This article has been copied from the BBC website on July 07 2019 . A link to the original is here

Joan Girling - fighting for her "beloved coast"

Joan Girling has been fighting the nuclear industry most of her adult life.

She was at school when the new Magnox reactor was begun on the Suffolk coast at Sizewell in the 1960s.

Her father told her it was a "necessary evil".

But when she moved to Leiston, just a few miles from the nuclear power station, and work began on Sizewell B in the 1980s, she could no longer ignore it.

"The traffic and the noise was so bad... I had to move house to the other side of Leiston. I had three children. I couldn't let them be exposed to that," she said.

Then in 1989 the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) proposed a Sizewell C and Joan decided she had to do something.

At a fractious meeting at the Leiston Film Theatre in the High Street opposite the fish and chip shop, she founded Community Against Sizewell C.

Joan and an array of other anti-nuclear groups won that fight. Sizewell C was cancelled. The plan was resurrected in 1993 and Joan helped fight and win that one as a local councillor. But she has no illusions about what swung the argument.

"It was the finances that didn't work out for them, " she says resignedly. "Not the environment. It's always finance that has the final say."

Joan picks her way along what botanists call the "vegetative shingle" that lies on the beach in front of the Sizewell dome, and spots plants like one might spot old friends: "There's Sea Campion, and Lady's Bedstraw. There's Sea Kale and Sea Holly. That one there is a sedum. The Sea Pea, that lives further up the beach."

EDF and Sizewell C

The CEGB is now long gone. Today it is the giant French energy group EDF who wants to build Sizewell C. The protestors now call themselves Together Against Sizewell C (TASC).

In the next few weeks the plans will go to the Planning Inspectorate and then on to Secretary of State. If it is approved Joan expects ten years or more of construction, millions of tonnes of aggregate roaring in by road or rail, spoil heaps and a campus of more than 6,000 workers, on what she calls "my beloved coast."

"Look at the pictures of Hinkley Point in Somerset. Look at that mess. I don't want that here," she says

The nuclear argument

In the 1980s, while Joan was campaigning against Sizewell B, Jim Crawford was starting his career at Torness nuclear power station. Today he is EDF's Project Development Director at Sizewell. Nuclear is almost as much a part of him as his Glaswegian accent.

While Joan talks of Fukushima, of Chernobyl, of the cracks and mishaps in France's Flamanville plant, wall after wall of Jim's offices carry posters proclaiming EDF's relentless pursuit of safety.

For Jim, the nuclear argument is one of necessity. Coal is being phased out by 2025. If we are to meet the zero-carbon emissions target by 2050, gas will have to be cut as well. Half our aging nuclear capacity is going to be decommissioned by the end of the next decade.

Meanwhile, we will need more electricity not less, as the economy demands more electricity for data centres, cars, trains, even, some believe, planes. Renewables will not be enough says EDF.

Bringing down costs

As for the cost, Mr Crawford says duplication is the key: "For the first time the UK has an opportunity to build a fleet of Pressurised Water Reactors, all of them the same.

"If, in a few years, you were to go into the turbine hall at Sizewell or Hinckley you shouldn't be able to know which one you're in. That brings down costs, spare parts, training, maintenance and minimises regulatory approval."

A proven duplicated design should mean less risk to investors, which in turn brings down the cost of borrowed money, arguably the biggest cost of all: while Hinckley Point pays its investors 9% interest, Sizewell, hopes to borrow at 5-6%. That's a lot less when you're borrowing billions.

Sizewell and Hinckley would then be a blueprint for a nuclear future.

Joan sighs at the thought: "No, nuclear plant, never, not one, has come in on time and on budget."

Protected areas

Sizewell is hemmed in with every kind of protected area. Philip Ridley, Head of Planning and Coastal Management at East Suffolk Council, admits: "If you were looking for a place to build a nuclear power station you could not have chosen a more environmentally sensitive spot."

The whole coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The shingle beach is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Sizewell Marshes, just behind the plant is a Special Protected Area (SPA). The Leiston Sandlings to the south are another SPA. There's even an ancient monument nearby, Leiston Abbey.

But Mr Ridley believes a compromise can be reached. After all, there are thousands of jobs, local supply chains, skills and training that will all follow in Sizewell C's wake.


But it is hard to compromise on Minsmere, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and an SSSI. The thousand hectares of marsh, less than a mile to the north, is the pride of the RSPB, where in 1947 the avocet, now the emblem of the charity, started breeding again for the first time in 100 years. It is home to 5,800 plant and animal species, marsh harriers, otters, water voles and bearded tits.

Adam Rowlands, Minsmere senior site manager, says: "For the RSPB, the scale of risk is higher than anything else we have ever been faced with before.

"The proposed footprint extends into the marshes behind the site which is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and we are concerned at the loss of habitat over the ten years of construction due to noise and light and disturbances, and also the effects on the water table."

At the moment Minsmere's water levels are delicately controlled by sluices. Mr Rowlands says any unexpected rise or fall of a few centimetres could flood nests and destroy habitats.

It's not just the fresh water inland but the salt water of the North Sea that worries the RSPB.

It is an unpredictable and mobile coastline. The RSPB fears that higher sea defences and a concrete landing strip for barges could drastically alter the shoreline - and Minsmere


In response EDF has issued lengthy consultation papers. The local Suffolk Wildlife Trust's response to the latest and most detailed one is littered with references to "inadequate assessment".

What's more, there are fears EDF will only release a full assessment immediately before the plans go before the Planning Inspectorate, giving local groups little time to respond.

Jim Crawford insists the whole process is one of constant negotiation: "Don't imagine we are going to keep everything quiet, say nothing and then at the last minute go ta-da! and surprise everyone. No. This is a process of continual negotiation and talking."


30th May 2019

Together Against Sizewell C chairman, Pete Wilkinson, claims that EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy makes some schoolboy errors in his fatuous defence of nuclear power in his IEA February 25th speech, this having been recently reported by World Nuclear News, 20 May 2019. Pete Wilkinson says “M. Lévy is careful to use the word ‘direct’ when claiming that nuclear power produces electricity without emissions; by this, he presumably means that the only part of the nuclear fuel cycle that can even come close to being ‘low carbon’ is that which ‘burns’ uranium in the reactor. Of course, he knows, as do we all, that across the entire fuel cycle, nuclear requires an acceptance of a carbon footprint from uranium mining, milling, enrichment, fuel production, transport, nuclear plant construction, storage and the still-unknown CO2 burdens created by final spent fuel and waste management conundrums. To claim otherwise is disingenuous, especially from someone in such a position of responsibility.

It is true that the fight against climate change is challenging, but to conclude that nuclear power is essential to winning that fight is wrong and designed to defend a technology which is antiquated, costly, polluting and presents us with a wealth of unresolved health issues related to childhood leukaemia. Sixty studies, including the seminal German government-sponsored KiKK Report indicate elevated rates of leukaemia and other cancers as a result of exposure to ionising radiation.

The Oxford Research Group produced a report some years ago which clearly demonstrated that, given the global nature of the problem of climate change, it would require the building of at least 3000 nuclear plants to have a noticeable impact on the problem – that’s one new plant a week for 60 years. Impossible, yes, but wholly undesirable as well since the nuclear waste legacy that scale of programme would create is unthinkable: we can’t even deal with the 500,000 cubic metres of legacy waste in the UK after 60 years of merrily creating it without a thought about how to manage it safely. Even after ten years of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the UK is still no closer to a universally safe and secure means of dealing with the legacy waste, let alone the hotter and more radioactive waste which M. Levy’s reactors will leave us over the next few decades in return for huge amounts of UK tax payers’ cash should the plant at Hinkley ever be finished and should Sizewell become more than an EdF aspiration.

A further reason why nuclear power cannot hope to have more than a minor role to play in the fight against the climate emergency, is the fact that the plants take so long to build. The ‘nuclear renaissance’ in the UK was mooted on the back of energy security and low carbon. The lights in the UK were, at the time of Blair’s announcement in 2005, predicted to go out in 2017. It is now 2019, the lights didn’t go out and no new nuclear is contributing electricity to the national grid in the UK and is unlikely to be doing so for at least another six or seven years – probably longer, given the historic over-runs of time and budget which accompany nuclear plant. Nuclear is an option for the future, not an imperative: that much has been shown time and again with analyses from highly reputable and responsible green and academic groups. Nuclear just can’t contribute fast enough and even if and when it does, its contribution will be only marginal at best, negative at worst.

By definition, renewables are potentially endless. They rely on the Sun, the wind, the tides and ambient energy. Moreover, the source of the energy arrives free-of-charge, without mining for rare, unstable and potentially lethal metals or digging for fossil fuels to burn, releasing their carbon back into the atmosphere. Combined with efficiency measures, decentralised electricity generation, smart grids and conservation measures which have already seen electricity demand fall in the UK by some 16% in the last decade, we can meet all our climate change, cost and demand targets without nuclear. This has been demonstrated time and time again: nuclear is an option, not an imperative, and it is an option we should refuse.

Quite apart from the fact that EdF’s flagship EPR Flamanville plant is facing a further two year delay as a result of ASN’s likely demands that reactor core welds are repaired, it is appropriate to remind M. Lévy that EdF is hugely in debt, that its board of Directors are not united in their view of the company’s new build programme and that the victim communities around the proposed sites for new build are fearful of the wholesale disruption to their lives, the environment and the tranquility they currently enjoy in these largely remote and isolated sites”.

Two TASC members visited Hinkley Point and gave us this report.

After being accepted on to the tour we were asked to report to the EDF visitor centre in Bridgewater at 10 am. Once there we were asked for ID and, at random, some of us had to be searched. Those who were not selected for searching were asked to sit down while those who were, Bob was one, were taken aside and body searched by an officious G4S woman in uniform. He had to take clothes off but she declined when he offered to remove his trousers too!

It was emphasised that no cameras or phones could be used on the tour.

There were about 25 of us. A mixed bunch, some lads from the local college, some middle aged folk who looked as though they had been before and were interested in the progress at the site, and Bob and me. Once we were all sitting down we were given the whole EDF glossy presentation with slides and usual emphasis on jobs and what they are contributing to schools and the community.

We were then herded out to a waiting coach and driven out of Bridgewater to the site. As we travelled along the ‘guide’ was quick to point out the new bypass, large roundabouts and road improvements put in place before construction started and how traffic management cameras control where commuter, delivery and construction vehicles are allowed to go. We had noticed, however, signs directing delivery vehicles through residential areas on the outskirts of the town.

When we reached the site we were shocked at the size of it. It is enormous!! To imagine it at Sizewell is frightening. At the moment they are building the first reactor site and it is 180 hectares, 245 football pitches, and will grow ‘slightly’ to accommodate the second reactor construction. They didn’t say by how much. We noticed the number of cranes of all sizes. We counted 36 and the guide boasted that very soon the biggest crane in the world, ‘Big Carl’, would arrive from Ghent to lift enormous loads such as reactor vessels.

The size of the spoil heaps are beyond belief and the huge dumper trucks, which take 100 tons and loaded in 90 seconds, moving up and down them look miniscule. There are also huge rock crushers making various grades of material. The batching plants are as enormous as we have seen and controlled by a PHD engineer responsible for 17 different grades of concrete.

The concrete sea wall was pointed out under which the seawater cooling tunnels will be bored. Two 3.3km intake, one 2km outfall. The huge 7m dia. pipe sections were in the lay up area along with the boring machine and drilling heads which would be left at the end of the tunnels when they are complete because they are too big to retrieve.

All this time on the tour it was impossible to assess the full impact of the noise because the coach was sealed and sound proof. They are allowed up to 65 decibles during the day and 40 decibles at night, we were told.

We saw the on-site accommodation blocks. These take 510 workers and cost £35 a day full board. These are right on the edge of the site. Others in Bridgewater are capable of taking 986. Two thirds of the work force will rent privately in the area or be home based. The commute is up to 90 minutes, as with Sizewell, and we pointed out that this represents 60 miles plus 10 to 12 miles from park and ride to site. 70 plus miles each way to work. There are 50 nationalities on site!

A geodesic dome under construction was pointed out on site to cover the reactor vessel. Having learnt from Flamanville that they need protection from the weather!

It was pointed out that fish deterrent apparatus is still being negotiated.

The 5km jetty was used to dump water from the dewatering of the site into the sea.

After the coach returned to Bridgewater we met Alan Jeffrey, from Stop Hinkley. We had lunch together and spent a couple of hours talking with him.

This text was copied from an article on the Montel website. The link is here
French utility EDF must repair faulty welds on its new generation European pressurised reactor (EPR) Flamanville or reinforce the under construction plant, the ASN nuclear safety authority said.
These were the “two options currently on the table”, said ASN president Bernard Doroszczuk during a presentation of the watchdog’s annual safety report to parliamentarians on Thursday.

The ASN would announce a final decision on which course to take next month, he added, with Montel having reported earlier this week that this would happen once its group of experts had met on 6 June.

“Complex operation”

While repairing the welds was “quite feasible”, reinforcing the 1.6 GW plant could be a “complex operation” for which the unit was not necessarily conceived, said Doroszczuk.

However, the “French nuclear industry is currently facing a skills shortage”, which could complicate things, he added. 

Repairing the welds could push back the planned start-up of the reactor early next year by two years to 2022, sources told Montel last month.    

Last July, EDF delayed the 1.6 GW EPR launch by yet another year due to the defective welds. It also raised the total estimated cost of construction by EUR 400m to EUR 10.9bn.

Linda Pentz Gunter from Beyond Nuclear International wrote an article about Sizewell C for the BNI website on 31-03-19. A link to the article is here
Below is an extract:

"The Sizewell reactors sit on a windswept beach just yards from a sea that has already consumed ancient villages as the coastline changed and eroded over the centuries. Now the sea level rise that will come with climate change promises in time to drown a few more, most likely including the Sizewell nuclear site. Undeterred, the French government nuclear company, EDF, insists it will build a new reactor at Sizewell — one of its ill-fated EPR design that is already struggling at Flamanville, Olkiluoto and Hinkley. Just from a climate change point of view, it is an exercise in insanity. But there is so much more at stake.

The local activist group, Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) has been challenging the EDF plan for years, even as Sizewell sits permanently second in the queue behind the ever more delayed and ever more exorbitant sister site at Hinkley C in Somerset, where EDF is attempting to build two EPRs. Despite the technical problems, cost over-runs and the obscene strike price EDF scored off the UK government — which would almost triple current electricity rates — the company insists in can build Sizewell C more cheaply than Hinkley C and that construction could start within the next three years. It’s a pretty tall order and, arguably, total French farce."