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Opinion

The war in Ukraine has highlighted the danger of the rush to build new nuclear power stations in Wales

15 Mar 2022 13 minutes Read
Wylfa Power Station. Picture: Andrew Woodvine (CC BY-SA 2.0)

*English follows below*

Dylan Morgan, ar ran CADNO a PAWB

Beth nesaf i safleoedd niwclear Wcráin, Wylfa a Thrawsfynydd?

Mae ymosodiadau milwrol Rwsia ar Wcráin wedi bod yn arswydus. Fodd bynnag, nid yw un ffaith frawychus am y gwrthdaro hwn yn cael ei adrodd yn y wasg. Dyma’r rhyfel gyntaf i gael ei hymladd ar dir gwlad lle mae adweithyddion niwclear gweithredol. Yn wir, mae Wcráin yn cael tua 52% o’u trydan o 15 adweithydd.

Yn ystod dyddiau cyntaf cyrch Rwsia, eu dewis lwybr i mewn i Wcráin i’r de o Belarws oedd trwy’r ardal waharddedig o gwmpas hen adweithyddion niwclear Chernobyl. Adroddir bod lefelau ymbelydredd yn yr ardal wedi codi oherwydd bod cerbydau milwrol trwm Rwsia wedi corddi llwch a mwd gan ryddhau ymbelydredd i’r amgylchedd.

Llwyddodd lluoedd Rwsia i gipio rheolaeth o safle Chernobyl.  Mae adroddiadau yn ein cyrraedd sy’n awgrymu bod gweithwyr Wcráin sy’n ceisio cadw’r safle mor ddiogel â phosibl o dan straen mawr. Adroddir bod tua dau gant ohonynt wedi gorfod aros yno heb gyfleusterau gorffwys am y bythefnos gyntaf wedi i luoedd Rwsia gyrraedd.

O fewn dyddiau wedyn, clywsom am luoedd Rwsia yn ymosod ar safle niwclear Zaporizhzhia yn ne ddwyrain Wcráin. Dyma safle niwclear mwyaf Ewrop syn gartref i chwech adweithydd 950MW Sofietaidd. Hynny yw, chwech Wylfa wrth ochr ei gilydd. Trwy lwc, ni chafodd yr adweithyddion hyn na’r storfeydd gwastraff yno eu taro, ond achoswyd difrod mawr i adeilad hyfforddi ar y safle.

Mae milwyr Rwsia wedi cipio’r safle hwn hefyd.  Mae’n rhesymegol i dybio bod yr amodau gwaith yno i weithwyr Wcráin yn anodd iawn wrth geisio rhedeg tri o’r chwech adweithydd gyda symudiad i ac o’r safle yn cael ei reoli gan y Rwsiaid. Adroddir bod tri adweithydd yn segur yno ar hyn o bryd.

Ni allwn ond gobeithio na ddaw enwau safleoedd niwclear Rovno (4 adweithydd), De Wcráin (3 adweithydd) a Khmeinistski  (2 adweithydd) yn adnabyddus i ni dros yr wythnosau nesaf fel  targedau milwrol fydd yn cael eu taro gan Rwsia. Mae Dr Jim Green o Gyfeillion y Ddaear Awstralia yn ein rhybuddio am beryglon heblaw am yr adweithyddion eu hunain mewn ysgrif o’r Ecologist bythefnos yn ôl:-

“radioactive reactor cores whether kept in situ or removed from the reactors – would remain vulnerable, as would nuclear waste stores. Spent fuel cooling ponds and dry stores often contain more radioactivity than the reactors themselves, but without the multiple engineered layers of containment that reactors typically have.”

Hunllef

Un ffactor yn narlun mawr ymosodiad Rwsia yw dymuniad Wcráin i ehangu ei diwydiant niwclear  gan droi at Westinghouse yn yr Unol Daleithiau fel cyflenwr wraniwm a chydrannau trwm o safle niwclear V.C. Summer yn Ne Carolina, lle rhoddodd Westinghouse y gorau i adeiladu adweithydd AP1000 a’r prosiect bron ar ei hanner.

Hyd yn ddiweddar, roedd diwydiant niwclear Wcrâin yn dibynnu’n drwm ar gydweithredu â diwydiant niwclear Rwsia yn enwedig o safbwynt cael wraniwm wedi’i brosesu. Felly, dyma enghraifft drist o’r rhyfel hon sy’ndangos ei bod yn un am reolaeth dros adnoddau.

A beth am y Wylfa a Thrawsfynydd? Dyma farn Dr.Jim Green:-

“Put bluntly, humanity might have the wisdom to phase out the use of pre-deployed radiological bombs for electricity generation before nuclear powered nations go to war and deliberately or inadvertently cause nuclear catastrophe.

“Or we might have to learn the hard way that using pre-deployed radiological weapons to boil water wasn’t such a great idea after all. All the more so given the manifold connections between the ‘peaceful atom’ and nuclear weapons programs.”

Dyna osod obsesiwn niwclear Johnson a’i lywodraeth ac yn anffodus yr wrthblaid Lafur hefyd mewn cyd-destun ddylai’n hanesmwytho. Ers i Hitachi ddirwyn cwmni Horizon i ben  a rhoi’r gorau’n llwyr i adeiladu dau adweithydd o’u heiddo ar safle’r Wylfa, mae diddordeb wedi cael ei fynegi o dri chyfeiriad i barhau â’r hunllef niwclear yno.

Yn gyntaf, Shearwater Energy. Eu cynllun uchelgeisiol fyddai codi 12 adweithydd 70MW gan gwmni Nuscale o’r Unol Daleithiau a cheisio’u cysylltu â fferm wynt ar y môr. Problem Nuscale yw mai eu hadweithydd modiwlaidd 50MW yn unig a gafodd ei gymeradwyo gan reoleiddwyr niwclear yr Unol Daleithiau. Mae amheuaeth hefyd am adnoddau ariannol cwmni Shearwater.

Yn ail, a dyma ffefryn Virginia Crosbie, AS Ynys Môn, Bechtel a Westinghouse yn cydweithio i godi dau neu o bosibl tri adweithydd AP1000 yn y Wylfa. Byddai hyn yn brosiect enfawr ac yn wynebu’r un heriau ariannol a Hitachi/Horizon. Yn wir, aeth Toshiba Westinghouse yn fethdalwyr yn yr Unol Daleithiau ar ôl methiant y prosiect i adeiladu’r adweithydd AP1000 ar safle V.C.Summer yn Ne Carolina.

Yn 2018, prynwyd Westinghouse gan Brookfield Business Partners o Ganada, ac er y bu sôn union flwyddyn yn ôl am Brookfield yn ceisio’i werthu, mae Westinghouse yn parhau o dan eu perchnogaeth.

Yr unig ffordd y gall Bechtel/Westinghouse lwyddo i adeiladu adweithyddion niwclear yn y Wylfa yw trwy haelioni enfawr unrhyw lywodraeth yn Llundain fyddai’n barod i ddefnyddio model cyllid ‘Regulated Asset Base’, hynny yw, codi treth adeiladu niwclear ar ein biliau trydan. Mae storm ar fin ein taro o ddechrau Ebrill yn ein biliau ynni chwyddedig. Mae llawer iawn o bobl yn ei chael hi’n anodd yn barod cyn i godiadau Ebrill ddod i rym  Bydd hi’n anodd iawn i unrhyw lywodraeth osod y dreth niwclear ar ein biliau trydan er mwyn parhau bywyd technoleg niwclear sy’n methu denu buddsoddwyr preifat o unrhyw faint arwyddocaol.

Budr

Dros y misoedd diwethaf, mae’r sŵn mwyaf yn dod o gyfeiriad Rolls Royce a’r ffaith eu bod yn llygadu Trawsfynydd a’r Wylfa ar gyfer eu hadweithydd modiwlaidd.

Gwrthodwn y label ‘bach’ am yr adweithydd hwn. Mae’n 470MW sy’n allbwn mwy na hen orsaf Trawsfynydd, ac yn gyfartal ag un o hen adweithydddion Magnox mawr yr Wylfa.

Eisoes, mae Rolls Royce wedi derbyn grantiau o dros £100 miliwn ac yn fwy diweddar £210 miliwn i ddatblygu cynllun yr adweithydd modiwlaidd, gwaith sydd wedi bod yn digwydd dros y chwe blynedd diwethaf. Byddai Rolls Royce hefyd yn dod â’u cap yn eu llaw i lywodraeth San Steffan i ofyn am gymorth enfawr at gost adeiladu ar ein cefnau ni fel defnyddwyr a threthdalwyr.

Byddai adweithydd Rolls Royce  yn cynhyrchu gwastraff niwclear poeth a hirhoedlog fel yr adweithyddion mawr. Byddai’r gwastraff poeth hwnnw’n gorfod cael ei storio ar y safle. Nid oes tystiolaeth chwaith y byddai’n rhatach i’w adeiladu a‘i redeg.

Er yr holl ymffrostio gan Rolls Royce am y cynllun hwn, mae’n ddibynnol ar sicrhau safle neu safleoedd ffatri i gynhyrchu’r darnau modiwlaidd ar gyfer yr adweithydd. Heb sicrwydd ariannol ac archebion o’r tu allan i’r Wlawriaeth Brydeinig hefyd , bydd hi’n heriol a dweud y lleiaf i Rolls Royce dalu’r amcan gost ceidwadol o £2.2 miliwn am y pump adweithydd modiwlaidd cyntaf heb sôn am godi unarddeg adweithydd arall wedi hynny.

Yn ôl eu hamcangyfrif hwy byddai codi undeg chwech adweithydd yn sicrhau elw iddynt ar eu buddsoddiad.

Mae’n bwysicach nac erioed yng ngyd-destun y rhyfel yn Wcráin a’r argyfwng rhyngwladol sydd ohoni, fod mudiadau gwrth-niwclear CADNO ym Meirionnydd a PAWB ym Môn a Gogledd Gwynedd yn parhau i danlinellu mai technoleg fudr, hen ffasiwn, peryglus, eithafol ddrud a bygythiol i iechyd amgylcheddol a dynol yw ynni niwclear.

Byddai’n dwyn adnoddau sydd eu hangen yn fawr ar dechnolegau adnewyddadwy sy’n rhatach, yn llawer cyflymach i’w hadeiladu ac yn fwy effeithiol i wrthweithio effeithiau newid hinsawdd.

Trawsfynydd nuclear power station across the lake. Picture by William M. Connolley (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Dylan Morgan, on behalf of CADNO a PAWB

What next for Ukraine’s nuclear sites and Wylfa and Trawsfynydd?

Russia’s miltiary attacks on Ukraine have been terrible. However, there is one frightening fact about this conflict that isn’t mentioned in the press. This is the first war to be fought on the land of a  country that has operational nuclear reactors. In fact, Ukraine gets about 52% of its electricity from 15 nuclear reactors.

During the first days of the Russian invasion, their chosen path into Ukraine to the south from Belarus was through the exclusion zone around Chernobyl’s old nuclear reactors. Higher levels of radioactivity have been reported in the area because Russia’s heavy military vehicles have stirred up dust and mud releasing radioactivity in to the environment.

Russian forces succeeded to gain control of the site. Reports are reaching us suggesting that Ukrainian workers trying to keep the site as safe as possible are under great strain. It was reported that about 200 of them had to stay there without rest facilities for the first fortnight after the arrival of the Russian forces.

Within days, we heard about Russian forces attacking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear site in south east Ukraine. This is the largest nuclear site in Europe and is the home to six Soviet 950MW reactors. That is, six Wylfa size stations alongside each other. Luckily, neither the reactors nor the waste stores there were hit. But great damage was caused to a training building on the site.

Russian soldiers have also captured this site. It is logical to presume that work conditions there are very difficult for Ukrainian workers in trying to run three of the six reactors with movement to and from the site controlled by the Russians. It appears that the 3 other reactors there are not in operation at the moment.

We can only hope that the names of the other nuclear sites, Rovno (4 reactors), South Ukraine (3 reactors) and Khmeinitski (2 reactors) don’t become well known as military targets hit by Russia over the next weeks. Dr Jim Green from Friends of the Earth Australia warns us about dangers apart from the reactors themselves in an article in the Ecologist two weeks ago:-

“radioactive reactor cores whether kept in situ or removed from the reactors – would remain vulnerable, as would nuclear waste stores. Spent fuel cooling ponds and dry stores often contain more radioactivity than the reactors themselves, but without the multiple engineered layers of containment thar reactors typically have.”

Nightmare

One factor in the big picture of Russia’s attack is Ukraine’s desire to expand its nuclear industry and to turn towards Westinghouse in the United States as a supplier of uranium and heavy components from the V.C Summer site in South Carolina, where Westinghouse abandoned the building of of an AP1000 reactor with the project almost half completed.

Until recently, Ukraine’s nuclear industry depended heavily on Russia’s nuclear industry especially regarding securing processed uranium. Therefore, this is  a sad example from this war that shows it is one over the control of resources.

And what about Wylfa and Trawsfynydd? Here is Dr Jim Green’s opinion:-

“Put bluntly, humanity might have the wisdom to phase out the use of pre-deployed radiological bombs for electricity generation before nuclear powered nations go to war and deliberately or inadvertently cause nuclear catastrophies.

“Or we might have to learn the hard way that using pre-deployed radiological weapons to boil water wasn’t such a great idea after all. All the more so given the manifold connections between the ‘peaceful atom’ and nuclear werapons programs.”

That puts Johnson’s government and unfortunately the Labour opposition’s nuclear obsession in a context that should disturb us. Since Hitachi disbanded the Horizon company and completely gave up on building two of their reactors at Wylfa, interest has been expressed from three directions to continue the nuclear nightmare there.

Firstly, Shearwater Energy. Their ambitious plan would be  building 12 70MW reactors from the US company Nuscale and trying to link them to an offshore  wind farm. Nuscales’s problem is that only their 50MW modular reactor has been approved by US nuclear regulators There is also doubt about Shearwater’s financial resources.

Secondly, and this is the favourite of Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Môn, Bechtel and Westinghouse co-operating to build two or possibly three AP1000 reactors at Wylfa. This would be a huge project and would face the same financial challenges as Hitachi/Horizon. In fact, Toshiba Westinghouse went into bankruptcy in the United States after the failure of the AP1000 project on the V.C.Summer sight in South Carolina.

In 2018, Westinghouse was bought by Brookfield Business Partners from Canada, and although there was speculation a year ago about Brookfield trying to sell it, Westinghouse remains under Brookfield’s ownership.

The only way Bechtel/Westinghouse can succeed to build nuclear reactors at Wylfa is through huge generosity from any government in London who would use the ‘Regulated Asset Base’ funding model, i.e. raising a nuclear build tax on our electricity bills. A storm is about to hit us in our inflated energy bills from the beginning of April. Very many people are already struggling before April’s increases come into force. It will be very difficult for any government to impose this nuclear tax on our electricity bills in order to continue the life of nuclear technology that fails to attract any significant private sector investors.

Dirty

Over the past few months, the biggest noise comes from the direction of Rolls Royce and the fact that they are eying Trawsfynydd and Wylfa for their modular reactor. We reject the ‘small’ label for this reactor. At 470MW, its output is bigger than the old Trawsfynydd reactors and equal to one of the larger old Magnox reactors at Wylfa.

Rolls Royce has already received government grants of £100 million and more recently £210 million to develop the modular reactor design, work that has gone on for the past six years. Rolls Royce would also come cap in hand to Westminster government to ask for huge aid towards the cost of building at our expense as consumers and taxpayers.

The Rolls Royce reactor would produce hot and long lasting nuclear waste like the large reactors. That hot waste would have to be stored on site. There is no evidence either that they would be cheaper to run.

Despite all Rolls Royce’s boasting about this plan, it is dependent on securing a factory site or sites to produce the modular parts for the reactor. Without financial certainty and orders from outside the British State also, it will be challenging to say the least for Rolls Royce to pay the conservative cost estimate of £2.2 billion each for the first five modular reactors, not to mention building eleven more reactors after that.

According to their estimates, building sixteen reactors will provide a profit for them on their investment.

It is more important than ever in the context of the war in Ukraine and the present international crisis, that the anti-nuclear movements CADNO in Meirionnydd and PAWB in Ynys Môn and north Gwynedd continue to highlight that nuclear power is a dirty, outdated, dangerous, vastly expensive technology which threatens both human and environmental health.

It would also steal much-needed resources from renewable technologies which are cheaper, much quicker to build and more effective to combat the effects of climate change.


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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 months ago

If we take both coal tip slurry issues and the Sea Empress disaster as examples, if ever Wales suffered a Nuclear Plant disaster would get scant help from Whitehall. In the 1996 it took two weeks for a Tory Minister to visit Pembrokeshire after the heartbreaking scenes that affected the once aqua blue seas and golden sands in Britain’s only Coastal Nature Reserve blighted by oil. And most of the work done was by the locals not government. And more recently. The Tories informed the Welsh Government that it should make safe hundreds of highly dangerous coal tips even though… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Y Cymro
tired of this
tired of this
2 months ago

This is nonsensical. We need two things – one is to get away from 1950s ‘demon in a bottle’ ideas about atomic energy, and the other is a secure source of uninterruptible power. Unless of course we want to take one of the other roads of scarey 1950s sf and revert to a know-nothing subsistence economy and technology is the enemy (hand in your phones and cut off your broadband NOW). Nuclear energy is safe – people need to put the very few incidents in perspective of how many plants have been operating for how long. Or are they the… Read more »

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
2 months ago
Reply to  tired of this

There was once a reason for Wylfa but Anglesey Aluminium has long gone. There was never a reason for Trawsfynydd and now that Wales is a net exporter of electicity there is no reason for either.
Build one in Liverpool and the other in Manchester, prove that they are indeed safe.

hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago
Reply to  tired of this

Given your glib dismissal of any objection or concern about nuclear power I’m sure you won’t mind the less hazardous extraction of gas from various site around the UK and its peripheral seas. Or perhaps you might prefer me fetching out coal via deep mines, drift mines or open cast ? The exploitation of wind power, solar power and tidal power all have direct risks or collateral issues arising. Taking a holistic view all these “energy sources” are agents of pollution at some stage in their life cycles. Given that some of them are unreliable for various reasons it is… Read more »

Mark
Mark
2 months ago
Reply to  tired of this

Utter bo**ocks

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
2 months ago

Absolutely right, Dylan. More power to your and CADNO/PAWB’s arm!

In particular, new nuclear would just lock us into dependence on the English nuclear establishment – complete with its risks, hyper-security, and lack of transparency and accountability. Independent Cymru wants to be an open and free society, not one under the suzerainty of England.

What does Cymru need? Surely, a sustainable and safe energy supply that doesn’t screw up our environment, doesn’t create unnecessary risk for our citizens and encourages efficient use.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
2 months ago

And, as I have pointed out on this site twice (although I am shocked that nobody seems to be picking this issue up) some of the funding (and therefore influence and ultimately profits going to) is coming from Qatar – a well known source of funding for several terrorist groups (including Hamas, Al Nusra, Al Qaida etc.). Again the UK is funding those who want to kill.

Are any political parties or individuals going to take issue with this??

Iorwerth ap Wyllt
Iorwerth ap Wyllt
2 months ago

Although I don’t want nuclear power plants in Wales, I have to admit it would be hard to cause a nuclear meltdown akin to Chernobyl. Modern reactors are encased in steel beam reinforced concrete infused with lead. And have been specifically designed to withstand an impact from something like a supersonic aircraft or even missiles, and modern reactors can take themselves offline if they sense the vibrations from a nearby explosion. The real issue with nuclear power plants in Wales is that we do not need them, we’re already the world’s fifth-largest energy Exporter, and the very presence of (active)… Read more »

Llyn expat
Llyn expat
1 month ago

Imagine if Germany decided “we’re already self-sufficient in cars, we won’t let BMW build a new factory”. Or Taiwan took the same view on semiconductors. Or indeed us with our agricultural produce. You’d be laughed out of the room. Incidentally, France exports electricity at large scale, including here to Britain. No reason why we should not do likewise. Wales — and north wales in particular — has the potential to be a world-leading centre for modern nuclear power. Bangor is less than two hours from Manchester airport (of course, if Gwynedd were a county in Ireland then Valley or Dinas… Read more »

Iorwerth ap Wyllt
Iorwerth ap Wyllt
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn expat

You have a very good point, but I still have two issues. Power cannot be transported or traded like cars or semiconductors. It still runs the risk of turning Wales into a dumping ground for waste. It’s actually very unrealistic that a global power grid will be built in the next 100 years without a great leap in energy transmission. So Wales would be forced to only trade with England, Ireland and maybe eventually Scotland and Nuclear is a 100 years commitment if any of those nations go self-sufficient Wales cannot find new places to export too, as you mentioned… Read more »

Keith Parry
Keith Parry
1 month ago

No we do not need nuclear power plants in or anywhere near Wales. No one can say such plants would not be attacked by some future deranged terrorist like Putin or Bin Ladan.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Parry

The sites would be ideal for building wave power devices of the type being developed at Pembroke. Such work would require skilled workers which would provide local employment. The sites are also connected by rail, so the materials could be delivered without choking up local roads. Similalry, my understanding is that these devices are modular so could also be shipped out by rail. Sounds much better than a long build time power plant with dangerous waste whose output is probably not going to be needed if we can get our renewables expanded. I suspect the key issue in politics is… Read more »

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago

As a net exporter of electric power, Wales has no need of these nuclear reactors.

They represent an enormous risk of a nuclear catastrophe of the Fukushima, Three Mile Island or Chernobyl variety. They damage other forms of economic activity including leisure. They reinforce engrained perceptions of Wales as home to dirty polluting industries of the past. And they represent a constant threat of lower levels of environmental pollution.

We must oppose Trawsfynydd nuclear developments at least as resolutely as we opposed the drowning of Tryweryn.

Freya
Freya
1 month ago

Unfortunately, the continued opposition to nuclear power for quite frankly no good reason other than ignorance just compounds the view that an independent Cymru would be a backward looking old Welsh speaking boys club. It’s dirty – yes it produces toxic waste but the sum total of all toxic waste would amount to what I could store in a room the size of a double garage in 100 years. It’s not much and we rely on new tech to reprocess it in the future. It is of course co2 free at point of use for 100 years and using a… Read more »

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