Flamanville

The French state-owned group building Britain’s new £18 billion nuclear plant faced a further setback yesterday when it was ordered to replace a key component on a similar reactor under construction in France. The decision by France’s nuclear watchdog threw a renewed spotlight on to growing safety concerns at the heart of the French atomic industry. A report by the Nuclear Safety Authority pinpointed an “anomaly in the chemical composition” of the vessel at the European pressurised reactor being built by EDF in Flamanville. The nuclear authority said that the flaw – a problem with the carbon concentration in the steel – would not prevent the reactor from coming on stream next year as planned. The ruling was a relief to EDF, which had feared a further delay to a project that is running six years behind schedule and 7 billion euros over budget. However, the watchdog said: “The anomaly . . . entails a reduction in the margins with respect to the fast fracture risk.” It said that the vessel closure head would have to be replaced by 2024. Anticipating the ruling, EDF is understood to have ordered a replacement at a cost of several hundred million euros. EDF was also ordered to carry out regular inspections on the reactor vessel bottom.

Times 29th June 2017 read more »

A group of experts at the French nuclear safety authority have cleared EDF’s Flamanville 3 nuclear reactor to start as planned next year – despite weak spots in its steel. The group’s non-binding recommendation will be used by the safety authority, the ASN, to formulate a final ruling on October. But the decision makes it likely the reactor will get the final green light. Completion of the next-generation reactor had been thrown into doubt after the discovery in 2015 of weak spots in the steel prompted an extensive safety review by the ASN. The stakes are high for French nuclear groups EDF and Areva because it would cost billions of euros to fix if the ASN had ruled that the steel was too brittle. The sign off by the ASN is also a European Commission pre condition for approving EDF’s planned takeover of Areva’s reactor business. The group of experts did recommend, however, that EDF put in place a new reactor cover by 2024.

FT 28th June 2017 read more »

On 28th June 2017, ASN presented its position regarding the Flamanville EPR reactor pressure vessel anomaly. ASN relied on the analysis of the files transmitted by Areva NP and EDF, carried out by its nuclear pressure equipment department and its technical support organisation IRSN, and on the opinion of its Advisory Committee for nuclear pressure equipment. On the basis of the technical analyses carried out, ASN considers that the mechanical characteristics of the pressure vessel bottom head and closure head are adequate with regard to the loadings to which these parts are subjected, including accident situations. However, the anomaly in the chemical composition of the steel entails a reduction in the margins with respect to the fast fracture risk. ASN therefore considers that EDF must implement additional periodic inspections to ensure that no flaws appear subsequently. ASN observes that such inspections can be performed on the vessel bottom head and therefore considers that they must be implemented. However, the technical feasibility of similar inspections on the pressure vessel closure head is not established. ASN therefore considers that the use of the closure head must be limited in time. It notes that it would take about seven years to manufacture a new closure head, which could thus be available by the end of 2024. In these conditions, ASN considers that the current closure head shall not be operated beyond that date.

ASN 28th June 2017 read more »

The IRSN and the Nuclear Pressure Equipment Directorate (DEP) of the ASN conclude from their joint investigation of the dossier submitted by Areva NP that if the suitability for the lid and bottom of the EPR reactor vessel Flamanville is demonstrated, in-service monitoring arrangements must be implemented. At this stage, the feasibility of these checks appears to have been acquired for the bottom of the tank, the same is not true for the lid.

IRSN 28th June 2017 read more »

The Nuclear Safety Authority (NSA) is under unprecedented pressure from EDF and AREVA. This unprecedented situation shows that ASN’s decision is no longer limited to nuclear safety: it has become a political one. What do EDF and AREVA want to do? Derogating from the most basic standards of nuclear safety so that the Flamanville EPR is put into operation despite its defective parts. Behind the authorization of this tank of the EPR, it is indeed the survival of the French nuclear industry is at stake. Indeed, EDF and AREVA play a big part in the EPR in Flamanville. The decisions that will be taken on this site will have far-reaching consequences for the future of the projects sold in the United Kingdom, Finland and China. We appeal to the responsibility of Nicolas Hulot, Minister of Ecological and Solidarity Transition and in charge of nuclear safety. The ASN can no longer take a safety decision independently and cannot resist the pressure. As for us French citizens, we do not have to pay the price of strategic and technical errors of EDF and AREVA. By putting an end to the Flamanville shipyard, Nicolas Hulot can still avoid it.

Greenpeace 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017

Moorside

South Korea’s largest power company is in talks with Toshiba to prop up its plans to build Europe’s largest new nuclear plant in the UK. Jong-hyuck Park, an executive from Kepco, confirmed the group’s interest in buying a stake of the embattled Moorside nuclear project on the sidelines of an industry event, but said Kepco would want to use its own reactor design. A deal with Toshiba, the last remaining group behind the NuGeneration venture, could rescue the £10bn project. But a change in reactor design would also derail the 2025 start date by at least two years in a further blow to the UK’s new nuclear ambitions.

Telegraph 28th June 2017 read more »

A senior executive of the Korean company long-rumoured to be interested in Cumbria’s proposed nuclear new build has said the firm will be a “long-term partner” in the project. Jong-hyuck Park, the chief nuclear officer of Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) confirmed the company was in discussions with Toshiba to buy into Nugen. Mr Park was also keen to stress that discussions are “at an early stage”. Rumours about Kepco becoming involved in the Moorside project started circulating last year. They gathered pace this year after Toshiba expressed “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue as a going concern because it is forecast to make a multi-billion pound loss for the last financial year. Business Secretary Greg Clark has visited South Korea in 2017 and it was reported that Kepco was one of the companies he visited on this trip. One sticking point in Kepco becoming involved in the Moorside project has been thought to be that the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor has been earmarked for use in the completed plant. Kepco uses a different technology, of its own design and manufacture. This may not pose a challenge now after NuGen announced a “strategic review” of Moorside, which has included a look into twhat technology is used in the project.

Whitehaven News 28th June 2017 read more »

Kepco, the South Korean power company, says it is closing in on a deal to rescue Moorside amd install its own reactor technology. Park Jong-hyuck, chief nuclear officer of Kepco, confirmed at a nuclear industry conference that his company was in negotiations with Toshiba about buying “some shares” in its NuGen subsidiary, which is developing the Moorside project. Kepco’s interest was called into question by the election of Moon Jae-in as South Korean president last month, because he has vowed to wind down the country’s domestic nuclear industry. Nevertheless, Mr Park made clear in his remarks to UK nuclear leaders on Wednesday that Kepco remained committed to selling its reactor technology overseas. He said Kepco intended to submit its APR1400 reactor to the UK’s Office of Nuclear Regulation for review early in 2018 – starting an approval process that typically lasts four years. This would pave the way for Korean-led construction of Moorside with an aim of generating electricity by the late 2020s.

FT 28th June 2017 read more »

South Korea’s nuclear shares took a hit from the new government’s anti-nuclear policy, a day after president Moon Jae-in decided to suspend construction of two partially built nuclear reactors. Mr Moon said on Tuesday the construction of Shin Kori No 5 and Shin Kori No 6 in Busan, the country’s second-largest port city, would be halted for three months, during which the government would seek views from the public on their future. Shares of Kepco, the state-run utility at the forefront of the country’s efforts to export nuclear reactors, fell 1.8 per cent while those of Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, which is leading a consortium to build the two nuclear reactors, dropped 4.4 per cent. The suspension of the construction of the two reactors – wi th about one-third of construction already finished – came after Mr Moon pledged to stop building nuclear reactors, with the goal of making the county nuclear free by 2060. Kepco had been seen by industry experts as the only potential acquirer of the bankrupt US nuclear power plant builder Westinghouse because of security reasons. But experts caution the political shift on nuclear energy will probably discourage the state-run company from pursuing any attempt to buy Westinghouse. Kepco has not ruled out buying Westinghouse but said on Wednesday it was mulling how the government’s changed nuclear stance may affect its bid. Kepco is in talks to join a UK consortium called NuGen that is using Westinghouse’s technology to build a new nuclear power station in Cumbria, England. “It would be difficult for the state-run company to even raise the possibility of bidding for Westinghouse, when the government sees nuclear energy as a doomed industry,” said Suh Kyun-ryul, professor of atomic engineering at Seoul National University.

FT 28th June 2017 read more »

Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) is in talks to buy a stake in Toshiba’s NuGen nuclear project in Britain, a KEPCO executive said on Wednesday, a move that could throw the troubled project a life-line but also delay its start. The South Korean firm would want to use its own nuclear reactor design for the British project, Park said, which would likely delay its start date.

Reuters 28th June 2017 read more »

A peer has urged the government to come up with new funding methods for nuclear new builds, including the county’s proposed £10bn Moorside development. Lord Hutton of Furness – a former MP for Barrow who was Defence Secretary under Tony Blair and is now chairman of trade body the Nuclear Industry Association – said it was important to look at the financial models for such projects. He made the comments at a conference on nuclear new builds, which will discuss plans for a development at Moorside, near Sellafield, tomorrow. NuGen, the company behind the west Cumbrian project, Westinghouse, which is set to supply the three AP1000 reactors it will use, and Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), which have expressed an interest in buying into the scheme, are all due to give presentations at the event in London, which has been organised by the NIA. They come following the publication last week of a report into the funding of the Hinkley Point nuclear new build in Somerset by the National Audit office, which described the government’s deal for the scheme as “risky and expensive”. Hinkley Point is being built by EDF, with a stake from Chinese state-owned investor CGN.

North West Evening Mail 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017

Bradwell

A CAMPAIGN group has described process used to dissolve the FEDs at Bradwell as an “outrage” and an “insult”. Members of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) had their say on the process which saw radioactive waste dissolved in acid at the site. Chairman, Andy Blowers said: “It is nothing short of an outrage and an insult to the Blackwater environment and communities that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) persisted despite all the signs that dissolution with nitric acid was a failing technology.” BANNG Secretary, Varrie Blowers added: “The NDA obviously believes that the end justified the chaotic means. While FED dissolution may not have finished, it is hard to imagine that anyone can think that the FED at Bradwell has been dealt with successfully, given all the operational difficulties and the outages experienced.” BANNG believe the reason the process has now been completed is because of the re-characterisation of the waste, rather than it being fully dealt with. They point to only one third of Intermediate Level Waste being treated, as opposed to the full amount, with two thirds being reclassified as Low Level Waste. Barry Turner, Vice-Chair of BANNG, said: “The Bradwell FED dissolution plant has turned out to be an expensive one-off and has been used to dissolve only one-third of the waste and not the originally expected 100 per cent.”

Clacton & Frinton Gazette 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017

Energy Policy

The UK government must “urgently” deliver plans showing how it intends to both tackle and prepare for climate change. This is the key message within the latest annual progress report published today by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the government’s official climate advisers.

Carbon Brief 29th June 2017 read more »

A decentralised energy system, more ambitious renewable energy targets and a stronger low-carbon heat and transport policy are all listed in the second part of edie’s feature exploring the most critical areas of green policy that Theresa May’s new Government must prioritise.

Edie 28th June 2017 read more »

Ofgem has announced its decision on how to pay for embedded generation, which is to accept its March ‘minded to’ decision. This is the latest stage in what is known as the embedded generation saga – explained earlier. IGov deplores this latest Ofgem decision. As IGov has argued before, we think that Ofgem should not take this narrow decision about embedded benefits now but wait until a clear decision on the institutional needs of GB energy system transformation has been clarified – including a decision on the methodology to be used when valuing distributed energy resources (DER) . As the reset the reset blog argued, GB is making too many decisions from too many policy statements and too many Consultations without a coherent institutional framework for them to fit into. This is leading to non-joined-up energy policy making, and this latest decision by Ofgem is just one more of those unhelpful decisions.

IGov 28th June 2017 read more »

Household energy bills and carbon emissions will rise unless ministers devise new policies to save power, a report says. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) confirms that bills and emissions have been forced down since 2008 by EU energy efficiency rules. Appliances like fridges, freezers and boilers are now designed to use less energy for the same work. Ministers say they will make new energy efficiency policy in the Autumn. But the government’s critics point out that its Clean Growth plan for an efficient low-carbon society is already many months behind schedule. The CCC says the UK must shift much more swiftly towards electric cars to reduce carbon and tackle local air pollution. It also says a strategy is urgently needed to insulate millions of homes and create new forms of heating that don’t foul the air or crank up climate change. The report’s finding on home energy bills will surprise people amidst allegations of energy company profiteering and fears that many households find energy prices too high. It confirms that although the cost per unit of electricity and gas has indeed risen, household bills have fallen thanks to EU and UK efficiency standards which forced engineers to design appliances that use less energy. It says since 2008, when the Climate Change Act was introduced, electricity demand is down 17% (despite all our gadgets) and gas demand is 23% lower, thanks to better insulation and UK rules on improved boilers.

BBC 28th June 2017 read more »

A key Government advisory body has called for an electric vehicle boom to help meet legally binding climate targets. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent advisory body, has urged the Government to set a target that electric vehicles should make up at least 60pc of new cars and vans sold in the UK by the end of the next decade. The drive should include financial support, tax incentives and a strategy to roll out electric vehicle charging infrastructure as well as tougher emissions standards on new car sales beyond 2020, the committee said.

Telegraph 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017

New Nuclear

On the Saturday 17th June CND hosted a successful and significant anti-nuclear power conference, No Need for Nuclear: The Renewables are Here at Conway Hall in central London. With over 150 attendees of all ages, and 17 speakers including academics, MPs and activists, the conference was a great success. The conference started with a video message from Caroline Lucas MP, currently representing Parliamentary CND in New York at negotiations on a nuclear ban treaty. The remainder of the conference was broken into 4 sections: What’s wrong with Nuclear power? and The Politics of Nuclear Power followed by UK Energy Demand, Energy Supply, and The Renewables after lunch.

CND 28th June 2017 read more »

Decisions about nuclear energy require honest and open conversation, informed by up-to-date information. Especially as nuclear power could play an important role in reducing greenhouse gasses and be a viable alternative to fossil fuels. That’s according to ‘Making Sense of Nuclear’ a new public guide launching today (Wednesday 28thJune). Sense About Science produced the guide with input from leading experts from the nuclear industry and academia. These include The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, Imperial College London, National Nuclear Laboratory, the Institute of Physics and Energy for Humanity. The guide explains what we know about nuclear energy, how that knowledge has changed in recent years and the impact it has had on the debate around nuclear energy. Professor Francis Livens, Director of the University’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, said: ‘The nuclear industry and government nuclear programmes have in the past been quite secretive and closed. And while that has improved, up-to-date information about the sector must continue to be made available. We need it to inform discussions about alternatives to oil, gas and coal.’

Manchester University 28th June 2017 read more »

David Robert Grimes: Fears about nuclear energy run deep: the 1986 Chernobyl disaster remains a towering linchpin in anti-nuclear narratives, presented as an irrefutable case that nuclear energy is inherently unsafe. These claims are so profoundly entrenched that it is almost accepted as common knowledge that the Chernobyl disaster killed thousands. Yet, as I’ve written here before, these claims do not stand up to scrutiny and persist in the face of report after report to the contrary. Years of subsequent investigation place the death toll of the disaster at approximately 43 people, with deleterious health effects failing to materialise at any appreciable rate. That this information is surprising to many is indicative of quite how polarised the discussion on such a vital topic has been. Much of the reason for this is ideological – Greenpeace is but one organisation that has been criticised for releasing misleading anti-nuclear information, claiming that up to 200,000 deaths are attributable to Chernobyl. This figure has been roundly debunked, but predictably strikes fear into the public conscience, encouraging panic in place of reason. The more recent 2011 Fukushima disaster has been become a similar focus for nuclear panic, despite the fact that no one has died nor is ever likely to from this event. The spectre of the plant looms so large in the public consciousness that we have seemingly forgotten that the cause of the meltdown was a massive tsunami that claimed about 16,000 lives, itself potentially exacerbated by climate change. There is a dark irony then in the fact that the ensuing kneejerk reaction led to the closure of Germany’s nuclear plants and their replacement with heavily polluting coal plants.

Guardian 28th June 2017 read more »

New nuclear power plants are needed to meet the world’s rising demand for electricity, according to the director general of the World Nuclear Association. Speaking in London County Hall at the Nuclear Industry Association’s Nuclear New Build 2017 conference, Agneta Rising said progress had been good in recent years – particularly in countries such as China and India – but more was needed. “The level of new build remains high, with 61 reactors under construction at the end of 2016,” she said. “But the pace of new construction starts must accelerate to provide the reliable electricity needed to support global economic growth.” According to the World Nuclear Association’s annual performance report, 2016 was a bumper year, with more than 9 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity added worldwide. This represents the largest annual increase for more than 25 years.

IMech 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017

Cybersecurity

The computer systems at at least one nuclear power plant have been successfully targeted by hackers. Federal officials are said to be looking into the breach, which was first reported on Tuesday by the energy industry website, E&E News. It is not known which facility was hacked. ‘US authorities are investigating a cyber intrusion affecting multiple nuclear power generation sites this year,’ the report stated. Despite the security breach, which is being called ‘Nuclear 17’, there is no evidence whoever was behind the intrusions was able to gain access to any particularly sensitive or operational systems.

Daily Mail 28th June 2017 read more »

A new form of ransomware called Petya has swept the globe affecting the likes of advertising firm WPP, shipping company Maersk and even the Chernobyl nuclear plant . It’s the second high-profile ransomware attack this year following the widely-reported WannaCry ransomware attack that crippled the NHS in May.

Mirror 28th June 2017 read more »

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is the first government department to launch a five year sector cyber security strategy. This sets expectations for industry, government, and regulators in light of increasing cyber threats and significant technological change. It specifies how risks will be addressed, by whom, when and how success is to be measured. It is transformational, and has substantial implications for the nuclear sector, particularly in the supply chain. Learn more about the strategy and other developments from DBEIS, ONR, NDA, CPNI and the National Cyber Security Centre.

Process & Control 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017

Westinghouse

The White House has not ruled out providing government support for Westinghouse, the bankrupt US nuclear group, as the Trump administration works to ensure that the US remains a force in the nuclear industry. A senior White House official said the administration is holding regular discussions about Westinghouse since the company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in March. Officials are trying to find a buyer for Westinghouse to ensure it does not fall into Chinese or Russian hands, but the White House is aware that without an acceptable private-sector solution the group may need government help to remain under US control.

FT 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017

Fukushima

Three former executives of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s operator stand trial this week on the only criminal charges laid in the 2011 disaster, as thousands remain unable to return to homes near the shuttered nuclear plant. The hearing on Friday comes more than a year after ex-Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 77, and former vice presidents Sakae Muto, 66, and Ichiro Takekuro, 71, were formally charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury. The indictments are the first — and only — criminal charges stemming from the tsunami-sparked reactor meltdowns at the plant.

Japan Today 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017

Russia

The first shipment of used nuclear fuel assemblies from Russian nuclear submarines has left the former base of the Russian Northern Fleet at Andreeva Bay. Over 20,000 used fuel assemblies are to be retrieved, packed and removed from the site under an international initiative financed by the Nuclear Window of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP), which is administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

World Nuclear News 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017

Germany

Highly radioactive waste from a nuclear plant has been transported for the first time on a river in Germany. Protesters managed to temporarily halt the ship after they rappelled down from a bridge over the Neckar River. Protesters hanging from ropes on a bridge over a river in southern Germany managed to temporarily stop a ship carrying nuclear waste on Wednesday, police in the state of Baden-Württemberg said. A special ship carrying three containers filled with highly radioactive waste from a closed nuclear power plant set sail on the Neckar River early on Wednesday morning. It was the first time that nuclear waste has been transported on a river in Germany.

Deutsche Welle 28th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 June 2017