News March 2009

31 March 2009

Nuclear Research

SCIENTISTS in ‘nuclear free’ Manchester have claimed victory in a north-south battle to control nuclear research. A group of experts led by Manchester University will take charge of Britain’s nuclear research labs, beating a rival bid from Imperial College London. The move follows attempts by the government to put a private group in charge of the country’s six research facilities. Manchester’s consortium, which includes nuclear safety firms Serco and Battelle, has now been named as the government’s preferred bidder.

Manchester Evening News 31st Mar 2009 more >>

The petite RadBall could replace bigger, more unwieldy conventional detection devices and can be left to collect the information, saving valuable time manual scanning. It is the brainchild of Dr Steve Stanley, a technology researcher at the National Nuclear Laboratory – and was inspired by a bar-room chat.

Carlisle News and Star 30th Mar 2009 more >>

UKAEA

ONE of the jewels in the crown of the north west’s nuclear sector – the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) – has been put up for sale. The government’s move to sell the business throws into doubt the future of 22 staff based at its offices in Warrington.

Manchester Evening News 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Scotsman 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Herald 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Guardian 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Crains Manchester Business 30th Mar 2009 more >>

BBC 30th Mar 2009 more >>

FT 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Telegraph 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Civil engineering companies, including Amec and Fluor, the US contractor, are expected to be among the front runners for the nuclear decommissioning business the UK government has put up for sale.

Telegraph 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Sites

The auction of land for new power stations – expected to last seven days at most – is now into its third week as utilities from across Europe fight for a slice of both the lucrative UK electricity sector and the growing global market. Total bids have topped the £200m mark. Applications close today for locations to be included in the Government’s Strategic Site Assessment, which will establish those plots to be included in the National Policy Statement (NPS). Another parallel thread is the “justification” required by Brussels. The consultation on the industry’s applications closed last week and is now with Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State. A draft response is expected in the autumn, with another consultation period before a final decision is made early next year. Meanwhile the Health and Safety Executive is running a “generic design assessment” to sign off the next-generation reactors to ! be used in the new power stations. The deadline for completion is mid-2011, but progress is slow and insiders are concerned about the regulator’s resources.

Independent 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Bidding for three new nuclear reactor sites tops £200m as energy giants fear “missing out” on UK’s nuclear renaissance.

Business Green 30th Mar 2009 more >>

Millom

LONG-AWAITED plans to build a bridge over Duddon Sands could be realised if a nuclear power plant is built near Millom.

NW Evening Mail 30th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Skills

The Government has been warned that an engineering skills shortage could hit plans to build new nuclear power plants. In the House of Commons report, Engineering: turning ideas into reality, MPs said they were “shocked” to discover that engineering advice was absent, or barely featured, in the formulation of key policies including eco-towns, renewable energy and large IT projects. They recommended the creation of a Government Chief Engineer to raise the status of the profession within Whitehall and called for more trained and experienced engineers at all civil service levels. MPs, who supported the creation of the Office for Nuclear Development, gathered evidence that the nuclear industry is heavily recruiting and training. But the Institution of Mechanical Engineers told them that the UK’s capacity to build a new generation of nuclear power stations was uncertain. And the Royal Academy of Engineering pointed out t! hat, irrespective of whether the UK can deliver new nuclear power stations by 2018, “the UK could by no means be self-sufficient in the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations in the timescales required”.

Carlisle News and Star 30th Mar 2009 more >>

Trident

NO TAXPAYERS’ money will be spent on developing a replacement for the Trident nuclear warhead without the approval of parliament, the Defence Secretary, John Hutton, indicated yesterday.

Scotsman 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Climate

A last-ditch effort is being made to insert clearer green commitments into the global economic recovery package. The move comes amid fears amongst some British government officials that the G20 summit is in danger of missing a unique opportunity to prevent the world from being locked into irreversible and catastrophic climate change.

Guardian 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Britain’s latest coal-fired power station should not be built, according to Lord Stern of Brentford, the economist who led the Government’s review into the financial cost of climate change. Lord Stern called on the Government to halt the planning process and said that the new coal-fired power station proposed for Kingsnorth in Kent cannot be justified until the technology is developed to capture and store its huge carbon dioxide emissions.

Independent 31st Mar 2009 more >>

North Korea

Kim Jong-il, apparently recovered from last year’s stroke, is threatening to launch a long-range missile, one in theory capable of hitting Alaska. That, coupled with Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities – demonstrated, if not all that convincingly, in a 2006 nuclear test – understandably makes its neighbours nervous. If North Korea proves it has the means to launch a nuclear bomb, it could scare Japan and others to go nuclear too.

FT 31st Mar 2009 more >>

US

Renewables groups squeezed by the economic crisis are going bankrupt in spite of the billions in new funding for the sector earmarked by the administration of Barack Obama. It could take several months for the government to establish a regulatory framework to disburse the funds set aside in the administration’s stimulus package to build a “green” economy. In the meantime, some companies already are in an untenable position.

FT 31st Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 31 March 2009

30 March 2009

New Nukes

As a string of vans bearing the names of soil analysis companies and then a host of Portakabins turned up at the tiny hamlet of Kirksanton, questions began to be asked. When those living on the farm said they could not talk about it and overall-wearing site workers announced they had signed the Official Secrets Act, rumours ran riot. Even then few guessed the truth that was finally revealed in letters from RWE: that the German energy group was “investigating the possibility” of building a nuclear power station there. Tomorrow RWE will nominate the site as part of a wider move to kickstart a nuclear revolution. RWE will also suggest a site at Egremont further up the “Energy Coast” near Sellafield while EDF of France and E.ON of Germany will put forward their favoured sites for building a new generation of reactors. These companies will be scrambling to put in bids by the formal deadline tomorrow for land being auctioned off by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Guardian 30th Mar 2009 more >>

Obituary

John Harris (generally known as Jack) was a nuclear physicist and metallurgist who was a powerful advocate both for the use of nuclear power and for the abolition of nuclear weapons. He was best known for his interest in metal corrosion and the strain it could place on the underlying material.

Times 30th Mar 2009 more >>

Companies

PANTON McLeod, the Borders-based engineering firm that creates robots to clean the inside of water tanks, has met with nuclear experts to discuss how its technology could be used in nuclear power plants.

The company, which has its headquartered in Newton St Boswells, took its cleaning machines to the Remote Technology Exhibition in Sellafield to display its pair of pioneering underwater robots – the ROV and the VR600.

Scotsman 30th Mar 2009 more >>

North Korea

Taking a tougher line against North Korea in response to any testing of a long-range missile would be counterproductive for Seoul, according to Lee Myung-bak, South Korea’s president.

FT 30th Mar 2009 more >>

North Korea is expected to fire a second missile – and possibly more – if the United Nations condemns the planned launch of what Pyongyang claims is a communications satellite into orbit later this week.

Telegraph 30th Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 30 March 2009

29 March 2009

Nuclear Sites

POWER COMPANIES have agreed to pay at least £200m for land to build nuclear power stations in Britain, a much higher price than the government expected. The bidding went through the £200m figure last week in an eBay-style online auction being run by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The government agency owns land near three old reactor sites that are being sold to would-be developers of new stations. Such a high level of interest underlines the attractiveness of nuclear energy at a time when the renewables sector, particularly offshore wind, is faltering. Power companies warned the government this month that several big offshore wind projects would be scrapped unless they get immediate government aid. Building work is not expected to begin before 2013, making the government’s intention to have new nuclear stations up and running by 2017 appear difficult to achieve.

Sunday Times 29th Mar 2009 more >>

Sunday Express 29th Mar 2009 more >>

Three Mile Island

TMI still haunts the US reactor industry 30 years after the partial meltdown.

Climate Progress 27th Mar 2009 more >>

There are 103 reactors in sixty-four locations across the United States. None of these reactors were designed to last more than forty years. We are reaching that deadline. During the Bush years, the NRC relicensed forty of the country’s reactors. In those eight years, the NRC did not deny a single renewal request. This is unconscionably reckless behavior. The regulators of this industry would appear to be somnambulant hostages to the nuke operators.

The Nation 27th Mar 2009 more >>

Companies

French utility GDF Suez has gone to court in a bid to recover a 250 million euro ($335 million) tax imposed on nuclear power generators by the Belgian government.

Reuters 28th Mar 2009 more >>

Test Veterans

French victims of nuclear bomb testing are getting a multimillion-pound payout… while British veterans are still being ignored.

Sunday Mirror 29th Mar 2009 more >>

Iran

The clock is ticking on the clandestine Iranian nuclear programme. Despite a series of United Nations security council resolutions and mild western sanctions, the process of uranium enrichment to make a bomb will soon be complete. The experts do not agree when that day will come any time between nine months and three years is suggested – but come it will.

Sunday Times 29th Mar 2009 more >>

Climate

THE WORLD is heading for an unparalleled climate catastrophe unless rich and poor nations agree drastic cuts in pollution in just the next few months, the head of the European Environment Agency (EEA) is warning. Even if all the current promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions are honoured, the world will still see global temperatures rise by an average of four degrees centigrade by the end of the century, according to Professor Jacqueline McGlade, the EEA executive director. This is hot enough to make most of the world uninhabitable, killing or making refugees of billions of people in Asia, Africa and America.

Sunday Herald 29th Mar 2009 more >>

THE ECONOMIC system is broken, and attempts by governments to fix it by kick-starting growth and consumerism are “delusional” and “pathological”, the Westminster and Holyrood governments will be warned by their own advisers this week. A ground-breaking report by the leading environmental advisers to First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister Gordon Brown will deliver a damning verdict on capitalism and demand a radical shift to a fairer, more sustainable society. The report has been compiled by the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), a group of 19 experts chaired by Jonathon Porritt which advises Salmond and Brown on environmental issues. Entitled Prosperity without Growth?, it is to be published tomorrow.

Sunday Herald 29th Mar 2009 more >>

Renewables

Plans to make Scotland 50% reliant on renewable sources are ahead of schedule, new figures released by the Scottish Parliament today suggest. Current targets are to meet half the country’s electricity demand from renewables by 2020 with an interim target of 31% by 2011.

Observer 29th Mar 2009 more >>

Scotland’s plan’s to host the world’s largest tidal energy project have moved a step closer after Norwegian renewables giant Statkraft joined the consortium backing the £250m scheme. The project, which will create over 700 jobs, is to build a large data centre powered by tidal energy, in a remote area on the north Scotland coast dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of tidal energy”.

Observer 29th Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 29 March 2009

28 March 2009

Three Mile Island

Inside a nuclear power plant 10 miles southeast of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, the first of a series of pumps supplying vital cooling water to the reactor unaccountably “tripped,” or shut down, at 36 seconds after 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979. But some leading nuclear-power critics, like Ed Lyman, say the industry still does not go far enough to insure safe reactor operations, or troubleshoot for possible breakdowns in materials in today’s aging nuclear plants.

New York Times 27th Mar 2009 more >>

Three Mile Island 30th Anniversary more >>

Video of a public meeting held in Harrisburg on 26th March 2009: Nuclear engineer and long-time industry executive, Arnie Gundersen gives a talk on his calculations of the amount of radiation released during the accident at Three Mile Island. Mr. Gundersen’s calculations differ from those of the NRC’s and official industry estimates. And Dr Steve Wing talks about his epidemiological research around TMI.

Three Mile Island Alert 26th March 2009 more >>

If the Three Mile Island atomic reactor near Harrisburg hadn’t melted down 30 years ago this Saturday…well, there probably would have been an accident somewhere else. The entire U.S. nuclear industry was melting down in the 1970s, irradiated by spectacular cost overruns, interminable delays and public outrage. Forbes later called its collapse “the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale.”

Time 27th March 2009 more >>

Sellafield

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority has just published a report on a hypothetical accident at Sellafield in England, which concludes that if only 1% of the liquid radioactive waste stored at the plant is released to air, the radioactive fallout in Western Norway could be five times higher than in the areas of Norway that were worst affected by the Chernobyl accident.

Norwegian Ministry of Environment 26th March 2009 more >>

Full report available here http://www.nrpa.no/internett_eng/index.asp?topExpand=&subExpand=&strUrl=//applications/system/publish/view/showobject.asp?infoobjectid=1005998&channelid=1000079

Wylfa

Anti-nuclear campaigners have warned of a type of uranium that is up to 15% more radioactive being stored on site for 100 years if a new reactor at Wylfa goes ahead.

Western Mail 28th Mar 2009 more >>

Millom

The proposal by RWE npower to construct a plant at Layriggs Farm in Kirksanton hangs in the balance unless prison bosses agree to cooperate with the evacuation plan. Nuclear development manager for the project, Stuart Dagnall, revealed an emergency evacuation procedure must be agreed between the prison and nuclear bosses before any plans can be set in stone.

NW Evening Mail 28th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear & Climate

Nuclear power plants cannot be built quickly enough and in a safe and secure manner to be a major global solution for climate change, according to a report released yesterday from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The report says the nuclear industry, under current policies and financing, won’t be able to build enough new reactors to make a difference in climate in the next 20 years.

Scientific American 27th Mar 2009 more >>

Chernobyl

ANTI nuclear campaigners have planned a sponsored walk to help those affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Sunday April 26 is the anniversary of the disaster, and Radiation Free Lakeland along with other anti-nuclear groups will be holding a sponsored walk in aid of many people who are still affected by the disaster, which happened 23 years ago at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant.

NW Evening Mail 27th Mar 2009 more >>

Proliferation

The potential for nuclear proliferation and the Government’s response to it was the subject of a discussion in the House of Lords on 26 March. Baroness Williams of Crosby introduced the debate, with contributions from Members with a wide-range of expertise including a former foreign secretary, defence secretary, chief of defence staff, UN diplomat and more.

UK Parliament 27th Mar 2009 more >>

Lancashire

A thriving nuclear industry will deliver a shot in the arm to the rest of Lancashire’s economy, according to the government’s top skills minister. John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said the county’s professional services and construction industries would benefit when plans to build the next generation of reactors goes ahead.

Lancashire Evening Post 27th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Research

Plans for a new £20 million research centre at the Westlakes Science and Technology Park in Whitehaven moved a step closer this week.

Carlisle News and Star 27th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

Six new atomic submarines, armed with improved nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, will join the Russian navy. The Defence Ministry said the first, the Severodvinsk, will be launched in 2011 and at least five others of the same type will be built by 2017.

Independent 28th Mar 2009 more >>

Climate

Britain’s faith in carbon trading as a way of reducing greenhouse gases could be dangerously misplaced, according to an independent academic working with the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Dr Chris Hope of the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School has been commissioned by the government to calculate how much environmental polluters would have to be. charged for emitting CO2 to make it worthwhile for them to cut back. However, his research, due to be delivered to the government later this year, has led him to a far wider conclusion: that the current European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is deeply flawed and should be replaced – or at least augmented – with a green tax.

New Statesman 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Green New Deal

Hopes that Gordon Brown and other world leaders would solve the financial crisis and global warming through a series of “green New Deals” are fading faster than solar power on a rainy day. The vast bulk of new public spending announced in global economic stimuli seems largely “business as usual”, with major cash injections being directed towards banks and car companies rather than renewable energy firms. Some countries – notably the US and China – have been more adventurous, while wind energy and other sustainable technologies certainly stand to gain from wider ministerial efforts to unlock financial lending. But the air in recent weeks has been thick with the sound of “green” schemes dropping off the corporate agenda at top firms, such as Shell, rather than the gentle hum of increased activity.

Guardian 28th Mar 2009 more >>

Iran & Solar

Letter from Dr Gerry Wolf: Gordon Brown says that the UK and international community stand ready to help Iran achieve a civil nuclear programme. But in Paris last year, at the inaugural meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean, he said “… in the Mediterranean region, concentrated solar power offers the prospect of an abundant low carbon energy source. Indeed, just as Britain’s North Sea could be the Gulf of the future for offshore wind, so those sunnier countries represented here could become a vital source of future global energy by harnessing the power of the sun”. Although Iran is not in the Mediterranean region, it has some of the best solar resources in the world. Concentrating solar power (CSP), in which mirrors concentrate sunlight and the resulting heat drives turbines and generators, could meet all of Iran’s electricity needs from a small fraction of the Iranian deserts, although it would be prudent to use CSP in conjunction with wind power and other renewable sources of power.

Independent 28th Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 28 March 2009

27 March 2009

Nuclear Sites

German power utility E.ON and smaller domestic rival RWE have placed joint bids for three British nuclear sites, German daily Handelsblatt reported on Thursday, citing company sources. Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) last week launched an auction of 999-year leases on land near three of its nuclear power stations in the UK, at Wylfa in north Wales, Oldbury in Gloucestershire and Bradwell in Essex.The NDA potentially might be able to make an announcement next week about the winning bidders, the spokesman said.

Interactive Investor 26th Mar 2009 more >>

New Nukes

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency have collaborated to launch a new website area covering the safety of future nuclear power stations. Currently, the HSE and the Environment Agency are assessing two nuclear power station designs in particular, which could be built in the UK over the coming years. The website can be accessed at www.hse.gov.uk/newreactors/index.htm

Croner 26th Mar 2009 more >>

IAEA

The board of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has failed to elect a successor to director Mohammed ElBaradei. After three rounds of inconclusive voting in Vienna on the two candidates vying to succeed him, the 35-member board decided to begin again on Friday. Japan’s Yukiya Amano led South Africa’s Abdul Samad Minty but did not get the required two-thirds majority. Mr ElBaradei, in office since 1997, is due to step down later this year.

BBC 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Reuters 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Companies

France is banking on 3.5 decades of civil nuclear use at home, and three domestic companies with atomic expertise and a global scale to spearhead a worldwide nuclear power rebirth. This is a list of key facts on power group EDF, nuclear reactor maker Areva, and gas and electricity group GDF Suez.

Interactive Investor 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Dounreay

A Highland castle attacked by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army and later a site of experiments on radioactive liquid is at risk of collapse. Engineers have carried out a structural survey of 16th Century Dounreay Castle following concerns over safety. They said the ruins, which form part of the estate now managed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, had badly eroded lintels and precarious masonry. Historic Scotland has been informed of the latest survey results. The government agency lists it as a scheduled monument and carried out its own inspection in February.

BBC 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Work is underway on the next phase of a major clean-up project unique in the history of the nuclear industry. Contractors have started to prepare the ground where a major new plant will be built to retrieve radioactive waste from an underground shaft and silo.

Dounreay.com 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Skills

The unique new job site – www.nuclearcareersonline.com – has become the UK’s first nuclear industry career site to find candidates with direct nuclear experience and those looking to transfer their skills into the nuclear business.

Online Recruitment 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Proliferation

NUCLEAR power for all who want it, without helping those who would abuse it? A similar dream in the 1950s later turned to nightmare, as India, Israel, Pakistan and South Africa and others until they were stopped bent the materials and technologies offered as “atoms for peace” to bomb-making. Many suspect Iran is misusing technology for enriching uranium and producing plutonium (ingredients in both reactor fuel and nuclear weapons). Anxious to head off imitators, some governments and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear guardian, have plans to guarantee fuel supplies: countries building civilian nuclear reactors would then have no need or excuse to dabble in such proliferation-prone technologies.

Economist 19th Mar 2009 more >>

Terror

Letter from Dr Keith Baverstock: It is difficult to understand how the threat of a dirty bomb could be higher now than it was three years ago (“UK faces greater threat of ‘dirty bomb’,” 25 March). Two components are required for such a bomb, explosive and a radioactive material. Both should be more difficult to obtain now than three years ago and if that is not the case then we should look for an explanation to the Government.

Independent 27th Mar 2009 more >>

Japan

A Japanese fire brigade lifted on Friday a ban on the use of flammables and other dangerous materials at a Tokyo Electric Power Co nuclear power plant, bringing the firm closer to restarting the plant closed for two years following the earthquake.

Yahoo 27th Mar 2009 more >>

North Korea

North Korea has warned that if the international community punishes it for next month’s planned missile launch, it will restart a nuclear plant that makes weapons-grade plutonium. This week, the secretive state put a long-range missile in place for a launch that the US has warned would violate UN sanctions. The planned launch, seen by many as a disguised military exercise, is the first big test for Barack Obama in dealing with the rogue state.

Independent 27th Mar 2009 more >>

North Korea has placed a long-range missile capable of reaching the US on a launch pad as the Stalinist state prepares for what it claims is a satellite launch in early April. A US official confirmed that Pyongyang had erected a Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile at its Musudan-ri site.

FT 27th Mar 2009 more >>

US

Exelon Corp, the nation’s largest nuclear plant operator, on Thursday said GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy will supply a more mature technology for two new reactors for a proposed nuclear plant in Texas.

Interactive Investor 26th Mar 2009 more >>

India

The 1,350-MW ABWR technology is the world’s only commercially proven Generation III reactor design, with the first two of four units entering service in 1996 and 1997 and four additional units under construction today. GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has signed two agreements with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) as the companies prepare to collaborate on building multiple GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy-designed nuclear reactors to help meet India’s energy production goals.

Energy Business Review 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Canada

Emcor Group, a provider of electrical and mechanical construction and facilities services, has announced that its subsidiary Comstock Canada has received contracts from Bruce Power in connection with a major refurbishment of nuclear generators at the Bruce A nuclear power plant in Tiverton, Ontario.

Energy Business Review 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Renewables

Iberdrola Renewables will cut its British investment by more than 40 per cent, it was reported. The £300 million withdrawal could have paid for a wind farm capable of powering 200,000 homes.

Telegraph 26th Mar 2009 more >>

A Union of Concerned Scientists’ study has found that renewable energy is a major job generator because renewable energy investments largely go to labor intensive industries, such as manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. The study further points out that renewable energy industries such as wind energy exhibited remarkably strong growth last year despite the downturn in the economy. The number of people employed in the U.S. wind industry alone increased by over 240 percent in 2008, to 85,000 people.

Climate Progress 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Ministers were last night considering fresh incentives designed to spur investment in renewable energy amid evidence that the credit crunch is threatening government energy targets. The Energy Minister hit back at claims that the Government was failing to deliver on an ambitious plan to foster a green energy revolution by building thousands of onshore and offshore wind turbines. Mike O’Brien told a meeting of renewable-energy chiefs that he was determined that Britain would meet its goal of generating as much as 35 per cent of all UK electricity from wind, wave and solar power by 2020, up from less than 5 per cent at present. Responding to news of a further collapse in financing for the UK wind industry, he said that the Government was examining new ideas to increase investment, which has been hit by the recession as banks rein in lending and the price of conventional fuels plunges.

Times 27th Mar 2009 more >>

With its report arguing that we need to accelerate radically the building of onshore wind turbines in the UK, if necessary by easing up the planning system, it became part of the Government’s propaganda machine. Any developer facing the concerns of local conservationists has just been given a bazooka marked “RSPB” with which to destroy the opposition. By what right did it spend my money on commissioning a report from a body (part funded by the EU and Defra, incidentally) that will promote the interests of central government and the energy industry? Can we expect a report from the RSPB on nuclear power? It would be interesting to hear on what bird-related evidence it bases its opposition.

Independent 27th Mar 2009 more >>

Green New Deal

Fiscal stimulus on its own is simply not enough to justify the UK taking on long-term debt that it will have to pay for for decades to come in its taxes. The 2.5% cut in VAT is a classic example of a scattergun fiscal stimulus, weakly boosting consumption and retail profitabilty, but so diluted over the economy as a whole as to have little discernible effect – while adding about £12bn to the national debt. Instead we need to design a stimulus package that will deliver against a multiple bottom line. It has to bring the unemployed back into work, find a new role for manufacturing industries as buyers turn away from consumer goods from cars to computers; It has to improve human welfare, comfort and wellbeing. It has to improve the long-term competitiveness of the British economy, creating a margin of benefit from which future taxes necessary to pay off the debt taken on can be extracted. And it has to do all of this against a backdrop of climate change – rapidly reducing our emissions in line with the mandatory targets set in the Climate Act. These considerations lead to one firm conclusion: we need to invest in the new energy economy. Any new nuclear capacity will be slow to deliver, and will come at a high cost – as demonstrated by Finland’s failing nuclear experiment.

Guardian 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Disarmament

Fixing the economy, withdrawing from Iraq, overtures to Iran, a plan for Afghanistan, a thaw with Moscow and a bargain with Beijing… I could go on. The issues on Barack Obama’s agenda rush by like station names seen from a fast-moving train. This is a US president who wants to do more than walk and chew gum. Mr Obama is poised to add further to this burgeoning list. He is turning his mind to nuclear disarmament, a challenge that has been recklessly neglected during the two decades since the end of the cold war. If he gets it right, he could transform the dynamics of global security.

FT 27th Mar 2009 more >>

The possibility of computer hackers gaining control of nuclear weapons poses a major threat to the stability of the world, former Cabinet minister Baroness Williams of Crosby warned today. Liberal Democrat Lady Williams, who is a director of the American group the Nuclear Threat Initiative, also called for an eventual reduction in the UK’s nuclear arsenal.

Metro 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 27 March 2009

26 March 2009

New Nukes

OUTRAGED homeowners have vowed to abandon their village should a nuclear power station be built nearby. An action group has now been set up to fight plans to build the plant at Layriggs Farm in Kirksanton. A private vote carried out by campaigners found that 90 per cent of villagers said they would leave Kirksanton if the nuclear power station was built. Construction would leave 75 residents living less than half-a-mile from the plant. Furious homeowners crammed into the village hall yesterday to voice their fears at what marks the beginning of a two-year consultation process.

NW Evening Mail 25th Mar 2009 more >>

THE man charged with drawing up plans to protect the public from radiation accidents has warned about the dangers of building new nuclear reactors away from Sellafield. Cumbria’s emergency planning officer, David Humphreys, is critical of German company RWE’s proposal to construct reactors on farmland at Braystones, near Egremont, and Sellafield and Kirksanton, Millom. He is worried that local people in both Copeland communities could face unnecessary hazards. Mr Humphreys voiced his concerns at a public meeting in Whitehaven Civic Hall where Energy Coast Masterplan partners explained how they saw nuclear power as the blueprint for the area’s future success.

Whitehaven News 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Research

THE University of Manchester has signed a collaborative agreement with the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) – based at Sellafield – to share knowledge and develop opportunities in a specialist field of the industry.

Whitehaven News 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Cumberland News 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Engineering International 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Companies

Babcock International Group has acquired Bristol-based, Weir Strachan and Henshaw for £65m ($95m). BNS Nuclear Services will acquire the nuclear business while the other half of the company comprising the defence business is now being integrated into Babcock Marine.

Nuclear Engineering International 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Sellafield

SELLAFIELD’s operators face possible legal action from two site unions over the alleged use of “bribery and blackmail” to persuade thousands of industrial workers to accept a pay deal.

Whitehaven News 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Submarine

An explosion on board a nuclear submarine which killed two men was blamed on systematic failures by a coroner.

Birmingham Post 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Yorkshire Post 25th Mar 2009 more >>

India

GE Hitachi has signed agreements with the nuclear corporation of India as the companies prepare to collaborate on building multiple GEH-designed reactors in India.

Engineer 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear War

THE haunting threat of nuclear war which could have devastated one of Yorkshire’s most historic cities if a bomb strike had become a reality is being investigated by historians. York could have been razed to the ground after it was put on a hit list for nuclear attacks during the Cold War era of superpower tensions between the West and the Soviet Bloc.

Yorkshire Post 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Renewables

Britain’s ambition to become a global leader in renewable energy suffered a major setback last night when the world’s biggest investor in wind power said that it was slashing its investment programme. The announcement comes less than two months after ministers backed a string of huge gas-fired power stations, prompting concern that the Government cannot fulfil its promise of a green energy revolution. Iberdrola Renewables’ decision to cut its investment in Britain by more than 40 per cent, or £300 million enough to build a wind farm powering 200,000 homes is the latest obstacle to Gordon Brown’s target of generating 35 per cent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Times 26th Mar 2009 more >>

The latest setback to Britain’s goal of producing more than a third of its energy from renewable sources is the result of a global collapse in investment in green projects in recent months. The credit crunch has undermined developers’ ability to borrow to fund big wind and solar power schemes, while tumbling prices for conventional fuels like oil, coal and gas have undermined the economics of the renewables industry.

Times 26th Mar 2009 more >>

For wind power companies, the global downturn has been the perfect storm in every respect except wind. Paralysis in the credit markets has drained away investors’ cash. The increasingly desperate state of public finances across Europe has eroded the case for wind farm subsidies. And oil at $40 a barrel, down from $140 last year, is unbeatable on price as an energy source except by coal.

Times 26th Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 26 March 2009

25 March 2009

New Nukes

Letter from Councillor Ralph Pryke, Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) English Forum: Don Tallis suggests that nuclear-free local authorities are “whingers”. Nothing could be further from the truth. What we are proposing is an energy policy based on energy efficiency and every type of renewable energy, not just wind. This is a policy which would be cheaper, create more jobs, and could be implemented in time to meet our climate change commitments. It would not take a decade or more, create dangerous waste we don’t know what to do with, and radioactive contamination, nor would it threaten nuclear weapons proliferation. Nuclear energy provides around 78 per cent of France’s electricity (not energy), this corresponds to only 18 per cent of the total energy consumed. Nuclear France still consumes more oil per capita than the UK. If Britain replaces its nuclear fleet this would only save around four per cent of our carbon emissions. We could easily make up for this with extra, cheaper, energy efficiency measures. The French nuclear reactor being built in Finland is three years behind schedule and 50 per cent over budget. Do we really want to repeat past mistakes in this country when there are better alternatives?

Leicester Mercury 24th March 2009 more >>

Three Mile Island

People died–and are still dying–at Three Mile Island. As the thirtieth anniversary approaches, we mourn the deaths that accompanied the biggest string of lies ever told in US industrial history. The public was assured there were no radiation releases. That quickly proved to be false. The public was then told the releases were controlled and done purposely to alleviate pressure on the core. Both those assertions were false. The public was told the releases were “insignificant.” But stack monitors were saturated and unusable, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission later told Congress it did not know—and STILL does not know—how much radiation was released at Three Mile Island, or where it went. Investigations by epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Wing of the University of North Carolina, and others, led Wing to warn that the official studies on the health impacts of the accident suffered from “logical and methodological problems.” Studies by Wing and by Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry official, being announced this week at Harrisburg, significantly challenge official pronouncements on both radiation releases and health impacts.

Counterpunch 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Research

A consortium has been chosen to run the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) at Sellafield in Cumbria. A group led by facilities firm Serco and including Manchester University, will be responsible for developing the complex.

BBC 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Business Gazette 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Skills

JOBS for the future will be the theme of a ministerial visit to Fylde’s nuclear facility this week. John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, will be speaking to bosses at Springfields on Thursday. More than 1,600 apprentices have been trained at the site over the past 60 years.

Blackpool Gazette 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Proliferation

Baroness Williams of Crosby (Liberal Democrat), Director of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (USA), will call attention to the potential for nuclear proliferation and the Government’s plans to respond in a debate this Thursday, 26 March, in the House of Lords.

UK Parliament 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Terror

The Home Office has launched its new counter-terrorism strategy, warning of the threat of a serious attack on the UK. The government said that the threat of a nuclear or chemical attack is “more realistic” than ever.

ePolitix 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Telegraph 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Metro 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Independent 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Obituary

Ed Grothus, who has died aged 86, started his career building atomic bombs, before becoming a committed nuclear abolitionist. He worked for nearly 20 years at the US nuclear bomb factory at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), New Mexico. But in December 1969 he quit, disillusioned with his government’s involvement in the Vietnam war, and thereafter devoted his life to developing a unique campaigning mixture of serious stunts and wacky humour. He became the most interviewed and photographed person in Los Alamos.

Guardian 24th Mar 2009 more >>

In an abandoned, mud-filled Welsh slate quarry near the Powys market town of Machynlleth, Gerard Morgan-Grenville, who has died aged 77, founded a small community on a shoestring budget to show that there were alternatives to high-polluting technologies in energy, food production and construction. Thirty-six years later, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has become Europe’s leading showcase and laboratory for low-energy devices and sustainable living, with 90 permanent staff, scores of volunteers and some 65,000 visitors a year.

Guardian 25th Mar 2009 more >>

North Korea

North Korea has threatened to boycott international talks on ending the secretive state’s nuclear weapons programme if it is punished by the United Nations for launching a rocket.

Yahoo 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Japan

Tokyo Electric Power Co and Tohoku Electric Power Co are likely to postpone the start of operations of three new nuclear generators by about a year due to delays in the government safety review process.

Yahoo 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Test Veterans

France on Tuesday offered for the first time to compensate victims of its nuclear tests almost half a century after the first explosion and following decades of pressure from victims who were exposed to radiation.

Telegraph 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

93 year old man who survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki honoured.

Guardian 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Renewables

Britain must revert to greater state control of energy markets to hit ambitious targets on renewable energy and climate change, according to the former head of BP. Lord Browne of Madingley warns that market mechanisms are failing to deliver the necessary growth in clean energy. Crucial offshore wind projects could be cancelled unless there is an urgent rethink of energy policy, he says.

Guardian 25th Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 25 March 2009

24 March 2009

New Nukes

THE public will get the chance to air their views about a plan for a nuclear power station at Kirksanton. Daytime drop-in meetings about the proposal had been arranged for tomorrow in Kirksanton Village Hall and Wednesday in Millom Network Centre. But villagers wrote to RWE npower demanding a full public meeting. A meeting will now be held in Kirksanton Village Hall tomorrow night from 6pm to 8pm, chaired by Councillor Sue Brown, Cumbria county councillor for Seascale Whicham.

North West Evening Mail 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

PUPILS are flying high when it comes to science. Black Combe Junior School have teamed up with nuclear scientists to explore the wonders of how the world works. Professionals from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority graduate scheme currently visit the Millom school each week to set fun science challenges.

North West Evening Mail 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Generic Design Assessment

VT Nuclear Services has secured two five-year contracts to support the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) in the licensing of new reactors in the UK. VT Nuclear Services will provide support in the areas of safety and quality assurance management and radioactive waste and decommissioning. The work will help with the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process and the subsequent site-specific licensing process for nuclear new build.

Nuclear Engineering International 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Sites

Online bidding has begun in the UK’s disposal of land adjacent to three NDA sites at Wylfa, Oldbury and Bradwell. The bidding process will be run by Colliers CRE on its auction website. The online auction will allow pre- approved bidders to make bids in two windows each day. The auction will end once a period of 24 hours has elapsed without a bid on any of the three lots. All bidders will be able to view the current highest bid on each lot and the winner for each lot will be the party with the highest bid on that lot when the auction closes.

Nuclear Engineering International 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Insurance

The impact of a severe nuclear accident, should it occur, would not be confined to public safety. Insurance programmes have been in place for decades in the US and Europe to deal with potential liability claims. They might be a useful model for countries contemplating going nuclear.

Nuclear Engineering International 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Scotland

Claims that the body set up to consider the future of devolution had opted to claw back some of Holyrood’s powers were being hotly disputed last night. Reports said that the Calman Commission wanted to partially reverse devolution by taking powers from the Scottish Parliament and handing them back to Westminster – so-called re-reservation. These, said the reports, included planning laws, raising the prospect of Westminster ordering new nuclear energy plants in Scotland against the wishes of the anti-nuclear SNP government in Edinburgh. Commission insiders last night angrily denied the claims. While agreeing that re-reservation was being examined, they said that it was highly unlikely that planning powers would fall into that category.

Times 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Proliferation

UK prime minister Gordon Brown has argued for greater diplomacy and international safeguards in a new world view that involves a greater access to nuclear power, and greater penalties for proliferation, in a speech delivered to the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Conference in London on March 16.

Nuclear Engineering International 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Research

A consortium made up of The University of Manchester, Serco Plc and Battelle was today named recommended bidder to run the UK National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).

Crains Manchester Business News 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

DECC News Release 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

The head of one of the biggest nuclear firms in the world wants Lancashire’s universities and colleges to be a training ground for the industry. Mike Tynan, chief executive of Westinghouse UK, which has its head office at The Pavilions on Preston docklands, has said it is working with local education establishments to develop technology-biased courses.

Lancashire Evening Post 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Police

Energy Minister Mike O’Brien today announced the appointment of Sir Chris Fox as the new Chair of the Civil Nuclear Police Authority (CNPA).

DECC Press Release 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Test Veterans

France is to compensate people who suffered health problems as a result of three decades of nuclear weapons tests, its government says. It was time to investigate health complaints reported by staff who took part in tests, Defence Minister Herve Morin said.

BBC 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Reuters 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Iran

The biggest danger posed by a nuclear Iran is not the threat to Israel, but that it will lead to a further bout of regional proliferation. The more nukes there are the greater the probability that someday the kooks will get their hands on one of them. But what about Israel?

Spectator 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

A private letter from President Obama to President Dmitry Medvedev seems to have thrown down the gauntlet. The buzz is that Washington might offer to hold off its controversial missile defence programme in Europe, in return for new Russian leverage on Tehran.

BBC 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Renewables

Opposition to wind farms should become as socially unacceptable as failing to wear a seatbelt, Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, has said. Speaking at a screening in London of the climate change documentary The Age of Stupid, Miliband said the government needed to be stronger in facing down local opposition to wind farms.

Guardian 24th Mar 2009 more >>

The government must draw up a masterplan to meet the UK’s ambitious targets of providing 15% of the country’s power from renewables by 2020, National Grid’s chief executive, Steve Holliday, has warned. As investment in alternative sources of energy dries up because of the credit crunch, Holliday called for more subsidies to make sure enough wind farms and other sources of renewable energy are built in time. He also called for tighter regulation of energy markets, even at the expense of competition.

Guardian 24th Mar 2009 more >>

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds are calling for a massive increase in the number of wind farms in the UK after a study found far more could be built without damaging wildlife.

Telegraph 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Trident

How long before Gordon Brown or Mr Cameron proposes that the Trident nuclear missile replacement should be scrapped? Last week, the Prime Minister tiptoed up to the issue in a speech in which he said that he wanted a world free of nuclear weapons. Naturally, he proposed a “grand global bargain” under which Britain would reduce its number of warheads. But his spokesman insisted that the plan to replace the four Trident submarines themselves would go ahead.

Times 24th Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 24 March 2009

23 March 2009

New Nukes

Letter: Why is Scotland (and the UK ) not following the example of France? In 1973 France found itself vulnerable to overseas oil price hikes. The French government and its engineers worked together on this problem. They decided on a radical switch to nuclear energy for energy security reasons. They were completely focused. Not only did they choose the PWR, they grouped these reactors into three sizes, 900, 1300 and 1450 MWe. There was, or is, no talk whatsoever of “microgeneration”. The French are engineers and understand fully the economies of scale.

Scotsman 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Carbon Trading

A shake-up in the way the “boom and bust” carbon markets are working in Europe is being urged ahead of tomorrow’s auction of new emission certificates by the UK government. The Carbon Trust, which is sponsored by government money, and the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers argue that controls might have to be put in place to prevent the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) being discredited by a further collapse in prices, which have already slumped from 30 per tonne to just over 10.

Guardian 23rd Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 23 March 2009

22 March 2009

Nuclear Finance

The myth of a successful nuclear power industry in France has melted into financial chaos. With it dies the corporate-hyped poster child for a “nuclear renaissance” of new reactor construction that is drowning in red ink and radioactive waste. Areva, France’s nationally-owned corporate atomic fa ade, has plunged into a deep financial crisis led by a devastating shortage of cash. Electricite de France, the French national utility, has been raided by European Union officials charging that its price-fixing may be undermining competition throughout the continent. Delays and cost overruns continue to escalate at Areva’s catastrophic Olkiluoto reactor construction project in Finland. Areva has admitted to a $2.2 billion, or 55%, cost increase in the Finnish building site after three and a half years. The Flamanville project—the only one now being built in France—is already over $1 billion more expensive than projected after a single year under construction.

The Free Press 19th Mar 2009 more >>

Scotland

ALEX Salmond was last night outraged after it emerged the Calman Commission wants to partially reverse devolution by clawing back powers from Holyrood to Westminster. The commission set up to examine Scotland’s constitutional position has admitted that it will look at taking powers from the Scottish Parliament, raising the prospect of new nuclear power stations being built north of the border against the wishes of the SNP.

Scotland on Sunday 22nd Mar 2009 more >>

Letter: EDDIE Barnes reports on a recent survey indicating that 53% of those polled thought nuclear power might be needed to fill a possible future energy gap in Scotland (News, March 15). Actually 53% seems quite a low figure; this means that 47% remain unconvinced by the barrage of scare stories about power cuts churned out by the Westminster propaganda machine.

Scotland on Sunday 22nd Mar 2009 more >>

Scottish ministers are going to come under fire for failing to do enough to cut climate pollution by promoting energy efficiency and renewable heat technologies. A report from the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee to be published this week will criticise the government for leaving an “excessive” amount of policy detail unclear. “This lack of clarity on the direction of policy makes it difficult for the committee to fulfil its responsibility to scrutinise the policy,” the report says. “The committee believes that this is regrettable.”

Sunday Herald 22nd Mar 2009 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

Last week, in a speech in London, Gordon Brown reignited the debate over whether this terrible power should be ended for good. “Britain has cut the number of its nuclear warheads by 50% since 1997,” he declared. “If it is possible to reduce the number of UK warheads further, consistent with our national deterrence requirements and with the progress of multilateral discussions, Britain will be ready to do so.”

Scotland on Sunday 22nd Mar 2009 more >>

Renewables

THE UK risks losing renewable electricity investments to other countries and missing its carbon reduction targets unless the authorities make the investment climate more attractive, according to the head of the owner of Scottish Power. Ignacio Gal n, chairman and chief executive of Iberdrola, hinted that his company might be forced to switch planned UK electricity network investments to other countries unless the regulator raised the rate of return to levels that would attract lenders and investors made more risk-averse by the credit crunch.

Sunday Herald 22nd Mar 2009 more >>

IF YOU wanted a flavour of the mood in UK renewables at the moment, it was worth visiting Bilbao last week. This was where Ignacio Gal n, the charismatic chairman and chief executive of Iberdrola, owner of ScottishPower, was holding a press conference ahead of the company’s annual meeting. Both there and at an interview with the Sunday Herald beforehand, he raised concerns about ScottishPower’s ability to invest in the UK electricity network. These feed into several other troubling themes that cast serious doubts on the UK’s ability to meet its targets for 40% renewable electricity by 2020 (and 50% in Scotland) and an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

Sunday Herald 22nd Mar 2009 more >>

Posted: 22 March 2009