Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that using modular construction techniques for the AP1000 reactor hasn’t worked. Building nuclear reactors out of factory-produced modules was supposed to make construction swifter and cheaper, but costly delays have shaken faith in the new construction method at the two US sites. “Modular construction has not worked out to be the solution that the utilities promised”
NuClearNews August 2015 New energy minister Andrea Leadsom has given the strongest signal yet that the Government is looking to support a new era of factory-built, nuclear power stations – with a Newcastle company leading the way on their development in the UK. Speaking at the Nuclear Industry Association conference Ms Leadsom said: “Small Modular Reactors are an option we are investigating further. These have the potential to drive down the cost of nuclear energy and make financing easier through shorter construction times and lower initial capital investment requirements, in addition to high value commercial opportunities.” (1)
Amidst a growing sense of frustration and hand-wringing over the delays in the current nuclear programme, new hope has emerged that support is on the way for a home-grown generation of Small Modular Reactors (SMR). Continue reading
NuClear news August 2015 Since the Government confirmed in December 2011 that its preferred management option for the UK’s plutonium stockpile was to convert the ‘asset of zero value’ into Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel, further progress on the option has been conspicuous by its absence, says Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE). (1)
10 Companies Appealing €100 Billion In Subsidies For UK’s Hinkley Nuclear Project http://cleantechnica.com/2015/07/23/10-companies-appealing-e100-billion-subsidies-uks-hinkley-nuclear-project/ by James Ayre
The relatively recent decision by the European Commission to approve roughly €100 billion in subsidies for the Hinkley Point C nuclear energy project in the UK is already being legally challenged, according to recent reports. The legal challenge is coming via an alliance of 10 companies — which includes various renewable energy suppliers and municipal utility companies, as well as Greenpeace Energy. The plea for an annulment of the approval is being made via the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
Reportedly, according to the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the chances that the challenge will be successful are low. Based on recent events, one could argue that Germany is essentially the de facto head of the Commission, so that doesn’t seem to bode well for the legal challenge.
The challenge is being handled by Dörte Fouquet, of the Becker Büttner Held law firm. He commented on the situation thusly: “(The European Commission used) an incorrect evaluation benchmark because these British subsidies are an unlawful State Aid and not an investment aid. Moreover … there is no general failure of the energy market which could justify these proposed subsidies.”
For some background here, the subsidies call for the European Commission to provide £92.5/megawatt-hour (MWh) in support for 35 years to the 3.2 gigawatt (GW) nuclear project.
Figures provided by Greenpeace show that subsidies for the Hinkley Point C project will total some €108.6 billion over that period if inflation is taken into account (€53.7 billion without taking inflation into account). These subsidies are in addition to more than €20 billion in credit guarantees made by the UK.
That’s certainly quite a lot of state support for nuclear energy, is it not? And people are still claiming that it’s economically viable?
“This high level of subsidization means that Hinkley Point C can generate power at negative prices without suffering financial losses. Hinkley Point C lowers the wholesale price of power in the UK. Lower prices lead to an increased import of electricity from the UK to Germany. These imports lower the price of power in Germany, reducing the profits of its conventional and renewable power plants. This effect can lower the price of electricity in Germany by as much as 20 euro cents per megawatt-hour,” as Greenpeace put it in a recent statement.
The companies involved in the legal challenge are oekostrom AG, Greenpeace Energy, and Energieversorgung Filstal. The municipal utilities involved in the appeal are Bochum, Mainz, Schwäbisch Hall, Tübingen, Mühlacker, Aalen, and Bietigheim-Bissingen.
The plans for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley in the UK are too expensive, too late, won’t help cut greenhouse gas emissions, violate EU competition law, and will distort Europe‘s energy markets. On 6 July 2015, Greenpeace Energy, together with German and Austrian energy utilities, filed a legal challenge in the European Courts against the EU Commission’s decision to rubberstamp billions of euros in state subsidies for new nuclear reactors at the Hinkley nuclear power plant in the UK.
The filing argues these massively subsidised reactors will influence energy prices in Europe and grossly distort competition.
In a similar filing, the Austrian government submitted a complaint to the European Court against the European Commission for failing to properly implement EU law when it approved the UK’s nuclear welfare package. As Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said in a statement, nuclear power “is not an innovative technology and is therefore not worthy of subsidy.”
In short, the Hinkley reactors threaten to block the road to a safe, clean renewable future. “The EU Commission’s decision threatens to have negative consequences for our environmentally sound production plants,” says Dr. Achim Kötzle, Managing Director of Stadtwerke Tübingen on behalf of the eight municipal utilities in the action.
Here’s the situation:
The price of the electricity generated by the new Hinkley C reactors has been guaranteed by the British government for 35 years. This means that, no matter the fluctuations in the price of electricity, Hinkley owner EDF will always get its money.
With renewable energy getting cheaper all the time, and the Hinkley reactors not expected to be in operation before the middle of the next decade, you can see why EDF wanted to fix its prices.
Figures commissioned by Greenpeace Energy (an organisation independent of Greenpeace) show that this is a gift to EDF of some 108 billion euros of public funds. In addition, the British government has made guarantees of more than 20 billion to investors in the construction of the new nuclear plant. As Sönke Tanger, Managing Director of Greenpeace Energy says: “We are taking legal action against these exorbitant nuclear subsidies because they appear to be ecologically and economically senseless and signify serious disadvantages for other energy providers, for renewables, and for consumers.”
The approval of this state funding of nuclear reactors also sets a bad example for the rest of Europe. If Hinkley succeeds, countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are likely to follow.
There are also huge doubts about the European Nuclear Reactor (EPR) technology EDF wishes to build at Hinkley C. The ones being built in Finland and France are massively over budget, years behind schedule, and have experienced huge technical problems.
Why wait ten years (at least) for new expensive and unsafe nuclear reactors when renewable energy projects are ready to go right now? Hinkley C must be stopped before it irreparably damages our future.
Aldermaston nuclear weapons factory remains in special measures, Get Reading, 10 JULY 2015 BY RAHUL VASHISHT The Aldermaston site remains in special measures for the third year running after failing to improve its safety performance An Aldermaston nuclear weapons factory is in special measures for the third year running after failing to improve its safety performance, says a government regulator.
The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), which produces the UK’s nuclear weapons, joins seven other sites out of 36 requiring increased regulation.
A report published by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) listed shortages of skilled personnel, the ageing plant and delays in building new facilities as reasons for failure.
It is also facing further action over not meeting legal obligations to treat radioactive waste by February 2014………http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/aldermaston-nuclear-weapons-factory-remains-9624495
AUSTRIAN LEGAL ACTION COULD DELAY HINKLEY POINT NUCLEAR FOR THREE TO FOUR YEARS, Power Engineering 09/07/2015 By Diarmaid Williams
That timeframe is based on the average expectation associated with such cases, as confirmed this week by a legal expert who had been advising the Austrian government on the matter. It is less than the worst case scenario timeframe of five to eight years but that delay is not beyond the bounds of possibility as the subsequent decision could still be challenged.
Dr Dorte Fouquet, Partner, BBH Brussels who has been advising Vienna on the matter of their objection to Britain’s flagship nuclear power project on the basis of State Aid contravention told Power Engineering International, “From the publication on average statistics from the European Court in State Aid cases the duration can be on average between 31,5 und 50,3 months.”
Dr Fouquet quoted the information from the 2013 Annual report of the European Court of Justice, (pg. 186).
She had told an audience at Platts Power Summit in central London at the end of April that if Vienna pressed on with its challenge it could set back construction of the Hinkley Point C project for even longer than that average.
“Based on whether a party was unhappy with that, it could then go again before the European Court of Justice, which could also take years, though probably not as much as the first; this is based on average procedures.”……….
BBC: People taken from movie theater by police, forced to go in reactor and deal with burning fuel rods — TV: Military picked men off street to battle meltdown — Women, minorities, homeless, and prisoners used by nuclear industry for most dangerous work (VIDEO) http://enenews.com/bbc-police-grabbed-people-movie-theatre-made-reactor-deal-burning-fuel-rods-tv-men-picked-streets-forced-battle-nuclear-meltdown-video?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
BBC, ‘Windscale – Britain’s Biggest Nuclear Disaster’ (emphasis added) — Tom Tuohy, deputy manager at Windscale plutonium production plant (at 8:00 in): “We were trying to push the burning fuel into the back of the reactor.” — But the heat had melted the cartridges, so they were stuck in the core… Radiation was so intense they could only work a few hours. They were running out of firefighters. — Neville Ramsden, Windscale health physicist: “The police from the [plutonium] factory had turned up looking for volunteers and they brought a bus. They decided the best way to get the volunteers was to go up to the cinema, and ‘volunteer’ the back 2 rows at the show to go… push the fuel rods out of the reactor.”
Yorkshire Television, ‘Children of Chernobyl’(at 4:00 in): “When the robots broke down because of the extreme radioactivity, men were sent in to cleanup the site. They werenot volunteers. They were picked up off the streets and press ganged [i.e. taken by force] onto the roof… In 90 seconds, they received their permissible lifetime dose of radiation. The men were sent home and forgotten… They do not figure in any official casualty lists.”
Prof. Kate Brown, C-SPAN (at 35:00 in): “When there was an accident [at Hanford],when there was some dangerous groundthat needed to be worked… they sent in these temporary workers, prisoners from the camps nearby… minority laborers… basically ‘jumpers’ to work in dangerous ground,unmonitored… and they’d leave with the many possible radioactive isotopes they had ingested… without any epidemiological trace… The plutonium cities presented a picture of healthy pink populations, this was a mirage.”
Prof. Brown (at 42:30 in): “That job [of refining plutonium] was often given to women… it’sone of the dirtiest jobs. At Dupont… they’d write the Army Corps, ‘Maybe since we’re going to make this super-poisonous product, we shouldn’t hire women who were younger than the menopausal age. What about fertility problems? What about mutants and monsters in offspring?’ They were real nervous about it… they knew a great deal, and they were worried.”
DC Bureau: When the enormous problem of high-level nuclear waste became apparent… White workers ordered African Americans to deal with this deadly mess, and disposal involveddumping plutonium straight into the soil…. [Mr. Lindsay] was recruited from his job as a segregated school principal to commute several hours from Greenwood, South Carolina… like thousands of other African American workers, was given the most dangerous jobs andordered to throw his dosimeter… in a bucket before going into high risk areas.
Reuters: Police say Japanese gangsters rounded up homeless men to clean up Fukushima radiation… “Many homeless people are just put into dormitories [and] left with no pay at all.”
Anand Grover, United Nations Special Rapporteur (at 15:30 in): “These [Fukushima] workers told me, ‘Do you know we’re actually living in a shanty town?’… Literally on the pavement…in Tokyo… They told me that people come take them.”
Channel 4, ‘Nuclear Ginza’ (1995) — Prof. Kenji Higuchi (at 2:00 in): “The scenes I saw, the stories I heard, I found them difficult to believe at first… Workers go near the reactor and get exposed… Many of them become ill… sometimes die… [They’re] picked off the street in the slums… I found so many… who didn’t know what had happened to them, or if they did,too frightened to speak… all their stories were the same… People simply don’t believe this could happen in a country like Japan… It’s as if they’re the living dead.”
The UK Government is now said to be deeply concerned about the future of the Hinkley project following revelations about problems at the similar reactor being built at Flamanville
Nuclear needs a blank cheque Now that it is plain that nuclear power has failed miserably to compete with renewable energy even on the somewhat skewed playing field represented by the (proposed) Hinkley C deal, nuclear supporters are trying to engineer a ‘blank cheque’ to be given to nuclear developers
nuClear News, July 15 http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo75.pdf There is a growing chorus of critics calling for Hinkley Point C to be scrapped altogether, according to the Sunday Times.
It would be one of the most expensive man-made objects ever built in the world. At a cost of £24.5bn it would tie British households into paying for astonishingly expensive electricity subsidies until 2060. The world has changed since 2010 when Hinkley was first named as a site for new reactors. The price of renewables has plummeted.
UK government and EDF anxious about Austria’s lawsuit against state aid for Hinkley Point nuclear station
Government and EDF in talks over liabilities if Austria wins nuclear state aid appeal, Telegraph, Energy giant and Government yet to agree what would happen if Austrian challenge against state aid for Hinkley Point C is successful By Emily Gosden, Energy Editor 30 Jun 2015 The Government and EDF are in talks over who will pick up the costs if Austria wins its appeal against the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant once construction has begun.
Plans for the £16bn Hinkley Point plant received state aid clearance from the European Commission last year but Austria has vowed to challenge this, alleging that subsidies for the project constitute illegal state aid.
Although the Government and EDF both insist the appeal, expected to be lodged this week, has no merit, it is understood they are yet to agree on what would happen in the unlikely event Austria does win.Andrea Leadsom, the new energy minister, said on Tuesday she was “confident that the key investment decision on Hinkley C will happen soon, which will enable construction to start”.
But speaking on the fringes of the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference, Ms Leadsom also confirmed that the Government was “looking very closely” at the issue of how the project could go ahead with a state aid challenge ongoing.Austria’s state aid appeal is likely to hang over the project for at least a year and potentially as long as six years – during which time billions of pounds would be spent on construction.
The Government and EDF are believed to be targeting a final investment decision by October.A series of issues remain outstanding including EDF’s takeover of reactor-maker Areva’s nuclear business, deals with Chinese investors, and finalising contracts with the Government.
Writing on legal website Lexology, lawyers at Shearman and Sterling LLP wrote: “While the prospect of success is low, even a small chance of success creates additional risk for project financiers.
“In a worst-case scenario, where the Commission makes an adverse decision, the UK Government’s support scheme – including the strike price and guarantee – would be ruled unlawful and unenforceable, with any aid already received having to be repaid. A competitor or other party with standing could apply to the UK national court to enforce this.
“While this outcome is the least likely, it may have a severely adverse impact on investors in the Hinkley Point C project.”
They added that “investors may find insuring themselves contractually (e.g., via indemnities or similar means) difficult” and that “any provision seeking protection from the UK Government for such an eventuality could itself risk being struck down as unlawful State aid”…..http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11709083/Government-and-EDF-in-talks-over-liabilities-if-Austria-wins-nuclear-state-aid-appeal.html
there is growing talk in the U.K. of whether the government should cut and run from nuclear.
In a speech to the House of Commons last week, Labour MP Paul Flynn questioned whether Whitehall would have made the same decision if it knew what it knows now about the cost of nuclear.
“Nuclear power was promised as an energy source that would be too cheap to meter. It is now too expensive to generate,”
While the European public has largely turned against nuclear since the Fukushima accident in Japan in 2011, the British have been shielded by a “skilled public relations operation,”
Trouble ahead for UK’s nuclear hopes Britain’s push for new reactors is coming under fire. Politico Sara Stefanini 25/6/15, The next generation of reactors in the U.K. has been in the works for a decade, but now a looming challenge in the European Court of Justice attacking nuclear subsidies, growing technical problems and cost overruns are casting doubt on the idea of using nuclear to meet emissions reduction targets……..
the future of Hinkley Point C looks increasingly uncertain, as the first EPR projects in France and Finland have been hampered by delays, cost overruns and safety concerns, and as the Austrian government prepares to challenge the European Commission on its approval of the U.K.’s state aid. Continue reading
McNeilly disclosed last week that he had been dishonourably discharged by the Royal Navy for making public a dossier alleging that Trident was “a disaster waiting to happen” and going absent without leave. He is promising to say more in July.
The Sunday Herald revealed his allegations on May 17, while he was on the run. The following day he handed himself in to police at Edinburgh airport, saying he had achieved what he wanted.
His dossier, which detailed 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines, was raised in the House of Commons by the former SNP leader, Alex Salmond. But it was dismissed by the MoD as “factually incorrect or the result of misunderstanding or partial understanding”…….
“You were lied to about nuclear weapons in Iraq, and now you’re being lied to about how safe and secure the weapons are on your homeland,” he said.
“The government overestimated Saddam and now they are underestimating the Islamic State. If things stay the way they are I put the odds of a terrorist attack at some point in the next eight years at around 99 per cent.”
He claimed that his concerns about lax security at Faslane had been backed by senior military figures. “The equipment that is brought on board by civilian contractors and military personnel isn’t checked,” he said.
“People are in positions without the proper security clearance. Mass amounts of people are being pushed through the system due to manpower shortages. IDs aren’t being checked properly.”
A pin code at a security gate wasn’t being used “because it’s either broke or people just get buzzed through because they’ve forgotten their pin,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”
It was wrong to regard current security as “the best we can do” when it wasn’t, he argued. “It’s literally harder to get to the careers office in Northern Ireland than it is to get down a nuclear submarine.”
People have become far too relaxed in the war on terror, he claimed. “The fact is anyone with a couple of fake IDs can get unto a nuclear submarine,” he added. “Islamic State have already shown that they can acquire fake documentation and IDs.”
McNeilly called for security to be tightened, and for the removal of Trident missiles. “The military seem to be happy with the security at the site,” he told the Sunday Herald.
“Islamic State have the ability to easily penetrate through the security that the navy is currently providing. The site’s security must be heightened above its current highest state until the missiles are removed……..
Nuclear adviser attacks ‘perverse’ idea of Chinese building UK reactors Prof Dieter Helm also identifies security pitfalls as unions accuse government of sacrificing safety for free-market ideology over Hinkley Point C plant, Guardian, Terry Macalister, 19 June 15, A leading energy academic and government adviser has called on ministers to take an equity stake in the planned new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset, saying it would not make sense to prefer Chinese money.
The comments from Dieter Helm, professor of energy policy at Oxford University, came as trade union leaders accused the government of letting political beliefs override practical and safety issues in the nuclear sector. In a paper entitled British Energy policy – What Happens Next? , Helm said the British government should issue debt or specific nuclear guaranteed bonds, that could cut the cost of capital from 10% to 2%.
“It is a no-brainer,” said Helm. “Add in the military and security issues of letting Chinese state-owned companies into the heart of the British nuclear industry, and it seems positively perverse to prefer Chinese government money to British government money in so sensitive a national project.”
Helm usually champions free-market methods and is on the economic advisory committee at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Meanwhile the attack on government nuclear policy from the GMB union came after comments from Amber Rudd, the energy and climate change secretary, left the door open to Chinese state companies building and operating a new plant at Bradwell, in Essex.
Gary Smith, the union’s national secretary for energy, said the Conservatives seemed ready to allow Beijing to use its own equipment and supply chain in return for funding the new stations at Bradwell and Hinkley Point.
“Energy policy is a shambles because the government is driven by ideology. It will do anything to bring in private or Chinese state money to build British energy infrastructure rather than have it (debt) on George Osborne’s balance sheet,” he said.
This would extend to the Chinese being allowed to ship over large amounts of equipment from Chinese factories, potentially affecting British nuclear safety and as well as hitting UK jobs, he said. Smith noted that an eminent Chinese nuclear scientist, He Zuoxiu, had raised concerns about the safety of his country’s atomic equipment………….http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/18/nuclear-adviser-attacks-chinese-uk-reactors-dieter-helm-hinkley
The public has been ‘protected’ from the truth of Fukushima Many people are gravely disturbed by the prospect of new nuclear power. That is particularly so among Treasury civil servants. We are in an extraordinary situation, where there is still public support in spite of Fukushima.
One of the main reasons for that is that the British public were ‘protected’ by a skilled public relations operation from knowing the terrible cost of Fukushima – between $100 billion and $250 billion.
Civil servants must speak out: ‘the time has gone for nuclear power’, Ecologist, Paul Flynn MP 18th June 2015 Despite the PR spin the truth about nuclear power is clear, says Paul Flynn. Current projects are plagued with technical failures, cost escalations and long delays – while renewables power ahead. As tin-eared ministers refuse to get the message, it’s time for civil servants to speak out direct to the public.
Nuclear power was promised as an energy source that would be too cheap to meter. It is now too expensive to generate.
If we were planning a nuclear policy from scratch, would we choose to do a deal with two French companies, one of which is bankrupt, while the other, Électricité de France, has a debt of €33 billion?
Would we also collaborate with a country with a dreadful human rights record – China, whose national investment department is coming into the arrangement – and with Saudi Arabia, with its atrocious record on human rights, where people are executed on the street? Continue reading
EDF Energy, the French state-owned company behind Hinkley, has suffered a five-year delay and escalating costs at its flagship Flamanville project in Normandy.
The £7bn French scheme — designed to showcase new atomic technology — is based on an “EPR” European pressurised reactor, the same model that will be used in Hinkley. Further concerns mounted last week when a leaked report from France’s nuclear safety watchdog highlighted faults in Flamanville’s cooling system. That followed a warning in April by the French Nuclear Safety Regulator that there was an excessive amount of carbon in the steel of the reactor vessel.
EDF’s struggles in France have prompted worries at a senior level of the Treasury about the £24bn Hinkley scheme.“I think there are serious questions about the technology,” said one Treasury figure.
The Treasury has struck an agreement promising to pay a guaranteed price for energy generated by Hinkley for 35 years.It has also promised to guarantee £16bn of debt towards the project — but it has inserted conditions to ensure that taxpayers are not left on the hook if the technology fails.
Instead the agreement stipulates that it will be shareholders and not the government that retains the “principal exposure to the viability of the EPR technology” — until EDF can prove the success of its other projects such as Flamanville………
there are growing suspicions in Westminster and within the industry that the Treasury has been dragging its heels over supporting the project. One source close to EDF said he believed there had been “briefings from people at the Treasury” against the deal.
Some civil servants believe the government struck an overgenerous “strike price” to buy energy from Hinkley’s two reactors for 35 years. “I think Treasury officials would not be disappointed if Hinkley never happened,” said one Whitehall source. “They have been foot-dragging for at least a year.”
One Tory figure said: “I think the Treasury don’t really want that deal to work.”……….http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b8741dd0-1048-11e5-bd70-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3d4bv74Km
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