The Government must share the blame for the bungling of a multi-billion pound nuclear clean-up contract after failing to protect taxpayers from spiraling costs, MPs have said. In a damning report the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) accused the Government of being “culpable” in the collapse of a contract to clean up Britain’s redundant fleet of Magnox nuclear reactors. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s £6.1bn deal was aborted almost a year ago after it bungled how the 14 year contract was awarded to the Cavendish Fluor Partnership (CFP) formed by Babcock and Fluor. The botched award led to a two year High Court legal battle which effectively put taxpayers on the hook to pay £122m in compensation to companies who bid for the Magnox work but failed to get it. The committee’s report blamed the NDA for running “an overly complex procurement process” which ultimately ended nine years early. The NDA also drastically under-estimated the scale of the work needed to decommission the sites at the time it awarded the contract, the report said. The PAC said the debacle had caused “untold reputational damage” to the NDA, but it added that the Government must share the blame for approving the authority’s approach. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, the committee’s deputy chair, branded the contract “an appalling piece of mismanagement and financial waste” which had cost the taxpayer over £122m. The committee has asked the NDA to update MPs within three months on its investigation into whether it overpaid its previous contractor and, if so, how it planned to recover money.

Telegraph 28th Feb 2018 read more »

The Government has been accused of being “culpable” for failures over a nuclear clean-up contract that cost the taxpayer up to £122 million. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published a damning report into a contract to clean up the Magnox nuclear reactor and research sites. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) was accused of failing in both the procurement and management of the contract, which was awarded to the wrong bidder after an “overly complex” procurement process.

Energy Voice 28th Feb 2018 read more »

CATALOGUE of “appalling” mismanagement costing hundreds of millions of pounds in taxpayers’ cash has been revealed by an investigation into the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The NDA handed out contracts to private firms for the decommissioning of 11 ageing Magnox nuclear reactors in British power stations, including Sellafield in Cumbria and Hinkley A in Somerset.

Morning Star 28th Feb 2018 read more »

New Civil Engineer 28th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018


WOOD has been enlisted to help develop plans for a new nuclear power station in the UK which will help cement the company’s position in what it sees as a good growth market. The Aberdeen-based engineering giant will provide technical assistance for China General Nuclear Power Corporation and EDF Energy as they prepare for a preliminary regulatory assessment of the reactor proposed for Bradwell in Essex. The value of the framework agreement secured by Wood will not be known until workloads are confirmed. However, the company has made clear that it regards nuclear engineering as an attractive market at a time when the North Sea oil services industry it made its name in is under pressure.

Herald 28th Feb 2018 read more »

New Civil Engineer 28th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018

Sizewell A

Specialist scuba divers are being used for the first time at Sizewell A to help decommission the nuclear power station. The American team are helping to remove radioactive waste from the fuel storage pond. Working under water helps cut the risk of radiation for the workers. The conventional method uses remotely operated equipment to lift the whole radioactive skips clear of the water, exposing them to the air and therefore creating potential radiation risk to workers. But by using specialist divers it means the work can be one under water and the skips can be cut safer, access more awkward areas easier and make the whole process safer.

ITV 28th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018


A virtual reality tour is being offered behind the scenes at Scotland’s first nuclear power station. Visitors to the Devil’s Porridge Museum in Eastriggs can don a headset to look around the old Chapelcross site. It will allow them to see into high-security areas including the reactor control room and tritium plant. Museum chairman Richard Brodie said that although there was a village called Springfield nearby it was hopefully “nothing like” the Simpsons. The Chapelcross site, near Annan, is currently being decommissioned after its landmark cooling towers were demolished more than 10 years ago. However, its heyday is being brought back to life by the new exhibition. The virtual reality (VR) tour allows a glimpse inside the power station where vital elements were also produced for atomic bombs.

BBC 28th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018


Nuclear waste has been an intractable problem since nuclear power was invented more than 50 years ago, and for many countries it is becoming an ever more expensive and politically embarrassing issue. Not that politicians would admit this: many still argue that nuclear power is an answer to climate change, forgetting that they are passing the waste buck to future generations. To those in power the solution to the waste problem is always just around the corner, conveniently just beyond their term of office. But the history of the industry over the last four decades, across the globe, is of dozens of failed schemes. Currently the United States, France and the UK are yet again wrestling with the problem of repeated failed attempts to find a solution, as scientists warn that continued neglect of the issue is placing citizens in increasing danger. Despite this, all three countries are continuing to build nuclear power stations, potentially making the problem even worse for future generations. The prime example is the UK, which wants to build a new generation of ten nuclear stations, but has just started its sixth search for a nuclear waste dump site in 42 years.

Climate News Network 27th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018

Energy Policy

Britain still requires large-scale power plants to ensure the country’s energy system has adequate back-up supplies at times of peak demand, according to the new chief executive of Drax, the power company. The latest auction for back-up electricity generating capacity earlier this month ended with contracts awarded at prices well below those required to incentivise construction of new large-scale gas power plants. The results have sparked debate about the need for such plants at a time when renewable energy is on the increase. But Will Gardiner, Drax chief executive, said “my view is the system needs large-scale generation and flexible generation”.

FT 27th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018


The UK nuclear industry has welcomed comments in a speech by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn that after Brexit he would want the country to remain a member of Euratom, the treaty which governs the use of nuclear energy and nuclear materials in the EU. Mr Corbyn said in a policy speech on 26 February 2018 that “we will want to remain a part of agencies like Euratom, regulating nuclear materials in energy”. Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association said the UK’s civil nuclear sector has consistently said that remaining a member of Euratom after the UK leaves the European Union is its preferred option, offering continuity and predictability in an otherwise uncertain environment.

Nucnet 26th Feb 2018 read more »

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged that Labour would keep Britain in the EU internal energy market (IEM) and the Euratom nuclear co-operation treaty. In a landmark speech setting out his party’s stance on the UK’s future trading relationships following Brexit, the opposition leader said it was in Britain’s interests to remain part of Euratom. He said: “We will want to remain a part of agencies like Euratom, regulating nuclear materials in energy and health sectors.” The Labour leader also used his speech to signal Labour will seek continued UK membership of the IEM to help support the development of the low carbon energy sector. He said barrier-free trade of low carbon goods is necessary to underpin the growth of the UK’s low carbon and renewable energy sectors.

Edie 27th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018


An advert for one of Britain’s largest renewable energy suppliers has been banned for claiming the electricity it supplies emits no carbon dioxide. Good Energy’s website said in September: “An average unit of electricity in the UK (a kilowatt hour or kWh) results in 360g of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and 0.007g of radioactive waste. “But the electricity we supply contains 0g of CO2 and no radioactive waste. This will never change.” A reader, who believed that Good Energy used biomass energy, which they understood produced more CO2 than coal when burnt, complained that the company’s claim was misleading. Good Energy, which supplies around 200,000 customers, gave the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) information from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) saying biomass fuels were considered a form of renewable energy, and that renewable energy sources produced 0g/kWh of CO2 compared with coal which produced 925g/kWh. The ASA said consumers would understand Good Energy’s claim to mean that no CO2 was emitted in generating the electricity and supplying it to consumers, regardless of whether the source was a form of renewable energy.

Independent 27th Feb 2018 read more »

Energy Voice 28th Feb 2018 read more »

More than one in five energy customers are now with small and medium-sized suppliers as the “big six” see their market share fall to a record low, Ofgem figures show. Some 21% of electricity customers and 22% of gas customers were signed up with smaller suppliers in December, up from 4.7% and 5% respectively in 2013, the regulator said. The six largest energy suppliers’ market share stood at 79% for electricity and 78% for gas in December, down from 84% for both gas and electricity at the end of 2016.

Energy Voice 28th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018


A small drone is to be deployed to measure radiation levels at the damaged reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The UK-developed RISER – Remote Intelligence Survey Equipment for Radiation – has already been used successfully at Sellafield, in England.

World Nuclear News 27th Feb 2018 read more »

The Engineer 27th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018


A Russian official has admitted there were missiles aboard the Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine when it was ravaged by fire during repair work at a shipyard near Murmansk in late 2011, reviving a six year old mystery about what specific dangers faced the Russian public when the accident occurred. And while many Russian media rushed to report the official’s remarks as conclusive proof that the submarine was armed with nuclear missiles when it was swept by the blaze, it remains unclear whether they, in fact, had been topped with their warheads at the time the fire swept through the sub, injuring 19.

Bellona 27th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 28 February 2018