Alan Simpson: I recently had a small wager. It was about how long it would take before a predictable piece of sophistry emerged – that the tragic events in Japan should be seen as the reason to fall in love with nuclear power rather than turn our backs on it. My grumpiness is based on having bet it would turn up in the Mail or the Telegraph, not the Guardian. It isn’t the first time that George Monbiot has left me saddened at the sight of a beautiful mind chasing dangerous delusions. Of all the lovers George could have fallen for, nuclear will leave him with the most lasting headache. If he’d fallen for Katie Price, at least he’d have the comfort of knowing it wouldn’t last that long. The trouble with nuclear is that you know it does.
Morning Star 1st April 2011 more >>
Letter Herb Eppel: In view of the Greens’ success in the amazing and historic election results in Germany, I’m dreaming of a time when: a) the British electorate might be similarly concerned about nuclear issues; and b) the outdated British (in particular English) election system might have changed sufficiently to allow similarly amazing outcomes.
Leicester Mercury 31st March 2011 more >>
Herb Eppel’s Blog 28th March 2011 more >>
Eppel’s response to George Monbiot.
Herb Eppel 30th March 2011 more >>
The fall out from the Fukushima nuclear power station disaster may be political as well as radioactive, if recent events here in the UK are anything to go by.
Construction Manager 1st April 2011 more >>
In this week’s readers’ Q&A session, Ketih Parker, chief executive of the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association, answers your questions. In the first of two posts, Keith answers your questions on what constitutes a nuclear meltdown, whether there is likely to be a public backlash against nuclear in the UK and how the industry should now change. In the second post, published later on Friday, he will discuss whether the events in Fukushima are a good advertisement for the industry, what are the full costs of nuclear power and what the industry’s view is of renewable power.
FT 1st April 2011 more >>
FT 1st April 2011 more >>
Two leading environmental campaigners will go head-to-head in Glasgow, Scotland tomorrow, to debate the pros and cons of nuclear power. The Scottish Green Party’s co-convenor Patrick Harvie and George Monbiot, one of Britain’s leading commentators on environmental issues, will discuss the issues in front of a passionate audience on Saturday 2 April 2011. The event, at Glasgow’s Citizen’s Theatre, is part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival. Greens remain opposed to new nuclear power and the extension of the operating life of Scotland’s existing plants, on grounds that include cost, safety, waste, carbon emissions, and unsustainability for the long term. Monbiot, on the other hand, watching the outcome of how the earthquake and tsunami affected Japan, says he is convinced that nuclear is a better option than coal.
Ekklesia 2nd April 2011 more >>
French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) president Andre-Claude Lacoste said on Wednesday that he “could not rule out” a moratorium on the third generation EPR nuclear reactor under construction at Flamanville in Normandy, northern France. “If the question of a moratorium is raised, and we have raised it, then it will be on the construction of Flamanville 3,” he said. The reactor has cost over € 5 billion to build and has run into delays and cost over-runs. Mr. Lacoste said the reactor, whose engineering works were led by the French electricity giant EDF, was “very compromised.” This should be of interest to the Indian government since the Nuclear Power Corporation of India has entered into a framework agreement to purchase six identical reactors for the nuclear park in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, at a minimum estimated cost of €15 billion.
The Hindu 1st April 2011 more >>
Le Monde (In French) 31st March 2011 more >>
Radiation & Health
LOW levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have been found in Aylesbury Vale. The radioactive iodine was detected in Chilton, which is 5,500 miles away from where the disaster took place. It was discovered by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which revealed the ‘minutest levels’ of radioactive material had been in its air monitoring stations.
Bucks Herald 1st April 2011 more >>
For a look at just how long radioactivity can hang around, consider Germany’s wild boars. A quarter century after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union carried a cloud of radiation across Europe, these animals are radioactive enough that people are urged not to eat them. And the mushrooms the pigs dine on aren’t fit for consumption either. Germany’s experience shows what could await Japan – if the problems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant get any worse.
Huffington Post 1st April 2011 more >>
Every day there are more setbacks to solving the Japanese nuclear crisis and it’s pretty clear that the industry and governments are telling us little; have no idea how long it will take to control; or what the real risk of cumulative contamination may be. The authorities reassure us by saying there is no immediate danger and a few absolutist environmentalists obsessed with nuclear power because of the urgency to limit emissions repeat the industry mantra that only a few people died at Chernobyl – the worst nuclear accident in history. Those who disagree are smeared and put in the same camp as climate change deniers. I prefer the words of Alexey Yablokov, member of the Russian academy of sciences, and adviser to President Gorbachev at the time of Chernobyl: “When you hear ‘no immediate danger’ [from nuclear radiation] then you should run away as far and as fast as you can.” I challenge chief scientist John Beddington and environmentalists like George Monbiot or any of the pundits now downplaying the risks of radiation to talk to the doctors, the scientists, the mothers, children and villagers who have been left with the consequences of a major nuclear accident. Fukushima is not Chernobyl, but it is potentially worse. It is a multiple reactor catastrophe happening within 150 miles of a metropolis of 30 million people. If it happened at Sellafield, there would be panic in every major city in Britain. We still don’t know the final outcome but to hear experts claiming that nuclear radiation is not that serious, or that this accident proves the need for nuclear power, is nothing short of disgraceful.
Guardian 2nd April 2011 more >>
Government figures today showed that the UK’s estimated greenhouse gas emissions rose almost 3 per cent, or 16 million tonnes in 2010 over the previous year. Rises in the main gas, carbon dioxide, were driven primarily by residential gas use and generation switching to fossil sources from nuclear. Sizewell B, the UK’s biggest nuclear power station and capable of producing around 3 per cent of the UK’s electricity, was offline for six months last year following heater failures in the pressuriser.
Utility Week 31st March 2011 more >>
Office for Nuclear Regulation
The former chief executive of Powergen has been named as the interim chair of the new Office for Nuclear Regulation. Nick Baldwin will head up the organisation which will be an agency of the Health Service Executive and whose responsibilities will include ensuring the nuclear sector carries out its work safely. Mr Baldwin has previously worked as interim chairman of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The interim appointment is on a part-time basis and is expected to be for a period of two to three years, pending the successful passage of legislation to establish the regulator on a statutory basis.
Construction News 1st April 2011 more >>
HSE Press Release 1st April 2011 more >>
SCOTTISH and Southern Energy said Nick Baldwin has resigned from its board after being appointed interim chair of the new Office for Nuclear Regulation.
Herald 2nd April 2011 more >>
The clean up at a closed nuclear power station in Snowdonia will be speeded up, it has been agreed. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has approved plans for the current phase of decommissioning at the Trawsfynydd plant to be completed by 2016, instead of 2022. It is expected that an extra 150 to 200 contractors will be taken on to help carry out the work.
BBC 1st April 2011 more >>
IAEA update on Fukushima.
IB Times 1st April (9.06pm GMT) more >>
The operator of Japan’s quake-stricken nuclear plant said on Saturday it had found radioactive water leaking into the sea from a cracked concrete pit at its No.2 reactor in Fukushima.
Reuters 2nd April 2011 more >>
The Japanese government has indicated it may be years before residents of towns and villages close to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor will be able to return to their homes.
Telegraph 1st April 2011 more >>
Independent 2nd April 2011 more >>
The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is leaking highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean from a newly discovered crack in a maintenance pit on the edge of the site. The plant has been spewing radioactivity since March 11, when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami knocked out power, disabling cooling systems and allowing radiation to seep out of the overheating reactors.
The Times 2nd April 2011 more >>
The amount of radiation that has leaked from the Fukushima power plant may have to be recalculated because of errors by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which is facing growing criticism over its handling of the crisis. The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has ordered Tepco to review radiation readings from air, sea and groundwater samples because they appeared implausibly high. The company was censured for a previous error on Sunday last week when radiation in waste water, calculated to be 100,000 times higher than normal, was mistakenly said to be ten million times higher. Because Tepco has overestimated radiation figures it raises concerns that the source of the only data about events in the plant could also have underestimated them.
Times 2nd April 2011 more >>
In its attempts to bring under control its radiation-gushing nuclear power plant that was severely damaged by last month’s massive earthquake and tsunami, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) is trying to get workers ever closer to the sources of stubborn radiation at the plant and end the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. Workers are reportedly being offered hazard pay to work in the damaged reactors of up to $5,000 per day — or more accurately, a fraction of a day, since the radiation-drenched shifts must be drastically restricted.
IB Times 1st April 2011 more >>
Reuters 1st April 2011 more >>
Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant face new threats to their health after radiation exceeding safety levels was found to have seeped into groundwater near the facility. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), was the target of further criticism amid reports that some workers at the site had not been provided with personal radiation monitors. Tepco’s handling of the crisis has come under closer scrutiny since three workers were exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation last week. They have all been discharged from hospital after suffering no ill effects.
Guardian 1st April 2011 more >>
Japan was continuing its struggle to regain control over crucial cooling systems at four damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Thursday. Fears over potential leaks from the plant in north-eastern Japan escalated after radioactive iodine was found in nearby seawater that is 4,385 times the legal limit. Radioactive contamination in groundwater underneath reactor No 2 has been measured at 10,000 times the government health standard.
Telegraph 1st April 2011 more >>
Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Corp. may struggle to find buyers for their nuclear reactors after the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl damaged Japan’s reputation for safety, according to analysts and investors.
Japan Times 2nd April 2011 more >>
Japan’s prime minister has promised to win the battle against an overheating nuclear plant even as atomic safety officials questioned the accuracy of radiation measurements at the complex. Naoto Kan was grave a week ago when he addressed the nation rattled by fears of radiation that has contaminated food, milk and tap water. But three weeks after the massive tsunami disabled a nuclear power plant’s cooling systems, Mr Kan vowed Japan would create the safest system anywhere
Press & Journal 2nd April 2011 more >>
Sky News 2nd April 2011 more >>
Three weeks after the disaster struck, serious doubts continue to surround the precise situation inside the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant and the levels of contamination in the surrounding areas. From the outset, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant’s owner, has released conflicting, contradictory and incomplete information.
World Socialist Web 2nd April 2011 more >>
Letter Steuart Campbell: Plutonium is ten times less chemically toxic than many ingredients found in herbicides and pesticides and is about as chemically toxic as U and lead. The exclusion zone around Fukushima is as unnecessary as that around Chernobyl, where people and animals still live without harm.
Scotsman 2nd April 2011 more >>
WANO & WEC
The governing body of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) has pledged to maintain a ‘safety first’ focus following the events at Fukushima. Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for international nuclear safety standards.
World Nuclear News 1st April 2011 more >>
One of the world’s top energy experts is writing to governments and industry leaders round the world to call for tighter controls on nuclear power. Chairman of the World Energy Council Pierre Gadonneix says nuclear energy can no longer be considered a national issue. He wants all countries to agree on common safety standards, as he says every nuclear accident has the potential to cause damage to health and the environment in other nations.
BBC 1st April 2011 more >>
Since last month’s Japanese tsunami and the nuclear disaster it precipitated at the Fukushima reactor, countries have drawn three different kinds of lesson. First, some have decided that, given the risks of nuclear, the most powerful kind of “clean” energy is a losing proposition. Japan itself feels that way, at least for now. Shutting down nuclear power has meant shutting down office elevators and neon signs across the country, and shifting baseball games from night to day. Others, like South Africa, just days after the Fukushima incident, announced that it would increase its nuclear output.
FT 2nd April 2011 more >>
Very low levels of radioactive iodine believed to be from a crisis-hit nuclear plant in Japan have been detected in rainfall over Scotland’s biggest city. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said that iodine-131 has been detected in rain collected in Glasgow over the past few days. SNP candidate for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn Bob Doris said: “With yet more reports of radioactive iodine from Fukushima monitored in Glasgow, it is important to stress there is no threat to public safety. However even at such a distance it is a reminder of the hazards of nuclear power, and the terrible events in Japan.”No country with Scotland’s energy mix would contemplate a new nuclear power programme. Labour’s very judgment is called into question, as well as their paper-thin commitment to realising Scotland’s renewable energy potential.” Scottish Labour’s energy spokesman and candidate for Aberdeen Central, Lewis Macdonald, said: “There are no proposals to build any new nuclear plants in Scotland but that hasn’t stopped the SNP pursuing distasteful and cheap attempts to exploit the terrible events in Japan for political advantage.”
PA 1st April 2011 more >>
Japan’s nuclear crisis will speed the elimination of nuclear power from some European countries and render many planned projects too risky, ultimately increasing Europe’s dependence on gas.
Reuters 1st April 2011 more >>
Wind energy produced more electricity (21%) than nuclear power plants (19%) in March in Spain. Great news, when the Fukushima nuclear plant reminds us that nuclear power is no a bargain.
Reve 1st April 2011 more >>
WHERE and how should nuclear waste be stored? The threat of a major release of radiation from cooling ponds holding spent nuclear fuel at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant is turning up the heat on this debate. In the US, the question is especially critical because last year President Barack Obama effectively scuttled the country’s only plans for a long-term repository, set to be built inside Yucca mountain in Nevada.With all of the options for storage back on the table, a study by the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, suggests the US might want to dust off an idea it had previously shelved: bury the waste in underground salt deposits.
New Scientist 1st April 2011 more >>
Authorities in the German state of Hesse today defended the legal basis for an enforced shutdown of German utility RWE’s Biblis A nuclear plant as part of the government’s response to the nuclear crisis in Japan. The state’s defence of the shutdown came after RWE launched a legal challenge to a government order that the country’s seven oldest plants, commissioned in and before 1987, must be taken off line for a three-month safety review after the earthquake and ensuing crisis at Japan’s Fukushima reactor.
Argus Media 1st April 2011 more >>
German energy giant RWE is taking legal action against the state of Hesse after being ordered to shut down a nuclear power plant for three months.
BBC 1st April 2011 more >>
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, is looking to make a $100bn (£62bn) investment in solar and nuclear power to help secure its energy future.
Business Green 1st April 2011 more >>
French state-owned utility, EDF, has backed out of talks to purchase a 51 percent stake in Polish state-controlled energy group, Enea, Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources close to the deal. EDF had been an exclusive partner in talks for a number of months.
Warsaw Business Journal 1st April 2011 more >>
A defence minister has called for a jointly developed and run Anglo-French replacement for Britain’s nuclear weapons, a move that would save the UK tens of billions of pounds and change the face of its defence strategy. The proposal from Nick Harvey, a Liberal Democrat, was put to French defence experts at the French ambassador’s residence this week. Harvey told the Guardian the idea was warmly received.
Guardian 2nd April 2011 more >>