The revelation that Olkiluoto nuclear power station in Finland is facing new delays has raised concerns this week that the same problems could disrupt the timetable for delivering the new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The Olkiluoto delays centre on nuclear reactor vendor Arevas European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), which is being used on both. The lack of progress on the reactors installation and plant automation controls, which are vital for safety, forced client Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) to state that electricity generation will now not begin before 2015 – a delay of at least a year. Nuclear experts told NCE that Arevas EPR faces similar approval problems in the UK, as the reactor progresses through the generic design assessment (GDA) – a four step licensing process covering all areas of non-site specific design from civil engineering to reactor chemistry. Independent nuclear expert John Large, who previously worked for the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and is also an expert witness on nuclear, said the Finnish delay could have serious implications for Hinkley. University of Cambridge researcher in nuclear energy and former UKAEA employee Tony Roulstone said the timetable for delivery had been made even more challenging following the Olkiluoto delay. Theres a lot of work to do, he said. From the 40,000ft level everything looks okay [with the approval process], added Roulstone. But there are still a lot of outstanding issues and the ONR is being very tough with its approval.
New Civil Engineer 26th July 2012 more >>
ENERGY giant EDF has won permission to build and operate a temporary sea jetty at its proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. Last week, the Marine Management Organisation and the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change approved EDFs application for a 500m jetty which will be used during the construction of Hinkley Point C should consent be granted.
This is the West Country 26th July 2012 more >>
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has submitted today its views to the UK Government on the proposed justification process around the possible reuse of the national stockpile of weapons usable plutonium.
NFLA 27th July 2012 more >>
NFLA model response to the Governments consultation on the proposed
justification process for the reuse of plutonium.
NFLA 27th July 2012 more >>
Nuclear engineering was on the curriculum for a group of 50 teenagers taking part in a four-day residential course at the University of Manchester. The course was organised by The Smallpeice Trust, in collaboration with the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and URENCO. The teenagers were given a chance to get a hands-on experience, looking at the work being done in the field of nuclear engineering and the career opportunities available.
Process Engineering 27th July 2012 more >>
Dash for Gas
Amidst the reaction to the government’s announcement of renewables subsidies yesterday, there was some confusion about the accompanying statement of support for gas power – both over what DECC is proposing, and what it means for greenhouse gas emissions. Energy secretary Ed Davey argued modelling from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows we can burn significant amounts of gas and still hit our climate targets. But when we asked, it emerged that DECC has not published the relevant scenarios, and isn’t going to. DECC’s press release, in which it announced new levels of renewable subsidy and made a statement of support for gas power, said: “The Government is today confirming that it sees gas continuing to play an important part in the energy mix well into and beyond 2030, while meeting our carbon budgets.” The phrase “well into and beyond 2030” is vague, but suggests to us that DECC believes gas can have a significant role well into the 2030s without exceeding the UK’s carbon budgets. DECC itself states: “From 2030 onwards, a major role for gas as a baseload source of electricity is only realistic with large numbers of gas CCS plants.” MPs are due to debate the Energy Bill – which does not have a 2030 target in it, but may have one inserted – later this year. The government is also due to produce a Gas Generation Strategy in the Autumn. Perhaps by then more detail will be available about what the future for gas actually is.
Carbon Brief 26th July 2012 more >>
Members of Kilkenny County Council have expressed concerns about the proposed expansion of nuclear power on the UKs west coast and the implications it could have for Ireland and the Irish Sea, writes Tess Felder. Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Greens) raised the issue at this months meeting of Kilkenny County Council, including plans for several new reactors. Cllr Noonan asked his fellow members to support the work of the group Nuclear-Free Local Authorities, and he said the issue had implications for the security and health of Ireland.
Kilkenny People 27th July 2012 more >>
Two events Sunday will test the political influence of Japan’s growing movement against nuclear power: a regional election featuring one of the country’s most prominent industry critics, and a 1960s-style surround-the-parliament protest aimed at evoking memories of past mass demonstrations. The organization of regular demonstrations over the past few weeks with crowds in the tens of thousands has been unusual for Japan in recent times, and suggests a new level of activism among the general public. But that hasn’t translated into policy or political power.
Wall Street Journal 27th July 2012 more >>
The Fukushima nuclear disaster released massive amounts of radioactive materials which were transported across the island-nation and around the world. More than 15 months after the onset of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, radioactive materials are continuing to pile up in Japan with nowhere to go and no end in sight. Far from a stable situation, a closer look at the continuing track record shows erratic knee-jerk decision making, callous and out of touch leadership, and many haphazard assumptions which have had significant impact upon the already affected evacuees and stressed out and tiring municipal officials. Decontamination efforts around the nation are constantly undergoing drastic changes, and details change every time the government experts release instructions on decontamination.
Enformable 27th July 2012 more >>
A series of startling investigative reports into the Fukushima disaster have made it clear the crisis was both human-made and could have been avoided. The question is, will the Japanese government and the wider world take heed? A report released earlier this week from Japan’s Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations was especially scathing in its findings. It said the operator of the Fukushima reactors, TEPCO, and Japan’s nuclear watchdogs were fatally complacent. The company “mishandled its response to the crisis and nuclear regulators failed to prepare sufficient disaster-mitigation measures as they were ‘overly confident’ about the safety of nuclear power”. The committee also found that safety measures which could have prevented the Fukushima disaster were never implemented because TEPCO and government agencies did not believe such a disaster could happen.
Greenpeace International 27th July 2012 more >>
Fukushima update 24th to 26th July 2012.
Greenpeace International 27th July 2012 more >>
A SENIOR official says Iran is willing to continue talks with world powers over its nuclear program until they reach a conclusion. Ali Akbar Velayati, adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted by the semi-official news agency ISNA. He said Iran will pursue nuclear talks until a positive and constructive conclusion.
Scotsman 28th July 2012 more >>
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Friday alerted nuclear power plant operators to a potential design vulnerability that could affect key safety equipment and requested additional information about power system designs. The regulator’s notice comes after Exelon Corp’s 1,136-megawatt unit 2 at Byron nuclear power station automatically shut on Jan. 30 due to unbalanced voltage entering the plant’s power system from the transmission network. “The plant’s electric power system’s protection scheme was not designed to sense the loss of one of three power phases and automatically trip circuits to isolate the degraded outside power source and switch to emergency backup power,” the NRC said. “The degraded offsite power source potentially could have damaged the plant’s emergency core cooling system,” the NRC said in a statement. NRC regulations require reliable offsite and onsite power systems with sufficient capacity and capability to operate safety-related systems, the regulator said. Loss of offsite power was identified by the NRC as an important issue to be addressed in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown of reactors at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in March 2011.
Reuters 27th July 2012 more >>
Bulgaria’s opposition Socialists on Friday demanded a referendum to challenge the government’s decision to abandon construction of a nuclear power plant, an increasingly divisive issue in the run up to next year’s parliamentary election. The Socialists submitted more than 770,000 signatures to parliament calling for the referendum – well above the half million they need to force a plebiscite. But analysts said the government would likely resist efforts to revive a national debate on the fate of the planned Russian-built 2,000 megawatt Belene plant. The centre-right cabinet cancelled the project in March saying it was too costly and had failed to attract serious interest from Western investors. But the Socialists have argued the country had already sunk too much money into the project to abandon it.
Trust 27th July 2012 more >>
A new era of space exploration is dawning through the application of nuclear energy for rovers on Mars and the Moon, power generation at future bases on the surfaces of both and soon for rockets that enable interplanetary travel.
World Nuclear News 27th July 2012 more >>
John Ainslie, Scottish CND, evidence to House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee 16th July 2012.
House of Commons 16th July 2012 more >>
Private contractors are to take over the role of looking after the UK’s nuclear weapons in Scotland. The Ministry of Defence signed a 15-year contract with ABL Alliance on Friday to provide support for the Trident weapons system at the naval base on the river Clyde. Under the new contract, 149 MoD civilian posts will transfer to the alliance. The jobs are in industrial and technical grades, warehousing and logistic support services, while supervisors and managers are also transferring. Thirty-nine Royal Navy posts will also be seconded to the alliance, which comprises AWE plc, Babcock and Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems. The MoD said it decided in May 2011 that the most effective way to sustain the workforce in the future was to use an experienced supplier within the private sector. ABL Alliance will provide support to the Trident strategic weapon system at the Royal Naval armament depot at Coulport and the strategic weapon support building at Faslane.
Guardian 27th July 2012 more >>
Sky 28th July 2012 more >>
STV 27th July 2012 more >>
BBC 27th July 2012 more >>
Rutherglen Reformer (And other locals) 27th July 2012 more >>
NUCLEAR submarines at Rosyth have seen 11 fires in the last 25 years, Press Online has learned. The blazes were among a total of 266 which have occurred on UK nuclear subs in the past quarter-century – including 74 on ballistic missile submarines. The MoD has confirmed that the fires at Rosyth occurred between between April 1994 and August 2001.
Dunfermline Press 27th July 2012 more >>
SSE yesterday revealed that it has put plans for four small-scale hydro-electric schemes “on hold” as it awaits the Scottish Government’s decision over subsidies. The Perth-based utilities company said the decision would affect its 7.5MW hydro project at Kildermorie estate, near Alness in Ross-shire, the only one of the schemes to have already been placed in the planning system. Other projects on hold include a scheme on the River Isla near Alyth, in Perthshire. SSE’s two larger pump-storage scheme – each capable of producing 600MW of power – are not affected by the decision. Last week, the UK government unveiled a 30 per cent cut to support for hydro-electric schemes in England and Wales. Although the decision does not affect Scotland, SSE is understood to believe that the Scottish Government could take a similar step because both administrations have used the same cost analysis in their subsidy reviews. Niall Stuart, chief executive of trade body Scottish Renewables, warned: “The considerable cut in support for hydro means that companies will have to re-consider some major investments.
Scotsman 28th July 2012 more >>
Scottish and Southern Energy’s decision to, in effect, cancel three small hydro-electricity schemes with a planned output of a mere 21 megawatts may seem like small and unremarkable beer. But because the decision was caused by a reduction in the subsidy available for output for new hydro, it is a symptom of a much bigger issue: political concern about the cost to the consumer of renewable power. The move by SSE follows the announcement by the UK government that it was cutting the amounts hydro generators can earn through Renewable Obligation Certificates. Other generators planning small-scale hydro schemes, such as RWE nPower, are said to be thinking of following suit. The Scottish Government must now consider this issue. It places a great deal of store on “reindustrialising” Scotland through expansion of renewable energy. But especially in the context of independence – where it seems unlikely consumers south of the Border will be willing to subsidise firms operating in a foreign country – poses the question of how much of the cost the Scottish consumer is willing to bear.
Scotsman 28th July 2012 more >>
As Britain strives to meet European renewable energy targets, the world’s largest offshore wind farm is rising from the waves off the coasts of Kent and Essex.
Telegraph 28th July 2012 more >>
Local Authority action seems to be the theme of this weeks Micro Power News; from DECC urging them to draw up efficiency plans; Shropshire council has installed solar on 17 schools; Exeter Council installs solar on 250 council houses; South Shields and Northampton tenants to benefit from efficiency makeovers.
Microgen Scotland 27th July 2012 more >>