As the Covid-19 virus grinds world economies to a halt, several national nuclear operators are weighing how to keep sensitive and vulnerable infrastructure chugging along in the face of staff shortages due to the illness. A number of national contingency plans, if enacted, could mark an unprecedented step by nuclear power providers to keep their highly-skilled workers healthy as governments scramble to minimize the impact of the global pandemic that has infected more than 240,000 people worldwide. Officials in the United States, for instance, have suggested they might isolate critical technicians at the country’s nuclear power plants and ask them to live onsite to avoid exposure to the virus. Many operators say they have been stockpiling beds, blankets and food to support staff for that purpose. Should that fail to stem the pandemic’s effect on the nuclear work force, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it would shut down any of America’s 60 nuclear plants if they can’t be appropriately staffed. Other operators, however, are already seeing the spread of the infection slow things down. In Great Britain, authorities announced they are shutting down a nuclear fuel reprocessing site at Sellafield after 8 percent of its 11,500-strong staff were forced to self-isolate to avoid infection. The move came after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus last week, and will lead to a gradual shutdown of the site’s Magnox facility, which is slated to close permanently later this year.
Bellona 20th March 2020 read more »
The U.S. electric industry may ask essential staff to live on site at power plants and control centers to keep operations running if the coronavirus outbreak worsens, and has been stockpiling beds, blankets, and food for them, according to industry trade groups and electric cooperatives. The contingency plans, if enacted, would mark an unprecedented step by power providers to keep their highly-skilled workers healthy as both private industry and governments scramble to minimize the impact of the global pandemic that has infected more than 227,000 people worldwide.
New York Times 20th March 2020 read more »
The unprecedented public health crisis that is associated with the global outbreak and spread of coronavirus is affecting all communities across the UK and Ireland. NFLA has specific concerns around its impact on the sensitive nuclear sector. In the past few days, the Sellafield site has announced that its Magnox reprocessing site operations will be suspended after workers on the facility tested positive for coronavirus. A Daily Mail report has also suggested there could be as many as 20 positive cases of coronavirus on the HM Nuclear Base Clyde, where Trident submarines hosting the UK’s nuclear weapons programme are stationed. The Daily Mail report suggests as well that a quarantining facility is to be built on the Faslane site. As independent nuclear policy consultant David Lowry has commented: “This raises the question of how well protected are our critical national nuclear installations – including nuclear submarine bases, nuclear weapons manufacturing plants such as AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield near Reading in Berkshire and civil nuclear power plants and associate nuclear fuel chain facilities such as Sellafield in Cumbria and Capenhurst in Cheshire – from being overwhelmed by a rapid spread of a virus without any known antidote vaccine?”
NFLA 20th March 2020 read more »
This raises the question of how well protected are our critical national nuclear installations- including nuclear submarine bases, nuclear weapons manufacturing plant such as AWE Aldermaston and Burgfield near Reading in Berkshire and civil nuclear power plants and associate nuclear fuel chain facilities such as Sellafield* in Cumbria and Capenhurst in Cheshire- from being overwhelmed by a rapid spread of a virus without any known antidote c vaccine?
David Lowry’s Blog 20th March 2020 read more »
More important still, the biggest threat to a net zero transition that is fast winning the economic argument remains a culture war backlash against accelerating decarbonisation. Allowing opponents of climate action to paint the inconvenience and isolation of the most traumatic period most people have ever lived through as part of some green masterplan, as Stephen Pollard did this week for Unherd, is emotionally tone deaf and strategically dumb. “Is this what a green world looks like?” Pollard asks. No, obviously not, is the answer. But his is a narrative that could stick if environmental campaigners celebrate this year’s inevitable emissions reductions and changed working patterns too vociferously. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres observed this week in a withering response to a question about sharply falling emissions projections, “we will not fight climate change with a virus”.
Business Green 20th March 2020 read more »