Monday, 19 October 2015
Nuclear's common military history in UK and China
Letter sent to The Times, 19 Oct
Your energy editor’s report on a prospective new era of nuclear power production in the UK recalls the special role of the Calder Hall reactors at Sellafield in Cumbria in Britain’s atomic history.("We're paying a high price for dropping the baton on nuclear power," Oct 19)
The article refers readers to the opening by Her Majesty, the young Queen Elizabeth, of Calder Hall on 17 October 1956 ( although it was first connected to the grid on
27 August 1956) . ( http://www.nce.co.uk/letters-exposing-the-truth-of-calder-halls-military-significance/5215257.article).
As some one who wrote a PHD thesis on the UK nuclear reactor design decisions from the early 1950s to the decision in 1979 to switch to an American reactor design (‘Nuclear Powers,’ Open University, 1987), may I draw readers attention to The Times leading article on Calder Hall (‘The First Nuclear Station’, Leader, 17 October 1956).
This leader interestingly described Calder Hall as the "first full scale "nuclear plant, not, as most other news outlets of the day wrongly described the installation as, the world’s first "civil" nuclear power plant, as your energy editor erroneously does in his contemporary article. In identifying it as a "project of high priority," the leader rightly pointed out: "As well as the generation of electricity, it serves a military purpose – the production of plutonium."
Indeed, this is how Calder Hall was described in the official book, ‘Calder Hall’ published in October 1956 by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, written by Kenneth Jay, then a senior staff member at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell.
With China's President about to join Chinese and UK nuclear industries together this week in a commercial co-operation agreement, it should not be overlooked that the main Chinese company, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), that will partner the British nuclear industry in their joint atomic adventure, proudly promotes on its web site that it “successfully developed the atomic bomb, hydrogen bomb and nuclear submarines”.