Secret nuclear negotiations: UK Hinkley, and Australia’s waste import plan

 

Royal Commission bubble burstSecret deals: Australia’s nuclear waste plan and the UK’s Hinkley project, Independent Australia 21 March 2016, The South Australian Government scheme to import international nuclear waste has a major flaw in common with the UK’s Hinkley Point C project — secret contracts with foreign organisations, writes Noel Wauchope.

THESE TWO PLANS have something in common. Both the UK’s Hinkley Point C plan and South Australia’s nuclear waste plan are grandiose and very expensive to set up.

But, more than that, they both require the involvement of foreign governments and companies, in secret arrangements.

The South Australian Nuclear Royal Commission‘s plan for importing international wastes already involves confidential communications from foreign companies. Put into operation, the plan will mean secret contracts — South Australia being beholden to the provisions of foreign laws regarding disclosure, shipping and transport security, insurance and other matters relating to a client nation’s high level nuclear wastes (HLNW).

Plans have been suggested for foreign companies paying up front towards the setting up of the waste facility, in exchange for “ironclad contracts”to later set up “Generation IV nuclear reactors. With foreign governments and companies involved, South Australia is very likely to become locked in to a deal from which it cannot escape. A later decision to pull out of the scheme would certainly entail heavy compensation payments to foreign companies.

Britain’s Hinkley Point C nuclear project is thoroughly embroiled in complicated negotiations with the government-owned companies of China and France. The major backer, Electricite De France(EDF) is in grave financial trouble and its financial director Thomas Piquemal has resigned, over this Hinkley project. EDF is being bailed out by the French government, so that the £18bn plan can go ahead. UK has had to agree to a contract with EDF, amounting to about £40bn in real terms, and providing State guarantees on insurance, among other matters. The plan locks the UK in, with compensation costs in the event of it being shut down, as shown in an unpublicised departmental “minute“:…….

Professor Catherine Mitchell, an energy policy expert at the University of Exeter, comments in The Guardian:

The £22bn “poison pill” effectively reduces the risk to zero for EDF and its backers, which is great for them. But from an outside perspective, it smacks of desperation.

There could be so many reasons over 35 years that you would want to close the plant, including rising costs, changes to the UK’s energy system or loss of public confidence……..

 However, in two important ways, the Australian situation is very different from that of the UK.

Firstly, although the UK Hinkley project is big, the South Australian nuclear waste plan is ginormous. Potentially sourcing high level nuclear wastes (HLNW) from around the world – USA, Canada, Europe, Asia – would be a massive operation, many decades in the setting up, many thousands of years in carrying it out. The money involved would be not dozens of billions of dollars in costs but hundreds of billions.

Secondly, for all the millions in dollars now being spent on the Royal Commission project – the trips abroad, forums, research, public relations and so on – the plan is nowhere near the point of agreement, whereas the UK plan is well advanced…….

It is vitally important for Australia to pay attention to the Royal Commission plan and to the scrutiny of  South Australian radiation expert Paul Langley.  and others. Unlike Britain, Australia has the opportunity to prevent this plan, while it’s still only a gleam in the eyes of Royal Commissioner Kevin Scarce and the nuclear lobby. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/secret-deals-australias-nuclear-waste-plan-and-the-uks-hinkley-project,8797

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One Response to “Secret nuclear negotiations: UK Hinkley, and Australia’s waste import plan”

  1. Christina MacPherson Says:

    Reblogged this on nuclear-news.

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