For an arm of the Government specifically tasked in 2005 with the clean-up and decommissioning of the UK’s dirty and deteriorating nuclear licensed sites, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s announcement today (E-bulletin, 30th September) that it is to pour £13 Million of taxpayers’ money ‘to help develop innovative technologies for the current and next generation of nuclear power stations’ is roundly condemned by CORE.
CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood described the announcement as a gross waste of public money on a technology already fighting to survive and meet development targets despite massive Government hand-outs – and on future technologies such as Small & Medium Reactors (SMRs, including the PRISM reactor proposed for Sellafield) that will struggle to get off the drawing board.
“We are highly critical of this disgraceful waste of public money on nuclear power development, whether current or futuristic. Propping up nuclear power has never been part of the remit of the NDA who more than once has described itself as being ‘agnostic’ on the issue. We have long warned that by over-stepping its original and clearly defined clean-up remit, the NDA has become overstretched and lost sight of its objectives. How much better that £13M was spent on progressing the clean-up of the Dirty Thirty B30 pond as highlighted by the national media this week – or in pro-actively pursuing compensation for workers in those legacy facilities whose health has been blighted by working without full protection in such abysmal conditions”.
Whilst the prospects for the current generation of reactor types now to receive financial support from the NDA are epitomised by the chronic failure of the so-called nuclear renaissance in Europe and the USA, the next generation of reactors faces an even more uncertain future.
With SMRs described by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as without a clear-cut case for their advantages, it seems that small nuclear modular reactors are a solution looking for a problem’ and by Westinghouse CEO as ‘the problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment – it’s that there’s no customers’ the NDA’s profligate largesse with public money – already criticised by the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee – on such pie in the sky projects will be widely questioned.