Letter Allan Jeffery: Who’d a Thought it! I never dreamed I would see the day when a British Conservative government, opened the door and welcomed in a Chinese State Communist government into the centre of Britain’s Financial Systems and Nuclear Power Industry. Not only this, but as the German Commissioner investigating the Hinkley Point deal, uttered, “this is a soviet style deal!” Yes, our government is going to force British citizens and businesses to pay double the present price for our electricity for 35 years, in order to guarantee huge profits for the Chinese Banks and the French government’s electricity industry, as they attempt to build a failed reactor design that no other country in the world wants. Osborne and Cameron should be aware of the serious diplomatic and security consequences of becoming too close to the Chinese Communist State government. America will not be keen on a Chinese company that builds nuclear bombs at the heart of the nuclear power station building in the UK. Japanese companies embarking on building their nuclear reactors here, have to be convinced that the Chinese design of reactors will not be short tracked to speed up their assessment approval ahead of the Japanese designs. The prospect of China supplying the design, parts and workers to build a nuclear plant at Bradwell, is very worrying to the building trade unions, as well as the local population there. It seems that the declining nuclear industry is forcing our pro-nuclear politicians into communist style ways of working to achieve their virtual, fantasy, nuclear dreams!
Bridgwater Mercury 19th Dec 2015 read more »
A SECRET plan to ship nuclear weapons-grade uranium from northern Scotland to the US has been condemned as an “open invitation to terrorists”. The Sunday Herald can reveal that the UK Government is preparing to transport nearly five kilograms of enriched uranium by sea from Dounreay in Caithness to the US government’s nuclear complex at Savannah River in South Carolina. The uranium is contained in five research reactor fuel assemblies that were airlifted in emergency out of the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 1998 to prevent them being stolen and made into nuclear bombs. The fuel was taken to Dounreay, where it has remained ever since. But earlier this year the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a US nuclear transport company authorisation for a “one-time shipment” of the fuel before the end of 2016. “This shipment is in the interest of US national security,” said the NRC safety evaluation report. The Sunday Herald has established that this is the fuel that was taken from a reactor at a physics research institute in Mtskheta, 15 kilometres from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in a secretive US operation codenamed Auburn Endeavour in April 1998. The US government was worried at the time that it could have fallen into the hands of Chechen gangs or Iran. Environmental groups, however, are alarmed at the prospect of moving “such highly dangerous radioactive material” around the world. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has also voiced concerns and demanded that the UK Government “come clean” about the shipment. Martin Forwood from the anti-nuclear group, Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, has been monitoring the fate of the Georgian uranium at Dounreay for years. “Plans to remove this weapons-grade highly enriched uranium fuel from safety and ship it 4,000 miles across the Atlantic sends an open invitation to terrorists keen to get their hands on this prime terrorist material,” he said. “Common sense dictates that such dangerous material should remain in the UK and not be deliberately and unnecessarily exposed to the significant safety and security risks encountered at sea and the hostile forces that the world faces today.” Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The bean counters have really excelled themselves with this plan to transport highly dangerous radioactive material across an ocean for no good reason.” He pointed out that the world had a glut of nuclear weapons. “So this bomb-grade material is of no use to anyone except terrorists,” he argued. They were backed by Tom Clements, director of Savannah River Site Watch, an environmental group in Columbia, South Carolina. “As the UK is a nuclear weapons state holding large stocks of weapon-usable materials, it serves no nuclear non-proliferation purpose to ship this material to the Savannah River Site,” he said. “The additional land transport and the sea transport pose environmental and security risks that can easily be avoided by leaving the material in the UK.”
Sun Herald 20th Dec 2015 read more »
Radioactive waste from the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria is contaminating shellfish hundreds of kilometres away on the west coast of Scotland, according to a new scientific study. Scottish researchers discovered traces of radioactive carbon discharged from Sellafield in the shells of mussels, cockles and winkles as far north as Port Appin in Argyll, 160 miles from the notorious nuclear plant. The findings are a “wake-up call” for anyone who thinks pollution from Sellafield is yesterday’s problem, say campaigners. Sellafield, however, stresses that the contamination is well below safety limits. The study was carried out by a team of scientists from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre in East Kilbride and The Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban. It has been publish ed online in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. The scientists found raised levels of radioactive carbon-14 in shellfish sampled at Port Appin, at Maidens in South Ayrshire and at Garlieston and Kippford on the Solway coast of Dumfries and Galloway. Mussels were most contaminated “due to the surface environment they inhabit and their feeding behaviour,” they said. Dr Ian Fairlie, an independent radiation consultant, described some of the carbon-14 contamination as “surprisingly high”. At Garlieston near Dumfries concentrations in mussels were almost three times the normal background level, while at Port Appin, north of Oban, they were 20 per cent higher. “As few, if any, shellfish are eaten from the west coast, these increases are probably not dangerous,” he said. “If they were eaten, the increased risks would be low, but it’s regrettable that the west coast of Scotland – one of the most beautiful unspoiled parts of the UK – should be polluted by radioactivity in this way.” Michael Russell, the former SNP minister and MSP for Argyll and Bute, promised to raise the contamination with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa). “This demonstrates yet again that there is no such thing as a contained, safe, non polluting nuclear site,” he said. “The contamination will last for a very long time even if such places are closed at an early date. It is very foolish for the UK Government to continue to encourage nuclear activity which has been rejected by the vast majority of Scottish MPs and MSPs.” Pete Roche, an energy consultant and editor of ‘no2 nuclear power’ website, said: “This is a wake-up call for anyone in Scotland who thinks contamination from Sellafield is yesterday’s problem.” He pointed out that waste fuel from nuclear plants at Torness in East Lothian, Hunterston in North Ayrshi re and Dounreay in Caithness will continue to be reprocessed at Sellafield until at least 2018. “Radioactive discharges will continue to flow back in the other direction long after that,” he argued.
Sun Herald 20th Dec 2015 read more »
DISCUSSIONS have taken place about the future of the Trawsfynnyd nuclear power plant site and the feasibilty of installing a new nuclear reactor. The Snowdonia Enterprise Zone Advisory Board is exploring the potential for the Trawsfynydd site to be a future base for the development of small modular reactors (SMRs). SMRs are nuclear power plants that are smaller in size than current generation plants. These smaller, compact designs are factory-fabricated reactors that can be transported by truck or rail to a nuclear power site and produce approximately 30 per cent as much energy as their much larger counter parts. An independent report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) undertaken in September 2014 identified Trawsfynydd as a future candidate site to host any future UK SMR deployment.
Cambrian News 19th Dec 2015 read more »
French nuclear group Areva’s net income for 2015 will show “a heavy loss”, but discussions have begun on the sale of propulsion and research reactors business Areva TA, with the most likely outcome being that the state will become the direct majority shareholder. This proposal is in “the preliminary stage”, Areva said, and will necessitate dialogue with unions and approval by Areva’s governing bodies. In a progress report on its 2015 financial outlook, Areva said net cash flow from operating activities is expected to be about minus €1.2bn ($1.3bn) compared to an initial forecast of minus €1.7bn to minus €1.3bn. Including net savings already generated by a competitiveness plan announced earlier this year, negative net cash flow would be €0.9bn, Areva said. The progress report said negotiations with French nuclear operator EDF about the sale of a majority share of reactor business subsidiary Areva NP are making progress and could be concluded early next year. EDF said in July 2015 it had agreed to buy “at least 51 percent” of Areva NP. The Areva group’s restructuring and a related financing plan will be specified during the publication of 2015 results at the latest, the company said. Areva also said firm offers will be submitted before the end of the year for a planned sale in 2016 of its UK-based subsidiary Canberra, which supplies instrumentation for the nuclear industry.
Nucnet 18th Dec 2015 read more »
The government’s line is that it’s time to pull the plug on supporting renewable energy – as if a few years of vital subsidies can make up for a century of economic and infrastructural support for fossil fuels. Renewable energy, like most industries, needs some government support to get going, and to realise the best results. Think of the tax breaks and research grants still given to oil and gas, the direct subsidies for nuclear, the publicly-funded roads that facilitate cars, or the national space programmes that eventually brought us the mobile phone. The argument that this U-turn is about protecting consumers’ bills simply does not hold. Cuts to rooftop solar announced on Thursday will save just 0.9% off a yearly bill, by 2020. Many of the alternatives the government is turning to are actually more expensive than renewables – Hinkley Point C would cost consumers twice the current wholesale price of electricity. And the single best thing that would cut bills – insulating homes – has seen just about all public support scrapped. Contrast the rhetoric on renewables with the huge support for fracking and nuclear and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the government has its favourites. All this is hurting people, investment and business. About 20,000 people could lose their jobs as a result of the latest changes to rooftop solar. Entrepreneurs and investors may walk away from the sector , and who could blame them? A vast amount of human capital in skills, training and motivation will be wasted. EY has repeatedly warned of the devastation that ministers are causing, deliberately or not, to inward investment. In response to criticism that it has been cutting support for renewables the government is now talking up innovation, highlighting a plan to double investment in clean energy research and development (although much of this seems to be for nuclear). But innovation isn’t what you do instead of supporting investment today. It’s not either/or. It is no accident that those countries with the largest renewable manufacturing industries also have thriving local markets. Innovation comes, in part, from getting on with it.
Guardian 20th Dec 2015 read more »
Six changes the Government needs to make after Paris.
Independent 18th Dec 2015 read more »
Iran will export most of its enriched uranium stockpile to Russia in the coming days as it rushes to implement a nuclear deal and secure relief from international sanctions, Tehran’s nuclear chief was quoted as saying yesterday. Under the terms of the deal it reached in July with world powers, Iran must reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium to around 660 lb, mothball most of its centrifuges, and remove the core of a heavy water reactor at Arak so it cannot be used to produce plutonium. Tehran said it was working to complete the requirements in the next two to three weeks.
Sun Herald 20th Dec 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
The government’s declaration of a nuclear emergency on March 11, 2011, reached only 16.5 percent of residents in Fukushima Prefecture by the following day, according to a Cabinet Office survey. A key reason for this seems to have been that the communication structure in coastal areas was wiped out by the towering tsunami generated by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake that led to the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The government directive was issued about four hours after the earthquake struck.
Asahi Shimbun 19th Dec 2015 read more »
Tihange’s reactor 1 was taken offline at 10:35 p.m. (2135 UTC) Friday following a fire in a non-nuclear section of the plant, operator Electrabel told Belgium’s private Belga news agency. Electrabel said the incident did not impact workers, the public or the environment. The power plant – about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the German border city of Aachen – is controversial in neighboring Germany. Earlier this week regional government authorities in Germany protested Belgium’s decision to restart the plant’s reactor 2 following a two-year shutdown after discovery of micro-cracks in the reactor’s cement casing in 2012.
Deutsche Welle 19th Dec 2015 read more »
A worker at a shuttered nuclear weapons plant in Washington state was contaminated with plutonium earlier this month, triggering a federal investigation into the transportation of potentially contaminated ventilation devices through three states, the Times has learned. The incident occurred during cleanup operations at the Plutonium Finishing Plant, a highly contaminated facility that has been inactive for 25 years at the Hanford Site in central Washington, along the Columbia River. Department of Energy officials say they do not believe any individuals, apart from the single contaminated worker, were exposed to plutonium, though it is continuing its investigation into the incident
LA Times 18th Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
WESTMINSTER is “lacking ambition” for offshore wind farms in Scotland where plans for massive schemes are “dead-ended” because developers cannot secure a contract to supply green energy to the grid. At least three offshore wind farms awarded planning consent more than a year ago are on hold until they can secure a permit from the UK government to sell energy on Britain’s power network. The permits – known as contracts for difference – can only be acquired through an auction, the last of which was held in February. This weekend, officials from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) indicated the next auction could be a full year away. The disclosure has drawn an angry response from industry umbrella body Scottish Renewables, which recently warned that offshore wind farms need to be built if a target to produce 100% of Scotland’s electricity needs by 2020 is to be met.
Sunday Times 20th Dec 2015 read more »
Ministers have been accused of wasting millions of pounds of consumers’ money after insisting every household must be offered a gadget to display their energy usage – despite new evidence suggesting most families won’t use them. The display units, which cost about £15 each to produce, are to be handed out ‘free of charge’ to consumers as part of the Government’s scheme to install “smart” gas and electricity meter in every home by 2020. The meters will send data back to suppliers, ending estimated billing. A key Government argument for the £11 billion scheme is that households will also be able to monitor their energy usage in real-time via the display units, encouraging them to use less energy and save money. Although households will face no up-front charge for the devices – meaning most are expected to accept one – their cost will be paid for by all consumers through levies on their energy bills for years to come.
Telegraph 18th Dec 2015 read more »