Ill-founded hope The belief was always that science would find some way of neutralising the dangerous radioactivity, and then it could be buried as simply as any other rubbish. This hope has proved to be ill-founded.
The British government promised four years ago it would not build any more nuclear power stations until it had found a solution to this 50-year-old problem. But it has abandoned the promise
Still No Solution to Storage of High-Level Radioactive Nuclear Waste http://ecowatch.com/2015/01/25/no-solution-radioactive-nuclear-waste/ Paul Brown, Climate News Network | January 25, 2015 A private consortium formed to deal with Europe’s most difficult nuclear waste at a site in Britain’s beautiful Lake District has been sacked by the British government because not sufficient progress has been made in making it safe.
It is the latest setback for an industry that claims nuclear power is the low-carbon answer toclimate change, but has not yet found a safe resting place for radioactive rubbish it creates when nuclear fuel and machinery reaches the end of its life.
Dealing with the waste stored at this one site at Sellafield—the largest of a dozen nuclear sites in Britain—already costs the UK taxpayer £2 billion a year, and it is expected to be at least as much as this every year for half a century.
Hundreds of people are employed to prevent the radioactivity leaking or overheating to cause a nuclear disaster, and the cost of dealing with the waste at this site alone has already risen to £70 billion.
Dangerous to humans
This extraordinary legacy of dangerous radioactive waste is present in every country that has adopted nuclear power as a form of electricity production, as well as those with nuclear weapons. No country has yet solved the problem of how to deal with waste that remains dangerous to humans for thousands of years. Continue reading
Nuclear clean-up has been a toxic waste of public money MARK LEFTLY The Independent 23 JANUARY 2015 WESTMINSTER OUTLOOK A HAPLESS CONSORTIUM LED BY URS (NOW PART OF US RIVAL AECOM) WAS FINALLY AXED FROM LEADING THE CLEAN-UP OF CUMBRIA’S SELLAFIELD LAST WEEK.
Over-budget and behind schedule on numerous projects on what is, admittedly, one of the most hazardous nuclear detoxifications in history, this consortium had been remarkably fortunate to see its contract renewed in 2013. After it had regained its contract, Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) even apologised to MPs for its dismal performance…..
At a price tag of nearly £80bn, the Sellafield deal is one of the most significant commercialisations of what, historically, would have been public sector work. Davey, who I think has otherwise emerged from Coalition as a quietly formidable secretary of state, must ask himself why he did not block the contract extension in 2013.
It was a poor call from a minister who has otherwise earned the compliment of being a safe pair of hands. While he should be congratulated for finally getting this right, the GMB is equally correct that NMP should not stay in place any longer.
Time, on this project in particular, is money – and we cannot allow taxpayer funds to be mishandled for another 15 months. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/mark-leftly-nuclear-cleanup-has-been-a-toxic-waste-of-public-money-9997054.html
Britain to take nuclear plant share for national security, Economic Times, By AFP | 23 Jan, 2015,LONDON: Britain will have a “special share” in the French-led new Hinkley Pointnuclear power plant consortium to safeguard national security, British energy officials told a parliamentary hearing this week.
The Chinese firms, CGN and CNNC, are expected to get a stake of between 30 and 40 percent. ……..
The Hinkley Point contract is worth £16 billion. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/britain-to-take-nuclear-plant-share-for-national-security/articleshow/45996556.cms
Renewable energy in Scotland exceeds nuclear, PennEnergy January 19, 2015 Source: Vattenfall In the first months of 2014 renewable energy in Scotland exceeded nuclear and became the top source of electricity.
The same period saw wind output rise by 20 percent, while hydro generation climbed by 50 percent………..
Although onshore wind and hydro power are indisputable leaders in Scotland’s renewable energy mix, there is significant growth potential in offshore wind, tidal and solar power.In October 2014, the Scottish Government gave the green light for 500 wind turbines spread across four offshore wind farms in the Forth and Tay region. http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pennenergy/2015/01/renewable-energy-in-scotland-exceeds-nuclear.html
MPs will not vote on Trident’s replacement, the largest UK submarine project in a generation, until 2016. But a Ministry of Defence report, slipped out over Christmas, reveals that spending on the project’s “assessment phase” is to increase by a further £261m this year. Of this money, which will be drawn down from the project’s future budget, £206m will be spent on new facilities at the BAE Systems shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness.
On Tuesday the SNP and Plaid Cymru will force a debate on the Trident upgrade, which is expected to cost £20bn in total.
Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader and defence spokesman, said: “When Labour MPs have voted with the Tories for another £30bn of austerity cuts, it is frankly scandalous that a further quarter of a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money is to be spent on Trident before parliamentarians even get a vote on whether or not to replace the system.
“In no other democracy, at a time of deep austerity and cuts, would over £3bn be spent on committing to such a massive project without consulting parliamentarians. Robbing the future budget of Trident only suggests they have already underestimated the eye-watering final cost.”
The MoD report, The UK’s future nuclear deterrent: 2014 update to Parliament, reveals that more than half a billion pounds – some £1.4m a day – was spent on the project in the last financial year alone……. report reveals that the total cost of the project’s assessment phase, at the end of which a decision on whether to proceed with Trident’s successor will be taken, will rise to £3.3bn, nearly £300m more than the MoD originally indicated.
The revelation has prompted fury from pro-disarmament parties, which could play a crucial role in any future coalition government……http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/17/trident-future-election-agenda-costs-spiral-nuclear-submarines
That corner, is of course, home to Sellafield – Europe’s biggest and most hazardous nuclear complex. This week, the Government abruptly dismissed the consortium that has been running it for the past six years, after what Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) identified as “big delays” and “huge cost overruns, rising to astonishing levels”.
Sellafield has largely dropped out of the headlines in recent years, after decades of bad publicity about radioactive accidents, managerial incompetence and business boondoggles. And that is where it likes to be, for secrecy, combined with bureaucratic bungling, has long been one of its specialities……
It was, indeed, where weapons-grade plutonium was separated from used nuclear fuel by “reprocessing”, reason enough for the secrecy if not the ineptitude. But the culture continued as the site converted overwhelmingly to civilian purposes. The plutonium – one gram of which contains as much energy as a tonne of oil – was seen as a modern philosopher’s stone, able to power “fast breeder” reactors that could produce more useful fuel than they burned.
But such reactors never worked, and were abandoned 20 years ago. Reprocessing became a technology whose time would never come, but the state-owned site and successive governments persisted in almost theological thrall to it.
They even spent £1.4 billion on a plant where the plutonium would be mixed with uranium to make fuel for ordinary reactors, but – as widely predicted – that didn’t work either: designed to produce 120 tonnes of fuel a year, it managed only 15 in a decade before closing. This was only one in a whole series of eye-wateringly expensive plants that failed to perform as expected.
As a result, nearly 130 tonnes of highly dangerous, useless, plutonium are stored onsite, at a cost of £40 million a year. More than a quarter of a ton was discharged in to the Irish Sea, much to see what would happen. Worst of all, though, as the consortium – Nuclear Management Partners – has admitted, “there is a mass of very hazardous (nuclear) waste onsite in storage conditions that are extraordinarily vulnerable, and in facilities that are well past their designated life”.
The National Audit Office (NAO) says this poses “significant risks to people and the environment”. One official review concluded that, at worst, an explosive release could kill two million Britons and require the evacuation of an area reaching from Glasgow to Liverpool.
Following the legacy of decades of nationalised neglect, it’s no wonder that in 2008 ministers, belatedly, turned to private enterprise. The consortium – comprising British, French and US companies – received up to £1.8 billion a year on a “cost reimbursement contract” that left the risk with the taxpayer. ……http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/11351587/Why-Sellafield-costs-us-all-a-bomb.html
IoS Investigation: Officials plotted Sellafield cover-up The Independent 15 Jan 15
MPs were denied the chance to challenge sweetener to private firm’s nuclear deal BY GEOFFREY LEAN , ANDY ROWELL AND RICH COOKSON Sunday 04 January 2009 Top civil servants and nuclear administrators colluded to prevent MPs from challenging a massive sweetener to a private business taking over the running of Sellafield, internal documents in the hands of
The Independent on Sunday reveals.
The documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, also disclose that the Government pushed through the handover at breakneck speed because it feared that the “unstable management arrangements” of the controversial Cumbrian nuclear complex risked its safety.
Yesterday, a leading Labour MP announced that he would try to get a parliamentary investigation into the revelations in the documents, which run to 140 pages and had been so heavily censored prior to release that many whole pages, and the names of most of the officials involved, have been systematically blanked out. Paul Flynn MP, a member of the House of Commons Public Administration Committee – which examines the performance of the Civil Service – is to ask it to inquire into what he calls “an egregious example of obstruction of parliamentary accountability”.
The cover-up arises from the awarding, late in November, of a contract to run the nuclear complex to Nuclear Management Partners, a consortium of US, French and British companies.
Although the contract is worth some £22bn, the consortium told ministers that it would walk away from the deal unless it was fully indemnified against the costs of cleaning up an accident at what is one of the world’s most hazardous nuclear sites.
Normally, as the documents repeatedly acknowledge, the Government would place a special minute before Parliament if it intended to undertake a liability of more than £250,000. MPs would then have 14 days to raise an objection, which would stop the undertaking going ahead until it had been dealt with. But MPs were not told about the Sellafield indemnity until 75 days after the last moment when they could object, even though it potentially exposes the taxpayer to liabilities running into billions.
The energy minister Mike O’Brien blames a “clerical oversight” for this. But the documents clearly show that the senior civil servants and nuclear administrators had been actively discussing how to limit MPs’ chance to object at least since early last year.
The documents have come to light only as a result of persistent pressure from Dr David Lowry, an independent environmental policy and research consultant, who is a member of Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates. The documents make it clear that the Government was determined to hurry through the handover of operations at Sellafield as quickly as possible because of what one of them calls “the current unstable management arrangements overseeing these extremely sensitive sites, and their high hazard inventories”. Another adds that this instability “constitutes a genuine risk to health, safety and environmental performance” at the complex……….
Other confidential documents, received after two Freedom of Information Act applications, divulge that three local councils in Somerset asked for £750,000 to fund a planning officer and legal advice from companies that want to build nuclear power stations in their areas, raising questions about conflicts of interest, and that the officially neutral NDA considered coming out in favour of new reactors. http://www.independent.co.uk/n
Questions about UK scrutiny of Chinese nuclear tie-up By Rob BroombyBritish affairs correspondent, BBC World Service BBC News 15 Jan 15 The government is refusing to say whether it has followed its own rules in allowing China’s investment in the new £24bn Hinkley nuclear power plant, citing questions of national security.
Chinese involvement in UK energy schemes remains controversial, not least because of the historical links between its industry and the military.
The National Security Council is supposed to review critical projects.
But ministers have consistently refused to say whether this has been the case.
The BBC requested information, under Freedom of Information laws, about whether the National Security Council had discussed China’s investment in a proposed new Hinkley C reactor as part of a consortium led by French firm EDF and if it had, whether it had been approved.
In a delayed response, the government confirmed the information was held by the Cabinet Office but refused to say whether the NSC had approved or even discussed China’s expected 30-40% stake in the Somerset project or the implications of its long-term aim of building nuclear reactors of its own in the UK……….
Antony Froggatt, senior research fellow on energy and environment at the Chatham House think tank, said openness about the Hinkley project was “absolutely vital” given the scale of state financial support.
“The government should therefore make public the details of the discussions in the National Security Council and other key decisions such as within the HM Treasury on the UK Guarantee Scheme to inform the public and the wider EU about the cost, security and overall value of the project,” he said.
French firm EDF had been due to make a final investment decision in Hinkley C by the end of last year but the project is still in the balance, not least because of the debts weighing down the French reactor developer Areva.
Similar reactor projects in France and Finland are running hugely over budget and behind schedule.
Meanwhile China is poised to increase its influence in the UK energy market with reports that the state owned China General Nuclear Corporation was preparing to pay an estimated £100m for an 80% stake in three UK wind farms which would be Beijing’s first purchase of onshore wind generation capacity in the west. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-30778427
Austria prepares lawsuit against Hinkley Point Interfax, By Annemarie Botzki 15 January 2015 Austria is preparing legal action against the European Commission’s decision to allow a price guarantee for EDF’s £34 billion ($51 billion) Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK, the Austrian Environmental Ministry confirmed this week.
“The Austrian federal government, with the unanimous support of the Austrian Parliament, is preparing an action for annulment to the Court of Justice of the EU,” ministry spokesperson Julia Puchegger told Interfax.
The commission said on 8 October that the UK’s plans to subsidise the construction and operation of the 3.3 GW plant are in line with EU state aid rules.
The lawsuit – targeted against the EU’s state aid approval – will be filed after publication of the commission’s decision on Hinkley in the Official Journal of the EU, which is not yet available.
“Austria strictly rejects any kind of direct or indirect subsidies to nuclear power, arguing for the complete internalisation of all external costs based on the polluter pays principle,” Puchegger said. “Austria also does not consider nuclear power to be eligible for the European Fund for Strategic Investments [EFSI].”
The EFSI is a €315 billion ($372 billion) package promoted by the new commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, that also will invest in energy infrastructure projects…….
Chances of success
“I think that there are good chances for success for a lawsuit,” Reinhard Schanda, a partner at the Vienna-based law firm Sattler & Schanda, told Interfax.
The EU’s environmental and energy aid guidelines for 2014-2020, adopted in July 2014, did not include rules for subsidies for nuclear energy – which are assessed on a case-by-case basis by the commission’s Directorate General for Competition.
According to Schanda, the commission is likely to have argued in its decision – so far unpublished – that the Euratom treaty provides the basis for its decision.
“It remains to be seen whether an EU objective of common interest can derive from the Euratom treaty,” Schanda told Interfax………../ http://interfaxenergy.com/gasdaily/article/15008/austria-prepares-lawsuit-against-hinkley-point
Sellafield nuclear clean-up firms to be stripped of £20bn contract, Telegraph UK Management of Britain’s most toxic nuclear waste site expected to be taken back into state hands as heavily-criticised consortium of Amec, Areva and URS is stripped of its contract By Emily Gosden, Energy Editor 12 Jan 2015 Nuclear waste clean-up operations at Sellafield are expected to be taken back into state hands, as the private consortium managing the Cumbrian site is stripped of its £20bn contract.
The Government’s decision to axe Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), comprised of Britain’s Amec, France’s Areva and America’s URS, is expected to be formally announced on Tuesday, six years into a 17-year contract to work on decommissioning the site.
Ministers surprised many by shying away from an opportunity to cancel NMP’s contract at a formal “break point” last year, despite criticism of the consortium by the National Audit Office (NAO) and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over a series of failings.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) had said it was considering taking the management of Sellafield back into state hands, an option that would have required ministerial approval.
However, there were doubts about how state management of the nuclear site, the UK’s biggest and most hazardous, would work in practice. It is thought a plan has now been drawn up and the NDA will exercise its right to terminate NMP’s contract “for convenience” with 12 months’ notice.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed only that the NDA and Government had been working on “alternative options at Sellafield”……..
the costs of the clean-up have since spiralled and annual spending at the site last year was £1.8bn, implying the remaining 11 years of the contract would be worth £20bn.
NMP earns tens of millions of pounds each year for managing the multi-billion pound operations.
Lifetime costs for decommissioning Sellafield, which is likely to take more than 100 years, were last year estimated to have risen to in excess of £79bn, but the NDA warned at the time that the total would rise further.
The NAO and PAC both criticised delays and cost overruns in NMP’s management Sellafield, where failings also included accidentally sending radioactive waste to a landfill site, resulting in a £700,000 fine………http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11340733/Sellafield-nuclear-clean-up-firms-to-be-stripped-of-20bn-contract.html
As the renewable industry is considered to be a relatively new source of energy and is still continuously undergoing development and investment, it opens up opportunities for females who would not normally be given a chance to work in the energy sector. Scotland are leading in the renewable sector in the UK, in 2012 almost 30% of electricity generated came from renewable sources compared to just 8% in England and Wales.
If the rest of the UK continue to develop similar to Scotland the number of careers for women within the sector will only increase. Although females are beginning to enter the energy workforce, it is questioned whether these are still mainly in sales and business based roles rather than technical. As of 2010, only 6% of the engineering workforce in the UK were female. Granting this, in 2013 16% of the graduates in engineering degrees were female, which was a small improvement from years prior.
This slight growth over the recent years can be shown through the fact in 2013 50% of the females employed by engineering industries were aged 25-30 years old. This is indication there will be a gradual influx of a younger generation of females into technical roles within the renewable sector as engineers begin to graduate and build their careers within the industry. Initiatives are in place to help encourage and support females to pursue engineering and technical roles. A survey carried out by Atkins in 2013 on females in engineering careers found over 50% of the sample felt they were put off at school for pursuing engineering as it being portrayed as ‘too difficult’ and ‘male dominated’………
Despite the renewable energy industry still being largely dominated by males, there is still huge opportunity for females to get on board not only in business support roles but technical too. With females being gradually encouraged to pursue an engineering career we can expect to see a gradual influx of women in the renewable workforce over the next few years…….https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/increasing-female-presence-renewable-energy-sarah-brooks
A CONVOY believed to be carrying city-destroying warheads drove through the middle of Glasgow on the M74 and M8 on Sunday night and crossed the Erskine Bridge during high winds. THE Ministry of Defence has come under fire from anti-nuclear campaigners and politicians after reports that a convoy carrying nuclear weapons travelled through the centre of Glasgow despite weather warnings.
The convoy drove through the middle of Glasgow on the M74 and M8 between 11.35pm and 11.55 pm on Sunday night and crossed the Erskine Bridge during high winds.
While the Scottish CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) maintain the convoys, which transport nuclear warheads between the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire to the UK’s fleet of nuclear-armed submarines at Faslane, are always unsafe, the campaigners condemned moving the weapons during extreme weather as reckless……….
SNP MSP for Glasgow Anniesland and co-president of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament Bill Kidd added: “This practice is deeply worrying and poses an unacceptable risk to the people of Glasgow. The idea that weapons of mass destruction are being transported through our city while we sleep is absolutely chilling – and shows the utter folly of basing nuclear weapons just 30 miles from our biggest population centre.
“The impact of any safety breach during one of these convoys does not bear thinking about. It’s time that these immoral and unsafe weapons were removed from Scotland for good.”
Glasgow Now has reached out to the Ministry of Defence for comment. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/ministry-defence-blasted-transporting-nuclear-4970433
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