Letter from Prof. Steve Thomas: I am surprised that your editorial “The doubts about the Lib Dems” (April 23) claims that offshore wind is “is roughly three times as expensive as nuclear to build”. A recent survey funded by the European Commission (“Wind Energy – The Facts”) under its Intelligent Europe programme found the average construction cost in 2008 money of the five offshore wind farms completed in the UK from 2003 to 2008 was about 2,200 (about £1,900) per kilowatt of installed capacity. The UK government, in its 2008 white paper on nuclear power, “Meeting the Energy Challenge”, assumed nuclear plants would cost £1,250/kW. [But] nuclear vendors competing in the UK are offering prices of at least £3300/kW. This is in line with forecast costs from US utilities planning to build nuclear plants in the US. If we compare these more soundly based estimates of nuclear with out-turn costs for offshore wind, offshore wind is only two-thirds the cost of nuclear power. Given that it would be a rarity for a nuclear project to come in on cost, the likelihood is that the cost advantage of offshore wind over nuclear would be even larger.
FT 28th Apr 2010 more >>
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych warned on Monday that the Chernobyl nuclear reactor remains a serious threat to Europe, urging donors to stump up funds to secure the facility on the 24th anniversary of the world’s worst atomic accident. The 1986 reactor explosion sent a cloud of radiation over much of Europe and severe health problems persist. The exploded reactor is encased in a deteriorating shell and internationally funded work to replace it is far behind schedule. A statement released by the president’s office said that the plant’s fourth nuclear reactor continued to present an active danger after work to replace a deteriorating concrete shell around the facility was postponed due to a shortage of funds last year.
Morning Star 27th Apr 2010 more >>
The ‘nuclear option’ has moved strongly back into vogue. In their hearts, nobody wants atomic power stations in an ideal world. In reality however the lack of reliable low carbon alternatives is pushing nuclear energy, for a long time the awkward, guilty secret of the power industry, firmly into centre stage. There are two questions – should we build nuclear, and can we do so in time? The answers are linked, and complicated. Nuclear ticks many boxes: it is low carbon, provides reliable baseload power, and boasts stable sources of supply. Carbon targets and energy independence means that a future built mainly around conventional fossil fuels is untenable. In many commentators’ minds, cleaner fossil fuels would provide the ‘sandwich filling’ between worthy but unpredictable renewables, and controversial yet reliable atomic power. Nuclear’s detractors would argue that the emissions and social cost of atomic energy is measured in hundreds of thousands of years, and the lack of a permanent solution for waste storage is undeniably the biggest argument against a new generation of reactors.The other aspect is cost – nuclear has never been built on time, on budget – and never without public subsidy. In this last respect, atomic and renewable energy have more in common than one might expect.
Engineer Live 27th Apr 2010 more >>
Low Level Waste
Letter from George Regan: It is alarming to read that the Sellafield site has incorrectly dumped several bags of radioactive waste at a Cumbrian landfill site that should have gone to the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Repository. In recent years public and private waste producers have been encouraging low-level and very low-level radioactive waste to go to municipal landfill sites. Councillors in Northamptonshire have recently rejected such an application, while Cumbria is considering a similar one. These lapses emphasise what the Chernobyl disaster 24 years ago this week was about. Human error can and does occur, and in the nuclear industry this has huge public health implications. How can we be thinking of building more nuclear power stations and nuclear waste dumps?
Times 27th Apr 2010 more >>
Campaigners have called on the government to scrap plans to allow nuclear waste dumping in landfill sites after five bags of potentially hazardous waste from Sellafield were wrongly dumped at a site in Cumbria.
Morning Star 26th Apr 2010 more >>
Copeland’s Green candidate has submitted an objection to plans to bury low-level nuclear waste between Workington and Whitehaven. Endecom wants to build a low level radioactive waste dump at the former opencast coal site at Pica, Keekle Head. It is expected that the repository, which will be the first of its kind in the country, will help to reduce the volume of low-level waste material that is sent to Drigg repository which is designed to accommodate higher activity waste and is nearly full.
Carlisle News and Star 27th Apr 2010 more >>
FIVE bags of nuclear waste were sent to landfill by mistake after a faulty scanner at Sellafield identified them as safe. The bags are thought to have contained materials just above the rating for ‘free release’ from the plant. Staff discovered the error when a large bag from a restricted area of the site was declared ‘safe’ by the scanner. After examining the machine, they realised five more bags had been declared safe and sent to landfill.
NW Evening Mail 27th Apr 2010 more >>
BBC 27th Apr 2010 more >>
At a time when India and other developing countries are importing growing amounts of scrap metal, partly to help meet rising domestic demand for steel, experts say inadequate monitoring at ports and a lack of international standards make it easier for radioactive materials and other dangerous objects to cross borders. India has proved especially porous. Four years ago, 10 foundry workers in the city of Ghaziabad were killed by exploding military shells, apparently from Iran, hidden in a container of scrap metal. Last year, several containers of Indian steel were stopped at European ports after monitors detected high radiation levels; Indian foundries had fabricated the steel, partly, by melting scrap metal that turned out to be contaminated with Cobalt-60.
New York Times 23rd Apr 2010 more >>
THE United Arab Emirates has selected Braka, a sparsely-populated area near Ruwais and close to the border with Saudi Arabia, as the site for its first-ever nuclear reactor.
Chemical Engineer 27th Apr 2010 more >>
Enel And Inter RAO have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in future nuclear projects and building new technical innovation, energy efficiency, distribution, both in Russia and Eastern Europe. The companies plan to develop a new nuclear plant in Kaliningrad, which is said to be the first public-private partnership in the nuclear sector in Russia.
Energy Business Review 27th Apr 2010 more >>
Britain could be forced to close 14 power stations if a proposed European directive becomes law, a move that would drastically cut power supplies and endanger energy security, the Confederation of British Industry has warned. The draft EU Industrial Emissions Directive, which aims to cut the number of harmful gases emitted by Europe’s power stations, will force power plants to undergo upgrades to comply with air pollution targets, or close, by 2016. Joss Garman, an energy campaigner at Greenpeace, dismissed the warnings from the CBI: “Britain is gearing up for a six-fold increase in the amount of energy we get from clean sources in the next decade, so these CBI scare stories show that the French and German energy monopolies they represent are now seriously worried that the clean tech industry will effectively squeeze out dirty coal power in this country.”
Independent 28th Apr 2010 more >>
Telegraph 28th Apr 2010 more >>
Mr Cameron has also sought to make light of Mr Clegg’s “wait-and-see” approach to Trident, saying you cannot “rustle up” a nuclear deterrent at the last minute. Mr Clegg insists that Labour and the Tories have jumped the gun in agreeing to replace the four submarines already, before the strategic defence review that will follow the election and during global non-proliferation talks. It could wait at least five years, he says, a stance supported by former generals, including Lord Guthrie, former chief of defence staff.
Times 28th Apr 2010 more >>