On the surface, all is well……..But leaks from civil servants in Whitehall suggest that the government may be getting cold feet about its open-ended guarantees…….With a general election in the UK looming in May next year, no decisions will be reached on any of these projects any time soon. And a new government might think renewables are a better bet.
Renewables Help Push Nuclear Giants to Brink of Collapse, Eco Watch Paul Brown, Climate News Network | November 24, 2014 Plans to build two giant nuclear reactors in south-west England are being reviewed as French energy companies now seek financial backing from China and Saudi Arabia—while the British government considers whether it has offered vast subsidies for a white elephant.
Construction estimates have already escalated to £25 billion, which is £9 billion more than a year ago, and four times the cost of putting on the London Olympics last year.
Two prototypes being built in Olikuoto, Finland and Flamanville, France, were long ago expected to be finished and operational, but are years late and costs continue to escalate. Until at least one of these is shown to work as designed, it would seem a gamble to start building more, but neither of them is expected to produce power until 2017.
With Germany phasing nuclear power out altogether and France reducing its dependence on the technology, all the industry’s European hopes are on Britain’s plans to build 10 new reactors. But British experts, politicians and businessmen have begun to doubt that the new nuclear stations are a viable proposition.
Steve Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich, London, said: “The project is at very serious risk of collapse at the moment. Only four of those reactors have ever been ordered. Two of them are in Europe, and both of those are about three times over budget. One is about five or six years late and the other is nine years late. Two more are in China and are doing a bit better, but are also running late.”
Tom Greatrex, the British Labour party opposition’s energy spokesman, called on the National Audit Office to investigate whether the nuclear reactors were value for money for British consumers.
Peter Atherton, of financial experts Liberum Capital, believes the enormous cost and appalling track record in the nuclear industry of doing things on time mean that ministers should scrap the Hinkley plans……..
On the surface, all is well……..But leaks from civil servants in Whitehall suggest that the government may be getting cold feet about its open-ended guarantees. The industry has a long history of cost overruns and cancellations of projects when millions have already been spent—including an ill-fated plan to build a new nuclear station on the same site 20 years ago.
The Treasury is having a review because of fears that, once this project begins, so much money will have been invested that the government will have to bail it out with billions more of taxpayers’ money to finish it—or write off huge sums…….
Since the decision was made to build nuclear power stations, renewable energy has expanded dramatically across Europe and costs have dropped. Nuclear is now more costly than wind and solar power. In Britain alone, small-scale solar output has increased by 26 percent in the last year.
In theory, there are a number of other nuclear companies—from the U.S., China, Japan and Russia—keen to build stations of their own design in Britain, but they would want the same price guarantees as EDF for Hinkley Point.
With a general election in the UK looming in May next year, no decisions will be reached on any of these projects any time soon. And a new government might think renewables are a better bet. http://ecowatch.com/2014/11/24/renewables-push-nuclear-to-collapse/
‘Nuclear Madness’ Protest at Carlisle Railway Station http://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/nuclear-madness-protest-at-carlisle-railway-station/
100 people also stopped to sign a letter to Cumbria and Lancashire County Council regarding the lack of independent radiation monitoring .
Radiation Free Lakeland The letter says:
Dear Cumbria and Lancashire County Council,Dear Cumbria and Lancashire County Council,
RADIATION RELEASES TO THE ENVIRONMENT
The North West’s environment used to be independently monitored by the council run Radiation Monitoring in Lancashire, RADMIL.
RADMIL was stopped a few years ago due to council cuts. The Environment Agency often leaves monitoring and reporting to the nuclear industry
The nuclear industry and government’s new build plan includes:
Manufacture of fuel for new reactors. This begins with uranium hexafluoride shipped to Ellesmere Port, then to Capenhurst, Near Chester. Then on to Preston’s Springfields plant. Proposed new nuclear build on greenfields in Cumbria would also mean escalating radioactive releases from fuel manufacture.
This means radioactively polluting the River Ribble and Clifton Marsh Landfill in Lancashire. And in Cumbria increasing releases to the Irish Sea, Lillyhall landfill and previously nuclear free areas! Nuclear materials are routinely sent by train and road and even by plane.
Given this escalation in radioactive emissions we urge you to reinstate regular and frequent independent radiation monitoring in Cumbria and Lancashire
The Atomic Weapons Establishment Funds almost Half of UK Universities http://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/the-atomic-weapons-establishment-funds-almost-half-of-uk-universities/Could this be why it appears virtually impossible to get serious academic work regarding dangers of nuclear, etc.? The buying of academia?
“Atoms For Peace: The Atomic Weapons Establishment and UK Universities
Nuclear Information Service and Medact have undertaken a two-year study to investigate research links between British universities and the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), which is responsible for designing and manufacturing the UK’s nuclear weapons. This report presents the executive summary and key findings from our study.
We found that approaching half of British universities have research links with AWE. Much of the work funded by AWE qualifies as ‘blue skies’ research which is not aimed at any particular application. However, some of the research funded by AWE may have ‘dual use’ potential – the capability to be used for both benign, peaceful purposes and military purposes contributing to the development of weapons of mass destruction.
Our study highlights the need for increased transparency over the nature of university research funded by AWE, and the need to strengthen the framework for considering the ethical implications of such work and its impact upon the research environment.
To help universities and researchers navigate ethical issues arising from participating in research work funded by AWE, Nuclear Information Service and Medact have prepared a set of model ethical guidelines which are presented in the main report for the study.” See summary report here:http://www.medact.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Atoms-For-Peace-Summary-Report-Web-Low-Res.pdf
See also, “Over fifty British universities funded by Atomic Weapons Establishment” http://nuclearinfo.org/article/awe-aldermaston/atoms-peace-investigation-int-links-between-uk-universities-and-atomichttp://nuclearinfo.org/sites/default/files/Atoms%20For%20Peace%20Ethical%20Guidelines.pdfhttp://nuclearinfo.org/sites/default/files/Atoms%20For%20Peace%20Full%20Report.pdf
10 Fukushima Lessons Have yet to Bear on Hinkley Point C Nuclear Contract between UK Government and EDF http://raandreaskraemer.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/10-fukushima-lessons-have-yet-to-bear.html
1 Don’t place nuclear reactors next to one another
2 Don‘t leave spent nuclear fuel near reactors
3 You need (at least) 2 separate access routes
4 You need back-up control-rooms in distant bunkers
5 You need more on-site and off-site back-up power
6 You need better evacuation plan for larger area
7 You need sensors, cameras that work post-accident
8 You need staff willing 2 die 4 families, neighbors
9 You need (massive) reserves to pay compensation
10 You need an honest assessment of costs and risks
Andy Hall, First deputy chief inspector, UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), is deluding himself (and others) with this view:
On 7 March 2014, the Franco-German TV station Arte aired a stunning documentary on the Fukushima disaster. You can watch it in French or German:
Nuclear power may not be needed, says top atomic advocate,Telegraph, UK, 22 Nov 14 Sir David King, former chief scientist and champion of the nuclear newbuild, says the top priority must be to develop storage for renewable energy, reports Geoffrey Lean ……. I was riveted as Prof Sir David King, the former government Chief scientist,ranged over subjects from population growth to water resources, the growth of cities to commodity prices, spewing out new information and insights.
But while he said a lot about the promise of renewable energy, he said almost nothing about nuclear power – despite for long having been one of its foremost and most influential advocates in Britain, describing it, for example, as a “massive economic opportunity” for the country.
So I got up and asked him about it, expecting the same pro-nuclear response as I had heard from him many times before. Instead he amazed me by suggesting that Britain “might well” be able to do without atomic power altogether, and that the real priority should be on developing ways of storing electricity so as to be able to depend on famously intermittent sun and wind.
“We have to keep reassessing the situation”, he said. “I believe that what we need, more than anything, is a surge of activity to develop energy storage capability …. Once we can do that technologically, why would we not just keep with renewables.”
For a country like India, with plenty of sunlight and deserts where it can be collected, he went on, “there’s no reason” for it not to go “directly wholesale into solar energy”. After all it was already “three to four times” cheaper to provide villages unconnected to the grid in India and China with solar electric panels and batteries than to connect them up……….
later he came back to the question …: “if we can get the costs down we might well manage our future basically on renewable energy and energy storage”.…….http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/nuclearpower/11244499/Nuclear-power-may-not-be-needed-says-top-atomic-advocate.html
Shares in the French engineering business plunged by almost a quarter after Areva warned it must suspend future profit predictions because of problems centred on a similar power station project in Finland.
Both that scheme at Olkiluoto and another at Flamanville in France are massively over-budget and over-schedule, forcing Areva to consider whether it needs an injection of new cash to survive.
Peter Atherton, a leading energy company analyst at Liberum Capital in the City, said Areva appeared to be in deep trouble and this must be a matter of grave concern to the British government.
“If I was sitting in Whitehall this would scare the daylights out of me. Areva is designing and building the first two EPRs [European Pressurised Reactors] inEurope and both projects have gone disastrously wrong.
“The [UK] government has commissioned the most expensive power station in history and the only company that can provide the equipment is in trouble. That is a big problem for Hinkley.”
As well as providing the design, Areva currently holds 10% of the equity in the Hinkley Point C project, which has been predicted by the European commission to cost almost £25bn – if it is built on time by 2023. EDF holds 45%-50%, with Chinese state nuclear companies holding the remainder…………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/19/hinkley-point-c-nuclear-plant-future-doubt-areva
UK government secretly questioning whether Hinkley Point C nuclear power project will even go ahead at all
Except the focus is (as the Financial Times christened it) the biggest and most controversial infrastructure project in Europe, Hinkley Point C nuclear power project.
Given UK consumers are on the hook for an undiscounted £37billion of subsidy to this project, you’d think democratic principles would require that all developments were subject to full public scrutiny. But no; it’s all happening behind closed doors and we have to do the Kremlinology thing.
A few new scraps of information have emerged that do suggest the project is far from going swimmingly. There are 3 main points.
First, the reactor design, the European Pressurised water Reactor (EPR) isn’t very good. A nuclear engineer now affiliated to University of Cambridge recently described it as ‘unconstructable’.
Further understanding of the weakness of the EPR design come from the actual experience of trying to build it. The French project in Flamanville has announced further delays and will now take a decade to build instead of the original timetable of 5 years.
The other EPR under construction in Europe is in Finland at Olkiluoto. Construction started in 2005 was originally scheduled complete in 2009, but earlier this Autumn it was announced it will now be almost a decade late in 2018, if there are no more delays. It’s not easy building an EPR.
Secondly, the other observation the Cambridge engineer had was that the Chinese – who are experimenting with building several models of reactor – appear to have rejected it for their future nuclear programme. This is a little hard to square with what the Chinese view of the Hinkley project is, because the Chinese state-backed companies China General Nuclear and China National Nuclear Corporation reportedly want a greater share of the supply chain contracts……..
. Questions have already been raised about the how an independent regulator would police standards with Chinese company involvement………
it turns out that without telling anyone, the UK government has been quietly questioning whether Hinkley will go ahead after all, or worrying if it does go ahead that it might be years late (that Kremlinology thing again)…….http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/energy/analysis/trouble-hinkley
The nuclear plant has been censured by safety regulators after admitting human error led to the release of radioactivity into the atmosphere.
The criticism comes just weeks after another nuclear plant, Sellafield in Cumbria, was also tackled by the safety regulator over its management of asbestos while pictures emerged of badly corroded storage ponds there.
Environmentalists said the problems highlighted dangers from building a new generation of nuclear plants which however well designed would be vulnerable to human fallibility………
Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL), controlled by a consortium involving the engineering group Babcock, is involved in a £1.6bn contract to dismantle Dounreay, a prototype “fast reactor” built to experiment with nuclear fission in the 1950s and 60s……….
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the problems at Dounreay were disturbing. “Until we can clone enough popes to staff all the world’s nuclear reactor control rooms, there will always be a fallible human component in nuclear power stations. This worrying news demonstrates why it’s important to remember that even a reactor design which looks safe on paper can never completely design out the actions of human beings. Its why renewable energy always scores better on safety, because far less can go wrong.”
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities Secretariat, the local government voice on nuclear issues, described the Dounreay incident as “alarming” and called for more information.
“To hear that critical staff were not fully conversant in fire safety procedures and that a release of tritium occurred; putting into danger staff and the wider public; is quite disgraceful at such a sensitive nuclear site like Dounreay,” said councillor Mark Hackett, the NFLA’s chair.
The nuclear industry has had a difficult week after Areva, one of the companies involved in the management of Sellafield, issued a profit warning and said it might need a cash injection……..http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/21/dounreay-nuclear-plant-fire-radioactivity
How the UK’s nuclear new-build plans keep getting delayed 20 Nov 2014, The Carbon Brief Simon Evans When will the UK get a new generation of nuclear power plants? Doubts surfaced again today with the Times reporting a “secret government review” into French firm EDF’s plan to build a new plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The review is costing tens of millions, the Times says, and is trying to establish whether EDF can complete the new plant by 2023 as it has promised.
The news follows an announcement from EDF that its Flamanville plant in Normandy is facing further delays. The project uses identical designs to the Hinkley scheme.
Flamanville was supposed to take five years to build and begin operating by 2012. Instead it will now take 10 years, and open in 2017. A third identical project at Olkiluoto in Finland is nearly a decade behind schedule.
New nuclear capacity is a key part of UK government plans for decarbonisation. So why is it proving so hard to predict when the UK’s first new nuclear plant for a generation will start operating?
Predicting the future
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) makes annual projections of the future of the UK’s energy and emissions. It has been publishing these projections for a number of years. We’ve trawled the data going back to 2007 to find out how DECC’s predictions about when we’ll get new nuclear have changed.
First, some history. ………..
It’s worth emphasising of course that the Hinkley Point reactors are not yet under construction. EDF had originally said it would finish building them in 2017, indeed chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said some people would be cooking their 2017 christmas dinner using new nuclear power.
De Rivaz now says the project will be finished in 2023. Preparatory groundwork has already started. Carbon Brief asked EDF when construction of the plant itself will begin and how long it will take to finish. EDF said that level of detail was not yet available.
The cost of UK new nuclear
It isn’t only the finish date that has changed for the UK’s new nuclear plans. The costs have also skyrocketed.
Back in 2008 the white paper on new nuclear in the UK suggested it would cost £2.8 billion to build a first of its kind 1.6 gigawatt plant, with a range of between £2 and £3.6 billion.
The government later said in 2013 that the the Hinkley C project of two 1.6 gigawatt reactors would cost £16 billion. When the European Commission gave the deal the green light in October it said the project would cost £24 billion……….. EDF has delayed its final decision on whether to build at Hinkley Point until after this review has given it the all-clear. Until then, it will not divulge detailed timelines for its plans. http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/11/how-the-uks-nuclear-new-build-plans-keep-getting-delayed/
French Nuclear Giant Areva Says Future Is Uncertain, Prompting a Sell-Off NYT, By DAVID JOLLY and STANLEY REEDNOV. 19, 2014 PARIS “……….The problems at Flamanville and Olkiluoto raise further questions about the future of the EPR reactor design that Areva and EDF are marketing around the world. All of the EPRs under construction including those being built at Taishan in China have run into delays. The giant power stations, for which the designs date to the early 1990s, were supposed to be safer and simpler than earlier nuclear plants, but they are proving fiendishly complex and expensive to build.
Mr. Thomas said the problems with the other EPRs around the world also raised doubts about whether two reactors of this type would be built at Hinkley Point in southwest England, as EDF planned. The European Union recently gave its approval to the project, which will cost at least 16 billion pounds, or $25.1 billion, but EDF still needs to put together an international consortium to finance and build it. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/business/international/french-nuclear-giant-areva-says-future-is-uncertain-prompting-a-sell-off.html?_r=0
“Unless we can learn to build nuclear on schedule and on budget it will be a financial drain. ………
“That is true of all industries. If you build exactly the same its get cheaper, cheaper, cheaper. ……..
Atomic plants being built in Finland and France are much more expensive than forecast and are suffering significant delays but EDF, the company planning to build Hinkley Point C reactors in Somerset, says it will learn from those mistakes. While EDF plans to use an “EPR” design at Hinkley and possibly at Sizewell in Suffolk, other developers in Britain are planning different models……….
Professor Grimes came to speak to us outside saying “I’ve never had a demonstration outside where I’ve been speaking before.” He should come to the NW more often! There were only a few of us but listening to his cheerleading for the nastiest most vicious industry on earth, there should have been tens of thousands demonstrating outside…….. Continue reading
The results of a study of the health of children and grandchildren of British servicemen stationed at the atomic weapons test sites at Maralinga in Australia and Christmas Island in the Pacific will be published in the open peer-reviewed journal Epidemiology this week. Christopher Busby and Mireille Escande de Messieres conducted a case-control and cohort study of 605 children and 749 grandchildren of members of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) and compared congenital defects and cancer incidence with 311 control children and 498 control grandchildren of age-matched individuals. Results showed that, compared with controls:
- There was three times the number (105) of miscarriages in wives of veterans.
- There was 9.7 times adverse congenital conditions (57) in veteran children.
- There was 8.4 times adverse congenital conditions (46) veteran grandchildren.
- These rates were confirmed also by comparison with national EUROCAT data.
- The existence of the same highly statistically significant rate in both generations points to genomic instability as likely cause, a trans-generational genomic switch discovered after Chernobyl and shown in animal studies to affect many generations.
- The cause is argued to be Uranium, the main atom bomb constituent, which rained out at the test sites as sub micron particles in “black rain”. Recent research shows Uranium causes genomic effects at very low radiation doses because it binds to DNA and amplifies the radiation damage both through proximity and in other ways.
- Black rain of Uranium was also a feature of the Hiroshima Atomic bomb and Uranium has been measured several kilometers from the Hiroshima epicenter. The authors re-analyse adverse birth outcome rates in the official Hiroshima database and show that rates in the control groups defined in the study as “zero dose” have twice the rate than all Japan for the post A-bomb period.
- The Ministry of Defence, in arguing recent court cases rely upon the fact that dosimeters at the test sites show low doses. However these devices do not register Uranium or other alpha emitters. Uranium was not looked for at the sites.
- The study findings are supported by similar genomic effects found in Iraq populations exposed to Depleted Uranium particles (e.g. Fallujah sex-ratio, cancer and birth defects), USA and UK Gulf veterans, Uranium miners and workers and Navajo and other local populations living near Uranium waste tailings. All of these groups show chromosome defects consistent with their exposures to Uranium.
Speaking from Riga, Latvia, Dr Busby remarks: This multi-generational effect is an unexpected finding. There are implications for the current radiation risk models which legally underpin all nuclear power development and also the use of radioactive weapons. Although weakly radioactive, when ingested and inhaled Uranium has properties which enable it to directly damage DNA in ways that are not incorporated into current legislation. Uranium was not measured at the test sites and is not routinely measured near nuclear sites or in the environments either.
Thorium nuclear reactors are unlikely to take over from uranium ones, and are considered irrelevant to strategies to deal with nuclear wastes ,The Engineer finds 27 October 2014 “……..The Cambridge research will explore the pros and cons of different fuel combinations, including thorium, plutonium and the main material the designers are focusing on, uranium silicide, which is more power dense and so more cost-effective than the uranium oxide currently used.
Parks said that because the I2S is an evolution of existing light water reactor designs it could be brought to market more quickly than other reactors proposed for use with a thorium fuel-cycle, suggesting it could even be deployed within a decade and be installed in old nuclear power stations such as Sizewell B.
However, he also admitted that with current uranium stocks there was no major economic necessity to move to a thorium fuel-cycle at the moment and that such a transition would only happen if the government committed to thorium through a long-term flagship research project.
A paper published by the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory in March 2012 found that ‘the thorium fuel cycle at best has only limited relevance to the UK as an alternative plutonium disposition strategy and as a possible strategic option in the very long term,’ and recommended ‘a low level of engagement in thorium fuel cycle R&D’.”
Windscale fallout underestimated Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC News 6 Oct 2007 The radioactive fallout from a nuclear accident that rocked Britain 50 years ago was underestimated, scientists say.
In 1957, a fire at the Windscale nuclear reactor in Cumbria led to a release of radioactive material that spread across the UK and Europe.
But new research claims the incident generated twice as much radioactive material and could have caused more cancers than was previously thought.
The research was published in the journal Atmospheric Environment. Risky act
The Windscale site was home to Britain’s first two nuclear reactors – the Windscale Piles – which were constructed to produce plutonium and other materials for the UK’s nuclear weapons programme.
But the rush to build them when little was known about nuclear reactors led to what was at the time the world’s biggest nuclear disaster, although it was later dwarfed by Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.
On 10 October 1957, a failure to properly control the temperature of the graphite moderator within the Windscale No 1 pile sparked a devastating fire, which caused radioactive contamination to spew into the atmosphere.
The fire was eventually put out by restricting the air flow, and with water – a risky act which could have caused an explosion – but a radioactive cloud was already spreading far and wide.
At the time of the accident the levels and spread of the radioactive materials was estimated, and measures were put in place to limit radioactive contamination. But a new study carried out by John Garland, formerly of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, and Richard Wakeford, a visiting professor at the University of Manchester, suggests the contamination of the environment may have been much higher………http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7030536.stm
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