24 May 2015

Trident

An inherent flaw in Trident missiles could lead to fires, explosions and widespread radioactive contamination, according to a top-secret safety manual leaked by the naval whistleblower, William McNeilly. The Royal Navy’s official instructions on how to take care of nuclear weapons reveal that the “chief potential hazard” from a live missile is the “accidental ignition” of solid rocket fuel. This could cause the warheads’ conventional high explosives to detonate and scatter plutonium and other toxic materials “over a wide area”, it says.

RobEdwards.com 24th May 2015 read more »

While the Trident whistleblower, William McNeilly, was being mysteriously moved around Britain last week, a massive nuclear bomb convoy trundled along some of Scotland’s busiest roads. Although the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would rather have kept the movements of both the man and the weapons secret, they were defeated by social media. A fellow sailor posted a photograph of McNeilly in the canteen of Nelson barracks in Portsmouth, while members of the public tweeted when they saw the convoy of more than 20 vehicles driving by Stirling and Edinburgh. The MoD is coming under mounting pressure to explain the fate of McNeilly, the naval nuclear weapons technician who alleged 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines. A defence minister is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons in London on Thursday. That same evening the SNP’s former First Minister, Alex Salmond MP, has secured a debate on McNeilly’s allegations in the House of Commons, which will oblige ministers to answer further questions. MoD attempts to “brush it all under the carpet” were “profoundly unsatisfactory”, Salmond declared.

RobEdwards.com 24th May 2015 read more »

Friends of the Earth

The former director of Friends of the Earth (FoE), Sir Jonathon Porritt, has labelled the environmental campaign group “truly reprehensible” over its failure to make opposition to new nuclear power stations a priority. In an email seen by The Independent on Sunday, Sir Jonathon told FoE, which he led between 1984 and 1991, that it had “simply ceased to be any kind of serious organisation when it comes to dealing with nuclear issues”. Sir Jonathon was infuriated that a list of 10 priorities it wants the new Energy Secretary to deal with made only passing reference to opposing plans for a new generation of nuclear power plants, starting with the £24.5bn Hinkley Point C in Somerset. He added that it was “truly remarkable” that FoE had not prioritised the issue.

Independent 24th May 2015 read more »

Dave Toke: Why FOE Should Demand Government Scrap Hinkley C Plan. A copy of a letter I have sent to Simon Bullock, the Senior Energy Campaigner of Friends of the Earth. The very fact that the Treasury caps spending on ‘low carbon’ energy spending means that as money is pencilled in for notional (fantasy) nuclear power, less will be available for renewable energy. Of course a key priority at the moment is to ensure that the Treasury and DECC release more funds under their ‘LCF’ policy to enable implementation of renewable energy targets for 2020, including, of course, for onshore wind. But it would be a grave mistake to believe that what is being decided now and in the next couple of years will not set the agenda for the early 2020s. The CCC, for example, are now deliberating on their fifth carbon budget to cover the period starting in 2028. We must act now to safeguard not only the present, but also the future. We have now gone 10 years already with a failing national policy supposedly heading towards a ‘new’ nuclear power programme. Not only is such a programme grossly delayed but is in fact never likely to occur. That is it will never occur short of the effective nationalisation of nuclear construction and the consequential squandering of vast resources that would be much better deployed on green energy schemes. I would add that we should firmly squash any hint that we can rely on reviving otherwise long abandoned notions of ‘small’ nuclear reactors and ‘thorium’ rectors. Such ideas are pipedreams that will, if implemented, turn into nightmares of a financial black hole. I therefore call upon you in strong terms to put demands for the scrapping of Hinkley C to the Government, accompanied by demands for a post-2020 system of effective long term power purchase agreements for renewable energy technologies. These must include onshore and offshore wind and solar pv (both ground mounted and on rooftops). I would also suggest that you step up your efforts to persuade the CCC to shift their emphasis from what is obviously a failing nuclear strategy and towards other, genuinely green, energy technologies.

Clean Technica 22nd May 2015 read more »

Dave Toke’s Blog 22nd May 2015 read more »

Energy Costs

SCOTLAND’s renewable energy¬ industry has warned that a sudden end to subsidies for new onshore wind farms could lead to a hike in bills for businesses and consumers. The new Conservative energy secretary, Amber Rudd, has signalled that she plans to end subsidies to the operators of new wind farms, with the details expected to be confirmed in this week’s Queen’s Speech with a view to the change being brought in next year. Niall Stuart, chief executive of trade body Scottish Renewables, which represents 100 organisations working in ons¬hore wind in Scotland, said it was “hard to square the UK government’s commitment to cut carbon emissions in the most affordable way, whilst pledging to end any support for the cheapest form of renewable electricity that can be deployed at the scale we need to meet our climate change targets”. Gordon MacDougall, of renewables developer RES, which has a base in Glasgow, said a sudden end to support for new projects would hit progress being made by the industry towards being subsidy-free in the medium-term. “Onshore wind now stands on the verge of being able to compete on a purely commercial basis with other, more mature, forms of energy gen¬er¬ation without requiring new subsidies in the 2020s – and it would be in no-one’s interests for this important opportunity to be squandered,” he said

Scotland on Sunday 23rd May 2015 read more »

Magnox

Approximately 4,500 people work for Magnox at 12 nuclear sites across the UK. Currently 190 members of staff are employed at Berkeley and 340 are employed at Oldbury. Magnox said they were unable to give details of precisely where the cuts would be enacted.

Gloucestershire Gazette 21st May 2015 read more »

Sizewell

Sizewell A ceased operating in 2006 and is currently being decommissioned following the completion of defuelling last August. About 225 staff now face waiting to learn if they are part of plans to reduce the workforce by between 1,400 and 1,600 by September 2016.

East Anglian Daily Times 23rd May 2015 read more »

Areva

Electricite de France SA has offered about 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) for the reactor businesses of Areva SA, the troubled French builder of atomic plants, according to a person familiar with the situation. The non-binding offer opens the way for an unspecified period of negotiations and due diligence between the companies and the French government, which controls both, said the person who could not be named because the talks are private.

Bloomberg 23rd May 2015 read more »

Energy Supply

Christopher Booker: Two events last week confirmed that, in appointing his new Government, David Cameron made a catastrophic misjudgment by putting our energy policy in the charge of a minister who believes that only by “decarbonising” our economy can we avert the awful disaster of global warming. Our new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd, is wholly committed to both these beliefs, saying that her highest priority will be the signing of that proposed global “climate treaty” in Paris next December. One of these events was the announcement that yet another of our large coal-fired power stations, Ferrybridge in Yorkshire, is shortly to close, thanks to the way George Osborne’s “carbon tax” – five times higher than any other in Europe – is making coal, otherwise by far the cheapest source of electricity, wholly uncompetitive. This follows the other recently announced, equally premature closure of the giant 2.4-gigawatts (GW) coal-fired power station at Longannet, the only one left in Scotland. So nothing our new Energy and Climate Change Secretary can do will make the slightest difference to the world’s output of CO2. She is so totally obsessed with the second part of her job description that she seems quite oblivious to the first. She fantasises that, without those horrid, polluting fossil fuels, we can somehow keep our now almost wholly computer-dependent economy running just by building thousands more grotesquely subsidised offshore windmills and solar panels and that solitary, equally expensive new nuclear power station we hope the French and the Chinese might be kind enough to build for us by 2024.

Telegraph 23rd May 2015 read more »

Utilities

NATIONAL GRID is lining up a £1bn sale of 17m gas meters in homes and businesses as its raises funds for a giant investment drive. The £34bn infrastructure behemoth, which owns and runs much of Britain’s electricity network, is believed to be exploring options for its gas meters business, with a sale the likely outcome. National Grid, led by chief executive Steve Holliday, is the largest owner of domestic gas meters in Britain, but is believed to view the business as surplus to requirements. It also owns four regional gas distribution companies, which supply 11m customers. There has long been speculation that it could sell these to concentrate on its core electricity network. National Grid recently agreed a €1bn (£710m) investment in an undersea interconnector between Britain and Norway, and a €350m connection to Belgium, which it says will boost capacity. National Grid will play a crucial role in reshaping Britain’s power network as a new generation of offshore wind farms and nuclear power stations comes online over the next decade or so.

Sunday Times 24th May 2015 read more »

SIGNS of competition in the household energy market have finally emerged as challenger supplier First Utility revealed its customer count has more than doubled to 800,000 in a year. First Utility is not the only upstart to have stepped into the breach. Ovo Energy has built up almost 460,000 customers, more than double what it had this time last year.

Sunday Times 24th May 2015 read more »

Terror

ISIS claims it could buy its first nuclear weapon within a year. The terror group claims it could purchase the devastating weapon from Pakistan within less than 12 months. The claim was made in the group’s propaganda magazine Dabiq. An article in the latest issue says ISIS is expanding so rapidly it could afford to purchase the highly expensive weapon. Sickeningly the group attributes the article – entitled ‘The Perfect Storm’ – to British hostage John Cantlie.

Mirror 23rd May 2015 read more »

NPT

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, thanked the US secretary of state, John Kerry, for blocking an Egyptian-led drive on a possible Middle East nuclear arms ban at a United Nations conference, an Israeli official said on Saturday. It was a rare message of thanks from Netanyahu, who has repeatedly accused President Barack Obama of undermining Israel’s security by attempting to reach a nuclear deal with Iran. A month-long review conference on the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended in failure on Friday, over disagreements on the issue of a Middle East atomic weapons ban. Washington blamed the failure on Egypt, which in turn blamed the US, British and Canadian delegations.

Guardian 23rd May 2015 read more »

Independent 23rd May 2015 read more »

BBC 23rd May 2015 read more »

A month-long review conference on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has ended in failure after its members were unable to overcome disagreements on an atomic weapons ban for the Middle East, which the United States blamed on Egypt. After four weeks of negotiations at the United Nations on ways to improve compliance with the pact, there was no consensus among its 191 signatories. US under secretary of state, Rose Gottemoeller announced there was “no agreement” and accused some countries of undermining the negotiations.

News24 23rd May 2015 read more »

The permanent members of the UN security council claim they want disarmament but at the same time develop ever more efficient ways of destroying the planet, writes JEREMY CORBYN.

Morning Star 23rd May 2015 read more »

Nuclear Testing

The Ministry of Defence has admitted ¬thousands of civilian staff were irradiated in nuclear weapons tests during the Cold War. But is still denies that veterans of the nuclear tests, which began in 1952 when Britain exploded its first device, were harmed. A newly uncovered government study details the death and cancer rates of 174,541 people who were exposed to radiation at nuclear facilities. Of those, 64,909 were employed by the MoD in non-military roles such as maintaining nuclear submarines and weapons.

Mirror 23rd May 2015 read more »

Trident

Letter: Either the whistleblower able seaman William McNeilly’s report is correct, and Trident is a disaster waiting to happen, or it is not, and the Vanguard submarines are operationally effective, ready to launch 48 H Bombs and bring disaster. Either way, the result is disaster. This being irrefutable logic, one must question the psychopathology of the mindset that chooses to engineer catastrophe. Exactly why do we deploy this infernal suicide/mass-murder machine? The answer cannot lie in an intelligent consideration of the defence needs of the UK. Global suicide is not a rational defence policy. The answer lies at a much deeper, subconscious level of human behaviour. Our nuclear devotion is a primitive, pre-rational and essentially religious phenomenon. The bomb is what keeps us safe and gives us security of life, it is our saviour and our god. This is our fetish, the great British idol.

Herald 24th May 2015 read more »

Renewables – Pakistan

One of the world’s largest solar plants has been opened in Pakistan with the aim of supplying clean, reliable energy and helping alleviate the country’s chronic power shortages.The plant, spread over more than 200 hectares of desert land in the south of Pakistan’s Punjab province, will generate 100 megawatts (MW) in its initial phase and more than 300MW by the end of the year, according to government officials.More than a third of Pakistan’s population do not have access to electricity, and power shortages are a serious impediment to economic growth.

RTCC 20th May 2014 read more »

Fuel Poverty

THE scale of fuel poverty in Scotland has been laid bare by a major survey which has found that one in seven households make lifestyle sacrifices in order to afford their energy bills. A poll of of nearly 5,000 homes across Scotland found that many families went cold during the winter because of the high cost of heating and electricity and the fear of running up large bills. The survey was carried out as a part of the Big Energy Switch, a Scotland-wide people power campaign to cut the cost of electricity and gas which aims to use the buying power of 20,000 Scottish households to unlock group-discounted energy in Scotland. More than half of those who made sacrifices in order to keep their homes warm also said that they had to turn the thermostat down past the point they were comfortable much of the time.

Herald 24th May 2015 read more »

Fossil Fuels

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is under growing pressure to “urgently come clean” over its decision-making process concerning a vast underground gas storage facility in Lancashire, which has been subject to a 12-year planning dispute. As Secretary of State, the newly appointed Amber Rudd was expected to make a final ruling on the bitterly disputed planning application by a gas storage company, the Halite Energy Group. The £660m project, which would become the UK’s largest on-shore gas storage site, is intending to store millions of cubic metres of natural gas underground. Halite Energy said the scheme represents a “significant boost” to the UK’s ability to store gas, adding 20 per cent capacity to the system. But there has been vehement opposition to the project for years, with local people worried about the risks of an explosion. They argue it is a “disaster waiting to happen”. The local Conservative MP, Ben Wallace, has expressed anger that the company “does not seem to have any regard for the local community”.

Independent 23rd May 2015 read more »

Share

Published: 24 May 2015
Last updated: 11 June 2015