Stop Hinkley Press release

16th April 2009

Call to oppose Hinkley nomination

Stop Hinkley is calling on members of the public to oppose yesterday's nomination of Hinkley Point as a site for two giant nuclear reactors to be built by French group EDF. Hinkley was one of eleven sites nominated by the Government as part of its Strategic Siting Assessment consultation. The public now has one month to make comments on the nominated sites.

Stop Hinkley has been campaigning against building more reactors in Somerset , putting forward several arguments.

  • Nuclear power will not bridge the energy gap forecast in five years time. The first reactors cannot be completed before 2017 but experience in Finland , where reactor construction at Olkiluoto is three years behind schedule, suggests even this date suggested by EdF is too optimistic. Renewables can fill the imminent energy gap with much quicker construction times.

  • Nuclear power will be ineffective in combating climate change. Even the Government accepts that replacing all nuclear output will only reduce carbon emissions by 4 percent (Sustainable Development Commission 2006) while official Government targets aim to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Renewables and energy efficiency could achieve this goal, more cheaply and with more jobs per kilowatt produced or saved.

  • Cost overruns at Olkiluoto in Finland have run to 2.4 billion Euros. Areva, EdF's building partner for Hinkley C, is facing a £3.2 billion black hole (See right). There is a potential risk of foreign nuclear builders collapsing financially, forcing the UK taxpayer to pay for the remaining construction. The French Government may demand that EdF and Areva, which it owns, concentrate on domestic electricity production as their ageing reactors face overhauls or potential closures during the next decade.

  • Health risks have been established in children living near nuclear power stations by a German Government study. The research looked at similar Pressurised Water Reactors to those proposed for Hinkley. Leukaemia risks were double the average in children living within five kilomtres from PWR reactors with a significant effect up to ten kilometres. Burnham-on-Sea, where Stop Hinkley sponsored studies have found excess breast cancer and childhood mortality, is just eight kilometres downwind from Hinkley Point.

  • Highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel will remain at Hinkley for at least 160 years. The waste fuel will be particularly hot and radioactive as it is 'high burn-up' nuclear fuel that will be used in the reactors. There is still much uncertainty over how the spent fuel can be contained for eventual disposal and the risk from terrorism is exacerbated by the use of the potent fuel.

  • Nuclear waste dump: Despite the nomination of eleven nuclear sites none have been nominated for the Deep Geological Repository favoured by the Government for disposing of high level nuclear waste. There is much uncertainty about how many repositories would be needed for different types of nuclear waste. The geology of many parts of the UK is unsuitable, particularly in Cumbria where two sites have been earmarked. Nuclear waste is likely to leak into underground waterways contaminating drinking water and crops. Future generations may not have the resources to manage these underground leaks.

By this Autumn the Government plans to publish a Nuclear National Policy document including a finalised list of sites for new reactors. This in turn will be followed in 2010 by the setting up of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) a quango which will examine the pros and cons of sites at a local level. Unlike previous major planning inquiries participants will not be allowed to cross-examine industry or Government experts. Most submissions are expected to be on paper rather than in person.

There is also concurrently a committee examining the safety of nuclear reactor designs, known as the Generic Design Assessment committee, part of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. The group is known to be under-resourced but the NII claims it will give its pronouncement on the reactor designs by 2011. Due to shortage of staff the GDA has been forced to co-opt nuclear industry reps from the French (Areva) and Japanese-owned (Westinghouse) reactor design companies, creating a potential conflict of interest and dilution of the independence of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

Jim Duffy, Coordinator of Stop Hinkley said: "We would ask members of the public to make their concerns clear to the Government at this point in time. There will be no public inquiry for experts to cross-examine the industry or Government. The Government has changed the planning system to make it easy for them to push through their nuclear plans at the expense of democracy. All the arguments stack up against nuclear but the Government wants a simplistic answer to electricity production. Unfortunately they don't seem to want a clean, safe or sustainable answer."

Public responses on the question of nuclear sites can be sent to:

Or write to:
Office for Nuclear Development Public Comments
Freepost SEA 12430
Thornton Heath CR7 7XT

Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator.


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Areva Chairman quits and adds to troubles at nuclear group

Guardian 4th April 2009.

Areva, which part-controls Sellafield and wants to be at the forefront of Britain's atomic renaissance, is set to lose its chairman within the next seven days in what would be the latest of a series of blows to befall the French nuclear engineering group.

Frédéric Lemoine, non-executive chairman and a close adviser to the former French president Jacques Chirac, is expected to step down at the nuclear group by Friday, leaving it scrabbling round to find a replacement.

The shake-up at the top could not come at a worse time for Areva, which is already nursing €3.5bn (£3.2bn) of net debt and needs a further €14bn to meet ambitious expansion plans at a time when it is parting company with one of its major investors, Siemens of Germany.

Areva is also fighting to stem a public relations disaster at Olkiluoto, in Finland, where the first nuclear plant under construction in Europe for nearly 30 years is running three years behind schedule.

The group's operating income plunged 45% to €417m in the 12 months to 31 December but that was without taking into account the €750m write-off from the Finnish reactor delays and cost overruns.

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Page Updated 17-Apr-2009