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Cool down nuclear plan because renewables are better bet – advisers tell UK government

 https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/10/nuclear-renewables-are-better-bet-ministers-told  ministers told Government advisers say UK should back just one more new nuclear power station in the next few years, Guardian,  Adam Vaughan, 15 July 18

Government advisers have told ministers to back only a single new nuclear power station after Hinkley Point C in the next few years, because renewable energy sources could prove a safer investment.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said the government should cool down plans for a nuclear new build programme that envisage as many as six plants being built.

The commission, launched by George Osborne in 2015, said that a decade ago it would have been unthinkable that renewables could be affordable and play a major role in electricity generation. But the sector had undergone a “quiet revolution” as costs fell, it said. 

Sir John Armitt, the NIC’s chairman, said: “They [the government] say full speed. We’re suggesting it’s not necessary to rush ahead with nuclear. Because during the next 10 years we should get a lot more certainty about just how far we can rely on renewables.”

He argued that wind and solar could deliver the same generating capacity as nuclear for the same price, and would be a better choice because there was less risk. “One thing we’ve all learnt is these big nuclear programmes can be pretty challenging, quite risky – they will be to some degree on the government’s balance sheet,” he said.

I don’t think anybody’s pretending you can take forward a new nuclear power station without some form of government underwriting or support. Whereas the amount required to subsidise renewables is continually coming down.”

Renewables were a “golden opportunity” to make the UK greener and make energy affordable, he added.

Armitt said he was agnostic about whether the next power station was the one Hitachi wanted to build in Wales, or one EDF Energy hoped to build in Suffolk. The government is in the process of negotiating a deal with Hitachi to enable the project at Wylfa on Anglesey to go ahead.

But the NIC’s report was unequivocal. It said: “Government should not agree support for more than one nuclear power station beyond Hinkley Point C before 2025.”

Armitt said: “By that point we should be in better position on storage technology and presumably [will] continue to see a drop in price on renewables.”

The NIC said that by 2030 a minimum of 50% of power should come from renewables, up from about 30% today.

New figures released by energy analytics firm EnAppSys show renewables have already overtaken nuclear for electricity generation. Wind, solar and biomass power stations supplied 28.1% of power across April, May and June, with nuclear at 22.5%, the third quarter in a row that renewables have outstripped nuclear.

But Armitt said he was hopeful that, as an independent adviser to ministers, his recommendations would fall on receptive ears. “We’ve seen how long it took to negotiate Hinkley – does the government really want to have to keep going through those sort of negotiations?” he said.

Separate research commissioned by the NIC and published on Tuesday found that nuclear and renewables could meet climate targets for comparable costs.

Aurora Energy Research concluded that, regardless of which technology was pursued, the power sector would have to reach zero emissions by 2050 to hit legally binding carbon goals.

In a statement, EDF Energy said it believed “in having as much renewable power as practically possible and is making major investments in renewables. However, having too much of one energy type creates risks to security of supply and increases costs.”

 

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July 16, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Ministry of Defence secretive about safety ratings for the Trident nuclear weapons system

Trident nuclear safety ratings kept secret by MoD, Herald Scotland, Rob Edwards , 14 July 18

THE Ministry of Defence has refused to reveal official safety ratings for the Trident nuclear weapons system and nuclear-powered submarines on the Clyde, citing “national security”.

The annual ratings, and the reports that justified them, were published for ten years by the MoD, uncovering a series of concerns about spending cutbacks, staff shortages and accidents. But now ministers have clamped down and decided that they can’t release any findings at all on security grounds.

Experts have accused the MoD of trying to evade public scrutiny, hide “cock-up and incompetence” and endanger public safety. But the MoD has insisted that the secrecy had not prevented independent assessment of the nuclear programme, which met “all the required standards”.

Safety during the refurbishment, transportation and storage of Trident nuclear warheads, along with the operation of the UK reactor-powered submarine fleet based at Faslane near Helensburgh, is regulated by the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR). Unlike the civil nuclear power industry, which is overseen by the independent Office for Nuclear Regulation, DNSR is part of the MoD.

After a prolonged freedom of information battle, the MoD started publishing DNSR annual reports from 2005. They were released over ten years until 2014-2015, highlighting issues as “regulatory risks” 86 times, including 13 rated as high priority, 50 as medium priority and 23 as low priority.

…… In November 2018 the Sunday Herald revealed that the MoD had abruptly decided to stop publishing the annual DNSR reports to protect national security. Last week the defence minister, Guto Bebb, went further, refusing to give any indication of even the headline summaries of the reports covering the last three years…….The Scottish National Party attacked the MoD’s secrecy. “This is simply not good enough and the MoD have a bad track record on transparency,” said the party’s defence spokesperson, Stewart McDonald MP.

“Safety and security are paramount when it comes to anything nuclear – and we need to be confident that is always the case.”

The independent nuclear engineer, John Large, described national security as a “flimsy excuse” for hiding nuclear safety issues. He suggested that the four Vanguard submarines that carry Trident warheads will all have to be brought into dock for unplanned overhauls because of problems with the ageing reactors that drive them.

“There is good reason to believe that both human resource and technical issues are continuing to impact on the reliability and full strength deployment of both the hunter-killer and Vanguard nuclear-powered submarines,” he said.

“The suppression of if and how the Royal Navy is reaching its nuclear safety targets is of great concern because within the MoD’s hierarchal review structure there is no opportunity for independent assessment. In effect, the buck stops short of a faceless admiral, whose primary duty of providing the nuclear deterrent overrides the safety of the public at large.”…..

Professor Andy Stirling, a nuclear expert from the University of Sussex, warned that secrecy could hide public dangers. “The British military nuclear establishment is increasingly seeking to escape public scrutiny and democratic accountability,” he said.

“The MoD is using the trump card of security to quash reasonable questions. History shows how dangerous this state of affairs can be, and how essential it is to achieve healthy transparency.”

……… Nuclear safety risks identified in reports by the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator2014-15: five risks – shortage of engineers “the principal threat to the delivery of nuclear safety”

2013-14: eight risks – sustainability of the necessary nuclear skill set “remains fragile”

2012-13: eight risks – ageing nuclear submarines require attention “to ensure maintenance of adequate safety performance”

2011: eight risks – “lack of adequate resource to deliver the defence nuclear programmes safely”

2010: eight risks – danger of accidents “progressively worse” because of “painful” spending cutbacks

2009: nine risks – spending cuts meant that it was no longer possible to ensure that nuclear activities “remain safe”

2008: nine risks – some areas “barely resourced” to deliver nuclear safety

2007: 11 risks – “potentially significant risks” at nuclear sites across the UK

2006: 11 risks – “crew fatigue” could cause hazards during the road transport of nuclear weapons

2005: nine risks – “slow progress in implementing the regulation framework for the nuclear weapons programme” http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16355206.trident-nuclear-safety-ratings-kept-secret-by-mod/

July 16, 2018 Posted by | safety, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK’s academic and government experts now agree that renewable energy, not nuclear power, is Britain’s future

Telegraph 15th July 2018 , Support for renewable energy is no longer the preserve of eco-warriors, nor
the enemy of the sceptical pragmatist. Experts from academia and government
agree that after years of heavy subsidy, renewable energy is close to
paying its own way.

“Few would have imagined that by 2018 we would be
talking about a subsidy-free future for renewables,” admits Mateusz Wronski
of Aurora Energy Research. “Yet this is where we have arrived – and our
research highlights clearly the enormous prize and potential in the market,
not only in Great Britain but across Europe.”

Aurora broke ranks with traditional energy rhetoric earlier this year by publishing data showing
that new renewable energy projects are now the cheapest source of
electricity in the market and hold the promise of a multi-billion-pound
investment boom for Britain. “The subsidy-free revolution is here, and it’s
big. This is a £60bn investment opportunity in north-west Europe alone,”
Wronski says, with Britain poised to gain far more than any other country
from the coming revolution.

A rapid shift in the economics of energy has
brought renewables to the brink of a major tipping point only a few years
away. Britain could begin to host onshore wind and solar projects without
the need for subsidies from the early 2020s, to unlock about £20bn of
investment between now and 2030. At the end of the next decade, offshore
wind will follow suit.

Last week, the renewable agenda found a fresh ally.
Sir John Armitt, the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission,
made the most hard-headed case for renewable energy yet. In the first ever
independent assessment of Britain’s infrastructure needs, the commission
dealt a blow to the Government’s nuclear ambitions by warning ministers
against striking a deal for more than one follow-up to the Hinkley Point C
project before 2025.

Instead, government should focus its efforts on
rolling out more renewable power. The pace of the zero-subsidy roll-out
could become quicker if developers are allowed to enter their “zero” bids
into the flurry of auctions held by National Grid throughout the year to
guarantee generation and an optimal frequency for the grid. By taking part
in the subsidy auctions, wind developers would soon be able to cast a bid
at or below the cost of wholesale power prices, which would effectively
mean zero added costs to bills. This would provide certainty to investors,
lower the project’s risk and reduce the cost of capital needed to bring the
projects to life. In turn, consumers would be in line for lower bills.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/07/15/wind-change-reshape-energy-landscape-renewables-start-pay-way/

July 16, 2018 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Fukushima residents visit north Wales to warn people against nuclear power

What Fukushima disaster victims want to tell people of North Wales about new reactor plans, Daily Post , 15 July 18

Visitors from the stricken region have been in Anglesey and Gwynedd,

Victims of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan visited North Wales to warn people against building new reactors at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd.

Horizon Nuclear Power’s plans to build the £12bn Wylfa Newydd have been formally accepted for consideration by the Planning Inspectorate.

A period of consultation is now taking place while talks are held with the Westminster Government, which also recently revealed plans to build another reactor at Trawsfynydd.

Yesterday morning, two farmers and a journalist from Fukushima visited Anglesey to share their first-hand experiences of the nuclear …….Farmer Satoshi Nemoto said: “The nuclear accident has kept farmers throwing away their products. Dairy farmers have been forced to kill cows or leave them behind in sheds. Farmer Satoshi Nemoto said: “The nuclear accident has kept farmers throwing away their products. Dairy farmers have been forced to kill cows or leave them behind in sheds.    Fellow farmer Isao Baba from Namie, 10km from the disaster site, said he still can’t return home to what is called the “Difficult to Return Zone”. ……https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/what-fukushima-disaster-victims-want-14907594

July 16, 2018 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

British residents will be locked into very high electricity costs, as govt takes a £16 billion stake in Wylfa nuclear station

London Economic 4th July 2018 After weeks of discussions over the risks of investing in large-scale
energy projects, the British government proposed to become an equal
investment partner in the new Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant. Under a
tripartite financing structure, London is going to take a £16 billion
stake in the plant, signalling that it has learned its lessons from past
failures. Both in Wales and further east in Europe, a public stake plays a
critical role in facilitating large-scale, low carbon energy projects.

Any discussion of the planned Wylfa Newydd project is obliged to give a cursory
nod to Hinkley Point C, the first and only nuclear power station to be
built in the UK since 1995. When complete, Hinkley Point will produce the
most expensive electricity compared to all power stations bar none.
Globally.

The irony is that this is largely due not to the installation
costs (admittedly somewhat higher than competition) but to its financing
model. The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts frets that with
“estimated costs to the consumer having risen five-fold” since the
project’s go-ahead, the deal struck on Hinkley Point locks Brits into
footing the bill for the government’s lack of nous when negotiating the
‘strike price’ for electricity produced at the facility.
https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/opinion/splitting-the-financial-atom-how-public-backing-produces-cheaper-nuclear-power/04/07/

July 7, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

How can the UK govt fund the Hinkley c nuclear power project?

DieterHelm 12th June 2018 Dieter Helm: If the government decides to invest in further nuclear power
station projects, it should obviously try to do so at minimum cost. The
Secretary of State, Greg Clark, has suggested that one option might be to
develop a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model. Is this concept fit for the
nuclear purposes? How does it compare with the other two options currently
under consideration – direct investment and financial guarantees, and the
Hinkley-style CfD approach. (No assumption is made here as to whether
nuclear projects should be proceeded with: it is about the best means, not
the end).

The RAB approach is in a first best world probably inferior to
the direct procurement route, but the latter is ruled out by the Treasury
imposed constraints. The RAB model is a second best, but much better than
the Hinkley style contract.

None of these approaches leads to the conclusion that nuclear is either necessary or desirable to meet the twin
objectives of security of supply and decarbonisation, though it would
contribute to both. No smart contracting and regulating framework can magic
away the deep challenges that nuclear faces, notably: the possibility that
in the next 60 years much cheaper new low carbon technologies may become
available, possibly including new nuclear ones too; the very large upfront
and sunk costs; the risk and the safety regulation; and the challenges of
getting rid of the waste. It is for society to decide whether it wants new
nuclear or not. The market cannot decide. If that decision is to proceed,
the RAB model is both plausible and preferable to the Hinkley model.

http://www.dieterhelm.co.uk/energy/energy/the-nuclear-rab-model/

July 7, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain should clean up its fleet of decaying cold war nuclear-powered submarines

 New Statesman 4th July 2018 ,Since the 1960s, the Navy has put 30 nuclear-powered submarines into
action, and 20 of these have since been retired, yet none of these 20 have
been dismantled.

HMS Dreadnought, Britain’s first ever nuclear submarine,
has been de-fuelled but is still waiting for scrapping – despite being
taken out of service in 1980. It is one of the 11 submarines retired beforethe turn of the century that are still inexplicably moored in British
ports. Given

Theresa May’s recently announced £600m boost to submarine
funding, one can’t help looking at the 20 decaying subs and wondering if
potential savings are being missed. Between 2010-16 alone, £16m was spent
on upkeep costs for subs that will never sail again. In a time when
efficiency is the watchword for the MOD, perhaps we should begin by dealing
with our fleet of Cold War relics.
https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/07/nuclear-submarines-britain-quietly-forgot-about-cost-16m

July 7, 2018 Posted by | UK, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Smart householders don’t just switch energy providers, they go solar

Guardian 5th July 2018 , Emeritus Professor Sue Roaf: You should talk to people in the solar
industry about the future for domestic solar power rather than just relying
on “predictions”. As a non-executive director of AES Solar Ltd in Forres,
Scotland, I can tell you that our order books are healthy, despite the
government’s solarcoaster tariffs.

We are seeing real, steady growth
because, for instance, where better to spend a small part of a pension pot
than to put in a solar water heater, PV electrics and a battery system,
thus decoupling the household budget from soaring energy prices from the
grid.

Smart householders don’t just switch energy providers, they go solar,
not least those looking for a financially safer old age. That is the sort
of compelling reason why solar has a brilliant future in the UK, not a dark
one.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/05/tidal-power-to-the-people

July 7, 2018 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

UK media ignores UK Committee on Climate Change’s report – renewables quicker and cheaper than nuclear

 

 

David Lowry’s Blog 2nd July 2018 , A key message from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC’s) 267-page
annual report 2018 “If new nuclear projects were not to come forward, it is likely that renewables would be able to be deployed on shorter timescales and at lower cost.”

But you would not find this very important assessment in the British media coverage. Why might this be? Perhaps because on the day before, the UK Government published its long-trailed so-called ‘Nuclear Industry Sector Deal’on which the media clearly had been well briefed in advance.
http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2018/07/nuclear-threat-to-sustainable-energy.html

July 6, 2018 Posted by | media, UK | Leave a comment

Botched nuclear clean-up forces UK govt to take it back into public hands

UK nuclear cleanup contract back in public hands after £122m bill
Botched tender was for the disposal of materials at 12 UK sites including Dungeness,  https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/02/uk-nuclear-cleanup-contract-back-in-public-hands-after-122m-bill  Guardian,  Adam Vaughan, 2 July 18.

The UK government has been forced to take a multibillion-pound nuclear cleanup contract back into public ownership, after a botched tender to the private sector landed the taxpayer with a £122m bill.

The government will take over the decommissioning of Britain’s 12 Magnox sites, including the former nuclear power stations at Dungeness in Kent and Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The move is a response to the fallout from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) awarding a 14-year deal to the international consortium Cavendish Fluor Partnership in 2014.

Last year the government settled with two US companies that lost out on the £6.2bn contract and brought a legal challenge over the tender process.

Ministers terminated the contract early, leading to speculation over whether it would be put out to tender again to the private sector or brought back into public hands.

David Peattie, the NDA’s chief executive, told staff he understood they had faced uncertainty in recent months, as he confirmed that the private company Magnox Ltd would become a subsidiary of the NDA on 1 September. He said the change would result in “more efficient decommissioning”.

A source close to the process said: “The reason that this has been done is to remove some of the commercial complications and the large fees paid to contractors. This will ensure more money is spent directly on cleaning up these sites.”

Unions said they wanted talks with the new management regime for assurances over pay and terms.

Peter McIntosh, the Unite union’s acting national officer for energy, said: “This decision is long overdue. The 2014 contract should not have been awarded to any organisation.”

He added: “We need to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money through the transfer of the business and it is not paid for at the expense of the workforce.”

Whitehall’s spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), has strongly criticised the NDA and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy over the handling and oversight of the nuclear cleanup contract, one of the government’s biggest ever.

A review of the failings that led to the bungled process, written by the former National Grid boss Steve Holliday, is due to be published later this year.

Bringing the Magnox work back into the public sector means that about 85% of Britain’s nuclear cleanup work is in public hands, after the NDA’s takeover of the Sellafield storage and reprocessing site in 2016.

The PAC last week announced an inquiry into the NDA’s work at Sellafield, which is forecast to be £913m over budget and faces potential delays.

Magnox Ltd looks after 10 former Magnox power stations and two nuclear research sites.

July 6, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) fails to report on Sellafield’s highly dangerous Analytical Services Laboratory (ASL) facility

CORE 4th July 2018 ,As a site, the full appreciation of chemical legislation, including The
Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations DSEAR, has been
inadequate’. [Sellafield Ltd Board of Investigation report on 2017
‘chemical event’ and made available to CORE in April 2018]

Many of the findings of the more recently published (20th June 2018) National Audit
Office (NAO) report will come as little surprise, once again apportioning
blame for a litany of missed milestones, mismanagement of contracts and
delays and overspend on major projects by site owner the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

The report also criticises the Government’s failure to challenge and assess the NDA’s performance. Of
Sellafield’s 1400 buildings (operational and legacy), some are considered
by NAO to fall short of modern standards and, through deterioration,
‘pose a significant risk to people and the environment’.

Identified as amongst Sellafield’s top 10 highest hazards is the site’s plutonium
stock and associated management facilities, the NAO report warns
specifically of decaying plutonium canisters – a leak from which would
add to the growing list of ’intolerable risks’ posed by Sellafield as
identified by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the acknowledged
risks posed by the volumes of hazardous wastes and materials stored in
run-down buildings.

Yet curiously absent from the references to run down
buildings and intolerable risks – and despite making the national
headlines when the Army’s bomb squad was rushed to Sellafield late one
October weekend last year to deal with unstable chemicals – is the
site’s Analytical Services Laboratory (ASL) facility and the cocktail of
chemicals and radioactive materials it holds.

One of the oldest facilities on site (built in 1951) and located in the tight and highly controlled
confines of Sellafield’s Separation Area alongside old reprocessing plant
and the high hazard legacy ponds and silos, around 50 of ASL’s original
150 laboratories are currently operational. Described by the Office for
Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in June 2017 as a ‘relatively high risk’
facility whose laboratories hold a ‘considerable radiological
inventory’ that ‘has potentially high off-site consequences in the
event of a major accident’, it is little wonder that the Bomb Squad’s
arrival in late October 2017 to deal with ‘unstable chemicals’ and
their potential to ignite or explode; the evacuation of workers and a
100-metre cordon thrown up around ASL should have triggered major alarm
bells locally and further afield.
http://corecumbria.co.uk/briefings/chemical-chaos-and-confusion-at-sellafield-yet-another-intolerable-risk/

July 6, 2018 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement (MDA) of 1958 underpins UK-USA ‘s joint nuclear arms race

David Lowry’s Blog 4th July 2018 , On 3 July 1958 the United States Government signed a bilateral agreement
with the UK, the effect of which has for sixty years to completely undermine the moral authority of Washington and London to preach to atomic aspirant countries that nuclear weapons are bad for national security; and civilian nuclear activities should be kept separate from any military uses.

This deal – often called the US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement (MDA) on atomic energy matters (in which the word defence is spelled with an ‘s’, even in the official UK Treaty series version, indicating its political provenance) – is the agreement that provided the underpinning framework for the subsequent Polaris and Trident nuclear weapons of mass destruction deals with US, as well as facilitating the testing of British nuclear warheads in Nevada, after the 1963 partial nuclear test ban treaty halted the atmospheric testing of nuclear explosive devices.
http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2018/07/how-us-uk-mutual-defense-agreement.html

July 6, 2018 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

 The British campaigners who shed light on deadly nuclear fuel reprocessing 

Children were dying. They took action The British campaigners who shed light on deadly nuclear fuel reprocessing https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/1909887908, By Linda Pentz Gunter 1 June 18

The road winds steeply up through bucolic countryside, some of the most spectacular in Britain. There are sheep bleating in the distant meadows. Then suddenly, you are out on the fell, stripped almost barren, black, empty. But still there are sheep, their wool the same smoky color as the landscape, dotted like the rocks that are scattered across these bleak tops, the hallmark of the storied Lake District. Then down we go again, past a stone-walled pub, up another hill, and we are pulling up in front of a whitewashed cottage straight from a Beatrix Potter film.

And indeed, that is where we are — in Potter country — about as far removed in atmosphere and idyll as it is possible to be from the ugly, industrial, and deadly blight that sits just a few miles away on the Cumbria shore. That would be the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing facility, which spews radioactive waste into the sea, pumps it into the air, and has accumulated 140 tonnes of plutonium to absolutely no purpose.

A sheepdog runs out to greet us. A pair of elderly cats languish contentedly on a warm stone wall, basking in some late afternoon sunshine. Later, we are introduced to a small flock of Herdwick sheep who are “pets,” and a flock of pigeons, of which more later.

The people who live in the house are Janine Allis-Smith and Martin Forwood, the heart of the aptly named small activist group CORE — Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment. They have dedicated more than three decades to challenging the continued operation of Sellafield and calling out the harm it has caused. 

Martin and Janine, partners in life as well as activism, embody the longstanding and tenacious anti-nuclear fight in Cumbria, the most nuclear county in the United Kingdom. Without their watchdog vigilance and their educational advocacy, far less would be known about the dangers posed by the British nuclear industry, and particularly by the Sellafield reprocessing and nuclear waste site.

Martin and Janine have been at the heart of the struggle against the Sellafield operations since the mid-1980s. They have exposed the facility’s clandestine activities, especially emissions of radioactive wastes into the environment. For Janine, formerly from the Netherlands, this hit home especially hard when her own son was diagnosed with leukemia in 1983. He survived, but as Janine began to look into the issue, she found far too many other instances of childhood leukemias among children living close to Sellafield, many fatal.

The pair began to suspect that radioactive discharges from Sellafield were contaminating local beaches and tide pools where children loved to play. And, as Allis-Smith, recounted, “it was not just leukemia, but other cancers. Some were stillborn, while other suffered unexplained deaths at a very young age.”

This launched Janine and Martin on a relentless campaign to expose the on-going violations at the Sellafield site where radioactive discharges have made the Irish Sea one of the most radioactively contaminated bodies of water in the world. In 2017, CORE released a damning report which showed how, “during the 1995-2013 period, the radioactive discharges to the marine environment from Sellafield’s reprocessing facilities B205 (magnox) and THORP (oxide) have dominated those from all other UK facilities and are recognized as being the major contributor to the levels of radioactive substances recorded in the Irish Sea and wider oceans.”

Both Martin and Janine were new to the issue when they began their work. But they quickly educated themselves, then others. They perfected an ideal and complementary presentation style — with Martin offering a simple, lay explanation of reprocessing itself, then Janine describing its impact, especially on the health of children. They quickly moved hearts and minds in equal measure. Politicians, the media, and the public at large were forced to take notice.

Over the years, the pair have collected numerous mud samples from local beaches and estuaries that have been analyzed for radioactive contamination, confirming their suspicions.

The pair uncovered scandals involving illegal activities at the Sellafield site. They fought the THORP reprocessing plant, due to close permanently in 2018; the rash decision to develop a MOX fuel manufacturing plant, which closed after just 10 years of operation; and the global transport of radioactive materials.

In 1990 Martin gave his first guided “Alternative Sellafield Tour”, highlighting the spots where the reprocessing plant endangers the environment.

More recently, the pair were part of a successful effort to prevent the Nuclear Waste Agency NIREX from building a subterranean depository for British and international nuclear waste at the edge of the Lake District National Park.

Currently, they are at the forefront of the fight to block new nuclear power plants planned for Moorside adjacent to Sellafield. Their landmark 2015 report, “Moorside Build & Job Projections – All Spin and No Substance,” has proven an essential tool for the broad opposition to this deadly scheme.

The couple are not without a sense of fun either. In 2005, Martin made and delivered a radioactive “Pizza Cumbriana” to the Italian Embassy in London — Italy was shipping radioactive waste to Sellafield for reprocessing at the time. The box was marked “Best before 26005”, a reference to plutonium 239, which has a half-life of 24,400 years. The pizza was immediately seized by the Environment Agency, stored, then buried eight years later at the Drigg nuclear waste dump in Cumbria, adjacent to the Sellafield site.

Also buried as radioactive waste was the garden of two elderly ladies living along the sea front in the drab town of Seascale adjacent to the Sellafield plant. The sisters had devotedly fed flocks of pigeons who visited their garden — birds that also roosted on the Sellafiled roofs. After the guesthouse next door complained about excessive bird poop and called for the birds’ removal, the entire garden had to be excavated down to several feet and hauled away as radioactive waste. Martin and Janine took in a few of those pigeons. Their descendants still live with them today and appear each morning and evening on the garage roof for feeding time.

Last year, Forwood and Allis-Smith received some long-overdue recognition for their commitment to a safer, cleaner, greener environment when they received the Nuclear-Free Future Award in the category of Education, a prize that carries a $10,000 cheque, a rare and much needed boon in a movement largely deprived of meaningful or consistent funding. (Disclaimer, I nominated them for the award.)

The couple were unable to attend the ceremony, but wrote in a press release: “We are honoured to have received NFFA’s Education Award for 2017 and humbled to be joining the list of diverse and distinguished winners of the past. Since the 1980s, when Sellafield was preparing to double its commercial reprocessing activities, we have focused not only on acting locally but also being the ‘eyes and ears’ for the many interested parties world-wide on Sellafield and its many detriments which include site accidents, environmental contamination, health risks, plutonium stockpiles and nuclear transports.

“With decades of uniquely difficult decommissioning yet to come, and with plans for new-build at Moorside, we still have much to do and will face the challenges with the same determination that has seen us through the many highs and lows experienced over the last thirty years in our campaign against an industry we believe still has much to answer for.” (You can view their full acceptance remarks in the video higher up in this article.)

This article was adapted from its original publication in The Ecologist.

 

July 2, 2018 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, UK | 1 Comment

The UK’s Hitachi nuclear bailout- a classic case of crony capitalism

Morning Star 29th June 2018 , ENVIRONMENT Secretary Michael Gove promised earlier this month to crack
down on “crony capitalism.” At the same time his cabinet colleague
Energy Secretary Greg Clark was offering a £5 billion bailout to Japanese
nuclear firm Hitachi.

It looks like a classic crony capitalist deal. Gove
argued: “Crony capitalists have rigged the system in their favour and
against the rest of us.” A classic crony capitalist deal is where a big
firm uses its power and lobbying to squeeze a contract from the government
that is good for the capitalists but bad for us.

The Hitachi bailout looks like such a rigged deal. Hitachi Europe chief executive Sir Stephen
Gommersall isn’t an expert in nuclear power or engineering. He is the
former British ambassador to Japan. Gommersall was hired right out of the
Foreign Office to help open doors for Hitachi. Tim Stone sits on the board
of Horizon Nuclear Power, Hitachi’s British nuclear arm. Stone, a former
KPMG consultant, was chief adviser to the energy secretary from 2008-13,
helping shape both Labour and Tory-Lib Dem governments’ nuclear energy
policy. Before that Stone advised the government on many PFI deals,
including famously bad-value ones.
https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/nuclear-powered-crony-capitalism

July 2, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy relating to Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty – US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement

David Lowry’s Blog 29th June 2018 , Article I of the NPT starts with the following commitment on Russia, the US
and UK: “Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to
transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear
explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices
directly, or indirectly”

Extraordinarily, just two days earlier in
Washington, the US hosted a bilateral meeting with the UK to celebrate the
60th anniversary – from July 3, 1958 – of a hugely significant nuclear
defence agreement (commonly called the US–UK Mutual Defense
Agreement,(MDA) with defence spelled with an ‘s’ even in the official
UK version, hinting at the origin of its drafting).
http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2018/06/naked-nuclear-hypocrisy.html

July 2, 2018 Posted by | politics international, UK, USA | Leave a comment