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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

No Faith in Trident tour, by veteran UK anti nuclear campaigner, Bruce Kent

Anti-nuclear campaigner, Bruce Kent, brings crusade to Darlington http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/11167479.Anti_nuclear_campaigner_brings_crusade_to_Darlington/ 23rd April 2014 in News By Hannah Bryan, Report ONE of Britain’s best-known peace campaigners has brought his anti-nuclear crusade to the North-East.

Veteran peace campaigner and retired Catholic priest, Bruce Kent, spoke to crowds at the Friends’ Meeting House, in Darlington, as part of his No Faith in Trident tour.

The 84-year-old highlighted the cost of Trident – Britain’s nuclear weapons system – as well as the legal and moral issues involved with nuclear weapons. He said: “It is about getting people all around the country active in opposing the spending of £100billion on more nuclear weapons, which could instead be spent on the NHS, good education and other services. We should be getting rid of nuclear weapons which make the country more dangerous, not safer.

“The thing that matters the most to me is when people go home after my talk and do something about it, like write to their local MP or newspaper.”

Mr Kent was chair and general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) throughout the 1980s, and was formerly chair of War on Want.

He remains an active anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner.

April 25, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Drigg nuclear trash dump will be washed away by climate change’s sea level rise

nuke-&-seaLThis Huge Nuclear Waste Dump Will Be Washed Away By Rising Sea Levels http://gizmodo.com/uk-nuclear-waste-dump-will-be-washed-away-by-rising-sea-1565513267    21 April 14,  Geoff Manaugh A dumping ground for nuclear waste located near the British coast is “virtually certain” to be washed away by rising sea levels, a new flag-UKreport warns. The UK Environment Agency has admitted that constructing the Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository so near the coast was a mistake, and that one million cubic meters of nuclear waste will begin leaking into the ocean “a few hundred to a few thousand years from now.”

Sounds bad? Pay no attention, then, to current plans to increase the site’s capacity by another 800,000 cubic meters over the next century, adding new waste that will include “radioactive debris from Britain’s nuclear power stations, nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons, hospitals and universities,” the Guardian reports.

It’s interesting to note that, while the site officially contains only low-level waste, there is suspicion that higher-level wastes with correspondingly higher levels of radioactivity could have been dumped there in the past. Recall the incredible tale of Sellafield nuclear power station—the site from which much of the waste now stored at Drigg originates—where records of previous dumping had been thrown away or lost. This led to the terrifying need to advertise in the local newspaper, saying: “We need your help.” Why? Because they had no idea what was buried there.

“Did you work at Sellafield in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s?” the ad asked with false calm. “Were you by chance in the job of disposing of radioactive material? If so, the owners of Britain’s nuclear waste dump would very much like to hear from you: they want you to tell them what you dumped—and where you put it.”

In any case, the coastal tomb at Drigg is all but guaranteed to break apart in the waves and wash its mysterious and harmful contents into the sea. “A few hundred to a few thousand years from now” sounds like a long time, of course, but think of that as potentially little more than the time between us and Shakespeare (400 years), and the terrifying urgency of this becomes more clear. [Guardian]

April 22, 2014 Posted by | climate change, UK, oceans | Leave a comment

North Wales doesn’t mind nuclear power – just don’t want the wastes

Oscar-wastesNorth Wales nuclear waste burial plan North Wales News
Anglesey 
Apr 16, 2014
By Gareth Wyn-Williams Nuclear waste from across the British Isles could potentially be shipped  and stored on Anglesey as part of new  plans unveiled by the Government.

But the resulting fallout from the proposals has already generated a storm of  objections on the island, with one politician  saying that residents should make every  effort to stop it turning into a “nuclear  waste depository”.

The UK Government’s Energy and Climate Change department is looking for  communities to come forward and “volunteer themselves” in order to establish a  new site from scratch, that would store  nuclear waste from all over Britain.

And it is understood that Anglesey is one  of the sites under consideration by the UK  Government, with a public meeting set to  take place to discuss the matter later this  year.

Any communities that agree to the deal,  have been promised “substantial” economical benefits.

But Anglesey’s Assembly Member, Rhun  ap Iorwerth, says that residents across the  island, must strongly reject any proposals  to establish any such sites here.

He said: “This is  quite separate from arguments for and  against nuclear power generation at  Wylfa newydd.

“This is about the threat of using  Anglesey as a nuclear waste depository……http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/north-wales-nuclear-waste-burial-6995133

April 21, 2014 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

UK’s surviving atomic test veterans cautiously welcome David Cameron’s statement

Thorpe St Andrew nuclear test veteran speaks of defect fears, after PM gives flag-UKhope to families, Norwich Evening News 24, 17 April 14

“………Veterans say they were made ill as a result of being exposed to radiation during the tests, and have been battling for recognition and compensation for years.

 Fewer than 3,000 veterans survive and while welcoming Mr Cameron’s pledge, Mr Freeman said: “We are concerned it’s just an election ploy. Tony Blair said something similar in opposition, then did nothing when he was elected.”

Mr Freeman, a father-of-three and grandfather-of-eight, said his ninth grandchild was expected next month, but added: “I’ve got grandchildren who suffer from deafness and one was born with one kidney. With another grandchild due, we are all worried that everything is going to be OK, as you can never tell.”

Nuclear test campaigners say Mr Cameron’s pledge is the closest they have been to formal recognition of the suffering caused by the South Pacific explosions. The meeting between Mr Cameron and Tory MP John Baron last week was the first time the veterans had their case put forward to any prime minister.

Mr Baron, patron of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association, told the PM descendants had 10 times the normal rate of birth defects, their wives had elevated rates of ­miscarriage, and no other veterans’ group had suffered harm which spread down the generations. France, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China and even the Isle of Man ­recognise and compensate test veterans. The MoD has always insisted no harm befell the men.

Are you a veteran of nuclear testing living in the Norwich area? Email reporter David Bale at david.bale2@archant.co.uk http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/news/thorpe_st_andrew_nuclear_test_veteran_speaks_of_defect_fears_after_pm_gives_hope_to_families_1_3562535

April 18, 2014 Posted by | health, social effects, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Strong reasons why UK should abandon Trident nuclear weapons system

flag-UKFive interesting stories about Trident http://www.leftfootforward.org/2014/04/five-interesting-stories-about-trident/

By ANDREW GIBSON | Published: APRIL 15, 2014 he fate of the UK’s nuclear weapon system will be decided in the next few years. Whether to renew Trident and what defensive posture to take will be the subjects of internal party debates when manifesto writing, when preparing for the NPT Review Conference in 2015 and when Parliament votes on the ‘Main Gate’ decision on Trident replacement in 2016. But there have been some interesting stories about Trident in the press of late. Here are just a few:

 1. Strikes at Faslane

In March, hundreds of workers at the Faslane naval base staged theirfirst walkout in 42 years, following negotiations over pay. Faslane is home to the UK’s Vanguard-class nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarines. The Scotsman reported that employees responsible for fitting out boats and loading weapons were involved in the action. The Unite union said that further stoppages were planned, as well as a work to rule and ban on overtime.

2. Top Tory says No James Arbuthnot, veteran chairman of the Defence Select Committee, has publicly questioned the logic of replacing Trident. In a recent interview with the Guardian he stated, “Nuclear deterrence does not provide the certainty that it seemed to in the past. It’s not an insurance policy, it is a potential booby trap.”

Despite voting for replacement in 2007, Arbuthnot referred to Trident at the time as ‘of doubtful usefulness’.

3. Resignations at AWE Burghfield

In January, junior defence minister Anna Soubry confirmed that 44 Ministry of Defence Police officers based at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Burghfield were subject to a major misconduct investigation. AWE Burghfield hosts facilities in which the UK’s nuclear weapons are built and maintained. Seven officers resigned during the course of the investigation, with some media reporting that a number had missed patrols due to being ‘asleep’.

4. UK’s youth disapprove

A recent ComRes survey suggests that younger people are opposed to like-for-like Trident replacement. Of the respondents, only 19 per cent of those aged 18-35 supported renewing Trident at its current size and capacity (this compared to 33 per cent of over 35s). The poll was commissioned by WMD Awareness, who launched this campaign last week to get the UK’s youth debating nuclear weapons.

5. Radioactive leaks in Caithness

In March, Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond demanded an apology for failing to be informed for over two years about problems with a submarine test reactor. This was in response to defence secretary Philip Hammond’s confirmation that “low levels of radioactivity were detected in a prototype core” at the Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment at Dounreay, Caithness, in 2012. These kinds of spats suggest nuclear defence will continue to be an issue in the Scottish independence campaign.

The above stories touch on some major problems with Trident: it’s unpopular, politically contentious, and the system relies on shaky security arrangements. Anyone for abandoning it?

April 16, 2014 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

David Cameron acknowledges damage to nuclear test veterans and their offspring

      David Cameron gives nuclear test veterans glimmer of hope after our 12-year campaign for justice

flag-UKhttp://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-cameron-gives-nuclear-test-3406479

        Apr 12, 2014 Prime Minister has promised to investigate setting up a £25 million health fund for descendants of those exposed to genetic suffering genetic defects

David Cameron has at last given hope to families of nuclear test veterans after a 12-year Sunday Mirror campaign for justice.

The Prime Minister has promised to investigate setting up a £25million health fund for descendants suffering genetic defects passed down by ­servicemen exposed to 1950s blasts.

He will also look at offering personal thanks to the veterans and recognising their sacrifice with a medal.

Campaigners say the breakthrough at a half-hour meeting is the closest they have been to formal recognition of the suffering caused by the South Pacific explosions.

It came days after the Sunday Mirror called for the PM to recognise the plight ofchildren like 15-month-old Ella Denson, who was born with a deformity linked to her great-grandad Eric Denson’s exposure to radiation on Christmas Island in 1958.

The meeting between Mr Cameron and Tory MP John Baron last Wednesday was the first time the veterans have had their case put forward to any prime minister.

Mr Baron, patron of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association, told the PM descendants had 10 times the normal rate of birth defects, their wives had elevated rates of ­miscarriage, and no other veterans’ group had suffered harm which spread down the generations.

A New Zealand study found veterans’ genes had three times the damage of Chernobyl survivors. The tests have never been repeated here.

Scientists say effects could last for 20 generations.

As Mr Cameron listened, Ella, of Morden, South London, was recovering from her latest hospital admission to deal with her severe defect. She was born with two tubes to a kidney instead of one and needs daily antibiotics to stop infection before having surgery at three.

At the weekend she was rushed to hospital for the third time in her short life. Her brother Jamie and mum Kimberley have teeth deformities.

Ella’s great-gran Shirley Denson, 79, had four daughters with bomb veteran husband Eric and has seen more than a third of his descendants suffer.

She said: “I pray the Prime Minister does the right thing, for the sake of my Ella and all the thousands like her.”

Eric was one of 22,000 men ordered to witness the ­detonation of nuclear bombs between 1952 and 1967.

He later suffered ­crippling ­headaches and killed himself in 1976. Fewer than 3,000 veterans survive.

France, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China and even the Isle of Man ­recognise and compensate test veterans. The MoD has always insisted no harm befell the men.

Mr Baron said: “The meeting with Mr Cameron was constructive. He is going to get back to me.”

April 15, 2014 Posted by | children, health, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

PRISM an ugly magic trick from the nuclear lobby

highly-recommendedThe U.S. corporation GE Hitachi (GEH) is promoting a reactor design called the PRISM (Power Reactor Innovative Small Modular) that its chief consulting engineer and fast-breeder guru, Eric Loewen, says is a safe and secure way to power the world using yesterday’s nuclear waste – he means plutonium which hasn’t officially been classified as waste in the UK. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has declared PRISM to be a “credible option” for managing the UK’s plutonium stockpile.
PRISM is the latest manifestation of much-hyped but non-existent ‘integral fast reactors’ (IFR). GEH says it offers PRISMs on the world market – but there aren’t any takers, so none have been built.It would require converting the plutonium oxide powder at Sellafield into a metal alloy, with uranium and zirconium. This would be a large-scale industrial activity on its own that would create “a likely large amount of plutonium contaminated salt waste”, according to Adrian Simper of the NDA. Once prepared for the reactor, plutonium metal would be even more vulnerable to theft for making bombs than the plutonium oxide. This view is shared by the Union of Concerned Scientists in the U.S., which argues that plutonium liberated from spent fuel in preparation for recycling “would be dangerously vulnerable to theft or misuse.”
Nuclear-Wizards
Arjun Makhijani says recommending the use of sodium cooled-fast neutron reactors to denature plutonium reveals a technological optimism that is disconnected from the facts. Some of them have indeed operated well. But others, including the most recent — Superphénix in France and Monju in Japan — have miserable records. Roughly $100 billion have been spent worldwide to try and commercialize these reactors —to no avail.
Liquid sodium has proven to be a problem coolant. Even small leaks of a type that would cause a mere hiccup in a light-water reactor would result in shutdowns for years in sodium-cooled reactors. That is because sodium burns on contact with air and explodes on contact with water. The PRISM reactor has a secondary cooling loop in which the fluid on one side is sodium; on the other it is water, which turns to steam to drive a turbine. (12)
Nuclear engineer Dave Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists says: “The IFR looks good on paper. So good, in fact, that we should leave it on paper. For it only gets ugly in moving from blueprint to backyard.”
See also the No2 Nuclear Power briefing on PRISM reactors http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/PRISM-reactors4.pdf
Can PRISM solve the UK’s plutonium problem by Jim Green, Ecologist 26th Feb 2014 http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2297881/can_prism_solve_the_uks_plutonium_problem.html

April 12, 2014 Posted by | - plutonium, reprocessing, UK | 2 Comments

Failure of Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) has global implications

highly-recommendedNuClear News No.61 April 2014 WIPP failure has global implications
When a radioactive waste truck caught on fire inside the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) on February 5, it seemed like it was probably an isolated incident, not the beginning of a saga that could affect U.S. radioactive waste policy permanently and even radwaste policy internationally.
But the truck fire was followed by a still-unexplained offsite radiation release–including plutonium on February 14. That was then followed by a second, for a time unrevealed, and also still-unexplained, radiation release on March 11. It became clear that the WIPP saga will have long-term ramifications, not only for the nuclear weapons radwaste WIPP was built to handle, but also for the far larger and much more radioactive inventory of commercial high-level nuclear waste, not only in America, but around the globe. WIPP is currently closed and will remain so for some time.
flag-UKWIPP has played a crucial part in the history of nuclear waste proposals in the UK. In 1989, in the run-up to a referendum in Caithness in November of that year on whether or not to allow Nirex to search for a deep disposal site in the County, the Head of Information Services at Dounreay used WIPP as an example of a successful waste disposal site in an article he wrote for the John ‘O Groat Journal. In response a letter from the US Radioactive Waste Campaign described the article as “an outright lie”. McRoberts had claimed that WIPP was already receiving shipments and that the repository was dry. In fact the repository remained unopened at the time because in 1987 salt-laden water was fund to be seeping inside. One State Senator told the New Mexico press that:
“We have waste we aren’t sure about, stored in containers that haven’t been approved, travelling over roads that haven’t been improved and being put in salt beds we don’t know about. We’d like to put the brakes on before we get to the edge of the cliff.”
74% of voters in the Caithness referendum voted against Nirex’s plans in November 1989.
Given that WIPP, until the recent problems was the only deep geologic disposal facility operating in the world (in Europe, especially Eastern Europe, it is frequently–and incorrectly–described as a “high-level” radioactive waste site by nuclear advocates), the lessons, whatever they turn out to be, from the series of WIPP failures surely will affect other proposed and potential sites for years to come.
Many New Mexicans fought the project, knowing that in the expected 10,000-year life of the project there eventually would be problems. A poll found residents of southern New Mexico oppose the project three to one, but because of considerable encouragement from local businessmen and politicians, the project eventually moved forward. Locals felt their concerns had been ignored, while local and state politicians used the depressed economic conditions in southern New Mexico to push the project forward since it promised jobs. Given that it is a mere 15 years since the site began receiving waste, the concern appears to be justified.
Don Hancock, director of the Nuclear Waste Safety Program at Southwest Research and Information Center, who has been monitoring WIPP since 1975 and is familiar with the technical, policy, regulatory and legal issues related to the site, is reluctant to state there are any “guaranteed” methods of safely storing radioactive waste.
wastes-1“Given that long-lived nuclear wastes are dangerous for thousands of generations, emplacing them deep underground is a possible ‘solution,’ but it certainly isn’t ‘guaranteed,’ ” he said. “Neither WIPP, nor the proposed Yucca Mountain site in Nevada, are ‘ideal’ and meet publicly accepted standards. Both sites were picked for political, not technical, reasons, so it is not surprising that they are inadequate.”
Hancock believes that what is needed is a decades-long program to develop technical standards for any sites then a comprehensive national effort to identify the “best” sites that might meet the standards, then testing and establishing public “consent” for such sites (including a truck and train transportation system).
He also recommends careful state and national regulatory oversight of development, operation and decontamination and decommissioning of such facilities, and long-term safety procedures to help protect future generations, should nuclear waste operations be continued. http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo61.pdf

April 12, 2014 Posted by | Reference, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Shock horror! the youth of Britain are anti nuclear!

flag-UKYounger people ‘more anti-nuclear’ Courier UK By PRESS ASSOCIATION, 8 April 2014 “…….Voters aged 18-35 in the UK are more likely to oppose the like-for-like renewal of Trident – Britain’s nuclear weapons system – than their older peers, the survey carried out by ComRes on behalf of WMD Awareness found.

The findings come just two years before the Government is due to decide whether to renew the fleet of submarines that will carry the UK’s nuclear weapons.

It is the first time this decision will be made since the 1980s, when Trident replaced the previous Polaris system.

The research, based on responses from 4,207 people across Britain, found younger voters are not engaged in this issue, with only one in fifteen thinking the UK Government should prioritise spending on defence over the next 10 years.

It found that 19% of people aged 18-35 believe the UK nuclear weapon system should be renewed to maintain its current size and capacity, compared to 33% of people aged 36 and older.

51% agree that the UK nuclear weapon system should be disbanded or reduced in size and capacity, while 54% think nuclear weapons for defence purposes are too expensive for governments to maintain.

The research found 47% of people aged 18-35 disagree that nuclear weapons protect the countries which possess them from modern day threats such as terrorism.

A third (34%) believe renewing Trident is going to cost up to £5 billion, when it is actually estimated to cost up to £100 billion, according to WMD Awareness.

Young Ambassadors for WMD Awareness, who carried out the research, have responded to the findings by launching Talking Trident, a national debate to raise awareness of the issues surrounding defence and Trident renewal ahead of the Main Gate decision in 2016.

Hannah Cornford, ambassador lead at WMD Awareness, said: “Renewing Trident is the largest and most expensive British investment project.

“Yet, while support for Trident was widespread in the 1980s, our research shows that, for those born after the Cold War, spending on defence comes last on their list of government priorities.”

Madeline Held, Chair of Nuclear Education Trust, said: “The Talking Trident debate is a welcome development in stimulating a much needed discussion around nuclear weapons in the UK.

“The Nuclear Education Trust believes there should be a much deeper and wider public and parliamentary debate about whether to retain and modernise the UK’s nuclear weapons, especially given their expense at a time of austerity; the risk of accidents, and the fact that the majority of the UK’s European neighbours do not possess nuclear weapons to guarantee their security.”…… http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/politics/younger-people-more-anti-nuclear-1.307616

April 9, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | 1 Comment

UK’s nuclear subsidy is bad value for Britain, and may kill renewable energy

text-my-money-2‘Bad value’ UK nuclear subsidy deal ‘will kill renewables’ http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/bad-value-uk-nuclear-subsidy-deal-will-kill-renewables,6361 Climate News Network 8 April 2014, The UK’s anti-competitive plan to subsidise nuclear power may be the final straw that breaks the renewable industry’s back, say critics. Paul Brown from the Climate News Network reports.

flag-UKTHE UNITED KINGDOM’S PLANS to build heavily subsidised nuclear power stations have come under withering attack from a coalition of politicians, academics, energy industry experts and environmental groups.

Evidence has poured into the European Commission, which is investigating whether the deal with the giant French nuclear company EDF breaks EU competition rules. The evidence from many objectors, whose submissions had to be made by yesterday (Monday, 7 April), claims that if the contract goes through it will wreck Europe’s chance of building up renewable energies to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

They say renewables will have to compete in an unfair market where one generator ‒ nuclear ‒ is guaranteed to be able to sell all its electricity at a stable price and with a built-in profit until 2058.

The UK Government has agreed a minimum price of £92.50 (AUD $137) a megawatt hour from a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in the west of England from 2023 — roughly double the existing price of electricity in Britain. The price will rise with inflation and runs for 35 years — a deal unprecedented in the energy sector, and not available to renewable energies like wind and solar. The guarantee will continue for all future nuclear stations too. Continue reading

April 8, 2014 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain getting radioactive dust from Sahara’s old French bombing?

text ionisingAlgerian desert dust infected with French bomb radioactivity  Dear Kitty , some blog By David flag-UKLowry in Britain:
Is Saharan dust radioactive?  4th April 2014

As Britain is blanketed in a layer of desert sand, DAVID LOWRY asks whether it could be contaminated by fallout from French nuclear tests in Algeria more than 50 years ago

South-easterly winds have coated Britain in a toxic Saharan dust cloud.

Combined with domestic pollution, the sand has caused air quality to plummet and engulfed many parts of the country in smog-like conditions.

But one unreported aspect of the Saharan dust is that it could be radioactive.

French nuclear testing in Algeria, conducted during the height of the independence struggle, spread radioactive fallout across southern Europe in the early 1960s – and the radioactivity that settled on the desert could have been resuspended in this natural fallout event over Britain.

It’s recently been revealed that atmospheric spread of the radioactive fallout was much larger than the French army admitted at the time.

New reports by the France 24 TV station suggest that the fallout from the tests at Reggane in central Algeria stretched across all of west Africa, across the Mediterranean and up to southern Europe.

The information came to light following appeals from military veterans who say their current ill health is linked to exposure to dangerous levels of radiation.

France‘s first nuclear device “Gerboise Bleue” (Blue Jerboa) was more than three times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.

Thirteen days after it was detonated, in February 1960, radioactive particles ranged from the Central African Republic to Sicily and southern Spain.

At the time the French military authorities said the fallout from the explosion was limited to the desert and that radiation levels were “generally low.”

But associations representing military veterans of France’s nuclear tests in the 1960s and 1970s are demanding that the government admits it knew that the fallout from Saharan tests was dangerous.

“In the 1960s the norms governing acceptable levels of radiation were much less strict than they are now,” said Bruno Barillot, an expert in nuclear tests who is representing veterans’ groups.

“And the medical evidence we have now shows clearly that exposure to this radiation can set off serious illnesses more than three decades later,” he told Le Parisien.

Barillot added that the declassified documents showed that the army at the time was aware that even the 1960s safety levels were largely surpassed and that significant quantities of airborne radioactive particles, particularly iodine 131 and caesium 137, could have been inhaled by large numbers of people in north Africa.

He also complained that the government had been extremely selective in terms of what documents to release………..

For more of David Lowry’s writing visit drdavidlowry.blogspot.co.uk.

April 5, 2014 Posted by | environment, UK | 2 Comments

Britain now facing a horror cost in burying its dead nuclear reactors

flag-UKNuclear decommissioning A glowing review Britain is paying dearly for neglecting its nuclear waste, The Economist,  Apr 5th 2014  SWILLING around murky ponds in the oldest part of Sellafield, a nuclear research and reprocessing centre in Cumbria, is a soupy, radioactive sludge. For years boffins working on Britain’s first military and civil nuclear programmes abandoned spent fuel and other nastiness into the pools and tanks, which now grow decrepit. Though perhaps not the “slow-motion Chernobyl” which some environmental campaigners make out, the site is subject to one of the most complex nuclear clean-ups in the world.

money-in-wastes-2

Sellafield is the trickiest of several challenges facing the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), a government body that manages the contractors who swab out Britain’s defunct facilities. Their projects swallow up about two-thirds of the budget of the Department of Energy and Climate Change; Sellafield alone costs £1.7 billion ($2.8 billion) a year, almost as much as the roughly £2 billion spent subsidising renewable energy in 2013. On March 31st NDA awarded a £7 billion contract to decommission 12 more of Britain’s oldest reactor sites over 14 years to a consortium including Babcock, a British engineering firm, and Fluor, an American one.These big sums reflect problems peculiar to Britain. It ploughed into nuclear bomb-making in the 1940s, and nuclear power in the 1950s, with little plan for how contaminated structures would be dealt with. …….

Mismanagement has probably made a tough job more difficult. In 2009 bosses thought Sellafield would cost £46.6 billion to make safe; the latest estimate is £70 billion, and rising. In February MPs on the public accounts committee slammed the performance of Nuclear Management Partners, the private consortium currently contracted to detoxify it. They questioned NDA’s decision, in October, to award it a second five-year contract, and said taxpayers bore most of the risks……….
Most people now agree that the best solution is to bury it. For years the government has sought councils willing to host such a site in return for jobs and money. Last January politicians in Cumbria vetoed applications from eager councillors in two of its districts. This summer the government will probably nudge them again, and with good reason. Sellafield’s neighbours know as well as anyone what happens when a generation passes the buck. http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21600135-britain-paying-dearly-neglecting-its-nuclear-waste-glowing-review

April 4, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s secret deals with USA on nuclear weaponry

secret-dealsflag-UKSecret talks on future of Britain’s nuclear arsenal, Guardian UK, Richard Norton Taylor and Ewen Macaskill, 3 April 14,

• UK’s nuclear arsenal relies on US components
• Nature, cost, and timing, of new warheads will also depend on US.
Buy-US-nukesWhile the Nato allies are collectively preoccupied by Vladimir Putin’s intentions in eastern Europe, Britain and the US are secretly renegotiating a pact which is a bedrock of their very special bilateral relationship.

Their Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA), first signed in 1958, is due for renewal this year. Britain relies on it to secure, maintain, and upgrade, its nuclear warheads.

“The UK regards safety, security and reliability as central to the maintenance of its nuclear warheads”, the Foreign Office stated in an “explanatory memorandum” on an amendment to the MDA ten years ago. It added: “The programme benefits from long-standing collaboration with US scientists, including the sharing of data and test results and the use of US test facilities”.

The extent to which Britain’s nuclear arsenal is dependent on American help, through the MDA, is clearly set out in The Bang Behind The Buck, a paper just published by the Royal United Services Institute.

It warns that the future shape of the US nuclear arsenal is uncertain and it is unlikely Britain will be able to decide the future of its own arsenal until the US has agreed on the future of its own arsenal, whatever condition the UK’s warheads are in………

The government should not get away with renewing in secret an agreeement that has serious implications for the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), the nature of Britain’s “independent deterrent”, and its relationship with the US.

As one commentator has remarked: “On past performance, most MPs will need some considerable external encouragement before accepting that the renewal of the MDA is a subject that ought to be debated openly and democratically, both within and without Westminster.

“At the moment, it rather looks as if the Conservative government of prime minister Cameron is intent on following in the footsteps of the Labour government of Tony Blair by ensuring that the US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement is in the bag for a further ten years before the parliamentary summer recess, and quite possibly before the Easter recess.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/defence-and-security-blog/2014/apr/02/nuclear-weapons-warheads-trident

April 3, 2014 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK awards lucrative nuclear clean-up job to Babcock and Fluor

flag-UKBabcock wins UK nuclear clean-up deal, Guardian UK,  British engineering contractors and US group Fluor given £7bn contract covering sites such as Hinkley, Sizewell and Dungeness Britain has awarded a 14-year, £7bn contract to manage the decommissioning of its nuclear sites to engineering contractors Babcock and US group Fluor. The deal covers some of Britain’s oldest nuclear power sites, including Hinkley, Sizewell and Dungeness, and is one of the largest contracts the country has put out to tender.,,,,,,,,

Aside from EnergySolutions and Bechtel, Babcock beat two other consortiums: Serco, Areva and CH2M Hill; and Amec, Atkins and Rolls-Royce in a two-year-long bidding process.

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Cavendish Fluor, the joint venture between Babcock-owned subsidiary Cavendish Nuclear and Fluor, will be formally awarded the contract – pending legal approval – on 1 September , after a ten-day mandatory standstill and a five-month transition period.

“Cavendish Fluor Partnership bring a successful track record and extensive nuclear experience that will bring enormous benefits to the decommissioning and clean-up programme,” NDA chief executive John Clarke said………http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/mar/31/babcock-uk-nuclear-clean-up-contract

April 1, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Decommissioning – a bonanza for nuclear firms

flag-UKGovernment set to award £7bn nuclear decommissioning contract http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7a4ee910-b7fa-11e3-92f9-00144feabdc0.html By Gill Plimmer 31 March 14,  A private sector consortium will be told on Monday it has won the £7bn job of decommissioning Britain’s oldest nuclear power plants.

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The work is one of the largest and most sensitive public sector contracts to be awarded in the UK so far. The reactors, built in the 1960s originally to produce plutonium to make nuclear weapons, include those at Sizewell, Hinkley and Dungeness. They are now at the end of their lives and the government is preparing to decommission them this year. The overall contract is worth about £7bn over 14 years.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the government-funded body responsible for Britain’s state-owned nuclear sites, started the competition two years ago, and work is expected to start in September.

Currently the sites are being run by Magnox, a company owned by Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions. It is bidding for the new work in partnership with Bechtel. The only Magnox station still in use is in Wylfa in Anglesey, though this is due to stop producing electricity in the next two years.

The contract covers Britain’s 10 reactors as well two old nuclear research sites in Oxfordshire and Dorset. The oldest nuclear power plant, Calder Hall in Cumbria, was the world’s first commercial scale nuclear reactor and was opened by the Queen in 1959 before it closed a decade ago.

The incumbent Magnox is competing against consortiums made up of Amec, Atkins and Rolls-Royce; CH2M Hill, Areva and Serco; and Babcock and Fluor. The clean-up contract that the companies hope to take over employs about 3,000 workers on the 12 ageing nuclear sites across the country.

Unions are concerned that awarding the company to an overseas consortium willerode Britain’s nuclear expertise.

“The reality is the way we are breaking up our nuclear industry will go down as another Great British missed opportunity,” Gary Smith, a GMB spokesman said. “Britain was a world leader in nuclear. Successive governments have hived off our nuclear industry piecemeal. There is absolutely no strategy around nuclear which reflects the fact that wider energy policy is a mess.”

March 31, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

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