The government stands accused of drafting the consultation process to select the site of a multibillion-pound nuclear waste storage facility to favour a location that some geologists claim is unsuitable for burying radioactive material. Two leading geologists told the Observer that they believed the government was keen to push through Sellafield as the site of the facility, a subterranean tunnel network that would be the size of Carlisle, despite an official inquiry demonstrating that its geology is highly fractured and unsuitable for the safe storage of radioactive waste. David Smythe, emeritus professor of geophysics – who in 1994 conducted a 3D seismic survey in west Cumbria on behalf of Nirex, the government agency responsible at the time for nuclear waste – said he had been “horrified” by what his study had revealed. Smythe said burying radioactive waste in land around Sellafield was “irresponsible and dangerous”. “It is manifestly unsuitable,” he said. “Studies suggest there could be leaks in as little as 50 years, when the material needs to be held for between 100,000 and 1m years.”
Observer 18th Jan 2014 read more »
Communities affected by the transportation of nuclear waste onto the north Essex coast should be compensated, councillors have said. The demand is part of Maldon District Council’s response to a consultation into proposals to transport Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) from the Dungeness nuclear plant in Kent and store it in a facility at Bradwell-on-Sea. The council remains opposed in principle to the idea, which is one option being explored by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) as part of the decommissioning process of both Dungeness and Bradwell power stations. But should it be forced through, the council says a “comprehensive package of community benefit” should be offered to people living in the area who will have to put up with additional traffic and security concerns.
East Anglian Daily Times 18th Jan 2014 read more »
Sir John Armitt, the veteran businessman, may have gone too far when he recently said power blackouts would be ‘the best possible thing’ to focus the minds of politicians on the impending energy crunch. A return to candles and a three-day week, as older readers will remember from the 1970s, is not something to wish for. Armitt’s sentiment is also a bit rich considering he is an adviser on infrastructure to Labour, whose plan to cap energy bills has only made a bad situation worse. Yet there is a sense that politicians are allowing the country to sleepwalk into an energy squeeze and that it will take a crisis before they stop procrastinating. We are in this knife-edge position because we have not moved ahead with new nuclear. The number of coal-based power plants has fallen because of EU green legislation, and plans for gas-fired plants have been put on hold because they are uneconomic. Centrica, for instance, has planning consent for a gas-fired plant in King’s Lynn, but is unlikely to move ahead because in its forthcoming full-year results the company is likely to announce losses of around £130m last year on its gas-fired plants.
This is Money 18th Jan 2014 read more »
Tens of thousands of households suffer bungled switches when they change energy supplier, the Telegraph can disclose, while others are moved to new providers without consent. Many of these errors can be traced to incorrect national databases that store meter information. Over the past two months our mailbag has contained a worrying number of cases in which households that attempted to cut their energy costs suffered problems switching to a cheaper provider.
Telegraph 19th Jan 2014 read more »
Labour’s pledge of an energy price freeze could trigger pre-emptive bill rises of £80 or put small suppliers out of business, new analysis warns. Cornwall Energy, an independent energy markets consultancy, will this week publish a damning assessment of the potential impact of Ed Miliband’s proposed 20-month cap on household gas and electricity prices, arguing it will leave consumers worse off. In a further blow for Labour, Co-operative Energy, the only small supplier seen to have backed the plan, has revealed it actually wants a series of changes to the policy and warned that otherwise its survival could be at risk.
Telegraph 18th Jan 2014 read more »
Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog arrived in Tehran Saturday in readiness to oversee implementation of a landmark deal that puts temporary curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme, state media reported.
Middle East Online 18th Jan 2014 read more »
THE Queen Mother was banned from visiting an American nuclear base in Scotland, newly released files have revealed. Plans were drawn up for the Royal matriarch to inspect the US nuclear fleet at the Holy Loch in Argyll at the height of the Cold War. The Ministry of Defence hoped the high-profile visit would act as a demonstration of British gratitude for American military support and shore up the special relationship between the two countries. However, the UK’s most senior diplomat cancelled the proposed tour amid fears that it could lead to the Queen Mother being targeted by anti-Vietnam war protesters.
Scotsman 19th Jan 2014 read more »
Current U.S. Government advice is to ‘shelter in place’ but you’re probably better off making a run for it. A mathematical model of nuclear fallout suggests that sheltering in place is not always the best survival strategy. If you can reach higher quality shelter in less than 30 minutes after a nuclear blast, then go for it
Daily Mail 18th Jan 2014 read more »
THERE are several reasons why major trade unions have consistently reaffirmed their opposition to nuclear weapons. The possession of nuclear weapons, threatening death and destruction to millions, is widely accepted as immoral and the assertion that they constitute deterrence is highly questionable. Describing Britain’s nuclear weapons as “independent” is also questionable given that Trident is leased from the United States, guided by US satellites, overhauled at Kings Bay in Georgia and linked to Nato/US objectives. Developing nuclear weapons systems also contradicts international treaties on proliferation. And, at a time of “austerity” involving service cuts, job losses, wage reductions and cuts to terms and conditions, proposals to spend up to £100 billion on a weapon of mass destruction makes no economic sense.
Scotland on Sunday 19th Jan 2014 read more »
Renewables – Offshore Wind
The Government are busy saying that offshore wind can only be implemented in the future if its costs come down – yet some very simple ways of reducing the headline prices that consumers will have to pay can be implemented, but are being ignored, by the Government. A very simple way of reducing their headline costs is simply to extend the length of the power purchase agreement from 15 years to at least 20 years (under the Renewables Obligation the agreements last for 20 years, so why not under Electricity Market reform?). That would reduce the headline price needed for a given scheme by around 8 per cent. In addition to this the Government could also offer loan guarantees to offshore windfarms similar to that offered for Hinkley C. That would reduce costs by around a further 15 per cent.
Dave Toke’s Blog 18th Jan 2014 read more »
Energy expert Paul Stevens argues that Britain has hardly any of the conditions that have driven America’s fracking revolution – and that it won’t cut our bills. America’s shale gas revolution, over 25 years in the making, occurred in a context that would be very difficult to replicate in Britain.
Observer 19th Jan 2014 read more »
THE Campaign to Protect Rural England is poised to throw itself into the controversy over fracking with the launch of a national programme of town-hall meetings. The CPRE board approved a plan last month to look into the initiative, aimed at providing neutral forums for debating the potential benefits and dangers. The chief executive Shaun Spiers said: “There is clearly a need for a debate, but it has already become so polarised, it is not clear yet whether it is possible.”
Sunday Times 19th Jan 2014 read more »