An emergency exercise has exposed serious weaknesses in Britain’s ability to cope with a catastrophic motorway pileup in which a nuclear bomb convoy burns and spreads a cloud of radioactive contamination over nearby communities. An internal report released by the Ministry of Defence reveals that the emergency services faced “major difficulties” in responding to the mocked-up accident near Glasgow because they had no help from MoD weapons experts for more than five hours. At times the response, which involved 21 agencies, was disorganised, the report says. Heated disputes with ambulance staff over how to handle casualties contaminated with radioactivity at the crash site caused “considerable delay”, resulting in one victim being declared dead. Other problems included outdated, paper-based communications systems, poor mobile phone signals, conflicting scientific advice on health hazards and confusion over radiation monitoring. A Glasgow Labour councillor, Bill Butler, who chairs the nuclear-free local authorities group in Scotland, said the exercise rang alarm bells. “I urge the MoD to take the outcomes of this exercise very seriously and work more closely with local authorities and the emergency services to resolve these planning gaps,” he said.
Guardian 12th June 2013 read more »
STV 12th June 2013 read more »
Key information about the progress of many of the UK government’s most costly projects is being withheld by the energy department, the Guardian has found. In contrast to all other government departments, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) is refusing to release progress reports for 12 out its 13 major projects, which include the green deal for energy-efficient homes, smart meters, electricity market reform, new nuclear power stations and its nuclear waste storage programme. As a result, there is no way for the public to know if these projects are running over-budget, over-time, or have been granted “red” status, meaning “successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable”. Many of the Decc projects have been delayed or suffered other setbacks, such as Cumbria’s county council voting against hosting a deep nuclear waste store. Alexandra Runswick, deputy director of Unlock Democracy, which campaigns for greater government accountability and transparency, said: “We know from our own investigations that there is a particular problem with Decc in terms of its intimate links to industry, with numerous industry staff working on secondment within the department itself and advisers moonlighting as industry lobbyists. When relations have got this cosy between government and industry, there is a need for far greater transparency, not less.”
Guardian 12th June 2013 read more »
Sarah Newton, Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth: Every day I speak to families concerned by the rising cost of living. They tell me that it is energy bills that are hitting the hardest. The carbon-based energy sources we have relied upon for decades are becoming more difficult to extract, more expensive to buy, and are frequently affected by the swings of an increasingly volatile international energy market. If we are to liberate households from rising energy prices, we must first liberate our energy supply from the international carbon market. To do this we must develop a comprehensive domestic energy package, drawing on a range of renewable technologies. This week the Energy Bill set out a plan for the future. A plan for renewing our ageing energy infrastructure so that it is fit for the 21st century. This week Regen SW published a renewable manifesto. The Manifesto for the South West sets out a comprehensive plan to secure further growth in local green industries, with the aim of creating a further 34,000 jobs. Delivering lasting energy security for our country and keeping energy bills down is a huge challenge but one with a great deal of opportunity for the UK to innovate and generate new technologies and new jobs.
Western Morning News 11th June 2013 read more »
Britain’s “big six” power companies will be forced to trade electricity fairly and transparently with smaller rivals under plans to “break their stranglehold” on the market. Energy watchdog Ofgem yesterday laid out plans to fine the firms, which include SSE and Scottish Power, if they don’t stick to rigorous pricing plans submitted two years in advance.
Scotsman 13th June 2013 read more »
Up to 120 jobs at the redundant Sizewell A nuclear power station could be lost after the completion of work to remove highly radioactive spent fuel elements from its two reactors, it has been revealed. The power station ceased operation in 2006 and is currently being decommissioned, with a staff of 315 together with more than 100 contractors. More than 50,000 fuel elements are being removed and transported to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing works in Cumbria and more than half have already been dispatched. Decommissioning work will continue in phases for at least another 80 years but workforce numbers will decline significantly over the period. Tim Watkins, site director for Magnox Limited, the site operator, told the latest meeting of the Sizewell Stakeholder Group (SSG) that up to 120 jobs could be lost following the defuelling of the reactors, expected to be completed by September 2014.
East Anglian Daily Times 11th June 2013 read more »
The nuclear reactor at Sizewell B power station in Suffolk is due to be restarted this week, after it was shut-down for routine re-fuelling and maintenence work.
STV 13th June 2013 read more »
The last line in Pandora’s Promise, Robert Stone’s new documentary about the environmental advantages of nuclear power, comes from Michael Shellenberger, co-head of the Breakthrough Institute. “I have a sense that this is a beautiful thing…” “…the beginning of a movement,” he says. Provoking a new environmental movement in favor of nuclear power is a tall order, but Pandora’s Promise will probably contribute, for some intriguing reasons.
Huffington Post 11th June 2013 read more »
RINF 10th June 2013 read more »
Swindon based Tetronics International, the global leader in the supply of Direct Current (DC) plasma plants for hazardous waste treatment along with Costain has been successful in winning a grant in a UK government funded competition to design and build a prototype plasma system for nuclear waste vitrification.
Wiltshire Business 12th June 2013 read more »
A Labour councillor has backed former Energy Minister and local MP Brian Wilson in criticising SNP policy on nuclear power. After former Labour MP Mr Wilson told a conference that the SNP government’s refusal to allow more nuclear build would cause energy shortages in Scotland Councillor Alex Gallagher wrote to the ‘News’ with similar views. He stated: ” The Scottish Government’s own predictions show a gap between needs and capacity in 2021 to 2023 to current trends. In September last year, on a motion proposed by myself, North Ayrshire Council requested that new nuclear build be included in the National Planning Framework (NPF) to meet this gap. The new NPF is now out for consultation but there is no provision for nuclear power: it is excluded, not on grounds of predicted need or capacity, but on purely ideological grounds.
Largs & Millport Gazette 12th June 2013 read more »
A COMPANY has secured a second important link-up with a leading player in the nuclear industry. Simonstone-based Fort Vale has been named as a preferred supplier of machined parts to Nuclear Engineering Services Limited (NES). The parts will be used in nuclear decommissioning, defence and possibly on nuclear new builds, such as power stations.
Lancashire Telegraph 12th June 2013 read more »
Peach Bottom NPP owners, Exelon, are preparing for a power increase of 12.5% after their extended power uprate application (EPU) was accepted by the Nuclear Regulation Commission (NRC). We look at the risks and rewards of such an undertaking in today’s economy.
Nuclear Energy Insider 12th June 2013 read more »
Protesters at the proposed site for a nuclear plant at Jaitapur sent an e-mail to the three main bankers — BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole in France — on Tuesday, requesting the CEOs not to fund the project.
DNA 7th June 2013 read more »
Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have joined forces in a video calling on world leaders to rid the planet of nuclear weapons. Michael Douglas helped recruit fellow actors such as Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon to take part in the two-minute film released by campaign group Global Zero. The celebrities, who also include Alex Baldwin, Danny DeVito and Martin Sheen, urge US President Barack Obama to bring about further cuts the Cold War weapons stockpiles.
Sky 13th June 2013 read more »
For some years an international campaign has been gradually building – ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The goal is a treaty banning nuclear weapons, a Convention such as the Landmine Convention and the Cluster Munitions Convention. It will follow the same process, and requires enough nations, supported by their citizens, to sign up to it, bring it into being and then to ratify it. Once ratified, the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons becomes illegal. The beauty of this approach is that it sidesteps the bogged-down Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in which states that have undertaken to get rid of their remaining nuclear weapons endlessly argue about ‘process’ with the aim of hanging on to their horrifically destructive toys.
RINF 12th June 2013 read more »
Fear of the ‘unilateralist’ label obscures the fact that there is now an overwhelming case to be made that the complete renunciation of nuclear weapons is in the British national interest.
Open Democracy 12th June 2013 read more »
A firm behind proposals for a £650m tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay is offering £2m worth of shares to the local community. Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay says buying shares at £800 each would make people “early stage investors” in the planning and design phase of the proposal. The company hopes to submit a planning application in October and the lagoon could be working as soon as 2017. It says the lagoon could generate enough energy to supply 107,000 homes.
BBC 10th June 2013 read more »
Ever since the industrial revolution the world has relied on fossil fuels for energy. Coal, oil and natural gas have been the mainstay of our economies, powering industries, fuelling our transport and heating our homes. But a new sight is emerging in the western industrial landscape: wind turbines and solar panels. Renewables’ share of the world’s energy mix is increasing and challenging the hegemony of fossil fuels. The rise of solar has been particularly striking. Ten years ago, installed global photovoltaic capacity was about 2.8GW. By last year, that had grown to 102GW – enough to meet the energy needs of more than 30m European homes. Installed wind capacity has grown from 39GW to 282GW over the same period. The growth of renewables is just part of a broader narrative of growing diversity in energy supplies. Nuclear power has emerged from the shadow of Chernobyl to stage a surprising comeback – one that was almost derailed by Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster but is now back on track. Though countries including Germany have turned their backs on nuclear, others, including the UK, see it as a vital component of the energy mix. China alone has 28 reactors under construction. Yet despite the inroads made by wind, solar, biofuels and nuclear, energy continues to be dominated by fossil fuels.
FT 13th June 2013 read more »
Centrica will commit to drilling a series of six wells with fracking firm Cuadrilla to test Britain’s shale gas potential, in an investment totaling tens of millions of pounds, the Telegraph has learned. The British Gas owner is preparing to buy a minority stake, thought to be close to 30pc, in the Bowland shale licence area, which stretches across 450 square miles of Lancashire between Blackpool and Preston. However Centrica itself has sounded a note of caution, with chief executive Sam Laidlaw saying in January it would be at least a decade before the UK saw any shale gas production and that, even then, it would not be “the game changer we’ve seen in North America”
Telegraph 12th June 2013 read more »
The shale gas revolution in the United States has turned into an oil bonanza after the country recorded its biggest jump in production of the black stuff last year. Drillers are targeting more valuable shale oil because the domestic gas glut has depressed prices. According to BP’s annual statistical review of world energy, US oil production rocketed by 13.9 per cent last year to 8.9 million barrels per day. America, which is expected to become the world’s largest oil and gas producer by 2017, pumps nearly one in ten of the world’s barrels and more than Iraq, Kuwait and Norway combined. The jump in its oil production also easily outstripped that of any other country last year. However, Bob Dudley, the chief executive of BP, said that it would take a long time before the US shale gas revolution resulted in lower energy bills for British consumers. The United States is planning to start exporting some of its surplus energy across the Atlantic as liquefied natural gas, but domestic manufacturers, who have been enjoying a renaissance thanks to rock-bottom fuel prices, want shipments to be restricted.
Times 13th June 2013 read more »
Recent fraught debates around the energy bill saw coalition MPs – including some climate-sceptic Conservatives – oppose a target for making electricity carbon-free by 2030. But this was only the latest reason to suspect that David Cameron’s 2010 promise to lead the “greenest government ever” was simply post-electoral exuberance. From widespread backbench opposition to the siting of windfarms, to a dash-for-gas strategy endorsed by the Treasury (but criticised by the government’s own Committee on Climate Change), Conservative rhetoric on climate change and the environment has undergone a drastic shift. There is a vacuum where a compelling conservative narrative on climate change should be – something which the report, entitled A new conversation with the centre-right about climate change, takes the first steps towards addressing. So our report is an attempt to turn the debate about climate change scepticism upside down. Instead of asking how we can convince climate sceptics on the right that they are wrong, why not start a new conversation about why people with centre-right views should care about climate change, and what a centre-right solution to climate change would be?
Guardian 13th June 2013 read more »