The decommissioning of one of the UK’s most significant nuclear power stations has run into serious problems after workers responsible for disposing of radioactive waste accused their managers of failing to keep them safe. Staff at Dounreay, on Scotland’s northern coast, have written to the site’s managing director, Mark Rouse, to raise concerns about decommissioning process. The letter, seen by The Independent on Sunday, says workers have reported an “increasing number of injuries” and have “serious concerns” about the quality of new protective suits and other safety equipment. And they have “no confidence in senior management”. The letter was sent to Mr Rouse last November, six weeks after a fire at the plant resulted in a serious radioactive leak. Staff warn that the situation at Dounreay is now similar to that of the mid-1990s, when a major safety audit had to be carried out. Later this week Mr Rouse and a senior executive from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will address the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, but the problems will add to growing concerns around the UK’s multi-billion pound nuclear clean-up industry.
Independent on Sunday 15th March 2015 read more »
A 25-YEAR CONTRACT to manage Britain’s nuclear weapons stockpile may be torn up by the government amid spiralling costs and overruns. Concerns are mounting over poor performance on a series of key contracts at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), the top-secret nuclear research and warhead manufacturer at Aldermaston, Berkshire. The site is run by AWE Management, a venture split equally between the embattled outsourcer Serco, US engineer Jacobs and defence giant Lockheed Martin. AWE Management was awarded a 10-year, £2.2bn contract to run the site in 2000, later extended to 2025. Taxpayers have pumped about £9bn into AWE since 2000. But industry sources say AWE is wrestling with delays on projects such as Pegasus, a new complex for enriching uranium that was valued at £634m in 2011. Pegasus was halted in January amid a review, according to a document from the Office for Nuclear Regulation. AWE is also said to be struggling with Project Mensa, a £734m facility for assembling and disassembling warheads. The fate of the contract is sensitive as negotiations over the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent will play a pivotal role in May’s election.
Sunday Times 15th March 2015 read more »
Staff at Hunterston ‘B’ have been praised for abandoning their Christmas dinner to help keep the power plant running after an emergency fault developed, it has emerged at a public liaison meeting.
Largs and Millport News 13th March 2015 read more »
The Hinkley Point policing team doubled its capacity in January, with an increase from two officers to four. Avon and Somerset police say the team are there to support the community during the build of Hinkley Point C power station. This could involve liaising with protesters, local residents and engaging with the workforce.
Western Daily Press 14th March 2015 read more »
Thousands of people took to the streets in Taiwan on Saturday to call for the island to scrap its use of nuclear energy and to voice opposition to controversial plans to ship nuclear waste abroad, organisers said. Protesters in central Taipei waved placards and dressed in T-shirts emblazoned with slogans including “Goodbye to nuclear energy” and “We don’t need nuclear power”, just days after Japan marked the fourth anniversary of an undersea earthquake which triggered a massive tsunami and nuclear disaster. Taiwan’s government has faced growing public pressure over its unpopular nuclear energy facilities.
Daily Mail 14th March 2015 read more »
Hungary is working “intensively” to revise the critical fuel supply contract for a €12bn Kremlin-backed nuclear project after the EU rejected the original deal, the government said on Friday. The EU decision, revealed by the Financial Times on Thursday, puts a significant hurdle in the way of Budapest’s project to build two 1,200MW reactors in the town of Paks, 75 miles south of the capital. Rosatom, the Russian state owned nuclear agency, won most of the contracts for the project last year.
FT 13th March 2015 read more »
Hungary said Friday that the European Union’s nuclear-power authority has raised objections to its plan to import fuel for its nuclear-power plant only from Russia, a matter it hopes to resolve within a few weeks. The Euratom Supply Agency has asked for “certain modifications” to a nuclear-fuel supply deal Hungary signed last year with Russia, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said. “Our expectation is that, following intensive negotiations, the fuel-supply contract will be finalized in line with Euratom requirements in a matter of weeks,” he said.
Wall Street Journal 13th March 2015 read more »
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a highly cautious assessment on Saturday ahead of the next round of nuclear talks with Iran, citing ‘important gaps’ in the way of a deal before an end of March deadline.
Daily Mail 15t March 2015 read more »
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says there is no certainty on deal with Iran and reiterates the US commitment to two-state solution for Israel, Palestinians.
Reuters 14th March 2015 read more »
Russia’s bullying of its neighbours illustrates why the UK must keep its nuclear deterrent, according to a Midland MP. Shadow Foreign Minister John Spellar (Lab Warley) said Russia wasn’t just threatening the Ukraine but also Baltic states. But in a sign that historic rows over nuclear weapons haven’t been entirely banished from the Labour Party, he clashed with one left-wing backbencher who called on Britain to scrap its nuclear weapons. Paul Flynn, who represents Newport West in Wales, pointed out that the general election on May 7 could result in a hung Parliament in which Labour depended on the support of SNP MPs – who oppose renewing the Trident nuclear weapon system – to form a government.
Birmingham Post 15th March 2015 read more »
Internet data from the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment and other sensitive information was being sent through Ukraine, by mistake, all last week.
Belfast Telegraph 14th March 2015 read more »
After Bibi Netanyahu’s provocative speech to Congress, The New York Times provided helpful clarifications in an article headlined “What Iran Won’t Say About the Bomb.” Written by two superbly expert reporters, William Broad and David Sanger, the piece walked through the technical complexities for non-experts (myself included) and explained key questions Iranians have failed to answer. But this leads me to ask a different question: What about Israel’s bomb? Why isn’t that also part of the discussion?
Middle East Online 14th March 2015 read more »
Rernewables – wind
IT’S an investment which is set to make one of the richest aristocrats in Scotland even richer. But when a company backed by the wealthy Duke of Buccleuch gave notice that is was applying for an eight turbine windfarm development, it also managed to crush the dreams of thousands of people living in one of the country’s poorest areas. It all centres around a decision by energy Minister Fergus Ewing to reject a popular plan for a 30 turbine development in Sandy Knowe at Kirkconnel in Dumfries and Galloway. Attached to the original application by Burcote Wind was a funding pot of more than £12m which would have gone a long way towards improving prospects for the some 4500 residents living in Kirkconnel, Kelloholm and Sanquhar. The developer had promised to pay the money over 25 years into a community development fund if the Sandy Knowe proposals had gone ahead.
Herald 15th March 2015 read more »
More than a tenth of companies implementing the Government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme have been banned after breaking its code of practice, ministers have admitted, raising fears thousands of homeowners may be being ripped off by dodgy tradesmen. The Green Deal scheme aims to encourage people to install insulation or other home improvement measures to cut their energy usage. The policy originally offered loans for homeowners to fund the work but after low take-up ministers began offering cash grants, which have proved hugely popular. The latest £70 million tranche of funding from the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund giveaway is up for grabs from Monday 16 March, with homeowners able to claim up to £5,600 each for work including solid wall insulation, double glazing or a new boiler.
Telegraph 14th March 2015 read more »
Oil and chemical plants run by INEOS at Grangemouth have breached health and safety regulations 34 times in the last four years, been officially condemned as “poor” for pollution for three years in a row, and seen more than 20 staff injured since the start of 2015. An investigation by the Sunday Herald has uncovered the Swiss-based petrochemical giant’s record of mishaps, leaks and failures to control risks for workers.
Herald 15th March 2015 read more »
A major new charm offensive is due to be launched this week by the £37 billion petrochemical giant, INEOS, to win Scotland round to fracking – but the public relations campaign has already run into fierce flak before even getting off the ground. Environmentalists and politicians have attacked the forthcoming campaign involving London-based public relations companies as “PR spin” and “slick marketing” designed to divide Scottish communities. A company called Mediazoo has invited journalists to Grangemouth on Tuesday to meet senior INEOS executives over sandwiches. There will be an announcement on “plans for a major new Scottish shale gas community engagement programme,” the invitation says.
Herald 15th March 2015 read more »
As geoengineering researchers gather for a conference in Cambridge, Duncan McLaren draws lessons from ethics and science fiction to make a case for caution.
Guardian 14th March 2015 read more »