Tag: Tschernobyl

Statement to the Nuclear Energy in the UK conference – March 2015

Kick Nuclear Statement to the Nuclear energy in the UK: priorities for new build, funding and developing the supply chain conference, which was held on tuesday 3rd March 2015 at the Royal Society.

‘Nuclear Energy in the UK’ conference, March 2015.

We are here today at your nuclear industry conference to again try to bring a little realism to your deliberations. Wind, wave and solar are cheaper, cleaner, lower carbon and therefore loved more by everyone outside the nuclear power industry, and we are here to urge you to stop flogging your nuke horse, because it is dead.

Solar power costs have dropped 99% since 1977, 60% since 2011. And that decrease is not slowing down. On-shore wind has now dropped well below the strike price offered to the doomed Hinkley Point power station, and off-shore wind is getting close. In last week’s UK renewable energy auction, both on-shore wind and solar came in at around £80 MWh, cheaper than the £92.50 MWh offered to Hinkley Point nuclear power station. And Hinkley’s subsidy is linked to inflation for 35 years, by which time it will be worth around £320 MWh, according to calculations by the very-unimpressed Austrian government, who have taken the whole subsidy to court.

The truth is that nowhere, ever, has your industry built a nuclear reactor without a huge slab of government money. And if the true costs of both insuring against meltdown and disposing of the waste and the plant when eventually retired were included, your industry would be shown to be several times more expensive that the alternatives. If the cost of insurance, currently paid by government as another hidden subsidy, were included, the strike price of nuclear would rise to over £200 MWh. And the unreliability of nuclear power carries its own costs, as the National Grid has to have 1,800 MW of backup power on standby for when one of the 1,600 MW Hinkley reactors suddenly goes down, due to a swarm of jellyfish, (as in Torness recently), or other engineering problem. And these costs are spread across all sources, which means that wind and solar have to pay these costs so as to keep down the apparent cost of nuclear.

And why cling to an industry that has no plan for dealing with its own waste? The WIPP plant in New Mexico is a dedicated geological disposal facility built to hold waste for 10,000 years. It lasted 15 years before suffering a series of fires and explosions in barrels holding waste, caused by mixing of nitrate salts, lead gloves, cellulose based kitty litter, and improper (ie. fraudulent) labelling of contents. The explosions led to plutonium and other radioactive substances being ‘puffed’ up out of the ground, and drifting off to the nearest centre of human population, Carlsbad. Of course, nuclear industry supporters immediately chorused that the quantities were safe, were insignificant. But they always do, in spite of numerous scientific studies showing that there is no safe, lower limit of radiation exposure.

The following statement was printed as a leaflet and handed out to attendees of the Nuclear Energy In The UK conference in London, March 2015

We don’t understand how the nuclear industry can keep doing this to it’s own children; have they convinced themselves that ‘a little radiation is good for you’? Swallowed their own propaganda on ‘hormesis’?

Of course, the real killer for your industry is the fact, the fact, that you have a meltdown every seven years. Windscale, Three Mile Island, Tschernobyl, now triple Fukushimas; yet your industry continues to demand that we trust you to do better in the future, and that you’re really sorry and will try and avoid the corner-cutting, risk-taking, regulatory capture and bad practices that led to the last meltdown. Health and Safety by trial and error, where you get to keep the profits and we get to keep the cancer. If you had manfully fronted your disaster at Fukushima and actually admitted it was a catastrophe and that it would take serious money to deal with, ($500 billion), then you might have retained some respect for your scientific honesty and technological competence. But the main focus after Fukushima has only been restarting Japan’s other 48 nuclear plants, and so the population have been told to absorb in place, eat Fukushima food to help the zone recover, smile a lot and have a positive attitude, while half the medical community have accepted instructions to calm patient worries by denying any link to radiation for their complaints. While 400 tons of radioactive water a day continue to gush into the Pacific. ‘It’s OK, the Pacific is quite large’, your industry argues, having sworn blind since the 50’s that you would never unleash any radionuclides into the environment.

So use your technical knowledge of atoms and electrons to join us in solving the world’s energy needs in a safe, sustainable way, as urged by the Prime Minister of Japan during the Fukushima meltdowns, Mr Kan. He called nuclear ‘an unsafe and expensive technology that is not compatible with life on this planet.’

message to the Nuclear Industry Forum, London, June 23-24, 2015

The following message was printed as a flyer and handed out to attendees of the forum as they arrived as well as to passersby on the morning of June 23, 2015:

Nuclear Industry Forum 2015

We are here this morning to again advise you of the error of your ways. Civilian nuclear power was only ever a fig leaf for nuclear bomb making, and civilian nuclear power is no longer either cheap, needed or acceptable.

Don’t just take our word for it. The world’s major investment banks no longer back nuclear. This week, UBS released a report saying that within a decade, solar power will provide 10% of the world’s electricity supply, and that its growth rate will only continue to accelerate, beating coal and nuclear as the world’s default energy technology. “We believe the financial community and most industry experts largely underestimate the global solar capacity growth, as falling costs, supportive regulation and the opening up of new solar markets seem to go largely unnoticed.”

Or as Goldman Sachs put it last year, declining prices of solar plus storage mean that by 2033 homeowners will no longer need to be connected to the grid at all. “Power companies planning large reactors or continued operation of expensive old reactors will be in trouble in this new marketplace.” Boosting the prices charged for nuclear-generated electricity to protect these ageing monsters will only speed up defection from the grid.

Deutsche Bank went even further, predicting that within two years roof-top solar will reach grid parity in all 50 states in the US. US rooftop solar installation will, they say, rise from 8 GW this year to 16 GW in 2016. And this growth will only accelerate.

The real problem for your industry is that the costs of renewables are dropping rapidly, while the cost of nuclear is constantly rising. The crossover point, grid parity, was reached for the sunniest states in the US last year, and is even projected to reach the English Midlands within a year or two. Storage of the energy produced by renewables is the one remaining issue, but in principle it’s not difficult. Pump the water up the hill when energy is produced; let it run back down the hill through generators when you need it. And the announcement by Tesla of Powerwall batteries of 7 kWh capacity for $3500 is another nail in your industry’s coffin. You always played up the difficulties of storing electricity overnight, while downplaying the difficulties of storing your deadly waste for 100,000 years. Well, looks like that one is over for you..

Meanwhile, the ‘new’ French reactor, the EPR, is running into more problems every month. The flagship EPR reactor that Areva is building in Finland is 9 years late and has risen from €3.2 billion to €8.5 billion, which has led to the cancellation of a planned 2nd EPR on the site, (Olkiluoto 4), and a €10 billion court case between Areva and the Finnish power company. The reactor pressure vessel for the equally late and over-budget EPR in France has now been found to be made of steel with too much carbon in it, reducing its toughness, meaning any cracks that start will spread rapidly. And you’ve already welded on all the connections, so replacing the RPV will be horrendously expensive and time consuming. I doubt if the Chinese, who you also have delivered two similarly manufactured EPR RPVs to, are very impressed. Which, since you can’t build your desired EPR in Hinkley Point, near Bristol, without them, is quite serious. Even the massive dollop of English taxpayers cash offered the project, (twice the current price of electricity, index linked for 35 years) is on its own not enough for this cash-hungry dream project. One nuclear engineer (Tony Roulstone, Cambridge University) has described the EPR as too complex to actually build, “unconstructable”. Areva posted a loss of €4.83 billion in 2014, while its market capitalisation is around €3.29 billion. So the French Government has got EDF to take it over to spread the losses around. Ultimately, it’s the French taxpayer on the hook. But then you have never, anywhere, built a nuclear reactor without massive chunks of government money, have you? Adding to your woes, Le Monde reported a study showing that powering France from 100% renewables by 2050 would cost about the same as a mix including 50% nuclear, 40% renewables. (11.9 cents kWh versus 11.7 cents kWh).

5 of your ageing nuclear power stations got closed down on economic grounds in the USA last year. You have 388 operating reactors world-wide, 50 fewer than 2002. You produced 10.8% of the world’s electricity in 2013, down from 17.6% in 1996. An industry in decline. And still no solution in sight for your achilles heel, where to hide the waste. Waste that solar, wind and tidal power don’t produce. Japan added 10 GW of solar power during 2014, and Fukushima has moved the Japanese population from 30% opposing nuclear to 70% opposing nuclear. It is hard for you lot to compete with an alternative that is cleaner, safer and now cheaper. Bad luck.

And Fukushima continues to leak 400 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific every day, as it has for over 4 years now. And your industry has no idea how to stop it; it just knows how to contain the political fallout, not the real fallout that results from your deathtraps having a bad day. Windscale, Three Mile Island, Tschernobyl, Fukushima; each of your little ‘whoops’ events is worse that the last. Not just shot yourselves in the foot; you’ve blown your feet off.

So sorry!!

Produced by Kick Nuclear, London.