The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Hackers could shut down UK’s £31 billion nuclear weapon system – warns defence expert

hackerflag-UKA former Defence Secretary has warned that the UK’s £31 billion nuclear weapon system could be shut down by hackers, Business Insider  SAM SHEAD , 24 Nov 15Former Defence Secretary Lord Browne has told the BBC that the UK’s nuclear weapon system, Trident, could be rendered obsolete by hackers.

The ex-Labour minister, who was Defence Secretary between 2006 and 2008, said “weak spots” in Trident need to be addressed — otherwise Prime Minister David Cameron won’t be able to rely on the nuclear deterrent “when he needs to reach for it.”

Trident, the UK’s nuclear programme, consists of four Vanguard-class submarines armed withTrident II D-5 ballistic missiles. It is the most powerful capability of the British military forces but at £31 billion it’s also the most expensive.

Lord Browne told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg that the Tory government has an “obligation” to assure MPs that all aspects of Trident have been assessed against the risk of a cyber attack and that the appropriate security measures were in place.

“If they are unable to do that then there is no guarantee that we will have a reliable deterrent or the prime minister will be able to use this system when he needs to reach for it,” he added……

November 25, 2015 Posted by | safety, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Shaky consensus in Britain’s parliament, about Trident nuclear weapons system

Nuclear consensus comes under pressure in Commons vote,  John McDermott, Political Correspondent, 24 Nov 15    The fragility of Britain’s cross-party consensus on nuclear weapons was revealed on Tuesday in a sour debate on the renewal of the Trident deterrent, which Michael Fallon said would cost at least £6bn more than planned.

The defence secretary confirmed that the price tag for four new submarines to replace the Vanguard Class had risen to £31bn from £26bn, not including a £10bn contingency fund. David Cameron, prime minister, acknowledged on Monday that their delivery could take five years longer than planned.

Mr Fallon said there would be a vote on the principle of renewal of the submarines “next year” but that “our allies and adversaries will be watching” the Scottish National party-led debate in the Commons on Tuesday.

The debate was meant to showcase divisions in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, meaning that concerns about the cost and timing of the government’s new plans were often replaced by squabbles and polemics.

Outside the Commons, however, senior defence figures raised questions about the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which Mr Cameron announced in parliament on Monday………

November 25, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Londan Mayor Boris Johnson scathing about £18bn cost of Hinkley nuclear plan

scrutiny-on-costsflag-UKBoris Johnson attacks ‘disgraceful’ spending on Hinkley – just a month after David Cameron hailed the ‘flagship’ deal, Independent 21 Nov 15
Mayor of London said the estimated £18bn cost of Britain’s first nuclear power station in two decades was an ‘extraordinary amount of money’ 
Boris Johnson has attacked the £18bn cost of Britain’s first nuclear power station in two decades as “a disgrace” – just one month after David Cameron announced the deal and hailed it as a “flagship project of cooperation” between China and the UK.

In a surprisingly scathing criticism of the Government, Mr Johnson – who attends Mr Cameron’s political cabinet meetings and is George Osborne’s main rival to be next Tory leader – said their pledge to underwrite the deal with £2bn of taxpayers’ money was an “extraordinary amount of money to spend”.

Work on the Hinkley Point C in Somerset is set to begin within weeks after Mr Cameron announced that a deal had been struck between French firm EDF and state-owned China General Nuclear Power (CGN) in October.

China pledged £6bn investment – a third of the total cost, with EDF funding the remaining £12bn, while the Government has agreed a “strike price” – a guaranteed price paid for electricity generated by Hinkley Point of £92.50 per megawatt hour for 35 years.

However the huge cost of the plant will ultimately be paid for by consumers through their bills.

Asked by Baroness Jones, a Green party London Assembly member who is fiercely opposed to nuclear power, whether he supported the building of Hinkley Point C despite its cost, Mr Johnson said: “I’m totally with you on that one – it’s a disgrace……

November 23, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Hunterston nuclear reactor has cracks in bricks at core

Cracks in bricks at core of Hunterston nuclear reactor , BBC News 20 Nov 15  Cracks have been discovered in bricks which make up the core of one of two nuclear reactors at the Hunterston B power station in Ayrshire.

Operator EDF Energy said the cracks in three graphite bricks were found during planned maintenance on Reactor Three.

The firm insisted there were no safety implications and the finding had no impact on the operation of the reactor.

A similar issue – known as “keyway root cracking” was identified in Hunterston’s other reactor last year……….

‘Energy transition’

The core of the reactors is made up of thousands of graphite bricks.

The station began operating in 1976 and its working life has already been extended to 2023 – well beyond its planned closure date.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said the issue with cracks in both reactors emphasised the need “to embrace the clean energy transition”.

He said: “Despite the assurances given by the nuclear industry, with cracks now found in both reactors it’s clear the problem is spreading and that we can expect this facility to become even more unreliable in the future.

“News of more cracks in the country’s ageing fleet of nuclear power stations underscores why we’re right to be taking steps to harness cleaner, safer forms of energy.”

November 20, 2015 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

India’s PM Modi does a hollow, but quite toxic, nuclear deal with Britain

flag-indiaflag-UKModi’s nuclear deal with Britain is hollow, but quite toxic, catch news,   KUMAR SUNDARAM, 15 Nov 15  

The deal

  • Narendra Modi has just inked a nuclear deal with Britain
  • He called it symbol of “our resolve to combat climate change’
  • The deal comes when the British nuclear industry is in a crisis

The danger

  • Britain has little to offer India in terms of nuclear energy
  • It reinforces the myth that n-power is green, climate-friendly
  • India is missing the shift from n-power to renewable energy

More in the story

  • India is among the few nations on a nuclear shopping spree in the post-Fukushima world. Why?
  • Nuclear energy isn’t a solution to climate change. Why is the industry peddling this myth?

Keeping to the script, Modi has just announced a civilian nuclear agreement with Britain.

The pact is largely symbolic. But it’s dangerous.

Spent force

Britain has little to offer India when it comes to nuclear energy. Its nuclear industry is facing a terminal crisis. The two power plants planned in Hinkley Point have been plagued by escalating costs, forcing the investors to abandon the project, as well as serious design risks.

Britain’s new nuclear plants in Hinkley Point are plagued by escalating costs, serious design risks

Continue reading

November 16, 2015 Posted by | India, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Mayor of London calls on UK govt for tax help for local community solar power

community-solarflag-UKBoris Johnson: Treasury is endangering community renewables, Guardian, , 12 Nov 15
Mayor of London calls on the government to reconsider plans to remove tax relief for investors in community energy projects 
Boris Johnson has warned the Treasury it is endangering efforts by local communities around the UK to build their own renewable energy projects.

In a letter to the financial secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, the mayor of London and Tory MP called on the government to reconsider its proposals to remove various forms of tax relief for investors in community energy.

More than 100 green energy groups have already said the change will “decimate” the sector, which has installed community-owned solar panels on village halls, small hydro schemes on rivers and wind turbines on farms.

Johnson is concerned that “the proposals may endanger the expansion of the sector given the investment required for the upfront capital costs” and “there is a danger of unintended consequences”, wrote the deputy mayor for environment and energy, Matthew Pencharz.

The mayor also thought that while such schemes might be small individually, in aggregate they are important to the security of London’s future energy supply, and a key part of efforts to cut the capital’s carbon emissions.

The short-term nature of the tax changes – which are due to come into effect at the end of November – could also put an end to schemes that are already in development or fundraising, he said.

One high-profile scheme for a community-owned solar array in a West Sussex village that was at the centre of anti-fracking protests, has already been shelvedas a result of the Treasury’s plans, announced in the finance bill last monthA recent report found more than £100m worth of community energy projects were at risk from the changes…….

November 16, 2015 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

Employee-shareholders of EDF call for halt to too-costly British Hinkley Point nuclear project

thumbs-downtext Hinkley cancelledHinkley Point nuclear plan puts survival of EDF at risk, say employee shareholders

French energy firm should halt expensive UK project in which it has has nothing to gain and everything to lose, says association of employee-shareholders EDF’s £18bn project to build two nuclear reactors in Hinkley Point, Britain, is so expensive and so risky that it puts the survival of the French utility at risk, an association of employee-shareholders said on Thursday.

EDF Actionnariat salarié (EAS) said in a statement that the interests of EDF are gravely threatened by the Hinkley Point project, which it calls “a financial catastrophy foretold” in which EDF has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

“EAS asks the management of EDF to stop this risky project, whose financial risks are to big for our company and which could put EDF’s very survival at risk,” the association said.

EDF staff own 1.72% of the utility’s capital, making employees the second-largest shareholder after the state, which hold 84.5%, according to ThomsonReuters data.

Last month, EDF announced a partnership with Chinese utility CGN to build Hinkley Point, but the two companies have not yet made the final investment decision to go ahead with the project, which EDF reluctantly agreed to finance on its already stretched balance sheet after other partners pulled out.

EDF, which already has to borrow money every year to pay its dividend, faces a €55bn (£39bn) upgrade of its nuclear fleet over the next decade, will spend some €5bn to install Linky smart meters in coming years and needs to invest billions in the reactor unit of Areva, which it plans to buy next year.

Standard & Poor’s last month warned that it might downgrade EDF’s debt if it goes ahead with Hinkley Point, because of the project’s high execution risks and substantial investment needs.

November 14, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

What is going to happen to Dana Durnsford, The nuclear proctologist?


arclightPublished by Arclight2011

9 November 2015

Oped source;

With some 18,000 subscribers Dana has been touted as a “leader” of the anti nuclear movement but as Fukushima 311 Watchdogs on Facebook gets some 11,000 subscribers, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK has some 30,000 members and this does not include a recent surge in membership from Scotland, Wales and England due to the promotion of no nuclear by The extremely popular Jeremy Corbin. I also do not include the tens of thousands Taiwanese activists, Indian activists, Japanese activists etc etc who visit many of the more moderate anti nuclear web pages and social media formats.

Dana remembered

Dana Durnsford occupies a small part of the nuclear debate. When his You Tube channel began streaming his show and saying that the west coast of Canada was a dead zone, to say the least I was a bit concerned! I was on the Rainbow Warriors on Facebook and we crowd sourced an investigation with some Canadian colleagues (including First Nations) to find out what the situation was. We quickly discovered over a couple of days that the coast was still the same as it was in previous years. This was testimony from witnesses that I have grown to trust so I was distrustful as to Danas Claims but decided to see what evidence he could supply.

Over the coming months he sought Funding for a boat and camera equipment but no radiation detectors of any sort. Further videos of people showing a thriving environment  on You Tube made me doubt further the veracity of his claims. Also, his aggressive stance and lack of multiple sources for news weakened my interest and I quickly moved on.

A right to speak

My general attitude to Dana was that he was providing a service to those that thought that the effects from Fukushima were dire. Of course there are many viewpoints to the ultimate effects from the Fukushima Daichi nuclear disaster in march 2011.

My view was that there is room for debate on this issue. I also thought that the debatably entertaining way that Dana discusses nuclear matters might encourage people to learn more on the nuclear issue so the show had a more serious educational aspect to it (even though some of the science and posits might be questioned).

Sentenced to what?

So, to the issue of what might happen to Dana? The use of harassment is a thorny issue on social media. In the UK Chris Spivey was recently charged for a similar style of blogging. Leaving aside the issues on free speech for the moment I will quickly describe his present situation. chris-spivey

Chris has a short suspended prison sentence hanging over him and is under instruction to not have on his website any information related to the court case (Lee Rigby) nor can he discuss this news publicly. Chris has continued his blogging as normal, still using an aggressive style but with some sensible caution. So Dana should take heart. My co host Jimmy Hagan contacted Chris Spivey for a statement and he said that if it is a first offence a prison sentence is unlikely and a suspended sentence with blogging restrictions would apply.

Of course the Pro nuclear media is trying to milk this for everything it is worth but we need to bear in mind that Dana`s views only represent a small fraction of the worlds anti nuclear campaigners. In the diverse world-wide web there is room for many opinions and views.

What learning can we all take from this?

There is an important point to be had here for bloggers more generally and that is the need for caution considering that harassment cases are an effective tool for corporate and government interests and we as bloggers should be mindful to avoid such pitfalls. We should be prepared to adapt to this sort of pressure on our freedom of speech. The main points we have to raise do not include personal attacks but science based evidence and personal testimonials and independent science research where science research is being suppressed.

How can you help Dana?

By following this link;

November 9, 2015 Posted by | Arclight's Vision, civil liberties, UK | 8 Comments

PRISM (Power Reactor Innovative Small Module) and MOX much touted, but nuclear waste burial is best

Another option on the table is PRISM. Developed by GE Hitachi (GEH), PRISM is a sodium-cooled fast reactor that uses a metallic fuel alloy of zirconium, uranium, and plutonium. GEH claims PRISM would reduce the plutonium stockpile quicker than MOX and be the most efficient solution for the UK. The problem is, despite being based on established technology, a PRISM reactor has yet to be built, and the UK is understandably a little reluctant to commit in this direction. Seen as something of a gamble, it remains in the running alongside the currently more favoured MOX option.

Amid all the uncertainty, one thing is for sure. Regardless of what decision is taken, a proportion of the plutonium will end up as waste and will need to be safely disposed of.


waste-burialUnlike MOX and PRISM, immobilisation has no prominent industry backers. In comparison to exploiting the plutonium for our energy needs, there is no great fortune to be made from disposing of it safely. But immobilising the entire plutonium stockpile may in fact be a more economically sound approach than reprocessing

Sellafield plutonium a multi-layered problem, The Engineer UK,   6 November 2015 | By Andrew Wade   “……..It takes somewhere in the region of 5-10kg of plutonium to make a nuclear weapon, so 140 tons is a slightly worrying amount to have sitting in a concrete shed in Cumbria. While everyone at the press conference was at pains to point out that there are no major safety concerns with the current storage, it is widely accepted that a long-term plan needs to be formulated. This, however, is where things get tricky. The potential energy of the plutonium if converted to nuclear fuel is massive, but there are several competing technologies vying for endorsement, none of which are well proven as financially viable.

Top of the list – and the government’s current preference – is for some application that uses mixed oxide fuel, or MOX. MOX is made by blending plutonium with natural or depleted uranium to create a fuel that is similar, but not identical, to the low-enriched uranium used in most nuclear plants today. MOX can be – and in several European countries is – used in thermal reactors alongside uranium. But despite past concerns, there is in reality no shortage of uranium today, so no huge need to supplement it with MOX in current reactors. Where MOX could in fact lead to greater efficiencies is in fast reactors, but these are costly and difficult to operate, and would not make economic sense unless the cost of uranium fell.

To complicate matters further, developing MOX is by no means a straightforward process. Continue reading

November 9, 2015 Posted by | Reference, reprocessing, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Political bias in UK’s defence chief’s criticism of Jeremy Corbyn’s nuclear weapons policy

Corbyn, JeremyCorbyn accuses defence chief of political bias in nuclear row, BBC News, 9 Nov 15 Jeremy Corbyn has accused the chief of the defence staff of political bias after he criticised the Labour leader’s anti-nuclear stance.

Gen Sir Nicholas Houghton told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that refusing to launch nuclear weapons would “seriously undermine” Britain’s “deterrent”.And he said he would be worried if such a view “translated into power”.

Mr Corbyn called on the defence secretary to “take action” against Sir Nicholas over his comments.

In a statement, the Labour leader said: “It is a matter of serious concern that the chief of the defence staff has today intervened directly in issues of political dispute.

“It is essential in a democracy that the military remains politically neutral at all times.

“By publicly taking sides in current political arguments, Sir Nicholas Houghton has clearly breached that constitutional principle. Accordingly, I am writing to the defence secretary to ask him to take action to ensure that the neutrality of the armed forces is upheld.”


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

A boon for bankers (but no-one else) – UK’s China Hinkley Point nuclear deal

flag-UKthe decision to involve Chinese companies – initially with EDF at Hinkley Point and then on their own at Bradwell and Sizewell – only makes sense if it is seen as part of a quid pro quo for the previously announced financial services deal.

flag-ChinaThey put the Chinese Communist Party and military at the heart of strategic infrastructure. They interlink the British and Chinese financial systems at a time when the latter is structurally weak, poorly regulated, and struggling with corruption.

uranium-enrichmentBritain’s nuclear deal with China is a boon for bankers – and no one else,
The Conversation,  November 6, 2015 At first glance, it seems an almost inexplicable paradox. A right-wing British government has invited companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party – and in one case, the Chinese military – into the heart of the UK’s strategically vital energy infrastructure. The nuclear deal between Britain and China goes against the advice of the security services, the military and the US government.

So to explain this paradox, we must look carefully at another major deal in the British government’s flirtation with President Xi Jinping: the inter-penetration of the two countries’ financial services.

There would seem to be no possible connection between Chinese companies building and operating nuclear power stations in 2020s Britain and a curious political role created in 1571. But the fact that the Remembrancer, a representative of the City of London Corporation, is allowed to attend and monitor debates in the House of Commons, says much about Britain’s priorities.

When considering economic and budgetary policy, the Remembrancer is at hand to ensure that our elected representatives remember that, whatever other interests they might serve, the needs of financial services must be paramount. And the near-invisible hand of the Remembrancer seems recently to have been at work ensuring that Britain’s infrastructure is made accessible to Chinese state-owned companies. Continue reading

November 6, 2015 Posted by | China, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) cosying up to the nuclear industry

in-bedthe Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) seemed to be dangerously edging towards the corporate financial interests of the nuclear industry rather than the public interests of ensuring national nuclear safety

Alarm over Government’s growth mandate for nuclear regulator, The Independent,
Last year, non-economic regulators were handed guidance entitled “Duty to have regard to growth” by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills 
Mark Leftly Associate business editor  @MLeftly Anti-nuclear campaigners fear regulators have been forced to cosy up to the industry and sacrifice some of their safety responsibilities as a result of government changes to their role.

At a meeting in Manchester last week, executives from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), which oversees civil reactors and decommissioning, told representatives from NGOs that they now have to encourage the industry’s economic growth in addition to promoting safety. Continue reading

November 4, 2015 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Drastic risks to UK’s security, jobs, in the Hinkley Point C boondoggle

It is clear that this unprecedented handover of power and money to Chinese hands will prompt a justified reaction from those thousands of UK steel workers whose jobs are about to disappear due in part to the global dumping of steel by China.

Will the remnants of the steel industry and its workers see a fraction of the £76 billion to be spent by the Chancellor on his nuclear boondoggle? Not likely.

The nuclear option can and has been criticised in so many ways that the UK Government should think long and hard before proceeding with what many UK citizens will rightly consider an unpatriotic and unethical waste of money. It may even constitute a real and potent danger to our current lifestyle in Britain.

The Hinkley Point C boondoggle: a dangerous waste of money  By  on 2 November 2015 The UK Government’s pursuit of a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C represents not just a colossal waste of money, but could also be real danger to the UK’s national security, write Professors Alex Russell and Peter Strachan of Robert Gordon University. “Let us hope that the Prime Minister and Chancellor’s actions do not lead to the radicalisation of unemployed steel workers who are now being joined by unemployed renewable industry personnel.”

The Conservative government, arguably, has completely lost the plot in continuing to pursue its so called energy policy that depends so heavily on building a new fleet of nuclear power stations to keep the lights on in Britain. The government want to have 16 GW of new nuclear power stations built in the UK all using EDF’s troubled Generation-III design, of which Hinkley Point C (3.2 GW) is only the first installment.

Hinkley Demo Oct. 9th Save our Solar

With this project is George Osborne seeking an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the first Chancellor of the Exchequer to commission the world’s most expensive nuclear power station? The Chancellor says the project represents good value for money. But the facts suggest otherwise. Further, and with the recent signing of a new nuclear accord as part of the State Visit of the President of China, not enough attention appears to have been given to national security issues.

Economic madness  All in all, Hinkley Point C will cost an estimated £76 billion, for up to 3.2 GW of new generation capacity. Building costs are now estimated by EDF, the owner, at £24.5 billion. As a sobering thought, even offshore wind looks cheap when compared to the full commercial costs of this project.

This apparent blank cheque for new nuclear build is all the more surprising coming at a time when the Treasury has slashed support for onshore wind and solar power and other low carbon projects. Continue reading

November 4, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, employment, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Scientists confirm “elevated” raadioactivity levels in honey near nuclear power station

text cesiumRadioactive honey found near nuclear power station, 2 Nov, 2015  Honey contaminated with nuclear waste has been found near a disused power station in Scotland, scientists have confirmed, with samples of the product testing positive for “elevated” radioactivity. The samples showed levels of radioactive caesium-137 that are 14 times higher than samples of honey from elsewhere in the UK, prompting scientists to call for an investigation into wider contamination at the site.

The plant, which closed in 1994, no longer produces nuclear energy. It is still in the process of being decommissioned, however.

Independent nuclear energy consultant John Large said bees are an important barometer of environmental health.“Bees are key indicators of what is happening in the environment. They forage in a three-mile radius around the hive and anything in the soil is drawn up into plants and into the nectar they collect.

“This reading is within the limit for human consumption, but caesium-137 should not be turning up in honey at all,” he added.

The results are included in the government’s Radioactivity In Food and the Environment report, published last week…….

November 4, 2015 Posted by | environment, Reference, UK | Leave a comment

How the BBC advised Britons if there was a nuclear attack during the Cold War

Who, What, Why: What would the radio broadcast in a nuclear war?, BBC 3 Nov 15  Who, What, WhyThe Magazine answers the questions behind the news BBC newsreader Peter Donaldson, who has died aged 70, was to have been the voice of radio bulletins in the event of a nuclear attack. What would have gone out on the UK’s airwaves if the Cold War had turned hot?

“This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known.”

So began the script, read by Peter Donaldson, which was to go out on British airwaves in the event of nuclear war.

The Wartime Broadcasting Service was run by the BBC on behalf of the government. It was intended to replace existing radio broadcasts in the event of a nuclear exchange.

According to declassified papers, the recording of Donaldson would have been broadcast from a nuclear bunker at Wood Norton in Worcestershire and transmitted from nearby Droitwich.

The script urged people to stay calm, remain in their homes, save water and make the most of tinned food supplies. It was hoped this would provide reassurance as well as information.

“If there had been a nuclear attack, people would still have heard the BBC and hopefully they would have taken heart,” Michael Hodder, who ran the Wartime Broadcasting Service, told the BBC’s The One Show in September.

The service would also be used to make official government announcements. It was intended that there would also have been regional services performing similar functions for regional seats of government.

BBC staff would have followed procedures set out in the War Book, a Cold War instruction manual that was declassified in 2009. “Engineers in charge of transmitters had it in their safes,” says BBC historian Jean Seaton.

Initially it was planned that music and light entertainment programmes including Hancock’s Half Hour, Round the Horne and Just A Minute would be broadcast too, but by the 1980s it was decided that only official announcements would be transmitted to preserve energy.

The use of a well-known presenter was considered crucial. In a June 1974 letter, Harold Greenwood from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications warned that an “unfamiliar voice” would lead listeners to conclude that “perhaps after all the BBC has been obliterated”.

Full script……


November 4, 2015 Posted by | history, UK | Leave a comment


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