A popular stretch of the English seaside is at the centre of a nuclear leak drama after traces of deadly radioactive materials were found on the beach. Southwold on the Suffolk coast is nicknamed Hampstead-on-Sea due to all the celebrities who flock there for their holidays, often buying second homes in the area.It is feared that the radioactive material detected on the beach may be linked to the Sizewell A nuclear plant which is located along the Suffolk coastline and is in the process of being decommissioned at a cost of £1.2 billion after shutting down ten years ago. In April, scientists monitoring the area around Sizewell revealed that a ‘small amount’ of a particularly dangerous and ‘unusual’ radioactive isotope had been found at Aldeburgh, 18 miles from Southwold. Caesium – a metal used in medical applications, industrial gauges, and hydrology, and said to be ‘mildly toxic’ – had been found at Southwold. ‘It was a very small amount and could be to do with tide patterns,’ he said.
Daily Mail 18th June 2016 read more »
A MAJOR project to clad the reactor buildings at Bradwell Power Station ahead of its decommissioning has been completed. The move is the biggest transformation to the appearance of the station since it was constructed in the 1950s. The two main reactor buildings have been shrouded in aluminium cladding with more than 28,000 individual fittings used. Site operator Magnox originally said the plant would be completely decommissioned by 2015 but it is now likely to be in 2019. In December the company admitted work is not “as far advanced” as expected and would continue beyond its “initial ambitious target”. The cladding will stay in place until the end of the 80 year care and maintenance process which is likely to begin in 2019 when waste processing is completed.
Maldon Standard 18th June 2016 read more »
Nuclear power plants around the world may be using the same faulty parts that have caused problems at the troubled reactor at Flamanville, France. This comes as French nuclear firm Areva has admitted that hundreds of quality control documents are missing key information which could identify defective parts. Areva is also leading the construction of the Hinkley nuclear plant in Somerset. Last month the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that parts produced for the Flamanville project by Areva’s manufacturing facility Creusot Forge had been found to have ‘irregularities’. This discovery prompted a review of decades worth of documents produced by the plant — and lead to the identification of another 400 potential defects. These documents either misreported or failed to report the levels of carbon or other elements in metallic parts that are required to have a specific level of strength. In some vessels, excess carbon could undermine the mechanical ability to withstand sudden breakdown in certain conditions. Roughly 60 of the most safety-sensitive parts currently in use at 19 nuclear reactors across France came from Le Creusot. This week the ASN shut down EDF’s 900MW nuclear reactor Fessenheim 2 in order to further investigate suspected irregularities in a steam generator. Along with Blayais 1, it is the only EDF reactor so far that requires closer inspection. According to a Greenpeace analysis of Areva client data, there are at least a dozen countries around the world operating reactors fitted with parts made at Creusot Forge — and which could be potentially affected by errors or falsifications.
Energydesk 18th June 2016 read more »
Britain’s “big six” power giants are set to avoid a break-up this week but may have to make it easier for households to switch suppliers. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will conclude its two-year investigation into the energy market this week. Experts said it would opt against pushing the nuclear button by dismantling the big six. Its final report, due out on Friday morning, is instead likely to press on with the creation of a database of “disengaged customers” — those who have been on a standard tariff for three or more years. The energy market is in a state of flux as technological breakthroughs such as battery storage and cheaper solar generation disrupt the traditional model of big, vertically integrated power companies. Centrica, which is the owner of British Gas and provides a third of households with gas and a quarter with power, recently called time on the big six. As recently as 2012, British Gas, SSE, Npower, Scottish Power, Eon and EDF Energy, controlled 99% of the residential energy market. That share has fallen to 85% as millions of customers have defected to a crop of nimble, web-based upstarts. Iain Conn, Centrica’s chief executive, recently stated that the rapid development of new technologies had already begun to turn the market on its head. “We are on the edge of a revolution. The ‘big six’ nomenclature will become passé,” he said. New gas-fired power plants and so-called “distributed generation” — such as domestic solar and wind — are beginning to displace Britain’s fleet of ageing coal and nuclear power plants.
Times 19th June 2016 read more »
Scientists have come up with a new material that could make nuclear fuel recycling cleaner, cheaper, and more effecient. The new material has been identified through a combination of experiments and computer modelling, and is based on what we already know about materials called metal-organic frameworks (or MOFs).
Science Alert 17th June 2016 read more »
Pakistan’s increasing fissile production capability has increased the risk of a nuclear war with India, a US Congress report said on 17 June. According to the Congressional report, Islamabad’s development of new types of nuclear weapons, as well as a “full spectrum deterrence” nuclear doctrine present worrying factors. A recent report on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons revealed that the country has 110-130 nuclear warheads. The report, authored by non-proliferation specialists Mary Beth Nikitin and Paul K Kerr, also noted that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is designed to dissuade India from taking military action against it.
IB Times 18th June 2016 read more »
Mayors along the Great Lakes Basin renewed their push this week to keep nuclear waste from ending up near their drinking water supply. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, representing about 120 municipalities, passed a resolution Wednesday calling for Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to recognize “the value of staying as far away as possible” from the water source for 40 million people. In February, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna called on OPG to further study its plan for a repository in 450-million-year-old rock near Kincardine. She tasked OPG with looking at different sites, updating cumulative environmental effects, and updating mitigation commitments. Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley wasn’t at the conference in Niagara Falls, New York, but was one of a group of mayors who vetted the resolution – including calls for OPG to respond in a “thorough and comprehensive manner” to McKenna’s request for more information, for national governments in Canada and the United States to evaluate “social acceptability” of any proposed repository for nuclear waste, and for both countries to designate radionuclides (radioactive particles) under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
The Observer (Canada) 17th June 2016 read more »
Sheep wool and low energy bulbs have been installed at Edinburgh Castle to drive down energy bills at Scotland’s most popular tourist attraction. It comes amid a major programme of work across the country to make Scotland’s historic properties fit for an energy efficient future. Heating and lighting bills have dropped by around 30 per cent at Edinburgh Castle over the past eight years as a result of the programme, according to Historic Environment Scotland.
Scotsman 19th June 2016 read more »