Daily News Roundup

28 February 2012

Nuclear Safety

A 40-STRONG team at EDF Energy’s engineering headquarters in Barnwood has undertaken a massive operation to ensure that the UK’s nuclear power plants are the safest in the world. And last week the Gloucester base threw open its doors to explain the undertaking and reassure the public about the planned next generation of nuclear power stations. EDF set up the Japan Earthquake Response Programme team at Barnwood following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011. Stress tests have been applied to assess the safety of its nuclear installations and how it would deal with a major incident. Last week a special exhibition at Barnwood demonstrated some of the equipment available including huge trucks that could cope if roads were swept away, communications equipment and gear that could be delivered to the site of the emergency in pods and simply “plugged in” to replace critical plant. EDF Japan Earthquake Response Programme team communications head Martin Kelly said it was important for the company to have its own capability and not rely on others.

Gloucestershire Echo 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Hinkley

The campaign group Stop Hinkley and other anti-nuclear campaigning organisations won a victory in the High Court today when a legal action against them by EDF Energy was thrown out by the Judge, Mr Justice Floyd. EDF wanted to ban Stop Hinkley not only from entering its land at Hinkley Point, where it plans two new nuclear power plants, but from encouraging anybody else to do so. The injunction was rejected by the Judge on the basis that there was no evidence that the campaign and other organisations intended to encourage illegal activity. “This is a victory for free speech,” said Stop Hinkley spokesman Crispin Aubrey, ” and our right to publicise events in opposition to the Hinkley C development on our website”. Earlier the Judge did grant a possession order to EDF to reclaim Langborough Farm, a deserted building on the proposed Hinkley C site which has been occupied by protesters for the past two weeks.

Utility Week 27th Feb 2012 more >>

BBC 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Anti-nuclear activists begin their 13th day occupying a barn on the site of the proposed new Hinkley C nuclear power station today as they prepare to resist legal action to evict them. French firm EDF Energy is seeking possession of the site and an injunction preventing a return. A hearing is expected in the High Court of Justice in London on Monday.

Democratic Underground 22nd Feb 2012 more >>

Today in the High Court of Justice, EDF Energy failed to win an injunction against a number of anti-nuclear power campaigns. The energy giant is seeking permission to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset but is facing major opposition at a local and national level. In a clear attempt to suppress opposition to its highly controversial plans, EDF has not only sought the eviction of individual protestors occupying farm land near to the proposed site, but also attempted to secure an injunction against four anti-nuclear groups: South West Against Nuclear, Stop Nuclear Power Network UK, Stop Hinkley and Stop New Nuclear to prevent them protesting on the land in future.

CND 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Energy company EDF has successfully obtained a High Court order to evict protesters from its site in Hinkley, Somerset, where it is set to build a new nuclear power plant. However, it was unsuccessful in getting a blanket injunction against all groups opposed to the plans including local protest organisation Stop Hinkley. Theo Simon, a protester at the site, described the decision as a “moral victory” and said he wanted the protesters to be able to move off the site in an orderly fashion.

Building 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Sizewell

Spend a weekend camping on the beach at Sizewell and learning about the plans for the new nuclear power station. Come show your opposition to nuclear power, and your support for sustainable energy solutions. The weekend includes a protest at the power station entrance, skill-shares and other workshops, woodland and beach walks. Now is the time to take action against nuclear new build – come join us to say ‘Nuclear power – No thanks!’

CND 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Berkeley

THE decommissioned nuclear power station at Berkeley will mark a milestone when its five huge 300 tonne boilers are removed next month. The boilers, which are 21 metres long and five metres in diameter, will be moved whole from the site, through Berkeley to Sharpness Docks. Then they will be transported to Avonmouth and shipped to Sweden for smelting and recycling. It is estimated up to 90 per cent of the metal will be put back into the market for reuse. The boilers will be moved in three movements. Berkeley will be the first Magnox site to remove its boilers and to mark a major decommissioning milestone. It will also alter the skyline of the site forever. Magnox has been working with contractors Studsvik and ALE on the project.

Gloucestershire Echo 28th Feb 2012 more >>

THE first of five massive boilers to be removed from the defunct Berkeley nuclear power station will start to make their slow journey to Portbury docks next month. Each of the 310-tonne boilers used to produce steam to turn the generator turbines when the plant was operating. It had been planned to leave the boilers on the site until its final clearance in 2074 after Berkeley – the first commercial UK nuclear power station to produce electricity – was closed in 1989. But they will now be taken to Sweden for decontamination and recycling, once they have been carefully carried through Berkeley town centre. As reported in the Evening Post last month, the company Studsvik has signed an £8 million contract with the Low Level Waste Repository for the transport to Scandinavia and treatment of five of the 15 redundant boilers at its processing plant. The first two boilers, which measure 21 metres (nearly 70ft) in length and contain low levels of radioactivity, will be moved on March 19, with two further journeys to carry the others away. They will be moved by road to Sharpness docks in an operation that could take three hours. They will then be loaded onto a barge and taken to Portbury for shipping to Sweden.

Waste Management World 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Radwaste

In a letter to new DECC minister Ed Davey Environment Group member of Cumbria Churches Together, Sir Martin Holdgate has said ‘While community acceptance of any possible repository site is of course desirable, the imperative is its environmental suitability for thousands of years to come. A bad site remains a bad site even if it currently has a willing community, while a good site will be safe effectively forever, whoever lives on top of it. We hope that you will take full responsibility for this vital issue back to where it properly resides, in Central Government, and not leave it unfairly on the shoulders of the local authorities of Cumbria.’

Radiation Free Lakeland 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Plutonium

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has announced it continues to seek alternatives for managing the UK’s plutonium stockpile this week. The NDA is seeking alternatives from the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s preferred strategy of reusing the plutonium as mixed-oxide (Mox) fuel for future nuclear power stations. The NDA said the government remains “open” to other options provided they can offer better value or less risk. The UK’s plutonium stockpile has been accumulating since the 1950s – largely from the reprocessing of spent fuel at Sellafield – and NDA has been seeking ways to manage it. This has included constructing a large geological disposal facility. NDA announced last year it was shutting its existing Mox plant – built for the export market – following the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. Engineering giant GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) unveiled plans to re-use the UK’s legacy plutonium stockpile for a new nuclear power station in Sellafield, West Cumbria last year. Interested parties have until the end of March to submit expressions of interest in alternatives.

New Civil Engineer 27th Feb 2012 more >>

The NDA is seeking proposals on potential alternative approaches for managing the UK’s plutonium stocks alongside providing support to the Government as it progresses its preferred policy of converting the material into Mixed Oxide fuel (MOX) for reactors. Both the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the NDA have already held extensive public consultations over possible management solutions for the existing civil stocks of plutonium, which have accumulated since the 1950s, largely from the reprocessing of spent fuel at Sellafield , and are currently held in secure storage pending the development of a long-term solution. More than 100 responses were received to the DECC consultations.

NDA 23rd Feb 2012 more >>

Nuclear Skills

Hinkley Point C – could be under construction as soon as next year and fully operational six years later. Three consortia, EDF Energy-Centrica, Horizon and NuGen, plan a total of six stations by 2027. But how well is the industry placed to cope with its first new-build programme since Sizewell B, which began generating in 1995? Will it be able to meet demand for the skills needed? With a relatively high average age among the industry’s most experienced staff, the need to attract new blood into the industry is made more acute.

Engineer 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Supply Chain

British companies look set to miss out on the lion’s share of the £60 billion in construction contracts that will be available from building of nuclear power plants at Hinkley Point and Sizewell. Cameron did announce his commitment to using British companies in the engineering, construction and manufacturing of the power plants when the energy alliance deal with Nicolas Sarkozy was launched. However, French companies look to benefit as design and technology used in the power plants will mostly be from companies in France. The UK looks to be taking the back-seat in the partnership.

Purcon 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Old Nukes

EDF Energy resumed output from its 480 megawatt Hinkley Point B-7 reactor on Saturday. Another reactor operated by Magnox, unit 1 at Wylfa, also restarted, adding 240 MW to supply early on Monday morning.

Reuters 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Radhealth

Lamb Deformities caused by Midge Virus? Or cumulative radiation …. Anyone asking?

Radiation Free Lakeland 27th Feb 2012 more >>

ONR

Two executives at the organisation that ensures safety at nuclear plants have had their contracts terminated following discovery that they were being paid through private companies rather than the staff payroll.

Accountancy Live 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Japan

In the darkest moments of last year’s nuclear accident, Japanese leaders did not know the actual extent of damage at the plant and secretly considered the possibility of evacuating Tokyo, even as they tried to play down the risks in public, an independent investigation into the accident disclosed on Monday.

New York Times 27th Feb 2012 more >>

In solemn remembrance of the lives affected by last year’s Japanese earthquake and the following Fukushima nuclear tragedy, Greenpeace climbers today delivered messages of support and hope to the summit of Mt Fuji. As the eleven climbers from Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA scaled the mountain, a banner reading “No Nuclear” and “Nuclear Free Tomorrow” was deployed at Lake Yamanakako, one of five lakes at the base of Mt Fuji, by a second team of Greenpeace activists. “Greenpeace is taking messages for Fukushima collected from thousands of people in Japan and all over the world (1) to the top of Mt Fuji to help convince the Japanese Government to listen the voices of the people, not the nuclear industry,” said Wakao Hanoaka, Greenpeace Japan Campaign Manager.

Greenpeace 28th Feb 2012 more >>

To learn from Fukushima, Greenpeace commissioned “Lessons from Fukushima.” This report, by three independent experts (a nuclear physicist, a correspondent for a health publication and a nuclear engineer), documents how the government, regulators and the nuclear industry enabled the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and then failed to protect the people from its impacts. Given that these failures are repeated wherever nuclear power is generated, means that millions who are in the shadow of reactors live with the risks of the next nuclear disaster. Instead of acknowledging these risks, many politicians and authorities responded to Fu-kushima by calling for the need to “restore public confidence in nuclear power.” Something is clearly wrong. A year after the disaster began; governments continue to protect the nuclear industry instead of protecting their citizens.

Greenpeace 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Lessons from Fukushima.

Greenpeace 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Greenpeace today released “Lessons from Fukushima”, a new report which shows that it was not a natural disaster which led to the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant on Japan’s east coast, but the failures of the Japanese Government, regulators and the nuclear industry. The key conclusion to be drawn from the report is that this human-made nuclear disaster could be repeated at any nuclear plant in the world, putting millions at risk.

Greenpeace 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Iran

Iran is still relying on decades-old technology to expand its nuclear programme, a fact that suggests it might be having difficulties developing more modern machines that could speed up production of potential bomb material, experts say.

First Post 27th Feb 2012 more >>

City AM 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Korea

North Korea has informed the United States that it is ready to suspend its uranium enrichment program in exchange for food aid. This would include grains from the United States.

NHK 27th Feb 2012 more >>

South Africa

In the budget review for 2012, a price tag of R300 billion appears for Eskom’s nuclear fleet build programme. The programme is designed to deliver 9,600MW of nuclear capacity by 2029 and is described as being in the “final stages of consideration before financial proposals can be determined”. This is all rather curious. The President did not mention the R300 billion nuclear build programme in his State of the Nation Address. The Minister of Finance did not mention it explicitly in his Budget Speech. Now, apparently, it is in its “final stages”. There has been no debate in Parliament and no opportunity for the public to scrutinise a nuclear programme that could have a very real impact on all of our lives. Not only will it cost nearly a third of our annual budget, but there are serious safety and environmental concerns to consider.

All Africa 26th Feb 2012 more >>

India

India is determined to promote its nuclear energy program with a planned 20 more nuclear reactors in the pipeline amid escalating protests in the country.

IB Times 28th Feb 2012 more >>

India’s power minister Mr Sushilkumar Shinde has stated that the country plans to build nuclear power generation capacity of 63 GW during the next 20 years.

Modern Power Systems 26th Feb 2012 more >>

Bahrain

Trade Arabia reports that Bahrain has abandoned its plans to adopt nuclear power as an alternative power source.

Modern Power Systems 26th Feb 2012 more >>

Renewables

The growth of renewable energy has been unprecedented over the past 25 years. Wind and solar have maintained double-digit growth rates since 2000. No other segment of the energy sector has grown this fast. Wind power is the most economic new power plant technology, due to reduced installations costs, no fuel costs and construction time of less than one year, compared to over 10 years to construct nuclear power plants. In addition to replacing nuclear, renewables could lead to phasing out of over 90% of fossil fuels in the power and heating sectors by 2050, while in the transport sector the use of fossil fuels could be reduced from the current 98% down to about 30% by 2050.

Greenpeace 27th Feb 2012 more >>

The Department of Energy and Climate Change says green policies add £20 to the average domestic fuel bill each year. This question has caused plenty of vexed debate over the past year in the media and among politicians. But the position of Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) is quite clear. In its 2011 annual energy statement, it stated that green policies such as the renewables obligation (RO) – which ensures that suppliers generate an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources – add £20 to the average domestic fuel bill each year. RenewableUK, a trade association representing the renewable energy sector, says that 47% of this total can be attributed to wind. “So we normally say [that for wind power] the RO adds £10 per year to people’s fuel bills,” says a spokesman. Much of the heat in this debate is about the predicted future burden of “gree n taxes” on domestic fuel bills. Decc calculates that its policies will add £48 to bills by 2020 (compared with its £20 figure for 2011). However, it argues that its overall push for renewables and energy efficiency will lead to a net decrease in energy bills – a much contested claim, it should be stressed – because consumers will be less reliant on the ever-rising cost of fossils fuels such as gas. An additional upward pressure on bills in coming years will be the shared cost of upgrading the UK’s energy infrastructure, not just in terms of generating, but also transmission. Ofgem, the energy market regulator, predicts that around £30bn will need to be spent upgrading aging infrastructure over the next decade, adding a further £60 each year to energy bills. Apportioning a percentage of this figure to wind alone, though, is almost impossible.

Guardian 27th Feb 2012 more >>

The boom in onshore wind power, likened to a “new industrial revolution”, is being dominated by a small number of private landowners who will share around £1bn in rental fees over the next eight years. Rental payments vary and are secret but, say property agents speaking in confidence to the Guardian, landowners can now expect £40,000 a year “risk-free” for each large turbine erected on their land. Those set to benefit include senior members of the royal family and the Forestry Commission in Wales and Scotland.

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

The prime minister, David Cameron, has met MPs who are fighting the government’s support for onshore windfarms as concern mounts that billions of pounds of investment in green jobs is on hold while the row continues. The Guardian revealed on Monday that spending on energy infrastructure, from research and development to building turbines, is in doubt while company executives look for reassurance from ministers that they are committed to a big expansion of wind and other renewable energy. Growing concern about the government’s support for its own climate and energy policies was refuelled three weeks ago by the publication of a letter signed by more than 100 Conservative, two Liberal Democrat and other MPs opposing subsidies and planning policies supporting windfarms. Cameron, along with the Conservative energy minister Charles Hendry and planning minister Greg Clark, met the Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris and a small group of others who signed the letter. Cameron is understood to have reiterated his support for wind power, as he did in a letter to the MPs last week.

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Public subsidies for the development of wind power in the UK are dwarfed by the tax breaks enjoyed by fossil fuels, a new Guardian analysis has revealed. Financial support for fledgling renewable energy industries has increasingly come under attack in recent months, but the new data shows that the older industries benefit to a far greater extent. Most of the Decc’s budget is spent on decommissioning nuclear power stations and managing nuclear waste, which cost taxpayers £7bn on 2010-11. Nuclear power is expected to benefit from the forthcoming carbon floor price, receiving perhaps £50m a year, and possible tax exemption on uranium. Anti-nuclear campaigners also claim that “hidden subsidies”, such as the limit on an operator’s liability for accidents, are worth billions.

Guardian 27th Feb 2012 more >>

Studies of wind farms built in California and Spain in the 1980s have shown an “excessive” number of fatalities among six raptor species, including eagles and vultures. The evidence suggests that poor planning and outmoded turbine design were largely responsible and the current thinking is that fewer but much larger turbines, sited away from known migratory paths of birds, can significantly decrease the risk of bird strikes.

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

A NETWORK of “green homes” has been set up in Scotland to enable people to visit and find out how to install renewables in their property. The Scottish Government hopes the Green Homes Network will give people the chance to talk to other homeowners about the costs and savings of installing renewables such as biomass burners, solar panels and turbines, and get tips and advice. So far, more than 500 homes across Scotland have signed up to be part of the network.

Scotsman 28th Feb 2012 more >>

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Published: 28 February 2012
Last updated: 18 October 2012