Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Mr B Gerrard

  My understanding is that the inquiry is assuming that at least eight AP 1000 reactors would be built, if the nuclear option is chosen.

  I also understand that an AP 1000 is an advanced Pressurised Water Reactor, which has been developed by a subsidiary of BNFL; and that none have been built or sold.

  Regarding the Generation Gap Question:

    Our local power station, Fiddlers Ferry, is a coal fired station. It did not meet the "2002 Renewable Obligation Order" requirements to burn renewable fuel. It was too old, and hadn't had all its old boilers replaced with new ones. The Government changed its rules, and now the power station is burning renewable fuels, and has recently been given the go ahead, by the Government to install a "Flue Gas Desulphurisation Plant". The power station's new owners "Scottish and Southern", are developing clean coal technology. At a recent visit to the power station, staff told me that the station could be updated, with this clean coal technology, and this would extent its life, past the 2015 decommissioning date announced in the press.

    If other "Old" coal power stations were updated like ours, then the Generation Gap would not be so great. This would allow the lights to stay on in Britain, while Renewable Energy Schemes have more time to come on line.

  Financial Costs and Investments consideration:

    This is an interesting question. Liverpool, a city near me, planned and costed a Tramway system. Steel prices have risen so much, that now the Tramway will not go ahead, unless the Government, increases its grant to the project. This example shows that electricity generators, which contain a lot of steel, such as Wind Turbines, would be less competitive now, than when Liverpool first planned its Tramway system.

    If concrete prices were to rocket, then large users such as Nuclear Power Stations could become too expensive to build. So, what a power station is made of, can be more economically important than what technology is used.

    We were told that nuclear power would produce electricity too cheap to monitor, how wrong they were.

    Previous Governments have tried to get companies to invest in Nuclear Power Stations, but this was a disaster. Only two Aluminium Companies—one in Anglesey and the other in Scotland—invested in Nuclear Power Stations, to keep their huge electricity bills down.

    ICI Runcorn, a company near me, is a large electricity user, but it, like all the Steel Manufacturers in Britain, did not get involved in building Nuclear Power Stations. I can not see Large electricity users such as Aluminium Companies, steel Manufacturers, or the Chlorine Industry, getting involved in any future Nuclear Power Programmes.

    The Nuclear Industry has been on a life support system for nearly 50 years; they kept telling us that Nuclear Fusion was just around the corner. Its time the Government switched off the nuclear life support machine, and invested the money saved, into a National Water Pipeline System. This pipeline could supply water to all Britain in times of drought, brought about by Global Warming.

  Strategic Benefits:

    Nuclear Power should be kept as the last option, in case the other options fail. We do not have economically mineable quantities of Uranium, which means importing the material. A previous British Government ignored a UN ban on Namibian exports, and exported Uranium from Namibia to Britain, to keep British lights on. We should not rely on Uranium imports, when some of the countries, are politically unstable.

    If any new Nuclear Power Stations were to be built, they should come under the UN Atoms For Peace Programme. They should not have online refuelling, or sections in the reactor, which have the necessary Neutron Flux Density, for weapons grade Plutonium to be made.

  Finally, I live close to the only Nuclear Enrichment Plant in the Country. The wagons that transport the Uranium Hexafluoride material, pass through my town, they do not have police escort or armed guards, accompanying them.

  I have seen these radioactive wagons pass along Birchfield road. This is in an area with high density housing, several schools, a Technical College, and a large superstore. The area would be devastated by radioactivity, if terrorists attacked these unaccompanied wagons, with rocket propelled grenades.

  The Enrichment factory contains large amounts of Uranium Hexafluoride, which would make Merseyside a radioactive wasteland, if terrorists attacked the factory directly, or attacked the power lines that supply electricity to the centrifuges.

15 September 2005

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