20 January 2016

Plutonium Transport

Barrow ships Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron, moved from the Ramsden Dock nuclear terminal in the early hours of this morning 19th January, sailed from the port on the 7am high tide. Though the destination of the empty ships has not been officially disclosed, the dockside activities around them in the days prior to departure indicate that the ships are bound for Japan where they will pick up a consignment of plutonium for onward shipment to the United States. The Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron, each fitted with naval canon, are operated by Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd (PNTL) and managed by International Nuclear Services, INS – a wholly owned subsidiary of the NDA. The presence of a heavily armed security squad (provided by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary’s Marine Escort Group) on both ships, the earlier loading of stores and the craning on board of live ammunition yesterday points to a long and security-conscious voyage ahead rather than a sunset cruise around Morecambe Bay or routine sea trials in the Irish Sea. The shipment of plutonium from Japan to the United States falls under the US-led Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) or M3 – Material Management & Minimisation programme whereby weapons-useable material such as plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) is removed from facilities worldwide for safekeeping in the United Sates. The cargo to be loaded onto the two UK ships in Japan consists of some 331kgs of plutonium from Japan’s Tokai Research Establishment. The 331kgs of plutonium –a substantial fraction of which was supplied to Japan by the UK decades ago for‘ experimental purposes’ in Tokai’s Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) – is described by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as ‘posing a potential threat to national security, being susceptible to use in an improvised nuclear device, and presenting a high risk of theft or diversion’ or, as another US expert puts it‘is sufficient to make up to 40 nuclear bombs’. ‘The practice of shipping this plutonium to the US as a safeguard is completely undermined by deliberately exposing this prime terrorist material to a lengthy sea transport during which it will face the everyday maritime risks and the targeting by those with hostile intentions. Whilst the Barrow ships may have been empty when they left the port today, we condemn their use for such a shipment which we see as being wholly unnecessary and a significant security threat in today’s volatile and unpredictable world’.

CORE 19th Jan 2016 read more »

A controversial plan to remove plutonium from Japan for shipment to the United States has now begun with departure of two empty transport ships from the United Kingdom. The transport mission begins under intense pressure to complete the shipment before the Nuclear Security Summit begins in Washington, DC in late March. The UK-flagged transport ships Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron, both outfitted with deck-mounted weapons, departed their home port of Barrow-in-Furness, UK in the early morning of January 19, as informed by the UK group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE). The ships, operated by Pacific Nuclear Transport limited (PNTL), are bound for the Tokai nuclear facility, north of Tokyo. At Tokai, 331 kilograms of plutonium that has been used for nuclear reactor research at the Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) will be loaded onto the vessels for shipment to the US. The cargo may also contain highly enriched uranium now at the FCA. All of the plutonium, which originated in the United Kingdom, United States and France, is likely to be transported to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, via the military port of Charleston, South Carolina.

Savannah River Watch 19th Jan 2016 read more »


A DECISION on whether a nuclear power station is built at Hinkley Point could be announced next week. Reports in the French press indicate that the board of directors of the French state electricity generator EDF will meet on January 27 to make a final investment decision on the construction of two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point near Bridgwater. The final investment decision on the project has been delayed due to the lengthy negotiations with Chinese partners. However even now there are concerns that the board might defer the decision for the ninth time. EDF is also locked in negotiations surrounding a complex deal to buy a French nuclear reactor builder, Areva, and in the disposal of it’s stake in eight current British nuclear power stations, five in the US, one in Finland and a number of Polish coal fired plants. The future of hundreds of businesses, thousands of potential jobs and millions of pounds in investment in Somerset depends on whether the plans to build Hinkley Point C go ahead. Campaigners opposed to the building of Hinkley Point C are sceptical that the project will ever see the light of day. Stop Hinkley spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: “I’ll believe it when I see it. This is the ninth time EDF has said a final investment decision is imminent. Just last October the chairman of EDF, Jean-Bernard Levy, said work would be starting before the end of 2015. It would be completely reckless of the Board to give the go-ahead to this £25 billion project when the company is in such a parlous state.”

Central Somerset Gazette 19th Jan 2016 read more »

The British government gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for a power line project at the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, part of the infrastructure needed for electricity transmission at the planned station.The project, which will use a new generation of pylon called the T-pylon, will carry power from EDF’s 3.2 gigawatt nuclear plant to the southwest of England.”This is a step forward in the Hinkley Point C project, which will play a crucial part in our plan to provide clean, affordable and secure energy for hardworking families and businesses,” energy and climate minister Lord Bourne said in a statement.

Reuters 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Power Engineering 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Business Green 20th Jan 2016 read more »

Today’s decision by the Secretary of State to approve the Hinkley Point C connection is an important step towards enabling the proposed new nuclear power station to supply enough low carbon electricity for over five million homes. The extra transmission capacity is needed for Hinkley Point C to make its important contribution to the UK’s requirement for affordable, low carbon electricity for decades to come. It already has planning approval (through a Development Consent Order) from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, granted in March 2013, as well as other licences and consents required.

EDF Energy 19th Jan 2016 read more »

EDF funded police force say there are two types of protestors that demonstrate outside Hinkley Point. Sgt Steve Crago told the town council in Bridgwater that there were planned and unplanned protests which they were experienced in dealing with. He said: “Planned protests are easy to deal with as we get advance notice of those. As an example in October the Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato and a French politician gathered at Hinkley Point. WE met with their representatives. We had a plan and the plan were very well with 100 people there and it was a successful day.” Three weeks later there was a different protest which was unplanned. “At half past six one morning,” he said,“it was about half a mile from the power station were three people in the middle of the road preventing 2,000 people from getting on the site. It was interesting to note that they were three females aged 62, 65 and 72. So we are dealing with all types of people.”

Burnham & Highbridge Weekly News 18th Jan 2016 read more »

Hinkley Point C will be the UK’s first new nuclear power station built for a generation, and will pave the way for further nuclear power stations. Hinkley Point C is a big opportunity for UK steel, as well as for UK construction and manufacturing more widely. UK companies have been successful in securing over £250m of manufacturing contracts right across the country, which is further evidence of our growing confidence that UK plc can be competitive and deliver the quality standards required of New Nuclear Build. The project has a large and varied demand for steel. This includes around 200,000 tonnes of reinforcement in the concrete structures, over 600,000 embedment plates, large quantities of structural steelwork for the construction of the turbine halls and other structures, steel containment liners to the two reactor buildings, stainless steel liners to fuel ponds and a thousand kilometres of steel pipework. It is our expectation that a large proportion of this requirement will come from UK companies, subject to a competitive process.

EDF Energy 19th Jan 2016 read more »


Hitachi has announced the creation of a UK subsidiary tasked with designing and building new nuclear power plants in Britain. Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe will work on the engineering, procurement and construction of Wylfa Newydd, Horizon Nuclear Power’s proposed new plant in Wales. Hitachi acquired Horizon in 2012 for £700 million. Another subsidiary of Hitachi will supply Wylfa Newydd’s two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors, which will have a combined generation capacity of 2.7GW. The new company plans to form a joint venture with Bechtel and JGC to work as a key contractor on the development. A memorandum of understanding has been signed by the three parties, which should allow the final phases of negotiation to take place, according to Hitachi.

Utility Week 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Construction News 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Hitachi today announced the incorporation of a new UK company – Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe – as part of its strategy to enhance its UK presence for the engineering, procurement and construction of Horizon Nuclear Power’s new nuclear power plant development at Wylfa Newydd. Horizon Nuclear Power, a 100% subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd, plans to deploy the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) at two sites – Wylfa Newydd, which is on the Isle of Anglesey, and Oldbury-on-Severn, in South Gloucestershire. Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe will lead Tokyo-headquartered Hitachi’s work in a proposed joint venture with potential partners Bechtel Management Company and JGC Corporation. Speaking at UK Trade & Investment’s (UKTI’s) annual nuclear showcase, Hitachi Europe’s Shunsuke Utena described formation of Hitachi Nuclear Energy Europe as “a key pillar of our increasing UK capability”. UKTI is a UK government department.

World Nuclear News 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Hitachi-GE has formed a UK delivery team to lead an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) scope of work for Horizon Nuclear Power for their nuclear new build projects at Wylfa Newydd and Oldbury-on-Severn. The EPC work which Hitachi-GE leads will account for some 85-90% of the overall project scope, and entail a multi-billion pound supply chain spend.

Scottish Energy News 20th Jan 2016 read more »


An initiative designed to find the next generation of young people to work in the nuclear and electricity generating industries has been launched in West Cumbria. “Bright Sparks” is a programme set-up by NuGen, the company behind the planned new nuclear power station at Moorside near Sellafield. 160 schoolchildren from three west Cumbrian schools have spent today getting an overview of the power industry, its impact on the world and finding out about what sort of jobs could one day be available to them.

ITV 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Energy Policy

One option to clean the nation’s power supply is to replace like for like. Switch massive coal plants for massive nuclear plants, or attach carbon capture technology to gas and coal fuelled facilities. There are two problems here. One is that both of these options are very capital intensive, which means they need to run all the time to be economically worthwhile. But we don’t use power all the time, so bill-payers would still need to stump up for a raft of gas power stations which, when they run, would still emit carbon dioxide. The other, more fundamental, issue is that neither the nuclear nor carbon capture plans seem to be going terribly well. A detailed study for the European power system by McKinsey, KEMA and Imperial College showed that by 2030 interconnection and demand side response “shifting up to 10% of daily load in response to availability of supply, decreases the need for grid capacity by 10% and back-up capacity by 35% and thus helps in managing the risk of insufficient grid transmission. Demand response also reduces the volatility of power prices by better matching demand to available supply, reducing volatility by 10–30%”.

Energy Desk 18th Jan 2016 read more »

Energy Policy – Scotland

The Scottish Government is planning to cut spending on policies that help to tackle climate change by almost 10 per cent, according to a new analysis from WWF Scotland. The Scottish Government has won plaudits from environmental groups in recent years for a host of environmental targets and increased investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and zero waste initiatives. But a review of its 2016-2017 draft budget carried out by WWF this month shows funding for mitigation measures is scheduled to drop to £456m, down from £502m over the last budget period.

Business Green 19th Jan 2016 read more »


The European Commission (EC) said in a statement published in European Union Official Journal on 12 January that it “doubts” whether state aid measures proposed by Hungary’s government in relation to the extension of its Paks nuclear plant (Paks II) “is proportionate”. The EC also questioned the calculations of the capital costs and investment return rates used by Hungary’s government and said the Hungarian government could submit its comments on the state aid investigation within a month.

Nuclear Engineering International 19th Jan 2016 read more »


If 2015 was the year that the ongoing global energy transition away from nuclear power and fossil fuels and toward a clean energy system based on renewables gained public notice, then 2016 naturally should be the year that the transition takes visible and meaningful steps forward. Two critical steps that occurred in December ensure that the coming year is indeed likely to be that kind of pivotal, transformative period. The first was, of course, the international COP 21 climate agreement, which–despite its flaws–will cause a global acceleration of the transition. The second factor, here in the U.S., was the five-year extension (and eventual phase-out) of tax credits for solar and wind power deployment. Both will combine to enable 2016, and the years immediately following, to attain milestone after milestone in the development of a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system.

Green World 19th Jan 2016 read more »


Shikoku Electric Power Company has applied to the Japanese regulator to construct a back-up emergency response building at unit 3 of its Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime prefecture.

World Nuclear News 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Weapons Convoys

A Renton man has condemned the MOD for the “highly irresponsible” way in which they transported a convoy of nuclear warheads through West Dunbartonshire at the weekend. Les Robertson, from Hillfoot, Renton, warned that a nuclear catastrophe could occur in the future- if the transportation of warheads around the country isn’t made more safe.

Dumbarton Reporter 12th Jan 2016 read more »

A Scottish MP has condemned the transportation of nuclear weapons through the streets of Scotland as an “unacceptable risk to public safety” and will today propose legislation to immediately halt the unsafe practice. Owen Thompson, the SNP MP for Midlothian, will raise the issue in a 10-minute rule motion in the Commons; a parliamentary device used to raise an issue of concern but which rarely leads to legislation being enacted. In it, he will call for cross-party support against the use of the nuclear convoys, which travel between Berkshire, where the weapons are made and serviced, and Coulport in Argyll, where they are stored and loaded. The MP pointed out that, according to information from campaign group Nukewatch, a convoy carrying nuclear weapons has travelled across Midlothian on several occasions, parking close to schools and sparking local outrage.

Herald 20th Jan 2016 read more »

SNP MPs secure Commons debate to remove nuclear convoys from Scottish roads.

The National 20th Jan 2016 read more »


Letter David Lowry: I am very pleased that Jeremy Corbyn has opened a wide-ranging debate in the Labour party over nuclear WMDs, and I share his opposition to these deadly weapons. But I think he is misguided in proposing going ahead with building the missile-carrying nuclear-powered submarines as a replacement for Trident, but deploying them without any arms. This would be a massively expensive make-work programme for the existing and future workforces at Barrow shipyard, and the manufacturing supply chain, serving no purpose other than appeasing his trade union backers, who themselves, after decades resisting defence diversification, ought now to wake up to its merits for their members. Your security expert Richard Norton-Taylor is correct to point out that the shipbuilding expertise of the Barrow workforce could be much better deployed in building surface ships and perhaps conventionally powered and armed submarines.

Guardian 19th Jan 2016 read more »

The UK’s nuclear deterrent force currently consists of four Vanguard-class submarines each capable of carrying up to 16 Trident II D-5 ballistic nuclear missiles. At least one submarine is constantly on patrol, while one undergoes maintenance and the other two carry out manoeuvers. Aboad each submarine are 16 nuclear missiles, capable of hitting a target up to 7,500 miles away.

Telegraph 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Renewables – wind

In amongst the very partial comments you here about winds obvious variability, few point out that onshore wind also has great benefits which cannot be wished away. People frequently point out occasions when there isn’t much wind power and say how we need other fuels. What they don’t mention is the other half of the coin – how often wind power saves the day by stepping in when power plant break down and power would otherwise be very expensive. There was a neat exchange on this point in the House of Commons on Jan 18th. Callum McCaig MP said So we are backing up the cheap renewables with fossil fuels that are not so cheap, and the solution to that is to use the fossil fuels that are not so cheap all the time? That sum does not quite add up. I am not sure that I have worked out the equation.

Dave Toke’s Blog 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Renewables – floating turbines

Hexicon is planning to build and operate a semi-submersible platform to support two floating wind turbines at a site approximately 9km from the Dounreay power station on the north coast of Scotland. The Swedish company is currently in the earliest stages of planning for the Dounreay Tri demonstrator project. HiDef Aerial Surveying has provided video marine mammal and bird surveys to Hexicon since January 2015 to support the consent application.

RENews 18th Jan 2016 read more »

Energy Efficiency

The government will tackle fuel poverty with a new energy efficiency scheme, including a supplier obligation costing around £640 million, energy minister Lord Bourne told MPs today. Bourne, under-secretary of state for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc), said that energy efficiency measures in the wake of the Green Deal and ECO would be “centric to fuel poverty.” He told a meeting of the Energy and Climate Change committee that detailed plans for a single scheme to replace the Green Deal and ECO would not be set out until 2018, with a focus on “how we recast ECO”. He did not comment on how more affluent householders would be encouraged to improve energy efficiency – a key aim of the now defunct Green Deal. Bourne said once ECO comes to a close in 2017, there will be a transitional year before an announcement about how it will be carried on, “likely by spring” the following year.

Utility Week 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Families could be offered discounts on stamp duty or council tax if they agree to insulate their homes, under plans being considered by the Government. Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, the energy minister, revealed that ministers were considering incentives that could be offered to households to carry out energy-efficient home improvements, following the failure of the flagship Green Deal loan scheme.

Telegraph 19th Jan 2016 read more »

Fossil Fuels – CCS

The nascent carbon-capture industry was shocked last year when Chancellor Osborne cancelled the £1 billion grant for long-planned Carbon Capture and Storage scheme to be developed in Peterhead by Shell and SSE. This project was set to create some 600 jobs in north east Scotland and had already reached an advanced planning stage by developer Shell. At the time Shell said only that it was ‘disappointed’ at the Chancellor’s decision. Now the oil giant has told MPs on the inquiry by the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee into the ‘Future of CCS in the UK’ that: If approved, the Peterhead project would have been the world’s first CCS facility fitted to an existing gas-fired power plant; It had the potential to bring huge value, placing the UK at the forefront of this vital technology, and developing knowledge for the benefit of a wider industry; The Peterhead CCS project would have in of itself been a large scale contributor to the UK’s decarbonisation efforts, generating 400MW of clean, reliable, baseload electricity for 15 years, cutting emissions by up to 90%, and capturing, transporting and storing up to 15MtCO2; In the short to medium term it could also have been an anchor to develop a CCS hub in the region.

Scottish Energy News 20th Jan 2016 read more »


Published: 20 January 2016