UK Politics

Bradwell nuclear site being 'handed' to China, says GMB

Bradwell nuclear site Image copyright Magnox
Image caption The Bradwell nuclear site is in the process of being decommissioned

A union says the site of a former nuclear power station is going to be handed over "lock, stock and barrel" to China's national nuclear corporation.

The GMB has written to the government warning of "serious safety issues" if the Chinese build a new plant at the Bradwell site in Essex.

It also said this would be an "absolute disaster" for jobs in the UK.

The government said any new facility would be subject to the UK's "thorough and transparent" safety regime.

Power generation at the Magnox station at Bradwell began in 1962 and finished in 2002. Since then, the plant has been undergoing a lengthy decommissioning process.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) did not comment on the GMB's claim that the site would be handed over to China.

Gary Smith, the GMB's national officer, said: "It's probably the worst-kept secret in the nuclear industry."

He said no progress was being made at another site, Hinkley Point in Somerset, where Chinese investment is part of a consortium due to build a new nuclear power station.

Image copyright Glyn Baker
Image caption Unions have written to the government over the future of the Bradwell site

Due to the UK's reliance on private sector funding for nuclear power, the Chinese are in a strong negotiating position and "playing hardball", Mr Smith said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "There's very very strong rumours, and there has been for some time around the nuclear industry, about the Bradwell nuclear site, that the site will be handed over lock, stock and barrel to the Chinese because we are so desperate for investment."

He asked Energy Secretary Amber Rudd to "come clean" on what the plans are.

In his letter to Ms Rudd, he said: "The idea that a Chinese state company will be given a site in the UK, not far from London, where they can use Chinese labour to construct a reactor to be made in China and using Chinese components would in our view constitute economic madness and raises serious safety issues."

The union said "serious safety concerns" had been raised by Chinese scientists about the country's nuclear industry.

A DECC spokeswoman said: "Safety and security are of paramount importance, and any proposal to build a nuclear power station in the UK will be subject to the UK's thorough and transparent regulatory regime.

"Any future operators would need to ensure the site workforce for construction complies with UK employment law and regulations."

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