Commenting on the publication today of the 17th Report of the Committee on the Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) – and its spokesman’s statements to BBC Radio Cumbria – CORE notes: that publication of the Report is two years late and questions why the relatively innocuous findings of the report should have been ‘sat on’ for two years. that the Report confirms the ‘highly unusual excess of leukaemia and NHL cases among children and young adults in Seascale’ – and warns that ‘it is impossible to conclude that excess cases will not occur in the future’. that the Report’s analysis of thyroid incidence (1974-2012) reveals a consistent excess in Cumbria for those born between 1929 and 1963; that Sellafield’s 1952-1998 radioactive discharge data (provided in 2000 by Sellafield) as used by the Report has long been challenged as being an unreliable underestimation; that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Sellafield Ltd should do further work on the sites ‘historic’ environmental discharges of Iodine-129 and Polonium-210; that, in relation to the excess cancer incidence, the report’s finding that ‘it seems most unlikely to be simply attributable to exposure to radiation from radioactive discharges’ was subsequently contradicted in the BBC Radio Cumbria interview (News Hour 30th September) when COMARE’s spokesman specifically ‘ruled out’ radiation as a causethat having ‘ruled out’ radiation in favour of nailing its flag to the unsubstantiated and hypothetical ‘population mixing’ mast as an infective cause of childhood leukaemia, COMARE admits that the underlying mechanism ‘has yet to be identified’; that the population mixing hypothesis is not offered by COMARE as a cause for the excess incidence of thyroid cancer; that, when questioned by BBC Radio Cumbria on the risks of population mixing to the Moorside new-build development, COMARE ducked the issue by referring only to Moorside’s discharges, ignoring the inference to the mass influx of thousands of workers to West Cumbria for the development – an influx that underpins the population mixing hypothesis and, if ever confirmed, would result in an increase in cancer rates in West Cumbria as a result of the worker influx; that, under COMARE’s now favoured population mixing hypothesis, similar rises in cancer incidence would be inflicted on communities around other UK new-build sites.
CORE 1st Oct 2016 read more »
The Department of Health has a delicious sense of irony. While people “Stand Up to Cancer” and cakes are being baked across the UK to raise money for a well-known cancer charity, the Department of Health has released its Review of Childhood Cancer Incidence near Sellafield and Dounreay.
Radiation Free Lakeland 1st Oct 2016 read more »
Rolls-Royce has stepped up its drive to build a fleet of small nuclear power stations – by switching 30 staff from its Trident submarine work. The engineer is trying to become the government’s chosen supplier for a fleet of small modular reactors (SMRs). It is understood to have moved the staff from the submarine programme, where they were developing a new type of reactor. Rolls-Royce, which earns most of its money making and maintaining aircraft engines, has a vital role on the Successor programme for replacing submarines armed with nuclear warheads. It is building the new PWR3 reactor in Derby. Sources said the staff switch has prompted concern about resources for the PWR3. However, with design of that reactor finalised, the employees are understood to have moved across to help assess the civil reactors. Rolls-Royce said: “Delivering upon our commitments to the government for the Successor programme is our number one priority and is never compromised.” More than 30 rival designs are in a Whitehall-run competition to choose a new type of small nuclear power station. Ministers hope a network of SMRs, small enough to transport on the back of a truck, will eventually be built to help plug a looming power gap. They would complement new, far bigger nuclear plants such as Hinkley, and cost a fraction of its £18bn price tag.
Times 2nd Oct 2016 read more »
Rolls-Royce is attempting to capitalise on the Government’s plans for a new industrial strategy with a bold appeal to ministers to choose British firms to develop new “mini-nuclear generators” in the UK. The company heads what it says is the only British-led consortium in the Government’s £250m competition to develop small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear technology. Ministers hope small nuclear plants, which are yet to be built anywhere in the world, will prove quicker and easier to finance and build than big reactors like Hinkley Point. More than 30 companies are vying to be selected as the developer that can offer the “best value” SMR design for the UK, with a winner expected to be picked in the autumn. Rolls-Royce is understood to have submitted a paper to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It claims that developing a fleet of 7 gigawatts (GW) of mini-nuclear plants with its consortium could provide a £100bn boost to the economy because the companies involved, thought to number a dozen, are either UK-owned or have a strong UK presence.
Telegraph 1st Oct 2016 read more »
A new kind of small reactor, long billed as the most convincing future for nuclear energy production, could be in use in the U.K. by 2030. These devices are, as the name suggests, smaller than regular nuclear power plants, providing 300 megawatts or less of energy capacity. Because of their modest size, they’re easier to build and install than their larger counterparts, as well as being safer. In theory they can also be used to provide both heat and electricity to nearby communities. A new report by the U.K.’s government-backed Energy Technologies Institute outlines what it considers to be a reasonable timeline for the country to adopt the new reactors, estimating that they could be in use by 2030. For that to happen, talks between operators, developers, and the government would have to begin next year.
MIT Review 30th Sept 2016 read more »
Theresa May has been called on to halt US Air Force shipments of highly enriched uranium from a Scottish airport because of safety concerns. Paul Monaghan, SNP MP for Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross, said he had drawn the prime minister’s attention to research claiming that the Wick John O’Groats airport runway is 1,600ft too short. The government recently spent £8 million upgrading the airport for the uranium transportation. Dr Monaghan said the research found that US air force C17 Globemaster aircraft required a runway length of 7,600ft to take off safely and that the one at Wick was 6,000ft long. As a result planes are routed through RAF Lossiemouth in Moray to be drained of fuel before heading to Wick. They refuel at Lossiemouth on the return leg. The shipment of 700kg of highly enriched uranium from Dounreay nuclear facility in Caithness, which is being transported by up to nine flights, is the largest ever movement of highly toxic fissile material out of the UK.
Times 1st Oct 2016 read more »
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew R T Davies has welcomed the news that the UK Government will be pressing ahead with the development of Hinkley Point C. “We welcome news that the construction of the first nuclear power station in a generation has been given the green light. This is a huge plus for the UK and for Wales,” he said. “Britain needs to upgrade its supplies of energy, and Conservatives have always been clear that nuclear is an important part of ensuring our future low-carbon energy security. “The agreement will not only strengthen bilateral relations between the UK and France, but will also confer some potentially big benefits on the Welsh economy,” Mr Davies claimed. “Given the proximity of the Somerset site to Wales, there are clear opportunities here for employment and businesses, with up to 26,000 jobs and apprenticeships being created.
The Barry GEM 1st Oct 2016 read more »
A tunnel under the Menai Strait, which will contain cables linking Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station to the National Grid, is set to cost £100m and take up to five years to complete. Last year, National Grid said it would use underground cables instead of pylons between Anglesey and the mainland in Gwynedd. It said this would protect the Menai Strait’s natural beauty.The tunnel will be based on a network of power tunnels in central London.
BBC 30th Sept 2016 read more »
Construction of the UK’s four new nuclear submarines is to begin, after the government announced £1.3bn of new investment with defence firm BAE Systems. The “Successor” is the proposed new generation of submarines to carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the deal would secure thousands of highly-skilled jobs across the UK. “This shows the government will never gamble with our national security.” The four new Successor submarines, which will carry Trident missiles, are to be built at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness. The project will move into a new phase from next week, with manufacturing beginning on structural steel work for the first vessel. The defence firm says they will enter service from the 2030s onwards and have a lifespan of at least 30 years.
BBC 1st Oct 2016 read more »
The Ministry of Defence is to release a further £1.3bn for the construction of Britain’s new fleet of submarines armed with nuclear warheads. The cash will be handed to the defence giant BAE Systems so it can begin cutting steel for the first of the four Trident submarines, which are due to enter service in the early 2030s.
Times 2nd Oct 2016 read more »
Herald 2nd Oct 2016 read more »
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released the 2016 update of its report, Revolution…Now: The Future Arrives for Five Clean Energy Technologies. The must-read report reveals the game-changing progress core clean energy technologies have made over the last several years — specifically, solar, wind, LED lights, batteries, and electric cars. Accelerated deployment driven by smart government policies, both domestically and around the world, have created economies of scale and brought technologies down the learning curve faster than almost anyone expected. “The clean energy revolution is too often always assumed to be something that would come along in 10 to 20 years,” Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz said Wednesday after the report’s release. “The message is: look around, it’s happening now.”
Climate Progress 29th Sept 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
THE hardest vices to shake are those that come cheap. For all the efforts to kick the world’s collective addiction to inexpensive fossil fuels, energy from renewable sources still makes up less than a fifth of global energy production. Yet the world is gradually moving towards a greener future. What will this future look like? Nuclear power, expensive and potentially hazardous, has fallen out of vogue. Erstwhile nuclear converts such as Japan and Germany have been phasing out nuclear plants. The road to low carbon emissions will probably be lined with wind turbines and photovoltaic panels. Solar production, in particular, is exploding in America. Capacity increased tenfold from 2009 to 2015, and installations have grown by 65% per year since 2000, a stunning feat. Yet one obstacle remains: although manufacturing costs have fallen sharply, installing solar panels is still expensive.
Economist 30th Sept 2016 read more »
Community energy is a crucial element in the refurbishment of housing, says report based on research by the Carbon Co-op. Retrofit Fact-file is a summary of facts and publications relevant to retrofit – the upgrading of existing homes to new energy-efficient standards – and draws on the Manchester community energy co-op’s practical work in this area. The report, drawn up by urban design and sustainability co-op URBED, showed that energy-efficient retrofits may help tackle environmental and social issues while attracting investment and creating jobs. The issue is an important one, with housing accounting for 29% of final energy consumptionand links between cold housing and poor health. The report confirmed the findings of the Community Green Deal project, which saw the Carbon Co-op organise energy-efficient retrofits. Local owner occupiers benefited from multiple whole-house retrofit measures, such as external wall insulation, triple-glazed windows and solar panels. Energy-efficient retrofits have ambitious carbon emission reduction targets, with the report estimating that Carbon Co-op homes save an average £900 a year on their bills and cut gas use by nearly half.
Co-op New 29th Oct 2016 read more »
COUNCILS have been given £9 million to pilot new ways to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses. The Scottish Government funding will be shared among 11 local authorities with particularly high levels of fuel poverty. Communities Secretary Angela Constance announced the awards on a visit to West Lothian, where she was shown how energy efficiency measures funded by the Government are already working. She said: “The Scottish Government will continue to prioritise tackling fuel poverty and remains committed to helping those most in need. “These Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (Seep) pilot projects will build on our existing support for households and also improve the energy efficiency of community centres, charities, businesses and commercial properties. Tackling fuel poverty is a priority for us but we need to be creative if we want to make a real, lasting difference.
The National 1st Oct 2016 read more »
A brand-new market is growing for home batteries that make it possible for British homeowners to store energy generated by solar panels and other renewable sources. The “Powerwall” battery, from Tesla, the pioneering automotive company founded by Elon Musk, is now going on sale in Britain. But one Oxford couple have already found their own DIY way to store the energy generated by their solar panels. Brian and Ruth Willis have had conventional solar panels on their roof for four years. Then earlier this year they installed a new system, which makes it possible for them to use their solar energy to heat and light their home day or night, rain or shine. The 12 ground-based solar panels are in a south-facing area and angled so that they collect the maximum amount of energy possible during the spring and summer. The energy is then stored in 28 batteries kept in a covered enclosure outside the house. The 16 rooftop panels are capable of producing a peak output of 4kW. This is used to power and heat the house during the day. The power source is then switched over to the ground-based panels and batteries every evening.
Telegraph 1st Oct 2016 read more »
Sajid Javid will rule this week on Cuadrilla Resources’ much-delayed attempt to frack for shale gas near Blackpool. The ruling, which the communities and local government secretary is expected to unveil at the Conservative party conference, will mark the latest twist in a long saga. Cuadrilla and other “frackers” have been hamstrung for years by environmental activists, nimbys, and planning issues. The decision will be closely watched by the industry and its opponents, who claim that allowing the controversial drilling technique would “industrialise” swathes of the countryside. Cuadrilla, a private company backed by FTSE 100 giant Centrica, has not drilled since 2010, when its activities were found to have caused two small earth tremors near Blackpool. A Whitehall review, protests, and a rejection by the local council halted Cuadrilla’s work. The planning inspectorate handed a confidential report to Department for Communities and Local Government 3 months ago. It is now up to Javid to decide if Cuadrilla can move ahead. Industry sources said that one possible outcome was that he would reject the application for one site, Roseacre Wood, where locals have objected over the potential increased traffic, but wave through the other at Preston New Road.
Times 2nd Oct 2016 read more »