News April 2008

30 April 2008

New Nukes

The UK’s construction sector will be able to provide up to 80% of new nuclear build capacity, according to the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA).

New Civil Engineer 29th April 2008 more >>

Oldbury

Campaigners are furious to learn of plans for an unproven nuclear reactor. If given the go-ahead, the proposals would mean a Westinghouse AP1000 model is used at the Oldbury site, South Gloucestershire, which is home to a corroded reactor. The deal follows the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) decision to sell its nuclear sites to potential investors in nuclear new build.

Western Daily Press 29th April 2008 more >>

Nuclear Power.

How it works: Nuclear reactors work in a similar way to other power plants, but instead of using coal or gas to generate heat, they use nuclear fission reactions. In most cases, heat from the nuclear reactions convert water into steam, which drives turbines that produce electricity.

Guardian 30th April 2008 more >>

Syria

President George W. Bush said the recent U.S. disclosure of suspected North Korea-Syria nuclear cooperation was intended to send a tough message to Damascus, Pyongyang, and Tehran regarding their nuclear ambitions.

Reuters 29th April 2008 more >>

Africasia 29th April 2008 more >>

Iran

Russia was quoted as saying on Tuesday it was ready to examine Iranian proposals to end a deadlock over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

Reuters 29th April 2008 more >>

Feed-in Tariffs

Letter from various academics: We urge the government to adopt a feed-in tariff policy, which has proved so successful in other countries. A feed-in tariff works by guaranteeing a long-term fixed price to be paid to renewable electricity generators and giving priority access to the grid for the electricity they produce. Both academic studies and the practical experience of those countries that have adopted it show that a feed-in tariff supports the development of a greater volume of renewable energy at lower cost than the UK’s renewables obligation policy. It is why Germany has installed 200 times more solar power and 10 times more wind power than the UK. It is vital that the government amend the energy bill, being debated in parliament today, to include legislation to introduce this established and effective policy.

Guardian 30th April 2008 more >>

Scotland

Any proposal to build a new nuclear power station in Scotland could be blocked by the Scottish government, according to internal documents released today. A series of emails between civil servants in June 2005 confirms that Scottish ministers have devolved legal powers to reject applications for new power reactors north of the border.

Robedwards.com 28th April 2008 more >>

Japan

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)  Asia’s largest utility, said on Wednesday it could not offer a full-year estimate for its nuclear plant operation rate in the current fiscal year due to a shutdown of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Reuters 30th April 2008 more >>

Posted: 30 April 2008

29 April 2008

Decommissioning

BUSINESSES interested in working in the nuclear industry in North Wales are being given the opportunity to find out what standards of service they must meet. Major contractor Magnox North will meet current and prospective suppliers at an event called Raising your Game to be held at Technium CAST, Parc Menai, Bangor, on May 14 between 2.45pm and 7.15pm. The event aims to raise awareness about the requirements for working on nuclear sites such as Wylfa and Trawsfynydd.

Daily Post 29th April 2008 more >>

British Energy

The deadline for the next round of bids for British Energy (BE) has been brought forward, as the Government seeks a swift decision on the future of the UK’s nuclear industry. Rothschild, BE’s financial adviser, has told potential bidders that it would like to see detailed offers by May 9.

Telegraph 29th April 2008 more >>

Hinkley

Anti-nuclear campaigners have attacked plans for atomic waste from Hinkley Point power station to be dumped in Somerset. British Energy is looking to build a third reactor at the plant after the Government approved a new generation of nuclear power stations. At a public meeting last week, residents were told waste could be stored on site but campaigners say the decision would pose a serious risk to health.

Western Daily Press 28th April 2008 more >>

Nuclear Skills

WEST Cumbria’s new £20m nuclear training academy has a new name – Energus. The name change is an attempt to encompass a broader remit for the centre, away from just developing nuclear skills to all types of energy production, including renewables. It will reflect a broader portfolio of skills and training packages whilst embracing the development of a business support centre for emerging businesses who want to take advantage of the Energy Coast initiative. It is hoped that Energus will form a key plank in the Energy Coast plan for West Cumbria, which the government hopes will see the area become a world leader in power production.

North West Evening Mail 28th April 2008 more >>

People

A FORMER Barnsley man who emigrated to the USA has been elected chair of the World Nuclear Association. Andy White, aged 59, joined the General Electric Company in the USA in 1972 as a field engineer before working his way up to chief executive and president of its New Energy Ventures.

Sheffield Star 28th April 2008 more >>

Posted: 29 April 2008

28 April 2008

New nukes

Pensioned-off engineers will have to be brought out of retirement if the revival of nuclear power is not to be hit by serious delays, the Government has been warned. A shortage of professional engineers and skilled trades is threatening plans to build new nuclear power stations around the country to ensure security of electricity supply and avoid the risk of blackouts, it is claimed. Over the next 10 years the nuclear sector will need to recruit between 5,900-9,000 graduates and 2,700-4,500 skilled trades to meet nuclear needs, a London conference will be told today.

Telegraph 28th April 2008 more >>

An American-Japanese consortium is bidding to construct two new nuclear power stations at sites in Gloucestershire and Essex as the race to build a new generation of reactors intensifies. Energy Solutions, a nuclear services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is working on the plans with Toshiba-Westinghouse, a supplier of reactor technology. They are already collaborating on a proposed new nuclear station at Wylfa in Anglesey, North Wales. The Times has learnt that the consortium has tabled a bid to build and operate a reactor at Bradwell in Essex and one at Oldbury in Gloucesterhire.

Times 28th April 2008 more >>

Ineos, the petrochemicals giant whose Grangemouth refinery in Scotland has been shut down by a strike, is in talks with British Energy Group Plc. over a power deal that would help to finance a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain, The Sunday Times reported citing sources.

Interactive Investor 27th April 2008 more >>

Gas

Britain’s imports of liquefied natural gas have slowed almost to a standstill this year, adding to the pressure on domestic prices, which have already risen by at least 15%. The sharp fall in LNG imports is an embarrassment for the government after heavy spending on the infrastructure needed to boost shipments to compensate for dwindling gas supplies from the North Sea. It also follows a drop in the level of gas imports from continental Europe in spite of higher prices in Britain.

Guardian 28th April 2008 more >>

Posted: 28 April 2008

27 April 2008

British Energy

Centrica has warned that it will bitterly oppose the takeover of British Energy by EDF of France or Germany’s RWE. It has been seeking to team up with the European utility groups, possibly taking a minority stake in the nuclear generator. But, as The Observer reported this month, EDF and RWE are currently planning to bid alone. Centrica, which owns British Gas, has warned that it will lobby the Office of Fair Trading to refer any individual bid for British Energy to the Competition Commission.

Observer 27th April 2008 more >>

Ineos, the petrochemicals giant whose Grangemouth refinery in Scotland has been shut down by a strike, is in talks with British Energy over a power deal that would help to finance a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain. The company – majority-owned by the reclusive billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, ranked No 25 in today’s Sunday Times Rich List – has been in negotiations with the nuclear power firm for several months. If a deal is clinched, Ineos will buy power from British Energy’s new nuclear reactors, receiving guaranteed supplies at discounted prices. British Energy would then be able to raise debt against the contract to build new plants, which cost about £3 billion each.

Sunday Times 27th April 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

VITAL WORK at Britain’s nuclear bomb factory has been halted for months because of safety fears, preventing Trident warheads from being shipped to and from the Clyde. The ban on crucial maintenance at the Burghfield plant in Berkshire is believed to be the first time the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ever been obliged to stop working on nuclear weapons. The implications, say critics, are “far-reaching”. Managers of ageing bomb dismantling facilities have been struggling for the last six years to remedy more than 1000 safety flaws uncovered by the government’s Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII). But deadlines have been repeatedly broken.

Sunday Herald 27th April 2008 more >>

Belarus

Opposition protesters marched through the capital of Belarus on Saturday to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and denounce plans to build an atomic power station in the ex-Soviet state.

Reuters 26th April 2008 more >>

Posted: 27 April 2008

26 April 2008

Dounreay

THE UK Atomic Energy Authority has succeeded in keeping private details about enriched uranium and plutonium stockpiles at Dounreay. Disclosing the information could help terrorists gain access to potential bomb-making materials, deputy UK information commissioner Richard Thomas has ruled. In the first case of its kind, Mr Thomas upheld the UKAEA’s refusal to hand over seven files to Edinburgh-based environmental journalist Rob Edwards. Mr Thomas claimed disclosure could have “a far-reaching impact on the national security of the UK”.

John O Groat Journal 25th April 2008 more >>

Recovering the motley collection of radioactive debris and chemical nasties swilling about Dounreay’s notorious underground waste shaft is one of the dirtiest jobs in the £3 billion clean-up of the defunct fast-reactor complex. Fortunately, the site operators are not planning to send anyone down the 65-metre makeshift dump to recover its noxious contents. Instead, trials are under way for a remote-control operation which is to feature a bespoke shredding machine and a team of grab-and-carry robots.

John O Groat Journal 23rd April 2008 more >>

Syria

Syria claims the CIA fabricated pictures allegedly taken inside a secret nuclear reactor. Senior US intelligence officials said on Thursday that the building, in the remote eastern desert of Syria, was a secret nuclear reactor meant to produce plutonium, which can be used to make high-yield nuclear weapons.

ITN 26th April 2008 more >>

The International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday it would investigate US claims that Syria had tried to build a nuclear reactor with North Korean help, but “deplored” the delay in handing over the evidence to its inspectors.

Guardian 26th April 2008 more >>

Independent 26th April 2008 more >>

Thursday’s Central Intelligence Agency presentation to the US Congress – making the case that North Korea supplied Syria with a nuclear reactor able to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons – was also compelling. It would also appear to justify retroactively the Israeli air strike on the site in Syria’s eastern desert last September. But given the US and Israel’s recent record in these matters, it could also be just another dog and pony show.

FT 26th April 2008 more >>

WHAT did Israel bomb in Syria last year? What did the Israelis know, and how did they know it? And why did American administration officials present Israel’s intelligence to members of Congress in a closed-door briefing on Thursday April 24th? As many questions swirl around the politics of the moment as around the facts of the Israeli attack.

The Economist 25th April 2008 more >>

A secret nuclear reactor destroyed by Israeli jets was within weeks of being functional, US officials have claimed. The Syrian plant, bombed last September, was built with the help of North Korea, the White House said.

Metro 25th April 2008 more >>

North Korea

The United States and North Korea had “productive” talks in Pyongyang this week about a long-overdue declaration of North Korean nuclear programs, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

Reuters 25th April 2008 more >>

Turkey

Four Greenpeace members were detained here Friday after they climbed on top of Turkey’s energy ministry HQ to denounce plans to build the country’s first nuclear power station.

Yahoo News 25th April 2008 more >>

Israel

Four years ago Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu was released from jail having served 18 years inside. Yet this month the Israeli government renewed, for the fifth time, an order confining him to Jerusalem, where he is under constant surveillance, banned from talking to foreigners and shunned by Israeli society. He lives with no work, income, home or support. A virtual prisoner.

Greenpeace 25th April 2008 more >>

Finland

Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) has submitted an application to build a nuclear reactor in Olkiluoto, southwestern Finland. It would be the country’s sixth reactor, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy said. The ministry said an environmental impact assessment for the project is underway and is expected to be be finished in mid-June.

AFX 25th April 2008 more >>

Posted: 26 April 2008

25 April 2008

Radiation and Health

AMONG the many environmental concerns surrounding nuclear power plants, there is one that provokes public anxiety like no other: the fear that children living near nuclear facilities face an increased risk of cancer. Though a link has long been suspected, it has never been proven. Now that seems likely to change. Studies in the 1980s revealed increased incidences of childhood leukaemia near nuclear installations at Windscale (now Sellafield), Burghfield and Dounreay in the UK. Later studies near German nuclear facilities found a similar effect. The official response was that the radiation doses from the nearby plants were too low to explain the increased leukaemia. The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment, which is responsible for advising the UK government, finally concluded that the explanation remained unknown but was not likely to be radiation. There the issue rested, until a recent flurry of epidemiological studies appeared.

New Scientist 26th April 2008 more >>

Companies

British defence and aerospace conglomerate BAE Systems has held negotiations with one of the companies selected to design nuclear reactors, in a bid to participate in the UK’s nuclear revival, reported the Financial Times.

Energy Business Review 25th April 2008 more >>

FT 24th April 2008 more >>

North Korea

The US has accused North Korea of helping Syria to build a covert nuclear reactor “not intended for peaceful purposes”.

Sky News 25th April 2008 more >>

Independent 25th April 2008 more >>

Times 25th April 2008 more >>

Guardian 25th April 2008 more >>

Herald 25th April 2008 more >>

The release of the previously top-secret intelligence comes at a sensitive time in the six-party talks in which the US is aiming to persuade Pyongyang to acknowledge, and abandon, its nuclear programmes. After insisting for months that North Korea would have to make a complete declaration of its nuclear activities, the administration has reached a tentative deal in which Pyongyang would only “acknowledge” US concerns about proliferation to Syria, and an alleged uranium-enrichment programme, in a secret side agreement.

FT 25th April 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

The UK has hired an extra 1100 scientists and technicians for its two nuclear weapons sites in Berkshire – an increase of 25% in less than four years – despite government denials that any decision has been taken on designing a new missile warhead for the Royal Navy.

Herald 25th April 2008 more >>

Posted: 25 April 2008

24 April 2008

New Nukes

E.ON, the German-owned utility which supplies gas and electricity to millions of customers in Britain, said yesterday that it planned to build two nuclear power stations in the UK. The company, which has run into controversy over its plans to build a coal-fired plant at Kingsnorth, Kent, wants to use a new  generation of 1,600MW atomic reactor, designed by Areva of France.

Guardian 24th April 2008 more >>

Express 24th April 2008 more >>

Telegraph 24th April 2008 more >>

Channel 4 News 23rd April 2008 more >>

Waste from a new nuclear reactor in Somerset would be kept on site, local residents have been told. British Energy is looking to build a third reactor at Hinkley Point after the government approved a new generation of nuclear power stations. The company has explained its plans to people living near the site. Some residents have expressed concern about plans to keep nuclear waste at the site, rather than transport it for storage at Sellafield.

BBC 24th April 2008 more >>

On the eve of the 22nd Chernobyl anniversary the nuclear industry has been rocked by revelations of cover-ups following a major nuclear accident in Spain and ongoing embarrassment over costly delays and deficiencies related to the construction of reactors in France and Finland intended to be flagships of a ‘nuclear renaissance’.

Greenpeace International 24th April 2008 more >>

Nuclear Waste

THE Lake District National Park Authority says it will “work with partners” on any proposed underground nuclear waste repository. A national park meeting, last week, had before it a report of its new Mineral and Waste core strategy. The report states that “the likelihood of West Cumbria being put forward as a potential volunteer community is very high.”

Whitehaven News 23rd April 2008 more >>

Israel

The arrest of an octogenarian US Army veteran in a decades-old spying case has aroused suspicions that Israel maintained a wider espionage network in the US than ever acknowledged.

Times 24th April 2008 more >>

Posted: 24 April 2008

23 April 2008

New nukes

Areva said its 1,600 megawatts EPR European pressurised water reactor has been selected by E.ON AG as its exclusive technology for all its upcoming nuclear reactor projects in the UK. Under a newly-signed global cooperation agreement, E.ON and Areva will also collaborate on further developing a boiling-water reactor, temporarily named SWR, with a capacity of 1,250 mw, the French nuclear engineering group said.

AFX 23rd April 2008 more >>

Reuters 23rd April 2008 more >>

Nuclear power plants in Britain kill billions of fish each year, according to a recent report by a scientist from Oxford University.

Practical Fishkeeping 22nd April 2008 more >>

British Energy

ScottishPower owner Iberdrola yesterday confirmed it was still interested in buying British Energy – although an insider close to the Spanish energy giant signalled it was unlikely to go it alone.

Herald 22nd April 2008 more >>

Nuclear Skills

Hobsons’ graduate recruitment services business has just completed a project to recruit graduates onto the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority two-year Nuclear Graduate Programme.

Onrec 22nd April 2008 more >>

North Korea

US officials have travelled to North Korea on a mission aimed at restarting the stalled denuclearisation process, after a week of high-level diplomacy.

BBC 22nd April 2008 more >>

Iran

Hillary Clinton, in her most bellicose comments since the presidential race began 15 months ago, yesterday threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran if it launched a nuclear strike against Israel.

Guardian 23rd April 2008 more >>

Interactive Investor 22nd April 2008 more >>

Iran is ready to discuss its nuclear issue with any country but will not yield to international pressure to halt the atomic work, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech on Wednesday.

Reuters 23rd April 2008 more >>

Spain

Radioactivity has been found on a lorry which transported scrap metal from a Spanish nuclear plant where a leak occurred in November, the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) said Tuesday, cited by DPA. The discovery could mean that radioactive particles have been carried to a distance of dozens of kilometres outside the Asco I plant, instead of remaining within its confines, as had been believed so far, according to media reports.

Focus 22nd April 2008 more >>

Spain’s nuclear agency has increased the number of people who need to be examined for possible contamination as a result of a leak at a nuclear plant last year. The agency is doubling the number to 1,600 after traces of radioactive material were found on a scrap metal truck that visited the Asco I nuclear plant.

IHT 22nd April 2008 more >>

Pakistan

A struggle is under way in Pakistan over the fate of AQ Khan, the godfather of the country’s atom programme, who is under house arrest for selling nuclear secrets and hardware to North Korea, Libya and Iran. The junior party in the new coalition government, led by the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is pushing for his release; the senior partner, the Pakistan People’s party (PPP), is vacillating, under intense pressure from its rank and file and the general public, which generally views Abdul Qadeer Khan as a national hero rather than a traitor. Before she was assassinated in December, the late PPP leader Benazir Bhutto provoked outrage by saying she would make him available for questioning by foreigners, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Her successors have dropped that line, hinting instead that it could be time to relax the restrictions on the 72-year-old scientist.

Guardian 22nd April 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

Take the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act, for example. Way back in 2000, laws were passed ensuring that every vulnerable home in England would be upgraded by 2010 to end fuel poverty, and thereby reduce climate change emissions. Fat chance. The latest figures show that at least 4.5m households still have to choose between heating and eating. Now, Friends of the Earth, the Association for the Conservation of Energy, and Brenda Boardman, ex-head of the Lower Carbon Futures team at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute but still doyenne of academics involved with researching fuel poverty, are threatening the government with a judicial review, and the official mind has had to concentrate. In response, the electricity watchdog, Ofgen, today hosts a fuel poverty summit where all the main players will be present, but is it out of fear or malice that the groups and individuals threatening to prosecute the government for failing to comply with its own fuel law are not being allowed in?

Guardian 23rd April 2008 more >>

Renewables

The Lewis decision is a convenient point at which to consider exactly what progress the UK has made towards greener energy supply. When the tip of the Outer Hebrides is considered fair game for one of Europe’s largest wind farms, it is time to ask if onshore wind power has become the all too easy answer to a difficult question: how to move to a greener energy supply.

Guardian 23rd April 2008 more >>

Posted: 23 April 2008

22 April 2008

Companies

WEIR Group has continued its sale of non-core businesses, disposing of nuclear and marine specialist Strachan & Henshaw to Babcock International for around £65 million.

Scotsman 22nd April 2008 more >>

Iran

Azerbaijan has halted a Russian shipment of equipment intended for Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, demanding more information for fear of violating United Nations sanctions, officials said.

Channel 4 News 21st April 2008 more >>

The U.N. atomic watchdog’s top investigator began talks with Iranian officials on Monday to press them to explain Western intelligence which suggested Iran had covertly studied how to design nuclear bombs.

Reuters 21st April 2008 more >>

A senior UN official has received a hostile reception ahead of sensitive talks regarding Iran’s nuclear activity.

View London 21st April 2008 more >>

Renewables

Plans to build one of Europe’s largest onshore wind farms in the Outer Hebrides have been formally rejected after Scottish ministers ruled the £500m scheme would devastate a globally significant peatland. The Scottish energy minister, Jim Mather, said yesterday that the 181-turbine project, which would have dominated the moors of northern Lewis, would have had “significant adverse impacts” on rare and endangered birds living on the peatlands, a breach of European habitats legislation.

Guardian 22nd April 2008 more >>

Times 22nd April 2008 more >>

Scotsman 22nd April 2008 more >>

The Herald 22nd April 2008 more >>

Posted: 22 April 2008

21 April 2008

Italy

Italy should reconsider its opposition to nuclear power to reduce energy costs, the chief executive of Italian utility Enel told a newspaper a week after Silvio Berlusconi was elected prime minister.

Reuters 21st April 2008 more >>

Enel SpA. plans to build a nuclear power plant in Italy to take advantage of a possible legislative shift in Italy making nuclear power production legal, Financial Times Deutschland reported, citing chief executive Fulvio Conti.

AFX 21st April 2008 more >>

Pakistan

Pakistan has successfully test fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile – the 2,000km-range Shahin-2 – the first such test since a new government was installed last month. Analysts say that, despite a peace process, India and Pakistan are continuing nuclear arms development. The latest test coincided with confirmation that Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, seized by the Taliban in February, was alive.

FT 21st April 2008 more >>

Egypt

The Middle East and North Africa Nuclear Energy Forum is held in Cairo (to April 23). Delegates will discuss technology transfer, educational opportunities and progressive new energy infrastructures in the Middle East and North African region.

FT 21st April 2008 more >>

Gas

There is no need to demonise -Russia. Moscow is unlikely to use its dominance to cut off the EU. It depends on gas revenues even more than the union depends on its gas. But a stronger market position allows the Kremlin to seek higher prices and better terms – and to exert political influence, particularly in eastern Europe where dependence on Russian gas is highest. The only effective EU response is a unified, multi-headed and flexible approach to energy security. It is perhaps the biggest contribution the union could make to Europe’s economic well-being.

FT 21st April 2008 more >>

Posted: 21 April 2008