News July 2008

31 July 2008

British Energy

Letter: The looking-glass world of nuclear policy: British Energy, which owns most of the country’s nuclear power stations, is about to be sold to the French group EDF for £12bn; the British government controls 35% of British Energy and is keen to sell its stake to raise funds … to replace its stockpile of nuclear warheads

Guardian 31st July 2008 more >>

The much-delayed sale of British Energy to a French Government-dominated utility could finally arrive tomorrow, neatly coinciding with figures from the buyer, EDF. Or it could be next week. This one has been dragging on so long that there were serious concerns that it would arrive too late to allow the creation of a new generation of nuclear plants before the existing ones start to be shut down in less than a decade.

Times 31st July 2008 more >>

EDF the world’s largest owner of atomic power stations, may sell U.K. nuclear sites to gain approval for the purchase of BE two people with knowledge of the talks said.

Bloomberg 31st July 2008 more >>

NDA

Letter: Contrary to your headline (Nuclear clean-up industry in chaos, July 24), this is simply not the case. The Department for Business and NDA took steps to secure additional funding on a prudent basis, pending resolution and endorsement by the National Audit Office, of a complex, long-term accounting issue. This was successfully resolved by the NDA finance team and approved by the NAO. The additional funding was not required and returned to HM Treasury. The NDA ended the financial year with savings of £110m against approved budget, all of which will be ploughed back into decommissioning. Despite widely recognised and reported volatility of income from ageing plant, the NDA has in each year of operation remained within budget and created efficiency savings.

Guardian 31st July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Lab

GOVERNMENT minister John Hutton says that a national laboratory to be developed at Sellafield will be at the cutting edge of nuclear research.

Whitehaven News 30th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Waste

OUTSPOKEN Tory Cumbrian MP, David Maclean, claimed the Cumbria was “fifth poorest county” in Europe in his Commons speech, before the summer break. He also spoke out in favour of Cumbria being the future home for an underground nuclear dump. He stated he would support nuclear on condition the county escaped any more wind farms.

Whitehaven News 30th July 2008 more >>

Letter: The new nuclear build programme will, I believe, have a minimal effect on West Cumbria. The high cost of interconnection to the national grid undermines the economic case of building one here and even if one were to be, it would bring typically only 200 permanent jobs. The new-build stations will have the latest water cooled reactors, designed and built by overseas companies with spent fuel storage facilities capable of holding the lifetime discharges. I completely fail to see where the suggested 16,000 new jobs come from. What I can see, is the Energy Coast being more to do with a deal being done with government to site the nation’s nuclear waste disposal facility here in West Cumbria. Once we agree to host this facility, the waste is here forever and will continue to come for the lifetime of the industry. West Cumbrians have to ask themselves is a £20bn handout a good deal? I compare the Energy Coast with the king’s suit of clothes, everyone says “isn’t it grand” but I see the king in the “altogether” – am I the only one?

Whitehaven News 30th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

Letter from Kate Hudson: George Monbiot presents a strong analysis of the nuclear hypocrisy of many governments, our own included (Comment, July 29), but it is now vital that Britain plays a positive role in ensuring real progress is made towards multilateral disarmament.

Guardian 31st July 2008 more >>

The servicing of Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent is set to be privatised as part of a review of the armaments base on the Clyde. Almost half of the 540 jobs at the Royal Navy Armament Depot Coulport, where Trident warheads are stored and loaded on to nuclear submarines, could be taken over by the private sector after a Ministry of Defence review of the base.

Herald 31st July 2008 more >>

It was established four decades ago at the height of the Cold War when relations between the West and the former Soviet Union were on a knife-edge. The Royal Navy took over a remote 1000-acre site on the shores of Loch Long in Argyll, amid some of Scotland’s most beautiful countryside, for use as a base where Britain’s nuclear submarines would be armed. The Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport, on the Rosneath peninsula, opened in 1966. Two years later Britain’s first Polaris nuclear submarine patrol left from the base sparking a surge of protests that continue today.

Herald 31st July 2008 more >>

Dounreay

A small army of robots is being increasingly deployed in the clean-up of a Scottish nuclear complex. Like Wall-E, the star of the new Pixar animated film, the machines are tackling man-made waste. The real-life robots have been working in highly radioactive areas of Dounreay in Caithness in the Highlands.

BBC 30th July 2008 more >>

BOSSES at Dounreay are calling on workers to help maintain the site’s improved performance on both radiological and industrial safety.

John O Groat Journal 30th July 2008 more >>

SCOTLAND’S environment regulator has given a boost to plans to build a new low-active nuclear dump at Dounreay. The £110 million scheme earmarked for ground adjoining the former fast-reactor complex is being fought by residents of the small adjoining settlement at Buldoo. But the Scottish Environment Protection Agency on Wednesday gave notice of its conditional backing for the development.

John O Groat Journal 25th July 2008 more >>

Chapelcross

The Chapelcross nuclear plant has been given formal permission to start the three-and-a-half-year defuelling of its four reactors. It is the latest step in the lengthy process to decommission the Dumfries and Galloway power station.

BBC 30th July 2008 more >>

China

Shandong Nuclear Power along with Westinghouse Electric and its consortium partner The Shaw Group, have broken ground on the Haiyang nuclear power facility in Shandong Province of China, one month earlier than scheduled. The Haiyang facility will house two nuclear plants, each deploying Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor. Excavation for the first of the two plants will take approximately three months to create a hole 12m-deep that will house the nuclear reactor and turbine buildings.

Energy Business Review 30th July 2008 more >>

Iran

Iran will continue its nuclear “path”, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted yesterday, just days before a deadline set by world powers for Tehran to accept a deal that could defuse the dispute over its nuclear programme.

Guardian 31st July 2008 more >>

Reuters 30th July 2008 more >>

Finland

A small fire at the construction site for a new nuclear reactor in Olkiluoto, western Finland, spread to two floors of the reactor building, before it was put out, plant operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said on Wednesday. ‘A small amount of contruction materials had caught fire,’ TVO said in a statement, and added the fire was noticed at around 2:00 a.m (2300 GMT) and it was put out four hours later.

Money AM 30th July 2008 more >>

Coal

Climate change activists yesterday occupied the proposed site for Britain’s first coal-fired power station in 30 years, claiming the development will cause huge damage to the environment if it goes ahead. More than 150 protesters descended on the site near the village of Kingsnorth in Kent ahead of next week’s Camp for Climate Action, which is expected to attract thousands of environmentalists.

Guardian 31st July 2008 more >>

Paul Golby: Protesters at our coal plant are deluded if they think renewables alone can serve Britain’s needs.

Guardian 31st July 2008 more >>

Energy Policy

Energy policy in Britain has been a mess for as long as anyone can remember, and shows few signs of getting better. With customers facing swingeing increases in fuel bills, the consequences of years of neglect – and of living high on the hog of cheap North Sea oil – are coming home to roost in the most uncomfortable of circumstances, further squeezing already stretched disposable incomes.

Independent 31st July 2008 more >>

Letter from Centre for Policy Studies: The scale of the Government’s failure should be laid bare in the light of spiralling energy prices and the likelihood of six million households facing fuel poverty by Christmas. Since 1997 there have been seven Labour energy ministers who between them have produced three contradictory Energy White Papers which have categorically failed to prepare and encourage new and varied baseload power supplies for the future. Since 1997 the UK has seen the construction of over 12 GW of new gas-fired power stations. There have been no new nuclear or clean-coal stations built over this period. The gas price is connected to the high oil price; this in turn affects the cost of the electricity these gas-fired stations produce. The majority of the gas used by them will be imported.

Independent 30th July 2008 more >>

Posted: 31 July 2008

30 July 2008

New Nukes

Greenpeace nuclear blog: our mission is to record the meltdown of that most over-rated, over-subsidised and over-confident of industries, the nuclear industry. Perhaps we were being overcautious, but we were wondering if there’d be enough material to sustain a daily weblog.

Greenpeace 29th July 2009. more >>

Greenpeace 29th July 2009 more >>

Letter: If in 50 years we decide wind turbines have been a terrible mistake, we can take them down. It is not the same for a nice “clean” nuclear power station.

Guardian 30th July 2008 more >>

David Milliband: High polluting products will not disappear unless government regulates. New nuclear power stations need planning policy to facilitate them. And if we act through the EU, we green the largest single market in the world. In opposition, you can sound green while embracing Euroscepticism.

Guardian 30th July 2008 more >>

Decommissioning

Procurement teams across the UK nuclear decommissioning industry should work more collaboratively for the benefit of buyers and suppliers. In a consultation published this month, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said it wanted to make its supply chain more attractive as well as cheaper and easier for suppliers to access. It is hoped this will make the supply chain become a “market of choice” for international suppliers, and develop UK firms to compete globally.

Supply Management 31st July 2008 more >>

India

India has gone into diplomatic overdrive to persuade the United Nations nuclear watchdog and nuclear technology exporters to lift a decades-old embargo on New Delhi’s access to atomic energy technology, despite its refusal to give up its weapons programme. India’s Congress-led ruling coalition won a domestic political fight last week over a landmark nuclear energy deal with the US. But New Delhi and Washington are facing an uphill battle to secure the necessary international and US congressional approval before President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

FT 30th July 2008 more >>

France

An engineer has said 127 people were evacuated from a French nuclear site after what he called a minor incident that triggered an alarm. Engineer Jean Girardi said 45 of those workers have been taken to the hospital after the incident at the Tricastin nuclear complex near the city of Avignon in southern France.

Daily Express 29th July 2008 more >>

IHT 29th July 2008 more >>

Reuters 29th July 2008 more >>

EDF will have to seize the momentum of a global nuclear power rebirth and answer the needs of emerging markets if the French electricity giant is to find new sources of growth in the coming decade.

Reuters 29th July 2008 more >>

US

An earthquake centered east of Los Angeles on Tuesday morning did not hinder operations on the state’s power grid nor damage the state’s two nuclear power plants, utility and state officials said.

Reuters 29th July 2008 more >>

Iran

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said on Tuesday that talks with world powers aimed at resolving the crisis over its atomic drive were “positive and progressive,”

AFX 29th July 2008 more >>

Finland

A small fire at the construction site for a new nuclear reactor in Olkiluoto, western Finland, spread to two floors of the reactor building, before it was put out, plant operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said on Wednesday.

Reuters 30th July 2008 more >>

Posted: 30 July 2008

29 July 2008

British Energy

FRENCH firm EDF’s proposed takeover of British Energy risks creating competition problems in the UK electricity market. Professor Dieter Helm, an energy expert at New College Oxford, said the deal would mean “essentially handing the British nuclear industry to the French government”. Keith Munday, commercial director of independent supplier Bizzenergy, said: “We think this move is a very significant step in the wrong direction. The wholesale electricity market is bad now and it’s going to get worse.”

Edinburgh Evening News 28th July 2008 more >>

It is a strange sort of privatisation where one government sells its assets to another government. The UK is on the verge of selling British Energy, the UK’s nuclear power provider, to EDF, the French state-owned energy company. Although the company’s foreign ownership is not troublesome, the deal highlights structural problems with the UK energy market. The deal, however, shows up a number of problems with UK electricity regulation. At the moment, British Energy is a monopoly nuclear provider. The government intends to build new nuclear plants, so it is important that it allows competition. But if EDF buys British Energy it will own most of the large UK nuclear sites and so will control almost all viable locations for future development. Other companies must be given access to these sites. If not, EDF will be buying a virtual nuclear monopoly.

FT 28th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Waste

NUCLEAR waste will not be stored in mid Cheshire’s salt mines and cavities. A Government invitation to store radioactive waste underground was turned down by Vale Royal Borough Council at a meeting on Thursday.

Northwich Guardian 26th July 2008 more >>

Iran

Presidential candidate Barack Obama said President George W. Bush’s decision to send a senior diplomat to nuclear talks with Iran was a substantive move and should be taken seriously by Tehran.

Reuters 28th July 2008 more >>

Iran wants to seek common ground with western powers.

ITN 28th July 2008 more >>

George Monbiot: We lie and bluster about our nukes and then wag our finger at Iran.

Guardian 29th July 2008 more >>

France

None of the incidents involved radioactive leaks from nuclear reactors, but even so they stirred lingering public concerns over the safety of atomic energy. The timing couldn’t be worse, given that nuclear power is just now reemerging from decades of disrepute after the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. Faced with rising oil prices and concerns over carbon emissions, countries from the U.S. to Britain to Germany are reviving dormant nuclear programs or rethinking long-standing anti-nuclear policies.

Business Week 28th July 2008 more >>

Oil

Shell, BP and other oil companies at the centre of the tar sands revolution in Canada are facing a backlash from the Co-operative and other members of the ethical investment community determined to bring a halt to these operations for environmental reasons. A joint report from Co-operative Investments and the wildlife charity WWF released today will be followed up in September by a meeting of the UK Social Investment Forum (UKSIF) to press for an end to this carbon-intensive activity. The tar sands business, by which crude oil is produced through highly carbon and water-intensive extraction and treatment procedures, risks tipping the world into an irreversible process of global warming, critics claim.

Guardian 29th July 2008 more >>

Energy Efficiency

A competition is showing the way to cut fuel bills by a third and carbon by a fifth.

Guardian 29th July 2008 more >>

Posted: 29 July 2008

28 July 2008

British Energy

FRENCH energy firm EDF is expected to announce a 12.4bn takeover of British Energy, leading to concerns that its headquarters may be moved out of Scotland. Nuclear firm British Energy employs around 200 staff at its headquarters in East Kilbride, but Adam Ingram, MP for the area, is concerned about their future if the deal goes ahead.

Scotland on Sunday 27th July 2008 more >>

Centrica’s involvement with EDF’s bid for British Energy – when it finally goes through this week – should be excellent news for the UK on two fronts. First, it should help Centrica hedge its own power prices and therefore hold down electricity costs for its customers. Second, it will give the British company much-needed exposure to the nuclear industry, which is going to account for a huge chunk of the UK’s energy supplies in the next few decades. EDF’s chief executive, Vincent de Rivas, is expected to sign off on the deal to buy BE for £12bn at Thursday’s board meeting, ahead of Friday’s results. Once the deal has gone through, Centrica will pay about £3bn to become a minority shareholder with 25 per cent of a new company.

Independent on Sunday 27th July 2008 more >>

EDF’s planned takeover of British Energy risks creating serious problems over competition in the UK electricity market, its competitors and customers have warned.

FT 28th July 2008 more >>

In a move that could derail EDF’s expected £12.4bn bid for the nuclear power station operator, a report into energy markets by the Commons business select committee warned that Britain’s “diverse electricity generation portfolio … may be undermined by consolidation, such as a takeover of British Energy or Scottish Power”.

Guardian 28th July 2008 more >>

Times 28th July 2008 more >>

Ministers like to fulminate about the UK’s “buy now, pay later” culture. But when it comes to the sale of the state’s own assets, the government seems quite happy to take an IOU. Shareholders in British Energy, the nuclear power group 35 per cent-controlled by the government, look likely this week to be offered a share of the company’s future profits in a plan that should clear the way for it to be carved up between France’s EDF and Centrica of the UK. As a way of breaking a stalemate over price, solutions such as these can be pragmatic. Contingency terms function like a call option, allowing the buyer to commit some money up front and then wait and see what the outcome is. They also usually create incentives for managers to stay on and work hard after the acquisition.

FT 28th July 2008 more >>

French energy giant Electricitie de France (EdF) may take a stake in Centrica’s wind farms and other assets as part of a deal to bring the UK into its planned £11bn-plus takeover of nuclear generator British Energy (BE). Centrica, the UK’s biggest wind farm investor and owner of British Gas, is desperate for a slice of the BE takeover but wants to avoid spending £3bn in cash that would give it a seat at the table.

Telegraph 28th July 2008 more >>

Plutonium

Top-secret shipments of weapons-ready plutonium through British waters have been stopped, after their exposure by The Independent on Sunday. The Department for Transport (DfT) said last week that it had taken “regulatory action” to prohibit the shipments from Sellafield to Normandy on an unarmed old roll-on, roll-off ferry, with few safety or security features. The prohibition, the first of its kind, was imposed after complaints by the French nuclear safety authorities. The shipments – denounced by nuclear weapons experts as “madness” and “totally irresponsible” – were carrying hundreds of kilograms of plutonium-dioxide powder, described as the ideal material for terrorists seeking to create a nuclear explosion or make a dirty bomb. Only 10kg of the plutonium, experts claim, would be needed to make a terrorist atomic weapon.

Independent on Sunday 27th July 2008 more >>

Central and Eastern Europe.

A number of countries in central, eastern and southeastern Europe plan to build new nuclear power reactors or extend the life of existing ones to meet growing domestic demand and replace ageing power capacity.

Reuters 27th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

Letter from various MPs: The revelation that a senior defence official has told the arms industry that the government plans to spend £3bn to replace the UK’s 160 nuclear warheads is truly deplorable (Report, July 25). If the government has reached even a preliminary view on the matter this should first be made known to parliament, and not to industrial interests.

Guardian 28th July 2008 more >>

Markets

Britain’s energy markets need a radical shake-up to tackle inefficiencies as homes and businesses brace themselves to pay significantly more for power in the future, MPs warn today. Consumers could be forced to pay more for their power than those in other countries, and if the discrepancies are not tackled it could hit the competitiveness of British manufacturing, the business and enterprise committee says in a report. As well as measures to increase the markets’ efficiency, the committee is demanding that government and energy companies change their approach to fuel poverty in the face of high and rising gas and electricity prices.

Guardian 28th July 2008 more >>

The Government is to consider implementing a windfall tax on energy companies after calls by MPs for “urgent” and “fundamental” reforms to cut fuel poverty.

Independent 28th July 2008 more >>

The market in gas and electricity is not functioning properly and the dominance of six energy companies may be stifling competition and pushing up prices, according to the report.

Telegraph 28th July 2008 more >>

Times 28th July 2008 more >>

Posted: 28 July 2008

27 July 2008

New Nukes

A devastating blow to the much-hyped revival of atomic power has been delivered by an unlikely source—the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC says the “standardized” designs on which the entire premise of returning nuclear power to center stage is based have massive holes in them, and may not be ready for approval for years to come. The NRC gave conditional “certification” to thw “standardized” AP1000 design in 2004, allowing design work to continue. But as recently as June 27, the NRC has issued written warnings that hundreds of key design components remain without official approval. Indeed, Westinghouse has been forced to actually withdraw numerous key designs, throwing the entire permitting process into chaos.

Counterpunch 25th July 2008 more >>

British Energy

SHAREHOLDERS in British Energy, Britain’s nuclear power group, are to be offered a share of the company’s future profits in a plan that should clear the way for it to be taken over by the French. The scheme, sketched out by advisers in recent weeks, is aimed at breaking a stalemate over price. Electricit de France (EDF), the utility, made an indicative offer of about 680p a share for BE several weeks ago. The price values the group at about £9.5 billion. Shareholders are holding out for a higher price, with some indicating privately they will not be satisfied with less than 800p a share. They argue that rising electricity prices make BE worth more than EDF has offered. BE shares closed on Friday at 726.5p.

Sunday Times 27th July 2008 more >>

Proliferation

Forty years ago this month, more than 50 nations gathered in the east room of the White House to sign the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. In his memoirs, Lyndon B Johnson called it “the most significant step we had yet taken to reduce the possibility of nuclear war”. Today, with the benefit of time, we can evaluate whether the accord truly marks the “historic turning point” President Johnson hoped for. The evidence suggests that while the pact’s dykes have largely held, serious leaks have developed, prompting nuclear vigilantes to apply force when they have concluded that diplomacy would fail to halt the bomb’s spread. Whether this behaviour is a harbinger for the future remains unclear, but it raises a continuing spectre given the failure of the NPT to include an effective enforcement mechanism.

Guardian 26th July 2008 more >>

Germany

There were 122 notifiable incidents at German nuclear plants last year.

Mathaba 26th July 2008 more >>

Iran

Iran has claimed to have more than 5,000 centrifuges actively enriching uranium – a major expansion, if true, in its nuclear operations which Western intelligence agencies believe are intended to produce atomic weapons.

Telegraph 27th July 2008 more >>

Sunday Times 27th July 2008 more >>

BBC 26th July 2008 more >>

Reuters 26th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

Three members of a ballistic missile crew fell asleep holding the launch codes for the nuclear weapons. The blunder happened at the same US base which loaded six nuclear weapons by mistake on to a B-52 bomber and then flew them across America.

Mirror 26th July 2008 more >>

Coal

British scientists have called on the government to deploy speedily a new technology which will almost completely eliminate carbon emissions from power stations. In a letter published in The Observer today, they say failure to capture emissions from dirty coal plants planned for Britain will have catastrophic environmental consequences. In addition, the group – which includes scientists from Imperial College London and Cambridge, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Bristol and Nottingham universities – warns that, unless Britain acts with urgency, it risks losing a world lead in carbon capture technology to other nations, including Canada, Germany and the US.

Observer 27th July 2008 more >>

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology can in theory reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power stations by up to 90 per cent. The gases are ‘captured’ and then stored underground rather than released into the atmosphere.

Observer 27th July 2008 more >>

Letter from Stuart Haszeldene et al: The government has successfully stoked great enthusiasm in a UK carbon capture industry, developers are elbowing their way in to compete. But is the sum total of UK policy, merely to produce one winner and 15 losers in a competition to build part of one clean coal power plant?

Observer 27th July 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

An estimated 500,000 households will be plunged into ‘extreme fuel poverty’ as a result of the latest round of utility bill hikes, consumer watchdog Energywatch has warned.

Observer 27th July 2008 more >>

Posted: 27 July 2008

26 July 2008

New Nukes

The Government needs to make its investment programme in new reactors clearer if it wants to avoid clashes with other major civil engineering project like Crossrail, civil engineers have warned.

Contract Journal 25th July 2008 more >>

British Energy

France’s EDF and British Energy are understood to have reached agreement in principle on the terms of an agreed bid. Although work on an offer is continuing, the French company is understood to be keen to finalise a deal next week. The offer is expected to be pitched at around 775p a share, which would value British Energy, in which the UK government has a 35% stake, at some £12.4bn. EDF is in negotiations with Centrica about the possibility of the UK company taking a minority stake, thought to be around 25%.

Guardian 26th July 2008 more >>

France

French nuclear companies are hoping to play a central role in the government’s plan to build a new generation of reactors. At home, however, the industry has been buffeted by a series of mishaps. Areva has been criticised by France’s nuclear safety watchdog over the Tricastin leak for not adequately informing local authorities and for unsatisfactory measures and operational procedures. In Romans-sur-Is re, north of Tricastin, at another site run by an Areva subsidiary, officials discovered a burst underground pipe which had been broken for years and did not meet safety standards. A tiny amount of lightly enriched uranium leaked but not beyond the plant. This week, about 100 staff at Tricastin’s nuclear reactor number four were contaminated by radioactive particles that escaped from a pipe. EDF described the contamination as “slight”.

Guardian 26th July 2008 more >>

The problems inside France’s nuclear industry could not come at a worse time for Britain. They may be “anomalies”, as some say, but they raise questions about the safety and efficiency of the giants lectricit de France (EDF) and Areva, entirely or largely state-owned. EDF is in a row over 100 staff at the Tricastin plant being irradiated, but is also wrapping up talks on a £12bn deal to take over British Energy, the UK’s only real nuclear generator. Areva, under fire from regulators over uranium leaks from a treatment centre at a subsidiary, has been made a preferred bidder, with two other companies, to manage Sellafield, Britain’s biggest complex. EDF and Areva have been at the front of those arguing for Britain to build a new generation of nuclear plants in line with Gordon Brown’s plan for low carbon energy. The UK government has managed to convince many sceptical Labour MPs they should bury their opposition to nuclear power, on the grounds that it is vital to halt climate change. That fragile support – and continued public concern – could melt in the face of evidence from France that its nuclear industry is not as safe as it should be.

Guardian 26th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Lab

A new nuclear laboratory will be home to hundreds of new jobs on the Fylde. Nexia Solutions has announced that its new research lab will be based at Springfields at Salwick – along with a new reactor at Sellafield in Cumbria.

Blackpool Gazette 25th July 2008 more >>

UCLan is to become a hub for developing skills for Lancashire’s “nuclear renaissance”. The University of Central Lancashire is to link up with the newly-formed National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) to train nuclear scientists of the future.

Lancashire Evening Post 25th July 2008 more >>

NDA

A Greenpeace briefing on the government’s internal audit (“Response to the Business and Enterprise Committee Funding the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority”) and follow up report (“NDA Budgetting Shortfall 2007-08: Lesson Learned”). These reports expose massive cost overruns, amateurish bureaucratic cock-ups and complete chaos within the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – the organisation charged with cleaning up the UK’s lethal radioactive legacy.

Greenpeace UK 24th July 2008 more >>

Sizewell

NEW nuclear power stations could be built in flood-risk or “environmentally-protected” areas under proposed rules announced yesterday in an apparent Government attempt to ensure sites such as Sizewell and Bradwell can continue to be considered. Pete Wilkinson, former member of a Government committee on radioactive waste disposal, said the new rules could be contrary to Health and Safety Executive regulations on the siting of nuclear installations. “This move is a measure of the determination of the Government to ram through the nuclear programme without the checks and balances we are used to in this country. “It is ironic that while the Government claims it needs nuclear power to combat climate change it is proposing to site the new plants in areas which will be at the forefront of climate change.”

East Anglian Daily Times 23rd July 2008 more >>

FIVE people have been arrested today after a protest outside Sizewell power station. A police spokeswoman said around ten protestors arrived at the site at 7am today and linked their arms together with tubes. The group from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament were protesting at the environmental impact of nuclear reactors and uranium mining.

East Anglian Daily Times 24th July 2008 more >>

India

As George Bush urges India to push ahead with a highly controversial civil nuclear deal corruption allegations have only heightened suspicions on the subcontinent.

New Statesman 25th July 2008 more >>

Iran

BARACK Obama yesterday said Iran should not wait for the next US president to be elected before resolving its dispute with the West over its nuclear programme.

Scotsman 26th July 2008 more >>

Russia

The British ambassador to Moscow and two of his diplomats were refused entry to a UK-funded nuclear fuel storage facility in Russia when they turned up on a scheduled visit, an embassy spokesman said on Friday.

Reuters 25th July 2008 more >>

Ukraine

Emergency officials say a warning alarm has triggered the automatic shutdown of a nuclear reactor in western Ukraine. Officials at the Emergency Situations Ministry said a fall in water levels at a steam generator in the third reactor of the Rivne nuclear power plant caused Thursday’s shutdown.

Daily Express 25th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

The Ministry of Defence today denied that it was planning to spend £3 billion on new nuclear warheads, despite the emergence of documents in which a senior official told arms sellers that the decision had already been made.

Times 25th July 2008 more >>

ITN News 25th July 2008 more >>

Daily Mail 25th July 2008 more >>

Plans for a new generation of nuclear weapons have got the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in deep water following accusations of misleading statements from top government figures.

View London 26th July 2008 more >>

The crew of three air force members decided to rest a little and within 15 minutes they were fast asleep. They awoke several hours later. The only problem was that the room in which they were snoozing was the missile alert facility at Minot air force base in North Dakota. Directly beneath them was the control centre containing the keys that can launch ballistic missiles, and in their care were boxes containing codes that allow the nuclear button to be pressed. The incident is the latest in a series of foul-ups and poor ratings that is turning Minot into the Fawlty Towers of the air force.

Guardian 26th July 2008 more >>

Independent 25th July 2008 more >>

Dan Plesch: There is a hidden bonus of over £2bn to US corporations if the government goes ahead with building new nuclear warheads. American firm Lockheed Martin has a large share in the management and ownership of the UK’s nuclear weapons factories at Aldermaston. It is also owns a company called Insys, whose purpose is to tell you and me through the government whether Aldermaston is doing a good job. Documents obtained from the libraries of successive US presidents show that the US has not only supplied Britain with nuclear weapons designs but also with some of the nuclear explosive materials at the heart of the warheads.

Guardian 25th July 2008 more >>

Obituary

Sir Richard Morris was from 1989 to 1997 chairman of the nuclear waste group UK Nirex, and wrote an influential report on the future of nuclear waste storage.

Times 24th July 2008 more >>

Telegraph 24th July 2008 more >>

EXTRA – FRENCH ACCIDENTS

Accident 1:

Approximately 30 cubic metres of liquid containing un-enriched uranium spilled from an overflowing reservoir at the Tricastin facility, which handles liquids contaminated by uranium, into the ground and into the Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers. The site has nuclear reactors as well as a radioactive treatment plant. The reactors are owned and run by EDF, but the waste treatment plant operator, is Societe Auxiliaire de Tricastin (Socatri), which is a subsidiary of the French nuclear giant, Areva.

Independent 10th July more >>

Guardian 10th July more >>

BBC 11th July more >>

The French government on Thursday ordered an investigation into the water table around all of France’s 58 nuclear reactors in an effort to dispel fears raised by a leak from a treatment plant run by Areva in southern France.

FT 17th July 2008 more >>

Irish Independent 18th July 2008 more >>

Telegraph 17th July 2008 more >>

2nd Accident

The French nuclear giant Areva yesterday confirmed there was a radioactive leak from a broken pipe at a nuclear fuel plant in south-eastern France, a week after a uranium spill at another of its plants polluted the local water supply. The latest incident comes as an embarrassment to the French government as it struggles to contain environmentalists’ anger and reassure residents near its nuclear plants that they are safe. The newly discovered leak at a plant in Romans-sur-Is re in the Dr me region came from a damaged pipe which safety authorities said might have ruptured a number of years ago. Areva, a state-controlled firm which makes nuclear reactors and deals with uranium, said the leak came from a buried pipe transporting liquid uranium and that the crack in the tubing was “several years old”.

Guardian 19th July 2008 more >>

Independent 18th July 2008 more >>

CNN 18th July 2008 more >>

Interactive Investor 18th July 2008 more >>

3rd Accident

The same day as the Romans-sur-Is re incident 15 EDF workers were exposed to what the company called “non-harmful” traces of radioactive elements at the Saint-Alban plant in the Alpine Isere region. This site has two EDF PWRs: Saint Alban 1 & 2.

BBC 24th July 2008 more >>

4th Accident

This leak at Tricastin too, but at one of the EDF nuclear reactors – as opposed to the Areva uranium processing plant. Radioactive particles spewed from a pipe at a French nuclear reactor on Wednesday, slightly contaminating 100 employees, a spokeswoman for Electricite de France said. It was the fourth incident at a French nuclear site in recent weeks and the second in five days. It is run by Areva unit Socatri. Spokeswoman Caroline Muller said 100 EDF employees were “slightly contaminated” by radioactive particles that escaped from the pipe at a reactor complex in Tricastin, in southern France.

BBC 24th July 2008 more >>

OVERALL

Too many French nuclear workers are being contaminated with low doses of radiation, an independent research group on atomic safety said on Thursday, a day after the latest incident in southern France. The Independent Commission on Research and Information on Radioactivity (CRIIRAD) also said a growing number of French nuclear workers were complaining about worsening working conditions and their likely impact on safety. “In less than 15 days, the CRIIRAD has been informed of four malfunctions in four nuclear plants, leading to the accidental contamination of 126 workers,” CRIIRAD head Corinne Castanier told Reuters in an interview. “This is the first time I have seen so many people being contaminated in such a short period of time.”

Reuters 24th July 2008 more >>

French nuclear power stations are facing an urgent review of security after 100 workers were contaminated by a leak at a complex near Avignon. Two other “minor” leaks occurred last Friday. One was at a nuclear fuel plant in Romans-sur-Isere, south-east France, and another at the Saint-Alban plant – also in the Alpine Isere region – in which 15 EDF workers were exposed to “non-harmful” traces of radioactive elements. The negative publicity around the Tricastin site has led local winegrowers to launch proceedings to change the name of their local appellation, currently Tricastin AOC.

Telegraph 24th July 2008 more >>

Posted: 26 July 2008

25 July 2008

British Energy

French energy firm EDF and British Gas owner Centrica are set to announce that they have bought UK nuclear firm British Energy, the BBC has learned. The BBC’s business editor Robert Peston said EDF and Centrica will probably announce early next week they are paying more than £12bn for the company.

BBC 24th July 2008 more >>

What will happen to the £4bn plus that would be received by the Department for Business when its stake is sold? The proceeds are to be given to an institution called the Nuclear Liabilities Fund. The Nuclear Liabilities Fund has already received more than £2bn, after the government sold some of its British Energy stake (at a price much lower than today’s) to investors. Now it’s what happened to that cash after it was received by the Nuclear Liabilities Fund that could prove highly controversial: the money was lent back to the government by being put into the National Loans Fund. That’s a safe place to put the money, but the rate of interest paid by the National Loans Fund is miserly – just over 5% at the moment – and there’s no opportunity for capital appreciation. So there’s zero chance of that money growing in value enough to make a serious dent in the future costs of decommissioning, unless the cash were taken out of the National Loans Fund and reinvested in a range of assets that offer the possibility of capital appreciation.

BBC 24th July 2008 more >>

FRENCH energy giant EDF is on the verge of agreeing a multi-billion-pound deal to take over East Kilbride-based nuclear power operator British Energy. An agreed takeover bid, likely to top £12 billion, could be announced in the next few days, ending months of speculation and creating one of Europe’s largest energy companies.

Scotsman 25th July 2008 more >>

Guardian 25th July 2008 more >>

FT 25th July 2008 more >>

The real stretch will be getting the blessing of the competition authorities. British Energy is the largest merchant generator in the UK – ie the biggest producer without its own residential customer base. Not so EDF, which as well as having its own generating capacity in the UK – about 7.6% of the total – has some 5 million residential and small-business customers. Some of the other merchant generators have already raised concerns about the possible expansion of one of the leading vertically integrated players. Their anxieties will only have been heightened by yesterday’s announcement.

Guardian 25th July 2008 more >>

The battle for British Energy is approaching its denouement, with EDF edging towards an offer, possibly in conjunction with Centrica as a minority partner, at a price acceptable to the company and the British Government. The involvement of Centrica may be important as it allows the Government to insist there will be a continued British participation in the future of the UK’s nuclear power industry. By adding to EDF’s financial fire power, Centrica may also have improved the price that can be paid, and thereby what the Government receives for its 35 per cent stake.

Independent 25th July 2008 more >>

New nukes

Gordon MacKerron: Making energy policy is a tough business. Government commitments run three ways: to radical reductions in carbon emissions, to the ‘imperative’ (Gordon Brown’s word) of energy security and to to tackling rising numbers of families in fuel poverty. With oil now over $140/barrel, being energy minister is even more difficult than usual, as the present incumbent, Malcolm Wicks, will know well. But government has nevertheless done itself few favours in this area over the last three years.

Parliamentary Brief 15th July 2008 more >>

David Lowry: Professor Beck is right to highlight the overlooked risk dimension of nuclear power in the current energy strategy debate. Unfortunately, the prime minister is the culprit-in-chief. At prime minister’s question time last week, he dismissed David Cameron’s Conservatives by, inter alia, gratuitously stating that the Tories had “run away” from taking what Gordon Brown regularly terms his brave decision on nuclear power.

Guardian 24th July 2008 more >>

Letter from David Lowry: Gremlins must have entered Sarah Arnott’s article (“Rolls-Royce eyes cut of £50bn nuclear market”, 17 July) for her to write, “In the face of growing pressure to replace existing dirty power sources with environmentally friendly alternatives, nuclear is firmly back on the agenda”. With the spoil from uranium mines threatening long-term ecological catastrophe across the indigenous peoples’ lands from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, eastern Germany, Russia, Namibia to the USA, and some nuclear waste remaining highly hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years, with no long-term solution yet achieved for its management, the last thing nuclear energy can be described as is “environmentally-friendly”.

Independent 23rd July 2008 more >>

Various Letters: Another U-turn for New Labour, and one for grave concern (report, 14 July). It seems that no lessons have been learnt from the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Most disturbing is the manner in which new nuclear plants will be fast-tracked by the introduction of the Government’s new Planning Bill, which will remove the rights of citizens to protest. Instead, an unelected Government quango will be able to force through large infrastructure projects, with little debate or resistance. This Government seems to have lost all accountability to the people it should be serving. New nuclear power stations may help decrease our reliance on imported coal and gas in the future, but they will do nothing about our reliance on oil.

Independent 22nd July 2008 more >>

Proposed guidelines for where nuclear power plants can be built and a clearer indication for the construction period have been announced by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Construction News 24th July 2008 more >>

Sizewell

Anti-nuclear campaigners have chained themselves together to try to block the only access to Sizewell nuclear power station in Suffolk. The eight activists said the latest protest was to highlight “health and safety issues”.

BBC 24th July 2008 more >>

Dounreay

PEOPLE living near the Dounreay nuclear plant say they will fight plans for a waste dump close to their homes, despite the scheme winning the conditional backing of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Sepa says it supports proposals for a £110 million underground low-level radioactive waste store – the first of its type in Scotland – provided seven planning conditions are imposed to protect people and the environment.

Scotsman 25th July 2008 more >>

BBC 24th July 2008 more >>

NDA

Another news story has broken which demonstrates that the UK’s nuclear industry is not the robust, well-managed machine our ministers would have us believe. The government has sneaked out a report assessing the working practices of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) which is managing the clean-up of existing power stations and waste. They were clearly hoping no one would notice as there’s no doubt that many people have been caught with their pants anklewards.

Greenpeace 24th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Lab

The UK government has given the go-ahead to establishing a national nuclear laboratory (NNL), and launched a competition to find it a commercial operator.

Chemistry World 24th July 2008 more >>

Sellafield

COPELAND and the rest of West Cumbria is on the crest of a wave from an Energy Coast masterplan which will transform the area forever, predicts government minister John Hutton.

Whitehaven News 23rd July 2008 more >>

THE House of Commons last week heard confirmation that UK taxpayers are to indemnify the URS Washington-led consortium to run Sellafield, against any massive insurance liabilities. This would mean that any serious nuclear accident affecting the local area would be covered in insurance terms by the UK government. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority wants the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to grant indemnity to Nuclear Management Partners Ltd. the consortium that won PBO status in the Sellafield contract earlier this month against uninsurable claims arising from a nuclear incident that fall outside the protections offered by the Nuclear Installations Act and the Paris/Brussels Conventions.

Whitehaven News 23rd July 2008 more >>

France

Too many French nuclear workers are being contaminated with low doses of radiation, an independent research group on atomic safety said on Thursday, a day after the latest incident in southern France. The Independent Commission on Research and Information on Radiocactivity (CRIIRAD) also said a growing number of French nuclear workers were complaining about worsening working conditions and their likely impact on safety.

Reuters 24th July 2008 more >>

French nuclear power stations are facing an urgent review of security after 100 workers were contaminated by a leak at a complex near Avignon.

Telegraph 24th July 2008 more >>

French nuclear power reactor manufacturer Areva reported a 14.8 percent rise in first-half sales on Thursday as a global revival of nuclear power fed demand for nuclear reactors and uranium fuel.

Reuters 24th July 2008 more >>

Turkey

Turkish diversified group Sabanci Holding has announced that it is in negotiations with GE, Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Iberdrola regarding a tender to construct and operate Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

Energy Business Review 24th July 2008 more >>

Microgeneration

Interview with Amory Lovins

Democracy Now 16th July 2008 more >>

South Asia

Pakistan warned the international community yesterday that a deal allowing India to import US atomic fuel and technology could accelerate a nuclear arms race between Delhi and Islamabad. The warning was made in a letter addressed to more than 60 nations as the Indian Government, having survived a no-confidence vote on Tuesday, dispatched diplomats to clear the deal with international regulators.

Times 25th July 2008 more >>

US President George W Bush has telephoned Indian PM Manmohan Singh to discuss the controversial civil nuclear deal between the two countries. The White House said the two men talked of their determination to cement a major civilian nuclear energy agreement between their countries.

BBC 25th July 2008 more >>

US

John McCain has called for 100 new nuclear power plants. Barack Obama, in a July 2007 Democratic debate, answered a pro-nuclear power audience member, “I actually think that we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix.” Among Obama’s top contributors are executives of Exelon Corp., a leading nuclear power operator in the nation. Just last week, Exelon released a new plan called “Exelon 2020: A Low-Carbon Roadmap.” The nuclear power industry sees global warming as a golden opportunity to sell its insanely expensive and dangerous power plants.

Daily Press 24th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

The Ministry of Defence has denied it has agreed to spend £3bn on new nuclear warheads, despite documents revealing a senior official told the arms industry a decision had already been made. According to the 2006 White Paper on the future of the country’s nuclear deterrent, any decision on whether to replace the warheads will not be made until the next Parliament.

Ananova 25th July 2008 more >>

A senior Ministry of Defence official told a private gathering of arms manufacturers that the decision to replace the warheads had already been taken, according to documents released under the freedom of Information Act.

Telegraph 25th July 2008 more >>

Guardian 25th July 2008 more >>

Russia is said to be considering the use of bases in Cuba as a refuelling point for its nuclear bombers, in a move reminiscent of the 1962 missile crisis. The move would be in retaliation for the Bush administration’s plan to site a missile defence shield in Europe. Russia says America’s proposal for the shield in Poland and the Czech Republic poses a direct threat to its security.

Guardian 25th July 2008 more >>

Times 25th July 2008 more >>

Iran

Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, handed a two-page letter riddled with typing errors – and mysteriously titled the “None Paper” – to diplomats from the world’s six leading powers in Geneva last weekend. For the first time, America had sent the State Department’s third highest-ranking official, William Burns, to join the talks. Mr Jalili had been expected to give Iran’s formal response to last month’s offer of technical and economic help if Tehran stopped enriching uranium. Instead, he only bemused his interlocutors.

Telegraph 24th July 2008 more >>

Posted: 25 July 2008

24 July 2008

NDA

Chaos at the heart of Britain’s nuclear clean-up industry has been laid bare by an internal government audit after embarrassing cost overruns and bureaucratic bungling. The Department for Business admits there are “inherent risks” associated with the financial affairs of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) that forced the department to find £400m from other budgets to balance the books. It also admits that budgetary problems were exacerbated by misunderstandings, unminuted meetings and lack of sufficiently trained staff. The government has switched money meant for low-carbon and renewable technologies to clean up the waste from nuclear power stations. Figures released by BERR in February showed that at least £15m that was meant to be used on “sustainable energy capital grants” had been switched to the NDA.

Guardian 24th July 2008 more >>

MPs recently criticised the government for the uncertain future costs of clearing up the UK’s atomic energy plants. The Guardian has learned more about the chaos inside the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Podcast with the details.

Guardian 24th July 2008 more >>

Nuclear Skills

A national nuclear laboratory is to be based near Preston as part of a £2bn energy masterplan, creating hundreds of new jobs in Lancashire. The Government’s ambitious West Cumbria energy plans, which will transform the coastline into a “energy coast” and provide a new nuclear reactor at Sellafield, will create 16,000 jobs in total.

Lancashire Evening Post 24th July 2008 more >>

Minister John Hutton yesterday confirmed the Government will establish a National Nuclear Laboratory, and launch a competition to appoint a commercial operator to run the organisation.

Public Technology 24th July 2008 more >>

Letter: Reports this week suggesting the construction of new UK nuclear power stations could be delayed because of a shortage of properly qualified engineers comes as little surprise to the chemical engineering community. We have long been warning that a looming skills shortage threatens to undermine the implementation and operation of new nuclear build, as well as many other well-intentioned initiatives designed to combat the effects of climate change.

FT 24th July 2008 more >>

A national nuclear laboratory will be established as part of a £2bn regeneration scheme to transform west Cumbria into Britain’s “energy coast”, John Hutton, the business secretary, announced yesterday. The government-owned centre will be run by a commercial operator and focus on research and development, including more secure and sustainable methods of waste disposal. The announcement was made as Mr Hutton visited Sellafield to launch a “West Cumbria Masterplan” to create 16,000 jobs and inject £800m into the local economy. The scheme encompasses onshore and offshore wind farms but the government hopes the centrepiece will be a new nuclear reactor at Sellafield. No companies have yet come forward with plans to build a plant.

FT 24th July 2008 more >>

BERR Press Release 23rd July 2008 more >>

Building 23rd July 2008 more >>

The UK government has written up a long-term business plan for the development of a national Nuclear Development Laboratory and will appoint a commercial operator to run it, the Department for Business said in a statement.

AFX 23rd July 2008 more >>

Professor Tim Abram has been appointed to the University of Manchester’s new chair in nuclear fuel technology. The new post is being supported financially by Westinghouse Electric Company, which makes nuclear reactors. The university said the appointment fitted with plans for the Centre in Nuclear Energy Technology, an anticipated investment of £25m over the next five years to “build the skills and capabilities that will be needed in the UK to support the nuclear renaissance”.

Crain’s Manchester Business 23rd July 2008 more >>

New Nukes

Letter from Hunterston B Station Director: The popular misconception that nuclear power is expensive was evident in the first two letters. This is not true. An extensive report, The future of nuclear power – The role of nuclear power in a low carbon UK economy, published by the UK Government in May 2007 concluded that nuclear power, with the inclusion of waste management and decommissioning costs, was considerably less expensive than wind power, The report also stated that nuclear is comparable in cost to fossil fuels once the cost of carbon emissions are included, but that was before the huge rise in the costs of fossil fuels this year.

Largs & Millport News 23rd July 2008 more >>

The government has set out the criteria for deciding where nuclear power stations can be built. The consultation on the Strategic Siting Assessment, outlines the process the government will use for choosing new nuclear sites.

Society of Procurement Officers 23rd July 2008 more >>

Builder & Engineer 22nd July 2008 more >>

Contract journal 23rd July 2008 more >>

British Energy has welcomed the announcement by the British government for consultation on the strategic siting assessment process and siting criteria for new nuclear power stations in the UK.

Datamonitor 23rd July 2008 more >>

Proliferation

THE world is facing a “new era of nuclear insecurity” which requires a concerted drive to counter proliferation, Tory Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague warned yesterday.

Yorkshire Post 24th July 2008 more >>

View London 24th July 2008 more >>

BBC 23rd July 2008 more >>

Conservative Party Press Release 23rd July 2008 more >>

North Korea

The US today urged North Korea to prove it had given up its nuclear ambitions in the highest-level discussions between the two countries for years. The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, sounded upbeat after six-party talks in Singapore, but said the world could not afford more delays on the issue.

Guardian 23rd July 2008 more >>

FT 24th July 2008 more >>

Telegraph 23rd July 2008 more >>

Iran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today claimed that US participation in the latest round of talks was recognition of Iran’s right to acquire nuclear technology. And he added that Iran would not “retreat one iota” over its disputed nuclear ambitions.

Guardian 23rd July 2008 more >>

The world must stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons says Obama.

Press & Journal 24th July 2008 more >>

FT 24th July 2008 more >>

Express 23rd July 2008 more >>

Talks were dominated by Israeli concern about the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, although the Democratic presidential candidate spoke also of his hope for a Middle East peace agreement that would see the creation of a “viable and peaceful Palestinian state” alongside a secure Israel.

Guardian 24th July 2008 more >>

The Guardian has revealed that the United States plans to establish a low-level diplomatic mission in Tehran, for the first time in nearly three decades. “We will receive favourably any action which will help to reinforce relations between the peoples,” a conciliatory Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters.

Guardian 23rd July 2008 more >>

France

Radioactive particles spewed from a pipe at a French nuclear reactor on Wednesday, slightly contaminating 100 employees, a spokeswoman for Electricite de France said. It was the fourth incident at a French nuclear site in recent weeks and the second in five days. It is run by Areva unit Socatri. Spokeswoman Caroline Muller said 100 EDF employees were “slightly contaminated” by radioactive particles that escaped from the pipe at a reactor complex in Tricastin, in southern France.

AFX 24th July 2008 more >>

BBC 24th July 2008 more >>

India

A deal for nuclear cooperation between the United States and India is back on track after a crucial vote yesterday in India’s parliament. Nature News takes a look at the controversial agreement and what it might mean for the globe’s fragile non-proliferation regime.

Nature 23rd July 2008 more >>

Renewables

Britain is trying to water down tough new European legislation to boost the uptake of renewable energy, despite a pledge by Gordon Brown last month to launch a “green revolution” based on clean technology. Documents obtained by the Guardian show the UK wants to block attempts to give renewable electricity sources such as wind farms priority access to the national grid. The European official who drafted the legislation accused Britain of “obstructing” EU efforts on renewables and said UK officials wanted to protect traditional energy suppliers and their coal, gas and nuclear power stations.

Guardian 24th July 2008 more >>

Telegraph 24th July 2008 more >>

Posted: 24 July 2008

23 July 2008

Nuclear Siting

Labour’s next generation of nuclear power plants could be built on land at high risk of flooding, it emerged yesterday. Ministers have refused to rule out building the controversial reactors in areas vulnerable to rising sea levels, flash floods and burst river banks. Environmentally sensitive parts of the UK – areas of outstanding natural beauty or those that are home to rare wildlife – could also be used, according to draft guidance from the Department for Business.

Daily Mail 23rd July 2008 more >>

BBC 22nd July 2008 more >>

Construction News 22nd July 2008 more >>

Independent 22nd July 2008 more >>

The government begun the decision-making process to choose sites for a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK. Today saw the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform issuing a consultation on how to set criteria for choosing suitable sites for nuclear plants.

New Energy Focus 22nd July 2008 more >>

Draft criteria and process for siting potential new nuclear power stations published. The detailed criteria and process for assessing where new nuclear power stations could safely and securely be built across England and Wales have been set out by the Government today. The consultation on the Strategic Siting Assessment outlines the process the Government will use for identifying suitable sites for new nuclear power stations. The Government is proposing to invite third parties to nominate sites which it will then assess against a range of criteria.

BERR Press Release 22nd July 2008 more >>

Justification

Nuclear Industry Association Justification Application.

DEFRA July 2008 more >>

New Nukes

Jeremy Leggett: When nuclear fans accuse clean-tech advocates of dreaming about the prospects for renewables, it seems ever more likely that a simple response will suffice: “Go nuclear? Good luck.”

Guardian 22nd July 2008 more >>

Sellafield

When it was revealed last year that Ian McCartney was being paid more than £110,000 a year to advise the American nuclear power giant Fluor – just months after he quit as Trade minister – the pint-sized Scot was accused of filling his boots. The former Labour Party chairman’s involvement came under the spotlight when it emerged that Fluor was part of a consortium bidding for a £5bn contract to take over the running of the Sellafield plant. Quite how much longer his services will be relied upon, however, remains to be seen. It has been confirmed that Fluor has lost out in the bidding to its British rival Amec. To make matters worse, Amec had recruited McCartney’s former colleague, the ex-Sports minister Richard Caborn, whose advisory services came in rather cheaper at £75,000.

Independent 23rd July 2008 more >>

NDA

Publishing its 2007-08 accounts, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) confirmed that the cost has increased from the £63bn calculated in the 2006-07 accounts.

EDIE 22nd July 2008 more >>

Companies

Amec has bought specialist nuclear services company AllDeco for £11.1 million in cash. This acquisition will further strengthen Amec’s position in the nuclear sector, having been recently named as a member of the consortium appointed preferred bidder in the Sellafield competition. AllDeco has principal locations in Slovakia and the Czech Republic and employs 112 nuclear engineers, designers, chemists and operators.

Construction News 22nd July 2008 more >>

AFX 22nd July 2008 more >>

China

China’s earthquake-hit Sichuan province hopes to build its first nuclear power plant within as little as five years, but has chosen a site it says is geologically sound, state media said on Wednesday.

Reuters 23rd July 2008 more >>

India

Prime minister Manmohan Singh won a vote of confidence in India’s parliament yesterday with a comfortable margin. The opposition had demanded the premier’s resignation after three MPs alleged they had been bribed to abstain, but the government won the vote 275 to 256, ensuring the immediate survival of the ruling coalition and of a civilian nuclear deal with the US.

Hedgeweek 23rd July 2008 more >>

Guardian 23rd July 2008 more >>

Scotsman 23rd July 2008 more >>

Independent 23rd July 2008 more >>

Times 23rd July 2008 more >>

Proliferation

William Hague will today commit an incoming Tory government to work with the new US president to tackle “a new age of nuclear insecurity” and lead the fight against nuclear proliferation. He fears the world may be living through a short-lived golden period where people are free from the threat of nuclear weapons, an era which started with the fall of the iron curtain and which could end in the next decade, as more states acquire nuclear weapons.

FT 23rd July 2008 more >>

Renewables

Vast farms of solar panels in the Sahara could provide clean electricity for the whole of Europe, according to EU scientists working on a plan to pool the region’s renewable energy. Harnessing the power of the desert sun is at the centre of an ambitious scheme to build a 45bn (£35.7bn) European supergrid that would allow countries across the continent to share electricity from abundant green sources such as wind energy in the UK and Denmark, and geothermal energy from Iceland and Italy. The idea is gaining political support in Europe, with Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, recently backing the north African solar plan.

Guardian 23rd July 2008 more >> more >>

Energy Efficiency

Britain could cut its domestic fuel bills by £4.6bn a year if it adopted a series of energy saving measures, according to a report out today. An energy saving trial involving 64 households across eight cities organised by British Gas and monitored by the thinktank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), also found that families cut their carbon emissions by a fifth. British Gas managing director, Phil Bentley said: “Reducing energy consumption is the single most important thing households can do to reduce bills and cut emissions.”

Guardian 23rd July 2008 more >>

Posted: 23 July 2008

22 July 2008

Nuclear Skills

Britain’s main nuclear safety regulator is struggling to halt a staff exodus that threatens to delay construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations. A brain drain of senior inspectors and engineers has left the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) so seriously understaffed that only 16 people are overseeing a highly complex approval process for new nuclear reactors that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says requires at least 40 people. The Times has learnt that the Government is so concerned about the situation in the NII that it is considering radical changes, including inflation-breaching pay increases, moving the agency from its base in Bootle, Merseyside, and introducing a new corporate governance structure. “They are trying to stop the brain drain,” one nuclear industry executive said.

Times 22nd July 2008 more >>

Iran

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown yesterday stepped up the pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear weapons programme at the end of a surprise visit to the Middle East. In the first speech by a British Prime Minister to the Israeli parliament, Mr Brown warned of tougher sanctions against Iran if it continued to develop nuclear arms.

Yorkshire Post 22nd July 2008 more >>

Express 22nd July 2008 more >>

Telegraph 21st July 2008 more >>

Herald 22nd July 2008 more >>

Mirror 22nd July 2008 more >>

Independent 21st July 2008 more >>

Guardian 21st July 2008 more >>

The White House on Monday signalled that it expected Iran to reject a US-backed incentives package to end sensitive nuclear work and warned Tehran may therefore face additional sanctions.

AFX 21st July 2008 more >>

US Secretary of State warns Iran of ‘punitive measures’ if it does not act seriously.

Middle East Online 21st July 2008 more >>

India

The Indian government and the much-vaunted nuclear deal it negotiated with George Bush in 2006 were last night on the brink of collapse after a bruising debate on a vote of confidence in parliament. The vote, due today, is so finely balanced that several infirm MPs will be brought in from hospital. Jailed parliamentarians, some convicted of murder, have gained temporary release to attend.

Guardian 22nd July 2008 more >>

Times 22nd July 2008 more >>

The vote of confidence offered by the Indian government signals that George Bush might get regime change in yet another large Asian nation. It was president Bush who, in a typical snub in 2006 to the international system, said that America was prepared to accept India as a nuclear power despite the country exploding a bomb less than a decade ago.

Guardian 21st July 2008 more >>

Pakistan

A court in Pakistan has upheld the detention of disgraced nuclear scientist AQ Khan and barred him from speaking out on nuclear proliferation.

BBC 21st July 2008 more >>

Reuters 21st July 2008 more >>

Renewables

Europe’s largest windfarm is to be built alongside the M74 in south-west Scotland after Scottish ministers approved plans to erect more than 150 turbines on surrounding moors. The £600m project is likely to produce enough electricity to power more than 250,000 homes by the time it is completed in 2011, and is well over twice the size of Europe’s largest existing windfarm, at Guadalajara in Spain.

Guardian 22nd July 2008 more >>

The world’s biggest offshore windfarm was put back on track yesterday as the UK energy minister boasted that the technology could attract £3bn investment to the north-east of England alone. The German-based energy group E.ON and the Danish utility Dong Energy have agreed to acquire Shell’s 33% stake in the 1,000-megawatt London Array scheme for an undisclosed sum. The firms, which each own a one-third stake, are to become 50-50 partners in the windfarm, which could supply electricity to more than 750,000 homes in Greater London from the windfarm off the coast of Kent.

Guardian 22nd July 2008 more >>

Coal

The government will come under increased pressure today to ban new coal-fired power stations such as the one planned for Kingsnorth in Kent unless they are equipped to trap and store carbon pollution underground, as a committee of MPs publishes a critical report. The environmental audit committee urges ministers to make it clear that coal power plants that do not fit carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment will be closed down. It says the government must set a deadline, after which the operation of unabated coal-fired power stations should not be permitted.

Guardian 22nd July 2008 more >>

Posted: 22 July 2008