Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Radioactive Kent?

Consideration of a nuclear waste storage facility at Dungeness is starting to hot up. But protestations of jobs and the safety implications of 4,000 flasks of UK nuclear waste are likely to be drowned out. Not only by the realities of Sellafield in Cumbria already holding almost all UK nuclear waste, but the geological changes of Kent’s coastline over the next few centuries.

Centuries of change?

Britain’s total nuclear waste may only be enough to fill the Albert Hall and larger than 160 football pitches but the storage dump, even if approved tomorrow, would not be built until 2040.

The site would not be full of waste until 2074, with the whole site then filled in and covered over and fenced-off. A process that of course has never been done before. And the site will still be contaminated for hundreds of years – facing all the unknown geological shifts and pressures of the centuries passing.

Imagine how the Kent coast has changed in just the last 200 years. Whether it’s the regular Dover Strait earthquakes, North Sea floods, or even the Climate Change patterns of the last few months of record droughts and floods.

The closure of Dungeness A, and B taken offline for years for maintenance work with permanent closure before 2018 means the site is already largely redundant. Plans for a Dungeness C are nowhere near finalised.

The peril of nuclear buildings on the Kent coast – albeit far from Maidstone and London – is of course best highlighted by the disaster at Fukushima.

Nuclear legacy

The legacy of the third nuclear disaster in Japan is 20 miles of contaminated coast (in an area of Japan famed for its seafood), dozens of towns and villages abandoned, and upto $200Bn of economic disruption with even Tokyo suffering power blackouts.

Or there’s the German example of shutting down all 20 of their nuclear reactors in the wake of Fukushima – along with similar reviews by Switzerland, Poland and Italy. The German storage facilities at Gorleben and Asse – following the same “Big Hole” approach suggested for Dungeness, but in salt-mines - are already hotly debated with frequent reports of leaks of radioactive brine from the waste.

Tilman Pradt, Analyst at Wikistrat think tank said: “Fukushima has been a wakeup call to how Germany and other nuclear nations properly deal with their nuclear waste both now and for future generations.”

And Germany is probably more intrinsically anti-nuclear than most European nations – after the devastation wrought by conventional weapons during WW2 plus the risk of tactical nuclear howitzers – of Saddam’s 45 minutes of WMD fame - during the Cold War. Nuclear electricity was originally a merely byproduct of these various 1950’s weapons programmes.

And Britain’s plans for 10 replacement nuclear power stations - after Dungeness and 11 others are fully decommissioned - has run into the buffers. Russian and Chinese operators are now being considered after concerns over EDF and Areva’s EP reactor systems delivery and electricity pricing. And further delays may arise with the EU calling for all 14 European nuclear nations to specify a single waste site by 2015 – not necessarily within national borders.

Surely the hope is that North Korea’s nuclear tests of 2006 and 2009 are the first and last tests of the 21st century. While Iran considers other methods of electricity production such as solar – especially as the world’s 430 nuclear reactors provide only 13% of global energy.

Renewing nuclear

It’s almost perverse that Kent one of the sunniest parts of Britain, has only just begun developing solar farms here in East Kent, or embracing renewables such as wind turbines as part of the energy mix. The windfarm boom is peaking with the refusal of Vestas to invest in Sheppey, while even the stumbles over the solar feed-in tariffs to kickstart the industry means we have some way to go to rival Germany’s 10% of energy production from renewables.

It’s a shameful missed opportunity given that way back in 1979 President Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof; while we struggle even to improve the energy profile at County Hall. And Kent’s cleanup legacy as the Garden of Kent is hardly sparkling with nuclear submarine waste at Chatham Dockyard, the Stour and Medway the UK’s most polluted rivers, or serial polluters like Infratil, Southern Water, Environment Agency and Thor.

And if Dungeness is unlikely to be the UK’s nuclear store then the spectre of radiation is still close at hand for Kent. French nuclear stations such as Gravelines sit on the Channel coast. The resulting discharge – or even 28,000 barrels of waste dumped at sea near the Channel Islands - is exactly the same type of concern that Eire has from Sellafield’s liquid waste.

Nuclear power isn’t the future for Kent in the 21st century – unfortunately the great experiment begun at Berkeley Magnox in 1963 as the UK’s first civil nuclear power plant means we’ll still be scrubbing the legacy clean well beyond even the 22nd century.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Priceless Olympics and $5,000 Infratil

A few miscellaneous notes:

• the Olympic torch to run down Harbour St and Surin about 10am on Thursday – good to see cancer victims represented and several paralympians.

• The 2012 beach volleyball events by TDC have been really excellent the last few years – but what a dismal performance by KCC overall for the priceless Olympics opportunity for activity and legacy. Almost nothing. We need Poole’s Pool and the Van Gogh gallery (KCC storing millions of pounds of art in warehouses is just silly) all the more.

• Deloitte drop the sale of Manston and Prestwick airports: PWC pick it up to no doubt drop it soon. And Kent Police to feel a few collars: $5,000 reward for information leading to arrests of Infratil Directors for corporate manslaughter. Even now late flights and offroute flights and water pollution and missing fines while our pubic servants dither over how much cancer and corruption is acceptable.

* Silence on Thor mercury.

* Silence on Pfizer growth and Viiv.

• Andy Mack Audit Commission auditor finding any old reason to sign off the RTC and TDC accounts: try yourself for copies of Manston fines, water samples, Pleasurama contracts, 0% fraud payslips (he didn’t work for the AC at one point but apparently he does now, but maybe not. You know the sort of thing). They’re probably missing or stuck down the back of McGonigal’s knickers.

• East Kent Film Office and studio progressing along: providing shoot information with Kent Film Office but specific to Eat Kent, filming an festival fund and film studio and education opportunities with schools and colleges. Some celeb non-exec advisers would be perfect: I’m thinking local residents like Timothy Spall and Brenda Blethyn and some blue plaques to kickstart activity eg Bruce Robinson of Broadstairs and Killing Fields and Rum Diaries fame.

A cleaner, greener and younger Thanet.

A united and prosperous East Kent.

Time for Change

Monday, 9 July 2012

Thanet sinks

A few quick points:

* ships still anchored off coast - a Torrey Canyon waiting to happen

* RTC and TDC accounts: silence on the corruption and refusal(!) to provide the required public scrutiny of invoices, contracts, payslips, letters, emails etc

* Dreamland: another Summer wasted although the inquiry should be reporting back about now

* EKFO being considered for funding - and now the new Local Act as of last week requires all public services to be challenged on quality and value and other providers considered

* Silence on the 0% salary fraud of the Gang of Four and their little helpers McGonigal and Moores

* Silence on the missing noise and air monitors and millions of pounds of fines - and why flights continue to illegally overfly the towns and land on the aquifer

* Arlington: the same with this eyesore - both Dreamland and Arlington will be 2-5 more wasted years before being removed and replaced

* Thor and Manston aquifer: Environment Agency now simply refuse to say anything, so that's OK then

* an independent report that KCC's running of Top Temps recruitment agency for its own staffing(!) and Top Travel for its own bus and taxi company was both shambolic and undercut the private sector funding it in tax(!)

How did we end up with such bloated, expensive and yet shoddy public services?

If councillors and MP's don't investigate these issues and impose fines, P45's or jail sentences then the problems simply continue.

No wonder so few of us vote and it makes sense to dodge tax or refuse to pay.

Increasingly I think the best way forward is simply to not impose taxes but fund public services by central Treasury funding.

No collection costs, an increased consumer spend, the same public spend and the same scrutiny.

As to solving the low turnouts for elections that can only be due to a lack of policies. At best why vote for much-of-a-muchness and at worst they're as incompetent as each other?

Time for Change.

* FOI all salaries, pensions, expenses, contracts - as required 5 years ago
* corporate manslaughter charges for Infratil and TDC Directors
* a public sector fraud squad

Was the expectation that the public could be polluted and robbed?

Clearly it is at the moment.

Time for Change

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Surin Schools Charity growth

Terrific news: Surin School Charity has been initially approved for funding to create a dozen jobs and open offices Ramsgate:

With the first school built and 3 others in the pipeline it will be a terrific opportunity to develop the charity.

If anyone is interested in working for Surin school charity then please send a CV to and if any Kent schools are interested ion partnering with a new school abroad then also please get in touch.

Also developments in place for the East Kent Film Office.

So little assistance from most of the public organisations in improving Thanet - just mired in failure. Why are we paying £60M for TDC and £2Bn (that's billion) for KCC if they're not rolling out dozens of programmes?

A couple of miscellaneous points:

1. Appalling that Pleasurama-Bungarama and Westwood Cross overbuild and gridlock with 132 houses is continuing with 1,000 empty houses in Thanet.
2. Ships still anchored off Margate in Summer as a pollution accident waiting to happen – surprising that Thanet funds nearly a third of the Visit Kent budget for so little tourism activity,
3. Blue energy at the Port sounds interesting although I’m not sure it’s viable in a port – windfarms for economic growth? Hardly if the workers are berthed in the hotel ships offshore: actually reducing the economy.
4. £5,000 reward for arrests of Infratil Directors and illegal overflights of Cargolux and AGC Cargo – and silence from TDC Directors on protecting the aquifer. What are they waiting for? Cholera?
5. Tablet PC’s for every schoolchild being rolled out in Thailand – I’ll do the same in Kent, and cleanup asbestos in schools and public buildings. What has been going on for 30 years?
6. FOI? Right to view the KCC and TDC and RTC accounts, contracts and invoices? Try yourself and see what happens.
7. Silence on Thor mercury: banned but remains open.
8. Silence on Dreamland. One of the UK’ biggest seafront attractions derelict.
9. Richboro: the towers removed but the derelict buildings and windturbine remain.
10. The highest ever unemployment and youth unemployment in Thanet – ideal for a tax strike, rates strike and political and civil service change for failure.

Close Manston. Close Thor. Jail Infratil.

Time for Change.