News March 2015

31 March 2015

Hinkley

Hinkley Is it value for money? Tim Yeo Well, it is only if it leads on to some lower costs in the future. Hinkley by itself, Hinkley as a one-off, is not terribly good value for money and we know that because the price is quite high. But if you haven’t built a nuclear power station for over 20 years, and you’re insisting it’s done by the private sector, you’ve got to pay. And if Hinkley is the first of a series then it could become value for money and, therefore, maybe an essential step. I do think nuclear, like the renewables, is an area where we need to focus on costs much more, because if the world has a revival of nuclear power, which in some places looks very likely, the Chinese are building, the Koreans are building, and not just in Korea, and several EU countries including us are also keen to build, I mean some of the Eastern Central European countries are quite far advanced. If you can get volume then you should be able to reduce costs significantly, and I think, because of our strong history of innovation in this country, we’ve often gone for first-of-a-kind technologies, which is exciting and can be beneficial. But in the short-term, it’s going to be expensive. Maybe, if we want to get better value for money, we should say: we won’t be proud, we don’t have to the first, let’s look at a technology which has been tried and tested somewhere else and buy it in volume. That may be one thing. The other thing I’ve suggested recently, and I believe this very strongly, is because the UK has this fantastic credit rating, you we can borrow more GB than almost any other borrower in the world, and because the construction period is so long in a nuclear power station the cost of capital during that five or six years is a significant part of the final cost of the power. And if we said, OK, if the government can find a way with the bankers of deciding how to share the risk, if we said if the government would fund the construction, and so during the period until it becomes operational the government would be the borrower, and then hand it over, it’s kind of a turnkey thing, well, here you are, let’s sell it to EDF for £10 billion quid or something, actually you can reduce the cost that way as well simply by using the credit rating, that we can borrow so much more cheaply than any commercial company can.

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Posted: 31 March 2015

30 March 2015

Utilities

The integrated utility services (IUS) model that RMI developed for Fort Collins includes: a) deploys energy efficiency and rooftop solar as default options for residential and small commercial customers, b) does so with on-bill financing and other mechanisms to ensure no increase in customers’ monthly utility bills, and c) preserves utility revenue. This sounds like an unlikely, too-good-to-be-true combination, but our analysis shows that both municipally-owned utilities like Fort Collins Utilities and other member- or independently-owned utilities alike can achieve very real success.

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Posted: 30 March 2015

29 March 2015

Torness

An investigation is under way after a radiation leaked at the Torness nuclear power station in East Lothian. According to the French state company that runs Torness, EDF Energy, radioactive tritium was discovered in water contained in part of the power station’s drainage system. The discovery was immediately reported to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and the UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). A suspect waste discharge pipe at the plant has been taken out of service, and contaminated water has had to be been removed and disposed of. Government safety watchdogs have carried out an inspection and are being kept informed of investigations. The radiation leak was detected on February 11 and disclosed to a meeting of the Torness local liaison committee on March 19. Though the amount of radioactivity involved is said to be small, there are growing concerns that the ageing 27-year-old nuclear plant could develop more serious problems. Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, warned that Torness was “well into middle age and the cracks are literally beginning to show”. Jason Rose, Scottish Green candidate for MP in East Lothian, thought that the number of leaks and shutdowns showed that Torness was well past its prime. “Those of us who have to live with a nuclear plant on our doorstep need assurances from EDF that more effort will be made to prevent these sorts of serious incidents,” he said.

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Posted: 29 March 2015

28 March 2015

Trawsfynydd

Regulators say there are “no longer hazards” at a nuclear power plant requiring an emergency buffer zone as the site’s decommissioning continues. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said a radiation emergency was “no longer reasonably foreseeable” at the Trawsfynydd plant, Gwynedd. It has now lifted a near one-mile emergency planning area around the site in the event of an incident. Decommissioning began in 1995, two years after it ceased operating. An ONR report said owner Magnox were due to begin a long term care and maintenance programme from 2016.

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Posted: 28 March 2015

27 March 2015

Sellafield

27th March 2015 marks the 21st anniversary of THORP chopping up its first batch of spent nuclear fuel. Opened in 1994, the £2.85bn plant had been dubbed by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) as the Jewel in Sellafields’s Crown and a World Beating Flagship Plant that would reprocess 7000 tonnes of fuel in its first ten years, win more overseas business and make a profit of £500M in that first decade . Now scheduled to close in 2018, the Jewel has been tarnished beyond recovery by a catalogue of accidents, poor performance and business loss. This briefing by Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment looks at what THORP has achieved.

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Posted: 27 March 2015

THORP – 21 Today – but no key to waste crisis

27th March 2015 marks the 21st anniversary of THORP chopping up its first batch of spent nuclear fuel. Opened in 1994, the £2.85bn plant had been dubbed by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) as the Jewel in Sellafield’s Crown and a World Beating Flagship Plant that would reprocess 7000 tonnes of fuel in its first ten years, win more overseas business and make a profit of £500M in that first decade. Now scheduled to close in 2018, the Jewel has been tarnished beyond recovery by a catalogue of accidents, poor performance and business loss.  This briefing by Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment looks at what THORP has achieved.

Briefing+THORP+21

 

Posted: 26 March 2015

26 March 2015

Radwaste

Today Her Majesty’s government quietly removed the power of local and county councils to say no to burial of existing and future nuclear wastes beneath their homes. The predetermined decision to “Implement Geological Disposal” now lies with the Secretary of State under Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. This vicious NSIP ruling overrides any considerations on the land such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, heritage or conservation areas. Using the most undemocratic tool of “delegated legislation” this decision has been forced through, not by open debate but by Committee Room decisions.

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Posted: 26 March 2015

25 March 2015

Sellafield

The first radioactive sludge has been removed at Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site in the UK, marking a major step forward in its clean-up. Around 1,500 cubic meters of radioactive sludge will be emptied from First Generation Magnox Storage Pond (FGMSP), which was constructed to store, cool and prepare used Magnox nuclear fuel for recycling into new fuel. The sludge has to be carefully removed, while leaving the water in place to provide a radioactive shield for the stored nuclear fuel.

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Posted: 25 March 2015

24 March 2015

Hinkley

A conference was held in London on 5th March 2015. The event was hosted by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato and three other Green MEPs: Rebecca Harms, Claude Turmes and Michel Reimon. The conference brought together experts from all over the world to discuss the impacts of Fukushima and nuclear power on Europe in light of the recent decision of the European Commission to allow the UK government to heavily subsidise a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point C.

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Posted: 24 March 2015

23 March 2015

Nuclear Skills

A new National College for Nuclear (NCfN) will train future workers and develop world class skills in the UK’s thriving nuclear industry. The college, a partnership between UK Government and nuclear employers, led by the French-state-owned generator EDF and Sellafield Ltd, will be based at two hubs in Somerset and West Cumbria, close to major sites of nuclear investment.

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Posted: 23 March 2015