News November 2016

30 November 2016

Hinkley

The French nuclear industry is in its “worst situation ever” because of a spate of plant closures in France and the complexities it faces with the UK’s Hinkley Point C power station, according to a former Électricité de France director. Gérard Magnin, who called Hinkley “very risky” when he resigned as a board member over the project in July, told the Guardian that with more than a dozen French reactors closed over safety checks and routine maintenance, circumstances for the state-owned EDF had deteriorated since he stepped down. The closures have seen Britain this week exporting electricity to France for the first time in four years. An industry report on Tuesday also warned that the offline reactors could lead to a “tense situation” for energy supply in France, in the event of a cold snap this winter. The situation is likely to be exacerbated by damage during Storm Angus to the main cable that carries electricity back and forth between the UK and France. It is believed a boat dropping anchor during the storm may have been responsible but National Grid is investigating the cause and working to repair the Interconnexion France-Angleterre, which is buried in the seabed and heavily armoured.

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Posted: 30 November 2016

29 November 2016

GDA

UK regulators expect to complete the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process for Hitachi-GE’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR) as scheduled, in December 2017, but doubt the GDA for the Westinghouse AP1000 will be done by March as previously stated. In its quarterly GDA report for May to October 2016 issued recently, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also said it had met “a number of times” in the period with General Nuclear Systems as the potential GDA Requesting Party (RP) for China General Nuclear’s HPR1000 design. On the AP1000, ONR said: “Our delivery confidence for this project is amber/red, which means that successful delivery of the project is in doubt with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. We acknowledge that Westinghouse has made progress since the start of the year and its commitment is welcome; however there are only five months remaining and a very large amount of assessment to complete with issues still emerging. We will undertake a project deep dive at the end of this year, when we expect to have a clear view on the viability of completion and closure at the end of March 2017.”

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Posted: 29 November 2016

28 November 2016

Hinkley

Directors at a management consultant advising the government on the Hinkley Point nuclear power project were paid by a related company working for EDF, The Times has learnt. Half of the board of directors at Leigh Fisher were remunerated by Jacobs, according to accounts for the consultant. Leigh Fisher worked as an adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change on a 35-year deal with EDF to build the £18 billion facility in Somerset, under which consumers will pay well above the present market rate for electricity. The Times reported last week that Leigh Fisher had been awarded contracts worth a combined £1.2 million, despite the British division of Jacobs Engineering Group, an American company that also owns Leigh Fisher, working for EDF on the Hinkley Point project. The potential conflicts of interest have raised concerns about whether advice given by Leigh Fisher was impartial. Iain Wright, chairman of the business, energy and industrial select committee, said that he would investigate further. Leigh Fisher was awarded government work after disclosing several potential conflicts, including that Jacobs provided engineering services and project and construction management resources for EDF and had seconded staff. Leigh Fisher also used consultants from Jacobs in its work for the department. It told officials when bidding for a second contract last summer that those experts would not have worked on Hinkley Point with EDF and that Leigh Fisher was independently managed and operated. Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West who has campaigned against Hinkley Point, said “it stinks like a rotten fish”.

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Posted: 28 November 2016

27 November 2016

Radwaste

In a recent article we highlighted the move towards offshore geological disposal. The next search process for a UK GDF has extended the available offshore strip from 5 to 20km. We noted there that it is quite possible that an onshore GDF has simply become undeliverable anywhere in the UK. That article also suggested that given what we know about the unsuitability of Cumbria’s onshore geology, any future search process in Cumbria should be confined to the newly-extended 20km offshore strip of Copeland, within tunnelling distance from Sellafield. In this article we will examine an alternative offshore site in eastern England, under the North Sea off Teesside. The remarkable aspect of this option is that rather than costing £10-20bn to develop, it could potentially be developed at zero cost to UK taxpayers. The key to this is the value of the extracted spoil which significantly exceeds the extraction cost. Any viable commercial mine should have this relationship between mineral value and extraction cost. However we can instantly dismiss the majority of UK commercial mines – the presence of coal is an exclusion criterion for a GDF, since the risk of intrusion into the facility by a future generation is considered too great. In this case there are two mineral resources – a polyhalite seam at around 1500m depth, and a halite (salt) seam at around 1350m.

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Posted: 27 November 2016

26 November 2016

EDF

The group building Britain’s new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset has been raided by French competition authorities. Investigators acted against EDF amid allegations that it was exploiting its position as a former state monopoly to keep rivals out of the market in France. The move came a day after Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against EDF, alleging that the state-owned company was guilty of false accounting as it had deliberately underestimated the cost of its nuclear reactors. EDF denied the allegation and has sued Greenpeace for spreading “false information”. The flurry of legal activity comes two months after the government approved EDF’s plan to build reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of £18 billion. The plant is intended to generate 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity, with the French group shouldering two thirds of the project and the rest coming from the China General Nuclear Power. France’s competition authority confirmed yesterday that it had raided energy companies and had seized documents as part of its inquiry into accusations of anti-competitive practices. French media reported that EDF had been the main target. The authority was said to be seeking to access the company’s customer database. In a report last year, the Cour des Comptes, the equivalent of Britain’s National Audit Office, said that France had dragged its heels over the opening of its energy market. The Greenpeace lawsuit came after the association commissioned a report from AlphaValue, an equity research company, which described EDF as “incapable of reacting rapidly and efficiently to the variations in electricity needs and the changes created by the liberalisation of . . . European markets”. AlphaValue claimed that if EDF published the true cost of its nuclear fleet in France, it would be declared bankrupt.

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Posted: 26 November 2016

25 November 2016

Hinkley

Patrick Merliaud, CFDT Secretary of the Works Council of the Creusot establishment is worried about how to prepare to carry out the order for the two Hinkley Point EPRs. “For a white object, you have to make white pieces,” pleads the elected CFDT. The group plans to make a test piece (a large metal tube) at the end of the year. “We must make several practice pieces to test out. The problem is, many people have gone into retirement with Creusot’s voluntary separation plan. “Forty employees out of the workforce of 270 people. “The conditions were good to leave and not good to stay”. Areva had also launched a programme with its historic supplier and neighbour Industeel (ArcelorMittal) to develop a new type of steel “ingot”. But it will not be available until 2018, when we hope to make the cap and bottom of the second EPR of Hinkley Point. At present, the EDF customer is not committing itself to when. Meanwhile, the parts for Hinkley’s first EPR will be outsourced to the Japanese JSW.

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Posted: 25 November 2016

24 November 2016

Moorside

Nugen’s plans for the three-reactor Moorside plant, near Sellafield, have been slammed in a new report. Radiation Free Lakeland, a nuclear safety campaign group, commissioned the report, published yesterday, through crowd funding. It claims the proposed reactors are “too great a risk to public health and safety”. The report by Edinburgh Energy and Environment Consultancy, written by Pete Roche, claims the AP1000 reactor design, to be used at Moorside, is “not fit for purpose”. It claims it therefore should be refused a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and Statement of Design Acceptability (SDA) by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency. Members of Radiation Free Lakeland handed over the report to Cumbria County Council, the National Park Authority, Natural England and Friends of the Lake District.

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Posted: 24 November 2016

23 November 2016

Sizewell

The second stage of a public consultation into a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk is being launched today. EDF Energy and its Chinese partners want to build two new reactors on the site. The updated designs for Sizewell C will go on display at 23 public exhibitions around the county. The consultation runs until February.

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Posted: 23 November 2016

22 November 2016

Moorside

Today a report slamming the new build plan has been handed into Cumbria County Council, The National Park Authority, Natural England, Friends of the Lake District. The report will also be sent to the leaders of neighbouring European countries. There is a CONsultation taking place on the AP1000 reactor design – we found out only by accident through social media – and this CONsultation ends on the 30th November (while all attention is focused deliberately on the pylons). Please use the information below to write in your own words to the Office for Nuclear Regulation. Urge the Office for Nuclear Regulation to refuse a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and Statement of Design Acceptability (SDA) for the AP1000 reactors.

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Posted: 22 November 2016

21 November 2016

Hinkley

A company which advised the UK government over the Hinkley Point nuclear power project has been accused of a potential conflict of interest after it emerged the same company was also working for EDF, The Times has learnt. Leigh Fisher, a management consultancy, worked as an adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change on a 2013 deal to pay EDF double the current wholesale price of electricity for the power produced by Hinkley for 35 years. Documents show the group was paid £1.2 million for its advice on the deal despite the UK arm of Jacobs Engineering Group, a US firm which also owns Leigh Fisher, supporting EDF on the Hinkley project. Tender documents obtained by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act show Leigh Fisher disclosed a number of potential conflicts of interest, including that Jacobs was providing engineering services and project and construction management resources for EDF and had seconded staff. Iain Wright, the Labour MP and chairman of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee, said there were questions over whether the advice given by Leigh Fisher was impartial and he would investigate further.

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Posted: 21 November 2016