The government’s safety watchdog is cracking down on Britain’s biggest and oldest nuclear complex after a series of radioactive leaks and safety blunders, despite private sector managers receiving multimillion-pound “performance-related” payments from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has closed down a vital nuclear waste plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, and is taking legal action to force the site’s operators to improve their flawed safety procedures. The HSE has also rejected a £40bn plan for cleaning up Sellafield because of proposed delays in dismantling ageing and potentially hazardous facilities. The HSE’s latest report on Sellafield, posted online, discloses a litany of problems at the crowded site which sprawls over six square miles on the edge of the Lake District and is home to more than a thousand nuclear facilities, some dating back more than 50 years. One of the main plants for solidifying highly radioactive liquid waste has been shut for safety reasons since 31 March, the report said. The case for continuing to operate the facility safely has been deemed “inadequate” by HSE inspectors. According to the report, HSE has also taken enforcement action after cooling water needed to prevent highly radioactive waste tanks from overheating leaked twice in 10 months. Sellafield has been ordered to rectify an alleged breach of its safety licence – failing to give staff proper training – by 18 June. HSE has taken further regulatory action over a leak of radioactively contaminated water from a pipe during nuclear fuel reprocessing operations. Along with another government watchdog, the Environment Agency, it has ordered Sellafield to correct breaches of radiation rules that enabled the leakage to occur.
Guardian 1st June 2010 more >>
An area where we should all be concerned is energy policy. Britain desperately needs investment in new power stations and more gas storage capacity. And we must have the right mix of fuel sources to meet carbon targets and ensure our energy security. This means new nuclear, gas and renewable energy sources as well as investment in carbon capture and storage technology to reduce future emissions of coal-fired power stations. We need the private sector to play a leading role in this area, and to do that it needs certainty about the direction of government policy. This means two things must be done urgently. First, the national policy statements in this area must be finalised. Second, decisions must be made about how a minimum carbon emission price or equivalent measure could be introduced to make low-carbon energy investment more attractive.
Daily Mail 31st May 2010 more >>
Among the maiden speeches delivered by new Conservative MPs last Thursday were several which included particularly impassioned defences of nuclear power. Damian Collins, who is filling the boots of Michael Howard as MP for Folkestone and Hythe, explained his particular constituency interest in nuclear energy, given that it contains the Dungeness power station.
Conservative Home 31st May 2010 more >>
Canada – High Burn Up Fuel
The latest generation of proposed multibillion dollar Canadian nuclear plants could be up to 158 times more hazardous than their predecessors, opening the door to massive cost overruns and possibly forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab, warns a report released today. The report, The Hazards of Generation III Reactor Fuel Wastes, says the risk is primarily due to uncertainty about what will happen to radioactive uranium fuel after it is used.
Windsor Star 31st May 2010 more >>
A Greenpeace report shows that newly designed reactors Ontario proposes to build at the Darlington nuclear facility would produce long-lived waste two to 158 times more radioactive than waste from existing reactors in Canada, increasing costs and dangers to health and the environment.
Greenpeace Canada 31st May 2010 more >>
Some of the world’s biggest energy companies are stockpiling the nuclear fuel used to power reactors as they try to capitalise on rock-bottom uranium prices. An oversupply of nuclear fuel on international commodity markets has followed five successive years of rapid growth in uranium ore production in Kazakhstan, which has nearly quadrupled its output since 2004. Raw uranium prices have tumbled to around $40 per pound almost one quarter of the levels of $140 in 2007. About one third of the world’s total supply of nuclear fuel comes from Russian nuclear weapons that have been decommissioned as part of a disarmament agreement struck with the United States at the end of the Cold War. These supplies are being gradually depleted and are expected to fall away steadily in the next few years.
Times 1st June 2010 more >>
British robots will help to dismantle a highly contaminated nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine. Amec, the engineering group that helps to run the Sellafield nuclear waste-processing plant in Cumbria, will use the remote-controlled devices to enter a highly radioactive zone inside the reactor to remove graphite sleeves surrounding nuclear fuel rods.
Times 1st June 2010 more >>
William Hague has given a statement welcoming international consensus at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. In a statement welcoming the outcome of the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) taking place at the UN, Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “I am delighted that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York has today reached agreement to strengthen international co-operation on the crucial tasks of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, pursuing nuclear disarmament and promoting the safe and secure use of peaceful nuclear energy.
News on News 31st May 2010 more >>
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has snubbed a UN resolution that would force his country to bring its nuclear weapons within the framework of international law. He signalled his intention to defy the joint declaration by all 189 signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – including the US.
Morning Star 31st May 2010 more >>
The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, cornerstone of global disarmament efforts, has gained a new lease of life – but at the price of a small but telling diplomatic victory for Iran, and new strains between Israel and its most important ally, the US.
Belfast Telegraph 31st May 2010 more >>
Hitachi Ltd Japan’s largest electronics maker, plans to reorganize its core operations worldwide and wants to recast its nuclear power partnership with General Electric Co the Nikkei business daily reported, quoting the company’s President Hiroaki Nakanishi.
Reuters 31st May 2010 more >>
Syria has revealed some details of past nuclear experiments to U.N. inspectors but is still blocking access to a desert site where secret atomic activity may have taken place, a confidential IAEA report said.
Yahoo 31st May 2010 more >>
Iran has been preparing extra equipment for enriching uranium to higher levels, a confidential U.N. nuclear watchdog report obtained by Reuters said, a move which may increase tensions with the West over its atomic work.
Yahoo 31st May 2010 more >>