American officials have raised concerns over the prospect of a Chinese state company building a nuclear power station on the Cumbrian coast next to Europe’s biggest radioactive waste dump. Department of State representatives are understood to have raised their fears with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over the attempts of China General Nuclear (CGN) to buy Moorside, next to the Sellafield nuclear-waste processing site. The Americans are worried about the site’s proximity — 20 miles — to Barrow-in-Furness, where Britain’s nuclear submarines are built by BAE Systems. The UK has a longstanding collaboration with America over the submarines’ missiles. The US intervention is likely to complicate efforts to develop a plant at Moorside. The site’s owner, the Japanese giant Toshiba, has given up on nuclear power and is liquidating its NuGen project on the site after attempts to engineer a sale to a South Korean company collapsed. CGN has a fraught relationship with the US, amid growing tensions between China and President Donald Trump. One of its engineers, American citizen Allen Ho, pleaded guilty last year to producing “special nuclear material” for China. His case prompted a full-scale review by the US National Security Council, which led to new rules blocking CGN from acquiring American technology. CGN is keen to use Britain as a showcase for its nuclear reactor technology in the hope that it can export it around the world. Its UK head, Rob Davies, signalled continued interest in Moorside last week, saying: “[It is] a very smart site, it’s a nice site.” He added: “We want to build a fleet in the UK.” Rolls-Royce is among rivals to China’s CGN eyeing the site of Toshiba’s ditched planned power plant in Moorside, Cumbria. The FTSE 100 engineer is understood to have held “conceptual discussions” about building miniature nuclear power plants, known as small-modular reactors (SMRs) there.
Times 16th Dec 2018 read more »