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30 Juin 2011



Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companies EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse to try to ensure the accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK.

“This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally,” wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. “We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear.”

Officials stressed the importance of preventing the incident from undermining public support for nuclear power.

The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who sits on the Commons environmental audit committee, condemned the extent of co-ordination between the government and nuclear companies that the emails appear to reveal.

“The government has no business doing PR for the industry and it would be appalling if its departments have played down the impact of Fukushima,” he said.

Louise Hutchins, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, said the emails looked like “scandalous collusion”. “This highlights the government’s blind obsession with nuclear power and shows neither they, nor the industry, can be trusted when it comes to nuclear,” she said.

The Fukushima accident, triggered by the Japan earthquake and tsunami on 11 March, has forced 80,000 people from their homes. Opinion polls suggest it has dented public support for nuclear power in Britain and around the world, with the governments of Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Thailand and Malaysia cancelling planned nuclear power stations in the wake of the accident.

The business department emailed the nuclear firms and their representative body, the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), on 13 March, two days after the disaster knocked out nuclear plants and their backup safety systems at Fukushima. The department argued it was not as bad as the “dramatic” TV pictures made it look, even though the consequences of the accident were still unfolding and two major explosions at reactors on the site were yet to happen.

“Radiation released has been controlled – the reactor has been protected,” said the BIS official, whose name has been blacked out. “It is all part of the safety systems to control and manage a situation like this.”

The official suggested that if companies sent in their comments, they could be incorporated into briefs to ministers and government statements. “We need to all be working from the same material to get the message through to the media and the public.

“Anti-nuclear people across Europe have wasted no time blurring this all into Chernobyl and the works,” the official told Areva. “We need to quash any stories trying to compare this to Chernobyl.”

Japanese officials initially rated the Fukushima accident as level four on the international nuclear event scale, meaning it had “local consequences”. But it was raised to level seven on 11 April, officially making it a major accident” and putting it on a par with Chernobyl in 1986.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has released more than 80 emails sent in the weeks after Fukushima in response to requests under freedom of information legislation. They also show:

• Westinghouse said reported remarks on the cost of new nuclear power stations by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, were “unhelpful and a little premature”.

• The company admitted its new reactor, AP1000, “was not designed for earthquakes [of] the magnitude of the earthquake in Japan”, and would need to be modified for seismic areas such as Japan and California.

• The head of the DECC’s office for nuclear development, Mark Higson, asked EDF to welcome the expected announcement of a safety review by the energy secretary, Chris Huhne, and added: “Not sure if EDF unilaterally asking for a review is wise. Might set off a bidding war.”

• EDF promised to be “sensitive” to how remediation work at a UK nuclear site “might be seen in the light of events in Japan”.

• It also requested that ministers did not delay approval for a new radioactive waste store at the Sizewell nuclear site in Suffolk, but accepting there was a “potential risk of judicial review”.

• The BIS warned it needed “a good industry response showing the safety of nuclear – otherwise it could have adverse consequences on the market”.

On 7 April, the office for nuclear development invited companies to attend a meeting at the NIA’s headquarters in London. The aim was “to discuss a joint communications and engagement strategy aimed at ensuring we maintain confidence among the British public on the safety of nuclear power stations and nuclear new-build policy in light of recent events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant”.

Other documents released by the government’s safety watchdog, the office for nuclear regulation, reveal that the text of an announcement on 5 April about the impact of Fukushima on the new nuclear programme was privately cleared with nuclear industry representatives at a meeting the previous week. According to one former regulator, who preferred not to be named, the degree of collusion was “truly shocking”.

A spokesman for the DECC and BIS said: “Given the unprecedented events unfolding in Japan, it was appropriate to share information with key stakeholders, particularly those involved in operating nuclear sites. The government was very clear from the outset that it was important not to rush to judgment and that a response should be based on hard evidence. This is why we called on the chief nuclear inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, to provide a robust and evidence-based report.”

A DECC source played down the significance of the emails from the unnamed BIS official, saying: “The junior BIS official was not responsible for nuclear policy and his views were irrelevant to ministers’ decisions in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake.”

Tom Burke, a former government environmental adviser and visiting professor at Imperial College London, warned that the British government was repeating mistakes made in Japan. “They are too close to industry, concealing problems, rather than revealing and dealing with them,” he said.

“I would be much more reassured if DECC had been worrying about how the government would cope with the $200bn-$300bn of liabilities from a catastrophic nuclear accident in Britain.”

The government last week confirmed plans for eight new nuclear stations in England and Wales. “If acceptable proposals come forward in appropriate places, they will not face unnecessary holdups,” said the energy minister, Charles Hendry.

The NIA did not comment directly on the emails. “We are funded by our member companies to represent their commercial interests and further the compelling case for new nuclear build in the UK,” said the association’s spokesman.

“We welcome the interim findings of the independent regulator, Dr Mike Weightman, who has reported back to government that UK nuclear reactors are safe.”

• This article was amended on 1 July 2011. The original quoted Tom Burke as follows: “I would be much more reassured if DECC had been worrying about how the government would cope with the $200m-$300m of liabilities from a catastrophic nuclear accident in Britain.” This has been corrected.



Révélations : Le Gouvernement Britannique avait mis en place une action pour minimiser l’impact de Fukushima sur l’opinion publique.
Le Guardian révèle les échanges internes d’e-mails entre les autorités gouvernementales et les industriels  (EDF Energy, Areva, Westinghouse, …) sur la campagne de communication lancée pour protéger le développement et la construction des nouvelles centrales nucléaires Britanniques suite à la catastrophe de Fukushima

Rob Edwards, Jeudi 30 juin 2011.
Les responsables du Gouvernement britannique ont approché les industriels du nucléaire afin de concevoir une stratégie et de coordonner les relations publiques pour minimiser la catastrophe nucléaire de Fukushima ceci juste deux jours après le séisme et le tsunami au Japon  et avant que ne soit connu l’ampleur de la pollution environnementale radioactive. Le Guardian s’est procuré les e-mails internes échangés qui montrent comment les industriels des multinationales de l’énergie nucléaire, comme EDF Energy, AREVA, Westinghouse, etc…ont travaillé dans les coulisses en étroite collaboration avec le département de l’énergie pour tenter de s’assurer que la catastrophe de Fukushima n’impacte pas leurs plans pour la construction de la nouvelle génération de centrales nucléaires prévue au Royaume-Uni. Les fonctionnaires du gouvernement ont lancé une campagne de RP pour s’assurer que la catastrophe nucléaire de Fukushima au Japon n’impactera pas les prévisions de constructions des nouvelles centrales nucléaires au R-U. Photographie : AP

“Nous nous devons au retour de la confiance en l’industrie nucléaire dans le monde” a écrit un haut fonctionnaire du Departement pour le Business, l’Innovation et les Compétences (BRI), dont le nom a été expurgé des e-mails. “Nous devons nous assurer que les anti-nucléaires et que l’opinion publique ne gagnent du terrain sur ce point. Nous avons besoin d’occuper l’espace médiatique et le tenir. Nous avons vraiment besoin de montrer que la sûreté des installations nucléaires est parfaite.” Les fonctionnaires ont souligné l’importance de prévenir tout incident qui pourrait saper le soutien de la population pour l’énergie nucléaire. Le député conservateur Zac Goldsmith, qui siège dans le comité d’audit environnemental de la Chambre des Communes a condamné cette affaire de coordination et collusion entre le gouvernement et les industriels du nucléaire que les échanges e-mails divulgués semblent révéler. “Le gouvernement n’a pas à faire de relations publiques pour l’industrie nucléaire et il serait épouvantable si ses services ont minimisé l’impact de Fukushima” a-t-il dit. Louise Hutchins, une porte-parole de Greenpeace, a déclaré que ces e-mails ressemblaient “à une collusion scandaleuse”. “Cela met en évidence l’obsession aveugle du gouvernement pour les centrales nucléaires et montre que nous ne pouvons faire confiance ni à eux, ni aux industriels quand il s’agit de nucléaire”, a-t-elle dit. Le désastre de Fukushima, déclenché par le tremblement de terre au Japon et le tsunami du 11 mars a contraint déjà plus de 80 000 personnes à quitter leurs maisons. Les sondages d’opinion suggèrent qu’ils ont un impact sur le soutien de l’opinion publique pour l’énergie nucléaire en Grande-Bretagne et aussi dans le monde, notamment pour l’Allemagne et l’Italie , la Suisse, la Thaïlande et la Malaisie avec l’annulation prévue de centrales nucléaires dans le sillage de la catastrophe. Le département des affaires a contacté le 13 mars par courriels les firmes nucléaires et leur organe représentatif l’Association des Industriels du Nucléaire (NIA) soit deux jours après la catastrophe qui a frappé les centrales nucléaires et leurs systèmes de sécurité de secours à Fukushima. Le ministère a soutenu que des images de télévision de l’époque montraient que cela n’était pas grave mais donnait l’impression d’être plus que “spectaculaire”, même si les conséquences de l’accident étaient encore en cours et que les trois fortes explosions dans les enceintes des réacteurs ne s’étaient pas encore produites.

Written by rudy2

July 1, 2011 at 21:59

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