Suffolk communities unite to make demands from Sizewell C

(Article from East Angia daily Times)

20 March 2015

Communities are uniting in the demands they are to make as part of the development of a nuclear power plant in east Suffolk.

Representatives from 50 town and parish councils met the Joint Local Authority Group (JLAG) to agree a range of measures they will call on EDF Energy to deliver in phase two of its Sizewell C consultation.

The meeting agreed the need for the whole community – Suffolk County Council (SCC), Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) and parish councils – “to work rapidly together” to press EDF to agree its terms.

Long-held aspirations for a four villages A12 bypass are included in the demands along with assurances for Yoxford, Middleton and Theberton to be protected from the “predicted substantial increase in traffic on the B1122”.

JLAG, which is formed from SCC and SCDC members, also agreed to push EDF to present an “early timetable” for its future plans.

More than two years has passed since phase one of the Sizewell consultation went out and the date for phase two has been repeatedly delayed. When it arrives, JLAG is also urging for there to be at least 12 weeks’ community consultation – rather than the eight proposed – so that people have sufficient time to consider what is an “extremely complex” project.

JLAG chairman Andy Smith said the “resounding view” of the meeting was that EDF needed to provide more detailed information for the consultation, which he urged “as many people as possible” to take part in. “I would urge all local communities to ready themselves,” he added. “We don’t yet know when it will begin but it is currently not scheduled to run for long, so readiness to respond will be essential.”

Debbi Tayler, spokesman for the Four Villages Bypass group, said she welcomed the outcome, which was “what we have been pushing for all along”.

She said the need for a bypass around Stratford St Andrew, Farnham, Marlesford and Little Glemham was more apparent than ever, highlighting the “astonishing” traffic that built up during recent road works, which she says will only worsen during Sizewell’s construction.

Tony Middleditch, a Yoxford councillor, who has been campaigning for EDF to abandon its plans for construction traffic to use the B1122 in favour of a new road built further south known as the “D2” route, also welcomed the progress made.

“I think they’ve realised there’s a problem that the D2 route would solve and at least now they are putting pressure on EDF,” he said.

Leonora van Gils, a Darsham resident who has highlighted the problems faced by homeowners while EDF’s plans are dragged out, also called for more clarity.

“Why are they taking so long?” she asked. “Do they think it is fair to have people not knowing for all this time?”

EDF Energy said it was “committed to a full and robust consultation” and would be providing more information about the project in the next stage, the timing of which was linked to the final decision at Hinkley Point, its other nuclear power project in Somerset.

In the meantime, people were invited to raise questions at the Sizewell C information office in Leiston High Street.

A conservation group has accused council chiefs of “cutting corners” in the assessment of a proposed new 165-acre wildlife site to replace internationally-important habitat that will be lost if Sizewell C is built.

Suffolk Coastal council says the scheme for land at Aldhurst Farm at Leiston will be treated separately from any plans for a new nuclear power station and not as compensation as the habitat will be created whether the £14billion twin reactor plant goes ahead or not.

But Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth (FoE) says this decision means a less than adequate investigation of the impact of the new site and loss of part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) will take place – with no need for a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The group says EDF Energy has openly admitted the connection between the proposed wildlife site off Lovers Lane and Sizewell C as it will “help compensate for potential land-take from Sizewell Marshes SSSI”.

FoE said: “It is notable on the planning portal that the Suffolk Wildlife Trust questions whether the correct appraisals have been done with regard to the vulnerable nature reserve areas. In fact, the necessary assessments are seriously incomplete.

“This leaves our protected habitats and species in and around Sizewell at severe risk.

“Since the reason for this new habitat is to compensate for damage caused by Sizewell C construction works, then that damage must first be formally assessed, in line with the European Habitats Directive.

“This demands that all impacts be included, not just environmental changes caused by the new project itself, but the larger development as a whole, in combination with any other local proposals.

 

“This has not been achieved and as a result the screening and consideration of likely effects are inevitably misconstrued.”

Rachel Fulcher, the group’s coordinator, added: “These are serious oversights, with a bearing on a massive project that will ravage the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and our Heritage Coast.

“Wildlife will be lost and our tranquil, protected countryside will be ruined, along with our tourist trade which depends on it.

“Even if the proper appraisals take one or two more years to complete, then they should be done. Corner cutting like this undermines public confidence.”

In a letter, Philip Ridley, head of planning at Suffolk Coastal, said: “That the proposed habitat creation project is a stand-alone scheme, intended to be implemented and retained regardless of what does or does not happen with the Sizewell C project in due course, has been made clear in the application documents, and in particular in the Planning Statement.”

UK courts had decided that schemes which can go ahead on their own rather than as an integral part of a larger development should be treated as stand-alone and therefore the proposal would not need an EIA.

The scheme will include 14 acres of wetland habitat and a “heathland mosaic” including grassland, heathland, scrub and scattered trees.

(article copied from the ipswich star)

Appropriate Technologies

Promoters and purveyors of sustainable and evolutionary technologies

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER

Dear David Cameron,

Climate Change

It is deeply disturbing to realise, from your Government’s amendments on fracking
to the Infrastructure Bill passed in the Commons on the 26th January, and
uncritically confirmed yesterday in the Lords, that you have not begun to
understand the issues of Climate Change.

You have signed up, at Cancun, to keeping the level of global warming to 2oC.
This is essential to maintain our planet as a home for the human race. The
acknowledged figures show clearly that, to have an 80% chance of achieving this,
we cannot afford to produce more than 1000Gt of CO2 equivalent between 2000
and 2050 [see report in Nature of 30th April 2009 from the Potsdam Institute for
Climate Change]. Unfortunately, while you politicians have been dithering and
procrastinating over what limits to set, up to 2012 the world has already used 400Gt
of this. That leaves only 600Gt to be used over the next 38 years!

The Carbon Tracker Initiative has analysed the fossil fuel reserves of all the major
energy companies listed on the world’s stock exchanges, and the reserves held by
Governments, taking the figures from the World Energy Outlook 2012. It has not
included the difficult-to-extract reserves, such as oil sands, shale gas, Arctic,
Deepwater, etc.. That analysis shows that, if all these relatively easily accessible
and known reserves were burnt, it would produce almost 3000Gt of CO2 equivalent.
It doesn’t need a very big brain to realise that we cannot afford to burn even a
quarter of these reserves before 2050, and very little thereafter. The rest must stay
in the ground. So we must not use tar sands, we must not use shale gas, we must
not use Arctic, we must not use Deepwater, and we must save ourselves the serious
environmental damage from trying to extract gas by fracking.

This highlights the point, repeatedly made by the IPCC, the UNFCC and others,
that business as usual is NOT an option in keeping the temperature rise below 2oC.
We need genuine low-carbon solutions, and NOW, not in one year’s, five years’, or
ten years’ time.

So the bogus “solution” that your Government is peddling, against all reason and
sanity, of new nuclear energy is incompetent, irresponsible, ill-judged, and not just
ineffective but counter-productive. None of the nuclear projects currently on the
table could be completed within the next ten years, judging by the timescales for
the other four EPRs being built elsewhere in the world. That ten years is absolutely
critical for reducing our greenhouse gas production and transforming ourselves into
a very low carbon economy. Otherwise we will overshoot the 1000Gt of CO2
equivalent by 2030, let alone 2050. Yet during that time the only contribution they
would make would be to generate vast amounts of CO2 equivalent, from the
enormous construction works needed to try to keep such a dangerous technology
contained. And the EPRs have a particularly high carbon footprint because of the
double containment vessel design and the exceptionally large size of the reactor.

Furthermore, nuclear is not low carbon, but merely lower carbon than gas(380g)
and coal(800g). Independent research shows that its carbon footprint is more than
100g of CO2 equivalent per kwh and rising, being likely to reach 350g by 2050.
And that assumes that the plant continues to function for its full projected life, and
does not have to be closed early through accident, or structural or technical failure,
or even becoming uneconomic. Chernobyl was only two years old when it
exploded.

All the costings, and your Government’s own extraordinarily inept agreement with Electricité de France over Hinkley Point C, show the enormous costs of setting up
and running nuclear. And that is without the parts for which the Government has
retained financial responsibility — liability and clean-up costs for major accidents
(Fukushima clean-up current estimate ¥50 trillion); storage and disposal of the
nuclear waste, for which no proven technology or system yet exists. These are
unquantifiable and potentially enormous financial burdens being passed onto the
United Kingdom consumers, and entirely unnecessary.

No other energy technology locks its user into such a long-term commitment (up to
70 years), with no break clause. No other technology requires such an extended decommissioning time (over 100 years), during which the facility remains dangerous
to human health. No other technology produces highly dangerous waste, which
remains a risk to humans for thousands of years. This is not only an unsustainable
technology, it is one that no individual concerned about the welfare of the planet
and its occupants should ever contemplate using.

And to crown it, your experts in DECC have no clear idea of what our electricity
needs will be even in 2030, let alone 2085, when the first plant would start to be
decommissioned. What they can see is that electricity demand is going down year
on year. So to commit to an inflexible technology that would only have been
operating for 5 years at most before we are into the complete unknown in terms of
energy need is a highly speculative and uninformed decision. Then to have another
55 years of unadjustable electricity delivery — its either fully on or fully off — at a
time when we must be using as much genuinely low-carbon renewable generation
as possible would be pure insanity. Constant steady-stream supply from nuclear
does not mesh with permanently varying renewables.

What we need to be doing is focussing resources firstly on reducing waste,
currently 40% of production. A report commissioned for your own Government
shows that almost all of this reduction of waste could be done at negative cost —
the savings would be greater than the cost. Surely that’s a no-brainer.

Secondly, we should be focussing resources on supporting genuine low-carbon
technologies, the renewables, particularly solar and wind, which have CO2
equivalents per kwh of less than 20g, and decreasing as technology improves. As
in Germany, the Government should be encouraging individuals, through generous
subsidies, to install these on a small scale, all over the country. That way the
electricity would be produced at the point of need. Large scale solar and wind
farms are not the best solution, but may have a place in appropriate circumstances.

Until Government takes seriously the phenomenon of Global Warming, the
necessary controls of carbon emissions, particularly on the fossil fuel industry, will
not be put in place. The longer that is delayed, the less likely that we will be able
to hold temperature rise to below the critical 2oC. What a legacy for which to be
responsible!

As, on present form, your party will not be forming the next Government after the
elections in May, it would be grossly irresponsible for you to try to stitch up a deal
on Hinkley Point C with Electricité de France by the end of March, as the company
is indicating that you plan. You do not have a mandate to commit the country to
such a very long-term and inflexible dependence on unsustainable, dangerous,
expensive and obsolete technology. To do so would be the height of folly. It could
only lead to a judicial review of your decision.

The seriousness of the consequences of Global Warming mean that the right
decisions, which should have been made years ago, urgently need to be made now.
That means addressing the issue of inappropriate carbon emissions, and controlling
them. It means identifying the appropriate sustainable energy technologies to take
us forward with the minimum of carbon emissions, and promoting them. And it
means understanding which technologies are unsuitable and dangerous, and
sidelining those, however mainstream and politically powerful their protagonists
may have become.

Your promotion of nuclear energy, your failure to grasp effectively the challenge of
energy efficiency, your reduced support for renewables at domestic level and your
lack of any attempt to control the fossil fuel industries show that you haven’t yet
awoken to the urgency of this need.

So what is driving this apparently irrational and lackadaisical decision-making
process? If you consider it more important to support the unsustainable businesses
of your friends and political supporters, than to save the habitat for the human race,
then you are doing this country, and the world, an intolerable disservice. I invite
you to confirm that that is not your motivation, however much it might appear
otherwise.

I seek a detailed response to all the points made above. And I seek a detailed
explanation as to how you would keep us below the critical 2oC threshold, when
clearly your current policies would not achieve that. Maintaining our habitat is not
merely a good idea if we can afford it. It is an essential for the continuation of
human life on earth.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Griffith-Jones

EDF's Aldhurst Farm habitat creation proposals: Application no. DC/14/4224/FUL

Deadline  6 Feb 2015
 
Please can you help.  You may know that EDF Energy have put in an application for this habitat creation.  They, along with the Local Authorites, are trying to make out that it is a stand-alone application, with nothing to do with Sizewell C, when in fact it is to be offered as compensation for loss of Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest if Sizewell C is given the go-ahead.  It is crucial for EDFE to get permission to build the twin reactors on the Marshes, because there is no other available space.  They are therefore cunningly trying to push this replacement habitat through in advance of the Sizewell C application.
 
We believe this to be illegal under European Habitat Regs.  The Aldhurst Farm project is clearly a part of the overall Sizewell C plans and therefore all the relevant European habitats and their species need to be assessed and accounted for.  For example, we know for a fact that rare protected birds (Bittern, Marsh Harrier) and bats (Barbastelle) regularly use the Sizewell Marshes for feeding.  Bats in particular forage widely and use the Farm site as well, even though currently arable land.  The overall Habitats Regulations Assessment for Sizewell C needs about another two years for proper completion.
 
It would be extremely helpful if you could please write in response to this application.  The person to address it to is Lisa Chandler at SCDC planning office.  Say at the outset that you object.  If you go on to the site, you will see that it says the consultation is closed, but we have been told (and a local resident has it in writing) that the deadline is 6 Feb.  Say that you understand that your response will still be accepted.

Lisa Chandler’s (SCDC Planning Officer)  email is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This article  is not about Sizewell C, but it gives a good insight into how UK nuclear waste is being dealt with - or not!

Huge pools of mystery sludge, leaking silos and risk of explosions: Sellafield needs help, but the UK government has just sacked the firm running the clean-up

URGENT clean-up of two of the world's most dangerous radioactive waste stores will be delayed by at least five years, despite growing safety fears.

The waste is stored at the UK's Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site, which holds radioactive waste dating back to the dawn of the nuclear age. An accident at the derelict site could release radioactive materials into the air over the UK and beyond.

Last week, the UK government sacked the private consortium running the £80-billion-programme to clean up Sellafield, and gave the job back to its own agency, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The clean-up operation, scheduled to end by 2120, costs the government £1.9 billion a year.

The private consortium, Nuclear Management Partners, was meant to "bring in world-class expertise" and allow the government to "get to grips with the legacy after decades of inaction", according to a 2008 statement by Mike O'Brien, energy minister at the time. But six years on, the privatisation experiment has been abandoned.

The surprise renationalisation comes after delays at two of the four waste stores prioritised for clean-up. The four ponds and silos contain hundreds of tonnes of highly radioactive material from more than 60 years of operations. The decaying structures are cracking, leaking waste into the soil, and are at risk of explosions from gases created by corrosion.

In an NDA business plan published last April, the emptying of the 100-metre Pile fuel storage pond, which holds used fuel and waste from the manufacture of the first UK nuclear bombs in the 1950s and 60s, was planned to be completed by 2025. But a timeline in a new draft plan circulated for consultation in December shows the job won't be done until 2030. Likewise, the £750-million task of emptying the 21-metre-high Pile fuel cladding silo, which has been full since 1964, is now scheduled for completion in 2029, not 2024.

Confirming the change, an NDA spokesman told New Scientist: "Given the unique technical challenges and complexities of these plants, which were built with no thought to how they would be decommissioned... there will continue to be programme uncertainties."

Sellafield was built on Cumbria's coast in north-west England in the late 1940s to manufacture plutonium for the UK atomic bomb. The site also housed the world's first commercial nuclear power station, and became a centre for storing highly radioactive waste from reactors.

Most of the highly radioactive waste was dumped into ponds, each several times the size of an Olympic pool. Constantly circulating water kept the waste cool, but also created hundreds of cubic metres of sludge from the corrosion of the metal cladding surrounding the fuel rods.

As a result, the exact contents of the ponds are unclear, says Paul Howarth, managing director of the government-owned National Nuclear Laboratory at Sellafield. "We have to do a lot of R&D just to characterise the inventory, before we can work out how to retrieve the materials."

And the problem is just going to get worse. When plants are decommissioned in the future, waste will still be sent to Sellafield. The UK's plants are mostly made of concrete, rather than steel, which makes them harder to dismantle, says Timothy Abram at the University of Manchester. It also means they create about 30 times more radioactive material. And with a new nuclear plant about to be built at Hinkley Point in Somerset, the amount of radioactive waste headed for Sellafield may grow.

Another unique legacy is the 90,000 tonnes of radioactive graphite stored there, used as fuel cladding. Irradiated graphite accumulates energy known as Wigner energy, which caused the UK's worst nuclear accident in 1957. Researchers are still unsure how to make it safe for disposal.

While other Western nations have policies for dismantling old nuclear plants as soon as they can, the UK plans to mothball them for a century or more first. Nobody wants more radioactive waste until they have cleaned up what is already there.

Danger areas

Pile 1 is one of the two original reactors built to support the UK atomic bomb project. It is where the country's worst nuclear accident took place, when the reactor core caught fire in 1957. Once the fire was extinguished the core was sealed and it is considered best left alone for now.

Pile fuel storage pond took in spent fuel from both the weapons reactors and energy reactors. The radioactive waste and sludge formed from the storage process sit in a deteriorating concrete structure filled with water. Removal of the sludge is under way. This pond has sat unused since the 1970s.

Pile fuel cladding silo is jammed with 3200 cubic metres of aluminium cladding, which surrounds the fuel rods, much of it from 1950s weapons reactors. It has been sealed since the mid-1960s but corrosion means there is a risk that hydrogen will form, which could lead to explosions.

Magnox spent fuel storage pond is considered the most dangerous industrial building in Europe. The 150-metre-long open-air pond is visited by birds and cracks have caused radioactive material to leak into the soil. No one knows exactly what's in there, but it may contain a tonne of plutonium.

Magnox swarf storage silo is considered the second most dangerous industrial building in Europe. It stores waste magnesium fuel cladding under water. Some sludge has leaked through cracks in the concrete, and there is a risk of explosion from hydrogen released by corrosion of storage vessels.