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[cdn-nucl-l] News from Wales - Blair May Back New Nuclear Plants
From a website titled icWales
'Blair may back more nuclear power plants'
Feb 19 2005
Martin Shipton, Western Mail
ANTI-NUCLEAR campaigners will today hold a conference aimed at flushing out rumours Tony Blair is planning to back nuclear power after the General Election expected in May.
Reports have suggested a post-election White Paper may suggest building new nuclear power stations is a favourable option for reducing carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
Senior Labour figures like Peter Hain, Margaret Beckett and Patricia Hewitt oppose the expansion of nuclear energy, but the Prime Minister's view is understood to be more inclined towards it.
Today's conference in the Old College, Aberystwyth, is being held to prepare for a massive campaign that would be launched if the nuclear option was resurrected.
Hugh Richards of the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance said, "If the Government tried to pursue the nuclear route, Wales would not be immune and it is very likely that a new power station would be proposed here. Today we issue a challenge to the nuclear industry - put up or shut up.
"BNFL - the company responsible for nuclear energy in the UK - is pretending that its generation III pressurised water reactor (PWR), the Westinghouse AP1000, is 'ready for deployment' and that a new reactor programme of 10 plants will prove an economically attractive way for the UK to produce some of its electricity.
"Lobbying by BNFL and its nuclear affiliates is partially fuelling the calls for a programme of new nuclear reactors in the UK. The Prime Minister has also disclosed that the US administration is pressing Britain to look again at this option.
"There is a simple way for BNFL to establish whether their AP1000 design is licensable - technically acceptable and economically viable - in the UK.
"BNFL should apply for a licence. The company should submit the AP1000 design, together with the application fee to the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate.
"To test its public acceptability the nuclear industry should disclose in full the environmental criteria for the reactor, from construction through to security measures, decommissioning and spent fuel disposal, and list preferred sites for new reactors and spent fuel and waste storage."
The 2002 Energy Review stated that it was difficult to assess the contribution that new nuclear reactors could make to a low-carbon future. Concerns about radioactive waste, accidents and terrorism may, it is argued, limit or preclude their use, but costs of production could fall substantially if new "generation IV" designs are effective, and the Energy Review argued that the nuclear option should therefore remain open.
But, said Mr Richards, BNFL was attempting to get its "untried and untested" AP1000 design accepted much sooner, on the basis that the design is ready to be built and is also cost effective.
He said, "The environment movement believes that BNFL's design is an attempt at cost cutting as it omits safety features which are regarded by nuclear inspectors as essential for a PWR.
"We believe the public and Parliament will be understandably wary about the cost-cutting motive behind the simplification of PWR designs, while prospective investors are unlikely to be impressed by design innovation that does nothing, of itself, to prevent accidents that in a very short time could convert a huge investment into a huge liability."
Mr Richards pointed out that last year Richard Mayson of BNFL said, "In broad terms, the AP1000 uses roughly half the concrete and steel and therefore it doesn't take a genius to work out that's roughly half the capital cost of what Sizewell should have cost".
Doubts that the AP1000 can fulfil British safety standards with far less pipework and cabling than the original design, have led the nuclear industry to call for the "harmonisation" of British reactor licensing procedures with those of the US, and the "streamlining" of planning procedures.
Page 2: Wales' existing nuclear power stations
Wales' existing nuclear power stations
THERE have been two nuclear power stations in Wales.
Trawsfynydd power station, in Snowdonia National Park, opened in 1965 with two 290MW reactors. It closed after 28 years of use, and it will need to be checked every day for the next 130 years because of continuing radioactivity. Methods have been discussed of making the redundant buildings less of an eyesore by reducing their height.
Wylfa power station is on the north coast of Anglesey, west of Amlwch. It opened in 1971 and has two 580MW reactors. It is due to close in 2010.
In early 2000 Wylfa was shut down after reactor cracks were discovered. It was restarted 15 months later but closed temporarily again in July 2003.