Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima

Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima
We feel very sad for the people of Japan who want to end nuclear energy whilst a potential new government and big business are desperate for it

No Fukushima at Oldbury

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Reg Illingworth speaks at RWE AGM in Essen

Many thanks to Heffa Schucking and Simone Lorrenz of urgewald in Germany for enabling us to present our arguments to Herr Grossman and the rest of the RWE board in Essen on Wednesday.

A big thank you from the UK!

Hello, My name is Reg Illingworth and I am from a small village in South Gloucestershire in England and I am here today representing two concerned campaigning groups, one in England and one in Wales.

We are warm hearted and well intentioned people who through our governments previous dalliance with nuclear starting in the 1960s are now having the prospect of new mega nuclear power plants foisted upon us.

Oldbury and Wylfa are two of eight sites which have been home to nuclear power plants and are seen by our government as, so say, suitable sites!

Central government has made this decision, We have no say in our destiny!

 RWE along with your partners E.on wish to build two new nuclear power stations with two or three reactors at each and have formed a joint venture company called Horizon Nuclear Power

The sites are called Wylfa and Oldbury, both sites are close to existing power plants that have old magnox reactors at present which are due for decommissioning but the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority keeps extending their lives. Oldbury was due to close in 2008.

There have been two incidents in the last four years when ,apparently, problems with the electric generating side of the plant has caused the reactors to shut down emitting 365,000 kettles full of steam into the atmosphere.

The latest of these was post Fukushima!

These reactors have lived their life and are becoming increasingly dangerous!

Wylfa has been chosen as the first site to be developed with it opening by 2020 with planning starting at Oldbury in 2014, construction would start in 2020 with an optimistic and probably unrealistic completion date being in 2025.

My knowledge is greatest about Oldbury so the specifics I talk about will be connected to that site., then I will remind you of the poor history of nuclear build in the UK and finally RWE’s poor returns in the UK market which , in my opinion, will be negatively affected by its urge to enter the nuclear new build market.

Decisions about new nuclear build in the UK are made by central government, The Department for Energy and Climate Change controls The Office for Nuclear Development.

 There is very little support in the locality for the Oldbury development. The Parish Councils, The local government council, the local government executive , our local MP and liberal  democrat government minister, Steve Webb, are all against the current plans as laid out by Horizon.

Horizon are finding it very difficult to garner any support without offering monies to local groups to get them on side.

A. Local Issues

The main issues we have about the new nuclear development  at Oldbury are as follows:-

1.Flood Risks

The Oldbury site is in a Zone 3 flooding area. The highest possible. Local planners would not allow anybody to build a small residential dwelling there.

 In 1607 a storm surge/tsunami hit this part of the English coastline causing untold damage and the death of 2000 people.

Given the recent events in Fukushima and the history of storm surge at the Oldbury site, it will prove extremely difficult to protect all the plant and pumps adequately given such an event in the future

2. Terrorism

Britain is a target for terrorist attacks and the nuclear power plants are vulnerable. At Oldbury we have a team of 24 heavily armed police officers patrolling a 5 km radius from the existing power plant.

After the sad events in Fukushima we can now see that it is not only the reactor that needs to be bomb or missile proof but also the other infrastructure such as the cooling towers, cooling pumps, fissile materials in cooling ponds, storage of high grade waste on site.

If I was Osama Bin Laden sat drinking tea in the mountains of Pakistan I would be realizing that the nuclear power plants are soft targets with the potential to cause the equivalent of 10,000 World Trade Centre attacks in one hit.

The cost of all of this additional security and enhanced construction techniques will be borne by RWE and its partner E.on.

The build specifications will have to be re-evaluated following Fukushima, I can assure you the construction costs will be more not less!

3. Health Risks.

As locals we are concerned about the nuclear industry and increased incidence of leukemia’s and cancers in the vicinity of nuclear establishments. We are aware of a study carried out in Germany called KiKK which found an increased incidence of childhood leukemia’s and cancer in the vicinity of all nuclear establishments here.

Our government continues to ignore any suggestions that the nuclear industry damages peoples health!


Bristol City Centre, the eighth largest city in England is within 20 kilometers of the Oldbury site. 1,000,000 people live within the Bristol conurbation.

If , God forbid, an incident occurred similar to the Fukushima accident a considerable part of the West of England and South Wales would need to be evacuated which would significantly affect the economy of the UK.

Imagine the damage that this would cause to your RWE brand throughout the world, witness TEPCO at Fukushima

5. Nuclear Waste

RWE and E.on will be responsible for the storage of high grade nuclear waste on the Oldbury site for the length of the plants operation and for up to 160 years until an adequate technique and site is found to transfer it to.

Please understand your responsibilities to the British people.


With the site being estuarine  there will be a requirement for cooling towers . Given the size of the potential reactors, if and when the Areva or  Westinghouse reactors are approved by the British governments Health and Safety Executive, there will have to be three or four massive cooling towers up to 200m high.

This must be added to the construction costs of the development

7.Access and the Oldbury Site

The site at Oldbury is very difficult to access. There is a poor road infrastructure coming into the existing nuclear power plant from the land side.

The water side access will be via the River Severn which has amongst the highest tidal range in the world. Access for any ships or boats will only be for limited periods during the day.

The site is on an estuary with the ground being made of alluvium and mercia mudstone. It is very weak and will need a lot of support

We would also like to know how much additional land you will need to acquire before the development could commence. We believe that you will need at least 260 hectares of land but to date you only own 140 hectares?

B.The poor history of nuclear build in the UK

Stephen Thomas, Professor of Energy Policy and Director of Research at Greenwich University in the UK informs that on economic issues the UK has the worst record of any developed country in executing its nuclear power programme.

Examples include Dungeness B being the least reliable with 46% lifetime availability, Dungeness B took 24 years from construction start to commercial operation, Sizewell B cost more than 3.8 billion euros in 1995 and had to be given away to privatize it, in 1992 British Energy went bankrupt and was saved by taxpayers to the tune of 12billion euros, nuclear decommissioning is leaving British taxpayers with a legacy of about 115billion euros.

How are RWE and E.on going to improve on this history? What plans have you in place?

I ask does RWE AG want to be involved with this market?

C. RWE performance in the UK Market.

After looking at recent sets of RWE AG accounts we can see that the return of capital employed for the RWE Npower business in the UK in 2009 was 4.9 per cent relative to an overall performance by the RWE AG group of 16.3 per cent.

 The market in the UK since 2002 has been difficult for RWE.

In fact in 2009 the UK Werbeitrag “Shareholder Valued Added” was minus 254 million euros.

If RWE now decide to proceed to gamble on a hazardous project such as new nuclear in the UK this could have serious effects on the value of the whole of RWE AG group.

This is not horse racing, this is business!


As I am here representing a shareholder of RWE I urge the Supervisory Board and the Main Board of the RWE AG group to reconsider the joint venture with E.on , Horizon Nuclear Power, and to avoid making a very costly mistake in new nuclear in the UK.

If Horizon continues with its plans to build reactors at Oldbury and Wylfa, it will be placing tens of billions of Euros of its shareholders’ money at risk. Unlike EDF, which spent 15billion euro buying British Energy to back its nuclear intentions, the Horizon consortium has spent very little compared to the cost of building a nuclear reactor and it could easily abandon its UK nuclear plans with little cost to its shareholders.

 Instead, it should pursue much more cost-effective and low-risk options, tapping the vast potential of renewables in the UK.

Thank you for listening to us from the Shepperdine Against Nuclear Energy (SANE) of South Gloucestershire in England and Anglesey in Wales .


  1. Well done Reg!
    Lets hope this scares the crap out of these german f***ers
    They need to understand new nuclear in the UK is just not financially sensible for them and ridiculous at Oldbury


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