Christopher Booker: Visible from the hills above where I live in Somerset is the proposed site of one of the craziest, most worrying projects the government has put its hand to. Ministers led by David Cameron want to allow the French state-owned energy company EDF to spend the best part of ten years building a new nuclear power plant next to an old one at Hinkley Point, Bridgewater, looking across the Bristol Channel to Wales, at a cost of more than £24billion. This is equivalent to the combined costs of the vast Crossrail project in London, the revamping of Terminal 2 at Heathrow and the 2012 London Olympics, all put together. Indeed the cost of just this one power station promises to be as much as half the estimated £50 billion bill for of the HS2 high-speed rail link, the most expensive engineering project planned in Britain. The Hinkley Point scheme, which will be partly financed by a huge tranche of cash from the Chinese, is so absurdly expensive the government could only persuade EDF to build it by agreeing that it could charge nearly double its present wholesale cost for the electricity it will produce. This will be passed on to us all through our electricity bills, at a guaranteed, inflation-proof price for 35 years. Britain, which once led the world in nuclear reactor technology, is buying one of the craziest, most expensive white elephants imaginable: a power station which, if it does eventually perform as required, will not be ready for at least another eight years to produce a comparatively small amount of the most costly nuclear electricity in the world. It is little wonder that the project has been coming under withering criticism. There is no sign of the government wavering in its commitment, despite all the objections. Tellingly, Mr Cameron plans to put his personal seal on the Hinkley Point deal when the Chinese president visits Britain in October, presumably to oil the wheels of trade with the superpower. When, as a result of this lunacy, our lights begin to go out and our computer-dependent economy starts grinding to a halt, what excuses will the politicians come up with?
Daily Mail 14th May 2015 read more »
China’s president, Xi Jinping, will sign an economic and trade cooperative agreement on his visit to the UK in October, which will include a role for China in the construction of nuclear power plant Hinkley Point C. Two leading Chinese nuclear power enterprises, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), will take part in the nuclear power project, according to the agreement, in conjunction with Electricite de France, which will oversee the building of the plant. China will pledge to contribute two thirds of the upfront capital for the project, which is estimated to cost £25 billion (US$39 billion), according to Guangzhou’s 21st Century Business Herald. The plant, Britain’s first new nuclear power project in 20 years, is scheduled to break ground in 2016 and come online in 2023 to fill 7% of the nation’s power requirements. The report pointed out that the project will enable CGN and CNNC, despite their relatively minor role, to gain a foothold in the UK’s nuclear power market, including the opportunity to participate in another contract owned by Electricite de France in the nation. Participation in such projects will give Chinese nuclear power enterprises critical credentials to compete for contracts in Western markets, according to Tony Ward, chief of utility business at Ernst & Young UK. The 21st Century Business Herald reported however that the Hinkley Point C project is overshadowed by stiff opposition, mainly on the grounds of the high cost of French nuclear power technology and declining support for nuclear power among the British public.
Want China Times 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Three campaigners have admitted blocking the road to the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. Ornella Saibene, Caroline Hope, and Marian Connolly, from Bristol, tried to stop traffic to the site on 1 April. The women, who were members of South West Against Nuclear, pleaded guilty to wilful obstruction of the highway at Taunton Magistrates Court earlier. They were each were ordered to pay a £200 fine, £85 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
BBC 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Alarms sounded at Heysham Power Station early this morning, Thursday August 13, following reports of a leak in a gas valve. A spokesman for EDF Energy, which runs Heysham Power Station, said: “At approximately 6.45am this morning, a CO2 alarm sounded in the basement of reactor 2 at Heysham 1 power station following a very small leak of the gas from a valve which has since been isolated. “As part of the station’s standard practice the small number of staff on site at that time were mustered to ensure everyone was safe and accounted for, which they were.”
Lancaster Guardian 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Westmorland Gazette 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Horizon Nuclear Power has submitted a planning application to expand its Wylfa Newydd site office to three times its current size, making room for a growing Anglesey-based team and representing a further million pound investment at the site. The redevelopment of the office reflects the progress being made on proposals to develop Wylfa Newydd including additional site-based studies on and off shore over the summer and a second round of community consultation later this year where local people can have their say on the project.
Daily Post 13th Aug 2015 read more »
US giant Bechtel and Japanese firm JGC Corporation are lined up to build a nuclear power station on the Isle of Anglesey. Hitachi – the parent company of Wylfa Newydd developer Horizon – said it was talking to the two firms about forming a delivery team for the massive project. The news comes days after energy giant EDF awarded more than £1bn of contracts on the Hinkley Point C project as the new nuclear programme gains momentum. A Hitachi spokesman said: “We are in exclusive discussions with two companies – Bechtel and JGC corporation – regarding a potential role in the engineering, procurement and construction delivery team for Wylfa Newydd.
New Civil Engineer 14th Aug 2015 read more »
Building 14th Aug 2015 read more »
In what was obviously intended as a positive story on the nuclear industry, respected physicist Jim Al-Khalili took a camera crew into the nuclear complex at Sellafield in Cumbria. Even though he supports nuclear power, what he showed was scary to say the least, while what he omitted was even worse.
Socialist Party 14th Aug 2015 read more »
The headlines flash daily about major changes in energy policy in the UK; none of them good news. The slashing of support for solar, energy efficiency and other clean energy programs and at the same time an apparent intent to spend absolutely mind-blowing amounts of money on new, untried, and highly risky nuclear power reactors. From the point of view of an America where, haltingly but steadily, clean energy is gaining a true foothold and is moving ahead, it seems incomprehensible that our closest ally would move in the opposite direction of most of the world’s industrial economies. Could that really be true? So we asked veteran UK activist Pete Roche to explain what is happening in the UK. And no, the news really is not good.
Green World 14th Aug 2015 read more »
Keith Barnham: The success of the SNP and surveys carried out by DECC show that green energy is overwhelmingly popular, writes Keith Barnham. Labour’s failure to support renewables and oppose nuclear power and fracking may have cost them the last election – but now, with the rise of Jeremy Corbyn there’s a real chance for the party to put that right. In his striking ‘green manifesto’ Jeremy Corbyn has called for “a renewable energy revolution”, an end to fracking, democratisation of railways, energy and water supply, and a firm NO to new nuclear power stations. Contrary to the dire warnings of Corbyn’s unelectability from Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Alistair Campbell and other alumni of the New Labour project, there’s every reason to believe that these policies – especially the commitment to renewable energy – would help Labour regain electoral approval.
Ecologist 14th Aug 2015 read more »
Trials of a new system that aims to reduce the volume of intermediate level waste (ILW) from the nuclear industry by up to 90% have been completed by Costain and collaborator Tetronics International. ILW results from nuclear waste management and decommissioning, and includes materials such as radioactive sludge and contaminated equipment. Costain said that it had worked with Tetronics to enhance its existing plasma furnace technology to vitrify such wastes and that the trials had “successfully demonstrated substantial volume reductions” when compared with alternative remediation approaches. It said that the ability to greatly reduce the volume of ILW would immediately ease the burden on the UK’s waste storage facilities, which could mean considerable savings for building future storage areas and in other areas of ILW treatment. It claimed that billions of pounds could be saved by the nuclear industry over the coming decades, and that there was an added possibility of income through sale of the technology abroad.
New Civil Engineer 14th Aug 2015 read more »
We have received a number of emails from members and non-members alike, expressing views on the recent BBC Four documentary “Inside Sellafield”. The following, some of whom did not want their identities revealed, are just a few: Professor Jim’ Al’Khalili’s ‘Inside Sellafield’ programme was a tour de force of pro-nuclear propaganda, writes David Lowry – understating the severity of accidents, concealing the role of the UK’s nuclear power stations in breeding military plutonium, and giving false reassurance over the unsolved problems of high level nuclear waste[…] ”
Cumbria Trust 13th Aug 2015 read more »
Npower has lost more than 300,000 customers in the UK and its profits have nosedived by 65pc thanks to widespread billing errors and poor complaints handling. Telegraph Money has written extensively about the problems that Npower’s customers have faced in recent years. Many were sent wildly inaccurate bills, while others weren’t billed at all. Some households received multiple bills for varying amounts, none of which matched up to meter readings. Npower failed to properly investigate customer billing complaints, leading over 300,000 customers to change supplier over the past year alone.
Telegraph 14th Aug 2015 read more »
Times 14th Aug 2015 read more »
Maintenance work triggered an alarm that shut down a fifth Belgian nuclear reactor on Thursday, leaving only two working in the country but posing no danger to the public, the operator said. The last of the three reactors working at the Tihange plant in southeast Belgium shut down automatically around 1:00 am (2300 GMT Wednesday) following the alarm, said Electrabel, a subsidiary of the French firm Engie. At Belgium’s only other nuclear plant, located in the northern region of Doel, two of the four reactors remain shut down following previous problems.
AFP 13th Aug 2015 read more »
After yet another incident at one of Belgium’s two nuclear power plants, DW spoke to Greenpeace expert Rianne Teule to assess the risk. She worries that safety is not being taken seriously enough. Early Thursday morning, the Tihange 3 nuclear reactor was shut down because of an “unplanned unavailability,” according to utility company GDF Suez. The shutdown is the latest in a string of minor technical incidents at the plant since last July, including two minor fires, some of which have been attributed to human error. The incidents, the age of the plant – the oldest reactor dates to 1975 – and cracks that were discovered in the walls of Belgian reactors earlier this year have raised concerns over the safety of the country’s nuclear power supply. DW spoke to Rianne Teule, campaign director with Greenpeace Belgium, about the state of Belgium’s nuclear industry and the future of the renewables sector.
Deutsche Welle 14th Aug 2015 read more »
Electrabel, the Belgian unit of French utility Engie, has stopped operations of unit 3 at the Tihange nuclear power station located on the right bank of the Meuse River in the Belgian district of Tihange. A technical glitch on the electrical power supply occurred during maintenance period of control system, leading to automatic shutdown of the reactor on 13 August. The Unit 1 is currently undergoing maintenance period that will last till September, while operations at the second unit were halted following detection of cracks on core tank. In July, the Belgian Government signed an agreement with Electrabel, to extend the operational life of Doel 1 and Doel 2 nuclear reactors, until 2025. The deal is a part of the country’s effort to replace Tihange 2 and Doel 3, which also halted operations earlier.
Energy Business Review 14th Aug 2015 read more »
Two of Japan’s reactors—Units 1 and 2 of the Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai nuclear power plant—have just restarted, and Unit 1 should begin generating electricity on August 14. This is the first restart of any of Japan’s 43 operable commercial reactors since Fukushima, and it is happening despite many unresolved questions concerning nuclear safety regulations. When it comes to safety, the Sendai nuclear power plant is definitely not at the head of the class: The utility owning the power plant was given a pass despite a very problematic history. (At one point, a regulatory commissioner called the plan to restart Sendai “wishful thinking”.) There is certainly no nationwide re-emergence of nuclear power in Japan. Indeed, there have been vocal public protests against the Sendai restart. One of the protestors even included a former prime minister of Japan.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 12th Aug 2015 read more »
Japan warned on Saturday that a volcano 50 km (31 miles) from a just-restarted nuclear reactor is showing signs of increased activity, and said nearby residents should prepare to evacuate. Sakurajima, a mountain on the southern island of Kyushu, is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes and erupts almost constantly. But a larger than usual eruption could be in the offing, an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Reuters 15th Aug 2015 read more »
The gigantic explosions in the port area of east China demonstrate a poor record of industrial safety and regulations which are routinely ignored and very lax controls.
La Voix du Nord 14th Aug 2015 read more »
Some Labour members say a Corbyn leadership would make it far harder for the SNP to win over left-wing voters in Scotland, a key ingredient in the nationalists’ election landslide. Mr Corbyn’s opposition to spending cuts and to the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons closely matches SNP election pledges.
FT 14th Aug 2015 read more »
Households across an estimated 6,000 square miles of England – an area the size of Yorkshire – are expected to learn within days that their areas have been earmarked for possible fracking. Ministers are preparing to award energy companies licences to explore for shale gas and oil, in an attempt to kick-start the fledgling UK fracking industry. It is understood that they will announce the names of companies who have been awarded dozens of oil and gas exploration licences in England, covering an area of roughly 1,000 square miles. More than 100 further licences, spanning an estimated 5,000 square miles, are also expected to be identified as areas that are likely to be awarded in a second batch later this year, subject to further environmental consultation.
Telegraph 14th Aug 2015 read more »