The UK government is about to hand over control of Britains future energy and climate security to the French government, four of the UKs leading environmentalists claimed in a March 13 open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron. The environmentalists Jonathan Porritt, Tom Burke, Tony Juniper, and Charles Secrett said Cameron was being ill advised by the Department of Energy and Climate Change on nuclear policy. The result is that French state-owned Electricite de France will have the UK over a barrel unless the government switches course immediately, the environmentalists said. The current path will see the UK pay a French state-owned company to build new nuclear plants on what is effectively a cost-plus contract, the environmentalists said, referring to a litany of proposed subsidies and incentives the government is planning to make to support new low carbon power. The environmentalists said the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition governments planned electricity market reforms are little more than a thinly disguised subsidy for new nuclear power generally and EDF specifically.
i-Nuclear 13th Mar 2012 more >>
BBC 13th March 2012 more >>
Letter & Briefing note here.
TomBurke.co.uk 13th March 2012 more >>
John Sauven: This year, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have the opportunity to overhaul Britain’s electricity system with a new Energy Bill in parliament. They should use the Fukushima anniversary to challenge some of the vested interests that are serving us so badly. Even before the tragedy in Japan, major investors, such as Citigroup, were questioning the economics of nuclear new build. Now the economics look even worse. The French Audit Court concluded that the new French reactor design was too costly and could not be built in time to solve France’s energy crisis. No wonder President Sarkozy was so keen to offload those same reactor designs to David Cameron at a recent meeting in Paris. The front-runner in April’s presidential election, Francois Hollande, has promised to phase out one-third of France’s nuclear fleet by 2025. And as European politicians have turned increasingly against nuclear, they have started taking energy efficiency seriously. In Germany politicians plan to reduce electricity demand by 25% by 2050 through energy efficiency.
IB Times 13th Mar 2012 more >>
Greenpeace UK 12th Mar 2012 more >>
There are many alternative reactor designs, and each has its champions. An international body called the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), co-ordinated by the NEA, is drawing up plans for prototypes using such ideas, all claiming to offer improvements over the current crop. Yet the problems these new reactors solve are for the most part those that the industry wishes it had, rather than those it actually faces. The GIF designs, and others, are mostly fast reactors that use highly fissile fuel and unmoderated neutrons; they can both burn plutonium and create it in copious amounts. If fissile material were in short supply that might be an advantage. But uranium is not currently in short supply, and it makes up only a small part of nuclear energys costs. The ability to make new nuclear fuel solves a problem that reactors will run into only if their use becomes massively more widespread. What new reactors need is an advantage that will make them popular in the first place. Indeed, at present the ability to make plutonium is a disadvantage. Dissuading countries with nuclear programmes, or that want nuclear programmes, from reprocessing their fuel to produce plutonium is one of the core priorities in anti-proliferation work (the other is trying to keep newly nuclear countries from developing their own enrichment systems). If established nuclear powers were to stop reprocessing (as Britain is doing), it might help to persuade others, such as South Korea, that it is better not to start. A new generation of plutonium breeders would completely undermine that effort. Admittedly, other kinds of breeders are available. Molten-salt reactors, which keep their fuel in liquid form, could be used to turn thorium, of which the world has an abundant supply, into a type of fissile uranium not found in nature, U-233. This would be rather unsuitable for bomb-making and gets round the continuing use of U-235 or plutonium, so thorium molten-salt reactors offer the possibility of breeding fuel in a way that does not facilitate proliferation. At the moment, those who want to bring down the cost of nuclear power are not, for the most part, looking at big generation IV reactors that will not be built for 20 years, if ever.
Economist 10th March 2012 more >>
Mycle Schneider: Two months after the event that history recalls as 3/11, Hans Blix, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stated that ”Fukushima is a bump in the road” of nuclear power development. This stunning remark is reminiscent of that made by Morris Rosen, then head of Nuclear Safety at the IAEA under Blix, who, four months after the Chernobyl disaster, gave way to his conviction as a nuclear fanatic: ”Even if such an accident happened every year, I would consider nuclear power as an interesting energy source.”
Kyodo News 13th March 2012 more >>
Balfour Beatty joint venture with Areva looks set to win job to build four UK power stations for Horizon.
Building 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Six members of Bristol East joined several hundred other protesters when they ventured down to the mist-laden coast of Somerset to the rally and ‘surround’ at Hinkley Point nuclear power station. The weekend event (10th-11th March) was organised by Stop New Nuclear to coincide with the first anniversary of the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
Greenpeace 11th Mar 2012 more >>
Following a demonstration by over 1,000 people at Hinkley Point C on the Severn estuary in Somerset, which veteran campaigner Martyn Lowe described as the largest anti-nuclear action in this country since protests against the Torness power station in 1979, 100 people blocked the main entrance to the site, stopping all traffic from entering or leaving for over 24 hours.
Energy & Environmental Management 12th Mar 2012 more >>
The first large-scale anti-nuclear protest in the country for years injected a dash of colour to the misty plain of Hinkley Point as flag-waving demonstrators blocked the main road to the nuclear complex at the weekend. The protesters, numbering at least 1,000, were joined by environmentalists Jonathon Porritt and Caroline Lucas MP to decry the Governments plan for more nuclear power stations.
Western Daily Press 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Therese has today responded to claims that areas of the Suffolk Coast at risk of flooding could have an impact on the operation of Sizewell power station and has raised the matter in Parliament. She said “This is not new news. We all know that the Suffolk coast is prone to flooding and coastal erosion. That is why we invest in coastal defences and will continue to invest in coastal defences” “I raised this issue with the Minister in Parliament today and he has given me full assurances that safety will not be compromised”. She added “The Weightman Report, published after Fukushima, concluded that there was no reason to curtail the operation of nuclear power plants in the UK. The height of defences were specifically looked at for all nuclear sites. The defences at Sizewell were deemed to be high enough for any extreme weather event in the South North Sea”
Therese Coffey MP 11th Mar 2012 more >>
ANTI-NUCLEAR campaigners raised gathered to remember the victims of the Fukushima disaster, and to reaffirm their opposition to a Wylfa B plant. People Against Wylfa B chairman Dylan Morgan spoke during the event at Menai Bridge on Sunday to commemorate the first anniversary of the event, where a tsunami and earthquake disabled two reactors at a nuclear station.
North Wales Chronicle 12th March 2012 more >>
The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is recruiting 80 nuclear safety inspectors over the next two years, with as many as 40 expected to join the agency this year. Nearly one-third of the agencys existing inspectors will reach retirement age over the next three years. The recruitment campaign is needed both to replace retiring staff and to keep pace with a changing nuclear industry, an ONR spokesman said March 12. We need to be well-placed to respond to existing and future regulatory challenges in the civil and defence sectors, the spokesman said in an emailed statement. We have analysed our workforce plan for the next three years and recently gained ministerial approval to recruit these 80 inspectors, over two years, the spokesman said.
i-Nuclear.com 12th March 2012 more >>
Chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman is calling for more openness and transparency within the nuclear industry one year on from the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
New Civil Engineer 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Thousands of people formed human chains in Germany and France to protest against the use of nuclear power plants on Sunday, the first anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster that crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant, while protesters also gathered at antinuclear rallies in New York and California.
Mainichi 12th Mar 2012 more >>
More than 50 organisations and individuals from around the world have joined forces with Greenpeace and called for investments in safe, renewable energy in order to end the threat of nuclear power. That message is in the form of an open letter being delivered to world leaders following the first anniversary as a reminder that the Fukushima nuclear disaster must be seen for what it is: another overwhelming piece of evidence that nuclear energy can never be safe and must be phased out.
Greenpeace 12th March 2012 more >>
The Government today published the response to its consultation on how potential sites for geological disposal of higher activity waste in England will be identified and assessed. It also published a Framework document which sets out a high-level description of the desk-based site identification and assessment process and the criteria that will be used.
DECC 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Ministerial Statement. Also announcing the Triennial Review of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM).
DECC 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Scientists at Edinburgh University have produced a previously unseen uranium molecule, a development that could help improve clean-up processes for nuclear waste. According to a statement, the compound is similar to radioactive molecules that scientists had proposed to be key components of nuclear waste, but were thought too unstable to exist for long. Researchers have shown the compound to be robust, which implies that molecules with a similar structure may be present in radioactive waste.
The Engineer 12th Mar 2012 more >>
OF ALL THE difficulties nuclear power is heir to, that of waste has most fired the public imagination. Building power plants that last a century is one thing; creating waste that will be dangerous for 100 times as long is another. For decades America has failed to create a long-term repository for the waste from its civilian reactors at its chosen site, Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Most other countries have similarly failed, so the waste from todays reactors piles up. If you are a nuclear engineer you may find reprocessing rather appealing, partly to show that your nuclear programme is as sophisticated as any and partly because it gets around the offensive inefficiency of light-water reactors. If all the uranium in reactor fuel was either split or turned into plutonium which itself was then split, you would get 170 times more energy than you get from just using the fuel once, and would have opened the way to technically intriguing breeder systems. You will not, though, be attracted to reprocessing if you are an accountant. It costs a great deal, and the plutonium produced is for the most part more of a liability than an asset. If you are a plant operator you will also have your doubts. Burning fuel to which plutonium has been added has various drawbacks, one of which is that it is much hotter when it comes out of the reactor, straining the capacity of your spent-fuel pools. Nor will you be that eager if you are concerned about the local environment; reprocessing plants have a bad contamination record. And if you are sceptical about the merits of nuclear proliferation, you will want to keep reprocessing to a minimum.
Economist 10th Mar 2012 more >>
After Fukushima: Global opinion on energy policy.
Ipsos.com March 2012 more >>
Looking back in a few years time Fukushima is likely to be seen as a significant tipping point for some countries. In Germany and Italy the disaster galvanised already negative views, and key public votes or policy decisions were taken in the aftermath. An Italian referendum emphatically rejected nuclear power, and the German government closed several plants, with all to be shut by 2022. Fukushima’s main effect on energy policy then has been to largely reinforce existing views, and push those already sceptical countries into decisive action. It might therefore be seen as a policy area that is public opinion and protest led – but in many ways, the opposite is true. When we plot reliance on nuclear power against public support for nuclear power, the pattern is all over the place. Some countries with the greatest reliance on nuclear have the lowest public support for it – most notably France. This is sometimes portrayed as a result of governments being in the pockets of nuclear lobbies – but the explanation is much less clear-cut than that.
Huffington Post 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Energy company EDF, which employs 1,500 staff in Gloucester and is at the forefront of the UKs drive towards nuclear, has received a £4.5 million fine from the industry regulator. The French-owned business, which has its central engineering support centre at what was the former British Energy site at Barnwood, Gloucester, agreed to pay the money for needy households as part of a settlement with Ofgem.
Gloucestershire Citizen 12th Mar 2012 more >>
From the first brick in 1950, to the terrible leak in 1957, to the vast complex that stands today, here is the story of Sellafield power plant in pictures.
Guardian 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Archive British Pathé footage of a 1957 news report on radioactive dust escaping from Windscale atomic station (since renamed Sellafield) and contaminating cows’ milk from Bill Hewitson’s farm. Following a fire in the atomic pile, several workers became contaminated, or ‘radioactive’, and could not have physical contact with others.
Guardian 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany defended over the weekend her governments decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 and replace it with renewable energy sources, dismissing critics who said the government would never make the deadline.
New York Times 12th March 2012 more >>
A majority of Japanese oppose a restart of nuclear power plants currently shut for maintenance, a poll by the Asahi newspaper showed on Tuesday, reflecting high public distrust towards atomic power after the 2011 tsunami-triggered nuclear crisis.
Reuters 12th March 2012 more >>
Editorial: Time to say ggodbye to nuclear power. The illusion of nuclear power safety has been torn out by the root. The Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed the great waves of March 11 last year made sure of that. Economic concerns, however, have begun to wear down the fear of nuclear disaster. And so, as we consider our nuclear power and energy policy’s future, we must remember what the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns have done to Japan, the pain of the people who have lost their hometowns, and the radioactive contamination that will blight the landscape for decades to come.
Mainichi 7th March 2012 more >>
An increasing number of evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture have given up hope of returning to their hometowns, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey. The survey, carried out prior to the one-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, targeted 500 evacuees from disaster-hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted similar surveys one month, three months and six months after the disaster.
Yomiuri 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Work on Chinas nuclear power plants has begun to pick up again a year after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. But the meltdown on March 11, 2011, is still fresh on the minds of four retired cadres in Wangjiang County. They petitioned against the Pengze nuclear power project in neighboring Jiangxi Province and ultimately convinced their local government to oppose the plan. This kind of official opposition to a nuclear undertaking is almost unheard of in China. The Pengze plant would be Chinas first inland nuclear power facility. It is north of the Yangtze River, and only ten kilometers (6.25 miles) from the center of Wangjiang County. The nearest Wangjiang village is only three kilometers away.
Wall St Journal 11th March 2012 more >>
Israelis must resist Netanyahu’s rhetoric. An attack on Iran will bring certain disaster, to forestall one that might never come.
Guardian 12th Mar 2012 more >>
You asked our journalists about the crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme, and what Iranians themselves are saying.
Guardian 12th March 2012 more >>
The president and the prime minister have a real chance to re-energise the conversation on nuclear disarmament this week.
Politics.co.uk 12th Mar 2012 more >>
Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, has hit back at an article published in the Guardian (March 12, UK wants renewable energy target scrapped), lambasting it as misleading and “wholly wrong”. The article claimed that a leaked document detailed that Government were looking at giving nuclear parity with renewables in Europe. According to the Guardian, the document also indicates that the UK will not support a renewable target in 2030, stating: “The UK envisages multiple low-carbon technologies: renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage, all competing freely against each other in the years to come For this reason, we cannot support a 2030 renewables target. The Energy and Climate Change Secretary labelled the article as wholly wrong stating: The document discussed is explicit in listing nuclear and CCS as separate to renewables. Nuclear power is not a renewable technology, fact. Davey continued: At issue is what new EU targets should be put in place for 2030. The UK is one of a number of countries who believe any new targets should be technology neutral, leaving Member States free to determine the most cost effective energy mix to get the best deal for consumers.
Solar Power Portal 12th Mar 2012 more >>
The UK government believes nuclear power should be boosted to the detriment of renewable technology, according to a leaked document seen by the Guardian.
H&V News 12th Mar 2012 more >>