A top secret anti-terror review is under way at Britain’s nuclear power plants after the discovery of security weaknesses at the giant Sellafield reprocessing site. Scotland Yard’s Counter-terrorism Command and MI5, which operates the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, have been consulted during the review process. The police watchdog’s document, which is nearing completion, will have a restricted circulation among ministers, police chiefs and security officials. It is understood that ministers were so concerned about the potential security weakness at Sellafield that they demanded that the review be widened. One source described it as “an extremely sensitive piece of work”. Details of what sparke! d the review have not been disclosed but security sources denied that there had been any breach at Sellafield by intruders. The Times understands that concerns about protecting the plant could have come to light during a “red team exercise”, when special forces pose as terrorists or foreign agents. Troops carry out such exercises regularly to test security at large infrastructure facilities and other potential targets. The East London al-Qaeda cell that plotted in 2006 to blow up transatlantic airliners in midflight also had in its possession an alternative target list of nuclear power stations, oil and gas terminals and undersea pipelines.
Times 15th Dec 2010 more >>
Terrorist tends to chose places where there is a high likelihood of mass casualties or mass loss of life or the target is iconic and will attract huge media publicity. Sellafield hits all those buttons and the news that security is being reviewed there is serious. The plant in Cumbria forms part of the “critical national infrastructure” (CNI). An attack on the site would not only threaten public safety but would also cause significant disruption to public services.
Times 15th Dec 2010 more >>
Sellafield is inviting bids from contractors for its planned Silos Maintenance Facility (SMF). The job is part of the huge decommissioning programme at the Cumbria site and will allow for the demolition of old silo facilities. Sellafield engineers aim to involve the winning contractor’s team early on in the process so it can work in an integrated team with Sellafield to deliver the concept and preliminary design. Detailed design and the procurement of any long lead items of plant and equipment will then be completed during phase 2 of the implementation.
Construction Enquirer 14th Dec 2010 more >>
Civil Nuclear Constabulary
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary is Britain’s most heavily armed police force. Virtually all of its 800 officers, who are tasked with guarding nuclear facilities, carry weapons as they patrol perimeter fences from Dungeness in the South East to Dounreay in the far North of Scotland.
Times 15th Dec 2010 more >>
Energy Market Reform
Prof Catherine Mitchell: This week, the government is expected to publish proposals for what it says must be a revolution in the electricity supply market, to boost the UK’s tiny levels of renewable energy. It follows last week’s “green deal” bill, which aims to banish the upfront cost and hassle of refurbishing the UK’s leaky homes. The government is right that our business-as-usual energy policy – one of the most liberal energy markets in the world – has to be abandoned. Sadly, the proposed electricity market reforms and the green deal do not include anything that will move the UK forward in anything other than an incremental manner. At the heart of the problem is a seasonally appropriate difficulty: asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. It is simply not in the interests of the handful of dominant energy companies and their shareholders to dramatically transform the energy system, whether on the supp! ly or demand side. In particular, an increase in the energy efficiency of buildings will undermine a company’s future sales and profits. Only when the government confronts head-on the interests in maintaining the system largely as it is, will the energy system change. Proposals, for example for long-term contracts for low-carbon energy and carbon floor prices, are all major sticking plasters on the current market design rather than changing the energy market to deliver a new type of energy system. So what’s the answer? We need regulated obligations on the scale of the transition from town gas to natural gas. Tendering for street-by-street or area-by-area contracts to make homes energy efficient is cost effective, but crucially creates a mechanism for new companies to enter the market, thereby potentially diluting the dominance of the current energy companies.
UTV 13th Dec 2010 more >>
Article by Vincent de Rivaz & Sam Laidlaw: With public finances in such a delicate position, it is inevitable that analysis of the Government’s policy has so far been largely focused on public sector cuts. Far less attention has been paid to two consultations it is about to launch on energy and climate change. These could be equally important in shaping Britain. The Government will publish on Thursday separate proposals to provide a floor to the carbon price and to reform the electricity market. They will ensure that the cost to consumers of the new infrastructure the UK needs is kept as affordable as possible. The plants we are proposing would contribute hundreds of millions of pounds per year to public funds, through corporation tax, business rates and income tax. This is in addition to covering any costs they create, such as funding the regulator and covering their waste and decommissioning liabilities. Furtherm! ore, they would create a multi-billion pound stimulus to the economy, creating 5,000 jobs on site during construction and 1,800 permanent jobs during operation, plus many more in the supply chain. We are pressing ahead with our plans for twin plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. We have already tendered contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds, consulted extensively with local communities and, provided the investment framework is in place, we are on track to bring the first online in 2018. But for our industry to deliver, we also need the ongoing active involvement and support of government, regulators and consumers.
Telegraph 15th Dec 2010 more >>
Yesterday evening, the Localism Bill was finally published. At just over 400 pages long, it is split into two volumes. The ‘nationally significant infrastructure projects’ (NSIPs) chapter starts on page 88. No other accompanying documents have yet appeared, but they are likely to appear on the government web page about the Bill. Twelve clauses and one schedule out of the 207 and 24 respectively of the Bill amend the regime for authorising NSIPs introduced by the Planning Act 2008. The good news for those interested in the regime is that the regime is largely unchanged. The government is essentially introducing its two manifesto pledges – to reinstate approval of applications by the Secretary of State, and to require Parliamentary approval of National Policy Statements (NPSs) – and addressing some (but not all) of the gaps and anomalies that have been discovered since the Planning Act came i! nto force. Clause 107 abolishes the IPC. All the references to it are removed from the Planning Act by the provisions of Schedule 13. This is mostly done by substituting references to ‘the Commission’ with ‘the Secretary of State’. Clause 109 introduces Parliamentary approval of NPSs. It is just approval by the House of Commons (I doubt their Lordships will like that), and if no disapproval is given within 21 days of the final version of the NPS being published, it is approved by default. Two new sections are added to the Planning Act – one allows the Secretary of State to publish new drafts of NPSs without having to comply with the full consultation process if the drafts haven’t changed much; and the other allows the period for Parliamentary approval of NPSs to be extended by up to 21 days at a time.
Bircham Dyson Bell 14th Dec 2010 more >>
The renewable energy industry has predicted the Localism Bill published yesterday by the government will result in the biggest shake-up in UK planning law since the 1950s, presenting fresh challenges and opportunities to the fast-expanding sector. The bill looks set to have a major impact on renewable energy projects as councils, communities and individuals are permitted a much greater say in planning decisions, raising the prospect of more intense battles between developers and local groups opposed to projects such as wind farms.
Business Green 14th Dec 2010 more >>
Nuclear & Climate
Nuclear energy was specifically excluded from the CDM at the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change conference in 2001. Needless to say the nuclear industry has been lobbying hard for its inclusion ever since. Sabine Bock from Women in Europe for a Common Future gave an excellent speech in Cancun on why nuclear power is a dead end and must not be included in international efforts to fight climate change.
Greenpeace Nuclear Reaction 14th Dec 2010 more >>
Areva SA debt may get downgraded after the maker of nuclear reactors announced a smaller-than- initially forecast capital increase, Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon said. Any future capital increase would be the decision of the government, which controls about 91 percent of Areva, the CEO said.
Bloomberg 14th Dec 2010 more >>
Atkins and French engineering firm Assytem has formed a 50/50 nuclear engineering joint venture to target the growing international new-build market.
New Civil Engineer 14th Dec 2010 more >>
World Nuclear News 14th Dec 2010 more >>
Build.co.uk 14th Dec 2010 more >>
Nuclear Engineering International 14th Dec 2010 more >>
Engineer 14th Dec 2010 more >>
In the UK, Atkins said it “had a huge amount of confidence” in the coalition government’s commitment to nuclear new build. He would not speculate on when the first reactor would generate power. When pressed, Chris Ball, Atkins’ nuclear director, said, “any new programme has risks… but we believe 2018 is achievable”.
Utility Week 14th Dec 2010 more >>
North Korea is digging a tunnel at its nuclear test site which would make it ready to conduct a third nuclear test by March, a newspaper reported on Wednesday as South Korea prepared for its largest civil defence drills in years.
Yahoo 15th Dec 2010 more >>
North Korea warned US-South Korean co-operation could bring nuclear war to the region.
Press & Journal 14th Dec 2010 more >>
The United States hopes the U.N. Security Council will lift restrictions on the import of nuclear technology to Iraq, even though Baghdad has not ratified a U.N. agreement on tough atomic inspections.
STV 14th Dec 2010 more >>
Iran said Tuesday its nuclear and foreign policies will not change after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and replaced him with the atomic chief.
Middle East Online 14th Dec 2010 more >>
FACED with spiralling electricity demand, all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are studying the potential of nuclear power. But, so far, only the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has surmounted considerable logistical and financial hurdles to push ahead with a fully fledged programme. The attractions for Gulf economies are clear. Once built, nuclear power offers decades of cheap electricity that can provide a substitute, or supplement, for dwindling hydrocarbons reserves, with the bonus that they would also be able to export increasingly valuable oil and gas for longer, if they are burning less of it at home.
Petroleum Economist 14th Dec 2010 more >>
Energy secretary says UK budget deficit must take precedence over the plan to help such projects as offshore wind farms. The government’s environmental bank is likely to be scaled back to begin life as a fund, jeopardising billions of pounds of badly-needed loans to green technology. The green investment bank (GIB) was devised by the chancellor, George Osborne, when in opposition as crucial to the development of green energy projects such as clean coal plants and offshore wind farms in the UK. Now the cabinet minister in charge of seeing the plan come to fruition – a devoted ambassador for the idea of a bank – has floated the possibility of a staggered introduction.
Guardian 15th Dec 2010 more >>