18. Regulatory and Planning Risks
The proposed actions are incomplete, contradictory, impractical, and uncertain. They will delay the development of clean, safe power for much too long, and will result in serious economic losses.
For example, forcing companies to meet the full costs of spent fuel management in advance is contradictory. Spent fuel from today's reactors is stored energy. The companies know how to burn this fuel and collect significant profit from it. What does it mean to say that they have to pay for its management in advance?
Decommissioning is another example. Why would a design that requires decommissioning ever be approved in the first place? The UK government cannot move about the country, abandoning reactor sites whenever a reactor upgrade is required. This is too difficult in terms of public consultation. New reactor sites must be viewed as permanent installations. If a reactor has to be replaced with a better one, then that should happen on site. The decommissioning myth, i.e. restoring pristine old growth wilderness, has to go. This has a number of ramifications. The public has to understand that pristine conditions cannot be reproduced. The industry has to understand that it cannot leave its garbage behind.
The measures proposed by the UK government favor the development of large reactors. Small reactors are also needed. Ships should be powered by nuclear engines. Islands should be energized with small, local power generators. Load following on the grid is facilitated if small units can be turned off and on easily. The UK government has stated over and over again that nuclear power plants have long construction lead times. This is not so for small systems. The benefits could begin immediately, and if some creativity is applied this could facilitate public acceptance. For example, a small nuclear engine running a plasma torch could melt all the garbage flowing out from London, totally eliminating a major environmental problem. See:
As it stands now small systems will not be approved or developed. This will deny many of the benefits of nuclear power to the UK population.
The negative bias of the UK government colors every facilitative action. For example, the Justification process compares benefits with health detriments. What health detriments? In fact there are overwhelming health benefits to be investigated if radiation hormesis findings are accounted for. But the UK government insists on going on and on about fictional health detriments. With this kind of negative support the nuclear industry is guaranteed a dismal future in the UK.
The UK government appears to be doing everything that it can to make its nuclear initiative fail, with incomplete analysis, half hearted initiatives, and proposals that seem to be manipulative and devious. I would like to see a much more positive approach, based firmly on cold facts, and focussed on a brighter outlook for the future.