The private consortium that will manage the decommissioning of Britain’s ageing Magnox nuclear reactors will not be held financially liable if they suffer a major radioactive incident – even if it costs billions of pounds to clear up, it has emerged. The government will indemnify the private contractors, which means the taxpayer will be left to foot the bill for any leak, a similar arrangement to how things stand now. Critics complain that granting the multimillion-pound contract to a private consortium while freeing it of liability for a nuclear incident is such a poor deal for the taxpayer that it will render its new management unaccountable. The government has rejected this claim.
Observer 23rd Feb 2014 read more »
Put under the microscope of various Government committees and accountancy firms, the performance of NDA and NMP has been found to be woefully lacking and increasingly bad news for the UK taxpayer – the long-suffering victim of nuclear incompetence. Little wonder that NDA/NMP are finding it difficult to keep their joint and shambolic handling of Sellafields’s clean-up, decommissioning and major project programmes off the front pages, for with some 60% of the NDA’s entire UK budget being lavished on Sellafield where clean-up costs are put at £70Bn and rising, such performance quite rightly needs the closest Government and public scrutiny. However, whilst this clean-up and decommissioning work continues to catch the media’s eye, it inadvertently obscures the equally important flip-side of the NDA/NMP’s portfolio – the site’s commercial operations of reprocessing which are routinely labelled as Sellafield’s ‘bread & butter’ work. Whilst reprocessing continues to be sanctioned today – largely because of the (declining) revenue it provides to help offset spiralling clean-up costs – the Magnox and THORP plant continue to churn out yet more unwanted plutonium, create unnecessary additional volumes of higher activity nuclear waste and further pollute the environment through their radioactive discharges. For financial year 2013/14, the NDA projected revenue of £633M from these operations against a combined expenditure (operations and capital) of £972M.
CORE 22nd Feb 2014 read more »
Managers of a nuclear waste dump on the Cumbria coast have been ordered to start preparations to defend the site against floods and erosion, amid fears that radioactive material could one day leak into the sea. Much of the waste buried in vaults and concrete trenches at the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) near the village of Drigg originates from one of the world’s most contaminated nuclear sites, Sellafield, a few miles away. The waste dump is expected ultimately to require protective flood barriers.Experts at the Environment Agency fear that future generations could suffer from waste with a long radioactive half-life leaking into the Irish Sea as the pace of climate change quickens and its effects become less predictable. The agency has been heavily criticised for its tardy response to the recent floods. Local politicians say they have been shocked at the degree of concern expressed by agency officials about the possibility of flooding and coastal erosion at Drigg during a consultation about altering the terms of the site’s environmental permit. Dr David Lowry, a member of Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates and the Department of Energy’s Geological Disposal Implementation Board for Radioactive Waste, said: “One of the certainties of climate change is that the sea level will rise – therefore, developing a huge nuclear waste storage site on the coastline is a problem for future generations.”
Independent 23rd Feb 2014 read more »
Radiation Free Lakeland will be delivering over 150 letters to you the Development Control meeting (more being sent separately) The letters urge you, despite the license given by the Environment Agency, not to permit the Spanish operators FCC to deliver High Volume Very Low Level Radioactive wastes to Lillyhall. This waste would be at the top end of activity for low level radioactive wastes. Lillyhall is already receiving so called “exempt” radioactive wastes and this crazy deregulation is what has led to Sellafield’s ‘mistake’ in dumping three bags of low level and one bag of intermediate level radioactive waste into Lillyhall.
Radiation Free Lakeland 22nd Feb 2014 read more »
Letter to Osborne: Businesses and NGOs alike understand that a green transition will only be achieved if the cost of clean technologies continue to fall and the short term costs associated with green infrastructure investment are kept as low as possible. There is an acceptance that the cost-effectiveness of the low carbon transition needs to be maximised at every turn. If you want to deliver a cost-effective low carbon transition you need to pursue policies that deliver a cost-effective low carbon transition – and sadly, to date, the evidence that you are willing to do this is decidedly patchy. You chose to highlight two areas where you think decarbonisation can be delivered in a “cheap” manner – fracking and nuclear power – and accuse critics of these two approaches of being “ideological” in their opposition. Shale gas can probably play some role in a low carbon economy, but engineering a shale gas boom could end up proving extremely costly from both a financial and climate perspective. Equally, there are long-standing arguments that claim next generation nuclear technologies can deliver deep cuts in emissions at a low cost. But there are also concerns that when you consider all the costs associated with nuclear it is anything but “cheap”. In fact, simply judging nuclear using the strike price support levels you have approved shows that it is more expensive than onshore wind power, is almost certainly going to be more expensive than solar power by the early 2020s, and is definitely more expensive than energy efficiency measures. Every available analysis shows energy efficiency measures are not only the most cost effective way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, they also help to tackle fuel poverty and lower energy costs. And yet your government’s changes to the ECO energy efficiency scheme effectively cut spending on such measures, while you have failed to provide the similar Green Deal scheme with the financial backing it needs if it is to have a national impact.
Business Green 21st Feb 2014 read more »
Nobody foresaw the perfect storm now hitting the world’s energy markets. There is the fracking revolution in the US, so that it is awash with oil and gas, and its displaced coal producers are flooding world markets with cheap coal. There is Germany’s decision to stop all nuclear energy production by 2022, while Japan’s nuclear production has been mothballed. And all round the world there is more and more wind and renewable power coming on stream. All the calculations and assumptions about what energy plant makes what profits are being thrown out the window. In Britain, our privatised electricity and gas industry is especially vulnerable. Chasing high financial returns, it thought it smart in the 1990s and early 00s to invest in producing energy from burning cheap gas. But it is now renewables, nuclear and cheap American coal that are low cost and profitable. Margins on burning gas have collapsed; indeed, for the last two years, gas-fired power generation has lost money.
Observer 22nd Feb 2014 read more »
PLANS to create a new energy department for an independent Scotland which will be co-headquartered in Aberdeen and Glasgow have been unveiled by First Minister Alex Salmond. It will have a staff of about 300 across both centres, with the aim of capitalising on the experience of the oil and gas industry in the Granite City and Glasgow’s growing expertise in low carbon engineering. It comes ahead of a clash of the Scottish and UK cabinets in the north-east of Scotland tomorrow. David Cameron’s Coalition cabinet is meeting in Aberdeen to coincide with publication of energy magnate Sir Ian Wood’s final report on the future of the North Sea oil and gas sector, while the Scottish Government is meeting a few miles down the road in Portlethen.
Scotland on Sunday 23rd Feb 2014 read more »
Renewables – Canary Islands
Islands confront some of the most difficult energy challenges. Their size and remoteness means they pay extremely high energy costs for often unreliable and dirty energy. Yet many islands are blessed with large amounts of sun, wind, and water, making renewable energy a promising solution. One small island off the coast of Africa has embraced these resources, most notably through an innovative hybrid hydro-wind system.
Earth Techling 18th Feb 2014 read more »
THE government’s attempts to tap into Britain’s vast shale gas reserves have sparked a wave of political rebellion, with councils declaring themselves “frack-free” and senior MPs facing the threat of anti-fracking opponents at the general election. George Osborne has announced tax breaks for energy companies and financial incentives for towns and villages in an attempt to encourage drilling for shale. But many groups fear it will cause ground water pollution, earth tremors and the building of eyesores in beauty spots. Areas where there is a backlash include the chancellor’s Tatton constituency, where three licences have been granted for oil and gas exploration. Last month Michael Jones, leader of the local Cheshire East council, announced the area would be “fracking-free”. Other authorities opposed to fracking include Brent, northwest London, Brighton & Hove and Bath & North East Somerset. In Conservative- controlled Trafford council, Greater Manchester, Labour is running on an anti-fracking ticket in May’s local elections.
Times 23rd Feb 2014 read more »