Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Davey still has no nuclear sense in his locker

Letters sent to The Times :
The salutary lesson of rejection by his constituents does not seem to have impacted former Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Sir Edward Davey’s ability to be slippery with words (“Tories would have come up with a worse nuclear deal,” 9 March
Sir Edward asserts in his Thunderer comment " the price [to be paid for  electricity generated by the Hinkley C nuclear plant]  includes cleaning up nuclear’s pollution: the cost of managing nuclear waste and, eventually, of decommissioning.”
This misleads by omission in a number of ways.
Firstly, it includes no element at all for the clean-up of radiological and toxic pollution at uranium mines, all of which are conveniently outside the UK. When Sir Edward was energy secretary his department asserted it did not need to include the impact of uranium mines on the local environment in the strategic environmental assessment as SEAs did not apply to circumstances outside the United Kingdom
This dismissal of responsibility is a convenient washing of hands over the deleterious effects on indigenous, brown- faced peoples from whose land ( in Namibia, Canada, Kazakhstan etc) the uranium is mined. This is a pernicious example of environmental racism.
Secondly, the cost of final nuclear waste management is capped by the fiendishly complex set of  arrangements. If the agreed cost escalates above the ceiling, which close examination of the history of nuclear waste costs suggests is inevitable, the nuclear plant operator will have the extra costs picked up by thetaxpayer.
There is a minimal insurance premium the radioactive waste creator, in the Hinkley C case, EDF Energy,  has to pay, but this will be dwarfed by the inflation in real costs
I sat on Sir Edward’s Geological Disposal Implementation Board for nuclear waste for several years before it was put into cold storage when his disposal strategy collapsed.
I always argued in the GDIB that ministers should not put unrealistic optimism before factual reality; they declined to listen.
Instead, Sir Edward continues to act as Humpty Dumpty, who said pithily in Alice through the Looking Glass “When I use a word  it means just what I chose it to mean – neither more or less.”

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