There are many uncertainties about the renaissance of nuclear power in the UK, particularly surrounding the level of public subsidy, but one thing remains constant: the industry’s waste problem hasn’t gone away. The clean-up of nuclear legacy waste at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant – a site historically plagued with mismanagement and technical difficulties – is running behind schedule, according to the 2009-10 annual report from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which was quietly released in December. The eight new nuclear power stations being proposed have no place in the UK, in Prof Andy Blowers’s view, unless the real scale and impact of the waste and how it is to be dealt with is made clear to the public, and progress is made on dealing with legacy waste. The approaches being considered by the government to manage new waste include geological disposal, which involves burying waste in underground rock formations, and longer term storage on nuclear sites themselves. He said proposals for storing waste longer term on site should be more explicitly discussed before new reactors are developed on sites. Prof Gordon Mackerron, the director of the science and technology policy research unit at the University of Sussex and who chaired the original Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, agrees that the consequences of creating more nuclear waste have not been properly addressed and debated.
Guardian Blog 27th Jan 2011 more >>
A new “dash for gas” could be created by the UK’s energy policy, delaying investment in renewable technology, a government committee has warned. Some £200 billion will be needed to upgrade the country’s energy infrastructure in the next decade to meet renewable energy and carbon reduction targets, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This investment will be accompanied by six draft National Policy Statements (NSPs) intended to improve planning for energy projects, however it has been argued these do not place enough emphasis on low-carbon developments. The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee warn in a new report if too large capacity for gas generation is allowed to develop this could “crowd out opportunities for renewables to form a substantial component of the UK’s energy mix”.
Low Carbon Economy 27th Jan 2011 more >>
THE Government’s decision to hugely increase the liability of firms running Britain’s nuclear sites has led to a swift response from one of the main players in the industry. EDF Energy, which runs the Hartlepool nuclear power station, says it will be reviewing the Government consultation launched yesterday on third party liability. A spokesman said the issue was wider than just insurance cover. “Liability in the event of an incident is only part of the answer,” he said. “We believe it is far more important to engineer out the risk of an incident than to simply insure against it. “The Government protects the taxpayer best by ensuring through regulation that the highest possible standards of construction and operation are maintained with a view to safety, which is the number one priority for EDF Energy and the nuclear industry.” EDF Energy have never made any claims on their insurance for a nuclear incident.
Newcastle Evening Gazette 26th Jan 2011 more >>
New proposals have been announced by the Government which would see operators at nuclear power plants liable to pay more for incidents at their sites. Under the proposals, which will undergo a three-month consultation, firms would see their liability, in case of an accident, increase from £140 million to £1 billion (1.2 billion euro) – a seven-fold rise.
Claims Management 27th Jan 2011 more >>
Nuclear Engineering International 27th Jan 2011 more >>
The coalition must make 2011 the year of delivery for its electricity market reforms if new nuclear power stations are to go ahead, according to the leader of a joint venture aiming to complete the first reactor. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, plans to build a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, with the first of two reactors scheduled to begin operating in 2018. Yet he is running a project with no global precedent. Governments elsewhere have underwritten the mammoth costs and commercial risks associated with new nuclear power stations. In the UK the coalition wants energy companies to spend some 40bn on constructing nuclear generators at eight sites in England and to do so without any direct public subsidy. Moreover, no nuclear power plant in Britain has been completed on time and on budget. Last month the government proposed reforming the electricity market to make low-carbon generation, including nuclear power, commercially viable. The main ideas were to impose a price on carbon dioxide emissions and introduce a tariff system to allow consistent revenue streams for low-carbon generators. Mr De Rivaz said the plan would make it feasible to build nuclear power stations. Altogether, it addresses what we have been asking for…and that package, if and when translated into legislation, will give us this framework within which we can make a decision. The government must now turn its ideas into a formal white paper and pass the necessary legislation, said Mr De Rivaz.
FT 27th Jan 2011 more >>
In the UK the coalition wants energy companies to spend some £40bn on constructing nuclear generators at eight sites in England – and to do so without any direct public subsidy. Moreover, no nuclear power plant in Britain has been completed on time and on budget.
Nuclear News 27th Jan 2011 more >>
CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for a new nuclear power station in Bradwell have got 10,000 people to sign a petition against the plans. The petition, led by West Mersea pressure group Banng (Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group), will be passed to MP Charles Hendry, minister for energy at the department of energy and climate change in London on Tuesday.
Essex Gazette 27th Jan 2011 more >>
Green Investment Bank
Caroline Lucas: Well, politics is a funny world. Even when you think they’ve listened, and the words they use are just the ones you’d have chosen yourself, it’s always best to check the small print. And with the coalition’s version of a green investment bank, testing each word is an education in sophistry. Let’s start with the word “bank”. We all know what a bank is: it borrows and lends money (and may or may not also pay its senior executives millions in bonuses for being clever enough to manage this complex transaction). Except that it’s not at all clear that this bank can borrow or lend. There are signs the coalition is considering allowing its green investment bank to fund nuclear power. Even if you think nuclear could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it’s still a bit rich to call it “green”, given the huge question of waste.
Guardian 27th Jan 2011 more >>
The Scottish Government has announced its policy on how higher activity radioactive wastes will be managed in future. Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said the Scottish Government position remained that it does not support deep geological disposal of radioactive waste.
DSRL 24th Jan 2011 more >>
On Saturday morning I spoke at the public meeting in New Romney concerning our campaign for a new nuclear power station at Dungeness. The meeting in the Assembly Rooms was attended by over 200 people and with the overwhelming majority of the support in the room being in favour of the power station. Those who spoke out in favour of the new power station cited not only the benefits to the local economy, but also how nuclear power has supported nature conservation in the area and also vital coastal flood defence work. I was grateful not only for the strong show of support from the people who attended the meeting, but also that we had the chance to question senior officials from the Office of Nuclear Development who will be advising the Energy Minister
Damian Collins MP 27th Jan 2011 more >>
OPERATORS of the Wylfa nuclear power plant on Anglesey will face a seven-fold increase in potential payouts for incidents at their sites under new proposals by the Government. Under the plans put out for consultation, companies will take on liability of 1.2 billion euro (£1 billion) for each nuclear plant site, up from the current level of £140m, in case of an accident.
Daily Post 25th Jan 2011 more >>
If proposed nuclear developments go ahead – the population of Cumbria will increase in a relatively short space of time by the tens of thousands. There have been lots of studies looking into why there are substantially more childhood cancers and blood disorders in the vicinity (up to 50Km+) around nuclear plants. Successive governments have dismissed those studies which point to radioactive emissions as the cause and have endorsed those which point to “population mixing.”
Indymedia 27th Jan 2011 more >>
Building nuclear power stations underwater could help protect them from terrorist attacks, according to a French company hoping to do just that. DCNS, the state-owned submarine-building and nuclear engineering firm, plans to conduct a validation study on its designs for a small subsea power plant for supplying coastal regions with electricity.
The Engineer 27th Jan 2011 more >>
Fissile Cut Off
Pakistan’s refusal to allow international talks to proceed on a treaty to stop production of plutonium and uranium for nuclear bombs prompted the U.S. to say today that it’s losing patience and looking for “options.”
Bloomberg 27th Jan 2011 more >>
Pakistan is desperate to increase the size of its nuclear arsenal as it eyes India’s rapidly growing economy and population.
Telegraph 28th Jan 2011 more >>
Pakistan’s military leadership is determined to maintain the current ratio of Indian to Pakistani nuclear warheads and is already concerned India is pulling ahead following the 2009 launch of a domestically-produced nuclear submarine. Islamabad believes Washington’s decision to support Indian membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group following its agreement to help India develop its civil nuclear power industry will help New Delhi to further increase its nuclear weapon arsenal. Neither India nor Pakistan are signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Telegraph 28th Jan 2011 more >>
Canadian researchers are racing to perfect a safe, clean, inexpensive and reliable method for making isotopes used in medical-imaging and diagnostic procedures. The new method does not require a nuclear reactor and could therefore eliminate future shortages of technetium-99m the most widely used medical isotope today. Until recently, the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, produced almost 50 per cent of the world’s supply of medical isotopes. Then in May 2009, the NRU was shut down for repairs Backed by NRC and other collaborators, the Canadian Light Source submitted one of four successful proposals under this research programme to explore the technical and economic feasibility of using an electron linear accelerator to produce molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) – the ‘parent isotope’ of technetium-99m (Tc-99m). Its proposal builds on research by the Idaho National Laboratory and a suggestion made by Ottawa-based Mevex.
The Engineer 28th Jan 2011 more >>
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Poland’s shipyard operator Stocznia Gdansk and boiler maker Rafako to pursue opportunities for constructing nuclear components for GEH. The agreement comes as the state-owned Polish utility PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna eyes to construct the nation’s first two nuclear generating stations.
Energy Business Review 27th Jan 2011 more >>
President Obama’s decision – despite 45 groups, including Beyond Nuclear, urging him not to – to declare nuclear power “clean energy” in his State of the Union address to Congress last night, and his call for its expansion at taxpayer risk and expense despite 2007-2008 presidential campaign pledges against such subsidies.
Beyond Nuclear 26th Jan 2011 more >>
Kuwait’s investment in Areva is a strategic decision and points the way towards future expansion of the sector in the region.
Gulf News 27th Jan 2011 more >>
South Korea has relaxed a demand for the resumption of aid-for-disarmament talks with the rival North, saying on Friday that an apology for last year’s deadly attacks is not essential to restart the process.
Yahoo 28th Jan 2011 more >>
The safety of Britain’s nuclear weapons and submarines is being jeopardised by staff shortages and spending cuts, according to secret Ministry of Defence reports. The MoD’s nuclear safety watchdog has warned it can no longer ensure Trident warheads and nuclear submarines “remain safe”. There was a “lack of adequate resource to deliver (and regulate) the defence nuclear programmes safely”.
Guardian 28th Jan 2011 more >>
The START nuclear arms treaty has cleared one of its final hurdles after it was approved by the Russian parliament. The decision will spark a series of steps that both the U.S. and Russia must undertake before the first on-site inspections of each other’s nuclear arsenals will take place in April.
Daily Mail 28th Jan 2011 more >>
Georgina Smith was sentenced yesterday (Wednesday 26 January 2011) to 45 days’ imprisonment by Fort William Sheriff Court to for refusing to comply with a compensation order for damage for painting the sandstone wall of the Edinburgh High Court in Scotland in 2006, during the year-long Faslane 365 campaign. Georgina and Helen John had already served sentences in Cornton Vale prison in relation to this action, but had refused to pay the compensation order.
Indymedia 27th Jan 2011 more >>
SCOTTISH scientists have made a breakthrough which could which could pave the way for the use of hydrogen-based fuels to power aeroplanes and cars. Researchers from Glasgow University, working with the commercial firm EADS Innovation Works, are developing technology which could allow the highly explosive gas to be used safely as a form of green fuel. The group is working on using nanotechnology to improve the efficiency of the Hydrisafe tank developed by Hydrogen Horizons, a small Scottish company, to store hydrogen in a solid state.
Scotsman 28th Jan 2011 more >>