More than 450 safety lapses have occurred at Sellafield nuclear plant. Radiation and contamination episodes, spillages of active materials and fires in the facility happen regularly. The British government insists Sellafield is safe but admitted it was a “uniquely challenging” place to work. It follows a recent BBC Panoroma documentary which contained allegations of problems from past and present employees. A report from the Office for Nuclear Regulation, seen by the Irish Sun on Sunday, shows issues are routinely documented that are of concern to Ireland — if a disaster similar to Chernobyl or Fukushima occurs. It cites 12 lifting events which had “nuclear safety implications” and notes that “smouldering, smoking material or fire” was discovered five times up to March 2012. In September 2014, a “lagging blanket on high-pressure steam pipework ignited” at the plant while in July 2013, smoke was seen coming from a gas turbine. There were 24 cases of “radiation or contamination” events affecting personnel and 33 incidents involving the “unplanned leak or spillage of active or potentially active process liquor or material”, up to March 2012. Calling for the closure of Sellafield, Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy told the Irish Sun on Sunday: “One EU member state is putting the lives and the environment of another at risk. There is no evidence the Irish Government has ever taken this issue seriously, and it is beyond time for them to start. “It must be closed and there should be a halt to construction of any further nuclear power plants near the Irish Sea.”
Irish Sun 31st Dec 2016 read more »
State Papers 1986: Row simmered between British and Irish governments over Sellafield tests. Documents released under the 30-year State rule show the minister for foreign affairs, Peter Barry, had inquired about the possibility of the two governments co-ordinating their monitoring activity in relation to tests carried out in the Republic and Northern Ireland on emissions from Sellafield. However, the Northern Ireland secretary, Tom King, said it would be difficult for the Irish government to criticise its British counterpart on the basis of information obtained from such co-operation. “It might be better to keep our operations as separate as possible,” said Mr King. “If we work together it might inhibit your opportunities to make representations against us or to the UK government.”
Irish Examiner 2nd Jan 2017 read more »
From this time last year – an excellent Blogger “It Happens” wrote the following …now more urgent than ever with the financially troubled Toshiba let loose and already trashing this special, fragile and already vulnerable place in such close proximity to Sellafield. New Years Resolution ………#StopMoorside
Radiation Free Lakeland 1st Jan 2017 read more »
One clear difference between renewables and nuclear power is that the former do not lead to the production of long-lived radioactive wastes and the associated problems and costs of dealing with them. Also, old wind and solar facilities can be easily removed, whereas nuclear plant decommissioning is complicated, risky and expensive. With a new UK nuclear expansion programme planned, how much will it cost us to eventually clean it up and deal with its wastes? Hinkley will be the first of the proposed new plants. In June 2016, Andrea Leadsom, then an Energy Minister in DECC (now of course also departed) said that it was estimated that the decommissioning and long-term radioactive waste management costs for EDFs proposed Hinkley 3.2 GW plant will be‘around £2/MWh of the strike price’– which has been set at £92.5/MWh, under the Contract for Difference (CfD) subsidy scheme. It’s hard to know how realistic this £2 figure is and exactly what it covers. And it proved worryingly hard to get the full information. However now new estimates have emerged for at least part of it: reportedly, the cost of clean up/decommissioning will be between £5.9bn and £7.2bn with a start in the decades long dismantling and clean-up programme being made in the 2080s. All being well, this will be the responsibility of the operator, with contingency extras added in to the legal agreement to cover any overshoot. Though who knows if those will be sufficient- all previous decommissioning estimates have proved to be wrong.
Environmental Research Web 31st Dec 2016 read more »
Regardless of one’s views of the social values of nuclear power — compelling cases can be made all around — as a business proposition nuclear stinks. The latest evidence comes from the giant Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, which saw a third of its market value vanish in two days of trading (20% in one day, a free-fall stopped only by a limit to trading losses imposed by the Japanese stock market). Credit rating agencies promptly downgraded the company’s debt. Toshiba’s stock crash was a result of billions in reported losses from its Westinghouse Electric subsidiary and Westinghouse’s ruinous investment last year in nuclear engineering and construction behemoth CB&I Stone & Webster, itself the product of an ill-fated merger. Toshiba’s nuclear business has been hemorrhaging money at its U.S. construction projects in Georgia and South Carolina. Westinghouse is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget at its two construction projects: Southern’s Vogtle and Scana Corp.’s Summer units, a total of four Westinghouse AP1000 reactors under construction. Toshiba faces the possibility that its nuclear troubles will lead the company to a negative net worth. My colleague Aaron Larson describes the gory business details well. The bottom line is that Westinghouse threatens to bring Toshiba to its financial knees, although the firm is too large to fail entirely. It may well require a Japanese government bailout. Then there is France’s Areva, which has been bleeding red ink for more than a decade and would have expired but for its French government owners, and a recent bailout. The company is far behind schedule and vastly over budget on construction projects in Finland and France. Late last year, discovery of quality control problems in carbon steel forgings from Areva’s Le Creusot Forge shocked the company. The allegations closed 20 of France’s 58 operating reactors, which also could jeopardize regulatory approval for extended operation at the aging plants.
Power Mag 1st Jan 2017 read more »
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) recently issued a six page memorandum for the Trump transition team titled Nuclear Power in America and the World that outlines a program to improve America’s nuclear energy capabilities. It leads with the following paragraph. Economic, reliable, stable electricity is the lifeblood of our economy, a critical ingredient of prosperity for companies big and small, and for many cities and rural areas. A key part of that system is nuclear electricity, which is fundamental to energy independence, national security and assuring that American industry will retain global technological leadership in the manufacture and export of energy technology. The memo pre-emptively responds to the neoliberals that have spent most of the last 40 years preaching the gospel of deregulation and “free” enterprise as the inevitable path for providing critical energy fuels and electricity supplies with the following reminder. “The energy sector has always been heavily shaped by government policy.” Even restructured energy markets that claim to be competitive are fundamentally altered by choices made by various regulatory decisions and government purchasing policies.
Forbes 31st Dec 2016 read more »
Letter: Damon Moglen & S. David Freeman. Re “To Save the Planet, Go Nuclear,” by Senators Lamar Alexander and Sheldon Whitehouse (Op-Ed, Dec. 22): The writers appear to have forgotten both the renewable revolution and the dangers of nuclear power. Today solar and wind power are lower in cost than even the existing nuclear plants, much less the runaway cost of new nuclear reactors. They also ignore the danger of nuclear power despite the very real risk of a huge release of deadly radiation from Fukushima-type accidents and the highly radioactive waste that they generate, for which there is no safe resting place after a 50-year search. The real path “to save the planet” is the agreement we’ve reached in California with Pacific Gas and Electric to replace the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant with a portfolio of efficiency and renewable energy. The utility itself agreed that renewables are cheaper than continuing to run that old nuclear plant.
New York Times 31st Dec 2016 read more »
A day after Barack Obama announced tough new sanctions over what intelligence agencies believe to be Russian attempts to influence the presidential election in favour of Donald Trump, US officials said computer code linked to Russian-sponsored hackers had been detected in a computer at a Vermont electric utility. The municipally run Burlington electric department confirmed on Friday that it had found, in a laptop not connected to grid systems, malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the name the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FBI have applied to a Russian campaign linked to cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations.
Observer 31st Dec 2016 read more »
Koizumi’s transformation in retirement into Japan’s most outspoken opponent of nuclear power. Though he supported nuclear power when he served as prime minister from 2001-06, he is now dead set against it and calling for the permanent shutdown of all 54 of Japan’s nuclear reactors, which were taken offline after the Fukushima disaster. “I want to work hard toward my goal that there will be zero nuclear power generation,” Koizumi said in an interview in a Tokyo conference room. The reversal means going up against his old colleagues in the governing Liberal Democratic Party as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who are pushing to get Japan, once dependent for about one third of its energy on nuclear plants, back into the nuclear power business. That Koizumi would take a contrarian view is perhaps not surprising. He was once known as “the Destroyer” because he tangled with his own party to push through difficult policy proposals like privatization of the national postal service. Koizumi first declared his about-face on nuclear power three years ago, calling for Japan to switch to renewable sources of energy like solar power and arguing that “there is nothing more costly than nuclear power.”
Sante Fe New Mexican 1st Jan 2017 read more »
RWE will be able to pay the 6.8 billion euros ($7.15 billion) requested by the government to fund the storage of nuclear waste in one lump sum by the middle of 2017, newspaper Die Welt reported, citing the firm’s chief executive. German utilities RWE, E.ON EnBW and Vattenfall agreed with the government in October to start contributing this year to a 23.6 billion euro fund in exchange for shifting liability for nuclear waste storage to the state, giving investors greater clarity over their future finances.
Reuters 2nd Jan 2017 read more »
This year #Ban Fracking Now.
Thunderclap 1st Jan 2017 read more »
Three separate fracking projects could crank into action this year as Britain’s shale gas industry finally gets off the starting blocks after years of delay, according to industry chiefs. Hydraulic fracturing at a site in Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, could start within weeks after a judge rejected a legal appeal by environmental campaigners and residents to halt the project, led by Third Energy, just before Christmas. Activity at the site in the North York Moors could start within weeks. Two other operators – Cuadrilla Resources and iGas – hope that they will be able to start operations at sites in Lancashire and Nottinghamshire this year. A proposal from Cuadrilla to drill four wells and frack for shale gas at a site near Blackpool in Lancashire is well advanced. Planning consent has already been granted and Cuadrilla hopes to finalise plans for the scheme by the end of this month, said the company’s spokeswoman Jacqui Reid. “We hope that we can finally get going,” she said, adding that she expected fracking to start this summer.
Times 2nd Jan 2017 read more »
The latest battleground for the future of fracking in Britain looks set to be Sherwood Forest, the legendary home of folk hero Robin Hood and now the target of a seismic survey by Ineos. The chemical multinational, which relocated its headquarters back to the UK last month, appears to have agreed terms with the Forestry commission to start burying charges and spend up to two years using “thumper trucks” or vibroseis machines to search for shale gas.
Guardian 1st Jan 2017 read more »