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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Arbitrary detention of Julian Assange – United Nations finding

Julian Assange arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the UK, UN expert panel finds United Nations Human Rights Office GENEVA (5 February 2016) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the United Kingdom since his arrest in London on 7 December 2010, as a result of the legal action against him by both Governments, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said today.

In a public statement, the expert panel called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Mr. Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation (Check the statement:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17012&LangID=E)

Mr. Assange, detained first in prison then under house arrest, took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 after losing his appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court against extradition to Sweden, where a judicial investigation was initiated against him in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct. However, he was not formally charged.

“The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that the various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange has been subjected constitute a form of arbitrary detention,” said Seong-Phil Hong, who currently heads the expert panel.

– See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17013&LangID=E#sthash.oPdlDR4g.dpuf

“The Working Group maintains that the arbitrary detention of Mr. Assange should be brought to an end, that his physical integrity and freedom of movement be respected, and that he should be entitled to an enforceable right to compensation,” Mr. Hong added.In its official Opinion, the Working Group considered that Mr. Assange had been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth Prison in London, followed by house arrest and then confinement at the Ecuadorean Embassy.

The experts also found that the detention was arbitrary because Mr. Assange was held in isolation at Wandsworth Prison, and because a lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor’s Office in its investigations resulted in his lengthy loss of liberty.

The Working Group established that this detention violates Articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Check the Working Group’s Opinion on Julian Assange’s case (No. 54/2015), adopted in December: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Detention/A.HRC.WGAD.2015.docx

NOTE TO EDITORS:
The Opinions of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention are legally-binding to the extent that they are based on binding international human rights law, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The WGAD has a mandate to investigate allegations of individuals being deprived of their liberty in an arbitrary way or inconsistently with international human rights standards, and to recommend remedies such as release from detention and compensation, when appropriate.
The binding nature of its opinions derives from the collaboration by States in the procedure, the adversarial nature of is findings and also by the authority given to the WGAD by the UN Human Rights Council. The Opinions of the WGAD are also considered as authoritative by prominent international and regional judicial institutions, including the European Court of Human Rights.

……… http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17013&LangID=E#sthash.oPdlDR4g.dpuf http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=17013&LangID=E

February 12, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, Sweden, UK | Leave a comment

Hinkley Nuclear Project: trials and Tribulations Continue, and EDF is in dire financial straits

protest-Hinkley-CnuClear News, No 82 Feb 2016, Hinkley’s Troubles Continue The resignation of the man in charge of building Hinkley Point C capped a month of very bad news for the proposed £18bn nuclear power plant. Chris Bakken announced that he would be returning home to the US to take up the post of chief nuclear officer for Entergy beginning on April 6 to “spend more time with his family.”

Anti-nuclear campaigners declared the resignation was yet another sign the project is in trouble. John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace, said: “Coming just days after the EDF board failed to agree a final go-ahead for Hinkley, this move is yet another symptom of the disquiet this project is causing within the company itself. The whole enterprise makes so little economic sense that EDF’s own staff and many board members are concerned it will seriously damage the company.” (1)
According to the French newspaper, Le Figaro, EDF was expected to make a final investment decision on the proposed reactors at its Board meeting on 27th January 2016, (2) although the Stop Hinkley Campaign pointed out it was the ninth time that EDF has said a final investment decision is imminent and then nothing happened. (3) The campaign group argued that EDF is in such a precarious state that it is really not sensible to commit to building two new European Pressurised water Reactors (EPRs) when there are still no EPRs operating anywhere in the world and there is considerable unease amongst employee shareholders about the financing of Hinkley Point C – some fear it could sink the company altogether. (4) The Financial Times revealed at the end of December that the EPRs being built at Taishan have been delayed by at least another year. (5) Dr Dave Toke said the debate is now not about whether Hinkley Point C will go-ahead, but whether EDF itself can survive. (6)

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February 10, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | 1 Comment

Huge production of radioactive trash would come from Hinkley point C nuclear reactor

radioactive trashflag-UKnuClear News No 82 Feb 16 The Impact of a New Reactor Programme on the UK’s Radioactive Waste Inventory The proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station would produce radioactive wastes and spent fuel with a radioactivity inventory equal to roughly 80% of the radioactivity in all of the UK’s existing radioactive wastes put together.

The nuclear industry and government have repeatedly said the volume of nuclear waste produced by new reactors will be small, approximately 10% of the volume of existing wastes; implying this additional amount will not make a significant difference to finding an underground dump for the wastes the UK’s nuclear industry has already created. The use of volume as a measure of the impact of radioactive waste is, however, highly misleading. (1)
Volume is not the best measure to use to assess the likely impact of wastes and spent fuel from a new reactor programme, in terms of its management and disposal. New reactors will use socalled ‘high burn-up fuel’ which will be much more radioactive than the spent fuel produced by existing reactors. So rather than using volume as a yardstick, the amount of radioactivity in the waste – and the space required in a deep geological repository to deal with it – are more appropriate ways of measuring the impact of nuclear waste from new reactors. 

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February 10, 2016 Posted by | Reference, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

A catelogue of safety failures revealed in mock nuclear accident tests

safety-symbol1flag-UKTop secret mock nuclear accidents reveal catalogue of failures, The Ferret, Rob Edwards on February 9, 2016 Top secret mock nuclear accidents testing the responses of the military and emergency services have revealed numerous mistakes that would have led to “avoidable deaths”, according to official assessments.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was so concerned about the problems that it carried out “an overarching, fundamental review” of arrangements for handling serious nuclear weapons incidents behind closed doors last year.

Assessments of emergency exercises by the MoD’s internal watchdog, theDefence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR), expose a string of mishaps including life-threatening delays, equipment shortages, coordination failures and communication breakdowns. One report criticises officials for “substantially understating” the scale of the dangers facing the public in a staged briefing for the media.

The MoD took more than two years to agree to hand over reports on three nuclear bomb exercises in 2011 and 2012, despite freedom of information lawrequiring documents to be released within 20 working days. The reports, redacted by the MoD to keep details confidential, are being published today by The Ferret, in tandem with The Guardian (see below).

Two of the exercises imagined aircraft carrying nuclear weapons ingredients crashing and spreading plutonium and other radioactive contamination up to five kilometres away. They were both codenamed Astral Bend, one taking place at the Caerwent military base in south Wales on 24 February 2011, the other at Heyford Park in Oxfordshire on 27 March 2012.

At the 2011 exercise there was a major mix-up over how to deal with contaminated casualties. The fire service was criticised by DNSR for refusing to allow ambulance teams to take away seriously injured people until they had been decontaminated.

“The interpretation of the absolute necessity to decontaminate every casualty or person from within the determined “hot zone” did, and would in the event of such an incident, lead to avoidable deaths,” concluded the DNSR report………

DNSR pointed out that exercises had shown the need for “an overarching, fundamental review” of emergency response arrangements. This review was carried out in 2015, according to the MoD, but it has not been published.

The independent nuclear consultant,John Large, argued that if there were an accident close to an urban area the emergency response “would be totally inadequate  to protect many hundreds if not thousands of members of public.”……….

Anti-nuclear groups claimed that the exercise assessments exposed “major weaknesses” in the MoD plans for responding to nuclear accidents. “The MoD’s rickety old nuclear safety arrangements are not up to the job of keeping the public, emergency responders, or MoD personnel safe,” said Peter Burt from the Nuclear Information Network.

He added: “While ministers are racing ahead to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system, work on improving nuclear emergency plans seems to be a much lower priority and is proceeding at a much more sedate place.”

An earlier Astral Bend exercise on 12 May 2010 envisaged a US plane carrying nuclear weapons crashing and spreading radioactive contamination. Official assessments released in 2011 concluded that the MoD specialist response team “struggled to manage”…….

John Ainslie from the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament suggested that a nuclear weapons accident was “inherently very dangerous” and the emergency response was likely to be inadequate. He said: “If there is a real incident then we can expect there to be fatal delays in treating casualties and misleading information provided to the public,” he said.

The reports released by the Ministry of Defence……..   Photos thanks to Nukewatch.   https://theferret.scot/nuclear-bomb-accidents-could-cause-avoidable-deaths-say-mod-reports/

February 10, 2016 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

£100 billion Trident nuclear weapons system could all too soon become obsolete

submarine,-nuclear-underwatflag-UKThe Trident nuclear weapons system could become obsolete during its lifetime, Labour warns  The shadow defence secretary says new technologies are being developed to expose submarines, Independent Jon Stone @joncstone 9 Feb 16 The Trident nuclear weapons system could become technologically obsolete within its lifetime, Labour’s shadow defence secretary has warned.

Emily Thornberry said that emerging technologies could render Trident ineffective as a nuclear deterrent during its 30-year lifetime. She said the development of under-sea drones and other technologies on the horizon might make a long-term lifetime spending commitment of between £100 billion and £160 billion unwise.

“The idea of the Trident replacement is that it can hide in the sea – if technology is moving faster than that then it may well be that Trident is not able to hide,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “If that’s right and we are to bet everything on mutually assured destruction then we have to be assured that it’s going to work. If it can’t hide any more that is a problem.

“It is right for the opposition to make sure that it works before voting for a commitment that according to Crispin Blunt would cost £167 billion.”

The shadow defence secretary is currently leading a review of Labour’s policy on nuclear weapons………

The independent Trident Commission estimated that the system would cost £100 billion over its lifetime, though estimates compiled by Reuters with the help of Tory MP Crispin Blunt and official Ministry of Defence statistics suggest the cost could be as high as £167 billion http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trident-labour-policy-nuclear-weapons-deterrent-obsolete-emily-thornberry-a6862501.html

February 10, 2016 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Confusion about financing of UK’s Hinkley nuclear power project

scrutiny-on-costsflag-UKnuClear News, No 82 Feb 2016,   Hinkley’s Troubles Continue ……..The original idea for financing Hinkley was for the promoters to put in £7.5bn in equity and then to borrow £17bn supported by UK Government Credit Guarantees (for which a premium would be paid). This £24.5bn total was made up of £16bn cost plus £8.5bn interest. Now the cost seems to have gone up to £18bn (or adjusted for today’s prices). But EDF Energy seems to be talking about largely funding this out of equity. EDF said on 21st October: “The project is due to be equity funded by each partner, at least during a first stage.” (19) Of course, there is no indication given by EDF of how long the “first stage” would last. However The Telegraph reported that EDF had originally been expected to use project financing for Hinkley, backed up by up to £16bn in UK Government guarantees via Infrastructure UK. But Mr Lévy announced in October a “radical change” to what he said was a “more efficient” option of delivering its £12bn share of the project from EDF’s own balance sheet. (20)

Under the deal agreed with the European Commission, the Flamanville EPR project must be up and running before the guarantees come into effect. And until that time, the shareholders must provide billions in ‘contingent equity’ to cover the bondholders’ risk, protecting UK taxpayers. And if it is not operating by 2020 the guarantees will expire. (21) What this means, according to The Ecologist, is that there is now a near-zero chance of these guarantees ever actually being taken up. This could be why EDF is now talking about funding the whole project through equity.
The Sunday Times reported that when the European Union signed off on the Treasury’s guarantee of Hinkley Point, it insisted it be conditional on Flamanville having “completed the trial operation period” and other operational milestones by December 2020. If Flamanville misses that deadline, EDF would be forced to immediately repay any loans that benefited from government support. (22) The date of earliest completion of the Flamanville reactor is 2018, and even that assumes that things go a lot better than they have so far.
Dr Dave Toke says there is no chance of Hinkley C being funded without the Government guarantees – EDF haven’t got anywhere near the money needed and it would be financially crazy to pay for it without the guarantees – so EDF cannot take the chance of going ahead without a firm loan guarantee. (23)
It is no surprise that employees and shareholders of EDF are up in arms about the prospect of a ‘final investment decision’ being taken by the EDF Board. This leaves people wondering about the motives of EDF in announcing that they are ‘restarting’ work on Hinkley C. EDF seems to want to carry on despite the increasing likelihood that the Hinkley project will destroy EDF as a going business. So why do they carry on with this apparent financial suicide? The answer according to Toke is that the leaders of EDF have two choices: abandon Hinkley C and effectively end EDF’s visions as being leaders of a world (or even French) nuclear resurgence or carry on spending money on Hinkley C and hope that the French Government will bail them out of any further difficulties. The first choice involves the certainty of loss of face and resignation, but the second choice involves a probability of disaster (and eventual resignation), but the faint hope that they still might win out. (24)
So EDF has told contractors at Hinkley Point to restart “unconstrained spending” in anticipation of the £18bn nuclear plant obtaining the final green light soon. By ‘unconstrained’ they mean ‘we’re going to go on as if a decision has been made’.” (25)

Sizewell A final investment decision on Hinkley is expected to trigger the launch of the next round of public consultation over plans for Sizewell C. (26) But if EDF is struggling to find its 66.5% share of Hinkley C, how will it ever find the 80% it is expected to put into Sizewell C? References ……http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo82.pdf

February 10, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

UK govt spurns the success of renewable energy, follows the dodgy chimera of “Small Nuclear reactors”

SMRs-mirageflag-UKnuClearNews No 82 Feb 16  Progress on Small Modular Reactors as renewables head off the cliff , In response to a letter about energy policy in The Times on 26th January 2016, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd listed the top 10 things the government is doing to secure investment in clean secure energy. Besides committing to Hinkley Point C, Rudd also mentioned spending £250m for nuclear innovation and Small Modular Reactors. (1) Oddly enough there was no mention of the rest of the 19GW of new reactors proposed – (up from 16GW now that Bradwell B has been added to the theoretical list)…….

UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd told Parliament in November 2015 that SMRs have “excellent” potential and that the current government “is doing as much as it can” to support the technology. To that end it announced £250m funding over the next five years for nuclear research and development including a competition to identify the “best value small modular reactor design for the UK.” The UK is doubling funding for the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC’s) energy innovation program to £500m over five years, including research into SMRs. (3)
Both NuScale (part of Fluor) and Westinghouse are hoping to build their first-of-a-kind SMRs in the UK by 2025. But the real challenge will be to get enough orders so they can build factories to turn out SMRs on a cost effective production line basis. There isn’t enough of a market within the UK itself to generate these orders. Both firms see the UK as a launch pad to gain market share in Europe and the Middle East.
The UK wants to develop a major export market for SMRs. Everything depends on both NuScale and Westinghouse passing through the gauntlet of the UK’s notoriously complicated and expensive generic design review process to certify the safety of their reactors. Both firms have made optimistic estimates of how long this will take. In order to break ground by 2025 a new land speed record for bureaucratic action will have to be achieved.
NuScale plans to submit its 50-megawatt reactor design for approval by U.S. nuclear authorities towards the end of 2016. That would leave it well-placed to seek the U.K. equivalent, called Generic Design Assessment, in 2017. (4)
Meanwhile, Britain’s renewable energy industry is about to “fall off a cliff” just at the point it was coming into its own according to The Independent reveals. The dour forecast comes as the industry celebrated a record-breaking year in 2015, with billions of pounds poured into solar and wind energy and more homes powered by nature than ever before.
 But experts have warned this is all about to grind to a halt as the Government abandons its commitment to green energy and instead invests in fracking and nuclear power. Figures from Bloomberg forecast that over the next five years the country will lose at least 1 gigawatt of renewable energy generation
– enough to power 660,000 homes. After 2020, the new renewables infrastructure will collapse to almost nothing because of a lack of investment and the blossoming industry could wither, the figures suggest. (5)
References:….http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo82.pdf

February 10, 2016 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

Busting the obsolete “baseload” myth, and other myths that hold back renewable energy

sun-championflag-UKnuClear News No 82 Feb 16 Towards 100% Renewables As Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Lisa Nandy, re-iterates the myth that nuclear power is an “important as part of the energy mix [if] we’re going to meet the commitments we made in Paris” we investigate how the UK could move to a 100% renewable energy system. Although Nandy says she is not happy with the Hinkley deal she says “we know we will need nuclear power as part of the mix”, but is she right? (1)

The argument seems to be that renewables are fine up to a point, but they can’t provide baseload power and so we can never move to a system based on 100% renewables – this couldn’t reliably power a modern industrial society. Since we need to phase out the use of fossil fuels to combat climate change we need nuclear power to provide some baseload.
The reality is that baseload power as a concept is obsolete. And a system powered 100% by renewables supported by a backbone of electricity storage, smart grid technology and management, energy efficiency, and 21st century technology is feasible now. In fact, not only is it feasible, but strong market and social forces mean that such a system is increasingly the only kind of system that makes any sense. As Rainier Baake, Germany’s minister in charge of the Energiewende, points out, solar and wind have already won the technology race. (2)
100% is Possible Mark Jacobson of Stanford University and Mark Delucchi of the University of California have spelled out how 139 countries can each generate all their energy needs from renewables by 2050. The 139 national blueprints they have produced include the UK. (3)
Former Labour MP, Alan Simpson says anyone even glancing towards tomorrow knows that its energy systems will be smarter, quicker, lighter, more adaptive and more interactive than anything we have today. That means that energy systems will not be designed around big centralised power stations. They may not revolve around power stations at all. The energy we don’t use (and the energy we store) will become at least as important as the energy we consume. Energy security will be found, and financed, in a myriad of different ways. The Government’s plans for 19GW of new nuclear power stations will saddle Britain with an energy investment programme at a cost that will sink the country rather than save it. (4)

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February 10, 2016 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

UK may be getting Beautiful Nuclear Cathedrals! (Amber Rudd will be pleased)

Moorside: Developers launch competition to design visually beautiful nuclear power station

Their reward will be £25,000 each in prize money, Independent,  Chris Green  @cghgreen 7 Feb 16 “………Architects and landscape designers from across the world are being asked to come up with creative concepts for Europe’s largest new nuclear power station, Moorside in West Cumbria. Their reward will be £25,000 each in prize money – as well as a shot at creating something beautiful out of what many might regard as an industrial scar on the landscape.
cathedral nuclear
The two competitions, which are being backed by the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Landscape Institute, have been created by Moorside’s developer, NuGen. The company has bought about 200 hectares of land near Sellafield and is looking for inspiration for a visitors’ centre and numerous other ancillary buildings which will adjoin the main site.

The shortlisted designs will be selected by an independent panel of architects, landscape designers and ecologists including Sir Terry Farrell, who created the MI6 building in London. Their challenge will be to come up with something striking and beautiful which can work around the sensitive construction of the site’s nuclear reactors.
Sebastien Ricard, a director at WilkinsonEyre architects who is currently involved with the multibillion-pound redevelopment of Battersea Power Station in London, said industrial buildings were increasingly regarded by architects as Rudd, Amber UKthe “cathedrals of the modern era” as they offered the chance to work with innovative technologies on a grand scale….
it is hoped that the winning plans will succeed in blending the site into its surroundings and perhaps even turn Moorside into a destination in its own right……http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/moorside-developers-launch-competition-to-design-visually-beautiful-nuclear-power-station-a6859311.html

 

February 8, 2016 Posted by | spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

The UK ghost ships with the deadly nuclear cargo

ship radiationGuarded from terrorists by Royal Navy sub and 50 commandos…the UK ghost ships with enough nuclear fuel for 80 missiles, Daily Mail, 

  • Pacific Heron and Pacific Egret ships will sail to Japan for plutonium
  • Precious 331kg load could make an incredible 80 nuclear warheads
  • Vessels are accompanied by military ships and armed with cannons

By MARK NICOL DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 7 February 2016

Two top secret British ‘ghost ships’ carrying enough plutonium for a huge nuclear arsenal wend their way through the world’s oceans –guarded against terrorists by 50 commandos.

It may sound like a tantalising target for a villain in a James Bond film, but what is potentially the most dangerous secret mission in history is deadly reality.

Two vast container ships – the Pacific Heron and the Pacific Egret – left Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, last month on the first leg of their incredible journey.

Their mission is to sail to Japan to collect 331kg of plutonium – enough to make 80 nuclear warheads – which was leased by the UK to a Japanese research facility.

The ships are almost certainly shadowed by a Royal Navy submarine and surface vessels and are heavily armed with 20mm cannon.

They are sailing across the Atlantic before passing through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific on their way to Japan.

Their ultimate destination is a US nuclear storage facility in South Carolina, and the return journey to the American eastern seaboard from East Asia would normally again be made via the Panama Canal.

But this would leave the vessels vulnerable to attack – and their terrifying radioactive cargo could in theory devastate much of Central America.

So instead, they are likely to take the long and dangerous journey around the storm-lashed Cape Horn at the tip of South America, one of the most hazardous shipping routes in the world.

The Heron and the Egret, which each weigh about 6,700 tons when fully loaded, belong to the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). It is expected that each ship will be guarded by as many as 25 commandos.

Nuclear expert John Large told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘The cargo is invaluable and part of a secret trade in fissile materials between the likes of the UK and US. The biggest risk is a fire or an external missile strike.

‘This is bomb-grade nuclear material and a terror group or rogue state would want to intercept it.’…..http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3435476/Guarded-terrorists-Royal-Navy-sub-50-commandos-UK-ghost-ships-nuclear-fuel-80-missiles.html

February 8, 2016 Posted by | safety, UK, wastes | 1 Comment

Britaion and Sweden rejecting UN panel’s finding on Julian Assange

 Assange,-Julian-1No release in sight despite UN panel decision. Julian Assange: ‘sweet’ victory soured by British and Swedish rejection  Founding WikiLeaks founder is being arbitrarily detained at Ecuador embassy, Guardian, ,, in Gothenberg, and  A UN panel may have found that Julian Assange is subject to “arbitrary detention” and called for him to be allowed to walk free, but the WikiLeaks founder remains exactly where he has been for the past 44 months – inside Ecuador’s London embassy and locked in a three-nation war of words.

Britain and Sweden immediately rejected the UN report, which declared that Assange had been “arbitrarily detained” since his arrest in 2010 and during his lengthy stay in the embassy, where he sought asylum in June 2012. The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, described the findings as “ridiculous” and the Australian as a “fugitive from justice”.

However, the panel’s findings, leaked on Thursday and published in full on Friday morning, were a welcome victory for Assange, and a moment he intended to savour fully. At 4.01pm he emerged on to the balcony of the west Londonembassy to greet a crowd of several hundred supporters and journalists, pausing first, just briefly, to glance at the sky he has rarely seen for more than three years.

“How sweet it is,” said Assange, holding aloft a copy of the UN report while supporters shouted: “We love you, Julian!” It had been, he said, “a victory of historical importance”, and a decision reached after a process to which both Britain and Sweden had made submissions. “They lost. UK lost; Sweden lost.”

The Swedish government, however, has insisted the report changes nothing, and that it cannot interfere in an independent prosecutor’s ongoing attempt to extradite Assange for questioning over an allegation of rape dating from 2010, which he denies.

Meanwhile, for Ecuador – the Australian’s (mostly) willing host – the findings meant it was time for the two countries to allow Assange to walk free, and to compensate both him and them for the lengthy period he has been holed up in one of its few rooms……

After exhausting all his legal options in the UK and Sweden some time ago, there is no question that the report represents a boost for Assange’s legal team.

Reaching their conclusion by a three-to-one majority after a fifth member recused herself, the panel called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s “deprivation of liberty”, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and offer him compensation.

Assange, they found, had been unable “to access the full-intended benefit” of the asylum status granted by Ecuador, and “the continuing and disproportionate denial to him of such access … had become cumulatively harsh and disproportionate”.

In particular, the panel offered an excoriating critique of Sweden’s prosecution process, which they said had been in a state of “indefinite procrastination”. With Quito and Stockholm still unable to agree on arrangements to allow Swedish prosecutors access to the London embassy, Assange has yet to be interviewed over the alleged offences. Britain said on Thursday it was “deeply frustrated” by the deadlock.

But for all Assange’s jubilation, he remains in the embassy, the extradition warrant still stands, and Britain and Sweden remain adamant that the report changes nothing.

Assange also remains fearful of a potential future extradition to the US, where a secret grand jury has been looking into whether to prosecute him over WikiLeak’s publishing activities……..

the former chair of the UN working group, Mads Andenas, defended its finding, saying: “There is no doubt that the normal course of action for the Swedish authorities would have been to interview Assange in London. The extradition request was disproportionate…….http://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/feb/05/julian-assange-sweet-victory-soured-by-british-and-swedish-rejection

February 8, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, Sweden, UK | Leave a comment

UK Hinkley Point nuclear plant project director quits

rat leaving sinking shipEDF project director for UK Hinkley Point nuclear plant quits, 7 News, Reuters February 3, 2016 LONDON – An executive of French utility EDF in charge of Britain’s first new nuclear power station project for 20 years is leaving to join U.S. energy company Entergy Corp , the U.S. firm said on Tuesday.

As an executive director at EDF’s British unit, EDF Energy, Christopher Bakken had been project director since 2011 for the Hinkley Point C nuclear project in southwestern England.

He was responsible for the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the planned new nuclear plant………

Intractable problems at two similar nuclear plants under construction in France and Finland threaten more delays to EDF’s British plans.  https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30718466/edf-project-director-for-uk-hinkley-point-nuclear-plant-quits/

 

February 3, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, employment, France, UK | Leave a comment

Electricite De France : 6 union board members will oppose Hinkley Point nuclear project

text Hinkley cancelledEDF’s union board members to oppose Hinkley Point – sources, Yahoo 7 News, Reuters February 3, 2016 By Geert De Clercq  PARIS – The six union members on EDF’s 18-seat board would vote against the French utility’s plans for two nuclear reactors in the UK, but other board members do not want to postpone the project, sources familiar with the situation said.

The unions want EDF to put off the 18 billion pound project to build two Areva-designed European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) at Hinkley Point in southwest England until it has strengthened its balance sheet and started up at least one of the four EPRs it has under construction elsewhere.

A united front of EDF’s unions opposing a major investment decision would be unprecedented, but the lack of support from other board members removes a major element of uncertainty for the plan.

“If the Hinkley Point project was put to the board today, the six union representatives would all vote against it,” one of the sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

EDF first announced Hinkley Point in 2013 and said in Oct. 2015 that Chinese utility CGN would take a 33.5 percent stake in the project, but it has not yet taken a final investment decision as it struggles to find financing.

On Monday, EDF’s dominant CGT union, which has three board members, called on the firm to postpone the project, saying EDF should prioritise upgrading its ageing nuclear fleet in France, start up the long-delayed EPR it is building in Flamanville, and design a new-model EPR reactor…….

A united front of EDF’s unions opposing a major investment decision would be unprecedented, but the lack of support from other board members removes a major element of uncertainty for the plan.

“If the Hinkley Point project was put to the board today, the six union representatives would all vote against it,” one of the sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

EDF first announced Hinkley Point in 2013 and said in Oct. 2015 that Chinese utility CGN would take a 33.5 percent stake in the project, but it has not yet taken a final investment decision as it struggles to find financing.

On Monday, EDF’s dominant CGT union, which has three board members, called on the firm to postpone the project, saying EDF should prioritise upgrading its ageing nuclear fleet in France, start up the long-delayed EPR it is building in Flamanville, and design a new-model EPR reactor……https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30718719/edfs-union-board-members-could-vote-against-hinkley-point-sources/

February 3, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

New doubts hang over future of Britain’s Hinkley Nuclear Plan

text Hinkley cancelledflag-UKNew threat to Hinkley nuclear plant cash,Sunday Times, Danny Fortson 31 January 2016  BRITAIN could withdraw financial support for the controversial £18bn nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Somerset, if a similar plant being built by France’s EDF is not running by 2020, The Sunday Times can reveal.

The condition, attached to a Treasury loan guarantee, raises fresh questions about the future of Britain’s first new atomic power plant in a generation.

Last week EDF, which is 84% owned by the French state, postponed a board meeting in Paris to approve Hinkley Point, amid concerns about the heavily indebted company’s ability to fund the project. The plant will be financed by EDF and its Chinese partner CGN, with the backing of a 35-year contract to sell power to households at above-market rates.

The arrangement hinges on a Treasury agreement to guarantee up to 17 billion pounds in loans…. (registered readers only)  http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/energy_and_environment/article1662807.ece?CMP=OTH-gnws-standard-2016_01_30

 

February 1, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Hinkley nuclear fiasco puts the wind up Hitachi, concerning investment in UK

scrutiny-on-costsflag-UKHinkley Point nuclear fiasco spooks Hitachi boss, Telegraph, 31 Jan 16 
Hitachi boss raises concerns about funding of its own Wylfa Newydd project with foreign secretary during visit to Japan   
The head of Hitachi has warned that the debacle surrounding the construction of Hinkley Point nuclear plant throws up “very serious concerns” about its own investment in the UK.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman and chief executive of the Japanese industrial giant, said the setbacks experienced by Hinkley’s developer EDF raised questions about how future plants including its Wylfa Newydd project are funded.

Hitachi’s subsidiary Horizon is planning to build a nuclear plant on Anglesey that is expected to start generating power by the mid-2020s.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Nakanishi revealed that he had expressed concerns about the expected costs of the project with Philip Hammond during the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Japan this month.

Horizon is in talks with the Government to ensure the Wylfa deal presents value for money for both sides.

Mr Nakanishi said Hitachi had set out “very fair conditions for the making of our investment”, but could only commit to a deal it believed was viable.

“Hinkley Point [raises questions] about what are the real solutions for setting up financial support,” he said.

“Nuclear power construction requires huge money … we need to arrange a financial plan for which the kind of money needed can be introduced.

“Some part is government endorsement, some is more preferable investment conditions from the part of the finance industry.” Mr Nakanishi said the challenges faced by Hinkley Point could also affect Horizon. “The DECC worries about the stability of the scheduled construction of the [Hinkley Point] nuclear power plant, so some of the conditions – the credit requirements – those kind of things may affect us.

“In order to set up the financial conditions [to build Hinkley], Chinese capital was introduced, but what the real result will be – we have a very serious concern about that.”

Asked if the firm might step back if it believed a viable deal was not on the table, Mr Nakanishi replied: “Yes”.

Horizon is in negotiations with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on issues such as the strike price, or the amount the Government will guarantee per unit of electricity produced, which will be key to attracting additional finance…….. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/12128405/Hinkley-Point-nuclear-fiasco-spooks-Hitachi-boss.html

February 1, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

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