The content of this e-journal was for the most part originally prepared for Nuclear Free Local Authorities (Scotland) and is reproduced, as adapted, with their permission but without liability for its contents.
8.0 British Energy
1.1 Energy Minister, Mike O’Brien, told the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) Energy Choices 2004 Conference on 2nd December, that it was up to the private sector to prove that nuclear power was economic. He said the nuclear industry would have to come up with an economically viable proposal before the Government would publish a White Paper for consultation on building new nuclear stations. O’Brien said the market, not the Government, must decide whether we need more generation capacity, and what kind. So if new nuclear is to be built, the private sector must come up with the cash. As things stand, this is unlikely to be forthcoming. O’Brien earlier dismissed nuclear as ‘irrelevant’ to current policy. He told The Observer in November that the focus ‘has to be on renewables’. 
1.2 Gordon MacKerron, Chair of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) also told the Conference the nuclear waste issue would not be resolved in July 2006 when CoRWM submits its recommendations to the Government. This might be a significant moment in the process, but CoRWM is only the ‘front-end’ of a very long process – the issue will not be resolved just because CoRWM reports its recommendations on the best option for nuclear waste management.
1.3 Robert Knight of MORI also reported to the Conference how the public’s views on the nuclear industry have developed over recent years. Those with an unfavourable opinion or impression of the nuclear industry peaked around July 2001 after the MOX data falsification scandal at 49% (with those with a favourable opinion at 19%). By October 2004, however, those with an unfavourable view had gone down to 27%, with 24% holding a favourable view. But there has also been a decrease in the number of people who oppose the building of new nuclear stations to replace stations being phased out, from 57% in 2001 (19% in support), to 34% in 2004 (30% in support). However, 53% of Labour supporters opposed replacement reactors in 2004.
1.4 By January, according to The Times, public opinion had swung in favour of replacement nuclear power stations. According to MORI, 35% of the British population said they would support the building of new nuclear power stations to replace those stations that are being phased out over the next few years. 30% opposed replacement stations. Those who felt favourable towards the nuclear industry had also gone up to 35%. 
1.5 In addition, Knight told the Conference that opinion polls show that the public remains to be convinced that nuclear power does not produce greenhouse gases, and as much as 65% of the public is at least fairly concerned about future imports of gas. Renewables remain the most popular energy source, though knowledge is poor and opinions may be easily influenced.
1.6 Meanwhile, the former Bishop of Birmingham, Hugh Montefiore, has been forced to leave the board of Friends of the Earth (FoE) because his support for nuclear energy to tackle global warming is not compatible with FoE’s aims. In an opinion piece in The Independent Montefiore said we need nuclear power to save the planet from a looming catastrophe – its advantages far outweigh the dangers. Tony Juniper, FoE’s Chief Executive said nuclear power does not provide an adequate or appropriate solution to climate change. Evidence shows that the Government’s target of a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 can be achieved through modest reductions in demand for electricity, reductions in emissions from transport and industry, and support for renewables. In the longer term, the Royal Commission has shown that Britain can cut its emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 without recourse to nuclear power. Non-nuclear alternatives are preferable because, contrary to Bishop Montefiore’s claims, nuclear power is not "a reliable, safe, cheap, almost limitless form of pollution-free energy". Radioactive waste remains dangerous for tens of thousands of years.
1.7 Some sections of the Press have sought to characterise the fact that a couple of environmentalists have argued that nuclear power has “positive” benefits, as a “growing row” among Britain’s leading environmentalists. The other environmentalist to support nuclear power in recent months was James Lovelock, author of the Gaia theory. He is often described as one of the country’s most respected green thinkers. But he has long been a nuclear supporter. In 2000 he told the Guardian that he would happily bury nuclear waste in his garden. He would use it to heat his home and “to sterilise the stuff from the supermarket, the chicken and whatnot, full of salmonella. Just drop it down through a hole. I’m not saying this tongue-in-cheek. I am quite serious."
1.8 The Minister with responsibility for renewable energy has become the first member of Jack McConnell’s administration to break ranks over its opposition to nuclear power. Writing in the Sunday Herald, Allan Wilson, MSP for Cunninghame North – the constituency which hosts Hunterston B – argues that new nuclear power stations may be inevitable north of the Border because of the unreliability of other energy sources.  Wilson said that Scotland and Britain would become increasingly reliant on gas-powered generation if nuclear generation is not replaced. “Does it make sense”, he asked, “even with a substantial contribution from renewables to become so dependent on imported gas?”
1.9 At a conference, organised by white collar union Prospect in November, entitled “Keeping the Nuclear Option Open – What Will It Take?”, Martin O’Neill MP, chairman of the Trade and Industry Select Committee, expressed optimism a new Labour government would take another hard look at nuclear "within 12 months" of winning an election. But he believed a new consortium of companies rather than British Energy would be the most likely vehicle for building new capacity. Two of Britain’s largest unions, Amicus and the Transport and General Workers’ Union (T&G), which together have 2.1 million members, have also demanded that the Government rethinks its energy policies and puts nuclear power back on the agenda – to prevent a looming power crisis.
1.10 Europe’s nuclear power industry won an important boost when EdF, the state-owned French electricity group, announced it would build a prototype 3bn Euro next-generation plant on the Normandy coast. EdF said it would seek swift planning permission to build its first European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) at Flamanville, south-west of Cherbourg. But the European Renewable Energies Federation lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission asking it to investigate whether the EPR being built in Finland violates state aid regulations. EREF alleges that illegal state aids, through low-cost bank loans and export credit guarantees, have been given to the Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO) and Areva and Siemens, suppliers of the 1,600-MW EPR being built at Olkiluoto-3. EREF says these "structured energy distortions" by state authorities "undermine any level playing field” and are unfair to any other electricity supplier. The European Commission (EC) confirmed that it would investigate the complaint.
 “All fired Up about Britain’s Coal Industry” by Oliver Morgan, Observer, 7th November 2004, http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,1345222,00.html
 “Poll shows renewed support for a nuclear programme” by Angela Jameson, The Times, 18th January 2005, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,171-1445208,00.html
 “Renewable Energy is all very well … but we can’t rule out nuclear power” by Allan Wilson MSP, Sunday Herald 26th December 2004, http://www.sundayherald.com/46868. See also Scotsman & Herald 27th December, 2004, http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1466682004 & http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/30458.html
2.1 West Cumbrian fishermen say the area’s shell-fishing industry would be devastated by new rules to ban seafood that is too contaminated with plutonium from Sellafield.  Thousands of tonnes of British shellfish currently eaten in Europe – including fish from Cumbria, the Solway, and Morecambe Bay – could be banned because it breaches limits being proposed by the United Nations. The UN is proposing a new safety limit for plutonium of 1 Becquerel per Kilogram (1Bq/Kg). The UK’s Food Standards Agency says the new limits are too strict and “not proportionate to the actual risk”.
2.2 On the other hand, Greenpeace welcomes the replacement of the current European Community Food Interventional Levels (CFILs) with these new Guidance Levels. CFILs were originally introduced in 1987 following the Chernobyl accident to restrict the marketing of radioactively contaminated foodstuffs within Europe after a nuclear accident. The UN Guideline Levels will apply to radioactivity in food arising from routine radioactive discharges as well as after accidents. The proposed UN Guideline Level for plutonium is the same as the CFIL for baby food (The CFIL for other food is 80 Bq/kg). Greenpeace says that although the implementation of the new Guideline Levels may prevent the marketing of shellfish from North West England and South West Scotland, it is right that we should protect the most vulnerable consumers. The proposal would take into account emerging scientific uncertainties about the health risks of small amounts of plutonium inside the body and is in line with radiation safety limits recommended by other regulatory authorities internationally, in the US and in the UK. The Government’s Committee Examining Radiation Risk of Internal Emitters (CERRIE) final report agrees that the ICRP (International Committee of Radiological Protection) models could be wrong by a factor of well over 10 in the case of Plutonium and Americium in the body.
2.3 The UN’s proposed guideline for technetium-99 (Tc-99) would increase the current CFIL from 1,250Bq/kg to 10,000Bq/kg. Greenpeace says this would be a retrograde step, and run counter to the precautionary principle.
2.4 The Italian nuclear decommissioning agency, Sogin, will launch a tender for reprocessing of 235 metric tons of spent fuel from the country’s decommissioned power reactors as soon as the government publishes a pending decree allowing it to do so, in late January. Sogin will ask BNFL or Cogema to keep the final waste products in storage until the availability of a final repository in Italy, or for up to 20 years. It would also ask to receive only vitrified high-level waste (HLW) back from reprocessing, with the reprocessor keeping other waste categories.
2.5 Uranium and plutonium from past reprocessing of Italian spent fuel at Sellafield are already being stored by BNFL. A company spokesman said they would like to leave all their uranium and plutonium at Sellafield. This makes a nonsense out of the idea of reprocessing the spent fuel. Sogin is simply looking at reprocessing because it is having difficulty finding a site to store its spent nuclear waste fuel.
2.6 Sogin says the decision by the UK Government to allow BNFL to substitute HLW for intermediate-level waste (ILW) stemming from reprocessing of foreign spent fuel has encouraged it to opt for reprocessing because it reduces the volumes of waste to be managed.
 Carlisle News & Star 14th October
3.1 Two former environment ministers – Michael Meacher and John Gummer – have demanded a parliamentary inquiry into the wasting of hundreds of millions of pounds by BNFL on a new plant that it cannot get to work. The two who oversaw the building of the plant and gave it permission to start up, plan to refer the "scandal" to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. Their initiative follows the news that BNFL has had to call in its chief competitor, the French company Cogema, to try to get its controversial £473m Mox plant to operate properly.
3.2 Alan Edwards, former head of the DTI’s Liabilities Management Unit, had already expressed doubts about whether SMP will ever open  and a BNFL source had said "despite everyone’s best efforts, the bloody thing does not work".  BNFL has recently been forced to subcontract a 4th MOX order to one of its European competitors because of difficulties in opening the plant. 
3.3 In an article in the Guardian on the 18th October,  the newspaper gave the mistaken impression that the National Audit Office (NAO) had issued a report about the Sellafield MOX plant. However the substance of the article stemmed from a letter from the head of the NAO to Michael Meacher. BNFL’s status as a public corporation means that the Comptroller and Auditor General does not audit BNFL’s Annual Report and Accounts and does not have a statutory right of access to information and explanations from BNFL. This, however, will change when the SMP is taken over by the NDA on 1st April 2005. The NAO says that in 2005/6 it is likely to want to examine the value-for-money implications of the transfer of assets and liabilities from BNFL to the NDA.
3.4 In the meantime, Sir John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General (Head of the NAO) says that, in order to answer questions raised by Michael Meacher, the NAO has had discussions with the DTI. The SMP was originally estimated, in 1993, to cost £265m. The latest figure given in BNFL’s accounts for 2003/4 is £490m. In the period between plant construction and commissioning with plutonium, BNFL had to carry out a substantial amount of remedial work. This accounted for approximately half of the increase in costs. The remainder results from the construction of additional facilities and the capitalisation of expenditure on commissioning. In addition the costs of the data falsification scandal to BNFL amounted to £113m – making a total of around £600m.
3.5 Sir John reveals that any decision not to open the MOX Plant would incur large costs including contractual penalty payments to customers and would also have political consequences arising from the return of plutonium to nuclear generators overseas. BNFL’s assessment is that SMP has sufficient orders to enable it to remain viable, and that it would be much more expensive to close the plant immediately than to continue operating it. However, Sir John says this is subject to considerable uncertainty, and is particularly dependent on the satisfactory resolution of technical difficulties. From April 2005, the Secretary of State will be responsible for decisions on the future of the SMP on the basis of advice from the NDA. It is likely that the Government will wish to consider the case for continued operation of this plant as a result of the change in responsibilities.
 Speaking at the 6th Irish and UK Local Authorities Standing Conference on Nuclear Hazards, Glasgow 25-26 March 2004.
 Independent, 16 May 2004, ‘£470m nuclear plant does not work, admits BNFL’.
 Nuclear Fuel (Vol29, No 15, July 19, 2004) “BNFL subcontracts 4th MOX order to make up for SMP delay”.
4.1 The NDA is consulting on its first Draft Annual Plan. The Deadline for submissions is 11th February. The plan reveals that the NDA will spend £1bn next year cleaning up and operating the Sellafield facility. Of this £727m is operating cost, and £290m will be spent on clean-up and decommissioning. The Draft Annual plan reveals that the NDA is relying on an income of £307m from electricity sales, £635m from reprocessing and overseas transport of nuclear materials, and £136m from the manufacture of AGR and MOX fuel. The Draft Annual Plan says efforts to commission SMP will continue, and the NDA hopes to secure consent to operate the Plant in November 2005.
4.2 The Draft Annual Plan does not make it clear how much of the £136m the NDA expects to come from MOX fuel. BNFL has still has not managed to complete the assembly of any MOX fuel, but according to The Independent on Sunday SMP is expected to generate £45m of income in the 12 months to 31 March 2006. 
4.3 There is no mention in the Annual Plan of how the NDA plans to fulfil the commitment made in the White Paper to report annually on the “rationale for keeping [THORP, SMP and the Magnox reactors] open”.
4.4 Surprisingly the Annual Plan revealed that a huge area of land at Hunterston has been contaminated from leaks. The contamination is much worse than previously suspected, and far more than has been admitted at other nuclear sites in Scotland. Some 81,000 cubic metres of soil "enough to fill 900 double-decker buses" are laced with radioactivity which for years has been spilling from pipelines and blowing off open-air ponds of nuclear waste.
4.5 Around 40,000 spent nuclear waste fuel rods are due to be shipped from Chapelcross to Sellafield, now that the 4 reactors have closed. Trade Unionists at Chapelcross have expressed concern that the original plan which was to carry out de-fuelling between 2005 and 2007 has now been moved by two years, so won’t begin until January 2007.
4.6 The European Commission has opened a state aid investigation into the NDA. The commission said the inquiry is to check whether the establishment of the NDA complies with EU state aid rules — and in particular, the transferring of nuclear assets from BNFL to the NDA.
The commission said in a statement that an in-depth inquiry was necessary "in view of the complexity and novelty of the case". The DTI has been forced to set up a transitory regime to allow the NDA to operate, spending only money in BNFL’s Nuclear Liabilities Portfolio, until the commission reaches a final decision on the investigation.
4.7 How the transfer of assets and liabilities might help commercial operations will be the main focus of the EC investigation. In May 2004 Greenpeace presented a legal opinion to the Commission, which argued that the NDA could not be established or operate without prior EC approval, because it breaks EC rules designed to prevent governments providing state aid to industries. Greenpeace believes that the implications of the NDA go to the heart of the future of nuclear power in Europe, which depends on massive state aid. Most immediately, it sounds a warning on efforts under way by French state utility, Electricité de France to obtain, prior to privatisation, tens of billions of euros to finance its huge nuclear waste and decommissioning legacy. This would have a devastating impact on EdF’s competitors in the European electricity market, especially those investing in clean energy production.
4.8 Now that the NDA is almost ready to begin operations, speculation has increased over what will happen to BNFL. The Sunday Telegraph, on Boxing Day, speculated that the DTI would unveil a range of options after the General Election. Options would include full privatisation to the sale of the profitable US subsidiary, Westinghouse. Companies that might be interested in acquiring part or the whole of BNFL include Amec, US group Halliburton and French nuclear group Areva. The Independent on Sunday claimed that the Government had entered into talks with Bechtel and Lockheed Martin over the sale of the British Nuclear Group – the main operating subsidiary of BNFL.
 “Nuclear ‘white elephant’ eyes a profit” By Clayton Hirst, Independent on Sunday, 12 December 2004 http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/story.jsp?story=592201
5.1 Trucks carrying enough US weapons-grade plutonium for more than 60 bombs reached southern France in early October. There were several security lapses during its 600-mile journey through the country. Greenpeace activists say they got within yards of the world’s biggest ever shipment of the plutonium when it stopped for petrol outside Toulouse. The plutonium was transported to Cadarache in Provence to be made into nuclear fuel, as part of an agreement with Russia to reduce weapons stockpiles. It was heavily guarded for its journey through France, which avoided Paris to make a detour via Rennes, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Nîmes.
6.1 The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management has launched the first stage of a programme of consultation which closes on 21st January. (See NFLA submission). Amongst other things, the consultation is designed to help the Committee reduce its long-list of options for nuclear waste management down to a short-list.
6.2 Amongst the documents released for the consultation was a Preliminary Report on the Radioactive Waste Inventory. There was some consternation when it emerged that the Committee had assessed the impact of building 10 new AP1000 nuclear reactors on the radioactive waste inventory. The report points out that such a new nuclear programme would not have a significant impact on the overall inventory of Intermediate Level Waste – adding only around an extra 5%. However, when looking at the most dangerous category of nuclear waste – high-level waste – if spent fuel is included in this category, as many believe it should be – a new nuclear programme more than doubles the inventory from 12,012 m3 to 26,012m3.
6.3 The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, in a report published in December, expressed grave concern that CoRWM has been told to start "with a blank sheet of paper" when so much work has been done already. It said CoRWM should stop wasting time considering options that have been discarded by the rest of the international community – such as blasting waste into space. Instead it should focus on the variants of underground storage or disposal. The Lords also said CoRWM appears to lack the relevant scientific and technical expertise to assess the various options for radioactive waste management, and said the Government should either appoint extra members to CoRWM with the expertise or establish a technical sub committee.
6.4 In the meantime, the House of Lords Committee said the government’s inability to deal with nuclear waste should not delay a decision on a new generation of power stations. The "small uncertainties" associated with burying waste in the ground were nothing compared with a world ravaged by global warming, the committee says. Lord Oxburgh, the committee chairman, pointed out that the al-Qaida threat alone was an important reason why there should be a quick government decision on radioactive waste, which is odd because one would have thought that concern about terrorist attacks would also rule out building new nuclear facilities and creating more radioactive waste, which would have to be stored above ground for at least at few decades.
6.5 In January, Lord Oxburgh renewed his attacks on CoRWM. He said Britain will not have learnt the lesson of the Indian Ocean tsunami if the Government continues to drag its feet over nuclear waste storage policy. He compared Asian leaders’ failure to set up a tsunami warning system to Government decision-making on nuclear waste storage.
6.6 The Government announced in December that it is to give the go-ahead for the substitution of High Level Waste (HLW) for Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste (ILW) resulting from the reprocessing of overseas-spent fuel. This means that the higher volume Intermediate Level Waste from overseas reprocessing contracts will remain in this country. Instead a slightly higher volume of High Level Waste will be returned to the country of origin.
7.1 The bill to clean up the Dounreay nuclear plant has been cut by £1 billion with the job now scheduled to be completed 11 years earlier than expected. The UKAEA says the Caithness complex will be returned to a near greenfield site by 2036 and the cost reduced from £3.6 billion to £2.6 billion. The original timescale for shutting down the 140-acre site was 100 years. The revised forecasts are contained in long-range plans submitted to the government and regulators in preparation for the launch of the NDA.
7.2 Dipesh Shah, the UKAEA’s chief executive, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that “the government is right to keep the [nuclear] option open. The kind of work the UKAEA is doing in clearing up the legacy of the past will be an essential precondition."
7.3 Speedier decommissioning will not please everyone. The Aberdeen Press & Journal reported that it will deal a devastating blow to the Highland economy. Most of the site’s 1,280 employees, and a similar number of contract workers, will now lose their jobs in 2013, when only a skeleton maintenance staff will remain. The first 200 jobs will be lost over the next couple of years by the non-replacement of staff who leave. Dounreay generates about £80million a year for the Caithness economy – an income the region could struggle to replace.
7.4 The announcement caught Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise – part of Highlands and Islands Enterprise – off guard. Chief executive Carroll Buxton said there was “no indication that the change in timescale and budget would be so dramatic. [Hopefully] the area will see real and lasting benefit from the alternative investment in the area of some of the huge savings to the public purse derived from the accelerated clean-up programme". 
7.5 In Safe Energy 28, it was reported that SEPA had made significant changes to the liquid radioactive waste discharge authorisations for Dounreay. The new limits came into effect on 4 October. In addition to these new limits, SEPA is currently carrying out a full gaseous and liquid discharge review, which will go out to public consultation in early 2005.
 “New D-day set for jobs meltdown at nuclear site”, by Iain Grant, Aberdeen Press & Journal 11th October, 2004
8.1 The reliability of British Energy’s nuclear reactors continue to cause the company problems as it soldiers on with its debt restructuring. The Company’s original output target for the financial year 2004/2005 was 64.5 TWh, but this was reduced, first to 61.5 TWh and now to 59.5 TWh. In 2003/2004 nuclear output was 65 TWh. The output reductions were mainly due to delays to the restarting of Hartlepool and Heysham 1.
8.2 Armed police are now expected to be permanently deployed for the first time at all of Britain’s operating nuclear power stations to protect them from possible terrorist attack. Officers from the UK Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary are being stationed at Hunterston in North Ayrshire, Torness in East Lothian, and at nuclear reactors in England and Wales.
8.3 At Hartlepool cracking discovered in two graphite bricks during a recent routine inspection of one of the two advanced gas-cooled reactors’ (AGR) graphite cores, has caused concern. BE said the cracking was not "anticipated by our analytical models". BE also warned that the discovery could mean that several other AGRs, including Torness and Hunterston B, are unable to achieve their currently assumed 35-year lifetimes.