News

26 October 2006

Nuclear Waste

TENDERS are to be invited from town halls to site nuclear waste bunkers in their areas in return for multimillion-pound investment in local services.
Times 26th Oct 2006
Telegraph 26th Oct 2006
Daily Mail 26th Oct 2006
ITV 25th Oct 2006
Carlisle News and Star 25th Oct 2006
BBC 25th Oct 2006

“The UK has been creating radioactive waste for 50 years without any clear idea of what to do with it,” says Gordon MacKerron, who chaired the committee charged with showing a way forward that would end this deadlock. Yesterday, ministers in Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff issued a statement accepting the key proposal of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management: to offer communities the dubious privilege of competing to host a hole large and deep enough to accommodate all of Britain’s nuclear waste, estimated at 470,000 cubic metres. The government hopes that by offering millions of pounds of infrastructure investment, communities that have already swallowed their doubts about nuclear safety will be persuaded to volunteer, bringing a new twist to the adage about the relationship between muck and brass.
Herald 26th Oct 2006

The Government began the search yesterday for a site to to store Britain’s nuclear waste in a deep underground bunker.
Yorkshire Post 26th Oct 2006

The UK government’s decision today to subsume independent waste body Nirex into the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) could cause any future waste repository to be blocked by a legal challenge from nuclear protesters, sources said today.
Forbes 25th Oct 2006

The Government’s proposals include giving responsibility for securing geological disposal of radioactive waste to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. GMB has reacted with distain.
GMB Press Release 25th Oct 2006

Taxpayers will be expected to foot the bulk of a bill of up to 20bn for the deep underground burial of -radioactive
waste from nuclear plants, it emerged yesterday. The government’s decision to store and then bury nuclear waste angered environmentalists, who called the strategy “haphazard” and “reckless”. The Conservatives warned of a potential conflict of interest inhanding responsibility for finding a suitable site to the Nuclear Decommissioning
Authority, which owns nuclear facilities. But the biggest concern voiced by MPs was the uncertainty over how the cost of disposal and the construction of a bunker 1km below ground would be met. Although private operators could build new reactors in coming years and would contribute to the bill, tax revenues would provide most of the financing.
FT 26th Oct 2006

Scotland

JACK McConnell has come under fire after saying that Scotland could have its nuclear waste dumped in north-west England. The First Minister’s suggestion was made after a keynote speech about the benefits of devolution. In a question-and-answer session, Mr McConnell said: “Nuclear waste is most likely in the UK to be placed in the north-west of England. And that is part of the partnership that we have here, that we share each other’s challenges for the future. I think those that would throw away that partnership don’t realise the immense dividend we get from it.” But David Miliband, the UK Environment Secretary, said: “We should not have central diktats”, adding that it was for local authorities in Scotland, England or Wales to come forward and volunteer to accept nuclear waste.
Scotsman 26th Oct 2006
Herald 26th Oct 2006
Dundee Courier 26th Oct 2006
BBC 25th Oct 2006
Times 26th Oct 2006

It is unlikely the dump will be in Scotland and Highland Council, whose area includes the Dounreay plant, confirmed they don’t want it.
Daily Record 26th Oct 2006

Iran

Washington wants restrictions on Russia’s construction of an Iranian nuclear reactor as part of a European draft U.N. resolution that imposes sanctions on Tehran’s atomic-related activities, diplomats said on Wednesday.
Reuters 26th Oct 2006

Iran announced yesterday that a second set of equipment for enriching uranium was just days from being completed, deepening its defiance over its nuclear programme.
Telegraph 26th Oct 2006
FT 26th Oct 2006
BBC 25th Oct 2006

Norway

Tougher controls on the slaughter of sheep have been imposed in Norway after they were found to be contaminated with unusually high levels of radioactivity from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) says the problem has arisen because the sheep have feasted on an unusually large crop of mushrooms, which were more plentiful than usual because of wet weather. Previous research has shown that fungi take up more radioactivity from the soil than grasses or other plants.
New Scientist 28th Oct 2006
RobEdwards.com 26th Oct 2006

Nuclear Waste Transport

SUNDERLAND train station was closed yesterday after a train carrying nuclear waste broke down. The station was evacuated by fire crews after smoke was seen coming from the train. An axle on the train, bound for Sellafield reprocessing plant, had overheated. British Transport Police said there was no danger to the public at any time.
Sunderland Echo 26th Oct 2006

Decommissioning

The European Commission has adopted a new recommendation that contains measures to ensure adequate and properly managed financial resources for nuclear decommissioning activities, as well as for the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. As there is currently a debate on the revival of nuclear energy in several European Union member states, the Commission recommendation has paid special attention to new nuclear constructions. While a segregated fund with appropriate controls on use is the preferred option for all nuclear installations, a clear recommendation to this effect has been made for the newly established facilities, the Commission said.
Energy Business Review 25th Oct 2006

Hinkley & Hunterston

The future of some of Britain’s ageing nuclear power stations was yesterday thrown into doubt as government inspectors claimed cracks in the graphite cores of the oldest plants were so serious that a safety case for the stations operating much longer could not be made. An assessment report on the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate website stated yesterday that there were expectations that most of the graphite bricks in the core of the 1976 Hinkley Point station, and its twin station, Hunterston, in Ayrshire, would crack in the near future, jeopardising the safe running of the reactors.
Guardian 26th Oct 2006

Questions are being raised about the future of Hinkley Point B nuclear power station in Somerset.
BBC 26th Oct 2006

Problems with British Energy’s nuclear power plants will probably push up UK power prices and could, at worst, pose risks to power supply security, according to consultants Wood Mackenzie.
Reuters 25th Oct 2006

BRITAIN is facing an increased risk of power shortages this winter, analysts warned yesterday. Problems with five ageing nuclear power stations, including Hunterston B in Scotland, combined with a cold winter would put the country’s energy supply “at risk”.
Scotsman 26th Oct 2006

WHILE Britain has been enjoying its hottest summer on record, events have been conspiring which threaten electricity shortages when winter eventually comes.
Scotsman Editorial 26th Oct 2006

BNG Privatisation

The Liberal Democrats have attacked the Government’s proposal to break up and sell off British Nuclear Group and establish a National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) as yet more backdoor subsidy.
Society of Procurement Officers 25th Oct 2006

Trade Unions at Sellafield say they are disappointed about the decision to break up BNG.
Carlisle News and Star 25th Oct 2006

State-owned British Nuclear Group (BNG) has moved a step closer to private ownership after the government decided it wants to sell it off piecemeal.
BBC 25th Oct 2006

Posted: 26 October 2006

25 October 2006

Nuclear Waste

Towns, cities and villages are to be granted the dubious privilege of volunteering to play host to a pile of nuclear waste in a deep underground bunker, with the government expected on Wednesday to back plans for disposal far underground. In return, the lucky winner will be offered inducements including investment in local transport infrastructure and their social fabric.
FT 25th October 2006

The Environment Secretary David Miliband will set out the government’s strategy for dealing with its stock of nuclear waste, according to sources. AFX has learned that Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will outline to parliament whether the government intends to follow the recommendations of its own Committee for Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM) which reported in August.
Interactive Investor 24th Oct 2006

South Africa

Ill-health has not always been Mcephe’s constant companion – he insists he was a healthy man before he started working for the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) at the state-owned Pelindaba nuclear reactor, about 40km from Johannesburg.
Reuters 24th Oct 2006

North Korea

China said yesterday that North Korea had no immediate plans to conduct a second nuclear test, damping speculation of another blast after the imposition of United Nations sanctions on the reclusive state.
FT 25th Oct 2006

China has denied earlier reports that the North Korean leader apologised for this month’s atomic weapons test and said yesterday that Kim Jong-il has reserved the right to escalate the nuclear crisis.
Guardian 25th Oct 2006

Tony Blair was accused yesterday of wasting thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money by sending John Prescott on a pointless mission to the Far East. The Conservatives said it was “a joke” to dispatch the discredited deputy prime minister to a region plunged into crisis by North Korea’s nuclear bomb test. The cost of the trip is likely to be about £10,000. But aides for Mr Prescott, who yesterday held talks with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese premier, on the Korean nuclear crisis, hit back by stressing his strong links with the Far East.
Telegraph 25th Oct 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the region last week to meet leaders from neighbouring countries and discuss ways to detect and intercept illicit nuclear stocks. But proliferation experts disagree about whether such a screening regime is practical or even possible. Spotting radioactive material aboard ships, trucks and aircraft is technically difficult and would require unprecedented regional cooperation.
Nature 24th Oct 2006

Finland

France came under close regulatory scrutiny yesterday for its decision to provide a €570m loan guarantee to finance the construction of the first nuclear reactor in Europe since the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986. The European Commission said it had opened an in-depth investigation into a guarantee that helped Teollisuuden Voima, the Finnish electricity producer, buy equipment from Areva. The French nuclear group, together with German engineering group Siemens, won the contract to build a new nuclear reactor at Finland’s Olkiluoto plant.
FT 25th Oct 2006

The European Commission confirmed it is launching an in-depth investigation into the guarantee that French government insurer Coface has given Areva and its Framatome-ANP unit for the funding for a European pressurised water nuclear reactor in Finland.
Interactive Investor 24th Oct 2006

BNG Privatisation

The Government ended months of uncertainty about its privatisation plans for the country’s remaining nuclear assets, confirming that British Nuclear Group would be broken up and sold off piecemeal. After protracted behind-the-scenes lobbying by companies seeking a slice of Britain’s nuclear businesses, Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry Secretary, fired the starting gun for interested parties to formally make themselves known. By far the biggest prize is a five-year contract to manage the clean-up of Sellafield, the most complex nuclear site on earth. Companies around the world have shown intense interest because they hope an initial five-year deal might be extended. They also see it as a springboard for winning much more work in the UK, both cleaning up spent reactors and participating in the programme to build new nuclear power stations, which the Government confirmed in this year’s Energy Review.
Telegraph 25th Oct 2006
Scotsman 25th Oct 2006
Times 25th Oct 2006
Guardian 25th Oct 2006

Commenting on the announcement today by the DTI on the future of the British Nuclear Group, Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Duncan said: “When the Government comes to sell BNG’s reactor sites business it is essential that only those companies with an impeccable health and safety record should be allowed to qualify.”
Conservative Party Press Release 24th Oct 2006

GMB, the largest union in the nuclear industry, has reacted with anger at the announcement by Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry Secretary, that the Government will support the break up of British Nuclear Group.
GMB Press Release 24th Oct 2006

Nuclear Research

West Cumbria is to become a centre of nuclear excellence with the construction odf the National Nuclear Laboratory.
North west Evening Mail 24th Oct 2006

Posted: 25 October 2006

24 October 2006

Trident

Building work, costing £1bn, at a weapons research base and the creation of hundreds of new jobs have sparked claims of new nuclear developments.
BBC 23rd Oct 2006

Israel

EHUD Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, yesterday put a controversial ultra-nationalist in charge of handling Israeli policy towards Iran’s nuclear programme as part of a deal to broaden his troubled coalition.
Scotsman 24th Oct 2006
Times 24th Oct 2006

Iran

The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for a baby boom to almost double the country’s population to 120 million and enable it to threaten the west, as he boasted that the country’s nuclear capacity had increased “tenfold”.
Guardian 24th Oct 2006

Nuclear research

The Government is preparing to unveil plans for the creation of a national nuclear laboratory which it hopes will ensure key skills in the nuclear sector are preserved in the UK. An announcement in the House of Commons could come as soon as today. The Department of Trade and Industry is expected to say the basis for the new laboratory will be Nexia Solutions, the rump of British Nuclear Fuels which is not up for sale to the private sector.
Telegraph 24th Oct 2006

British Energy

All four reactors at British Energy’s Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B nuclear power plants lay dormant on Monday because of possible boiler problems, a spokesman for the company said, while some of its nuclear power plants were restarted over the weekend.
Reuters 23rd Oct 2006

Proliferation

The US administration’s double standards in dealing with the intensifying nuclear crisis in North Korea further strengthens the argument that President George W Bush’s colonial designs are either exasperated by the vulnerability of his foes or deterred by their lethal preparedness. Considering the US-North Korea protracted standoff, one can only imagine how foolishly disposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein must now feel that he didn’t pursue a more determined programme of weapons of mass destruction.
Middle East Online 23rd Oct 2006

Nuclear Waste

Football managers excepted, we Brits don’t do bungs: it offends our sense of fair play. Given that we don’t like nuclear waste much either, you’d think the government would avoid combining the two. That, however, may not be possible. Over the past 50 years, UK nuclear power stations have amassed 478,000 cubic metres of toxic gunk that has to be safely disposed of in a deep hole somewhere. Given that no one in his right mind is going to actively volunteer to take it, the Government’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CORWM) has looked abroad and come up with a solution worthy of any football agent: offer the host community a bribe.
First Post 23rd Oct 2006

Energy Strategies

Amory Lovins Interview
Toronto Star 22nd October 2006

The government is facing legal action from the European Commission for failing to implement legislation to save energy and combat global warming. If the rules for insulating homes and offices aren’t brought up to scratch, ministers could end up being fined in court for breaking the law.
RobEdwards.com 22nd Oct 2006

New nukes

More than 3,000 reactors would need to be built worldwide before the nuclear industry could make significant reductions in greenhouse gases, an academic claims. Professor Rodney Ewing, of Michigan University, said that building the reactors would take too long to curb climate change. [One of the editors of “Uncertainty Underground” – see reviews]
Times 24th October 2006

Posted: 24 October 2006

23 October 2006

Nuclear Power and the Scottish Parliamentary Elections

There seems to be some confusion in the Press about whether the serious cracks found in boiler tubes at some of British Energy’s nuclear stations, including Hunterston, will make it more or less likely that there will be more reactors built in Scotland.

Labour’s policy on new reactors in Scotland is still being debated and the manifesto for next May’s Holyrood elections won’t be decided until the November conference. But First Minister Jack McConnell has made it clear that he hopes to see the lives of Scotland’s nuclear plants extended so that new reactor building can be avoided, and giving time for renewables to develop further. (1) The Scotsman has now suggested that the boiler-tube cracking problem might put this policy in jeopardy. (2)

On the other hand, The Independent asked whether the reactor problems would put the kibosh on new reactors. “It remains highly unlikely”, it said “given the experience of privately owned nuclear capacity in this country, that the City could be persuaded to invest without some form of government subsidy or market subvention. An inconvenient truth, perhaps, but a rather important one which ministers seem determined to ignore as they grapple with their planned, nuclear White Paper”. (3)

There is probably some truth in what both newspapers say. Clearly, not being able to extend the life of Hunterston B is going to make meeting Scotland’s electricity demand without exceeding climate change emissions targets more difficult, but, as a recent Garrad Hassan report (4) shows, still quite feasible, especially given the amount currently exported. It also means we need to get serious about developing renewable and energy efficiency programmes now. But British Energy’s problems are also going to make private investors even more wary about getting involved with this risky technology. (5)

For most, the idea of throwing good money after bad in the hope that the next generation of reactors might work properly is simply ludicrous. The opposition SNP said the cracks mean the credibility of building nuclear power stations in Scotland was in tatters, while LibDems called for investment in renewables. (6)

Scottish Elections

The Scottish Executive is run by a coalition of the Labour and Liberal-Democrat Parties, so might not necessarily follow the same policies as the Labour Government in London. Energy policy is officially reserved to Westminster, but the Executive has the power to approve or refuse planning consent for new power stations. In addition, other areas relating to energy policy are devolved – such as the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, building regulations, environmental regulation, climate change, fuel poverty, and transport.

The Partnership Agreement, which is a joint statement of policy by the two parties in the governing coalition, states that: 
“We will not support the further development of nuclear power stations while waste management issues remain unresolved.”(7)

First Minister Jack McConnell has stressed that planning decisions have to be taken purely on planning grounds, and should not be influenced by politics. But he also says the Electricity Act of 1989 gives Scottish ministers complete control over decisions on electricity generating stations. He has spent most of this year saying that he wants to wait until the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management produces its report before making any decisions on new nuclear reactors (8)

Labour’s Conference

Labour’s Annual Scottish conference backed seemingly contradictory resolutions on nuclear power in February. The first resolution sponsored by Amicus and the NUM said the government must “support the fact that immediate plans must be started to replace or renew our existing coal-fired and nuclear generating stations where required.” The second resolution, which was put forward by the Socialist Environment Resources Association and supported by the Co-op Party, was passed unanimously, unlike the first. It recognised “the concerns about nuclear waste, acknowledging that all forms of energy have a carbon footprint and that uranium is not a renewable resource.” (9)

The Union resolution will undoubtedly have put more pressure on McConnell to come out in favour of new reactors, and the CoRWM report has now been published. But it is clear that Jack McConnell is doing everything he can to put off a decision on new nuclear power stations for Scotland until after next May’s Scottish Parliamentary elections. Having said he wants to wait for the final CoRWM report, which was published in July, he now wants a “period of reflection” to consider the issue. (10)

2007 Election Manifesto

The Scotsman reported that Labour’s manifesto for the elections will pave the way for a new generation of nuclear power stations. (11) In fact the manifesto won’t be agreed until the Party conference in Oban at the end of November, so we won’t know the final position until then. And even if Labour remains the largest Party after the election, they will have to form a coalition with at least one other Party.

Nicol Stephen, the Deputy First Minister and leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has signalled his determination to challenge Labour over nuclear power and make it the defining issue of next year’s election campaign, although the Greens are not convinced they will not sell-out, as they have been accused of doing on other environmental issues. (12)

Nuclear waste problem not resolved

Doubtless at least some advocates of nuclear power will argue that the CoRWM report has now resolved waste management issues, so there is nothing stopping the Scottish Executive approving an application to build a new reactor. CoRWM has said that disposal deep underground is the “best available” long-term solution for the waste, but has not expressed any preference for the type of geology in which a repository should be built. Nor has the committee chosen a site.
The idea that the CoRWM report has somehow ‘resolved’ the nuclear waste issue was described by New Scientist magazine as “optimism gone mad”. It said: “deciding to put waste down ahole, with no idea what form the repository should take or where it should be, is no more of a plan than has existed for the past 30 years.” (13)

Scottish Environmentalists say CoRWM’s report must not be used by the Executive as a pretext for new reactors. Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland, said: “The vague possibility of a hole in the ground, at an unknown site, in 70 years, is hardly a green light.

Although CoRWM says that “geological disposal” represents the best available approach, it also says that interim storage will be required because of the uncertainties surrounding implementation; the creation of suitable facilities “may take several decades” and there may be technical problems or community concerns in siting which could make it difficult, or even impossible. The Committee says there are still uncertainties with regard to the safety of deep geological disposal in general, and there will be uncertainties if and when a specific site is chosen, so there will need to be much more research. Community involvement in proposals for any waste facility should be based on volunteerism. Participation should be based on the expectation that the well-being of the community will be enhanced. (14)

CoRWM says its recommendations “should not be seen as either a red or green light for nuclear new build … New build wastes would extend the time-scales for implementation, possibly for very long but essentially unknowable future periods. Further the political and ethical issues raised by the creation of more wastes are quite different from those relating to [existing] wastes.” (15)

When he was specifically asked at CoRWM’s Brighton Press Conference on 27th April if he thought the recommendations had resolved the problem of nuclear waste, chairman, Gordon MacKerron said “no”. CoRWM has previously said: “If Ministers accept our recommendations, the UK’s nuclear waste problem is not solved. Having a strategy is a start. The real challenge follows.” (16) So there is nothing in the CoRWM report which means the Scottish Executive Partnership Agreement should change.

Overseas Experience

In a new book called Uncertainty Underground about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump being built in Nevada, (17) the editors point out that the site was identified in the early 1980s as a potential site for nuclear waste. Yet it is still not open and its fate hangs in the balance. Several billion dollars have been spent, and a large number of scientists and engineers have engaged in every aspect of the problem, yet there are still delays. The key to understanding the scientific challenge involved is to recognise the large uncertainties involved with such an undertaking. 
“… an expansion in nuclear energy production simply cannot move forward without resolving the problem of the safe disposal of nuclear waste.”

Clearly, although the Americans appear to be more than 20 years ahead of us, their nuclear waste problem is still not resolved.
Incidentally, John Ritch, director-general of the World Nuclear Association, speaking at a conference in Sydney, has suggested we need a 20-fold expansion in global nuclear capacity. (18) Uncertainty Underground says a ten-fold increase – using a once-through cycle as opposed to reprocessing the spent fuel – would require the opening of a Yucca Mountain repository every year. 

New reactors quadruple waste problem

Advocates of nuclear power also say ten more reactors would add only 10% to the volume of radioactive waste, but this is highly misleading because the majority of existing waste is made up of bulky, less hazardous material. As the nuclear waste management body Nirex, points out, the volume is not the whole story, we also need to know what type of waste we will be left with by a programme of new reactors. (19) CoRWM’s latest Radioactive Waste Inventory shows that existing reactors will produce 9,900m3 of packaged high level waste and spent fuel. But ten new AP1000 reactors would leave a legacy of 31,900 m3 – three times the amount already created. (20)

Scotland leads dash for renewables

Whatever the final Labour manifesto position on new reactors, the Scottish Executive’s submission to the UK Energy Review called for more support for renewables, particularly wave and tidal power, and energy efficiency, as well as carbon capture and storage. (21) The Executive says the need to produce lower carbon energy is creating many new business opportunities and green jobs in Scotland. It wants to promote Scotland as a leading location for the development of renewable energy technology, and “invites” the UK to set a more ambitious renewable energy target.

The Executive makes several recommendations on energy efficiency including actively promoting the growth of Energy Services Companies – creating market mechanisms that incentivise energy suppliers and consumers to reduce energy consumption in buildings.

On security of supply the Executive says local generation of electricity, combined heat and power, and renewable heat should have a role to play in reducing the UK’s high reliance on gas for heating, reducing energy costs, and tackling fuel poverty. The Executive therefore invites UKgovernment to examine whether it should be encouraging Combined Heat and Power schemes.

Cracks in Scottish policy?

The Executive’s submission also supported extending the operating lives of Scotland’s two existing nuclear stations. The Scotsman had already reported back in July that life extensions have been thrown into doubt, but this was because of cracks in graphite bricks, rather than boiler tubes. This, the newspaper said, “could fatally undermine the compromise offered to Westminster by Jack McConnell, the First Minister, to extend the life-cycle of the reactors only until renewable energy sources can take their place”. But this claim was rejected by British Energy. (22)

Should the Scottish Executive be reconsidering its position that Scotland does not need new nuclear stations, it should read two papers published this year, one by Garrad Hassan for the Nuclear Free Local Authorities Scotland, and one by environment NGOs. Both show that Scotland can cope without new nuclear reactors, even without life extensions. (23)

To go nuclear or not, that is the question

McConnell appeared to reject nuclear power just before the summer break, in a speech in Dumfries when he said: “I am not in favour of new nuclear generation in Scotland until the issue of waste is satisfactorily resolved. Nuclear waste is virtually permanent and potentially very, very lethal, so we should not in Scotland countenance any extension of nuclear power.” (24) 

Yet on September 3rd, the Sunday Times reported that McConnell is set to abandon his “staunch opposition to nuclear power” in a major U-turn that challenges public opinion and threatens an irrevocable split with the Liberal Democrats. (25) This was an odd story that might well have been overly influenced by nuclear spin doctors. The same paper had previously only said of Jack McConnell that there is a “suspicion that he is instinctively anti-nuclear”. (26)

The Sunday Times said McConnell’s change of direction will be signalled in the Labour manifesto for next year’s Holyrood election. It will recommend a balanced energy policy in
which nuclear, as well as renewables and coal, will play a part. The paper must have psychics working for it.

The newspaper, however, did raise an important question about the Scottish Executive’s powers. It said that sources close to the executive say ministers have no choice other than to
keep the nuclear option open. The waste issue can be only one consideration among many others. If the Executive just says ‘we’re going to rule out new nuclear power stations in principle until the waste issue is sorted out’, it could end up being taken to court for a judicial review by any company whose application to build a reactor is turned down.

Clearly this is a grey area, which ultimately can only be decided by the courts. But any company wanting to build a new reactor in Scotland will want a measure of public and political support – it is not going to take the Scottish Executive to a judicial review if there is overwhelming public opposition to new reactors in Scotland. Time to make our feelings known then.

The so-called ‘balanced energy policy” being promoted by some of the Trade Unions in Scotland suggests that ‘we need every energy technology’ in order to successfully tackle the climate change problem. This implies that we have infinite amounts of money to spend on energy projects, which is obviously nonsense. Resources are scarce, so we need to make choices. Because climate change is a serious and urgent problem then we must spend our limited resources as effectively and quickly as possible – best buys first, not the more the merrier. For each pound we spend we need to buy the maximum amount of ‘solution’ possible. On both criteria, cost and speed, nuclear power is probably the least effective climate-stabilizing option on offer.

As well as being more expensive, and taking longer to implement, the problem with spending on nuclear power is that it will detract from spending on other more effective options. Not only does nuclear power drain resources away from other options, but it also distracts attention from important decisions that have to be made to support those other options. And because there are so many problems associated with getting new reactor construction off the ground, it might not work. So in the worst case we might find that efforts to tackle climate change are seriously damaged by a decision to go ahead with reactor construction. (27)

As the Scottish Executive has been keen to point of, Scotland has the opportunity to develop a sustainable energy industry and a renewable energy manufacturing base. Let’s not mess it up now by adding to the uncertainty for potential investors. The Executive needs to rule out new reactors once and for all and get on with implementing its vision of a sustainable energy system for Scotland. 


 

(1) BBC 27th June 2006

(2) Scotsman 17th Oct 2006

(3) Independent 17th October 2006

(4) Commissioned by Nuclear Free Local Authorities Scottish Forum from consultants Garrad Hassan

(5) See Energy Review Update No.8 “The Jury s still out on whether nukes will actually be built”

(6) Herald 18th October 2006

(7) http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/government/pfbs-00.asp

(8) Scotsman 13th April 2006

(9) Labour’s Nuclear Backing, Glasgow Herald 27th Feb 2006

(10) Scotsman 28th April 2006

(11) Scotsman 18th May 2006

(12) Scotsman 25th May 2006

(13) New Scientist 6th May 2006
Rob Edwards’ website 9th May 2006

(14) http://www.corwm.org.uk/content-898

(15) CoRWM’s Final Report – Overview para 28, CoRWM New Build Statement, March 2006

(16) CoRWM Draft report

(17) “Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-Level Nuclear Waste” edited by Alison Macfarlane and Rodney Ewing, MIT (2006)

(18) BBC 16th October 2006

(19) Guardian, 9th January 2006

(20) CoRWM’s Radioactive Waste and Materials Inventory July 2005

(21) RobEdwards.com 14th June 2006
Scottish Executive Response to the UK Energy Review

(22) Scotsman 6th July 2006
See Greenpeace Press Release on documents btained under the Freedom of Information Act

(23) Commissioned by Nuclear Free Local Authorities Scottish Forum from consultants Garrad Hassan
Power of Scotland – produced by RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland and FoE Scotland

(24) Herald 21st June 2006

(25) Sunday Times 3rd September 2006

(26) Sunday Times 16th July 2006

(27) More profit with less carbon, by Amory Lovins, Scientific American, September 2005

Posted: 23 October 2006

23 October 2006

Iran

Iran said on Sunday the West’s “carrot and stick” method for getting it to halt sensitive nuclear fuel work was doomed to failure. Iran’s case has been returned to the U.N. Security Council because the Islamic Republic failed to heed a U.N. demand to suspend uranium enrichment, a process the West believes Tehran is using to develop atomic weapons, despite Iranian denials.
Reuters 22nd Oct 2006

North Korea

Relatively little is known about its approach to the nuclear crisis, other than that it has spent several years resisting Washington’s calls for stronger actions. Beneath this reluctance, however, lies a long-term strategy of integration across the China-North Korea border that is designed to replicate China’s own transformation into a more open and stable society and serve its own interests by promoting economic regeneration of the north-eastern provinces.
Guardian 23rd Oct 2006

NORTH Korea’s plans for another nuclear test hinge on US policy, leader Kim Jong II has allegedly said. He is claimed to have told a Chinese envoy last week there will be no immediate second test – but Pyongyang “would have to respond if America continues to apply pressure”.
Daily Mirror 23rd Oct 2006

British Energy

British Energy engineers will launch a wave of inspections this week to quantify the extent of the damage across its plants that last week undermined both the share price and prospects for eventual full privatisation. The company expects to get a clearer picture of the extent of its operational problems by the end of November, when the inspections should be completed.
FT 23rd Oct 2006

Posted: 23 October 2006

22 October 2006

North Korea

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has cast doubt on North Korea’s reported pledge not to stage another nuclear test.
ITV 21st Oct 2006

An international rift over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions appeared to widen yesterday after Russia’s foreign minister denounced Washington’s reaction to Pyongyang’s nuclear test as “extreme” and “uncompromising”.
Sunday telegraph 22nd Oct 2006

Nuclear Testing

300 former Christmas Island residents, are now trying to win justice from the European parliament. They have made a submission to the petitions committee accusing the British government of breaking the law by failing to protect her heath.
Sunday Herald 22nd Oct 2006

And, with added links.
robedwards.com

Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday it is a mistake for the country to turn off its nuclear power plants over the next 14 years even though her coalition government is committed to the plan.
Reuters 21st Oct 2006

Energy Review

The Government’s Energy Review was a messy political compromise which leaves Britain trapped in a ‘poker game’ with nuclear giants, according to a report by one of Britain’s leading experts on energy policy. Dismissed by some campaigners as a smokescreen for introducing nuclear power, the Energy Review was launched in July with the personal backing of Tony Blair. But in a report published tomorrow by think-tank the Social Market Foundation, Dieter Helm, a specialist in energy economics at Oxford University, accuses the government of fudging the question of whether it supports nuclear power. ‘The review provides little by way of concrete policy proposals and it is unclear as to whether it is pro-nuclear,’ Helm said.
Observer 22nd Oct 2006

Politics

Clare Short says: Brown backed the commitments to a renewal of Trident and nuclear power without any serious debate.
Independent on Sunday 22nd Oct 2006

Posted: 22 October 2006

21 October 2006

North Korea

The North Korea crisis appeared to have come off the boil on Saturday after reports that Pyongyang had backed away from conducting further nuclear tests.
Reuters 21st Oct 2006
Independent 21st Oct 2006
Times website 20th Oct 2006

Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, said “diplomacy and dialogue” were the only weapons available to defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis amid speculation that Beijing was willing to press Pyongyang by cutting vital oil supplies.
FT 21st Oct 2006

Sellafield

The operator of Sellafield will pay a second fine of £500,000 over an 80,000 tonne radioactive leak, Carlisle Crown Court ruled on Monday.
EDIE 20th Oct 2006

The Duke of York visited Sellafield.
Carlisle News and Star 20th Oct 2006

Trident

Greenpeace today publishes proof that the UK government is constructing facilities to build a new nuclear bomb. The clandestine move breaks the international Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and undermines the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It also breaks the Prime Minister’s promise that the country would have a debate before a new generation of British nuclear weapons was developed.
Greenpeace Press Release 20th October 2006

Posted: 21 October 2006

20 October 2006

Hinkley

HINKLEY Point B nuclear power station is to shut down after cracks in one of the reactors were found to be worse than first thought. Jubilant anti-nuclear campaigners have claimed the move could signal the end of Hinkley Point. As reported in the County Gazette two weeks ago, bosses at the station, owned by British Energy, brought forward a three-yearly statutory inspection of one of the plant’s nuclear reactors as a prudent measure following the discovery of cracks in an identical reactor at Hunterston plant, Ayrshire. The cracks were first discovered in boiler tubes last month, but an in-depth inspection has found more serious damage. Now, British Energy has said it has begun preparations to shut down the second Hinkley B reactor after decided to bring forward an inspection.
Somerset County Gazette 19th Oct 2006

British Energy stopped a second 610-megawatt reactor at its Hinkley Point B nuclear power plant at 0900 GMT on Thursday for boiler checks, a spokesman for the company said. It also said it would have to stop a second reactor at Hunterston, but that unit was still running on THursday afternoon.
Reuters 19th Oct 2006

New Nukes

Letter from Nick Marshall: We know that nuclear power produces more greenhouse gases and is far more damaging to the environment than many types of renewable energy. We know that the government’s pro-nuclear stance is a result of corporate and trade union lobbying rather than rational analysis of the options. And we know that renewables will be able to fill the gap in electricity supply far more quickly and cheaply than nuclear. So why are we even considering resurrecting this dinosaur industry?
Scotsman 19th Oct 2006

Areva, the world’s leading maker of nuclear reactors, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan, agreed on Thursday to develop jointly a third-generation nuclear power plant and new types of reactors. The tie-up between the two companies is intended to bolster their competitiveness in the face of Toshiba’s recent $5.4bn acquisition of Westinghouse, the US nuclear reactor unit of British Nuclear Fuels.
FT 20th Oct 2006
International Herald Tribune 20th Oct 2006

North Korea

North Korea’s nuclear test was a “serious provocation” and poses a serious security threat, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said at a press conference in China.
Sky News 20th Oct 2006

Hopes are high that China could discourage the North from carrying out an apparent threat to stage a second atomic blast.
Herald 20th Oct 2006

China delivered a blunt message to North Korea yesterday when it told its leader, Kim Jong-il, that he must not proceed with a second nuclear weapons test.
Telegraph 20th Oct 2006

Dounreay

OPERATORS OF the Dounreay nuclear site in Caithness yesterday revealed that 500 jobs are likely to go in the next five years—and that decommissioning could end before the agreed date of 2033. At the same time, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) announced it is to invest an extra £12 million in Caithness and Sutherland over the next three years to help diversify the area’s economy.
Dundee Courier 20th Oct 2006

Trident

Fresh evidence that work on testing a nuclear warhead is being planned at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston has been uncovered by anti-nuclear campaigners. The disclosure could leave the Prime Minister open to allegations of deceiving Parliament. Tony Blair promised MPs that they will have a parliamentary debate before the Government gives the go-ahead for a replacement for Britain’s Trident nuclear weapon system.
Independent 20th Oct 2006

A group of Cumbrian Peace activists are heading to Faslane for a Haloween protest.
Carlisle News and Star 19th Oct 2006

BNG

An Ulverston firm has won a £3m contract to supply engineering services to BNG at Sellafield and Chapelcross.
North West Evening Mail 19th Oct 2006

Sellafield

The operator of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant was fined £500,000 yesterday following a radioactive leak.
Lakeland Today 19th Oct 2006

Posted: 20 October 2006

19 October 2006

North Korea

Speculation is growing that North Korea may be planning a second nuclear test after scientists concluded that its first attempt on 9 October was more of a whimper than a bang. The evidence amassed by the world’s network of monitoring stations now suggests that the event near Píunggye in the north of the country was a plutonium fizzle rather than a full-blown nuclear explosion.
New Scientist 18th Oct 2006

And, with added links and extra information:
RobEdwards.com 18th Oct 2006

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support efforts to prevent Iran from building an atom bomb, despite his country’s close trade ties with Tehran, an aide said.
Interactive Investor 19th Oct 2006

Proliferation

Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, on Wednesday said it was “practically impossible” to prevent countries from proliferating nuclear weapons if they had that aim.
FT 19th Oct 2006

CONDOLEEZZA Rice, the US secretary of state said yesterday the United States was ready to use the “full range” of its military might to defend Japan following North Korea’s nuclear weapons test. The US is concerned that Japan, South Korea or perhaps Taiwan may want to develop their own nuclear weapons programmes to counter the threat from North Korea.
Scotsman 19th Oct 2006
Telegraph 19th Oct 2006
Reuters 18th Oct 2006

Hinkley

Anti-nuclear campaigners have called for the Westcountry’s only nuclear power station to be closed for good – after serious cracks were discovered in reactor pipes.
Western Morning News 18th Oct 2006

New nukes

Prime Minister Tony Blair said he wants to replace the U.K.’s nuclear power reactors even after British Energy Group Plc shut two plants on safety concerns. “It’s important that we replace the existing nuclear power stations,” Blair told Parliament after being asked whether the government’s policy had changed. “Our policy remains exactly as it is.”
Bloomberg 18th Oct 2006

Iran

Iran warned the UN Security Council against imposing sanctions over its nuclear programme, saying such a move would “radicalise” the situation and affect its cooperation with the UN atomic agency.
Interactive Invetor 18th Oct 2006

Springfields

BNFL Springfields has been sold in a multi-billion pound deal. More than 1,400 workers at the Salwick-based nuclear plant will work for new owners this week after Japanese giant Toshiba finally signed a £2.9bn deal to take over parent company Westinghouse.
Blackpool Today 18th Oct 2006

Faslane

A THIRTEEN-year-old girl who was arrested after blocking the entrance to Faslane Naval Base has spoken of her pride at being involved in the action. Broughton High School pupil Catherine Holmes locked her arm to that of her 15-year-old friend Nikki Logan via a pipe hidden inside a teddy bear, in an attempt to obstruct business at the Trident nuclear submarine base.
Edinburgh Evening News 18th Oct 2006

Posted: 19 October 2006

18 October 2006

Proliferation

PRESIDENT George Bush’s problems south of the border seem to be mounting. Branded the devil by Venezuelas Hugo Chvez at the recent UN General Assembly, Bush was snubbed by Argentinas Nestor Kirchner at a dinner for attending heads of state. Iranian engineers are set to explore Venezuelas vast oil reserves once the preserve of Western firms. China has moved into the region, signing trade deals with Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. Meanwhile, relations between the US and Colombia have been strained following the gunning down of an elite US-trained anti-drugs squad by soldiers hired by Colombian drug lords. So could it get worse for Bush? Well, in the near future he or a successor could face a friendly nuclear arms race closer to home than Asia. For decades Brazil and Argentina, regional leaders in nuclear technology, refused to sign up to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. Theyve now signed, but some experts fear the USs counter-proliferation policy, witnessed in its invasion of Iraq and current pressure on Iran, could persuade Brazil, Argentina and other developing countries that the established nuclear powers wield unfair clout under the treaty and could hinder development of their energy resources.
Sunday Herald 15th October 2006

IN A grim warning that the world is facing a major expansion in the number of nuclear-armed states, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that up to 30 countries could have the technology to develop the bomb “in a very short time”. It is feared that North Korea’s successful atom bomb test could lead to a ripple effect with other states in the region deciding they had no choice but to join the nuclear club. Anti-nuclear campaigners pointed to 43 nations round the world that they believe could acquire the bomb. Nations already with the means to produce weapons-grade fissile material include Canada, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Taiwan, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania. Countries considering developing nuclear programmes are Egypt, Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Namibia, Moldova, Nigeria, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam and Yemen.
Scotsman 17th Oct 2006

Scotland

JACK McConnell’s hopes that he could rely on the extension of the lives of Scotland’s ageing nuclear reactors – and avoid sanctioning the building of new nuclear power stations – suffered a major setback last night. Serious cracks were found in boiler pipes at the Hinkley Point plant in Somerset, dealing a blow to the First Minister’s plan to step up investment in renewable energy while the lives of existing nuclear plants were extended. British Energy was forced to admit the existence of the faults, which were uncovered after similar problems were revealed at the station’s sister plant at Hunterston, Ayrshire, earlier this year.
Scotsman 17th Oct 2006

Jack McConnell must publicly rule out new nuclear power, opposition MSPs said yesterday, after news that a reactor at Hunterston in Ayrshire is to be shut because of safety fears.
Herald 18th Oct 2006
BBC 17th Oct 2006

British Energy

The decision by British Energy to shut down Hunterston B and another at Hinkley in Somerset wiped £800m off its value as its shares fell by 25%. It followed the discovery of cracked pipes. British Energy also said it was also examining a “significant leak” in the cooling systems of a third power plant.
Herald 17th Oct 2006

The Government’s lingering hopes of selling off part of its shareholding in British Energy this year were crushed yesterday when the nuclear power generator admitted to a catalogue of problems at its reactors. The warning caused British Energy shares to plunge by a quarter and made it inconceivable that the share sale will take place for the foreseeable future. British Energy, which has eight nuclear stations said that in addition to cracks in boiler tubes at the Hunterston B and Hinkley B stations, it had discovered a leak in underground pipes at its Hartlepool reactor. The company also said output from the Dungeness B station in Kent would be affected by problems with fuel assembly. Only one of the stations, Torness, is operating at normal output levels.
Independent 17th Oct 2006

After yesterday’s news from British Energy – in effect the third profits warning in as many months – it is hard to see the Government can persist with plans to sell off the 65 per cent it holds for bailing the company out three or four years back. The precipitous 24 per cent plunge in the share price, also means the company will struggle to hold its place in the FTSE 100. Yesterday’s news exploded any remaining hope of the now obsolete gas-cooled technology used in all but one of British Energy’s plants ever achieving the efficiency levels of more modern, pressurised water reactors. The cracks and leaks that have appeared in AGR pipes now require “outages” so serious that British Energy will have to buy in power from the wholesale markets just to fulfil its contracts. At this stage the cost is largely guess work, but it could be perhaps as much as 200m off profits this year. Does yesterday’s news also put the kibosh on government plans for a new generation of nuclear power plants to replace the old ones. It certainly doesn’t help. Any new nukes will of course be the latest technology, and therefore considerably more efficient than anything that has gone before. Even so, it remains highly unlikely, given the experience of privately owned nuclear capacity in this country, that the City could be persuaded to invest without some form of government subsidy or market subvention. An inconvenient truth, perhaps, but a rather important one which ministers seem determined to ignore as they grapple with their planned, nuclear White Paper.
Independent 17th October 2006

British Energy faced possible delays to the latest stage of its privatisation last night after admitting that only one of its eight nuclear power stations was working normally. The group also revealed that it was preparing to close two reactors after serious cracks were found in boiler pipes. The news is also a setback for British Energy’s ambitions to be involved with new nuclear reactor projects in the UK, as it casts doubt on its ability to run its plants effectively.
FT 17th Oct 2006

Shares in British Energy nosedived by 25 per cent last night after it said it was shutting key nuclear reactors.Stock prices fell 133.5p to 427p, wiping almost £800 million off the company’s value.
Gloucestershire Echo 17th Oct 2006

Sellafield

One of Britain’s flagship nuclear facilities has been criticised by the Health and Safety Executive for significant safety lapses after a radioactive leak went undetected for months. British Nuclear Group was fined 500,000 yesterday in a case brought by the HSE for breaches at the Thorp reprocessing plant at Sella-field in Cumbria, Britain’s largest nuclear site. No reprocessing has taken place at Thorp since April last year, when about 83,000 tonnes of acid containing 20 tonnes of uranium and 160kg of plutonium escaped from a broken pipe into a sealed concrete holding at the site.
FT 17th Oct 2006

North Korea

FEARS were growing today that North Korea is preparing to test a second nuclear bomb despite worldwide condemnation of its first blast.
Edinburgh Evening News 17th Oct 2006
Guardian 18th Oct 2006
Telegraph 18th Oct 2006
Times 18th Oct 2006
Scotsman 18th Oct 2006

FT 18th Oct 2006
Independent 18th Oct 2006

North Korea’s nuclear test could set off an atomic arms race in Asia, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has warned.
Ananova 18th Oct 2006

For the Bush administration at least, North Korea’s so-called “happy bomb” is not all bad news. The test has dramatised its warnings about “rogue states” and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, even if US policies have exacerbated the problem. And in Washington’s view, it has created opportunities to reshape the regional strategic balance.
Guardian 18th Oct 2006

New nukes

Energy experts have warned that the government’s focus on building a new generation of nuclear power stations risks diverting attention from “green” technologies such as wind turbines and locally generated power. Giving evidence before the Department of Trade and Industry’s select committee today, researchers from the University of Sussex told MPs that the government’s limited time to concentrate on energy issues could mean green options such as micro-generation and distributed generation being crowded out. The warning from Dr Jim Watson, Senior Fellow at the Sussex Energy Group, came as the government works up a white paper dealing with energy issues, due out next March.
Interactive Investor 17th Oct 2006

Hartlepool

Hartlepool nuclear station has been shut down and will remain closed until next month following a significant underground leak.
Hartlepool Mail 17th Oct 2006

Trident

A total of 42 foreign peace protesters have been arrested after they blocked the main entrance at a nuclear base in Scotland.
ITV 17th Oct 2006

Posted: 18 October 2006