Tiring though it might be for readers to keep restating this list of issues for the UK (and all western democracies), unless we address them there is no way forward.
· Our democratic system.
· The demographic fact that the WWII bulge of children is now retiring.
· That UK has had over a century of ‘education for industrial and environmental decline’.
· That an ingenuity/innovation gap exists.
· The transition of control in the western companies from engineers to accountants and lawyers.
· The continuing reductionist/compliance approach to organisational management.
· Engineering contract optimism on cost and time.
· The planning regime.
Nuclear power brings into sharp focus the folly of seeing quality and sustainability as two separate rather than the two sides of the same coin.
Is Europe losing its nuclear construction skills?
12 December 2008
Work has started on Europe’s third generation of nuclear power plants. Problem is, the firms building them are finding it much harder than expected – the Finnish plant in this picture is three years late. Thomas Lane finds out what this means for the UK’s own nuclear plans……………………………
On nuclear projects, contractors have to implement designs exactly, ensure that specification is spot on and adhere to stringent quality controls on site. “Safety and quality come first,” says Petteri Tiippana, assistant director of Finnish nuclear regulator STUK. “Cost and the schedule don’t come into it. There can be no short cuts, even if some procedures might not seem reasonable.”
The trouble is that contractors lack recent experience of building to these standards or meeting regulators’ safety requirements: no nuclear power stations have been built in Europe for more than 10 years. For a start, work on site cannot begin until the design has gone through a lengthy approvals process. And when it does get going, time is lost while the detailed design of particular components is worked out. In the UK, the Nuclear Directorate, the body that licenses new plants, is trying to crack this by approving generic designs, so minimal work will be needed to approve plans for specific sites………………………………………