Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko | October 30, 2013

A tale of two nuclear Cities: Fukushima and Britain’s nuclear future at Somerset

The Torry led coalition government want to build UK’s first new nuclear station in 20 years in Somerset, west of London.

Hinkley Point, in Somerset will be built and is planned to start operating in the 2020′s at a cost of £33 Billion pounds for the two £16 Billion pounds reactors. Sterling is a looming disaster, because as Great Britain, the UK, and England in particular, play footsie with Nuclear radiation in the bay at Somerset west of London — it is best to learn from another resilient island-nation full of obstinate people on the other side of the globe.

Japan has far more extensive experience with Nuclear plants and Nuclear Energy than any other country on Earth and it’s got the scars to prove it.

The parallels between Fukushima and Somerset – location of the new nuclear reactors in England is staggering. Both are located on the coast in a bay that is prone to extreme waves, potential tsunamis, and severe weather events.
Both plants are near large population centres. And both plants have received vast government subsidies in order to be built, and are causing a doubling if not tripling of the cost of electricity for the homeland consumers when they come online.

And as we decided to go with upstart China and bureaucratic France as partners in this home grown disaster in the making, we best realize and remember that we have been warned.

We offer this stark warning because of the geological similarities between the two locations. And not only because the Hinkley point Nuclear plant is located at the mouth of a wave accelerating open sea bay in Somerset, but because it sits on a geologic fault line that is eerily similar to Fukushima’s location in that it could produce serious seismic events and a devastating earthquake with unintended consequences. And lastly the similarity gets spookier because the chosen technology and the selected design of the proposed nuclear reactors in Somerset is basically the same design as that of the Fukushima nuclear reactor that went into melt down with the earthquake of may 2011.

Some say that being foretold is being forewarned. Other leaders fail to listen to genuine advise…

So let us observe now a small calendar of events at Fukushima taking place only this month, in order to get a foretaste of what’s in store for Hinkley point nuclear plant and for England’s future, because routine accidents in nuclear facilities are inevitable and the likelihood of these leading into large scale disasters is also alarmingly high.

Today, the day that the Japanese Government announced that the operator of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant that suffered a meltdown 2 years ago — should be broken up, the UK Torry government Ministers, the EDF[French], and the Chinese, who have been in talks for more than a year, decided to go ahead with the pricing for the build up of UK’s first new nuclear station in 20 years which will be built in Somerset – west of the capital London.

The UK Ministers spoke about the minimum price the company will be paid for electricity produced at the site, which the government estimates will cost £16bn per reactor to built… The two sides have also agreed the “strike price” of £92.50 for every megawatt hour of energy Hinkley C generates in 2020. It’s important to note that this is almost twice the current wholesale cost of electricity and with the coming online of cheaper renewable energy and falling prices for electricity — it will be triple the cost of wholesale electricity when the nuclear plants come online. Still the UK Ministers agreed that this wholesale price will fall to £89.50 for every megawatt hour of energy if EDF Group goes ahead with plans to develop an additional new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk north of the capital London. Building both new nuclear power plants with a set of four reactors, would allow EDF to share costs across both projects… and also increase the likelihood of major accidents.

This was hailed by the Torry government as a Great leap forward but in my eyes it is a daft and regressive move that reaches way back in time — beyond the deregulatory and privatization policies of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s — to an earlier time when Britain and many other Western countries did not assume that their national energy needs could be served by market forces. How on earth a conservative government could seriously take this stance is beyond explanation…

Across the globe, Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s ruling party wants the Tokyo Electric Power Company to be split up and the unit of the company in charge of cleaning up the Fukushima Radiation Disaster Zone, to be separated from the Nuclear Energy production giant, because Fukushima as You are well aware, has been beset by nuclear radiation leaks, accidents, and related problems – including massive radiation toxic water leaks – since it’s nuclear reactors went into meltdown and radiation was spread throughout the Fukushima prefecture in March 2011.

To put things in perspective about the dangers of Nuclear Energy is best to remember that the clean up of the radiation and the radioactive Fukushima zone, is expected to last between 40-100 years and to cost initially at least $100bn (£62bn) and in the long course of the clean up years this cost will rise between $3 -$7 Trillion US Dollars. Think about saddling the next generations with a real debt ? Then nuclear energy is the way to go Abe…

Worth keeping in mind that nearly 300,000 Japanese citizens [ordinary people] are prevented from ever returning to their homes in Japan’s Fukushima district, because of the high levels of radiation in the soil, water, and air, of the Fukushima prefecture, and of the associated radioactive illnesses, such as cancers, genetic malfunctions and radiation sickness.

There is a litany of constant and almost daily Fukushima radiation leaks and keep in mind that the really major problems never get reported outside the firm. This is almost two years since the Nuclear reactor’s meltdown and here are the minor problems and radiation related events we are allowed to hear about.
Here is a small sample only of what is reported from the daily occurrences at the Fukushima radioactive plant this month alone:
It is known and admitted that almost 300,000 tonnes of radioactive water leak into the Pacific Ocean each and every day.
9 Oct: Six workers at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant have been doused in radioactive water, Tepco says.
7 Oct: A plant worker accidentally switches off power to pumps used for cooling damaged reactors.
3 Oct: Tepco says there is a radioactive water leak after workers filled-up a storage tank.
21 Aug: Japan’s nuclear agency upgrades Fukushima alert level.
20 Aug: Tepco says 300 tonnes of radioactive water has leaked from a storage tank into the ground.
Later: Tepco for the first time admits radioactive water is going into the sea.
Much later: Tepco says radioactive water leaking from a storage tank to the ground.
Much, much later: Tepco reports a fresh radioactive water leak at Fukushima since contaminated water leaks from the weapons ready plutonium pools cooling system, caused by a crack in the foundation that keeps running massive amounts of water into the Pacific Ocean.
Remembering that all cooling systems for the Nuclear reactors at Fukushima were knocked out during the Earthquake, causing meltdowns at three of the Fukushima TEPCO nuclear energy plant reactors.
Water is being pumped in to cool the reactors and the plutonium storage fuel ponds… However, this creates large amounts of contaminated water that leaks into the sea and whereas it must be stored securely and locally for … ever …

Naturally water flows to the sea in this coastal area, and most of the TEPCO waterfront nuclear reactor plant has been cooled down since the meltdown with vast amounts of water from the Ocean that finds itself back into the sea. Additionally the water that runs off from the trailing ponds, from the storage pools, and from the contaminated water tanks in the damaged reactor structures, is also mixing with groundwater that is then freely flowing into the sea.

Fukushima nuclear plant workers have been batting to contain the toxic water leaks and there are reports that they are suffering from radiation sickness, exhaustion, and absenteeism.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is now tasked with the Ecologically Critical Work of cleaning up and recovering the vast areas devastated by the Radiation from the Nuclear Energy plant.

Japan’s ruling party the LDP, recognising the vast costs and the amount of time it would take to perform the clean-up are scaling back in order to conserve capital and are now saying that Japan’s Fukushima disaster needs to be dealt with by a small, specialized company focused entirely on the clean-up operation… They will hand their proposals to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next week, and they will recommend “creating a clear and realistic organisation” for operations at Fukushima.

The proposals come after months of intense criticism of Tepco, which owns the plant and is currently responsible for the clean-up.

The idea is that the part of Tepco responsible for the clean-up would be split off, while the rest of the corporation would be allowed to return to its core business of generating electricity… and polluting people’s lives with nuclear radiation.

Back in the UK the land of optimism and stiff upper lips, we are marching blindly to another drummer leading us off the white cliffs of Dover to the arms of the French industrial military nuclear energy complex, pushing for more nuclear energy and lesser regulation when at the same time we aim to staunch the spread of Nuclear Energy to countries like Iran and North Korea.

And it is best to remember our own uniquely English history should we come to need to draw a lesson or two from the past:
After the devastating nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the tail end of the Second World War, the British nuclear industry was repurposed to a civilian role while the US focused on the cold war nuclear theatre applications.  In 1956, the young Queen Elizabeth flicked a switch at Calder Hall nuclear plant in the northwest of England to start the first flow of nuclear electricity into a commercial grid. Much fanfare ensued… but less than 10 years later, winter power cuts exposed the inadequacies of the electricity network. A Labour government had just been elected and Harold Wilson, the new prime minister, had proclaimed the need to harness the “white heat” of technology. The time was propitious for a great leap forward.
The construction programme that followed dominated business and public investment in the UK for more than a decade. It involved not only the building of seven nuclear power stations but new coal-fired stations of unprecedented scale.

Little of this capacity actually worked in the two decades that followed: not that it mattered because the electricity was not needed anyway. The nuclear programme was the central problem. All seven stations employed an idiosyncratic British design called the advanced gas-cooled reactor. The average time to completion was 20 years, and even then the stations rarely produced at planned capacity. The export potential had excited Lee; it need hardly be said that no foreign order ever materialised.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the scale of the failure was concealed systematically from ministers and the public. The engineers who controlled the electricity industry received knighthoods and peerages. Privatisation of the electricity sector in the late 1980s led to revelations about the scale of wasted resources in the past and clean-up costs in the future. The knights and lords discovered that lying to the stock market and the savvy Institutional Investors, entailed greater personal risk than lying to the UK Parliament.

Both House of Commons and the Lords, decided to stop messing around and the existing nuclear stations were withdrawn from public sale and privatization programmes. But even with capital costs written down to zero, and government support guaranteed, the economics of the Nuclear Industry were always hopeless because new technologies based on extracting and burning cheap gas had lowered the cost of generation massively [as they are set to do again today with shale gas], and British Energy, the company created to operate the country’s nuclear plants, collapsed in 2002.

Ten years and a year onward…

Ready for another collapse Mr Prime Minister?

Yours,
Pano

PS:

We are seriously concerned about this development of new nuclear energy in the UK, because the site chosen is ill advised, the new nuclear energy generation is totally unwarranted, and lastly because the Taxpayer should not have to pay [guarantee] the most dangerous energy around, that chances are it will be sure to come to bite us in the ass — and not in a good way.

And we are also massively concerned about the developments in Japan because 1) Tepco is being let off the hook… 2) The Fukushima clean up is scaled down significantly. 3) Money for the Clean Up is not being used for that purpose and instead is being used to restart the Nuclear Reactors.

And that political and economic maneuvering will lead to a renewed vicious cycle of the evils of nuclear radiation that has befallen Japan all the way back from the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Only this time they invited the resident Evil themselves into their lives.

It is quite daft to be asking the Devil you already know to revisit your home and family because tempting fate thus always leads to disasters.

Or is it just deserts ?

 

PPS:

A contemporary Myth exposed.

Tatsujiro Suzuki, the deputy head of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission. when asked why, if the nuclear industry knows there is a grave possibility for a nuclear disaster — does it continue to tell the public that nuclear power is safe?

His simple answer is an eye opener for all and especially for the leaders amongst You :

“We need to be prepared for the worst case. We need to tell the public this is the worst case. But if we tell the worst case, the public says please ‘Don’t build the reactor near here.’  So that was the dilemma.  And if you want to continue building nuclear power plants you have to keep telling people the reactors could be safe.  But now that myth is gone.”

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