The cost of cleaning up Britain’s toxic nuclear sites has shot up by £6bn, with the Government and regulators accused this weekend of “incompetence” in their efforts to manage the country’s legacy of radioactive waste. The estimated cost for decommissioning over the next century went up from a £63.8bn estimate in 2011-12 to £69.8bn in 2012-13, with more increases expected in the coming years. This hike is nearly all down to the troubled clean-up of the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria, one of the world’s most hazardous and fiendishly complicated decontamination sites. The Government did not intervene when the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) controversially awarded the private sector consortium tasked with managing Sellafield a five-year contract extension last October. It was widely expected that Nuclear Management Partners, which is led by the Californian engineering giant URS Corporation, would be stripped of the lucrative contract. NMP had been accused of chronic mismanagement after a series of delays and budget overruns on Sellafield projects, including problems involved in the construction of a storage facility for radioactive sludge. In a series of letters sent to NMP in 2012 and 2013, NDA chief executive John Clarke demanded “improved performance in a number of key areas, including schedule delivery”. Dr David Lowry, an independent nuclear research consultant, said that it was “probably true” that NMP was discovering more issues at Sellafield as it explored the site, but that management was also “probably incompetent”. He added: “That’s the thing with nuclear, the price always goes up.”
Independent 7th Sept 2014 read more »
AN INVESTIGATION is under way following the discovery of an “elevated level” of a radioactive substance in a borehole at Dungeness B power station. In its latest community report, owners EDF Energy said a higher than normal amount of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen produced by nuclear fission, was found during routine testing of the groundwater. A potential cause has already been identified, which has led to repairs on a small section of pipework. It is not known how much was found.
Folkestone Herald 5th Sept 2014 read more »
On 30thJune, Japan’s electronics and engineering giant Toshiba announced it had acquired a 60% stake in the NuGen consortium which plans to build Westinghouse (AP1000) Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR) at a site next to Sellafield. The reactors will use fuel from the Westinghouse fuel fabrication facility at Springfields, Lancashire. The remaining 40% stake in the consortium remains with France’s GDF Suez. This briefing considers some of the issues around this proposal; including those concerning new transmission lines and radioactive waste.
CORE 6th Sept 2014 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) notes today an announcement by EDF that the temporary closures of its nuclear reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool could last until the end of 2014. NFLA argues this is one of the many reasons why it is now time for the UK Government to move away from nuclear power in favour of an energy policy increasingly dominated by a wide renewables mix, energy efficiency demand management measures and microgeneration projects.
NFLA 4th Sept 2014 read more »
It may be years before an underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico shuttered by a radiation leak is fully operational, and costs for decontamination and other activities to restore the facility are not yet clear, U.S. Energy Department officials said. A recovery plan is being crafted for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad but details are not expected to be finalized for some weeks, Dana Bryson, deputy manager of the Energy Department field office that oversees the federal dump told a public meeting on Thursday evening. He said the primary issue tied to a Feb. 14 radiation accident at the plant, managed by contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, was that requirements for disposal were not met in materials shipped to the facility.
Reuters 5th Sept 2014 read more »
One of the new niche areas for investment in the energy sector is – no, not solar arrays, wind farms or anaerobic digestion plants, but diesel generation parks. It is one of the ironies of the current “energy crisis” that it has allowed the return of one of the most carbon-polluting technologies at a time when we are trying to tackle global warming. How did it happen? The running-down of traditional electricity generating capacity, due to the closure of old atomic reactors and dirty coal-fired plants, has left the UK threatened by the lights going out at peak times. And so enterprising, if not green, entrepreneurs have realised there is cash to be made by assembling a load of old diesel generators in a field or industrial park and offering them as power sources when the National Grid is struggling to meet demand.
Observer 7th Sept 2014 read more »
Consumers around the world want their electricity to come from renewable sources, writes Paul Brown. Yet governments from the UK to Australia are defying the popular will as they push for fossil fuels and nuclear power. The good news? Renewable energy is surging ahead regardless.
Ecologist 6th Sept 2014 read more »
IN THE pantheon of Fukushima heroes, Masao Yoshida (pictured) is a key figure. As the manager of the crippled Daiichi plant in 2011, Mr Yoshida was the captain of a nuclear Titanic, ready to go down with his ship rather than let it spin totally out of control. He later gave the most complete account from the cockpit of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Inevitably, perhaps, his account is now at the centre of a toxic row over the legacy of nuclear power. The Asahi, which is critical of attempts to restart the nation’s 50 idling reactors, found evidence of terrifying bungling by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), the operator of the plant. In May it released extracts apparently showing that 650 of the 720 workers at the plant disobeyed Mr Yoshida’s orders and fled during the height of the crisis, when radiation spiked after a series of explosions. TEPCO failed to mention these orders in its official accounts of what occurred, said the paper.
Economist 5th Sept 2014 read more »
Economist 5th Sept 2014 read more »
Ralph Nader: The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) – the corporate lobbyist in Washington, D.C. for the disintegrating atomic power industry – doesn’t have to worry about repercussions from the negative impacts of nuclear power. For nuclear power is a government/taxpayer-guaranteed boondoggle whose staggering costs, incurred and deferred, are absorbed by American taxpayers via a supine government regulatory and subsidy apparatus. So if you go to work at the NEI and you read about the absence of any permanent radioactive waste storage site, no problem, the government/taxpayers are responsible for transporting and safeguarding that lethal garbage for centuries. If your reactors experience ever larger cost over-runs and delays, as is now happening with two new reactors in South Carolina, no problem, the supine state regulatory commissions will just pass the bill on to consumers, despite the fact that consumers receive no electricity from these unfinished plants. If these plants, and two others in Georgia under construction, experience financial squeezes from Wall Street, no problem, a supine Congress has already passed ample taxpayer loan guarantees that make Uncle Sam (you the taxpayer) bear the cost of the risk.
In the Public Interest 5th Sept 2014 read more »
Sweden’s Green Party hopes to form a two-party government with the opposition Social Democrats after a general election on Sept. 14, one of its leaders said on Saturday, though nuclear power could be a stumbling block in negotiations. The Social Democrats, Green and Left parties held just a 4.5 point lead over the Alliance government according to one poll on Friday, making it unlikely the Social Democrats and Greens could form a stable administration alone. Even if the Social Democrats and Greens win enough votes to hold a majority in parliament, there remain many points on which the two parties differ. One key area is nuclear power, which accounts for around 40 percent of Sweden’s electricity production. The Green Party wants Sweden to continue to shut down ageing nuclear plants.
Reuters 6th Sept 2014 read more »
Australia has sealed a deal to sell uranium to nuclear-armed India for peaceful power generation, and has also offered to increase exports of conventional fuel to help Asia’s third-largest economy plug chronic electricity shortages. India is the first customer to buy Australian uranium without being a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
IB Times 6th Sept 2014 read more »
UN inspectors have gained rare access to an Iranian nuclear facility, giving them a “better understanding” of Tehran’s disputed programme, it has been reported. They observed a plant where centrifuges for enriching uranium were developed as part of a transparency deal but acknowledged that Iran remains resistant to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation.
Guardian 6th Sept 2014 read more »
IB Times 6th Sept 2014 read more »
Iran said Saturday it never agreed to a deadline to provide answers on its controversial nuclear programme, after the UN atomic watchdog accused Tehran of failing to deliver on time.
Middle East Online 6th Sept 2014 read more »
The government is unflinching in its drive for more nuclear energy and will press ahead with the project, brushing aside concerns about affordability and urgency. The Department of Energy says it is not seeking “to sell the nuclear idea” to South Africans, but rather to “demystify” it. It is estimated the nuclear programme will cost South Africa between R300 billion and R1 trillion. It is expected to be at full output 20 years after construction starts.
Independent Online 7th Sept 2014 read more »
THE Scottish Tories’ Environment spokesman is in line to make £8 million from a controversial wind farm on his Highland estate thanks to a new planning appeal, the Sunday Herald can reveal. Sir Jamie McGrigor appeared to have missed out on the fortune when Argyll and Bute councillors unanimously refused plans for a 45-megawatt wind farm on his Ardchonnel estate in May. But developer RWE Innogy last week lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government, angering many of McGrigor’s constituents. Residents of the nearby village of Dalavich, who fear the wind farm could cost tourism jobs, have set up a legal fund to fight the proposal.
Sunday Herald 7th Sept 2014 read more »