On Sunday 2nd February, at the Riverside Centre, Stratford St Andrew, TASC showed two films – one beautifully shot by Friends of the Earth Suffolk Coastal highlighting the fragile habitat that will be lost if Sizewell C is built, the other a French-made documentary ‘The French Nuclear Trap’ – to over 30 local councillors including three from Suffolk County Council.

The ‘The French Nuclear Trap’, made in 2018 by CPB Films, features current and former employees of Electricte de France (EdF), Sizewell C’s developer, and systematically and unflinchingly demonstrates that:

  • EdF management is riven with doubt and division about the ‘EPR’ project;
  • EdF is hopelessly bankrupt with liabilities from historical debt, decommissioning, refurbishment and maintenance costs for its domestic reactors running into hundreds of billions of Euros;
  • The European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design is commercially unproven with some experts claiming that the design is too complicated to construct;
  • The Finance Director resigned after demonstrating that EdF could not afford to take on the Hinkley project;
  • The first ever EPR, being built in Olkiluoto, Finland, and the EdF flagship EPR currently under construction in Flamanville, France have both been beset by engineering problems, are 10 years late, still not operational and are at least three times over their original budgets;
  • The sale of the EPR design to the UK is essential to keep France’s domestic nuclear industry alive;
  • So desperate were EdF for funds, they have allowed China’s loss-leading investment into Hinkley C, enabling China to develop their own version of the EPR reactor thereby effectively killing off EdF’s chances of selling their reactors elsewhere in the world;
  • EdF has not built up a reserve of funds to cover the huge costs associated with a nuclear accident such as occurred in the Ukraine (Chernobyl) or Japan (Fukushima);
  • French safety agencies do not rule out a major nuclear accident in France; and since all the reactors currently operating in France are of the same design, an accident at one would require them all to be shut down, creating a critical energy crisis in France;

TASC was happy to host three representatives from Stop Hinkley all of whom are living through the construction of Hinkley C. They gave the audience an insight into what fate awaits East Suffolk should the plans for Sizewell be approved. They spoke of gridlocked streets in Bridgewater, 24 hour light and noise pollution, a rise in prostitution, employers losing key members of staff, long-term tenants being kicked out of their homes to enable landlords to cash-in on the demand for accommodation from the EdF workforce and a total change in the way of life for thousands around the Somerset coastal area. They also pointed to the predictions for far greater sea level rise than was taken into account when Hinkley C’s planning application was made and compared these dire warnings to the inadequate precautions which have been constructed in defence of the site.

The meeting was addressed by three supportive county councillors who promised to generate the sort of debate within the council which has hitherto been so sadly lacking. They felt that the film should be made available to all councillors. Moreover, they promised to demand that the council state its outright opposition to the EdF plans.

Pete Wilkinson, TASC’s Chairman, said today,

‘Despite the shamefully low turnout of county councillors and the virtual absence of East Suffolk Councillors, we are greatly indebted to the County Councillors for not only making the effort to attend but more importantly for having the courage and determination to take the fight to the council chamber and to state openly and without fear or favour their opposition to these plans.

‘TASC will work closely with these councillors and the immediate plans are to contact the Secretaries of the different political parties in the council to offer to show the film to their members.

‘The support from these Councillors is a potential game-changer and we applaud the commitment of all of those councillors who attended yesterday to understand the issues and to agree to take whatever action is available to them to tell people the truth about EdF and the monstrous plans the government has for this area.’

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