Is the government conducting contingency planning for a scenario in which no new nuclear plants are commissioned? You would think it is a vital question. Utilities such as E.on, RWE and SSE have all abandoned their nuclear plans as uninvestable and the sector’s cheerleader EDF has put its plans on hold. A Decc spokeswoman said: “The Carbon Plan and 2050 calculator show a range of possible scenarios for hitting climate change targets and keeping the lights on. We want to see nuclear as part of the mix but it has to be taken forward in a way that is consistent with government’s position on no public subsidy.” In other words, we don’t need new nuclear energy, except we do. On the UK’s commitment to “no public subsidy” for nuclear, if there is anyone outside Decc and EDF who thinks that is credible, I have yet to meet them. Keith MacLean, SSE’s policy and research director, says “This complex and messy CFD policy looks like an attempt to try to hide the state aid from the European Commission and the subsidy from political opponents of new nuclear. This is the opposite of what consumers need, which is an open and transparent approach where they can clearly see what they are paying and what for.” “I can only feel sorry for the people at Decc who have to put out this garbage, it can’t be fun,” one expert told me. “I think we’re near the end game now and I will be interested to see whether the government has the nerve to abandon nuclear completely or whether it will force through a couple of reactors to save face.” The political bind that Decc’s obsession with nuclear has now created means the government is having to bend over backwards to pick a loser.
Guardian 1st June 2012 more >>
THE Marsh’s rival site to host a nuclear waste burial centre received a major boost this week after the majority of residents expressed support in an extensive survey. More than 3,000 people in West Cumbria were polled by leading market research firm Ipsos MORI and 56.3 per cent of respondents backed taking a part in the search for a site, compared to 31.6 per cent against. Just over four per cent said they were neutral while 7.6 per cent said they did not know. The Government is considering building only one national facility for radioactive waste and has invited communities to volunteer to put themselves forward. Three councils in West Cumbria were the first to jointly express an interest about three years ago. Romney Marsh is only at the first round of a six-stage process, at which Shepway District Council will decide whether or not to submit a formal expression of interest to the government.
Folkestoone Herald 31st May 2012 more >>
Shepway District Council is inviting public views on the possibility of hosting a nuclear research and disposal facility (NRDF) on a site of around one square kilometre, which could provide a repository for long-term burial of UK radioactive waste. Kent County Council leader Paul Carter said his authority was “totally opposed” to the possibility of building a nuclear waste repository in or around the county. Carter said he would push for a county-wide referendum if Shepway Council pursued the proposal. Andrew Ogden, campaigns manager for rural lobby group Protect Kent, said the proposal was “not well thought through”. He cited doubts about the area’s geological suitability, flood risk and impact on habitats protected by European law. “The waste would need to cross the Thames, probably at Dartford, which would be high risk,” he added.
Planning 1st June 2012 more >>
Areva’s EPR reactor is unlikely to receive design certification by the US nuclear regulator before the end of 2014, the agency has told the reactor vendor. Design certification for the EPR had earlier been targeted for June 2013. Areva submitted its application for certification of the EPR design in December 2007 aiming to clear the way for reactors of that generic type to be built anywhere in America subject to site-specific licensing procedures and the issue of a combined construction and operating licence (COL). Four COL applications referencing the EPR have already been submitted to the NRC.
World Nuclear News 31st May 2012 more >>
Ian Wright MP and Green Party Iris Ryder debate life extensions at Hartlepool and the Energy Bill.
Audioboo 28th May 2012 more >>
Asbestos hazard at Hinkley as EDF says ‘good progress’ on £1.2bn civils deal. Further information submitted to council after contractors find more asbestos than expected at Hinkley site.
Construction News 31st May 2012 more >>
Asbestos delays Hinkley by six months. Remediation work to clean soil will not now be finished until the end of this year.
Building 31st May 2012 more >>
Bridgwater College and West Somerset Community College have received a big funding boost from EDF Energy which will help Somerset students and local people to secure new skills, training and jobs for Hinkley Point C and also create a legacy of engineering excellence across the South West. The colleges have been given £3.6 million as part of a funding package, agreed with local authorities, to allow EDF Energy to undertake site preparation work at Hinkley Point C.
Western Morning News 30th May 2012 more >>
ANGLESEY remains integral to the future power generation in the UK, a high level meeting heard. Senior UK Government officials restated Angleseys importance at a recent meeting of the Energy Island Programme Strategic Forum at Coleg Menais Energy Centre. The Department of Energy and Climate Changes chief executive for Nuclear Development, Mark Higson chaired the meeting. He confirmed that Horizon Nuclear Power had attracted credible interest from potential investors and that the UK Government was committed to driving forward the new nuclear agenda.
North Wales Chronicle 31st May 2012 more >>
In the unlikely event that a Fukushima-type accident hit Sellafield the emergency staff could quickly become overwhelmed according to Sellafield’s Stress Test Report and ONR’s view of it.
i-Nuclear Monthly June 2012 more >>
EMERGENCY backup measures are in place to make sure Sellafield will not run out of the water needed to cool the highly radioactive liquor stored in above ground storage tanks. Drawing supplies from the River Calder can help the sites statutory seven-day cooling water requirement but after seven days water has to come from other sources. Potential loss of water from the tanks could conceivably result in disastrous radiation leaks but Sellafield Ltd wont reveal its full contingency plans in case it leaves the site vulnerable to terrorist attack.
Whitehaven News 31st May 2012 more >>
More industrial action is likely at Sellafield unless up to a dozen Mitie workers, including three union activists, are told their jobs will be safe after all. Around 1,100 construction workers in Unite and GMB unions staged a sudden walkout last Thursday after hearing that three Unite stewards were among 12 workers being made redundant.
Cumberland News 31st May 2012 more >>
BRITAINS biggest nuclear project, now delayed at Sellafield, has racked up a staggering overspend of anything between £200 million and £270 million of taxpayers money. the cost of Evaporator D has soared as high as £673 million from its original budget of £397million. Evap D is Sellafields future reprocessing lifeline but there will be no added call on the public purse. The massive extra cost will have to come from the £1.5 billion a year Nuclear Management Partners gets from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to run the site. But NMP stands to pay a heavy price in having millions of pounds sliced from the annual fee for good site performance. The cuts will be over three years.
Whitehaven News 31st May 2012 more >>
Letter NMP: we recognise that we have fallen below expectations that we set for ourselves with regards to the Evaporator D project. Evaporator D is a complex and challenging construction project. It will provide replacement capacity for the sites existing evaporators, which play a pivotal role in our mission to safely clean up Sellafield, consistent with the priorities set by the NDA. There have already been a number of milestones completed, including delivery of pre-built modules to the site by sea, which, on a project of this scale, have been significant achievements. However, we have also encountered some challenges which have, disappointingly, adversely affected the overall progress of the project.
Whitehaven News 31st May 2012 more >>
The Springfields Fuels processing plant near Preston, Lancashire was the first in the world to make nuclear fuel for commercial power stations. The site has produced several million fuel elements and supplied products and services to over 140 reactors in 15 countries. A resurgence of demand for nuclear fuel has prompted Springfields to re-commission a previously moth-balled light water reactor (LWR) plant at the site, which is still the UK’s main nuclear fuel manufacturing operation.
Materials Handling World 31st May 2012 more >>
On Tuesday, the Guardian published a letter from Davey, in which he claimed that I mistake his “short-term methods” (approving more gas and coal plants) for his “long-term goals” (stopping climate change). It’s easy to mix them up, isn’t it? Approving more gas and coal plants looks so much like stopping climate change that I’m sure he can understand my confusion. But the question it raises is what he means by “short-term”. As I explained in my column this week, his energy bill allows gas plants to produce more carbon dioxide than they do today, until 2045. It imposes no restrictions at all on coal plants, as long as they undertake that one day in the indeterminate future they will “demonstrate” that carbon capture and storage equipment could reduce an unspecified quantity of their emissions. So the short term, in Davey’s view, expires at some time between 2045 and the end of the solar system.
Guardian 31st May 2012 more >>
Letter Dieter Helm: The current UK energy market reform proposals do indeed look ominously like a “Gosplan-like reabsorption of the energy market into the belly of Whitehall”. The combination of extraordinary complexity and the government contracting is unlikely to end well, opening the floodgates to lobbyists in search of subsidies. What started out as a sensible set of reforms has turned into a complex morass. I doubt anyone in the Department of Energy and Climate Change could even list all the current and proposed interventions. Energy secretary Ed Davey says he is not in the business of predicting future electricity prices. Yet his approach requires just that if he is to set the contract prices. No doubt he will be aided by his highly questionable assertions about gas prices and his desire to protect consumers from gas price volatility. It does not have to be like this. To put electricity market reform back on track, ministers need to remind themselves what the two questions are to which EMR is supposed to be the answer: how to ensure sufficient investment to keep the lights on; and how to secure decarbonisation. The first requires the quantity of investment to be set, and the second requires a carbon price – whereas Mr Davey wants to fix the quantity and price of that investment, as well as fixing the price of carbon and choosing the low-carbon technologies too.
FT 1st June 2012 more >>
Mr Hollandes government said this week that it was planning immediate pay cuts to make sure grand figures of French business such as Henri Proglio, chief executive of state-controlled nuclear power group EDF, earn only 20 times as much as their lowest-paid workers. This means Mr Proglio could be facing a 1m pay cut, leaving him to get by on 600,000 a year.
FT 31st May 2012 more >>
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda appears set to order two of Japan’s 50 closed reactors to return online in time for the summer energy crunch. The move, which could take effect as soon as next week, comes after local leaders from western Japan backed away from their opposition, giving provisional support to a restart of the two reactors, located at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi Plant.
Wall Street Journal 31st May 2012 more >>
Southern Co. (SO)s new nuclear reactors face delays that may boost costs beyond the $14 billion budgeted, an independent construction monitor said. The reactors, due to be completed in 2016 and 2017, are already running seven-and-a-half months late and could be set back further by additional potential delays recently identified by Southerns construction partners, William Jacobs said in testimony filed on the Georgia Public Service (PEG) Commissions website today. Jacobs said the latest delays stem from improperly installed rebar and a design issue, the details of which were redacted from his testimony to protect trade secrets. Southern and the three co-owners of the Vogtle nuclear construction, 26 miles southeast of Augusta, Georgia, face significant challenges in maintaining the project forecast at or below the budget approved by Georgia regulators, Jacobs said. A possible schedule delay as discussed above would impact the financing cost of the project.
Bloomberg 31st May 2012 more >>
Jordan’s lower house on Wednesday voted for suspending the country’s plans to build nuclear reactors until necessary fund is available and feasibility studies are completed, state-run Petra news agency reported. The 120-member lower house decided to suspend the project, saying “it will lead the country to a dark tunnel and it will be difficult for the Jordanians to shoulder its consequences,” according to a copy of the lower house’s decision obtained by Xinhua. It decided to suspend the plans for creating nuclear reactors until a suitable location is determined for the country’s first nuclear power plant. Jordanian activists, environmentalists and tribes members held several demonstrations over the past few months, rejecting the country’s plans to build nuclear reactors for power generation.
Power Engineering 31st May 2012 more >>
North Korea’s new constitution proclaims the rogue state’s position as a nuclear-armed nation, analysts said today. An official website seen last night released the text of the constitution following its revision during a parliamentary session on April 13. The preamble says: ‘National Defence Commission chairman Kim Jong-Il turned our fatherland into an invincible state of political ideology, a nuclear-armed state and an indomitable military power, paving the ground for the construction of a strong and prosperous nation.’
Daily Mail 1st June 2012 more >>
A sarcastic comment from one of Iran’s senior leaders overheard by observers has fuelled suspicions that Iran is using international talks on its nuclear programme to play for time as its expands its stockpile of nuclear material.
Telegraph 31st May 2012 more >>
The economic and political news out of Europe may be grim, but on the diplomatic front Europe is leading what may be the most consequential negotiations of 2012 the so-called E3+3 talks with Iran. Those talks are being managed by the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and shepherded by the European External Action Service’s trouble-shooter, Helga Schmid. Accounts from all sides suggest that Ashton and Schmid are making rather a good fist of it the Iranians are still at the table (with a third round of talks scheduled for Moscow in mid-June) and that the countries participating have remained sufficiently united to avoid descending into mutual recriminations. No easy task given how high the stakes are, the history of failed talks, the tensions within participants and the curveballs that Israel, the US Congress and Iran itself have a habit of throwing.
Iran 31st May 2012 more >>
Letter: As paediatricians, we do everything possible to protect the health of present and future generations of children. Our government rightly tries to ensure that children in this country are not exposed to even relatively minor harm. However, its policy of nuclear deterrence presents an indiscriminate threat to the lives of children elsewhere. This is illogical and immoral.
Guardian 31st May 2012 more >>