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A visit to the Green Room!

BBC logo 15 May 2008

The Green Room hosts a series of discussion pieces on environmental topics on a weekly basis at the BBC News website. This week Dr Peter Bleasdale argues that Nuclear power has a key part to play in providing the UK with reliable, low carbon electricity in the future.

So, after years on neglect Britain is moving forward, ever so slowly in our opinion, with the establishment of the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). This is one of the requirements in the findings of the white paper entitled: ‘Meeting the Energy Challenge.’

The function of this laboratory is to replace through training the badly depleted skills and technologies that will be required for Britain to forge ahead with its nuclear future. This article goes on to say that

“The NNL will safeguard and develop key scientific and technical skills and facilities that cannot be reliably supplied by the external marketplace”.

This statement comes as a surprise to us in terms of its correlation with the schedule for building new nuclear plants. We understand the sentiment behind the statement but does the United Kingdom have the time to spend training nuclear physicists etc, before they commence on a building programme? As we understand it by 2015 the old nuclear power plants will be in the de-commissioning phase so that leaves just seven short years for the new plants to reach power output mode. Bear in mind that it took Heathrow airport six years to gain planning permission for a new terminal and the United Kingdom is really up against it. Wouldn’t the solution be to run with French or American technology in order to fill the energy gap and concurrently train the new generation of boffins?

It’s not just the research element that is lacking in skilled personnel either; there is also a need for specialists in design, procurement, construction and commissioning areas. These people do not grow on trees so maybe this new organisation will take on a ‘visionary role’ and illuminate the needs beyond their current brief. To some extent you can throw bodies into a project that is behind schedule in an attempt to rescue the day. However, this is nuclear power and the thought of a mad rush in the construction phase does not raise our comfort levels!

We digress. Buried further down in this piece they mention the need for secure supplies, referring to electricity, but we cannot see a mention of uranium. However some of the readers have commented about uranium so just maybe the powers that be will realise just how important uranium is and the United Kingdom will wake up to the fact that other nations are well into the process of securing their supplies – while stocks last!


Dr Peter Bleasdale is managing director of Nexia Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of BNFL Group that will be developed into the National Nuclear Laboratory.

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Reader Comments (1)

nuclear etf's are looking better right now ! etf pkn is positive for the year now and moving into higher positive range now and nuclear etf nlr is slowly inching its way out of negative territory now--if this keeps up soon nlr will be in positive for the year territory ! since mega ,denison and cameco are in the pkn etf -as long as it moves up these should move up steadily also .......yesssss!

May 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlou

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