The multi-billion pound bid process for the contract to clean up the Sellafield nuclear plant has been thrown into chaos by a number of senior departures at the body that is running the competition. Nuclear industry figures have expressed dismay about the changes at the top of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the government body charged with deciding who will decomission Sellafield’s old power stations in West Cumbria. The nuclear clean-up contract is the largest in the world after Savannah River, South Carolina, in the US. Whoever wins will receive £1bn a year – half of the NDA’s total budget – to decommission Sellafield.
Sunday Telegraph 9th March 2008 more >>
A consortium, including US engineering giant Bechtel and the UK’s Serco, is the frontrunner for the £20bn contract to decommission the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria. The deadline to lodge final bids with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is 7 April. The NDA insists the multibillion pound competition remains on track, despite losing five of its 18 directors in the past two months. It comes as European energy groups also seek to team up with UK utilities to build new reactors on NDA sites.
Observer 9th March 2008 more >>
Sellafield MOX Plant
Weapons-ready plutonium that terrorists could easily make into a nuclear bomb is to be carried hundreds of miles down the west coast of Britain in an unarmed ship. Experts say that the plutonium dioxide powder, shortly to be taken to France from the Sellafield nuclear complex for the first time, would be an ideal material for creating a nuclear explosion and for use in a dirty bomb. One calls it “the worst possible material” to ship. Yet the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which owns Sellafield, is to take it on an old roll-on roll-off ferry with few security and safety features – even though it has used armed and better-equipped vessels to transport less dangerous nuclear materials in the past.
Independent on Sunday 9th March 2008 (Front Page) more >>
It was a deeply embarrassing moment for the Government, though it passed almost without notice. Late last month, the Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, had to admit to one of the most comprehensive and catastrophic failures in British industrial history – and one that has led directly to the plans to ship weapons-ready plutonium to France. Answering a question from Dai Davies, the independent MP for Blaenau Gwent, Mr Wicks confessed that a new plant at Sellafield, built amid great controversy at a cost of £473m, had comprehensively failed to work. Originally designed to produce 120 tons a year of “mixed oxide” (MOX) nuclear fuel – made of plutonium and uranium separated from nuclear waste by reprocessing – it had in fact managed only 5.3 tons in five years of operation.
Independent on Sunday 9th March 2008 more >>
Tehran on Sunday said that Iran might resume nuclear talks with the European Union although President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had ruled out such talks following the adoption of UN Security Council 1803. “We are still in favour of talks which would have tangible and effective results and contain constructive proposals,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at an international nuclear conference in Tehran.
Earth Times 9th March 2008 more >>
RWE Npower has privately admitted that energy companies will only tackle fuel poverty effectively if the government forces them to do so. The energy industry has been trying to resist moves to force companies to do more to help the soaring numbers of ‘fuel poor’ in this week’s Budget. The government has set a legally binding target to end fuel poverty in England by 2010, and across most of the UK by 2016. But in a letter to energy regulator Ofgem in September, Npower admitted that the government’s approach to date, to encourage companies to offer more subsidised or ‘social’ tariffs to poorer households on a voluntary, as opposed to compulsory, basis would not work.
Observer 9th March 2008 more >>