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Update on UK’s Bradwell nuclear project: it may not go ahead

Bradwell Update, NuClear News October 18

 China’s leading nuclear energy company CGN says it would consider pulling back from control of the Bradwell nuclear plant to appease political sensitivities.

 Under a 2016 agreement, CGN would have a 66.5% stake in Bradwell and EDF would have the remainder when it starts generating electricity in the late 2020s or ealry 2030s. However, CGN’s chief executive Zheng Dongshan told the Financial Times (FT) CGN would be willing to consider “not being the majority operator. We understand the political and local sensitivities”. (1)

Should the Bradwell project proceed, it would be the first Hualong HPR1000-type reactor. The Office for Nuclear Regulation is currently assessing the reactor design but a final decision on the Generioc Design Assessment is expected to take at least three years. (2)

BANNG’s Andy Blowers says the project may be doomed anyway as the site is totally unsuitable and is widely opposed by communities all around the Blackwater Estuary. The Chinese withdrawal, should it come, would reflect widespread concerns about the security issues surrounding their investment into a highly sensitive part of the UK’s national infrastructure. Recent manoeuvres off the disputed, Chinese-built, artificial islands in the South China Sea have increased tensions in the area and provoked warnings of Chinese investment withdrawal from the UK. It is possible that the Bradwell project could be an early victim of deteriorating relations between the two countries. In any event the project was already looking doubtful. It is facing considerable challenges in delivering vast quantities of cooling water by pipeline and the need to avoid polluting the Marine Conservation Zone which gives protection to the Colchester Native Oyster and other marine life. Most of the site is vulnerable to flooding and it will be a heroic feat to demonstrate that highly radioactive spent fuel can be safely and securely stored on the site until the end of the next century. (3)

 The Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries were designated as a Marine Conservation Zone in 2013. As part of the designation native oysters have been legally protected indeed there is the Essex Native Oyster Restoration Initiative to further the aims of the MCZ designation. The MCZ designation is a major change in the site status since Bradwell was selected in 2011 as a potential site for power generation by the Government. Despite the new MCZ status CGN and EDF Energy still confirm their belief that Bradwell is a good site for nuclear development. If you take into account this and all the other environmental protections that run along the proposed site you would have thought it would be the last place to build a nuclear power station!

September 29, 2018 - Posted by | politics, UK

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