UK under pressure to buy nuclear reactors – from GE/Hitachi, Westinghouse/Toshiba and Areva/Mitsubishi
failure to agree a final deal between EDF Energy and the Government on Hinkley “threatens not only the first new nuclear power station for a generation, but potentially all those that will come in its wake,”
ABWRs – one of the least reliable reactors in the world nuClear news No.77, September 2015
Introduction – Anglesey: a victim of Abenomics? Exporting nuclear technology is a key element of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic strategy – “Abenomics”. Nuclear exports are seen as a way to rev up Japan’s long struggling economy, and tackle the persistent trade deficit made worse by the
need to import energy – especially Liquid Natural Gas – to replace reactors shutdown after Fukushima.
Japan’s top three nuclear engineering companies — Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toshiba — which had a combined profit in their energy and infrastructure businesses of about 242 billion yen ($3.14 billion) in the fiscal year 2010/11, were keener than ever to look overseas for business after Fukushima put the domestic nuclear industry on hold. Continue reading
Concerns over reliability, safety, chemistry of planned Advanced Boiling Water Nuclear Reactors (ABWR)
while these might be reasons for the Government to pull out of the project, it won’t be able to once the deal has been signed. And if the problem is that the strike price is too high, it’s unlikely that EDF or the other funders will want to pull out either.
At the Hinkley point of no return, is this a nuclear white elephant? The Independent, A deal for the £24.5bn power plant in Somerset could be signed in October after the Government agreed terms with the energy giant EDF. But, writes Tom Bawden, environmentalists are far from alone in opposing an ‘expensive mistake’ TOM BAWDEN 27 August 2015 One of Britain’s most controversial energy projects for decades – the £24.5bn nuclear power development at Hinkley Point in Somerset – is poised to get the green light.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has gone so far as to say households will be £74 a year better off in today’s money by 2026-30 than they would be without Hinkley Point C.
But the detractors are not in the least bit convinced, with analysts, politicians and even some rival power companies dismissing the project as a colossal waste of money. Shortly before his sudden departure from RWE Npower this week, the chief executive of the big six provider, Paul Massara, said future generations would look back on Hinkley Point C as an “expensive mistake”.
Despite the strength of opposition to the project, David Cameron is expected to sign a final deal in October during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK; the Chinese are big backers of the project….
We look at some of the main challenges to completion.
The political justification
An in-depth report into Hinkley Point C by HSBC bank saw “ample reason for the UK Government to delay or cancel the project”. It argued that the justification for the plant was “receding” because the UK’s energy consumption is falling just as a threefold rise in the number of giant interconnectors, hooking the country up with mainland Europe, means we could import energy much more cheaply than generating it at Hinkley Point.
Furthermore, while UK electricity generation is set to fall, capacity looks set to hold up surprisingly well, in part because of rising wind and solar power. As a result, the strike price is very difficult to justify, HSBC argued.
But while these might be reasons for the Government to pull out of the project, it won’t be able to once the deal has been signed. And if the problem is that the strike price is too high, it’s unlikely that EDF or the other funders will want to pull out either.
The new reactors at Hinkley Point will use the EPR – European Pressurised Reactor – model, a highly sophisticated new design that is supposed to be safer and more efficient than older reactors, but which has been fraught with problems and is not yet up and running at any site in the world.
The three other sites planning to use the new model have all suffered huge delays – in Finland, France and China – and Hinkley Point would be the fourth. Concerns about EPRs have mounted this year after a potentially catastrophic mistake was identified in the construction of an identical EPR power plant in Flamanville, Normandy……….
Problems at Areva
Areva, the French state-owned reactor designer behind the EPR model, has fallen deep into the red. It has not sold a new reactor since 2008 as problems with its reactors have pushed plants in France and Finland billions of euros over budget.
But EDF and the French government have moved to address Areva’s financial weakness, meaning it is unlikely to cause problems for the Hinkley Point project by going bust. EDF has agreed to take control of Areva’s main reactor division in a deal orchestrated – and with the implicit financial support of – the French government.
Austria has launched a legal challenge to the European Commission’s ruling that the guaranteed price for the new Hinkley Point reactors amounts to legal state aid. The case is expected to drag on for two to three years…… http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/at-the-hinkley-point-of-no-return-is-this-a-nuclear-white-elephant-10475849.html
Massive wildfires transform Siberian paradise into disaster area Mashable, Andrew Freeman 25 Aug 15 Dozens of large wildfires are burning out of control around Lake Baikal in Siberia, which is the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume and the deepest lake, at more than 5,300 feet deep. The Lake Baikal area is a popular recreational area during the summer, with campgrounds and cottages surrounding the shoreline.
Because of the composition of the soil in this part of the world, these fires are spewing unusually high amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to global warming.
The region has seen drier and milder than average weather this year, and a combination of natural and manmade fires have led to a cataclysmic scene, with thick smoke seen from space and orange-tinted skies on the ground.
In July, the Lake Baikal area was one of the most unusually mild areas on Earth, according to NASA data as well as information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Fires have been burning off and on in this area since April, when farmers traditionally burn dried grass to help fertilize the soil. However, this year, many agricultural fires in this region got out of control, killing at least two dozen people and destroying several villages.
The smoke even made it across the Pacific Ocean, making for red sunsets in the Pacific Northwest, which is now suffering through it’s own wildfire calamity………http://mashable.com/2015/08/24/massive-fires-are-surrounding-the-worlds-deepest-lake-in-siberia/
Hinkley C Mothballed – Is it in its Death Throes? http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/comment/hinkley-c-mothballed-is-it-in-its-death-throws/ Two very recent articles in Click Green and Professional Engineer indicate that Hinkley Point C is now officially mothballed. Indeed the project seems to be in its death throes.
We already knew that site preparation work at Hinkley Point C was stopped in April 2015, up to 400 construction workers were laid off, and the Final Investment Decision was delayed until the autumn. (1) What wasn’t clear at the time was that NNB Genco – the consortium planning to build the reactors which consists of EDF Energy, China General Nuclear Corp and other investors – put a cap on future spending on the project. (2)
On 1st July the site entered Care and Maintenance which means that activity at the site is limited to the management of material stockpiles and water management zones, remediation of asbestos contaminated land and archaeological surveys. (3)
The budget cap seems to have been greater than the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) was expecting. ONR, of course, charges NNB Genco for all the work it carries out to regulate its activities.
ONR says it has taken the decision to suspend the production of future inspection reports until a Final Investment Decision is made. It has also suspended attendance at the local liaison committee – the Cannington Forum. These suspensions are most likely because NNB Genco no longer has the budget to pay for them, so the consortium will have asked ONR to stop visiting the site to do inspections and stop attending the forum because it can’t afford to pay. In retaliation ONR says it is “monitoring the impact of the budget constraint upon NNB Genco’s competency and capability”. In other words NNB Genco had better watch out or it will lose its status as an organisation competent and capable of holding a nuclear license.
ONR says its inspectors “continue to engage with the programme of design and safety case activities” related to the start of nuclear safety related construction. Its August newsletter said that further submissions are expected in September this year and the Pre Construction Safety Case related to nuclear island construction was ready for ONR to begin initial engagement at the end of July this year. (4)
So while some desk work appears to be continuing all major work on-site appears to have stopped and NNB Genco is so uncertain that the final investment decision will be positive it has asked ONR to stop as much work as possible to save money – even to the point of threatening its own status as a nuclear capable organisation. The Click Green website says:
“Despite recently publishing a list of preferred suppliers for the £24 billion project, the French firm were in behind-the-scenes talks with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), during which they informed them of their decision to mothball the site.”
It looks as though it may be all over for Hinkley Point C bar the shouting.
(1) Gloucestershire Echo 2nd April 2015 http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/400-jobs-lost-Barnwood-based-EDF-stops-site-work/story-26271600-detail/story.html
(2) Click Green 20th Aug 2015 http://www.clickgreen.org.uk/news/national-news/126381-exclusive-edf-mothballs-planned-hinkley-c-nuclear-power-site.html
(3) Professional Engineering 20th Aug 2015 http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2015/08/construction-halted-at-hinkley-point-c-nuclear-project-site.html
(4) See page 7 ONR Regulation Matters August 2015http://www.onr.org.uk/documents/2015/regulation-matters-issue-1.pdf
New nuclear fuel bank a welcome development, Japan Times, 25 Aug 15 BY GARETH EVANS “………(on Aug. 27), Kazakhstan is establishing a major new international fuel bank, which it will operate on behalf of the IAEA. The new facility should once and for all remove the main excuse that has been advanced, sincerely or not, for building and maintaining homegrown enrichment capability.
Scheduled to commence operations in 2017, the Kazakh fuel bank will store up to 90 tons of LEU, sufficient to refuel three typical power-producing light water reactors. While Kazakhstan will physically operate the bank, the uranium will be owned and controlled by the IAEA, and made available to non-nuclear-weapon states if, for any reason, they cannot secure the LEU they need from the commercial market.
Provided the state in question is in compliance with its comprehensive non-proliferation safeguards agreement with the IAEA, it can draw the required fuel from the bank and transfer it to a fuel fabricator to make fuel assemblies for the reactors involved…….
The bank has been funded by voluntary contributions, including $50 million from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a U.S.-based NGO, $49 million from the U.S. government, up to $25 million from the European Union, $10 million each from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, and $5 million from Norway…… http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/08/25/commentary/world-commentary/new-nuclear-fuel-bank-a-welcome-development/#.VdzQBSWqpHx
France’s new nuclear power – not successful at home, so they might try to sell it off to Czech Republic
French foreign minister: EDF to consider participating in building new Czech nuclear reactors US News 23 Aug 15 PRAGUE (AP) — French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says his country’s company will consider participating in developing the Czech Republic’s nuclear program.
The Czech government has recently approved a long-term plan to increase the country’s nuclear power production. As part of the plan, the government wants to build one more reactor at the Temelin nuclear plant and another at the Dukovany plant, with an option to build yet another reactor at each plant…..Speaking to reporters after meeting Czech counterpart Lubomir Zaoralek on Sunday, Fabius said it will be state-controlled utility Electricite de France that will be part of a public tender to build the reactors. http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2015/08/23/france-to-consider-helping-czech-nuclear-program
Anti-nuclear demo ‘cost firm €1million’ http://www.bridgwatermercury.co.uk/news/13610163.Anti_nuclear_demo____cost_firm____1million___/?ref=twtrec AN anti-nuclear protest by three women that blocked the main road into Hinkley B power station cost EDF approximately one million euros, it it was claimed at Taunton Magistrates Court on Friday.
Ornella Saibene, 55, Marian Connelly, 61, and Caroline Hope, 73, effectively prevented all access to the power plant on April 1 this year when they chained themselves together and lay across the road, preventing workers from accessing the site.
The protest started just after 7am and caused a three-mile build up of traffic until they agreed to move at 90.30 a.m.
The women – all from Bristol – were each fined £200 and ordered to pay £105 costs after pleading guilty to obstructing the route. Joanne Pearce, prosecuting, said: “The closure cost one million euros. Their disregard to safety and the security of a nuclear power station cannot be tolerated.”
Connelly, Saibene and Hope argued they were exercising their democratic right to civil disobedience and had not committed a criminal offence.
She read out a statement from Green West Euro MP Molly Scott Cato comparing nuclear power stations to “ageing dinosaurs.”
PCAH says…1:04pm Wed 19 Aug 15
(Of course, this is the same Amber Rudd who said that if nuclear reactors were just prettier, everyone would like them. ed.)
commentators from industry, politics and the financial sector have been lining up to condemn the Government’s plans to subsidize the first new reactors proposed at Hinkley.
What is happening in the UK? The new government makes a sharp move away from clean energy in favor of costly polluting sources. Greenworld, 14 Aug 15 The headlines flash daily about major changes in energy policy in the UK; none of them good news. The slashing of support for solar, energy efficiency and other clean energy programs and at the same time an apparent intent to spend absolutely mind-blowing amounts of money on new, untried, and highly risky nuclear power reactors. From the point of view of an America where, haltingly but steadily, clean energy is gaining a true foothold and is moving ahead, it seems incomprehensible that our closest ally would move in the opposite direction of most of the world’s industrial economies. Could that really be true?
So we asked veteran UK activist Pete Roche to explain what is happening in the UK. And no, the news really is not good.
David Cameron’s Conservative Government has now been in power in the UK, without the constraining influence of the Liberal Democrats, for 100 days. From the point-of-view of the environment his new government has been an unmitigated disaster; marked by a sharp embrace of dirty energy sources in a fashion most advanced nations, even including the U.S., are stepping away from.
From the moment the new Government was elected it set about burning the green policies of the previous coalition government. Subsidies for new onshore wind farms, paid for through consumers’ bills, are to end from April next year as are subsidies for solar farms. There will be a review of the feed-in tariff threatening subsidies for solar panels on domestic and commercial roof tops. And other proposed changes will make it much harder for community renewable projects to obtain finance.
The Government has also killed off the Green Deal scheme which provided loans to households for energy efficiency improvements. The scheme was a damp squib but what’s striking is there are no proposals to replace it. And a decade-long plan to force all new homes to be ‘zero carbon’ from 2016 has been dumped. On top of all this the exemption for renewables from the Climate Change Levy–a kind of carbon tax–has been removed, effectively imposing cuts to the income of renewable projects already up and running retrospectively.
The new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, told Members of Parliament (MPs) that carbon reduction targets are a bigger priority than meeting renewable energy targets, signalling that she is prepared to miss the UK’s European Union Renewable Target of meeting 15% of our energy needs (not just electricity) from renewable sources by 2020. Continue reading
After the disaster at Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011, the government demanded Axpo, the Beznau plant operator, and other nuclear companies to step up their safety margins to make sure they were adequately flood and earthquake-proof. ………
Four of the country’s five reactors are temporarily offline for different reasons. Since August 14 block 2 at the nuclear power plant Beznau in canton Aargau has been offline. It will be out of service for four months while maintenance is carried out. Among the planned tasks is the replacement of the reactor pressure vessel cover. Block 1 at the plant has been out of service since March due to irregularities in the pressure vessel. Weak spots were found in the 15cm steel covering of the vessel.
Nuclear power plants in Leibstadt and Mühleberg are also currently not producing any energy due to annual maintenance service.
After the Fukushima disaster, the Swiss government decided to decommission all five of Switzerland’s nuclear power plants, starting in 2019 and ending by 2034. However, no exact dates were given for the individual reactors to be shut down. http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/nuclear-power_nuclear-critics-threaten-legal-action-over-beznau-plant/41614406
After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a Third Nuclear Atrocity: the Corruption of Science, CounterPunch, by CHRIS BUSBY 19 AUG 15 “………Finally, someone is trying to get to the truth of the matter
In case you think this is all mad stuff, there does at last seem to be some measure of concern evolving in this area of internal radiation, though no one in The Lancet articles mentions it. The European Union radiation research organization MELODI has finally moved into action, led by the French radiation protection agency IRSN.
The matter was raised (by me) at the inaugural MELODI conference in Paris in 2011, but nothing seemed to develop. I said that there are likely to be dose estimation problems associated with internal exposure to nuclides which bind to DNA, and particularly Uranium; that this potentially falsified the Hiroshima risk model.
A hugely expensive European research project has now been proposed. It is CURE: Concerted Uranium Research Europe. In the report launching this development in March 2015 the authors wrote: a large scale integrated collaborative project will be proposed to improve the characterization of the biological and health effects associated with uranium internal contamination in Europe.
In the future, it might be envisaged to extend collaborations with other countries outside the European Union, to apply the proposed approach to other internal emitters and other exposure situations of internal contamination, and to open the reflections to other disciplines interested in the effects of internal contaminations by radionuclides.
In the future, Hiroshima should not be remembered not just for the destruction of its inhabitants, but also for being the flag for the epidemiological cover-up of the biggest public health scandal in human history, whose victims number hundreds of millions – in cancer deaths and miscarriages, infant deaths, loss of fertility and the introduction of genomic instability to all creatures on Earth.
Let us pray that it will not be allowed to sanction the final nuclear exchange, on the mistaken prediction that such an event will be winnable.http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/19/after-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-a-third-nuclear-atrocity-the-corruption-of-science/
This article was originally published by RT, and is reproduced by kind permission of the author.
Dr Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Riskand the author of Uranium and Health – The Health Effects of Exposure to Uranium and Uranium Weapons Fallout (Documents of the ECRR 2010 No 2, Brussels, 2010). For details and current CV see chrisbusbyexposed.org. For accounts of his work see greenaudit.org, llrc.org and nuclearjustice.org. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/19/after-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-a-third-nuclear-atrocity-the-corruption-of-science/
‘Nuclear waste dumping must overcome public opposition’ – expert concedes https://www.rt.com/uk/312735-nuclear-waste-dumping-fears/ 18 Aug, 2015 Nuclear lobbyists have admitted that public opposition to radioactive waste is a major challenge to finding new disposal sites for the deadly material.
A government agency tasked with nuclear waste management conceded that “nuclear dread” was a common feeling among British citizens, who fear the idea of living near radioactive waste dumps. Continue reading
Tory privatisation scams (2): the Hinkley Point C nuclear payola guaranteed by UK taxpayers for Chinese investors http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2015/08/tory-privatisation-scams-2-the-hinkley-point-c-nuclear-payola-guaranteed-by-uk-taxpayers-for-chinese-investors/
Just how bad a deal this is is shown by the fact that Hinkley will provide just 3 gigawatts of capacity, yet for the same price gas-fired turbines could provide about 50 gigawatts, onshore wind 20 and offshore wind 10. The plant will not open till 2023 at the earliest, well past the date of the most acute energy shortage at the end of this decade. And it will cost as much as the combined bill for Crossrail, the London Olympics and the revamped Terminal 2 at Heathrow – beat that for the most expensive white elephant of modern times!
It’s an anachronistic behemoth from the bygone age of energy dinosaurs when the world is rapidly moving towards distributed power via renewable energy. It’s far too costly, and is it even needed? First there is the UK’s declining demand for power, currently falling at a rate of 1% a year as energy-saving measures steadily take effect. Then there is the expected threefold jump in the UK’s Interconnection capacity with continental Europe by 2022 which increases the ability to import cheaper supplies. And third there is the litany of setbacks in price overruns and huge delays that have afflicted Finland, France and China over EDF’s European Pressurised Reactor which is the same type as is planned for Hinkley Point.
However nothing distracts the Tory nose from a good old-fashioned financial fix behind the scenes, especially when in this case it plays to their abhorrence of UK State involvement in meeting a public need. So Cameron is off to Beijing in October to sign a final deal wit the Chinese president from which only Chinese investors will gain at UK taxpayer expense.
‘Social and political challenges’ to nuclear waste disposal, Yahoo News Press Association – Mon, Aug 17, 2015 Nearly a third of the UK, excluding Scotland, could be suitable for the deep burial of dangerous radioactive waste, experts believe. New £4 billion plans for geological disposal could see containers of nuclear material sunk into boreholes and caverns 200 to 1,000 metres below ground.
There it would remain safe for hundreds of thousands of years while its radioactivity slowly waned.
A public information campaign aimed at winning support for the proposals is due to be launched early next month.
But planning and consultation is set to take so long that the first batch of nuclear waste is not expected to be placed in the ground until 2040. Earlier proposals for a geological disposal facility in West Cumbria were scotched in 2013 because of local opposition.
Alun Ellis, science and technology director of Radioactive Waste Management, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority subsidiary tasked with delivering geological disposal, said surveys indicated around 30% of the UK might be suitable for nuclear waste burial.
Speaking at a background briefing at the Science Media Centre in London, he added: “It’s a substantial proportion. There’s a substantial part of the UK that is technically suitable to host a geological disposal facility, but as we found in Cumbria that’s only half the problem.
“The other half of the problem, the more difficult half, is how we overcome the social and political challenges.”
With that in mind the aim is now to involve the public every step of the way before deciding where to bury the nuclear waste.
Early next month communities will be consulted on how to conduct an information-gathering exercise paving the way for screening potential sites.Scotland does not form part of the plans because geological disposal is not supported by Scottish government.
An estimated 4.5 million cubic metres of nuclear waste either exists already in the UK or will be generated in the near future – four times the volume of Wembley Stadium.
Of this, 90% can be re-used, recycled or permanently disposed of in surface facilities.
But a long-term solution has to be found for what to do with the remaining 10%, some of which could remain a radiation hazard for thousands of years. Currently the waste is stored in surface facilities where its safety cannot be guaranteed in decades to come, creating a burden for future generations.
“The international consensus is that geological disposal is the safest and most sustainable solution for managing these wastes and also that it is technically feasible,” said Mr Ellis………https://uk.news.yahoo.com/social-political-challenges-nuclear-waste-disposal-150045495.html#BDSfEnV
These “first-strike” plans developed by the Pentagon were aimed at destroying the USSR without any damage to the United States.
The 1949 Dropshot plan envisaged that the US would attack Soviet Russia and drop at least 300 nuclear bombs and 20,000 tons of conventional bombs on 200 targets in 100 urban areas, including Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg)
the Kennedy administration introduced significant changes to the plan, insisting that the US military should avoid targeting Soviet cities and had to focus on the rival’s nuclear forces alone.
Post WW2 World Order: US Planned to Wipe USSR Out by Massive Nuclear Strike, Sputnik News. Ekaterina Blinova. 15 Aug 15, Was the US deterrence military doctrine aimed against the Soviet Union during the Cold War era really “defensive” and who actually started the nuclear arms race paranoia?
Interestingly enough, then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had ordered the British Armed Forces’ Joint Planning Staff to develop a strategy targeting the USSR months before the end of the Second World War. The first edition of the plan was prepared on May 22, 1945. In accordance with the plan the invasion of Russia-held Europe by the Allied forces was scheduled on July 1, 1945.
Winston Churchill’s Operation Unthinkable The plan, dubbed Operation Unthinkable, stated that its primary goal was “to impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire. Even though ‘the will’ of these two countries may be defined as no more than a square deal for Poland, that does not necessarily limit the military commitment.” Continue reading
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