Vice President of French Assembly to visit Hinkley to highlight ‘triple risks’ of nuclear

popup#Hinkley_webMolly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, is to hold a crisis meeting with the Vice President of the French Assembly, Denis Baupin, on the ‘triple risks’ posed by Hinkley C nuclear power station. The meeting takes place ahead of a state visit by Chinese President, Xi Jinping, to the UK later this month. The UK government is rumoured to be ready to sign a financial deal with the Chinese which would ensure funding for the nuclear new build.

Dr Scott Cato and Mr Baupin will be joined by protesters and a white elephant outside the gates of Hinkley on Friday and will draw attention to the risks to security [1], the risk of an energy gap [2] and the risks associated with Chinese ownership of the plant [3].

Mr Baupin’s visit to Hinkley comes as the French government has acknowledged the risks associated with the Pressurised Water nuclear reactor (EPR) model; a design beset with problems that have caused massive delays to construction of two such plants in France and Finland [1] but the design EDF still plan to build at Hinkley. The French government has also recently adopted a law which will reduce nuclear energy in the country. Mr Baupin said:

“EPR was meant to showcase the expertise of France’s nuclear energy industry to the world. But it has turned into the most expensive and risky model possible. The many problems that have occurred with this design so far show we don’t even know how to build it properly! The UK still has an opportunity to say no to this industrial and financial disaster.”

Molly Scott Cato said:

“I am delighted that the Vice President of the French Assembly has chosen to visit Hinkley and warn us of the risks the EPR nuclear model poses. By continuing to support this white elephant, the government is leading us into a dangerous dark alley where we will face a serious energy gap and where a reliance on Chinese capital will threaten safety and environmental standards [3]. Friday’s meeting and protest will send a loud and clear message to the government: Hinkley is too risky. We need to abandon the project now and invest instead in green energy which can deliver energy security more quickly, more cheaply and provide thousands more quality jobs [4].”


Triple risks in details

[1] Security risks: the Pressurised Water nuclear reactor (EPR) technology/construction proposed for the Hinkley plant has encountered numerous problems. France’s nuclear safety watchdog found “multiple” malfunctioning valves in the Flamanville EPR that could cause its meltdown, in a similar scenario to the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the US. The steel reactor vessel, which houses the plant’s nuclear fuel and confines its radioactivity, was also found to have “very serious anomalies” that increase the risk of it cracking.  

[2] Energy gap risk: due to financial and technical delays, Hinkley is now not expected to produce any electricity until at least 2023. The project is having a ‘chilling effect’ on renewables both in terms of funding of renewables projects and in the allocation of spare grid capacity, which is being reserved for Hinkley. Renewables could quickly come on stream to fill the energy gap, given the necessary investment and political will. But the focus on nuclear power generation, while effectively putting the brakes on renewables, creates a serious risk of an energy shortfall, or energy gap.

[3] Risks associated with Chinese funding and ownership: Molly has identified these risks in her article for Business Green. She identifies Chinese investment as expensive and unreliable, pointing to recent volatility in its finance markets and the fact that our energy security will depend on the commitment of two companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party – one of which, the China National Nuclear Corporation, combines nuclear weapons production with civilian nuclear power. There are also risks associated with China’s questionable commitment to safety and environmental standards.

[4] The Power to Transform the South West report commissioned by Molly Scott Cato, demonstrates how the South West can provide 100%+ of its energy needs through renewable energy alone: