Old King ‘Coal’ and BBC’s Jackanory

jackanory-16x9.jpg

The BBC have sent a letter back in response to our complaint about the West Cumbria Mine coverage on 27th Dec Radio 4’s PM.

Dear Ms Birkby

Thanks for contacting us about the PM item on Woodhouse Colliery from December 27.

We raised your concerns with the programme team. They explained that the piece looked mainly at the socio-economic impact of the mining community, as it could be the first new coal mine in the UK for 30 years.

However, it also tackled some well-known environmental concerns about the coal industry. We challenged Caroline Leatherdale, the firm’s Environmental Advisor: “We are talking about burning large amounts of fossil fuels and there will be those that will be against this. We all know what the issues are with reaching CO2 targets.”

She offered the position that the mine wasn’t producing “thermal coal” as its product. Instead, the coking coal’s limited use in steel production would in turn benefit the environment through wind turbine production, public transport infrastructure. Again, she was challenged – “It’s still CO2 emissions, isn’t it?”. Listeners then heard further details of the firm’s attempts to offset its carbon output. As such, we feel the item considered criticisms of the colliery and the environmental factors at play.

We’ve also included other reports about environmental matters on PM, but realise you felt this angle should have been reflected in more depth here. That’s not compulsory on each and every report, but we welcome feedback when it’s felt something has been overlooked.

Your reaction was shared with the Editor and senior News staff at BBC Radio 4.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Sheesh! What a load of old BBC Jackanory.

The mine would emit 175 Million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime

Every tonne of steel proposed to be made with this coking coal would create almost two tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The mine would also produce mega amounts of ‘thermal’ coal – this was not questioned at all by the BBC, neither was the fact that most of the coal would be for export.

The BBC interviewer swallowed the children’s story that the steel would be for all things nice and green like wind turbines – not nasty Trident submarines or nuclear installations which need mega amounts of steel.

No mention of the high level omission that this mine would be 8km from Sellafield

No apology for the deliberate bias in not interviewing those opposed to the mine – there are plenty of miners local to the area who are against it as this video shows

What pathetic journalism from the BBC!  Or maybe it is targeted deliberately biased journalism to promote this mine as a ‘good thing’  (you may well ask, why?)  Green minded folk who heard this programme have told me they felt reassured ….until the big fat lies were pointed out to them.  The BBC’s percieved gravitas has taken us to war before now.  Whats a coal mine between friends?

JamesDuva Steel.jpg

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How To Write to Cumbria County Council and tell them to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

white and black moon with black skies and body of water photography during night time
Irish Sea – the scene of the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years?   (Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com)

The consultation period ends on January 28th,  Cumbria County Council will still accept letters after this time but the sooner you write the better.

Send your email now to Cumbria County Council at developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk.

Please also ask if you can speak at the meeting on the 22nd February – the more folk who write, speak and make a noise against this plan the better chance we have of stopping it.

Please remember to include the planning application reference number PL\1689\05 (4/17/9007) and your postcode in the subject.

The main points to make are

  • This  coal mine proposal flies in the face of Cumbria County Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan and Climate Local programme.
  • The mine workings would extend to within 8km of Sellafield, this would increase the risk of earth tremors and worse.
  • Collapse of the sea bed as a consequence of mining under the Irish Sea would resuspend radioactive particles from decades of Sellafield reprocessing.

 

Here below is an excellent letter from Sam who is a member of Radiation Free Lakeland.  Feel free to use this as inspiration to write your own letter of objection.  It doesn’t need to be long – just a sentence or a paragraph or two.

To Rachel Brophy, Development Control, Cumbria County Council

Jan 8th 2019

WOODHOUSE COLLIERY, APPLICATION 4/17/9007

In response to the current consultation I wish to make the following comments regarding the revised Environmental Statement from West Cumbria Mining [WCM]. This letter is additional to my submission of Feb 6th 2018.

I am writing to raise serious concerns concerning climate change, subsidence, earth tremors and the potential to trigger a major nuclear emergency at Sellafield.

I wish to OBJECT to the application.

I wish to raise four major grounds on which this application must be firmly rejected.

  1. The 2008 Climate Change Act

The revised Environmental Statement fails completely to address the UK Government’s commitments to carbon reduction within the 2008 Climate Change Act and the increasingly stringent restrictions regarding the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

WCM state that at full annual production the mine will extract: 2.43 million tonnes of metallurgical coal; 350,000 tonnes of lower grade ‘middlings’ coal; and 150,000 tonnes of rock overburden (reject).    (annually!)

WCM continue to refer to ‘metallurgical’ coal as if this is in no way related to the coal used in energy generation.   The simple facts of physics are that all coal produces CO2 when burned for whatever purpose.

WCM seem to be completely unaware of the global urgency of reducing carbon emissions. The proposal to open a new coal mine in our current precarious climate change situation is completely counter to Government policy.

  1. Subsidence, earth tremors and nuclear accident/emergency.

I have written to The Office for Nuclear Regulation [ONR] regarding the application.   In response to my letter they state –

‘ONR ask to be consulted on developments within the off-site emergency planning area around the Sellafield site, which extends approximately 6.1 – 7.4 km from the site centrepoint (see http://www.onr.org.uk/depz.htm for further details).  We would not expect Cumbria County Council to consult us regarding developments outside this zone, and I can confirm that we have not been consulted.’

map WCm.jpg

This ONR map shows the offsite emergency planning zone around Sellafield.   This shows the area where planning consultation with ONR is required.

The ONR state that Woodhouse Colliery would be approx. 10 km from Sellafield. WCM state the mine would reach within 8km of Sellafield. Which is correct? Surely it is essential to know exactly what the distance may be.

Even more crucially – this is not a mere surface development – the WCM application concerns undersea mining in an area known to be heavily faulted.

The nature of underground earth tremors and minor quakes is that they travel in unpredictable ways through the rock. Earth tremors have no regard for the 7.4 km exclusion zone drawn on the map.

The geology that WCM plans to mine is completely connected to the geology underneath Sellafield. That the mine would be outside the formal ONR planning zone by up to 4km is completely irrelevant given the unpredictable nature of earth movements.

Any earth tremor caused by mining or subsidence would have catastrophic effects in terms of a nuclear emergency bringing massive danger to life over a vast area.

  1. Potential collapse of the mine.

The ONR state – ‘The nature of the proposed mine (pillar and room) is one that is not designed to collapse at any point in the future, unlike for example long wall mining.   Even in the highly unlikely event of a collapse, the nature of any ensuing earth tremors would be limited to very low levels.  These levels would not be felt by persons on the Sellafield site and would not disrupt structures, systems and components important to safety on the site. ‘

This is a very worrying response. Firstly ONR states that they believe that the mine is not designed to collapse – then they state that if it did so it would not affect nuclear safety.

IMG_3707.png

‘Pillar and Room’ mines can and do collapse.

Crandall Canyon Accident Investigation
Summary and Conclusions On August 6, 2007, six miners were killed in a catastrophic coal outburst when roof-supporting pillars failed and violently ejected coal over a half-mile area. Ten days later, two mine employees and an MSHA inspector perished in a coal outburst during rescue efforts.

https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/12/30/murray-energys-crandall-canyon-coal-mine-disaster-9-deaths/?fbclid=IwAR3O7nI2ICJCp9qFoMNvPTF3noiDeGly_rGtL6XaRmsJLVt0gXmEiqCc_BA

In the event of a mine collapse at Woodhouse the potential for injury and death would reach well beyond the mine shaft itself. Radioactive accidents at Sellafield could affect much of the UK and neighbouring nations.

There is a major inconsistency here as the ONR believe the mining process to be ‘pillar and room’ while the WCM website states –

‘Run-out and Pocket extraction will be the chosen mining method as this is a proven, highly versatile coal mining method that takes advantage of advancements in mining technology to mitigate risks associated with the Cumbrian Coal fields.’

How can this application possibly be agreed given that WCM and the ONR are clearly not operating on the same basis regarding the basic mining method and associated risks?

It is telling that WCM themselves are acknowledging the very real risks of the Cumbrian coal fields and are seeking to ‘mitigate’ them.

This is a glaring inconsistency and indicative of the wrong footed nature of this entire application.

What Nuclear Emergency Plans are in place by the County Council should tremors damage the containment vessels at Sellafield?

  1. Formal assessments of likely subsidence damage have proved to be very wrong

There are big lessons to be learned from the fracking industry at home and abroad.

Groningen in the Netherlands is Europe’s biggest gas field. The Netherlands Government has recently decided to close it down leaving billions of euros of gas in the ground. So far 80,000 homes have been damaged, families are living in sheds and schools are closed.

In the UK the Governments Oil and Gas Authority [OGA] has allowed fracking in Lancashire to proceed with the ‘traffic light’ system of monitoring tremors. Since fracking recommenced in autumn 2018 there have been over 30 Lancashire quakes recorded by the British Geological Society.     Many of these quakes causing shut down of production.   The UK OGA has said – ‘it is rare for damages, even cosmetic ones, to occur at magnitudes of less than 4.’

The truly frightening aspect of this is that ALL of the Groningen quakes measured less than 4. The Netherlands Government had insisted that they were harmless, yet the damage stands at 8 billion euros so far and the closure of the industry.

Groningen had few geological faults or earth tremors before the extraction began.   West Cumbria has a history of both faults and of tremors.

https://www.channel4.com/news/why-the-dutch-are-ditching-gas-extraction

 

CONCLUSION

The nature of subsidence and earth tremors is by nature unpredictable.

What is certain is that this constitutes a very real potential.

The damage caused in the Netherlands by allegedly ‘safe’ levels of tremor would result in radioactive mayhem were such tremors to occur in West Cumbria where we have Europe’s largest collection of deadly nuclear waste.

This potential risk of a nuclear accident/emergency is simply too great a risk.

There is no way that Cumbria County Council can possibly assure the public safety of this proposed mine and the application must be firmly rejected.

 

Sam Moisha

Member of Radiation Free Lakeland

West Cumbrian Papers …at last some Grrr over the Coal Mine Plan

Thanks to the West Cumbrian press who have at last published a bit of Grrrr over the proposed coal mine.   Readers of the West Cumbrian press have so far been treated to first rate (and no doubt expensive) greenwash from the developers, so it is timely that at last (better late than never) the message is getting out that actually the plan to mine coal again in West Cumbria is a really REALLY bad idea.

Here is the article as appeared in much of the West Cumbrian press, this from the Times and Star-   – you can go to the Times and Star to see more (and add your own) on the comments section.  The article is in this weeks  Whitehaven News

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party protest over West Cumbria Mining plans

By Sarah Moore Chief Reporter
Campaigners stage a protest in Workington town centre on Saturday against plans to resurrect coal mining in West Cumbria

Campaigners stage a protest in Workington town centre on Saturday against plans to resurrect coal mining in West Cumbria

Members of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party protested against West Cumbria Mining’s plans to redevelop Whitehaven’s former Marchon site and extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, speaking to shoppers in Workington.

Protestor Marianne Birkby said: “We spoke to ordinary folk including miners who were adamant that there should not be a return to coal mining on the west coast of Cumbria.

“The reasons are many – the water situation in West Cumbria is already stressed, the mine would impact hydrology, would produce 175 million tonnes of CO2, the possibility of seabed collapse and earth movement is unthinkable so near to Sellafield.

“Only one person thought the jobs were worth the damage (just 500 jobs proposed for the mine – similar to a supermarket depot and nowhere near the jobs in renewables and energy efficiency technologies).”

West Cumbria Mining is seeking permission from Cumbria County Council to open Woodhouse Colliery, which it says would have a planned operational lifespan of 50 years and extract up to 3.1 million tonnes of coal per year.

It would extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells, before exporting to Redcar, on the east coast, and shipping it to the EU and beyond. The firm has said the scheme would create 500-plus jobs.

After a drop-in event last month, bosses said the scheme had had massive support, with 99 per cent positive feedback.

Helen Davies, head of communications for the firm, said: “West Cumbria Mining continues to progress the development of the Woodhouse Colliery project in an open and collaborative spirit. The company has held numerous engagement public events since 2014, where there has been consistently strong support for the scheme including from local members of parliament and cabinet ministers, together with hundreds of expressions of support submitted to Cumbria County Council in favour of the current planning application process for the project to move forwards.

“The WCM planning documentation sets out and responds to all of the questions raised by external parties over the last three years and provides clear scientific evidence based responses to each of those points, clearly demonstrating that there are no risks or significant impacts from the scheme”

Cumbria County Council is consulting on the plans until January 28. Its development control committee is due to discuss the plans next month.

lakelandlad 7th January 6:45 pm

2 There is a high demand for this grade of COAL also a high demand for jobs as there has been a vast number of jobs lost . WHY do people (small number) fight against new employment are they incomers wanting a rural (peaceful) life. WEST CUMBERLAND use to be a highly industrial area not now.

Last Updated: 8th January 10:28 am

Neil Messenger 7th January 9:03 pm

1 Where do these people come from? 99% of people want West Cumbria Mining to succeed with their application.
Much need jobs and skills will be brought to the area.
Where did they get their “facts” about the amount of Co2 and earth movement?
Come on Cumbria County Council, do the right thing.

Last Updated: 8th January 10:28 am

James O’Fee 8th January 8:42 am

0 At first I disagreed with them but they are right in the fact that their is at least 5 old mines in the area, most prior to haig had poor mapping of seams dug which Haig unknowingly broke into over the years not knowing they were their which is still the case (unmapped seams). Flooding will be the downfall of this, haig was pumping 20,000 ltrs per hour out of Haig the pumps were so large they had to leave them down their when it closed and this was part of the reason it was uneconomical,if they break through the sponge rock (above the coal seam),it will flood constantly, regarding collapse and affecting sellafield unless they are digging under it it should have no impact whatsoever. The coal is high grade though without a doubt and burns cleaner than the coal Europe digs, its an interesting project but their forecasts are way over estimated they haven’t factored flooding costs and unforeseen circumstances such as old mine works which would be flooded already if they break into these god help them.

Last Updated: 8th January 8:44 am

Howgill 8th January 10:26 am

0 I don’t know where you acquired your “facts” regarding Haig – perhaps from those protesters? – but they are way off. Haig pumped about eightfold the figure you gave, but well over 90% of that was drainage from the landward side, fluctuating within days of rainfall – it was classed as a very dry pit, hence the tons of stone dust used on a daily basis to neutralise the coal dust.

While some of the plans of adjacent pits are not totally reliable there was, to my knowledge, only one case of Haig accidentally holing into old workings, and they were bone dry.

“……and this was part of the reason it was uneconomical” – well yes. the pumping wasn’t cost free so there’s a part truth there, but the real cause was the faulting – coal sells, stone doesn’t!

James O’Fee 8th January 6:40 pm

0 I got it from relatives who worked in haig who happened to be pit deputies,what I stated was correct and they had lots of openings into unknow shafts and seams a lot of this was unrecorded as it would shut production down they would simply brick it up and move elsewhere.why on earth would they pump from the landside it could run off the cliffs into the sea if that was the case,their are many photos of Haig I have yet to see any of surface pumps around the pit surface or pipework and hoses.

Last Updated: 8th January 6:47 pm

Howgill 8th January 8:25 pm

0 I think your relatives were pulling your leg! The plans of the Whitehaven Colliery are quite complete, even from the days before they were a legal requirement, and certainly so for the workings adjacent to Haig (Croft, Wellington, Saltom). There may be some errors due to the surveying methods used (magnetic dials were the norm in the early days) but nothing was unrecorded. “Bricking up and moving elsewhere” wasn’t necessary as these holings, with one exception, just didn’t happen.

The pumping of landward drainage. Water enters the old workings by percolation where the seams are close to the surface right along the hill from Greenbank to the harbour. This flows down and is collected by a watercourse running from Ladysmith via Croft, Kells, Saltom and King to Wellington. Water from William Pit (Bransty, Harras Moor ingress) arrived in a similar way and all was pumped from the lodge 1,000 feet down the Haig shafts which was connected into it (purposely) in 1919. How do I know this? I worked in Haig, and Wellington, and as part of my work had regular access to all the plans which you say don’t exist.

WCM will not be entering any areas of unrecorded old workings and will be leaving substantial barriers against the known workings just as we did at Haig.

Last Updated: 8th January 8:27 pm

McAll W 8th January 2:15 pm

0 Oh look, the daytrippers have made it all the way to Workington this time (having held their last protest in Windermere because that’s probably as far into Cumbria as most of them can be bothered travelling).

Dagsannr 8 hrs ago

0 Digging up coal, regardless of the safety or environmental concerns of the mine itself, is a ridiculous idea. It’s polluting, unnecessary and the world is moving on.

Want jobs? Get the government to subsidise renewables to the same extent that it subsidises oil and gas and you’ll soon see job creation.

Good on the Morning Star for reporting that there is opposition to this Coal Plan…

morning star

MORNING STAR

Friday January 4th 2019 by Peter Lazenby

“PLANS to sink the first new deep coal mine in Britain for decades are being backed by the National Union of Mineworkers.

The support comes in the face of intense opposition from environmental campaigners, who will protest tomorrow in the Cumbrian town of Workington against the proposal to drive into coal reserves beneath the Irish Sea.

West Cumbria Mining wants to establish the new mine, Woodhouse Colliery, on a former industrial site at Whitehaven.

If the plan goes ahead, the mine will produce three million tonnes of coal a year – roughly the same as the amount produced at Britain’s last deep coal mine, Kellingley colliery in Yorkshire, which closed in December, 2015.

The Whitehaven proposal has met with widespread condemnation from environmental campaigners. As well as being opposed to the burning of coal in principle, they object to the Cumbrian site partly because of its proximity to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Chris Kitchen said: “The mine is planned to be built on the former Marchon industrial site near Woodhouse and has the potential to create 500 jobs. The site has been designed to minimise environmental impact.

“If the company do what they say they are going to do, I don’t see where the objections can be, other than ‘not in my back yard.’ The NUM would be in favour of this mine going ahead.”

He said modern mining could be carried out in a way which “alleviates environmental concerns.”

Mr Kitchen added: “We manage the effects of coal mining in a safe and responsible way. All the concerns can be addressed by modern methods.”

The union opposes the controversial fracking process of gas extraction.

“With fracking, you have no idea what is going on underground,” Mr Kitchen said. “But with coal mining, you are there. We know what we are doing, so I am in favour of new deep coal mines – and we need the jobs.”

Opponents of the new mine will demonstrate tomorrow from 10.30am in Workington town centre.

Campaigner Marianne Birkby said the protest will “generally show resistance to this diabolic plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK in over 30 years.”

Workington says NO to New Coal Mine Under Irish Sea

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole Workington 5.1.19.jpg

On Saturday 5th January Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole were joined by Cumbrian folk from Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party.  We spoke to dozens of shoppers in Workington at the market place and the verdict was a big NO to the first deep coal mine in the UK for over 30 years.

The word on the street is in direct contrast to the slick PR put out by the developers West Cumbria Mining and repeated verbatim by most media including the BBC (our complaint to the BBC is awaiting a reply)

We spoke to ordinary folk including miners who were adamant that there should not be a return to coal mining on the West Coast of Cumbria.  The reasons are many – the water situation in West Cumbria is already stressed, the mine would impact hydrology, would produce 175 million tonnes of CO2, the possibility of seabed collapse and earth movement is unthinkable so near to Sellafield….

Thank you to all the folk we spoke to.  Only one person thought the jobs were worth the damage  (just 500 jobs proposed for the mine – similar to a supermarket depot and no where near the jobs in renewables and energy efficiency technologies)

 

So Workington says No.

What are folk saying who live near the proposed mine?

This is an extract from a letter sent by local folk to Cumbria County Council (it may be available on the CCC website  – although our letters of objection from Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are not on!!)

“Pow Beck has the railway and a couple of wind turbines but in the main it is a tranquil, fairly secluded and pretty place. In our opinion the Railway Loading Facility will affect our environment with emission, dust, noise and light, and detrimental to the ecology here. The facility will impact the peaceful enjoyment of our home, St. Bees village and Pow Beck wildlife.

The building is large and railway sidings extensive. The facility will be visually overbearing and no amount of tree planting or timber clad buildings will soften its appearance on the landscape. They have planned technically advanced building to keep the dust, noise and emissions to regulation levels, but the Loading Facility will still be a noisy, dusty and bright facility in our quiet, dark valley.

By its very nature mining is a messy business and we are not convinced by the marketing and bright coloured CGI animations used to demonstrate how this MODERN mine will operate. The animation makes it looks so clean but we have the opinion that is far from the facts. It does not show the shunting of wagons to the sidings, the plumes of dust as each wagon is loaded; We read somewhere 4 trains’ daily transporting coal to Redcar. These quieter modern trains can pull at least 21 large covered coal wagons, not the 7/8 shown on the CGI.

In our estimate that must be a train over 200m long. The CGI does not show those large trains trundling past homes through Mirehouse, Parton or Harrington to name a few. Pow Beck is going to be a very different place at all times of the day and night. We thought the United Nations and EU have in place regulations to reduce carbon emissions to meet climate targets, yet here we are in Cumbria giving consideration to digging out millions of tonnes of coal. We would have thought political policy would have put the kibosh on mining in this country, indeed in March of this year our government rejected an open cast mine in Northumberland saying the environmental impact outweighs economic benefits.

In Wales, only last month, they have reached the decisions no new mining unless under exceptional circumstances. WCM say 80% will be exported. We produce the coal and let someone else burn it. What a legacy, will we ever learn? Mining coal is a retrograde step, Apologies to all those miners past and present, We don’t wish to be ungrateful for their legacy, but we should not be thinking of building a new mine, burning coal is never going to be clean enough and that’s the facts.

Since 2014 WCM Ltd have marketed the mines with the creation of jobs for a lot of people over a very long time, benefits for the economy; an investment for West Cumbria. It is our belief that the environmental costs and environmental risk are too high a price for all that. The coal is not an asset anymore, the burning of fossil fuel is a liability that our children will be paying for. Therefore, we ask that Cumbria County Council refuse this planning application and keep Copeland coal, and other pollutants locked beneath the sandstone out of harm’s way.”

 

That last line from folk living near this proposal is worth repeating

..”we ask that Cumbria County Council refuse this planning application and keep Copeland coal, and other pollutants locked beneath the sandstone out of harm’s way.”

Please write your own letter to CCC quoting Planning reference 4/17/9007 Woodhouse Colliery

This plan is scheduled to be decided upon in Kendal by the Development Control Committee at the County Offices on FEB 22nd.  Not much time!  Please write to Cumbria County Council,s Development Control Committee and let them know you OBJECT. You can also ask to speak at the Meeting in Kendal – the more speakers the better chance we have of stopping the plan.

 Members of the Committee http://councilportal.cumbria.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=124

People also outside Cumbria can both object and speak if they register with nicola.harrison@cumbria.gov.uk

To Find the Planning Documents

You can insert insert application reference 4/17/9007 in Cumbria County Council’s search box  – and then click on the  “Documents” link on the right hand side.

NOTE The application reference  is 4/17/9007, West Cumbria Mining, Woodhouse Colliery. Written submissions can be sent to Jackie Currie, Cumbria County Council Development Control Team, County Offices, Busher Walk,  Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4RQ or via mail at developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk.  or jackie.currie@cumbria.gov.uk

There is also an online petition.

Meet at the Workington Clock Next Saturday 5th January to show Opposition to the West Cumbrian Coal Mine

We hope that more folk will join those already opposing the plan and look forward to seeing you next Saturday 5th Jan from 10.30 till approx 12.30.  If you cannot come along on Saturday please contact me at :    wastwater @ protonmail.com for petition sheets/offers of help.
Poster small
(financial help to print leaflets etc would be fab- we are all volunteers.  Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign so our very limited resources are stretched)

Who wants new Coal AND new Nuclear in their stocking this Christmas?

Santa_Letter
Local leaders in Cumbria have been agitating for new nuclear  and new coal in Cumbria just a stones throw from the most hazardous place in Europe.  They must think that Sellafield just isn’t quite dangerous enough?
The following was sent to the national and local press – unpublished.
Dear Editor,
Extinction Rebellion is much in the news with climate campaigners travelling from Cumbria to London to ask for abstract “action on climate change”.  One fossil fuel plan is getting a free ride.   With Father Christmas-like largesse in a deprived area,  this plan has its feet well under the table in West Cumbria. This is even before any planning decision.  This plan has the potential to wipe out all our concerns about climate change.  A few dedicated but much ignored nuclear safety campaigners are truly bewildered at being the ones left leading a scrappy campaign against the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years.
The new coal mine is proposed under the Irish Sea near Sellafield. Sellafield sits on the Lake District Boundary Fault.  The developers West Cumbria Mining have said the mine will extend to within 8 km of the existing Sellafield nuclear site and even nearer the proposed Moorside site

The plan is to extract 2.8 million tonnes every year during the lifespan of the proposed mine.  Assuming 40 years mining and an average of 2 million tonnes a year, that is a total production of 80 million tonnes!   But burning fossil fuel is not the only or even the most terrifying  concern here.

How reassured should we be by the statement provided to us by the Office for Nuclear Regulation that ” The nature of the proposed mine (pillar and room) is one that is not designed to collapse at any point in the future.. Even in the highly unlikely event of a collapse, the nature of any ensuing earth tremors would be limited…These levels would not be felt by persons on the Sellafield site and  would not disrupt structures, systems and components important to safety on the site.”
That faux “reassurance” is pulling the wool over people’s  eyes big time.  This is not an abstract thing.  It is real and it will be decided upon early in the New Year, in Kendal.
Yours sincerely,
Marianne Birkby
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign

Correspondence with the Office for Nuclear Regulation below for info.

Date: December 6, 2018 at 11:01 AM
Subject: RE: GE201808194 – Proposed new coal mine near Sellafield

Thank you for your e-mail. Please accept my sincerest apologies in the delay for our response which arose due to consultations between different internal teams. I hope the below assists you with your query.

I can confirm that the proposed development, including the onshore and offshore mining areas specified in the planning application document “D46_869_AO_001_Underground Mining – Onshore and Offshore Mining Areas”, lies outside the ONR’s consultation zone around the Sellafield nuclear licensed site.  ONR ask to be consulted on developments within the off-site emergency planning area around the Sellafield site, which extends approximately 6.1 – 7.4 km from the site centrepoint (see http://www.onr.org.uk/depz.htm for further details).  We would not expect Cumbria County Council to consult us regarding developments outside this zone, and I can confirm that we have not been consulted.

In response to your expressed concern that potential resulting earth tremors could cause a major nuclear incident at the Sellafield Site, I have consulted colleagues within the External Hazards specialism within ONR and they have provided the following advice:

The proposed new subsea coal mine at c 10km from Sellafield is not considered by ONR to be capable of generating ground motions that would affect safety at the Sellafield site.  ONR has consulted with the HSE Mines Inspectorate, the British Geological Survey and its own expert panel on seismic activity in the UK.  The nature of the proposed mine (pillar and room) is one that is not designed to collapse at any point in the future, unlike for example long wall mining.   Even in the highly unlikely event of a collapse, the nature of any ensuing earth tremors would be limited to very low levels.  These levels would not be felt by persons on the Sellafield site and  would not disrupt structures, systems and components important to safety on the site.

Once again, my apologies for the delay in our response.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me via contact@onr.gov.uk.

Kind regards,

Emma Lui