Speaker – Andrew Merifield ‘ The Future for Nuclear Power ‘.
Mr. Merifield is the Continuous Improvement Manager & Training Manager at Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station. He was accompanied by Debbie Simpson the Community Liaison Officer. Andrew, a native of Hartlepool, has worked at the Nuclear Power Station for more than 30 years & gave a very well informed account of its construction & operation plus the need for new nuclear reactors at Hartlepool & elsewhere in Europe.
The plant at Hartlepool was conceived, constructed & operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board ( CEGB ) when this was an integrated electricity company responsible for generation, distribution, plus sales & marketing throughout the UK. When the integrated system was privatised in the 1990s generation was split off from sales. The nuclear generation plant became part of National Power, then British Energy which was subsequently bought in 2010 by ╔lectricitÚ de France (EDF). EDF now owns 58 active nuclear power plants, 8 of which are in the UK & currently generates about 20% of Britain’s electricity. EDF has enormous experience
in the design & safe operation of nuclear power plants, including the latest & most efficient Pressurised Water Reactors( PWR ). Nuclear plants are essential to ensure continuity of supply, they are not dependent upon
imported coal, oil or gas from politically uncertain suppliers, or upon wind, rain or tides.
Nuclear generation is affordable long term; construction, operating & decommissioning costs are stable & predictable over the 60 year life time expected from the modern European Pressurized Water Reactors manufactured by EDF. Above all, nuclear power is ecologically sustainable; it has the lowest carbon dioxide production per megawatt generated, even lower than hydroelectric power or power from wind turbines.
Although construction of the nuclear reactor started at Hartlepool in 1969 it was not commissioned until 1984. It is now a major contributor to the local economy; employing 700 staff, having an annual turnover of ú225 million & paying rates of ú7 million per year. After a recent safety reassessment the decommissioning date has been extended by 5 years to 2019. Even though modern plants can be constructed more rapidly, in about 5 years, there is a real risk of a gap in power generation capacity in the North East unless a decision is taken very soon either to build a new reactor or further extend the life of the current plant at Hartlepool. A recent survey of local opinion showed that about 75% were in favour of the immediate construction of a new nuclear reactor at Hartlepool by Electricity de France.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Mervin Davies.