The anti-nuclear movement in Britain has a long and active history. The famous peace symbol that has come to have universal meaning was first adopted by the British anti-nuclear weapons movement, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
An article by Graham Ruddick in the Guardian, entitled "From feast to farce: how the big Hinkley Point C party was put on ice," reported that "the UK government was meant to be celebrating, but delays and second thoughts have left the project stalled."
The two new reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, southwest England, would each be 1,600 Megawatt-electric French Areva European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs).
EPRs under construction in Finland (Olkiluoto 3) and France (Flamanville 3) are years behind schedule, and billions of dollars over budget. A major fabrication flaw in the reactors' lids and bases at those two projects may prove fatal, preventing completion and permanently blocking operation.
A proposed new EPR was blocked by an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, at Calvert Cliffs, Maryland several years ago. That major environmental victory, blocking the flagship EPR in the U.S., likely prevented a total of seven EPRs proposed across the U.S., from Nine Mile Point, NY to Callaway, MO. Additional proposed new EPRs under consideration at Darlington, Ontario were also rejected.
The Guardian article reports that, just two hours after the board of directors of Electricité de France (EDF) voted, by a narrow 10 to 7 margin, to proceed with building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the U.K., the new British prime minister's cabinet secretary in charge of the file, announced the British government would review the matter, and not announce its decision in early autumn.
The high-level confusion/international incident was illustrated clearly by the sudden departure of Chinese nuclear power industry investors, who had flown to Europe for the party celebrating EDF's decision, only to have the U.K. government pull the rug out.
The EDF board vote would have been 10 to 8, but an opponent of the project resigned in protest before the vote took place, citing the extreme risk of the proposal. The six labor union representatives on the EDF board voted as a bloc against proceeding with Hinkley Point C. Their position is that the top priority should be placed on safety repairs and upgrades at France's own current fleet of 58 aging atomic reactors, the second most of any country on Earth. (The U.S. has 100 operating reactors.)
Terry Macalister reported in the Guardian on July 7th that the estimated price tag for Hinkley Point C had risen to a whopping 37 billion British pounds, or nearly $49.5 billion U.S., at current exchange rates.
At a Beyond Nuclear sponsored presentation in Takoma Park, Maryland on July 21st, U.K. professor and solar power expert, Keith Barnham, reported that, at certain times of year, British taxpayers/ratepayers would subsidize 7/9ths of the cost of the electricity exported to France from Hinkley Point C, simply because the demand does not exist in the U.K. He pointed out the irony of going forward with such a U.K. subsidy of France, after the BREXIT vote removing the U.K. from the European Union. Barnham is author of The Burning Answer: The Solar Revolution, a Quest for Sustainable Power.
Climate News Network also reported on this story. It was reprinted in EcoWatch. The article reports:
...[C]ritics of the controversial project were delighted. John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace, said: "Theresa May now has the chance to stop this radioactive white elephant in its tracks."
"She should look at the evidence and see that this deal would be a monumental disaster for the taxpayers and the bill payers. Countless experts have warned that for British families this power station will be terrible value for money," Sauven added.
Mycle Schneider, lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (just updated on July 13th), was interviewed by BBC, and expressed surprise at the sudden reversal regarding Hinkley Point C.
A letter from Ray Davies, Cymru CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament)
So Mr Cameron and the Tories have sold us short yet again.
1. He claims Hinkley C will create four thousand jobs. The catch is, under EU law they will have to recruit in Europe ; so most of the highly skilled workforce will come from France and elsewhere in Europe, not Britain and certainly not Wales. Our workers will mainly be in Security and probably painting the front gates of Hinkley Point.
2. When the coalition government failed to find a backer for Hinkley C, we promised France and China that British taxpayers would guarantee them a price double to what electricity costs at the present moment - a price we will all have to pay. What idiot would not accept that offer?
3. In 60 years we have never found a safe method to dispose of the countless thousands of tonnes of highly radioactive waste which threaten our children and future generations; and yet we are going to create more and more.
4. Nuclear power is the economics of the madhouse. America has closed four nuclear power stations with more to follow because they are not economic. Germany has vowed to get rid of every one of their nuclear power stations and invest in renewables; Italy has withdrawn their programme; and France is reducing their dependency on nuclear, because it is expensive as well as dangerous.
5. The site of Hinkley C is geologically unstable, and a nuclear accident could threaten a catastrophe from the Gower to Somerset. Global warming means rising tide levels around the coast, and fracking in Bridgend is another potential threat which could create mini earthquakes around the nuclear site. The whole of Swansea, Newport and Cardiff would be wiped out by a Fukushima style accident.
6. Germany and the US bought out our car industry. France owns our water and the Severn Bridge. Now China- with its dubious safety record- is getting in on the act. Will there be anything left of our resources to sell off?
I and many other environmentalists will be doing our utmost to stop this madness taking place- not for a headline in a newspaper, but for the sake of our children and grandchildren, and for this beautiful planet which is so fragile.
Reports Reuters: "Britain signed a deal with France's EDF to build a 16-billion pound ($26-billion) nuclear plant, becoming the first European country to provide state guarantees to help fund a nuclear project.
The Hinkley Point C project in southwest England, the first new European nuclear plant since the Fukushima crisis, is expected to start producing power from 2023 and will receive a guaranteed electricity "strike" price of 92.50 pounds ($150) per megawatt-hour for 35 years, more than twice the current market rate, EDF and the British government said on Monday."
Writes Oliver Tickell in The Ecologist: "Nuclear power brings many casualties. The first of these is the truth. According to the Government, the "deal" announced with EDF and Chinese nuclear companies to build a pair of 1.6GW reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset is an excellent one that will provide the country with safe, low cost and secure electricity. This is a masterpiece of mendacity, and of chutzpah. The deal is a disastrous one for the UK, its taxpayers and energy users. We will be locked into a punitively high electricity price, index-linked, from 2025 until 2060, and the cumulative cost of this one nuclear power station will be well in excess of £100 billion, or around £1 billion per year in today's money.
"The deal is also built on a lie - that nuclear power is not receiving any public subsidy. The "strike price" offered to EDF is a subsidy in all but name. And it's only the beginning of the UK's largesse, which also cover Treasury financing guarantees covering 65% of the construction cost (£10 billion), underwriting of decommissioning costs and waste management liabilities stretching millennia into the future, and limitless insurance against nuclear catastrophes of the kind that struck Fukushima. EDF will only be liable for the first €1.2 billion of costs arising from accident. Fukushima is conservatively estimated to have cost Japan over £300 billion. With free market insurance costs estimated at between €0.14 and €2.36 per kWh produced, the UK Government's insurance represents an additional subsidy worth €3 billion to €60 billion per year." Read the rest of the article.
The Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition government in Britain is inching closer to a deal with French government utility EDF to build new reactors in that country. Energy Minister, Michael Fallon, says a deal is now weeks away, although negotiations have been dragging on for months as EDF seeks a ratepayer-gouging subsidy to fund construction of a reactor at Hinkley, Somerset, possibly followed by a second one at Sizewell in Suffolk. Both projects have faced vociferous opposition. The subsidies could cause electricity rates to sky-rocket.