is said to be worth aroung £60
million. Originally, the government promised to
cost of decommissioning to be offset against tax, but this is now
seemingly unlikely to happen.
According to the Times article, a PriceWaterhouseCoopers spokesman
stated that, "Companies are increasingly nervous that the government
won't stand behind its decommissioning liabilities."
As well as being yet another example of the methods used to tilt the
playing field in favour of nuclear, it also raises the issue of whether
the decommissioning liabilities for nuclear have been fully considered
and the proposed cap on liabilities for the companies choosing to go
that route is properly representative of what the costs will be in 160
of the U.K. Spotlight, but Troubles Continue for Japan
Dangerous radioactive strontium has been
seawater near the Fukushima-1 plant, at 240 times over the safe limit.
Some 100,000 tons of contaminated water stored in the plant threatens
to put out its drainage system in days. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which
Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, has declared that strontinum-90 was
detected near the water intakes outside reactors 2 and 3. The levels
there were shown to be 170 and 240 times higher than the limit,
correspondingly. The same strontium was found in groundwater near the
reactors' buildings. Strontinum-90 was also detected in samples
taken from inside
an inlet near the facility. The level of strontium contamination there
was 53 times higher than the safety standard. The inlet has been used
exclusively by the plant. All the water samples were taken
back in mid-May.
According to TEPCO, it takes up to three weeks to run full tests. With a comparatively long
half-life of 29 years,
radioactive strontium can accumulate in the bones if inhaled, and poses
a risk of cancer.
The rainy season is approaching
and concerns have
surged that the contaminated water in the Fukushima plant that has been
accumulating may overflow. The drainage system is expected to overpass
its capacity by June 20. Still, TEPCO had to postpone the
test-run of a new
system to process highly radioactive water. The operator wants to
conduct a test-run on Tuesday or later, which is more than four days
behind schedule, Japanese news agency NHK reports. The test had to be
delayed as water seepage from a pipe joint was discovered along with
the failure of a pump to siphon water. This delays the working launch of the
system until June
17-18. Over 100,000 tons of highly
radioactive water is now
stored in the plant. Some 500 tons of water add up every day due to the
cooling systems of several reactors that leak. The water has also been
coming due to the rains pouring in Fukushima-1 area. If the water
overflows it may go straight into the Pacific Ocean. Fukushima city may be included in evacuation
city, which is 80km away from the Fukushima-1
nuclear plant, RT’s Sean Thomas says radiation levels are
the city as the contaminated particles are carried there by wind and
some places the readings are 1,000 times over the dose safe for
health. Moreover, readings may differ dramatically at objects standing
just a meter away from each other: a house giving 30 times over the
dose, while a building next to it surging to 500 times over the safety
is one of the concerns of the local residents as it attracts and
absorbs radiation. The
maximum acceptable dose for the public from any manmade facility is
1,000 microsieverts per year as set by the IAEA. The lowest annual dose
that can cause cancer is 12 microsieverts per hour. Scientists
are working to try to clean up the radiation. Authorities
are looking into whether Fukushima city should be included
in the evacuation area or whether people in at least some hotspots in
the city should be evacuated. James
Corbett, editor of the Corbett Report, says the effects of the
people’s exposure to radiation, including the increase in
are yet to show up. “As
we know from the BEIR VII report put up by the National Academy of
Sciences back in 2005, there is no such thing as a safe level of
radiation exposure, that any level of radiation exposure increases the
risk of cancer,” Corbett says. “And however
risk may be
with any particular person on any particular day and any particular
spot, when it’s averaged out over the large population like
in the Fukushima region that unfortunately means there will be over
time increasing cancer rates there. “It
really is just a question of how many and at this point we
obviously can’t say because now we don’t even know
extent of the
scope of the radiation danger, but as that report reveals,
obviously much higher than it has been previously supposed,”
levels of strontium detected in seawater
strontium that exceeds the government-set safety level was detected for
the first time in sea water in the inlet next to the Fukushima Daiichi
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, reported that strontinum-90, at
a level 53 times higher than the safety standard was detected in
samples taken from inside an inlet used exclusively by the nuclear
plant, on May 16.
TEPCO also said that strontinum-90 was detected at a level 170 times
higher than the standard in samples also taken on May 16, near the
water intakes outside reactor number 2. At the reactor number 3 water
intakes, the level was 240 times higher than the legal safety limit.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the result is not beyond
their expectations because the substance was detected in an inlet used
exclusively by the power plant. They say they will closely monitor the
fish and shellfish in the affected area.
TEPCO announced that strontium-90 was also detected for the first time
in ground water near the reactors' buildings.
A ground water sample taken on May 18, around reactor number 2,
measured 6,300 becquerels per liter. And for reactor number one, the
sample showed 22 becquerels.
TEPCO explained it usually takes about 3 weeks to analyze the samples.
With a comparatively long half-life of 29 years, radioactive strontium
can accumulate in the bones if inhaled, and poses a risk of cancer.
and Peaceful Land - or How to
Avoid the Freedom of Information Act
Greenpeace have been chasing documents from the various nuclear
councils; Copeland, Allerdale, and
to say, some of the information they sought was the result of "informal
unminuted meetings" and thus exempted from Freedom of Information Act
disclosure. No doubt most of the material will have
forgotten, too. Another useful get-out-of-jail-free
why there should be surprise about the content of the documents
unearthed by Greenpeace, we do not know. The
behind-the-scenes machinations by the local politicians should surely
have been expected? The fact that Cumbria will
generating electricity for others, freeing the customers from worry
about nuclear disasters, was a point we raised over two years ago at a
DECC meeting in Manchester, where we observed that the criteria issued
by DECC suggested that each area needed to be sulf-sufficient in
generating capacity. We asked how the proposed (at that
development of up to nine reactors on the Cumbrian coast could be
squared with that It was obvious, we suggested,
energy produced would be exported to the rest of the country,
especially the industrial heartlands and the south. We also
pointed out that the distribution problems alone were incredibly
expensive and fraught with dangers - to the environment and marine
ecology. Our observation antagonised a nuclear industry
representative who kept glowering at us and asking how much influence
"these beach people" should be permitted. It is not
possible on paper to give an idea of the scathing deprecation with
which the question was posed.
aspects of the discovered documentation, too, were just as we would
expect. The method of distributing the generated
been a moot point since we first started. We
that the Irish Sea sediments might be a bit too risky to disturb for
the undersea cabling to connect to either Heysham or the Wirral where
there are potential connection points to the national
We have known since 1997 that the geology of the Sellafield area is too
dodgy for the underground 25 sq. km. dump.
conflict of interest in the NDA pushing for re-use of land it owns, by
offering it for sale at a favourable rate has also been known for
years. The fact seems to be that most of the land
at Sellafield would require too much effort to convert into a
generating station on the scale envisaged. Small
is the industry's least-favoured site, even if they could hitch it to a
barge and tow it and its amenable/gullible (according to viewpoint)
inhabitants to a more convenient place to have a generating platform.
is a certain irony in the documents, which says that Cumbria is the
right place for development, but it is in the wrong
After half a century of propaganda from the industry, it would seem the
population around Sellafield now cannot see what the rest of the
country can see.
Jamie Reed has devoted his life, it seems to us, to the furtherance of
the nuclear industry, and the poison (as we see it) is now spreading
wider and wider, infecting almost every aspect of West Cumbrian
life. Mr. Reed's favourite saying, when challenged
his unfailing support for the nuclear industry is that, "There is no
Plan B". We believe that even his own political
see the dangers inherent in the situation where a single industry is so
influential because of its monopoly position. As an
surely Mr. Reed should be actively seeking a Plan B to lessen the
area's dependency on just one industry?
rôle of the West Lakes Renaissance group in promoting nuclear
to us, highly suspicious. They seem to have gone
budget of a few thousand pounds to several million in just a short
space of time. Almost every pro-nuclear strategist
area has some kind of input to it: funny how the same names
occuring over and over again, all spouting the same thing as if from
some sort of catechism. Where would they get it
Greenpeace press release says:
Councils, and others who initiated these meetings, seem to view West
Cumbria and the Lake District as their private fiefdom to be offered up
for nuclear waste dumping. Their blind pursuit of nuclear jobs will
cost jobs and income in the tourism, food and drink and agricultural
minutes expose the cynical machinations behind the Managing Radioactive
Waste Safely stakeholder engagement programme. Claims about
openly discussing nuclear waste disposal with the people of Cumbria are
nothing more than a sham based on a hidden agenda. The discussions on
disposal should now be halted. The Councils should not be allowed to
take any further steps on this matter until there is full disclosure
and examination of all the documents concerning new build and wastes
from all parties involved. 'The
documents also reveal the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) was
heavily involved in the closed door meetings, yet it is not meant to
actively promote nuclear power. The NDA will be the developer and
operator of a national nuclear dump, but it role in these behind scenes
meetings raises questions about conflict of interest.'
Clean is Clean?
amusingly, the Keep Britain Tidy group last week announced the beaches
worthy of the EU Blue Flag award. They include Seascale and
Bees. Other Cumbrian coast beaches are not so lucky, and the
politicians all say that efforts will have to be made to limit the
amount of unprocessed effluent being pumped into the sea. We
have to wonder whether the Keep Britain Tidy group are qualified to
assess the radioactive pollution present on most of the Cumbrian
beaches and thus, probably, the sea, especially the areas
Sellafield, such as St. Bees and Seascale. What about those
Braystones? Perhaps that is not deemed to be a bathing
which leads one to wonder where all the caravan- and bungalow-dwellers
go for a swim.
about the recent announcement, too, by the Environment Agency, that
they will be switching to examining the sea bed for radioactive
materials . . .. ?
our actions we can either compound disasters or diminish
Ban Ki-moon, 10/5/11
from the "You Can Trust Us" department.
built in late 1966, a component manufacturing defect at the Brown's
Ferry, Alabama, plant meant that a valve in one of the reactor 's
safety systems would not operate
thus negating its benefit. Under certain scenarios,
could have lead to core damage had an accident involving a series of
unlikely events occurred. Well,
unlikely scenario just what happened at Three Mile
Even more worrying is that the defective component was not noticed
despite many checks over the
decades it was
installed. The failed valve was only discovered
re-fueling operations last October. Naturally,
protestations that they have a safe plant,
nuclear plant managers have been "cited", and will have to endure
supervision for some time until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are
satisfied with its
have been a few incidents involving the Brown's Ferry plant, including
a fire in 1975. The whole site was closed down
in April, 2011, when a tornado caused
external power. The reactors closed down
planned, with generators providing emergency power.
Making An Honourable Exit
is nice to see
that some nations still have honourable officials: Japan's
Kosako, nuclear advisor to the prime minister Naoto Kan,
resigned. In his resignation speech he accused the Japanese
leadership of ignoring his advice on how to handle the nuclear crisis,
particularly the setting of radiation limits for schools.
even alleged that the government had not fully complied with the law in
its response to the nuclear disaster. “There is no point for
to be here,” he concluded.
another article exposes the anti-nuclear feelings of the average
Japanese citizen: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/05/09/3612355/japan-islanders-oppose-proposed.html
to a report
in the New York Times, of the 9/5/11, Masayoshi Son, the founder of
Softbank and Japan’s richest man, said last month that he
donate about $12 million to start a research foundation for renewable
reliance on atomic energy, he told a news conference, “would
sin against our children, grandchildren and future
in the U.K., it seems, politicians will do anything to oblige the
nuclear lobby and have no respect for either their progeny or the
With a Tinge On Top
to the Washington Post (18/4/11) and a brief bulletin on Sky News, a
tornado caused an automatic shutdown of two reactors at the Surry
Nuclear Plant in Virginia on 16/4/11. The
also caused damage to an electrical substation adjacent to the plant,
causing loss of external power to the plant. Diesel
generators provided emergency power to keep the plant
Power has partially been restored to both plants now.
not mentioned elsewhere, there is also the cryptic statement that
"radioactive material release is below federally approved limits and
pose no threats to station workers or the public", issued by the
Nulcear Regulatory Commission.
Four different articles in the Whitehaven News have attracted our
interest this week:
i) The Environment Agency wants more resources
put into a
seabed survey and less on monitoring local beaches for traces of
radioactivity. The article quotes them as
saying, "In times
of finite money we are happy in principle to accept a reduction in the
beach monitoring programme so long as there is investment in looking at
the seabed." So it is about Sellafield cutting their
then. We have noted the potential problems of seabed
for the last two years. The toxic materials which we named
website after, have been around since the beginning - about 50
years ago - and the effects have been noted by every authority,
including the Manx and Irish governments over that period.
why has it taken the Environment Agency so long to getting round to
dealing with their concerns? Also according to the article,
claims that over half a ton of plutonium has been discharged into the
Irish Sea over 50 years from Sellafield. It reports, "Its
to shore by storm and tide actions is well documented," said Mr.
Forwood. "Once dried and re-suspended in air in
form, plutonium can be inhaled, ingested or enter the body through open
cuts and wounds." The Whitehaven News report was
Irving, Whitehaven News, 14/4/11, P.6
ii) A group from Norway, members of an
"Neptune Network", travelled to Sellafield and parked a small car on a
public crossing of the coastal railway used by Sellafield to transport
nuclear flasks to Workington and Barrow-in-Furness.
there was no real attempt to cause damage or put anyone at risk, it was
just a token gesture which was soon resolved. However, given
number of accidents around the country involving vehicles and railway
crossings . . .
iii) A legal challenge is to be mounted by Cumbria County
Council, supported by Allerdale Council, as they do not believe that
the current method of disposal of low-level waste reflects best
practise. The challenge is against the Environment
decision to permit the waste to be buried in a conventional landfill
site at the Lillyhall site.
iv) The Whtehaven News also reports the loss of cooling water
Sellafield on the same day that an emergency exercise had been
scheduled. The exercise had to be called
Only a few people on Sellafield's "A-list" of stakeholders were told at
the time. The water, which is piped from Wastwater,
miles from Sellafield, is conveyed by pipework over 50 years
old. This is the third time in less than two years
there have been interruptions to the cooling water supply.
Points From An Esteemed Organ
A whole plethora of articles appeared in the U.K. press over the last
week, almost all of them suggesting that the dangers and costs
associated with new nuclear are too great. Even Lord Ashdown
felt the need to re-state the Lib-Dems' anti-nuclear stance.
There must be an election coming up. We wonder how many
the Lib-Dems gained as a result of their initial long-voiced
anti-nuclear opinions. Given the rapidity of the change in
Huhne's own opinion, we have to wonder what the true policy is.
Eye notes Mr. Huhne's propensity for U-turns over such things as the
Alternative Voting system currently being mooted.
Sparky, in Private Eye 1286, points out the con-trick in the energy
bill currently being debated. Repeating the same old mantra
that there will be no government subsidies for new nuclear, the Eye
points out that the wording of the Funded Decommissioning Programme
allows for a cap on private liability. Actually, we have had
this on on this site for some time now, but it is good to see them
catch up. The premise being put forward is that the
in the shape of the Energy Minister, can forecast the cost of
decommissioning nuclear sites over a 160 year period. Clever
A further explanation of the ex-Chief Scientific Officer's interest in
promoting the new build nuclear programme is suggested: Sir
King, is senior scientific adviser to the Swiss investment bank, UBS,
which was brought in by the last government to "advise on a fresh round
of nuclear construction" and whose clients include many of the big
Lord Hutton of Furness appeared on the Andrew Marr Show (not the most
incisive of interviews) a few weeks ago. Unsurprisingly, the
peer supported nuclear, saying, "The industry has got to address the
safety concerns, but there is simply no alternative in energy policy.
To say goodbye to nuclear is crushingly naiive".
presumably due to time constraints, he didn't find the time to mention
that he stepped down as Labout MP for Barrow-in-Furness a couple of
years ago, after 17 years, to work for the New Mexico company, Hyperion
Power Generation. Their website state: Hyperion
Generation Inc. is a privately held company formed to commercialize a
small modular nuclear reactor designed by Los Alamos National
Laboratory (“LANL”) scientists leveraging forty
technological advancement. The reactor, known as the Hyperion Power
Module (“HPM”), designed to fill a previously unmet
for a transportable power source that is safe, clean, sustainable, and
cost-efficient. Sounds a bit like Sellafield in a
wheelbarrow to us.
Reporter Visits Braystones
We were charmed to meet a reporter from a Japanese national newspaper
last week. Seemingly very interested in how the public coped
with disasters, such as the nuclear leaks at Chernobyl, Calder
Hall/Windscale/Sellafield, as well as the natural disasters around the
world, we took her on a tour of the immediate area, and explained how
we felt about the nuclear industry and the proposed expansion.
At Braystones we pointed out that a bucket of sand from
would be classed as nuclear waste if it were taken to London, and
suggested that marine life and the environment had all suffered as a
consequence, not just of the 1950's fire, but of the deliberate and
calculated dumping of toxic material into the Irish Sea.
Her visit to the area included interviews with a local independent
councillor, a local fisherman, and the local MP.
the paper's head office for her to meet Sellafield
management were refused by them.
Explain The White Elephant That is The Mox Plant
articles appeared in The Independent today explaining the reprocessing
of plutonium into an asset - as perceived by our local MP and other
intellectuals. We recommend you read them and wonder at the
alternatives that could be funded given the same scale of investment,
or what other services could be maintained if we hadn't been saddled
with the costs of nuclear mistakes. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/steve-connor-how-a-moneymaking-strategy-from-the-1960s-left-behind-a-toxic-legacy-2266046.html
collated Acrobat version can be found here: Independent
The True Likely Cost of
Disposal and Size of the Subsidy (which won't be available, of course)
Which Will Be Required
of a mathematical bent will be interested in this presentation from
Jackson Consulting. Nuclear
have understood it correctly, then by 2047, the UK tax payer will be
looking at a subsidy requirement of £4.27 billion for
decommissioning. Not to be sneezed at!
Just Make It
Bigger and Waste Even More! A Recommendation from
British taxpayers should spend up to £3bn on a new facility
reprocessing nuclear waste at Sellafield, despite the site in Cumbria
already having a similar plant which has cost nearly £2bn and
labelled one of the biggest industrial failures in British history.
is the conclusion of a report by scientists which recommends a
brand-new, plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) plant at Sellafield as
part of Britain's nuclear "renaissance" to build a suite of nuclear
power stations that could burn MOX fuel as well as conventional
uranium. [Does the generic type-approval design actually
current Sellafield MOX plant cost £440m to build and the
industry has squandered a further £1.5bn of taxpayers' money
operating costs and upgrades. Designed to produce 120 tonnes of MOX
fuel a year for export, it has only managed 15 tonnes over nearly a
decade of sub-standard operation, which was labelled by one former
government minister as a catastrophic and comprehensive failure.
Not sure we approve of wasting £5 billion on white elephants
are other colours any cheaper? No doubt it is so dear
the amount of fudge that comes with it.
of MOX is basically two million
times more powerful than 1mg of uranium. We have concerns
the minimisation of the importance of leaked radioactive material -
concentrating on an 8-day half-life of some components, which will
obviously not pose a long-term threat to health or the environment,
although we do wonder what effects even such a short, sharp, exposure
might have on future generations of marine- and wild-life.
have not mentioned that the
half-life of plutonium-239, one of the components of MOX, is around
years. If even a small amount of this seriously nasty substance escapes
from the plant, say, in a smoke plume, the particles
will travel with the wind and contaminate soil for tens of thousands of
years. MOX is often discounted
non-threatening, but, in fact, the threat posed by MOX is very
serious. An NIRS report explains that inhalation of MOX
material is significantly more dangerous than inhalation of normal
uranium radioactive particles.]
in High Places
from Private Eye 1285, 1/4/11,: "Thanks to a policy of
private sector employees to Whitehall, the Department of Energy's
current deputy director of nuclear strategy is also a director of
Costain, one of the firms hoping to profit from Britain's plan to build
a new generation of nuclear power plants."
Nice to see
what DECC consider to be impartiality! Could it be
when it gets to judicial review time?
Chance With a
Recently speaking about the role of the emergency services during a
shooting escapade in which 12 people died, Cumbria's Chief Constable
acknowledged that the current protocols were unworkable.
were comments, too, about the inability of the emergency services'
radio - the system being over-loaded and difficult to understand.
One has to wonder just what would happen if there was an
unscheduled event at the Sellafield complex. It is all well
good having accidents by arrangement, as with the much-hyped event in
2009 (even that didn't go very well according to newspaper reports) but
faced with a real situation we have grave concerns as to whether
Cumbria's emergency services could cope with an event such as the
BBC Gives 2 minute
advertising space to
EdF's Chief Executive
reason, the BBC managed to give Vincent de Rivaz a slot on the Andrew
Marr Show to talk about why the U.K. needed to press ahead with nuclear
development. There was no preamble to the item indicating
degree of involvement of EdF and its sister company Areva, who would
stand to lose an awful lot of money if the events in Japan were allowed
to influence future nuclear development. His statements that
nuclear power was needed to fulfill our energy needs went unchallenged.
In a blatent display of bias, there was no-one
counter anything he said. What possible attraction can there
for politicians to this company? Answers on a post-card,
for a replay. The
poor man had
already been obliged to issue a statement explaining why his company's
prices were so much lower in France than the UK. Something
with France having nuclear energy, apparently. Quite where
of the electricity supplied to the South East of England via a
piece of wire under the English Channel comes from is not explained.
As we note elsewhere, France is a net importer of energy and
considerable proportion of its populations are in what is called
"energy poverty" these days.
On Question Time on Thursday, 17/3/11, the BBC also managed to give
Kelvin McKenzie space to support nuclear whilst, in the process,
getting almost every fact incorrect. Baroness Warsi
that the industry would go ahead with subsidies, a point picked up by a
Labour politician so dynamic we have forgotten his name.
Hughes, Liberal Democrat, said that there would be no development of
nuclear as the industry would need massive subsidies which would not be
forthcoming. Wish we could believe him. However,
point out that the industry received over £1 billion p. a.
to clean up the mess - effectively a subsidy. No doubt the
subterfuge of subsidies by another name will come to the fore when the
budget is announced this week.
More hopefully in the Sunday Times this week there were several
articles dismissing nuclear development, perhaps significant after the
editorial last week suggesting that events in Japan should not deflect
us from the current course. One letter in response suggests
only 56 people died as a result of Chernobyl, when the on-the-ground
figures suggest 60,000 in Russia, 140,000 in Belarus/Ukraine.
the letter writer was informed enough to quite the World Health
Organisation's figures, then surely he must have been aware of the more
realistic ones? Perhaps even knowing Greenpeace's figure of
third of a million.
Following Fukushima's Problems
has been interesting to see the pro-nuclear lobbyists endeavouring
to minimise the dangers stemming from the radiation leaks.
Statements such as, "Let's put this into perspective: 20,000
died as a result of the tsunami and quake, how many have died as a
result of Fukushima's problems?" Surely they must know that
effects of exposure to radioactivity take many decades to manifest
themselves and that the full extent of the leakage is, as yet, unknown.
We note in our questions that the World Health Organisation
deaths due to Chernobyl at 65, while doctors and hospitals dealing with
the relevant population know it is 60,000 in Russia and 140,000 in
Ukraine/Belarus. Greenpeace suggest that a total of a third
million people will die in time. Most
people will accept that it is impossible to protect a population from
natural effects, such as the quakes and tsunamis, but do not accept
that the additional threat from an unnecessary technology whose
management has shown scant regard for safety and the environment -
whilst remaining protected by governments. The Tokyo Power
Electric Company have broken the regulations 29 times in recent years.
Sadly, this pattern is repeated in almost every country
has nuclear power. The U.K. has a similar appalling
Tony Benn, one of those responsible for the original
of civil nuclear power stations, has complained that he was misled and
not told of many things which he, as minister, needed to know in order
to make an informed decision. In fact, he say, he was not
told about the Windscale fire as his staff "didn't want to bother him".
After he left office he eventually discovered that the civil
nuclear industry was actually producing zirconium for use in the
American nuclear weapons programme, apart from many other facts that
were kept from him. One has to wonder whether Mr. Huhne
has all the facts, or have some well-meaning (!) civil servants decided
to omit some pertinent information?
statement - this time from experts - "the explosions are not
nuclear explosions". In as much as they are not atomic
enough. In practice, however, the end result will be fairly
as a result of an explosion, radioactive material will be released into
the surrounding water-courses and
affecting the entire environment, causing death, injury and pollution
for many many years to come.
there is the
"the UK is not on a tectonic plate".
Presumably they mean that we are not subject to eathquakes of the
magnitude experienced in Japan. The latter's nuclear plant
problems stem from a failure of cooling water supply. On at
occasions in the last two years, the cooling water system at Sellafield
has failed. Needless to say, managers said that there was no
risk at any time. However, an earthquake centred on Eskdale
mere 5 miles from Sellafield's pumping station at Wastwater - occurred.
Shortly after, another earthquake occurred within 60 miles of
that original one.
well as incidents noted throughout this site, including fires and
leaks, here are a few more that have escaped from the secret society
that is the nuclear industry:
nuclear processing facility dumped five bags of radioactive waste in a
landfill site after a faulty scanner passed them as safe.
B shut down for seven months following a problem with the primary
cooling circuit. The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate says
is likely that other pressurisers pose a risk too, but still allowed
Sizewell B to restart.
£250,000 for allowing
radioactive leaks from a holding tank to
exist for 14 years at
Bradwell nuclear power station
||Cooling water from the
spent fuel pond of
Sizewell A leaked into the North Sea. This was only detected by
report by nuclear inspectors reveals: problems identified in the report
included failure to meet a 90 per cent target for retrieving sludge
from a storage pond; a (minimal) leakage of water from a storage pond;
a leakage of radioactively contaminated water; a loss of cooling water
on January 22; failure to ensure the training of individuals and the
closure of line three of a waste vitrification plant.
Sellafield has been awarded £1.5bn by the Nuclear
Authority for hazard reduction work.
Mr Huhne said: “We are very aware of the importance of energy
West Cumbria and very aware of Sellafield, in particular, to our
national strategy. The expertise that is here, the professionalism, the
dedication of so many people.”
We await with interest the probable backlash from the nuclear industry
once all the Fukushima problems have been taken off the front pages.
Opinions - Any Chance
They Will Be Heard?
Even more evidence that the government seem set on pressing ahead with
new nuclear - regardless of its merit - comes from the Union of
were particularly interested (and incensed) by the by fact that the
outweigh the cost of the fuel produced!
answer to how politicians can be so readily persuaded may be found in
an explanation of "The System" in "Yes, Minister!": the
have the ear of the civil servants, who in turn have the ear of the
thus controls the politicians. Of course, that amenability
pays dividends when politicians and civil servants have to seek
There's a Wheel
There Must be a Subsidy
The current edition of Private Eye has an amusing article about EdF
sponsoring the London Eye ferris wheel. Referring to the
illumination of the wheel as a cynical example of cockeyed greenwash as
a stunt, the article explained that EdF's PR people had announced that
the idea was a "clarion call to Britons to take action against climate
change and sign up to EdF's Team Green Britain". The Eye
translated this as, "a French energy company wasting energy in order to
ask British people to save energy". Still, it no doubt
that EdF have friends in high places . . . Just across the
river, in fact!
Not to be confused as being any kind of subsidy, more than
million has been committed to expanding the national grid.
part of a £5 billion scheme to assist the likes of RWE, EdF,
The grid companies investing in growth are guaranteed a
return on their investment. Should the unthinkable
and there are cost over-runs (surely unlikely!) they can get back 75%
of those, too. So, not only are the public to pay very much
for their power, but they will also have to fund its distribution,
regardless of the rationality of the scheme being provided with access
to the grid.
Yet Another Non-Subsidy
Benefit to the
Energy Industry - They Would Have Us Believe
recently-released press article by Greenpeace, "Energy
rise because Government proposals will handover £3.43bn to
nuclear generators for doing absolutely nothing different.
proposals to introduce a carbon floor price as part of the ongoing
Electricity Market Reform (EMR) consultation could end up benefiting
existing nuclear generators to the tune of £3.43bn
between 2013 and 2026".
Interestingly, British Gas
has just announced record profits - up 24% from last
With the current middle-east situation escalating, it might seem that a
U.K.'s residents will soon be, like the French, in fuel
poverty. No wonder that EdF want bigger subsidies
and less risk. The full Greenpeace press release can be
Energy Committee said it was "sceptical" that Britain's target of
switching on two nuclear power stations a year between 2020 and 2025
would be reached. The UK needs a huge number of new nuclear power
stations to make up for the coal-fired stations being switched off over
the next decade. However, the committee warned that the Coalition's new
planning system did not appear to be capable of making sure the 12 new
stations are located in the right places to be linked up to the
electricity grid. "Hooking up this amount of nuclear and other
generation to the national grid poses an unprecedented challenge," said
Tim Yeo, its chairman. "Two plants a year is a very high target to
reach. The [system] lacks any real framework for coordinating the
process of siting and linking up the new power stations." The MPs'
report also cast doubt on current plans to make sure there is a deep
hole for disposing of radioactive waste within 110 years. It called on
the Government to insist that there are sufficient interim ways of
storing the material before allowing new plants to be built.
from the "You Can Trust Us" Department
security 'failings' prompt major anti-terror review
security weaknesses at Sellafield have prompted an anti-terror
review of nuclear plants and other sensitive installations, it was
Ltd has declined to respond to claims in The Times
newspaper that lapses may have come to light during an exercise to
simulate a terrorist attack.
is protected around the clock by its own armed police, the Civil
for Sellafield said: “Security arrangements are kept
under constant review as part of a continuous process to ensure
existing arrangements are robust and effective.
do not comment on
detail of operational security matters.”
Times - which has not detailed the alleged weaknesses - says that
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary is carrying out an assessment of
security at nuclear installations, pipelines and oil refineries, but
it says the focus
is on Sellafield and its plutonium stocks.
Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command and MI5 are also
has about 100 tonnes of the substance, which can be used to make
nuclear bombs - believed
to be the
biggest in the world. Most
are in the
product and residues store, which took five years to build and opened
this year. It
contains more than
36,000 cubic metres of concrete, the same amount
of steel as the Eiffel Tower and enough cable to stretch from London to
review was ordered by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in March.
This involved Sellafield opening its gates to inspectors from the
International Atomic Energy Authority to make sure stocks are properly
Brown said he had
invited the inspection as part of British backing
for US President Barack Obama’s general nuclear global plan.
of the main aims was to “secure all fissile material around
world” amid concerns of terrorist risks.
ordered in March, the checks were not expected to take place until this
Sellafield was stepped up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York,
safeguarding plutonium were criticised last year
by an international group of scientists and non-proliferation experts.
British Pugwash Group described the way plutonium was stored as
Waste Disposal Costs to be Capped at Around £1 billion
must not be construed in any way as being a subsidy, the costs of
future disposal of nuclear waste are expected to be capped at around
£1 billion, with any surplus being paid for by the UK
the government announced on Tuesday. Interestingly, the
cost of decommissioning Sellafield is running at over £1.5
billion p.a., and that is still not enough to permit the original
programme of decommissioning to be carried out! So, to be
to forecast that in 160 years time £1 billion will be
. . . Even with the current low levels of
seems unlikely. Any excess will be funded by the taxpayer,
will still not be a subsidy.
Needless to say, the energy companies - with the exception of RWE, who
are greedily suggesting that they shouldn't have to pay at all - are
delighted with the deal for which they have long lobbied.
Amusingly, one company has said that there may be a delay in a 2018
completion date; admitting that, "Sometimes these things take
little longer and come in a bit more expensive than expected."
Except, that is just what we have been saying will happen.
Should it be unexpected by more experienced people than us?
We should, perhaps be rather more concerned about what is going to
happen to the waste. Not just the legacy waste from
and Douneray, but from all the other sites around the country, if they
go ahead as planned. With only the Longlands Farm
prospect, is it likely that all the country's waste will end up being
shipped around the UK before being shoved in a deep hole in Cumbria?
It certainly seems that way.
Interesting that some materials from other sites, ultimately destined
for Sellafield, is held up because of a shortage in flasks for its
The Telegraph reported on the subject: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/8187222/UK-taxpayers-face-unlimited-nuclear-waste-bills-if-costs-spiral.html
IN CHEMICAL PROBE
Thorp workers were detained in hospital over the weekend after a
chemicals incident in the Sellafield plant.
four Thorp workers said they felt unwell while working on a chemical
pumping system and were kept in hospital for observation. The men have
since returned home.
was still shut down at the time for routine maintenance, as part of
which work was taking place to replace a stand-by pump in the chemical
Sellafield spokesman said: “This is a routine operation which
been undertaken on many occasions using the same methodology without
followed by the inevitable, mandatory clause:]
has been no release of radioactivity and extensive checks undertaken
have confirmed that all plant parameters are normal. Any incident that
compromises the health and safety of the workforce very
company said a full investigation is under way.
|We have recently come
across a few
articles from the Scottish Herald which we were previously unaware of.
You may find them interesting. We have compiled
a single document: Click
here to view them.
For some sceptics, there has been ignorance of the Redfern Inquiriy's
remit. Click here to read Mr.
Darling's words to the
Sellafield "Like BP's
Texas City Before the
former BP executive, describes working practices at Britain's largest
nuclear site as similar to those at the US refinery that resulted in a
similarities between the poor operating practices at the Texas City oil
refinery that blew up in America and the troubled nuclear complex at
Sellafield in Cumbria, the former BP executive brought in to shake up
the government's nuclear clean-up operation has warned.
interview as chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority,
Tony Fountain admitted there was still a long way to go before Europe's
biggest atomic site was brought up to the highest possible standards,
although he said progress had been made by a new private sector
management team. "The
Texas City is apparent. I have talked a lot about it with senior
executives," said Fountain. "If you look at Texas City, there were many
kinds of practices, operating practices among them, where people had
become habituated to a state of affairs that, if you stepped in from
outside and took a look, was not appropriate for the nature of the
think that is
absolutely true of what happened at Sellafield… Legacy
different set of priorities. There was clearly a set of practices that
developed round those [untreated waste] silos that, if you stepped in
there, did not have the right level of priority, did not have the right
level of challenge, did not have the right level of spend –
why it is where it is now and needs to be dealt with with the priority
it is getting."
organisation owns Sellafield and a deadly stockpile of 100 tonnes of
plutonium but handed over day-to-day control of the Cumbrian site a
little over a year ago to a private-sector organisation led by the
American group URS Washington and Areva of France.
complex has recently been fined by the courts for breaches of health
and safety regulations while struggling with equipment failures at a
time when it is sitting on top of a mountain of plutonium described by
an academic group last year as " manifestly ludicrous."
direct involvement in BP's Texas City fire of 2005, which killed 15
workers, but said the lessons learned were applied throughout the oil
refining business he presided over in Europe, Africa and
had "kicked the tyres" at Sellafield and 18 other NDA sites and felt
relatively confident he knew the scale of the task he has to tackle.
When asked if he had been shocked by anything he saw, he said: "Shock
is a strong word. But it would be right to say that the ponds and silos
at Sellafield are attention-grabbing; striking in nature." Fountain
in to his new post at a difficult time. Not only does the government's
new energy policy partly depend on the NDA being seen to be
handling Britain's old atomic sites, but the £2.8bn annual
budget is under stress as ministers attempt to pare back public
spending following the credit crunch.
knows that there is "extreme pressure on spending" as his organisation
prepares for meetings in the next few weeks to cover the 2011-2014
public spending round, and acknowledged that the government's need to
prioritise expenditure was a real and pressing one.
ensure our planning is closely related to the government's Public Value
Programme, to create a set of options that would be implemented if we
were required to make cuts in expenditure," he said. "Against this
backdrop, my overall thrust is to focus on ensuring the whole estate
improves its levels of efficiency and execution."
said he had already seen a range of areas where the NDA's work regime
could be tightened up to provide some of those savings.
biggest site and the biggest hazard by far in the NDA portfolio, is the
obvious place to start. The Cumbrian complex, home to the now-defunct
Calder Hall atomic power station plus the Mixed Oxide (MOX) and Thorp
nuclear-fuel recycling plants, consumes almost half of the total NDA
budget and "you don't get 100p in the pound" there, Fountain said.
acknowledged that the government's desire to see a new generation of
nuclear plants built in Britain will depend partly on public opinion
being satisfied that the decommissioning of old stations is proceeding
be dealt with in a confident way, with value for money and as
efficiently and safely as possible," he said. "We must show we are
'taking away the empties' before we build the new one, as it were. I
think this is critical and I know my owners [ministers] have the same
philosophy. They want to see us do this task well, stick to our
knitting, because they think the dimensions of it are important so the
public has confidence in the future newbuild."
also acknowledged that there could also be competition for supplies,
and for skilled staff in an era when many have left the industry.
"Clearly capabilities and skills are a common agenda. We need the right
skills and capabilities… The newbuild programme needs the
so we need to act cooperatively. There is no point in Peter robbing
sees his role not just as improving Sellafield and related sites, but
also improving his own company. "The NDA feels like a start-up
company... It's done a lot of things, but like a lot of start-up
companies as it develops it becomes a bit cluttered," he said. "It's
got quite a complex set of processes [around] itself, or around those
it employs to work for it, and we need to become a much more effective
From the Quarterly Report
of the HSE
24th July 2009,
the licensee promptly notified NII of a seepage of a few litres of
radioactive liquor from a corroded stored uranium hexafluoride legacy
“Hex Tails” cylinder, held inside a storage
The Site Emergency Control Centre was appropriately manned for several
hours, whilst the leak was promptly brought under control and sealed by
the ‘on site’ Fire & Rescue team.
There was no
escape of radioactivity from the building and no personnel were
the standard response to any event.]
The volume (about
three litres) and specific radioactivity of the acidic liquor, which
had leaked from the ageing “Hex Tails” cylinder in
localised area, breached the level defined within the Ionising
Radiations Regulations 1999. This resulted in the event being
notifiable to the relevant Minister. Timely
was made concurrently by both HSE and the licensee. The event
categorised as category ‘One’ on the International
Event (INES) scale.
inspector initially visited the scene of
the event on 31st July, where appropriate arrangements were seen to
have been implemented and proportionate containment measures
applied. The site inspector later discussed the
response with the site management on a number of occasions and
subsequently received timely updates from the licensee. The
licensee continues to conduct appropriate tests, to establish the
integrity of this cylinder and to identify other “Hex
Tails” cylinders, which may be at risk of similar corrosion
hence potential leakage. The licensee’s preliminary
investigation report has appropriately called for a review of the
safety case for medium term “Hex Tails” storage,
by the emerging findings of the ongoing investigation into this
event. This approach is endorsed by NII. The site
continues to monitor the licensee’s response and ongoing
investigation of this event, which has been acceptable thus far.
Full details can be found here.
From the Sunday Times, 14/3/10: Ed Miliband's
adverts banned for overstating climate change
Leake, Environment Editor
government advertisements that use nursery rhymes to warn people of the
dangers of climate change have been banned by the Advertising Standards
Authority (ASA) for exaggerating the potential harm.
commissioned by Ed Miliband, the energy secretary, used the rhymes to
suggest that Britain faces an inevitable increase in storms, floods and
heat waves unless greenhouse gas emissions are brought under control.
ruled that the claims made in the newspaper adverts were not supported
by solid science and has told the Department of Energy and Climate
Change (DECC) that they should not be published again.
referred a television commercial to the broadcast regulator, Ofcom, for
potentially breaching a prohibition on political advertising.
be an embarrassment for Miliband, who has tried to portray his policies
as firmly science-based. He had commissioned two posters, four press
advertisements and a short film for television and cinema, which
started appearing in October last year in the run-up to the Copenhagen
climate talks. They
939 complaints — more than the ASA received for any
year. The deluge posed problems for the
ASA, which is not a
body, so it decided to compare the text of Miliband’s adverts
reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
comparison, it ruled that two of the DECC’s adverts had
advertising code on three counts: substantiation, truthfulness and
banned adverts, one depicted three men floating in a bathtub over a
flooded British landscape, and the text read: “Rub a dub dub,
in a tub — a necessary course of action due to flash
climate change. ”It
explained: “Climate change is happening. Temperature and sea
rising. Extreme weather events such as storms, floods and heat waves
will become more frequent and intense. If we carry on at this rate,
life in 25 years could be very different.”
showed two children peering into a stone well amid an arid,
post-climate-change landscape. It read: “Jack and Jill went
to fetch a pail of water. There was none as extreme weather due to
climate change had caused a drought.”
then added: “Extreme weather conditions such as flooding,
waves and storms will become more frequent and intense.”It
additional claims, rather than the nursery rhymes or illustrations,
that fell foul of the ASA, which ruled it was not scientifically
possible to make such definitive statements about Britain’s
“All statements about future climate were based on modelled
predictions, which the IPCC report itself stated still involved
uncertainties in the magnitude and timing, as well as regional details,
of predicted climate change.” It added that both predictions
have been phrased more tentatively.
however, reject other complaints, including one suggesting the DECC
adverts were misleading because they presented human-induced climate
change as a fact.
“On the one issue where the ASA did not find in our favour,
word in our print advertising, the science tells us that it is more
than 90% likely that there will be more extreme weather events if we
shadow minister for climate change, said: “It is so
exaggerate the risks of global warming, and also
Amazingly (leastways, to us) is the oft-repeated statement that no-one
has ever died as a result of working in the nuclear industry.
know from past records of the 1950s and early 60s that death
certificates did actually link some deaths with working with
radioactive materials and consequence exposure to that. When
things got a little uncomfortable for the industry the root cause was
usually ignored, and the specfic cause entered on the record.
Having come across a reiteration of the statement recently in
correspondence in a local paper, we asked Lord Hunt, Deputy Leader of
the House of Lords, just how many people had died or been made ill as a
result of working in the industry. He has (after only two
month's delay) now told us that since 1982 [when the compensation
scheme started] there have been 124 successful claims. He
that it is not possible to ascertain, either medically or technically
why a cancer is caused. We have to note that these 124
must have been employed by the industry in order to benefit from the
scheme. The question remains, therefore, how many other
unfortunates have suffered as a result of the pollution but are
nonetheless excluded from the scheme!
Watching the Inquiry into the future of the nuclear industry in the
north west, we have to wonder how Phil Woolas, M.P. , can justify his
repeated assertion that the Cumbrian public are overwhelmingly in
favour of future developments. Not judging from the meetings
we've been to, they aren't. A FOI request for the evidence
Mr. Woolas also has problems with the number of people who will find
employment as a a result of any proposed expansion. Shady
have already been done between the government and EdF, with much
bargaining and jockeying for position. We are sure that
no connection between the perceived favourable treatment of EdF and the
fact that it employs ministers and their relatives. However,
apparently the government has achieved success in that EdF has now
agreed that 50% of the permanent workforce will be from this country.
(A bit of a hazy concept?) Of that 50% a further
(i.e. 25% of the whole) will be Cumbrians. Figures given by
Woolas were 5,000 construction workers and 600 - 1,000 operators.
Somewhat of a discrepancy between that and the 100,000
about by a local MP. Mind you, that one had a financial
interest, having just allocated many millions of pounds of taxpayers
money in a contract just before joining the company he was responsible
for handing the contract to. Apparently the government have
debating how much the can chip in to assist these foreign companies to
develop their unwanted nuclear power stations in remote areas.
Strange when the planning guidance has always made the developer liable
for any infrastructure improvements required as a result of their
Healthcare in west Cumbria might be a little behind the requirements in
the event of nuclear development. Being linked to the
levels, there will need to be an influx of people before the funding
reaches a sufficiently high level for an increase in healthcare
funding. This may be as much as three or four years at best.
On the positive side, once the construction work has been
(don't be ill during this phase!) and the builders have moved on,
waiting lists should come tumbling down.
Residents can be reassured that Mr. Woolas has a firm grip on what
infra-structure changes will be required to enable the proposed nuclear
new-build in the north-west: better broadband connections and
improvements to the A599, according to his evidence to the inquiry.
They are going to need very broad broadband to get cement
on-site down these country lanes! - Oh and the high-speed
railway line will help things along. Except that it won't
Cumbria at all, other than as a blur on the landscape.
High-speed trains don't stop any more than is absolutely necessary for
revenue purposes. So it will be Glasgow to Manchester or
and then on to London. However, that is all academic now, as
Lord Adonis announced the high speed railway line will be built between
London and Birmingham. This will save a whopping 15
minutes on the journey and destroy a fair bit of the
but what the heck. It is a start. Or rather, it
once the crossrail link had been completed.
We note below some recent
French mishaps and, elsewhere, the long catalogue of "incidents" at
Sellafield. Just to prove that these are not isolated
would point to the fire at Hinkley B Power Station, near Bridgewater,
Somerset on 25th November, 2009:
reactor fire probed
Engineers are investigating a fire which shut down a nuclear power
active reactor at
Dungeness B in Kent, was taken offline after the blaze broke out in a
boiler annexe on Monday night. Operator
Energy said there was no risk to the public and there was no release of
radioactive material as a result of the fire. Experts
were on site
trying to find out what happened. A
spokeswoman said: "They are looking at the cause of the fire and will
be bringing the reactor back online as soon as possible." All
52 staff on site
were accounted for after the fire and there were no casualties.
Times 22 Dec 08 - Npower
fined £1.8M for mis-selling gas and electricity to domestic
Npower agents lied to customers by telling them that they worked for
'the electricity board', and by inducing customers to sign legally
binding contracts by claiming that they were non-binding.
Dec 08 - RWE
Npower seeks to pull out of investments in windfarms, including the one
at Gwint y Mor in Wales, and the 'London array' in the Thames estuary.
Npower and EDF are setting up a joint company called Horizon Nuclear
Power, for the joint exploitation by the two companies of the sites at
Oldbury in Gloucestershire and Wylfa in Wales for new nuclear power
Westinghouse reactors are
33% efficient, which means that nearly 60% of the heat generated gets
dumped in the sea. Multiply that by the number of
into the area and wonder what effect it will have on the various
currents which affect our shores!
Eye, 1248, 30th October
to 12th November, 2009