News

25 August 2008

Nuclear Waste

Thousands of containers of lethal nuclear waste are likely to fail before being safely sealed away underground, a devastating official report concludes. The unpublicised report is by the Environment Agency, which has to approve any proposals for getting rid of the waste that remains deadly for tens of thousands of years. The document effectively destroys Britain’s already shaky disposal plans just as ministers are preparing an expansion of nuclear power. It shows that many containers used to store the waste are made of second-rate materials, are handled carelessly, and are liable to corrode. The report concludes: “It is cautious to assume a significant proportion will fail.” It says computer models suggest up to 40 per cent of them could be at risk. Gordon MacKerron, who until recently chaired the Government’s official Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, called the report “devastating”. He said that it should prove a “nail in the coffin” of proposals to keep the waste accessible for hundreds of years. He said: “If we are going to dispose of the waste, this should be done as quickly as reasonably possible.”

Independent on Sunday 24th Aug 2008 more >>

British Energy

The biggest shareholder in British Energy is pressing the nuclear power generator to merge with Centrica, the owner of British Gas, it emerged yesterday. Invesco, which owns a 15% stake in British Energy and a 5% stake in Centrica, told a newspaper that a merger between the two would be the “obvious solution” for the future of the companies.

Guardian 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Independent 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Telegraph 25th Aug 2008 more >>

A takeover of British Energy by Electricit de France is still the UK government’s preferred option for the nuclear generator, the energy minister has told the Financial Times. Malcolm Wicks described a deal with EDF as “the most sensible option”, adding: “We think that’s the natural link.”

FT 25th Aug 2008 more >>

US-Russia

The Bush administration is set to put a high-profile civil nuclear co-operation deal with Russia on hold, according to US diplomats. Officials expect Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, to recommend that George W. Bush, president, recall the civil nuclear co-operation agreement from Congress in the wake of Russia’s conflict with Georgia.

FT 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Spain

Spanish authorities closed down a nuclear power plant after a fire in an electrical generator, the Spanish Nuclear Safety Authority (CSN) said. The fire at the Vandellos II complex near Tarragona was put out and no injuries or environmental damage was reported, said the CSN. The Greenpeace environment group said however that a large column of smoke had been seen coming from the complex turbine room.

AFP 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Money AM 24th Aug 2008 more >>

India

Despite continued pressure from the United States, New Zealand is insisting India sign both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Testing Ban before it will approve a pact between India and America.

Radio New Zealand 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

At least 70 MPs have signed a petition calling on Gordon Brown to levy a one-off windfall tax on energy and utility companies, and organisers predict the tally will top 100 in the next few days as MPs return from their summer holidays. Included on the petition, organised by the leftwing pressure group Compass, are now three parliamentary private secretaries (PPS) – unpaid assistants marked out because they don’t usually add their names to petitions.

Guardian 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Climate

Looking back, it is clear that every advance in the green movement has coincided with period of strong growth – the early 1970s, the late 1980s and the first half of the current decade. It was tough enough to get world leaders to make tackling climate change a priority when the world economy was experiencing its longest period of sustained growth: it will be mightily difficult to persuade them to take measures that might have a dampen growth while the dole queues are lengthening. Richard Douthwaite, author of the Growth Illusion in the 1990s, has come up with one possible way forward, which he calls Cap and Share.

Guardian 25th Aug 2008 more >>

Radhealth

Andy Rowell: Some of the world’s biggest tobacco firms researched the lethal radioactive substance polonium – present in cigarettes – over a 40-year period but never published the results, according to a new scientific article.

Independent 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 25 August 2008

24 August 2008

New Nukes

The British government has outlined its plans to identify and assess sites that are suitable for new nuclear power stations. A consultation on the process to select sites for new nuclear build in England and Wales by the end of 2025 was launched on 22 July by the UK government’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Berr). The 16-week strategic siting assessment (SSA) consultation is due to close on 11 November 2008, after which the government plans to invite third parties to nominate sites.

Nuclear Engineering International 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Creating the right environment to support a nuclear power programme may prove challenging for many countries that do not already have a nuclear industry.

Nuclear Engineering International 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Terror

Since the end of the cold war, the United Nations has logged more than 800 incidents in which radioactive material has gone missing, often from poorly guarded sites. Who is taking it – and should we be worried?

Guardian 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

The head of a Wiltshire-based nuclear and biological security solutions company was facing jail today after admitting bribing two Ugandan officials for contracts. Niels Tobiasen, the managing and financial director of CBRN Team, based in Salisbury, admitted paying them inducements or rewards between June 1, 2007 and February 1 this year.

Swindon Advertiser 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

The first conviction under new laws against corporate corruption overseas was claimed by the government yesterday after the Danish head of a British security company pleaded guilty to bribing Ugandan officials.

FT 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

Spent nuclear fuel, contracts worth billions, nuclear proliferation, Greenpeace protests, radioactive material to guard – UK the nuclear power industry has plenty of sensitive security issues, as the latest report by a regulator shows.

Professional Security 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Devonport

A man has been charged with obstructing a highway after the entrance to Devonport Dockyard was barricaded by a group of anti-nuclear campaigners.

BBC 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

Dounreay

A CLEAN-UP team has safely destroyed the first of the major hazards from the experimental fast reactor programme at Dounreay. They took more than 1500 tonnes of radioactive liquid metal from the Prototype Fast Reactor and turned it into harmless salt water.

John O Groat Journal 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Korea

The United States and North Korea held talks Friday to break a deadlock over measures to verify Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program that could pave the way for removing the hardline communist state from a terrorism blacklist.

Yahoo 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

India

India will not agree to any conditions to get approval from an atomic trade cartel necessary for a civilian nuclear deal with the United States, a report quoted India’s foreign minister as saying on Saturday.

Reuters 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

Coal

The British government will lose its leadership position on climate change and risk scuppering a global deal to cut emissions if it presses ahead with a new generation of dirty coal power, say leading US scientists and environmental leaders.

Guardian 23rd Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 24 August 2008

24 August 2008

Scotland

MINISTERS HAVE COME UNDER attack for dumping a commitment to buy all the government’s electricity from clean, renewable energy sources, jeopardising targets to cut climate pollution. Labour’s environment spokesperson, Sarah Boyack MSP, has accused the Scottish government of damaging the vital renewables industry by abandoning a requirement for public sector electricity to be generated by hydro, wind or other forms of renewable power. Concern has also been expressed by the renewable energy industry and environmental groups. The Scottish government, however, argued that its new electricity contract was aiming to save taxpayers’ money.

Sunday Herald 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Trident

The Ministry of Defence faces such a critical shortage of civilian staff, engineers and technical expertise that it is struggling to maintain its aircraft, and the supply of equipment to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq is under threat, leaked memos reveal. Senior commanders are also warning that the nuclear submarine deterrent could be confined to docks within 18 months unless a shortage of submariners and nuclear technicians can be resolved.

Independent on Sunday 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Climate

Climate negotiators have made unexpected headway towards a new international treaty to combat global warming, easing a logjam that has held up progress for years. Representatives of rich and poor nations, meeting at a conference in Accra, Ghana, are nearing consensus on a way to control emissions of greenhouse gases from rapidly developing countries such as China and India, under a treaty which will take effect after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.

Independent on Sunday 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

Gordon Brown is coming under fierce pressure to impose a windfall tax on energy companies to help Britons meet the cost of soaring fuel bills. A poll published today shows that two-thirds of voters support the levy and the embattled Prime Minister may face a vote on the plan at next month’s Labour Party conference. Many Labour MPs believe the one-off tax could ease the pain for householders and rescue the party’s plummeting popularity by either offsetting fuel bills or by putting the cash towards long-term energy-saving measures. The MPs want measures to tackle fuel prices to be the centrepiece of Brown’s Labour relaunch expected in the next few weeks – 70 have signed a petition backing the plan.

Observer 24th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 24 August 2008

22 August 2008

Dounreay

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has backed a £15m proposal for a railway link across the Dornoch firth to the far north of Scotland. By cutting straight across the firth, the Dornoch Rail Link would slash rail journey times across the Highlands, bringing economic benefits to the far north.

Building 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Cumbria

Letter: There has been anger voiced in the South Lakes about a wind energy company giving a donation to a tennis club. I can understand people’s squeamishness about accepting money from companies but in the wind company’s defence – at least it is their own money. What is really mind blowing and unquestioned is the billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money we are being softened up with in Cumbria by the nuclear industry.

Whitehaven News 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Devonport

ANTI-nuclear protesters are blockading a gate at Devonport Dockyard. A large number of protesters, believed to be from the group Trident Ploughshares, are blockading the base’s Camels Head gate.

Plymouth Herald 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

India

International talks are due to resume in Vienna to discuss whether to lift a 30-year global ban on the sale of civilian nuclear materials to India. A waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) would help India finalise a nuclear deal with the US.

BBC 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Nuclear supplier nations on Thursday proposed conditions for lifting a global ban on fuel and technology exports to India, a step required to implement a U.S.-India nuclear cooperation deal.

Reuters 21st Aug 2008 more >>

BBC 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Finland

Finland’s employment and economy ministry said in a statement Thursday it had requested the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) to produce a supplementary report on the groundrules of the oversight of the Olkiluoto nuclear power station building site. STUK had said in a report handed to the ministry the day before that allegations of poor quality control of welds at the site were unfounded. Last week, environmental group Greenpeace claimed French builder Bouygues was responsible for substandard welding at the Olkiluoto site. The ministry ordered STUK in the statement on Thursday to submit a supplementary report on its oversight and transparency standards by Friday.

YLE News 21st Aug 2008 more >>

AFX 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Fuel Poverty

Campaigners yesterday urged ministers to intervene over soaring household fuel bills after two more energy suppliers announced rises in gas and electricity prices, affecting millions of customers. Gordon Lishman, Age Concern’s director general, said one in three pensioner households likely to experience fuel poverty by the end of the year would feel forced to cut back on food or fuel. “The government must seize control of this escalating crisis and take immediate action.”

Guardian 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Ed Matthew, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the rises were “nothing short of a national disaster” for the poor. “The only way to fully protect people from ever-rising global fuel prices is to ensure every home in the UK is super-insulated and has access to green energy systems,” he said “Fuel bills and carbon emissions in UK homes could be slashed by two-thirds as a result.”

Independent 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Renewables

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, today called for Britain to become self-sufficient in energy by 2050 without building new coal-fired or nuclear power stations. He said that the country needed an “Apollo project”, on a par with the effort the US invested in putting a man on the moon in the 1960s, to ensure a massive increase in the use of renewable energy. As part of his vision, Clegg called for huge improvements in the energy efficiency of housing and a greater commitment to renewable generation. He accused the government of scaremongering about a possible energy gap to gain backing for a new generation of nuclear power plants.

Guardian 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Nick Clegg: Britain has a big choice to make. A generation of power stations based on old technologies are reaching the end of their useful life. Now is the moment for us to choose a green, renewable future, where Britain relies on its immense natural resources, instead of sticking with old technologies we know are destroying our planet.

Guardian 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Gas

Britain has enough storage capacity to stockpile gas for just 13 days. That compares with 99 days in France and 122 days in Germany. The result is that any difficulties in the supply chain that last for more than a few days have a disproportionate effect on this country. When, for example, the Norwegian giant Statoil was, on Tuesday afternoon, forced to close one of its key North Sea fields after discovering a pipe leakage, it warned that its total gas production could be down by about 5 per cent until next spring. That resulted in an immediate 15 per cent increase in wholesale prices in this country. And by last night the price of gas for delivery this winter had hit a record high, because we have so little gas stored with which to ride out this type of supply disruption.

Independent 22nd Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 22 August 2008

21 August 2008

Opinion Polls

The recent Eurobarometer survey records public attitudes to nuclear waste and shows a shift in public opinion across Europe in favour of nuclear power, according to the Nuclear Industry Association. The results indicate that, since the last survey in 2005, there are now as many people across Europe in favour of nuclear energy (44 per cent) as there are against it. This is up from 37 per cent in the previous survey. The results show public acceptance of nuclear has risen in 17 out of 27 EU member countries.

Whitehaven News 20th Aug 2008 more >>

MoX

A STOCKPILE of nuclear materials in south Wirral could be used to help fuel three nuclear power plants in the UK for 60 years, it has been revealed. The Capenhurst site has “a substantial” amount of the UK’s uranic material – which could be converted to power reactors. In total, Britain has around 100 tonnes of plutonium from recycled UK fuel, all of which is stored at Sellafield, in Cumbria.

Liverpool Daily Post 19th Aug 2008 more >>

Windscale

WITH tonnes of melted nuclear fuel still potentially too dangerous to move, engineers at Sellafield have started the first close-up examination of the Windscale Pile One reactor.

Whitehaven News 20th Aug 2008 more >>

India

New Zealand has doubts about a plan being discussed by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to give a green light to India’s civilian nuclear deal with the United States, a minister was quoted on Wednesday as saying.

Reuters 20th Aug 2008 more >>

A civilian nuclear deal between India and the United States faces a crucial test on Thursday when the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group meets in Vienna. A green light by the NSG is required for the 2005 deal to proceed to the U.S. Congress for final ratification.

Reuters 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Finland

Greenpeace is shocked by evidence presented by Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE yesterday, showing that Olkiluoto nuclear construction workers have been coerced not to report nuclear safety violations. – Supervision of the nuclear site has failed catastrophically. Workers are being intimidated to shut up and the Finnish authorities fail to intervene even when they are aware of the problems. The ministry responsible for nuclear safety cannot be contented with another memo, but it needs to immediately end all construction work and bring in an independent group of inspectors, Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta demanded.

Olkiluoto Info 20th Aug 2008 more >>

Finnish Broadcasting company YLE has yesterday revealed that both official and unofficial rules have prevented workers at Olkiluoto 3 construction site from reporting safety and quality problems to inspectors, let alone to media. This practice was labeled as the “Olkiluoto code of Silence”.

Olkiluoto Info 20th Aug 2008 more >>

Areva’s troublesome EPR reactor project in Finland yesterday received a clean bill of health after welding work overseen by Bouygues, the French nuclear group’s subcontractor, was last week called into question. Petteri Tiippana, assistant director of STUK, the Finnish nuclear safety authority, said that a government-commissioned inquiry into quality and safety allegations by the environmental lobby group Greenpeace had found no evidence of transgressions.

FT 21st Aug 2008 more >>

France

The construction company Bouygues, who has teamed up with Areva to build EPR nuclear reactors in Olkiluoto, Finland and Flamanville, France, continues to violate basic safety procedures at both sites. This link gives a partial but direct translation of the report of French authorities from the latest inspection in Flamanville.

Olkiluoto Info 20th Aug 2008 more >>

North Korea

North Korea said on Wednesday it saw as “unjust” calls from global powers such as the United States for Pyongyang to verify claims it made in disarmament talks about producing arms-grade plutonium.

Yahoo 20th Aug 2008 more >>

Iran

Iran has emerged as one of the top buyers of wheat from the United States this marketing year, but political tensions between the two countries make it unlikely that Tehran will be a regular buyer from the world’s top wheat exporter.

Reuters 20th Aug 2008 more >>

Trident

As well as the surplus Eurofighters, seen by some as a relic of cold war military planning, Britain is committed to the purchase of two new aircraft carriers, a fleet of Joint Strike Fighters to fly off them, the £20bn replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent and a £16bn programme to provide the army with an armoured vehicle for fighting urban insurgents. The deficit of about £2bn in its recent funding round suggests something has to give. But do not hold your breath.

FT 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Renewables

Nick Clegg will today unveil plans to make Britain an exporter of green energy by 2050, as he called for a programme “on the scale of the Apollo moon landings” to transform Britain’s dependence on foreign oil, gas and coal supplies. The Liberal Democrat leader demanded the scrapping of new nuclear and coal-fired power stations, instead proposing the establishment of a renewables delivery authority to oversee a massive expansion of wind, solar and wave energy, funded by guaranteed premium prices for green energy.During a visit to a wind farm in the North Sea Mr Clegg will lay out theoretical plans for all new homes to be built to world-leading standards of insulation, and for energy companies to be forced to spend £500m a year insulating the existing housing stock and installing energy-saving smart meters that measure how much power individual appliances use.

Independent 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg is calling for the city to become a major generator of renewable energy. He wants to see New York wean itself from dependency on the conventional power grid by massive investment in wind, solar and wave energy and opened the prospect of wind turbines being placed on bridges and skyscrapers, in a way that could transform the city’s skyline.

Guardian 21st Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 21 August 2008

20 August 2008

Nuclear Research

MANCHESTER is in a race to become the nuclear research capital – even though town hall chiefs insist the city is still ‘nuclear free’. The government has created a new national nuclear laboratory which provides testing, disposal and research facilities. Control of the new laboratory, which consists of six separate sites employing 650 staff, is up for grabs and Manchester University is a leading contender to run it.

Manchester Evening News 19th Aug 2008 more >>

Nuclear Free Local Authorities

Manchester is advertising for a Principal Policy and Research Officer for the Nuclear Free Local Authorities.

Guardian 20th Aug 2008 more >>

Bradwell

Professor Andy Blowers: The publication of draft strategic siting criteria for new nuclear power stations has been portrayed as a green light for the go-ahead at Bradwell. It is being suggested by British Energy that no criterion applied to Bradwell would eliminate it as a potential site. It could equally be argued that, taken together, the criteria suggest that Bradwell would be an extremely poor choice for a power station and its associated wastes that are likely to remain on site for well over a hundred years. A careful reading of the criteria strongly suggests that far from being developed on a strategic basis they have been drawn up with specific sites already in mind.

No2NuclearPower website 19th August 2008 more >>

Dounreay

MORE than 1,500 tonnes of radioactive material have been turned into harmless seawater as part of the clean-up of the Dounreay nuclear plant. The liquid sodium metal is the first of the major hazards to be destroyed. It is seen as a milestone in decommissioning the Caithness plant, which is due to be returned to a greenfield site by 2025 at a cost of £2.7 billion.

Scotsman 20th Aug 2008 more >>

Windscale

For the first time since a fire 50 years ago, engineers have taken a look inside the Windscale Pile 1 reactor at the Sellafield nuclear plant. The decommissioning team looked inside the affected area with an endoscope to take pictures from the core, allowing for the removal of the remaining fuel and isotopes in the reactor pile.

Wigan Today 19th Aug 2008 more >>

Companies

E.ON, the energy company whose plans for Britain’s first new coal-fired power station for more than two decades have sparked fierce protests, said yesterday it was considering a £300m investment in building one of the country’s biggest biomass power plants. The company said it wanted to construct the 150 megawatt plant at the port of Bristol as part of its multimillion-pound investment programme in a range of generating technologies. The company is also looking at the possibility of building at least two nuclear power stations.

Guardian 20th Aug 2008 more >>

Georgia

Letter from David Lowry: Your defence correspondent rightly highlights concerns over sensitive nuclear materials “going missing” from Georgia, and potentially being made into a “dirty” radiological bomb. Britain played a role a decade ago in removing enriched uranium from Georgia for safer storage at Dounreay. It was airfreighted from Tbilisi with American support on April 24, 1998, and then taken from RAF Kinloss to Dounreay by road. In 1998, the Government announced Dounreay would undertake no further commercial irradiated fuel reprocessing. Of current concern are a nuclear waste dump at Tskhinvali and reported storage of some radioactive waste or radioactive contamination at bases in Georgia, at Lilo, Vaziani, Godogani and Matkhodzhi.

Telegraph 20th Aug 2008 more >>

The chaos in Georgia has forced the United States to halt a high-priority program that was helping the former Soviet republic to identify possible smugglers of nuclear bomb components across its borders, long considered a transit point for terrorists seeking to obtain weapons of mass destruction, according to US officials.

Boston Globe 19th Aug 2008 more >>

Proliferation

The Bush administration intended for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) to jump-start a global nuclear power revival without the attendant proliferation risks. But as the administration comes to a close, the partnership has only heightened proliferation concerns, leaving GNEP’s future murky.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 31st July 2008 more >>

Spain

Spain’s government Tuesday vowed to take tough action against a nuclear plant after the country’s safety watchdog recommended a multi-million-euro fine over a radioactive leak. The leak at the Asco I plant in the western province of Tarragona occurred last November, but it was not detected until March 14 and the plant’s managers notified the nuclear safety body, the CSN, on April 4. Thousands of people were subsequently tested for radiation poisoning, although the CSN said there appeared to be little danger to the local population or the staff at the plant, owned by Spanish energy group Endesa.

Energy Daily 19th Aug 2008 more >>

Canada

Electric utility Hydro-Quebec said on Tuesday that it plans to spend C$1.9 billion ($1.8 billion) to refurbish its 675-megawatt Gentilly-2 nuclear generating unit to extend the unit’s life span to about 2040.

AFX 19th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 20 August 2008

19 August 2008

New Nukes

Letter from Nuclear Industry Association: Kate Hudson is mistaken when she asserts that government will “heavily subsidise” nuclear build in the UK, (Letters, August 16). The government has made it clear that the private sector will have to pay the full costs of any new nuclear power generation in the UK, including the costs of decommissioning and waste management after the plant closes. The UK nuclear industry understands this and is ready to bear those costs.

Guardian 19th Aug 2008 more >>

Projects worth billions of pounds face revision or cancellation if the Conservatives win the next election, analysis by the FT suggests. Business leaders have called on David Cameron to fill the “huge void” in some policy areas to mitigate the political uncertainty affecting companies in the run-up to the general election. One example is that the Tories have opposed the establishment of the Planning Infrastructure Commission which would speed up the approval of new nuclear power stations.

FT 19th Aug 2008 more >>

Electricity

Britain needs new gas-fired power stations to plug the energy generation gap that will be created by the retirement of nuclear and coal-fired stations, according to the chief executive of one of Britain’s independent power producers.

Guardian 19th Aug 2008 more >>

Iran

A senior nuclear official is visiting Iran, a day after the country launched a satellite-carrying rocket into space. Olli Heinonen, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), arrived in Tehran for his second round of talks this month, state media reported.

BBC 18th Aug 2008 more >>

Germany

German opposition to nuclear energy is starting to ease but the debate is still too emotional, the chief executive of Swedish power company Vattenfall said in an interview published on Monday.

Reuters 18th Aug 2008 more >>

US

Dominion Virginia Power has submitted to the US Department of Energy the first part of an application for a loan guarantee as it considers a third nuclear reactor at the North Anna power station in central Virginia.

Energy Business Review 18th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 19 August 2008

18 August 2008

New Nuclear at Bradwell is not Inevitable

Andrew Blowers argues that Bradwell is not a suitable site for a new nuclear power station.

The publication of draft strategic siting criteria for new nuclear power stations has been portrayed as a green light for the go-ahead at Bradwell. It is being suggested by British Energy that no criterion applied to Bradwell would eliminate it as a potential site. It could equally be argued that, taken together, the criteria suggest that Bradwell would be an extremely poor choice for a power station and its associated wastes that are likely to remain on site for well over a hundred years.

A careful reading of the criteria strongly suggests that far from being developed on a strategic basis they have been drawn up with specific sites already in mind.

Take the so-called ‘exclusionary’ criteria, those which rule out a site altogether. Not surprisingly there aren’t many of these, only four in fact. And Bradwell does not pass these with flying colours. ‘Seismic risk’ and ‘capable faulting’ are two of these criteria and Bradwell is within an area that was the epicentre of the country’s biggest earthquake in 1884.

Another criterion is population density and within 4km of the site is West Mersea (8000 – doubling in summer) and not far away, in the path of prevailing winds, is Colchester itself with well over 100,000 people. It’s hard to fathom how such a location would, as the government puts it in a recent consultation document, ‘limit the radiological consequences in the unlikely event of a serious nuclear accident’ (ref. 1).

Proximity to military activities is also an exclusionary criterion and it might well be thought that the Foulness bombing range, the Fingringhoe ranges and the garrison at Colchester are too close for comfort.

When we come to the ‘Discretionary’ criteria the case for a nuclear plant at Bradwell becomes extremely dubious. It’s difficult to understand why ‘flooding, tsunamis, storm damage and coastal processes’ shouldn’t automatically rule out a site. The government claims that ‘marine civil engineering works and coastal management activities can limit the risks to an acceptable level’. What can that mean when evidence strongly suggests that sea level rise and storm surges on the level of the 1953 floods (before the first Bradwell was built) will be the inevitable consequences of climate change (and coastal sinking) during the next century? Who, in their right mind, would even consider building such a hazardous activity as a nuclear power station on the lowest lying of all the proposed sites where, one report states, ‘direct inundation is a possibility’ and which is ‘vulnerable to subsidence, rising sea level and rollover of the Blackwater estuary’ (ref. 2). Even if it proves possible at great expense to protect Bradwell, the resulting impacts on the surrounding coasts could be catastrophic.

Bradwell also fails to meet several other criteria. The site is next to the first power station which remains a ‘site of hazardous industrial facilities and operations’. Bradwell also has ‘proximity to civil aircraft movements’. It is on an estuary with both ‘internationally and nationally designated sites of ecological importance’. Moreover, there is limited cooling water availability and limits on abstraction capacity and the site is poorly connected to the grid which will require upgrading.

It becomes increasingly clear that the strategic siting criteria are merely another stage in clearing the pathway for the imposition of new nuclear power stations on existing sites. Far from being the best, or even acceptable locations, these sites are the soft political option. They are in nuclear friendly ownership with British Energy and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority desperate to sell them. They are in areas already blighted by nuclear activity with local communities allegedly longing for the jobs and investment new nuclear might bring.

So, having already chosen its sites, the government is now busily setting out criteria by which it hopes to justify its selection. A more detailed and critical examination will reveal just how preposterous it is to put new power stations and nuclear waste stores on sites on crumbling coastlines.


Notes

1. Dept. of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Towards a Nuclear National Policy Statement: Consultation on Strategic site Assessment Process and Siting – Criteria for New Nuclear Power Stations in the UK, July, 2008

2. Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) Local Options – Potential Effects of Coastal Erosion and Seawater Inundation on Coastal Nuclear Sites, Document 1625

 

Andrew Blowers is Professor of Social Sciences at the Open University and was a member of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. He is Chair of Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG)and a member of Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates

Posted: 18 August 2008

18 August 2008

Plutonium

Britain has a stockpile of plutonium and uranium that, if converted to fuel, could be worth nearly £160 billion and power three nuclear reactors for 60 years, scientists say. The future of the stockpile – largely left over from burning fuel – will be decided by ministers over the next year, The Times has learnt. Its value is estimated as the equivalent of 2.6 billion barrels of oil. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which takes responsibility for the stockpile on behalf of the State, has begun to consult the nuclear industry on what to do with the 100 tonnes of plutonium, which is stored at present at Sellafield, Cumbria. The NDA confirmed that it was also talking to uranium reprocessors about the possible sale of some of the uranium, which is stored at Capenhurst, Cheshire, and is thought to be double the quantity of plutonium.

Times 18th Aug 2008 more >>

Terror

When the breakaway region of Abkhazia split from Georgia in 1993, the world’s only known case of enriched uranium going missing was reported after up to 2kg of the potentially devastating material was stolen from a laboratory. There are now fears that the organised criminal gangs that are rife in the region could exploit the confusion of the current conflict to loot other stocks.

Telegraph 18th Aug 2008 more >>

Germany

Vattenfall AB is currently unable to say when it can put its two closed northern German nuclear reactors back into service, the Swedish utility’s chief executive Goeran Josefsson told German daily Tagesspiegel. The two power plants in Brunsbuettel and Kruemmel, which German unit Vattenfall Europe AG. jointly operates with E.ON AG, were disconnected from the grid after separate incidents in June 2007 related to the plants’ power supplies.

Interactive Investor 17th Aug 2008 more >>

Politics

A former Labour cabinet minister has declared that he is paid £36,000 a year for providing an estimated three hours a week advice after coming under investigation for allegedly breaching the peers’ code of conduct. For five months, a House of Lords disciplinary committee has been conducting an inquiry into Jack Cunningham, now a peer, following a complaint that he failed to declare the consultancy on an official anti-sleaze register. He is paid to give confidential political advice to the City of London Corporation.

Guardian 18th Aug 2008 more >>

Wave Power

Why are we not forging ahead with this technology? The world’s first commercial wave farm has been developed and built by an Edinburgh firm, Pelamis Wave Power. Three of their football-pitch-sized turbines are bobbing about in the Atlantic but off Portugal, not Scotland.

Sunday Times 17th Aug 2008 more >>

India

The Nuclear Suppliers Group meets in Vienna (on August 22) to consider relaxing restrictions on nuclear exports to India. Only a unanimous vote in favour of lifting export restrictions would allow the treaty to progress.

FT 18th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 18 August 2008

17 August 2008

British Energy

The on-off £12bn takeover saga of British Energy risks delaying plans to build new nuclear reactors on government-owned sites, it has emerged. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the government-backed body, is waiting to launch a formal auction of land surrounding its sites. It had planned to invite energy groups to table bids at the beginning of the month when nuclear generator British Energy looked certain to accept a takeover by French group EDF. But the £12bn deal fell through at the eleventh hour. Low-level talks between the companies are continuing but it is not clear when, or if, the takeover can be resurrected, plunging the government’s plans for nuclear new build into chaos. The NDA must hold off until the ownership of the nuclear generator is resolved, because this would affect who would bid for its own sites.

Observer 17th Aug 2008 more >>

Nuclear Security

GREENPEACE ACTIVISTS protesting against a shipment of nuclear waste on its way to Sellafield are putting themselves at risk of death or injury, the UK nuclear security chief has warned. Roger Brunt, the director of the government’s Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS), has accused the international anti-nuclear group of “recklessness” during attempts to board a boat carrying plutonium-contaminated waste from Sweden. But Greenpeace insisted that its volunteers were “highly trained” and abided by rigorous safety procedures. The dangers they were trying to prevent were far greater than any they might have caused, the organisation argued.

Sunday Herald 17th Aug 2008 more >>

Scotland

First Minister Alex Salmond said: “BERR is proving to be the single biggest obstacle to Scotland fulfilling our renewable energy potential. Not only have they refused to act to counter unfair connection charges imposed on generators in Scotland over a period of years, now they are actively undermining the building of transmission systems.”

Scotland on Sunday 17th Aug 2008 more >>

Missile Shield

Redzikowo has been chosen to host 10 American missiles as part of an anti-nuclear shield and Slupsk is once again in the gun sights of a powerful neighbour engaged in a struggle for global power. Its place on the front line of a new East-West conflict came into sharper focus this week when a Russian general said the presence of the missiles was “exposing Poland” to a nuclear strike.

Telegraph 17th Aug 2008 more >>

Mail on Sunday 17th Aug 2008 more >>

Russia is considering arming its Baltic fleet with nuclear warheads for the first time since the cold war, senior military sources warned last night. The move, in response to American plans for a missile defence shield in Europe, would heighten tensions raised by the advance of Russian forces to within 20 miles of Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, yesterday.

Times 17th Aug 2008 more >>

Posted: 17 August 2008