ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have called for nuclear waste regulators to investigate claims of alleged serious safety concerns highlighted by staff at the Dounreay power station. WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said it was ‘deeply worrying’ that inadequate protection measures are reportedly employed during the decommissioning process at the Caithness plant. Fears were first raised in a letter written by workers stationed at Dounreay to the site’s managing director Mark Rouse in November last year, just weeks after a sodium fire led to a serious radioactive leak. The employees, tasked with safely disposing of radioactive waste on site, said the clean-up operation is being conducted at the expense of health and safety. In response to the claims that emerged yesterday (sun), Mr Banks said: “These matters require the urgent attention of Dounreay bosses as well as the regulators. “No employee, even those in the nuclear industry, should ever be forced to work in fear for their safety.
Herald 16th March 2015 read more »
An American nuclear expert has warned that Westinghouse’s proposed reactor for Cumbria needs a $100m (£68m) filter to safeguard against a leak that would turn the region into “Chernobyl on steroids”. Arnie Gundersen lifted the lid on safety violations at a nuclear firm in 1990 – he claimed to have found radioactive material in a safe – and was CNN’s resident expert during the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. Mr Gundersen told The Independent that he is concerned by designs for three reactors proposed for a new civil nuclear plant in Cumbria. A nuclear engineering graduate by background, Mr Gunderson beli eves that the AP1000, designed by the US-based giant Westinghouse, is susceptible to leaks. The reactor has been selected for the proposed Â£10bn Moorside plant, a Toshiba-GDF Suez joint venture that will power six million homes. It is going through an approval process with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). Mr Gundersen, who visited the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria last week, warned that any leak would be like “Chernobyl on steroids”, referring to the 1986 nuclear disaster that killed 28 workers within four months. He passed on some of these fears to MPs at an event in Parliament during his visit to the UK. He said: “Evacuation of Moorside would have to be up to 50 miles. You could put a filter on the top of the AP1000 to trap the gases – that would cost about $100m, which is small potatoes. “If this leaks it would be a leak worse than the one at Fukushima. Historically, there have been 66 containment leaks around the world.” A spokesw oman for the ONR said that the regulator is currently ensuring that the reactor will be safe. She said: “We have received revised plans from Westinghouse for 51 outstanding issues. These will have to be resolved before the ONR can make any decisions [to approve the reactor].”
Independent 16th March 2015 read more »
ANTI-NUCLEAR campaigners are hoping to have the Hinkley Point C deal between the Government and EDF energy re-examined if Labour wins the next General Election. Members of the Stop Hinkley Campaign, along with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Nuclear Free Local Authorities, have written to the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change asking for the deal to be scrutinised by the National Audit Office (NAO) if Labour is in power in May.
Burnham & Highbridge Weekly News 15th March 2015 read more »
Hunterston B nuclear power station has been awarded the Biodiversity Benchmark by the Wildlife Trust. The EDF Energy power station is right next to Southannan sands which is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and is teaming with all kinds of special wildlife.
Largs & Millport News 15th March 2015 read more »
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has been slammed by MPs for the ever-increasing costs at the site in Cumbria.
Chronicle 15th March 2015 read more »
French nuclear energy group Areva is in talks to enlist the help of state-owned power utility EDF to complete a troubled reactor project in Finland, Le Figaro reported on Thursday.The two French energy companies, currently the subject of tie-up speculation, are close to an agreement to cooperate on the long-delayed reactor project for Finnish utility TVO, the French daily reported on its website.
Reuters 12th March 2015 read more »
The new chief executive of struggling French nuclear group Areva is abandoning the company’s strategy of leading high profile new-build projects as he battles to overcome record losses. Philippe Knoche told the Financial Times that the target for the state-controlled company was now “clearly to work with EDF” or other groups to focus on supplying reactor components, chiefly the core nuclear steam supply system. Mr Knoche insisted that the company had a solid future despite its troubles. Areva expects to win a significant part of EDF’s 55bn euro budget to extend the lifespan of the utility’s French reactors. It also has a large installed base, servicing more than 350 of the 440 operating reactors worldwide. He was also firm on the company’s commitment to its key projects, saying that there were “positive signs” that the Finnish project was getting back on track. He added that despite the difficulties he had no intention of pulling out of the Hinkley Point reactor project in the UK. Areva agreed to take a 10 per cent stake in the £24.5bn project, which is being led by EDF. Areva is delivering nuclear steam supply systems and control systems for the reactor, which is much more in line with the kind of programmes they want to do in the future. “Our commitment to Hinkley cannot be questioned in any manner,” he said.
FT 15th March 2015 read more »
Prince Trurki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia says that if the West strikes a nuclear deal with Iran, it is likely that many other countries will demand the same allowances. During an interview with the BBC, he warned that Saudi Arabia was among the nations that would seek the same rights, and that a situation where Iran could continue its enrichment programme would lead to the development of atomic weapons elsewhere.
City AM 16th March 2015 read more »
BBC 16th March 2015 read more »
The Scottish Government will do everything in its power to prevent the premature closure of Longannet, the Deputy First Minister has pledged. John Swinney was speaking in advance of a visit to the troubled Fife power station, which will close by the end of March next year unless it secures a short-term National Grid contract. A decision on the contract, which is to help maintain voltage levels in the electricity supply from April 2016 to October 2017, is expected by the end of the month.
STV 16th March 2015 read more »
Herald 16th March 2015 read more »
State aid approval requests by the UK to the commission rose from 29 in 2013 to 41 in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters legal business, which requested the data under the Freedom of Information Act. In 2010, 13 applications were made. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it channelled requests to the commission but that they come “from all public authorities including local authorities, devolved authorities and departments”. “These cover a wide range of schemes covering a broad range of objectives and activities, and as such the number varies from year to year,” it added. The government must apply to the commission for approval to give financial help to businesses to ensure investments do not contravene EU competition rules. The nature of the assistance ranges from loan guarantees to tax incentives. Many of the applications for state aid in 2014 related to individual projects, and nearly a third were for investment in power generation and the transition towards a lower-carbon economy. One application related to Hinkley Point C Nuclear power station, which won approval in October following a lengthy investigation, and a deeply divided debate that saw four EU commissioners vote against the decision. It allowed the government to com mit to 35 years of financial support for Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, which the competition commission said would cost £34bn in total. Brussels initially raised serious questions about the proposed plant, which aims to provide 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity once it is completed in 2023, arguing that it extended up to £17.6bn of potentially wasteful and illegal public subsidies to a project that would in all probability be profitable without them.
FT 15th March 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
An animal lover who returned to the Fukushima exclusion zone after the devastating tsunami risked his life to feed the abandoned animals. Farmer Naoto Matsumura, 53, returned to the area in Japan to care for the pets left behind when residents were evacuated.
Mirror 15th March 2015 read more »
Vladimir Putin has admitted that he was ready to place his nuclear attack forces on alert when he seized Crimea a year ago. The Russian president’s revelation was aired in a pre-recorded TV interview broadcast at the end of last week. In the documentary – titled Crimea: Way Back Home – he claimed the area was Russia’s ‘historic territory’, even though under international law it remains Ukrainian.
Daily Mail 16th March 2015 read more »
Guardian 16th March 2015 read more »
Western Morning News 15th March 2015 read more »
BBC 15th March 2015 read more »
The opposition Labour party would look at cutting the fleet of submarines carrying Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent to three vessels from four if it wins a national election on May 7, the party’s finance spokesman Ed Balls said on Sunday. Replacing the vessels carrying the Trident missiles — four ageing Vanguard-class submarines — is expected to cost 20 billion pounds ($29.5 billion), with a final decision on the renewal due to be taken in 2016.The Scottish National Party, who could hold the balance of power after the election, oppose the renewal but this month dropped a demand Labour must also do so in return for their support. Balls said a Labour government would hold a defence review after the election and, while the party was committed to renewing Trident and maintaining a continuous at-sea deterrent, this did “not necessarily” mean replacing all four submarines.
Reuters 15th March 2015 read more »
Huffington Post 15th March 2015 read more »
Herald 15th March 2015 read more »
BBC 15th March 2015 read more »
Guardian 15th March 2015 read more »
Western Morning News 16th March 2015 read more »
Renewables – hydro
Fife-based TLS Hydro Power Ltd, a renewable energy company which develops, owns and operates a portfolio of hydro power sites across Scotland and England, has today launched a £2.5 million bond issue in partnership with Triodos Bank. Funds raised will be used to develop new hydro power schemes, including a 1 MW project in neighbouring Perth and Kinross district, construction of which is planned for autumn this year.
Scottish Energy News 16th March 2015 read more »
Cheshire East council becomes the first since 1948 to offer power tariffs to local constituents. Local authorities are to offer gas and electricity to residents for the first time since the 1940s in an attempt to encourage more people to switch suppliers and cut bills. From tomorrow, Cheshire East council will offer a deal called Fairerpower to its 170,000 households. Many of them have never switched supplier, and so are paying up to £300 a year more than necessary. The energy will be supplied and administered by Ovo, which is a challenger to the big six suppliers, including British Gas and Scottish Power. The energy prices will be set by the council, however. The move is the latest government-backed initiative to encourage householders to switch. The big six suppliers service more than nine in ten households in Britain. Last week, Labour leader Ed Milliband announced plans to give the regulator, Ofgem, power to force suppliers to cut bills.
Sunday Times 15th March 2015 read more »
Fossil Fuels – CCS
Matt Ridley: The British government has been dangling a £1 billion carrot in front of the energy industry to get CCS going. A few years ago, Eon and Scottish Power both dropped out. Then last year two projects signed contracts, one in Yorkshire, and one in Peterhead in Scotland. In the latter case, SSE, the energy company, and Shell propose to pump the CO2 out under the North Sea, not to help to enhance the recovery of oil but to justify putting off the decommissioning of an oil platform called Goldeneye. Similar delays and cancellations are affecting CCS around the world. Whereas the United Nations once forecast that at least 20 large-scale demonstration plants would be on line by 2020, in practice there will be none. Given that electricity is only a small part of the energy system, if CCS is to solve our problems it has to roll out to not just every coal and gas power station on the planet, but to three times as many – once we have electrified heat and transport.
Times 16th March 2015 read more »