contractors, David Cameron, government secrecy, Lack of Transparency, nuclear dangers, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, nuclear power, nuclear safety, open government, reprocessing, secrecy, Sellafield, Spent Fuel Pools, suppliers, Transparency, UK
“For there is nothing hidden, except that it should be made known; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light.” (Mark 4: 22) http://ebible.org/web/index.htm
“Pindar, a bunker built deep beneath the Ministry of Defence on Whitehall…took ten years and reportedly cost £126.3 million, finally came to a conclusion in 1994, but Pindar became operational two years earlier, in 1992.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_citadels_under_London
Meanwhile, an overhead crane necessary to clean up one of Sellafield’s dangerous open-air nuclear fuel “ponds” was broken in the 1990s and only recently repaired, according to the UK’s NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority). http://www.nda.gov.uk/2014/11/safe-and-steady-progress-in-ponds-decommissioning/ Sellafield open air spent nuclear fuel-waste ponds:
The broken crane situation was apparently shocking news even for local watchdog Cumbria Trust, who pointed out that “These ponds are so dangerous that they are currently the NDA’s top priority, yet they have been left to decay and degrade without the most fundamental mechanical equipment” for two decades. Cumbria Trust further pointed out that it only took 8 years to send man to the moon, after Kennedy’s 1961 speech, and wonders if the repairs would not have been done more promptly if Sellafield were in London, rather than Cumbria: https://cumbriatrust.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/nda-response-to-decay-and-neglect-revelations/ Of course, everyone knows the answer!
The UK is one of Eight Founding Governments of Open Government Partnership
“Prime Minister David Cameron has championed open government in the UK with a pledge to make the government ‘the most open and transparent in the world’…. As one of the eight founding governments of the OGP,…” http://www.opengovpartnership.org/country/united-kingdom
The UK’s “second National Action Plan was published in October 2013, having been developed in partnership with civil society organisations via the OGP UK Civil Society Network. This plan is more ambitious in scope than our first. Continuing to build on our open data commitments, it addresses cross-cutting open government issues and focuses on what the UK government is doing to ensure the public can:
See and understand the workings of the government through more transparency
Influence the operation of the government by participating in the policy process and the delivery of public services
Hold the government to account for its policy and delivery of public services.” http://www.opengovpartnership.org/country/united-kingdom (Emphasis our own)
New UK Secrecy Classifications for Suppliers
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/251481/Government-Security-Classifications-Supplier-Briefing-Oct-2013.pdf Open Government Licence, v3.0, © Crown copyright [Emphasis our own]
Not satisfied with the new UK classification scheme for secrets, “ONR have mandated the use of an additional classification: OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE for Sensitive Nuclear Information which is classified below SECRET,” or so says Sellafield Ltd. Nuclear Behemoth (URS-AMEC-AREVA). Sellafield Ltd. announced on their web site last March that: “All documents (including commercial correspondence, drawings, specifications, data sheets etc) created by Sellafield Ltd after this date” [April 2nd 2014] “for issue to suppliers will carry the new markings. Documents created prior to this date will continue to carry their existing markings until such time as they are amended in the normal course of work…” And, they link to the above UK government document. http://www.sellafieldsites.com/2014/03/raising-awareness-of-new-government-security-classification-scheme/
So, whereas the UK is a founding member of the Open Government Partnership, we find the above on the UK government contractor Sellafield Ltd.’s web site.
Why would Sellafield need Classified documents? This appears straight up nonsense to hide ghastly cost overruns, incompetence, and dangers. There is nothing that needs to be secret at Sellafield, which isn’t already known. Any commercial innovations would be patented, and any “enemies” already have access to information, because they went to universities in “friendly” states or were given information when they were considered “friends”.
It appears abuse of the UK’s new security classification whereby “Top Secret” is “where compromise could seriously damage military capabilities, international relations or the investigation of serious organised crime.“ [The damaging “international relations” should not need to be classified either.](See Security Class. text above).
Without a doubt Sellafield’s very existence should be classified as top secret, as the definition of “Top Secret” makes clear:
“For example, where compromise could cause widespread loss of life or else threaten the security or economic wellbeing of the country or friendly nations.“ (See Security Class. text above).
But, everyone knows that Sellafield is there and that it is an imminent danger, which can, and probably will, cause widespread loss of life, not only in the UK, but in much of Europe. Sellafield threatens the health and economic well-being of Europe and the world. This is public knowledge.
Regarding an old open nuclear fuel rod pool, on 23 September 2013, Chris Jackson of BBC made known: “Covering it now is not an option, we’re told, as an original crane has to travel along its length to get access to waste below.” He notes a sea-gull landing on the water of the open fuel pool. See: “Dealing with Sellafield’s radioactive legacy” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-24206028
Ok, so everyone knows about the dangers of Sellafield, especially of its open spent fuel ponds. What will be secret then? That they secure the ponds and other Sellafield hazards? Or that they don’t?
Instead of securing Sellafield, some workers have been screwing around doing things like sending sex texts, it seems: “A former civil nuclear police officer who sent ‘deeply unpleasant’ sexual text messages to women he did not know has been given a suspended sentence.” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cumbria-29855608 “Sex text Sellafield officer handed suspended sentence” 31 October 2014. He worked for Sellafield until he got caught, it appears!
Indeed, while The Ecologist, Radiation Free Lakeland, ourselves, Cumbria Trust and finally a few news outlets such as The Mirror, The Guardian, and the Telegraph discussed the pictures of Sellafield’s degraded radioactive holding tanks (“ponds”), as leaked to “The Ecologist”, BBC news spoke of the Sellafield Sex text scandale, and then cheerily on November 4th of how adding chimney filtration made the Windscale (now Sellafield) accident less bad: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cumbria-29803990  Sellafield Ltd. itself cheerfully spoke of Nuclear “innovation” and apprentices. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) finally posted a reply almost one week later (3 Nov. 2014). The BBC seems to have remained silent on the matter, which is odd considering that within the last year they have criticized Sellafield. See: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/014/10/27/leaked-sellafield-photos-reveal-massive-radioactive-release-threat/
One of the three core principles of open government is:
“Transparency. Disclosing government data and information on areas such as public spending, government contracts, lobbying activity, the development and impact of policy, and public service performance.” http://www.opengovernment.org.uk With secrecy for suppliers at Sellafield, how will government contracts, service performance, and spending be monitored properly? One of the Sellafield Ltd. consortium members (since 2008) is AREVA who just kind of sort of lost 3 billion euros of French taxpayer money in what is now known as the Uramin scandal. This scandal clearly shows the need for transparency.
While the NDA, in their Nov. 3rd statement regarding the open air degraded fuel pools, said “NDA and Sellafield Ltd continue to be open and transparent about progress and programmes to address associated hazards and risks.” http://www.nda.gov.uk/2014/11/safe-and-steady-progress-in-ponds-decommissioning/, Sellafield Ltd. is promising to hide information, which clearly needs to be in the public domain.
Sellafield Cleanup Costs
“The entire bill for dealing with the UK’s nuclear decommissioning projects has now grown from a £63.8 billion estimate in 2011-12 to £69.8 billion in 2012-13, with the expectation it will continue to significantly rise in the next few years, according to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, who oversee the UK‟s public finances.” http://nfznsc.gn.apc.org/docs/news/NFLA_Sellafield_and_decommissioning_costs.pdf
On February 11, 2014, BBC reported that “The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said clean-up costs at the complex had risen from £67.5bn in 2013 to an “astonishing” £70bn.” (“Sellafield £70bn clean-up costs ‘astonishing’, MPs say” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cumbria-26124803)
Sellafield Ltd is owned and operated by Nuclear Management Partners [URS, AMEC, 89% French State owned AREVA] on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), itself established in 2004 and apparently a governmental entity, as seen by its web site. The NDA web site further states that their total planned expenditure for 2014/15 is supposed to be £3.2 billion of which £2.2 billion is Government grant-in-aid and £1.0 billion is income from commercial operations. http://www.nda.gov.uk/what-we-do/#our-governance A large part of their budget goes to Sellafield.
“Currently, the NDA spends £1.8bn a year at Sellafield – two thirds of its annual budget. And of this £1.8bn, one third is spent on these plants. http://www.nda.gov.uk/2014/11/safe-and-steady-progress-in-ponds-decommissioning/ Two thirds of 3.2 billion is 2.1 billion. Two thirds of the 2.2 billion is 1.47 billion. Are these different years?
From the Sellafield 2012 Audit
2120 is apparently not a typo, for they speak elsewhere of 100 years and that’s if they find someplace to put it!
“Limited progress has been made in removing hazardous waste and reducing the risk posed by legacy facilities. Sellafield Limited undertakes major repairs, for example to a crack in the side of a storage pond. It also carries out routine care and maintenance to minimise risks in line with regulatory requirements. The Authority’s ultimate objective is to complete the clean-up of the site and release it for alternative uses by 2120… The total volume of high- and intermediate-level radioactive waste stored on the site is 68,000 m3, which would fill 27 Olympic-sized swimming pools… Sellafield Limited lacked information on some of the materials and facilities on the site. The exact nature of some of the materials has not been fully characterised as access to some locations, for example the legacy ponds and silos, is not yet feasible. Sellafield Limited is working to understand fully the assets and the condition of the infrastructure on the site, and to bring its asset management plans into line with industry good practice. http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/n1213630.pdf © “National Audit Office 2012, “Managing risk reduction at Sellafield“, 2012
We do think that people fail to understand the high costs of dealing with nuclear waste properly. However, transparency on every level is needed to insure that the prices are fair and that the work is being done properly. Without that you end up with things like the Uramin scandal. One can guess that a lack of transparency is why Sellafield still has not been addressed properly. The EU has complained for over a decade about the need to know the contents of the old spent fuel pools.
Note 1: While in this context the Windscale chimneys seemed a diversion, the fact that the US NRC has recently decided that the vents in Fukushima-type reactors do not have to have radiation filters has given us new respect for these chimneys with filters. While Windscale was worse than people wish to discuss, apparently it would have been even worse without the extra expense of filters on chimneys. Those filters will be dangerously lacking in some US Nuclear Reactors.