29 May 2015

Sizewell

Stephen Walls, head of the Sizewell C project, told a reception in the President’s Marquee that consultation remained at an early stage and that further progress hinged on developments at EDF’s Hinkley Point C project in Somerset. There was no news on when stage two of consultation was likely to begin. The second stage is expected to give final details of issues such as road improvements, worker accommodation and park-and-ride sites. Recent uncertainty over progress turned into frustration earlier in the year when it became clear that the next formal stage of consultation on the project would not take place until after the election. Mr Walls last night said: “There has been a little frustration that the second stage hasn’t yet occurred. We are conscious of that, but all things come through Hinkley Point. We very much hope that remaining issues around financing and infrastructure are resolved in the coming months, and that we are able to take matters forward with more pace here at Sizewell.

East Anglian Daily Times 28th May 2015 read more »

Dounreay

The transfer of 11 tonnes of nuclear material from Scotland to England for reprocessing has been completed. Work to move the irradiated uranium, a material used in the making of fuel for nuclear power stations, from Dounreay to Sellafield started in December 2012. Dounreay, an experimental nuclear power complex in Caithness, is being demolished and the site cleaned up. A further 33 tonnes of material still inside the Dounreay Fast Reactor will also eventually be moved to Sellafield. The first 11 tonnes were transported in 32 shipments by rail.

BBC 28th May 2015 read more »

Hunterston

JOBS are to go at Hunterston A as part of a restructuring exercise by nuclear decommissioning company Magnox.Up to 1,600 jobs will be lost across 12 UK site with between 40 and 50 jobs axed at the redundant Hunterston nuclear reactor from a total workforce of 240.A statement from Magnox said: “Staff numbers at the 12 sites operated by Magnox Ltd have been declining for a number of years as progress is made on the decommissioning programmes.“This announcement sets out plans to reduce workforce numbers by between 1400 to 1600 over the next 17 months.“The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has been assured that efforts will be undertaken to mitigate the impact of any job losses through an emphasis on voluntary redundancy, reskilling and the potential for alternative employment in Magnox Limited’s parent companies, Cavendish Nuclear and Fluor Corporation.”

Ardrossan Herald 27th May 2015 read more »

Moorside

Windermere’s Free Paper, Windermere Now has published an anonymous article (pg 8) promoting Moorside and Geological Dumping. Radiation Free Lakeland are grossly misrepresented as being “Not in My Back Yard” when what we have been consistently saying is NOT IN ANYONE’S BACK YARD.

Radiation Free Lakeland 28th May 2015 read more »

Radwaste

EVERAL species of soil bacteria have been touted as potentially useful in the clean-up and stabilisation of nuclear waste, and now scientists have proven that they thrive in the high levels of gamma radiation that it emits. The behaviour of nuclear waste in contaminated sites and geologic disposal facilities and the potential for radionuclides to contaminate groundwater and waterways has long been a concern. However, bacteria found naturally in soil could help prevent such water contamination. Cellulose from paper and similar material in intermediate waste can degrade into substances that act as complexants for radionuclides, making them mobile. Some species of bacteria degrade the cellulose and prevent this happening. Other anaerobic bacteria in soil would normally respire iron and other metal oxides, with the oxygen in the iron oxides acting in the same way as oxygen in the air does for aerobic respiration. The process leaves reduced, insoluble forms of iron that cannot dissolve into waterways. These same bacteria can also respire radionuclides like uranium, again leaving insoluble forms. This sort of bacterial activity could ensure that nuclear waste in geological disposal sites will remain locked up in the long term, possibly for thousands of years. Previously it was thought that the levels of gamma radiation in nuclear waste would kill, or at least seriously affect the growth of such bacteria, but Jonathan Lloyd and his colleagues at the University of Manchester, UK, have shown that in fact, the presence of gamma radiation increases the growth of the bacteria.

Chemical Engineer 28th May 2015 read more »

Politics

The Greenest Government Ever? By no stretch of the imagination is it possible to substantiate the claim that the Coalition Government was ‘the greenest government ever’. In all the most relevant policy areas (natural environment, energy, climate change, air pollution, infrastructure and resource efficiency), what we see is a consistent picture of under-performance and ideologically-driven backsliding.” The combination of energy efficiency (as our ‘first fuel’), plus renewables, plus smart local grids, now clearly provides a better alternative to large-scale nuclear generation. But the fear is that the UK’s remarkably resilient nuclear fantasy will continue to block these alternatives, to cause the misdirection of massive amounts of both public money and private sector investment, to confuse the general public, and generally set back our prospects for secure, affordable, low-carbon energy options here in the UK.

Jonathon Porritt 28th May 2015 read more »

Chernobyl

A survivor of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster has embarked on an emotional pilgrimage back to the place of her birth to photograph poignant scenes left abandoned when she was evacuated as a baby. Alina Rudya was just one when her parents fled her hometown of Pripyat in Ukraine in the wake of the meltdown at the power plant, where her father worked, in 1986. The 30-year-old, who now lives in Berlin, first returned in 2012 and is now looking to make another visit to complete her project to mark the 30th anniversary of the catastrophe. The first part of the project, called Prypyat mon Amour, saw Rudya revisit places she and her parents had visited in the city, while taking self portraits in each location.

Daily Mail 28th May 2015 read more »

IAEA

“Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge of our time,” Yukiya Amano, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, told French ministers at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday. “As governments around the world prepare to negotiate a legally binding, universal agreement on climate at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of the year, it is important that the contributions that nuclear science and technology can make to combating climate change are recognized.” It is surely a bit of spin, but the core argument here — that nuclear power has a key role to play in the effort to combat global warming — is one that increasingly cuts across social and partisan lines. President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan would provide a small credit to states that rely on nuclear power as part of their proposed emissions reduction schemes, and the nuclear industry is lobbying hard to have that credit increased — something that the administration has suggested it is considering. Many experts have argued that the sort of swift reduction in global carbon emissions that is needed to stabilize global warming simply cannot be achieved without an expansion of nuclear power. Such was the conclusion of a handful of the world’s most prominent climate scientists, who penned an open letter to environmental groups in 2013 imploring them to abandon their reflexive opposition to nuclear energy, for the sake of the planet. The upshot of all of this is that whatever reactor construction is underway is concentrated mostly in Asia, while ambivalence toward nuclear power continues in the West — including in the United States, which is among the world’s giants in per capita greenhouse gas emissions, and where climate scientists have begun pleading with anti-nuclear activists to reconsider their positions for the sake of the planet. So far, the argument isn’t working. Public support for nuclear power in the U.S. is nearly at its lowest point in 20 years of polling, according to the Gallup organization.

Forbes 28th May 2015 read more »

An annual IAEA publication on the world’s nuclear power reactors shows that, as of the end of 2014, 70 reactors were under construction and 96 more were reported to the IAEA as planned. The 2015 Edition of the Nuclear Power Reactors in the World provides reliable and crisp information on power reactors operating, under construction and shut down as well as performance data on reactors operating in the IAEA Member States.

IAEA 26th May 2015 read more »

NPT

The tiny nation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands is once again at the center of international activism, filing two lawsuits, one in US federal court against the United States, and one in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against all nine countries that possess nuclear weapons. In the ICJ action, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China have been sued for failure to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, as called for by the NPT. The ICJ lawsuit also names India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel as defendants, even though they are not NPT signatories, contending they also must disarm under customary international law. The lawsuits aim to enforce the NPT, arguing that the nuclear states are violating the Article VI of the Treaty, which calls for negotiations toward timely nuclear disarmament.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 27th May 2015 read more »

Europe

A row has broken out over claims that the vast majority of lobbyists met by the EU’s top two energy and climate officials have been from the fossil fuel sector, big energy firms and heavy industry, since they took office six months ago. Calendar records show that 94% of the EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete’s meetings have been with business lobbyists, mostly representing the heavy industry and fossil fuels sectors. For the vice president for energy union, Maroš Šefčovič, the figure was 70%.

Guardian 28th May 2015 read more »

France

The European nuclear industry, led by France, seems to be in terminal decline. A new Finnish reactor has been cancelled, while French constructions are running into technical faults and severe financial problems. The French government owns 85% of both of the country’s two premier nuclear companies – Areva, which designs the reactors, and Électricité de France (EDF), which builds and manages them. Now it is amalgamating the two giants in a bid to rescue the industry.

RTCC 28th May 2015 read more »

French utility EDF’s Cattenom 1 nuclear reactor was stopped on Thursday after the French nuclear watchdog reported an incident caused by the “inopportune opening of a valve” that did not lead to a radioactive discharge. A spokeswoman for nuclear watchdog ASN said the incident, which happened in the secondary circuit of the reactor located near the border with Luxembourg, was provisionally rated 1 on the INES scale out of a maximum 7.

Reuters 28th May 2015 read more »

Germany

You may have heard that Paris is suffering from so much air pollution that the city recently topped the world charts, even beating out Chinese cities. But did you know that the surge in German coal power during its nuclear phaseout is the reason? That, at least, is what Michael McDonald of OilPrice.com (republished at Time.com) would have us believe. But there are a few problems with this story. Miraculously, the smoke from German coal power apparently travels through a funnel directly to Parisians – even when the wind is blowing from France to Germany. There has been no surge in coal power during the nuclear phase-out. In fact, total coal power production (both lignite and hard coal) fell by six percent last year alone. If German coal power is polluting Parisian air, the problem should be getting smaller. We are left with no coal plants in the pipeline as a reaction to Fukushima accident and Germany’s nuclear phase-out. Nor has there been a boom in new coal plants and coal electricity generation in Germany since the Fukushima accident. All of this information is publicly available, but Michael McDonald of OilPrice.com obviously didn’t bother to do proper research.

Renew Economy 29th May 2015 read more »

Pakistan

Summer has returned to Pakistan with a vengeance. In the blistering heat of the plains the people, misinformed and miserable, were yesterday celebrating the explosion of their very own nuclear device. India had exploded a Hindu bomb. Pakistan had countered by detonating a Muslim device. Honour had been satisfied and in the debased political culture of both countries, a culture devoid of everything except the narrowest self-interest, the pot-bellied politicians and the lean and hungry generals are busy congratulating themselves.

Guardian 28th May 2015 read more »

North Korea

North Korea’s press office announced earlier this month that Kim Jong-un had personally supervised the firing of a new submarine-based missile. The news was soon followed by more footage from state media claiming to evidence another ballistic missile launch, but experts have since voiced doubts over the authenticity of the images. But these stories are just the latest steps in a routine North Korea has long been playing with the west.

Guardian 29th May 2015 read more »

An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Thursday that a delegation of North Korean nuclear and missile experts visited a military site near Tehran in April amid talks between world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme.

Reuters 28th May 2015 read more »

Iran

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will join U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for nuclear negotiations with Iranian officials in Geneva on Saturday, the U.S. Energy Department said in a statement on Thursday.

Reuters 28th May 2015 read more »

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said he hoped Tehran and world powers would reach a final nuclear deal “within a reasonable period of time” but this would be hard if the other side stuck to what he called excessive demands.

Herald 28th May 2015 read more »

The deadline for an international agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme looks unlikely to be met, according to one senior Iranian diplomat. Following a decade-long standoff, both sides had hoped to seal the deal before 30 June. However, Iranian senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi has reportedly told Iran’s state television that the deadline is likely to be extended. “We are not bound to a specific time. We want a good deal that covers our demands,” he said. Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United States, has also said a firm agreement within a month is “very unlikely”. So what’s involved in the deal and what are the issues getting in the way?

The Week 28th May 2015 read more »

Egypt

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in the construction of power reactors has been signed between China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA).

World Nuclear News 28th May 2015 read more »

Hungary

Hungary and China have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in education and research and development in the nuclear power sector. Hungary’s national development minister Miklós Seszták and the head of China’s National Energy Administration Nur Bekri signed the agreement in Budapest on 26 May.

World Nuclear News 28th May 2015 read more »

Trident

Alex Salmond has given warning that it would be a “fatal mistake” for the UK government to proceed with its plan to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent, refusing to rule out calling a second independence referendum if it does so. The Scottish National party MP and former first minister issued his warning during a Commons debate on allegations made by a Royal Navy whistleblower about the security of the missiles at the Faslane base in Scotland. “This government would be making a fatal mistake if they believed that for the sake of this costly trumpery that this useless, expensive, unlawful and inherently dangerous military plaything is going to be tolerated by these benches, this party or this country any longer,” said Mr Salmond.

FT 28th May 2015 read more »

Herald 28th May 2015 read more »

Salmond: Response to Trident whistleblower claims insults intelligence of the British public.

National 29th May 2015 read more »

Britain has completed an inquiry into a whistleblower’s allegations that its nuclear-armed submarines have major security flaws and is satisfied no safety breaches have occurred, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Thursday. Able Seaman William McNeilly released a lengthy dossier on the internet earlier this month in which he said Britain’s Trident nuclear defense system was vulnerable to its enemies and to potentially devastating accidents because of safety failures.

Reuters 28th May 2015 read more »

The UK’s Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said a whistleblower’s concerns about Trident nuclear submarine safety have not been proved.

BBC 28th May 2015 read more »

ITV 28th May 2015 read more »

Scotsman 28th May 2015 read more »

The UK’s nuclear deterrent known as Trident has been based at HM Naval Base Clyde on Scotland’s west coast since the 1960s. But earlier this month, the weapons system – today made up of four Vanguard-class submarines, which carry Trident missiles – was rocked by revelations from a naval nuclear weapons technician turned whistleblower, William McNeilly. The Northern Irishman, who eventually surrendered himself to naval police and is currently under investigation, went on the run after detailing 30 alleged safety and security flaws on Trident submarines in an 18-page dossier. These included a failure to check ID cards, fire risks from rubbish, the flouting of safety procedures, and a cover-up of a collision with a French nuclear submarine. “His revelations are very significant,” Rob Edwards, environment editor of the Scottish Sunday Herald newspaper that initially broke the McNeilly story, told Al Jazeera. “They confirm many things that we knew or suspected about the situation on Trident submarines, and they add several important things that we didn’t know and hadn’t suspected and need to be investigated.”

Aljazeera 28th May 2015 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

VLADIMIR PUTIN could seize power of the three ex-Soviet Baltic states in just TWO DAYS, forcing the West to use NUCLEAR WEAPONS against Russia, a top NATO general has warned.

Express 29th May 2015 read more »

Renewables – concentrated solar

2015 is shaping up to be a big year for the development of huge, hybrid solar power plants – the mega solar complexes that combine solar PV with solar towers and storage, and which are tipped to compete, soon, with baseload fossil fuels on both price and energy supply. In Morocco, a Spanish company, Sener, has begun construction on phases two and three of the massive Noor project – the world’s largest thermosolar complex, with a planned final production capacity of 510MW. The complex, located near the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate, is made up of four plants, three of which will use thermosolar technology developed Sener.

Renew Economy 29th May 2015 read more »

Renewables – onshore wind

Nobody really knows what the UK government’s policy on onshore wind is anymore. In its election manifesto, the Tories pledged to “halt the spread of onshore wind farms” — which most people took to mean an outright ban. In the weeks after the election, energy secretary Amber Rudd said DECC would end onshore wind subsidies and give planning permission powers to local authorities (though if subsidies were ended there may not be much to give planning consent on). But briefing notes attached to the government’s legislative programme officials revealed a raft of caveats which could mean, well – anything really. In the section entitled ‘Onshore Wind,’ the bill outlines the transfer of the planning veto from Communities Sec to local authorities — but only for wind farms larger than 50MW. Planning decisions on wind farms smaller than that were already decided by local authorities. Well it turns out there are a grand total of 0 onshore wind farms of that size in the English pipeline that haven’t already been approved. But more significant than that, these rules won’t even apply in Scotland (big win for Sturgeon) or Northern Ireland — or maybe even Wales. “These changes would not impact on the planning regime in Scotland and Northern Ireland,” says one of only a handful of bullet points detailing the policy. And journey a bit further down the document and you’ll find the allowance for Wales, in which it says they “are considering how this will apply” in the context of the St David’s Day process.

Energy Desk 27th May 2015 read more »

As heralded previously, an Energy Bill will include measures to remove onshore wind farm projects from the Planning Act 2008 regime. Nothing further seems to be being done to give local people the ‘final say’ on wind farm applications, other than a reference to amending the National Planning Policy Framework. The briefing also hints that the government will accept the recommendations of the Silk Commission to devolve energy projects of up to 350MW capacity to Wales. This would mean a further change to the Planning Act thresholds and is likely to be contained in the Wales Bill mentioned in the speech.

BDB Law 28th May 2015 read more »

A renewable energy company backed by Terra Firma, the private equity firm run by Guy Hands, has played down the threat to wind farms posed by the Conservative government. Infinis Energy, which floated on the stock exchange last year, used its annual results yesterday to allay concerns that the ending of subsidies for new onshore wind farms and the handing of responsibility for approving wind farms to local councils would cast an immediate chill on the industry. It warned that the government’s stance did not make sense in the longer term, but that the government could hit legally binding renewable energy commitments by 2020 by relying on wind farms that have already been approved. The Department of Energy and Climate Change forecasts that Britain needs to add about five gigawatts of onshore wind capacity — or about 50 per cent — to meet its 2020 commitments. Eric Machiels, Infinis’s chief executive, said: “Because onshore wind is by far the cheapest renewable technology, no party has ever questioned the UK continuing to deploy onshore wind in order for it to meet its targets in 2020. Without that four or five gigawatts it will be utterly impossible for the UK to meet that target unless it opts for the more expensive offshore equivalent.”

Times 29th May 2015 read more »

Climate

Developing countries are “waiting to see” what rich nations will offer them in global warming talks, the French minister of environment has said, ahead of crunch negotiations to be hosted in Paris later this year. Ségolène Royal, the environment minister and former presidential candidate, will play a leading role in the United Nations conference in December as the French government is working to produce a new “Paris protocol” that would determine the future of global action on climate change for decades beyond 2020. She told the Guardian in an exclusive interview: “Developing countries are not hostile [to an agreement]; I would say that they are positive, but they are waiting to see. We have to meet their expectations.”

Guardian 29th May 2015 read more »

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Published: 29 May 2015