"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Training Nuclear Engineers - Lord Jenkin asks a very important question

The Department of Engineering Science was first established at Oxford by Professor Frewen Jenkin, after whom whom the Jenkin Building is named - the department celebrates it's Centenary this year.

His grandson is Patrick Jenkin, 84 now Baron Jenkin of Roding of Wanstead and Woodford in Greater London. He took over Winston Chrichill's seat at Woodford from 1964 -1974 and was briefly Minister for Energy. Under Thatcher he held many posts and was finally shunted off to the Lords in 1987.

He is chairman of the Foundation for Science and Technology and his son, Bernard Jenkin, 49 is the Conservative MP for North Essex

Tomorrrow he is down to ask ask in the House of Lords, " what efforts Her Majesty’s Government are making to respond to the challenge stated on page 113 of the Energy White Paper of January 2008 to meet the need for skilled workers in the nuclear industry."

This probably refers to (page 101) :

7.25 - In December 2002 we published the results of a nuclear and radiological skills study. Although there is no immediate, general skills shortage, some shortages do exist, particularly in safety case production and radiological protection; there are problems associated with an ageing workforce; competition for engineering and science skills; and uncertainty about the future of nuclear power. In response, a task group is being formed across the sector to develop and implement a workforce development strategy.

The footnotes gives the reference for this study as - www.dti.gov.uk/energy/nuclear/skills/index.shtml - which if you try accessing responds , " Forbidden: Execute access is denied."

There is however NUCLEAR AND RADIOLOGICAL SKILLS STUDY Report of the Nuclear Skills Group 5th December 2002.27 pages pdf

The deand for suitably qualified staff was calculated as follows on Page 8 (this was 6 years ago) :

1.12 - To put these figures into perspective, 15,500 graduates required by the power, fuel, defence and clean up sub-sectors over the next 15 years equates to approximately 1,000 graduates per year. Of these, 700 are replacements for retirements and 300 are a response to growth of nuclear clean up. By comparison, the sector’s 2001 graduate recruitment target was approximately 5604.

1.13 - Considering the major engineering and physical science disciplines from which these graduates must be recruited (mechanical, electrical, electronic, civil and chemical engineering, physics and chemistry), in 1994 some 18,000 students were accepted to study these subjects at Higher Education Institutes. By 2001 this figure had fallen to 13,250, a fall of 26% in eight years. Noting also that these figures do not take account of students who fail to graduate or choose an alternative career on graduation, if these trends continue, of a rising demand and a falling supply, the nuclear and radiological sector may be seeking to recruit the equivalent of 10% of all UK engineering and physical science graduates in 10 years’ time, even though the nuclear sector constitutes less than 1% of the national labour market engaged in engineering activity.

It must be remembered of course that any such study was undertaken 6 years ago and the caluclations on demand did NOT include the need to build at least 6 Nuclear power stations. Therefore the claim that " no immediate, general skills shortage" in the early part of this year was total bollocks. Shortages exacerbated by limited prospects and the repeated indecision of the Government to develop a nuclear policy.

The 2002 report also stated :

Nuclear Education in HEIs: A common view amongst employers is that they need generalist engineers and physical scientists who can be given specialist in-house training in nuclear technology. As a consequence, there is a low demand for specialist nuclear education in HEIs. This has two effects:

* The ability to deliver postgraduate nuclear education is diminishing and will be lost if corrective action is not taken.

* The ability to deliver nuclear modules in undergraduate education is diminishing; hence few undergraduate students are exposed to the challenges a career in the sector may offer.

This is Chris Vernon of Oil Drum's presentation of the future of electricity produced by nuclear power based on known output ( Hinkley and Heysham are out and will be for some time as they have an identical problem wich they don't even know how to resolve)

The 2002 report Conclusion (Page 12) should be quoted in extenso ;


2.2 The nuclear and radiological sector is a sub-sector of engineering and physical
science but, as Roberts identified: “the declining numbers of mathematics, engineering and physical science graduates is starting to result in skills shortages.” The challenge facing the nuclear and radiological sector is therefore two fold:

· To collaborate with other sectors to jointly increase the size of the engineering
and physical science skilled population; and

· To recruit those people needed by the nuclear and radiological sector from the
engineering and physical science skilled population.


2.3 Key factors that hinder recruitment and retention are:
· Short-termism : Employers tend to plan between 3 and 5 years ahead, whereas
the lead-time for skill development is often between 5 and 10 years, or more.
· Communication: The sector has a difficult communication challenge inherent
with the language used in the sector, emotional fears of the effects of the
technology and a defensive stance brought about by hostile media.
· Profile: The profile of engineering and physical sciences in general, of nuclear
and radiological technology in particular, and the state of the sector (winter, spring
etc) has a significant impact on recruitment and retention.
· Pay: Relative pay is both a disincentive to joining the sector and a lure to leave,
eg to the finance and insurance sectors. The relationship between remuneration
and attraction is not a simple one however, and issues such as status, stimulation
and career development influence people’s choice of career.
· Indecision: Potential recruits to the sector perceive an industry fraught with
indecision, which is detrimental to recruitment, eg: ‘no new build but keep the
option open’, ‘consider safe-store and defer decommissioning’, ‘long consultation
periods are necessary before commencing decommissioning’.
· Transferability: Skills developed in the nuclear and radiological sector are readily transferable to other sectors but the reverse invariably requires significant additional training. Transferability compounds recruitment and retention as skilled people can be easily redeployed, either individually or by employers, in response to perceived poor remuneration or indecision in future programmes.

Further to this grim prospect of shortage of nuclear power and nuclear engineers the Government / British Energy have just made it known , "The Board of British Energy Group plc notes the recent speculation about apossible transaction involving the Company. The Board announces that the Companyis in discussions with interested parties in the context of its future and itsplans to take a pivotal role in any new nuclear programme."

This involves the UK Government offloading some or all of their 32.5% share - which if bought could precipitate a bid for the whole company.

French State owned EDF, German power companies E.ON and RWE with little experience of nuclear power are said to be interested as is Centrica who are essentially a gas supply company although UK based.

The German news paper Die Welt have just announced RWE AG plans to offer 2.5 billion euros (US$3.9 billion £2 Bn. ) for the U.K. government's stake in British Energy Group Plc.

FOOTNOTE from Day 1 it took 15 years before terminal 4 was open for use at Heathrow. What is basically a big shed.

So go back and look at Chris Vernon's nuclear cliff and see that by 2020 we wil bwe relying upon the Hinkley and Heysham power stations which currently each have 2 reactors shut.

Lord Jenkins will get a wad of waffle about a task group is being formed across the sector to develop and implement a workforce development strategy. Which means they have done fuck all. Mainly because to teach people about nuclear power , you need teachers, they need resources - there aren't any of either and no plans to put them in place ... and as a large proportion of engineering undergraduates are from overseas, it is not unlikely that many that we would train would return to their home countries, where they are installing nuclear plants .. India, Czech Republic, Bulgaria.

UPDATE 18th March 3.15 GMT : The HSE have produced reports on their safety assessments ...as have the Department of Environment ... Tucked away in their report on Page 3 of the EDF / AREVA proposal is this little gem..

"As identified in the Government's consultation document and White Paper on nuclear power, an
'energy gap' is likely to occur in the UK between 2016 and 2022. For nuclear power to play a role in addressing this gap, generic design assessments need to be completed by 2010 – 2011 (to allow time for subsequent site-specific permitting and construction). We will work together with HSE to achieve this. The Government has established a prioritisation process so that they can recommend to the regulators which of the designs that have been through the preliminary stage of GDA should continue to the detailed assessment stage. This process is expected to be completed by May 2008.

Smells like panic is setting in.

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(C) Very Seriously Disorganised Criminals 2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 - copy anything you wish