News August 2008

31 August 2008

British Energy

Centrica is being barred by the government from making a solo bid for British Energy, according to one of the nuclear generator’s largest institutional shareholders. The shareholder, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also questioned why preferred bidder EDF retains the ‘irrational total support’ of the government. He said that a merger with Centrica to create a British champion would be better for shareholders because they could get a higher price and retain shares in the combined entity. ‘But Centrica is unable to do a deal because the government is discouraging it,’ he added. Takeover talks between French group EDF, run by Vincent de Rivaz in the UK, and British Energy, continue to drag on.

Observer 31st Aug 2008 more >>

Urenco

Bidders interested in buying the Government’s share in the uranium company Urenco have contacted its former chairman about forming a consortium to table an offer for the stake which could be worth up to £4bn. Prime minister Gordon Brown has mentioned the British stake in Urenco, one of the world’s largest uranium enrichment companies, several times as an asset which could be privatised. The move is part of the wider sell-off of Britain’s nuclear assets. Britain currently holds the stake through British Nuclear Fuels, but the shares will be transferred directly to the Government on November 1 as part of the strategy to break up and privatise BNFL. It will be managed by the Shareholder Executive. The auction of Urenco is expected to start in earnest in November. Nuclear sources said several investment banks were already working on possible deals.

Sunday Telegraph 31st Aug 2008 more >>

Cold War

Melita Norwood, the great-grandmother from London exposed as a KGB spy in 1999, was suspected of being a traitor years before she started handing Britain’s nuclear secrets to Moscow. According to a new book about Norwood, who died in 2005 at the age of 93, MI5 cleared her to work on the bomb programme despite knowing she was close to a notorious communist spy.

Sunday Times 31st Aug 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

What is clear is that the government’s dependence on utilities to keep the lights on and meet its green targets means its options are limited. Brown is desperate to show voters he has won extra cash from the big bad utilities to tackle fuel poverty, but he may not achieve anything substantial other than a few headlines. Jenny Saunders, chief executive of charity National Energy Action, says: ‘Wherever the resources come from, the government needs to do much more to tackle fuel poverty. Voluntary payments by companies are only scratching the surface of the problem.’

Observer 31st Aug 2008 more >>

Britain’s foreign-owned energy suppliers are sabotaging a new £1bn fuel poverty package which Gordon Brown wants to announce this week, The Observer has learnt. The government wants to tax the windfall profits that the Big Six suppliers have made from the European emissions trading scheme. But German-owned suppliers Eon and RWE, the French group EDF and Spanish-owned Scottish Power refuse to fund the new measures, which include £150 fuel vouchers for families and helping Britain’s poorest households insulate their homes.

Observer 31st Aug 2008 more >>

Scotland

Ministers have come under fierce fire from their own advisers for failing to cut through the red tape that is preventing householders from installing clean energy devices.

Sunday Herald 31st Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 31 August 2008

30 August 2008

Hunterston

British Energy reports 70% power generation at Hunterston B nuclear plant. British Energy has announced the return to service of Hunterston B nuclear power station, and achievement of the target of reaching 70% power generation on both units, sufficient for the needs of around one million homes.

Datamonitor 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Scotland

Alex Salmond’s hand-picked team of economic advisers have told the First Minister to think again about his opposition to nuclear power.

Telegraoh 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Iran

To grasp why Tehran feels confident enough to shrug off the sanctions and press on with its nuclear-tipped ambitions, you need only understand a handful of crucial figures. At present, oil trades at around $115 per barrel, a fall of over 20 per cent in the last two months. Yet Iran’s national budget for 2008 presumed an oil price of only $40 per barrel. As the proud possessor of 130?billion barrels of proven reserves – more than anywhere else in the world except Saudi Arabia – Iran can produce about 4.2?million barrels of crude every day.

Telegraph 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Israel will bomb Iran rather than let the ayatollahs get their hands on nuclear weapons, it was claimed today. The Israeli cabinet held a special session three weeks ago where it approved plans to stop Iran from going nuclear – at any price, according to newspaper reports.

Daily Mail 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Nigeria

Iran has agreed to share nuclear technology with Nigeria to help it increase its generation of electricity. A senior Nigerian foreign ministry official, Tijjani Kaura, said the technology was not intended for any military use.

BBC 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Belgium

Belgian authorities issued a safety alert after a leak of radioactive material from a research institute near the southern city of Charleroi. The Belgian nuclear control agency and the Interior Ministry issued a warning to people living in and near the town of Fleurus not to consume locally grown fruit, vegetables or dairy products as a precaution.

Daily Express 29th Aug 2008 more >>

On 28 August at 23:31 the European Commission received an ECURIE alert notification from Belgium concerning a radiological incident in the Institut National de Radio- l ments (IRE) in Fleurus, Belgium. There had been a release of gaseous Iodine-131 from this facility.

eGov Monitor 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Interactive Investor 29th Aug 2008 more >>

MoneyAM 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Finland

The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) said in a statement Friday that its extra inspection, ordered by the government, of the nuclear power station building site in Olkiluoto had shown that welding work there met quality standards but reprimanded the site’s overall safety culture.

YLE News 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

This summer’s misery for energy consumers reached a climax yesterday when the last two of the big six suppliers raised prices for millions of household customers. ScottishPower, which has just over 5 million customers, said gas bills would rise by 34% from the beginning of next month, and electricity by 9%. Npower said it was putting up gas prices by 26% and electricity by 14% for its 6.6 million customers with immediate effect.

Guardian 30th Aug 2008 more >>

Times 30th Aug 2008 more >>

Renewables

Jeremy Leggett: The UK, meanwhile, has no energy strategy, and what plans there are will not come to fruition before the end of the next decade, when it will be too late to escape the Russia trap. We should be urgently embarking on a national clean-energy mobilisation. The government should create investment conditions that allow City capital to flow into efficient-energy technologies that can be delivered in short order. We have technologies to rid ourselves of the need for gas. But we do next to nothing. Energy efficiency is low priority, and our renewable generators languish in cottage industries. Energy dependency could turn a new cold war red hot. Energy independence would allow east and west merely to trade insults. Let us start the independence movement in earnest, energy wise.

Guardian 30th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 30 August 2008

29 August 2008

Nuclear Skills

Britain’s plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations will face a fierce challenge for skills and resources from countries keen to build their own, according to research published today. China has plans for 24 nuclear plants and outline proposals for another 76, according to the Economic Research Council, using figures from the International Energy Agency and the IAEA.

Guardian 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Sellafield

SELLAFIELD has been thrown into turmoil by the effects of the strike threat hanging over the UK’s biggest nuclear site. On top of the split between the industrial and staff unions over the management’s pay offer, speculation has swept the site that the planned hand-over to the new parent body (Nuclear Management Partners) will not take place on time if the site is hit by a strike. Senior nuclear industry sources told The Whitehaven News that NMP will want to delay the share transfer to them from Sellafield Ltd in the event of a strike closing plants. This was denied by NMP yesterday.

Whitehaven News 28th Aug 2008 more >>

Chapelcross

THE closure of the Chapelcross nuclear power station over the border, at Annan, has brought a business boost for Sellafield. Some 40,000 fuel elements will be removed from the Scottish station now being decommissioned and sent to Sellafield for reprocessing, The elements will be in the form of spent fuel which will be treated to provide new electricity-producing energy in the B205 Magnox plants at Sellafield. All the fuel will be moved from Annan to Sellafield by road because Chapelcross is the only one of the UK Magnox stations which does not have a rail link to Sellafield.

Whitehaven News 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Nuclear Waste

CUMBRIA may well be the only part of the UK seriously considering ‘volunteering’ for a nuclear dump. The government call for communities to take radioactive waste in return for investment will be debated by Northumberland councillors this week. The Government has been accused by anti-nuclear campaigners of offering ‘bribes’ to communities. This week councillors in Castle Morpeth will discuss the Government’s invitation. Other local authorities across Northumbria are expected to follow suit. The granite-rich Cheviot Hills in Northumberland have been discussed in the past as potentially suitable areas. In the late 1970s Coun Anthony Murray, who represents the Wooler area on Northumberland County Council, chaired the Cheviot Defence Group, which was set up to oppose underground storage of radioactive waste. Yesterday he said: “My sentiments about this are exactly the same as they were 25 years ago. Irretrievable storage of radioactive waste in the Cheviots would not be wanted here.”

Whitehaven News 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Dounreay

WORK to remove one of the most persistent problems affecting the clean-up of the Dounreay nuclear site has begun beneath the waves off Caithness. A remotely operated vehicle is combing the seabed to find the worst of the radioactive particles that have caused concern/

Scotsman 26th Aug 2008 more >>

WORKERS’ representatives at Dounreay are up in arms over a newly revealed £8.5 million cut in the site’s budget for the current financial year. They fear jobs could be hit through the deferral of work programmed for the winter and spring. The revelation has come as the in-house workforce are becoming increasingly frustrated at delays in the settlement of their latest pay claim. The cutbacks form part of a new round of efficiency savings sought by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

John O Groat Journal 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Scotland

Scottish ministers are facing challenges to several key policies from a particularly awkward quarter – the Council of Economic Advisers set up by Alex Salmond. Its most recent meeting featured disagreement on several controversial policies where the SNP has taken uncompromising lines. The council members have told the First Minister he should seek independent assessment of nuclear energy before ruling it out, warning it may be necessary to meet the demanding long-term targets set by the Holyrood administration for reducing carbon emissions.

Herald 28th Aug 2008 more >>

Spain

Iberdrola and Endesa, two of Spain’s leading electricity companies, have been accused of cutting costs at nuclear power stations at the expense of safety. The Catalan regional government said that failure to invest had caused several incidents at two nuclear stations including a leak which led to thousands of people having to undergo radiation tests. The accusations came as Spain’s socialist government vowed to gradually close down the country’s six nuclear plants and get electricity from renewable sources.

Guardian 29th Aug 2008 more >>

Plutonium

The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has outlined the potential options for future management of the UK civil plutonium stockpile in a paper published on 14 August. The three “credible options” for the stockpile are: long-term storage; immobilisation and disposal; and reuse as fuel for nuclear reactors followed by disposal.

Nuclear Engineering International 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Here’s an interesting factoid. The UK and US each possess about 100 MT of separated plutonium. However, the UK stockpile is largely civilian, whereas the US stockpile is almost entirely military. The UK is currently engaged in a debate about what to do with this plutonium. Last year the Royal Society published a report on the subject and last week the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (the UK public body charged with cleaning up Britain’s messy nuclear legacy) published draft options for public comment.

Arms Control Wonk 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Finland

French nuclear group Areva has registered a further provision for liabilities associated with its turnkey construction of the Olkiluoto-3 nuclear power plant in Finland for Teollisuuden Voima Oy, financial daily Les Echos reported Thursday. Areva will announce the provision when it publishes its second-half 2008 results Friday after closure of the Paris bourse, according to Les Echos. Areva has written two previous provisions to cover potential losses on the Olkiluoto-3 reactor project, in March 2007 and in September 2007. The company has not revealed the size of the provisions, citing discussions under way with TVO, but financial analysts have estimated them at between Eur700 million and Eur1 billion (about $1-1.5 billion).

Platts 28th Aug 2008 more >>

France’s Areva will have to take a provision because of a nuclear reactor project in Finland where costs have spiralled to 4.5 billion euros ($6.66 billion) from a planned 3 billion.

Reuters 28th Aug 2008 more >>

US

The White House said Thursday that it was considering scrapping a US-Russia civilian nuclear cooperation pact in response to Moscow’s actions in Georgia.

Interactive Investor 28th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 29 August 2008

28 August 2008

British Energy

Anyone who went off to the beach a month ago in the expectation that the future of Britain’s nuclear industry had been settled will be returning to a serious disappointment. The structure of the industry is still undecided, while the government maintains the fiction that it is a question that can be resolved by the private sector alone. With the security of Britain’s energy supplies at stake, this muddle and confusion is dismaying. British Energy is the UK’s principal nuclear generator and owns the great majority of its reactors and most of the best sites for building new ones. At the end of July it seemed that it would fall into the hands of Electricit de France. The deal would have had problematic consequences for competition in Britain’s electricity market, but would have secured EDF’s expertise and financial strength for the UK nuclear industry.

FT 28th Aug 2008 more >>

The Government wants a deal between British Energy and EdF hammered out within the next two weeks, John Hutton said yesterday, as it emerged that the French utility was talking to the nuclear power generator over how to overcome shareholder opposition to its offer. The Business Secretary said the deal, which was rejected by major shareholders last month for being too low, was still “a good one” and remained the key towards developing a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.

Telegraph 28th Aug 2008 more >>

Energy Costs

John Hutton, the Business Secretary, admits households will struggle to pay their heating bills this winter due to rising costs. But he effectively rules out imposing a windfall tax on energy firms because it would only lead to higher charges for customers. And he warns that Russian aggression in Georgia has cast doubt over Britain’s future energy supplies. He says: “The era of cheap energy is over. The question is how are we going to adjust to that and what sort of help can we provide to those who are going to struggle the most.

Telegraph 28th Aug 2008 more >>

Nuclear Finance

Energy-focused private equity firm First Reserve Corporation has partnered with nuclear industry veterans Charles Scorer and David Sloan to form integrated nuclear fuel supply company Accord Nuclear Resources. Accord will acquire and integrate businesses that operate in the commercial nuclear power generation sector, with a focus on uranium mining and production and related infrastructure operations and services.

Alt Assets 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Finland

The expected building costs of a new nuclear reactor in Finland by France’s Areva have increased to 4 billion euros ($5.92 billion) from 3.5 billion and the group has to make new provisions.

Money AM 28th Aug 2008 more >>

Interactive Investor 28th Aug 2008 more >>

France

Just nine months into construction, Areva’s new flagship nuclear reactor is already nine months behind schedule. This delay echoes the problems at Areva’s previous site in Olkiluoto, Finland, where construction is more than two years behind schedule, more than 2 billion Euro over budget and beset with safety problems.

Greenpeace International 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Pakistan

The recent turmoil in Pakistan has only heightened western anxiety over the country’s nuclear weapons programme. Yet, thanks to security measures put in place during the nine-year rule of President Pervez Musharraf, who was recently forced to resign, controls over the country’s nuclear activity have never been firmer, according to both Pakistani and western officials.

FT 28th Aug 2008 more >>

India

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will soon decide whether India can trade nuclear fuel and equipment with the group’s members. The collaboration met in Vienna last week, and is due to meet again in September.

Nature 27th Aug 2008 more >>

South Africa

South Africa is seeking commercial contracts with foreign companies to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, a senior official said on Wednesday. The country plans to expand its nuclear industry and diversify its energy mix as it battles a crippling power shortage which has hit key mining, smelting and manufacturing sectors, trimming growth in Africa’s strongest economy.

Reuters 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 28 August 2008

27 August 2008

New Nukes

Tom Burke: The government is pinning its hopes on a nuclear renaissance to meet Britain’s climate change goals. Planning procedures are being eased and hidden subsidies offered. But the policy is based on a misunderstanding of nuclear power’s lousy economics, and will fail.

Prospect September 2008 more >>

Nuclear Waste

Some unsettling news appeared in the Independent over the weekend, which revealed that an Environment Agency report has said that containers at Sellafield (where most of the UK’s waste is stored) may not be as stable as was thought. The document effectively destroys Britain’s already shaky disposal plans just as ministers are preparing an expansion of nuclear power.

Greenpeace UK 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Companies

Japan’s Toshiba Corp and South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction will work together to build nuclear reactors to keep pace with demand, sources close to the matter said on Tuesday. Doosan would provide know-how on pressurised water reactors to Toshiba and Toshiba supplier IHI Corp. In return, Toshiba and its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse would use Doosan’s equipment in nuclear plants, company sources said.

Guardian 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Windfall Tax

Like it or not, we are all dependent on billions of pounds of investment from the energy sector over the next decade. The government has put the bill on renewables investment at £100bn over 10 years, and a new generation of nuclear reactors will not come cheap. Older generators have to be closed in the next seven years because of EU environmental legislation and the first nuclear station is unlikely to come on stream before 2018. There is a looming gap in our electricity output which will have to be filled by gas- or coal-fired stations – as yet unbuilt. Renewables will pick up some of the slack, but they are expensive to build, and many are stuck in the planning process.

Guardian 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Times 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Energy companies could escape a windfall tax on their huge profits if they do more to help people struggling to pay their fuel bills. Ministers will tell gas and electricity bosses that they want them to take further action to combat fuel poverty. Although they deny threatening a windfall tax, ministers say the firms’ response to their call will be taken into account when they consider growing demands by Labour MPs for a one-off raid to fund measures to help poor families meet their bills.

Independent 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Korea

The future of the international effort to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons was in doubt on Tuesday night after Pyongyang said it would suspend efforts to disable its nuclear facilities and would consider putting its Yongbyon reactor back into action. The announcement, which North Korea said was in response to Washington’s delay in removing it from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, comes at a time of uncertainty about the so-called “six party” talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, which involve US, China, Russia, Japan and the two Korean states.

FT 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Guardian 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Times 27th Aug 2008 more >>

ITN 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Telegraph 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Reuters 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Independent 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Express 26th Aug 2008 more >>

BBC 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Turkey

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, known to prize his reputation for plain speaking, yesterday lambasted environmentalists as “idle”, saying they “prance around” while doing nothing to protect nature. The diatribe was triggered by a spate of protests against government plans for more than 40 hydroelectric dams, the decision to build nuclear power stations, and fish farms which are said to be polluting beaches on Turkey’s Aegean coast.

Guardian 27th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 27 August 2008

26 August 2008

Ireland

The debate we have experienced to date pitches nuclear versus renewables, as if one or the other is the choice. We need a debate about all our energy options, about the economic cost and impact of the choices we must make, about security of supply, sustainability and the environment. We know one thing about our past antipathy to nuclear power; most of what we believed was wrongly based. But in the years of plenty, we could afford a level of self-indulgence and the “world leadership” cant that went with it. We’re not in that place anymore. Veronica McDermott is author of Going Nuclear Ireland, Britain and the Campaign to close Sellafield (IAP, 2007). See www.veronicamcdermott.com

Sunday Times 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty vs Nukes

Pressure is growing on the Prime Minister to impose a windfall tax on energy companies as part of the economic recovery package expected next month. Many Labour MPs, encouraged by the Left-wing pressure group Compass, argue that such a tax would allow subsidised pricing for those on low incomes, drawing the sting of higher prices while also winning votes. In practice, such a tax would be wholly counterproductive. It would not bring any significant electoral advantage because it would be a benefit for the few, not the many, by targeting Labour’s core supporters. At the same time, it would deprive companies contemplating the investment of billions in new nuclear power stations of the capital needed.

Telegraph 25th Aug 2008 more >>

The Prime Minister faces the prospect of the resignation of at least one ministerial aide if he fails to impose a new levy on energy companies’ profits, The Times has learnt. A petition calling for a windfall tax has been signed by 70 Labour MPs, including three ministerial aides. Five other junior members of the Government have told The Times that they are backing the campaign.

Times 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Nuclear Waste

The County Council is considering whether it should make a without commitment ‘expression of interest’ in the Government’s Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) programme to site a facility for the deep geological disposal of higher level radioactive wastes. If you have views that you would like the County Council to take into account at this stage then please forward them to the address below by 14 October 2008.

Cumbria County Council August 2008 more >>

Sellafield

A GROUP of the hottest nuclear experts in the world are headed for Sellafield. The group aims to exchange experience on analytical methods, share know-how on issues such as remote handling techniques, safety features, waste handling and quality matters, transport, and licensing.

North West Evening Mail 25th Aug 2008 more >>

US

First Reserve, the US private equity group specialising in energy, will this week unveil plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a nuclear fuel venture headed by two uranium industry veterans. The venture, Accord Nuclear Resources, will buy and merge companies across the commercial nuclear power sector, focusing on uranium mining, production and services.

FT 26th Aug 2008 more >>

India

The Bush administration has long been guilty of a fundamental inconsistency on the issue of nuclear proliferation. On the one hand, it insists that international sanctions must be targeted on Iran until it suspends its uranium enrichment programme. The US says sanctions are necessary because it argues that Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon – while Tehran says it merely wants to develop a civil nuclear energy programme. On the other hand, President Bush makes the opposite argument when it comes to India. In 1974, India stunned the world by detonating a nuclear weapon using Canadian technology that had been imported ostensibly to develop peaceful atomic energy. But the Bush administration says India’s illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons can be forgiven. Three years ago, the White House declared it was prepared to allow India to buy nuclear fuel and equipment for its civil nuclear programme. India was required to offer nothing in return – such as a promise not to expand its nuclear arsenal or to stop atomic testing.

FT 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Korea

South Korea and China agreed on Monday to expand co-operation in political, economic and other fields – including North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.

Telegraph 26th Aug 2008 more >>

BBC 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Iran

The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are to begin discussions next month on a new set of sanctions designed to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, an issue with the potential to make the Georgia crisis look like a passing summer squall. How those talks fare is likely to depend on the extent to which Russian actions in the Caucasus and the western response damage the broader international consensus.

FT 26th Aug 2008 more >>

Slovakia

Slovak power firm Slovenske Elektrarne (SE) has launched a tender to find a builder to finish two new blocks at the Mochovce nuclear power plant, it said in the Official Journal of the European Union on Monday. The power generator, managed by Italian utility and 66 percent shareholder Enel , said bidders should submit letters of interest by Sept 18. It said it expected final bids would be due on Dec 8.

Money AM 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Spain

Spain’s 500-megawatt Garona nuclear power station was in an unscheduled stoppage on Monday morning due to electrical problems, the Nuclear Safety Council said. The stoppage at Garona means two of Spain’s eight nuclear plants are now off line, as the 1,000 MW Vandellos II plant was halted on Sunday when a generator caught fire.

Money AM 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 26 August 2008

25 August 2008

Nuclear Waste

Thousands of containers of lethal nuclear waste are likely to fail before being safely sealed away underground, a devastating official report concludes. The unpublicised report is by the Environment Agency, which has to approve any proposals for getting rid of the waste that remains deadly for tens of thousands of years. The document effectively destroys Britain’s already shaky disposal plans just as ministers are preparing an expansion of nuclear power. It shows that many containers used to store the waste are made of second-rate materials, are handled carelessly, and are liable to corrode. The report concludes: “It is cautious to assume a significant proportion will fail.” It says computer models suggest up to 40 per cent of them could be at risk. Gordon MacKerron, who until recently chaired the Government’s official Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, called the report “devastating”. He said that it should prove a “nail in the coffin” of proposals to keep the waste accessible for hundreds of years. He said: “If we are going to dispose of the waste, this should be done as quickly as reasonably possible.”

Independent on Sunday 24th Aug 2008 more >>

British Energy

The biggest shareholder in British Energy is pressing the nuclear power generator to merge with Centrica, the owner of British Gas, it emerged yesterday. Invesco, which owns a 15% stake in British Energy and a 5% stake in Centrica, told a newspaper that a merger between the two would be the “obvious solution” for the future of the companies.

Guardian 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Independent 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Telegraph 25th Aug 2008 more >>

A takeover of British Energy by Electricit de France is still the UK government’s preferred option for the nuclear generator, the energy minister has told the Financial Times. Malcolm Wicks described a deal with EDF as “the most sensible option”, adding: “We think that’s the natural link.”

FT 25th Aug 2008 more >>

US-Russia

The Bush administration is set to put a high-profile civil nuclear co-operation deal with Russia on hold, according to US diplomats. Officials expect Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, to recommend that George W. Bush, president, recall the civil nuclear co-operation agreement from Congress in the wake of Russia’s conflict with Georgia.

FT 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Spain

Spanish authorities closed down a nuclear power plant after a fire in an electrical generator, the Spanish Nuclear Safety Authority (CSN) said. The fire at the Vandellos II complex near Tarragona was put out and no injuries or environmental damage was reported, said the CSN. The Greenpeace environment group said however that a large column of smoke had been seen coming from the complex turbine room.

AFP 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Money AM 24th Aug 2008 more >>

India

Despite continued pressure from the United States, New Zealand is insisting India sign both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Testing Ban before it will approve a pact between India and America.

Radio New Zealand 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

At least 70 MPs have signed a petition calling on Gordon Brown to levy a one-off windfall tax on energy and utility companies, and organisers predict the tally will top 100 in the next few days as MPs return from their summer holidays. Included on the petition, organised by the leftwing pressure group Compass, are now three parliamentary private secretaries (PPS) – unpaid assistants marked out because they don’t usually add their names to petitions.

Guardian 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Climate

Looking back, it is clear that every advance in the green movement has coincided with period of strong growth – the early 1970s, the late 1980s and the first half of the current decade. It was tough enough to get world leaders to make tackling climate change a priority when the world economy was experiencing its longest period of sustained growth: it will be mightily difficult to persuade them to take measures that might have a dampen growth while the dole queues are lengthening. Richard Douthwaite, author of the Growth Illusion in the 1990s, has come up with one possible way forward, which he calls Cap and Share.

Guardian 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Radhealth

Andy Rowell: Some of the world’s biggest tobacco firms researched the lethal radioactive substance polonium – present in cigarettes – over a 40-year period but never published the results, according to a new scientific article.

Independent 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 25 August 2008

24 August 2008

New Nukes

The British government has outlined its plans to identify and assess sites that are suitable for new nuclear power stations. A consultation on the process to select sites for new nuclear build in England and Wales by the end of 2025 was launched on 22 July by the UK government’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Berr). The 16-week strategic siting assessment (SSA) consultation is due to close on 11 November 2008, after which the government plans to invite third parties to nominate sites.

Nuclear Engineering International 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Creating the right environment to support a nuclear power programme may prove challenging for many countries that do not already have a nuclear industry.

Nuclear Engineering International 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Terror

Since the end of the cold war, the United Nations has logged more than 800 incidents in which radioactive material has gone missing, often from poorly guarded sites. Who is taking it – and should we be worried?

Guardian 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

The head of a Wiltshire-based nuclear and biological security solutions company was facing jail today after admitting bribing two Ugandan officials for contracts. Niels Tobiasen, the managing and financial director of CBRN Team, based in Salisbury, admitted paying them inducements or rewards between June 1, 2007 and February 1 this year.

Swindon Advertiser 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

The first conviction under new laws against corporate corruption overseas was claimed by the government yesterday after the Danish head of a British security company pleaded guilty to bribing Ugandan officials.

FT 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

Spent nuclear fuel, contracts worth billions, nuclear proliferation, Greenpeace protests, radioactive material to guard – UK the nuclear power industry has plenty of sensitive security issues, as the latest report by a regulator shows.

Professional Security 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Devonport

A man has been charged with obstructing a highway after the entrance to Devonport Dockyard was barricaded by a group of anti-nuclear campaigners.

BBC 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

Dounreay

A CLEAN-UP team has safely destroyed the first of the major hazards from the experimental fast reactor programme at Dounreay. They took more than 1500 tonnes of radioactive liquid metal from the Prototype Fast Reactor and turned it into harmless salt water.

John O Groat Journal 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Korea

The United States and North Korea held talks Friday to break a deadlock over measures to verify Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program that could pave the way for removing the hardline communist state from a terrorism blacklist.

Yahoo 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

India

India will not agree to any conditions to get approval from an atomic trade cartel necessary for a civilian nuclear deal with the United States, a report quoted India’s foreign minister as saying on Saturday.

Reuters 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

Coal

The British government will lose its leadership position on climate change and risk scuppering a global deal to cut emissions if it presses ahead with a new generation of dirty coal power, say leading US scientists and environmental leaders.

Guardian 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 24 August 2008

24 August 2008

Scotland

MINISTERS HAVE COME UNDER attack for dumping a commitment to buy all the government’s electricity from clean, renewable energy sources, jeopardising targets to cut climate pollution. Labour’s environment spokesperson, Sarah Boyack MSP, has accused the Scottish government of damaging the vital renewables industry by abandoning a requirement for public sector electricity to be generated by hydro, wind or other forms of renewable power. Concern has also been expressed by the renewable energy industry and environmental groups. The Scottish government, however, argued that its new electricity contract was aiming to save taxpayers’ money.

Sunday Herald 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Trident

The Ministry of Defence faces such a critical shortage of civilian staff, engineers and technical expertise that it is struggling to maintain its aircraft, and the supply of equipment to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq is under threat, leaked memos reveal. Senior commanders are also warning that the nuclear submarine deterrent could be confined to docks within 18 months unless a shortage of submariners and nuclear technicians can be resolved.

Independent on Sunday 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Climate

Climate negotiators have made unexpected headway towards a new international treaty to combat global warming, easing a logjam that has held up progress for years. Representatives of rich and poor nations, meeting at a conference in Accra, Ghana, are nearing consensus on a way to control emissions of greenhouse gases from rapidly developing countries such as China and India, under a treaty which will take effect after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.

Independent on Sunday 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

Gordon Brown is coming under fierce pressure to impose a windfall tax on energy companies to help Britons meet the cost of soaring fuel bills. A poll published today shows that two-thirds of voters support the levy and the embattled Prime Minister may face a vote on the plan at next month’s Labour Party conference. Many Labour MPs believe the one-off tax could ease the pain for householders and rescue the party’s plummeting popularity by either offsetting fuel bills or by putting the cash towards long-term energy-saving measures. The MPs want measures to tackle fuel prices to be the centrepiece of Brown’s Labour relaunch expected in the next few weeks – 70 have signed a petition backing the plan.

Observer 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 24 August 2008

22 August 2008

Dounreay

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has backed a £15m proposal for a railway link across the Dornoch firth to the far north of Scotland. By cutting straight across the firth, the Dornoch Rail Link would slash rail journey times across the Highlands, bringing economic benefits to the far north.

Building 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Cumbria

Letter: There has been anger voiced in the South Lakes about a wind energy company giving a donation to a tennis club. I can understand people’s squeamishness about accepting money from companies but in the wind company’s defence – at least it is their own money. What is really mind blowing and unquestioned is the billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money we are being softened up with in Cumbria by the nuclear industry.

Whitehaven News 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Devonport

ANTI-nuclear protesters are blockading a gate at Devonport Dockyard. A large number of protesters, believed to be from the group Trident Ploughshares, are blockading the base’s Camels Head gate.

Plymouth Herald 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

India

International talks are due to resume in Vienna to discuss whether to lift a 30-year global ban on the sale of civilian nuclear materials to India. A waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) would help India finalise a nuclear deal with the US.

BBC 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Nuclear supplier nations on Thursday proposed conditions for lifting a global ban on fuel and technology exports to India, a step required to implement a U.S.-India nuclear cooperation deal.

Reuters 21st Aug 2008 more >>

BBC 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Finland

Finland’s employment and economy ministry said in a statement Thursday it had requested the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) to produce a supplementary report on the groundrules of the oversight of the Olkiluoto nuclear power station building site. STUK had said in a report handed to the ministry the day before that allegations of poor quality control of welds at the site were unfounded. Last week, environmental group Greenpeace claimed French builder Bouygues was responsible for substandard welding at the Olkiluoto site. The ministry ordered STUK in the statement on Thursday to submit a supplementary report on its oversight and transparency standards by Friday.

YLE News 21st Aug 2008 more >>

AFX 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

Campaigners yesterday urged ministers to intervene over soaring household fuel bills after two more energy suppliers announced rises in gas and electricity prices, affecting millions of customers. Gordon Lishman, Age Concern’s director general, said one in three pensioner households likely to experience fuel poverty by the end of the year would feel forced to cut back on food or fuel. “The government must seize control of this escalating crisis and take immediate action.”

Guardian 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Ed Matthew, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the rises were “nothing short of a national disaster” for the poor. “The only way to fully protect people from ever-rising global fuel prices is to ensure every home in the UK is super-insulated and has access to green energy systems,” he said “Fuel bills and carbon emissions in UK homes could be slashed by two-thirds as a result.”

Independent 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Renewables

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, today called for Britain to become self-sufficient in energy by 2050 without building new coal-fired or nuclear power stations. He said that the country needed an “Apollo project”, on a par with the effort the US invested in putting a man on the moon in the 1960s, to ensure a massive increase in the use of renewable energy. As part of his vision, Clegg called for huge improvements in the energy efficiency of housing and a greater commitment to renewable generation. He accused the government of scaremongering about a possible energy gap to gain backing for a new generation of nuclear power plants.

Guardian 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Nick Clegg: Britain has a big choice to make. A generation of power stations based on old technologies are reaching the end of their useful life. Now is the moment for us to choose a green, renewable future, where Britain relies on its immense natural resources, instead of sticking with old technologies we know are destroying our planet.

Guardian 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Gas

Britain has enough storage capacity to stockpile gas for just 13 days. That compares with 99 days in France and 122 days in Germany. The result is that any difficulties in the supply chain that last for more than a few days have a disproportionate effect on this country. When, for example, the Norwegian giant Statoil was, on Tuesday afternoon, forced to close one of its key North Sea fields after discovering a pipe leakage, it warned that its total gas production could be down by about 5 per cent until next spring. That resulted in an immediate 15 per cent increase in wholesale prices in this country. And by last night the price of gas for delivery this winter had hit a record high, because we have so little gas stored with which to ride out this type of supply disruption.

Independent 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 22 August 2008