SONE Newsletter 291 – November 2023

Posted by Wade Allison on 1 November 2023 in Newsletters

Tagged with: AGM, Essay competition, Great British Nuclear, Health Physics Society, House of Lords, Jubilee, SMR.

This month

SONE Silver Jubilee Celebrations, House of Lords, 27th October

Members, friends, players and active voices in the UK nuclear sphere gathered in the Cholmondeley Room at the House of Lords overlooking the Thames.

Lord Cunningham of Felling, Patron of SONE and our host for the evening, welcomed us with words of support for nuclear energy, recalling that he was MP for Whitehaven/Sellafield from 1970 to 2005.

Neville Chamberlain, Chairman, welcomed the younger guests, including the winners and contributors to the Silver Jubilee competition. He then invited a number of speakers who gave short personal contributions in support of nuclear energy:

  • Marie Zabell, as a Committee Member and mother of teenage daughters,
  • Tony Roulstone, as a senior academic engineer at Cambridge,
  • Zion Lights, as a vocal but reformed environmentalist,
  • Johnny Ball, as an entertaining science broadcaster,
  • Tom Greatrix, as head of the Nuclear Industries Association,
  • Wade Allison, as SONE Secretary, thanked the speakers and argued for regulatory reform.

Unfortunately, because the House was not sitting, no MPs were present, but their ears should have been burning, for there was plenty of illuminating discussion which should have interested them!

[Photos are thanks to Fiona Reilly. Her posting on LinkedIn, with those of Zion Lights and MoltexFlex, drew many positive reactions and comments. Further appreciation came by email and WhatsApp. Evidently, the event hit the target.]

The Health Physics Society Tells Truth to Power in the USA

When a cost goes sky high, the message is usually simple - something is wrong. Rather than continuing to pay, it is sensible to stop and ask searching questions to find out what.

In the USA, as in the UK, vast sums are earmarked for “nuclear clean up”. The legacy waste at Hanford, Washington State, is much greater than that at Sellafield. But until now, fundamental questions have not been asked. They should be.

On 7 June 2023 Dr John Cardarelli, then-President of the Health Physics Society (his term of office at HPS has now expired), wrote a letter to both sides of the US Congress and to the Administration. His letter was supported by seven previous presidents of HPS. A copy can be read here:

Its subject:

Request for an oversight investigation to ensure that the latest science is incorporated into the radiation protection standards for low-dose environments.

This is about LNT and ALARA, the basis of the extremely cautious regulation of ionising radiation that dates from the 1950s. It is responsible for the exceptional costs and delays that weigh down the prospects for nuclear energy. Regrettably, up until now the administration in other nations around the world have followed the example of the USA. However, SONE has written to Dr Cardarelli in support, and Wade Allison has submitted a 10,000 word article for publication that examines the question, scientifically and socially. Further progress will be posted in later newsletters.

October 2, UK Government announces six competitors for first SMR

EDF, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy International LLC, Holtec Britain Limited, NuScale Power, Rolls Royce SMR and Westinghouse Electric Company UK Limited are now to be invited to bid for UK government contracts in the next stage of the process. The six were “the most able to deliver operational SMRs by the mid-2030s”. The announcement said that in Spring 2024 it will be decided which of the six companies the government will support, with contracts to be awarded by Summer 2024.

Gwen Parry-Jones, CEO of Great British Nuclear said: “For companies who were not successful in this initial process, the next opportunity could be the government’s consultation on alternative routes to market for nuclear technologies which is due to be launched soon. This will look at how to support newer technologies so that Britain can benefit from them as well.” So, the more advanced designs should not be far behind.

And another UK competitor, Newcleo

Lead cooled, atmospheric pressure, fast neutron spectrum and high temperature – that makes it a really interesting design. Questions include corrosion, but enthusiasm is assured .
No doubt we will hear more. It seems to be agreed that the most exciting time to develop a new reactor is now, and one of the best places to do it is in the UK.

Green light for Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment

And progress for another fast neutron design. The UK interest is with Chiswick-based COREPOWER, who look to this development for maritime use.

The world’s first test of a fast-spectrum, salt-fuelled reactor design is set to go ahead in the US, another huge step forward in bringing a unique new molten salt Generation IV reactor design to market. The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will test a Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) developed by a consortium involving TerraPower, Southern Company, CORE POWER and others. It is scheduled to run for approximately six months, after which it will be decommissioned, according to the Office of Nuclear Energy at the US Department of Energy (DOE). The project now has a green light after the DOE completed an environmental assessment in August, and on October 19 confirmed a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the design, construction, operation and subsequent decommissioning of the MCRE the at INL. It forms part of the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) and is partly funded by a Risk Reduction award announced in late 2020 to a team led by Southern Company to design, build, and test the MCRE at INL. Southern Company and TerraPower have partnered with CORE POWER, Orano Federal Services, and 3M for “technical cost share support” for MCRE.

Meanwhile the shipping industry is reported to be keenly watching their technical tests with molten salt:

Donald Avery (1926-2023)

Donald Avery was a distinguished player in the nuclear fuel world who passed away on 4th August. An obituary contributed by his son is posted here:



Held at The Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, St James’s, London SW1Y 5EW

Monday 16th October 2023 at 2pm

Present: Wade Allison, John Assheton, Johnny Ball, Laetitia Cash, Neville Chamberlain, Chris Cockcroft, Heather Eggins, Philip Foster, Judy McAlpine, Richard Ollington, Paul Spare, Marie Zabell,
Harry Anders, Ruben Davies, Jacob Dawson, Terdoo Osu,
John Ingham, (and guests of Essay writers: Dan Davies, Natasa Jandric, Adijat Ganiyu)

  1. The Chairman, Neville Chamberlain, welcomed all present to the AGM and thanked Heather Eggins for sponsoring the meeting in the impressive library at the Reform Club in memory of Professor Jack Simmons.

  2. Apologies for absence were received from Charlotte Assheton, John Brenner, Lord Clitheroe, Peter Havercan, Ian McFarlane, Robert Maclachlan, Barrie Yates.

  3. The Minutes of the previous Annual General Meeting held on October 17, 2022 (and circulated with the agenda) were accepted.

  4. There were no Matters Arising

  5. (Wade Allison took the chair for this item) Neville Chamberlain was re-elected Chairman of SONE for the year 2023/24 and a Director (nem con)

  6. (Neville Chamberlain, as re-elected Chairman, resumed the Chair.)
    Wade Allison was re-elected Honorary Secretary and a Director for 2023/24, and
    Robert MacLachlan was elected Honorary Treasurer and a Director for 2023/24.

  7. The following were re-elected to the Committee for the year 2023/24:
    Neville Chamberlain, Wade Allison, John Assheton, Robin Smith, Paul Spare, Robert Maclachlan, Peter Havercan and Marie Zabell.

  8. The address of SONE was changed to: Southfields, Ludgershall, Aylesbury HP18 9PB

  9. The Directors’ Annual Report for 2022/23, previously circulated to all members by email, was approved by the Meeting.

  10. The Accounts for 2022/23, previously circulated to all members with the agenda, were approved by the Meeting.

  11. The opportunity was given for members to raise any other relevant matters of concern.

  12. There was no other formal business.

  13. The Chairman announced the winners of the essay competition for young people organised to mark the 25th Anniversary of the founding of SONE in June 1998.

    1. The Sir Bernard Ingham Prize for contestants up to age 38 was presented to Harry Anders by John Ingham.

    2. The Sir William McAlpine Prize for contestants at school was presented to Ruben Davies by Lady McAlpine.

    3. The Chairman thanked Lady McAlpine for sponsoring the prizes.

    4. It was announced that the winning essays have been posted at

    5. An enthusiastic presentation on the history and benefits of nuclear power was given by Johnny Ball. This led into a spirited discussion by all present, including the essayists.

  14. The meeting closed at 4pm.

Wade Allison, Hon. Sec.
28 October 2023