Sizewell: Campaigners’ dismay at nuclear decision

THE future of Sizewell B power station has been secured after the Government approved plans for a new dry fuel store at the nuclear site.

But campaigners could mount a legal challenge against the decision – issued by energy minister Charles Hendry after a six-week public consultation and talks with local authorities – and ask for a judicial review.

The go-ahead for the new building, which will store unused and spent fuel rods, at the site means Sizewell B will be able to continue operating past 2015.

The rods are currently stored in a wet pond but plant owner EDF had warned that capacity would run out in 2015.

If the new storage arrangements were not agreed, it would have put in doubt Sizewell B’s future. The reactor is due to be decommissioned in 2035.

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EDF said building work on the concrete structure will start in the summer of 2012 and is expected to take about 18 months.

Sizewell B station director Jim Crawford said: “After a thorough consultation period we are pleased to be able to start work on building a new storage facility on site for spent fuel at Sizewell B.

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“This is a mature technology that is widely used around the world to safely store spent fuel.

“We will keep our local community updated on the build schedule for the project and work hard to limit any impact the project may have.”

In approving the application, which was submitted in February last year, the Department of Energy and Climate Change outlined 32 planning conditions.

These covered issues such as levels of lighting, traffic movements at the site and construction work being limited to between 8am and 6pm on weekdays, measures to ensure air quality, adequate drainage plans and suppression of dust and dirt.

EDF must also create new flora and fauna habitats, carry out landscaping work and adhere to strict regulations to ensure wildlife sites are not adversely affected.

Suffolk County Council and the Highways Agency both approved the application, subject to the conditions being met.

But Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell campaign, said: “The spent fuel store is the Achilles heel of Sizewell B because, unlike the reactor, it is not in secure containment. It is a hostage to fortune if there is a terrorist attack.”

Mike Taylor, of the Campaign Against Nuclear Development group, said: “We strongly resent the storage of highly radioactive waste on a heritage coast over at least a generation and believes this highlights the completely unsustainable and immoral aspect of expecting future generations to clear up our mess.”

Environmental consultant Pete Wilkinson said he was “very disappointed” with the decision and hoped that opposition groups could mount a legal challenge, although he acknowledged such a move would be costly.

Last month, the Government announced plans for further nuclear build at the Sizewell site, where two new reactors could be up and running by 2025.

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