Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Nuclear Industry peddles fake facts (again)

On 1st March last week in London at a great nuclear exports jamboree, the so-called “Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017,” the British trade minister Gregg Hands stressed:

      “we will enter into new trade agreements that will allow our nuclear programme to excel…. The UK will become the leading international partner of choice in the civil nuclear field – exporting our expertise right across the nuclear life cycle and right across the world.  We will do this by seizing the global opportunity out there, harnessing the UK’s world leading capability.”

      In the next 13 years, the overseas market for building new reactors will be worth £930 billion across 30 countries, and around £250 billion will be spent on decommissioning old ones. In fact by 2030, the UK will be sizing a potential export market of £240 billion.

      And finally government, and in particular my Department for International Trade, will double-down on our support to ensure the UK’s nuclear sector continues to grow.

      He added, incredibly: “The UK is rightly guided by our international non-proliferation obligations in relation to exporting nuclear-related items.”

(UK trade promotions minister, Greg Hands’ speech at the Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017,


Mr Hands also asserted :

“Our world class nuclear supply chain capability is the product of over 60 years of experience and research.It started with Calder Hall in Cumbria in 1956 – the world’s first civil nuclear programme. From this strong base, UK industry has plans for new nuclear reactors amounting to up to 18 gigawatt of new capacity over the coming years.”

The trouble with high flown rhetoric is it is based on fake facts.

Calder Hall  nuclear plant was built asa plutonium production facility  to provide nuclear warhead exlosives for the British atomic bomb programme, with electricity production as a spin-off.

In fact it was clearly stated at the time of the plant’s opening, in a remarkable little book entitled Calder Hall: The Story of Britain’s First Atomic Power Station - written by Kenneth Jay, and published by the Government’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell to mark Calder’s commissioning in October 1956 – in which  Mr Jay wrote:

“Major plants built for military purposes such as Calder Hall are being used as prototypes for civil plants . . . the plant has been designed as a dual-purpose plant to produce plutonium for military purposes as well as electric power . . . it would be wrong to pretend that the civil programme has not benefitted from, and is not to some extent dependent upon, the military programme."

To co-incide with the jamboree last week  to de facto  promote nuclear proliferation, the government issued brochure titled ‘Nuclear in the Northern Powerhouse’,  which includes  a section headed ‘Where civil nuclear began and continues to flourish,’ which  reads in part:

“From the start of the industrial revolution, to the first artificial splitting of the atom in 1917, to the isolation of graphene in 2004, the North of England has always been at the forefront of science and technology. And this combination of pioneering spirit, bold ingenuity and manufacturing know-how is still evident in the region’s dynamic and growing civil nuclear power sector.

In fact, the world’s very first civil nuclear programme began in the Northern Powerhouse, marked by the opening of Calder Hall power station, close to Sellafield in West Cumbria, in 1956. Nowhere else in the world can boast the civil nuclear history of the Northern Powerhouse. And the lessons learnt from our pioneering programmes – and developments since – are what make us both world leaders and the epicentre of  the UK’s expertise. Today, the Northern Powerhouse is using all this experience and expertise to make nuclear power safer, more efficient and more purposeful in a fast-changing world.”

(my emphasis)

It thus repeats the same false fact, describing it as a fact!

Campbell Kier is the Department for International Trade representative on the Nuclear Industry Council -described by the Nuclear Industry Association, which co-chairs the council with energy minister (Jesse Norman) as “the main body to facilitate co-operation between the nuclear industry and Government. Its overarching role is to tackle long-term challenges facing the industry and to help realise future opportunities through strategic decision making.”


I wonder whether his  expert colleagues on the cheerleading Nuclear Industry Council could start  educating him on the false facts on nuclear history being  spread by his department


Calder Hall, opened by the Queen in 1956

Calder Hall, opened by the Queen in 1956

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