Until this week, there had been a culpable complacency about the dangers of nuclear terrorism and an unpardonable unwillingness to take firm enough action against it. Most attention focused on the risk of terrorists stealing nuclear weapons from countries’ arsenals. That would indeed be devastating, but Prof Feld’s nightmare was different. He was warning that they could make their own atomic bombs out of plutonium created by the nuclear industry. The plutonium comes from separating it and uranium out of nuclear waste at reprocessing plants such as Sellafield. Until that is done, it is impossible for terrorists to get at it, because it is mixed up with the lethally radioactive waste. But extracting it from Mox fuel, experts say, is relatively simple. Worse, they add, building a crude bomb is not that difficult either. In fact, the summit is likely to make things worse. It endorsed the expansion of nuclear power, increasing the potential use of Mox fuel. And Russia and the US agreed to take 68 tonnes of plutonium from their stockpiles, where it is presumably well guarded, and use it to fuel reactors.
Telegraph 17th Apr 2010 more >>
Eight years ago Mr de Rivaz took over the running of EDF’s British arm. It is a combination of three local power suppliers London Electricity, Eastern Electricity and Seeboard and British Energy, the nuclear utility that EDF acquired in 2008. He was a hydropower engineer and later worked in finance at the heart of EDF, the world’s biggest nuclear power company. It has huge investment ambitions in Britain, which will see the building of four reactors at two existing nuclear sites, Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. Each will cost billions of pounds. Britain faces big choices by the Government, by industry and by EDF Energy, which must make its final investment decision next year if it is to meet a tight timetable. The Hinkley Point reactor is scheduled to close in 2017. If EDF is to have the replacement up and running the following year, it must begin work in 2013. The company hesitates because there is no agreement in government on what incentives will be available for new nuclear power.
Times 17th Apr 2010 more >>
In January-March 2010 the United Kingdom completed the first shipment of foreign high activity radioactive waste (HLW) that was produced by the spent nuclear fuel reprocessing program. The waste was delivered to Japan on board of Pacific Sandpiper – the double-hulled ship that was specially designed for this purpose. It consisted of 28 steel canisters of HLW, each weighing half a ton, sheathed in 100-ton steel flasks. Pacific Sandpiper had left Sellafield, the site of the UK reprocessing facility THORP, on 21 January 2010 and reached the Rokkasho Mutsu-Ogawara Port in the Japanese Prefecture of Aomori on March 9, 2010.
Fissile Materials 16th Apr 2010 more >>
Reprocessing can end up producing more waste. According to the DOE, reprocessing spent fuel ends up increasing the total cumulative volume of nuclear waste by more than six times thanks to more materials being contaminated with plutonium from a little less than 74,000 cubic meters destined for some form of repository to nearly 460,000 cubic meters. Reprocessing also results in radioactive liquid waste: the French reprocessing plant in La Hague discharges 100 million liters of liquid waste (pdf) into the English Channel each year. “They have polluted the ocean all the way to the Arctic,” Makhijani says. “Eleven western European countries have asked them to stop reprocessing.” And separating plutonium and highly enriched uranium is exactly how governments go about building nuclear weapons, so reprocessing can raise the risk of proliferation or theft of fissile materials. Already, at least 250 metric tons of plutonium sits waiting at various sites around the world enough to make 30,000 nuclear weapons equivalent to the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, according to von Hippel. Reprocessing is also expensive.
Scientific American 15th Apr 2010 more >>
Sellafield, Braystones and Kirksanton are the three sites which have been deemed suitable for nuclear new build in the constituency. The Lib Dems say they will not support any such plans, anywhere in the country. But the party’s parliamentary candidate for Copeland has said they must go ahead in order to supply power needs and keep west Cumbrians in work.
Whitehaven News 16th Apr 2010 more >>
Greenpeace Briefing about European Commission consultation on a radioactive waste directive.
Greenpeace International 1st Apr 2010 more >>
David Milliband has attacked David Cameron over what he called a ‘slur’ on China. During last night’s TV leaders debate Mr Cameron said he wanted to keep Britain’s nuclear deterrent because of apparent uncertainty over China. Mr Cameron said: “Are we really happy to say that we’d give up our independent nuclear deterrent when we don’t know what is going to happen with Iran, we can’t be certain of the future in China? “I say we should always have the ultimate protection of our independent nuclear deterrent.” Foreign Secretary David Milliband responded immediately, he said: “To put China and Iran in the same bracket is an insult to a fellow member of the UN security council and to a county with whom we have just announced a close strategic relationship.”
Politics.co.uk 15th Apr 2010 more >>
FT 17th Apr 2010 more >>
France and Kuwait opened the way for joint nuclear energy projects in the Gulf country, giving major French players a foothold months after they embarrassingly lost a big contract in the region.
Middle East Online 16th Apr 2010 more >>
Production of weapons-grade plutonium has ended in Russia with the closure of a 47-year-old reactor in the centre of the country.
World Nuclear News 16th Apr 2010 more >>
Iran could have enough material to build a nuclear bomb in 12 months according to US officials.
Metro 16th Apr 2010 more >>