Moorside Land Grab by NuGen, with compulsory purchase on the cards, sees the “biggest construction project in Europe” more than double in size – from 200 to 552 hectares of farmland adjacent to Sellafield.
Consultation documents published by NuGen on its new-build plans suggest a belated realisation by the developer that, given the topography, geology and other constraints of the Moorside site, three first of a kind AP1000 reactors, plus all the associated paraphernalia needed to construct, operate and service them, were never going to be squeezed into the land originally purchased from the NDA in 2009. It was from within this original land parcel of 200 hectares that NuGen subsequently projected that ‘the most suitable 100 ha would be selected for the nuclear power station’.
Today, however, NuGen says that ‘the generating elements of the power station would cover some 200 hectares’ (EIA Scoping Report Vol 1 page 22, para 2.2.1) – the whole of the originally purchased land area and not just 100 hectares within it. The knock-on effect of this doubling of the reactor area from 100 to 200 hectares is the dramatic expansion of the overall West Cumbrian land area now required for investigation – from 200 to 552 hectares (EIA Scoping Report Vol 1, page 22, Para 2.2.1).
Identified in the consultation documents as the ‘Moorside Search Area’ (EIA Scoping Report, Vol 2, Fig 1.3), the new and expanded 552 hectares of land, within which lies the original 200 hectare land parcel. Outside this original plot, much of the additional land is identified as ‘Additional Scoping Land’ which now takes the borders of the 552 hectare expanded site. to the verges of the villages of Beckermet and Braystones.
This Additional Scoping Land is described by NuGen as land in which ‘the siting and extent of proposed temporary and permanent works have yet to be confirmed’. These temporary works – which could become permanent – include a new rail spur with workforce railway platforms, freight sidings, Marine off-loading facility and other works. The permanent works – outside the ‘boundary for reactors’ – will include an electricity sub-station, spent reactor fuel and nuclear waste stores and a visitor centre. This sprawl of temporary and permanent facilities outside the rectors’ boundary are likely to ruffle more than a few local feathers, particularly among property and land owners within the Additional Scoping Land who face the prospect of having their assets compulsory purchased.
Building three AP1000 reactors on one site has never before been attempted by Westinghouse and some measure of the destructive sprawl awaiting the guinea-pig Moorside site – and its local residents – can be gauged from the extent of the deforested and bulldozed USA’s VC Summer site in South Carolina where just two AP1000 reactors are being built. Adding considerably to the US reactors’ footprint is the further sprawl of construction offices and laydown and warehouse areas – all of which will be needed at Moorside and likely to be located in the new Additional Scoping Land’.
Cooling water for the VC Summer reactors will be drawn from a local reservoir with additional cooling provided by circular low-profile (21 metre high) cooling towers – two per reactor. For Moorside, NuGen has ruled out the use of large natural draught cooling towers of the type used for many existing coal fired power stations in the UK (EIA Scoping Report, Vol 1, Page 23, Para 2.2.9) and confirmed its choice of direct seawater cooling from the Irish Sea. Should additional cooling be required, the option of auxiliary cooling towers, such as the 21 metre low profile towers used at VC Summer – is still under consideration by NuGen.
The underestimate of the extent of land required for Moorside is echoed by a similar underestimate of the four year build time claimed for each of its projected AP1000 reactors – a timeline that NuGen knows to be wholly at odds with the current Westinghouse experience overseas. The VC Summer twin reactors for example, also scheduled to be built in four years, are currently in their 6th and 7th year of construction respectively and still nowhere near completion – let alone the production of electricity.
Similar delays are being incurred at the second US site at Vogtle in Georgia and at both sites in China where Westinghouse is accused of ‘overselling the system, overselling the technology and promising more than it could deliver’.[see CORE’s Moorside critique at: http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Moorside-Build-and-Job-Projections.pdf]
A spokesman for local anti-nuclear group CORE today warned West Cumbria to wake up to NuGen’s implausible plans and timescales, to wise up to the misleading claims of Westinghouse and to reject the inevitable debacle of Moorside in favour of Cumbria’s clean, green and sustainable renewables potential.