At a meeting in Bramfield village hall, ten days ago, the EdF representative addressing the audience stated that there is now a solution to nuclear waste. That is a seriously over-stated bit of propaganda from the nuclear industry and a deliberate twist on the actual situation, no doubt designed to convince people that they can stop worrying about the management of nuclear waste. Sadly, the statement is not borne out by the facts. No matter how many times something is repeated, it doesn’t necessarily make it true. Every agency associated with the nuclear industry, from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to the Environment Agency, employs this tactic of saying something over and over again in the hope that it will cease to be something over which people express concern.

They do so despite being fully aware that the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), of which I was a member between 2003 and 2007, recommended disposal as the ‘least worst option’ for the management of radioactive waste rather than the ‘best’ option and only did so given ‘the current state of knowledge’. It assumed that the state of knowledge would progress to a more sophisticated solution than one which involves sticking the waste in a hole in the ground. Moreover, CoRWM conditioned its recommendation particularly around the generation of new nuclear waste which it explicitly excluded from its recommendations as the creation of a new inventory of hotter and more radioactive waste throws up a different set of problems – technical, scientific, moral, environmental and societal – than those associated with the management of a waste inventory which already exists.

After the withdrawal of the Cumbria County Council in 2013 from the attempt to use the Copeland site, the revised ‘Managing Radioactive Waste Safely’ programme has taken six years to reach the point where Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM) is now actively seeking a volunteer community. At present, there are no takers and therefore there is no site and no idea of the transport requirements to and from that site, nor the configuration, depth or other characteristics of a potential site; there is contention over the adequacy of the cladding for the thousands of spent fuel rods which will need to be disposed of, doubt about the confidence we can place on the long term safety of a repository, no final determination of the sub-strata in which the repository should be built and, crucially, many critical scientific and technical issues that RWM are still trying to resolve which may yet demonstrate that disposal is unsafe. The industry tells people there is a solution to nuclear waste management: that is not true and its representatives should have the courage to admit that to audiences by at least using a conditional ‘potential’ or ‘possible’ adjective when mentioning ‘solution’.

At the Bramfield meeting, I was told that I have a ‘philosophical difference’ of view about these matters. The difference is not philosophical but factual and the fact is that we do not have a solution to radioactive waste management. What we have is a theoretical solution which has a long way to go before it can be called safe and secure. The people of east Suffolk already live with a few hundred tonnes of lethal spent PWR fuel and an unimaginable amount of resulting radioactivity. Sizewell C and D, should they ever be built, will add a massive additional burden to that already bourn by this community. That burden could be shouldered for many decades or even centuries into the future by generations who will have derived no putative benefits from the existence of Sizewell A, B, C or D. Representatives of a responsible developer have an obligation to be honest with people about the nature and the consequences of the additional risks they wish to foist on the people of Suffolk.


Pete Wilkinson

Dear Sir,

The EADT article by your Richard Cornwell 25th January has revealed that local Community leaders and hopefully others are at last beginning to realize the immense and devastating consequences the proposed Sizewell C&D development will have here upon the whole area. EDF and their Chinese partners, Chinese General Nuclear (CGN) are intending to trash our heritage coast with their plans to build two of their latest, monster, yet unproven, French designed European Pressurised Reactors known as (EPR) 's. The EDF consultation III, which runs until the 29th march, has now revealed that the earlier preferred 800 metre long sea borne pier delivery option described in Consultation II is to be cancelled and EDF now intends to deliver all materials instead, using roads and rail as the alternative. This will now require even more traffic and major road changes on an even larger scale. They now consider sea deliveries would be environmentally damaging to the marine life! so instead they now intend to trash an even larger area of the whole heritage coast in agreement presumably with our local council,and councillors, local MP, all devoted to this crazy scheme and of course government too! EDF/CGN still however, propose to run several tunnels, approx. three kilometers or more far out sea to suck and blow sea water to cool their turbines as is currently the case for Sizewell B. Fishermen are often blamed for fish losses, over fishing the local and north sea waters. But now, I understand it is being realized by the environment Agency, and others groups that the real cause is in all probability connected perhaps to our nuclear industry. These many large pipes will continue to suck in the cooling water with up to a tonne of fish 'fry' every day so I understand, amounting to the loss of many many hundreds of tonnes of fish per year. All lost! This is where the trouble lies and there is no solution to it. The hidden reason for the real depletion of fish numbers has been exposed. Another revelation is that the concreting grade aggregate on the scale required, is only available from elsewhere and would have to be sourced from the other side of the country. The grades locally are of a pebble kind not of an angular granular aggregate, suitable for high grade concreting material. I watch developments with much interest.

Bob Hoggar

Fiona Cairns (last week) was right to raise questions about the news that many more energy projects are now trying to crowd through the "Energy Gateway" at Sizewell. Fears and worries go much wider than just the impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The news is that the start of the East Anglian offshore wind farm cabling now needs to be done. More big offshore zones are waiting out there. Then there are two undersea interconnector cables, projects Nautilus and Eurolink. These are necessary to balance weather changes across Europe and buy and sell electricty, also coming onshore at Sizewell.These cables need very big converter stations - measured by football pitch sizes - and It's all at Sizewell because of the route to the nearest national grid circuit, where EDF's nuclear power goes via the pylons built back in the nationalised nuclear industry days before EDF.

The other development, though not signalled yet, is the need for a vast nuclear dry store for 40 years or more for Sizewell C. It would need to be at least 6 times the size of the recently built dry store, needing extra land and costing too. A huge development because Sizewell C is two, not one reactor, and these two would be the world's biggest.

The impact of all this is going to be huge and far too much for Suffolk's poor infrastructure, for nature impact, for tourism, for residents and commuters. Stretched over a long period, 10-15  years for the nuclear project, a decade maybe for the wind farms - It seems to have shocked local politicians who've promoted the "Energy Gateway" so hard. Their own government has licenced it all and must have known - why were communities not told ?

What can be done ? The offshore wind farms are already licensed and building, the interconnectors are necessary for shortfalls and surpluses. But as time passes, more nuclear at Sizewell is looking less credible for a whole range of reasons. Meanwhile, cvommunities south of the Leiston-Sizewell road will face all of the cabling challenges. Local talk says EDF won't cooperate on land and pylon access. So, isn't it about time EDF admitted that Sizewell C is not suitable for Suffolk, not necessary given these other truly renewable supplies, not sustainable because a 60 year lifespan and 10 to 15 years to build mean it is going to be technologicaly redundant in any case. There are may more objections to Szewell C, but if it is no longer necessary, shouldn't it be cancelled ? It would free up land and pylon capacity and reduce the burden on the communities facing the cabling and converter stations impacts.

Regan Scott, Great Bealings

According to senior Cllr Andy Smith, at a Suffolk coastal erosion meeting (SCAR) only a few days ago, EDF are going to do their 3rd and final consultation about Sizewell C as early as January next year.

That's a real rush. By common understanding they simply haven't done the environmental assessments and lots of other work required by the planners. They have not been able to propose any solutions to the many traffic and other big isssues. Coastal and potable water issues are serious - millions of gallons of water wil be needed to mix the special nuclear cements and Suffolk acquifers could run dry. Even if they had done the work, they woudn't have found solutions because the problems are in any case insoluble.

So, the EDF statement (Anglian, Wed 28) that Sizewell C is the "next" project, but still needs to cross major business and cost hurdles looks odd indeed. We learn that EDF is to be an "invited" developer, not a "nominated" developer under proposed new Government rules (EN6 Mark 2). These rules will tighten some business and security standards for new nuclear, while posing new issues for environment protection. EDF also say that the project is "not set in stone".

So what's going on ? It looks like more muddle, just to keep the pot boiling. Or is the aim perhaps to get a licence from the planners quickly under current easier rules and then sit on it or sell it - maybe to their Chinese business partners ?

Whatever the case may be, it looks like more of the smoke and mirrors so beloved of politicians and top people. Especially since Minister & MP Therese Coffey at the same coastal meeting said there was no need to rush Sizewell C. For us lesser mortals, that is, the long suffering Suffolk public and voters and campaigners, EDF's Sizewell C project is looking less like an "Energy Gateway" and more like a cul-de-sac.

Not good for Suffolk, surely. Why doesn't EDF come clean, and "fess up" that it is not a sustainable or necessary or a Suffolk-suitable project. EDF could get socially responsible and do what it is being told to do in France: that is, follow other advanced nations, and get into renewables in a big way. EDF are doing this in Scotland already - so why not cancel Sizewell C, and get involved in renewable technologies ?

Regan Scott

Great Bealings