Britain’s most notorious nuclear installation was plunged into crisis last week, when vital equipment broke down just as it was recovering from an accident that shut it for two years. Sellafield’s Thorp reprocessing plant has been closed again, while starting only its second job since the shutdown. And the Cumbrian complex’s crisis is compounded by an excoriating report which shows that its facilities for handling nuclear waste are a shambles and that its safety procedures for preventing accidents which could kill hundreds of thousands of Britons are “not fully adequate”. The stinging report, by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, reveals the extent of the mess. After reprocessing, highly dangerous radioactive liquid waste is concentrated through evaporation and stored above ground in 21 giant steel tanks before being “vitrified” bound into glass for disposal. But the report shows that every stage of this process is in crisis. The most alarming issue is the failure of equipment needed to cool the waste, which could, at worst, lead to an explosion, scattering radioactivity across much of the country.
Independent on Sunday 3rd Feb 2008 more >>
The government will be publicly castigated this week over its failure to help poor people – by the watchdog that ministers set up to monitor fuel poverty. Ofgem, the energy regulator, will also be criticised for not stopping energy companies from making excessive profits at the expense of consumers. Peter Lehmann, chairman of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, will criticise the government over its record on fuel poverty, which he labelled ‘incomprehensible, unjustifiable and shocking’. Consumers now pay more than 50 per cent more on utility bills compared with five years ago, yet energy companies’ costs have risen by only a fraction of this. In the past month, four of the biggest suppliers have announced substantial rises in the price of gas and electricity.
Observer 3rd February 2008 more >>
France, Japan and the US agreed Friday to cooperate in making prototypes of so-called fourth-generation nuclear reactors, according to statements released by each country’s energy ministries. These sodium-cooled reactors, which would not come on line until mid-century, produce more energy per unit of fuel than nuclear reactors currently in operation. But early prototypes have been plagued with problems. The liquid sodium cooling agent is highly volatile, bursting into flames if it comes into contact with air, and exploding if it comes into contact with water.
AFX 3rd Feb 2008 more >>
This week the Ministry of Defence agreed a £3million out-of-court settlement with Ken Earl and other victims of its Porton Down chemical weapons trials. But it STILL refuses to recognise the plight of the 22,000 men who, like Ken McGinley, witnessed nuclear bomb tests and were left with a legacy of cancer, early death and deformed children.
Sunday Mirror 3rd Feb 2008 more >>
It may not be rocket science but the University of Central Lancashire is to develop a series of nuclear foundation degrees. UCLan will now work with the National Skills Academy for Nuclear, a skills and training initiative set up to meet the needs of employers in Britain’s nuclear industry, and other agencies to to provide “up-skilling” foundation degrees for school leavers, new entrants and individuals retraining.
Preston Citizen 2nd Feb 2008 more >>