News December 2015

11 December 2015

Moorside

Toshiba, the technology company at the centre of plans to build more nuclear reactors in Britain, is looking for outside help to fund its £8bn programme after a collapse in its share price.The Japanese group is in talks with local financial institutions to support the construction of an atomic plant near the Sellafield facility in Cumbria, after running up losses following an accounting scandal. The emergence of Toshiba’s problems will add to worries over Britain’s nuclear plans after the French energy group EDF, which plans to build the Hinkley Point C station in Somerset, dropped out of France’s CAC 40 index of leading shares.There is widening concern in the City about the escalating costs of huge nuclear projects, which are damaging company share valuations and undermining the government’s commitment to new nuclear at a time when it has promised to phase out coal-fired power stations.“It has become difficult for Toshiba to do this (fund the NuGen programme in the north-west of England) on its own,” one source told Reuters, which reported that Toshiba had hired HSBC bank to help find new funds.

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Posted: 11 December 2015

10 December 2015

Dounreay

The SNP has raised concerns over reports that nuclear material from the Dounreay nuclear power station in Caithness is being transported to Wick Airport. The party’s leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, told the Commons it was believed the material would then be flown to the US. He raised the issue with Chancellor George Osborne, who was standing in for David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions. Mr Osborne said established procedures were in place for moving nuclear materials. Mr Robertson said: “There are growing reports in the north of Scotland about plans to transport dangerous nuclear material, including potentially nuclear weapons grade nuclear uranium, from the Dounreay nuclear facility on public roads to Wick Airport. It is believed it will then be flown to the United States.” Mr Robertson asked Mr Osborne what the material would be used for, and questioned whether the Chancellor or any of his colleagues had discussed it with any Scottish government minister.

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Posted: 10 December 2015

9 December 2015

Hinkley

THE Stop Hinkley campaign has slammed the idea that lorries could carry nuclear waste through the area to the Hinkley Point A site. Proposals are currently being discussed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to send contaminated containers from three other nuclear power stations in the UK to Hinkley Point A near Bridgwater. The group says that the skips would be sent for decontamination and storage with the thin outside layer of the contaminated steel removed from the containers and the parts that could not be decontaminated stored on site.

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Posted: 9 December 2015

8 December 2015

Bradwell

A Packed meeting hears of major obstacles to Chinese nuclear experiment on the Blackwater but ‘it must be fought at every stage’ Nearly 200 people packing the MICA Centre in West Mersea on a damp and dark December evening heard two Professors talk of the many obstacles facing the proposal for Chinese reactors to be built at the Bradwell site. Stephen Thomas, Emeritus Professor of Energy Policy at Greenwich University, and Andy Blowers, Emeritus Professor of Social Sciences at the Open University and Chair of BANNG, both recognised the project announced during the Chinese President’s recent state visit to the UK had considerable political momentum behind it but, they argued, there was a long way to go and opposition was strong and determined and could help to stop the project dead in its tracks. By curious coincidence the previous day the two companies developing the project, the China General Nuclear Power Corporation and EDF Energy, had delivered a letter to households around the Backwater estuary announcing their intention to develop at Bradwell, stating this was at an early stage with no developed proposals or defined timeline.

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Posted: 8 December 2015

7 December 2015

Hinkley

More than £12bn of the UK government spend on two new power plants will go abroad, mainly to companies in France, a government adviser warns. More than half of the £24bn expected to be spent on the first British nuclear reactors for two decades could go abroad to foreign suppliers, a leading UK academic and government adviser has warned. The issue is of extreme political sensitivity because George Osborne has already faced criticism for providing huge subsidies to Hinkley, which is being developed by EDF Energy of France. “It will be seriously tough for British manufacturers to meet the needs of EDF in line with the commitment that 60% of the value of the project will remain in this country,” said Sir Keith Burnett, who is a member of the Council of Science and Technology reporting to the prime minister, David Cameron. Burnett, the vice-chancellor of Sheffield University, said that 40% of the total value of the work at Hinkley Point atomic plant would largely go to French firms. At least £4bn worth of spending on items such as pipes and pumps – around 15% of the project by value – will be up for grabs for the UK but only if local companies can provide the higher specification supplies required by EDF. Burnett thinks that will be difficult to achieve.

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Posted: 7 December 2015

6 December 2015

New Nukes

The Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference was awash with positivity on Thursday, celebrating the recent ‘wins’ that could see the rebirth of the technology in the UK. However some old chestnuts remain, largely centring on the often negative perception surrounding the industry, a challenge its exponents are intent on overcoming. With Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant as good as secured chairman of the Nuclear Industry Council Lord Hutton looked like a man from whom a large burden has been shifted. He enthused about the recent and growing recognition backed by pledged investment from the government who have decided that nuclear will be a vital component in the UK’s decarbonisation strategy. Asked to gaze into the crystal ball and say what she would envisage the energy sector in the UK looking like in the future, the minister pointed to the failed projections on oil prices to express the folly of prediction, however did say her hope was that the country assumes the leader in one specific area of nuclear power. “New nuclear has a big part to play and I would hope in the 2030s if the UK was the world’s largest exporter of SMR technology.” She said with coal being consigned to the past, a mix of nuclear, renewables and gas was the ideal, along with ‘other technologies we may not yet have heard of’ while also exclaiming surprise at the lack of public support for shale gas. “What we would also like to see is much more focus in energy efficiency and demand –a lot of planning in sorting that demand flow. The electrification of vehicles could be the answer – that would lead to an increase in demand for electricity and leads to bigger demand for nuclear and storage to deal with intermittency.”

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Posted: 6 December 2015

5 December 2015

Bradwell

A CAMPAIGN group has renewed calls for Chinese developers behind a new Bradwell power plant to meet with them. The bid comes just days after EDF Energy and China General Nuclear Power Corporation sent a joint letter to residents on the Blackwater Estuary to update them on the plans.

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Posted: 5 December 2015

4 December 2015

Hinkley

Proposals are being drawn up to send contaminated skips from three nuclear power stations to Hinkley Point A in Somerset for decontamination and storage in a move that would save £1.5 million. Components would be milled to remove the thin outer layer of contaminated steel. Those parts that could not be readily decontaminated would be encapsulated for storage on site. Other low-level waste from the process would be despatched to a repository. Earlier this year a proposal by Magnox to send intermediate nuclear waste from other sites for storage at Hinkley Point was dropped. West Somerset Council was among those who objected to the plan. Magnox said it had taken the decision because of “technical challenges”. Some have seen the proposal as a U-turn but no statement has ever been made promising that no outside waste would ever be brought to the site.

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Posted: 4 December 2015

3 December 2015

Wylfa

Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey will generate its last electricity at the end of December. Bosses at Britain’s last Magnox nuclear station say they will turn off the remaining reactor for good on 30 December. It will bring an end to 44 years of electricity generation at the island’s plant. The 500-strong workforce will be cut to about 350 posts by April 2016, as the process of removing spent fuel and decommissioning the site gets underway.

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Posted: 3 December 2015

2 December 2015

Wylfa

Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey will shutdown for good on 30 December, it has been announced. It will bring an end to 44 years of generating electricity on the island. The decision will see about 150 of its 500 remaining staff lose their jobs by April next year, before full decommissioning gets under way. Wylfa’s operator Magnox said the site would enter a 100-day “cool down” period, before the process of removing nuclear fuel begins.

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Posted: 2 December 2015