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Alex Wallerstein’s Nuclear Secrecy blog
This article “EDF suspends nuclear site preparations until final Hinkley decision made” appeared in Contruction News on 2 April, 2015:
EDF Energy will suspend preparation works at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station site until a final investment decision is made on the £24.5bn project. In a project update, it said the next phase of work on site would “require a substantial increase in spending levels” and would start “as soon as the final investment decision has been made”. It expects the final investment decision to be made “in the coming months”, it said. After several delays, EDF had expected financing for the new nuclear plant to be in place by March. However, it announced in February that the decision was still months away. The energy company said it had carried out “extensive work” to make the site ready for the final investment decision, including earthworks, drainage works, and providing concrete production and welfare facilities. The Kier/Bam Nuttall joint venture started the second phase of its £100m site preparation works contract at Hinkley last summer. EDF will complete associated roadworks in Bridgewater, at the Washford Cross roundabout in west Somerset and the Cannington bypass, before waiting until for the final investment decision. Around 400 people are working at the site in Somerset and are at risk of losing their jobs, according to reports in the Western Daily Press. Project planning, engineering design and commercial supply chain work will continue “to ensure the project’s readiness”, EDF said. The firm said it had made good progress on work to finalise agreements with the government to enable a final investment decision “in the coming months”.
Apart from all other reasons to oppose the building of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, it is probable that a tsunami occurred in 1607 in the Bristol channel. Here is a recent slide presentation by Professor Simon Haslett. This danger has so impressed Richard Cottrell (Conservative MEP for Bristol from 1979 - 1989) that he wrote a letter “Fears of a new tsunami” to the Wells Journal (December 19th 2013): “A repetition, which is all too likely, will overwhelm the site of the planned new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point ….. The incredible and reckless folly of siting a nuclear power plant at this location invites a Japanese Fukushima-scale meltdown event that could devastate the West Country. All this to pay the French nuclear combine EDF twice as much as it costs to generate electricity from conventional sources or renewable energy. The issue transcends the usual political boundaries …… I have come out of retirement to fight Hinkley Point.”
The same edition of the Wells Journal has a piece under the headline “Energy Boss claims Hinkley overpriced: The planned new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point looks set for further delay, and has been strongly criticised by an industry heavyweight. Under rules from Brussels, state governments are not allowed to get involved in the free market in a big way, and the EU is considering whether the 35-year deal is too long and equal to state backing of a private deal ….. Jim Ratcliffe, boss of Ineos, one of the UK’s biggest energy consumers, warned that electricity produced at the site would be too expensive. The government agreement gives EDF the security of a fixed price of £92.50 per megawatt for the energy the power station produced. When speaking with the BBC on Monday Mr Ratcliffe said ‘Forget it. Nobody in manufacturing is going near that price’“.
The argument that “the lights will go out” unless new nuclear power stations are build has been dismissed by the head of electricity systems operations at the National Grid. Interviewed by The Guardian and reported in The Telegraph (22nd December 2013), Nigel Williams said warnings that Britain risked power cuts if new energy sources were not found were overblown, and insisted that surges in energy demand could be effectively dealt with to make sure the network did not run out. “People talk about winters of discontent and blackouts, but what we are talking about in the worst-case scenario is a few half-hour periods a year … It’s most likely we’d reduce the frequency a bit, so lights would dim a little and hairdryers would be a little less hot. Most people would not notice.” He also claimed the new nuclear power stations being planned would help provide energy security but were not vital to keep the lights on. “You could do without nuclear as long as you get the volume [of electricity] from elsewhere,” he said.
Global Zero campaigns for a world without nuclear weapons. Signatories include former Conservative Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind who writes: “Nuclear weapons helped ensure peace and security during the Cold War. We live in a different world. We do not need 26,000 nuclear weapons, more countries are seeking nuclear arms, and the proliferation of fissile material expands every year. Multilateral nuclear weapons reductions and far superior verification controls would both provide tangible security gains, and help to make the elimination of nuclear weapons a genuine possibility. The Global Zero initiative is an essential part of making that process a reality.”
Another signatory, Queen Noor of Jordon, says simply: “The sheer folly of trying to defend a nation by destroying all life on the planet must be apparent to anyone capable of rational thought.”
Global Zero write (22nd May 2013): “In 1986, there were 70,000 nuclear weapons on Earth. Today, there are 17,000.”
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Web Site reports on Nuclear Abolition Week, July 2013.
Scientists for Global Responsibility produced a briefing on “The climatic impacts and humanitarian problems from the use of the UK’s nuclear weapons”, which may be downloaded from their web site.