News June 2015

20 June 2015

Hinkley

Builders of the U.K.’s first nuclear plant in two decades are about to take a vital component and break it. The 110-ton spherical steel lid was destined to sit atop a reactor at the Hinkley Point site in Somerset. Instead it will be sacrificed to test the strength of a part already welded in place at similar atomic projects in France and China. The tests are essential after regulators found potential weaknesses in the steel used to contain radiation. The results may derail countries’ nuclear programs that are relying on the EPR reactors. They also threaten a generation of atomic plants that developer Areva SA has billed as the world’s safest.

[Read more…]

Posted: 20 June 2015

19 June 2015

Hinkley

Lawmakers in Germany said that an EU agreement for a $25 billion state subsidy by the UK to build a nuclear power station is illegal and should be annulled, in another twist in Europe’s nuclear energy farce.The German Bundestag’s Economic and Energy Committee took evidence on the European Commission’s approval of $25 billion worth of state aid for the construction of a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, in Somerset, southwest England. The hearing followed recent claims by German energy cooperative Greenpeace Energy that the EU state aid approval contravenes competition rules. The Hinkley Point C proposal has already been beset by many years of delay — mostly because the reactor it is considering using has been plagued with problems. EDF has chosen the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), a third generation pressurised water reactor (PWR) design. It has been designed and developed mainly by Framatome (now Areva), EDF in France and Siemens in Germany.

[Read more…]

Posted: 19 June 2015

18 June 2015

EPRs

France’s nuclear safety authority won’t decide until early next year whether a key piece of equipment on a nuclear reactor being built by Electricite de France SA in Normandy is safe or needs to be changed, the regulator said. “I don’t see us making a decision or taking a position before the beginning of 2016,” Pierre-Franck Chevet, president of Autorite de Surete Nucleaire, told a hearing at the French Senate Tuesday. The finding could range from rejecting the equipment as unsafe to allowing its use under certain conditions, he said. In a blow to the showcase atomic generator being built at Flamanville, Normandy, the French regulator in April said Areva SA had found steel in the top and bottom of the reactor vessel is weaker than expected. The vessel is designed to hold nuclear fuel and prevent radioactivity from escaping. Construction of the Flamanville EPR began in December 2007, with the date for completion repeatedly pushed back from an initial goal of 2012. The most recent completion date is 2017. The cost has more than doubled to 8.5 billion euros ($9.5 billion) from 3.3 billion euros originally.

[Read more…]

Posted: 18 June 2015

17 June 2015

Hinkley

Stop Hinkley has today welcomed news that Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour’s shadow climate change minister, has called on the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, to admit that Hinkley Point C will not proceed and to inform parliament what her alternative energy strategy will be. Problems for Hinkley keep mounting. Last week the Daily Telegraph reported that French Nuclear Safety Inspectors had found crucial faults in the cooling system of a reactor similar to the Hinkley design, which is being built in Normandy. The fault would expose the reactor to the risk of a meltdown. This followed news in April that anomalies had been found in the bottom and lid of the reactor pressure vessel (RPVs) of the Normandy reactor.

[Read more…]

Posted: 17 June 2015

16 June 2015

Hinkley

The Scottish National Party has raised new concerns over the future of the UK’s nuclear power station at Hinkley following the news EDF Energy – the company behind Hinkley- has suffered a five-year delay and escalating costs at its flagship project in northern France. Hinkley Point C in Somerset will be the first nuclear power station to be built in the UK in a generation, and could be eligible for consumer funded payments of around £1 billion per year – totalling around £35billion over the 35 year length of the contract. This is compared to the 15 year contracts being offered to renewable energy projects. The European Commission has previously warned that Hinkley C will push up consumer bills, stating the power station “could hardly be argued to contribute to affordability – at least at current prices, when it will instead and most likely contribute to an increase in retail prices”. The Commission’s warning was backed by the Delivering Renewable Energy Under Devolution report, which found that the UK Government’s recent decisions on nuclear power could increase energy bills. Commenting, SNP spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change, Callum McCaig MP said: “The financial crisis surrounding the future of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant demonstrates yet again the folly of the UK government’s decision to spend huge amounts of public money to subsidise new nuclear power stations. “Despite the mounting evidence that it is hugely expensive with other stations going vastly over budget and being years behind schedule, the UK government are determined to continue to throw billions of pounds into promoting new nuclear. “By diverting money away from renewables to new nuclear the UK Government’s plans are also damaging the renewables sector. “Hinkley is a bad deal that will push up bills and cost the taxpayers a fortune for many, many years to come. “Scotland neither needs not wants new nuclear. We have huge potential in renewables that can generate clean green energy for the future.”

[Read more…]

Posted: 16 June 2015

15 June 2015

Hinkley

Problems with a reactor in northern France have triggered deep concern in the British government about the future of the UK’s first new nuclear power station for 20 years at Hinkley Point in Somerset. EDF Energy, the French state-owned company behind Hinkley, has suffered a five-year delay and escalating costs at its flagship Flamanville project in Normandy. The £7bn French scheme — designed to showcase new atomic technology — is based on an “EPR” European pressurised reactor, the same model that will be used in Hinkley. Further concerns mounted last week when a leaked report from France’s nuclear safety watchdog highlighted faults in Flamanville’s cooling system. That followed a warning in April by the French Nuclear Safety Regulator that there was an excessive amount of carbon in the steel of the reactor vessel. EDF’s struggles in France have prompted worries at a senior level of the Treasury about the £24bn Hinkley scheme. “I think there are serious questions about the technology,” said one Treasury figure. “Only if that can be fixed is there a desire to go ahead with it . . . on balance.” Senior officials have discussed whether to “start from scratch” with a different, more established reactor technology from elsewhere. Talks between the government, EDF and its two Chinese partners over a final financing package were supposed to be completed by March but have dragged on. Now officials and executives are working towards a fresh deadline of October, when China’s President Xi Jinping has a state visit to Britain. Before then, however, the Treasury must complete a review of Hinkley by its “major projects authority”. While officials expect it to get the green light, one said “it would be unwise to predict either way”. There are growing suspicions in Westminster and within the industry that the Treasury has been dragging its heels over supporting the project. One source close to EDF said he believed there had been “briefings from people at the Treasury” against the deal. Some civil servants believe the government struck an overgenerous “strike price” to buy energy from Hinkley’s two reactors for 35 years. “I think Treasury officials would not be disappointed if Hinkley never happened,” said one Whitehall source. “They have been foot-dragging for at least a year.” One Tory figure said: “I think the Treasury don’t really want that deal to work.” Jonathan Reynolds, shadow climate change minister, wrote on Sunday to Amber Rudd, the new energy secretary saying: “I am asking you today to admit the project will not proceed and inform parliament what your alternative energy strategy will be.”

[Read more…]

Posted: 15 June 2015

14 June 2015

Sellafield

SELLAFIELD’S unions have criticised the site’s management after two £50 million contracts were awarded to non-local firms. In an open letter to MPs and local politicians, the joint Sellafield unions – the GMB, Prospect and Unite – say the site’s workforce and the community are “outraged” that contracts to manufacture metal storage containers have gone to firms in Cambridgeshire and Durham, despite bids from West Cumbrian companies.

[Read more…]

Posted: 14 June 2015

13 June 2015

Hinkley

Letter: Elizabeth Marshall (Past director, British Institute of Energy Economics) I WAS surprised to read Professor Jack Ponton and John Williams’ opinion (Letters, 11 June) of the proposed new nuclear power Âstation at Hinkley Point. Many energy economists find the costs of this project indefensible. Electricity prices were agreed for Hinkley Point in 2013 at £92.50 per megawatt hour while Ineos, the owners of the Grangemouth refinery, negotiated an industrial fuel supply price of £37.94 per megawatt from the French nuclear industry. This extraordinary price for Hinkley Point was, additionally, to be fixed over 35 years. This proposal, unsurprisingly, produced an exceptional return on investment to the French partnership. Independent assessors have calculated this would add an additional £200 each year to the electricity bill of every consumer in the UK. Apart from the huge costs, there are serious safety and technical problems with Areva’s European Pressurised Reactor design planned for Hinkley Point. Of the six reactors constructed in Finland, China and France, none are operational. The latest reports from the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety to France’s nuclear safety regulator (ASN) for the new French reactor near Cherbourg identify major failings in safety relief valves. There is also the risk of the reactor pressure vessel cracking because of the wrong steel mix being used in this ¬reactor.

[Read more…]

Posted: 13 June 2015

12 June 2015

Nuclear Safety – Bradwell

In return for investment in Somerset’s Hinkley Point the Chinese want to take over the decommissioned nuclear station in Bradwell, Essex. Britain is risking a nuclear crisis by letting China build an atomic reactor here, the GMB union has claimed. National Secretary Gary Smith said the Chinese want to use their own parts, which a top expert has criticised, to replace Essex’s Bradwell plant. The government has also been accused of holding up the “white flag” and surrendering Britain’s role as a serious player in the nuclear industry.

[Read more…]

Posted: 12 June 2015

11 June 2015

Nuclear Safety – Bradwell

A leading union is raising safety and job concerns over the technology to be used in a possible new nuclear power station. The GMB has written to the Government and safety bodies saying it feared the Bradwell nuclear site in Essex could be handed over “lock, stock and barrel “to China’s national nuclear corporation. The Chinese could then use their own technology, and possibly bring thousands of workers to the UK, dealing a blow to this country’s own nuclear industry, the union claimed. National officer Gary Smith said in a letter to Energy Secretary Amber Rudd: “The idea that a Chinese state company will be given a site in the UK, not far from London, where they can use Chinese labour to construct a reactor to be made in China and using Chinese components would in our view constitute economic madness and raises serious safety issues.

[Read more…]

Posted: 11 June 2015