The government is shortly set to announce its decision to go ahead with building a second Sellafield MOX plant (SMP) at a cost of £3bn. The history of the first MOX plant, which was forced to close down several years ago, make this decision almost unbelievable. The first plant cost £490m, plus £113m because of the falsification of the pellet data discovered in Japan, plus £100m decommissioning costs – total £700m. For this cost at taxpayers’ expense it was publicly announced that it would produce 120 tonnes of MOX per year. A decade later when it was closed down it had produced, not 1,200 tonnes, but just 13 tonnes, i.e. nearly three-quarters of a billion pounds to produce only 1% of what was promised, which was anyway never sold. Build another one – surely not? But that’s exactly what they’re going to do. I was the Minister for the Environment for the earlier part of this period 1997-2003. I strenuously opposed this whole first SMP project, sending a comprehensive 6-page minute dated 11 September 2011 (bizarrely the date of 9/11) to Margaret Beckett, then Secretary of State, setting out in detail the grounds on which the economic case for the SMP was not made out.
Michael Meacher 2nd Feb 2013
EDDIE MARTIN summed up with a flourish. “I am not going to be a puppet dancing to the government’s tune,” the Cumbria county councillor told a packed public meeting on Wednesday. “I’m exhausted and it’s time to call a halt.” Placard-toting protesters, huddled under a public address system set up outside, nodded in agreement. They had gathered to oppose a £12bn plan to build an underground nuclear waste dump at Ennerdale and Eskdale within the Lake District national park. Cumbria is already home to Europe’s biggest nuclear waste dump, at Sellafield, but the protesters won the day. The council voted 7 to 3 against adding another one. The rejection neatly encapsulates Britain’s huge energy challenge — and the government’s fumbling attempts to meet it.David Cameron has made lavish promises about what the government’s £200bn low-carbon overhaul of the energy industry can deliver — jobs for workers, big returns for companies. The problem is that few believe his government can deliver on its promises. Fears are growing of a supply crunch that could lead to rolling blackouts as soon as four years from now as old power plants are retired.Centrica will bring the issue to a head this month. At its annual results the British Gas owner is expected to reveal it is pulling out of the project to build Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in two decades. Its partner EDF, the power giant controlled by the French state, is locked in talks with the government over the subsidy it claims it needs before it breaks ground on the plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Times 3rd Feb 2013
A nuclear waste dump may still be sited in Cumbria despite a decision by county councillors last week to reject the plans. Local district councillors in west Cumbria are seeking an urgent meeting with ministers in an effort to revive the storage scheme. Leaders of Copeland and Allerdale borough councils said they had a mandate to explore the next stage of the UK’s nuclear waste storage plan, and accused Cumbria county councillors of ignoring the views of local people. Copeland MP Jamie Reed said he would lobby the Government to continue searching for a solution to nuclear waste storage in the area.
Independent 3rd Feb 2013
EDF originally said it would not require a state subsidy for the project, but now says it does. And having originally said it would not support new nuclear if a subsidy was required, the government now says it does too. Here’s how the subsidy works: The state will guarantee a fixed price per unit of electricity. If the wholesale price falls below that threshold, the government makes up the difference. It’s called a Contract for Difference (CfD), Hergen Haye, head of new nuclear at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was in attendance at Tuesday’s debate and said that this is not a subsidy. He is confident the agreement would pass EU criteria that prevents anti-competitive state-aid to business. This did not wash with Caroline Lucas, a Green party MP, who replied: “I can’t stand all this ducking and diving and frankly, treating us all like fools”, adding that claims the CfD is not a subsidy undermine the wider nuclear debate.
RTCC 1st Feb 2013
There’s little hope that the 70,000 metric tons of used nuclear fuel dispersed across the United States will ever be recycled, according to a recent study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory—so nearly all existing waste will go into the earth. In a study completed late last year, Oak Ridge officials determined that the U.S. is at least 20 years away from large-scale reprocessing of used nuclear fuel, if it decides to pursue such technologies. By then, they estimate, nuclear plants will have generated another 40,000 metric tons of spent fuel.
Forbes 28th Jan 2013
Lithuania’s prime minister says ending support in 2020 could delay the full closure of its Ignalina plant. Leaders of the European Union’s member states are expected at their summit next week (7-8 February) to agree to cover roughly half the costs of decommissioning Soviet-era nuclear power plants, as part of a deal on the EU’s long-term budget. However, Lithuania’s Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius told European Voice yesterday (30 January) that he also wants the EU to leave open the possibility of support in subsequent budgets. Lithuania argues that ending support in 2020 could delay the full closure of its Ignalina plant beyond 2030, the current target date.
European Voice 31st Jan 2013
The Nuclear Regulation Authority has approved an outline of safety standards for severe accidents at atomic power plants that may require years of reinforcement work for some reactors idled after the Fukushima disaster. Nuclear plants will need to build secondary control centers at least 100 meters from reactor buildings to manage emergency cooling systems and radiation filter vents, according to the rules approved Thursday. They also stipulate tougher tsunami defenses.
Japan Times 2nd Feb 2013
The US is ready to hold direct talks with Iran if it is serious about negotiations, Vice-President Joe Biden said on Saturday, backing bilateral contacts that many see as crucial to easing an international dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
FT 2nd Feb 2013
Binyamin Netanyahu says prime task is to halt Tehran’s nuclear ambition as he tries to assemble a coalition government.
Times 3rd Feb 2013
David Cameron stands ¬accused of breaking a promise to help thousands of Army veterans whose health was destroyed by Britain’s ¬nuclear bomb tests. In 2009, as leader of the Opposition, he told test veteran Dave Whyte he would fight for ¬genetic research on ex-servicemen, who say they were left with cancers and other medical conditions.
Mirror 3rd Feb 2013
AN ELECTRICAL contractor in Perth is capitalising on the popularity of renewable ¬energy by moving into the corporate and domestic ¬markets for solar panels. Quantum Energy expects to more than treble its turnover to £2 million in the year ahead from £600,000 after increasing its workforce from three to 17 to cope with ¬demand for its services. The firm, which recently moved from Auchterarder to Perth, has already installed solar panels for Scottish ¬housing associations but is now pushing into new markets. Clients have so far included construction companies such as Stewart Milne and the firm was recently taken on board as a supplier to Carillion.
Scotland on Sunday 3rd Feb 2013
It is too early to tell whether Europe’s shale beds will really prove as bountiful as America’s. Only a handful of test wells have been sunk. Exxon may have quit Poland, the country where exploration has gone furthest, but other firms are having more joy. Determining which countries might enjoy a bonanza of cheap gas is highly speculative, a recent report by Deutsche Bank points out: many things are in flux, including extraction technologies and production rates. Adding to the guesswork is a host of problems “above ground”, particularly in western Europe. With the exception of Britain, which recently lifted a moratorium on test drilling, progress is slow. The French are implacably opposed to shale gas. The Netherlands and Luxembourg have also suspended drilling for shale gas. Attempts to do the same in Germany were defeated in parliament in December. But North Rhine-Westphalia, the country’s most promising region for shale gas, suspended fracking last September pending research on the risks involved. In Austria the cost of complying with environmental regulations makes shale gas uneconomic.
Economist 2nd Feb 2013