Readers will know of the high esteem in which we hold Chris 'Crapper' Huhne. Join us, then, in our devout hope that his visit this week to Hinkley Point hasn't injured his health.
For this is the site of one of EDF's recently-acquired nukes (Hinkley 'B'), and also where they intend to build Hinkley 'C' (this year, next year, some time, never). 'A' was a grotty old Magnox reactor, decommissioned in 2000.
As part of its preparation for the new plant, EDF commissioned engineering firm AMEC to carry out a survey of radioactivity at the site surrounding the existing plant. The survey & data are in the public domain, and have been independently assessed by one Prof Chris Busby, whose conclusions are potentially alarming for the citizens of Somerset (including some of this blog's nearest, dearest, and good friends).
He reckons that the radiation there exceeds background levels for that part of the world; and that the readings indicate the presence of rather a lot of enriched uranium - which doesn't occur in nature. The only obvious source would be Hinkley 'B' (which uses enriched uranium, whereas 'A' didn't). But how would it have got into the ground outside the power plant ?
Well I certainly don't know. 'A' and 'B' both had their share of leaks and accidents over the years - past standards were pretty lax - but large amounts of enriched uranium would seem unlikely. We should also note that Prof Busby is by no means uncontroversial, & that's putting it mildly.
The immediate responses from EDF and the Environment Agency have been just bluster, but one imagines they will be scurrying around behind the scenes to come up with a proper answer to the prima facie case made by Busby.
In the meantime, let's all hope Huhne hasn't been harmed, eh ? (& not forgetting the population of West Somerset). Ironically, Huhne has just signalled a significant increase in the cap on cleanup liabilities for nuclear generators: his EDF hosts will be hoping they aren't the first to wear this new £1 billion cap.