One of the reactors at the ageing Hunterston nuclear power station in North Ayrshire has been plagued by two serious new breakdowns. Two large gas circulators vital for cooling the reactor and preventing meltdown were damaged when the lubricating oil was mistakenly switched off. And on Thursday the reactor had to be shut down because its turbine generator was shaking more than it should. These latest mishaps come after the discovery of two new cracks in the reactor’s graphite bricks, as well as a rash of nuclear incidents across Scotland during the week. A ship carrying radioactive waste caught fire and went adrift in the Moray Firth, there was a fire at the Dounreay nuclear complex in Caithness and excess emissions of tritium gas came under investigation at Chapelcross in Dumfries and Galloway. Critics say the Hunterston plant, which opened in 1976, is showing its age and question plans to keep it running until at least 2023. “Last week served up examples of pretty much everything that is wrong about nuclear power,” said Lang Banks, director of the environmental group, WWF Scotland. The reactor was powered up again last Sunday but on Thursday it had to be shut down because of intense vibrations. The French state company that runs the Hunterston B nuclear plant, EDF Energy, stressed there had been no safety consequences, though repairs had cost £100,000. “During the recent period of planned maintenance at Hunterston B, some bearings on two running gas circulators were damaged because lubricating oil was switched off in error,” said the station’s director, Colin Weir. The independent nuclear engineer, John Large, pointed out that ONR was under extra pressure while it assesses the designs of new nuclear stations planned for England and Wales. The simultaneous failure of two gas circulators would “prove to be a very costly mistake,” he predicted. The loss of gas cooling could cause fuel pins to melt, with a risk of a fire in the reactor core, Large said. “This could have run on to serious in-reactor consequences.” Rita Holmes, who chairs the Hunterston site stakeholder group, questioned EDF’s view that the plant could operate safely until 2023. “I am extremely concerned and well past the stage of reassurance from EDF being enough.”
Sunday Herald 12th Oct 2014 read more »
Austria is set to accuse the European Commission of misinterpreting the rules over state aid after it gave the go-ahead to Britain’s planned £18billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The country opposed the EC’s clearance of the scheme last week and said EC competition law allowed for state aid in energy to be proportional and only for infant technologies, which was not the case with Hinkley Point, which will be built by France’s EDF. The Government is subsidising the new plant by creating a ‘strike price’, or minimum guaranteed price, of £92.50 per megawatt hour for 35 years, which is about twice the current price of electricity. Austria’s chancellor, Werner Faymann, has written to EC president Jose Manuel Barroso warning him to ‘expect a lawsuit at the highest court’, which would be the European Court of Justice.
This is Money 11th Oct 2014 read more »
The SDLP has hit out after the European Commission gave the final go-ahead to the first UK nuclear power station for a generation. South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said she feared it would pave the way for a new plant at Sellafield just across the Irish Sea from her own constituency. “The decision to give the green light to another round of nuclear spending is of great concern as it represents the first time that the European Commission has approved significant state aid for a new nuclear power plant,” she said.
Belfast Telegraph 11th Oct 2014 read more »
Dave Morris MP: Hinkley Point is the first nuclear build to go ahead. Currently Heysham 3 is number 7, so I always like to keep up to date with the new build progress in other areas.
The Visitor 11th Oct 2014 read more »
The energy policies of Europe as a whole and of individual European countries have created a seriously flawed power market. Across the board, well-intentioned initiatives have led to pricing and market distortions that pose significant challenges to industry players and consumers alike. Efforts aimed at achieving the best of all possible worlds—market liberalization, reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions, and affordability—have resulted in policies whose outcomes fail to meet most of their intended objectives.
BCG Perspectives 26th Sept 2014 read more »
The Climate Change Act 2008, which ties Britain into stringent environmental measures, should be suspended – and then scrapped – if other countries refuse to agree legally binding targets, says Owen Paterson MP. Britain will struggle to “keep the lights on” unless the Government changes its green energy policies, the former environment secretary will warn this week. Owen Paterson will say that the Government’s plan to slash carbon emissions and rely more heavily on wind farms and other renewable energy sources is fatally flawed. Britain’s energy needs are better met by investing in extracting shale gas through fracking and capturing the heat from nuclear reactors, Mr Paterson will argue. He proposes a mix of energy generation based on smaller “modular” nuclear reactors and “rational” demand management. This would see dozens of small nuclear power stations, using reactors that are already fitted into submarines, being built around the country. Home owners would also have to get used to timed power cuts using special switches that would cut electricity used by appliances.
Telegraph 11th Oct 2014 read more »
Christopher Booker: It is safe to predict that no speech made by a British politician this week will be more surprising or significant than that to be delivered by a senior Conservative, who was sacked from the Cabinet last July for being too good at his job. On Wednesday, as reported on our front page, Owen Paterson, our former environment secretary, will give the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s annual lecture. It’s entitled “Keeping the lights on”, and is focused on Britain’s energy policy. And having seen the mass of expert research on which his lecture is based, I can only say, as someone who has been writing about energy for years, that it shows how the reality of the situation now facing us is even more alarming than anything I have reported on this subject before.
Telegraph 11th Oct 2014 read more »
The Ukip victory in Clacton-on-Sea has broken the established political order wide open, brought many parts of the country into electoral contention and heralds the end of two-and-a-half-party politics. That’s not the view of Nigel Farage or another Ukip insider, though, but the considered opinion of Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.
Independent 12th Oct 2014 read more »
A CARGO ship carrying nuclear waste which was at the centre of a rescue earlier in the week has now sailed from the Cromarty Firth. The MV Parida had to be towed to safety after a fire on board on Tuesday night left it stricken in bad weather in the Moray Firth. The Danish-registered underwent repairs at Invergordon harbour and is now continuing her journey to Antwerp in Belgium. In a statement, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, said: “The Scottish Government continued to closely monitor the situation in the Cromarty Firth and now that the Parida is safely and securely on the move we must make sure that an incident like this does not happen again.
North Star 11th Oct 2014 read more »
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday the concentration of radioactive tritium in groundwater at its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has surged more than tenfold this month. The level of tritium in a groundwater sample collected Thursday from a well east of the plant’s No. 2 reactor measured 150,000 becquerels per liter, a record high for a sample from the well and up more than 10 times the level a week before. The well is located close to the plant’s port on the Pacific. A Tepco spokesman said heavy rain caused by Typhoon Phanfone, which hit eastern Japan earlier in the week, likely affected groundwater at the plant.
Japan Times 12th Oct 2014 read more »
A round of safety improvements to ensure core cooling in scenarios similar to those of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi have been announced by the Swedish regulator, which unusually made its statement in a newspaper article. Writing in the Dagen Nyheter newspaper, the heads of Sweden’s radiation safety body SSM, announced a two-stage set of upgrades they want to see at the country’s ten nuclear power reactors. By 2017, they wrote, all reactors should have independent systems to ensure power and water are available for emergency cooling for a period of 72 hours. This is in common with post-Fukushima upgrades undertaken in many countries, and already in progress in Sweden under the power plant operators’ own initiative. SSM said this requirement could be met by means such as mobile diesel generators and external water storage.
World Nuclear News 10th Oct 2014 read more »
Millions risk not claiming free money-saving home improvements because they don’t realise their property is eligible for help. Research by British Gas reveals that only one in five people believe their home qualifies for free insulation, qualifies for free insulation, despite it being available to nine out of 10 homes that need it.
Independent 10th Oct 2014 read more »