Daily News Roundup

29 February 2012

Hinkley

Occupiers calling themselves the barnstormers are being evicted right now (8.20am Wednesday 29th Feb) from the property called Langborough Barn at the proposed Hinkley Point C development site by energy giant EDF. Following the high court case on Monday, EDF have now been given possession of the property and the eviction has begun. Yesterday saw EDF trying to to evict the protest camp without any writ papers but fortunately the protestors were not taken in by their antics. Said campaigner Nikki Clark “Ever since court on Monday we’ve tried to establish a channel of communication with EDF about the time neccesary to leave the protest site. After hearing nothing from them at all they attempted to ask us to leave without serving us the correct papers at 3pm yesterday afternoon. We’ve been concerned to avoid a middle of the night eviction as has happened at Occupy London due to the very different nature of our camp here in rural somerset. Unlike the occupy london camp the buildings we have squatted pose numerous threats to health and safety, as do the public rights of way if forced to move our equipment in the dark” EDF finally managed to find their paperwork first thing this morning and the eviction began at 6:45 am. Theo Simon one of the barnstormers is refusing to leave the site and has climbed into the barn structure in a last ditch attempt to save the bat roost and surrounding 400 acre site that EDF are waiting to trash.

South West Against Nuclear 29th Feb 2012 more >>

GDA

Vital safety approvals for new nuclear power stations in England and Wales have been delayed because of the Fukushima nuclear accident a year ago, according to the government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). The design of the new reactor proposed by the French power companies, EDF and Areva, has 15 unresolved safety issues, including cracking risks in key components, fault studies of cooling and electrical failures and the dangers of flooding. These have to be resolved before ONR will licence the construction of the new reactor but the programme for achieving this has slipped by two months. This is because more work than expected has been needed to address the issues raised by the Fukushima accident. ONR has posted online its latest report on progress with the “generic design assessment” of proposed new reactors in the last quarter of 2012. It reveals that it has had to rejig its resources to cope with the delays. “Some of the deliverables…have been late or do not provide the quality of information or depth of evidence that we expected,” ONR says. It has coded two issues as red, meaning that “delays cannot be recovered and will impact on the target closure date”.

robedwards.com, 27 February 2012 more >>

Emergency Planning

UK Nuclear Emergency Planning Review and NFLA Local Authority Questionnaire. Talk by Sean Morris at NFLA Conference Leeds 24th Feb.

NFLA 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Europe is ill-prepared for a nuclear accident on the scale of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, a French safety authority said. “There are doubts about the ability of some European countries to manage this type of situation,” Jacques Repussard, director of the Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire, or IRSN, said at a press conference in Paris today. “It’s extremely problematic. We need to progress in crisis management in many regions.” Some European countries lack sufficient atomic crisis centers while health authorities across the region don’t agree on what instructions to give local populations in case of accidents, he said. “There isn’t enough coordination.”

Bloomberg 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Radhealth

New French Study on Child Leukaemias near French Nuclear Power Plants. Talk by Dr Ian Fairlie at NFLA Conference Leeds 24th Feb.

NFLA 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Process – the answer to our problems, or the start of new nuclear risks. Talk by Jean McSorley at NFLA Conference Leeds 24th Feb.

NFLA 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Three parish councils have voted to withdraw Cumbria from the process to find a location for an underground nuclear dump. Seaton, Cockermouth and Above Derwent councils have all rejected moves to offer west Cumbria as a possible location for a so-called deep geological repository. Their vetoes do not carry any power and Allerdale, Copeland and Cumbria county council will take the final decision on whether to press ahead. All three authorities have volunteered to be involved in the process to find a suitable site – the only in the country to do so. A dump would bring billions of pounds of investment to the area, create new jobs and attract a package of Government benefits. But people campaigning against the idea say that the area’s geology is unsuitable and a repository would harm west Cumbria’s economy.

Carlisle News & Star 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Plutonium

The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has requested proposals for disposition of the UK’s 112 tonnes of civilian plutonium. The NDA said re-use of the plutonium in mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel remains the government’s preferred option, but it is now seeking formal proposals on potential alternative approaches for disposing of the plutonium.

i-nuclear 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Hinkley

Environmental campaigners opposing the planned Hinkley Point nuclear power station have claimed victory after the High Court threw out an injunction sought by French energy firm EDF aimed at preventing further protests. Mr Justice Floyd, sitting in the High Court on Monday, granted a possession order to EDF allowing the firm to clear a group of protesters occupying an abandoned farm building on the proposed site of the controversial power station in Somerset. But he rejected an application by EDF for an injunction against four named organisations – South West Against Nuclear, Stop Nuclear Power Network, Stop New Nuclear and Stop Hinkley – saying it was unnecessary.

Morning Star 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Anti-nuclear protesters camping on the site of the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station have been ordered to leave by the High Court.

Construction Enquirer 28th Feb 2012 more >>

The campaign group Stop Hinkley and other anti-nuclear campaigning organisations claimed a victory in the High Court when a judge ordered one group of protesters off the site of a proposed new Somerset nuclear power plant but said an injunction against four named organisations was unnecessary.

Western Daily Press 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Oldbury

Oldbury reached the end of its life and will generate its last megawatt of electricity on Wednesday. Last year, reactor two was switched off and now it is the turn of reactor one to be shut down. The decommissioning of Oldbury – although welcomed by local campaigners – will not be the end for nuclear power generation at the site, with plans for a new station advancing.

BBC 29th Feb 2012 more >>

Oldbury nuclear power station near Bristol is to stop generating electricity after 45 years of use. Both of the station’s reactors were scheduled to be turned off in 2008 but had their operational life extended. Reactor two was turned off in 2011 and reactor one is due to be shut down at 11:00 GMT.

BBC 29th Feb 2012 more >>

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estimates that Oldbury will enter a so-called care and maintenance phase in 2027 when reactors are left to cool, most structures are removed and the reactor buildings are left in a safe state requiring minimum supervision until final site clearance. That final stage for Oldbury is anticipated to be between 2092 and 2101. It is estimated the cost of taking Oldbury out of action and clearing the site will be £954 million.

Western Morning News 29th Feb 2012 more >>

Wylfa

An E.ON-RWE joint venture is poised to take a huge step towards building a nuclear power station in north Wales by choosing the reactor technology it will use for the project. Westinghouse, owned by Toshiba, and France’s Areva have been battling it out to win contracts for their reactor designs from the energy giants that plan to build the UK’s upcoming wave of nuclear stations. The two designs are the only ones that have approval in principle from the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency. It is understood that Horizon Nuclear Power, the nuclear developer owned by the two German energy giants E.ON and RWE, is about to decide which reactor it wants to use for its Wylfa B plant on the Isle of Anglesey, and could make an announcement this week.

Independent 29th Feb 2012 more >>

Sellafield

Sellafield chiefs have shaken hands on an historic £1.5 billion procurement contract which will change the way the site does business. The deal will see some of the world’s biggest nuclear firms signed up on a 15-year deal to provide specialist design, engineering and safety assessments. The landmark agreement, known as the Design Services Alliance (DSA), marks a radical shift in the way Sellafield buys in services by signing up firms on long-term framework contracts. It is hoped the tie-ups will create more stability in the Sellafield supply chain, drive up efficiency levels and ensure a greater proportion of the cash spent on decommissioning stays in west Cumbria.

Cumberland News 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Japan

A team of 30 university professors, lawyers and journalists investigated Japan’s response to the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant, which followed the twin disasters that shut down the plant’s cooling systems. Since September, it has interviewed more than 300 people, including Kan, then-trade minister Banri Kaieda and Edano. The New York Times newspaper, which had an advance copy of the report, said there was lack of trust between the major actors: Kan; the Tokyo headquarters of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), and the manager at the stricken plant. Japanese leaders did not know the extent of the damage in the wake of the nuclear crisis after the massive quake and tsunami hit the Pacific nation even as they tried to play down the risk in public, an independent investigation is set to report. Naoto Kan, the then-prime minister, and his staff began referring to a worst case scenario that could threaten Japan’s existence as a nation around three days after the quake-triggered tsunami on March 11, and even secretly considered evacuating the capital, Tokyo, the report by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation said on Tuesday. The Japanese prime minister ordered workers to remain at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant as fears mounted of a “devil’s chain reaction” that would force tens of millions of people to flee Tokyo, the report says.

Al Jazeeera (Video) 28th Feb 2012 more >>

The tsunami-hit Fukushima power plant remains fragile nearly a year after it suffered multiple meltdowns, its chief said Tuesday, with makeshift equipment—some mended with tape—keeping crucial systems running.

Japan Today 29th Feb 2012 more >>

As the people of Pripyat, a once bustling Soviet city built for the workers of Chernobyl, will tell you, evacuation from a nuclear disaster is a one-way ticket. Nearly 26 years later, time is frozen. The hammer-and-sickles still hang from the lamp-posts as they did on the day the town’s residents were told to get on the buses. A similar fate awaits many of the 80,000 evacuated a year ago from Fukushima. The Japanese government is raising hopes of an early return to the evacuation zone, and there are parts of villages to which former residents could move back this spring – if they wanted to. But life without neighbours, or the region’s traditional livestock and fishing industries, would be a shadow of its former self. Japan’s overreliance on nuclear power as a “clean” alternative to coal- and oil-fired stations should give the world pause for thought. Britain is now going down the same route. The debate is complex, but it must not assume the same thing couldn’t happen here. That’s what they said in Japan after Chernobyl.

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

A new report released today by Greenpeace argues it was neither the 7.1 magnitude earthquake nor the raging tsunami that followed which deserve the real blame for the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Diachi power plant last year. Rather, according to ‘The Lessons of Fukushima’, the real disaster was caused by hubris, greed, and the fact that repeated warnings over the unsafe nature of the nuclear plant were ‘downplayed and ignored’.

Common Dreams 28th Feb 2012 more >>

The Japanese government withheld information about the full danger of last year’s nuclear disaster from its own people, according to an independent report released today. The report, compiled from interviews with more than 300 people, delivers a scathing view of how officials played down the risks of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that followed a March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Compiled by scholars, lawyers and other experts, the study concludes that government oversight of nuclear plant safety had been inadequate, ignoring the tsunami risk and the need for plant design renovations and instead clinging to a “myth of safety.”

Morning Star 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Chronicle Live 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Newcastle Journal 28th Feb 2012 more >>

The remains of the shattered reactors are still some distance away when you first notice the sheer destruction of Japan’s nuclear disaster. The journey into the heart of the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 26 years ago begins much earlier, in the towns and villages that exist in name only, their residents having been sent fleeing a year ago. Homes and shops lie empty, the roads are deserted. In the town of Naraha, groceries sit untouched on the shelves of a convenience store; a handful of cars punctuate a supermarket carpark, abandoned by their owners amid the panic that followed the first explosion at one of the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s reactor buildings.

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

It is impossible, on a brief visit, to grasp the scale and complexity of the post-meltdown operation at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. But entering the ground zero of Japan’s nuclear crisis, as the Guardian did on Tuesday, at least means going through the same procedures as the thousands of people who work there every day.

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

The first independent investigation into Japan’s nuclear crisis has painted a damning portrait of the desperate efforts by ill-prepared politicians, bureaucrats and utility executives to avert a disaster some feared could force the evacuation of Tokyo. The report highlighted how a dearth of effective planning left leaders struggling to decide how to respond to the failure of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant last March.

FT 28th Feb 2012 more >>

The Fukushima Dai-ichi power station is still vulnerable to disaster almost a year after the meltdown that poisoned eight towns and villages and forced 78,000 people to flee, the head of the nuclear plant admitted yesterday. In a rare interview, Takeshi Takahashi said that despite claims that the plant’s three reactors had been brought into a controlled state of “cold shutdown” late last year, the equipment keeping it stable was susceptible to a further earthquake or tsunami.

Times 29th Feb 2012 more >>

Russia

Russian Federal Prosecutors have accused a company owned by the country’s nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, with massive corruption and manufacturing substandard equipment for nuclear reactors under construction both at home and abroad. The ZiO-Podolsk machine building plant’s procurement director, Sergei Shutov, has been arrested for buying low quality raw materials on the cheap and pocketing the difference as the result of an investigation by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor organization to the KGB. It is not clear how many reactors have been impacted by the alleged crime, but reactors built by Russia in India, Bulgaria, Iran, China as well as several reactor construction and repair projects in Russia itself may have been affected by cheap equipment, given the time frame of works completed at the stations and the scope of the investigation as it has been revealed by authorities.

Bellona 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Iran

A new round of nuclear negotiations with Iran is likely to be agreed in the next few days when diplomats from six major powers hammer out a common response to Tehran’s offer to resume contacts, official sources said on Tuesday.

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Israel said it will not warn the U.S. if it decides to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, American intelligence has revealed. Officials said they would keep America in the dark so that the U.S. would not be held responsible for failing to stop the attack.

Daily Mail 29th Feb 2012 more >>

India

The Indian government has charged four non-governmental organisations with allegedly diverting foreign funds to back protests against a nuclear plant.

BBC 29th Feb 2012 more >>

China

Opposition to the Pengze plant has escalated to the point that the eastern province of Anhui province has issued a formal appeal to Beijing to halt construction on the plant, which is in neighbouring Jiangxi province but close to population centres in Anhui. Other reactors under construction have also seen more vocal opposition. Although the protests do not appear co-ordinated and no nationwide anti-nuclear lobby group exists, any public disturbance will raise anxiety in Beijing where leaders are increasingly worried about unrest.

FT 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Information Service February newsletter includes articles on: Safety report reveals widespread safety flaws at Clyde submarine base; Development go-ahead at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

NIS 28th Feb 2012 more >>

While media pundits in the United States warn darkly of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, America itself is regarded as the main nuclear threat in much of the world today. The United States argues that it needs these weapons to deter attacks on itself and its allies, and that it would only use them to prevent or respond to such an attack. But people in other countries wonder why Americans need so many of them — secreted away in missile silos, on submarines and in bombers, computer-targeted to obliterate their cities at the turn of a key.

Middle East Online 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Renewables

Opposition groups kick up storm over windfarms in Wales. National Grid’s plans for huge substation and a line of pylons stretching up to 25 miles lead to protests.

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Technology now on trial could pave the way for turbines in deep seas of Mediterranean and off the coasts of Japan and the US. Six miles off south-west Norway, the first full-scale demonstration of a floating wind turbine heaves and sways in the North Sea. The depth of water, at 200 metres, rules out driving piles into the seabed, or mounting the turbine on a submersible tower. Instead, it sits on a buoyant steel cylinder, kept upright with ballast, and tethered (not too tightly) to the seabed by a three-point mooring. Hopes are running high for the Hywind project which ends this year. Since 2010, the turbine has generated 15MWh of energy. If it survives the battering waves and driving winds, floating offshore wind turbines will shift from the plausible to the probable.

Guardian 29th Feb 2012 more >>

Britain is leading the world in the building of windfarms off its coastline but the “green revolution” appears to be largely working in favour of foreign firms. The Danish operator of the world’s biggest offshore windfarm, off Cumbria is the latest to come under fire for favouring foreign suppliers and allegedly providing “negligible” work or services to local UK companies. Dong Energy opened the Walney scheme on 9 February boasting it had erected more than 100 turbines in double quick time and had broken other records by bringing in foreign investors. But John Woodcock, Labour MP for Barrow-in-Furness where the formal opening of Walney took place, blamed ministers as well as companies, saying they had taken their eye off the ball.

Guardian 29th Feb 2012 more >>

Scotland’s spectacular mountain scenery is being wrecked by “windfarm vultures” making millions on the back of government subsidies, an environmental group says. Environmental groups that back wind power argue that more should be done to benefit local communities. “We would like to see developments moving from simply providing community funds to an increasing element of community ownership,” said the director of WWF Scotland, Dr Richard Dixon. “It is time for government north and south of the border to enable communities to be the drivers of larger schemes and benefit from the renewables revolution that will help us wean ourselves off fossil fuels and nuclear.”

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Letter from NFLA: was troubled to read that most of the largest onshore and offshore wind companies in the world are thinking of not investing in the UK renewable energy market because of a perception of a lack of formal support from the government for such projects. I wish Mr Cameron had recently been signing an Anglo-French treaty on renewables, instead of wasting time and vast resources developing the white elephants that will be new nuclear power stations. With the Daily Telegraph accurately noting that most of the profits and jobs for new nuclear will not be in UK hands, I find it bizarre that the government is prepared to miss out on a renewable jobs and finance bonanza at a time when our economy really needs a major boost.

Guardian 28th Feb 2012 more >>

Fuel Poverty

The number of people dying as a result of fuel poverty is three times higher than government estimates suggest, according to new academic research. Some 7,800 people die during winter because they can’t afford to heat their homes properly, says fuel poverty expert Professor Christine Liddell of the University of Ulster. That works out at 65 deaths a day. Fuel poverty is defined as when someone needs to spend 10 per cent or more on heating their home. The new total – calculated using World Health Organisation guidance and official excess winter death figures – is four times as many fatalities as happen in road accidents each year.

Independent 29th Feb 2012 more >>

Share

Published: 29 February 2012
Last updated: 18 October 2012