Scottish Waste Consultation
An attempt by the Scottish Government to quietly abandon its opposition to dumping nuclear waste underground has come under fierce attack from local authorities, environmental groups and experts. They say that radioactive waste disposed of in holes in the ground could leak into the groundwater and soil and contaminate future generations. The waste remains dangerous for thousands of years. Ministers are being urged to revert to their original plan to put the waste in stores above the ground where it can be managed, monitored and kept safe. The revelation that waste could be buried more than 100 metres 300 feet underground has sparked widespread anger. The 11-strong group of Scottish nuclear-free local authorities, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, has lodged a submission protesting about the change. Shetland Islands Council has written to Lochhead demanding that the consultation be extended to allow stakeholders to take account of this. The worrying policy U-turn was also condemned by Friends of the Earth Scotland. These proposals would appear to have been cooked up by officials and industry lobbyists and presented to ministers and the public as a minor shift in policy, said the environmental groups chief executive, Duncan McLaren. Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates, a group of experts and former government advisers, has pointed out that there would be problems burying the graphite because it contains radioactivity difficult to contain over long periods of time. There is a danger the nuclear industry could attempt to use Scotland as a guinea pig to assist it in its efforts to reduce costs, the group warned.
Sunday Herald 11th Apr 2010 more >>
Longer version: “When Alex Salmond joined protests against nuclear dumping in Scotland twenty years ago and supported near surface storage instead,” said Pete Roche, an environment consultant in Edinburgh, “I can’t believe disposal 300 feet or more underground is what he had in mind.”
Rob Edwards.com 11 April 2010 more >>
Carbon Floor Price
Dr Paul Golby, head of the German utility giant’s British business, has concerns that money raised by any government setting a “carbon floor price” will not necessarily be channelled to green energy projects. “I’m not a great supporter of a carbon floor price, because it seems to me to be a tax,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “The money doesn’t always go to the purpose it was originally intended.” EON is planning to invest £7.5bn in two nuclear power stations on Anglesey and in Gloucestershire by 2025, but the current market framework means that building the plants may not be economically attractive without some form of government incentive. Rival nuclear developer EDF has lobbied hard for a carbon floor price, which would add an estimated £40 per year to energy bills. For me to build new nuclear power stations, I need confidence people are going to buy the product at an acceptable price,” The Government is understood to be looking at the idea of a low carbon obligation, favouring it over a carbon floor price.
Sunday Telegraph 11th Apr 2010 more >>
Eon forecasts that if we need to reduce carbon emissions by 80pc, electricity use will rise by 60pc because UK consumers will move en masse to electric vehicles and central heating. E.ON has been lobbying hard for nuclear power, which has neglible carbon emissions, to be incentivised in the same way as renewable energy. Its answer is a “low-carbon obligation” that would force suppliers to buy or generate a certain proportion of their electricity from “clean” sources. Now there is a whole raft of extra obligations on electricity suppliers to make sure 10pc of their energy comes from renewable sources, to buy permits to cover their emissions and fund costly energy efficiency programmes. Rather than providing simply a centralised generation, distribution and supply business, E.ON has plans to sell generation equipment to individual homes. The company has just made a major foray into this area, with the launch of its SolarSaver product, a rooftop panel costing north of £11,000. With subsidies through the Government’s new “feed-in tariff” – a way for households to sell back extra electricity to the national grid – each home could be breaking even within 12 years, Dr Golby says excitedly. This would give 13 years of profit under the 25-year feed-in tariff system.
Sunday Telegraph 11th Apr 2010 more >>
Opposition is growing to plans for an expansion of Lydd Airport up to 500,000 passengers a year, despite boost to jobs. Posters depicting an airliner plunging towards Dungeness B nuclear power station with the caption “60 Seconds to Disaster” have been erected in Lydd.
Guardian 10th Apr 2010 more >>
Repairs at the Sizewell B nuclear power station will take longer than originally anticipated, Lake Acquisitions Ltd said today (9 April). The power station was shut down manually on 17 March due to higher than normal moisture levels within the containment building. Lake Acquisitions – a wholly-owned subsidiary of EDF – said the problem related to one of the heaters associated with the pressuriser. The component is not part of the reactor pressure vessel but is connected to the cooling circuit. Early indications showed that repair techniques previously deployed at similar power stations could be carried out at Sizewell B in relatively short timescales. But detailed inspections have shown that the existing repair techniques will need to be developed further before being deployed. Until this development work has been completed the timing of the return to service is subject to some uncertainty.
Business Financial News 9th Apr 2010 more >>
IBTimes 9th Apr 2010 more >>
Reuters 9th Apr 2010 more >>
Welsh Energy Policy
Planning consent for onshore electricity generating stations larger than 50MW lies with the Infrastructure Planning Commission, and for offshore ones greater than 1MW it is shared with the IPC and the Marine Management Organisation. The most obvious area where this conflicts with the Assembly Government’s energy policy aspirations is in nuclear power, where the launch of the Energy Policy Statement was swiftly followed by the announcement of Horizon’s plans to build a 3GW nuclear power station next to the Wylfa plant on Anglesey. The Assembly Government reacted swiftly to Horizon’s announcement by saying it would push for a public inquiry.
Western Mail 10th Apr 2010 more >>
AN ENGINEER stopped the wheels coming off a project to clean up a nuclear reactor by donating the casters from his living-room couch. Scientists are using a remotely controlled device to inspect the depths of Dounreay’s redundant Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) as part of the 2.9 billion decommissioning of the Caithness plant. But during tests it was found the vehicle toppled over while cornering, posing a potential problem that could have cost thousands of pounds to rectify. Senior design engineer Calder Bain came up with the low-tech solution by simply removing the casters from his sofa.
Scotsman 10th Apr 2010 more >>
The plutonium that is the key ingredient in thousands of nuclear weapons sidelined in the new arms control treaty between the United States and Russia is likely to be around for decades at least, according to experts. They say the process for destroying plutonium has not yet started to whittle down the surplus already created by previous agreements. Since the late 1990s, the United States has been trying to build a factory at the Savannah River Site, near Aiken, S.C., that would convert the plutonium to reactor fuel. Government officials once hoped that such fuel could be loaded into reactors in 2002. But construction did not begin until 2007 and even if all goes well, the plant will not be finished until 2016. The cost of the plant, once estimated at $2.3 billion, is now $4.8 billion. The plant is the largest nuclear construction project in the country.
New York Times 8th Apr 2010 more >>
Swedish Radioactive Waste
Osthammar is a town competing for the right to become Sweden’s permanent storage site for radioactive waste. Eighty per cent of the town’s 21,000 inhabitants are in favour of the facility and Osthammar is one of two finalists among Swedish communities vying for the right to host the nuclear waste dump. Sweden would seem an unlikely setting for such a competition as the country turned its back on nuclear power in the 1980s after less than 20 per cent approved of it in a referendum. But it has reversed course recently and is now planning to begin building new nuclear reactors, adding to the ten it already operates. Legislation requires that before any new plants are built, the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company, SKB, must create permanent storage space for the radioactive waste the reactors produce. SKB will ask the Swedish government later this year for permission to build the storage depot in Osthammar. If the government gives the green light, construction could begin some time after 2015. The dump’s opponents, Osthammar residents such as Mats Tornqvist, a retired chemist who returned to his native Osthammar from Stockholm, have conceded the fight, if not the argument. “I’m a chemical engineer, I’ve worked with waste problems since 1985, I’ve read all the papers,” he said. “They can say all they want, they have no solution.” He says the prospect of jobs brought people around. “We have a community here that is very dependent on this industry.”
Scotland on Sunday 11th Apr 2010 more >>
Britain’s best know peace campaigner will this Sunday (11th April) highlight the lack of debate during the general election campaign so far over levels of spending on nuclear weapons. The estimated cost of replacing Trident is in the region of £75-£100 billion – which is around 15 times the £6 billion of proposed ‘efficiency savings’ which have dominated the party political debates over the last few days. The CND Vice President, Bruce Kent wishes to now push for ‘real debate’ about the huge levels of spending on Trident nuclear weapons, as part of the general election campaign.
Ekklesia 10th Apr 2010 more >>
The Liberal Democrats have said they will not replace Trident nuclear-armed submarines, but they have still not broken the overall nuclear hold on their defence policy, say critics – including environmentalists and disarmament campaigners. The challenge was echoed by the leader of the Green Party in England and Wales, Caroline Lucas, in a speech late last week at the Flame of Hope rally was held as US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed a new nuclear arms reduction treaty, cutting the number of warheads held by Russia and the US.
Ekklesia 11th Apr 2010 more >>
Observer Editorial: President Obama will this week host a nuclear security summit in Washington, where he will hope to build some momentum for wider disarmament. That is a daunting project that has to involve such unpliable states as India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel and Iran. Given the scale of that task, President Obama is wise to have inaugurated a thaw with Russia. With a new generation of nuclear threats needing attention, defusing Cold War bombs is a task long overdue.
Observer 11th Apr 2010 more >>
The US and Russia are one step closer to nuclear disarmament, after signing the New Start treaty at a lavish ceremony in Prague. But a curious hangover from the threat of nuclear Armageddon is still in use across the Czech Republic. Every first Wednesday of the month, at precisely midday, air raid sirens ring out across the country.
BBC 10th Apr 2010 more >>