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Round-up pf latest news on UK’s Hinkley Point C nuclear project

No2 Nuclear Power No 95 May 17  Hinkley Notes · The government has been slammed by the Information Commissioner’s Office over a number of “unjustifiable” delays in publishing details of contracts for Hinkley Point C. Whitehall officials were guilty of “egregious” and unjustifiable delays before revealing details of government contracts for Hinkley Point C awarded to a company facing a potential conflict of interest. Leigh Fisher, a management consultancy, was awarded a £1.2 million contract by the Department of Energy and Climate Change for its advice on Hinkley Point, despite the British division of Jacobs Engineering, an American group that also owns Leigh Fisher, working for EDF on the project. The advice from Leigh Fisher helped the government to agree the 35-year subsidy deal with EDF. Details of the arrangement with Leigh Fisher, which has concerned MPs including Iain Wright, chairman of the Commons’ business, energy and industrial strategy select committee, emerged in November after The Times obtained redacted details of the tender documents under the Freedom of Information Act. However, it took the business department almost six months to release information after it was requested. Public bodies typically are required to respond to FOI requests within 20 working days. The department also heavily redacted details of separate Hinkley Point contracts awarded to KPMG and Lazard, including passages regarding potential conflicts of interests. KPMG was paid about £4.4 million for its work by the department and Lazard £2.6 million. (1)

EDF Energy has confirmed that discussions are ongoing in a dispute over pay involving ground workers at Hinkley Point C. (2) EDF said on 24th April it was still in dialogue with trade unions after payment offers were labelled “derisory” and “unacceptable” in a Unite press release. The row over bonus pay is threatening to lead to an industrial dispute among construction workers on the site. A consultative ballot is to be held among 700 members of Unite and GMB, which could lead to a vote on industrial action. (3) ·

The news of a possible strike comes days after crew members had to be rescued from a Hinkley Point ship as it began to sink in the Bristol Channel. The three crew members of a former military landing craft had to be rescued following a mayday call in the Bristol Channel. The vessel, which takes building materials to the Hinkley Point C power station under construction, had started to take on water. A crew member was airlifted to hospital in Cardiff suffering from hypothermia after three lifeboats and a helicopter were scrambled to the scene. The craft finally beached in the mouth of the River Parrett. (4)

Work is gathering pace on Hinkley Point C says the FT. (5) The once grassy valley, carrying the Holford stream towards the Bristol Channel, is being filled with earth and rubble excavated from the adjacent construction site. Last month concrete pouring started on the first permanent structures: an 8km network of tunnels that will carry piping and cables around the site. The Guardian says the site looks more like Mordor, from Lord of the Rings, a scarred landscape and hive of activity driven with a single purpose: ensuring these reactors do not repeat the delays and overspends at Flamanville and Olkiluoto. (6) Vincent de Rivaz, head of EDF in the UK, says work is on schedule. Yet as one set of hurdles is cleared, another is looming. French nuclear regulators are investigating potential safety problems with steel components destined for Hinkley from a foundry suspected of falsifying quality-assurance documents. The probe involves Areva, the French nuclear reactor manufacturer and close partner of EDF, and has already caused temporary shutdowns of several existing reactors in France to check for faults. Only the hopelessly naive would believe EDF’s claims that Hinkley will start generating electricity by 2025, says Geoff Ho, writing in The Express. The likelihood of it being delivered on time and on budget is remote. Unions are already threatening to go on strike over bonus payments, and there are the unresolved safety concerns about the EPR design Given Britain’s less than glorious history of infrastructure projects being delivered late and massively over budget, he cannot see Hinkley Point C bucking the trend. (7)

A group of activists has filed a legal challenge with the French prime minister’s office against the extension of EDF’s licence for construction of the Flamanville nuclear reactor in northern France. The move by Greenpeace and other anti-nuclear groups is in response to safety concerns over the Flamanville reactor and is a precursor to elevation of their challenge to the State Council, the country’s highest administrative court. The lobby groups said in a statement that the licence, issued in 2007 and renewed this year, should not have been granted because EDF and reactor supplier Areva were aware of technical shortcomings at Areva’s Creusot Forge nuclear foundry since 2005. In 2014 Areva discovered that the lid of the Flamanville reactor vessel manufactured by Creusot Forge showed abnormally high carbon concentrations, which weaken its steel. (8)….


April 28, 2017 - Posted by | politics, UK

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