Sellafield MoX Plant
The Mox nuclear fuel plant at Sellafield will be closed on Wednesday afternoon, with the loss of about 600 jobs. The closure is a consequence of the Fukushima incident in Japan in March, which has closed down much of the nuclear industry there and led to a rethink of nuclear power around the world. Workers at the plant were told on Wednesday morning that there was “considerable scope” for them to be re-employed in other parts of the Sellafield complex. It will take several months for the plant to close fully. The west Cumbrian mixed-oxide fuel plant has cost the taxpayer £1.4bn since it was commissioned in the early 1990s.
Guardian 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
Northern Indymedia 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
A nuclear fuel manufacturing plant at the Sellafield complex in Cumbria is to close, putting 600 jobs at risk. The Mox plant, which recycles plutonium into mixed oxide fuel, is no longer viable because of uncertainty in the Japanese nuclear industry, the plant’s only customer, officials said. Officials at the Prospect union, which represents the workers, condemned the decision, saying it had been made without consultation. The union said it was “ill-conceived”.
BBC 3rd August 2011 more >>
Friends of the Earth’s policy and campaigns director Craig Bennett said taxpayers were footing the bill for the “Alice-in-Wonderland economics” of the nuclear industry.” The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said there had been a “changed risk profile” for the Sellafield Mox Plant (SMP) following the Japanese disaster which crippled the Fukushima nuclear reactors. “In order to ensure that the UK taxpayer does not carry a future financial burden from SMP the only reasonable course of action is to close SMP at the earliest practical opportunity. Following news of the closure, shadow energy and climate change secretary Meg Hillier called on the Government to make a swift announcement on proposals to build a new MOX plant to process UK stocks of plutonium. She said a decision was needed to send a signal to investors that the UK was committed to the nuclear industry and a new fleet of reactors, and to secure jobs.
Independent 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
Irish Independent 4th Aug 2011 more >>
The Mixed Oxide plant at Sellafield is to shut with the loss of up to 600 jobs. The Guardian newspaper is reporting the closure is due to the Fukushima incident in Japan. The MOX plant, as it is known, was established to reprocess nuclear fuel and its main customer was the Japanese nuclear industry. The news is likely to be welcomed by Manx environmental groups which have campaigned against further development of the Cumbrian site. Earlier this year it was announced Sellafield, Heysham and Anglesey had been earmarked as sites for new nuclear power stations.
Manx Radio 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
Washington Post 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
City AM 4th Aug 2011 more >>
Japan Today 4th Aug 2011 more >>
New Scientist 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
FoE Press Release 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
Utility Week 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
Labour Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Meg Hillier called on the Government to make a swift announcement on proposals to build a new MOX plant to process UK stocks of plutonium. The Government launched a consultation earlier this year into whether the best solution for UK stocks of civil plutonium, created by past nuclear power generation and housed at Sellafield and Dounreay, was to reuse it as a fuel. The consultation looked at the possibility of building a new MOX plant, potentially at Sellafield, because it would be cheaper than using the existing facility.
Yorkshire Post 4th Aug 2011 more >>
The option of returning highly dangerous plutonium dioxide to Japan by sea will be frowned upon by many countries, especially the United States which fears possible terrorist attacks and nuclear proliferation. Plutonium is a key ingredient of nuclear weapons. Another option would be to convert Japanese plutonium into Mox fuel by building a second Mox plant at Sellafield at an estimated cost of up to £6bn. A second Mox plant is now under consideration by the Government and a decision is expected before the end of the year as a way of dealing with Britain’s civil plutonium stockpile, the biggest in the world. If a second Mox plant goes ahead, it is possible the Japanese plutonium could be converted into nuclear fuel and burned in new British reactors designed to take this type of fuel. But this would be controversial as it would almost certainly be far more expensive to burn Mox fuel than the much cheaper uranium fuel now used.
Independent 4th Aug 2011 more >>
Prospect has always argued that if the existing Mox plant were to be closed, it should only be on condition that a new and more efficient plant is built at Sellafield, which could help to both reduce Britains civilian plutonium stockpile and fuel its new reactors, he added. Ministers earlier this year launched a consultation into what to do with the UKs stockpile of civil plutonium which was created by past nuclear power generation and is stored at Sellafield and Dounreay. One of the options it considered was whether to build a new Mox plant, potentially at Sellafield. Professor Sir David King, the governments former chief scientist, recommended recycling used nuclear fuels in order to generate more power.
FT 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
The Government is, however, considering a new Mox plant as it struggles with what to do with the pile of civil plutonium still building up in Cumbria.
Telegraph 4th Aug 2011 more >>
As a result of the closure, Britain will be left with about 13 tonnes of Japanese plutonium for decades. The plant was supposed to convert the plutonium into Mox (mixed oxide) fuel to be shipped back to Japan, but instead it will be kept in storage in the UK. The Sellafield Mox Plant, which began operating in 2002, has cost the taxpayer £1.3 billion to build and run. It was designed to produce 120 tonnes of the reactor fuel each year, but has been beset by technical problems and has managed only 13.8 tonnes in its lifetime. Britain has a stockpile of about 110 tonnes of plutonium from reactors built up over the past 50 years, about a quarter of which belongs to foreign nuclear companies, including Japanese utilities that had contracted the SMP plant to turn it into Mox fuel to be returned to Japan. The Government, which has been consulting the industry, is expected to make a decision in the autumn on whether to go ahead with a new MoX Plant. Nuclear operators in Britain would have to be subsidised by the Government to buy fuel from the plant. Areva, of France, has submitted a proposal to build a Mox facility.
Times 4th Aug 2011 more >>
IRISH CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the closure of the Mox nuclear fuel plant at the Sellafield complex on the west coast of Britain. Former Green Party senator Mark Dearey from Louth, who took legal action with three other campaigners against Sellafields then operators British Nuclear Fuels in 1994, said he welcomed the closure. The campaigners had sought the closure of the Thorp plant, another nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield, through a long-running legal battle. The action eventually failed after the company successfully argued against the case on jurisdictional grounds.
Irish Times 4th Aug 2011 more >>
Prof Francis Livens, research director of the Dalton Institute at the University of Manchester, said: The plant was designed to produce 120 tonnes of fuel a year but the reality is that it never came close to that. Jim Footner, head of climate and energy campaigns at Greenpeace, said the MOX plant employees ‘had paid the price for a nuclear disaster, not of their making, on the other side of the world’. He added: “With utilities and investors already questioning the attractiveness of new nuclear in the UK, this latest setback for the nuclear industry reinforces the need for the government to change tack. We need to stop investing in technologies of the past and learn a lesson from our neighbours in Germany. “The UK could be leading the world in marine renewables, creating tens of thousands of jobs for UK plc and insulating struggling families from volatile rises in fuel costs.” Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, welcomed the announcement, saying: “This hopefully marks the long-overdue end of a dangerous and expensive mistake. The MOX plant has cost the public over £1.4bn yet has produced less fuel in its whole lifetime than it was meant to make every two months. “The whole idea of shipping hundreds of tonnes of plutonium-rich spent fuel half way round the world from Japan was madness from the start. Just 11kg of plutonium is enough to make a bomb, so to build a whole business on its transport across thousands of miles of sea on lightly-armed civilian ships was a disaster waiting to happen.”
Manchester Evening News 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
Nuclear Waste Transport
Sellafield High Level Waste (HLW) shipment sails for earthquake region of Japan a direct threat not only to the people and environment of Japan, but also to en-route communities in the Caribbean and Pacific and their marine environment. The shipment, which comes less than five months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the Pacific coast of northern Japan, and while the Fukushima-daiichi nuclear meltdown and accident is on-going, left the port of Barrow-in-Furness at approximately 0200 hrs this morning. The cargo of nuclear waste is bound for Aomori, north-eastern Japan via the Carribbean and the Panama Canal. The vitrified HLW, delivered by rail from Sellafield in three TN28VT transport flasks yesterday, was loaded onto the Pacific Grebe, a British-flagged ship operated by Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited (PNTL). Within the transport flasks were 76 cannisters of vitrified HLW, totalling over 40 tonnes of highly radioactive waste which has been assigned to the Kansai, Shikoku and Kyushu Electric Power Companies in Japan respectively.
CORE Press Release 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
NW Evening Mail 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
Cumberland News 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
The Environment Agency has received two environmental permit applications relating to operation of a planned nuclear power station at Hinkley point. The applications, from NNBGenCo, a subsidiary of EDF, were received on July 29 and relate to discharges and disposals of radioactive waste and operation of standby power supply systems. The Environment Agency is likely to consult the public for a period of 30 days, beginning in mid August.
Western Daily Press 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
THE new Bishop of Bradwell is a modern man who wants more women priests and embraces nuclear power.
Maldon Chronicle 1st Aug 2011 more >>
A recurring question in Tokyo has been: Who put Homer Simpson in charge? Japans nuclear safety record these last 15 years seems no sounder than that of the fictional Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, where on The Simpsons, Homer is head of safety. Only, this is no laughing matter.
Bloomberg 2nd August 2011 more >>
Fukushima’s radiation has hit deadly levels for the second day, according to Tepco, making efforts to bring the nuclear plant under control difficult. Japans retired skilled laborers say they are ready to relieve younger workers.
Christian Science Monitor 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s administration has announced it is to sack three senior nuclear policy officials amid scandals suggesting Japan’s government had grown too cosy with the nuclear power industry. The move is the latest attempt by Kan and his cabinet to shake off criticism they have not dealt sternly enough with nuclear power operators and to show they can push reforms deemed necessary after Japan’s 11 March earthquake and tsunami touched off the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl at the Fukushima plant.
Guardian 4th Aug 2011 more >>
BBC 4th Aug 2011 more >>
THE Japanese government has passed a law that will help Tepco meet the huge compensation claims it expects to be hit with over the ongoing crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
It will set up a special fund to pay out to those who have been affected by the crisis, with the government expected to provide an initial sum of around ¥2 trillion (US$26b). Additional funding will be supplied by Japans stable of nuclear operators, including the embattled Tepco itself. The final amount that will have to be paid out is as yet unknown, though it will almost certainly amount to trillions of Yen. Local reports estimate that as many as 160,000 people have been evacuated from their homes around the stricken plant, and are likely to have to wait for several more months or even years to pass before being able to fully return home. The crisis has also had a devastating impact on industries operating in the region, most notably agriculture. Bans or restrictions on the sale of some meats and vegetables from around Fukushima has reportedly pushed farmers to the brink, if not put them out of business.
Chemical Engineer 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
Japan is to unveil plans for a new atomic safety regulator which is expected to enforce tougher nuclear safety standards. Its Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has been seen as a key factor in Japan’s failure to prevent the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis earlier this year. Japan’s government plans to bring NISA under the Environment Agency and replace it with a new agency responsible for nuclear accident investigations, according to media reports. “The key is if the new agency will not be independent just in appearance, but if it can actually secure its ability to regulate,” said Hideaki Shiroyama, a professor at the University of Tokyo.
Engineering & Technology 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
The German plan to completely phase out nuclear power by 2022 announced May 30 by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Christian Democratic Union-led political alliance is boosting demand across the alternative and renewable power value chain. As a result, the EU’s largest member nation will add 1,800 megawatts (MW) worth of new wind turbines this year, 16% more than the 1,551 MW total for 2010, according to BWE, the German Wind Energy Association. Installed wind power capacity totaled 27,214 MW in Germany last year, up 5.6% from 25,777 in 2009, according to the European Wind Energy Association. European offshore wind power capacity has grown 4.5% in the first half of 2011, as 101 new offshore wind turbines with a total 348 MW capacity were connected to power grids in Germany, Norway and the UK. Another 2,844 MW are currently under construction, the EWEA reported recently.
IB Times 3rd Aug 2011 more >>
SCOTTISH Water chief executive Richard Ackroyd says the state-owned utility could, within 10 years, be generating three times as much electricity as the 40 million-plus-a-year which it consumes, through wind and hydro power, and food-waste-to-energy schemes.
In an exclusive interview with The Herald, Mr Ackroyd highlighted plans at various stages of development to create large-scale windfarms on nine Scottish Water sites around Scotland, including in Ayrshire, Angus, the Borders, and Renfrewshire. Highlighting Scottish Waters current limited access to capital, Mr Ackroyd said that these projects were being pursued with partners such as Scottish & Southern Energy and German electricity giant E.ON.
Herald 4th Aug 2011 more >>