News December 2011

31 December 2011

Radwaste

A decision on whether west Cumbria should remain part of the search for a suitable place for an underground radioactive waste disposal facility will be made next year. Public consultation meetings are due to be held in January and February. The West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) Partnership, made up of representatives of all the local authorities in the county, has spent more than two years finding out more about what taking part in the search for a site would mean for the area and has published a consultation document. County councillor Tim Knowles, responsible for environmental policy, will take on the role of chairman of the partnership over the next six months. He said: “There are a lot of questions that cannot be answered at this point because no site has been selected. “The question we all need to consider is, based on what we know now, should we take part in the search for a possible site?

Carlisle News & Star 30th Dec 2011 more >>

New Nukes

On 3rd December 2011 Rising Tide joined Kick Nuclear to support this year’s Climate Justice march in support of the tens of thousands mobilising in South Africa to demand climate justice at UN’s COP17 in Durban. Together with Kick Nuclear, Rising Tide marched and distributed leaflets to remind people that the British Government’s repackaging of nuclear power as a ‘green’ source of energy is a false and dangerous solution to climate change. The UK government is is planning to build new nuclear power stations at eight sites – all of which are existing nuclear sites. Hinkley Point is the first of these proposed sites for nuclear new build to go ahead. Activist action was key in stopping them here before in 1987, and we can do it again in 2012. If they fail at Hinkley, it is unlikely the “nuclear renaissance” will have the momentum to continue.

Rising Tide 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Japan

Fukushima Crisis Update 27th to 29th Dec 2011.

Greenpeace International 30th Dec 2011 more >>

The Japanese government’s response as the Fukushima nuclear accident developed saw flawed organisation and communication, while the site was inadequately prepared and operators made mistakes. The conclusions come from an interim report from the investigation committee on the crises at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daiini nuclear power plants after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. A provisional English translation of the executive summary explained how government agencies were meant to have interacted and cases in which this broke down. It also explained some operational mistakes made by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) during the accident sequence.

World Nuclear News 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Spain

Residents of a small Spanish village celebrated news Friday that their district will host a nuclear waste depot, a source of jobs in tough economic times. Villagers were shown on national television erupting in joy in the only bar of Villar de Canas, near Cuenca in central Spain, as the new conservative government announced the decision.

Nuclear Power Daily 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Iran

An Israeli strike on Iran has to be the most over-predicted event of recent years. It was meant to happen last year. And the year before that. But now there are reasons why 2012 could, indeed, be the year when Israel will find it propitious to take overt military action against Iran’s nuclear programme. (Everyone assumes that a range of covert activities, from assassinations to cyber attacks, are already ongoing).

Spectator 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Submarines

Firefighters have extinguished a massive fire aboard a docked Russian nuclear submarine as some crew members remain inside, officials say. There was no radiation leak and the vessel’s nuclear-tipped missiles were not on board, they said.

Irish Times 31st Dec 2011 more >>

The Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, has ordered an investigation after a nuclear submarine caught fire during repairs in the Arctic, injuring at least nine people. The blaze, believed to have been started by a welding lamp igniting rubbish and wooden scaffolding next to the craft, raged for nine hours at a shipyard in the Murmansk region. Up to 30 crew members remained inside the submarine, although it was unclear if they were trapped.

Guardian 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Russian firefighters have put out the huge fire that engulfed a nuclear submarine as it emerged that several crew members remained inside throughout the crisis.

Telegraph 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Independent 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Huffington Post 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Daily Mail 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Disarmament

Scottish independence could mean unilateral nuclear disarmament for the rest of the UK, a former head of the Royal Navy has warned. In a BBC radio interview yesterday, Admiral Lord West of Spithead, the former First Sea Lord, said that Scotland leaving the UK would also have devastating implications for Scotland’s defence industry. Lord West, a former Security Minister in the previous Labour government and a former adviser to Gordon Brown, said that Alex Salmond had failed to address the future of defence should he win an independence referendum. The SNP’s official policy is to remove the Trident nuclear submarine system, which is based at Faslane on the Clyde and Coulport in Argyll and employs several thousand Scots.

Times 31st Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

The UK Government appears to have reinstated the April 1 deadline for a cut in the solar PV Feed-in Tariff rate in a new renewable energy report submitted to the European Commission this week. The Government’s apparent u-turn was buried deep within the “First Progress Report on the Promotion and Use of Energy from Renewable Sources for the United Kingdom”, which was published yesterday.

Click Green 30th Dec 2011 more >>

UK investment in green energy failed to pick up significantly in 2011, reflecting difficult economic circumstances and uncertainty over government policy. The government’s figure of £2.5bn is slightly higher than an estimate for the previous year and well down on total investment in the sector in 2009.

Guardian 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 31 December 2011

30 December 2011

Cumbria

WINDMILLS rather than nuclear power stations will benefit under the government’s new business rate system. It scuppers Copeland’s chances of gaining millions of pounds more through nuclear development. The coalition government wants future business rates “collected from renewable energy projects” to be retained in full by the relevant local authorities. Both the borough council’s Labour and Tory groups say it is wrong for renewable projects to reap financial benefits over nuclear new-build, which is also regarded as green energy.

Whitehaven News 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Obituary

CON Allday, one of the leading figures in the nuclear industry, has died at the age of 91. Mr Allday was particularly well known at Sellafield as chief executive of then parent company BNFL and previously as deputy managing director of the Atomic Energy Authority. Coningsby Allday, pictured, was a principal BNFL witness at the 1977 Windscale Inquiry in Whitehaven.

Whitehaven News 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Europe

The overuse and waste of valuable natural resources is threatening to produce a fresh economic crisis, the European Union’s environment chief has warned. Janez Potočnik, the EU commissioner for the environment, linked the current economic crisis gripping the eurozone with potential future crises driven by price spikes in key resources, including energy and raw materials.

Guardian 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Japan

Tokyo Electric Power Co. may be approaching the end of its life as a private company as the cost of the Fukushima nuclear disaster drains cash and the government considers nationalizing the utility.

Bloomberg 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Japan’s nuclear crisis has turned Mizuho Nakayama into one of a small but growing number of Internet-savvy activist moms. Worried about her 2-year-old son and distrustful of government and TV reports that seemed to play down radiation risks, she scoured the Web for information and started connecting with other mothers through Twitter and Facebook, many using social media for the first time. The 41-year-old mother joined a parents group — one of dozens that have sprung up since the crisis — that petitioned local officials in June to test lunches at schools and day care centers for radiation and avoid using products from around the troubled nuclear plant.

ABC News 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Taiwan

In the wake of the 11 March Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan, Professor Chan Chang-chuan of National Taiwan University’s College of Public Health noted that Taiwan’s three existing nuclear plants and a fourth, the one now under construction, are located in earthquake-prone regions near the sea, which originally facilitated the transportation of nuclear fuel and construction materials but leaves the sites facing the double hazards of earthquakes and tsunamis. Chan said, “Such locations expose our reactors to a double risk.”

Market Oracle 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Submarines

Russia said it had won the battle with a raging blaze aboard a nuclear submarine on Friday by submerging the stricken vessel at a navy shipyard after hours of dousing the flames with water from helicopters and tug boats. There was no radiation leak, authorities said.

Reuters 29th Dec 2011 more >>

A massive fire engulfed a Russian nuclear submarine in an Arctic shipyard yesterday, but there has been no radiation leak or injuries, officials said.

Belfast Telegraph 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Independent 29th DCec 2011 more >>

MOD Oracle 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Scotsman 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Daily Mail 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Sky News 30th Dec 2011 more >>

BBC 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Iran

Britain and America reacted with fury at Israel’s bombing of the Osirak nuclear site in 1981, questioning the threat it presented. But ten years later, Israel’s judgment was explosively endorsed when the US felt the need to totally destroy the disabled Osirak during the largest airstrike of the Gulf War. Following years of Syrian denial and international scepticism, a secret IAEA report seen by the BBC earlier this year gave strong evidence that the site bombed in 2007 by Israel in northeastern Syria was, as the Israelis had known, a secret nuclear reactor being built with the help of North Korea. Had that site been permitted to complete its apocalyptic programme, to what use would a desperate Assad – fighting for survival and slaughtering his own people by the thousand – now be putting his weapons of mass destruction? I have seen at first hand the scepticism and accusations of exaggeration that have greeted Israel’s attempts over many years to rally the free world to confront Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. But last month’s IAEA report citing “credible and well-sourced” intelligence that Iranian nuclear weapons development is continuing sounded a note of alarm.

Jewish Chronicle 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Trident

Downing Street papers reveal that two-thirds of Margaret Thatcher’s first cabinet opposed buying the US Trident missile system and the chiefs of staff were not unanimous. But this did not stop the “Iron Lady” from going ahead with the deal behind their backs.

Guardian 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

Chris Huhne has defied the Chancellor by warning that Britain would be “left behind if it turned its back on the green economy”. Publishing the Government’s first progress report towards meeting its renewable energy targets, the Energy Secretary has claimed that Britain’s green agenda is helping, not hurting, the economy. The warning follows George Osborne’s speech at the Conservative Party conference in October, in which he blamed green taxes for high energy bills and for damaging industry.

Times 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Chris Huhne today revealed more evidence of the economic benefits of renewable energy as he reaffirmed the coalition’s commitment to meeting EU renewable energy targets. This came as the UK published an update on progress to source 15% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. Latest research from DECC shows that so far this financial year, companies have announced plans for almost £2.5billion worth of investment in renewable energy projects in the UK, with the potential to create almost 12,000 jobs across the country.

DECC 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Telegraph 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Investment by companies into renewable energy projects in the UK has risen sharply this year but is still well down on 2009 levels.

Independent 30th Dec 2011 more >>

Coal

An energy company listed on the London Stock Exchange is planning to spend up to an estimated $6bn (£3.8bn) building eight coal-fired power stations that could add tens of millions of tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere. Essar Energy has just brought online the first part of the 1,200MW Salaya 1 plant in Gujarat on the west coast of India and says this and other stations are needed to counter power shortages. The move comes after countries around the world met in Durban, South Africa, this month to try to hammer out a new climate change treaty to cut global CO2 emissions.

Guardian 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 30 December 2011

29 December 2011

Energy Prices

The Coalition’s plans to convert Britain to green energy would cost the country the equivalent of £4,600 per person a year, according to official forecasts. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels and moving to renewable and nuclear energy would cost an additional £60billion every year until 2050, the officials said. But Professor David MacKay, a government adviser on climate change, said that doing nothing to reduce carbon emissions would prove even more expensive because of rising energy prices. The cheapest option for switching to green energy would increase the estimated cost of energy to £4,598 per person per year. Under this plan, just over 40 per cent of energy would come from wind, solar and renewable power, a third would come from nuclear plants and a quarter from gas stations. The estimates suggest that failing to replace fossil fuel plants with greener energy would be even more costly. Continuing to rely on coal and gas would cost about £4,682 a year per person, according to the forecasts. The most expensive scenario, working out at £5,181 per person a year, would rely on a far higher use of nuclear power than any of the other options.

Telegraph 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Guardian 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Sellafield

A COUNCIL has pledged to battle for business rates generated by the nuclear industry to be handed back to the community. Copeland Borough Council’s executive committee has pledged to fight government proposals which could see business rates from nuclear sites distributed across the UK. Copeland hosts the low level nuclear waste repository at Drigg and Sellafield, which generate a high level of income. Under government proposals business rates generated by renewable energy sites will be handed back to the local authority in their entirety but rates from nuclear sites will not.

North West Evening Mail 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Radwaste

South Lakeland ‘artivist’ Marianne Birkby founder of the pressure group Radiation Free Lakeland, has produced and published a Raymond Briggs-style picture book in her efforts to continue the campaign against plans to create the world’s first high level nuclear waste dump in West Cumbria.

New Writing 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Japan

Months after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, these images capture the eerie stillness of towns that lie broken and abandoned in the wake of the devastating natural disaster which left 20,000 dead or missing. Photographer David Guttenfelder visited the exclusion zone in July – including the radiation-contaminated town of Okuma, a mile and a half from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant which went into meltdown following the catastrophe. It is unlikely residents will ever return.

Daily Mail 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Shares in Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the owner of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan, plunged 12pc in Asian trade on nationalisation fears.

Telegraph 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Times 29th Dec 2011 more >>

North Korea

North Korea lauded the military might built up by deceased leader Kim Jong-il Thursday, likely tying his young successor to the same policies that have set Northeast Asia on edge as the impoverished state inches closer to nuclear weapons capability.

Reuters 29th Dec 2011 more >>

North Korea likely is closer to mounting nuclear warheads on its ballistic missiles than generally reported, possibly only one or two years away, the U.S. Congress’s former top expert on the issue has concluded.

Reuters 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

Letter: There is one aspect of the Falklands debacle Harry Reid does not consider. On January 6, 2003, the Ministry of Defence admitted for the first time that British ships carried nuclear weapons in the Falklands war. For decades, the MoD has refused to confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons at any particular time or place. In November 1993, Malcolm Rifkind stated the Trident could fire a single missile “in order to convey an unmistakable message of Britain’s willingness to defend her vital interests”. In other words, we are prepared to actually use Trident, to use it first, and against a non-nuclear power. British victory in the Falklands conflict was by no means guaranteed and some people at the time were openly advocating hat we incinerate the capital city of Argentine, in line with the infamous “Rifkind Doctrine”. The situation has not changed, and the Rifkind doctrine still holds, as long as we deploy Trident.

Herald 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Pakistan and India have made tentative steps towards a fresh treaty designed to stop an accident triggering nuclear war between the two atomic rivals.

Telegraph 28th Dec 2011 more >>

IB Times 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

New exchange launches in Netherlands amid growing row about wisdom of burning more wood to generate electricity.

Guardian 28th Dec 2011 more >>

TWO wind farms that could power more than 90,000 homes have been given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government. Energy minister Fergus Ewing announced approval had been granted for the 59-turbine Dorenell wind farm on the Glenfiddich estate, near Dufftown in Moray. The 177 megawatt (MW) project could provide enough power for 84,000 houses – double the number of homes in Moray. The six-turbine, 21 MW extension to the 104 MW Muaitheabhal wind farm on the Eisgein estate in Lewis will add capacity to power an additional 9,000 homes. Consent for the Muaitheabhal wind farm was granted in January 2010 but has yet to be built.

Scotsman 29th Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 29 December 2011

28 December 2011

Predictions for 2012

The British government will surprise Europe by steadfastly moving ahead with support for construction of 17-19 GWe of new nuclear powered generating capacity by 2025. EDF will commit to building two Areva EPRs at Hinkley Point. RWE and E.on, two German utilities, will likely find investment capital to build Westinghouse AP1000s at Wylfa. One source of capital will be support from the German government with export credits.

The Energy Collective 27th Dec 2011 more >>

EDF

EDF has unveiled to investors the details of its agreement to acquire Edison, Italy’s second-biggest power provider, as the French utility takes the final steps in the long awaited takeover of the €4.4bn ($5.7bn) company. EDF wants to use Milan-headquartered Edison, whose main expertise lies in gas, to ramp up its own activities in the field. The French utility wants to diversify because it is heavily reliant on nuclear power, a sector that has come under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima atomic disaster in Japan this year.

FT 27th Dec 2011 more >>

Found in searches today: Judging by Henri Proglio’s sudden burst of public lobbying in defence of nuclear power over the past week, the chief executive of EDF is a worried man. As an ally of Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, and one of the most powerful figures in French business, Mr Proglio is used to getting his own way. But the prospect of a socialist victory in next spring’s presidential elections has left him rattled. Because the socialists have not yet given details on their nuclear cut, it is difficult to assess the likely financial impact on the company. There is also the chance of Mr Sarkozy, a skilled campaigner, winning the election or Mr Hollande watering down his policy once confronted with the realities of office. EDF is also planning substantial international investments as it lessens its reliance on France, not least in the UK, which is planning up to 12 new nuclear reactors. But even there the company is affected by the uncertainty over timing, spending and electricity pricing that afflicts the industry – more so since Fukushima. “Fundamentally, the question for EDF is whether the stock market is willing to wait all those years until these plants finally see the light of day,” says Adam Dickens at HSBC. “And the market will look at the track record of costs in the nuclear industry and realise it is mixed at best.”

FT 14th Nov 2011 more >>

Nuclear Companies

Several leading European electricity providers and nuclear power plant constructors now count as part of the collateral damage caused by the tsunami that destroyed the Japanese nuclear power plant of Fukushima last March. In reference to the German government’s decision to phase out nuclear power soon after the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Johannes Teyssen, CEO of E.ON, one of Germany’s leading electricity providers and power plant operators, warned the public that the industry’s balance sheet would be affected by “extraordinary costs caused by (these) market shifts and regulations”. While few of the corporations have publically acknowledged Fukushima as the major crack in the nuclear industry’s foundation, experts like Stefan Schurig, director of the climate energy for the World Future Council, are convinced that “Fukushima was one of the last nails in the coffin for nuclear energy”.

Al Jazeera 27th Dec 2011 more >>

Nuclear Skills

STUDENTS are being encouraged to take part in a taster nuclear engineering course. The Smallpeice Trust is running a course at HMS Sultan in Gosport this year. It will give 50 students the chance to work alongside engineers.

Portsmouth News 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Japan

Fukushima Crisis updates 23rd – 26th Dec.

Greenpeace International 27th Dec 2011 more >>

The following is the gist of an interim report of a government panel investigating the Fukushima nuclear accident released on Dec. 26.

Asahi 27th Dec 2011 more >>

The darkest moments of the meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, as revealed in an interim report by a government investigation panel published Monday.

Japan Times 27th Dec 2011 more >>

Tokyo Electric Power Co – the vast Japanese energy business that owns and operated the Fukushima nuclear power plant – has asked a government-backed bailout body for an additional £6bn to help compensate victims of the nuclear crisis that followed the March tsunami.

Guardian 27th Dec 2011 more >>

Tokyo Electric Power is facing increased pressure to accept nationalisation from the Japanese government amid a warning from one of its biggest lenders that state support would be a key condition for extending further loans.

FT 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Shares of Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) fell on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on fears that the utility provider may be nationalised. It was the most actively traded stock on the bourse, falling 12% to 186 yen.

BBC 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Proliferation

Weapons-grade uranium is quietly being transported within Canada, and into the United States, in shipments the country’s nuclear watchdog wants to keep cloaked in secrecy. A confidential federal memo obtained through the Access to Information Act says at least one payload of spent, U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium fuel has already been moved stateside under a new Canada-U.S. deal.

Toronto Star 27th Dec 2011 more >>

Energy Efficiency

NONE of the Scottish Government’s own buildings have achieved top energy efficiency ratings, prompting calls for Ministers to lead by example. Figures obtained by the LibDems showed that six of the Government’s 18 larger buildings, which account for 71% of the Government’s overall floor space, have been given the bottom two Energy Performance Certificate ratings. The certificate provides A to G ratings, with A being the most energy efficient and G the least.

Herald 27th Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

Wood stockpiles are at a record low because energy companies are buying up domestic supplies to burn in power stations. Britain’s push to increase the amount of green energy it generates has set off a scramble for domestically sourced timber. Manufacturers have warned that energy companies are pricing them out of the market. Timber prices have risen by 50 per cent in the past five years and Karl Morris, managing director for the European operations of Norbord, which makes panels to build houses, furniture and pallets, predicted that they would almost double in the next five years.

The Times 28th Dec 2011 more >>

India’s biggest industrial group is set to buy out BP’s stake in an Indian solar power joint venture. Tata signed an agreement to buy the remaining 51 per cent of the Tata BP Solar venture in india, taking full control of India’s third-largest manufacturer of solar panels.

Times 28th Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 28 December 2011

27 December 2011

Japan

Japan’s response to the nuclear crisis that followed the 11 March tsunami was confused and riddled with problems, including an erroneous assumption an emergency cooling system was working and a delay in disclosing dangerous radiation leaks, a report revealed yesterday. The disturbing picture of bumbling workers and government officials scrambling to respond to the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was contained in the report which detailed a government investigation. The 507-page interim report, compiled by interviewing more than 400 people, found authorities had grossly underestimated tsunami risks, assuming the highest wave would be 20ft. The tsunami hit at over twice that height.

Independent 27th Dec 2011 more >>

Guardian 26th Dec 2011 more >>

Daily Mail 26th Dec 2011 more >>

Telegraph 26th Dec 2011 more >>

The operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant and its regulators all failed in their duty to adequately prepare for and respond promptly to a major emergency, contributing to the worst nuclear accident in a quarter century, according to a committee investigating the disaster.

FT 26th Dec 2011 more >>

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has asked the government for an extra 690bn yen ($9bn; £5.6bn) to compensate victims of the nuclear crisis. The company, which controls the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, is facing almost $100bn (£64bn) in compensation claims.

BBC 27th Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

Official figures disclosed that 17 operators were paid almost £7 million for shutting down their farms on almost 40 ¬occasions between January and mid-September. Continuing to make payments at that rate would lead to householders paying out £9.9 million in 2011 for operators to disconnect their turbines from the National Grid.

Telegraph 27th Dec 2011 more >>

Obituary

Coningsby Allday, who has died aged 91, was a leader of the nuclear industry as chief executive of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, and played a key role in the development of the Windscale (now Sellafield) plant for the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

Telegraph 26th Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 27 December 2011

26 December 2011

NDA

The taxpayer will have to stump up almost £250m more to bail out the nda in the next financial year after falling asset sales and rising expenditure cut its income by 17.5%. The shortfall is revealed in the NDA’s just-published draft business plan for 2012-15, which shows the impact of being unable to offload land to the private sector for new nuclear plants and the end of the contracts to supply Japan with mixed-oxide fuel. The setback will give more ammunition to environmentalists and other critics who argue that the wider nuclear industry is infamous for cost overruns and calls on public funds. NDA income for 2012-13 is shown dropping from £867m to £717m, while expenditure is expected to rise from £2.88bn to £2.96bn, leaving the government needing to increase its total grant to the organisation, which oversees the dismantling of the UK’s atomic legacy.

Guardian 25th Dec 2011 more >>

Wylfa

Welsh Language ITV flagship programme Byd ar Bedwar (20/12/2011) investigates breast cancer increases downwind of the Wylfa Nuclear Power Station on Anglesey. Dr Chris Busby was commissioned by the programme to investigate cancer death rates in the 11 wards surrounding the plant. He found a significant 60% excess risk in women dying between 1999 and 2008 in the downwind wards compared with the distant wards. There was also two-fold excess lung cancer risk in men in Amlwch Port downwind of the plant.

You Tube 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Japan

Minamisoma, a sprawling rural city in Fukushima, was hit by the 11 March tsunami. Parts of the city also lie within the exclusion zone around the crippled nuclear plant. The BBC’s Roland Buerk met residents who have stayed to rebuild. The headmistress, Chieko Nakai, personally helped a team of volunteers to hose down the roof. Mechanical diggers were used to remove the contaminated five centimetres of topsoil from the playground and bury it in the corner. Even so, the swings have not been used since March. The children have to play inside.

BBC 25th Dec 2011 more >>

North Korea

Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda said yesterday that he and his Chinese counterpart have agreed to work together in dealing with North Korea and promoting stability in the country after the death of Kim Jong-Il.

Scotsman 26th Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

Officials are scrambling to strike a compromise with the solar industry after an attempt to slash subsidies was blocked by the High Court. Greg Barker, the energy minister, is considering ways to soften the impact of the planned halving of the feed-in tariff, which is paid to households for electricity generated by solar panels. The rethink follows a successful legal challenge last week by Friends of the Earth and two solar companies, Homesun and Solarcentury. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has until January 4 to appeal. The talks come amid warnings that the funding pot for photo-voltaic solar panel installations could run out within months.

Sunday Times 25th Dec 2011 more >>

Letter: after the celebrations or commiserations, ministers will hopefully take the opportunity to address the two fundamental problems that still exist: lack of a sufficient budget to support this growing industry, and a proposed structure that disadvantages smaller companies. The decision to decrease the percentage return on solar photovoltaic to single figures is sensible and expected. However, to base these rates on budget levels calculated as part of the comprehensive spending review, set in November 2010, is out of line with the current economic picture. Since the decision was taken last year to create a fixed budget for the tariff, the government has changed its overall strategy and now recognises the need to inject funds into the economy to stimulate business and create jobs.

Guardian 25th Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 26 December 2011

24 December 2011

Sellafield

More than 9,000 staff at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria have picked up a £1,000 Christmas bonus – partly for turning up to meetings. The consortium that runs the biggest nuclear site in Britain said the £9m payout reflected a strong performance under an annual “target achievement scheme” aimed at improving productivity and safety. The £9m present comes at a difficult time for the workforce of Europe’s biggest atomic site. Up to 2,000 staff are faced with being moved to other locations, and up to 600 jobs are at risk as a result of the closure of the Sellafield mixed-oxide plant. It is also a critical time for Cumbrian local councils, which are considering plans to build a long-term repository for high-level radioactive waste in the region.

Guardian 23rd Dec 2011 more >>

AP1000

American nuclear safety regulators have approved an amendment to the AP1000 reactor design, in a major step towards US deployment of the model. Construction on new reactors could begin very soon. The issuance of the final ruling was the major outstanding prerequisite before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will be able to grant licenses to construct and operate AP1000 power plants. This is expected shortly for two separate projects, each envisaging two AP1000 units: Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia, under the management of Southern Nuclear; and South Carolina Electric & Gas’s (SCE&G’s) VC Summer 3 and 4.

World Nuclear News 23rd Dec 2011 more >>

Nuclear Transports

At a meeting of the Ramsden Dock Terminal Stakeholder Group (RDTSG) held at the nuclear shipping terminal at Barrow-in-Furness on the 19th December, a number of issues relating to ships and nuclear transports were presented by International Nuclear Services (INS). As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), INS is responsible for the commercial management of the nuclear fleet. In a presentation by Direct Rail Services (DRS) – another wholly owned subsidiary of the NDA – the Committee heard that plans were now in hand to construct a rail head in the north of Scotland through which around 44 tonnes of spent fuel from Dounreay’s fast breeder reactor would be transported for reprocessing at Sellafield. The rail-head will be located some 25km south-east of Dounreay at Georgemas Junction where the north-bound rail link from Inverness splits into the two lines that serve Wick and Thurso respectively. Work on the rail-head is expected to start in the New Year and the first of 40 transports of Dounreay material expected by the NDA to commence in Summer 2012.

Core 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Olkiluoto

August 2014 is the date that Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) expects to see power flow from its new reactor, Olkiluoto 3, according to a single-line statement issued on 21 December. The announcement brought a little more clarity to the unit’s schedule compared with TVO’s last announcement, which specified only the year 2014. The Finnish utility said it had been informed by the Areva-Siemens consortium building the unit that August 2014 was scheduled for commercial operation. Construction started in May 2005.

World Nuclear News 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Japan

The Japanese Government and Tepco say that they have achieved a “cold shutdown” of Fukushima nuclear reactors. Specifically, they claim that the water inside the reactors is now below the boiling point. In reality, no one knows what’s really going on inside the reactors. The announcement of “cold shutdown” is based on a political decision not science.

Infowars 24th Dec 2011 more >>

Fukushima Update 20th – 22nd Dec.

Greenpeace International 23rd Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

The Government must drop plans to appeal over its lost high court solar battle or jeopardise thousands of jobs and land the taxpayer with a legal bill of tens of thousands of pounds, Friends of the Earth said today. A judge ruled yesterday that the Government’s plans to rush through cuts to solar payments were illegal – and refused permission for an appeal because it had no real prospect of winning – following a legal challenge by Friends of the Earth and two solar firms – Solarcentury and HomeSun. The court pronounced that proposals to cut feed-in tariff payments for any solar scheme completed after 12 December – 11 days before the official consultation closed – were unlawful. Instead of going through a costly and fruitless further appeal process, Friends of the Earth is calling on the Government to create a new plan for solar payments to fall in line with reduced installation costs, ending uncertainty among solar companies and workers facing redundancy.

FoE 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

This week’s Micro Power News – mostly covering solar court case.

Microgenm Scotland 23rd Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 24 December 2011

23 December 2011

Annual Review

The year 2011 was another ecologically tumultuous year with greenhouse gases rise to record levels, Arctic sea ice nearly equalling 2007’s record melt, and temperatures the 11th highest ever recorded. It was marked on the ground by unparalleled extremes of heat and cold in the US, droughts and heatwaves in Europe and Africa and record numbers of weather-related natural disasters. In addition, 2011 saw the world population reach 7 billion, the second worst nuclear disaster and record investments in renewable energy.

Guardian 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

AP1000

Opening the door to a new generation of nuclear reactors, federal regulators on Thursday approved a design that a nuclear watchdog group acknowledged is an improvement but still not ideal. The AP1000 reactor, designed by Westinghouse Electric Co., is safer than the current generation of U.S. reactors, which date back 30 years or more, members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in voting for approval. “The design provides enhanced safety margins through use of simplified, inherent, passive, or other innovative safety and security functions, and also has been assessed to ensure it could withstand damage from an aircraft impact without significant release of radioactive materials,” NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in a statement.

MSNBC 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Hinkley

A report on burying electricity cables in the Cheddar Valley is finally to be published – a year late. Resident and campaigners greeted news that an independent study from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) would be out on January 31, with a mixture of disbelief and frustration.

Cheddar Valley Gazette 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Sellafield

Sellafield’s 10,000 permanent staff have picked up a £1,000 bonus just in time for Christmas. It is their reward from the company for good performance under the annual Target Achievement Scheme. Fifty per cent of the bonus is down to Aceman, a new employee participation scheme. The payout is based on workers attending and taking part in meetings.

Cumberland News 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Whitehaven News 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Nine hundred Sellafield workers are to transfer into Whitehaven in a move which, it is hoped, will breathe new life into the town. The workers will be housed in Albion Square, a near-£20 million office complex stretching over 100,000sq ft and rising four storeys at the Preston Street end of the town. The deal was formally signed this week but it will be two years before Sellafield staff can be moved in.

Carlisle News and Star 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Whitehaven News 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Sellafield Ltd plans to move around 2,000 workers off the nuclear site, with nearly half going into Whitehaven’s Albion Square development. But, as this is two years off, the company is having to look at other possible accommodation across West Cumbria. Sellafield’s stakeholders relations director, Iain Irving, confirmed that the government-owned Cattle Movement Centre at Workington is one possibility.

Whitehaven News 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

COMMONSENSE over politics – that’s how Copeland Council views a West Cumbrian parliamentary seat embracing Sellafield and the rest of the local nuclear industry.

Whitehaven News 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

RWE

RWE has aborted attempts to lure Gazprom of Russia in a joint venture that was to take over the German utility’s gas- and oil-fired power plants in Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands and possibly build new ones. Jürgen Grossmann, chief executive of RWE, said he and Gazprom counterpart Alexei Miller had “unfortunately not been able to agree on a framework for co-operation which would be sustainable” since talks began this summer. RWE and Gazprom had looked at putting RWE’s existing gas and coal-fired power stations in Germany, the UK, and the Benelux countries into the venture – and also at building new plants to meet new German demand.

FT 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Energy Costs

The average domestic fuel bill will be £1,175 in 2011, compared with £1,075 for the same level of consumption last year, estimates from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show.

Telegraph 23rd Dec 2011 more >>

Japan

Japan’s nuclear power industry, which once ignored opposition, now finds its existence threatened by women angered by official opaqueness on radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after it was struck by an earthquake-driven tsunami in March. “Mothers are at the forefront of various grassroots movements that are working together to stop the operation of all nuclear plants in Japan from 2012,” Aileen Miyoko Smith, head of Green Action, a non- governmental organisation (NGO) that promotes renewable energy told IPS.

Guardian 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Submarines

THE chancellor of Southampton Solent University, the former head of the Navy, has called for a nuclear sub to be sent to the Falklands in a show of force.

Daily Echo 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

The government’s rush to cut a subsidy for people who generate solar electicity on their roofs was clumsily handled and may have fatally damaged a growing industry which had the potential to provide tens of thousands of jobs, says a new report by MPs on two influential select committees. By giving both consumers and companies just a few weeks’ notice that they intended to halve solar “feed-in tariffs” (FiTs) from 43.3p to 21p paid per kWh of energy generated, they have created uncertainty among investors and undermined public confidence in energy policy, said the MPs.

Guardian 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Green groups and solar energy companies have welcomed a High Court ruling that proposals to rush through cuts to solar tariff payments are illegal, despite a pledge from the government to seek an early appeal against the decision. Mr Justice Mitting yesterday upheld a legal challenge from Friends of the Earth and two solar energy companies – HomeSun and Solarcentury – ruling that it would be illegal for the cuts to have an “effective date” on the 12 December, two weeks before the consultation officially ended.

Business Green 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Final day to comment on the Government’s proposed changed to FiTs.

DECC 23rd Dec 2011 more >>

The Church of England and the National Trust have written to the government saying recent policy changes put community solar power schemes at risk. They fear the changes “signal a retreat” in government plans to move towards localised renewable energy. This week, the High Court ruled that a plan to halve subsidies for solar panels was “legally flawed”, and MPs’ committees said it was “panicky”. The church and the charity want a UK target for community energy.

BBC 23rd Dec 2011 more >>

Scotland looks set for its highest ever renewables output, and could produce almost a third of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2011. The latest Energy Statistics (PDF) from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that, over the first three quarters of 2011, Scotland delivered 94 per cent of last year’s totals and 83 per cent of the previous record year. The Scottish government said that, if the trend continues over the fourth quarter, 2011 will be a record year for renewable electricity in Scotland.

Guardian 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 23 December 2011

22 December 2011

NDA

The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority expects commercial income to drop by 17.3% in fiscal 2012-13 over the current year and taxpayers will pick up the tab through an increased government contribution. The NDA is projecting a £3 billion spending plan annually for the next four years, of which £2.2 billion (up from £2.0 billion this year) is funded directly by the government and the remainder comes from commercial income. The biggest year-on-year change to NDA commercial income is represented by the £157 million in one-off asset sales projected to be recorded in the current year ending March 2012 that can’t be repeated in future years. However, the closure of the Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP) in August following the loss of spent fuel reprocessing business from Japan will represent a loss of some £78 million year-on-year in MOX contracts, according to the NDA’s draft “Business Plan 2012-15.”

i-Nuclear.com 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Electricity Market Reform

Next year will also see the Government’s Electricity Market Reform white paper head for parliament, with the government planning to legislate in the second session, which begins in May. The industry will be waiting to see what these are, as well as to hear more about the catchily-titled ‘Feed-in-tariff with Contract for Difference’, a proposed payment system intended to assuage investors’ fears through a guaranteed wholesale rate for electricty generated by low-carbon technologies. It should also hear more about the proposed capacity mechanism, a new kind of market to help manage supply and demand levels, which could see industries and even consumers being paid a retainer to guarantee they can temporarily switch off some of their usage when supplies get too low.

Telegraph 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Energy Prices

The consensus is because of the mild weather we are having as well, that will drag prices down as well. So the general consensus is we see prices going down at the start of 2012.” But despite gas prices being one of the main factors determining wholesale energy prices, there’s no guarantee any reduction will be passed on to consumers.

Telegraph 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Hinkley

Anti-nuclear campaigmners have released a study which claims women in Burnham have a 43% greater risk of dying from breast cancer. The study by Professor Chris Busby from Green Audit focuses on the period 2005-8 and concludes that the figures are “statistically significant” because Burnham is located downwind of Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

Burnham-on-sea.com 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Wylfa

We are alert to the concerns some people have about nuclear power at Wylfa. Public health in Wales and the UK has routine reporting systems in place which allow us to monitor cancer and other diseases in the population. These systems have not so far identified causes for concern related to the nuclear power plant at Wylfa. We are keen to make sure that, when considering the proposal for a new development, the potential impact on the health of people living in the community – both positive and negative – is fully considered.

Public Health Wales 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Radwaste

Letter from Charles Hendry to Santa: We have been working VERY hard all year to convince Cumbrian Councillors that ‘Managing Radioactive Wastes Safely’ means mining a BIG hole to dump nuclear wastes in. As you know, Santa, we need to SOLVE the nuclear waste problem in order to build more nuclear plants. We have made sure that all the usual movers and shakers in Cumbria are ON MESSAGE OR SILENT. Please, Santa, keep the GEOLOGICAL DUMP on track.

Radaiation Free Lakeland 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Japan

With the operations of Japan’s nuclear reactors still suspended as an aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, overall energy demand of the world’s third-largest economy will upsurge sharply in 2012/13.

IB Times 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Japan’s government acknowledged today that it would spend the next 40 years cleaning and decommissioning the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Morning Star 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Independent 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Poor communication at the top level of government may have delayed the evacuation of residents threatened by radiation leaks from the Fukushima nuclear plant, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Thursday, citing a panel investigating the crisis.

Reuters 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Israel

Letter: Israel perceives a nuclear Iran as a potentially existential threat. The possible combination of extreme Islamism, a messianic leadership calling to “wipe Israel off the map” and nuclear weapons, is deeply sobering. Given Israel’s collective memory of the Holocaust and its hostile surroundings, Israelis take this threat especially seriously.

FT 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Iran

If Iran cannot follow basic diplomatic niceties, it is not clear whether it could be trusted with nuclear capacity- which it could have within a year.

Daily Mail 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Senior United Nations nuclear watchdog officials could visit Iran for talks, after an Iranian envoy suggested Tehran would be ready to discuss international concerns and remove “ambiguities” about its atomic activities. Iran’s latest offer coincides with a sharpening of international sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear work.

Scotsman 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Submarines

A nuclear submarine should be sent to the Falkland Islands to illustrate Britain’s anger at a decision by South American countries to ban boats bearing the island’s flag, the former head of the Royal Navy said.

Telegraph 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Evening Standard 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

The Court ruled the government had breached rules governing consultation exercises, when it announced that proposed cuts to feed-in tariff incentives would impact installations completed before the end of the consultation period. DECC has consistently warned that delaying the proposed cuts to incentives could result in the feed-in tariff scheme exceeding its spending cap – a scenario that some solar industry insiders fear will result in deeper cuts to incentives in the future. Jeremy Leggett, chairman of Solarcentury, which launched the legal action alongside HomeSun and Friends of the Earth, urged the government to now work with the solar industry to reduce incentives in a controlled manner.

Business Green 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Government plans to slash incentive payments for householders who install solar panels were ruled “legally flawed” by a high court judge on Wednesday. The ruling opens the door for a judicial review that could force the government to delay its plans, and let thousands more people claim the higher subsidy. Friends of the Earth and two solar panel companies argued that the government’s decision to cut the feed-in tariff – the amount paid to those with solar panels installed – with only a few weeks’ notice was premature and unlawful, and had led to unfinished or planned projects being abandoned. The tariff was cut from 43.3p to 21p per kWh of energy generated.

Guardian 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Government plans to cut incentive payments for householders who install solar panels have been ruled “legally flawed” by a high court judge. The ruling opens the door for a judicial review that could force the government to delay its plans, potentially allowing thousands more people to claim the higher subsidy.

Guardian 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Independent 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Times 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker responded to today’s High Court ruling on the proposed changes to solar Feed In Tariffs: “We disagree with the Court’s decision. We will be seeking an appeal and hope to secure a hearing as soon as possible. Regardless of today’s outcome, the current high tariffs for solar PV are not sustainable and changes need to be made in order to protect the budget which is funded by consumers through their energy bills.”

DECC 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Planned government changes to subsidies on solar power may deal the industry a “fatal blow”, two parliamentary committees are warning. The Environmental Audit Committee and Energy and Climate Change Committee say ministers are right to make changes, but are doing so “clumsily”. Government plans include restricting access to solar subsidies to houses meeting energy efficiency standards. Thousands of solar industry jobs could be at risk, the committees warn. On Wednesday, a group of companies and environmental groups won a legal judgement against one of the changes.

BBC 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

BP has taken the axe to its solar power business, saying it “can’t make any money” from selling panels at a time when it continues to spend $20bn annually on oil and gas developments.

Guardian 21st Dec 2011 more >>

The solar industry may have scored a High Court victory against government moves to halve subsidies for household solar panels, but its jubilation was tempered by signs that it is unlikely to win the larger battle against efforts to rein in the cost of supporting green power. “The likelihood is that the ruling has simply delayed the inevitable,” said David Symons, of the WSP Environment & Energy consultancy.

FT 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Green Deal

The Green Deal is due to go live in 2012, with the industry waiting to see whether it can live up to the ambitious promises. After the fiasco of the sudden change to solar feed-in-tariffs, there are questions over consumer and investor trust in green schemes. The Government will be hoping it can counteract this through the extra £200m of funding it announced in November to encourage early take-up of the Green Deal. A consultation on the details of the deal is underway, with secondary legislation due in the spring and the first Green Deal installations in October.

Telegraph 22nd Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 22 December 2011

21 December 2011

Waste Transport

A controversial plan to ship 16 decommissioned nuclear steam generators across Ontario’s Great Lakes and eventually to Sweden for recycling continues to remain on hold, nearly two years after it was first proposed. This week, Bruce Power, Canada’s only private nuclear power operator, said there was no update on what it will do with the school bus-sized generators left over from a refurbishment of its Bruce A nuclear reactor.

Canada.com 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Hinkley

A worrying new report by Prof Chris Busby of Green Audit shows a 43% greater risk of dying from breast cancer for women living in Burnham-on-Sea. The result of the analysis, which covers the period 2005-8, is lower than the doubling of risk found in earlier periods but is still statistically significant. Burnham-on-Sea is situated downwind of the nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point in Somerset and the proposed site for new nuclear development.

Stop Hinkley 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Sea anglers in the Burnham area fear that work to expand Hinkley Point power station will result in them losing huge swathes of fishing grounds.

Burnham-on-sea.com 19th Dec 2011 more >>

Wylfa

Wylfa Site has reached a significant milestone in its lifecycle by taking delivery of the last Magnox nuclear fuel elements ever to be manufactured. The last bulk fuel delivery from Springfields Fuels Limited arrived on site this week. Approximately 5.5 million Magnox fuel elements have been produced since 1955 – more than 600,000 of which were made for Wylfa.

Nuclear Matters 20th Dec 2011 more >>

SPRINGFIELDS workers have marked the end of an era. After 56 years and more than five and a half million fuel elements, the last consignment of Magnox fuel finally left the Westinghouse-operated nuclear fuel manufacturing site.

Blackpool Gazette 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Legal Action

Hot on the heels of the NPSs being designated came the first legal challenge to one of them. On 26th August, Greenpeace launched a challenge to EN-6, the Nuclear Power NPS, on the grounds that its designation was premature given the events in Fukushima in March, arguing that more evidence was needed before the implications for the UK nuclear programme could be properly incorporated. The case has yet to be heard.

Bircham, Dyson & Bell 20th Dec 2011 more >>

NDA

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has published a draft Business Plan 2012 – 2015 for consultation. The consultation will run from 12 December and close on 3 February 2012.

NDA 12th Dec 2011 more >>

Radhealth

Following news that four new sites in Scotland have been identified with radiation, SNP MSPs are calling for urgent action to ensure people’s safety. The four sites are RAF Kinloss, RAF Machrihanish, former Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) near Perth and former military land at Stirling Forthside – all in addition to the contamination found at Dalgety Bay. SNP MSP for Highland and Islands Mike Mackenzie said: “With four new sites identified with radium pollution, the Ministry of Defence’s action must be open and transparent – especially after the failures at Dalgety Bay, which still haven’t been resolved. “There are now five Scottish communities affected by radiation, which is extremely bad news.

SNP Press Release 12th Dec 2011 more >>

At least 15 sites across the UK have been contaminated by radioactivity from second world war military hardware, according to new disclosures by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). A dozen of the sites, which include current and former air and naval bases, have not been identified before by the MoD. Some are accessible to the public or are being developed for homes or businesses, though the potential risks are unclear. The contamination comes from radium that was used to coat the dials of aircraft and other equipment so that they could be seen in the dark. It was in scrap burned and dumped in the 1940s and 1950s, and remains radioactive for thousands of years. The contaminated sites include the old SAS headquarters at Stirling Lines in Hereford, a former naval air base near Portsmouth and a previous home to the Red Arrows in Gloucestershire. The MoD has revealed the list of sites in response to a series of freedom of information requests in the wake of the discovery of dangerous levels of radium contamination at Dalgety Bay in Fife. It was home to a busy second world war air base. In the past three months, 475 radioactive hotspots have been discovered on the foreshore near a public footpath and a popular sailing club. Several of the finds have been radioactive enough to cause skin burns, or to significantly increase cancer risks if swallowed.

Guardian 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Robedwards.com 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Nuclear Propulsion

In order to constantly provide enough power to shove that bulk up over mile after mile of ice, the 50 Let Pobedy (let’s just call it the Victory) runs a pair of nuclear reactors that generate a combined 55.2 megawatts (74,000 horsepower), which hits the water through three electric propulsion motors. Why nuclear? Well, to put it simply, the fuel demands of the task at hand would be outrageous using any other power source. Burning diesel, the Victory would use more than 100 tons (90.7 metric tons) of fuel a day, and have a severely restricted range as a result. But running on nuclear power, she burns less than half a kilo (1 pound) of uranium even on the toughest day, at constant full power across 2.8-meter (9.2-foot) thick ice.

Gizmag 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Europe

A €631.1 million spending programme designed to improve nuclear power plant safety worldwide has been proposed by the European Commission. It wants to strengthen the role the European Union (EU) plays in ensuring nuclear power stations operate safely and cope with natural disasters, expanding Brussels’ current work within EU and neighbouring states to all countries. This would be funded by a revised and upgraded EU ‘Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation’ programme, running from 2014 to 2020.

Utility Week 20th Dec 2011 more >>

France

Rolls Royce has landed a £210 Million deal to supply safety instrumentation and control technologies for the French nuclear reactor modernization programme. The safety systems and technologies will be installed in twenty-strong French fleet of 1300 MW nuclear reactors operated by Electricité de France (EDF).

IB Times 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Japan

Fukushima Crisis Update 16th – 19th Dec.

Greenpeace International 20th Dec 2011 more >>

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says a large quantity of contaminated water was found in a tunnel below a building storing highly radioactive water. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is investigating how about 230 tons of water flowed into the tunnel. TEPCO says a worker found the pool of water on Sunday. The water reportedly was about 50 centimeters to 3 meters deep throughout the 54-meter long tunnel. The utility says the level of radiation at the surface of the water is 3 millisieverts per hour. It is just a fraction of the level of the highly radioactive water stored in the waste processing facility above.

NHK 19th Dec 2011 more >>

Kono’s solution to the many problems posed by nuclear energy is a phasing out of the industry in Japan. His plan involves halting construction of any new reactors and the decommissioning of existing reactors after 40 years. Kono first suggested this plan in 1997. ‘If we’d adopted my plan then, Japan would have been nuclear free by 2037,’ he says. ‘Now it’s 2011 and I am still saying the same thing. Forty years is enough time for us to increase our stock of renewables and to improve our energy efficiency,’ he reasons. Kono would like to make achieving 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 a national challenge. ‘Japan has the technology, talent and determination to met this goal,’ he says. But with the current government wedded to the status quo, Japan may have to wait for Kono Taro to achieve his ambition of becoming prime minister for there to be a change in Japan’s energy policy.

New Internationalist 20th Dec 2011 more >>

US

The NRC has made some improvements in its IT security efforts, but also has much more work to do. “While the agency has continued to make improvements in its information system security program and has made progress in implementing the recommendations resulting from previous FISMA evaluations, the independent evaluation identified three information system security program weaknesses.

PC Advisor 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Iran

US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta in a CBS interview claimed Iran’s bomb is less than a year away.

Daily Mail 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Renewables

The offshore marine energy project in Cornwall, which allows developers to test new wave energy technology, will be taken on by the Government to secure its future as a vital part of the UK’s green energy sources. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) will take over ownership of the Wave Hub asset from the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA) on the 1 January 2012.

BIS 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Independent 20th Dec 2011 more >>

Hopes that Scotland’s island communities might build their future prosperity on renewable energy projects could founder on massive charges levied by Ofgem on electricity generators. Last night Ofgem, the energy regulator, was accused of “illegal discrimination” against outlying communities by proposing electricity transmission charges for island wind farms that are up to seven times higher than for mainland wind generators.

Times 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Green Deal

The government’s flagship programme to transform the energy efficiency of 14m homes in the next decade will fail and only reach only 2-3m households, according to an unprecedented attack from the government’s own climate advisers. The warning comes from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which on Tuesday for the first time published an open letter criticising government policy. It follows soaring energy bills and the news that one in four homes are now in fuel poverty. Currently, energy companies have a legal obligation to enable their customers to improve their energy efficiency. “The [green deal] proposal is to take away that obligation and say ‘let’s leave it to the market’,” said David Kennedy, the CCC chief executive. “There is going to be a complete collapse in the insulation market,” said Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, who described the CCC’s intervention as “unprecedented”. “We will see an 80% drop in the cavity walls being filled,” he added.

Guardian 20th Dec 2011 more >>

The man given the task of advising the Government on how best to meet carbon-reduction targets believes that its much-vaunted home insulation programme will flop. Lord Turner of Ecchinswell has written to the Energy Secretary to say that Britain will miss its carbon emission reduction targets and that energy bills will become increasingly unaffordable for many under current plans. The intervention from the peer, head of the independent Committee on Climate Change, will put even more pressure on the Government to make radical changes to its “Green Deal” energy efficiency programme. Chris Huhne is banking on it to deliver huge efficiency savings and cut bills to cushion households from the rising costs of fossil fuels and wind farms over the next decade. But according to his officials’ forecasts — first published in The Times last month and quoted in Lord Turner’s letter yesterday — the number of homes insulated under the Green Deal will slump, not rise.

Times 21st Dec 2011 more >>

Posted: 21 December 2011