After half a decade of promises to West Cumbrian communities that the first of three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors would be operational by 2024 – a claim repeatedly refuted by CORE – Moorside developer NuGen has today admitted that the first reactor will not be operating until 2026.
The climb-down is revealed in the NuGen documents published today for its Stage 2 public consultation that will run from 14th May to 31st July. Unsurprisingly, the embarrassing delay of two years gets scant coverage in the reams of consultation documentation which fail to say whether the delay is a knock-on effect of a late construction start (originally 2020) or an extension to the unrealistic 4-year build time for the reactor itself. Either way, the delay will wreak havoc with the timetable for building the second and third reactor (the latter originally scheduled itself for completion by 2026). Whilst the ‘Proposed Scheme’ consultation document (Figure 1, page 32) shows Reactor 1 being ‘deployable by end of 2025’, it also identifies the timelines for Phased Fuel Loading – which extends to the end of 2027 – and for Phased Testing and Start of Operations which extends to the end of 2028.
CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood said today:
This is just the start of the mission-creep process for NuGen and Westinghouse – not only in terms of land-grab where the Project is swallowing up more and more of West Cumbria but also for its timetable. The timeline is slowly but surely marching backwards towards the 7-8 year (and still counting) build-time for AP1000 reactors currently experienced in the US and China with complaints that Westinghouse has oversold the system, oversold the technology and promised more than they could really deliver. West Cumbria needs to wake up to that reality, and to the prospect that Moorside’s AP1000 reactors are unlikely to be in operation much before 2030 at the earliest as predicted last year in our assessment of NuGen’s plans ‘All Spin and No Substance’.
The extent of the more major pre-construction work required for Moorside, as shown in the consultation documents, is staggering in scope and includes new sections of railway line and train stations, marine facilities including the cooling tunnels to be sunk below the Irish Sea, worker accommodation for 4000-6000 workers at three sites in the Whitehaven/Egremont area, additional port side facilities at the Port of Workington and a range of additional roads and road improvements – none of the latter coming close to meeting the local demand for major highway improvements needed to increase the prospect of evacuation following a nuclear accident at Moorside or neighbouring Sellafield.
Such work must also interact with other projects planned for the area such as the West Cumbria Coal Mining Proposals and National Grid’s North West Coast Connections which will provide the upgraded 400Kv power lines for Moorside.
Martin Forwood added:
The period of major disruption and sheer misery caused to many locals by these combined works will now be extended thanks to NuGen’s belated realisation that Moorside’s original timetable was just pie in the sky. The glossy impressions of what Moorside will look like belie the denigration and damage about to be inflicted on West Cumbria for the next decade or more.