All Change at URENCO

There has been a lot of press speculation about the future of URENCO over the last six months.

Some of this speculation concerns the sale of the company, while much of it is far more worrying.

Here is a quick summary of it all.

Company Reports.

Urenco has just published its financial report for 2014.

Continue reading All Change at URENCO

Nukiller Waste Flasks

Leafleting Sessions.

One of the regular activities of CCC is leafleting outside of the various railway stations through which DRS [ Direct Rail Services ] radioactive waste flasks are taken.

This is done to in order to highlight the relationship between the URENCO Uranium Enrichment plant at Capenhurst, and the problem of nukiller waste.

There is a very large amount of such high level radioactive waste which is stored at Sellafield.

There will be another leafleting session outside of Chester Station on Friday April 24th from 16.30. to 18.00.

The next nukiller waste trains leafleting session after that will take place in Warrington during May.

Scheduled times

Here are some of the Scheduled DRS (Direct Rail Services) train times for the period of December 15th 2014 to May 15th 2015.

Crewe Coal Sidings (DRS) to Valley Nuclear Electric

Chester – Passes through – 08.05.

Valley Nuclear Electric to Crewe Coal Sidings (DRS)

ChesterArrives 16.43. & Departs 16.59.

It should be noted that these DRS nukiller waste flasks only pass through the station when there is a need to transport radioactive fuel rods to Sellafield.

So we are still looking for train spotters to alert us when these flasks pass through Chester, and a number of other stations, each Monday to Friday.

No Nukiller Submarine Waste at Sellafield Demonstration

Radiation Free Lakeland will be holding a demonstration at Whitehaven, in Cumbria, on Tuesday January 27th. This is in opposing to the proposed dumping of radioactive debris from 27 nuclear submarines at Sellafield.

The demonstration is supported by the Close Capenhurst Campaign as a part of its own opposition to these submarine parts being dumped at any of the various MOD proposed sites for this waste.

You can find out more about it on the Radiation Free Lakeland Website.

A response to the current MOD set of proposals as to where radioactive waste from decommissioned nukiller powered submarines might be stored.

A response to the current MOD set of proposals as to where radioactive waste from decommissioned nukiller powered submarines might be stored.

The MOD is currently engaged in a public consultation about where to store the radioactive remains of twenty seven decommissioned nukiller powered submarines.

We welcome

We welcome that the MOD is to decommission twenty seven nuclear submarines.
However, that is just the start, as there are other nukiller powered
submarines in service.

We urge that all nukiller powered submarines be decommissioned.

More to come

There will eventually be seven new Astute-class nukiller powered submarines.
The first three have already been launched. The second three are currently under construction and due to go into service between 2018 and 2022. A seventh one is ordered, but is not yet under construction.

We urge that the entire Astute-class nukiller powered submarine programmer be scrapped.

The Proposed sites

The MOD has proposed that the waste from the twenty seven nukiller powered submarines be stored at a number of current nukiller facilities.
The original list of sites included Aldermaston, Burghfield, Capenhurst, Chapelcross, Devonport and Sellafield.

None of these sites are in any way suitable for this proposal.

Aldermaston and Burghfield

Aldermaston and Burghfield are where nukiller weapons are manufactured and maintained.
To store the radioactive submarine parts at these plants would only complicate the process of how we might decommission these plants.

We call for these plants to be closed down as part of the process of unilateral nukiller disarmament.

Capenhurst

With regards to the proposed storage of radioactive parts from nukiller
powered submarines at Capenhurst, there is a major problem with this idea.
The Uranium enrichment process at Capenhurst involves the use of Uranium Hexafluoride.
The Uranium is transported in to the plant, processed, stored as depleted Uranium and transported back out as Uranium enriched in the form of a Uranium Hexafluoride.

Uranium Hexafluoride is highly toxic, reacts violently with water and is corrosive to most metals.

Thus any ‘accidental’ release of Uranium Hexafluoride at Capenhurst could impact upon any radioactive waste which might be stored at the plant.

Chapelcross

Built in 1959 as a nukiller power reactor, its primary purpose was to produce weapons-grade plutonium. It has been under-going decommissioning since 2004. It therefore does not need more radioactive waste accumulating on site.

It should also be noted that the Scottish Assembly is currently debating whether to store any nukiller waste within Scotland.

Devonport

The MOD has already ruled out Devonport.

Sellafield

Sellafield should not be considered for storage of radioactive waste from submarines. The site cannot deal with the inventory of waste it already holds.
Sellafield’s links with the MOD would be reinforced by the storage of waste from nuclear submarines, this would magnify the already prime threat of terrorism at the site.

Our current concerns

The MOD’s proposal refers to a site being built which will store the
radioactive submarine waste until 2040, when the UK’s Geological Disposal Facility is planned to come into operation.
At present the exact location of any Geological Disposal Facility is still very much in question.
So any future waste from decommissioned nukiller powered submarines could be added to the 27 which are currently under discussion.
Thus there is a need to question just how large the proposed storage site might become within the next 25 to 100 years.

What is needed

It is very clear to us that the process of decommissioning nukiller powered submarines should ensure that any radioactive waste is properly dealt with, but the present MOD proposals will only add to these problems.

Thus we need to be looking for the following: –

– A safe site which is isolated from large centres of population.
– A geologically stable area.
– A secure site.
– A place where no other nukiller processing is taking place.
and
– One at which no other radioactive waste is currently stored and/or
processed.

This statement is endorsed by Radiation Free Lakeland

MOD lists places where radioactive waste from decommissoned nukiller submarines might be stored.

The MOD has proposed a number of places where the radioactive waste parts from 27 nukiller submarines might be stored.

One of these sites is Capenhurst.

Here is a selection of local newspaper stories about this issue.

Capenhurst Nuclear Services shortlisted to store radioactive
parts from nuclear subs

Borough shortlisted for nuclear submarine work

MOD rules out nuclear submarine waste dump site at Devonport

Public consultation raises concerns about lorries in Burghfield
and Theale carrying radioactive submarine waste

 

Background Reports.

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities Briefing:-
Radioactive Scrap Metal.

Chatham an urban nuclear waste dump and a lasting legacy of the nuclear submarine programme

This is the official MOD information on this issue:-

Open consultation
Submarine Dismantling Project: site for the interim storage of Intermediate Level radioactive Waste

We are currently working to produce a CCC briefing upon this
issue. This will be completed within the next couple of weeks.

New campaign leaflets

C.C.C. has just produced two new campaigning leaflets.
One is about the relationship between Capenhurst and the proposed nearby fracking site at Upton.

The second leaflet is Chester Beware!.
Trains pulling containers of highly-radioactive used fuel rods (“Nuclear Trains”) regularly go through Chester on their way up to Cumbria.

These waste trains are operated by DRS [Direct Rail Services] which transports this highly radioactive waste through some of most highly populated area in the UK.

Lobbying for independent radiation monitoring in the North West.

Radiation Free Lakeland are lobbying for independent radiation monitoring in the North West. This used to be carried out by Radiation Monitoring in Lancashire – RADMIL – which was disbanded a few years ago due to council cuts.

A draft letter which you can send to the Chief Scientist at Lancashire County Scientific Services can be found upon the Radiation Free Lakeland website.

http://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/independent-radiation-monitoring-in-nw-what/

Why Close Capenhurst? – Factsheet

– Where exactly is Capenhurst?
It is 5½ miles north of Chester, 2½ miles from Ellesmere Port, and 10 miles south of Liverpool.

– Who owns the Plant?
It is part of URENCO which operates similar plants in both Germany and the Netherlands.

– What exactly goes on in the plant?
It is a Uranium Enrichment plants and thus a key element of the Nukiller Fuel Cycle.

– So can you explain exactly what you mean by the nukiller fuel cycle?

cycle

 

– Where is the Uranium mined?
The Uranium is mined in counties such as Australia, Canada and Namibia.

   – How exactly does it get to Capenhurst?
It is shipped by sea to Ellesmere Port, and then taken by Road to Capenhurst.

  – What Happens next?
It is enriched and converted in to uranium Hexafluoride.

  – Where exactly is the enriched Uranium transported to?
Once enriched it goes by road to the Springfields plant at Preston where it is converted into fuels rods.

  – By Road?
Yes by road. The company which transports this uranium Hexafluoride by road is
Advanced Uranium Asset Management Ltd. These loads are so dangerous that there is a prohibition on them being transported through the Mersey Road Tunnels.

  – So what happens to the depleted Uranium?

There is very little which can be done with it and so it is currently stored in drums at the plant. It is this depleted Uranium which has been used in ammunition shells, and is the cause of Gulf War Syndrome.

  – So isn’t anyone doing anything about that?
The Campaign Against Depleted Uranium is working on the issue. There are many health dangers which come from an exposure to Depleted Uranium, especially if it is stored as a uranium Hexafluoride.

  – That sounds very dangerous.
Yes, very much so! Normal functioning of the kidney, brain, liver, heart, and numerous other systems can be affected by uranium exposure because, in addition to being weakly radioactive, uranium is a toxic metal.

  – How does that effect children’s health? 
Children have a greater vulnerability to radioactivity than adults.
At Capenhurst there is a primary school within 150 metres of the URENCO plant.

  – Are these children being regularly monitored for exposure to radiation?
Not as far as we can tell.

  – So what exactly are the greater dangers which are caused by use of enriched Uranium in nukiller reactors?
If something goes wrong with these plants they can cause a major nukiller disaster.

  – Do you mean something similar to the continuing nukiller disasters Chernobyl and Fukushima?
Yes – Just so.

  – But that’s so far away from here!
That’s not so.
The nearest atomic reactors to Capenhurst are at Wylfa in North Wales and at Heysham on the outskirts of Lancaster.While high level radioactive waste from Wylfa is transported in special flasks through the Chester railway station on a regular basis.

  – So what exactly are these high level waste flasks?
These trains carry used, but extremely radioactive, fuel rods to Sellafield in
Cumbria for reprocessing.

  – How long will it take to clean up this waste?
There is a backlog of radioactive waste at Sellafield which goes back to the 1950s. The present proposal is to build a high level waste depositary. This will contain plutonium which has a half-life of 24,000 years. We will have to safeguard this waste for thousands of years.

– That’s a long time. It’s much longer than most people can imagine!!

  – So how much will this waste cost me as a tax payer?
We just don’t know. Within a very few years some 75% of the Department of Energy and Climate Change [DECC] budget will be used to look after this waste.
Given the huge scale of the waste our great great great great grandchildren will still be paying to safeguard this waste.

  – Ok. I can see all the potential dangers, but doesn’t the Capenhurst plant produce urgently needed local job?
Not so! About 450 full-time employees work at URENCO. That’s a quarter of what it used to be. There’s a much higher number of jobs which can be created by a major programme of
energy conservation, and the use of safe power sources like solar or wind power

  – So how many new jobs will be created by the use of these clean energy technologies and the use of good thermal insulation?
In the period 2012-2013 the global number of people employed by the solar industry increased by 14%. 103,000 people were working in the UK renewable energy sector in 2012/2013.

The UK wind, wave and tidal industries employ 18,465 people. At the present rate more than 70,000 jobs could be created in these industries over the next decade.
There would be many more such jobs if money was not being used to subsidise the nukiller industry.

  – But wouldn’t that mean building big ugly wind turbines in the middle of
the countryside?

Not necessarily so. Ideally energy should be generated near to where it is being used. The ugly power lines which cross the countryside lose power in transmission over long distances, and so there should be less of them in use. Vertical Wind Turbines and solar panels are ideal for use in our city centres.
While home insulation and other energy conservation measures will cut the amount of power we need to produce.

  – Ok, so you have now convinced me.
Great!

  – So what can I do to close the Capenhurst plant?

Support the Close Capenhurst Campaign

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A (Dutch) impression of the Easter march on April 18, 2014 in (German) Gronau

Here is a report of the protest which was held at the German Urenco plant at the same time as we were handing in our petition to the Capenhurst Urenco plant.

Impression Easter March Urenco Gronau 2014-04-18

With thanks to Jan Schaake.