30 December 2015

Hinkley

China is intent on exporting its nuclear expertise but in the UK scrutiny is increasing. Hinkley Point, in Somerset, is home to a working nuclear plant and twin disused Magnox reactors. Now David Cameron, UK prime minister, wants the site to host the first of a new generation of reactors that he envisages will replace Britain’s ageing nuclear fleet by 2030. Under a commercial pact struck during October’s state visit to London by Chinese president Xi Jinping, CGN will take a one-third stake in Hi nkley. Its state-owned rival, China National Nuclear Corporation, may also participate. A decade from now, assuming all goes to plan, Taishan’s distinctive egg-shaped reactor domes, double-hulled walls and monster turbines will dominate the shoreline of the Severn estuary. Hinkley Point C will supply 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity.Following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, few western countries have been building reactors. But the UK is pushing ahead with plans for 16 gigawatts of new capacity by 2025 – compared with 10GW now – supplying about one-sixth of its electricity needs. Behind this British nuclear renaissance are demanding targets to cut carbon emissions and a desire to reduce dependence on imported gas. Nuclear energy needs to be part of the mix because it is more reliable than renewables, which depend on sunshine, wind or tides, ministers say. It is controversial, however: many people are opposed on safety grounds, while some have raised national security concerns about allowing China to build plants in the country. China is already on a nuclear building spree. It is beginning construction of a reactor every few months to meet a goal – made all the more urgent by Beijing’s smog – of non-fossil fuels providing one-fifth of energy consumption by 2030. It also wants to export its nuclear construction expertise and, ultimately, its designs. And it senses an unprecedented commercial opportunity in Britain. Beijing hopes that its participation in Hinkley – and the chance to build its own Hualong One design at Bradwell in Essex – will help convince the world that the Chinese nuclear industry is on a par with its French and Japanese rivals. China is pushing its nuclear know-how aggressively around the world. It has high hopes for Latin America, despite its slowing economy. Under an agreement announced in November, CNNC will finance and build two nuclear power plants in Argentina, in a deal worth up to $15bn. The first plant will cost about $6bn and use Canadian “Candu” nuclear technology, while the second, like the proposed plant for Bradwell, will use the homegrown Hualong One reactor. Analysts also see potential demand in South Africa, where there are plans to add 9.6GW of new capacity. CGN can ill-afford errors at Taishan, one of three unfinished projects using a third-generation technology called the European pressurised reactor. Designed by Areva of France, these reactors are being touted as a revolution in nuclear power. But they have had a troubled start on projects at Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland. Taishan, too, has suffered delays, albeit not as bad as those in Europe. As a result, CGN is treading carefully. The Chinese plant’s targeted completion date, originally late 2013, has already been put back once, in part because of safety rules after Fukushima. Now it will probably come online in 2017 – though CGN will not say exactly when. There are worries, too, that Britain’s tilt towards China – and chancellor George Osborne’s embrace of its investment – will open the door to security risks. The UK shift has caused consternation in the US, which accuses China’s state-owned industry of benefiting from military-linked corporate espionage. Concerns have also been raised in Whitehall over the prospect of China being able to build digital loopholes into hardware it supplies, allowing Beijing to exploit vulnerabilities at nuclear plants. CNNC’s background as China’s nuclear weapons developer before it built the country’s civilian reactors has added to those fears.

FT 29th Dec 2015 read more »

Wylfa

The last working Magnox nuclear reactor in the world will shut down later for the final time at Wylfa on Anglesey. The nuclear plant has been generating electricity since 1971. But the remaining Reactor One at the site will be switched off on Wednesday afternoon. About 150 staff are expected to lose their jobs by April 2016, as the power station starts the decommissioning process. It will take about three years to remove the remaining spent fuel at Wylfa, and then teams will move in to clear much of the site. That process will end in about 2026 when only the reactor buildings and fuel stores will remain. The whole area will then be left until final site clearance at the start of the next century in 2105.

BBC 30th Dec 2015 read more »

BBC 30th Dec 2015 read more »

BBC 30th Dec 2015 read more »

Daily Post 30th Dec 2015 read more »

Wales Online 30th Dec 2015 read more »

After 44 years of electricity generation, reactor one at Wylfa power station on Anglesey will stop generating electricity today (30 December 2015). Originally scheduled for shutdown in 2010, the reactor continued to produce energy for an additional five years, raising valuable additional revenue for the UK, and supporting hundreds of jobs. It now moves into the next stage of its lifecycle and the defuelling and decommissioning of the site.

Welsh Office 30th Dec 2015 read more »

Sizewell

Independent experts have been taken on board to help towns and villages in east Suffolk over the application for the new nuclear power station. EDF Energy is expected in the first few months of the new year to begin its Stage Two Consultation process – when further details will be revealed about some of the key issues worrying people living in the area. These will include the accommodation campus site for thousands of construction workers who will build the complex, sites for park and ride schemes, and road improvements. Stage Two though will not begin until the Final Investment Decision (FID) for Hinkley Point C is agreed.

East Anglian Daily Post 29th Dec 2015 read more »

Dounreay

Dounreay Site Restoration (DSRL) confirmed it has sent 11 tonnes of “breeder” material – consisting of radioactive uranium – to Sellafield’s Magnox reprocessing facility last year, representing about a quarter of the material stored on site. The delivery consisted of 32 shipments, although the company does not reveal the method of transportation for “security” reasons. The remaining 44 tonnes of breeder material represent approximately 40% of the total inventory of nuclear materials on the site, DSRL said. The material has been cooling since 1977 when the site’s Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) stopped operating in favour of the more advanced Prototype Fast Reactor( PFR). The breeder material is distinct from other “exotic fuels”, including unirradiated plutonium, whose shipments to Sellafield have commenced more recently.

Energy Voice 29th Dec 2015 read more »

Cumbria

By 1983 there was a huge decline in numbers of waterfowl, waders and gulls in the Ravenglass estuary. This decline was most apparent in the black headed gull population nesting on the Drigg dunes. The gullery failed catastrophically going from over 10,000 pairs in 1976 to the site being abandoned in 1984. The finger of suspicion fell on radioactive waste discharges from Sellafield: “Since 1983, concern has been expressed about the apparent decline in numbers of birds in the Ravenglass estuary in west Cumbria, particularly of the black-headed gull colony on the Drigg dunes, and suggestions have been made that this decline might be due to excessive radiation in the birds’ food and their general environment.” But official studies concluded: “the concentrations of radionuclides in the foods, body tissues and general environment were at least three orders of magnitude too low to have had any effect. The more likely cause of the desertion of the gullery was the combination of an uncontrolled fox population, the severest outbreak of myxomatosis amongst the rabbits since 1954 and the driest May–July period on record, all in the same year (1984)”.

Radiation Free Lakeland 29th Dec 2015 read more »

New Nukes – Scotland

A former North Sea oil company boss and now independent energy advisor has called on the Government to curtail its ‘fixation’ with wind power and to drop its moratorium on building new Scottish nuclear power stations to provide carbon-free baseload electricity generation. Stuart Paton, former chief executive of Dana Petroleum, publishes his ‘new Scottish energy policy’ in a pamphlet due to be issued in January 2016 by the pro-market Edinburgh-based think-tank, Reform Scotland, where board members include a former Tory MSP.

Scottish Energy News 30th Dec 2015 read more »

Plutonium

Savannah River Site appears set to receive nearly 2,000 pounds of plutonium from foreign countries for “storage and process pending final disposition,” according to documents released by the Department of Energy. Gap material plutonium is “separated weapons-usable plutonium currently located in foreign countries and poses a threat to national security; presents a high risk of terrorist threat; has no other reasonable pathway to assure security from theft or diversion; and meets the acceptance criteria of the storage facility at the Savanah River Site,” NNSA Press Secretary Francie Israeli said. Though the finding document doesn’t state where the material comes from, Tom Clements, director of the nuclear watchdog group SRS Watch, said a document from the NNSA, detailing the Global Threat Reduction Initiative Removal Program, indicates that materials could come from Japan and some European countries, including the United Kingdom, which he said should raise some eyebrows. “I consider it nuclear dumping,” he said. “I don’t argue that there is some security and nuclear proliferation risks with this material and that some of it needs to come here, but not material originating from a nuclear weapons state like the UK.”

Augusta Chronicle 29th Dec 2015 read more »

As the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has refused to release a key document that reveals plans by DOE to import up to 900 kilograms (~1980 pounds) of plutonium to the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, the public interest group Savannah River Site Watch has publicly released the document. The 71-page draft ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR GAP MATERIAL PLUTONIUM – TRANSPORT, RECEIPT, AND PROCESSING contains nothing of a sensitive or classified nature and contains no markings that it be withheld from distribution. The document was provided to the States of South Carolina and Georgia, whose comments were solicited, but the document is being withheld from the public.

Savannah River Watch Press Release 29th Dec 2015 read more »

Nuclear Futures

At GreenWorld, we like to look forward. Forward to the day that nuclear power is a bad but fading memory and our planet is powered as safely, cleanly and affordably as possible with renewable energy and advanced 21st century efficiency, storage and grid technologies. Forward to that day of a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system. It’s a day that we believe is coming, and is coming sooner than could have been believed even five years ago. But while we believe that day is inevitable, the timing is important: if it comes too late to turn back the worst effects of climate chaos, then its inevitableness won’t matter. And it won’t come on its own in time. As we’ve said here often, it will take all of us who believe in that future to act to bring it about in time.

Green World 30th Dec 2015 read more »

Japan – Fukushima

The people on the frontlines of that cleanup are known by some as the “nuclear gypsies,” who are exposing themselves to dangerous amounts of radiation as they attempt to remove the nuclear waste.

Eco Watch 28th Dec 2015 read more »

A camera at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has captured video of a fox poking around a very dangerous place: inside the No. 2 reactor building, where radiation levels can reach more than 10 sieverts per hour. An animal believed to be a fox was seen outside the No. 2 reactor containment vessel, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said. Despite the likely high radiation dose the fox was absorbing, the utility said the animal did not show any signs of weakness on the video.

Mainichi 29th Dec 2015 read more »

France – Radwaste

Over the last two years I’ve translated several articles about the French CIGEO project that aims to create a deep geological repository in Bure, in northeastern France (see the links below). I believe these reports from France can serve as a valuable warning about what rural communities around the world can expect when national authorities come around trying to impose their grand plans for “the final solution.” This latest installment illustrates how the original plan, once it has got some level of local agreement and momentum, can later take on other aims and have wider effects than the locals originally understood.

Nuclear Free by 2045 29th Dec 2015 read more »

Bangladesh

Bangladesh and Russia have reportedly agreed to invest $12.65 billion in a project to build two 1200 MWe nuclear power units at Rooppur. According to Reuters, the agreement was signed on 25 December by Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) and Russia’s Rosatom.

World Nuclear News 29th Dec 2015 read more »

South Africa

South Africa’s Department of Energy has received Cabinet approval to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the country’s 9600 MWe nuclear new build program. The final funding model will be informed by the response of the market to the RFP and be submitted to Cabinet thereafter for final approval and implementation.

World Nuclear News 29th Dec 2015 read more »

Submarines

ROSYTH residents have been told that “good progress” is being made to dismantle seven redundant nuclear submarines at the dockyard. An update on the progress of the Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP), which is being handled by Babcock in conjunction with the MoD, was given to the December meeting of Rosyth Community Council by Fife Council’s Protective Services senior manager, Roy Stewart. In a presentation to the community council, Mr Stewart said that the key elements of the programme were beginning to take shape, including the de-licensing of dock number three area, which remains “on target with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to conclude in December 2015”. He also outlined that work to equip dock number two with the infrastructure required to enable the Low Level Waste (LLW) to be removed from the demonstrator submarine (Swiftsure) is “progressing to programme”, which the submarine docking cradle, portal crane, security fence at dock number two and a replacement dock gate have been completed. Another meeting of the Rosyth Local Liaison Committee is scheduled for April 27, where there will be an opportunity for members to visit the Active Waste Accumulation Facility (AWAF), where ILW is currently stored until a disposal route is confirmed.

Dunfermline Press 29th Dec 2015 read more »

Renewables – Scotland

Scotland’s solar power capacity has increased by more than a quarter in the past year, according to a new report. WWF Scotland and Solar Trade Association Scotland said that solar panels in Scotland now have the potential to generate up to 179 megawatts, an increase of 28 per cent compared with December last year. The number of solar panels installed in Scotland has also increased by 22 per cent, with most of them being installed on private homes. At present more than 40,000 of the solar panels installed in Scotland are on domestic properties, some 98 per cent of the total number of panels. Research by the Energy Saving Trust suggests that a home solar panel system could save more than a tonne of carbon dioxide in a year. However, WWF and Solar Trade Association want the Scottish government to do more to encourage home owners to invest in solar energy. “Scotland’s new building regulations are a great example of where Scotland is leading the way, as they are helping to increase the uptake of solar on thousands of new homes every year.”

Times 30th Dec 2015 read more »

Energy Voice 30th Dec 2015 read more »

Dundee Courier 30th Dec 2015 read more »

Letter: YOUR columnist Pinstripe may be a supporter of ever increasing subsidies to the renewable energy sector (“Time for Salmond to bring Cameron into line on vital role of renewable energy”, The Herald, December 28), but what he does not mention is the fact that there was no mention of the cost of these regressive green levies imposed on energy consumers in Alex Salmond’s Referendum White Paper. In addition, Pinstripe made no mention of the fact that 92 per cent of these regressive subsidies are paid by English and Welsh consumers. He also failed to mention that had Scotland voted Yes in 2014 then these arrangements would have been declared illegal under European regulations, as pointed out by former MP Brian Wilson. Pinstripe also failed to state that the well-off, the wealthy and the rich could previously mitigate the costs of these regressive levies by installin g solar panels, biomass units or wind turbines to receive massive pay-outs from the Feed-in Tariff scheme, the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme or the Renewables Obligation Certificates scheme. The only group who pay into the regressive levies and receive nothing in return are the 35 per cent of Scots living in fuel poverty, but at least they are now shielded from further increases by the cuts to the renewable sector subsidies.

Herald 30th Dec 2015 read more »

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Published: 30 December 2015