MORE highly radioactive material than previously thought has been discovered stuck in the core of Dounreay’s famous domed reactor, its operators have revealed. One of the world’s leading independent nuclear experts described the admission as “astonishing” and would cost “millions” to solve. Site operators DSRL has confirmed that last year a specialist camera was sent into the reactor to survey the state of the breeder fuel that remained – and captured the first footage for over 50 years of the core. Nitrogen cooled digital cameras were inserted into the reactor and recorded the images of the internal structures and the breeder fuel matrix. The images will enable Dounreay to prepare accurate plans for the “safe removal” of the remaining fuel and ultimately dismantling the reactor, housed inside the site’s famous – and increasingly rusting – dome. But the camera made a startling discovery. “The camera showed that a larger proportion of the remaining fuel was stuck than had been believed,” said a spokeswoman. “The time and cost will form part of the reprofiling of the decomissioning programme.” She was unable to give any estimate of the cost of the operation. It is hoped that a revised plan – which will also take into account other changed issues at Dounreay such as security and nuclear fuel transportation – will be revealed in November. But world renowned independent nuclear expert Dr John Large, described the discovery as “concerning.” “It will cost millions but what I find astonishing is that they didn’t know they had left so much of highly radioactive material in the core,” said Dr Large,
Scotsman 19th Aug 2014 read more »
On July 10, DSRL informed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency of elevated levels of radioactivity found in a manhole in a redundant offsite drainage system upstream of the site. Initial samples of sludge were taken from the manhole which indicated elevated levels of alpha activity. Further analysis of the samples has been completed and the results indicate that the alpha activity is from natural uranium, possibly concentrated through a chemical process used by the Shebster water treatment plant upstream of the manhole. A now-disconnected pipeline from the water works enabled sludges from treatment at the works to be disposed into the Dounreay drainage system. This is a phenomenon seen in other areas of the UK where similar material and concentrations of naturally occurring uranium have been found in abandoned pipelines.
DSRL 15th Aug 2014 read more »
A NEW £9 million nuclear analysis laboratory has been installed at Dounreay despite the site being in terminal rundown. The 1300 sqm unit, which will remain in use for up to 25 years until decommissioning has been completed, has been created off-site using a modular construction. It is the first nuclear facility of its kind to be built using the technique and is now undergoing active commissioning after being craned into position during a four-day operation. The building, manufactured in York, has six labs, which will be used to examine radioactive materials.
John O Groat Journal 20th Aug 2014 read more »
The energy company behind plans for a nuclear power plant in east Suffolk has been called upon to reconsider its “inappropriate” transport proposals associated with the project.
East Anglian Daily Times 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Five spent fuel ponds have so far been drained as part of a UK national project to decommission redundant magnox power stations before they start a long care and maintenance (C&M) phase to accommodate radioactive decay. A roving team using simple tools and innovation techniques carries out the work. The ponds clean-up programme is being carried out at five sites: Hinkley Point A, Bradwell (the lead magnox site, expected in 2015 to enter the 80-100 year care & maintenance stage to reduce radioactivity levels before final demolition), Hunterston A, Chapelcross and Trawsfynydd; all are at different stages. Of the remaining sites, Dungeness ponds will be next, then Sizewell’s, then Oldbury’s in 2017. (Wylfa is the only magnox site with a dry fuel store; Berkeley, which ceased generation in 1989, had its ponds cleared in the 1990s).
Nuclear Engineering International 20th Aug 2014 read more »
The NDA has denied any fault in a £200m legal claim over its award of a £7bn contract, saying the claimants bid was “deficient”. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) awarded the contract to run the £7bn Magnox and Reactor Site Restoration portfolio of decommissioning sites to a consortium comprising Babcock subsidiary Cavendish Nuclear and US engineer Fluor – called the Cavendish Fluor Partnership (CFP) – in March. The job is one of the largest in the UK construction market. But Energy Solutions, the incumbent bidder, subsequently launched a legal challenge to the award, claiming £200m of damages in the High Court. Energy Solutions, which was bidding for the job with partner Bechtel, said it had “serious and legitimate concerns” about how the procurement race was run, and that an “accidental error” in scoring its bid meant its score was upgraded near the end of the bidding process.
Building 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Dr. Ian Fairlie discusses his recently released report compiling more than 60 studies on childhood leukemia rates for those living in proximity to nuclear power reactors. His shocking findings show a 37% increase in leukemia cases in children 5 and under. Learn how the study came about, what it shows — and how we can use it in our fight to shut down all nuclear reactors. Powerful information!
Nuclear Hotseat 20th Aug 2014 read more »
When Centrica withdrew from the new nuclear construction programme at Hinkley Point C, potential suppliers had concerns. Despite later commitment from Chinese investors, some suppliers see the highly-charged political and financial environment of new build a major hindrance. A new government scheme is designed to dispel such concerns. The Nuclear Supply Chain Action Plan (NSCAP), which contains 30 action points, states that several factors have up until now prevented growth in the industry. They include, for instance, the extent of clarity on the forward pipeline and access to contracts in the nuclear sector. The objective of the action is to solve these problems. The NSCAP will be discussed at the Nuclear Supply Chain, Europe conference in September.
Nuclear Energy Insider 7th Aug 2014 read more »
There are two major issues on which the future of the energy sector hangs, notes EP editor Karel Beckman: 1) how far will the renewables revolution go in combination with climate policy; 2) how will growing geopolitical tensions, especially relations with Russia, affect markets? Karel asks whether we need capacity schemes, indicates how utilities could get back on a growth path and how (not) to deal with Russia. The UK scheme has run into a lot of criticism, from groups like ClientEarth (an organisation of activist environmental lawyers), the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP, a global, non-profit team of power and gas experts), E3G (a non-profit think tank), the Smart Energy Demand Coalition (SEDC, representing the demand response industry) and WWF. They argue that a market-wide capacity mechanism is unnecessarily expensive and say that keeping a “strategic reserve” is enough to guarantee uninterrupted power supplies. They also worry that the scheme will extend the lifetimes of coal-fired power stations in the UK which they would like to see closed down.Amory Lovins points out that relying on centralised generation can cause much greater capacity problems than relying on distributed renewables, if a number of big power stations fail simultaneously. (Ask the Belgians: they may be faced with a big shortage of power this coming winter becauses two of their nuclear powers stations are out).
Energy Post 19th Aug 2014 read more »
Energy companies could be banned from supplying energy to households if they repeatedly break the rules, under tough new proposals announced by Labour. The opposition argues that the current penalties for misselling energy deals and preventing customers from switching do not deter repeat offenders. Ofgem has the power to fine companies by up to 10 per cent of their turnover but the regulator has only ever levied a fraction of the maximum. It issued its biggest ever fine of £12 million against E.ON, the German-owned energy company, in May, for misselling. The company could have been fined up to £77 million based on its turnover from supplying energy to households last year. Labour wants to make it easier for the regulator to strip energy suppliers of their licences if they keep breaking the rules. At present Ofgem can revoke the licence only as a last resort if companies refuse to pay the fines or obey a specific order to stop misbehaving.
Times 21st Aug 2014 read more »
FT 21st Aug 2014 read more »
Telegraph 21st Aug 2014 read more »
Planning consent has been granted for a new power station at Lerwick in Shetland. About 400 jobs will be created during construction of a replacement for the existing power station, where some generators are 40 years old. Making the announcement, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the old station would be decommissioned. He said the new power station would improve electricity supplies across Shetland. Mr Ewing said a vastly increased capacity would “allow the entire demand of Shetland to be met both now and will allow for future expansion of demand”.
BBC 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Europe – nuclear fuel
Westinghouse, the Japanese-US atomic group, is pressing the EU to introduce competition rules that will break eastern Europe’s dependence on Russian nuclear fuel. While the crisis in Ukraine has focused attention on Europe’s vulnerability to a cut in supplies of gas from Russia, Westinghouse argues that Brussels must also respond to similar security risks posed by Moscow’s control of nuclear fuel in the eastern EU. Westinghouse, the world’s biggest supplier of nuclear fuel, could stand to gain if the eastern European market was opened up but the company said it wished to highlight another aspect of the EU’s energy dependency on Russia. Overall, Russia provides 36 per cent of the EU’s uranium enrichment needs – but these services could be carried out elsewhere in an emergency. Europe’s more pressing strategic concern, a ccording to Westinghouse, is that many reactors in eastern Europe are entirely reliant on tailor-made sets of fuel rods from Russia. Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are wholly dependent on Russian atomic fuel and all rely heavily on reactors for their domestic electricity. Finland is also a major consumer of Russian fuel.
FT 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Russia began a campaign in 2000 to construct seven floating nuclear power plants, but Moscow only built one due to strong Western environmental opposition and Russia’s weak economy. But now that Russia is under Western financial sanctions and China recently admitted its huge domestic effort to frack for natural gas has failed, the two nations are teaming up to launch a new era of floating nuclear power plants.
Breitbart 19th Aug 2014 read more »
It may well be possible that two of Belgium’s nuclear reactors, Doel 3 and Tihange 2, will never be put online again. Small cracks in the nuclear vessels are turning out to be a bigger problem than initially thought. The two nuclear reactors have been offline for some time now, and this will remain the case at least until next spring. New tests dashed hopes of getting them started again during winter. And there is more. They may even never get started again, the VRT learned from several reliable sources. The latest news only adds to Belgium’s imminent power supply problems for next winter. A final report will only be published in a couple of weeks, but the VRT found out that the first findings confirm the existing problems. The company that supplied the walls of the reactor vessel, supplied similar material for 22 nuclear reactors worldwide, including 10 in the United States. Problems could emerge at these sites as well.
Flanders News 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Power Engineering 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Sky News 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
US sailors prepare for fresh legal challenge over Fukushima radiation. $1bn lawsuit accuses Tepco of failing to avoid the accident and of lying about radiation levels that have caused health problems to themselves and their families stationed in Japan.
Guardian 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Japan – Reactor restarts
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Tuesday it has received some 17,000 comments from the public on a draft paper that claims two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power station satisfy new safety standards. Public comments must be included in the final paper on the outcome of the NRA’s safety screening of the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the power station in Kyushu. The final version is due out as early as September. The NRA announced its draft report on July 16 and accepted public comments for 30 days through Friday.
Japan Times 20th Aug 2014 read more »
A Muslim engineer was banned from entering French nuclear power stations where he was working without explanation, his lawyer claimed this week. The 29-year-old engineer’s pass for the Nogent-sur-Seine nuclear plant, roughly 70 miles south east of Paris, was removed without explanation in March 2014. Despite the ban being overturned once in court, he was stopped from entering another nuclear plant in July. He is challenging this, reported news site France 24.
Energy Live News 21st Aug 2014 read more »
Iran has started taking action to comply with the terms of an extended agreement with six world powers over its disputed atomic activities, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report obtained by Reuters on Wednesday showed.
Reuters 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Hackers managed to gain access to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission three times, according to a Nextgov report. The hackers on two occasions were foreigners and the last was an unknown person or group. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission governs America’s nuclear power providers. Ironically making sure that they are secure.
Channel Eye 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Computing 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Russia is planning to deliver the first reactor for the nuclear power plant in Belarus at the end of 2015, said Atomenergomash, a part of Russia’s Rosatom nuclear, in a statement. The power plant is currently under construction, which reportedly costs approximately $10bn, and is scheduled for completion in July 2020.
Energy Business Review 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Leeds-based WYG has been appointed as a partner in a project to develop Poland’s first nuclear power plant. The engineering consultancy’s contract is worth a minimum of £6.2 million. Amec is leading the consortium after been named as preferred bidder by PGE EJ1, which is a subsidiary of Poland’s state-controlled Polska Grupa Energetyczna.
Machinery Market 20th Aug 2014 read more »
FALMOUTH’S tourism industry could be affected and the town could become a “potential terrorist target” if Britain’s nuclear missiles are moved to the Fal estuary in six years, according to local politicians. A conservationist has also described the suggestion by a think-tank that the Trident warheads could be relocated to Cornwall in 2020 if Scotland votes for independence as an “utterly horrendous possibility” which would involve “vast and lasting environmental damage”.
West Briton 21st Aug 2014 read more »
A PAIR of anti-nuclear protesters have appeared in court in connection with an incident outside the Devonport Naval Base. Nicola Clark, aged 39, and Theo Simon, aged 56, are charged with aggravated trespass following the incident on July 25. Clark, of Bridgwater, Somerset, and Simon, of Shepton Mallet, Somerset, both denied the charge at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court.
Plymouth Herald 20th Aug 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
DHARNAI, India – Suresh Manjhi, 30, no longer has to walk five kilometres to and from Makhdumpur, the nearest town, to charge his mobile phone, or rely on kerosene-fuelled earthen lamps for light once darkness falls. These days, the street outside his home is brightly lit at night. Life has been transformed for the 2,400 residents of Dharnai, a village in Bihar, India’s poorest state, by the completion of a solar-powered micro-grid, bringing them light and power for all their daily needs after 30 years with no electricity. The micro-grid, switched on by the village’s oldest inhabitant in late July, made Dharnai the first fully solar-powered village in India, according to Greenpeace India, which funded and carried out the project with two other non-governmental organisations. The organisations hope it will become a model for some 80,000 other Indian villages whose lack of electricity has held back their development for decades while cities grew and prospered.
Reuters 18th Aug 2014 read more »
Leading investment bank UBS says the payback time for unsubsidised investment in electric vehicles plus rooftop solar plus battery storage will be as low as 6-8 years by 2020 – triggering a massive revolution in the energy industry. “It’s time to join the revolution,” UBS says in a note to clients, in what could be interpreted as a massive slap-down to those governments and corporates who believe that centralised fossil fuel generation will dominate for decades to come. UBS, however, argues that solar panels and batteries will be disruptive technologies. So, too, will electric vehicles and storage.
Renew Economy 21st Aug 2014 read more »
Investment bank UBS says the addition of electric vehicles, and the proliferation of battery storage, will solve the problem of intermittency for rooftop solar and make it viable without subsidies. So much so, it says, that households will be able to budget for 12 years of “free electricity” for a 20-year solar system.
Renew Economy 21st Aug 2014 read more »
Solar & Fossil Fuels
There may be little point battling icebergs to drill in the Arctic, or in trying to extract oil from the ultra-deepwater fields in the mid-Atlantic, beneath layers of salt, three kilometres into the Earth. The props beneath the global oil industry are slowly decaying. The big traded energy companies resemble the telecom giants of the late 1990s, heavily leveraged to a business model already threatened by fast-moving technology. Citigroup warns – or cheerfully acclaims, depending on your point of view – that world energy markets are entering a period of “extreme flux”, with oil caught in triple encirclement by cheap natural gas, much more efficient vehicles and breathtaking advances in solar power as scientists crack the secrets. Citigroup said solar already competes in the growing regions of the world on “pure economics” without subsidies. It has reached grid parity with residential electricity prices in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia and the US southwest. Japan will cross this year, Korea in 2018. It forecast that even Britain will achieve grid parity by 2020, a remarkable thought for this wet isle at 51 or 52 degrees latitude.
Telegraph 20th Aug 2014 read more »