News February 2015

28 February 2015


Dounreay bosses stay silent over turmoil claims. Management at Dounreay yesterday refused to comment on claims that the site is in turmoil and that morale among staff is at rock bottom. According to sources inside the plant some long serving employees “can’t remember it being so bad”. The workforce is concerned at the way the plant is being run while trade unions have submittede a letter of little or no confidence in the management and have been involved in talks to resolve the issues. But management and unions are trying to keep things low key because of what happened at Sellafield. URS which was part of the Sellafield consortium which was sacked is also a part of the Cavendish Dounreay Partnership. The insider said the truth is the NDA model is not working. Senior managers commute between Bristol and Wick, which doesn’t help continuity.

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Posted: 28 February 2015

27 February 2015


The former prime minister of Japan has called for nuclear power plans to be “abandoned” during a two day visit to Wales. Naoto Kan was the country’s premier during the disaster at Fukushima in 2011 which was caused by a tsunami that hit Japan’s Pacific coast. But he has since become a staunch anti-nuclear campaigner and has delivered “stark” warnings over the UK’s commitment to nuclear energy. After meeting Assembly members in Cardiff this afternoon, Mr Kan will then head to North Wales to view the site of the proposed new power plant at Wylfa on Anglesey tomorrow.

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Posted: 27 February 2015

26 February 2015

New Nuclear

As the UK’s nuclear dream fades, writes Chris Goodall, investors are turning to the possibilities of ‘Concentrating Solar Power’ in the Sahara connected to Europe by HVDC power lines. The cost would be much lower than nuclear or offshore wind, and provide reliable baseload capacity. With the UK government’s say so, Tunisian sunshine could soon be powering our grid. The AP1000 plants being built in the US states of Georgia and South Carolina now look as though they will cost 30% more than earlier estimates. Late last month the owners of the Georgia facility had also announced further construction delays. The search for reliable baseload carbon-free electricity continues in the face of nuclear’s mounting problems. Despite its high capital cost, attention is increasingly directed towards ‘Concentrating Solar Power’ (CSP), a technology that uses focused light to heat a liquid that turns to steam and drives generators. As time passes, the eventual victory of solar power as the primary world energy source in a decarbonised world is looking increasingly secure. And as more projects are completed, and costs come down, CSP seems to be possible contender as a principal provider of baseload power. The UK’s entire electricity needs could be provided by 30 solar farms of TuNur’s eventual full extent, occupying a total desert area of about 3,000 square kilometres, equivalent to a circle with a 31km radius – a mere pinprick in the vastness of the Sahara. The arguments in favour of allowing the Tunisian project into the UK’s CfD subsidy scheme are overwhelming.

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Posted: 26 February 2015

25 February 2015


A MAJOR conference on nuclear power and the proposal to build a new reactor at Hinkley Point takes place next month in London to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. The event on Thursday, March 5, will be hosted by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, whose South-West constituency is home to Hinkley, and Green MEPs Rebecca Harms, Claude Turmes and Michel Reimon. The event will present the initial findings of a new report which will seek to “dismantle” the view that nuclear power can be part of a sustainable energy future and demonstrate how renewables can meet the energy needs of the South-West. Molly Scott Cato said: “Greens have always said nuclear power is dangerous and expensive, and will fail to deliver the energy we need in the timescale in which we need it. “The South-West has the greatest potential for renewable energy anywhere in England and Wales, and the sector can provide thousands of jobs. “We have the ability to provide electricity cleanly, safely and at lower costs than nuclear.”

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Posted: 25 February 2015

24 February 2015


France’s energy minister said on Monday that an overhaul of the country’s state-controlled nuclear energy industry was imminent, after one of the country’s main builders of nuclear power plants warned of a loss that could hamper its ability to continue operating independently. The minister, Ségolène Royal, told reporters that France’s main nuclear power companies “should organize themselves to refocus on their core business, to forge alliances between major French enterprises and to win bids at the international level.”Ms. Royal spoke after Areva, one of the world’s leading nuclear technology companies, said in a preliminary statement that it expected a 2014 net loss of about 4.9 billion euros, or $5.6 billion, compared with a loss of €500 million a year earlier. The loss that Areva warned of on Monday would be substantially larger than its stock-market value of about €3.7 billion, suggesting that the troubled company, plagued by cost overruns and write-downs, may need new funds to continue operating. Areva’s capabilities are vital to France’s ambitions to remain a world provider of nuclear plants and services like supplying fuel. EDF’s much-heralded plan to showcase French technology in Britain with a £16 billion, or $24.6 billion, power station at Hinkley Point, England, is also looking uncertain. A decision on whether to proceed with construction, in which would be the first such plant to be built in Britain since the 1990s, might not be made any time soon, EDF said this month. Areva is listed as a partner and contractor in the Hinkley Point project, but the company’s recent losses raise questions about how much capital it can contribute. The companies had hoped to have the Hinkley Point plant operating by 2018, but now even 2023 looks optimistic. All of the European projects by Areva or EDF feature the EPR reactor, a 1990s design that was supposed to lock up a big share of global orders for France but is proving exceedingly complex and expensive to build.

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Posted: 24 February 2015

23 February 2015


Letter Dr Ian Fairlie: This is a copy of a letter I have sent to the headteacher of Keswick School: Dear Mr Jackson, I was concerned to read your recent email to Ms Birkby refusing your school’s facilities for a meeting to discuss proposed new nuclear power stations in your area. Your reason apparently is that “The school will not allow its premises to be let to persons or organisations that in the Governor’s view, disturb the principles of Community Cohesion…” As far as I’m aware, “community cohesion” is not really a principle, certainly not a widely accepted one: it all depends on what the community cohesion is about. For example, history abounds with examples of community cohesion for bad purposes.

A moment’s thought will reveal that your alleged cohesion in favour of nuclear power may offend against several real, widely-accepted principles, such as the Precautionary Principle, the Principle of Sustainable Development, and the principle of not passing difficult (eg nuclear waste) burdens willy-nilly on to our children and grandchildren. They certainly will not thank us for them. The reality is that opinions on the wisdom or otherwise of nuclear power as a means of satisfying our energy requirements are quite polarised, especially in Cumbria. However several civilised, sane countries in Europe (and at least one nation in the UK) have taken reasonable decisions to reject nuclear and pursue more economic, more sustainable, more democratic and far more ethical, energy options. In my view, it would have been more principled to host a friendly informative meeting to discuss these matters than to have banned it.

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Posted: 23 February 2015

22 February 2015


BRITAIN’S nuclear plants are at risk from a terrorist strike by unmanned drone aircraft. Such an attack could kill tens of thousands of people, a Government adviser has warned. But authorities are “burying their heads in the sand,” according to John Large. His call for an urgent security overhaul comes as fi gures showed nuclear power plants suffered 37 security breaches last year – the highest numberalso been breached a dozen times since 2011, including by at least one drone. Islamic State terrorists have already recruited chemical weapons specialists and counterterrorism experts say they are intent on building a “dirty bomb”. Last night Mr Large, a nuclear engineer who has carried out work for Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority, demanded a major exercise to test the resilience of the nation’s power stations against acts of terrorism. Mr Large, who has advised the French government after a growing number of mysterious unmanned flights over that country’s nuclear plants, said drones also pose a risk to the UK’s 16 operational reactors.

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Posted: 22 February 2015

21 February 2015


A conservation group has accused council chiefs of “cutting corners” in the assessment of a proposed new 165-acre wildlife site to replace internationally-important habitat that will be lost if Sizewell C is built.

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Posted: 21 February 2015

20 February 2015


A FORMER Prime Minister of Japan is to visit Anglesey next week to campaign against the construction of the Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant. Naoto Kan was at the helm of his country’s Government at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the largest incident of its kind since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Mr Kan stepped down from office in the wake of the meltdown and has become a staunch anti-nuclear campaigner. Mr Kan will arrive in Wales from Paris next Wednesday, where he will visit the Senedd and meet in the Pierhead Building with National Assembly Members and other invited guests. He will then travel north to Anglesey on Thursday, where he will give a talk at the gates of Wylfa nuclear station at 8.45am to urge the public to oppose the development plant. Mr Kan will then head to the Anglesey Council offices in Llangefni at 11am to address councillors in private, before concluding his trip at 1pm, where he will hold a public meeting at Carreg Brân Hotel, Llanfairpwll.

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Posted: 20 February 2015

19 February 2015

Nuclear Safety

The discovery of over 16,000 cracks in two Belgian reactor vessels may have global implications for nuclear safety, says the country’s nuclear safety chief. He and independent experts are calling for the immediate checks of nuclear reactor vessels worldwide.

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Posted: 19 February 2015