NDA to spend billions stabilising plutonium canisters. The National Audit Office (NAO) has released a report detailing the unstable condition of highly dangerous plutonium canisters at the Sellafield nuclear plant, said to be “decaying faster than anticipated”. The report, titled ‘Progress with reducing risk at Sellafield’ warns that if these canisters were to leak it would prove an “intolerable risk” – a label defined by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) as a situation where reducing the risk “becomes the overriding factor”, taking precedence over matters of cost and requiring immediate action. The NDA has refused to comment on the number of canisters affected, though it has said it is only a “small proportion” of their total number. The UK houses 40% of global civil plutonium, the majority of which is stored at the Sellafield site in Cumbria, itself overseen by the NDA. The substance is a by-product of nuclear fuel reprocessing and the site’s abundant stock has led the NDA to label Sellafield its most hazardous facility. The new report shows Sellafield, which opened in 2012, to have ‘unsuitable’ containers for storing plutonium. The NAO has proposed the canisters be repackaged through the store retreatment plant (SRP) facility, though until this facility is ready the NDA is recommended to place the more unstable canisters in extra layers of packaging. In response to these measures, the NDA has announced its decision to pledge a further £1bn on these packaging canisters, and £1.5bn on building a new facility to house the plutonium.

Power Technology 21st June 2018 read more »

Nuclear Decommissioning Authority pledges to be more efficient. In the week when a report by the National Audit Office criticised the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority over delays in work and a £913m overspend, Kate Ellis said: “We are in the process of strengthening our approach to contracting: becoming better, more efficient, clearer, providing best value for taxpayers. “This is about getting better at awarding the contracts but also, equally importantly, making sure the work performed is in line with those contracts and the costs agreed in them.” Ms Ellis was speaking at the Nuclear Industry Association’s (NIA) Decom2018 event, in London.

Whitehaven News 21st June 2018 read more »

Posted: 22 June 2018


John Wood Group has launched an investment fund to help small businesses to develop nuclear decommissioning technology. The FTSE 250 engineering and support services provider said it would back individual projects with up to £250,000 of investment. Wood outlined how it was particularly keen to find ways to minimise human intervention in the dismantling process. Other areas it was keen on included improving productivity and optimising ways of treating waste. The nuclear decommissioning market is worth £6 billion globally and spending is likely to increase as many facilities will reach the end of their active life over the next 20 years. Bob MacDonald, chief executive of specialist technical solutions at Wood, said: “The government and nuclear decommissioning authority wants industry to deliver safer, cheaper and fa ster decommissioning. To meet this challenge, it will be necessary to deploy new or existing technologies in ingenious and innovative ways.”

Times 22nd June 2018 read more »

Energy Voice 22nd June 2018 read more »

Posted: 22 June 2018


Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s role at Sellafield is “unclear” says watchdog. National Audit Office says a review is needed.

Whitehaven News 20th June 2018 read more »

Work to reduce risk and high hazard at Sellafield has “taken an encouraging turn for the better”, the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) concludes in a report published today. Sellafield, in northwest England, is the largest and most hazardous nuclear site on the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate, accounting for 75% of the long-term cost estimate. The NAO scrutinises public spending for Parliament and is independent of government. The NDA is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The NAO report, ‘The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority: progress with reducing risk at Sellafield’, is an update to its previous report in 2015. It says: “In recent years, Sellafield Limited has met significant milestones in retrieving hazardous waste from its legacy ponds and silos. While delays and cost overruns are still evident for major projects at Sellafield, the NDA has made progress with reducing these since we last reported. However, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, UK Government Investments, the NDA and Sellafield Limited have more work to do to measure, evaluate and communicate progress more effectively,” the report says.

World Nuclear News 20th June 2018 read more »

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) notes the National Audit Office remain sharply critical of the relatively slow speed in decommissioning high hazard sites at the Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria. While the costs continue to rise, there also remain ‘intolerable’ risks on the site, which still remain to be resolved. NFLA is encouraged that some improvements have been made, but it remains highly concerned with the slow rate in dealing with the highest hazard facilities on the site. The National Audit Office (NAO) and the NFLA has been keeping a close eye on progress at Sellafield, which has been subject to much instability in recent years. This includes a damning BBC ‘Panorama’ documentary which raised a number of serious deficiencies on the site.

NFLA 20th June 2018 read more »

People from across Cumbria are showing their support ahead of International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Raising the Bar’. Thousands will be proudly holding a ‘selfie card’ to show solidarity for equality, diversity and inclusion within the engineering profession. The campaign has been supported by Copeland MP, Trudy Harrison, and Pat Graham from Copeland Borough Council, aswell as employees from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield Ltd and other companies throughout the region. Members of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC) were keen to get on board and arranged a photo opportunity at their most recent member meeting.

Cumbria Crack 20th June 2018 read more »

The article in this Telegraph article and elsewhere suggests that plutonium is classified as a waste. It is’nt, It SHOULD be, but it isn’t. This is what the NDA say about nuclear waste: “If it is assumed that the baseline inventory, as set out in the Managing Radioactive Waste White Paper (but excluding plutonium and uranium) is to be included in the (GDF) concept then the cost is in the order of £12 billion (at 2008 money values and undiscounted).”

Radiation Free Lakeland 20th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 21 June 2018


Magnox Joint Waste Management Plan (JWMP), JWMPs identify projects and activities to support the embedding and implementation of the Strategy and good practice within these organisations. JWMPs also provide a 5-year forecast of waste arisings.

LLWRLtd & MagnoxLtd 20th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 21 June 2018

Finland – radwaste

Finnish waste management company Posiva said it will soon begin the full-scale final disposal test for used nuclear fuel at the Onkalo underground characterisation facility. The test is designed to demonstrate that the final disposal process will work as planned, a condition for obtaining an operating licence for the repository under construction at Olkiluoto.

World Nuclear News 20th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 21 June 2018


Highly dangerous plutonium canisters are “decaying faster than anticipated” at the Sellafield nuclear plant and present an “intolerable risk” if they started to leak, the spending watchdog has warned. Government scientists have now agreed to spend an extra £1billion to make them safe by wrapping them in packaging, the National Audit Office said today. Britain has the largest amount of civil plutonium – a bi-product of nuclear fuel reprocessing – in the world, around 40 per cent of the global total. Most of the plutonium is stored at Sellafield in Cumbria, where it is managed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The problems have occurred because some of the plutonium canisters are judged to be “unsuitable” for storage in a new facility which only opened in 2012, the NAO said. Staff are now racing against the clock to build a new £1.5billion facility – and are having to make contingency plans for the next two years while the new depot is constructed. The NAO report – titled ‘Progress with reducing risk at Sellafield’ – said: “Some canisters that have already been transferred into modern storage will have to be repackaged through the SRP [the residue store retreatment plant] facility to ensure they do not degrade.” The report adds: “A leak from any package would lead to an ‘intolerable’ risk as defined by the Office for Nuclear Regulation. “The NDA has therefore decided to place the canisters more at risk in extra layers of packaging until SRP is operational. It has not yet submitted a new business case to support these contingency arrangements.” Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said: “In some ways it is fortunate that this failure was detected whilst the plutonium was still accessible, and the cost of patching the canisters is only £1billion. If an inaccessible deep waste dump were to fail in a similar way, who knows what the full cost might be?”

Telegraph 19th June 2018 read more »

Decommissioning the nuclear site at Sellafield faces continued delays and an overspend of up to £913 million, according to an official report. The National Audit Office (NAO) said the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) had improved its performance in delivering major projects at the site in Cumbria. But work is still predicted to be late and to cost more than originally expected, said the spending watchdog. The NDA’s nine major projects were expected to cost an additional 60% of their budget at the design stage in 2015, but this has been reduced to 29%, said the NAO. While this was a substantial improvement, it was still a forecast overspend of £913 million. The NAO reported that three projects were cancelled when £586 million had already been spent on them after the NDA said it had found a better way of delivering the work. It said Sellafield Limited has achieved £470 million in efficiency savings, but added that neither the NDA nor the company knows their make-up and admit that a proportion does not represent genuine efficiency savings. “The strategic decisions the NDA takes around prioritising activity at Sellafield could be profoundly changed and improved by a better, more evidence-based assessment of these constraints. “The NAO has found that the role of the NDA is unclear and this could put at risk the progress we are now seeing at Sellafield,” the report said. “The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s governance of the NDA is complex and not working as well as it should to support improvements at Sellafield.

Herald 20th June 2018 read more »

A government watchdog has criticised the body overseeing the Sellafield clean-up. It has recommended a review into the role of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, because it is “unclear” what it does. The report praised it for improving its performance in delivering major projects, as most delivered their work to schedule and to budget in 2017-18. But it said the NDA could not demonstrate how its current work led to progress against the long-term decommissioning “mission”. The report also identified an expected £913 million overspend and delays in clean-up projects at the West Cumbrian nuclear complex.

Carlisle News & Star 20th June 2018 read more »

£900m Sellafield decom overspend warning from National Audit Office.

Energy Voice 20th June 2018 read more »

New Civil Engineer 20th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018

US – radwaste

Michael Shellenberger: Everybody wants to do something about nuclear waste. Nuclear plant operators and most House members want to bury it in Nevada. A bipartisan group of senators wants states to compete for it. And Bill Gates and other entrepreneurs want to reuse it as fuel in next generation reactors. Almost everybody is wrong to do so. Nuclear waste has never been a real problem. In fact, it’s the best solution to the environmental impacts from energy production. Consider: Every year, the lives of seven million people are cut short by waste products in the form of air pollution from burning biomass and fossil fuels; No nation in the world has a serious plan to prevent toxic solar panel and wind turbine waste from entering the global electronic waste stream; No way of making electricity other than nuclear power safely manages and pays for any its waste. In other words, nuclear power’s waste by-products aren‘t a mark against the technology, they are its key selling point.

Forbes 19th June 2018 read more »

Friends of the Earth and 30+ other environmental and citizens groups in the US have jointly called for a science and consent-based approach to finding a GDF site, saying: “The primacy of geologic disposal as the solution for nuclear waste is consistent with more than 50 years of scientific consensus … No other solutions are technically, economically or ethically viable over the long term for the environment and human society.”

Posted: 20 June 2018


With nuclear issues leading the global political agenda, in an exclusive piece for the Responsible Science blog, based on his new book ‘Fallout: A Journey Through the Nuclear Age, From the Atom Bomb to Radioactive Waste,’ science writer Fred Pearce exposes the toxic and security risks of the UK’s growing ‘Mt Plutonium’ – 130 tons and rising of plutonium dioxide left behind by an energy technology that never took-off and is no longer wanted.

Scientists for Global Responsibility 13th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 June 2018


The far north is gradually weaning itself off its long-time dependence on Dounreay, according to a jobs creation thinktank. Local businesses are finding a greater share of work elsewhere, while new ventures are coming on stream to help replace posts being shed at the nuclear plant, the group said. The upbeat update was from Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership, which was formed 10 years ago in the wake of concern about prospects for the area as its anchor employer ran down.

Energy Voice 18th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 18 June 2018


The failure of nuclear experts and ordinary people to listen to and understand each other is the biggest barrier to solving the world’s radioactive waste problem. That’s an inescapable conclusion from a thought-provoking review of HBO’s new documentary Atomic Homefront in the latest edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist. The public lack trust in the nuclear sector. The sector seems to have an almost institutionalised inability to grasp the social, political and non-technical dimensions of public concern. This means dialogue regularly ends up like a CNN panel discussion with opposing views talking over each other and at cross purposes. A lot of energy and effort to go nowhere, and everyone repeatedly re-trenching to their respective camps, confused and exacerbated. As Britain and other countries agonisingly address how to permanently dispose of their radioactive waste, resolving this failure of dialogue becomes of paramount importance. The onus is on the nuclear and public sectors to creatively and radically review how they interact with the public. To establish the common ground required to advance this debate.

GDF Watch 13th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 18 June 2018