PRESIDENT George Bush’s problems south of the border seem to be mounting. Branded the devil by Venezuelas Hugo Chvez at the recent UN General Assembly, Bush was snubbed by Argentinas Nestor Kirchner at a dinner for attending heads of state. Iranian engineers are set to explore Venezuelas vast oil reserves once the preserve of Western firms. China has moved into the region, signing trade deals with Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. Meanwhile, relations between the US and Colombia have been strained following the gunning down of an elite US-trained anti-drugs squad by soldiers hired by Colombian drug lords. So could it get worse for Bush? Well, in the near future he or a successor could face a friendly nuclear arms race closer to home than Asia. For decades Brazil and Argentina, regional leaders in nuclear technology, refused to sign up to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. Theyve now signed, but some experts fear the USs counter-proliferation policy, witnessed in its invasion of Iraq and current pressure on Iran, could persuade Brazil, Argentina and other developing countries that the established nuclear powers wield unfair clout under the treaty and could hinder development of their energy resources.
Sunday Herald 15th October 2006
IN A grim warning that the world is facing a major expansion in the number of nuclear-armed states, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that up to 30 countries could have the technology to develop the bomb “in a very short time”. It is feared that North Korea’s successful atom bomb test could lead to a ripple effect with other states in the region deciding they had no choice but to join the nuclear club. Anti-nuclear campaigners pointed to 43 nations round the world that they believe could acquire the bomb. Nations already with the means to produce weapons-grade fissile material include Canada, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Taiwan, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania. Countries considering developing nuclear programmes are Egypt, Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Namibia, Moldova, Nigeria, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam and Yemen.
Scotsman 17th Oct 2006
JACK McConnell’s hopes that he could rely on the extension of the lives of Scotland’s ageing nuclear reactors – and avoid sanctioning the building of new nuclear power stations – suffered a major setback last night. Serious cracks were found in boiler pipes at the Hinkley Point plant in Somerset, dealing a blow to the First Minister’s plan to step up investment in renewable energy while the lives of existing nuclear plants were extended. British Energy was forced to admit the existence of the faults, which were uncovered after similar problems were revealed at the station’s sister plant at Hunterston, Ayrshire, earlier this year.
Scotsman 17th Oct 2006
Jack McConnell must publicly rule out new nuclear power, opposition MSPs said yesterday, after news that a reactor at Hunterston in Ayrshire is to be shut because of safety fears.
Herald 18th Oct 2006
BBC 17th Oct 2006
The decision by British Energy to shut down Hunterston B and another at Hinkley in Somerset wiped £800m off its value as its shares fell by 25%. It followed the discovery of cracked pipes. British Energy also said it was also examining a “significant leak” in the cooling systems of a third power plant.
Herald 17th Oct 2006
The Government’s lingering hopes of selling off part of its shareholding in British Energy this year were crushed yesterday when the nuclear power generator admitted to a catalogue of problems at its reactors. The warning caused British Energy shares to plunge by a quarter and made it inconceivable that the share sale will take place for the foreseeable future. British Energy, which has eight nuclear stations said that in addition to cracks in boiler tubes at the Hunterston B and Hinkley B stations, it had discovered a leak in underground pipes at its Hartlepool reactor. The company also said output from the Dungeness B station in Kent would be affected by problems with fuel assembly. Only one of the stations, Torness, is operating at normal output levels.
Independent 17th Oct 2006
After yesterday’s news from British Energy – in effect the third profits warning in as many months – it is hard to see the Government can persist with plans to sell off the 65 per cent it holds for bailing the company out three or four years back. The precipitous 24 per cent plunge in the share price, also means the company will struggle to hold its place in the FTSE 100. Yesterday’s news exploded any remaining hope of the now obsolete gas-cooled technology used in all but one of British Energy’s plants ever achieving the efficiency levels of more modern, pressurised water reactors. The cracks and leaks that have appeared in AGR pipes now require “outages” so serious that British Energy will have to buy in power from the wholesale markets just to fulfil its contracts. At this stage the cost is largely guess work, but it could be perhaps as much as 200m off profits this year. Does yesterday’s news also put the kibosh on government plans for a new generation of nuclear power plants to replace the old ones. It certainly doesn’t help. Any new nukes will of course be the latest technology, and therefore considerably more efficient than anything that has gone before. Even so, it remains highly unlikely, given the experience of privately owned nuclear capacity in this country, that the City could be persuaded to invest without some form of government subsidy or market subvention. An inconvenient truth, perhaps, but a rather important one which ministers seem determined to ignore as they grapple with their planned, nuclear White Paper.
Independent 17th October 2006
British Energy faced possible delays to the latest stage of its privatisation last night after admitting that only one of its eight nuclear power stations was working normally. The group also revealed that it was preparing to close two reactors after serious cracks were found in boiler pipes. The news is also a setback for British Energy’s ambitions to be involved with new nuclear reactor projects in the UK, as it casts doubt on its ability to run its plants effectively.
FT 17th Oct 2006
Shares in British Energy nosedived by 25 per cent last night after it said it was shutting key nuclear reactors.Stock prices fell 133.5p to 427p, wiping almost £800 million off the company’s value.
Gloucestershire Echo 17th Oct 2006
One of Britain’s flagship nuclear facilities has been criticised by the Health and Safety Executive for significant safety lapses after a radioactive leak went undetected for months. British Nuclear Group was fined 500,000 yesterday in a case brought by the HSE for breaches at the Thorp reprocessing plant at Sella-field in Cumbria, Britain’s largest nuclear site. No reprocessing has taken place at Thorp since April last year, when about 83,000 tonnes of acid containing 20 tonnes of uranium and 160kg of plutonium escaped from a broken pipe into a sealed concrete holding at the site.
FT 17th Oct 2006
FEARS were growing today that North Korea is preparing to test a second nuclear bomb despite worldwide condemnation of its first blast.
Edinburgh Evening News 17th Oct 2006
Guardian 18th Oct 2006
Telegraph 18th Oct 2006
Times 18th Oct 2006
Scotsman 18th Oct 2006
FT 18th Oct 2006
Independent 18th Oct 2006
North Korea’s nuclear test could set off an atomic arms race in Asia, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has warned.
Ananova 18th Oct 2006
For the Bush administration at least, North Korea’s so-called “happy bomb” is not all bad news. The test has dramatised its warnings about “rogue states” and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, even if US policies have exacerbated the problem. And in Washington’s view, it has created opportunities to reshape the regional strategic balance.
Guardian 18th Oct 2006
Energy experts have warned that the government’s focus on building a new generation of nuclear power stations risks diverting attention from “green” technologies such as wind turbines and locally generated power. Giving evidence before the Department of Trade and Industry’s select committee today, researchers from the University of Sussex told MPs that the government’s limited time to concentrate on energy issues could mean green options such as micro-generation and distributed generation being crowded out. The warning from Dr Jim Watson, Senior Fellow at the Sussex Energy Group, came as the government works up a white paper dealing with energy issues, due out next March.
Interactive Investor 17th Oct 2006
Hartlepool nuclear station has been shut down and will remain closed until next month following a significant underground leak.
Hartlepool Mail 17th Oct 2006
A total of 42 foreign peace protesters have been arrested after they blocked the main entrance at a nuclear base in Scotland.
ITV 17th Oct 2006