Martin Forwood: The UK government announced on 14 November 2018 that the THORP reprocessing plant at Sellafield has started its planned shutdown. A Sellafield Stakeholder committee was told that by 11 November 2018, THORP would have chopped up (sheared) its last batch of spent fuel, bringing to an end almost a quarter century of operation. Based on the officially published ‘annual throughput’ figures (tons reprocessed per year) collated by the environmental group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) since the plant opened in 1994, THORP has failed to meet its operational targets and schedules by a large margin. Just 5,045 tons were reprocessed in the first 10 years of operation–the 7,000 tons only being completed on 4 December 4 2012–over nine years late. Not once during the Baseload period (1994-2003) was the nominal throughput rate of 1,000 tons per year achieved.

International Panel on Fissile Materials 18th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Nuclear Costs

How much does a nuclear plant cost? Take Britain’s Hinkley Point in Somerset, currently under construction with a completion date pencilled in for some time in the late 2020s. The headline figure that is usually given? Somewhere in the region of £20bn. But that is just for construction; it is not the whole picture. Remember you do not get a penny of revenue till the plant is up and running. That means financing those construction costs for up to 10 years, during which the debt is compounding away like rabbits. Then you have decades when you are steadily servicing and paying down those loans. The cost of financing is so dominant that it can account for almost half of the costs of the project, according to the economist Dieter Helm. Which leads to a key conclusion: that if you want to constrain spending, do not just focus on the price of pressure vessels, labour or concrete. No, it is the cost of capital that you really have to drive down. Looked a t through the project’s life, the cost of financing alone is roughly four times the amount needed to build the thing. The fundamental difficulty with nuclear is there is simply no rational economic way to know how much, if any, to build. Driven by the UK’s climate commitments, it is essentially an insurance policy against no technology emerging that produces zero-carbon, reliable power much more cheaply. The opportunity cost is substantial. After all, each project ties large chunks of capacity to nuclear for decades to come. If nuclear is to have any place in the mix it must be at the lowest cost. Ideally the state would finance the construction of these assets as it could suppress returns the furthest. (The government has toyed with this at another project in Wales). The so-called RAB model is far from perfect. But if more reactors are to be constructed, their capital costs must fall dramatically. The UK cannot afford more nuclear if it comes at Hinkley rates.

FT 18th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018


A week after Toshiba decided to pull out of plans to develop a new nuclear power station in Cumrbia, Craig Hatch of WYG, believes the appetite and need for Moorside remains as strong as ever but has called for a more cohesive approach and for ministers to get better at courting possible investors. So, the NuGeneration story comes to an end with Toshiba’s announcement that it will wind up the entity early next year due to not securing a buyer. At a corporate level, the decision is understandable. The failure to ensure the development progresses, however, sheds a different light on other stakeholders within UK PLC. What’s very clear is the need and appetite for Moorside to happen. Providing 7% of the nation’s security requirements single-handedly during political instability makes it an absolute no-brainer, not to mention the fact that it is situated in a heartland of nuclear skills capability.

ACEnet 14th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Capacity Market

A European court ruling has struck down an energy subsidy scheme in the UK that paid nuclear and fossil fuel power plants to keep the lights on during hours of peak demand over greener sources of power. Business Secretary Greg Clark has moved to allay fears that energy supplies would be at risk from the ruling. Billions of pounds are paid to coal, gas and nuclear plants to be ready to provide power in the winter, with costs added to consumer bills. It is designed to ensure that power companies always make a profit in these scenarios. But Tempus Energy, which provides services to reduce demand on the grid, claimed the system discriminated against demand reduction and in favour of fossil fuels.

Engineering & Technology 16th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has recorded more than 500 safety mishaps with nuclear submarines on the Clyde since 2006 – half of them in the last four years. UK defence minister, Stuart Andrew MP, has disclosed that there have been 259 “nuclear site event reports” for Trident submarines based at Faslane over the last 12 years. Over the same period there have been 246 safety events on nuclear-powered but conventionally-armed “hunter-killer” submarines berthed or docked at the naval base. Overall 23 incidents were categorised as having a “high potential” for leaking radioactivity into the environment or within a submarine or building. Some 148 incidents were said to have a “moderate potential for future release or exposure”.

The Ferret 18th Nov 2018 read more »

The National 18th Nov 2018 read more »

SkyNews 18th Nov 2018 read more »

STV 18th Nov 2018 read more »

BBC 18th Nov 2018 read more »

Belfast Telegraph 18th Nov 2018 read more »

Times 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Old Nuclear

On November 8, UCS released The Nuclear Power Dilemma: Declining Profits, Plant Closures, and the Threat of Rising Carbon Emissions, which found that more than one-third of existing nuclear plants, representing 22 percent of total US nuclear capacity, is uneconomic or slated to close over the next decade. Without new policies, we found that if these and other marginally economic nuclear plants are closed before their operating licenses expire, the electricity would be replaced primarily with natural gas. If this occurs, cumulative carbon emissions from the US power sector could rise by as much as 6 percent at a time when we need to achieve deep cuts in emissions to limit the worst impacts of climate change. Unfortunately, some of the media coverage and statements by the nuclear industry and other groups have mischaracterized our report and our past work. Here are seven points to correct the record: The report does not promote new nuclear power plant construction. The report does not advocate for subsidies for any specific nuclear plants. Existing nuclear plants must also meet strong safety standards to be eligible for support. Not every currently operating nuclear plant should stay open. Not every nuclear plant that retires early will be replaced with fossil fuels. UCS has long recognized the role of existing nuclear plants in reducing carbon. UCS has long supported a low carbon electricity standard (LCES), but not at the expense of renewable electricity standards (RES).

UCS 16th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018


Former Senator John Edwards and his co-counsel implored a federal judge Wednesday not to dismiss claims from U.S. service members who say they were exposed to radiation while aboard U.S. ships sent to render aid after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima, Japan. “We have 500 sailors who are badly hurt and some of them are dead. We have not been able to ask them a single question under oath … at the end of the day these folks just want their day in court,” Edwards told U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino. But Sammartino said at the beginning of the nearly three-hour court hearing she was inclined to dimiss the claims against Tokyo Electric Power Co. – or TEPCO – and General Electric for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Courthouse News 14th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018


France aims to reduce the share of electricity produced by nuclear reactors to 50 percent from 75 percent now by 2035, Environment Minister Francois de Rugy said on Sunday. The French government has long outlined plans to shrink the country’s reliance on nuclear energy to 50 percent, though the deadline for that goal had remained less clear. A long-awaited government update on France’s long-term energy strategy is expected to be released later this month, setting out in greater detail how it will cut the share of nuclear in its power generation.

Reuters 18th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018


The signing of the agreement Ukraine-the United States on nuclear safety will provide America the opportunity to sell the Ukrainians their nuclear fuel. That is one of the main goals of this agreement is commercial.

Silver Post 17th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018


The independent board that provides safety oversight at the nation’s nuclear weapons labs has “recently underperformed in its essential mission,” even as a massive plan to overhaul the country’s nuclear arsenal makes the board’s job “as important today as it has ever been.”

Albuquerque Journal 17th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018