Thursday, 20 December 2012

Guilty nuclear protesters in defiant mood

Four people who blocked workers access to the Hinkley Point nuclear complex for nearly 4 hours in November pleaded guilty to obstruction of the highway at Taunton Magistrates Court today.  The four were each given 12 months conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 expenses.

Speaking after the verdict,  tree surgeon Zoe Smith from Bristol was in a defiant mood.  “Two days after we used lock-on tubes to form a human barrier at Hinkley Point the same tactic was used at EDF’s other planned development  at Sizewell  in Norfolk.  This is a national campaign and I expect there will be many more surprises for EDF over the coming months.   If the tories are prepared to pressurise our local representatives,   change planning laws, and rubber-stamp EDF’s reactor design without a rigourous safety assessment, then we are prepared to put our bodies on the line to oppose them.  The workers at the development site are clearing away our landscape before EDF even have planning permission”.   On the day of the protest blockade Ms Smith had said that she was also there to register opposition to plans for extending the license of the ageing reactor at Hinkley B.  The licence has since been granted by the Office of Nuclear Regulation, in spite of concerns over cracks in it’s graphite core.

Greeted by supporters outside the court,  Barnaby Hodges (29) a catering worker from Glastonbury, said “I am proud of what we did.  I have never been arrested for protesting before, but like many people in Glastonbury I am ready to take whatever non-violent action is necessary to prevent  the building of a potential Fukushima only 25 miles away.   It is a scandal that local people are being excluded from decisions which could lead literally to the evacuation of Somerset.  It’s not as if there aren’t any alternatives.”

Bob Nicholls (55) who works with the homeless in Bristol said, “I don’t consider what we did was a crime.  The real crime is that Hinkley C will be given the go ahead without any genuine consideration of the extreme danger that nuclear accidents and centuries-long radioactive  waste  storage will pose to the people of the south west.  The entire planning process has been corrupted by the governments fixation with nuclear, at a time when we urgently need to switch to safe and renewable  energy in the UK”.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Campaigners have accused Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation's nuclear regulators of caving in to government pressure and approving a new reactor before its design has been properly assessed. The ONR had previously said that outstanding design problems would not be resolved by the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) before March 2013.

In 2009, independent nuclear experts Large & Associates warned that if the EPR licensing process was allowed to proceed on a piecemeal basis it could be compromised by having to wave through unsatisfactory aspects of the final design. More recently, they called for the ONR to come clean about delays, claiming that resolving outstanding issues by the end of 2012 deadline was unachievable. (1,2)

Speaking today, John Large said, “ I was extremely surprised to hear that the ONR claim to have wrapped this all up when there are still so many unresolved problems arising from Fukushima and the central issue of Instrumentation and Control”.

UK, French and Finnish regulators have been voicing concerns over “Instrumentation and Control” of the new EPR reactors for nearly a decade. Some of these concerns relate to the independence of important systems, whilst others address problems of diversity and susceptibility to common cause failures. UK regulators have previously insisted that the reactors should have a separate non-computerised safety system as a fail-safe.  It is unclear from the documents in the public domain whether or not such a system is now actually proposed and if so, whether it has been assessed. (3)

The lengthy GDA process has been under immense strain, caused by a lack of technical assessors and by EDF being untimely with their submissions. As recently as Spring this year, the ONR stated that at least three control and instrumentation issues were subject to significant delays that “could not be recovered” and would “impact on the target closure date”. (4,5,6)

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Nikki Clark said: “We're very concerned about this development - how can the regulators claim that these issues are resolved ahead of their target deadlines, when their own reports indicate otherwise? We will be writing to the ONR to ask how they've managed to finish the GDA ahead of recent forecasts for completion.”

“The key issue of reactor safety at Hinkley C was excluded from recent public consultations by the planning inspectorate. The ONR’s speedy conclusion of the GDA process make’s permission more likely, yet the findings of the GDA decision will not be available for public scrutiny until March 2013 – AFTER approval for Hinkley C has already been granted!”

“The hurried conclusion of this assessment, without public transparency , has only added to our concern that regulators are now putting political deadlines before public safety.” (7)


Contacts:   Large & Associates, John Large: 020 8317 2860
            Stop Hinkley:   Nikki Clarke, 077369 30069  Theo Simon, 07805 666239

Notes to editors

1  Stop Hinkley press release July 2009

2  Large & Associates 2nd Interim review of Generic Design Assessment Outstanding Issues, 3rd Sept 2012 GDA Review/R3206-I2.pdf

3  Large & Associates 2nd Interim review of Generic Design Assessment Outstanding Issues, 3rd Sept 2012 GDA Review/R3206-I2.pdf

4  Office for Nuclear Regulation Generic Design Assessment Quarterly report 3rd quarter 2010

5  Office for Nuclear Regulation Generic Design Assessment Quarterly report 4th quarter 2010

6  Office for Nuclear Regulation Generic Design Assessment Quarterly report 2nd quarter 2012

7  Stop Hinkley NFLA joint press release

Sunday, 16 December 2012

France - Human chain reaction has begun - build up to THE event in Paris 9 March 2013

On Saturday afternoon in the city of Rouen, Normandy - people joined hands to send out a simple messge "yes to renewable energy and no to nuclear".  A very festive occasion with kids, parents, grand parents and in general a wide range of people from all different backgrounds.

This is the first in a series of events in Rouen, with more to follow throughout France and Europe leading up to the massive event on 9 March 2013 in Paris.  Our goal is to surround  different places where decisions are made regarding nuclear such as: Areva, EDF, parliament, the Nuclear Safety Authority, etc.. with a giant humain chain to show that enough is enough! 

For more info check out the site: (in French for now but translations to follow)

Inline images 1

Here is the flyer for the event in French:

Inline images 2

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Nuclear giant EDF postpones decision on new Hinkley Point reactor

UK energy policy cast into doubt after company breaks pledge to make investment decision by end of 2012
Hinkley Point power station in Somerset
Hinkley Point nuclear plant in Somerset, where EDF is deciding whether to build a new power station. Photograph: PA
The troubled French nuclear giant EDF has postponed its decision on whether to build a new power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The delay puts the nuclear renaissance at the heart of the UK government's energy plans into further doubt after a difficult week in which EDF was hit by cost overruns and the exit of its partner from a key French project.
The new reactors at Hinkley were to be the first of a new generation of atomic plants in the UK and EDF had repeatedly pledged to make a final investment decision by the end of 2012.
But the decision to plough billions of pounds into the project is now unlikely to be taken before April 2013, according to sources close to the project, although EDF declined to comment.
"This is another broken promise from EDF on a policy that has always been failing," said Tom Burke, the founding director of the green thinktank E3G.
"To spend at least £14bn on a pair of reactors at Hinkley is very, very high risk."
The latest projections from the Department of Energy and Climate Change have reduced the amount of nuclear power expected in future, with only Hinkley expected to be up and running by 2025, he added.
The energy secretary, Ed Davey, fast-tracked negotiations over the guaranteed price EDF would be paid for electricity from Hinkley to help the end-of-year deadline to be met.
However, amid concerns that consumers would end up paying a high price, the energy minister John Hayes recently warned that the government could walk away from the talks. EDF is also awaiting planning permission to build the reactors and does not expect that decision before March 2013.
A failure to secure the building of the Hinkley reactors would be a serious blow for both the government and EDF, which is majority owned by the French state.
But it also comes in a week that EDF admitted that the cost of building its prototype European pressurised reactor (EPR) at Flamanville in Normandy had risen by €2bn (£1.6bn) to €8.5bn. The following day EDF's partner in the Flamanville 3 scheme, Enel of Italy, announced that it was pulling out.
EDF said in 2005 that it would construct the EPR, which is similar to the ones planned for Somerset, for €3.3bn. The cost overruns – and delays – have partly been blamed on changes required after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan but they have also been put down to engineers discovering the project was more difficult than they had foreseen.
New statistics just released by Decc show the British government expects only 3.3 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity to be built by 2025 and 9.9GW by 2030.
This compares with 4.8GW by 2025 and 12GW by 2030 as recorded in Decc's energy and emissions projections 12 months ago.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

EDF raises French EPR reactor cost to over $11 billion
12:50 p.m. CST, December 3, 2012

PARIS (Reuters) - French utility EDF has raised the cost of the construction of its next-generation nuclear reactor by more than 2 billion euros on Monday, the latest in a series of overruns for the first EPR reactor built in France.

Stricter regulation in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster contributed to bringing the total cost of the 1,600-MW Flamanville European pressurized reactor to 8.5 billion euros ($11.11 billion), the group said.
In 2005, the state-owned utility estimated the reactor's cost at 3.3 billion euros.

The start-up date of the reactor, which had been delayed by two years in 2010 and another two years last year, is still expected for 2016, EDF said.

"The development of the boiler design, additional engineering studies, the integration of new regulatory requirements and everything learnt from Fukushima have also been taken into account," EDF said in a statement.

Flamanville 3 is the first nuclear reactor built in France in 15 years and a landmark project for EDF, which hopes to capitalize on three decades of experience to win deals to build nuclear plants abroad.

Repeated delays have also hit the construction of the first EPR reactor, Finland's Olkiluoto 3, built by French nuclear group Areva and Germany's Siemens.

EDF, which operates France's 58 nuclear reactors, said it had completed 93 percent of the civil engineering and 36 percent of the electro-mechanical equipment in place.
($1 = 0.7650 euros)