News June 2013

21 June 2013

Towards a Sustainable Cumbria … discuss!

West Cumbria and North Lakes Friends of the Earth have launched a new draft report – a Sustainable Energy Strategy for Cumbria. The strategy will be one that does not depend on new nuclear developments, but uses the abundance of clean green resources and expertise we already have in Cumbria.

Pete Roche was commissioned to research and write the report “Towards a Sustainable Cumbria”. Everyone with an interest in Cumbria’s future is invited to comment on the report, and the group will then produce a final document.

Nuclear issues campaigner for West Cumbria and North Lakes Friends of the Earth, Dr Ruth Balogh explained:

“It’s a Plan B for Cumbria. We need to start a conversation about how we can thrive without new nuclear. The nuclear industry here should concentrate on making waste safe and secure, for which there are many jobs for years to come. We show what could be done to make Cumbria sustainable for energy. We could expand technologies that are already doing well in Cumbria like anaerobic digesters and low-head hydro power, and adopt ideas from outside the County, like district heating systems and solid wall insulation.”

The document is available to download here. All comments received whether in writing, by email or verbally will be taken into account before producing a final Strategy later this year.

Posted: 21 June 2013

21 June 2013

Torness – Emergency Planning

SIXTY years ago the advice came from Civil Defence films in which men with clipped BBC accents advised us of the need to “duck and cover”. Today the protocol for dealing with a potential nuclear disaster is more concerned with getting the right cancer-fighting drugs to those living closest to power stations. A new survival manual has been despatched to all 220 households within the 3km blast radius of Torness Nuclear Power Station in East Lothian – the region’s only nuclear plant. Should the worst occur, warnings will be issued to homes via automated telephone messages, police loudspeakers and local broadcasts while residents are told to remain indoors and take anti-radiation tablets issued periodically by energy bosses. Caches of the potassium iodate pills – deployed to protect against thyroid cancer – are understood to be stockpiled across East Lothian, but questions are now being asked about whether the precautions are far-reaching enough. Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan two years ago, campaigners have lobbied to increase the precautionary danger zone from around 15km to 30km – which would take in a 25,000-strong population from the towns of Dunbar, Haddington and North Berwick. Ward councillor Paul McLennan said he would raise the issue with Health Secretary Alex Neil. He said: “I’m concerned about it because there is no way these tablets could be distributed to people living 15 or 30km from Torness in the event of an emergency. I know people in the immediate area are supplied with the tablets and are renewed every so often.” Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith and a member of the Torness Local Liaison Committee said he was “astonished” Scottish authorities had failed to “learn the lessons from Fukushima and Chernobyl”.

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Posted: 21 June 2013

20 June 2013

Sellafield

Construction firms URS, Areva and Amec could be thrown-off the management of the £22bn nuclear-decommissioning programme at Sellafield in September, it emerged this week. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which oversees the management of Sellafield, confirmed that the Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) venture, which comprises URS, Areva and Amec, could be kicked-off the job in September when the programme is placed under review. The joint venture was appointed in 2009 on a 17-year contract, which is reviewed every five years. The result of the first review will be announced in September and will decide what happens at Sellafield from April 2014. The NDA can either continue with NMPs contract for another five years; run a fresh competition for a new parent body organisation; or bring management of the site in house. Speaking to the Financial Times this week, John Clarke, chief executive of the NDA, said there were “real disappointments” with the performance of NMP and he had expected the programme “to be further along than we are”. The management of Sellafield has also come in for criticism from the National Audit Office, which published a report in November 2012 that said “underperformance” on major projects at the site had caused £1bn of cost overruns.

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Posted: 20 June 2013

19 June 2013

Nuclear Subsidy

The U.K. government has agreed that the guaranteed fixed price for electricity from a new nuclear power plant that Electricite de France SA (EDF.FR) wants to build would be fully linked to inflation, said people familiar with the matter, a move that would add tens of billions of pounds to the total cost of electricity from the reactors. The agreement to inflation-link the electricity price EDF would receive–known as the strike price–for 35 years substantially eases the financial risks for the French utility for constructing two nuclear reactors, but there is still no deal on the actual price.

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Posted: 19 June 2013

18 June 2013

Sellafield

The head of the public body overseeing the clean-up of Britain’s toxic atomic legacy has admitted having “real disappointments” over the performance of the private consortium in charge of the Sellafield nuclear site. John Clarke, chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, said he had expected “to be further along than we are” at Sellafield. However, he insisted the past four and a half years had not been a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

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Posted: 18 June 2013

17 June 2013

Radwaste

When it comes to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the only way is Essex. Bradwell-on-Sea has been identified as a possible site to dump radioactive waste. “Everybody was aghast when a local representative from the NDA stated that the possibility was being looked into,” Brian Beale, a district councillor for Maldon, told the Essex Chronicle. “To say this could happen when it had always been understood that Bradwell was not intended to be a site for waste, created uproar.” Nuclear materials are already being stored at Bradwell, a former nuclear power station that closed in 2002 and is being decommissioned. The operating company, Magnox Electric, was fined £250,000 in 2009 for presiding over a radioactive leak that had gone undetected for 14 years. An NDA report has proposed that around 280 yellow boxes of intermediate level waste could be brought from other sites to be stored there until 2040 when a permanent repository should be built. The report also mentions Berkeley, in Gloucestershire, Trawsfynydd, in Gwynedd, and Hinkley Point, in Somerset, for possible storage. The government has long promised that the thorny question of how to store existing waste from Britain’s old nuclear plants must be settled before new power plants such as the one proposed by EDF for Hinkley are constructed.

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Posted: 17 June 2013

16 June 2013

New Nukes

Britain has signed a deal with Moscow that could pave the way for Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom to build plants in Britain. Energy Secretary Ed Davey has made an agreement with the deputy prime minister of Russia, Arkady Dvorkovich, to set up a joint working group between Rosatom and the UK on the future of nuclear power. Rosatom has claimed that the deal could lead to the fulfilment of its longstanding ambition to build nuclear plants in this country. The agreement, signed last week, comes while Britain is locked in fraught negotiations with French electricity group EDF over the terms to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

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Posted: 16 June 2013

15 June 2013

GDA

Final Report on the ONR Generic Design Assessment.

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Posted: 15 June 2013

14 June 2013

Hinkley

The company behind plans for a new nuclear power station in Somerset, EDF, has told the BBC that Hinkley C will be built on time and on budget. EDF is currently building the first of a new breed of reactors on the Normandy coast close to the village of Flamanville. But it’s hugely overspent and years behind schedule. The BBC’s Somerset correspondent Clinton Rogers has been given unique access to the French site to take a look behind the scenes.

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Posted: 14 June 2013

13 June 2013

Emergency Planning

An emergency exercise has exposed serious weaknesses in Britain’s ability to cope with a catastrophic motorway pileup in which a nuclear bomb convoy burns and spreads a cloud of radioactive contamination over nearby communities. An internal report released by the Ministry of Defence reveals that the emergency services faced “major difficulties” in responding to the mocked-up accident near Glasgow because they had no help from MoD weapons experts for more than five hours. At times the response, which involved 21 agencies, was disorganised, the report says. Heated disputes with ambulance staff over how to handle casualties contaminated with radioactivity at the crash site caused “considerable delay”, resulting in one victim being declared dead. Other problems included outdated, paper-based communications systems, poor mobile phone signals, conflicting scientific advice on health hazards and confusion over radiation monitoring. A Glasgow Labour councillor, Bill Butler, who chairs the nuclear-free local authorities group in Scotland, said the exercise rang alarm bells. “I urge the MoD to take the outcomes of this exercise very seriously and work more closely with local authorities and the emergency services to resolve these planning gaps,” he said.

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Posted: 13 June 2013