28 December 2015

Sellafield

FRESH fears over security around Britain’s nuclear plants were raised last night after police arrested three men near Sellafield. The base is on a heightened alert following last month’s terror attacks in Paris, in which 130 people were killed and hundreds wounded. The North West Counter Terrorism Unit revealed that the three were detained in woodland close to the high-security site after a tip-off from a concerned passer-by. The arrests happened in the early hours of Monday, December 7, but the details have only now been released. The men were arrested by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, based at Sellafield, before being passed by Cumbria Police to the North West Counter Terrorism Unit for questioning. Police said there was no indication of a threat to the public and the men were later released without charge. In 2011, five men were arrested under the Terrorism Act near Sellafield but were later released without charge. These new arrests come amid recent fears that Britain is a nuclear terror target.

Express 28th Dec 2015 read more »

Cumbria

Why did BBC helicopter footage of flooding fail to show the threatened Cumbrian nuclear installations? Three years ago DEFRA reported on the nuclear sites which are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion – see Rob Edwards in the Guardian – but politicians are not facing the risks. Last year, the Guardian reported that in internal Environment Agency document, suggests that it was a mistake to position the Drigg radioactive waste site close to the Cumbrian coast because of the risk of flooding. In 2013 Drigg Railway station was closed due to the flooding and the area was also affected in 2014. Ian Parker, the Environment Agency’s group manager in Cumbria said, after detailed technical examinations: ‘It’s highly probable the coast will erode and the waste (at Drigg) will be disrupted.’ Earlier this month, she reports that the BBC helicopter relaying images of the devastation avoided showing areas in which nuclear installations are located: Sellafield, Drigg, Lillyhall and the proposed new nuclear plant on the river Ehen floodplain, Moorside. In her blog she asks:” Why the journalistic omission? Why are there no questions being asked about the breaching of Cumbria’s growing number of uncontainable nuclear installations which already leach “a controlled release of radioactivity” into groundwaters, marine holding tanks and such like?”

Political Concern 27th Dec 2015 read more »

Radiation Free Lakeland 27th Dec 2015 read more »

Radioactive Contamination

Radioactive material was discovered at detectable levels in domestic and Russian seafood products, a recent study confirms. The news comes amid growing concerns about radiation contamination in seafood products entering the country since the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. In response, environmental groups are calling for more intensive inspections of seafood for radioactivity. The findings were announced on Dec. 23 after a study by three groups: the Institute for Environment & Community Development Studies (IECDS), the Korea Radiation Watch Center, and the Gwangju chapter of the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement. Analysis of 150 samples of mackerel, pollock, cod, kelp, and sea mustard taken from discount stores and markets in Seoul, Busan, and Gwangju between March and November showed the presence of radioactive cesium-137 in eight of them, or 5.3%.

The Hankoryeh 26th Dec 2015 read more »

Energy Policy

The cost of Renewable Energy is falling dramatically, not yet to a point where it can compete with fossil fuels but the gap is closing and it is already competitive with the soon to be built glowing white elephant that is the Hinkley C Nuclear Power Station. People say that Renewables are not reliable and cannot provide baseload power. In fact Renewable Generation is just as reliable as fossil fuel plants. Yes, the baseload question is harder – but it is not impossible – tides are predictable and rise and fall at different times around our coast, energy storage technology is coming on leaps and bounds and intelligent building systems can manage power use to smooth out demand. If we try hard we can do it. Scotland not only has good Renewable Energy resources but also companies and entrepreneurs who want to develop them and so create wealth and jobs for our country. We have a competitive advantage in this field which we should not discard lightly.A significant issue is that , having declared itself as “the greenest Government ever” when it came into office with the Lib Dems in 2010, the new Conservative only UK Government is now busy machine-gunning the UK Renewables industry. Feed in Tariffs for domestic Renewables are to be cut to derisory levels from 2016, bidding rounds for contracts for difference (vital to allow Renewable Energy projects to proceed) are endlessly delayed as well as reduced in scale, Nimbyism is allowed to block sensible onshore wind projects in England – though thankfully generally not in Scotland where the politicians and people have been far more supportive and sensible. Carbon capture projects are quietly put to sleep. The UK Government has the cheek to go to the Climate Summit in Paris because it has to be seen there but back at home the Green Revolution is being strangled. I know t he economic times are difficult but our children and our grandchildren will not thank us for our failure here. Action now will reduce the scale of the challenge we will face later. Dave and George need to show some leadership – tell them Alex – nicely.

Herald 28th Dec 2015 read more »

Uranium

Uranium prices are expected to outperform other commodities in 2016 and beyond as a global climate change deal and growing demand from Asia bolster the prospects of the nuclear industry. The metal that powers nuclear reactors has been gradually recovering from a sharp decline in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011, and has gained this year as several other commodities slumped due to oversupply and concerns about Chinese economic growth and U.S. monetary tightening. It is expected to climb further, according to analysts, after governments forged a landmark agreement to reduce green gas emissions at a global climate summit in Paris last month – a move that supports nuclear power generation and in turn uranium.

Reuters 28th Dec 2015 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

An obscure law allows Prince Charles to legally set off nuclear bombs, according to a new study. The title of Duke of Cornwall excludes the prince from punishment from a number of laws, including the Nuclear Explosions Act, the Data Protection Act and the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The Prince of Wales also has better legal protection over his properties than other landowners.

Independent 28th Dec 2015 read more »

Daily Mail 28th Dec 2015 read more »

Trident

Early in 2016, MPs at Westminster are due to take a momentous decision: whether or not to renew the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system. The trouble is, judging from what we’ve learnt in 2015, the decision has already effectively been made – and it will bring a host of problems in its wake. The House of Commons is expecting to vote in the next few months on what the Ministry of Defence (MoD) calls “Main Gate”. This is the major decision on whether or not to authorise multi-billion expenditure on replacing the four ageing Vanguard submarines that carry Trident nuclear missiles in and out of the Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

Herald 27th Dec 2015 read more »

Rapidly advancing underwater drone technology could pose a threat to Britain’s nuclear deterrent programme, an expert has warned. The chief executive of the British American Security Information Council (Basic), Paul Ingram, is reported to have opined that the drones could make the Trident nuclear submarines “vulnerable”.

IB Times 28th Dec 2015 read more »

Japan

Japan’s energy policy faces major obstacles in 2016, with problems surrounding an experimental reactor threatening to foil plans to recycle nuclear fuel. The government is trying to develop a commercial fast-breeder nuclear reactor in order to recycle nuclear fuel and raise the energy self-sufficiency rate of the world’s fifth-biggest energy consuming country, currently around 6 percent. Resource-poor Japan imports from Canada and other countries all of its uranium for nuclear power generation—one of its core power sources—but it seeks to produce fuel on its own by using an advanced fast-breeder reactor capable of producing more plutonium than it consumes. Plutonium can be used as nuclear fuel for conventional and fast-breeder reactors by mixing it with uranium. Japan currently consigns overseas companies to reprocess its spent fuel into uranium-plutonium mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel with a plan to launch the reprocessing at home in the future. However, the fast-breeder reactor development project recently ran into major trouble, putting the experimental reactor at risk of shutting down. The regulator warned the government in November to consider steps to guarantee the safety of the trouble-prone Monju reactor, including an option to close it, if it cannot find a new operator within six months. Monju is the prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor under development. The government has spent more than 1 trillion yen ($8.27 billion) on the project. But its repeated safety problems have left the reactor idled much of the time since it first achieved criticality in 1994.

Japan Today 28th Dec 2015 read more »

Morocco

Morocco has postponed without explanation the inauguration of Noor-1, a solar power plant due to open Sunday in Ouarzazate, part of what will eventually be the world’s largest solar power production facility. When asked by AFP, the communications agency that organised the inauguration on behalf of Moroccan solar energy agency Masen gave no reasons for the last-minute delay. With an electricity production capacity of 160 megawatts, Noor-1 is supposed to allow Morocco to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Guardian 28th Dec 2015 read more »

China

China, still the world’s largest consumer of mineral and energy commodities despite lagging economic growth, appears to be have one foot in the past and another in the future as it embarks on an ambitious plan to install nuclear power stations while at the same time committing to over 100 coal-fired power plants that may never burn a single tonne of the widely-condemned fossil fuel.

Oil Price 27th Dec 2015 read more »

South Africa

South Africa has started a process that could lead to it adding up to 9,600 megawatts of nuclear power to its national grid, the department of energy said on Sunday.

Reuters 27th Dec 2015 read more »

Demand Management

Political parties in Scotland should commit to a national strategy to help businesses and consumers reduce and manage their demand for electricity, environmental and energy groups have said. WWF Scotland and Edinburgh-based company Flexitricity have stressed that implementing a concerted strategy regarding electricity consumption would mean Scotland could avoid the need to build expensive new fossil fuel power stations and more rapidly cut climate emissions. The groups also asserted that such a strategy must go beyond energy efficiency, and include measures to increasingly tap into the vast existing “invisible” power network of industrial, commercial and public sector organisations. Demand response measures would allow energy users such as universities, banks, supermarkets and datacentres to act as “virtual power plants.” By voluntarily lowering their demand for electricity, t hese businesses and organisations would help avoid the need to turn on conventional power stations. Gina Hanrahan, climate and policy officer at WWF Scotland, said:”It’s far cheaper to reduce our electricity demand than it is to build new power stations that are only used for short periods of time.

Energy Voice 28th Dec 2015 read more »

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Published: 28 December 2015