Irish and International experts warn Oireachtas Committee about serious deficiencies in the UK’s assessment of plans to expand its nuclear power program and the potential impact on Ireland. Speaking in front of the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government this afternoon Professors John Sweeney and Stephen Thomas outlined their concerns with the UK’s risk assessment and design for Hinkley Point C. Hinkley Point C is one of eight new nuclear power plants proposed as part of the UK’s expansion of its nuclear programme, five of which are planned for the west coast of the UK facing Ireland. The multi-billion euro Hinkley project is set to be located less than 250km from Rosslare. Attracta Uí Bhroin, Facilitator of the Environmental Law Implementation Group at the Irish Environmental Network, also highlighted a “lack of proactive engagement” from the Irish State to secure consultation rights for the Irish citizens on these issues. Emeritus Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Greenwich, Professor Stephen Thomas, told the Committee that there are “serious project issues” including technical design and manufacturing issues, “spiralling” costs and delays. The Hinkley plant is set to have two European Pressurised Water Reactors (EPRs), a technology that Prof Thomas says is “suspect” and has an “unproven design”. “No EPR is in service, completion of all four under construction globally is significantly delayed and costs have overrun,” he said, pointing to the proposed Flamanville plant on the north coast of France that is now seven years late and more than three times over budget. The reactor design at Flamanville’s is the same as the one set to be used at Hinkley Point C, with both projects run by the French state-owned firm EDF Energy. Prof Thomas added that the reputation of both Flamanville and Hinkley’s supplier “is in tatters” after it emerged in 2015 that parts of the safety-critical reactor vessel supplied to Flamanville did not meet specification, he said. The French nuclear safety regulator, ASN, ordered the company to review its quality control procedures and “it has emerged that quality control documentation had been falsified at Creusot” for several decades, he added. In April 2018, EDF Energy also announced that up to 150 welds in key parts of Flamanville did not meet the required specification. Prof Thomas added: “This has created major concerns about parts manufactured there for nuclear plants in France and elsewhere.”
Green News 1st May 2018 read more »
A nuclear energy plant planned by the UK government in Somerset could pose a serious threat to Ireland in the event of any accident, environmentalists have claimed. Concerns were raised at the scientific models used by the UK authorities to assess the risk posed by the planned nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, with Ireland’s leading climatologist branding them “inadequate”. The Hinkley Point C plant is one of eight new nuclear plants announced by the UK in 2010, five of which are based on its west coast. John Sweeney, emeritus professor of geography at Maynooth University and a climate change expert, told the Oireachtas committee on planning yesterday that estimates used by the UK to assess its impact were not credible. “Combinations of rare events do occur, as was demonstrated by Fukushima [the nuclear incident in Japan in 2011], where total atmospheric releases are now estimated to be between 5.6 and 8.1 times that of Chernobyl,” Professor Sweeney said. Meteorological data used was “inadequate”, he added, arguing they relied on wind figures for three years when 30 years was the standard period required. “It’s rather dangerous to draw conclusions from a very short period. Three years of data, even ten years of data, is insufficient to characterise the wind climate at an individual location, and any modelling based on this is highly suspect.” He claimed the UK government failed to take account of climate change in estimating extreme high and low water levels when the difference between the annual high water mark and a once in a 10,000-years high water level at the site of the plant was just 1.3 metres. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted sea levels would continue to rise for centuries, with increases of up to three metres possible, which meant the UK’s estimates were not credible, he said. He claimed the failure to acknowledge that there was a known flood risk meant there were “serious implications for the safety of spent fuel which is intended to be stored on site for up to a century”.
Times 2nd May 2018 read more »