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No To Chinese Nuclear Reactor In Essex

Monday, September 7, 2015

GMB Call On MPs To Force Government To Halt Plans For Chinese Nuclear Reactor In Essex Linked To Funding Hinkley And Sizewell

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority should be re-tasked and renamed the Nuclear Development Authority and be given authority to borrow money to partner EDF in Hinkley and Sizewell says GMB.

GMB, the union for nuclear workers, commented on a report in the Times that the UK Government plans next month to give the go ahead for Chinese nuclear reactor in Essex in return for Chinese funding for new nuclear stations ast Hinkley Point C and Sizewell. See notes to editors for copy of article from the Times dated 7th September and copy of GMB press release on this issue dated 29th June 2015.

Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for energy, said “GMB has been hugely supportive on new build. Our concerns have always been over how the powers stations would be financed. The government looks desperate and we worry they will do the wrong deal in desperation for Chinese money.

There is no way we will accept any compromise in nuclear safety. Civil nuclear power has a great safety record and we won't stand by and let government to cut corners to get the Chinese money.

This is a nuclear reactor that is being built 60 miles from London and there are serious questions over Chinese nuclear safety.

Given our long history in improving safety in the nuclear industry we were deeply concerned to read the comments of physicist He Zuoxiu, an eminent nuclear scientist in China. He Zuoxiu has publicly raised concerns about the safety standards of Chinese components in the nuclear industry. Indeed he has gone further in criticising the Chinese nuclear industry, and it is unusual for such an official to speak out in this way. It suggests that there are very serious issues in the nuclear industry

GMB and people in this country also will not tolerate thousands of Chinese workers being brought over to assemble and build the Chinese reactor on the cheap. We will not tolerate a betrayal of the interests of manufacturing and construction workers in the UK by the Tories.

GMB consider that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority should be re-tasked and renamed the Nuclear Development Authority and be given authority to borrow the money on the capital markets to partner EDF in Hinkley and Sizewell. This will be cheaper for consumers and will avoid unnecessary safety fears in UK.

MPs must force the government to retreat on this totally unnecessary policy.”


Contact: Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary on 07710 618909 or Phil Whitehurst 07968 338810 or GMB Press Office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

1 Copy of article in Times

Chinese edge closer to green light for Essex nuclear plant

Marcus Leroux

Published at 12:01AM, September 7 2015

The government is close to finalising a deal that will allow Chinese state-owned companies to build and operate a nuclear reactor in Essex.

EDF told investors last week that it expected to conclude an agreement with Britain to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset, with two junior Chinese backers.

However, the controversial and much-delayed project is only the first in a package of deals between the UK, EDF and the French energy group’s partners China General Nuclear Power Group and China National Nuclear Corporation. Second in the sequence is a new reactor at Sizewell, Suffolk, which will be followed by a plant at Bradwell, Essex.

In the final step, the Chinese will graduate to majority owners and operators of the Essex project. They are also keen to deploy their own reactor.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF’s chief executive, said last week: “We’re getting close to closing our negotiations with the UK government and our Chinese partners.” A source close to the process said that a deal would be on a sequential package, rather than merely Hinkley Point, which would be Britain’s first new nuclear plant since 1995.

Le Keqiang, the Chinese premier, is coming to Britain on a state visit next month, which has raised expectations that a deal will be announced then. It was during a visit to China in October 2013 that George Osborne said that Chinese companies would be able to take stakes in British nuclear power plants.

The Hinkley Point plan has come under fire because of its high price, of £24.5 billion, and the long-term return that it guarantees EDF, which is 85 per cent-owned by the French state. The index-linked “strike price” for the electricity produced by the plant is roughly twice today’s wholesale cost and will last for 35 years.

Hinkley Point was supposed to be producing electricity in time for Christmas 2017, but last week EDF conceded that even the revised deadline of 2023 would not be hit because of delays in reaching agreement with the government, which in turn have prevented EDF from taking a final investment decision. The picture has been complicated further by design flaws emerging in the type of reactor that EDF plans to use at Hinkley Point. The European pressurised reactor project has been beset by technical problems and its first deployment, at Flamanville, northern France, is years late and over-budget.

An energy department spokesman said: “The UK government and EDF are continuing to work together to finalise the project. The deal must represent value for money and is subject to approval by ministers.”

2 Copy of GMB press release dated 29th January 2015


This position driven by ideological dogma is a total betrayal of workers in the UK and of the long term interests of the UK economy and must be changed says GMB

GMB, the union for workers in the nuclear industry and in engineering construction, responded to a reply from Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to an earlier letter from GMB. This raised concerns at the prospect of the Bradwell nuclear site being handed over lock, stock and barrel to the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) as part of the deal to fund Hinkley Point C. See notes to editors for copy of GMB letter of 10th June and the reply from Amber Rudd dated 17th June attached as a pdf.

Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for energy, said “I have studied the letter from Amber Rudd carefully and conclude that it looks that the UK Government is preparing for a hand over of the future UK nuclear infrastructure to the Chinese state.

This is a total betrayal of workers in the UK and of the long term interests of the UK economy. Amber Rudd accepts that UK manufacturers and the nuclear industry in the UK will play no part in the global nuclear industry which will be dominated by China.

This treachery is driven by ideological dogma on Osborne's part over funding for the energy sector. The UK Government is relying on foreign state owned companies to fund the development of new nuclear stations having stood down UK state owned companies to do the job that the private sector is clearly not prepared to do.

This also comes at a time when the Americans are accusing China of industrial scale hacking and being a threat to international security.

We also now know that unless this stance is changed any new nuclear projects in Eastern Region will be utterly dominated by the Chinese state.

GMB consider that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority should be re-tasked and renamed the Nuclear Development Authority to get momentum on behalf to the UK State into the much needed new build rather than relying on the French and Chinese States to do the job for us. “


Notes to editors

1 pdf copy of Government reply dated 17th June 2015 attached.

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Additional Resources

Response From Ambery Rudd, MP

download pdf737Kb (pdf) - 07 September 2015

PDF Copy Of Government Reply Dated 17th June 2015.