Letter David Lowry: On August 31 the Japanese (Hitachi) owned Horizon Nuclear published a 684-page public consultation document on its proposals to build a new nuclear power plant. As the primary reason for the halt in the go-ahead for the Hinkley C nuclear plant on Somerset’s north coast, just across the Bristol Channel from Cardiff, Newport and Swansea is unresolved security matters, as a researcher originally from Neath I looked at Horizon’s consultation document to see what it says about security at Wylfa Newydd. The answer is worryingly little; and what it does say is so general as to be worthless. The summary document mentions “the parts of the power station necessary to support the operation and maintenance of the power station, including offices and security facilities”. Later it adds: “welfare/security building and kiosks will be located in the logistics centre”, explaining that security features include “paladin fencing with controlled access barriers, security systems and other management requirements”. In the main report it says: “We will prioritise the safety, security and well-being of the public, our employees, the environment and our stakeholders.” It adds: “There would be both an inner and an outer security fence. The fences would meet the centre for the protection of national infrastructure standards and would require approval from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). Each fence would comprise a double fence structure with clear zones between them. The operational site would also require permanent perimeter lighting and it is assumed the fences would be monitored by alarm systems and CCTV.( paras 4.33 & 4).” Later it says: “The Generic Design Assessment (GDA) allows the nuclear regulators to assess the safety, security and environmental implications of new reactor designs separately from applications to build them at specific sites.” And that’s about it. On July 13, in a coruscating critique of the ballooning costs and unreliability of UK nuclear power, the British national financial watchdog, the National Audit Office, issued a report, Nuclear Power in the UK, in which it included the following observation: “There are specific challenges in ensuring that nuclear power is on an equal footing in the market with other low-carbon technologies: Nuclear power plants have very high upfront costs and take a long time to build. Costs have increased in recent years given the extra safety considerations following the Fukushima disaster and increasing terrorist threats.” A week earlier, on July 7, the official British nuclear safety and security regulator, The Office for Nuclear Regulation, published its annual progress report. In a section headed Civil Nuclear Security it revealed: “Overall, the civil nuclear sector met its security obligations. There are areas where the dutyholder’s security arrangements did not fully meet regulatory expectations.” ONR has declined to elaborate what the problem is, on security grounds. In Europe too, the nuclear terrorist spectre has been recently raised by Europol, the EU’s Dutch-based counter-terror agency. In its annual report issued on July 20 it revealed: “Nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon facilities in the EU also remain potential targets for terrorists.” With the latest European terrorist attacks in France and Germany, Prime Minister Theresa May is surely being prudent in reviewing the various and growing security risks posed by new nuclear plants. Horizon asserts “we are seeking views on our proposals… reducing the negative effects of the project”. The best and most obvious way is not to build it. Meanwhile, Horizon incredibly asserts the public in Wales can have “no scope for influence” on the following issues in their public consultation: use of UK ABWR reactor technology; locating the power station at the Wylfa Nuclear power station site; and the need for off-site power station facilities. Citizens in Wales should protest loud and long about these exclusions.
Western Mail letters, 3 September 2016 read more »