News December 2006

31 December 2006

Terror

Tornado jet fighters are being scrambled on intercept counter-hijacking operations every month to check on commercial airliners flying into British airspace, the head of the RAF has disclosed to The Times. Defence sources added that alarm bells would sound if an aeroplane
started heading for an obvious target such as a nuclear power plant or
other highly sensitive sites.
The Times 28 Dec, 2006

Yemen

Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, has expressed a readiness to join a regional nuclear energy program under consideration by neighboring Gulf Arab states.
AlJazeera 30th Dec 2006

Magnox closures

BRITAIN’s two oldest nuclear power plants will be shut down tomorrow. The Magnox Sizewell A and Dungeness A reactors, in Suffolk and Kent respectively, have generated electricity for 40 years and have reached the end of their design life.
Observer 31st Dec 2006
Scotsman 30th Dec 2006
24Dash 30th Dec 2006

Proliferation

Tomorrow, Kofi Annan leaves the UN after 10 years as Secretary General. His successor, the former South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon, has pledged to appoint a special UN envoy on North Korea to help solve the nuclear crisis. John Bolton, the US Ambassador to the UN, is leaving too, having failed to win the support of the US Senate.
Telegraph 31st Dec 2006

Posted: 31 December 2006

30 December 2006

Sizewell A

Sizewell A (and Dungeness A) power station’s life is today drawing to a close as it will generate its last electricity for the national grid on New Year’s Eve.
Suffolk Evening Star 29th Dec 2006
Peterborough Evening Telegraph 29th Dec 2006
View London 29th Dec 2006
Reuters 29th Dec 2006

Proliferation

It was 2005 that was supposed to be the crucial year for nuclear non-proliferation. The fear was that the five-yearly conference to review the operation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) would founder amid recriminations, and that the 35-year-old treaty regime would, in effect, be dead. In the event, the review at the UN came and went. It achieved little, but did not collapse. A year that promised drama ended peacefully. The same can’t be said of 2006, when an event long feared happened: on 9 October, North Korea exploded a nuclear device.
Independent 29th Dec 2006

Review of the year

The closure and clean-up of Britain’s ageing nuclear power stations is expected to take more than 100 years. Sellafield in west Cumbria will be hit hard with 8,000 jobs, mostly in reprocessing, expected to disappear by 2018. But there were encouraging developments this year. Sellafield was chosen as the site for a national nuclear laboratory to spearhead civil atomic research. There could be new power plants at Sellafield and Chapelcross, near Annan. And the government accepted recommendations that burial is the best way to deal with radioactive waste, so breathing new life into the old Nirex proposals for an underground repository near Sellafield.
Carlisle News and Star 30th Dec 2006

Australia

Supporters of Prime Minister John Howard’s policy that Australia should introduce nuclear power are outnumbered by opponents, an opinion poll says.
Belfast Telegraph 30th Dec 2006

PRIME Minister John Howard said today nuclear energy was an inevitable option for Australia after a report found that 25 nuclear reactors could significantly cut greenhouse gases.
Edinburgh Evening News 29th Dec 2006
BBC 29th Dec 2006

Submarines

Two crewmen from an American nuclear submarine died after they were swept overboard as the vessel was leaving the naval dockyard at Plymouth.
Times 30th Dec 2006

Trident

The government of Tony Blair (and his likely replacement Gordon Brown) made clear in June 2006 its intention that Britain’s Trident nuclear-weapon system would be replaced in due course. But this only became a formal recommendation with the publication in December 2006 of an official white paper, The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent (Command 6994). A parliamentary vote to ratify the decision is scheduled for March 2007.
Open Democracy 29th Dec 2006

Terror

UP to 12,000 police officers are to be given protective suits to deal with chemical or nuclear terror attacks, it was revealed yesterday.
Daily Mirror 30th Dec 2006
Telegraph 30th Dec 2006

Posted: 30 December 2006

29 December 2006

THORP

BRITISH Nuclear Group officials yesterday denied reports that Sellafield’s Thorp reprocessing plant is to face a further delay in reopening. The Independent newspaper claimed on Saturday that it will be at least the summer before the troubled section of west Cumbria’s Sellafield complex would again be operational because of further technical problems. But a BNG spokeswoman denied that the summer was a target and said Thorp remained on track to open at the beginning of the new financial year in April.
Carlisle News and Star 28th Dec 2006

North Korea

South Korea on Friday termed North Korea a grave threat, a further sign of the deepening chill in relations between the two since Pyongyang’s nuclear test nearly three months ago.
Reuters 29th Dec 2006

Nuclear Weapons

Britain, under a Labour government, considered ditching its nuclear deterrent as a way of making crucial savings to help pave the way for an International Monetary Fund-backed rescue package during the sterling crisis of 1976, according to previously secret documents.
FT 29th Dec 2006
Times 29th Dec 2006
BBC 29th Dec 2006
Daily Mail 29th Dec 2006

MP Peter Viggers has taken part in the debate over whether to replace Britain’s nuclear weapons.
In the House of Commons, the Tory said: ‘I ask the prime minister to reassure us that he truly understands the philosophy of deterrence, which is complicated and tough.
Portsmouth Today 28th Dec 2006

Magnox Reactors

The world’s oldest operating nuclear reactors will be taken out of action on Sunday when British Nuclear Group (BNG) closes Dungeness A and Sizewell A. The reactors, which have been producing electricity for 40 years, are being decommissioned partly because increased safety inspection demands will render them no longer cost effective. Their lives have also been shortened because a reprocessing plant at Sellafield, which is necessary to make their spent fuel safe, is itself due to close in a few years.
Times 29th Dec 2006

Iran

Letter from Ambassador: Iran is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and has categorically rejected development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons on ideological and strategic grounds, while on December 11 the Prime Minister of Israel appeared to admit that his country had nuclear weapons, although his aides later denied this.
Times 29th Dec 2006

Capenhurst

MEMBERS of the public are being given the chance to have their say on the radioactive waste disposal practices of the British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd (BNGSL) site at Capenhurst. One of the site’s regulators, the Environment Agency, is responsible for setting conditions for the safe discharge and disposal of radioactive waste from the operations and is currently reviewing the authorisations held by BNGSL.
Ellesmere Port Pioneer 28th Dec 2006

Freedom of Information

Maurice Frankel says the FoI Act was an achievement its creators are trying to undermine.
Independent 28th Dec 2006

Posted: 29 December 2006

28 December 2006

Iran

According to a new Study by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, Iran could run out of oil to export in eight years without significant investment in infrastructure. The report, published by the US National Academy of Sciences, suggests that Iran’s nuclear programme could be a “genuine” opportunity for investors as oil production has failed to bridge oil field losses and domestic demand growth.
Report Iran 27th Dec 2006
View London 27th Dec 2006
Telegraph 28th Dec 2006

Iran’s parliament is urging the government to “revise” ties with the UN nuclear agency. The move could reduce the country’s cooperation with the international atomic authority. The vote comes just days after the UN Security Council decided to impose limited sanctions on Iran for its refusal to cease enrichment of uranium. Members of Iran’s ruling hierarchy have repeatedly urged the government to cut ties with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog.
Sky News 27th Dec 2006
Telegraph 28th Dec 2006

Russia

Russia and the US could sign a civil nuclear agreement next year which seeks co-operation on nuclear materials and enrichment facilities.
Independent 28th Dec 2006

Solar Power

New website to raise awareness about concentrating solar power – a major alternative to nuclear power, http://www.trec-uk.org.uk/csp.htm and http://www.mng.org.uk/green_house/cspnn.htm

Posted: 28 December 2006

27 December 2006

Uranium

The price of uranium has soared on the global market by nearly a quarter in the past three months, but a new report predicts it will rise a further 75% within the next two years. And the boom in demand for the commodity needed to fuel nuclear power stations has led to enormous rises in the number of small uranium mining firms whose share values have rocketed.
Guardian 27th Dec 2006

The International Atomic Energy Agency is concerned that a doubling in the price of uranium has attracted so many miners to the sector that inspectors may not be able to keep track of the new supplies.The Vienna-headquartered agency, which regulates compliance with the Nuclear Weapons Non-proliferation Treaty, is talking with companies such as Cameco, of Canada, and BHP Billiton about how to improve monitoring of the uranium market.
Times 27th Dec 2006

Iran

OIL prices were on the rise again yesterday, amid concern at Iran’s reaction to tough United Nations sanctions aimed at tempering the country’s nuclear programme.
Scotsman 27th Dec 2006

Posted: 27 December 2006

26 December 2006

Europe

The European Commission is open to increasing the use of nuclear energy as a way for member states to cut carbon emissions and avoid volatile energy prices, French newspaper Les Echos reported on Tuesday. The paper said it had obtained a draft text of the EU Commission’s new plan to create a common energy policy for the 25 nation bloc which it is due to publish on January 10.
Reuters 26th Jan 2006

Iran

Iran’s President said UN sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme would not damage the country — and promised to press ahead with uranium enrichment.
Herald 26th Dec 2006

Trident

Letter from Dr Ian Fingald: When the British government developed the Trident programme a generation ago, a group of concerned medical colleagues attempted to make an uninformed public aware of the appalling medical consequences of nuclear conflict. They advocated conflict resolution, progressive multi-lateral disarmament and an effective nuclear non-proliferation treaty as practical alternatives to a nuclear arms race.
Scotsman 26th Dec 2006

Posted: 26 December 2006

24 December 2006

THORP

The Thorp nuclear reprocessing plant, which closed in April 2005 after a serious radioactive leak, will not restart until next summer following the discovery of another technical fault. It is the latest blow for the plant’s owner, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which is already facing a financial crisis. The NDA funds the £2bn annual budget for cleaning up Britain’s nuclear reactors and is losing an estimated £40m in income every year because of Thorp’s continued closure. Thorp, part of the Sellafield site in Cumbria, reprocesses spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium. BNFL, the company that runs Sellafield for the NDA, told The Independent on Sunday in October 2005 that Thorp would reopen in March this year. The timetable then slipped to summer 2006 and then the autumn. In September, BNFL said Thorp’s restart would take place in “early 2007”. But BNFL has admitted in a staff newsletter that new technical problems, involving a filter pump in an adjoining facility, mean Thorp will not restart before April. In reality, experts say that the plant is unlikely to be operational until next summer at the earliest.
Independent on Sunday 24th Dec 2006

Iran

The UN security council has unanimously agreed to impose sanctions on Iran for its continued refusal to end its uranium enrichment activities. Under the terms of the sanctions exports and imports of heavy industrial equipment to the Middle Eastern country will be blocked and certain individuals will have travel restrictions imposed upon them and their assets frozen.
Inthenews.co.uk 23rd Dec 2006
Sunday Telegraph 24th Dec 2006

Scotland on Sunday 24th Dec 2006
Independent on Sunday 24th Dec 2006
Sunday Times 24th Dec 2006

Observer 24th Dec 2006
BBC 23rd Dec 2006

Iran condemned a U.N. sanctions resolution as “a piece of torn paper” that would not scare Tehran and vowed on Sunday to accelerate uranium enrichment work immediately.
Reuters 24th Dec 2006

Iran is set to increase its uranium enrichment programme in response to the United Nations Security Council resolution.
Channel 4 News 24th Dec 2006
ITV News 24th Dec 2006
Belfast Telegraph 24th Dec 2006

North Korea

THE first talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme since the communist nation tested an atomic device ended without an agreement on disarmament or a date for further negotiations after five days of meetings in Beijing, China.
Edinburgh Evening News 23rd Dec 2006

Politics

Iain McWhirter’s review of the year: Blair offered a whole Guantanamo of hostages to fortune – supporting the war in Iraq, backing a new generation of nuclear power stations, committing himself to renewing Trident, endorsing identity cards and 90-day detention without charge for terrorist suspects. THESE capitulations are a further testament to the extraordinary hold Blair has over the entire Labour movement. Why did Brown believe it necessary to make such commitments to a discredited leader?
Sunday Herald 24th Dec 2006

And a Merry Xmas to all our readers…

Posted: 24 December 2006

23 December 2006

Dungeness A

For more than 40 years one of the UK’s first generation of nuclear power stations has had an ominous presence on the Kent coast. While members of the anti-nuclear lobby have spoken of getting “bad vibes” from Dungeness A, many residents who live in its shadow have praised its impact on the local economy. But now the plant’s two reactors are due to be shut down on New Year’s Eve.
BBC 22nd Dec 2006

North Korea

A week of diplomatic negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons ended with no progress on Friday, with envoys failing even to set a firm date to meet again.
Reuters 22nd Dec 2006
Telegraph 23rd Dec 2006

North Korea is blaming the United States for the failure of talks.
Belfast Telegraph 23rd Dec 2006

Iran

Key UN nations will vote today on a resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear programme.
Belfast Telegraph 23rd Dec 2006

Yucca Mountain

The state of Nevada on Friday asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reject the U.S. government’s plan to store thousands of tons of nuclear waste temporarily above ground at a mountain located about 90 miles from Las Vegas. The Energy Department is set to file an application with the NRC in mid 2008 for a license to operate the Yucca Mountain permanent nuclear storage repository in Nevada, which would hold radioactive waste underground from more than 100 nuclear power plants, along with the tons of leftovers from the U.S. nuclear weapons program. The permanent storage site is years behind schedule and until it is ready, the department wants to place the nuclear waste temporarily above ground.
Scientific American 22nd Dec 2006
Las Vegas Review-Journal 22nd Dec 2006

Posted: 23 December 2006

22 December 2006

Trident

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm has resigned from the Scottish government after voting with the SNP over the replacement of Trident. He was one of four Labour members who supported the SNP’s motion opposing the replacement of the nuclear submarines with up-to-date models. The other Labour rebels were Bill Butler, Elaine Smith and Marlyn Glen.
BBC 21st Dec 2006
Scotsman 22nd Dec 2006
Herald 22nd Dec 2006

MSPs were today urged to “speak up for common sense” and oppose the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
Edinburgh Evening News 21st Dec 2006

NDA

Britain’s £2bn a year nuclear clean-up programme is facing a drastic slowdown because of a threatened shortfall in funding, according to trade unions. Prospect, the union which represents engineers in the nuclear industry, blames what it calls “Treasury short termism gone mad”.
Guardian website 21st Dec 2006
Guardian 22nd Dec 2006

British Nuclear Group is believed to be furious at the proposed budget cuts being imposed on its controlling body, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and fears that it could put some contracting companies out of business. Insiders at BNG, which operates waste reprocessing and Magnox generators on behalf of the NDA, fear that some programmes will have to be shelved. Although priority safety work will not suffer, there will be other work that can no longer be funded with the £200 million shortfall that The Times disclosed yesterday.
Times 22nd Dec 2006

Iran

A planned U.N. sanctions resolution will force Iran to review cooperation with the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog but will not make Tehran abandon its atomic programme, a senior Iranian official said on Thursday.
Reuters 21st Dec 2006

Iran defied imminent United Nations sanctions over its nuclear programme yesterday and pledged that it would become a member of the nuclear club within weeks. After weeks of haggling between major world powers, a resolution is expected to be approved by the UN Security Council before Christmas.
Telegraph 22nd Dec 2006
Independent 22nd Dec 2006

The President of Iran, already suffering from the electoral defeat of some supporters, will come under renewed pressure to soften his confrontational foreign policy when the UN imposes its first sanctions on the Islamic republic.
Times 22nd Dec 2006

North Korea

Negotiators trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons held out little hope for a deal on Friday, the final day of week-long talks that have made scant progress.
Reuters 22nd Dec 2006

BNFL

The break-up of British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) has continued after it unveiled plans to sell its business which runs operations at 10 reactors in the UK. BNFL said it has “commenced the sale” of the newly created Reactor Sites Management Company (RSMC), which manages its operations and decommissioning at the Magnox sites including Sizewell A, Hinkley Point A and Dungeness A.
South Wales Evening Post 21st Dec 2006
FT 22nd Dec 2006
Independent 22nd Dec 2006
Telegraph 22nd Dec 2006

France

The French government has told state-owned shipyard DCN and Areva-Technicatome to begin a 7.9 bln eur programme to build six Barracuda nuclear submarines deliverable in 2016, according to the defence ministry.
Interactive Investor 21st Dec 2006

Bury

BURY has confirmed its anti-nuclear stance and will send that message to the Prime Minister. Councillors say that nuclear power is expensive and risky, and money should be spent on renewable energy rather than on new power stations. They confirmed the council’s affiliation to the Nuclear Free Local Authorities campaign (NFLAs), and urged others to follow suit.
Bury Times 21st Dec 2006

Posted: 22 December 2006

21 December 2006

Decommissioning

An important local community public consultation is under way looking at what will become of a former power station site.Two local public exhibitions on the subject will take place next month – one at Lydney. A similar exercise involving residents within a five-mile radius recently took place on the future of land at the Oldbury Power Station site. The subject of this consultation is the Berkeley nuclear site, pictured, which stopped generating electricity in 1989 and has since been the location of administrative and research and laboratory operations for the nuclear industry.
The Forester 21st Dec 2006

British Energy

NUCLEAR power giant British Energy has suffered another day of heavy falls after confirming a worst case scenario in the repair of two of its reactors. BE revealed that repairs to its Hunterston B plant in Ayrshire and Hinkley Point B in Gloucestershire would not be completed until at least March, and even then they would only run at 70 per cent capacity.
Scotsman 21st Dec 2006
Independent 21st Dec 2006
FT 21st Dec 2006
Guardian 21st Dec 2006
Herald 21st Dec 2006

It’s one mishap after another at British Energy. Being bailed out by the state four years ago should have been a galvanising experience, but to judge by a string of profit and revenue warnings over the past year, the nuclear power generator’s operational problems remain as acute as ever.
Independent 21st Dec 2006

NDA

Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority faces a £200 million funding shortfall that could threaten clean-up work and lead to substantial job cuts. Britain’s main nuclear agency is facing the funding shortage after cuts to government grants and a commercial downturn. The NDA expects to suffer a £160 million drop in its decommissioning grant from the Government at the same time as its commercial income from reprocessing and Magnox nuclear reactors has fallen sharply. The blow for the NDA, created by the Government last year, comes as British Energy,the nuclear generator, which is 65 per cent government owned, admitted yesterday that two plants would be out of action until the spring, putting pressure on winter power supplies.
Times 21st Dec 2006
Whitehaven News 21st Dec 2006

Dounreay

While the former reactor complex at Dounreay is being taken apart, public agencies in the far north are making plans for new nuclear-related bases to come to Thurso. The site’s £2.9billion clean-up programme has lined up the town to locate the Scottish arm of the National Nuclear Skills Academy. And several other similar developments are being courted in a bid to maximise spin-offs to an area, which is going to increasingly feel the effects of the jobs rundown already under way at the UKAEA plant.
Aberdeen Press & Journal 21st Dec 2006

New nukes

New research for the Nuclear Industry Association shows that 72% of the British public agree that the UK needs a mix of energy sources to ensure a reliable supply of electricity, including nuclear power and renewable energy sources. When asked specifically about nuclear newbuild, to ensure the same proportion of nuclear energy is retained, 39% would support it while 29% would oppose it. The remainder are undecided.
Ipsos-Mori 7th Dec 2006

Iran

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday mocked the United States and its allies for trying to stop Iran’s nuclear programme which he said had become a source of inspiration for other nations.
Reuters 21st Dec 2006

Libya

Argentina’s state-owned technology group INVAP will handle a 10-million-dollar upgrade of a Libyan nuclear reactor built in the 1970s, a National Atomic Energy Commission official said.
Middle East Online 21st Dec 2006

North Korea

Negotiators were edging forward on Thursday with proposals to begin dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons, but Pyongyang’s anger at U.S. financial curbs threatened efforts to agree on first steps to implementation.
Reuters 21st Dec 2006

Posted: 21 December 2006