3 Aug (NucNet): Unions in the UK have called for clarity on the future of the Moorside nuclear station project in Cumbria, northwest England, and are seeking an urgent meeting with business secretary Greg Clark to “chart a speedy way forward, including the commitment of public money”.
Unite, the country’s largest union, said in a statement: “It is vital for the Cumbrian economy in the decades ahead that we have crystal clear clarity on the future of this project.”
Unite said it wants a meeting with Mr Clark to flesh out details of the government’s approach. Such a meeting has become more urgent following reports last week of restructuring at NuGen and possible redundancies, the union said.
GMB, the energy union, said has long argued the government should take a stake in the financing of the £15bn project rather than leaving it at the mercy of foreign companies.
“The lessons from the collapse of Toshiba should have been well and truly learned long ago: relying on foreign companies and countries for our essential energy needs is sheer folly,” a statement said.
Toshiba owns NuGen, the company developing Moorside, but has put it up for sale as part of a wider restructuring in the wake of financial problems triggered by losses in its US nuclear business, Westinghouse, which was providing three AP1000 units for Moorside.
GMB said if the government takes a stake in Moorside the price to consumers will be greatly reduced “making good all-round sense”.
Reports earlier this week said South Korean officials were in the UK for talks about Moorside. The reports said representatives from Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) were meeting NuGen executives and government officials after concerns were raised that negotiations were taking too long.
Kepco was the preferred bidder to take over NuGen from Toshiba, although reports this week also suggested its preferred bidder status had been withdrawn.
NuGen announced last week it was restructuring because of the “prolonged time” it had taken to seal the deal with the South Korean utility.
The sale negotiations include the UK government, which has suggested it would consider giving financial support for a new generation of nuclear power stations to meet the UK’s energy needs, and the South Korean government, which owns a majority stake in Kepco.
Kepco beat off competition from CGN of China to enter exclusive negotiations with Toshiba to buy NuGen.
NuGen would give Kepco its first nuclear project in the UK, which is committed to building new nuclear reactors. The South Korean company is in the final stages of constructing four reactors at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates.