News January 2016

22 January 2016

Hinkley

In a few days, during a Board of Directors scheduled on January 27, EDF must take its decision to invest in the project to build two EPR nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Britain. However, internally, this giant project estimated at 23.7 billion euros, raises concerns, particularly with the union executives, the CFE-CGC. According to the daily ‘Les Echos’, CFE-CGC has scheduled on Wednesday to question employees and the Board of Directors. According to the union, “Hinkley Point represents a huge investment in terms of market capitalization of the group (22.5 MDSE) and its financial position. We see financial risks, industrial and legal”. Meanwhile, the stock exchange continues to tumble, down 2.5% to 11.40 euros. While EDF is heavily indebted and that the group is called to the aid of Areva, its share price is at record low, after fears about higher than expected cost of storage of nuclear waste (Cigéo project). In early January, ‘Les Echos’ wrote that the electrician had scheduled no less than 6.5 billion euros in asset sales in its 2016 budget to finance its investments. The cost of UK EPR project is estimated at £ 18 billion (in current cost 23.7 billion euros at current prices), of which EDF will take 66.5%. The CFE-CGC is concerned, however a slip these costs, in case of delay in the construction schedule, as was the case in Finland (project led by Areva) and at Flamanville in France and to a lesser extent in China. “There has been in recent years construction time shifts on the three sites where EPR is under construction. However, management does not consider these calendar drifts for his project,” points the CFE-CGC.

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Posted: 22 January 2016

21 January 2016

Hinkley

A POTENTIALLY “hazardous” nuclear power plant in the UK could get the green light next week – sparking concerns for the worst. French press indicated that the board of directors of EDF, who have been in talks to build two nuclear reactors in Somerset, will meet on January 27 to make a final decision. The creation of the plant has been up in the air for a decade due to safety and investment concerns. However this week, the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change approved a crucial power line project for the £18billion nuclear station in Hinkley. Greenpeace told the Daily Star Online that the decision could spell problems for an entire generation. Doug Parr, Greenpeace Chief Scientist, said: “Our grandchildren will one day wonder why their bills are propping up a foreign-owned, massively expensive nuclear power stations, like Hinkley, instead of supporting cutting-edge British businesses to produce cheap, home grown energy. “They will be confused as to why this government made secretive deals with French and Chinese companies which hands them control of our future energy supply.” “It will be their generation who has to figure out what to do with the hazardous nuclear waste that this power station will generate, which no-one in the world has a worked out plan to keep safe,” he said. “George Osborne has staked his reputation on forcing this deal through to attract Chinese investment in the UK. He is saving face, and putting billions onto consumers’ energy bills to do it.

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Posted: 21 January 2016

20 January 2016

Plutonium Transport

Barrow ships Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron, moved from the Ramsden Dock nuclear terminal in the early hours of this morning 19th January, sailed from the port on the 7am high tide. Though the destination of the empty ships has not been officially disclosed, the dockside activities around them in the days prior to departure indicate that the ships are bound for Japan where they will pick up a consignment of plutonium for onward shipment to the United States. The Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron, each fitted with naval canon, are operated by Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd (PNTL) and managed by International Nuclear Services, INS – a wholly owned subsidiary of the NDA. The presence of a heavily armed security squad (provided by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary’s Marine Escort Group) on both ships, the earlier loading of stores and the craning on board of live ammunition yesterday points to a long and security-conscious voyage ahead rather than a sunset cruise around Morecambe Bay or routine sea trials in the Irish Sea. The shipment of plutonium from Japan to the United States falls under the US-led Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) or M3 – Material Management & Minimisation programme whereby weapons-useable material such as plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) is removed from facilities worldwide for safekeeping in the United Sates. The cargo to be loaded onto the two UK ships in Japan consists of some 331kgs of plutonium from Japan’s Tokai Research Establishment. The 331kgs of plutonium –a substantial fraction of which was supplied to Japan by the UK decades ago for‘ experimental purposes’ in Tokai’s Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) – is described by the US Department of Energy (DOE) as ‘posing a potential threat to national security, being susceptible to use in an improvised nuclear device, and presenting a high risk of theft or diversion’ or, as another US expert puts it‘is sufficient to make up to 40 nuclear bombs’. ‘The practice of shipping this plutonium to the US as a safeguard is completely undermined by deliberately exposing this prime terrorist material to a lengthy sea transport during which it will face the everyday maritime risks and the targeting by those with hostile intentions. Whilst the Barrow ships may have been empty when they left the port today, we condemn their use for such a shipment which we see as being wholly unnecessary and a significant security threat in today’s volatile and unpredictable world’.

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Posted: 20 January 2016

19 January 2016

Moorside

Cumbria’s cash-strapped local authorities could miss out on a multi-million pound windfall from nuclear new build at Sellafield. At present, local authorities receive 50 per cent of the business rates from the nuclear industry in Cumbria, with the rest going to central government. But ministers are proposing that Whitehall keeps all the rates received from Moorside, Sellafield, where NuGen plans to build the UK’s biggest nuclear power plant. This would amount to many millions of pounds – Sellafield’s annual rates bill is £32 million. Workington Labour MP Sue Hayman is demanding a rethink. She said: “One of the areas that our local community gets the most funding from is the nuclear industry, in order to fund vital public services in Cumbria. “With the swingeing cuts being imposed upon local government, it is more important than ever that we receive assurances that the services that our local councils can provide will not have to be cut further.

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Posted: 19 January 2016

18 January 2016

Moorside

In early December last year NuGen submitted its application to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) for a licence to undertake offshore geotechnical investigations within West Cumbria’s inshore waters. The application is in support of its plans to build three AP1000 reactors at Moorside. The focus of the investigation will be the location for the sub-seabed tunnels required for the reactors’ cooling water intake and outlet systems. The £20m contract for the work, which also includes onshore site investigations, was awarded last year to Dutch company Fugro. The company, with a major involvement in oil and gas extraction (including fracking) and relatively little experience in the nuclear field – which its classifies as a sustainable energy – describes itself as providing geotechnical, survey, subsea and geosciences services. The offshore work is scheduled to start on 29th February 2016 and will involve the drilling of some 40 boreholes each between 34 metres to 92 metres in depth, with an expected average depth of 70 metres. Disturbance to sediments which contain plutonium, americium and a cocktail of other radioactive elements leads not only to their spread in local waters but also to their being driven ashore where particles can be re-suspended and blown inland. NuGen however believes that the amount of radioactive sediment that will be disturbed by the borehole drilling and core extraction will be ‘small’ and no bigger than ‘storm background levels’ and therefore proposes to take no mitigation measures. Such a proposal is likely to be treated with a similar level of scepticism to that given to the pronouncement made many decades ago by the then Windscale site that its radioactive discharges to the Irish Sea would safely disperse into the wider oceans.

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Posted: 18 January 2016

17 January 2016

Bradwell

Radioactive waste from other nuclear power stations could be stored at Bradwell, it has been revealed. Magnox, the company running Bradwell power station, has asked Essex County Council whether it needs to draw up a full environmental impact assessment on plans to import nuclear waste from other power stations. In 2013, the Standard revealed how politicians had accused Magnox of breaking promises after admitting it was considering turning the Downhall Beach station, which is being decommissioned, into an alleged “nuclear dumping ground”. Magnox’s submission to County Hall reveals “intermediate level waste” would be stored, encased in cement, inside stainless steel drums or concrete boxes. It would be imported from Dungeness A and Sizewell A until around 2040, when a national geological disposal facility is due to be created. Magnox defended the proposals, saying it would save around £200million of taxpayers’ money and avoid the need to build £30million of additional storage space. Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (Banng) said: “As a result of what are claimed to be improved methods of reducing the volume of waste, the 170 packages of Bradwell waste will be matched by a similar number from Sizewell and Dungeness, i.e. it is proposed to use half of the Bradwell store for wastes from elsewhere. “The original planning permission for the store made it clear it should be large enough to contain only ILW from Bradwell.” Chairman Professor Andy Blowers added: “The nuclear industry tends to make up strategy as it goes along and there is no guarantee that waste from more sites won’t be brought to Bradwell. “This is a controversial issue and there is a need for proper public consultation and Banng will be pushing for this.”

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Posted: 17 January 2016

16 January 2016

Hinkley

According to the French newspaper, Le Figaro, EDF could make a final decision on the proposed construction of Hinkley Point C at its Board of Directors meeting on 27th January 2016. Stop Hinkley spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: “I’ll believe it when I see it. This is the ninth time EDF has said a final investment decision is imminent. Just last October the chairman of EDF, Jean-Bernard Levy, said work would be starting before the end of 2015. It would be completely reckless of the Board to give the go-ahead to this £25 billion project when the Company is in such a parlous state”

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Posted: 16 January 2016

EDF’s survival threatened by Hinkley Point C

According to the French newspaper, Le Figaro, EDF could make a final decision on the proposed construction of Hinkley Point C at its Board of Directors meeting on 27th January 2016. (1)

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said:

I’ll believe it when I see it. This is the ninth time EDF has said a final investment decision is imminent. Just last October the chairman of EDF, Jean-Bernard Levy, said work would be starting before the end of 2015. It would be completely reckless of the Board to give the go-ahead to this £25 billion project when the Company is in such a parlous state”

The Company has already announced that it is considering selling assets worth more than 6 billion euros (£4.5 billion) including a stake in its eight British nuclear plants, of which Hinkley Point B is one, to fund Hinkley Point C. But it could only sell a 29% share if it wants to retain a controlling 51% stake, so this would only raise around 2.6 billion euros. (2)

The company also needs 55 billion euros to upgrade its ageing nuclear plants in France. EDF has also agreed to buy between 51 and 75% of the struggling French reactor builder Areva NP which is valued at 2.7 billion euros. So it will have to find at least 1.4 billion euros for that.

EDF is also considering disposing of its 49.99% stake in five American reactors. But this sale would be complicated. At least two of the reactors are at risk of closure due to economic pressures, and EDF’s partner, Exelon, is unlikely to be willing to take on more liability.

Another possibility is that EDF will sell 50% of its holding in the French power transmission business RTE. It cannot sell more than half because 50% is allocated to its decommissioning fund, which is segregated. There is of course a risk in selling half because if it turns out to be worth less than EDF has claimed it is worth for the decommissioning fund, EDF would have to top up the decommissioning fund by the shortfall.

EDF has already launched the sale of its Polish coal-fired heating and power plants but that will raise less than 0.5 billion euros. (3)

Another problem for EDF which emerged this week causing its share price to drop to an all-time low is that estimates on the cost of a proposed French nuclear waste dump have increased. The French waste agency Andra estimates that the cost of its deep geological disposal project could be as high as 30 billion euros rather than the 20 billion euros estimated by EDF. (4)

Roy Pumfrey said:

Is it really sensible for EDF to commit to building two EPRs at Hinkley Point C when the Company is in such a precarious position and there are still no EPRs operating anywhere in the world – it has just been announced that even the Chinese EPRs are about four years late. We know there is considerable unease amongst employee shareholders about Hinkley Point C, which some fear could sink the company altogether. (5) As one commentator put it the debate now is not about whether Hinkley Point C will go-ahead, but whether EDF itself can survive. (6)”

  1. Le Figaro 14th January 2016 http://www.lefigaro.fr/conjoncture/2016/01/13/20002-20160113ARTFIG00333-le-nucleaire-francais-confirme-son-grand-projet-anglais.php
  2. Reuters 6th Jan 2016 http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL8N14Q1LP20160106?sp=true & Les Echos 6th Jan 2016 http://www.lesechos.fr/industrie-services/energie-environnement/021594340218-edf-envisage-de-ceder-plus-de-6-milliards-deuros-dactifs-en-2016-1189865.php
  3. Reuters 13th Jan 2016 http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL8N14X0QS20160113
  4. Power Engineering International 13th Jan 2016 http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2016/01/edf-disputes-french-nuclear-waste-agency-estimates-on-costs.html
  5. Guardian 13th November 2015 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/13/hinkley-point-nuclear-plan-puts-survival-edf-at-risk-say-employee-shareholders
  6. See http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/more-daishan-epr-delays-as-edf-ponder.html

Posted: 15 January 2016

15 January 2016

Hinkley

On January 27, EDF will make its final decision on the proposed construction of two EPR Hinkley Point C in Britain. The Board of Directors of January 27 is definitely a key appointment for EDF. Besides the folder Areva, the final decision to invest in Hinkley Point C (HPC) could also be on the agenda.

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Posted: 15 January 2016

14 January 2016

EDF

French utility EDF has launched a sale of its Polish coal-fired heating and power plants worth up to 2 billion zlotys ($497.56 million) and has hired law firm Dentons and investment bank Rothschild to help, the Puls Biznesu daily reported on Wednesday citing unnamed sources.The planned sale is part of EDF’s low-carbon strategy as the company wants to focus on nuclear energy and needs billions of euro to invest in a nuclear project in Britain. In Poland EDF’s plants hold a 15-percent share of the heating market. Its 1.7 gigawatt (GW) coal-fired power station in Rybnik in southern Poland generates around 7 percent of the electricity consumed in Poland.

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Posted: 14 January 2016