31 January 2014

Sellafield

SELLAFIELD has asked that only “essential workers” come into work this morning because of an ongoing “operational condition”. It is understood a monitor has detected elevated levels of radiation at the north end of the site. A message issued to employees states: “In response to an operational condition on the Sellafield Site a conservative and prudent decision has been taken, to operate the site at reduced manning levels, commensurate with safe operations. “The decision to suspend day operations has taken with the safety and security of the workforce as a priority

NW Evening Mail 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Huffington Post 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Whitehaven News 31st Jan 2014 read more »

ITV Border 31st Jan 2014 read more »

BBC 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Towards a Safer Cumbria report. How government, regulators and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority have neglected nuclear waste in Cumbria.

Cumbria Trust 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Letter Tim Knowles: I would appeal to Sellafield Ltd to think of a better solution for removing its deer than simply shooting them. Saying that the Deer Initiative Partnership suggest this answer isn’t a comforting recommendation, as I would suggest the DIP represents rather too many vested interests for comfort. The only real advantage is that it’s cheap, easy and allows a quick exit from this totally self-inflicted problem. It was inevitable that the ridiculous haste involved in putting up the new, questionably necessary and ludicrously expensive security fences, would lead to corners being cut. Indeed, unlike any other local organisation would be allowed to do, construction occurred before proper planning authorisation had been given.

Whitehaven News 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Letter Colin Wales: Others have suggested via their Whitehaven News website comments on the matter that the real reason Sellafield wishes to shoot the deer is because they are contaminated. If they are, they will need to be culled. If they are not, then they pose no threat to anyone and with such a small number would have enough foraging locally to sustain the herd. Deer faeces form the existing herd could be analysed for radio-isotopes, presumably Caesium 137, to determine if they are contaminated. Has this been done? If the deer are not contaminated, they can be released. Either way, we get valuable information and the nuclear industry gains much needed trust. A Sellafield Ltd spokesman replies: “There is no reason whatsoever to believe that the deer are contaminated in any way, and there is absolutely no radiological motivation behind this decision.”

Whitehaven News 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Energy Policy

The UK should consider building more nuclear power plants and should not expect cheap energy prices to come from a US-style “revolution” in shale oil and gas, the world’s top energy forecaster has warned. “The UK has significant shale gas resources but people shouldn’t expect a US scale energy revolution in the UK,” Fatih Birol, chief economist and director of global energy economics at the International Energy Agency told The Telegraph in an interview on Thursday.

Telegraph 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Sizewell

A community group fears a big increase in traffic and a large influx of workers could turn a small country parish into an “industrial city” if the Sizewell C nuclear power project goes ahead. The Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group was formed last year after proposals were put forward for a workers’ hostel in the parish and the use of the existing B1122 road by construction traffic. The group’s aims – to reduce the impact on the community if the project does go ahead – have now been given overwhelming support by nearly 70 local people who attended a public meeting.

Ipswich Star 30th Nov 2014 read more »

Radwaste

Campaigners claim that plans to move nuclear waste between several power stations by road are “dangerous”. The government wants to transport waste from Oldbury power station near Bristol, to Hinkley A in Somerset and Berkeley in Gloucestershire. Anti-nuclear groups say the waste should be stored in-situ and “properly looked after” rather than driven. The industry claims road transport is standard practice and it would be “business as usual”. A consultation by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) about the plans ends on Friday.

BBC 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Radhealth

Radiation makes people invisible. We know that exposure to radiation can be deleterious to one’s health; can cause sickness or even death when received in high doses. But it does more. People who have been exposed to radiation, or even those who suspect that they have been exposed to radiation that never experience radiation related illnesses may find that their lives are forever changed – that they have assumed a kind of second class citizenship. They may find that their relationship to their families, to their communities, to their hometowns, to their traditional diets and even traditional knowledge systems have become broken. They usually spend the remainder of their lives wishing that they could go back, that things would become normal. They slowly realize that they have become expendable and that their government and even their society is no longer invested in their wellbeing.

Simply Info 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Nuclear Skills

PLYMOUTH must bid to be the home of a new nuclear engineering college, says city MP Oliver Colvile. The Government this week announced that Britain’s next generation of nuclear power plants will be able to call on a new high-tech further education college to train their workforce. Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock set out the plans during a speech to the Politics Home Skills Summit yesterday. New nuclear power stations in Britain are forecast to generate up to 40,000 jobs in the sector at its peak.

Plymouth Herald 30th Jan 2014 read more »

PLANS for an elite college funded by the government and the nuclear industry have been welcomed by council bosses. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) wants to support high level technical skills in the nuclear industry by creating a specialised college.

This is the West Country 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Supply Chain

Speech by Baroness Verma to promote UK nuclear supply chain capability to senior decision makers from a number of important overseas markets.

DECC 27th Jan 2014 read more »

Energy Costs

The cost of energy in the UK is rising, creating concern about the effect on vulnerable households, and prompting calls for government intervention. But do our European neighbours have even bigger problems? As energy prices increase across the European Union (EU), consumers in some member states are paying considerably more for their energy than us, according to a European Commission study released last week. We’ve summarised how the UK is doing on the costs of energy, from gas and electricity prices, to subsidies for energy, to fuel poverty and energy efficiency.

Carbon Brief 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Energy Supply

Now that the Energy Bill, which passed through Parliament last December, has become law some people may think it only remains now to put it into effect, ending investor uncertainty and ensuring that the lights will stay on. Not a bit of it. For investors in the electricity market, there is probably more uncertainty now than there was four years ago when the Government launched its ambitious electricity market reform proposals. The regulator Ofgem’s Christmas message was a warning that the lights could go out even sooner than feared and that the wafer-thin margin of available supply over demand could disappear if the upturn in the economy continued as expected.

Telegraph 30th Jan 2014 read more »

The UK will import more power from neighbouring countries in the future as the country’s electricity margin continues to tighten, according to National Grid. “There will be a rise in power imports,” said Andrew Bonfield, National Grid’s chief finance officer .”[This is] because there is a pricing differential which we believe will be beneficial to the country, and ultimately customers.” Electricity imports can be cheaper than those produced by UK suppliers and are a small but growing part of the country’s overall power supply. Power is produced in France and the Netherlands and imported via subsea interconnectors. Electricity flows both ways but the UK currently buys more than it sells. Net electricity imports cost the UK about £365m in the past six months of 2013, two and a half times more than two years previously, according to data supplied by ICIS, the price reporting agency.

FT 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Europe

The EU’s new targets for 2030 are only for emissions trading. Anything adopted for renewables will not be binding, and we have yet to hear about efficiency at all. Craig Morris says we’re not going to get anywhere until we focus on all three. The debate over 2030 targets is generally described as one between the UK, which plans to promote nuclear and shale gas, and Germany, which promotes renewables. I didn’t make up the confrontation between the two countries – here is British Energy Secretary Edward Davey himself tweeting that “I won for UK.” So who lost? Some politicians say that we need to ensure that the transition to a low-carbon economy remains affordable and doesn’t hurt our economy. They then focus on carbon targets to protect us from the high cost of renewables, which are apparently harming a country with 5.2 percent unemployment in November (Germany), compared to 7.4 percent in the UK at the time. The British government is also willing to pay much more for new nuclear as onshore wind costs and new solar costs in Germany, allegedly in the name of protecting consumers from unnecessarily high costs. The facts don’t matter, as the resistance to efficiency targets shows – what good reason do we have to oppose them? In the end, this is not just about the climate, not just about carbon emissions. It’s also about personalities “winning.” Over at the Carbon Brief, my colleague Mat Hope describes how top EU officials are willing to throw out all other targets so that binding carbon targets for 2030 can be a part of their legacy. So Davey, Barroso, and Hedegaard, congratulations: you win. Guess who loses? No, not Germany. Renewables and efficiency.

Renew Economy 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Japan – Fukushima

About 1,400 people filed a joint lawsuit Thursday against three companies that manufactured reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, saying they should be financially liable for damage caused by their 2011 meltdowns. The four reactors all began operation in the 1970s. Units 1, 3 and 4 were built by GE, Toshiba and Hitachi, respectively, while Unit 2 was a joint GE-Toshiba project. GE and Hitachi later established GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. Several accident investigation reports, including one published by a parliament-appointed panel, have generally agreed that the tsunami was the primary cause of the disaster, but also criticized TEPCO’s underestimation of potential tsunami damage and collusion between regulators and the nuclear industry. Citing those reports, Christopher White, spokesman for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, said the accident was caused by the tsunami and the resulting loss of power and reactor cooling, not reactor design.

AP 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Hungary

Hungary’s government should abandon its plans to build a new nuclear power plant immediately. That was the message Greenpeace sent Hungary’s lawmakers today when we turned Budapest’s Clark Adam Square into a giant nuclear symbol. Next week members of the Hungarian Parliament could stop nuclear expansion. They may be asked to approve plans to build a second nuclear power station at Paks in the heart of the country. That’s their chance to show their country and the world that we do not need nuclear power. In 2011, Greenpeace Hungary published its edition of the Energy [R]evolution study, our blueprint for a clean energy future. It points out that phasing out nuclear energy is a real alternative for Hungary.

Greenpeace 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Euro News 30th Jan 2014 read more »

South Korea

South Korea, the fourth largest economy in Asia, is heavily dependent on nuclear power, yet in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and a more recent domestic nuclear safety scandal, the country’s nuclear sector has been struggling. Approval on Wednesday to build two new nuclear power plants in a $7 billion project, will hopefully provide a boost.

Oil Price 30th Jan 2014 read more »

US

A day after President Obama focused on his troubling “all of the above” energy plan in the State of the Union address, Reuters reports that the Department of Energy has finalized a long-delayed loan guarantee for Southern Company and Oglethorpe Power Company to support construction of two new nuclear reactors at the Plant Vogtle Nuclear Generating Station near Waynesboro, Ga. The government isn’t only offering a loan guarantee for Vogtle: it will also be the lending institution. The $8.3 billion loan package will come directly from the Federal Treasury, meaning that taxpayers would be 100 percent liable in the event of a default. According to Friends of the Earth’s nuclear subsidies campaigner Katherine Fuchs, “DOE’s implementation of the program has been shrouded in secrecy. It required a Freedom of Information Act request and then litigation to get them to reveal that the credit subsidy fees being paid by the Vogtle partners are far too low.”

Common Dreams 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Trident

While politicians agonise over the size of the Government’s debt, one of the most expensive publicly funded projects in recent years is quietly getting under way. A series of written questions from that old Labour troublemaker Paul Flynn has extracted details from the Ministry of Defence about how much it is costing, so far, to replace the UK’s Trident fleet. The Defence Minister, Philip Dunne, has given a list of 42 contracts that have already been awarded. The biggest is the design contract won by BAE Systems, worth just under £672m. Together, if I have added them up correctly, they come to £1,391,233,027. The Government expects the final bill to come somewhere between £15bn and £20bn. Greenpeace suspects the total will be around £34bn. But to put that £1.4bn committed so far in context, that is three times what the Government expects to save from its highly unpopular “bedroom tax”, or more than seven times what the MoD paid in redundancies over three years as it rid itself of 11,000 of its employees, many of them Afghanistan veterans. Curiously, Trident created more controversy 30 years ago when Margaret Thatcher first acquired it, although back then people at least knew what it was for. Its purpose was to deter the USSR from invading the UK. Now the Government is spending billions on renewing it, with barely a murmur of dissent, and when no one can say whom it is supposed to deter or what it is supposed to deter them from doing.

Independent 30th Jan 2014 read more »

The United Kingdom could be forced to give up its nuclear deterrent if Scotland votes for independence, a former Cabinet minister said yesterday. The submarines carrying the Trident nuclear warheads operate from the Faslane naval base on the Clyde and there are potential problems with finding a suitable alternative location in England. Conservative Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, a former Scottish secretary, said: “What happens if Scotland leaves the United Kingdom? Where is our nuclear deterrent?

Press & Journal 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Herald 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Downgrading Britain’s nuclear deterrent would create ‘significant risks’ to the country, a new report confirms today. The ‘tag-team’ submarine patrols which carry the trusted Trident system – known as continuous at-sea deterrent (CASD) – are a ‘valuable element’ of security, said an analysis published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). But Hugh Chalmers, a research analyst at the defence think-tank, said the UK could still retain a credible deterrent while reducing the submarine force.

Daily Mail 31st May 2014 read more »

Britain could achieve billions of pounds in savings by breaking with tradition to cut its Trident nuclear submarine fleet from four to three, according to a report published on Friday by one of the country’s leading military think-tanks.

Guardian 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Glasgow MSP Bill Kidd demanded action yesterday following reports police and soldiers ferried a secret shipment of nuclear warheads through the city’s darkened streets. Mr Kidd condemned the “absolutely chilling” Ministry of Defence policy in the Scottish Parliament as he described an unmarked 19-vehicle convoy snaking up the M74 in the early hours of Wednesday morning en route to the navy’s arms depot on Loch Long. Glasgow Anniesland MSP Mr Kidd, who also presides over the international network Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, said the convoys amounted to a reckless endangerment of his constituents.

Morning Star 31st Jan 2014 read more »

STV 30th Jan 2014 read more »

The US government is reviewing whether Russia has broken a nuclear arms control treaty, and has warned its Nato allies of Russia’s alleged testing of a new cruise missile. State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday US officials do not yet regard the treaty in question, which was part of a series of agreements that helped bring an end to the Cold War, to be in serious jeopardy, but are examining what they claim is clear evidence of the missile’s use.

Guardian 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

The U.S. Air Force says a total of 92 missile launch officers have been implicated in a widening scandal over exam cheating.

Reuters 30th Jan 2014 read more »

BBC 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Guardian 30th Jan 2014 read more »

Renewables – offshore wind

The UK was a world leader in offshore wind in 2013, but a new report casts doubt on how long that might last. The research by industry group, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), shows the UK has the most offshore windfarms and turbines of any country in Europe. Moreover, almost half of the wind turbines installed in Europe last year were placed off the UK’s coast, according to the report. But despite the new developments, the EWEA says the government’s current policies may slow the industry’s growth in 2014. So while the UK currently leads the way in offshore wind power, investors are unclear how committed the government is to the technology in the long term – and the EWEA says that could halt offshore wind’s progress in 2014.

Carbon Brief 30th Jan 2014 read more »

STRONG words in a fascinating climate at Scottish Renewables’ Offshore Wind Conference in Aberdeen today from Mainstream Renewables’ founder and Chief Executive Dr Eddie O’Connor. Strong because renewable energy industry pioneer Dr O’Connor believes passionately in his topic, and that embracing renewables technology is the only way to avoid, as he puts it, “the horror of climate change”. And made in a fascinating climate after Scottish Renewables revealed investment in Scotland by developers with projects in Scottish waters dipped 55% in 2013 compared to 2012 – a figure which has sparked debate across the industry and media. In Dr O’Connor’s words, “unwarranted delays in public decision making” around the determination of planning consents for offshore wind projects in Scotland have worried developers and investors. Some may dispute how “unwarranted” those delays are, but there is no doubt they are causing frustration throughout the industry. We also believe continued uncertainty around certain aspects of Electricity Market Reform – a complex process necessary to safeguard the future of electricity generation in the UK, as well as affordable bills for consumers – has also played a significant role in this reduction in investment. Dr O’Connor, whose company develops renewable projects across the globe, went even further this morning, claiming “the time taken to implement EMR” means “the UK will miss its 2020 climate targets” – a challenge to policymakers in Westminster if ever there was one.

Scotsman 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Energy Efficiency

Ten cities will join the City Energy Project (CEP) effort to start: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Salt Lake City. Under the initiative, each city will work with NRDC and IMT experts to develop their own custom plans to boost energy efficiency in their large buildings, which typically comprise around 50% of any city’s total square footage. In a year, the cities aim to have their plans in place and will track their performance over the following three years to develop case studies.

Renew Economy 31st Jan 2014 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Burning natural gas does indeed let off significantly less carbon dioxide than burning coal. But natural gas itself is mostly methane, an incredibly potent greenhouse gas that traps much more heat compared to an equivalent amount of CO2. And all along the production chain, from drilling to piping to transport, some of it will inevitably leak. The Environmental Protection Agency has pegged natural gas leakage from production at 1.5 percent. But the agency tends to rely on industry-provided numbers. A separate study by fifteen scientists — from institutions including Harvard, NOAA and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab — looked at comprehensive atmospheric data and models, and concluded the leakage was at least three percent. At 2.7 percent or more, natural gas loses any advantage over coal in terms of its greenhouse effect.

Climate Progress 30th Jan 2014 read more »

SENIOR management at a Scottish council face a disciplinary probe after coming under severe criticism for failing to act over the “environmental devastation” caused by opencast mines. Full details of a damning review into failures in the restoration of abandoned opencast mines in the main problem area of Scotland points the finger to the top of East Ayrshire Council’s organisation while uncovering “significant and ongoing individual, management and communication failings”. The council has approved a disciplinary investigation into what happened to report back by the end of March.

Herald 31st Jan 2014 read more »

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Published: 31 January 2014