News April 2014

23 April 2014

Radwaste

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is concerned to read the detail of an Environment Agency (EA) report that outlines that the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) near Drigg in Cumbria is virtually certain‟ to be eroded by rising sea levels and to contaminate the Cumbrian coast with large amounts of radioactive waste, as the potential effects of climate change impact on the English coastline over the next few hundred years. NFLA is concerned that the EA appear to be downplaying the concept of intergenerational equity – the waste was created over the past 60 years and it is our responsibility to clean it up and make it safe for many sets of future generations.

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Posted: 23 April 2014

22 April 2014

Radhealth

Ex-workers of Albion plateau, France’s Soviet-era nuclear land missile base, have launched legal proceedings to receive compensation for diseases they say are linked to radiation exposure. A group of soldiers tasked with guarding the Albion military base in the Drome-Vaucluse area of southern France are fighting to have their mystery illnesses recognised, claiming protective measures were so lax that some even touched the plutonium-filled warheads with their bare hands. Dozens of soldiers have since been struck down by rare forms of cancer or bone diseases, according to Le Parisien newspaper. While the army denies any were exposed to harmful doses of radiation, some former base workers have launched lawsuits to have their conditions recognised, it emerged on Monday.

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Posted: 22 April 2014

21 April 2014

Radwaste

One million cubic metres of waste near Sellafield are housed at a site that was a mistake, admits Environment Agency. Britain’s nuclear dump is virtually certain to be eroded by rising sea levels and to contaminate the Cumbrian coast with large amounts of radioactive waste, according to an internal document released by the Environment Agency (EA). The document suggests that in retrospect it was a mistake to site the Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository (LLWR) on the Cumbrian coast because of its vulnerability to flooding. “It is doubtful whether the location of the LLWR site would be chosen for a new facility for near-surface radioactive waste disposal if the choice were being made now,” it says.

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Posted: 21 April 2014

20 April 2014

Sellafield

The Government has admonished the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for “inappropriately” withholding information from the public, after backing the findings of a heavily critical MPs’ report into the management of Sellafield. Overseeing the Cumbria nuclear facility is one of the most hazardous detoxification jobs in the world and the NDA has entrusted a US-led private sector consortium, Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), with managing the clean-up. However, the House of Commons’ influential Public Accounts Committee was dismayed to find that costs have been soaring, with the final price-tag estimated at over £70bn. The NDA stunned the industry when it handed NMP a five-year extension to its contract in October – it was widely thought the group would be axed for poor performance. A review by accountants KPMG only seemed to confirm how badly NMP had managed Sellafield, stating that the project was run in the interests of the consortium’s shareholders rather than those of the taxpayer. But great swathes of the highly detailed, 292-page document – obtained in a Freedom of Information request by nuclear-issues expert Dr David Lowry – were blacked out. PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge was furious that the NDA had redacted pages of vital information on the basis of commercial confidentiality. In the committee’s own report earlier this year, it concluded: “The Authority should revisit its approach to disclosing information to ensure it does not use grounds such as commercial confidentiality inappropriately to withhold information on performance on its sites and by its contractors.” The Department of Energy and Climate Change has said it agrees with this, and other committee recommendations, such as asking the National Audit Office to investigate whether there has been any improvement in the management of Sellafield a year into the contract extension.

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Posted: 20 April 2014

19 April 2014

Nuclear Finance

China’s nuclear companies are looking into the possibility of owning a controlling stake in a UK nuclear project, a source at a Chinese State-owned nuclear company said during a recent three-day exhibition in Beijing, Nuclear Industry China 2014. “The site has not been chosen yet, but it will be one of the new stations owned by French power giant EDF (Electricite de France). What we want is to invest in a nuclear station with a better location, if possible,” the source from China General Nuclear Power Corp told China Daily on condition of anonymity. The British government gave the go-ahead to CGNPC and fellow nuclear heavyweight China National Nuclear Corp to invest in the $2.6 billion project to build Hinkley Point C in Somerset, southwest England, a two-reactor, 3.2-gigawatt station led by EDF. But the project was delayed when the European Commission started an investigation in December on whether the UK government had offered financial support for the project, which may be against European Union rules.

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Posted: 19 April 2014

18 April 2014

Bradwell

CAMPAIGNERS in Mersea have hit out at Maldon District Council’s plans to push for a new nuclear power station in Bradwell. The authority has revealed in a strategy report it hopes to secure a new power station on land beside the existing facility. Varrie Blowers, of pressure group Bradwell Against New Nuclear Group, claimed cooling towers on any new station would be as big as London’s Gherkin tower.

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Posted: 18 April 2014

17 April 2014

Sellafield

Already struggling to meets its currently scheduled closure date of December 2019 (extended a number of times from its original 2012 closure date) a ‘system blockage’ which forced the B205 magnox reprocessing plant to shut down on 23rd February not only flags up yet another failure by the plant to meet its annual target (for the ninth successive year) but also bears the hallmarks of having more serious implications for the 50-year old plant than Sellafield Ltd or the Regulators are currently prepared to admit.

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Posted: 17 April 2014

16 April 2014

Hinkley

West Somerset Council welcomes the news that EDF Energy (EDFE) will undertake further preparatory work on the Hinkley Point C site. Although a final investment decision on whether to start work to construct the new Hinkley Point C power station is not expected until later this year, EDFE has confirmed that it will undertake further preparatory works at the site over the coming months.

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Posted: 16 April 2014

15 April 2014

Radwaste

A new law is being drafted in Germany to regulate investigations aimed at finding suitable sites for permanent nuclear waste storage. The search can take many years – and Germany’s neighbors are facing similar obstacles. The EU has called on its member states to draw up plans by 2015 outlining how and where they are planning to store nuclear waste. The search for suitable sites is becoming frantic, but in some countries it is even more difficult than in others.

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Posted: 15 April 2014

14 April 2014

Hinkley

FORATOM, which represents Europe’s nuclear industry, said new atomic power generation will need financial support as long as carbon prices are low and hit back at EU regulators’ criticism of funding for a plant to be built by EDF.The European Commission, the EU regulator, has launched an in-depth investigation into Britain’s plan to provide public funding for a 19 billion euro ($26.37 billion) nuclear plant to be built at Hinkley Point in Britain.A 68-page letter to the British government from EU regulators, made public earlier this year, was strongly critical of the British funding, saying it effectively insulated EDF and its investment partners from the market. The Commission also questioned the nuclear project’s environmental credentials, saying although nuclear generation is carbon-free, its impact on the environment can be substantial. “FORATOM regrets that the European Commission did not limit its comments solely to the state aid and competition aspects of the Hinkley Point deal, but expressed misgivings about the use of nuclear power per se,” it said in a statement issued on Thursday.

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Posted: 14 April 2014