The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

UK’s Hinkley C nuclear plan is not only a financial disaster: it fails on other counts too

highly-recommendedflag-UKHinkley C’s claimed benefits evaporate under scrutiny Paul Dorfman 6th October 2015  To explain their desperation to commit an estimated £76 billion of public money to the Hinkley C nuclear project, writes Paul Dorfman, the Treasury and its Chancellor, George Osborne, claim there are other benefits that justify this vast expenditure. So what exactly are they? And do the claims survive critical examination?

So much has been written about the plan to build two new EDF reactors at Hinkley Point that you might think that it’s all been said [1].

So far, the main focus has been on the cost of the thing – but money is really only just part this nuclear deadlock.

Of course, Osborne knows Hinkley is much, much too expensive. That battle has been fought, and he lost it some time ago.

But the real nuclear war has just begun – as, when pushed, Osborne, the Treasury and DECC all say that the big picture is really about a rats nest of issues facing the UK energy market.

These are: security of supply; diversity of supply; decarbonisation – all set in the context of electricity price stability and affordability. So let’s take a look at each in turn and see if any make sense – just to make sure.


Security of supply

Osborne says that we need a secure supply of nuclear baseload electricity. But Steve Holliday, CEO of National Grid, the company that operates the power transmission networks in the UK and in the northeastern US, says the idea of large nuclear power stations to be used for baseload power is outdated:

“The world is clearly moving towards much more distributed electricity production and towards microgrids. The pace of that development is uncertain. That depends on political decisions, regulatory incentives, consumer preferences, technological developments. But the direction is clear.” [2]

And unlike Germany, who are cutting consumption, Osborne’s energy policy is based on the assumption that there will be increasing energy supply demand. But is he really unaware that since 2005 overall energy use in the UK has fallen by 18%?

Just in the last year, even while GDP grew by 2.8%, energy sales fell by 6.6%. In fact, we are now using 5% less energy than 50 years ago, even though our wealth has practically tripled. So serious energy efficiency policy scenarios show that the UK economy could flourish whilst using significantly less energy.

Osborne says that Hinkley is needed to ‘stop the lights going out’ – yet any ‘generation gap’ is already forecast by Ofgem before 2020. So the real security of supply challenge happens well before Hinkley could begin generation.

Putting aside the inevitable construction cost and time over-runs, the fact is that Hinkley wont make it on-time to help with our security of supply problem – since, according to EDF, it’s not supposed to come on-line until 2024 at the very earliest, and that date is looking more and more optimistic.

And there’s a misconception that all except one of the UK’s eight nuclear power plants will be closed in 2024. Rather, EDF, the owner of most of them, say that five of their seven operating UK reactors will continue to 2027-31 and even longer.

Diversity of supply

There is good evidence to predict that UK onshore wind and PV will be at zero operational cost by 2025, and offshore wind will have a far lower operational cost than nuclear [3]. In response, Osborne says he doesn’t prefer nuclear, its just that he needs it for a balanced portfolio of power sources.

But the flip side to investment in Hinkley is low investment in renewable energy generation. This is because the government Levy Control Framework imposes a strict cap on low carbon energy financed from the public purse (from levies on the bills of energy consumers) [4].

And because the government will be contractually obliged to provide on-going State Aid for the incredibly long 35 year Hinkley contract, there will simply be very little money left over for renewables – as the Levy Control Framework budget will have been already consumed by nuclear.

So Hinkley will crowd out investment in renewables. Greedy nuclear will have ‘eaten all the pies’ before renewables get a look in, and progress towards achieving overall targets for low-carbon renewable energy will inevitably falter.

All this being so (which it is), we can see why the government has been chopping and slashing at UK renewable funding, and why there is widespread concern at the failure to consider a purposeful energy efficiency stimulus for real diversity of supply.


Ramping climate change means we need to de-carbonise quickly. Osborne has reframed nuclear as a response to climate change. But Hinkley, together with its radioactive waste stores, including spent fuel, will be sited on the coast, increasingly vulnerable to sea-level rise, flooding and storm surge from climate change.

Sorry to say that, as the UK Institute of Mechanical Engineers state: “Nuclear sites based on the coastline may need considerable investment to protect them against rising sea levels, or even abandonment or relocation in the long term.” [5]

Osborne maintains that nuclear is low-carbon. Yet serious analysis shows that, factoring in the full nuclear life-cycle from uranium mining, through transport, fuel enrichment, plant construction and operation, decommissioning and waste management, nuclear CO2 emissions have a mean value of 66g CO2e/kWh.

That’s significantly higher than for wind (2,8-7,4 g/kWhel), hydropower (17-22 g/kWhel), photovoltaic (19-59 g/kWhel), and energy efficiency measures (which are at least ten times more cost effective) [6].

Affordability and price stability

Osborne says Hinkley is good value. But it’s difficult to comprehend how Hinkley might contribute to affordability, price stability and least-cost for the UK energy consumer.

In fact, Hinkley would be the most expensive piece of nuclear kit ever built [7], and the agreed price for its electricity must inevitably lead to significantly higher prices for the UK energy consumer [8].

However, it does remain true that the deal would prove very profitable to French and Chinese nuclear corporations during the lengthy 35-year Contract period, including the very generous proposals for an inflation-indexed deal.

Essentially, all this means that the Government is willing to add £19 billion to the deficit, and will impose £2 billion/year on the energy bills of hardworking families in order to support Chinese and French state owned industries provided wholesale electricity prices do not fall, in which case the imposition on bills will be even greater.

Signed, sealed, delivered?

Osborne says he will sign a deal with the Chinese President Xi JinPing in late October 2015. But there are problems for the boyish Chancellor. The governments of Austria and Luxembourg, and six German Stadtwerke have launched a legal challenge through the EC Court of Justice [9].

They say that UK nuclear State Aid subsidies runs counter to EU Law. Whatever the outcome, based on the average time-spans of similar cases, this legal action is likely to delay Hinkley for three to four years [10]. In any event, how on earth can any real decision about Hinkley be made when it’s subject to a serious European governmental law suit?

Also, it’s become clear that EDF have been aware for some time of critical anomalies in the EPR reactor planned for Hinkley [11]. France’s nuclear safety regulator, ASN, are still carrying out critical tests on ‘serious’ flaws in the steel housing in the reactor core – and if there’s one place you don’t want any flaws it’s the reactor pressure vessel itself.

So how can Osborne come to any decision about Hinkley before these fundamentally important, critical safety tests are carried out, and the results anaysed?

This means that, for key legal and technical safety reasons, anything Osborne may or may not sign just wont be sealed or delivered. On top of this, it’s clear that Osbornes ‘big arguments’ for Hinkley just don’t stack up. It won’t make a timely contribution to UK security of supply or decarbonisation, and won’t contribute to affordability, price stability and least-cost for the UK energy consumer.

The development of diverse, sustainable and affordable low carbon energy is a growing economic sector with huge potential for job creation in the UK.

To limit this diversity for political face-saving reasons through inflexible and costly support of nuclear power, at the expense of other, more flexible, safe, productive, cost-effective and affordable technologies seems, at the very least, unwise.



Dr Paul Dorfman is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Energy Institute, University College London (UCL); Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) Nuclear Policy Research Fellow; Founder of the Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG); Executive Board Member of the International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group (INRAG).


October 12, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

How UK govt helped the nuclear industry hide the truth on the Fukushima catastrophe

news-nukeflag-UKRevealed: British government’s plan to play down Fukushima Internal emails seen by Guardian show PR campaign was launched to protect UK nuclear plans after tsunami in Japan

• Read the emails here  Guardian , , 1 July 2011  British government officials approached nuclear companies to draw up a co-ordinated public relations strategy to play down the Fukushima nuclear accident just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and before the extent of the radiation leak was known.

Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companiesEDF EnergyAreva and Westinghouse to try to ensure the accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK.

“This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally,” wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. “We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear.”

Officials stressed the importance of preventing the incident from undermining public support for nuclear power.

The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who sits on the Commons environmental audit committee, condemned the extent of co-ordination between the government and nuclear companies that the emails appear to reveal.

“The government has no business doing PR for the industry and it would be appalling if its departments have played down the impact of Fukushima,” he said.

Louise Hutchins, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, said the emails looked like “scandalous collusion”. “This highlights the government’s blind obsession with nuclear power and shows neither they, nor the industry, can be trusted when it comes to nuclear,” she said…….

Tom Burke, a former government environmental adviser and visiting professor at Imperial College London, warned that the British government was repeating mistakes made in Japan. “They are too close to industry, concealing problems, rather than revealing and dealing with them,” he said.

“I would be much more reassured if DECC had been worrying about how the government would cope with the $200bn-$300bn of liabilities from a catastrophic nuclear accident in Britain.”……

October 12, 2015 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Germany says nuclear utilities can pay for decommissioning reactors

DecommissioningGermany Says Utilities’ Reserves Adequate for Nuclear-Power   Exit In wake of Fukushima, country plans to exit nuclear power by 2022    By STEFAN LANGE And MONICA HOUSTON-WAESCH Oct. 10, 2015 FRANKFURT—German utilities’ reserves for the country’s planned exit from nuclear power are adequate, the ministry for economics and energy said, citing a government-commissioned report on the matter.

“The affected companies have fully covered the costs with the designated provisions,” economics minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement.

The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy had called for the stress test to determine whether utilities’ reserves are up to the task of financing nuclear waste and the decommissioning of plants. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would exit nuclear power by 2022, taking utilities by surprise. In the interim, politicians have voiced concern that nuclear operators could try to duck the long-term costs, leaving taxpayers with the bill.

Existing reserves for the country’s nuclear exit amount to €38.3 billion, the report said. In a worse-case scenario, costs could come to as much as €77 billion, however this assumes an average interest rate of a negative 1.6% until the year 2099, a highly unlikely event, the report noted.

Utilities have said that since the government supported the construction of nuclear facilities, it should also participate in dismantling them. Earlier this month, the economics ministry dashed those hopes.

“There will be no state assistance,” a ministry spokeswoman said on Oct. 5.

Separately, Germany’s cabinet is due to pass a draft law within days, giving utilities longer-lasting liabilities for the costs of a nuclear exit. In mid-September, shares of RWE AG and E.ON SE, the two largest utilities in the country, plummeted over 10% amid speculation that initial results of the test showed utilities’ reserves were inadequate. At the time, Mr. Gabriel said no preliminary results were available, and that the stress test was just one factor of many in determining future policy.

At the end of 2014, E.ON had earmarked €16.6 billion, while RWE set aside €10.4 billion in reserves for the nuclear exit.

“In real terms, these are the highest provisions for an asset like this on the planet,” E.ON chief executive Johannes Teyssen said in September following his company’s decision to retain its German nuclear operations. E.ON has three nuclear plants in operation and minority stakes in a number of others.

Mr. Teyssen made the comments after the company scrapped plans to shift its nuclear operations to a new company, Uniper. E.ON will proceed with plans to split, moving conventional power, trading and exploration and production to Uniper, but E.ON will keep its German nuclear operations, it said. At the time, the company also said it expected a substantial net loss for the full year.

Write to Stefan Lange at and Monica Houston-Waesch at

October 12, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

Britain’s national embarrassment – the failing Hinkley nuclear white elephant

white_elephant_London-Smflag-UKThe Hinkley Saga is a National Embarrassment  no2 nuclear power   nuCLEARnews No 78 October 2015  Two of the world’s biggest ratings agencies have warned that EDF and its Chinese partners face credit-rating downgrades if they press ahead with the £24.5 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear project, according to The Times. And the Chinese appear to be refusing to take a 40% equity stake in the project – opting instead for 30% or less.

 Disagreements between the two Chinese groups – China General Nuclear Power Corp and China National Nuclear Corp – and EDF over terms are said to be so wide that there was little hope of a final investment decision by both sides in time for a visit by Chinese Premier, Xi Jinping, to Britain on October 20. Instead, a “heads of agreement” may be announced, which would fall some way short of a final go-ahead for the scheme. (1)
 EDF Energy Chief Vincent de Rivaz says he believes the two state-backed Chinese investors will increase the size of their stake allowing Hinkley to go ahead. (2) But if the Chinese stick to their demands the financially challenged EDF will be left trying to fund at least 70% of the project representing an initial outlay of more than £11 billion. EDF and its partners will also have to accept all of the construction risk associated with the project. Moody’s, in particular, pointed to delays and cost overruns at Flamanville saying there is a question mark over the ability of the consortium to deliver on time and to budget. (3)
Ballooning costs and further delays to the plant in Normandy mean the start date for Flamanville has now been pushed back to the end of 2018, 11 years after construction began, and costs have more than tripled from 3 billion euros to 10.5 billion euros. (4) According to The Ecologist delays at Flamanville are threatening to sink the Hinkley project.

Continue reading

October 10, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Time to end the madness of USA’s nuclear weapons deployed in Europe

Nuclear deterrence is the archetypal security dilemma. You have to keep threatening to use nuclear weapons to make it work. And the more you threaten, the more likely it is that they will be used.

This is the moment where nuclear weapon-free countries need to call out for a ban on nuclear weapons to stop this madness. It is also the right time for nuclear co-dependents, like Germany, to make up its mind to give its nuclear dependency up.


Nuclear madness – NATO’s WMD ‘sharing’ must end Xanthe Hall 9th October 2015

The US’s development of its new ‘smart’ nuclear bomb, the B61-12, is an outright violation of the Non Proliferation Treaty, writes Xanthe Hall. Yet five other ‘non-nuclear’ NATO nations – Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy and Turkey – are set to accept it onto their territories, so their own aircraft can use it in nuclear attacks.

It was already announced some years ago, but last week Germany woke up to the fact that new US nuclear weapons are actually going to be deployed at its base in Büchel.

Frontal 21, a programme on the second main TV channel reported last Tuesday that preparation for this deployment was due to begin at the German air force base. The runway is being improved, perimeter fences strengthened, new maintenance trucks arriving and the Tornado delivery aircraft will get new software.

It is a little known fact: Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy and Turkey host nuclear weapons as part of NATO ‘nuclear sharing’.

This means that in a nuclear attack the US can load its bombs onto those countries’ aircraft and the pilots of those countries will drop them on an enemy target. Continue reading

October 10, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK’s new National Infrastructure Commission – first casualty may be Hinkley nuclear

flag-UKThe National Infrastructure Commission  nuCLEAR news No 2 nuclear power  October 15 At the Conservative Party Conference George Osborne announced the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission (NIC). (1) It looks as though this will take control over the entire energy policy brief out of the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Oliver Tickell, writing in the Ecologist, asks if this could be a way out of the Hinkley C debacle for the Government. (2) Osborne told the Conference that he wants the NIC and its chairman Lord Adonis to begin work immediately: “to make sure Britain has the energy supplies it needs.” Tickell says: “It was notable that in his speech on Monday Osborne had absolutely nothing to say about nuclear power or Hinkley C – even though he had only just returned from a trip to China to drum up controversial Chinese investment in Hinkley C and other nuclear power stations.

That could reflect that fact that there is still no agreement over key elements of the proposed deal. Meanwhile questions proliferate – over safety fears, ballooning costs, why the UK energy consumer should be financing the Chinese Communist Party, and the wisdom of having the very company that makes China’s nuclear weapons running nuclear plants in the UK.”

Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantThe first casualty of handing over decisions about energy to the NIC, which is answerable to the Treasury, could be Hinkley Point C. The Treasury’s information page on the NIC indicates some welcome strategic thinking on energy – something that has been almost entirely lacking in recent government policy. “The UK’s power sector has a growing problem in matching demand and supply, meaning that keeping the lights on requires a level of redundancy in the system – generation which is not always used.

The NIC will look at how to optimise solutions to this problem, including through large scale power storage – where innovation is needed to bring down costs; demand management – how to incentivise flexibility in demand so we don’t need as many power stations; and interconnection – how we best link the UK to the markets in the rest of Europe.” (3) ……..

October 10, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

European regulators approve nuclear waste plan – all too generous to the operators

EU regulators wave through UK nuclear waste clean-up price plan BRUSSELS | BY BARBARA LEWIS AND FOO YUN CHEE Britain won EU regulatory approval on Friday for a pricing model to set the cost of disposing of nuclear waste that environmentalists say is too generous to nuclear power plant operators and punishing for taxpayers.

money-in-wastes-2Nuclear energy is a sensitive political issue in Europe that pits the European Union’s biggest economy Germany – and its plans to phase out atomic energy and pin costs on its utilities – against supporters of the energy source, such as Britain and France.

Britain wants to build a facility to store nuclear waste, with the operating date planned around 2040 and disposal expected to start around 2075 and last until 2140.

It sought approval from the European Commission for a pricing formula that limits the price that plant operators will pay for disposing of nuclear waste.

The Commission, responsible for setting a level playing field in the 28-country bloc, gave the green light, saying that the plan was in line with EU state aid rules.

“The Commission’s assessment showed that the UK pricing methodology makes sure that operators of new power plants will bear the disposal costs for their spent fuel and intermediate level waste,” the EU executive said in a statement.

Greenpeace however said the regulator should have sought more feedback before issuing its decision and the taxpayer was likely to face a huge long-term bill. “It’s a transfer of risk to the taxpayer,” Doug Parr, Greenpeace policy director, said.

“It’s odd that the Commission did not see the need to have a full enquiry when other countries are facing different circumstances.”

While some member states support nuclear power, others question whether Britain’s plans to fund new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in conjunction with EDF are illegal state aid, even though the Commission approved them.

Germany‘s E.ON is smarting from having to take on liability for billions of euros of decommissioning costs and a court ruling that a German tax, contested by the big utilities, on the use of nuclear energy, does not break EU laws.

(Editing by David Clarke and Adrian Croft)

October 10, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

Smugglers tried to sell radioactive material to extremists

Nuclear smugglers sought extremist buyers In an in-depth investigation, the Associated Press found that nuclear smugglers from Eastern Europe are explicitly targeting buyers who are enemies of the West, including the Islamic state group. ynet news, Associated Press  10.09.15, Israel News Over the pulsating beat at an exclusive nightclub, the arms smuggler made his pitch to a client: 2.5 million euros for enough radioactive cesium to contaminate several city blocks. It was earlier this year, and the two men were plotting their deal at an unlikely spot: the terrace of Cocos Prive, a dance club and sushi bar in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.

“You can make a dirty bomb, which would be perfect for the Islamic State,” the smuggler said. “If you have a connection with them, the business will go smoothly.

But the smuggler, Valentin Grossu, wasn’t sure the client was for real — and he was right to worry. The client was an informant, and it took some 20 meetings to persuade Grossu that he was an authentic Islamic State representative. Eventually, the two men exchanged cash for a sample in a sting operation that landed Grossu in jail.

The previously unpublicized case is one of at least four attempts in five years in which criminal networks with suspected Russian ties sought to sell radioactive material to extremists through Moldova, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. One investigation uncovered an attempt to sell bomb-grade uranium to a real buyer from the Middle East, the first known case of its kind.

In that operation, wiretaps and interviews with investigators show, a middleman for the gang repeatedly ranted with hatred for America as he focused on smuggling the essential material for an atomic bomb and blueprints for a dirty bomb to a Middle Eastern buyer.

In wiretaps, videotaped arrests, photographs of bomb-grade material, documents and interviews, AP found that smugglers are explicitly targeting buyers who are enemies of the West. The developments represent the fulfillment of a long-feared scenario in which organized crime gangs are trying to link up with groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida — both of which have made clear their ambition to use weapons of mass destruction.
The sting operations involved a partnership between the FBI and a small group of Moldovan investigators, who over five years went from near total ignorance of the black market to wrapping up four sting operations. Informants and police posing as connected gangsters penetrated the smuggling networks, using old-fashioned undercover tactics as well as high-tech gear from radiation detectors to clothing threaded with recording devices.
But their successes were undercut by striking shortcomings: Kingpins got away, and those arrested evaded long prison sentences, sometimes quickly returning to nuclear smuggling, AP found.

For strategic reasons, in most of the operations arrests were made after samples of nuclear material had been obtained rather than the larger quantities. That means that if smugglers did have access to the bulk of material they offered, it remains in criminal hands.The repeated attempts to peddle radioactive materials signal that a thriving nuclear black market has emerged in an impoverished corner of Eastern Europe on the fringes of the former Soviet Union. Moldova, which borders Romania, is a former Soviet republic.Moldovan police and judicial authorities shared investigative case files with the AP in an effort to spotlight how dangerous the black market has become. They say a breakdown in cooperation between Russia and the West means that it is much harder to know whether smugglers are finding ways to move parts of Russia’s vast store of radioactive materials………,7340,L-4707806,00.html

October 10, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Dangers of UK-China plan for nuclear power at Bradwell Estuary

safety-symbol-Smflag-UKWill Bradwell get a Chinese Reactor? nuCLEAR news No 2 nulcear power October 2015 It is now pretty clear that David Cameron will sign an agreement with the Chinese Government, at the time of the State Visit of President Xi Jinping on 20th October, that will enable two Chinese state-owned nuclear companies to develop the site at Bradwell which is currently owned by EdF, says the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group. (BANNG)


The development could happen rather quicker than anyone might have imagined, says the group because of the financial problems and delays with Hinkley Point. “Cameron’s folly means the sacrifice of the Blackwater estuary,” said Professor Andy Blowers, Chair of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG). “Basically, the estuary will be trashed if this goes ahead.”


“This love-in between the British and Chinese Governments takes absolutely no account of the impact and implications that will be unleashed on the Blackwater estuary. The obstacles, including the problems of cooling water from such a shallow estuary, are massive”. Barry Turner, Vice Chair of BANNG, commented: “For BANNG, the simple fact is that the Bradwell site is totally unsuitable for a new power station no matter who the developer might be.


The delicate Blackwater estuary cannot cope with the demands of a new nuclear power station without its effective destruction. The long-term risks from rising sea-levels and coastal change will be phenomenal leaving not only a power station with all its inherent dangers but an everlasting residue of dangerous radioactive wastes on a site that is likely to disappear over the next two centuries. There is no thought for the future in this and it is immoral to be undertaking such an enterprise on such a location.


Bringing such a monster to the Blackwater is nothing short of monstrous”. In return for helping out with the increasingly expensive Hinkley Point plant in Somerset, the Chinese have been told they can use the site of an old nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-Sea, on the Blackwater estuary, to build a reactor of their own design. “I am not worried about the Chinese. I am worried about us”, says Charles Clover writing in the Sunday Times.


For it is an open question whether British standards of regulation are up to the expectations of people who live in places such as West Mersea, just across the water from Bradwell. “We have some excellent regulations in Britain, but the problem is that all too often we choose to ignore them. I believe the public can live with the risks of the nuclear industry as long as there is transparency, and that there is not an instant return to the culture of secrecy and political influence over regulators that some of us remember from Sellafield in the bad old days. For if we wish to have both electricity and oysters, the problem is ourselves, not the Chinese.” (2) A peaceful protest including a flotilla of boats was held on Mersea Island by campaigners on 4th October. (3)….

October 10, 2015 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Scotland’s Labour MPs join Jeremy Corbyn in supporting nuclear disarmament

flag-ScotlandCorbyn, JeremyNeil Findlay convinced unilateral nuclear disarmament campaign will win Trident debate, Courier UK, 
By PRESS ASSOCIATION, 8 October 2015 
Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally in Scotland has said he is “absolutely convinced” those in favour of unilateral UK nuclear disarmament will win the argument.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay clashed with party colleague Jackie Baillie at Holyrood today over the best tactics to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Two other Labour MSPs, Malcolm Chisholm and Elaine Smith, signed an SNP motion opposing the renewal of Trident – in a foretaste of the wider debate expected at the Scottish Labour Party conference later this month.

Mr Findlay, Mr Corbyn and Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray favour unilateral UK disarmament in the hope it will convince other countries to follow suit, but they are at odds with Labour’s multilateralist support for Trident renewal.

UK Labour reaffirmed its support for Trident at its conference last month but Mr Corbyn caused confusion by admitting he would never launch a nuclear attack.

Scottish Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown, a former marine, said it is “deeply immoral” for Labour to advocate spending £100 billion on weapons it would not use…….

October 9, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Moldova – a “thriving black market in nuclear materials”

CriminalWhy Moldova May Be the Scariest Country on Earth A new report details a black market in nuclear materials, The Atlantic, 8 Oct 15 On Wednesday, the Associated Press published a horrifying report about criminal networks in the former Soviet Union trying to sell “radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists.” At the center of these cases, of which the AP learned of four in the past five years, was a “thriving black market in nuclear materials” in a “tiny and impoverished Eastern European country”: Moldova.

It’s a new iteration of an old problem with a familiar geography. The breakup of the Soviet Union left a superpower’s worth of nuclear weapons scattered across several countries without a superpower’s capacity to keep track of them. When Harvard’s Graham Allison flagged this problem in 1996, he wrote that the collapse of Russia’s “command-and-control society” left nothing secure. To wit:

The Russian nuclear weapons archipelago includes hundreds of sites over one-seventh of the Earth’s land mass, sites at which 1,000 tons of highly enriched uranium, 100 tons of plutonium and some 30,000 nuclear warheads are at risk.

Specifically, as described in Foreign Policy by the journalist Douglas Birch:

Russia inherited [the Soviet Union’s] vast stores of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. And they were a mess. Western visitors to weapons depots and labs were shocked to find AWOL guards, broken fences and unlocked doors. Two million nerve gas shells were discovered sitting in rotting barns in a patch of forest in western Siberia.

In the intervening years, the United States has spent billions to help Russia upgrade its nuclear facilities and improve security, helping decommission or destroy thousands of nuclear warheads until that cooperation ended in late 2014. But nuclear materials remain accessible, and certain estimates about their prevalence are classified. While it would be hard to steal a nuclear warhead, radioactive components for a “dirty bomb” are significantly easier to obtain and transport. Radiation sickness isn’t necessarily a deterrent for a suicide bomber……….

Reports such as these surface periodically from the former Soviet Union andPakistan and, perhaps because the implications are too terrible to think about and the solutions are too hard to find, they fade more quickly than their severity warrants. The underlying issues are largely the same as they were 20 years ago: The black market exists because there’s a supply of the material and a demand for it. As one Moldovan investigator told the AP: “As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it.”

October 9, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Nadejda Koutepova speaks out on the hidden scandal of the Mayak radioactive contamination

flag_RussiaA Russian antinuclear activist asks for asylum in France  Mediapart , October 2, 2015, by Amélie Poinssot and Michel de Pracontal, The revelation, decades later
“………Fifteen years ago you established the NGO “Planet of Hope” in order to aid the victims of radioactive contamination from Maiak. What led you to this cause?
Nadejda Koutepova :
My grandmother was a chemical engineer and she worked at the complex from the time it opened in 1948. The Soviet state wanted, like the Americans, to develop nuclear weapons, so they built a secret factory in the Siberian forest next to the closed city of Ozersk. People who worked there were forbidden from talking about their work. In 1965, my grandmother died of lymphatic cancer. I never knew her. At the time of the accident in 1957, when a container of highly radioactive waste exploded, my father was a student in Ekaterinburg. He belonged to the Komsomols (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League) so he was immediately mobilized as a liquidator. He worked there for nearly five years. In 1985, he died of intestinal cancer. I was a teenager at the end of his life, and it was horrific. He lived with a colostomy bag and was consumed by alcoholism.
But it was only later that I understood what could have caused him and my grandmother to die. One fine day in 1999, I was invited to a conference on the environment organized in Chelyabinsk, the big regional city. It was there that I discovered that the whole Ozersk region is contaminated, yet the local population ignores the situation completely. Officially, the region is not polluted. The inhabitants eat mushrooms and fish in the rivers without asking any questions. This conference was a revelation. At that moment I decided to establish an NGO. I had studied law, sociology and political science at university. I wanted the inhabitants who were still there to have the means to leave and I wanted the unrecognized victims to be able to defend themselves.
Mayak disaster
In the first years of operation of the factory, 1949-52, all the highly radioactive wastes were dumped into the Techa. Cases of leukemia and premature death multiplied in the villages along the river, so the factory started managing the wastes in metal tanks. During the next decade, 34 out of 39 villages along the river were evacuated. At the same time, radioactive wastes were dumped in Lake Karachai. It was only in 1962 that the authorities announced that they would stop these practices.
In reality, the contamination of the surrounding waters never ended. In 2005, the director of the factory at Maiak, Vitali Sadovnikov, was prosecuted for having let the factory release, starting in the year 2000, tens of thousands of cubic meters of radioactive water into the Techa. Sadovnikov was given amnesty by the Duma (Russian parliament) in 2006. Nonetheless, the files on the court decision on Sadovnikov show that 30 to 40 cubic meters of radioactive water were dumped between 2001 and 2004! Since then, we haven’t even had access to the file, and the Maiak factory denies all responsibility for the contamination of the river.
Do the Russian authorities today recognize the victims of radioactive contamination?
A law was enacted in 1993, inspired by the 1991 law on victims of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. This law provides social assistance to the victims of the 1957 accident and to people affected by the contamination of the river—but not to their spouses or children. It specifies the typology of illnesses: if the patient could prove a direct link to her work at Maiak or to a place where she lived with radiation from Maiak, then she had a right to compensation.
In total, 19,000 people have been classified as eligible. The figure is always declining because of deaths. Five years ago there were 23,000. But this only represents a small part of the population affected by the consequences of contamination in the region. Our NGO estimates that the number has grown now to about 100,000.
The typology is very restrictive. It was reduced a lot by scientists after Chernobyl. There are only four categories: cancers, blood diseases, genetic instability, and chronic cellular dysfunction. Mental health and psychosomatic problems, for example, are not on the list. Furthermore, when a patient applies for compensation, a “council of experts” gets together at the center for radiation research in the Urals. Made up of eleven persons, they vote by a show of hands on whether the patient should be compensated. These men are not independent. They raise their hands under pressure from their supervisors. And who are we to question their decisions? They respond that they are the scientists. It is they who have the knowledge. We have tried to set up procedures to appeal their decisions. It is impossible.
Another problem is that many people lived and worked in the city at various jobs, but their occupations were not considered to have put them at risk. These were such people as the teachers at the technical college in Maiak, or workers at the train station in the neighboring town. They couldn’t claim compensation. Others didn’t live within the officially recognized zone of contamination. There is also the story of the children of the village of Karabolka who worked regularly in the fields. They were mobilized after the accident to bury carrots and potatoes. For weeks they handled irradiated produce. But unlike the liquidators, they never received certificates proving their participation. Fifty years later they have finally been recognized.
European Court of Human Rights
Still now local people don’t have the chance to get proper medical tests. When they are done, they are often very cursory. I know a woman who had a chromosome test done, but they looked at only one hundred cells. In order to do it properly, they need at least 500 to 1,000. As a result, no pathology was proven.
Compensation is not large. It depends on the occupation and the place the applicant lived. A former liquidator, for example, receives a food supplement of 600 rubles a month (which is worth about 8 euros at present rates), as well a small payment annually for health care. The recipient has access to free medicine and can, in theory, go once a year to a sanatorium. In some cases, a housing benefit is available…….

October 9, 2015 Posted by | environment, Reference, Russia | 1 Comment

The work of Russia’s anti nuclear NGO “Planet of Hope”

 A Russian antinuclear activist asks for asylum in France  Mediapart , October 2, 2015, by Amélie Poinssot and Michel de Pracontal,  “…….What did your NGO accomplish?
Protest-No!flag_RussiaOur NGO, based in Ozersk, had three programs. We educated citizens about their rights, in particular those who were victims of radioactive contamination. We did sociological research on the inhabitants. And we gave training to representatives of other NGOs in the Ozersk region.
We brought some sixty cases before Russian courts or administrative bodies. In most cases, they concerned proving that the person resided in the contaminated zone. For others, it was a matter of making them aware of their right to be relocated by the state, or to obtain the correct level of compensation.
One example was the case of Akhmadeyeva, a mother and her son who lived in the village of Mouslioumovo, on the Techa river. They requested to be relocated. The child had a mental deficiency linked to the effects of radiation contamination from the river. The municipality finally recognized him as disabled, then the state gave him a housing allowance and they were able to move to Chelyabinsk.
But we also failed many times. Such was the case with a small girl who died in 2011 from liver cancer. Experts had recognized that her illness was linked to a genetic anomaly derived from her grandmother’s exposure to radiation when she worked on cleanup of the site, after the accident in 1957. But the court decided that the accident was too far in the past. The case rested on a claim for pecuniary damage, which wasn’t possible under the laws of the USSR.
We took other cases to the European Court of Human Rights. My mother, Gayeva, was one such case. As a widow of a liquidator, she had not been compensated, and despite the positive appeal decision of the court in Ozersk (a three-year legal battle), her compensation was quickly denied by the regional court in Chelyabinsk. So next she went to Strasbourg. But the delays were very long, and she died in the meantime.
Have you taken on other types of cases?
Yes, we also worked on cases that were linked to the status of the closed city of Ozersk. At that time in the USSR, Ozersk was called Chelyabinsk 65. Like all the closed cities, it couldn’t be identified, so it took the name of the closest major city, followed by a postal code. On my passport, this is still listed as my place of birth. After an eight-year legal battle, a woman succeeded in correcting this incongruity and got her place of birth recognized as Ozersk, not Chelyabinsk.
Still today, even though the Soviet Union hasn’t existed for twenty-eight years, access to the town is limited. No one can enter without official authorization, and there are many restrictions. A resident of Ozersk who went to prison wanted to return when he was released, but he was not allowed to. We helped him in his applications, and he went as far as the European Court of Human Rights. In 2011, the court decided in his favor. He was able to return to his place of origin.
The explosion in 1957 was not revealed until nineteen years later, in 1976, by the exiled biologist Jaurès Medvedev. However, you, in spite of the illnesses you saw in people close to you, didn’t become aware of the severity of the accident until much later, after the collapse of the USSR. Why was this disaster ignored for so long?
The 1957 explosion released 20 million curies (two million went up in the atmosphere, 18 million fell on the nearby environment). An area of 23,000 square kilometers was contaminated at a high level. But all of this happened at a strategically important facility which didn’t exist on any map. It was completely shut off from outside visitors. The catastrophe remained a state secret.
It was 1990 when there was the first official recognition of the accident, with a visit from Boris Yeltsin. As for myself, at that time I still couldn’t admit the truth. We were brought up with such an ideology. We were convinced that at Ozersk we worked for the security of the USSR, we were heroes. My mother, who was a doctor, cared for employees at Maiak, and she lost her husband who was a liquidator. She told me certain things, but I didn’t attach importance to them.
Declared “undesirable”
What is Maiak like today?
The facility that was built, at first to produce the Soviet nuclear bomb, functions today as a nuclear fuel reprocessing center, including for foreign clients (Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Iraq and Ukraine, according to Greenpeace). 15,000 people live there and work in the complex. The old military reactors have been shut down.
But abnormal situations continue. The village of Mouslioumovo, one of the last to remain, was finally moved between 2005 and 2008. Most people took compensation and left, but a few chose to relocate only two kilometers from the Techa, which is highly polluted. Some inhabitants were not registered with local authorities. They were not eligible for compensation.

Today, we have no way to be certain that releases into the Techa have been stopped. The factory states that the reservoirs are secure…….

October 9, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Russia | Leave a comment

Turkey warns Russia it may not get its nuclear technology from Russia

Turkey’s Erdogan warns Russia on nuclear project, natural gas: papers   ISTANBUL (Reuters), 8 Oct 15  – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russia there were other places Turkey could get natural gas and other countries that could build its first nuclear plant, in the wake of Russian incursions into Turkish air space during its air campaign in Syria.

Russian aircraft twice entered Turkish air space at the weekend. Turkish F-16 jets have also been harassed by Syrian-based missile systems and unidentified planes since then.

“We can’t accept the current situation. Russia’s explanations on the air space violations are not convincing,” the Turkish daily Sabah and others quoted Erdogan as telling reporters as he flew to Japan for an official visit. He said he was resentful over what had happened but did not currently plan to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“These are matters for Russia to think about. If the Russians don’t build the Akkuyu (nuclear plant in southern Turkey) another will come and build it,” he said.

Turkey in 2013 commissioned Russia’s state-owned Rosatom to build four 1,200-megawatt reactors, but a start date for what is Turkey’s first nuclear power plant project has not yet been set.

“We are Russia’s number one natural gas consumer. Losing Turkey would be a serious loss for Russia. If necessary, Turkey can get its natural gas from many different places,” he said.

Around 28-30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Turkey’s 50 bcm annual natural gas needs are met by Russia.

(Additional reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

October 9, 2015 Posted by | politics international, Russia, Turkey | Leave a comment

How Russia repressed anti nuclear Non Government Organisation Planet of Hope [Planeta Nadezhd]

censorshipflag_RussiaA Russian antinuclear activist asks for asylum in France  Mediapart , October 2, 2015, by Amélie Poinssot and Michel de Pracontal,  “………..You have been in France since July, in Paris, and on October 2nd you are applying for asylum. Why did you leave Russia?
Our NGO came under increasing pressure over the years. In 2004, a law was passed to make it illegal to do sociological research in the Ozersk region, under the pretext that it threatened national security.
Starting in 2008, we were ordered to pay tax on our “profits.” We refused because we are financed by donations and we are non-profit. Next they tried to intimidate us. I was watched and harassed. But we won the game in court.
In 2012, a law enacted by the Duma put controls on NGOs that received donations from abroad. They were considered as “foreign agents.” So we organized a public meeting to explain that we are not foreign agents because in our activities we consult the local population. We work only for Russians.
But in April of this year, the authorities put us on their list of foreign agents. They accused us of two things: receiving financing from the United States, and “political activities.” This latter accusation concerns two interviews that I gave, one to an ecology magazine in which I discussed Article 42 of the constitution that grants the right to compensation when one is the victim of an environmental disaster. I criticized the way the courts were circumventing Article 42. The other interview was with the nuclear information website Bellona. I spoke of the deaths of children of liquidators and I also criticized the Russian courts.
In May, the pressure continued. The court in Ozersk ordered us to pay 900,000 rubles (4,000 euro) for not having registered with the authorities as foreign agents. All of a sudden, Rossia 24, one of the leading national media networks, broadcast an “assassin report” about us. My face was there at the top of the news, my views were misrepresented, and I was accused of industrial espionage. Journalists came and filmed my house. The question is this: how did they get the permits to enter Ozersk, which is still a closed city?
After this, my supporters encouraged me to leave Russia. Since then, I have been added to a list of persons declared “undesirable” by the Duma. This indicates that I could be imprisoned. At the end of June, a new report was broadcast on television. We decided to dissolve the NGO. On July 7, with my children I left for Paris as discretely as possible.
How do you explain the reaction by the media and the Russian authorities?
The general policy is that the United States is our enemy. We are surrounded by enemies. Whoever receives aid from enemies is an enemy also. Then there are the local interests. FSB Ozersk is not eager to have people know about the ecological catastrophe of the region. These interests merge with national interests.

See also:

Chris Harris, “Charity boss flees with young kids after Russia’s NGO crackdown,” Euronews, September 9, 2015.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, Russia | Leave a comment


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