News February 2009

28 February 2009

Heysham

RESIDENTS of the area around Heysham power stations are being offered the chance to hear first hand about plans to nominate land next to the site for a new nuclear plant. An exhibition and public meeting will be held at The Platform, Morecambe, on Tuesday March 10 – the exhibition opening at 3.30pm and the meeting starting at 7pm.

Morecambe Visitor 28th Feb 2009 more >>

Sellafield

Trains between Sellafield and Barrow have been suspended after an unexploded bomb was today found near the line.

Whitehaven News 27th Feb 2009 more >>

BUSINESS secretary Peter Mandelson has heralded the part Sellafield can play in Britain’s low-carbon energy future and prospects for the site’s own development.

Whitehaven News 25th Feb 2009 more >>

SELLAFIELD has a new man in charge of the nuclear site’s armed police force.

Whitehaven News 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Dounreay

THE Far North construction industry is set for a massive shot in the arm thanks to a run of new contracts coming on stream at Dounreay. The building of three major waste plants will create work for 500, with the first of them scheduled to start next year. The plants are needed to store the waste which will be created by the demolition of the remainder of the defunct fast reactor complex. Once they are up and running, the 2000-strong site workforce will start to dip sharply as the clean-up moves towards its scheduled closure date of 2025. The first of the schemes is a plant to treat and store intermediate-level (ILW) liquid waste created by the reprocessing of fast reactor fuel. Codenamed D3900, it will also deal with some of the solid intermediate-level waste currently in above-ground stores. Designed to last for 100 years, its three-year construction is expected to create 200 jobs. The proposed new dump for up to 170,000 cubic metres of low-level solid waste under ground adjoining the site is in line to provide work for a further 100. Subject to receiving full planning approval, a start on the cluster of concrete vaults is planned for 2011 with the dump ready for use by 2014. The third plant will treat the cocktail of intermediate-level radioactive debris recovered from the site’s underground shaft and nearby silo. It is likely to need a workforce of 200 over its scheduled four-year construction, starting in 2013.

John O Groat Journal 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Scotland

Rob Gibson MSP: I hope Jim Murphy and Labour leaders were listening to the chief scientific adviser’s remarks. Every penny wasted on new nuclear technology in Scotland would be a penny less for the development of clean, green energy. Scotland is well on course to be the clean, green energy capital of Europe – we already have a greater installed capacity of renewable energy than nuclear.

John O Groat Journal 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Yucca Mountain

Work on disposing of radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain has all but stopped after President Barack Obama’s budget blueprint yesterday. A new strategy for permanent storage is to be developed. America must now set a new course for long-term management of high-level radioactive waste, which could include reprocessing and recycling after a change in attitude towards the practices during recent years. A major factor could be Obama’s position on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which would see a community of countries share nuclear power technology with leading nations storing all the high-level waste from the entire group after dramatic volume reduction from reprocessing.

World Nuclear News 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Iran

The Americans are in a state of near-hysteria over the possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb, though no mention in this context is ever made of Israel’s nuclear bomb, the existence of which might explain why the Iranians would be keen to have one of their own, particularly now when the Israelis are about to install a right-wing government which will include a number of open racists and Zionist extremists.

Independent 28th Feb 2009 more >>

Renewables

Letter from Dr Gerry Wolff: In his article “The green movement must learn to love nuclear power” (23 February), Chris Goodall says: “Even concentrated solar power plants in the Sahara desert will need a lot of space – at least 15,000 sq kms.” Recent calculations from the German Aerospace Centre show (DLR) that an area of 16,129 sq kms in the Sahara, if covered with CSP plants, would produce as much electricity as is now being used by the whole of Europe. This is less than 0.2 per cent of the area of the Sahara. Of course, no one is suggesting that one should meet all of Europe’s electricity needs from the Sahara. In the scenarios described in the TRANS-CSP report from the DLR, CSP would be just one of a combination of renewable sources and nuclear power would be phased out. Compared with the situation now, there would be an overall reduction of imports of energy into Europe and there would be a greater diversity of sources of energy.

Independent 28th Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 28 February 2009

27 February 2009

New Nukes

Catherine Mitchell, Prof of Energy Policy Exeter University: Britain has visionary goals. The Committee on Climate Change says we should have an 80% cut in 1990 levels of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Moreover, through an EU deal, the UK has to provide 15% of its total energy use from renewable sources by 2020, and cut projected energy demand by 20%. If the UK meets these legally binding targets, there is no need for new nuclear or coal plants. Why does government – ie Treasury – policy seem to concentrate on technologies we don’t need?

Guardian 27th Feb 2009 more >>

A number of prominent green activists have decided to do a U-turn and back nuclear power has come as quite a shock to a lot of people. The principal reason given was that nuclear power was needed to combat global warming. So what has worried these once-determined green activists so much that they have had to think the unthinkable? It seems to be a combination of things, none of them positive. Firstly there is the weight of evidence in favour of global warming, evidence that continues to build relentlessly.

Oldham Evening Chronicle 27th Feb 2009 more >>

GMB today welcomed the news that the former director of Greenpeace Stephen Tindale has now come out in favour of nuclear power as a path to sustainable energy. He and other green activists are now campaigning in line with the views of James Lovelock, the scientist and respected environmentalist to ‘endorse nuclear energy as the greenest, safest, cheapest and most secure source of electricity.’

GMB 26th Feb 2009 more >>

RWE Npower has put forward a proposal to build new nuclear stations in Cumbria, near the huge Sellafield nuclear complex. The Big Six generating company said it had taken out options to purchase two sites. One already has agreement to install a 3.6GW connection to the electricity grid. A connection agreement for the second site is expected later in the year. Both sites have coastal access and are currently farmland, one located in mid-Copeland near Sellafield and the other in south Copeland in the Millom area. RWE announced a joint venture agreement with fellow big six supplier Eon in January. The two companies hope to secure land from the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency in March when it auctions land at Wylfa in Wales, Oldbury in Goucestershire and Bradwell in Essex.

Utility Week 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Carlisle News and Star 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Platts 26th Feb 2009 more >>

BBC 26th Feb 2009 more >>

YRM has been confirmed as the first architect to be commissioned to design one of Britain’s new generation of nuclear power stations. The practice has been appointed by French giant EDF Energy to work up the vision and masterplan for the new European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) at Hinkley Point in Somerset, a scheme worth over £3 billion and the first of four nuclear plants planned by EDF in this country.

Building Design 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Nuclear Waste

A Lancashire team of nuclear experts have signed an agreement with a second university. The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), which has a base in Salwick, near Preston, has penned the collaborative agreement with the University of Sheffield to work on ways to immobilise and dispose of radioactive waste having agreed a similar deal with Preston’s University of Central Lancashire last year.

Lancashire Evening Post 27th Feb 2009 more >>

The Engineer 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Scotland

Letter Neil Craig: The assertion from Councillor Euan McLeod that there is “a consensus” against nuclear power in Scotland stands unsupported by any facts from him. “Consensus” does not mean 51 per cent, though I don’t think there is evidence even for that, and the term should not be used lightly, let alone as a club. There may well be a council organisation called Nuclear Free Local Authorities, but if its members were sincere they would refuse to use the 40 per cent of Scotland’s electricity that comes from nuclear.

Scotsman 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter Nail Craig: according to Barry Lees, waste from nuclear reactors “will still be dangerous in thousands of millions of years” (Letters, February 27) whereas Professor Colin McInnes in another letter on the same day says reactors currently produce only “small volumes of short-lived waste products”. This neatly encapsulates the difference between the two sides.

Herald 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Wylfa

Greg Evans, site manager at Magnox North’s Wylfa and Maentwrog power stations, was presented with the award for the Leadership in Business with more than 250 employees award at the Leading Wales Awards.

Daily Post 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Coal/British Energy

Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, has warned that coal plants fitted with carbon capture storage (CCS) equipment are unlikely to be ready to make big cuts in Britain’s emissions before 2030. The country’s geology is not suited to the technology, which is expensive and unproven, he said. This meant it would take “at least 15 years and probably closer to 20 years” before companies were in a position to deploy the technology on a large scale. Laidlaw said negotiations were continuing with French-owned EDF Energy over buying a stake in nuclear generator British Energy. EDF signed an agreement in principle to sell a 25% stake in the company to Centrica when the French group bought British Energy last autumn. Since then power and share prices have slumped and some Centrica shareholders are understood to be urging Laidlaw to pull out of the deal.

Guardian 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Centrica has “lots of options” for other investments if the proposed deal to take a 25 per cent stake in British Energy falls through, its chief executive has said.

FT 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter from RSPB: Energy secretary Ed Miliband’s efforts to confirm a more definite route to carbon capture and storage are welcome, but without prompt approval from the Treasury on funding for energy companies for CCS demonstration plants, the UK faces being left behind at a time when President Obama has put funding of such demonstrations in the US at the heart of his economic stimulus package.

Guardian 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Companies

French power company EDF and Italian electricity utility Enel have signed two industrial agreements for the development of nuclear energy. The first agreement sets up a 50-50 consortium between EDF and Enel to look into the feasibility of developing a least four nuclear reactors based on EPR technology in Italy.

Energy Business Review 27th Feb 2009 more >>

Yucca Mountain

President Barack Obama is taking the first step toward blocking a nuclear waste dump at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain by slashing money for the program in his first budget, according to congressional sources. Obama’s budget to be announced Thursday will eliminate virtually all funding for the Yucca project with the exception of money needed for license applications submitted last year to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ‘‘The Yucca Mountain program will be scaled back to those costs necessary to answer inquiries from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission while the administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear-waste disposal,’’ the Energy Department will say as part of the budget document, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the document had not been made public.

New York Times 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Iran

Iran claimed a “symbolic landmark in its quest to join the nuclear club” this Wednesday by staging a dummy run of the long-delayed Bushehr reactor.

Money Week 27th Feb 2009 more >>

European powers are considering new sanctions on Iran.

EU Business 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Jordan

Russia, which is helping Iran build its first nuclear plant, inked a preliminary cooperation deal with Jordan on Thursday to pave the way for producing nuclear power in the energy-poor kingdom.

Yahoo 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Bulgaria

The threat of global warming has given a boost to the nuclear industry in many countries as one way to provide electricity without increasing carbon emissions. But what to do with the nuclear waste, especially the most toxic form – spent nuclear fuel. Nick Thorpe went to see how Bulgaria is coping.

BBC 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Weapons Convoys

AN MSP is demanding reassurances that the safety of people in Clydesdale is not being compromised by nuclear convoys. Aileen Campbell, SNP MSP for South of Scotland, has written to the UK Government demanding reassurances about the safety of nuclear material transported through the Clydesdale area, following reports that an independent nuclear technology watchdog is to be scrapped.

Hamilton Advertiser 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 27 February 2009

26 February 2009

New Nukes

RWE npower has an option to buy two sites in the North-west that could be suitable for a new nuclear power station, one of which already has an offer of a grid connection. Both locations, currently farmland, are on the coast of Copeland, in Cumbria. One of the pieces of land, which is near the Sellafield nuclear decommissioning centre, has received the go-ahead from the National Grid for a 3.6 gigawatt connection, sufficient to power five million homes. No firm plans will be made before consultation with local residents, but both spots will be nominated for the government review of potential sites for new atomic plants, which closes at the end of March.

Independent 26th Feb 2009 more >>

New reactor sites have been earmarked on farmland in the Egremont and Millom areas. Both are isolated on the coast and a major energy production company has reached agreement over the sale of the land.

Whitehaven News 25th Feb 2009 more >>

FT 26th Feb 2009 more >>

nPower Press Release 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Join Britain’s leading environmental commentator tomorrow to discuss one of the most divisive of green issues: nuclear power. At 12pm this Thursday, George Monbiot will be online for a live web chat to answer your questions on the subject.

Guardian 25th Feb 2009 more >>

What more is there to say about the exciting new group of greens for nuclear power unveiled this week by the Independent? Stephen Tindale, the former boss of Greenpeace and former spokesman for the renewables arm of a firm with nuclear interests, we addressed on Tuesday, and he had his day in the Sun yesterday; but what of the heaviest hitter, Lord Smith? Well, we can say that when the wind changes, he changes his mind, for in the dim and distant days of Blairism, before the future was determinedly nuclear, he was one of the main voices advising against such a path. So, under the stewardship of Dame Barbara Young was the Environment Agency. Now that Gordon sees things differently, so does Lord Smith; and at the Environment Agency, those who don’t follow suit are having to buck up their ideas.

Guardian 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter from Cllr Euan McLeod, Convenor of NFLA Scotland: There is a consensus on nuclear power in Scotland – overwhelmingly against it. Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Scotland notes attempts to accuse the Scottish Government of being negligent in opposing nuclear power and promoting a huge rise in renewables. NFLA Scotland agrees we need a balanced energy mix, but does not see nuclear as a part of that. The latest Scottish Energy Trends paper notes renewable energy accounted for 20 per cent of Scottish gross consumption in 2007 (up from 16.9 per cent in 2006) while nuclear energy fell to 13 per cent due to unplanned outages. This is a higher use of renewable energy than anywhere else in the UK or Ireland and is predicted to rise to 31 per cent by 2011. A mix of renewable power sources energy efficiency projects will be more than enough to ensure Scotland’s future energy supply.

Scotsman 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter: A further reason for the delay in next-generation nuclear fission is the sustained and irrational campaign against nuclear power which has held back development of the technology. This is a position many environmental commentators and, indeed, national governments are now realising has been deeply flawed. The question which does need to be asked is why others in the environmental movement are still so ideologically opposed to next-generation nuclear power (and even nuclear fusion) which can generate copious clean energy with small volumes of short-lived waste products.

Herald 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter from Steuart Campbell: Professor Jan Bebbington claims the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) Scotland is “not an advocate for or against nuclear power” (Platform, 24 February). That’s not the position of the SDC (UK?), which declares on its website: “Nuclear power is not the answer to tackling climate change or security of supply” and “there is no justification for bringing forward a new nuclear programme.”

Scotsman 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Global warming has led to a change in his views on nuclear energy, Ed Miliband has revealed. The Energy and Climate Change Secretary also said he believed the industry was on track for a new generation of nuclear power stations in less than a decade. The son of Marxist political theorist Ralph Miliband told the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee he had not grown up with a traditionally pro-nuclear background. But he said: “I do think climate change changes one’s view about nuclear and the role it plays in our energy mix.” He was speaking after four leading environmentalists said they were in favour of nuclear power, including former Greenpeace director Stephen Tindale and Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith.

Public Servant Online 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter from (1) Stephen Tindale: The UK has immense renewables potential, particularly wind, wave and tidal. But only 1.5 per cent of our total energy (electricity, heat and transport) is currently from renewables, and even if we meet the EU target of 15 per cent by 2020, there will still be 85 per cent from fossil fuels or nuclear. (2) Chris Davies MEP: Like many in my party I have long been opposed to nuclear power, but the imperative of reducing global warming emissions has changed my view.

Independent 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Nuclear Waste

BNS Nuclear Services has created the Versatile Encapsulation Plant (VEP), originally for nuclear power stations producing both solid and sludge waste. BNS believes that VEP will prove to be cost effective when compared with the current methodology and was encouraged by the results from its test programme. VEP has the ability to process high solids content sludges, ion exchange media and solid waste, whether it is low level or intermediate level. The system is currently being proof of scale trialled against competing technologies as part of a Sellafield project risk reduction initiative.

Engineering Talk 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Hartlepool

PLANS for a new nuclear power station in Hartlepool will be put on public show next month. An exhibition and public meeting takes place at the Grand Hotel on Wednesday, March 11. Bosses at EDF Energy have hailed the town as “a good candidate” for a new plant. But they want to hear the public’s view on the proposals before any further steps are made.

Hartlepool Mail 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Ireland

FEARS ABOUT greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity and about security of supply in an insecure world are slowly propelling Ireland towards nuclear power.

Irish Times 26th Feb 2009 more >>

NUCLEAR POWER can help halve CO2 emissions and double energy production by 2050, an expert in nuclear energy has said on a visit to Northern Ireland.

Irish Times 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Iran

Letter: Gideon Rachman does not even mention the possible advantages of a nuclear Iran. It would contribute to a balance of power in the region and introduce an element of mutual deterrence. Experience shows that this situation encourages resolution of conflicts through peaceful means. We must at least consider the possibility in an even-handed way.

FT 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Iran yesterday denied having slowed down its nuclear activities and said it planned to install 50,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium over the next five years after staging a dummy run of its Bushehr reactor, built with Russian help.

Guardian 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Scotsman 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Telegraph 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Daily Mail 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Italy

Italy has spoken to companies other than Enel and EDF about developing nuclear power reactors as it seeks to diversify energy supplies and analysts said there could be a range of players interested.

Interactive Investor 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Disarmament

As any rationale for maintaining an oversized nuclear arsenal – including 450 long-range missiles on hair-trigger alert – further erodes, the goal of nuclear disarmament has spread within the US from a narrow sliver of left-leaning arms-control activists to a broader bipartisan consensus. One crucially important community, however, has yet to offer its expert judgment: the uniformed military.

Guardian 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Concerns have been raised over the safety of people living near a Berkshire site earmarked for a new nuclear warhead facility.

BBC 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Coal

The climate change secretary confirmed yesterday that he was “hopeful” more than one “clean coal” power station would be piloted, despite the government running a competition to fund only a single demonstration plant.

Guardian 26th Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 26 February 2009

25 February 2009

New Nukes

Letter from Nuclear Consultation Group: Blowers, Burke, Stirling etc: We write to express concern over the unqualified portrayal of nuclear new build as a sustainable solution to climate change (“Nuclear power? Yes, please”, 23 February). Significant issues remain to be addressed, let alone resolved. These include uncertainty about nuclear fuel supply and manufacture, vulnerability to attack, security and proliferation, radioactive waste management, radiation risk and health effects, reactor safety and decommissioning. Even if financing new nuclear build were competitive in these cash-strapped times, it is not possible to build enough nuclear power stations to make a significant impact on the amount of coal that will be burnt world-wide. China, with the most ambitious nuclear programme, would achieve at most 6 per cent of its electricity from nuclear. If Britain embarked on a full-scale nuclear rebuild programme, the Government’s own figures conclude that this would mitigate only 4 per cent of our CO2 emissions. Nuclear power is an expensive, inflexible option, soaking up money and slowing development of more sustainable solutions to climate change.

Independent 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Caroline Lucas MEP: we can organise a massive programme of energy-saving for every home and business in the UK starting now. We can get renewable energy sources into place rapidly if we unclog the planning system and set up the kind of incentives used so successfully in Germany and Spain. Do all this quickly, and we will help tackle the recession, as green energy creates far more jobs per megawatt than nuclear.

Independent 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Dr Richard Lawson: While I respect the decisions of Green activists who have come to the awesome decision that they must accept nuclear power, I hope they will use their influence to ensure the new stations have the cost of insuring the power stations built in to the equation.

Independent 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Euro Greens response to the 4 mavericks. The steady drip of converts to the ‘nuclear renaissance’ continued this week as four prominent environmental activists in UK outed themselves as having found a heart for nuclear. However, while they claim that climate change is the reason for their atomic shift, they fail to explain how nuclear power can contribute to our current efforts to combat climate change.

Stop Climate Change 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter: Recent correspondents opposed to the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity must be reminded that Scotland at present has around 30% generated from that source so it’s not new and would be seriously missed. Scottish CND members can still support nuclear-generated

electricity while being opposed to the military use. Technology, both fossil and nuclear, is constantly improving.

Herald 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter: Your report “Science chief at odds with SNP nuclear policy” (23 February) is quite alarming. If Professor Anne Glover was not appointed by the Scottish Government to define government policy in this area, perhaps she should reconsider her position. The notion that government policy in this area is independent of the public interest does not bear examination.

Scotsman 25th Feb 2009 more >>

A FURNESS lecture scheduled for Wednesday February 25 on new types of nuclear power station reactors that could be built in Britain has been called off. Prof Tim Abram of Manchester University and the UK National Nuclear Laboratory had to cancel at the last minute because of an attack of flu. But he told local professional organisations including Professional Engineers South Cumbria who arranged the public talk at Forum 28 that he will make Barrow to deliver the talk, “Detailed Design of Britain’s Nuclear Reactors” on March the 25th instead.

North West Evening Mail 24th Feb 2009 more >>

An Oxfordshire Green Party member selected as a prospective parliamentary candidate has clashed with his party’s leader over nuclear power. Chris Goodall wrote that more nuclear power stations might have to be built. He has been chosen to stand for Oxford West and Abingdon at the next election. Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, said: “It is of great concern that a candidate should be promoting a policy at odds with the party manifesto. I shall be taking that forward.”

BBC 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Many former anti-nuclear activists are now supporting a new generation of reactors as the greenest option for future energy supplies because of the threat of global warming, British Energy chief executive Bill Coley has insisted.

Public Servant Online 24th Feb 2009 more >>

MoX Shipment

Secret preparations are underway in Britain and France for shipping 1.8 tons of plutonium, the largest quantity of plutonium every shipped by sea. The plutonium is contained in 65 assemblies of MOX (mixed plutonium and uranium oxide) fuel and is being shipped to Japan for use in the nuclear power plants of three Japanese electric utilities. No details have been revealed, but it is reported that the fuel will be transported by two British-flagged vessels, escorting each other.

Green Action (Japan) Press Release 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Wylfa

Radioactive waste could be stored in Wales for up to 100 years if a nuclear power station is built on Angelsey. Answers to a series of questions put on behalf of Environment Minister Jane Davidson AM, to the UK Government’s nuclear body have failed to reassures anti-nuclear campaigners.

Western Mail 25th Feb 2009 more >>

IAEA

A two-way race to succeed U.N. nuclear watchdog director-general Mohamed ElBaradei could snag in an inconclusive vote next month, throwing open the field to compromise candidates, diplomats say. The transition comes at a time of a potentially great diplomatic opening that could aid the IAEA’s non-proliferation mission. New U.S. President has signaled a readiness for direct talks with Iran on nuclear and other long frozen disputes after decades of unproductive mutual hostility. Japan’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency is believed to have a solid lead over his rival, South Africa’s chief delegate, but appears to have stalled short of the 2/3 majority required for election, according to informal soundings taken by diplomats on the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors.

Reuters 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Renewables

The price of solar panels could fall by as much as 40 per cent by the end of the year as huge increases in polysilicon supplies lead to a sizable fall in production costs for solar panel manufacturers.

Business Green 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Climate Progress 24th Feb 2009 more >>

The government has just 11 years to deliver on the ambitious renewable energy and climate change targets, so everyone was delighted when the Department of Energy and Climate Change was set up five months ago as “a joined-up department working on energy and climate change”. Oh yes? Eco Soundings phoned DECC last week and eventually got through to a person who answered: “Department for, er, energy and climate control”. From there we were passed to someone else who said “Hello, department for business”, who passed us on to a recorded message which started “If you want to report a dead bird, press one …”

Guardian 25th Feb 2009 more >>

North Korea

US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso agreed on Tuesday that North Korea should not do anything provocative amid signs it is preparing a missile launch, an official said.

Telegraph 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Its creators insist it is nothing more sinister than a vehicle for putting a harmless communications satellite into space. Their neighbours believe it is a powerful intercontinental missile capable of delivering a conventional – even nuclear – warhead to Japan, Australia or perhaps the western reaches of the United States. Whatever the truth, the continuing saga of the North Korean rocket continued yesterday with an official announcement that it will be launched soon.

Times 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Iran

Iran says it is going to start carrying out its first test at the controversial Bushehr nuclear reactor on Wednesday. The reactor will be switched on 34 years after being built, but crucially the operators will not be putting in any nuclear fuel. That will not happen till it begins full operation, possibly later in 2009.

BBC 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Reuters 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Times 25th Feb 2009 more >>

As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons capability, analysts and diplomats voice a growing concern: information about Tehran’s nuclear programme is becoming steadily scarcer, increasing nervousness about the Islamic republic’s activities and its ultimate goals.

FT 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Hans Blix: Iran has invested resources and prestige in its enrichment programme. Can it walk away from it? Well, it would not be the first in the world to abandon nuclear plants. Under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty there is a right to enrich, but there is no duty to use the right. Iran must weigh costs and benefits. It must be aware that buying uranium fuel would be less costly than producing it, and that forgoing such production would be compensated by strong international fuel-supply assurances. And finally, it must be aware that enrichment in Iran might lead to enrichment in other countries.

Guardian 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Italy

France’s EDF and Enel of Italy on Tuesday set out an agreement aimed at building four nuclear plants in Italy – the first since a national referendum halted the country’s nuclear industry in 1987 in the wake of Chernobyl. Pierre Gadonneix, EDF chairman, and Fulvio Conti, chief executive of Enel, signed the agreement in Rome with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister. Mr Sarkozy and Mr Berlusconi also signed a separate accord on civilian nuclear co-operation

FT 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Times 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Syria

Syria has revealed that it has built a missile facility over the ruins of what the US says was a nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel warplanes.

Telegraph 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Coal

Radical plans to clean up pollution from the UK’s coal plants have been drawn up by the government amid growing international pressure to

curb emissions that cause climate change. The climate secretary, Ed Miliband, is understood to have asked for a thorough review of existing plans for up to eight new coal plants – described by leading US climate scientist James Hansen as “factories of death”. Options under consideration include forcing power companies to fit carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment – which buries the greenhouse gases – and a big increase in funding for more “demonstration plants”, which would be the first to fit the technology. Such a policy would be in line with Conservative proposals to impose CCS via a cap on emissions and to fund three or more plants to be fitted with the equipment.

Guardian 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Companies competing to build Britain’s first “clean coal” power station have warned that the project risks missing its target start date because of government delays. Ministers have promised to back a large-scale demonstration of a coal-fired power plant that captures and stores its carbon dioxide emissions, and in 2007 launched a competition for companies to bid for funding. The government wants the plant to be operational by 2014, and says it is committed to developing a commercial-scale clean coal plant as quickly as possible.

FT 25th Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 25 February 2009

24 February 2009

New Nukes

“Nuclear power? Yes please …” says the Independent, reporting on the decision of four “leading greens” to back nuclear power. “They have now changed their minds over atomic energy,” the story said. It’s a “volte face”, a “U-turn”. One of them, Stephen Tindale, is a former director of Greenpeace who was, according to the report, “vehemently anti-nuclear” but has changed his mind: not a sudden change, more a realisation “over the past four years”. Does this coincide with the period in which he worked as head of communications for the renewables arm of RWE, a German firm which has stakes in 20 nuclear power plants? It doesn’t say. Perhaps it should.

Guardian 24th Feb 2009 more >>

A Green Party parliamentary candidate is facing disciplinary action after calling for the reintroduction of nuclear power, which is strictly against party policy. Chris Goodall, prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, upset many party members with his assertion in yesterday’s Independent that atomic energy has a role to play in the fight against climate change. Mr Goodall was one of four prominent environmentalists disclosed as having had a change of heart about the nuclear issue, having moved from an anti-nuclear stance to believing that atomic power is a necessary part of the energy mix in the struggle to cut carbon emissions and halt global warming.

Independent 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Prof Jan Bebbington, Vice Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission Scotland says a good safety record is not enough to make the case for new nuclear reactors in Scotland.

Scotsman 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Q&A Does nuclear now provide the answer to Britain’s energy needs? Left to itself, the proportion of UK electricity provided by the nuclear sector will be down to single digits by 2018, and in 15 years only one reactor will remain in operation. But nuclear is not the only dwindling supply. Some eight gigawatts – equivalent to about six power stations – of coal-fired generating capacity will be out of action by 2015 as Europe’s clean-air directive bites and older facilities prove uneconomic to upgrade. Taken together, the UK needs to replace a third of its electricity generating capacity in the next 15 years. Even plans for seven gigawatts of new gas-fired capacity, expected by 2015, and another five gigawatts recently given the go-ahead by the Government, will not be enough as estimates put energy demand ballooning by anything up to 20 per cent in the coming decade.

Independent 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Stephen Tindale tells the Sun why he has changed his mind.

The Sun 24th Feb 2009 more >>

With Britain facing a major energy crisis in the next few years – as coal-fired power stations and old nuclear power stations close down – and with the UK Government committed to cutting greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050, many in the environmental movement are changing their minds. The 4 Greens argue that while nuclear power still has problems, climate change is a greater threat and that nuclear is a better option for keeping the lights on than building new coal-fired power stations.

Telegraph 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Now, I imagine a few CoffeeHousers might be thinking: “Who cares what these jumped-up climate-change crusaders believe?” But the fact remains that the green lobby is, rightly or wrongly, a powerful voice in British politics. Given our country’s desperate need for cheaper, more plentiful, energy, anything which smooths the passage for an expansion in nuclear power should be welcomed.

Spectator 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Nuclear reactor designer, Westinghouse, is in advance discussions with RWE to build three nuclear reactors on Anglesey. Construction work could start in 2013.

Contract Journal 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

With a new generation of nuclear power station on the horizon, the agency responsible for protecting the health of the British public has updated its guidance on the disposal of radioactive waste. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has developed the advice primarily to inform risk assessments during the planning process as and when new plants are built.

Edie 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Various letters: (1) As Colin McInnes highlighted in the ongoing energy debate, current nuclear generation is relatively inefficient in that large amounts of potential are left untapped resulting in highly radioactive waste. However, at present there is no shortage of uranium, and we might expect to rely on it for another 50 to 100 years. At least we know how to build and operate the traditional “once-through” nuclear reactor, so it remains a viable option. (2) The recent extensive correspondence about future energy supply is remarkable for the fact that there has been limited reference to reducing energy use. Yet the equivalent of several new power stations is available by means which are safe, certain, comparatively easy to implement and much cheaper. Of course, new power sources will still be needed and must be debated, but serious attention to energy reduction would reduce total costs, provide greater certainty and security, and could be implemented in a comparatively short timescale.

Herald 24th Feb 2009 more >>

NDA

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is revamping its legal panel before the multibillion-pound decommissioning of the first fleet of civil nuclear plants and experimental and research sites in Dorset and Oxfordshire. The government body, which currently operates three rosters of advisers, wants to merge two sub-panels and reduce the total number of firms on its list.

The Lawyer 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Legal Week 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Hartlepool

British Energy’s Hartlepool 2 nuclear unit was back producing power after being taken out of service on Feb. 20, when a small problem emerged following its Feb. 19 restart, a website showed early on Monday.

Interactive Investor 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Finland

The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) on Sunday quoted a Taloustutkimus poll as indicating that about 48 per cent of the public objected to constructing further nuclear power stations, with some 37 per cent of those polled in favour of new nuclear generating capacity.

Virtual Finland 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Italy

France’s EDF and Enel of Italy – Europe’s largest utilities – are set to relaunch Italy’s nuclear industry after a 22-year hiatus. The move will follow an accord due to be signed in Rome today by President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

FT 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Interactive Investor 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Iran

Barack Obama’s foreign policy team knew that sooner or later they would face a crisis over Iran. Unfortunately for the new US president, the crisis is already upon them. On Friday, the Financial Times reported that “Iran has built up a stockpile of enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb”. That same day, Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to form Israel’s next government.

FT 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Romania

A Romanian officer has been killed in a blast at a military laboratory dealing with nuclear, biological and chemical research, Romanian officials say.

BBC 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Energy Efficiency

There is disquiet about what is happening in these cash-straitened times to bills passed with considerable fanfare through ours, the mother of parliaments. Asked why sections of the Warm Homes Act seem to have been left unloved and unimplemented, ministers said: we haven’t got the funding. But implementation expenses were made available by statute within the act itself, said the likes of Help the Aged and Friends of the Earth. Oh that, said Joan Ruddock, the climate change minister – “Provisions like that section are commonly included in bills, and therefore in acts of parliament, without any intention that they should have a substantive legal effect,” she explained when challenged by Dai Davies MP. So the money is there, but in fact it isn’t. Ministers have to implement the law, but in fact they don’t. They listen when they want and hear what they like.

Guardian 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Green New Deal

With governments around the world continuing to pump colossal sums of money into their plunging economies, a grand global experiment is under way: can the unprecedented spending provide not only a quick fix for the economic catastrophe but also the measures vital for dealing with global warming?

Guardian 24th Feb 2009 more >>

Submarines

DEFENCE Secretary John Hutton said lessons would have to be learnt ‘pretty quickly’ following the mid-Atlantic collision between British and French nuclear submarines.

Plymouth Herald 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 24 February 2009

23 February 2009

New Nukes

Chris Goodall: This country faces a serious energy crisis. Within a decade a large fraction of the UK’s antiquated power-generating capacity, both coal-fired and nuclear, is due to close. If it is not replaced, we face a nightmarish future of power shortages and blackouts. In the meantime, we desperately need to reduce this country’s greenhouse gas emissions: 90 per cent of our energy currently comes from fossil fuels. This country’s current and past emissions are far more than our share of the world population. Unless we reduce our carbon pollution urgently, we will be in breach of our moral, as well as EU and UN, obligations.

Independent 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Tony Juniper: Forget Nuclear and focus on renewables. Very careful analysis is still needed before going with the nuclear option. By making this choice we could inadvertently waste time and money and therefore not achieve what we could do by pursuing other options – for example, through energy efficiency, cleaner cars and renewable power.

Independent 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Britain must embrace nuclear power if it is to meet its commitments on climate change, four of the country’s leading environmentalists – who spent much of their lives opposing atomic energy – warn today. The one-time opponents of nuclear power, who include the former head of Greenpeace, have told The Independent that they have now changed their minds over atomic energy because of the urgent need to curb emissions of carbon dioxide. They all take the view that the building of nuclear power stations is now imperative and that to delay the process with time-consuming public inquiries and legal challenges would seriously undermine Britain’s promise to cut its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

Independent 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Letter: I will not rehearse the arguments against nuclear power generation versus alternative sources, for the simple reason that I would rather accept the energy deficit and all that goes with it because of the link between the civil nuclear power and the nuclear arms industry. Every advocate of civil nuclear power generation I have read, heard or met personally is either an advocate of nuclear weapons, nuclear defence policies and the so-called “nuclear deterrent”, or, frankly, must be naive, and unaware or badly informed about this insidious linking of the civil and military aspects.

Herald 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

British Energy

Centrica is under fresh pressure to drop its £3.1 billion plan to buy a 25 per cent stake in British Energy, the UK’s nuclear generator. The owner of British Gas, which is expected to report an operating profit of just under £2 billion this week, is facing mounting opposition to the proposed purchase from EDF, after a collapse in wholesale energy prices, which critics say has destroyed the economic logic of the deal.

Times 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Scotland

SCOTLAND’S chief scientific adviser yesterday voiced her support for nuclear power, a position that left her at odds with the Scottish Government. Professor Anne Glover said nuclear should be “considered as (part of] a mix of production of energy”. Her views appeared to clash with those of the SNP government, which has ruled out new nuclear plants in Scotland.

Scotsman 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Sellafield MoX Plant

Anti-nuclear campaigners fear that a second controversial reprocessing plant could be built at Sellafield. Government chiefs have admitted that the controversial MOX reprocessing plant at the Cumbria site has been a disappointment with it failing to achieve anywhere near its initial targets. It is now likely to be closed down despite being open for only a decade and costing the British taxpayer an estimated £472m. French nuclear company Areva, which plays an active role at Sellafield, operates two highly successful MOX plants . . . operating to a different design. Greenpeace campaigner Jean McSorely fears Areva may try to build a second MOX plant.

Newcastle Sunday Sun 22nd Feb 2009 more >>

Climate

Elliot Morley says government squabbling has derailed efforts to reduce UK carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2010 – a key Labour target from the 1997 manifesto which ministers have admitted they will miss. Carbon dioxide emissions have risen by 0.3% since Labour came to power, though Britain remains on track to meet a separate greenhouse gas target under the Kyoto protocol. Morley praised the UK’s “ground breaking” climate change bill, which commits the government to binding carbon reduction targets, but said there had been significant failures elsewhere. “Why on earth are we still building hospitals without combined heat and power? The answer is the tendering process and the private finance initiative.” He says it was “impossible to say” if he lost his ministerial role because of his doubts over on nuclear power. He is “sceptical” that nuclear can deliver more power than renewables for the same cost.

Guardian 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Europe’s system to edge up the cost of emissions and boost green energy has backfired. There isn’t much time to rescue it. A lot of the blame lies with governments that signed up to carbon trading as a neat idea, but then indulged polluters with luxurious quantities of permits. The excuse was that growth would soon see them bumping against the ceiling.

Guardian 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

The price of carbon allowances could rise by more than 600pc in the next three years as a “perfect storm” of events causes a supply squeeze, according to a report to be issued later this week.

Telegraph 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Iran

Iran plans to carry out computer tests on its Bushehr nuclear power plant this week in preparation for its launch, official media said on Sunday.

Reuters 22nd Feb 2009 more >>

Letter: Iran has no nuclear weapons programme.

FT 23rd Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 23 February 2009

22 February 2009

Scotland

LABOUR MSPs have won a battle against their MPs to keep hold of their powers ahead of a major review of the Scottish Parliament. The party will agree this week that none of Holyrood’s current powers should be handed back to Westminster, as some of its MPs had wanted. Chief among them were powers over the siting of nuclear stations, currently held by Edinburgh, which are being used by the current SNP Government to block any installations being built north of the border.

Scotland on Sunday 22nd Feb 2009 more >>

Dash for Gas?

Britain must avoid being lured into a new dash for gas as it seeks to bridge a looming power generation gap, according to energy industry leaders. Ministers and the industry are committed to a range of power-generation options, from nuclear and cleaner coal through gas to renewables and energy saving, but striking the right balance may not be easy. New nuclear reactors are the best part of a decade away, even on optimistic assumptions. Coal is controversial and its future looks to be closely tied to the ability to develop carbon capture and storage. In terms of generation, that leaves gas and renewables to take the strain as a raft of ageing or environmentally unacceptable generating plant is taken out of service.

Observer 22nd Feb 2009 more >>

Sellafield

Action has been demanded to complete a cutting-edge research centre that could form a pivotal plank of west Cumbria’s financial renaissance. Supporters hope the National Nuclear Laboratory will become an important factor in efforts to transform the area into Britain’s Energy Coast. The £2 billion vision would turn Cumbria’s shores into a world-leading force in power production, creating up to 16,000 jobs. But a county councillor wants to see swifter progress on the laboratory, on the sprawling Sellafield complex, and the jobs it could bring in research and education.

Carlisle News and Star 21st Feb 2009 more >>

Iraq

Electricity Minister Karim Wahid on Sunday invited France to help Iraq build a nuclear power plant, three decades after Paris constructed a reactor near Baghdad that was bombed by Israeli warplanes.

Yahoo 22nd Feb 2009 more >>

Pakistan

Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, went on television last week to admit that his country was fighting for its survival against religious extremists. It is dangerously delusional to carry on pretending that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

Guardian 21st Feb 2009 more >>

Trident

The safety schemes meant to protect the communities around the Clyde from a nuclear accident fail to take account of the risks from submarines damaged by accidents at sea. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the government’s Health and Safety Executive have admitted that their hazard evaluations for submarine berths do not cover the dangers posed by boats returning after crashes.

Sunday Herald 22nd Feb 2009 more >>

Renewables

BARRY JOHNSTON, founder of a small Scottish start-up, thinks he has cracked a problem that has confounded some of the biggest energy companies in the world: how to harness the power of the sea to generate electricity without building huge, expensive structures. His idea is deceptively simple and has already attracted some high-profile backers. Fred Olsen, the veteran Norwegian shipping and energy magnate, has, along with the Total oil company, sunk £6.2m into Johnston’s Orkney business, Scotrenewables, and in 2007 the firm won a £1.8m grant from the Scottish Executive.

Sunday Times 22nd Feb 2009 more >>

Coal

A global protest against UK plans to build new coal power plants is being launched today by campaigners from more than 40 developing countries accusing the government of being a “climate criminal”.

Observer 22nd Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 22 February 2009

21 February 2009

New Nukes

Speaking to business leaders at the Sellafield nuclear plant, in Cumbria, Mandelson said the transition to low carbon would offer billions of pounds of cost savings to business and the public sector. He said: “We need to take big decisions about the UK’s energy and transport infrastructure so that they are ready for the shift to renewables, nuclear and new forms of transport.

Guardian 21st Feb 2009 more >>

Letter: Rather than assuaging any “primal fears” about Scotland being left in the dark if the nuclear power option is ignored, Duncan McLaren (Letters, 19 February) does exactly the opposite. When Friends of the Earth lectures on power provision and safety of supplies, we know we are in deep trouble. The problem is dwellers in Fantasy Land will continue to spout on about absurdly impractical and impossibly expensive “renewables” as, one by one, the lights in this country go out.

Scotsman 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Letters (1) Recent correspondence in The Herald has suggested that nuclear power can only be a short-term fix for energy supply since uranium reserves will be depleted by 2040. Fortunately, this is a myth. The integral fast reactor can increase fuel burn to more than 99%, significantly increasing the useful lifetime of uranium reserves. (2) Will Scotland eventually need to rely on nuclear power. To fill the gap left by the closure of nuclear plants in Scotland, the SNP is, of course, promoting “clean coal” as a major part of the answer.

Herald 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Letters (1) Pete Roche: Opinion polls do not tell the whole story about opposition to nuclear power. Recent qualitative research suggests that support even in close proximity to existing reactors can be quite fragile, with many only willing to accept nuclear power reluctantly if it is shown to be essential for energy security and tackling climate change. Another academic study found the UK government had deliberately skewed the results of its last consultation exercise by burying the fact that nuclear power can only make a small contribution to reducing carbon emissions.(2) There is no mention by Mr Young of last July’s report by the Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee that decommissioning at Sellafield and other ageing nuclear plants has been delayed by poor performance, delays in developing waste processing and budget restrictions. Perhaps he feels it can be ignored because in the interim the committee has been quietly disbanded, thus removing a source of independent opposition to the government’s plans for expansion. (3) What is plan B if we cannot operate the nuclear power stations? It has become quite well known that in France, where nuclear power stations provide a major contribution to the energy mix, during the 2003 heat wave, fission plants could not get rid of waste heat fast enough and the authorities had to close down generating stations. In a warming world, could this happen quite often

Herald 21st Feb 2009 more >>

Lovelock speaks with a unique authority, but he is unlikely to be right about everything. He holds a string of heterodox views – pooh-poohing all fears about nuclear power, believing wind farms and biofuel to be inefficient and counterproductive, having a lot of time for big multinational companies such as Shell. He claims that all this does not make him a contrarian, but it is hard for a lone prophet to avoid a certain over-assertiveness. He pushes his love of nuclear power a little too far, telling us often how he’d love to have a cube of nuclear waste in his garden to heat the house.

Guardian 21st Feb 2009 more >>

George Monbiot: Support of nuclear power will no doubt provoke hostile responses, but we have a duty to be as realistic as possible about how we might best prevent runaway climate change.

Guardian 20th Feb 2009 more >>

British Energy

Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw is headed for a row with the City next week when he presses ahead with talks over the costly acquisition of a 25 per cent stake in British Energy. Laidlaw is locked in final negotiations over the £3.1billion purchase of a quarter of nuclear operator BE from its new owner, French giant EDF. Some shareholders have expressed anger over the deal, and are urging Centrica to walk away from a purchase agreed at the top of the market last year.

Daily Mail 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Torness

ENERGY Minister Mike O’Brien paid a visit to Torness Power Station to discuss the importance of the facility to Dunbar and East Lothian. Mr O’Brien said the Torness plant was vital to both providing energy to Scotland and sustaining the local area’s economy, despite the fact that Torness is due to be decommissioned in 2023. The minister said the loss of Torness, which employs 544 workers and has 150 contractors, would have a devastating effect.

Berwickshire News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Planning

The Conservatives have confirmed they will scrap the government’s planning reforms and axe the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) if the party wins the next election. The commission is the centre-piece of the government’s plans to streamline the consents process for key infrastructure projects like new reservoirs, power stations and gas storage facilities. A policy paper on local government has proposed that the party should ditch the IPC and replace it with a hybrid parliamentary bill process.

Utility Week 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Nuclear Safety

The Guardian has printed a strongly-worded riposte from the HSE after the newspaper reported that the regulator had quietly disbanded a committee of nuclear safety advisors for raising inconvenient safety issues.

Safety & Health Practitioner 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Dungeness

A NEW power station at Dungeness will be on the agenda when Rother Environmental Group meet at the Kings Head, Udimore, on Tuesday evening. The meeting starts at 7.15pm and will be chaired by Dominic Manning. The group campaigns for the protection and enhancement of the environment in Rother and the wider area.

Rye and Battle Observer 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Scotland

THE future of marine energy projects in the North could be threatened by calls for new nuclear power plants to be built in Scotland. That is the view of Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson, who welcomed the news that the Crown Estate has received 38 applications for wave and tidal renewable energy projects in the Pentland Firth.

John O Groat Journal 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Dounreay

A HIGH-tech “worm” is being put to use to probe an underground pipeline used to discharge radioactive effluent from Dounreay between 1957 and 1992.

John O Groat Journal 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Iran

Israel was set for the return to power of Binyamin Netanyahu after the Likud leader was invited to form a coalition government yesterday. Immediately after he was invited to become the next prime minister by President Peres, Mr Netanyahu lost no time in restating his warnings about a nuclear-armed Iran, calling it the greatest existential threat faced by Israel since its creation. His words came a day after the UN announced that Tehran had acquired sufficient uranium to build a nuclear bomb a “red line” development Israel has said it will not tolerate.

Times 21st Feb 2009 more >>

Iran offered to halt attacks on British soldiers deployed in Iraq in return for a secret pact that would enable it to continue its nuclear programme, a senior British diplomat has said.

Telegraph 21st Feb 2009 more >>

According to the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, released yesterday, Iran has produced around a tonne of low-enriched uranium. That number was well above the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog’s estimate of 660 kilograms in November 2008.

Nature 20th Feb 2009 more >>

The latest report on Iran’s nuclear programme by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has spurred alarmist speculation about the whereabouts of the “mullahs’ bomb” just when hopes for a US–Iran rapprochement are at an all-time high.

Guardian 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Iran has enriched sufficient uranium to amass a nuclear bomb – a third more than previously thought – the United Nations announced yesterday.

Times 20th Feb 2009 more >>

North Korea

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has arrived in Beijing for wide-ranging talks with China’s leaders. Topics for discussion are expected to include the economy, human rights, climate change and North Korea.

BBC 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Trident

Scottish CND have issued a film it believes to be a damaged Trident nuclear submarine at the Faslane naval base. Earlier this month HMS Vanguard was involved in a collision, in the Atlantic, with a French nuclear submarine.

Scottish Herald 20th Feb 2009 more >>

RobEdwards.com 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Some 1,000 comments have been lodged over a plan to modernise a nuclear warhead facility in Berkshire. Many people raised concerns over flooding at the proposed new facility at the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment.

BBC 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 21 February 2009

20 February 2009

Sellafield MoX Plant

SELLAFIELD could be in line for a new Mox plutonium recycling plant, creating up to 5,000 construction jobs as well as securing more than a thousand on the permanent payroll. Those 1,000 jobs could be under threat if the site’s existing but troubled Mox plant (SMP) is closed due to poor performance. Eight hundred people work in the failing plant and a few hundred more Sellafield jobs are linked to it. MP Jamie Reed is pressing the case for a new plant with the Prime Minister. Mr Reed said yesterday: “If SMP had to close, then in the present economic climate I will insist that all the highly-skilled people in that plant are redeployed on the site – we can’t afford to lose these skills.

Whitehaven News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Scotland (PIME 2009)

Why is SNP opposition to nuclear power so viscerally held? Are there any circumstances in which the party’s mindset might change? Clearly, the SNP believes it has public opinion on its side. But public opinion is rarely immutable. Swedish professor Soren Holmberg, pointed out, opinion there has moved a long way. In 1986, some 75% of a nationwide survey wanted nuclear as an energy source abolished. Only 12% wanted to keep it. Today, in that same survey, abolition is demanded by just 31%, while 49% now say use it. New plant is being built there. Here in the UK, Ipsos MORI has been polling on this issue for more than a decade. In 2001, after the scandal of the falsification of MOX records at Sellafield and the return of faulty fuel rods from Japan, those expressing unfavourable opinions about nuclear energy peaked at 50%. Support fell into the teens. Now, after record energy prices and the French acquiring British Energy to rebuild its ageing nuclear capacity, support has recovered to 35%, while those holding unfavourable views has hit a fresh low of 19%. On support for nuclear as part of a balanced energy mix, 65% now say yes, while just 10% disagree. Those overall patterns vary from one part of the UK to the next. Scotland is still the least enthusiastic. But even here the balance of opinion is now marginally favourable.

Herald 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Nuclear Waste

RADIOACTIVE rubbish buried on the nation’s licensed site on the outskirts of Drigg will not be disturbed or dug up unless absolutely necessary. The assurance was given to The Whitehaven News after the site’s American owners appealed to former workers to help identify exactly what material lies in the once open but now capped-off trenches. Last week’s “We Need Your Help” advert on the front page of The Whitehaven News sparked interest as well as concern both nationally and internationally.

Whitehaven News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter from Hugh Richards: A consequence of concentrating all our past efforts on reprocessing is that the UK has undertaken no research into the feasibility of the direct disposal of spent fuel. ‘High burn-up’ spent fuel is hotter and more radioactive than ‘legacy’ spent fuel and there are great doubts that it can be safely stored over long periods, then retrieved, encapsulated, placed underground and subsequently abandoned. Even after 60 years of cooling, disposing of high burn-up spent fuel would be the neutron radiation equivalent of deep underground emplacement of ‘normal’ spent fuel within one year of discharge from the reactor. It would require extensive radiation shielding during encapsulation and no designs for the safe encapsulation and emplacement of high burn-up spent fuel exist. Because of its heat output, it cannot be accommodated in the same ‘deep geological repository’ as that intended for legacy spent fuel and high level waste.

Whitehaven News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Sellafield

COPELAND mayor Keith Hitchen welcomed a number of new Sellafield directors and managers to the council offices. Some of the directors have recently moved to this area from America, following the transfer of Sellafield Ltd’s shares to the consortium Nuclear Management Partners.

Whitehaven News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

THREE Sellafield workers may have received abnormal exposure to radiation after an incident in the Magnox reprocessing plant.

Whitehaven News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

New Nukes

TOP Tories visiting Sellafield demanded that barriers are knocked down so that nuclear expansion can move ahead faster. Shadow secretary of state for energy Greg Clark and shadow energy minister Charles Hendry made the call during last Friday’s fact-finding tour of the site. Only a fortnight earlier Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised, on his own visit, that West Cumbria could get 10,000 new jobs if Sellafield was chosen for a new nuclear power station.

Whitehaven News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Nuclear Skills

JOBS are now being advertised at West Cumbria’s new skills academy in Lillyhall. The £20 million Nuclear Skills Academy Energus is expected to be officially opened this summer. The academy is aiming to train local school-leavers in the skills required by the nuclear industry, initially for decommissioning but also for the operation of nuclear reactors.

Whitehaven News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

A LANDMARK £5m is being invested in Westlakes, part of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Whitehaven News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Britain’s neglected manufacturing base may now be too small and wobbly to take the weight. In particular, they fear that the skills base is simply not strong enough. The issue of skills is particularly worrying because, in addition to manufacturing exports, economic recovery will also depend on spending on big infrastructure projects – construction of new rail links, gas and nuclear power stations as well as renewable energy schemes.

Times 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Dounreay

A ROBOTIC “worm” is providing information from underground to experts cleaning up the Dounreay nuclear plant. The robot crawled along a pipeline used to discharge radioactive effluent from the Caithness site between 1957 and 1992. The £100,000 machine sent back video and radiation readings from 45 metres underground.

Scotsman 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Bradwell

Nuclear power station operator Magnox has received the biggest environmental fine in the UK for almost a decade following years of leaks from one of its plants in Essex.

Edie 19th Feb 2009 more >>

Companies

SUPPORT services group Cape has won a £140 million contract to supply East Kilbride-based British Energy’s eight nuclear power stations with scaffolding, insulation and other maintenance services.

Scotsman 20th Feb 2009 more >>

The specialised armed police service responsible for protecting civil nuclear sites has chosen Pennine Telecom to upgrade communications in its command and control rooms at the Sellafield site in Cumbria.

Comms Business 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Japan-based Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Co will be restructured in April to become a comprehensive nuclear fuel fabrication company.

Nuclear Engineering International 19th Feb 2009 more >>

Syria

The UN’s nuclear watchdog has said traces of uranium taken from the site of an alleged nuclear reactor in Syria were manmade and rejected the Syrian government’s claim that it came from an Israeli air strike that destroyed the site in 2007. The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the Dair Alzour site puts strong pressure on Damascus as it rejects the Syrian explanation for the presence of uranium and denounces the government for its lack of cooperation with the agency’s inquiry.

Guardian 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Korea

As for the State Department, its East Asia agenda was consumed by North Korea, which exploded a nuclear device in October 2006. Mr Bush’s assistant secretary of state for the region, Christopher Hill (who accompanied Mrs Clinton), focused on little else. This irked Japan. Not only did the United States appear to be neglecting its biggest Asian ally. Japanese and South Korean warnings against over-hasty deals with North Korea were also ignored. America took the North off its blacklist of state sponsors of terror last autumn, in return for an oral promise about verification procedures for disabling facilities at its nuclear reactor. The North has since all but disowned the promise at the six-party talks aimed at getting it to disarm. Meanwhile, progress on tackling suspected uranium enrichment, nuclear proliferation and the North’s existing handful of plutonium weapons remains as elusive as ever.

Economist 19th Feb 2009 more >>

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, today demanded that North Korea end preparations to launch a ballistic missile and warned that a rumoured succession struggle in Pyongyang could have an unpredictable effect on the regime. Clinton repeated her demand that the North return to stalled multiparty negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programme in return for aid and normalised diplomatic ties.

Guardian 20th Feb 2009 more >>

If North Korea were hoping to open bilateral diplomacy with the US through its latest round of brinkmanship, Hillary Clinton dashed those hopes on Friday. Many analysts have interpreted North Korea’s talk of impending war and its threat to defy the UN with some kind of ballistics test as a bid to push Pyongyang further up the foreign policy agenda of Barack Obama, the US president.

FT 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Iran

Iran has enough enriched uranium to build one nuclear bomb, the United Nations has confirmed for the first time.

Telegraph 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Daily Mail 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Independent 20th Feb 2009 more >>

US

How many of the planned new US reactors, for which licence applications are now being submitted, will be generating power by 2030? The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) holds 17 applications for combined construction and operating licences (COLs) for 26 new nuclear reactors. Four more applications for seven reactors are expected. For a country that has all but abandoned nuclear power over the past three decades the last construction licence submitted to the NRC was in 1978 and no new reactors have come online in the USA since 1996 – how realistic are such scenarios?

Nuclear Engineering International 20th Feb 2009 more >>

Russia

Russia hopes better ties with the new U.S. administration could help to revive a bilateral civilian nuclear pact potentially worth billions of dollars in trade. The deal would open the U.S. nuclear fuel market and Russia’s vast uranium fields to companies from both countries by removing Cold War restrictions in the sector.

Yahoo 19th Feb 2009 more >>

Submarines

Letter: Two armed British and French nuclear submarines collided – said to be a one-in-a-million incident. Of course, if we keep rolling the dice long enough, accidents should be expected. In addition to the estimated 26,000 nuclear weapons still operational, we may soon find these weapons also deployed in space, where American and Russian satellites also recently smashed together.

Scotsman 20th Feb 2009 more >>

STAFF at Faslane have been ordered to stay silent over a collision involving one of their nuclear submarines. On Tuesday, workers were asked to sign a form stating they would not speak out about the incident in which HMS Vanguard crashed with a French submarine in the Atlantic. Notices also appeared in staff rooms, warning that anyone talking about the issue could face dismissal.

Lennox Herald 19th Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 20 February 2009

19 February 2009

Sellafield

UNION leaders called for new investment at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant on Tuesday amid speculation over its future and warnings that up to 2,000 jobs were at risk. Environmental campaigners said the mixed oxide plant in Cumbria may have to close even though it has cost the taxpayer £472 million.

Morning Star 17th Feb 2009 more >>

Cumbria

A NEW action plan designed to boost the economy of Cumbria will be presented to keynote speaker Lord Mandelson and delegates at the Cumbria Economic Summit 2009 on Friday (February 20).

Westmorland Gazette 17th Feb 2009 more >>

Scotland

Letter: Mr Murphy forgets that Alex Salmond’s predecessor was hardly welcoming of a new generation of nuclear power stations. Jack McConnell was always at pains to stress that his Scottish Government would not support new nuclear power while nuclear waste remained unresolved. Scotland now promotes innovation in renewable energy through the international £10 million Saltire Prize and is witness to the creation of new jobs in the renewables industry, creating new wealth in the economy. Scotland is now ready and willing to take a responsible position within the community of nations, without the heavy price tag of nuclear waste. The truth is the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland are against spending countless billions on the New Labour, new nuclear experiment be it power plants or weapons of mass destruction.

Dundee Courier 18th Feb 2009 more >>

The anti-nuclear lobby, which includes Scotland’s First Minister, is choosing to react to new climate predictions, not by heeding the advice of those scientists who urge that it is the responsibility of every nation to reduce emissions by deploying the widest possible range of climate-friendly sources of energy, but by fiddling with statistics. At the weekend, Alex Salmond proclaimed that nuclear power was “a busted flush”. He said that nuclear power in Scotland had declined to its lowest level this century, that it was unreliable and unnecessary.

Times 19th Feb 2009 more >>

New Nukes

Various Letters, including one from Kerr Macgregor: Jim Murphy’s nuclear suggestion is no long-term solution. Like oil and gas, uranium is finite and limited. And, like fossil fuels, nuclear creates waste for which we have no satisfactory solution. Letter No.2: Some will argue that the gap can be filled by nuclear power, but this is not so. A recent report from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology has calculated that economically extractable uranium will run out by 2040, if the industrial world were to attempt to build one nuclear station per week for the next 40 years. Even at that rate of build, the nuclear power industry could provide no more than 4% of the estimated demand.

Herald 19th Feb 2009 more >>

Letter from Duncan McLaren: The choice between developing a vibrant export renewable industry in Scotland and importing billions of pounds’ worth of expensive and polluting nuclear expertise seems a simple one. We’re glad the Scottish Government has taken the right decision.

Scotsman 19th Feb 2009 more >>

Nuclear Waste

Nuclear chiefs have defended a controversial decision to question former employees of the Drigg waste dump to help them find out what is in it. Adverts were placed in newspapers last week asking for people who worked at the Low Level Waste Repository, near Sellafield, to share their memories of what was buried there and how. The appeal led to criticism by environmental groups that the authorities did not know what was at the site and that it could contain higher level foreign waste.

Cumberland News 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Terror

An alleged terrorist accused of a plot to blow up airliners researched other targets including nuclear power stations, a jury has heard. Woolwich Crown Court heard that Assad Sarwar had a memory stick with details of nuclear power stations as potential terror targets. Mr Sarwar and seven other men are accused of conspiracy to murder by blowing up planes with home-made bombs.

BBC 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Companies

EDF’s £12.5 billion takeover of British Energy threatens to drive up prices and undermine competition in the UK electricity market, according to one of the country’s biggest power producers. Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of Drax Power, operator of Britain’s largest power station, criticised antitrust remedies agreed between EDF and the European Commission as being no more than “a gesture”.

Times 19th Feb 2009 more >>

US

The field of U.S. companies competing for $18.5 billion in government-backed loans to build new nuclear plants has narrowed to five from about 14 last year, company sources said. Officials with projects in Texas, Maryland and South Carolina confirmed they were still in the running for a piece of U.S. Energy Department loan backing, which could be crucial to spurring the first round of nuclear plant building in more than 30 years.

Reuters 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Bulgaria

French utility GDF Suez has decided to pull out of Bulgaria’s planned atomic power plant of Belene to focus on its other nuclear projects, a company spokesman said on Wednesday. GDF Suez’s Belgian subsidiary Electrabel had been in talks to take part in German utility RWE’s 49-percent stake in Bulgaria’s 4 billion euro plant.

Reuters 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Iran

The UN’s nuclear watchdog will report that Iran is continuing to obstruct its investigation into allegations of past work on nuclear weapons, but the country’s uranium enrichment programme was expanding more slowly than expected.

Guardian 19th Feb 2009 more >>

Kuwait

Kuwait is considering developing nuclear power with the help of a French firm to meet demand for electricity and water desalination, the country’s ruler said in remarks published on Wednesday.

Yahoo 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Middle East Online 18th Feb 2009 more >>

Posted: 19 February 2009