Dungeness B – end of an era

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Dungeness B
Dungeness B Nuclear Power Station now being de-commissioned

As a result of long-term problems, EDF has decided to close down the two remaining reactors at Dungeness B after 36 years of operation.

You can read an earlier article that gives some of the history and identified some of the problems here. EDF hoped that reactors would be able to start up again until quite recently. The decision to shut them down must have come as a bitter disappointment to the station director John Benn and all the staff at Dungeness B.

Decommissioning will take about 40 years and cost many millions. This is not good news for a company so heavily in debt. The site will remain radioactive for about 100 years.

The nuclear industry is claiming that the closure of Dungeness B highlights the need for more nuclear. But it is now widely accepted that this is not true.

There are some who remain sceptical about renewable energy and whether we can cope without nuclear. There is no need to be – for several reasons.

Solar and wind already can provide over 50% of our electricity and their share is still growing rapidly. Other renewable technologies are being developed such as marine tidal power and geothermal that will make a significant contribution in the near future.

An intelligent grid will be able to make use of batteries (even in cars) so that electricity can be provided during periods of high demand. This could reduce our need for electricity by nearly half.

An international grid already connects us to the hydropower of Scandinavia and wherever the sun is shining and the wind is blowing in Europe. Many more connections are being planned including to the solar power of north Africa.

The closure of Dungeness B will be a sad day for those who work there. There will be some serious worries as they and their families have depended on Dungeness for many years. We hope that EDF will look after them well.

Nuclear, with its hidden costs of waste disposal and accident risk, has no future in this country or anywhere else and we can look forward to all our electricity coming from renewable sources – including, perhaps, a new solar farm at Dungeness.

Image Credits: EDF Stakeholder Newsletter .

7 COMMENTS

  1. I wondered whether this article was more about promoting green energy rather than the shutting down of Dungeness B PS. Very opinionated and misleading, the site will remain radioactive for a 100 years?
    The reactor will have to be de fuelled and made safe through a lengthy decommissioning process not the whole site.

    I worked at as an Electrical Engineer at Dungeness for 37 years and was shocked by the news also very saddened that this would be the end of well paid, safe jobs protected by good, safe working conditions.

    Perhaps your article should highlight the eventual loss of jobs to the area rather than your own green agenda.

    Dungeness B did produce 1000 megawatts at full load 24 hours a day unlike our local wind farm which produces a mere 80 megawatts on a good day. Yes, we need green energy but we still need large power station as the main hub for our energy needs

    • I am concerned as many local people will be for the employees and their families. I did mention this in the article. Hopefully, the 40-year dismantling stage of decommissioning will provide a lot of local jobs.
      The cost of the electricity generated by the old nuclear fleet has yet to be calculated – the bills are still coming in at at least £3 billion a year and will do so for some time – they have not even started to construct the Deep Geological Disposal site for high-level waste.
      You are right to point out my exaggeration of the area of radioactivity. Dungeness A is planned to be declared safe in 2098 – 94 years after it ceased to generate.

  2. Your article starts with ‘ an end of an era’ perhaps you would have said ‘ a nail in the coffin for the nuclear power’ judging by your comments.

    Jobs for decommissioning will indeed provide employment but hardly the same as working in a running power station providing energy to the national grid.

    I’m disappointed in the anti nuclear slant in Rye News and the lack of understanding in the impact of the closure of the station.

  3. Surely it is time to face up to the need for urgent action to mitigate climate change both here and worldwide. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is paramount. Replacing the internal combustion engine and less polluting steel and cement manufacture are examples of changes that may require more electrical energy.
    I remain astonished and concerned at the blithe confidence that intermittent wind and solar power, batteries and relying on others with long, lossy, insecure cables will suffice and do so with a stable grid. A green base-load source is needed and that is what nuclear provides.
    I agree that a long-term disposal facility for radioactive power station, medical, military and other industrial waste is long overdue.
    It is good that Hinkley Point C is under construction and other stations are in planning – better late than never -but it is a shame that Dungeness, with its good site, local acceptance and skilled workforce is not included.
    Yes! There is a cost and nuclear safety demands high standards, but the cost is ‘up-front’. Fuel quantities are small and life extensions and inflation will reduce the impact. In any case quite a proportion of the cost to consumers can be attributed to contractual arrangements. I agree that ‘end-of-life costs are significant and must be factored in, but even wind and solar have some disposal problems and costs!
    Here I would pause and state my credentials. My father taught in Rye Grammar School in the 1920s. I am a Chartered Electrical and Mechanical Engineer and was a member of the site team of the Central Electricity Generating Board, project minding the construction and commissioning of Dungeness A and B from 1963 to 1969. I then moved on, retiring, in 1990, from the design team for Sizewell B and the follow-on stations which were then planned. I have no links with the industry except general interest, concern for the planet and my EdF pension.
    Christopher Strangeways expresses concern for John Benn and the power station staff but, and I assume he is a longstanding Rye resident, he fails to acknowledge that he has relied on Dungeness electricity at home, at school, at work and in the locality generally – and that is true even if he pays a “Green Energy” provider. As a Surrey resident, I am grateful for the many years that the station staff have provided for us in the South East. Thank you all.

  4. I’m interested in the international grid delivering solar and wind power from Europe, do we get power from France via their nuclear power stations?
    I’m also at a loss as to why it was such a shock that the B station was closing, it was on borrowed time and should have been shut down a few years ago.
    Of course we seem to have forgotten the moaning when the wind farm was built, a view spoiling white elephant and not forgetting the mega amount of concrete that was poured in the ground to support them.
    Interesting times ahead and I’m not overly envious of those who will be living them.

  5. Whether its scaremongering or fact that due to climate change large swathes of the south east will be under the sea in 30 years time, including most of Rye, its time to look ahead now,not for the future of many of us on here who will be long gone,but our children and grandchildren, nuclear reactors need to be besides the sea, for cooling purposes, so the bigger picture needs to be urgently reviewed, before the lights go out, as the country’s population continues to increase.

    [NOTE from the author of the article: it is probably “scaremongering” to say 30 years. Current predictions are for a rise of about 1m by 2100. Although scientific eyes are currently on some glaciers in the Western Antarctic that threaten much higher levels.
    A lot of work has been done recently on protecting Nuclear Power stations from tsunamis since Fukushima]

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