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UK’s Bradwell B nuclear project entering an uncertain phase

 NucClear News Sept 18, Bradwell B nuclear project is entering a new phase according to China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and EDF. The developers have begun analysing the findings from early investigative work carried out on the site on the Dengie peninsula. China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and EDF are at the pre-planning stage of their plans to build a UKHPR1000 nuclear reactor plant, with the design for this currently undergoing a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency.

The East Anglian Daily Times reports that up to 30 people were on site during more than 40,000 hours of investigative work, with specialist firms such as Structural Soils Ltd working alongside local firms such as Scott Parsons Landscaping Services at Burnham-on-Crouch taking part. The landscaping firm’s project team has used drilling rigs to complete 20 boreholes. These will be used to analyse the make-up of the land using geophysical testing which should be completed later this year.

Since the start of the year, more than 3000 metres of exploratory holes in the ground have been completed and soil samples taken from each. These will now be taken to various laboratories for testing and examination as part of EDF’s engineering analysis. Now the firm is sending out a newsletter update to local residents explaining the progress of the project. (1)

The Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) responded to the newsletter saying it was a partial and misleading piece of smooth ‘nuke speak’ that gives all the upsides and none of the downsides of a new nuclear power station at Bradwell. Nowhere in the newsletter is there the slightest hint that Bradwell B might not go ahead. In fact, early stage or not, so sure is CGN/EDF of success that an indicative project timeline is provided, showing that construction ‘begins’ in 5 – 7 years from now.

 The newsletter tells us that comments can be made on the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process. But one might well ask if there is any point in commenting on this given the obvious confidence of CGN/EDF that the Hualong 1000 reactor, not yet in use anywhere in the world, will pass the regulators’ tests. Yet all the digging of boreholes and marine surveys cannot disguise the fact that the site is in Flood Zone 3 and, therefore, totally unsuitable for potentially dangerous new nuclear reactors. Words such as ‘flooding’, storm surges’, ‘other coastal processes’, ‘all predicted to get worse with climate change’.

There is no mention in the newsletter of the immense upheaval, currently taking place around Hinkley Point C in Somerset, that will take place on the estuary if Bradwell B goes ahead, making it a major industrial site and changing it forever; of the jetty on the Blackwater that will likely be needed to bring in large pieces of equipment to the construction site; of the routine radioactive emissions that will take place; of the on-site, long-term highly radioactive waste stores. (2)

BANNG has sent comments to the GDA process. Although the process is meant to be generic, not site-specific, BANNG is calling for the continuing viability of coastal sites under the threat of climate change to be taken into consideration. BANNG considers that the continuing integrity of sites is an issue that must be identified and taken into account in the GDA. Sites that are liable to inundation within the next 200 years should be ruled out. Forecasts of coastal change reveal that the parts of the Dengie peninsula on which Bradwell B is proposed will be permanently below sea level within the next century. Assuming Bradwell B starts generating in 2030 with an operational lifetime of 60 years followed by, perhaps, fifty years storage on site before a GDF is available it will be at least the middle of the next century before the site is fully decommissioned and cleaned up. Estimates of time-scale are, of course, uncertain but these are broadly in line with current government forecasts. And this is a highly optimistic picture. Decommissioning is likely to be a protracted exercise, a GDF may not be available for new build spent fuel and site deterioration may set in well before the site is cleared. It is highly probable there will be nuclear activity on floodable sites for up to two centuries. Indeed, this may be a conservative estimate.

 The GDA is predicated on the eventual development of a disposal facility. Although the government has stated that ‘it is satisfied that effective arrangements will exist to manage and dispose of the waste that will be produced from new nuclear power stations’ this amounts to no more than a claim.


September 10, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK

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