Anti-nuclear campaigners are concerned a target date for the decommissioning of Bradwell Power Station has slipped. Magnox, which runs the site, has admitted an early target of closing the power station by the end of 2015 has not been reached, but maintains it will still be closed before the originally proposed 2027. However the Bradwell Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) says it is indignant about the delay, and remains concerned that the changed timescales means a process of releasing low-level nuclear waste into the Blackwater estuary – a method approved by regulators – will now continue for longer. Varrie Blowers, BANNG secretary, said: “This is scandalous “The deadline for the entry of the former Bradwell nuclear power station into its Care and Maintenance state keeps shifting. At the Local Communities Liaison Committee meeting on June 3 it was announced the deadline had changed from the much-vaunted date of 2015. “It has now changed again from 2017 to 2019, and no real reasons have been given. “I would hazard a guess there are problems with the experimental accelerated dissolution process for the fuel element debris. “This extension means that radioactive discharges into the shallow Blackwater estuary will continue for years to come.”
East Anglian Daily Times 4th Jan 2016 read more »
Letter David Lowry: The Western Mail’s report on the closure of Wales’ last nuclear power plant, at Wylfa on Anglesey, marks an important moment in Welsh industrial history. Wylfa Site Director Stuart Law is reported as saying the closure marks a “safe and dignified end to the generation of electricity at Wylfa” and that the main focus for the coming months is to prepare staff and the site for defuelling the Magnox reactors, originally ordered by the now defunct nationalised power generator, the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) in the late 1960s. But the account of the 44 years of operating life of the reactor omits one important aspect: the production of plutonium for use in nuclear warheads, both in Britain and the US. This was first revealed in an exclusive Western Mail front page story by your then political editor, Sarah Neville, on October 8, 1984. It was followed in more detail by former Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent, Llew Smith – for whom I used to do research – in a feature article in the Western Mail on March 3, 1986, followed by a letter in the paper from Mr Smith (“Safety problems at Wylfa Nuclear plant”, December 11, 1995). Mr Smith cited an interview I conducted on January 19, 1983, with the late Lord Hinton, the first chairman of the CEGB, in which he said to me: “Wylfa is a long and sad story. It ought not to have been built at all, but when I suggested this to the Permanent Secretary [at what is now the Department of Energy and Climate Change] he said you have got to build it in order to meet the government programme.”
Western Mail 4 January 2016 read more »
US – Plutonim
Here we go again. The federal government wants South Carolina to be the dumping ground for more of the world’s plutonium, a toxic nuclear weapons component. At the same time, it is failing miserably in its promise to process and remove 12 metric tons of plutonium already at the Savannah River Site near Aiken. South Carolina should fight with every tool it has to stop a new plan by the U.S. Department Energy to import nearly a ton of plutonium from the Pacific Rim and North America to SRS. Not an ounce more should arrive until the existing problem is resolved. The news of new shipments is part of an old shell game. In it, the federal government tries to move bad things around because it has enacted no national plan. And it repeatedly fails to live up to its promises and responsibilities to communities around the country. The government’s program to convert weapons-grade plutonium at SRS into a mixed oxide fuel (MOX) that could be used in commercial nuclear reactors is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. So into this quagmire stumbles the federal government with the suggestion to do what? Bring in more plutonium. It’s like the theater of the absurd. But it is a serious problem that has been bungled for many decades.
The Island Packet 2nd Jan 2016 read more »
US – radwaste
An electrical accident was the latest in a string of problems for LANS that include injured workers, improperly handled hazardous waste, missing enriched uranium, stolen tools and the public release of classified documents. The most costly incident occurred in 2014, when a container of radioactive waste repackaged at the lab later ruptured in the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository, contaminating workers and costing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to clean up.
Sante Fe New Mexican 2nd Jan 2016 read more »
US – radhealth
When Americans think about nuclear weapons, they comfort themselves with the thought that these weapons’ vast destruction of human life has not taken place since 1945 – at least not yet. But, in reality, it has taken place, with shocking levels of U.S. casualties. This point is borne out by a recently-published study by a team of investigative journalists at McClatchy News. Drawing upon millions of government records and large numbers of interviews, they concluded that employment in the nation’s nuclear weapons plants since 1945 led to 107,394 American workers contracting cancer and other serious diseases. Of these people, some 53,000 judged by government officials to have experienced excessive radiation on the job received $12 billion in compensation under the federal government’s Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. And 33,480 of these workers have died.
Anti War.com 4th Jan 2016 read more »
Australia – radwaste
A southern Queensland community is demanding to be removed from the federal government’s shortlist of potential nuclear waste dump sites. Locals at Oman Ama, west of Warwick, have written to energy and resources minister Josh Frydenberg asking to be taken off the list of six potential sites to store “low to intermediate” nuclear waste. The Friends of Omanama group said what it called the federal government’s “indoctrination program” had not convinced locals to support the proposal. It said the group had unanimously rejected the proposal “in its entirety” at a meeting on 21 December.
Guardian 4th Jan 2016 read more »
Electrabel, the Belgian arm of French group Engie, shut down the Doel 1 nuclear reactor in northern Belgium late on Saturday because of a problem with an alternator. Engie’s website said that the 433 megawatt Doel 1 reactor had been stopped from about 6 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Saturday, adding that it was provisionally seen restarting at 11 p.m. on Sunday. An Electrabel spokeswoman said that experts were at the site and that the restart time was the best estimate available. “There is a problem with the alternator. It’s in the non-nuclear part of the plant,” she said. The smaller and older Doel 1 and 2 reactors were to have been decommissioned this year, but the government and Engie agreed a 10-year extension at the start of December. Doel 1 was originally stopped for good in February, but restarted last month.
Reuters 3rd Jan 2016 read more »
India – solar
As recently as a few months ago, the alternative energy targets announced by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2014 seemed wildly overambitious – even to solar electricity enthusiasts in the industry. But a surge of investment in solar power stations now makes them look merely optimistic. “In 2009, when I said that India would have 2 to 3 gigawatts [of solar energy] by 2015, people said ‘That’s not possible’,” says Inderpreet Wadhwa, founder and chief executive of Azure Power, one of the country’s biggest producers. “Today we have 5GW running.” Mr Wadhwa left a technology career in California after he came home to India on what was supposed to be a short personal trip eight years ago and saw the “huge” opportunities presented by the shortage of elect ricity. He started with small solar plants for electricity-hungry districts and rooftop systems for companies to replace costly diesel generators. Today, Azure Power – which is part-owned by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation as well as Foundation Capital and Helion Ventures and is poised for an initial public offering – is one of dozens of domestic and international investors putting money into building or supplying equipment to large-scale solar photovoltaic power stations across India. Mr Modi has championed solar power and helped launch a global solar alliance at the Paris climate summit to mobilise an attention-grabbing $1tn of funds worldwide by 2030. India itself, with current electricity grid capacity of less than 300 gigawatts, aims to increase its solar installations from below 5GW now to 100GW by 2022 – more than double the present solar capacity of China and Germany, the two biggest solar nations.
FT 4th Jan 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Dong Energy says it is now convinced UK government will back offshore wind power despite recent cuts to renewable energy sector subsidies. Dong Energy, the biggest operator of offshore windfarms in Britain, has said it plans to spend a further £6bn in the UK by 2020, convinced that the government is serious about supporting wind power. Vattenfall, another significant UK windfarm operator, says it too is “optimistic” about 2016 and is hoping to proceed with a turbine testing site off Scotland this summer. The statements of intent are a major boost to Amber Rudd, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, who has been under fire for cutting subsidies to solar and other low-carbon sectors despite signing up to the Paris climate change accord. Brent Cheshire, Dong’s UK division chairman, said he had harboured concerns about government policies as little as two months ago, but had since been reassured by recent firm commitments to offshore wind.
Guardian 3rd Jan 2016 read more »
Letter: It has been a long wait for detail of how we tackle the UK’s dire fuel poverty problem. A new government strategy was published last January, with more revealed in the Autumn Statement and then Paris last month. There is much ambition, and a list of long-term targets. The historic Paris agreement will require countries to limit their emissions, and the UK still plans to have dealt with our fuel-poor homes by 2030. But still very little is known of the detail. The Autumn Statement set targets to improve 200,000 fuel-poor homes per year, albeit with a continued fall in eco investment. We remain in a woeful position in Europe, with only Estonia having a higher rate of fuel poverty. And the biggest single reason for poor energy efficiency is the quality of UK housing. Across England, there are 2.3m households living in fuel poverty. The number of winter death s will give this unresolved problem the scrutiny it needs once again. Fuel poverty can only be reduced by focusing on the energy efficiency and energy bills of those in fuel poverty, especially low-income vulnerable households. Greater detail is needed quickly for a number of reasons. First, all major energy efficiency programmes only run until 2017, so we need to work out the best ways to maximise future investment. Government investment over the next five years represents only half of what the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group felt was needed to meet 2030 targets, before it was disbanded last year. Others need to come together to meet this investment gap – investment from health, housing and environmental partners that will benefit financially from a country of warmer homes.
FT 3rd Jan 2016 read more »
An £11 billion project to install more than 50 million smart electricity and gas meters in homes is a “ghastly mess” that will not work, according to a leading figure in the energy sector. Alex Henney has written to Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, warning that the rollout, due to start this year, is a disaster in the making. Mr Henney, who advised a previous Conservative government on the privatisation of the electricity market and is a former director of London Electricity, said that at best the scheme would be regarded as a waste of money. In his letter, seen by The Times, he wrote: “At worst the system will not work, as per the NHS patient records system; at best it will suffer from extensive errors and glitches and will be regarded as an expensive waste of money. The only beneficiaries will be the meter manufacturers.” Mr Henn ey, a 34-year veteran of Britain’s electricity industry and the author of three books on the subject, said that the government’s plans were fundamentally flawed.
Times 4th Jan 2016 read more »