News 2017

Hinkley

EDF’s oversight of Areva, which will supply Britain’s new Hinkley Point nuclear reactors, was brought into question in an internal document by Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). Following the discovery of manufacturing irregularities and the falsification of documents at Areva’s Creusot Forge foundry last year, French nuclear regulator ASN and several other international regulators inspected the site in early December. In an ONR report about the visit dated Dec. 16, disclosed under a Freedom of Information request and seen by Reuters, the ONR said the nuclear safety culture at Creusot Forge fell short of expectations and warned about the implications for EDF’s Hinkley Point project, in southwest Britain. The ONR on Friday confirmed the release of the document and said it had since decided to implement a series of additional inspections of EDF and its supply chain to ensure all components are manufactured to the required standard. The ONR report said after an inspection in late 2016, an international team from France, Canada, the United States, China, Finland and Britain had concluded that the nuclear safety culture at Areva’s Creusot Forge foundry fell short of what regulators expect from a major supplier of nuclear equipment. It added that improvement measures deployed to date had yet to be effective and said despite the prohibition of the use of correction fluid on documents at the foundry, the inspectors found evidence of its continued use.

Reuters 24th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 26 March 2017

Moorside

Britain’s nuclear ambitions were thrown into doubt last night amid fears that a change of control at Moorside could set the project back by ‘years’. The Cumbrian plant is one of the UK’s three key nuclear power projects, alongside Hinkley Point and Sizewell. It is to be built by NuGen, a firm 60 per cent owned by Toshiba, which will also supply the three reactors through its subsidiary Westinghouse. But the Japanese company has been dogged by concerns over its financial stability. And speculation is growing that US-based Westinghouse will trigger bankruptcy protection rules within days to restructure. South Korea’s Kepco last week signalled it may step in to rescue the Moorside plant. But local campaigners say that if Kepco scraps plans to use Westinghouse reactors in favour of its own, the power station would be unlikely to be switched on until after 2030. Martin Forwood of Core, which opposes further nuclear development in the Sellafield area, said: ‘Why would Kepco or any other new sponsor take on someone else’s reactors?’ He said more delays may continue to discourage other businesses, adding: ‘West Cumbria has vast potential for renewable energy – wind, wave and tidal power – that we can start building today.’

Daily Mail 25th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 26 March 2017

New Nuclear

Nuclear energy faces an uncertain future globally as concerns over safety and cost dog the industry. But in the UK, foreign investors are queueing up to back projects. The latest is South Korea. Its biggest power company is in talks to join the consortium backing a nuclear power station in Cumbria, in a sign of the continuing allure of Britain’s atomic ambitions to international companies. Kepco said last week it was interested in taking a stake in NuGen, which is 60% owned by Japan’s Toshiba and 40% by France’s Engie, confirming what had been an open secret in the industry for months. Kepco’s president, Cho Hwan-eik, said that once the terms of a potential deal were ironed out, “we will be the first to jump into the race”. The idea of a Seoul-based company developing the Moorside plant near Sellafield is not as strange as it might seem. The UK government needs new nuclear power stations to meet greenhouse-gas reduction targets and keep the lights on as ageing coal and atomic plants are retired. This month, officials reiterated how important nuclear will be to Britain’s future energy security, with projections that showed 38% of power coming from nuclear by 2035, up from 24% last year. Potential investors have been drawn by the UK government’s enthusiasm and a nuclear standstill elsewhere, amid lingering safety fears in the wake of the Fukushima disaster and cost overruns at the Flamanville site in France which is using a new reactor design. As a result, South Korea has joined Japan, China and France in showing interest in British nuclear. Mycle Schneider, called the UK the “last hope” for the nuclear construction giants of the world. The Paris-based nuclear consultant said: “In Korea the political situation will dramatically change after the upcoming elections, [probably] not in favour of the nuclear industry. Success overseas will help survival at home. The Japanese industry clearly has no future at home and little prospects abroad [because of Fukushima].” Another lure for foreign companies is the prestige of having their reactor design pass the UK’s strict regulatory and licensing process. Antony Froggatt, a nuclear expert at the thinktank Chatham House, said: “It gives you that important status for getting orders elsewhere.” That is particularly true of the Chinese state-owned company, which is providing a third of the money for Hinkley and whose design for a reactor at Bradwell, Essex is expected to complete the UK regulatory process in 2021. “It would be important because it would be first time that reactor type was built outside China, so having it approved by the UK regulator would be significant,” said Atherton.

Observer 25th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 26 March 2017

Chernobyl

A Borders charity set up 16 years ago to help children living near the scene of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster in Ukraine is being wound up. Since 2001, youngsters from Belarus have visited the region annually for a month-long holiday away from contaminated countryside there, a break estimated to have increased their expected lifespans by two years. Now, however, Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline’s Borders branch chairman Fraser Simm is stepping down, and as a result the charity has also come to an end.

Berwickshire 25th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 26 March 2017

Russia

A newly unearthed secret report claims Russia covered up a nuclear disaster four times worse than Chernobyl, it has been reported. During the 1950s, one detonation in Kazakhstan resulted in four times the number of cases of acute radiation sickness than those from the Chernobyl disaster, it is said. More than 600 people ended up in hospital and at least 100,000 people are believed to have been affected by the explosion. Children are still being born today with defects resulting from the fallout, according to the report by New Scientist. In August 1956, fallout from a Soviet nuclear weapons test at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan engulfed the industrial city of Ust-Kamenogorsk over 100 miles away.

Mirror 24th March 2017 read more »

IB Times 25th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 26 March 2017

Nuclear Weapons

Five UK Churches have issued a statement to support and encourage those meeting in New York to negotiate a treaty banning nuclear weapons. They have also expressed their shared disappointment that the UK Government has refused to take part in these talks, despite its longstanding international commitments to work towards a nuclear weapon free world.

Ekklesia 25th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 26 March 2017

Renewables

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has this afternoon finally relented and published the Frontier Economics-produced report on the system costs of renewables integration. The report itself investigates the whole power system impacts of various electricity generation technologies, aiming to establish the added costs and factors that need to be taken into account when integrating variable renewables generators into the grid alongside more traditional, centralised power stations. Stressing that levelised costs of electricity calculations are not the best way to compare technologies due to how they disregard other costs associated with the wider electricity system, the report stresses the need to identify whole system impacts to better understand them.

Solar Power Portal 24th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 26 March 2017

New Nuclear

Nuclear new build in ‘meltdown’, say experts. Doubts grow over delays, funding shortfalls and ability of nuclear industry to complete planned projects. Nuclear industry experts have warned that the £80bn nuclear new build industry is in “meltdown” as problems beset the clients behind the next generation of planned plants. Despite French energy giant EDF pressing ahead with construction of £18bn Hinkley Point C – the first new UK nuclear plant for almost 30 years – after getting the all-clear from the government last autumn, experts warn the sector still faces major challenges. In recent weeks Toshiba, the backer of the £10bn planned Moorside plant in Cumbria, has delayed its third quarter accounts twice and revealed a £6.3bn (£5.1bn) write-down on its US nuclear division, Westinghouse. Meanwhile EDF has continued to face problems and delays on its Flamanville nuclear plant project in northern France – which uses the same reactor technology earmarked for Hinkley – including an explosion on site last month that injured three people, but posed no nuclear risk. Nuclear lobbyist Tim Yeo, former Tory MP and climate change committee chair, told Building Toshiba’s financial problems had “cast doubt” on the future of the Moorside plant and posed “something of a crisis”. He also queried EDF’s ability to complete Hinkley as planned by 2025, arguing that until Flamanville completes “there has to be a question mark over what the completion date of Hinkley will be”. Meanwhile, Paul Dorfman, senior research fellow at UCL’s Energy Institute and long-time nuclear critic, said he believed the new nuclear programme was in “meltdown”. He also questioned whether EDF – which has debts of (E)37.4bn (£32.4bn) – would deliver at Hinkley: “It might happen, but it’s dependent upon a number of things, primarily EDF’s credit rating.”

Building 24th March 2017 read more »

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear met this week to discuss the Government’s recently published industrial strategy. Contributions focussed on the importance of place and long-term thinking to the industry. On the panel were BEIS committee chair Iain Wright MP, NuGen’s director of corporate affairs Gary Shuttleworth, chief executive of Nuclear AMRC Mike Tynan and chief executive of the National Nuclear Laboratory Paul Howarth. The meeting was chaired by Sue Hayman MP. Iain Wright started the discussion and praised the key role the nuclear industry played in providing secure, low carbon energy. He said the industrial strategy needed to provide a long-term framework, which transcended parliaments and party politics to instil confidence in would-be investors. However he said it was important to get the right mix of horizontal and vertical support from Government as he worried a purely sector approach could stifle innovations that developed from the synergies of cross cutting industries. Wright also talked about how he would love to see another nuclear power station in Hartlepool because of the huge economic footprint it had in the local area and highlighted how the industry had been successful in creating a co-ordinated education strategy to guarantee future skills in the region.

Politics Home 24th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 25 March 2017

Areva

An international team of inspectors has found evidence of doctored paperwork and other failings at a forge in France that makes parts for nuclear power stations around the world. The UK nuclear regulator said the safety culture at the site, which has produced forgings for British plants including Sizewell B and the planned new reactors at Hinkley Point, fell short of expectations. Last December regulators from the UK, US, China, Finland and Canada visited the Creusot forge run by the French state-owned nuclear builder Areva, to address their concerns after the country’s regulator ASN discovered quality-control problems and falsification of records in 2014. A report of the inspection by the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), obtained via a freedom of information request, concluded the improvement measures ordered by ASN were not yet effective.

Guardian 24th March 2017 read more »

Flaws found in the production of nuclear waste containers highlight gaps in the safety culture at French nuclear group Areva’s nuclear waste recycling facility at La Hague in Normandy, the firm’s unions allege. An internal document from the La Hague CHSCT Health and Safety Committee, which was seen by Reuters, says that in late 2016 the plant produced several substandard containers of vitrified highly radioactive waste. Areva, which confirmed the incident, said that all units of the plant have appropriate staffing levels in line with safety guidelines. As soon as a problem was discovered, an investigation was launched and repairs were made, it added.

Reuters 23rd March 2017 read more »

Posted: 25 March 2017

Toshiba

Toshiba informed its main lenders today it is planning for Westinghouse Electric Co., the nuclear engineering firm overseeing construction of new generating facilities in Georgia and South Carolina, to file for bankruptcy on March 31, according to sources briefed on the matter, Reuters reports.

Utility Dive 24th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 25 March 2017