Justin McCurry, Guardian Correspondent in Tokyo writes: Why does this writer (Mark Lynas) continue to peddle the myth that Fukushima has killed no one? Data from local authorities show that, as of February this year, more than 500 people had died as a result of the nuclear disaster, mainly from fatigue among elderly evacuees and the aggravation of chronic illnesses following sudden displacement. The death toll also includes a number of suicides. Japanese media are now reporting on the possible impact on evacuees’ mental and physical health of a prolonged stay in temporary housing. Lynas also conveniently glosses over the social and economic consequences of the evacuation of 160,000 people from around the Fukushima Daiichi plant, most of whom are still unable to return home 18 months later. This was not caused by the “fear-mongering” anti-nuclear lobby, but by collusion between Tepco, the Japanese government and toothless regulators. That’s not my conclusion, but that of the recent parliament-appointed investigation into the disaster.
Guardian 15th Sept 2012 more >>
We welcome the government’s decision, which is based on the fact that many Japanese are seriously concerned about the magnitude of the problems with nuclear power generation. That said, the government cannot yet claim that it has offered a clear road map toward a future without nuclear power. The new energy strategy adopts three principles to realize that vision: Idled reactors will be restarted only if they are judged to be safe by a new nuclear regulatory commission; a 40-year limit on the lifetime of reactors will be strictly applied; and no new nuclear reactors will be built. But simply applying a legal life span of 40 years to the existing reactors would leave 20 reactors in operation in January 2030, and five reactors would be still on line even in 2040. It is also unclear what the government plans to do with plants and reactors at high risk, such as the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, which is located in an area that experts believe is highly likely to be struck by a major earthquake, and with reactors sitting on or near active faults. Experiences during the two summers since the catastrophic accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011 have indicated that peak power demand in this nation can be met even if the majority of reactors are off line. How does the government intend to limit the number of restarted reactors to the minimum and thereby bring an end to nuclear power generation as soon as possible?
Asahi 15th Sept 2012 more >>
Regardless of the success or failure of ambitious anti-nuclear energy agendas, the age of atomic power is anything but over. On the contrary, the world will need to manage a massive stockpile of nuclear waste for generations to come. Ironically, the United States, which is preparing to build a small but significant fleet of next-generation nuclear reactors, is perhaps the most exposed to the potentially catastrophic risks posed by a rapidly expanding and recklessly managed supply of lethally radioactive nuclear waste, according to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Forbes 15th Sept 2012 more >>
The US government plans to undertake the costliest modernization of its nuclear arsenal in history, even though the military as a whole is facing stiff spending cuts, The Washington Post reported. The newspaper said there is no official price estimate for the effort to upgrade and maintain the 5,113 warheads in the inventory, replace old delivery systems and renovate the aging nuclear facilities. But a study this summer by the Stimson Center, a Washington think-tank, estimated costs would be at least $352 billion over the coming decade, the report said.
Raw Story 16th Sept 2012 more >>
An armada of US and British naval power is massing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Irans covert nuclear weapons programme.
Telegraph 15th Sept 2012 more >>
The Royal Navy’s newest nuclear submarine has set sail to begin sea trials. The second Astute class submarine Ambush set sail from BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The 7,400 tonne attack submarine left the site for Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde, Faslane, which will become its operational base.
Rutherglen Reformer 15th Sept 2012 more >>
THE Ministry of Defence is demanding safeguards over the Trident nuclear weapons programme as a condition of the £30 billion merger between BAE Systems and EADS, its Franco-German rival. Politicians in London, Paris, Berlin and Washington are poring over the national security risks of waving through a deal that would create the worlds biggest aerospace and defence group by annual revenues. The top priority for ministers from the Ministry of Defence and Department for Business is to safeguard the Trident nuclear submarine programme, built by BAE at its yard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
Sunday Times 16th Sept 2012 more >>
THE Faslane nuclear submarine base could become an English enclave in the middle of Scotland if the country becomes independent. To guarantee security and ensure that a radical Scottish government did not order the submarines out before an alternative was available, MPs have been told it might be necessary to separate Faslane, north of the Clyde, and turn it into sovereign territory belonging to the remains of the UK. Experts last week told the Commons Scottish affairs select committee it could take 20 years or more to build a new base in England for the Trident submarines if the Scottish National party (SNP) followed its plan to expel the deterrent from an independent Scotland. A sovereign base arrangement would avoid the weapons being based on foreign soil and give the government in London similar freedom of action to that which it enjoys in its bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus. Last week, the sovereignty proposal was discussed in detail by the MPs. William Walker, professor of international relations at St Andrews University, told the committee that a sovereign base would be unusual in the modern era but would be one of the options available. It would have to include the base itself, the nearby Coulport weapons storage facility, a road linking the two and a security buffer zone. Experts have told the committee the cost of relocating Trident could even drive the British government to consider whether it was worth retaining a nuclear deterrent at all.
Sunday Times 16th Sept 2012 more >>
Thursday’s spat between the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) is the latest and most high-profile manifestation of the debate currently dominating UK energy and climate policy: the role of natural gas. Everyone agrees that switching from dirty coal to lower-carbon gas for power generation may help to reduce emissions quickly and inexpensively in the short term while genuinely low-carbon energy sources such as renewables and nuclear are scaling up. The question is how substantial this ‘transitional’ role should be and how long it can be usefully served given the UK’s ambitious and legally binding carbon budgets.
Guardian 14th Sept 2012 more >>
Coalition divisions over the future of Britain’s energy policy widened last night as it emerged that Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Climate Change Secretary, is to set out plans to offer communities financial benefits for taking on wind farms in their area. It is an attempt, says a Whitehall source, to lessen the “hostility” and “negativity” directed at wind turbines from some quarters, including parts of the Conservative Party. The “call for evidence”, to be published in the next few weeks, will detail how local communities could be offered cash to improve school buildings and town halls if a wind farm is built near by. The plans are a direct challenge to George Osborne, who is pushing for less reliance on green energy and more investment in fossil-fuel generation, including shale gas. And, yesterday, it emerged that Owen Paterson, the new Tory Environment Secretary, has suggested that wind energy will do nothing to stop global warming.
Independent 16th Sept 2012 more >>
Putting politics before the evidence when it comes to wind power is bad for energy users and the British economy. George Osborne’s overtures to his “NIMBY” backbenchers may end up winning him few friends. In February a group of more than 100 backbench Conservative MPs sent a letter to the Prime Minister arguing for deep cuts in the support provided for onshore wind. Many of these MPs represent rural constituencies where wind farms may be built. This kicked off a major political spat over the summer with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, championing their cause and picking a fight with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, about the support levels provided. Davey won but only after horse trading that saw the Chancellor advance several steps along his “dash for gas”. A fortnight ago IPPR published a report called Beyond the Bluster that addresses two questions: is wind power an effective way to reduce carbon emissions? Is wind power a reliable and secure energy source? To produce this report we drew on the expertise of a leading renewable energy consultancy, GL Garrad Hassan, which is owned by GL Group, a business with interests in the oil and gas sectors. We thought it appropriate to cooperate with those who have an advanced understanding of the technology. To ensure the validity and objectivity of GL Garrad Hassan’s work the report was peer reviewed by Professor Nick Jenkins of the Institute of Energy, Cardiff University. All work on the report was carried out on a pro bono basis. The conclusions of the report were unambiguous. Wind power is an effective way for reducing carbon emissions. We demonstrate this using a simple model of the UK energy system which examines the impact of an additional marginal’ plant. This is backed up with empirical data on measured emission reductions from wind power in the US.
Business Green 13th Sept 2012 more >>
This Week’s Micro Power News.
MicrogenScotland.org.uk 14th Sept 2012 more >>
Energy bills are on the up and the “Big Six” companies continue to rake in the profits while stinging households with price hikes. Scottish & Southern Energy is planning a 9 per cent increase to both gas and electricity prices in October, and where one goes, the others are sure to follow. With winter on its way, it’s a perfect time to switch to a cheaper tariff. But don’t miss out on a range of other ways you can slash your bills, improve your energy efficiency and reduce your carbon footprint.
Independent 16th Sept 2012 more >>
If the coalition wants its flagship Green Deal to work and also wants to abide by the law, it must choose one of three options. It can do what the French and Dutch have done and reduce Vat on kitchen and bathroom improvements as long as clean boilers and insulation are installed – bizarrely, this is allowed under EU law. Or it can raise Vat to 20% on energy-saving measures while keeping it at 5% for fuel – an absurdity for which it would rightly be criticised. The third option is the most rational but a tough call in strai tened times when prices are rising, partly to cover the subsidies given to renewable energy. It is to reform Blair’s disgraceful subsidy by raising Vat to 20% on energy consumption and energy conservation and pledging to hand some of the money back through something everyone pays, such as income tax, while insuring the old and the poor do not lose out. If the coalition genuinely wanted to be seen as green and reforming and to get us to insulate our roofs, that is what it would do. But don’t hold your breath: expect the Euro-fudge.
Sun Times 16th Sept 2012 more >>