News December 2012

31 December 2012


Almost two dozen employees from companies including the energy giants British Gas and npower are working at the Department of Energy and, in most cases, are being paid by the government to do so, documents released under freedom of information rules reveal. Oil companies such as Shell and ConocoPhillips also have staff inside the department, and civil servants have travelled in the opposite direction to work for the companies. The Green party MP Caroline Lucas, who made some of the …

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30 December 2012


Britain’s nuclear industry has warned that a “no” vote by local councils on crucial plans to assess sites for a major radioactive waste dump would be “an injustice to future generations”. Lord Hutton, the former defence secretary who is now chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, said that it was no longer possible to pass the buck and that the research on a suitable waste site should go ahead. Sir David King, the former government chief scientific adviser, warned that …

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29 December 2012


EDF, the French nuclear power group, has become embroiled in a controversy over its industrial ties with China, sparking renewed speculation about the future of the company’s chief executive, Henri Proglio. France’s government – which owns 84 per cent of EDF, the world’s biggest generator of atomic-powered electricity by output – confirmed this week that it was opening an audit investigation into the French nuclear industry’s relations with foreign partners, including between EDF and CGNPC, the Chinese nuclear power group. …

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28 December 2012


Toshiba Corp. is negotiating with three parties to sell up to 16% of its Westinghouse Electric Co. nuclear-power unit, Toshiba President Norio Sasaki said. The three parties “have made very good offers,” but Toshiba is “not in a hurry,” Mr. Sasaki said. The Japanese conglomerate’s forecast for its nuclear-reactor business is positive, despite softer demand after last year’s Fukushima disaster in Japan, he said. Toshiba paid about $4.2 billion for 77% of U.S.-based Westinghouse six years ago. At that price, …

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27 December 2012


A damning report by safety experts has revealed that staff at Britain’s most important nuclear site did “not have the level of capability required to respond to nuclear emergencies effectively”. In response to a freedom of information request, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), an arm of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said errors by senior fire officers in a preparedness exercise at Sellafield “could have led to delays in responding to the nuclear emergency and a prolonged release …

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26 December 2012

New Nukes

Britain’s multi-billion pound nuclear building programme could face long delays because of cutbacks at EDF Energy’s parent company in France. The company has still not confirmed it will go ahead with the work and it now has revised the decision to ‘the earliest possible date’. Confirmation is not expected until March at the earliest, if at all. Delays had been caused by issues negotiating agreement with the British Government over price guarantees. But now the parent company, which is …

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24 December 2012


Work on decommissioning the Chapelcross nuclear plant has reached a milestone as the third of its four reactors has been completely defuelled. The Annan plant ceased power generation in 2004 and its cooling towers were demolished in 2007. More than 38,000 fuel elements have to be removed from the site and taken for reprocessing at Sellafield in Cumbria. To-date 34,552 elements have left the plant and it is predicted defuelling will be complete by mid-2013.

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23 December 2012


Plans for massive increases in the amounts of radioactive waste dumped into the air and sea by the Dounreay nuclear plant on the north coast of Scotland have run into opposition from local authorities. Shetland and other councils are alarmed at proposals to discharge quantities of radioactive gases and liquids hundreds – or even millions- of times greater than in recent years. They are worried about the long-term risks for human health and the environment.

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22 December 2012


Energy firm EdF has received its recommendation for planning approval for its proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C. But despite reaching this key milestone by the end of 2012 as planned, EdF has still refused to commit to building the plant. It is to defer its final investment decision until the first quarter of next year although it had previously said it would make its final investment decision by the end of 2012 (NCE 18 November 2011). …

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21 December 2012

Energy Bill

Michael Meacher: The Energy Bill, which had its second reading today, has been presented by the government and the press as a bitterly fought compromise between the Tories and Lib Dems. The latter have secured an extra £7.6 billion at today’s prices to support nuclear and renewables up to 2020, while the former have secured the dropping of the target to decarbonise the electricity supply by 2030. That is the picture presented to the public. It is, however, a …

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