Swallows nesting at the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria have been contaminated with low levels of radioactivity from the site, according to the Environment Agency. Monitoring by the site’s operator, Sellafield Limited, has found traces of radioactivity in the birds’ droppings. This is thought to come from the insects they have consumed around the storage ponds for radioactive waste . Investigations have been launched by the agency, the government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and Sellafield, while measures are being taken to try and prevent the contamination from recurring. According to Sellafield, the levels of radioactivity discovered were very low and there was “no threat” to public health.
Guardian 8th June 2012 more >>
EDF has asked up to five architects to work up plans for its deal to build a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk. Atkins, Aedas and RMJM said to be preparing plans for EDF nuclear project. The names of bidders for Sizewell are shrouded in secrecy but one source said: This is effectively an invitation to tender. You have to register, youre invited to bid and then you go through a series of gateways before they make a decision.
Building Design 7th June 2012 more >>
Risks of childhood cancer increase threefold after CT scans. Use of CT scans in children to deliver cumulative doses of about 50 mGy might almost triple the risk of leukaemia and doses of about 60 mGy might triple the risk of brain cancer. Because these cancers are relatively rare, the cumulative absolute risks are small: in the 10 years after the first scan for patients younger than 10 years, one excess case of leukaemia and one excess case of brain tumour per 10 000 head CT scans is estimated to occur. Nevertheless, although clinical benefits should outweigh the small absolute risks, radiation doses from CT scans ought to be kept as low as possible and alternative procedures, which do not involve ionising radiation, should be considered if appropriate.
Lancet 7th June 2012 more >>
Children under 15 who had two or three scans of the head had triple the risk of brain cancer compared with the general population, the researchers found, and 5 to 10 scans tripled the risk of leukemia. But the baseline risk is extremely low — 4.5 cases of leukemia per 100,000 people under 20, and 3.5 cases of cancer of the brain or central nervous system — so that even tripled, it remains small.
New York Times 6th June 2012 more >>
Letter: An opinion poll v Cumbrian parish councils no vote. The latter is called democracy and rightly represents the will of the people not to be volunteers. Why is this poll both meaningless and alarming? Take the figures and then ask a simple question of the MRWS Partnership. Overall only 20 per cent of those polled knew a lot or a fair amount about it. Not unreasonable to make the connection that the 33 per cent who said no to not taking part in a search for a nuclear waste dump might just contain all of the 20 per cent in the know! The more we understand, the more we come to realise just what the implications for this county are. The MRWS website tells us: The public opinion survey is essential to understanding public views on the MRWS process in a statistically representative way. What is frighteningly obvious is the partnership has singularly failed to educate Cumbrian people as to what storing higher-activity waste in West Cumbria will mean, because according to the Mori poll 80 per cent of people know little or nothing at all about it. Geology is the final barrier against future release of radioactivity into the environment and yet nowhere can I find the submissions made by Professors Smythe and Haszeldine on the MRWS website. The idea put to the MRWS partnership at the last Whitehaven meeting was that Professors Smythe and Haszeldine should explain their submissions as the partnership did not feel qualified to understand them. That was frowned upon. If a decision is made to move to Stage 4 of the siting process contrary to the overwhelming no from the Cumbrian parishes, there is no body to appeal to except perhaps CALC and maybe eventually to court where, thankfully, the interests of common sense and natural justice are divorced from the interests of the government developers. Are we really going to trust the future of this county to an opinion poll over the will of the people? Register and petition for a referendum on the Cumbria County Councils website (bit.ly/NeafvK). Perhaps when enough have signed we can force a referendum on this issue and let them know we in Cumbria are mined to place our trust in democracy rather than opinion.
Whitehaven News 7 June 2012 more >>
Power company accuses councils of seeking to impose unworkable rules and restrictions on nuclear construction project. EDF Energy has accused local councils in Somerset of trying to straitjacket its £10bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project with rules and restrictions on contractors. Last month, Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council and Sedgemoor District Council produced a joint Local Impact Report (LIR) that recommended halving the number of high tides the firm could use at a nearby coastal wharf to bring in materials, limiting lorry movements on local roads and restricting working hours at the site. The councils have also expressed concern that the accommodation campuses, which EDF proposes to build in nearby Bridgewater to house around 1,000 workers, do not offer a suitable legacy of affordable housing for the town because they do not have individual cooking facilites. But EDF said in its response that contractors Balfour Beatty, Vinci, Laing ORourke and Bouygues, who are all bidding to work on the £1.2bn civil works package on the project, had given their backing to the campus model.
Building 7th June 2012 more >>
Japan’s leader has appealed to the nation to accept that two nuclear reactors that remained shuttered after the Fukushima disaster must be restarted to protect the economy and people’s livelihoods. Prime minister Yoshihiko Noda said the government has taken ample safety measures to ensure the two reactors in western Japan would not leak radiation if an earthquake or tsunami as severe as last year’s should strike them. All 50 of Japan’s workable reactors are offline for maintenance and safety concerns since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami last March swept into a coastal plant in Fukushima and sparked the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster. The two reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant are the first two ready to resume generating power, but the public has shown great concern that government failures worsened last year’s crisis and may recur.
Guardian 8th June 2012 more >>
Fukushima Update 5th – 7th June 2012
Greenpeace International 8th June 2012 more >>
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has decided that two idled nuclear reactors must be restarted to protect jobs and avoid economic damage, adding that steps had been taken to prevent a recurrence of the Fukushima disaster. The decision expected to be confirmed at a meeting with key ministers will ease worries about power shortages among firms in the region, including struggling electronics giants Panasonic and Sharp. But the move, seen by many as a first step to bringing more reactors online, could undermine Noda’s sagging support among voters worried about safety after the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. Noda said the Government had confirmed that even if Kansai Electric’s two reactors at its Ohi plant in Fukui lost power as happened after Fukushima, there would be no damage to the reactors’ core.
Herald 9th June 2012 more >>
Independent 9th June 2012 more >>
Scotsman 9th June 2012 more >>
Guardian 8th June 2012 more >>
Talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over inspections of suspect nuclear sites broke down on Friday, deepening pessimism over the prospects of a negotiated settlement to the international impasse over Tehran’s nuclear aspirations.
Guardian 9th June 2012 more >>
Reuters 8th June 2012 more >>
The International Atomic Energy Agency declared on Friday that its negotiations with Iran over Tehrans nuclear programme had stalled badly, a development that the UN agency described as disappointing.
FT 8th June 2012 more >>
Last month’s fire at a ‘security installation’ in Kahuta, Pakistan, did not grab world headlines but it presents a scary picture, according to an assessment by the Indian government. Kahuta is the hub of the neighbouring country’s nuclear weapons programme as it houses a uranium enrichment plant and a short-range missile fabrication facility.
Daily Mail India 8th June 2012 more >>
Bristol bids to be Europe’s Greenest City; Bristol Solar Co-op smashes its fundraising target; Aberdeen plans 2,500 solar panels; Green Deal funding delay plus much more micro power news.
Microgen Scotland 8th June 2012 more >>
Gas vs Renewables
Green campaigners have dismissed claims that building more gas plants would help the UK cut emissions as “ridiculous”, insisting a new “dash for gas” would leave the country locked in to a high carbon trajectory. Think-tank Policy Exchange drew the ire of renewable energy proponents by arguing in a new report that bringing forward new gas generation instead of more expensive developments such as offshore wind would free up resources to help further other green technologies. The conclusions were roundly rejected by Jenny Banks, policy officer at WWF-UK, who cited the alarming effects of a global “dash for gas” outlined in last week’s International Energy Agency (IEA) report. That warned a rise in gas-fueled plants could result in temperature rises of 3.5 degrees of warming, well above the two degree limit most scientists say will avoid the worst effects of climate change, and said emissions gains from replacing coal with gas tend to be counteracted by higher demand and lower investment in low carbon fuels.
Business Green 8th June 2012 more >>
With prices up to £25 per bulb, the received wisdom that LED lighting is too expensive seems deserved. But rising electricity prices and falling LED costs mean that for homes with a large number of halogen bulbs, the new generation of low-energy lighting finally makes financial sense.
Guardian 8th June 2012 more >>