A LANCASHIRE man who is opposed to Government plans to introduce up to 20 new nuclear reactors across the UK has launched a High Court legal challenge against the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Rory Walker (24), who lives close to Heysham, where one or two new reactors may be built, believes that the Secretary of State has not met his obligations in law and, as a result, is putting the health of local residents at risk.
Irwin Mitchell 25th March 2011 more >>
The UK could be forced to re-do a cost-benefit analysis on new nuclear power plants if a High Court challenge to the government’s “justification” for new reactors is successful. Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, working on behalf of a Lancashire man living near the Heysham nuclear power plant, asked the High Court to declare the government’s justification for new reactors unlawful. The law firm claims that the government’s justification failed to make proper estimates of health detriment and failed fully to take into account scientific research findings showing increased leukemia risks near nuclear facilities, according to a statement Friday from Irwin Mitchell. The lawsuit could force the government to re-do the justification process, which took several years to complete, and could even lead to the conclusion that new reactors are not justified, according to a spokesman at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors.
Platts 25th March 2011 more >>
BBC 25th March 2011 more >>
Letter from Peter Rowberry: Although we are still in the middle of a nuclear catastrophe in Japan, the government sees fit to hand out a major subsidy to the nuclear industry, in the form of carbon-floor pricing. It is estimated that this will benefit them by around £3bn between now and 2050 for doing absolutely nothing. Couldn’t the government think of a way to only give the benefit of carbon-floor pricing in proportion to the carbon saved and not to existing, unsustainable and non-renewable sources such as nuclear power. The “no subsidy for nuclear” promise is another coalition joke.
Guardian 25th March 2011 more >>
Kansai Electric Power Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co. will postpone sea transportation of uranium-plutonium mixed-oxide fuel, known as MOX fuel, slated for this spring in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, company officials said Friday. Kansai Electric officials said the firms decided on the postponement after the government told them that it could not ensure tight security for transportation as it is concentrating on reconstruction following the March 11 mega earthquake and the current nuclear crisis.
Kyodo News 25th March 2011 more >>
Edwin Lyman, senior scientist for global security at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C., argues that MOX is more likely to cause nuclear accidents than ordinary uranium fuel and is liable to release more harmful material in the event of an accident. “Plutonium has different properties than uranium 235 that generally tend to degrade some of the safety systems in nuclear plants,” Lyman says. For instance, because weapons-grade plutonium fissions more readily than uranium 235, reactors may need more robust control rods neutron absorbers that shut down the nuclear chain reaction when inserted into a reactor’s core. “You never get quite as much margin even after doing all that as you do with uranium,” Lyman says.
Scientific American 25th March 2011 more >>
SELLAFIELD bosses and workers are keeping fingers crossed that lucrative Mox fuel orders from Japan will not be at risk. The site has secured long-term contracts with 10 Japanese power utility companies for Mox fuel fabrication and transport services. Japan is one of Sellafield’s biggest and most valuable customers. Confidence was steadily restored after the so-called Mox scandal which saw rogue pellets being sent to Japan for use in reactors. And only a few months ago some of the utilities threw what was regarded as a lifeline for the existing Sellafield Mox plant (SMP) by placing contracts to make new plutonium/uranium fuel for use in Japan.
Whitehaven News 24th March 2011 more >>
Two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeast Japan, there is mounting evidence that the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is emitting radioactivity more widely and at more toxic levels than acknowledged by the Japanese government.
World Socialist Web 26th March 2011 more >>
Two weeks on and the spectre of contamination from Japan’s disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear plant looms larger than ever. After three workers there were exposed to radiation levels 10,000 times higher than normal, it is feared Reactor No. 3’s core may have been damaged.
Euro News 25th March 2011 more >>
Telegraph 25th March 2011 more >>
THE situation at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is still “grave and serious”, Prime Minister Naoto Kan warned yesterday in a sombre televised address. Fears grew about the scale of the problem after it emerged that three engineers had waded into water with 10,000 times more radiation levels than normal. Two were hospitalised with skin burns.
Express 26th March 2011 more >>
The Japan nuclear and industrial safety agency official, Hidehiko Nishiyama, said there is a possibility of ‘some sort of leakage’ from the reactor, and he speculated that the unit’s containment vessel could have been cracked.
Daily Mail 26th March 2011 more >>
Guardian 26th March 2011 more >>
Times 26th March 2011 more >>
Liverpool Echo 25th March 2011 more >>
The reactor, No 3 of six, is the only one to use plutonium in its fuel mix which is more toxic than the uranium used in the other reactors. The government called for an investigation into why such high levels of radiation had suddenly appeared.
Scotsman 26th March 2011 more >>
A suspected breach in the reactor at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant could mean more serious radioactive contamination, Japanese officials have said.
Independent 25th March 2011 more >>
An investigation is under way in Japan to establish the source of a radiation leak at the quake-hit nuclear plant, which left two workers in hospital.
BBC 25th March 2011 more >>
Rising temperatures around the core of one of the reactors at Japans quake-crippled nuclear plant sparked new concern yesterday with more water needed to cool it down.
Herald 26th March 2011 more >>
Japan’s taxpayer, not the nuclear industry or insurers, will cover most of the cleanup cost from the worst accident since Chernobyl, a financial rescue that may spur moves by nations to make companies assume more liability. Some governments may seek to transfer more financial responsibility to plant operators, which worldwide plan to build or relicense more than 100 reactors, according to researchers who follow the nuclear industry. “Governments now will review burden-sharing in insurance coverage, just like after an oil spill or bank crisis,” David Robinson, senior research fellow at Oxford Institute for Energy Studies in Oxford, England, said in an interview.
Bloomberg 23rd March 2011 more >>
Nuclear safety officials in Japan fear the core of a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have cracked, causing a leak of high levels of radiation. Growing uncertainty over the state of the stricken reactor prompted the government to tell people living within a 12-19 mile (20-30km) radius of the plant to consider leaving their homes temporarily.
Business Green 25th March 2011 more >>
Amory Lovins: Nuclear-promoting regulators inspire even less confidence. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 2005 estimate of about 4,000 Chernobyl deaths contrasts with a rigorous 2009 review of 5,000 mainly Slavic-language scientific papers the IAEA overlooked. It found deaths approaching a million through 2004, nearly 170,000 of them in North America. The total toll now exceeds a million, plus a half-trillion dollars’ economic damage. The fallout reached four continents, just as the jet stream could swiftly carry Fukushima fallout. Fukushima I-4’s spent fuel alone, while in the reactor, had produced (over years, not in an instant) more than a hundred times more fission energy and hence radioactivity than both 1945 atomic bombs. If that already-damaged fuel keeps overheating, it may melt or burn, releasing into the air things like cesium-137 and strontium-90, which take several centuries to decay a millionfold. Unit 3’s fuel is spiked with plutonium, which takes 482,000 years. nuclear plants are so slow and costly to build that they reduce and retard climate protection. Here’s how. Each dollar spent on a new reactor buys about two to ten times less carbon savings and is 20 to 40 times slower, than spending that dollar on the cheaper, faster, safer solutions that make nuclear power unnecessary and uneconomic: efficient use of electricity, making heat and power together in factories or buildings (“cogeneration”), and renewable energy. The last two made 18 percent of the world’s 2009 electricity (while nuclear made 13 percent, reversing their 2000 shares) and made over 90 percent of the 2007 to 2008 increase in global electricity production. A durable myth claims Three Mile Island halted U.S. nuclear orders. Actually they stopped over a year before dead of an incurable attack of market forces. No doubt when nuclear power’s collapse in the global marketplace, already years old, is finally acknowledged, it will be blamed on Fukushima. While we pray for the best in Japan today, let us hope its people’s sacrifice will help speed the world to a safer, more competitive energy future.
Rocky Mountain Institute 18th March 2011 more >>
The damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan continue to release radioactivity into the atmosphere. So far, the accident has released far more radioactivity than the 1979 Three Mile Island (TMI) accident. While Chernobyl had one source of radioactivity, its reactor, there are seven leaking radiation sources at the Japanese site. Together, the three damaged reactors and four spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi contain far more long-lived radioactivity, notably cesium-137, than the Chernobyl reactor. Radiloactive iodine releases mat exceed those of TMI by 100,000 times.
IEER Press Release 25th March 2011 more >>
Levels of radioactive iodine in the sea near the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant are 1,250 times higher than the safety limit, officials say. The readings were taken about 300m (984ft) offshore. It is feared the radiation could be seeping into groundwater from one of the reactors. But the radiation will no longer be a risk after eight days, officials say.
BBC 26th March 2011 more >>
As we move to reduce our reliance on high-carbon energy, George Monbiot believes nuclear is the best option. No, says Caroline Lucas, renewables should be the priority. Susanna Rustin chairs the debate.
Guardian 26th March 2011 more >>
The Government’s determination to build a new generation of nuclear power plants is unsellable after the Fukushima crisis, according to Lord Ashdown. In an interview with The Times, the former Liberal Democrat leader said that he had recently been persuaded of the need to build more nuclear power stations to solve Britains looming energy crisis. But in an intervention that exposes growing unease among Lib Dems over the Governments nuclear policy, he said the crisis that unfolded in Japan after the tsunami had critically undermined public confidence in the technology. I think that as a politicia n, like as a soldier, you have to be prepared to take risks from time to time, and I was wondering whether [nuclear energy] was a risk we would have to consider in order to stop the world frying, he said. I have concluded that what has happened in Japan makes this proposition unsellable. I think Japan has changed the public’s mind. Simon Hughes, the party’s deputy leader, said that the pursuit of new reactors in Britain should be abandoned. Some of us have taken a consistent position that for practical reasons, rather than theological ones, we should not go down the nuclear road, he said. Jo Swinson, a Lib Dem MP who raised concerns about the safety of nuclear energy during Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday, said that the plants were also expensive and crowded out investment in greener forms of energy. The costs of decommissioning these plants and the underwriting costs mean it is difficult to build them without any public subsidy, she said.
Times 26th March 2011 more >>
Victor Gilinsky: Of the 13 nuclear reactors along Japan’s coast that were directly impacted by the earthquake and tsunami, it was the four oldest ones that failed completely. The more modern units sustained damage but rode out nature’s onslaught, even if just barely, despite facing forces far greater than what they were designed to withstand. Postmortems will likely disclose that the older plants were designed to lower standards than more recent ones and were not adequately upgraded. Such findings will raise questions about older reactors elsewhere, including in the United States. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been handing out 20-year extensions to plants, whose original licenses were for 40 years. This includes the country’s oldest operating plant, New Jersey’s Oyster Creek, which went into operation in 1969 and now holds a license to operate until 2029. These extensions tend to be granted after NRC reviews that are heavily weighted toward accepting the validity of past technical conclusions. Rather than simply green-lighting old nuclear plants, officials need to reverse the burden of proof and examine more carefully whether past acceptances of old safety systems remain valid today.
Foreign Affairs 21st March 2011 more >>
NUCLEAR should be part of the future UK energy mix, despite the disaster in Japan. That was the view of former Foreign Secretary David Miliband last night (Thursday, March 24) at a Bangor University question and answer session. “I don’t see the Japanese example as a case for abandoning nuclear,” he said. “If I understand it right, these were 1960s and 70s reactors and it’s not clear that some or all of the all of the safety protocols were done in exactly the right way.”
North Wales Chronicle 25th March 2011 more >>
The truth is that many of the “reports” you read this month, even in normally reputable publications, have been utter tosh. Sensationalism, wild inaccuracies and scaremongering have been the norm. So let’s put this into perspective; no one has died of radiation as a result of Japan’s nuclear crisis, and it’s highly unlikely anyone ever will. Put that against the 9,523 killed and further 16,094 missing as a result of the earthquake and tsunami and it’s clear we have got our priorities here wrong. You would have to eat the “poisoned” spinach for five years, and drink the milk for 12 months, to receive a dose of radiation equivalent to a single CT scan. But that won’t happen because radioactive iodine has a half life of about eight days.
You’d have to drink 52 gallons of “contaminated” water to reach the maximum annual radiation dose, which is itself a fraction any level proven to be harmful.
Yorkshire Post 26th March 2011 more >>
Letter: Even the release of radioactivity at Three Mile Island, very similar to that in Japan, has recently been acknowledged by no less than George Monbiot, the high priest of eco-scaremongering, as insufficient to harm an asthmatic ant with some heavy shopping, albeit it took him 32 years to say it.
Scotsman 26th March 2011 more >>
A Birmingham businessman who experienced the Japanese earthquake first-hand believes Britain’s plans to develop new nuclear power stations should not be derailed. John Taylor, business manager for nuclear at property and construction consultants Rider Levett Bucknall at Millennium Point, says the nuclear option should remain central to Government energy plans over the decades ahead, despite concerns raised over the safety of nuclear power after a tsunami sparked a serious safety alert at Japan’s Fukushima plant.
Birmingham Post 26th March 2011 more >>
It is time to reassess the international nuclear safety regime in the wake of the crisis in Japan where an earthquake and tsunami crippled an aging atomic power station, the U.N. chief said on Friday. “The situation in Japan has … given rise to calls to reassess the international emergency response framework and the nuclear safety regime,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. “I support these calls.”
Reuters 25th March 2011 more >>
Reverberations from the Fukushima crisis are being felt around the world, as plans to build new nuclear power plants are being challenged. The safety of existing plants is being questioned. The cost of nuclear power is projected to rise, and the bottom has fallen out of the uranium market. Here’s a quick glimpse of what’s happening as the continuing uncertainty over the fate of the Fukushima reactors clouds the future of nuclear power. Rory Walker, a 24-year-old community worker from Lancaster and member of the Heysham Anti-Nuclear Alliance, has won legal aid to launch an unprecedented case against the energy and climate secretary, Chris Hulne, alleging that the government’s expansion of its nuclear programme was undertaken without properly factoring in evidence that nuclear power stations cause an increase in cancer cases among children living nearby.
Greenpeace International 25th March 2011 more >>
The government’s plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations will go ahead, energy secretary Chris Huhne revealed yesterday, adding that those plans would come “on stream” in 2018.
FM World 25th March 2011 more >>
The crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, has brought the past tragedies at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island into the spotlight again. To offer a more thorough understanding of Chernobyl, the Bulletin has compiled this reading list from its archives.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 25th March 2011 more >>
Electricity Market Reforms
Consumer groups fear that the energy companies will pass the costs of the carbon floor price tax on to households. The boost for green power announced in the Budget will act as a stealth tax on those in fuel poverty, causing household bills to rise by £80 a year, experts say. The Treasury admits, in the Budget small print, that this move could add £6 a year to the average household electricity bill in 2013 and £17 by 2016. But consumer groups say in reality rises will be considerably steeper. Consumer Focus, which campaigns for better recognition for those in fuel poverty, opposes the introduction of a carbon floor price, believing that the Goverment should consider green options that do not affect the pockets of struggling households. A spokesman says: We think there are cheaper ways to decarbonise the economy. If the Government goes ahead, we think the money should be returned to consumers who will be hardest hit by increas es to bills to pay for carbon-cutting measures. For example, additional funds could be made available for energy efficiency measures to reduce customer bills or to increase social price-support funding. There is speculation that the Governments Green Deal, to be announced next year, could make matters even worse for cash-strapped households, because it includes proposals for penalties on poorly insulated homes with the aim of incentivising consumers to take up green deal loans for energy- efficiency improvements. This could hit those living in draughty Victorian houses particularly hard.
Times 26th March 2011 more >>
ALEX Salmond has unexpectedly waded into the row over the future of nuclear power following the crisis in earthquake-hit Japan, accusing Labour of being obsessed with the energy source. The First Minister predicted yesterday that, following the efforts to prevent a major catastrophe at the Fukushima plant that was hit by the disaster, the issue would become a defining one in the run up to the Holyrood election on May 5. Scottish Labours business manifesto, launched this week, re-opens the door to a new generation of nuclear power stations in Scotland. If elected, the party says it would overturn a ban on new power stations, to which the SNP is committed. Labour rejected the suggestion they were obsessed with nuclear power. A spokesman for Labour said: We will remove the presumption against new nuclear for the future. Any application will be considered on its merits in terms of safety, environmental impact and the local community.
Herald 26th March 2011 more >>
THE nuclear power company behind the proposed development of a new power station in Anglesey has promised to prioritise the safety of local residents as it continues to push ahead with plans for the plant’s development.
North Wales Chronicle 24th March 2011 more >>
Two local authorities have outlined a number of concerns over EDF Energy’s proposals for a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point. West Somerset District and Sedgemoor district councils have both lodged concerns including objections to work being carried out on-site around the clock and the “inadequate nature” of EDF’s community fund offer. Sedgemoor chief executive Kerry Rickards stressed that both councils remained committed to working with the energy firm to achieve positive outcomes for the region if it receives planning permission to develop the Hinkley Point C plant. However he expressed frustration at the lack of evidence from the company relating to significant elements of its plans for the main site and associated developments.
Construction News 25th March 2011 more >>
Burnham-on-sea.com 24th March 2011 more >>
Energy giant EDF is still not doing enough to compensate local communities for the potential impact of a new power station at Hinkley Point, local councils say. Politicians from two West councils have this week voiced serious concerns over the company’s latest plans, despite promises of millions of pounds to benefit the local area. Last month, the Daily Press reported EDF had massively upped its offer of compensation to local communities by promising £100 million of community investment, including a £20 million community fund.
This is Somerset 25th March 2011 more >>
The Sellafield plant will be part of a Europe-wide nuclear safety review following the crisis in Japan. EU leaders decided to stress test all nuclear power plants and appoint an independent panel for the job. The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he asked that the review include processing plants (such as Sellafield, which is in Cumbria, North West England), as well as generation plants
Breaking News.ie 25th March 2011 more >>
Whitehaven News 24th March 2011 more >>
A £20 million nuclear research centre in west Cumbria – the first of its kind in Europe – will open in September. Construction work at Dalton Cumbrian Facility, (DCF) at the Westlakes Science & Technology Park in Moor Row, was yesterday reported to be on schedule. It will house about 40 post-doctoral and PhD researchers, lecturers and operating personnel.
Cumberland News 25th March 2011 more >>
European leaders resolved Friday to revisit safety at nuclear reactors as emergency workers in Japan suffered radiation burns and rising global fears of food contamination hit home.
New checks are to be delegated to an inter-governmental European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Group (ENSRG), which will meet on Monday. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country has the lion’s share of the industry in Europe with 58 reactors (34 of which are more than 30 years old), said if a plant fails so-called ‘stress tests,’ it will shut forever.
EU Business 25th March 2011 more >>
STV 25th March 2011 more >>
European leaders agreed to publish the results of stress tests to be performed on their nuclear facilities but fought to retain a strong hand in how those tests are designed and carried out.
The bigger the role for member states, the lesser the chance that plants will be sanctioned or closed, according to critics, who have dismissed the tests as an empty gesture designed to ease public concerns.
FT 26th March 2011 more >>
The European Union is to step up controls on food imports from Japan in the wake of the nuclear accident at Fukushima – but stressed there was no evidence that consumers in the region were at risk from radiation-contaminated food.
Food Production Daily 25th March 2011 more >>
Research on the reprocessing of spent nuclear waste should be revisited in the U.S. as Japan battles to avoid a meltdown at its earthquake-damaged Fukushima power plant, Illinois’s Senate delegation said today. The country needs a plan for storing or recycling radioactive waste from fission used to generate electricity, Senators Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and Mark Kirk, a Republican, said at a forum in Chicago to address nuclear-plant safety in the state most reliant on atomic power.
Bloomberg 25th March 2011 more >>
China said it has faith in the safety of its nuclear power technology and will not scrap plans to expand its domestic industry because of Japan’s crisis.
Express 26th March 2011 more >>