The nuclear industry and its supporters have contrived a variety of narratives to justify and explain away nuclear catastrophes, writes John Downer. None of them actually hold water, yet they serve their purpose – to command political and media heights, and reassure public sentiment on ‘safety’. But if it’s so safe, why the low limits on nuclear liabilities?
Ecologist 20th Dec 2014 read more »
We know what is in the ponds – spent fuel. Specifically we don’t know what form the spent fuel is in. Lots of work is going on to characterise, however, uncertainties will remain until we get to the bottom of the ponds and see what is there. On the physical integrity of the structures, we have taken core samples and they are actually in pretty good condition. They wouldn’t meet modern standards but they are not in imminent danger of falling down. We are using the most modern non-intrusive techniques and carrying out a raft of work to reduce risks, particularly on retrieving the waste. All sorts of techniques are being considered for retrievals from the pond but we always come back to grabbers for the silos.
Radiation Free Lakeland 20th Dec 2014 read more »
Nuclear power stations are highly vulnerable to drone attack, according to a confidential report that British ministers are being urged to consider. Compiled by a British nuclear expert, John Large, the report followed a number of unexplained, but apparently co-ordinated, flights of tiny, unmanned vehicles over French nuclear installations. The grave issues uncovered there, said Mr Large, were equally relevant to the UK’s 16 operational reactors, which generate about 18 per cent of the country’s electricity. In public evidence to the French parliament, Mr Large said he set the defences of a standard nuclear power plant against different types of attack that could be launched by drones, such as precisely placed explosive devices and the dropping off of equipment that would aid an insider saboteur.
Independent 21st Dec 2014 read more »
A mysterious drone has been spotted in Belgium flying over a nuclear plant one of whose reactors has come back on line following a four-month shutdown due to sabotage, authorities say. Belgian officials have “opened an investigation into a drone flight over the Doel nuclear plant,” a spokesman for the investigation said on Saturday, hours after the plant’s operator GDF-Suez unit Electrabel disclosed the incident.
Press TV 20th Dec 2014 read more »
New Reactor Types
For nuclear to have any chance of succeeding, strong government intervention will be needed to fund more R&D and back loans for commercial-scale plants, say proponents. In an essay written for the Brookings Institution last Friday, Joshua Freed, the director of energy at the think tank Third Way, outlined the elements needed to support emerging nuclear technologies that can recycle waste, use more diverse fuels, reduce plant size and increase operational safety. Increasing funding for government labs to create an advanced reactor test facility would be the first step, argued Freed. But the funds set aside for R&D are far below levels needed.
Green Tech Media 19th Dec 2014 read more »
At the 2010 general election, all the political parties reaffirmed their commitment to the green agenda. Unfortunately, the impact on consumers suffering the biggest squeeze on their incomes since the Second World War had yet to be fully understood. Tackling climate change was, and still is, the right long term policy. But, in the short term, consumers were more concerned about how much they were paying. As we started to add mandated social and environmental charges to the bill, it became more challenging, both for the customers who had to pay and the energy companies who had to justify it. as I prepare to leave Centrica, I see a very different energy landscape to when I started, transformed by the biggest global economic crisis since the Great Depression and shale gas. This has led to lower demand and increased supply, creating the more benign environment for wholesale gas prices we see today. Affordability remains the immediate priority. While still recognising the need to tackle climate change, it has become an increasingly divisive issue and one that offers no short-term wins to politicians facing an election in a few months. Security of supply tended to come a poor third. But that’s changing.
Telegraph 20th Dec 2014 read more »
After a concerted examination of the evidence presented at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons and two earlier conferences, 44 of the states present called for a ban on nuclear weapons. The host government Austria added momentum with a specific, cooperative pledge to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition of nuclear weapons” and eliminate them. The conference, held in Vienna, 8-9 December 2014, capped two years of intense international scrutiny into the human impact of nuclear weapons, including active participation of the World Council of Churches (WCC). “Thanks to the final decision by the host government, those calling for conclusive action – a growing majority of governments plus other organisations, including religions – a new path forward has opened,” said WCC programme executive Jonathan Frerichs. Host government Austria ended the meeting with a pledge to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition of nuclear weapons” and to “cooperate with all stakeholders” in eliminating them.
Ekklesia 20th Dec 2014 read more »
NUCLEAR weapons could be deployed to protect Earth from incoming asteroids under a plan being drawn up by America’s leading atomic weapons research centre. Scientists at Los Alamos, the US government’s research centre in New Mexico, said last week that the threat of an asteroid impact is far greater than had been realised and research was required to work out the best way to destroy or deflect them.
Times 21st Dec 2014 read more »
The British Government must recognise its moral duty to care for the disabled children of its nuclear veterans, an ex-minister has insisted. Lib Dem MP Sir Nick Harvey has thrown his weight behind moves for a £25million benevolent fund for the descendants of men poisoned by nuclear tests in the 1950s.
Mirror 20th Dec 2014 read more »
Seoul prosecutors have launched an investigation of a leak of non-critical data at South Korea’s nuclear power operator, the prosecutors’ office said on Sunday, as worries mount about nuclear safety and potential cyberattacks from North Korea.An official with the prosecutors’ office confirmed media reports that they had traced the location of an IP address linked to the hacking incident and had dispatched investigators to the site.She said she could not comment further on the case, including on whether North Korea might be behind the data leak, while an investigation was under way.
Reuters 21st Dec 2014 read more »
Plenty of Texas’ politicians may be ignoring climate change, but individual cities and municipalities in the state are still making moves toward renewable energy. The latest gambit is coming out of Austin, where last week the city passed a new plan to get 55 percent of its power from clean energy by 2025.
Climate Progress 16th Dec 2014 read more »
Renewables – wave
The 16 remaining staff at collapsed wave power company Pelamis are to be made redundant after no final offers were made for the business. The firm went into administration last month. Highlands and Islands Enterprise has been selected as the preferred bidder to take over the assets of the company. But administrators KMPG said they had been unable to sell the business as a going concern, so the remaining staff will now lose their jobs. Edinburgh-based Pelamis Wave Power had employed more than 50 staff in the design, manufacture and operation of wave energy converters which it had been testing at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. Administrators were called in after Pelamis failed to secure enough funding to develop its technology.
BBC 20th Dec 2014 read more »
STV 20th Dec 2014 read more »
Daily Record 20th Dec 2014 read more »
Immediate action is needed to ensure pensioners in Scotland are not afraid to put their heating on this winter, according to the SNP. The party highlighted figures which show a freeze on the basic winter fuel allowance since 2001 has resulted in a 25% drop in the value of the payment. The Smith Commission has recommended control over the benefit is transferred to Holyrood. The SNP said Westminster should look at increasing the payment in the meantime. The benefit, of between £200 and £300, is paid every year to those on state pensions.
BBC 21st Dec 2014 read more »
The Scottish opencast coal industry is facing a renewed crisis that could leave communities and landscapes across Scotland devastated, leading politicians and environmentalists are warning. The crisis has already forced the Scottish Government to reverse a decision to wind up its opencast coal task force last week, and prompted a bitter political row. The task force, involving governments, councils and trade unions, will now reconvene next year to try to stem the loss of jobs and ensure ravaged land is restored. Hargreaves Services, a Durham-based coal company, has warned that falling coal prices will lead to a big drop in profits next year. This triggered a 14% drop in its share price and reports that it would have to make cutbacks at the seven opencast mines it operates in East Ayrshire, Fife, South Lanarkshire, and Dumfries and Galloway.
Herald 21st Dec 2014 read more »