Plans to shrink the emergency zone around the Sizewell power station complex were met with disbelief at the latest meeting of a community liaison group. The proposal to narrow the radius of the Detailed Emergency Planning Zone (DEPZ) surrounding the plant near Leiston – from between two and three kilometres to just one kilometre – was announced in front of the Sizewell Stakeholder Group (SSG) and members of the public this week. Little over a month since the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) decided to replace its 2.4km circular zone – which enveloped a population of 5,500 – with a variable 2km-3km area based largely on postcodes but extending to Leiston and Aldringham, SSG members were informed that the boundary could now reduce to include just 23 households.
East Anglian Daily Times 7th June 2014 read more »
One of the Green Party’s MEPs has responded to news that power group, EDF, is attempting to change the safety rules for its Dungeness B station. EDF has applied to the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to relax a key safety requirement at Dungeness B, the nuclear power station in Kent. The changes would allow an increased weight loss of the graphite bricks inside the reactor from 6.2% to 8%. The bricks, which degrade over time due to radiation, are vital for safety. Keith Taylor, a Green MEP for Kent and South East England, said:“It’s highly worrying that EDF are attempting to lower a key safety standard at Dungeness B in order to prolong the life of the reactor. Safety limits are there for a reason, and re-writing these simply to keep the reactor online for another few years suggests that EDF think profits are more important than safety. Dungeness is out dated, and needs to be decommissioned as soon as possible to make way for safe jobs in renewable energy production.
Keith Taylor MEP 6th June 2014 read more »
Cumbria Trust is very concerned to hear that a key member of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, Professor Rebecca Lunn, has misled The Geological Society about the situation in Cumbria. This was during a lecture in March which was recently published on the CoRWM website.
Cumbria Trust 7th June 2014 read more »
Fears are mounting that Scottish independence could result in years of delays to the decommissioning of Britain’s fleet of ageing nuclear-powered submarines, including four armed with Trident missiles. More than 10 engineering companies have just registered their interest in working with the Ministry of Defence on dismantling and removing waste from 27 submarines in Devonport near Plymouth and Rosyth on the Firth of Forth. But they are understood to be concerned that a “Yes” vote for independence could complicate the 60-year programme of defuelling and breaking up the submarines – and that the MoD has refused to draw up any contingency plans. At present, only the seven out-of-service submarines that are currently floating at Rosyth would be dismantled there. However, space at Devonport is tight and it is expected that Rosyth would eventually have to take on more of the dismantling work. The Scottish government is already furious that a site north of the border, Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire, has been shortlisted as a location that could store radioactive waste removed from the submarines. When the shortlist was revealed in February, Holyrood environment minister Richard Lochhead wrote to UK Defence minister Philip Dunne demanding that the waste should not be dumped in Scotland. Dismantling cannot start until a storage site for the 90- to 135-ton reactor pressure vessels, which hold the submarines’ nuclear cores, is agreed upon.
Independent 8th June 2014 read more »
Scotland – climate targets
The Scottish Government is coming under mounting pressure to make new cuts in pollution as it faces failing to meet its statutory targets for reducing carbon emissions for the third year running. An unprecedented alliance of all the opposition parties in Holyrood is privately urging SNP ministers to agree moves that would cut carbon pollution from vehicles, farms, houses and government. Leading politicians from four opposition parties are now urging ministers to do the latter. Labour’s Claire Baker, LibDem Tavish Scott, the Conservative’s Jamie McGrigor and the Green’s Patrick Harvie have this weekend written to the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, proposing five ways of cutting pollution. The Sunday Herald understands that the joint letter, which has not been released, suggests action on transport, energy efficiency, housing, agriculture and governance. The MSPs say they are making a series of modest, constructive proposals, on which they would back ministers to help meet future climate targets.
Sunday Herald 8th June 2014 read more »
Environmental campaigners spend too much time targeting global conferences on the issue of “melting ice caps” and not enough on encouraging people to become activists in their own neighbourhood, a report will claim tomorrow.
Independent 8th June 2014 read more »
Japan – plutonium
Japan failed to include 640 kg of unused plutonium in its annual reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2012 and 2013, in what experts are terming an “inappropriate omission.” The stock is part of mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) fuel stored in a reactor that was offline during this period, and was thus deemed exempt from IAEA reporting requirements, said an official at the Japan Atomic Energy Commission. Experts warn that Japan’s reporting does not reflect the actual state of unused plutonium that could be diverted for nuclear weapons. The unreported amount is enough to make about 80 nuclear bombs.
Japan Times 7th June 2014 read more »
US – plutonium
Some government screw-ups are so epic that they require decades of effort. Such was the case for the recently cancelled plan to convert surplus weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear fuel. Not only did the U.S. waste $4 billion dollars, it increased the likelihood that terrorists could obtain bomb-making materials.
IO9 7th June 2014 read more »
The US announced on Saturday that it is sending two top negotiators to Geneva for direct talks with Iranian officials over Tehran’s nuclear programme. The discussions involving deputy secretary of state William Burns and undersecretary of state for political affairs Wendy Sherman are set for Monday and Tuesday. An interim deal reached in November by Iran and six world powers – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – limited Iran’s uranium enrichment programme. In exchange, some penalties imposed against Iran were eased. But sanctions such as those targeting Iran’s oil imports, have remained in place.
Guardian 7th June 2014 read more »
Centrica has said it is unlikely to bid for more UK fracking rights when they are offered in coming weeks, underlining the uncertainty over whether shale gas extraction will prove to be viable. The British Gas owner last year became the first major company to back the search for UK shale when it bought a 25pc stake in licences owned by Cuadrilla in the Bowland basin in Lancs, in a deal worth up to £160m. Ministers are expected to launch the “14th onshore licensing round” by July, offering up drilling rights across 37,000 square miles of Britain. But Mark Hanafin, Centrica’s head of upstream, said it would “probably not” bid for more access, suggesting it did not want to “bet” more money on shale before fracking had taken place to prove whether the gas could actually be extracted.
Telegraph 7th June 2014 read more »