The operator of the UK’s 14 advanced gas-cooled reactors has released information about the ageing of the graphite blocks in the reactor core, which roughly corresponds to about a 10% loss of weight over the fleet. The UK’s 14 advanced gas-cooled reactors consist of thousands of interconnected graphite blocks with circular channels for fuel and control rods. The graphite blocks slow down (moderate) neutrons generated in fission. Over time, the neutron flux eats away at the graphite, resulting in weight loss. In June, the UK nuclear regulator approved a request by EDF Energy to increase the limit of graphite weight loss from 6.2% to 8%, according to a spokesperson for the Office for Nuclear Regulation. The approval came as part of a wider regulatory approval for reactor B1 to restart after a maintenance outage. Now, EDF Energy has published more information about graphite loss across the AGR fleet in response to an article in UK newspaper The Times, “Safety regulations could be relaxed to keep nuclear power stations open”. The current limits for graphite weight loss and the current estimated average weight loss at each power station are as follows: Power station /Estimated average weight loss/ Current Limit Dungeness B 5.75% 8%; Hunterston & Hinkley Point B 12.8% 15%; Hartlepool 13.7% 17%; Heysham 1 10.5% 12%; Heysham 2 & Torness 9.4% 14%.
Nuclear Engineering International 11th July 2014 read more »
Last week the Station Manager of Heysham 1 Ian Stewart, had a Podium piece in the Westmorland Gazette. The piece was the usual puffed up nonsense we have come to expect of the nuclear industry extolling the “low carbon” credentials and “safety” of the industry and Heysham 1 in particular. Far from being low carbon, nuclear entrenches fossil fuel dependence. Independent scientist Dr Ian Fairlie has pointed out in this weeks Ecologist: “The most thorough UK examination of nuclear’s potential carbon savings was by the former Sustainable Development Commission in 2006. It concluded “Nuclear power is not the answer to tackling climate change … “. Surprise: one of the first things the Tory-led coalition Government did when it assumed power in 2010 was to abolish the Sustainable Development Commission”.
Radiation Free Lakeland 12th July 2014 read more »
Decades-old nuclear waste is being moved from the world’s largest open air nuclear storage pond at Sellafield and “repackaged”.The Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP), built between 1948 and 1952 to store fuel from the Windscale pile reactors, is being decommissioned. Old canisters of radioactive sludge are being emptied and the contents transferred to modern containers. PFSP head Dorothy Gradden said the store was “well past retirement age”.
BBC 12th July 2014 read more »
Britain risks widespread electricity blackouts unless it improves the network’s ability to balance intermittent supply from renewable energy sources, a leading engineer has warned. The UK is legally bound to produce nearly a third of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020, requiring a large number of rapidly deployable gas-fired power stations to be on standby to pick up the slack at times when the sun and wind are insufficient.
Independent 13th July 2014 read more »
Is the “safety myth” creeping back into Japan’s nuclear debate? After Fukushima Daiichi power station melted down in 2011, Japanese commentators rushed to declare that the myth of nuclear safety had been shattered. For many, the phrase was more than a way of disparaging atomic power generally; it was an attempt to explain specific failures that led to the disaster and to apportion blame. The safety myth idea came to stand for the foolishly simplistic way that nuclear power had been sold to the Japanese public, and, as a consequence, of the way it had been regulated. Back in the 1960s, when Japan’s leaders pitched the technology to a nation that still vividly remembered Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they glossed over the risks. Civilian atomic power was not just safe, they said, it was absolutely, unquestionably, always-and-no-matter-what safe. The need to maintain the myth prompted utilities and the government to dismiss suggestions that standards could be improved. After all, to make something better – to heighten a tsunami wall, to move a crucial back-up generator away from flood danger – would be to admit that it was once less than perfect. This week regulators are expected to certify the first plant since tighter safety standards were introduced a year ago – potentially the biggest step towards restarts since Mr Abe came to power at the end of 2012. If the pro-nuclear side wins and reactors are again operated based on the safety myth, there is a potentially bigger harm: that the old pre-Fukushima complacency will set back in.
FT 13th July 2014 read more »
Iran & Nuclear Fuel Bank
As the United States and its negotiating partners continue nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna, the pressure is rising. The deadline for a final accord is July 20, and success hinges on Iran agreeing to verifiable commitments to prove to the world that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. Unfortunately, at this critical point in the talks, a separate development that could support and reinforce an agreement with Iran has stalled. This development — the creation of an international fuel bank, to be owned and managed by the International Atomic Energy Agency — would allow countries full assurance that they could access nuclear fuel in the unusual case of an interruption of their supply. A key element of any agreement with Tehran is the number and type of centrifuges Iran will have. Centrifuges can be used to enrich uranium from the level that is found in nature to a level that can fuel a nuclear power plant or to a level that could be used in a nuclear bomb. If a country has the capacity to make low-enriched uranium for a nuclear power plant, it also has the technical capability to make highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. This is the key source of concern over uranium enrichment in Iran, given the country’s repeated violations of international nonproliferation obligations and the work the Iranians have already done that could lead to the development of a nuclear bomb.
New York Times 11th July 2014 read more »
US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Vienna for talks with foreign ministers about Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran and the six powers- Britain, the US, France, Germany, Russia and China- aim to reach a long-term deal to end the decade-old nuclear standoff by July 20.
ITV 13th July 2014 read more »
Norman Lamont: Sometime in the next 10 days, possibly this week, there will be an important announcement about the outcome of the negotiations in Vienna between the west and Iran about its nuclear programme. If there isn’t a deal, that will create great uncertainty. If there is one, some of the west’s allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, will express alarm. By all accounts, the atmosphere has been completely different from previous talks. The Iranians have been open and eager to do a deal.
Observer 12th July 2014 read more »
Iran has stuck to “unworkable and inadequate” positions in nuclear talks with six world powers despite a looming deadline for a deal to end sanctions against Tehran in exchange for curbs on its atomic programme, a U.S. official said on Saturday.
Reuters 12th July 2014 read more »
Guardian 12th July 2014 read more »
Britain and Germany’s foreign ministers will join US Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna this weekend to seek to bridge what Washington called “significant gaps” in nuclear talks with Iran, London and Berlin said Friday.
Middle East Online 12th July 2014 read more »
Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed agreements on nuclear energy generation with Argentina as part of a Latin American tour aimed at building Moscow’s influence in the region.
Belfast Telegraph 12th July 2014 read more »
BBC 13th July 2014 read more »
There were delays on the roads on Thursday when a convoy of 20 military vehicles travelled through the county. Setting off from the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Burghfield near Reading at 9am, the convoy included four warhead carriers which transport Trident nuclear bombs. It arrived at the Coulport nuclear store in Scotland at 2.30am yesterday. The journey through Oxfordshire was filmed by members of the Oxford Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
Oxford Mail 12th July 2014 read more »
An MSP is calling for the transportation of nuclear weapons through one of Scotland’s largest cities to cease after an anti-nuclear campaign group revealed nuclear weapons were in a convoy which passed through Glasgow late last Thursday night. SNP MSP Bill Kidd has written to Defence Secretary Philipp Hammond calling for an immediate halt to nuclear convoys travelling through Glasgow – after CND revealed that nuclear weapons were driven through the city
Newsnet Scotland 12th July 2014 read more »
The most startling example is the position of many otherwise progressive people towards nuclear weapons and multilateral disarmament. Otherwise engaged and informed individuals with a progressive view of the world can take an apparently irrational view. If “irrational” is unfair then perhaps I mean that their world view can be based on profoundly dubious foundation principles or at least not properly thought through. To some, it is evidently all about jobs. This is odd. If you gave me £100 billion to spend, I could create many more jobs than the nuclear weapons base at Faslane sustains. And anyway, the same people who say they want weapons for jobs also say that they are in favour of multilateral disarmament – the UK getting rid of its weapons in agreement with other states – they just don’t say when. So it can’t be about jobs and if it is, then it’s a very poor job creation scheme. So before we get to the pragmatism of “how” let’s consider first principles. Biological weapons were outlawed by the international community in 1972. Chemical weapons followed in 1993. Good. Both are foul and inhuman, hence the agreement to ban them. The human impact of nuclear weapons is as bad or worse in scale. Therefore on the same logic should they be banned? Yes, of course. But we cannot wish them away – we have to act, with purpose.
Scotland on Sunday 13th July 2014 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
The Scottish government has announced funding for a initiative to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy. First Minister Alex Salmond confirmed the project will receive an award of £2.2m. The government has a target for the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s electricity consumption to come from renewable sources by 2020. Environmental charity WWF Scotland welcomed the news saying it would bring extra jobs as well as cheaper energy. The funding will go to The Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme, a joint industry and government scheme, which brings together nine offshore wind developers with over 72% (31GW) of the UK’s licensed capacity.
BBC 13th July 2014 read more »
Middle-class families should stop buying large fridges in order to save energy and tackle climate change, a government-commissioned report has suggested. Families could save up to £36 a year on their electricity bills by replacing large fridge-freezers or televisions with smaller appliances, according to a study published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change. The report found that the average family fridge had grown in volume by two fifths since 1985, amid a fashion for large American-style appliances, while the average television had grown by more than seven inches since 2004. It warned that the trend undermined attempts to cut carbon emissions.
Telegraph 11th July 2014 read more »
The most generous cashback in the Government’s overhauled Green Deal scheme could be gone in one month, the Telegraph can disclose. Households have claimed £25m from the Government to install insulation and double glazing in the first month of a new cashback scheme. The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) said 4,405 households in England and Wales have received vouchers to carry out home improvements under the second phase of the Green Deal. The first phase, a loan scheme, was criticised for being too complicated.
Telegraph 13th July 2014 read more »
Conditions at seven old opencast coal mines across Scotland’s central belt are deteriorating, with growing risks of pollution, flooding and accidents, according to confidential documents seen by the Sunday Herald.
Sunday Herald 13th July 2014 read more »