The news that radioactive discharges into the Blackwater estuary from the former Bradwell nuclear power station now seem set to continue for a further 4 years was met with indignation by the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG).
‘This is scandalous’, said Varrie Blowers, Secretary of BANNG. ‘The deadline for the entry of the former Bradwell nuclear power station into its Care and Maintenace (C & M) state keeps shifting. At the Local Communities Liaison Committee (LCLC) meeting on 3 June, it was announced that the deadline had changed from the much-vaunted date of 2015. It has now changed again: from 2017 to 2019. And no real reasons have been given. I would hazard a guess that there are still big problems with the experimental accelerated dissolution process for the fuel element debris (FED).
‘This extension means that radioactive discharges into the shallow Blackwater estuary will continue for years to come’.
Since 2013, BANNG has opposed FED dissolution. The group maintains that the FED should have been packaged and stored. ‘Magnox appears to be proud of the learning it has gained from its ‘ambitious’ programme’, said Barry Turner, Vice-Chair of BANNG. ‘The main lesson they have learned from the use of the experimental dissolution technology at Bradwell is that it will not now be used at any of their other sites as originally planned. The FED at these sites will, in fact, now be packaged and stored, leaving Bradwell as the only site where dissolution takes place. FED dissolution at Bradwell must stop. If the FED had been packaged and stored, Magnox might well have achieved their deadline target of 2015. No-one should have any faith in these deadlines that are periodically announced and routinely missed’.
Varrie Blowers added: ‘It is scandalous that Magnox is patting itself on the back for accelerating the decommissioning process while time and again it extends the deadline for completion. We are told that ‘accelerating the closure of Bradwell will save the UK many millions of pounds’. Can this be a serious claim? We understand the problematic FED dissolution plant alone has cost the British taxpayer more than £100M to date and it looks like the final cost will be a lot more. What the nuclear industry seems to excel at is making it up as it goes along’.