By Linda Pentz Gunter
In December 2018 we ran an article — The mad plan to store nuclear waste on the beach— which has become one of our most read stories. Now, as the climate crisis worsens, here comes a possibly even madder plan — a new nuclear power plant on a beach with a shifting coastline famous for erosion.
The Sizewell reactors sit on a windswept beach just yards from a sea that has already consumed ancient villages as the coastline changed and eroded over the centuries. Now the sea level rise that will come with climate change promises in time to drown a few more, most likely including the Sizewell nuclear site. Undeterred, the French government nuclear company, EDF, insists it will build a new reactor at Sizewell — one of its ill-fated EPR design that is already struggling at Flamanville, Olkiluoto and Hinkley. Just from a climate change point of view, it is an exercise in insanity. But there is so much more at stake.
The local activist group, Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) has been challenging the EDF plan for years, even as Sizewell sits permanently second in the queue behind the ever more delayed and ever more exorbitant sister site at Hinkley C in Somerset, where EDF is attempting to build two EPRs. Despite the technical problems, cost over-runs and the obscene strike price EDF scored off the UK government — which would almost triple current electricity rates — the company insists in can build Sizewell C more cheaply than Hinkley C and that construction could start within the next three years. It’s a pretty tall order and, arguably, total French farce.