Press Release – 16 June, 2020
Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) has called for the Bradwell B project as a whole to be rejected. Launching BANNG’s detailed response to the proposals from the Chinese developer, BRB, Andy Blowers, Chair of BANNG said, ‘This is not a done deal as CGN would have us believe. A new nuclear power station is not needed, and especially it is not needed at this site’.
In its detailed, 13,000 word response to the proposals in BRB’s Stage I Public Consultation, BANNG maintains that the Bradwell site is unsustainable, unsuitable and unacceptable.
It is unsustainable because it is a low-lying coastal site that will be subject to the impacts of climate change as sea-level rises and flooding and storm surges batter the site. The plan seems to be that the bulk of the site will eventually be surrendered to the sea leaving the nuclear reactors and spent fuel on a mound as a sea-girt fortress behind a 9m. high wall. ‘The blunt truth is that we cannot tell what conditions will be like by the end of the century let alone beyond, when highly radioactive spent fuel and other nuclear wastes will still be on a site that could be unviable.’
Bradwell is an unsuitable site for a project that can only be achieved by utterly destroying the peaceful, low profile rural, marshland and estuarine landscape and transforming it into an alien, unbeautiful and unnecessary industrial colossus. ‘Bradwell B would savage a landscape, community and environment that can never be replicated or replaced. To pursue the project in the face of such destructiveness would be an act of reckless irresponsibility.’
And Bradwell is unacceptable because of the danger it poses to communities around the Blackwater and beyond. Despite every effort to reduce risks, accidents can, and do, happen. The chances may be small but the consequences are huge, and on the scale of Fukushima, potentially affecting an area of half a million people including large towns like Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend. However remote, the possibility of radioactivity spreading cannot be ruled out and in that eventuality it could have catastrophic consequences for which counter-measures will most likely prove totally ineffective.
For these reasons alone Bradwell B should be a non-starter and the proposals should be withdrawn. In addition, there are specific proposals each of which reinforces the case for rejection.
One is the proposal for cooling water, effectively a compromise to avoid either taking water from the estuary, which cannot cope with the volumes (130 cubic metres per second), or direct from the sea, which involves long 11.5k. tunnels. Tall 180m. cooling towers with plumes high up in the atmosphere are clearly unacceptable. So, a compromise of indirect cooling is proposed taking less water from the estuary but still impacting on fishing and the oyster beds; combined with squat but still very obtrusive 50m. cooling towers. BANNG comments: ‘The hybrid cooling system intended as a compromise, adds insult to the estuary and injury to the landscape; truly the worst of all worlds.’
Another reason for rejection is that there are no effective proposals for managing highly radioactive spent fuel and other nuclear wastes beyond leaving them on site in so-called ’interim’ storage. BANNG believes this is unacceptable for three reasons. One, the store, along with the power station will be vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Two, beyond 2100 the wastes will be left on a site in unknowable deteriorating conditions for the unforeseeable but far distant future. And, three, there are no plans for the long-term beyond the forlorn hope that a disposal site will be available. The absence of a convincing and credible strategy for managing its highly active wastes is a fundamental reason for the Bradwell B project to be abandoned.
The impact of Bradwell B on the estuary and the Dengie Peninsula will be severe. The estuaries and coastal waters comprise the largest Marine Conservation Zone in the country explicitly to protect the renowned Colchester Native Oyster. Oysters and fish will be threatened by the intake and discharge of cooling water as well as by the port facilities it is intended to introduce to take in bulk materials for the power station. The devastation of marshland and precious habitat will impact on the ecology and especially the wintering habitats for birds, including the 7% of the world’s overwintering Brent Geese. The cultural landscape, including St Peter’s Chapel and other historical sites, will be overwhelmed.
In short, the overall impact will be on such a scale that the existing tranquil, passive, fragile and unpolluted environment of the Blackwater will be replaced over time by a noisy, dangerous and intrusive industrial complex.
Bradwell B will not only transform the environment, it will have a profound impact on the economic and social wellbeing of the whole area. In the hope of gaining public approval, Bradwell B is literally buying its way into the area with the promise of thousands of jobs and millions of pounds of investment, the provision of housing and services, transport infrastructure and other geegaws. During construction there will be more than 10,000 workers, but only 3,000 from within the region, the rest from elsewhere, with many from overseas.
An economy tilted towards one dominant industry will inevitably impact on labour markets and is likely to have distorting effects on other activities. A development of this scale cannot be measured simply in terms of economic benefits. The drawbacks must be measured too. Much more information is needed on the transformative impacts on the economy and community from a new nuclear power station. Issues of balance, diversification, inequality and employment must be addressed.
The same is true of the social impacts of Bradwell B. Among the issues needing thorough assessment are the integration of such numbers in the local community, for example the impact of 4,500 workers, mainly young people, living in campus-style accommodation close by Bradwell with a population of 500, or in caravan parks scattered across the Dengie. There are also transport impacts to be considered and there can be no hiding the fact that the harm to environments and wellbeing will be substantial and that the scale of lorry movements, commuting and public transport envisaged contributes to the reasons for refusal of the project as a whole.
BANNG is, therefore, calling for a Social Impacts Assessment to investigate the impacts on the economy services, transport, social integration and community wellbeing. ‘I am confident such an assessment will provide the conclusive evidence that Bradwell B will have a destructive, divisive and detrimental impact on the area and the wellbeing of its people.
[BANNG urges all those who are concerned to respond to the public consultation by the deadline of 1st July. Click here to read BANNG’s full response]