Can new nuclear energy be developed in the UK without government subsidies? This question has been rumbling on in the UK ever since the coalition government agreed to allow nuclear power stations to be replaced “provided that they receive no public subsidy”. At first it was assumed this was a convenient way to shelve plans for new nuclear building, which the Lib Dems have long opposed. After all, how could companies embark on something as big and expensive as new nuclear building without government money? The collapse of the EDF/Constellation project should provide a warning that no matter how much reassurance ministers receive from CEOs, the future of UK nuclear power is far from certain.
FT Blog 11th Oct 2010 more >>
A multi-million dollar US programme is attempting to make safe the world’s bomb-grade uranium before terrorists can get to it.
American intelligence officials believe that if al Qaeda could get its hands on a piece of highly enriched uranium (HEU) the size of a grapefruit, let alone a consignment as big as the Polish one, the destruction of a city like London, New York or Washington would follow. So far, such a nightmare has been confined to Hollywood thrillers. But the US government is so concerned at the threat of nuclear terrorism that next year the budget for making bomb-grade material secure worldwide will be increased by 67 per cent to $558 million dollars (£352 million). In the 1950s they helped spread civilian nuclear power plants and research reactors around the world, to win friends and help mankind benefit from cheap electricity and medical isotopes; but the unforeseen result has been a stockpile of deadly spent fuel – HEU – which can be used as the raw material for the type of atom bomb used at Hiroshima.
Most of the HEU in Eastern Europe has been stored since Soviet times, often in badly maintained and poorly guarded facilities where for years underpaid staff were potentially vulnerable to bribery by well-funded terrorists.
Telegraph 12th Oct 2010 more >>
Radioactive waste has long been the Achilles Heel of the nuclear industry. In opening this Special Issue the Editors Andrew Blowers and Goran Sundqvist describe radioactive waste as an apparently insoluble problem continuing into the far future, blotting nuclear s copybook and blocking the onward progress of nuclear energy. In every country with a nuclear industry it has proved hard to find technically convincing and socially acceptable solutions. This Special Issue of the Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences makes a major contribution to the contemporary debate about nuclear energy and what to do with its long-term legacy of dangerous radioactive wastes.
Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences September 2010 more >>
EDF executives were virtually speechless with anger this weekend over what they described as a unilateral withdrawal by US partner Constellation Energy from their project to build a French-designed EPR reactor on its Calvert Cliffs site in Maryland. The Baltimore-based utility’s decision threatens to set back the French groups progress in the US by two or three years if a solution cannot be found. EDF had ambitions to build at least four EPRs with Constellation in what it once sold to its shareholders as the worlds biggest and most attractive nuclear generation market. But in private, many investors and analysts are delighted, at least in the short term. Assuming that the EPR project falls victim to the increasingly acrimonious relationship between the two companies, EDF would find itself with more time and money to focus on more pressing issues. In the past two years EDF has seen its net debt shoot up from 25bn to an estimated 45bn ($63bn) after acquiring British Energy in the UK at peak prices and then fighting off billionaire Warren Buffett to secure its partnership with Constellation in a costly rescue deal. EDF will struggle to find a new partner for its costly and complex EPR reactor, the first new generation nuclear plant to have been launched on the market, but which has been fraught with delays and cost overruns.
FT 12th Oct 2010 more >>
Shares in Electricite de France SA are down after the French state-owned utility’s U.S. partner said it will pull out of a project to build the first of a new generation of nuclear power plants in Maryland.
AP 11th Oct 2010 more >>
The US Congress heralded a new dawn for the countrys nuclear industry in 2005, approving federal loan guarantees for reactor construction projects. Yet as the politics have swung in favour of nuclear power in the US, the economics have swung against it. By the end of 2008, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission had received applications approvals for 22 new reactors. Last year, there was just one further application, and this year there have been none. Constellation Energys decision that it cannot proceed with its $10bn Calvert Cliffs 3 project in Maryland under the loan guarantee terms offered by the government, appears to have dealt a fatal blow to one of the new plants that stood the best chance of going ahead.
FT 12th Oct 2010 more >>
A U.S. loan-guarantee program is testing how much risk the Obama administration is willing to take to revive the nuclear-power industry. Constellation Energy Group Inc said last week it was pulling out of talks on a $7.5 billion loan guarantee to build a reactor at its Calvert Cliffs facility in Maryland. The estimated $880 million the company would have to pay the Treasury Department was “shockingly high,” Chief Operating Officer Michael Wallace said in an Oct. 8 letter to the Energy Department. The administration offered terms no better than Constellation could get from private investors, said Christine Tezak, a senior energy and environment analyst for Robert W. Baird & Co., a Milwaukee-based brokerage.
Bloomberg 12th Oct 2010 more >>
A HUGE exercise simulating an explosion in the reactor of a Devonport-based nuclear submarine is to be held tomorrow. Between 7,000 and 10,000 people from 27 emergency response agencies and other authorities will take part in Exercise Short Sermon (SS10) which is being organised as part of the Ministry of Defence’s contingency planning. The one-day exercise is designed to test the procedures in place for dealing with a nuclear accident in the naval base.
Plymouth Herald 11th Oct 2010 more >>
Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. has decided to delay the start of full-scale commercial operations at a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, by two more years to 2012. This, the 18th postponement of the project, will leave it 15 years behind schedule. The plant was originally slated to begin operating in 1997.
Asahi 12th Oct 2010 more >>
The U.S. has been left fuming by revelations that Pakistan, an ally in the Afghanistan war, has been secretly accelerating the speed of its nuclear weapons programme, after satellite images of a row of completed cooling towers came to light. America has been attempting to cap worldwide stocks of potential material for nuclear weapons – only last year president Barack Obama called for ‘a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials’.
Daily Mail 12th Oct 2010 more >>
Bob Alvarez: In a recent report to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) in the Energy department is “unable to overcome technical challenges” to producing tritium (H3) in a commercial power reactor for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. As a result the ability to provide new supplies of this radioactive isotope used to enhance the explosive power of nuclear weapons “is in doubt.”
Fissile Materioals 11th Oct 2010 more >>