Press Release – 18 September, 2018
Possible Chinese withdrawal from Bradwell B ‘not surprising but still a surprise’ says BANNG.
The news (Financial Times, 18 September, 2018) that the Chinese company behind Bradwell B is considering withdrawing its interest in the project because of political
sensitivities ‘is not, perhaps surprising, though it comes as a surprise, nonetheless’ says BANNG’s Andy Blowers. The project may be doomed anyway as the site is totally unsuitable and is widely opposed by communities all around the Blackwater.
The Chinese withdrawal, should it come, would reflect widespread concerns about the security issues surrounding their investment into a highly sensitive part of the UK’s national infrastructure. Recent manoeuvres off the disputed, Chinese-built, artificial islands in the South China Sea have increased tensions in the area and provoked warnings of Chinese investment withdrawal from the UK. It is possible that the Bradwell project could be an early victim of deteriorating relations between the two countries.
In any event the project was already looking doubtful. It is facing considerable challenges in delivering vast quantities of cooling water by pipeline and the need to avoid polluting the Marine Conservation Zone which gives protection to the Colchester Native Oyster and other marine life. Most of the site is vulnerable to flooding and it will be a heroic feat to demonstrate that highly radioactive spent fuel can be safely and securely stored on the site until the end of the next century.
The Bradwell site is currently under scrutiny as the Government decides whether it remains potentially suitable for the deployment of nuclear reactors by 2035. And the Chinese reactor design, not yet in operation anywhere, is being examined by the nuclear regulators for safety and security. It is possible that, quite aside from Chinese wavering, the Government puts the issue beyond doubt by pulling the Bradwell site from the list of possible sites. Or, the regulator might require design features that are impossible economically or technically to meet. ‘With the Chinese apparently losing interest and the Government and regulators considering the site, Bradwell B faces a double whammy,’ Andy Blowers said.
(1) Comments on the UK HPR1000 reactor design and technology.
Comments on Stage 2 of the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process from the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) p. 6
There are understandable concerns among the public about the Chinese involvement in developing a UK HPR1000. These concerns are both commercial and
political. It is important that reasons of commercial confidentiality and economic development do not compromise the ability of the UK’s regulators effectively to scrutinise all aspects of the safety systems. At a more strategic level there are concerns about the involvement of the Chinese state (in the form of CGN) in highly sensitive UK infrastructure. It is axiomatic that control over security must be exercised by the UK and that the Chinese state will not be able to interfere with the operation of nuclear power stations in UK territory. Reassurance on these sensitive matters will be a necessary condition for public acceptability of the development of Chinese reactors in the UK.
(2) ‘Chinese willing to hand over control of UK nuclear plant’, Financial Times, 18 September, 2018
Note to Editors:
BANNG contact numbers: Andy Blowers 07930.800253 / Varrie Blowers 07932.644482