Dounreay bosses stay silent over turmoil claims. Management at Dounreay yesterday refused to comment on claims that the site is in turmoil and that morale among staff is at rock bottom. According to sources inside the plant some long serving employees “can’t remember it being so bad”. The workforce is concerned at the way the plant is being run while trade unions have submittede a letter of little or no confidence in the management and have been involved in talks to resolve the issues. But management and unions are trying to keep things low key because of what happened at Sellafield. URS which was part of the Sellafield consortium which was sacked is also a part of the Cavendish Dounreay Partnership. The insider said the truth is the NDA model is not working. Senior managers commute between Bristol and Wick, which doesn’t help continuity.
John O Groat Journal (not on web) 27th Feb 2015 read more »
“We want to work with you to develop innovative solutions for a range of challenging projects”, companies were told yesterday at Dounreay’s annual supply chain event. They were listening to DSRL Managing Director Mark Rouse outline a number of major projects designed to retrieve, treat and store Dounreay’s historic waste. The supply chain event was held in Thurso, and this year attracted 77 companies interested in working with DSRL to decommissioning the redundant nuclear experiment at Dounreay.
DSRL 27th Feb 2015 read more »
Almost half (1GW out of 2.1 GW) of the capacity of the Government’s auction for renewable energy has been awarded to projects based in Scotland. Lots of schemes were unsuccessful in the ‘contract for difference’ (CfD) auction organised by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) – but at least most of the ones that are successful are projects that have been granted planning permission. Hopefully these will be implemented – the onshore schemes are likely to be deployed, but there are question marks over whether the two offshore schemes given contracts will actually be installed. Solar pv farms were less successful, and some of those given contracts will not be implemented because they bid too low prices. One thing is absolutely certain – the prices awarded to the contracts make even more clearer than it was already that renewable energy is generally a much cheaper option compared to nuclear power. Onshore wind projects of 759 MW capacity and offshore wind projects of a total 1162 MW capacity won contracts. Altogether the capacity of the contracts in this auction will deliver around 1.5 per cent of UK electricity. But all bets are off for the moment about what will happen in the future until we know what the Government will be like after the next General Election. But another auction round will start in October 2015. Onshore wind projects were given contracts for premium prices at around £81 per MWh, whilst offshore wind came in at just under £120 per MWh, prices varying according to the year in which they are set to be deployed (between 2016 and 2019). Immediate comparisons are being made with the Hinkley C contract which was ‘settled’ at £92.50 per MWh in October 2013, although such comparisons grossly flatter the nuclear deal. This is because a) the renewable energy contracts last for a mere 15 years compared to the 35 years awarded to Hinkley C and b) the Hinkley C project has very valuable loan guarantees which the renewable energy projects do not possess c) the Hinkley C deal is valued in 2013 prices which are already out of date. We should also add a d) that faith in EDF in being able to deliver its project even under the current generous terms is on the low side and they are highly likely to receive further ‘underwriting’ commitments and, in the end, further payments for cost-overruns from one or more of the governments involved (French, British, Chinese) if the project is to be built (looking more unlikely, now – see previous blog posts). That’s even before you count the cost of dealing with the waste which is always ‘discounted’ onto future generations.
Dave Toke’s Blog 27th Feb 2015 read more »
A Babcock International-led consortium is set to demand hundreds of millions in extra taxpayer money to decontaminate 12 historic nuclear sites, despite only getting starting on the £4.2bn contract six months ago. Union leaders and senior industry figures claim the taxpayer is going to be “fleeced” and argue the problem is another example that bid processes for major nuclear work are not being run properly. Babcock’s nuclear arm, Cavendish, and Fluor, a Texas-based engineering group, were awarded the hotly contested deal to decommission 12 sites, 10 of which are home to near-obsolete Magnox reactors, last year. Cavendish Fluor Partnership (CFP) been given control of two companies, Magnox Limited and Research Sites Restoration Limited, and were expected to use their private sector acumen to save the UK £1.5bn over 14 years. But, having now assessed most of the sites, which stretch from Hunterson A on the Ayrshire coast down to Dungeness A in Kent, it is thought that around half a dozen were not as advanced in their decommissioning as the consortium had expected. CFP was given a year to redraft its business plan in case of revisions to the scope of its work and will submit these changes to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) this summer.
Independent 28th Feb 2015 read more »
Intermediate nuclear waste from Oldbury nuclear power station in South Gloucestershire will not now be transported to Hinkley Point A in Somerset. The plan by Magnox to ship fuel element debris was opposed by many, including West Somerset Council. Under a new proposal the waste will go to nearby Berkeley nuclear power station where it will be kept in a specially constructed concrete store system, which already exists at the plant. Yesterday Magnox said: “technical challenges” had led to the change of plan.
Western Daily Press 28th Feb 2015 read more »
Controversial plans to transport nuclear waste from Oldbury power station near Bristol to Hinkley A in Somerset have been scrapped. Magnox – which manages the decommissioned site – also withdrew plans to dissolve waste in acid and filter it into the Bristol Channel. Its “revised waste strategy” will involve storing low level spent fuel debris at Hinkley in concrete boxes. The move has been welcomed by campaigners opposed to transport plans. Alan Jeffrey, of pressure group Stop Hinkley, said: “It’s much better to deal with the waste where it’s been produced rather than transporting it around the country where it’s susceptible to accidents or terrorism.” Sedgemoor Councillor Michael Caswell said he had “always been an avid campaigner against the importation of waste to Hinkley”, and he was pleased Magnox had scrapped its plans to move waste to the site from Oldbury.
BBC 27th Feb 2015 read more »
Two peers have hit out at a controversial plan to freeze county councillors out of any decision to build an underground nuclear dump in Cumbria. Cumbria County Council voted in 2013 to halt the process that could ultimately have led to the building of an underground nuclear disposal facility in the county. But the Government has repeatedly said it is committed to pressing ahead with finding a site for the dump to deal with the country’s growing stockpile of high and intermediate level nuclear waste. Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, aims to introduce a legal order classifying the nuclear dump proposal as a “nationally significant infrastructure project.” That would give him the final say on whether such a project ever goes ahead, excluding local authorities. The issue was debated in the House of Lords this week, with Energy Minister, Baroness Verma insisting the Government still favoured a process for finding a site that was based on the local community’s “willingness to participate.” She said: “The final decision will not be taken until, and unless, there is a positive test of public support for hosting a GDF (geological disposal facility) at the site in question.” But the discussion drew forthright criticism from two Cumbrian lords. Lord Roger Liddle, a former special advisor to Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister, is also a Labour county councillor representing Wigton. He began by stating clearly that he is a supporter of nuclear power, and – had he been a county councillor in January 2013 that he would have supported continuing the investigation of west Cumbria as a possible site for the dump.
Cumberland News 27th Feb 2015 read more »
News and Star 27th Feb 2015 read more »
A former Japanese prime minister has visited Anglesey, north Wales, where he met a farmer who is refusing to sell his land to a firm that wants to build a nuclear reactor on the isle. Naoto Kan was in charge of Japan at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, which resulted in large radiation leaks. Japanese firm Hitachi is planning to build a £8bn nuclear plant near the existing Wylfla power station on the island as part of a 20-year UK government infrastructure spending plan.
Farmers Weekly 28th Feb 2015 read more »
Torness Nuclear Power Station near Dunbar has received an award for its nature protection work. The EDF Energy site, situated next to the Barns Ness coast which is of special scientific interest, achieved the Biodiversity Benchmark from The Wildlife Trusts. Birds such as wagtails, peregrine falcons, curlews, redhanks and oystercatchers have made the area their home. Three sparrows have occupied nest boxes which were installed.
East Lothian News 28th Feb 2015 read more »
French nuclear group Areva plans to cut 15 percent of its wage bill to save 300 million euros ($337 million) a year within three years amid worsening sales prospects for its reactors, union sources briefed by the new management team said. However, a complete strategic and financial turnaround plan for the group, which employs some 45,000 people, will not be ready for months, the sources said ahead of Areva’s results and strategy update on March 4.The sources said Chief Executive Philippe Knoche told staff this week the state-controlled company was likely to sell only about a dozen of its EPR reactors in total in the years up to 2030, down from 25 predicted previously.
Reuters 27th Feb 2015 read more »
A project aimed at developing a robotic manipulation systems which will be capable of handling millions of cubic metres of unsorted radioactive waste has been awarded €6.4 million by the European commission. Dubbed the ‘Robotic Manipulation for Nuclear Sort and Segregation (RoMaNs)’, it is a collaborative EU Horizon 2020 project including the University of Birmingham, National Nuclear Laboratories (NNL), French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
Waste Management World 27th Feb 2015 read more »
According to Dr Jonathan Cobb at the World Nuclear Association (WNA), there are 70 nuclear reactors under construction, “the highest number in 25 years”. There are a further 500 proposed plants – far more than are operating in the world today. Of course a good many will never see the light of day, but these figures show clearly that governments across the world are looking to nuclear power to solve some of the most pressing dilemmas they face – namely how to meet growing energy demand and increase energy security while reducing the CO2 emissions linked with global warming. Seen as a proven, low-carbon technology, many view nuclear as a key part of the solution, and none more so than China. The country is building 27 new reactors and has plans for almost 200 more, according to the WNA. The reason is simple – demand for energy is expected to triple by 2050, so China needs all the power it can get. “If the industry could find a final solution [to storing waste], it would increase public acceptance of nuclear power,” But such a solution is unlikely any time soon – sites have been identified in Sweden and Finland, but these should be opened only in “the next decade or two”, says Mr Cobb. Environmentalists argue that given the risks and financial costs involved, investing in renewables is the more sensible option. They may just have a point.
BBC 27th Feb 2015 read more »
PHE has published a new and improved interactive radon map of the UK. It enables viewing of the one kilometre grid squares that are most likely to be affected by high levels of the radioactive gas. PHE has also posted a new video on its YouTube channel explaining what householders can do about radon.
PHE 27th Feb 2015 read more »
Almost three decades ago the biggest nuclear disaster ever took place when one of Chernobyl’s nuclear reactors exploded. During the last few years, Hans Wolkers and Daan Kloeg, photographers, journalists and scientists, documented the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. They visited the area around the exploded reactor multiple times and photographed the lasting impact of the disaster. They also talked to scientists, eye witnesses, and people that still live in their radioactive homes.
Chernobyl Witness (accessed) 27th Feb 2015 read more »
After more than a year of laying the groundwork–well-documented in these pages–Exelon yesterday finally unveiled its plan to force ratepayers to bail out its allegedly uneconomic nuclear reactors at Quad Cities, Clinton and Byron. It’s a legislative proposal that runs about 100 pages, but can be summarized this way: Exelon wants to set up a new “low-carbon” energy standard that would include nuclear power, “clean” coal and renewables. Ratepayers would have to pay a surcharge to accommodate this standard. And Exelon’s proposal would rig the rules so that its aging, expensive reactors would reap most–and probably all–of the benefit. After all, “clean” coal doesn’t exist and Exelon’s approach would actually prevent renewables from receiving much, if any, of the surcharge.
Green World 27th Feb 2015 read more »
Legislation to cut carbon emissions currently before the Illinois general assembly would ensure the continued operation of the state’s nuclear power plants, according to Exelon.
World Nuclear News 27th Feb 2015 read more »
Canada – radwaste
There is in fact a plan for that waste. A federally mandated body, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), wants to bury it in what the nuclear industry calls a Deep Geological Repository, or DGR. First, though, the organization must complete its quest—in effect, a competition, although the NWMO doesn’t see it that way—to find a municipality that will serve as a “willing host” for the repository. Among the contenders for the distinction are the municipalities of Huron-Kinloss, South Bruce and Central Huron, all of them close neighbours
Cumbria Trust 28th Feb 2015 read more »
The South Korean nuclear regulator said Friday it renewed the operating license of the country’s second-oldest nuclear power plant until 2022, overriding the objections of residents and anti-nuclear groups. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said that seven of nine commissioners voted to restart the Wolsong No. 1 reactor located in Gyeongju city, 275 kilometers (170 miles) south of Seoul. It was the first such decision in South Korea since safety concerns about nuclear energy and older plants were raised following the meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactors in 2011. South Korea’s 23 nuclear power plants mostly located in the country’s southeastern coast provide about one-third of its electricity. The nuclear regulator said in a statement that it reviewed the plant’s ability to withstand natural disasters and its compliance with other legal standards. Two commissioners who asked for more time to review the reactor’s safety abstained from the vote at the end of the 14-hour meeting that began Thursday morning and ended past midnight Friday.
Star Tribune 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Energy Business Review 27th Feb 2015 read more »
North Korea could be on track to have an arsenal of 100 nuclear weapons by 2020, according to a new research report. The prediction, from experts on North Korea, goes well beyond past estimates and should force renewed attention on a threat that has been eclipsed by other crises.
New York Times 27th Feb 2015 read more »
The U.S. Air Force is on the cusp of flight testing a new tail-kit assembly that will upend the old way of conducting tactical nuclear combat, should the United States ever enter a shooting match with a nuclear-armed state like Russia or China. We’re talking about an upgrade to the B61 thermonuclear bomb — the oldest nuclear gravity bomb in America’s stockpile. The Boeing-built guidance unit adds range and accuracy, turning it into a “smart” nuke compatible with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and future Long-Range Strike Bomber.
Medium 28th Feb 2015 read more »
It was 75 years ago that two Birmingham-based scientists published a document which set science on the path to the nuclear bomb – a breakthrough which would change the world. This March marks the anniversary of the little known memorandum composed by University of Birmingham physicists Rudolf Peierls and Otto Frisch, who were both refugees from the Nazis.
Birmingham Post 28th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – wave
A £10 MILLION international contest to build Scotland’s first commercial wave or tidal energy system is dead in the water after industry insiders admitted none of the competitors is capable of winning it. The Saltire Prize, which was launched to great fanfare by Alex Salmond in 2008, requires contestants to operate continuously for two years, generating at least 100 gigawatt hours of electricity by June 2017. But with the deadline in sight, industry sources have admitted none of the four competitors is sufficiently advanced to meet the qualifying criteria. The firm seen as the frontrunner, MeyGen Ltd, will spend most of this year building an access road and other onshore works around the village of Mey, Caithness.
Herald 28th Feb 2015 read more »
Herald 28th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
In December 2003, off the coast of Prestatyn, north Wales, the blades of the UK’s first offshore wind turbines started turning. Roughly a decade later, offshore wind generates more than 3 per cent of the country’s electricity, with as much capacity installed off UK coasts than in the rest of the world combined, according to industry body RenewableUK. The latest figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Change show that renewables’ overall share of electricity generation stood at 18.1 per cent in the first nine months of 2014. In 2003, it was barely 3 per cent. This growth reflects the rapid increase in investment in renewable generation. Consultants PwC estimate that £27.7bn was invested in the renewables sector between 2010 and 2013. Of this, offshore wind accounted for £7.7bn, onshore wind £6.9bn, solar £5.5bn and biomass £4.7bn.
FT 27th Feb 2015 read more »
In early 1998, some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world were hatching a plan to hijack the science of human-caused global warming. Representatives from major fossil fuel corporations and industry groups had joined forces with operatives from major conservative think tanks and public relations experts to draft what they called their Global Climate Science Communications (GCSC) plan. In a memo the plan boldly declared its goal would be to convince “a majority of the American public” that “significant uncertainties exist in climate science”. Earlier this week it was revealed that major US coal utility Southern Company had paid scientist Dr Willie Soon, an aerospace engineer based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, more than $400,000 in recent years for science research. Related: Work of prominent climate change denier was funded by energy industry In total, Soon had received more than a million dollars from Southern Company, Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute in the last 14 years. These three key funders of Soon’s work were also involved in formulating the GCSC plan. Soon is a popular and oft-cited scientist within climate science denialist circles and claims the sun is the key driver of climate change with fossil fuels playing a minimal role. But climate scientists have repeatedly dismissed his views, which are at odds with science academies around the world. Soon has previously stated that his fossil fuel funding does not influence his scientific work.
Guardian 27th Feb 2015 read more »