25 April 2014

Decommissioning

A quick shout out to Dr David Lowry, the foremost scourge of the UK’s nuclear authorities. His dogged use of the Freedom of Information Act is why we know the extent of the private-sector mismanagement of the £70bn clean-up of the Sellafield plant in Cumbria. Among his latest treasure trove is a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority briefing to government from December. There is a tiny detail that shows just how much financial risk companies such as the US engineer Bechtel and Britain’s Atkins are taking on these huge nuclear decontamination deals: it costs every consortium £15m to £20m when they bid for these deals. That is a scandalous sum for even big businesses to have to risk on the bid alone.

Independent 24th April 2014 read more »

Dounreay

Parts of a fast reactor control room at Dounreay in Caithness look set to be dismantled and rebuilt at the Science Museum in London. The panels and the control desk from the former experimental nuclear power plant near Thurso would be displayed temporarily at the museum. It has been proposed to make it a feature of an exhibition in 2016 on nuclear energy. Work to take apart the control room could start later this year. The control room was used to run the Dounreay Fast Reactor.

BBC 24th April 2014 read more »

Dungeness

There are “reasons to be optimistic” that a new nuclear reactor could be built in Kent, an MP says. Damian Collins, Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said a new smaller reactor could fit on the existing Dungeness site. He said the decommissioning of Dungeness A would free up land, which could be used for a third reactor. In 2009, the previous government dismissed the site as a location for a new nuclear power station. Mr Collins said: “I think there are reasons to be very optimistic that we can get a new power station at Dungeness. The government has always said ‘the door remains open’.” He said the Dungeness site was constrained in size by surrounding protected sites, including an RSPB reserve.

BBC 24th April 2014 read more »

Scotland

An independent Scotland would take responsibility for its nuclear material currently at Sellafield, First Minister Alex Salmond has said. After his speech he was asked about what would happen to Scotland’s nuclear material. This is generated at the nation’s two nuclear power stations – Torness in East Lothian and Hunterston B in North Ayrshire – and transported to Sellafield for storage and reprocessing. Mr Salmond said: “I believe in above ground storage and we will accept responsibility for our nuclear material.” The waste would be stored above ground, where it could be monitored. He added, however, that he wanted to avoid transportation of nuclear material where possible.

Carlisle News & Star 24th April 2014 read more »

Letter: JENNY Hogan makes the case that the continued growth of renewables in Scotland is an essential response to climate change. However, Scotland has been delivering copious low-carbon electrical energy through nuclear since well before climate change became a political issue. Indeed, nuclear is our single largest generator of electrical energy, with the output from only two compact plants at Hunterston and Torness far exceeding the combined output of every wind, wave and solar generator in Scotland.

Herald 25th April 2014 read more »

Sellafield

THE preferred bidder has been announced for a new £1.4 billion Sellafield project. The joint venture a.m.a. was announced as Sellafield Ltd’s preferred bidder for the Silos Direct Encapsulation (SDP) project. The SDP will be a purpose-built building to process nuclear waste recovered from the Magnox Swaf Storage Silo, one of the oldest nuclear waste silos on the Sellafield site. It will then package the waste for safe long-term storage. It is the only contract of its kind in the world. a.m.a was created specifically to compete for this contract, and is made up of the French company Areva, and British companies Mace, and Atkins.

Whitehaven News 24th April 2014 read more »

We stood outside Sellafield for the 5th time in a demonstration of opposition to Sellafield’s continuing policy of experimentation on wildlife (and on us). We know trees have been planted to entice wildlife into the area previously unfenced and now surrounded by military fences. The area is we believe a “wildlife monitoring scheme” as recommended by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology in 1988 and The Deer Initiative in 2012 to record the bioaccumulation of radionuclides in wildlife. The bioaccumulation of radionuclides does not magically stop at the meaningless fences.

Radiation Free Lakeland 24th April 2014 read more »

Floating Reactors

THERE are many things people do not want to be built in their backyard, and nuclear power stations are high on the list. But what if floating reactors could be moored offshore, out of sight? There is plenty of water to keep them cool and the electricity they produce can easily be carried onshore by undersea cables. Moreover, once the nuclear plant has reached the end of its life it can be towed away to be decommissioned. Unusual as it might seem, such an idea is gaining supporters in America and Russia.

Economist 26th April 2014 read more »

Old Nukes

A list of the world’s reactors by age.

Farea 24th April 2014 read more »

Energy Costs

The case for easing energy costs for UK manufacturers was made so effectively ahead of last month’s budget that Chancellor George Osborne froze a tax he had introduced just two years before, seemingly forgot the tax was a replacement source of revenue to compensate for corporation tax cuts he had previously handed industry, and found yet more cash to round his energy cost compensation package up to £7bn. However, the key question for Osborne should not have been ‘how do I compensate manufacturers’, but ‘how do I tackle competitiveness concerns while continuing to accelerate decarbonisation?’ Those manufacturers who continue to complain about energy costs should be politely but firmly told to come back when they have installed LEDs. Only those that have done precisely that should be rewarded with access to the Treasury’s full compensation package.

Business Green 22nd April 2014 read more »

The boss of charity Oxfam has launched an outspoken attack on UK politicians for their “destructive” focus on consumer energy bills at the expense of tackling climate change. Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, accused the government and Labour alike of undermining support for green energy, which he said was needed to help tackle climate change and save the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people. Over the last six months there had been a “tendency among politicians of all parties to be juxtaposing consumer energy prices against investment in what we would see as long term climate change

Telegraph 24th April 2014 read more »

Co-operative Energy has raised its household energy prices by 2.4 per cent, blaming the costs of “government-imposed” green policies. The supplier, which has more than 250,000 customer accounts, faced immediate demands by government to provide evidence of the costs after failing to disclose how it had arrived at the figure.

Telegraph 24th April 2014 read more »

Chernobyl

Adi Roche: On April 26th, 1986, 28 years ago, the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in northern Ukraine. What lessons can we take from such a disaster and what hope can we borrow from such a tale of woe that could inspire us when we look to the future? While other calamities vie for the world’s attention, Chernobyl has been relegated to history, but remains an unfolding tragedy for those living with the consequences. If we don’t remember past events, then we are surely going to commit those same mistakes again. Unlike other disasters, the effects of a nuclear disaster continues, wreaking havoc in generation after generation, twisting and distorting the very fabric of life. Today, the Chernobyl zone remains even more radioactive than previously thought, with land remaining the biggest health threat as the radioactive element Caesium 137 finds its way via the food chain into the human body. The millions of people living on contaminated land are confined to eating the food produced on this land. Prof Yuri Bandazhevsky, one of the world’s leading scientists on the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the human body through the food chain states: “On this 28th anniversary of the disaster at Chernobyl let me remind the world that there should be no caesium in the body and there should be no question of temporary or acceptable levels. The silent killer today is radiation, any dose is an overdose.” Recently, as events in eastern Ukraine deteriorated, our organisation had to make one of our most regrettable decisions in suspending the life-saving operations in that area for more than 60 children. Doctors in the local hospital advised that it was too volatile and tense to bring in our international medical team even though the cancellation of the surgical team would mean the lives of the children would dangle in the balance.

Irish Times 24th April 2014 read more »

US – radwaste

Managers mishandled a radiation leak at a New Mexico nuclear waste dump in which 21 workers were exposed to airborne radioactive particles due in part to substandard equipment and safety systems, a U.S. investigator said on Wednesday.But the contamination from the underground salt mine in the Chihuahuan Desert – where radioactive waste from U.S. nuclear labs and weapons facilities is deposited – was unlikely to have harmed the workers’ health, inspectors said. Ted Wyka, chairman of a federal accident review board, said improperly placed or inoperative air monitors, a substandard ventilation system and mismanagement contributed to the February 14 leak of radioisotopes including plutonium.

Reuters 24th April 2014 read more »

Poland

Greenpeace today submitted a legal complaint to the Prime Minister of Poland, alleging that the Polish Nuclear Energy Programme, adopted by the Council of Ministers on 28 January 2014 was prepared by the Minister of Economy in breach with national and international law. The Plan’s Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) failed to take into account vital elements in order to come to a justification for the introduction of nuclear energy in the country.

Greenpeace Poland 24th April 2014 read more »

Spain

Spain has established itself as a European superpower in wind energy as well as in solar. But just as it establishes its position as a global leader in the sector, the government is threatening to pull the rug from under the industry’s feet. For the first time in Spain’s history, wind contributed the same proportion (21%) of electricity as nuclear last year, according to Red Electrica de Espana (REE), Spain’s national grid. Both now contribute more than any other power source. This record feat appeared to confound the energy sceptics, who have argued that low-carbon renewable energy production is too intermittent and expensive to be a reliable alternative to coal, gas and nuclear.

BBC 22nd April 2014 read more »

North Korea

US President Barack Obama is in Seoul for a visit that comes amid concern that North Korea may be planning a fourth nuclear test.

BBC 25th April 2014 read more »

Reuters 25th April 2014 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

The Marshall Islands is suing the nine countries with nuclear weapons at the international court of justice at The Hague, arguing they have violated their legal obligation to disarm. In the unprecedented legal action, comprising nine separate cases brought before the ICJ on Thursday, the Republic of the Marshall Islands accuses the nuclear weapons states of a “flagrant denial of human justice”. It argues it is justified in taking the action because of the harm it suffered as a result of the nuclear arms race.

Guardian 24th April 2014 read more »

Reuters 24th April 2014 read more »

Morning Star 24th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – wind

This morning the Conservative Party have issued a press release which first says that should they be elected at the next election they will scrap subsidies for onshore wind farms, but goes on to say that they will return decisions on onshore wind farms to local control, i.e. they will remove them from the scope of the Planning Act regime. The proposal won’t have much effect given the small proportion of onshore wind farms that are above the Planning Act threshold, but underlines the Conservatives’ ambivalence towards onshore wind – being officially in favour of it and unofficially against it. Judging by the timing, the election that the announcement is intended to influence is not next May’s general election but this May’s European Parliament (and local) election.

Bircham, Dyson and Bell, 24th April 2014 read more »

Senior Liberal Democrat ministers and the renewable energy industry have slammed Conservative Party plans to scrap subsidies for new onshore wind farms, with business secretary Vince Cable branding the move as “irrational and damaging”. Following rumours of an outright ban on wind farms that have been circulating since the start of this month, Tory energy minister Michael Fallon today confirmed the details of the pledge that will appear in the party’s next manifesto. The three-point plan would end any additional public subsidy of onshore wind beyond what is already in the pipeline, amend the planning policy to give greater protection to “locally valued landscape, heritage and other concerns”, and change the law to give local planning authorities the final say on even the largest applications, instead of the Planning Inspectorate. The Tories argue that there is enough wind capacity already built or planned to meet the UK’s renewable energy targets, so the move would not undermine investment. However, senior Liberal Democrats have lined up to criticise the move, arguing that it would damage investor confidence in the sector and push up the cost of meeting renewable energy targets.

Business Green 24th April 2014 read more »

Energy minister Michael Fallon says the UK has enough onshore wind. Will new plans to pull subsidies and change planning permission mean the end of the industry? There seems to be little doubt that this policy will eventually sink the onshore wind industry in this country. The potential for the technology to compete without subsidies is poor and the handing over of power to local authorities will likely be the final nail in the industry’s coffin. Tories and many industry leaders are loath to admit that this will put an end to onshore wind, saying that current capacity will be maintained and even grow for a time as projects granted permission before 2015 come online. But what industry survives without long-term growth? For onshore wind to continue to generate investment in research and development (and therefore to stay competitive) it will need to have the potential for new growth and projects. As Jennifer Webber, from RenewableUK says, this policy “will kill the industry dead”.

Guardian 24th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – solar

Solar cooperatives are helping independently-owned solar integrators share best practices, allowing homeowners to install PV systems more economically, and giving renters or people living in apartments a simple way to join the solar revolution.

Rocky Mountain Institute 22nd April 2014 read more »

Renewables – hydro

Space technology is to be used to help engineers make the most of humanity’s oldest form of renewable energy production, water power. There is vast potential for run-of-the-river hydropower schemes that use the natural flow of water to produce power without large-scale works. There are many thousand former mill sites around the world where the water power is still there but no longer utilised. Many schemes are in operation – for example Queen Elizabeth II supports a turbine in the River Thames that powers her home, Windsor Castle – but many viable smaller-scale schemes have not been implemented. The problem is that on-the-ground surveys, and in some countries complex planning rules, make investigating sites so expensive that it deters small-scale investors. Now a system has been developed using satellites and aircraft to measure the volume and fall of water and to decide whether schemes are viable without having to deal with bureaucracy.

Climate News Network 24th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – National Trust

The National Trust is to power dozens of its properties by burning trees from its own woodland, under plans to switch to green energy and boost its coffers. The charity said it planned to install renewable energy projects at 43 of its sites in an attempt to generate 50 per cent of its power from green energy sources.

Telegraph 23rd April 2014 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Fracking could trigger a £33bn investment bonanza and create 64,000 jobs, promises a new report for the shale industry released on Thursday and part-funded by government. The spending would go on 50 new land-based drilling rigs, 8,000 miles of steel casing and hundreds of pumps needed over a 16-year period to 2032, according to Ernst & Young who produced the report.

Guardian 24th April 2014 read more »

Fracking for shale gas could be a vote-winner – but more needs to be done to persuade the public it is safe, Michael Fallon, the energy minister, has said. Speaking after the launch of an industry report claiming fracking could create 64,000 jobs, he said: “More home-grown energy of all kinds, more energy security, can certainly be a vote-winner.

Telegraph 24th April 2014 read more »

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Published: 25 April 2014