EU state aid probe likely over British plan for EDF nuclear plant 7 News, December 3, 2013, By Barbara Lewis and Foo Yun Chee BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU regulators are likely to open a formal investigation into whether Britain’s offer of state guarantees, to help finance a nuclear plant to be built by France’s EDF , conform with the bloc’s rules, its competition commissioner said on Monday.
Britain in October signed a deal with EDF to build a nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in southwest England and became the first European country to offer a guaranteed power price over 35 years for a new nuclear project.
“Two to three weeks ago we received notification from the UK,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a Brussels conference organised by Eurelectric, which represents the EU electricity industry.
“We are starting to analyse what is in the British proposal. Probably we will open a formal investigation because many people are asking the same question as you do,” he said when asked whether the British proposal for 35 years of a guaranteed energy price was too long under the terms of EU rules on state aid………The Commission is revising its state aid guidelines and is expected to finalise the rules for 2014-2020 next year.
It has said they will not specifically include nuclear energy, dealing another blow to Britain’s hopes of early certainty. Instead, each project will be assessed on its own merits………http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/20120325/eu-state-aid-probe-likely-over-british-plan-for-edf-nuclear-plant/
Talk of building a new mixed-oxide (Mox) fuel reprocessing plant has been undermined by a report out this summer that concluded a previous Mox facility, which closed two years ago, had left taxpayers with a £2.2bn bill rather than the healthy profit that had been promised when it was first constructed.
Sellafield executives to face MPs as nuclear clean-up bill rises over £70bn http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/01/sellafield-nuclear-clean-up-cost-rises Public accounts committee to scrutinise private consortium accused of spending cash ‘like confetti’ Terry Macalister The Guardian, Monday 2 December 2013 The bill for cleaning up the huge Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria will rise even higher than its current estimated level of £70bn as operators struggle to assess the full scale of the task, according to sources close to the project.
The warning comes just days before private sector managers face a grilling from the public accounts committee, which is investigating activities at the facility.
It was hoped that the huge bill – eight times the cost of staging the London Olympics – would be capped at £70bn, but well-placed sources have told the Guardian that the operators are convinced they are still “not at the top” of the cost curve.
Sellafield is regarded as the most dangerous and polluted industrial site in western Europe, not least because it houses 120 tonnes of plutonium, the largest civilian stockpile in the world.
The cost of decommissioning the Calder Hall reactor plus a magnox fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield has been rising steeply, but the biggest task comes from “ponds” and “silos” filled with old equipment and deteriorating, highly toxic waste. Read more »
Secrecy law approved in Japan — AP: Prison for ‘inappropriate reporting’ — Official: We’re on path to be fascist state — Fear Fukushima cover-ups to worsen http://enenews.com/secrecy-law-approved-by-japan-lawmakers-ap-prison-for-inappropriate-reporting-official-were-on-path-to-be-fascist-state-fear-of-more-fukushima-cover-ups
Associated Press, Nov. 26, 2013: Japan’s more powerful lower house of Parliament approved a state secrecy bill late Tuesday [...] Critics say it might sway authorities to withhold more information about nuclear power plants [...] The move is welcomed by the United States [...] lawyer Hiroyasu Maki said the bill’s definition of secrets is so vague and broad that it could easily be expanded to include radiation data [...] Journalists who obtain information “inappropriately” or “wrongfully” can get up to five years in prison, prompting criticism that it would make officials more secretive and intimidate the media. Attempted leaks or inappropriate reporting, complicity or solicitation are also considered illegal. [...] Japan’s proposed law also designates the prime minister as a third-party overseer.
BBC, Nov. 26, 2013: Japan approves new state secrecy bill to combat leaks [...] The bill now goes to the upper house, where it is also likely to be passed.
Independent Scotland would keep queen, dump nuclear deterrent
Yahoo 7 News November 27, 2013,Glasgow (AFP) – An independent Scotland would keep the pound and the British monarchy but establish its own defence force, First Minister Alex Salmond said Tuesday as he unveiled detailed proposals ahead of next year’s referendum……In a key commitment, the blueprint says an independent Scotland would no longer host Britain’s Trident nuclear missile deterrent…….http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/20030691/independent-scotland-would-keep-queen-dump-nuclear-deterrent/
David Cameron’s attack on green policies threatens £12bn renewable sector, say Greenpeace, Express, By: Owen Bennett – Political Reporter November 21, 2013 DAVID CAMERON has been accused of risking jobs and investment in the renewable energy sector after reports claimed he had told aides to “get rid of all this green c**p”. It was claimed the Prime Minister was making a major U-turn on environmental issues, and ordering aides to strip out green levies which push up energy bills.
Prior to the 2010 election, Mr Cameron had urged Britain to “vote blue, go green” as he promised to lead the “greenest government ever.”
Downing Street deny the Prime Minister is turning his back on environmentalism, but Greenpeace said the comments show Mr Cameron is trying to claw back support with green sceptics in his party.
Greenpeace’s deputy political director Joss Garman said: “If David Cameron thinks the road to electoral victory will be found in attacking the very policies that he once passionately advocated then he is sorely mistaken.
“The British electorate are a sophisticated bunch who will see through his chameleon tendencies and conclude this attack is not an act of leadership but one of cowardice as he panders to the extreme wing of his own party and tries to claw back support from Ukip.
“The real crime is that every time David Cameron reaches for the dog whistle playbook he undermines thousands of jobs in the green energy sector and threatens future investment. Now that really is crap.” Read more »
Sweden rejects British model for new nuclear plant deals http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/19936540/sweden-rejects-british-model-for-new-nuclear-plant-deals/ November 21, 2013, By Michel Rose PARIS (Reuters) – Sweden, reviving its nuclear power, will not follow Britain’s example of offering state guarantees to fund the construction of new plants, its energy minister said on Wednesday. Last month, Britain signed a deal with France’s EDF to build a new nuclear plant, becoming the first European country to guarantee a company a feed-in tariff for an atomic energy project. Sweden’s biggest power group Vattenfall has touted Britain’s price guarantee system to help companies commit to build new nuclear power plants in a market with low power prices.
“We won’t address any direct or indirect subsidies for new nuclear power production in Sweden, which means that we will not introduce any feed-in tariff for nuclear,” Swedish Energy Minister Anna-Karin Hatt told reporters in Paris. Read more »
Japan and nuclear power High alert The riskiest part yet of the Fukushima clean-up is soon to begin The Economist, Nov 16th 2013 | FUKUSHIMA AMONG the twisted metal and random debris that litter much of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the fourth reactor looks in relatively good condition. A new structure covers the damage from a hydrogen explosion that blew its roof off days after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the plant in March 2011. But the building is still unstable, and its spent-fuel storage pool highly dangerous. This month Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) will start plucking out over 1,500 radioactive rods from the pool in order to store them more safely. Over the pool a crane waits to start the procedure, and a yellow radiation alarm stands at the ready. Experts call the operation the riskiest stage of the plant’s clean-up so far.
Even the pro-nuclear ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) wants to take TEPCO in its current form out of the decommissioning process, which will take 40 or more years. A new entity, including the utility’s staff but separate from its commercial side, would take charge……..Junichiro Koizumi, a popular LDP former prime minister, has stepped in, calling for an immediate end to nuclear power. After he broadcast his views at a press conference, a poll showed that three-fifths of those who were surveyed backed his plan.
Mr Koizumi still knows how to rouse the public, says Jeff Kingston of Temple University in Tokyo, but there is little chance that Mr Abe’s commitment to nuclear power will change. His government’s links to the “nuclear village” are too strong. Big business is clamouring for the power stations to restart. Mr Koizumi’s style is certainly more orthodox than Taro Yamamoto’s. At a garden party, the new member of parliament dared to hand a letter to the emperor, Akihito, about the impact of the Fukushima catastrophe. Such direct contact with a near-divine was considered an outrage by everybody in the establishment (except Akihito, who carried on chatting with him). Japan’s nuclear-energy drama is far from over. http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21589912-riskiest-part-yet-fukushima-clean-up-soon-begin-high-alert
Japan readies additional $30 billion for Fukushima clean-up: sources BY YOSHIFUMI TAKEMOTO TOKYO Tue Nov 12, (Reuters) – Japan’s government is finalizing plans to borrow an additional 3 trillion yen ($30 billion) to pay for compensating Fukushima evacuees and cleaning up the area outside the wrecked nuclear plant, said people with knowledge of the situation.
The additional borrowing would mark both a recognition of the project’s mounting costs and the difficulty of hitting initial targets for reducing radiation levels in the towns and villages hardest hit by the fallout from the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
The new government borrowing program would increase the amount earmarked for Fukushima-related expenses to the equivalent of just over $80 billion, according to government officials with knowledge of the developing plan who asked not to be named.
That $80 billion excludes the cost of decommissioning Fukushima’s six reactors, a process expected to take decades.
The new funding, which is being reviewed as part of the regular budget-setting process, would increase the amount earmarked for paying for work crews to decontaminate Fukushima towns and villages by about $500 million, according to the sources.
The rest of the extra funding raised by the government would be used to defray the cost of creating a storage facility for the radioactive waste, including topsoil and leaves collected from the evacuated zone, and would be available to pay compensation to more than 50,000 nuclear evacuees who remain shut out of their homes more than two and a half years after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 triggered meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima plant…… http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/11/12/us-japan-fukushima-borrowing-idINBRE9AB0H520131112
Sellafield nuclear complex clean-up contract winner criticised on spending Margaret Hodge and KPMG, working for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, accuse group of overspending Terry Macalister The Guardian, Saturday 9 November 2013 A five-year extension to the Sellafield nuclear decommissioning contract worth £5bn was handed to a private consortium even though its performance had been fiercely criticised by accountants.
KPMG, working for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, accused the clean-up group of overspending, failure to reach operational targets and weak leadership at the atomic complex in Cumbria, according to documents seen by the Guardian.
Margaret Hodge, who chairs the parliament’s public accounts committee, said that in the light of the critical review it was “inexplicable” that the NDA was prepared to reward the Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) consortium for spending cash “like confetti”.
She also complained the critical KPMG report was not shown to her committee or the National Audit Office until the last minute. It had only been sent to the spending watchdogs via a member of the public who conducted a freedom of information request. “But having looked at the report it is inexplicable that the NDA would continue with this consortium after such a hugely critical assessment,” she added.
The NMP decommissioning consortium comprises Areva, the French engineering firm that is also working on the new Hinkley Point power station, in Somerset, which also includes URS of the US and Amec of Britain.
KPMG says it went through 28 out of 154 “bid commitments” at Sellafield and found 30% were deemed fully achieved and 4% partially achieved. KPMG added: “There is still considerable uncertainty in schedules and costs of the projects that account for 26% of annual spending” while the site manager “does not bear risks for delays and cost increases”.
There had been widespread speculation that the consortium would either see the renewal time shortened or be stripped of the work, which would be handed back to the public sector. But the decommissioning authority nevertheless gave the go-ahead to a further five years in October….http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/08/sellafield-nuclear-margaret-hodge-kpmg-overspending
Anti-nuclear letter handed to Japan’s Emperor Akihito causes uproar, news.com.au, NOVEMBER 07, 2013 A NOVICE Japanese lawmaker who wanted to draw attention to the Fukushima nuclear crisis has caused an uproar by doing something taboo: handing a letter to the emperor.
The ruckus began at an annual autumn Imperial Palace garden party last week. As Emperor Akihito and his wife, Michiko, greeted a line of guests, outspoken actor-turned-lawmaker Taro Yamamoto gave the emperor the letter – a gesture considered both impolite and inappropriate…….. Yamamoto’s action drew criticism from both ends of the ideological spectrum and left many Japanese baffled by what they consider to be a major breach of protocol: reaching out to the emperor in an unscripted act………Many conservatives still consider the emperor and his family divine (“the people above the clouds”) and believe a commoner shouldn’t even talk to him…….The Imperial Household Agency vice chief said that Yamamoto’s action was “inappropriate,” and that the incident could affect operation of future palace public events. He said the agency has the letter, and Akihito hasn’t read it.
Yamamoto’s anti-nuclear stance makes him a target for conservatives in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which is pushing for a return to nuclear power. Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura called for Yamamoto’s resignation……
Nakano [ Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo] said Yamamoto has at least drawn some public attention to the potential health risks faced by children from the Fukushima area and plant workers. ”After all, he might have achieved part of his goals, ” Nakano said. http://www.news.com.au/world/anti-nuclear-letter-handed-to-japans-emperor-akihito-causes-uproar/story-fndir2ev-1226755434400
Deutsche Bank notes that EdF has effectively handballed the risk of new nuclear to consumer and the UK government. The consumer is picking up the tab through higher electricity bills, and the UK government is using taxpayers money to guarantee 65 per cent of the project cost. With the involvement of Chinese nuclear interests, that leaves EdF with an exposure of just £3.5 billion. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/nuclear-part-2-36006
State to spend over ¥1 trillion of taxpayer money for Fukushima decontamination work http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/02/national/state-to-spend-over-%C2%A51-trillion-of-taxpayer-money-for-fukushima-decontamination-work/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=state-to-spend-over-%25c2%25a51-trillion-of-taxpayer-money-for-fukushima-decontamination-work#.Unli23Bwo7o KYODO NOV 2, 2013
In a major policy shift, the government will use more than ¥1 trillion in public funds to clean up contaminated areas around the Fukushima No. 1 plant, according to sources.
The plan revealed Friday to alleviate the financial burden Tokyo Electric Power Co. was supposed to shoulder is in line with a ruling Liberal Democratic Party proposal compiled Thursday on ways to accelerate the sluggish recovery from one of the world’s worst nuclear crises.
Tepco is still expected to stump up to some ¥3 trillion because the government has no intention of exempting it from decontamination payments that have already been planned by the state and local governments.
The central government, for its part, plans to use taxpayers’ money to respond to additional decontamination needs for infrastructure restoration, such as cleaning schools, parks and other public facilities that have been left to go to seed after residents fled from their homes. It will also use public funds to build interim storage facilities to keep radioactive soil and other waste from the cleanup efforts.
The Environment Ministry has earmarked a total of ¥1.5 trillion for radioactive decontamination through fiscal 2013, ending next March, and has asked Tepco to pay back ¥40 billion of the funds it has so far used. But the utility has only returned ¥6.7 billion, citing delays in clerical work and tough business conditions.
Tepco is struggling amid soaring costs for fuel imports to boost thermal power generation to cover the loss of all its nuclear plants. It also needs funds to compensate people and companies affected by the nuclear crisis and to decommission the crippled reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Tea party Republicans are biggest climate change deniers, new Pew poll finds WP, BY JULIET EILPERIN AND SCOTT CLEMENT November 1 Tea party Republicans are now the only group of Americans who think the Earth is not warming, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, with just 25 percent of tea party Republicans saying global warming is happening. By contrast, 67 percent of all Americans say there is evidence climate change is underway, including 61 percent of non-tea party Republicans.
Democrats and independents are more confident about global warming: 88 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents say there is solid evidence climate change has taken place over the past few decades.
Despite broad belief in warming overall, fewer than half the public believes human activity is to blame (44 percent), a number hardly changed from last year (42 percent). That’s despite a significant rise in the share of Americans who believe scientists generally agree the Earth is getting warmer because of human activity, from 45 percent last year to 54 percent now…….http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/11/01/only-tea-party-members-believe-climate-change-is-not-happening-new-pew-poll-finds/?tid=hpModule_ba0d4c2a-86a2-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394
Lawmaker warns emperor of reality facing Japan: “Children are suffering from health problems” — Another official reveals “the incidence of cancer in children has been increasing” and is heckled (VIDEO) http://enenews.com/lawmaker-warns-emperor-of-reality-facing-japan-children-are-suffering-from-health-problems-another-official-reveals-the-incidence-of-cancer-in-children-has-been-increasing-and-is-heckled
Kyodo News, Nov. 1, 2013: “I wrote the letter because I wanted the emperor to know the situation of children who have suffered from radiation exposure, the appalling labor conditions for workers at the nuclear plant, and the poor way radiation (exposure) is being managed,” [Japanese lawmaker Taro] Yamamoto said. When the emperor came near him, Yamamoto expressed fear that the children are suffering from health problems, saying, “The future of the children is in danger” and gave the letter to the emperor [...]
Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 1, 2013: “I, as an individual, only wanted to tell the emperor the truth about the health hazard posed to children and the workers who are exposed to radiation and being abandoned” [...] “I wanted to explain the plight of children exposed to radiation [...] From a common sense point of view, handing a letter to His Majesty may be rude. However, even though it is, I could not contain my desire to have him understand what is happening,” the lawmaker said.
Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 2, 2013: “I wanted to explain the plight of children exposed to radiation released after the nuclear accident and the health condition of people who are working at the facility in the worst conditions”
Reuters, Nov. 1, 2013: “I wanted him to know about the children who have been contaminated by radiation”
Jiji Press,, Nov. 2, 2013: [...] he wanted to inform the Emperor of the real situation facing the nation following the March 2011 nuclear crisis [...]
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