News

Bradwell

As the government’s nuclear programme falls apart and as rising seas threaten nuclear plants, Andy Blowers asks the question in the February 2019 edition of Regional Life magazine. Over the past few months there have been two global developments which may, sooner or later, determine the fate of the new nuclear power station at Bradwell. One is the problem of securing investment for high cost, long term projects which involve technological and financial risk. The other is the incontestable evidence of accelerating global warming and the risks it poses to nuclear plant, especially those in coastal locations. In the circumstances of rising costs and rising sea levels can the Bradwell project survive or is it ultimately doomed? If it is ever built the power station would produce electricity until the end of the century but, thereafter, the wastes would remain on site for an indeterminate period. It is assumed, at some point, in the latter part of the next century, the wastes will be carted off to a repository. By that time the site and its defences would be utterly overwhelmed. It is really like throwing loads of dangerous rubbish into a bathtub that eventually overflows. And, as global warming wreaks havoc on our coastline, it will not be possible to turn off the tap. It may be the developer has already discovered through recent investigations that the site is unsuitable. Perhaps, the regulators will conclude that the project is unsafe at such a site. Or, the Government might now, at the eleventh hour, strike Bradwell from its list.

BANNG 13th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019

Radwaste

We were surprised to read in a Whitehaven News article, that the Copeland councillor, David Moore, who is responsible for the borough’s position on nuclear matters, appears not to have understood how the new search process for a site to bury the nation’s nuclear waste will work. He states: “They [landowners] are obliged at some point to ask for local authority support, but they can still take it forward without local authority support” In fact that is not correct. Landowners can form a Working Group to have initial discussions without a relevant principal local authority, but they cannot form a Community Partnership without one, and therefore the process will be halted at an early stage without local authority support. The Working with Communities framework published in December 2018 states: “In order for the Community Partnership to form and operate, at least one relevant principal local authority must agree to participate.” In addition, what David Moore fails to mention is that while a landowner, or a parish council can volunteer for the process, once the relevant local authority has joined, the landowner or parish becomes powerless to withdraw.

Cumbria Trust 17th Feb 2019 read more »

Concerns over the possible location of a nuclear waste dump in the Mourne and Slieve Gullion mountains was expressed by councillors at the Municipal District of Dundalk meeting last week. Cllr Mark Dearey noted that the Mourne area had been identified by the UK authorities as being suitable for the long term depositary of nuclear waste due to its granite mountains. It was one of a number of sites identified as being geologically suitable for the underground storage of nuclear waste. ‘The local authority would have to agree to be a host,’ he said. He felt that ‘the prospect of any local authority agency agreeing to be host is so close to zero’ so that it was case for vigilance but not alarm.’ Newry and Mourne Council had passed a proposal that they would not host a nuclear dump and were calling on all ten local authorities in Northern Ireland to do the same.

Irish Independent 16th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019

Energy Policy

The Green New Deal has taken US politics by storm, propelled into the mainstream by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement. Inspired by its transatlantic traction, members of the British climate and labour movements came together to discuss what building a Green New Deal through the UK Labour party might look like. Organised by Labour Energy Forum and co-hosted by Momentum and Imperial College Labour Students, this is what we learned: Climate Change is a class issue; Only structural solutions will do; Labour’s Climate Policy is better than you think; Only Labour can deliver a Green New Deal; Even progressive politicians need pressure from below; There’s no Green New Deal without trade unions.

Bright Green 15th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019

Chernobyl

The Chernobyl cover-up: Chilling book reveals how Soviets knew for 10 YEARS that the reactor which blew a mile-high plume of radioactive dust across Europe was an accident waiting to happen. In the three decades since the explosion, thousands of people are thought to have died of various cancers, with the estimates ranging from 4,000 upwards to – according to some projections – hundreds of thousands. After years of work in archives around the world and interviews with scores of eyewitnesses, I have pieced together what really happened on that April night and in the terrible days that followed. There were many episodes of selflessness and courage. But the destruction at Chernobyl revealed the incompetence, corruption and moral decay that ultimately helped destroy the USSR from within. The immediate causes were design flaws and a series of human errors made within the space of just a few terrifying minutes. In some circumstances, the reactors built at Chernobyl were susceptible to a runaway chain reaction – the same process at the heart of an atomic bomb. Indeed, there had already been a partial meltdown in Leningrad in 1975, where a confidential study made it clear that accidents were not merely possible, they were terrifyingly likely – even in the course of day-to-day operations.

Daily Mail 17th Feb 2019 read more »

Irish Independent 17th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019

Fukushima

There is growing interest among foreign tourists for a tour in English to former evacuation zones in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Fukushima where a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 triggered a nuclear disaster. “More people are becoming interested in going on the tour that can deepen their knowledge,” explains an official at the Japan National Tourism Organization.

Kyodo News 17th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019

US

Wall Street Is More Than Willing to Fund the Green New Deal. The plan’s greatest flaw, critics say, is that it would be too costly. Ocasio-Cortez advocates deficit spending, and she’s floated a 70 percent marginal tax rate for high earners that would generate some of the necessary revenue. But those worried about where the rest of the money will come from are forgetting one major, surprisingly enthusiastic player: Wall Street. Investors are more than willing to put up the capital to fund GND goals—which include switching to 100 percent renewable or clean power in 10 years, building a nationwide energy grid, and renovating existing buildings for energy efficiency—provided they get clarity from Congress, says Jon Powers, president of financial technology company CleanCapital and former federal chief sustainability officer under President Obama.

Bloomberg 14th Feb 2019 read more »

The Department of Justice announced today that the United States has filed suit against CB&I AREVA MOX Services LLC (MOX Services) and Wise Services Inc. under the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Act in connection with a contract between MOX Services and the National Nuclear Security Administration relating to the design and operation of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) at the NNSA Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina. MOX Services is a South Carolina Limited Liability Corporation with headquarters in Aiken, South Carolina. Wise Services, which subcontracted with MOX Services, is an Ohio corporation with headquarters in Dayton, Ohio. Under the MOX Contract, MOX Services agreed to design, build, operate (and ultimately decommission) the MFFF. The MFFF is designed to transform weapons-grade plutonium into mixed oxide fuel rods that may be irradiated in commercial nuclear power plants. In performing the MOX Contract, MOX Services entered into a series of subcontracts with Wise Services between 2008 and 2016. Each of these subcontracts provided for Wise Services to supply labor, materials, equipment, and supervision for unplanned construction activities (e.g. general labor, plumbing, electrical, carpentry) deemed necessary to support MOX Services’ efforts at the MFFF. The government’s complaint alleges that Wise Services falsely claimed reimbursement under its subcontracts with MOX Services for construction materials that did not exist, and that in turn MOX Services knowingly submitted $6.4 million in claims to NNSA for the fraudulent charges submitted by Wise Services. The complaint further alleges that Wise Services’ Senior Site Representative Phillip Thompson paid kickbacks to MOX Services officials with responsibility for the subcontracts to improperly obtain favorable treatment from MOX Services. On Feb. 27, 2017, Mr. Thompson entered a guilty plea on charges of conspiring to commit theft of government funds.

Dept. of Justice 14th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019

Green Deal

SNP MSP Clare Haughey is leading calls for the UK Government to streamline the complaints process for their flagship energy-saving scheme, the Green Deal, following a scathing report by Citizens Advice Scotland. Dubbed the “biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War” when it was launched by the coalition government in 2013, the Green Deal scheme provided homeowners with energy-efficiency products like solar panels, insulation and new boilers, with no up-front cost. More than 4260 across the UK – including 3050 in Scotland – have HELMS Green Deal finance for solar panels that were supposed to cut their power bills, but ended up costing them instead. A study last November by Citizens Advice Scotland entitled “Bad Company” accused HELMS of involvement in “pressure selling, providing misleading information about repayment, returns on investment, and financing, and selling to people in vulnerable situation”. It found the complaints process to be long and drawn out, with a number still pursuing complaints about measures typically installed four years ago in 2014. Citizens Advice Scotland is now calling on the UK Government to set up a dedicated scheme to resolve this issue by fast tracking complaints, providing satisfactory compensation and bespoke solutions for specific problems.

The National 17th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019

Energy Efficiency

A CILGERRAN-based company behind the development of energy efficient homes powered by solar energy is set to build another five homes in a north Pembrokeshire village. Western Solar Ltd’s application to build five, two-storey houses in Boncath has been approved by the county’s planning committee. Innovative Ty Solar low-energy homes use around 12 per cent the energy of a standard house with a number already built around the county, including in Trefin and the first solar village in Wales at Glanrhyd.

Tivyside Advertiser 16th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019

Fossil Fuels

The UK’s nascent fracking firms are headed for a crunch moment that will determine whether the industry has a future, according to observers and insiders. The past fortnight has seen a concerted lobbying drive by two of the leading shale companies calling for the government to review rules on earthquakes caused by their operations. The country’s richest person, Jim Ratcliffe, founder of the petrochemicals firm Ineos, branded the regulations “absurd” and “unworkable”, and implied the government should consider limits closer to those in the US. Cuadrilla said it had only been able to frack 5% of its well near Blackpool because of the rules, and warned commercial fracking was not viable under the UK’s regulatory regime. Last week it also had a planning appeal for a second site rejected. Neither firm has gone as far as saying it would pull the plug. But it is clear the sector is at an impasse and cannot proceed without a rethink by ministers and the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), the industry regulator. Both the government and the OGA have said they had no plans for a review of the “traffic light system”, which forces firms to stop fracking if they trigger tremors of greater than 0.5 in magnitude.

Guardian 16th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019

Climate

Replenishing the world’s forests on a grand scale would suck enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to cancel out a decade of human emissions, according to an ambitious new study. Scientists have established there is room for an additional 1.2 trillion trees to grow in parks, woods and abandoned land across the planet. If such a goal were accomplished, ecologist Dr Thomas Crowther said it would outstrip every other method for tackling climate change – from building wind turbines to vegetarian diets.

Independent 16th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 February 2019