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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Secret new nuc lear weapons deal between UK and USA

UK-US sign secret new deal on nuclear weapons, Guardian 29 July 14,

• Closed contents of updated Mutual Defence Agreement
• Vital for Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system
• MPs also demand debate on UK’s future world role A new agreement critical to Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system, was signed the other day by British and US officials.

Whitehall was silent. We had to rely on the White House, and a message from Barack Obama to the US Congress, to tell us that the 1958 UK-US Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) had been updated.

A new amendment to the treaty will last for 10 years. Obama told Congress it will “permit the transfer between the United States and the United Kingdom of classified information concerning atomic weapons; nuclear technology and controlled nuclear information; material and equipment for the development of defense plans; training of personnel; evaluation of potential enemy capability; development of delivery systems; and the research, development, and design of military reactors.”

The UK, Obama added, “intends to continue to maintain viable nuclear forces into the foreseeable future.” It was in America’s interest, to continue to help Britain “in maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent”.

There was no word from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Whitehall department responsible updating the UK-US treaty. Parliament, a spokesperson said in response to questions, would be informed “at an appropiate time”. MPs would have a 21 day window before the end of the year in which they could debate the issues involved.

However, the content of the new agreement will remain secret. To reveal them, Whitehall officials say, could “assist proliferation” of nuclear weapons.

That is a curious comment given that both the US and UK insist the agreement does not in any way breach their obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

The updated agreement, as I described last month, means that Britain is stepping up its cooperation with the US over the design of nuclear warheads, raising new questions about the independence of the UK deterrent. Increased cooperation with the US on warhead design and the exchange of material crucial in the manufacture and stockpiling of nuclear weapon is vital to the Trident system.

Though the agreement is incorporated in US law, it has no legal status in Britain.

Paul Ingram, executive director of the British American Information Security Council (BASIC) says that though the agreement is an international treaty that requires regular ratification, it has never been debated in the Commons. Questions from MPs were met with “cursory information”.

He adds: “With the deepening of technical collaboration that shapes the procurement decisions here in London over nuclear weapons programmes, in a manner that stretches or breaks Article 1 of the NPT, it is high time we took this relationship and its consequences for international security seriously.”…….

http://www.theguardian.com/world/defence-and-security-blog/2014/jul/29/nuclear-weapons-us-uk-cooperation

July 30, 2014 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK will pay communities just to “think about” hosting nuclear wastes

bribery-1flag-UKCommunities could be paid £40m for considering nuclear waste dump   The Guardian, Thursday 24 July 2014  Renewed effort to find site for underground disposal site will not allow veto for any one level of local government Local communities could be paid over £40m by government for simply considering the building of an underground nuclear waste disposal facility in their area, ministers announced on Thursday.

The renewed effort to find a permanent solution for the UK’s growing stockpile of nuclear waste comes after Cumbria council vetoed a proposed waste dump site in January 2013. But the new approach will not allow any one level of local government to veto future site decisions.

The plan allows for communities to get up to £1m a year for about five years whilst local consultations take place. If the community moves to accepting exploratory drilling, which would take five to 15 years, they would get up to £2.5m a year, meaning a total of over £40m before a decision is taken on whether or not to build the waste burial facility.

Additional and much higher community investment would follow a decision to build the facility. There is no cap on the number of communities that could apply for local consultation.

The Liberal Democrat energy secretary, Ed Davey, said: “Geological disposal provides the secure, long-term solution we need to deal with the radioactive waste we have been creating for more than 60 years.

“Building and running a geological disposal facility will be a multi-billion pound infrastructure project, which will bring significant economic benefits to a community.” He said the new process was “based on a fundamental principle of listening to people”.

But the plan was immediately attacked by the president of the LibDems, Tim Farron, who is a Cumbrian MP. “The geological disposal facility should not be foisted on a community without their wholehearted support. The mooted plans to remove the veto for local councils against a nuclear repository is undemocratic and makes an absolute mockery of the idea of localism.”

Anti-nuclear campaigners dismissed the “no-strings-attached” payments to local communities as “bribes”.

Oscar-wastesFollowing the government’s failure to persuade Cumbria to accept a deep nuclear waste disposal site, the new plan represents another return to the drawing board. Ministers have been trying without success to find a suitable site for over two decades.

David Cameron said in 2007: “The problems of nuclear waste have not been dealt with and they have got to be dealt with to make any new investment possible.” However, the government has already given the green light for a new EDF nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset…………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/24/communities-could-be-paid-40m-for-considering-nuclear-waste-dump

July 26, 2014 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Russian firms to star in nuclear materials, nuclear weapons sales festival in London

Russian-Bearflag-UKDiary: Russians selling nuclear weapons expertise in Westminster? What’s not to like? Reception at Westminster Abbey, gala dinner in Kensington, maybe even a night of top-flight football at the Crabble. Business as usual for Alexander, Lyudmila and comrades, you might say 

Will there be a resounding silence in September at the World Nuclear Association symposium and exhibition in Central Hall, Westminster?

The world’s nuclear industries will be strutting their stuff: 700 business and leaders from 30 countries discussing such issues as the fuel cycle front-end (no, me neither), the security of nuclear fuel supplies, financing new builds, and uranium resources. There will be a reception at Westminster Abbey and a gala dinner at the Natural History Museum.

And, to crown it all, a discussion panel. That is due to feature Alexander Lokshin, deputy director general of Rosatom, the organisation that controls Russia’s nuclear weapons companies, research institutes and safety agencies; and Lyudmila Zalimskaya of Tenex, which exports the country’s nuclear materials, such as enriched uranium, and is big in the Emirates and China. So far 34 Russian delegates have booked (last year there were 70), but it’s early days. “We have not been told that they will not be allowed to come,” says an organiser. So, business as usual. Maybe…….http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/24/stephen-bates-diary-tenex-crabble

July 26, 2014 Posted by | marketing, Russia, UK | Leave a comment

UK government’s approach to nuclear waste disposal ?bullying and bribing

Communities could be paid £40m for considering nuclear waste dump   The Guardian, Thursday 24 July 2014 “……..The government said the new approach to waste disposal will involve two years of work to come up with a “more sophisticated” process by which the views of local communities affect decision taking, but it said the ability of a council to veto had gone.

“All levels of local government must be involved but we are keen that no one level has an absolute veto,” said a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc).

She said the new plan would give communities access to independent advice. “We hope putting in place these actions will mean volunteer communities will understand better what it is all about,” she said. “One of the lessons from our [Cumbria] experience and experience internationally is that the immediate reaction is negative, because ‘nuclear must be bad’, but once people to get to dig into the detail they get more positive.”

Construction of the underground waste dump, sited between 250m and 1000m down, will then take 10-15 years, meaning it could be almost 2050 before any waste is buried.

Germany, Sweden, Finland and the US are currently considering deep geological disposal for nuclear waste. The UK currently has around 600,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste, enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall six times over. Waste from any new nuclear plants will be more concentrated and current government projection for new reactors would mean another two more Albert Halls’ worth.

The UK underground waste site is estimated to cost £12bn, more than the £9bn Olympic Games in London in 2012. The government says the sum is already accounted for in spending plans of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Despite extensive previous geological examination, a new national screening process will take place to identify suitable regions, but it will not pinpoint a site.

The chair of the campaign group Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA), councillor Mark Hackett, said: “NFLA welcomes the new policy of carrying out a national geological screening exercise, rather than assuming waste can be buried near Cumbria where the geology has been shown to be unsuitable. We also welcome the idea of assisting communities to obtain independent third party expertise………

Craig Bennett, at Friends of the Earth, said: “We’re still not even close to figuring out an adequate solution for the nuclear industry’s legacy of toxic radioactive waste. The fact that the government is now having to offer bribes to communities to even talk to them, while making it clear they will override their views anyway, makes it crystal clear that this is a technology of the past, not the future. UK governments have wasted immense amounts of money and political effort on nuclear power down the years. If even half of that had been put into renewables and energy efficiency, we’d all be in a much better place”.

Greenpeace UK’s Louise Hutchins said: “This is a bullying and bribing approach by a government that is getting desperate about solving this problem. First David Cameron reneged on his promise [on nuclear waste], now he’s resorting to bribing reluctant communities.”http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/24/communities-could-be-paid-40m-for-considering-nuclear-waste-dump

July 26, 2014 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Scotland’s tax-payers to pay for new nuclear power?

text-my-money-2flag-ScotlandRow over contract to help nuclear firms, Herald Scotland, Daniel Sanderson Wednesday 23 July 2014

 FIVE years ago the First Minister branded nuclear power “a busted flush”.
 However, Scottish Enterprise, the quango that received £233million in Scottish Government funding in 2012-13, apparently holds a different view to that of its paymasters.

The body is to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds of public cash in a project aimed at helping Scottish firms move into the nuclear power industry.

As part of its Nuclear Supply Chain Phase II initiative, Scottish Enterprise has advertised for expert companies to come forward to assist Scottish firms to win business in the sector. In a document provided to firms interested in winning the three-year contract, worth up to a third of a million pounds excluding VAT, it says that as well as extensive opportunities for businesses to play a role in decommissioning old plants, there is also “considerable commitment to nuclear new-build” in the UK and overseas that could be exploited.

The contract has been offered despite Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing saying last year that support for nuclear was “misguided” after the UK Government announced it planned to build another plant in England. Mr Ewing added that economic powerhouses, including France and Germany, were scaling back or eliminating their reliance on the power source and that investment should instead be diverted to renewable energy sources.

While Scottish Enterprise said it believed the “vast majority” of new activity would involve the decommissioning of old plants, environmentalists have hit out at the agency, accusing it of wasting public money by “chasing the nuclear dream”.

Meanwhile, opposition MSPs have accused the SNP of “hypocrisy” after details of the project emerged. Murdo Fraser, energy spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “The Scottish Government continually argues that nuclear power is declining, yet is now looking for a firm to deliver a programme designed to help businesses take advantage of nuclear power opportunities.”

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends Of The Earth Scotland, said he believed the Scottish Enterprise project was “a waste of time”, and said the cash would be far better spent on creating jobs in green energy. He said: “Scotland is a world leader in renewable energy but has no useful expertise in new nuclear. Scottish Enterprise should concentrate on playing to our strengths in renewables and not be distracted by the nuclear white elephant.”……..http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/row-over-contract-to-help-nuclear-firms.24830973

July 23, 2014 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Arrests of peace activists blocking nuclear convoy in Scotland

radiation-truckPeace Activists Detained For Blocking Nuclear Convoy, Morning Star  Saturday 12 July 14, TH FOUR peace activists were arrested yesterday after blockading a military convoy transporting nuclear weapons through Scottish streets under the cover of darkness. The four were picked up after briefly halting nuclear warhead-laden lorries near Loch Lomond in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Monitoring group NukeWatch said they believed the four converted lorries — part of a convoy of more than 20 military vehicles — were carrying around half a dozen warheads.

The convoy snaked up the M74 through south Glasgow en route to Coulport — part of a Ministry of Defence project to overhaul its nuclear arsenal.

Scottish CND co-ordinator John Ainslie said it was hard for people in Glasgow to imagine the peril they had endured while they slept. …..

an internal report from a 2011 dry run released last June described “major difficulties,” with emergency services at the scene in Glasgow stranded without help from the ministry’s weapons experts for more than five hours.

An MoD spokesman declined to comment on the movement of material “for national security reasons.” http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-271d-Peace-activists-detained-for-blocking-nuclear-convoy#.U8HV5ZRdUnk

July 12, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Ministry of Defense finally to clean up Dalgety Beach radiation

flag-ScotlandMoD will clean up radiation at Dalgety Bay beach The Scotsman by DAVID MADDOX 11 July  2014 THE Ministry of Defence is to pay an estimated £10 million to clean up radiation on a Fife beach, following a campaign by local residents concerned about health risks.

Some 3,500 radioactive particles have been found at Dalgety Bay over the past two decades.

The material is thought to date back to when parts of Second World War aircraft, including their radiated instruments, were dumped at the site.

Defence chiefs have now confirmed that work will include removing the particles from the beach, and building a wall and slipway to prevent other radioactive material from reaching the area.

It should start later this year and will continue in phases until 2018.

A report on the work does not specify costs but local MP and former prime minister Gordon Brown believes the clean-up total will be around £10m.

“After three years of intensive campaigning, including four debates in the House of Commons, I welcome the Ministry of Defence agreement to spend what I believe will be £10m to clean up the pollution caused by radiation at Dalgety Bay,” he said.

“The pollution resulted from dumping 800 wartime planes with radiated dials and other hazardous equipment into the sea. Subsequent coastal erosion has brought the pollution to the surface.”………

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said it was not a “complete solution” but praised the local community for their campaigning.
He said: “Some radioactive waste will be left entombed on site but it should finally put an end to the danger faced by humans and wildlife in what should be one of Scotland’s more attractive seaside spots.
“All credit to the community and to Sepa for their dogged persistence in getting the MoD to finally do the right thing.”
SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said: “Residents of Dalgety Bay and Fifers from across the Kingdom have been waiting decades for this mess to be cleaned up, so I am glad that some progress has been made on this issue and that the MoD has finally accepted
responsibility.” http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/mod-will-clean-up-radiation-at-dalgety-bay-beach-1-3473378

July 12, 2014 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

Secretive transport of nuclear bombs through centre of Glascow

logo CNDThis is the stuff of nightmares, says CND’s Scottish co-ordinator http://glasgow.stv.tv/articles/282363-nuclear-weapons-driven-through-scotlands-streets-cnd-chief-john-ainslie/?fromstreampost=141179By David Bateman on Friday 11 July 2014  Here John Ainslie, Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) coordinator, blogs about claims of nuclear weapons being driven through Scotland’s streets, and why his group opposes it.

‘In the early hours of this morning I was driving along the M74, through the centre of Glasgow, just behind a convoy of more than 20 military vehicles.

At the heart of the convoy were four special transporters carrying nuclear bombs which had a total explosive power equivalent to 42 of the bombs which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

Nuclear weapons are kept out of sight as much as possible. They are normally onboard Trident submarines or in an underground bunker at Coulport, overlooking Loch Long. But from time to time they need to be moved.

This means driving them by road across the length of Britain from the nuclear weapons factory at Burghfield in Berkshire to the Clyde. Britain is currently upgrading all the Trident bombs. The latest convoy was probably carrying these upgraded Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The detonation of just one Trident bomb would cause far more destruction than was seen in Japan at the end of the Second World War. There would be virtually no survivors within one mile of the explosion. Lethal radiation would be scattered for hundreds of miles, and eventually around the globe.

This is only the second time that the nuclear convoy has taken this route, along the M74 then across the Erskine Bridge. But the Ministry of Defence will be planning many more convoys in the future and some will be scheduled to travel through the heart of Scotland’s largest city.

This is the stuff of nightmares.

A few drivers who were on the motorway in the earlier hours will have seen the flashing lights, the line of police vans and the armoured cars escorting Trident. But most residents of Glasgow would have been in their beds, oblivious to the nuclear arms travelling through Rutherglen, Kinning Park, Bellahouston and Renfrew as they weaved their way along Glasgow’s newest motorway.

In 2011 the Ministry of Defence held an exercise which simulated a nuclear convoy accident at the Raith interchange on the M74. This envisaged a situation where plutonium was released, but there was no nuclear explosion.

Their post-exercise report showed that emergency services were unable to deal adequately with the scenario and that coordination of the response was disorganised.

The timing of the latest convoy shows that the MOD are not really concerned about public safety. They choose to send these vehicles across England on the one day that firefighters were on strike.

The MOD may try to keep these nuclear lorries out of sight, but they can’t keep them out of the minds of the people of Glasgow, a city which has a long tradition of opposing nuclear weapons.’

A MoD spokesperson said: “We take the safety and security of our nuclear convoys very seriously, and at no point has the security of nuclear materials been put at risk.”

July 12, 2014 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

32 years of the peaceniks’ camp and civil disobediance against nuclear weapons

flag-ScotlandTHESE HIPPIES ARE CAMPING IN THE FOREST TO RID SCOTLAND OF ITS NUKES VICE By Alex Rodin Jul 8 2014 On the banks of Gare Loch, on the west coast of Scotland, a bunch of anti-nuke hippie peaceniks are taking on the might of the British armed forces and its nuclear submarines by living in camper vans. Faslane Peace Camp has occupied the roadside verge preceding HM Naval Base Clyde, home to the UK’s Trident nuclear missile submarines, for 32 years—more than three decades of sleeping in the forest in an effort to rid the UK of nukes.

poster-cut-Trident

This year’s independence referendum, which would make Scotland its own country, raises the possibility that the Scots could actually get rid of the nukes on their soil. Meanwhile in London, the government is striking a deal tying the UK’s nuclear future closer to the US. I decided it was a good time to pay the camp a visit. ……

Last March, two Peace Campers, Heather Stewart and Jamie Watson, broke into the naval base and climbed onboard a nuclear powered Astute submarine. They stood on the deck ringing its bell as a gaggle of surprised police officers came running.

“How the hell did you get in here?” one of the officers asked as they were being arrested. It seemed a logical question, given the razor wire, the security cameras, the motion-activated alarms that run along the perimeter fence, and the patrols that circle the base……

having been arrested and after 33 hours in custody, the pair emerged to discover that nobody else cared. The media wasn’t much interested in publicizing their exploits and, except for some backslapping within the peace movement, the world moved on without noticing………

The activists are holding out for Scottish independence. September’s referendum is returning Trident to the limelight as the Yes Scotland campaign dangles promises of a nuclear-free country. But in London, government ministers have other plans. They’ve been quietly meeting with their American counterparts to renegotiate a treaty that would wrap up Britain’s nuclear future with the United States. The 1958 UK-US Mutual Defense Agreement (MDA) has long facilitated cooperation between the US and the UK on nuclear technology. However, according to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), “collaboration between the two countries under the MDA has evolved to the extent that the boundary between the design and construction of UK and US warheads has blurred.”

RUSI paper published in March explained that many of the “components within the UK’s current warhead are supplied by the US under the MDA, and the UK presently lacks the capability to develop domestic alternatives.” As such, “The future of the UK’s nuclear arsenal is therefore inextricably linked to that of the US.” The revised MDA is likely to be signed any day now…….http://www.vice.com/read/faslane-scotland-peace-camp-independence-619

July 9, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

UK Religious Society speaks out against Trident Nuclear Missile plan

pray-rad British Quakers reject report advising UK to retain ‘Cold War relic’ nuclear deterrent, Ecumenical News, Peter Kenny Monday, July 07 2014 Quakers in Britain strongly disagree with the conclusion of a report published July 1 that says the UK should retain its nuclear deterrent.

A group of former ministers, diplomats and generals in the parliamentary-approved Trident Commission say holding on to nuclear weapons could help deter threats to the UK’s security in future…….

“Quakers say that Trident is a relic of the Cold War and that the Trident Commission has failed to consider the legal obligations of the UK under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons,” said a Quakers’ statement after the report was released July 1.

“Quakers in Britain strongly disagree with the conclusion that Trident is necessary and urge the Commission to rethink its recommendations.”

While welcoming deeper debate around the missile issue, Helen Drewery, general secretary of Quaker Peace & Social Witness said: “The Trident Commission has failed to properly consider alternatives to Trident.

“These are weapons of mass destruction which can never be used and have proved to be a poor deterrent against acts of terror or against recent political events. Trident is a relic of the Cold War.”

The Quakers said they were disappointed the report did not address the legal and moral obligations of the UK under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

A final decision on whether to renew Trident nuclear missile system will be taken in 2016……

Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. The group is known for its  commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth. http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/british-quakers-reject-report-advising-uk-to-retain-cold-war-relic-nuclear-deterrent-25462

July 7, 2014 Posted by | Religion and ethics, UK | Leave a comment

UK National Archives release chilling list of the nation’s nuclear targets

Chilling documents reveal Newquay was “probable nuclear target” during Cold War http://www.cornishguardian.co.uk/Documents-reveal-Newquay-probable-nuclear-target/story-21329076-detail/story.html  By CGAlex  July 04, 2014 RAF St Mawgan was one of 106 cities and military targets the UK government thought would be hit in a nuclear war with the USSR in the 1970s, according to documents released by the National Archives.

During the cold war, a list of the places thought most likely to come under nuclear attack by the Soviet Union was agreed by the intelligence services, military commanders and the Cabinet Office under Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath. The list of “probable nuclear targets in the United Kingdom” approved by the Cabinet Office was issued to defence chiefs marked “top secret” by air commodore Brian Stanbridge in May 1972. It included 38 towns and cities, 37 UK and US air bases, 25 control, communications and radar facilities and six naval sites. Experts expected London to be devastated by two to four bombs of up to five megatons each exploding over the city.
Map-UK-nuclear-targets-1970
Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham were each said to be in line for one or two “airbursts” of up to five megatons – 333 times more powerful than the 15-kiloton US nuclear bomb that flattened the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, killing 140,000 people. According to military planners, some of the UK’s more remote regions could also have been blasted. RAF St Mawgan, near to Newquay, was down to be hit by a three-megaton bomb. A military base in Plymouth was also apparently doomed as it too featured on the chilling list. Other top secret memos from 1971 said that the target list was drawn up for military planning purposes and to help “contingency planning particularly in the field of home defence.” According to former nuclear weapons design engineer Brian Burnell, who discovered the documents, the real aim was not to defend civilian targets. Military planners wanted to try to ensure that UK-based nuclear bombers survived to launch a counter-attack against the Soviet Union, he said. He added that the Whitehall planners were confused about Soviet military intentions. “I’m baffled by the omission of targets like power plants, or other major infrastructure.” A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: “These are historical records and like many other documents released every year by the National Archives have little or no relevance to the present day.” Read more at http://www.cornishguardian.co.uk/Documents-reveal-Newquay-probable-nuclear-target/story-21329076-detail/story.html#5Yc6go2PAiOqKmZF.99

Read more: http://www.cornishguardian.co.uk/Documents-reveal-Newquay-probable-nuclear-

July 5, 2014 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Safety and secrecy concerns about China owning and managing Britains nuclear reactors

flag-Chinaflag-UKCHINA NIGHTMARE http://tomburke.co.uk/2014/07/03/china-nightmare/ July 3, 2014 by tomburke The prospect of the Chinese becoming owners, managers and even constructors of nuclear power stations in Britain has caused anxiety in some unexpected places. Both the right and the left, united in their determination to press ahead with more nuclear, have raised objections. Carefully wrapped in a blanket of security rhetoric, their argument boils down to an Augustinian ‘Bring me nuclear, but not by them’.

Meanwhile, a truly substantial reason why we should worry about Chinese involvement in the nuclear industry is yet to be noticed by anyone but the French Nuclear Safety Authority. They have just complained publicly about the lack of communication with their Chinese counterparts. Explaining this to the French Parliament they pointed out that ‘one of the difficulties in our relations is that the Chinese safety authorities lack means. They are overwhelmed.’

This led one of the French regulators to worry that ‘It’s not always easy to know what is happening at the Taishan site.’ (where Areva are constructing a reactor of the same type as they want to build in Britain). Another French inspector reported seeing big machinery such as steam generators and pumps not being maintained at ‘an adequate level.’

So why does this matter to us? We have very good safety regulators with an impressive track record of managing nuclear facilities well. We should worry about it because the Chinese are currently building only 28 reactors at the same time. This is the fastest rate of reactor build anywhere ever. Even so, they intend to double this build rate before the end of this decade. This is likely to make ‘overwhelmed’ seem like an understatement.

The importance of a rigorous regulatory regime has long been understood by the nuclear industry to be essential to retaining public confidence. ‘ An accident anywhere is an accident everywhere.’ has long been a mantra of industry leaders. Among the many contributors to the seriousness of the accident at Fukushima were failings in the nuclear regulatory culture.

Britain’s nuclear reactor programmes may have been a regulatory success but they have been an economic failure. A former head of the then nationalised electricity industry told Parliament that the AGR programme was ‘the worst civil engineering disaster in British history’. But this had one huge, if unlooked for advantage. No-one else had reactors like them. This meant that when the accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima happened we were well placed to argue that it couldn’t happen here.

If we go ahead with the reactor at Hinkley this comfortable position will no longer be defensible. Hinkley will be a pressurised water reactor (PWR) just like most of the reactors in operation around the world and all those the Chinese are building. If the already stretched  Chinese nuclear regulators prove unable to prevent a nuclear accident in China it will have  direct repercussions here.

This compounds the gamble that the British government is taking with Hinkley. Not only are we selling 35 years of index linked tax receipts to the French government in return for electricity at twice the price we are currently paying for it but we are also placing the security of our future electricity supply into the hands of China’s ‘overwhelmed’ nuclear regulators.

If they fail to prevent an accident at a PWR in China it is very unlikely that the people of Somerset, or the rest of the country for that matter, will consent to one continuing to operate in Britain.

July 5, 2014 Posted by | China, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s $170 billion Trident nuclear missile program totally dependent on USA

Buy-US-nukesUK’s nuclear deterrent fully depends on US, cross-party commission finds Rt.com July 01, 2014 Britain’s $170 billion Trident nuclear missile program has won the support of an independent cross-party commission, but found to be totally dependent on US

Britain’s $170 billion Trident nuclear missile program has won the support of an independent cross-party commission tasked with identifying the value of the UK’s deterrent, due for renewal in 2016. This comes despite the commission’s acknowledgement of Britain’s total dependence on US systems.

The commission’s findings come as a blow to anti-nuclear campaigners, who are calling for the program to be drastically scaled back or the total disarmament of the UK’s nuclear-armed submarine fleet, arguing the money spent on an extremely costly system could be better spent on social needs and jobs at a time of austerity throughout the UK.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) estimate that the £100 billion required to renew Trident could employ 150,000 nurses, build 1.5 million homes or 30,000 new primary schools in the country………

The report notes that Britain’s deterrent is “a hostage to American goodwill.”

It adds: “If the United States were to withdraw their cooperation completely, the UK nuclear capability would probably have a life expectancy measured in months rather than years”.

“The UK is dependent on the United States for many component parts of the guidance and re-entry vehicle, and for the Trident ballistic missile system itself.”………..

It is lamentable that three years of hard work has not moved on the debate around Britain’s weapons of mass destruction,” said Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) general secretary Kate Hudson, reacting to the commission’s findings.

“The Trident Commission should have listened to the majority of the British people who oppose Trident replacement – and the overwhelming majority internationally who want to see a world free of these monstrous and outdated weapons. Instead the Commission has produced a rehash of Cold War thinking which fails to acknowledge that the world has moved on.”

“The Government’s own National Security Strategy downgraded the likelihood of a state-on-state nuclear attack: prioritizing terrorism, climate change and cyber warfare. To suggest that the UK should spend £100bn on a weapons system which we could never use and which doesn’t meet the threats we face is mindboggling.”

Scottish CND also criticized the Trident Commission for supporting Britain’s continued possession of nuclear weapons, based in Scotland, suggesting the report makes September’s independence referendum more pertinent.

John Ainslie, Coordinator of Scottish CND, said: “Malcolm Rifkind, Des Browne and Menzies Campbell are stuck in the past. The future is in the hands of the people of Scotland. We can vote Yes and kick out these indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction.” http://rt.com/uk/169688-trident-deterrent-dependent-on-us/

 

July 5, 2014 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Should China be designing, owning, and running Britain’s nuclear power stations?

MPs’ concerns mount over deals with China to run British nuclear power stations, THE INDEPENDENT 24 June 14,   MARK LEFTLY  Monday 23 June 2014 The Government has been accused in Parliament of “accepting money tainted with blood”, after agreeing a deal that will allow Chinese firms to design, own and run British nuclear power stations.

The Chinese premier Li Keqiang struck the bargain as part of a three-day trade visit to the UK last week, which also included an £11.8bn contract for BP to supply gas to China National Offshore Corporation over 20 years. The state-owned China Development Bank wants to fund new nuclear plants directly, as well as the no-less-controversial £42.7bn London-to-the North High Speed Two rail link.

But campaigners are furious the Government has been wooing China without demanding improvements to the country’s notoriously poor human rights record. Mr Li’s Government was accused of placing “arbitrary curbs on expression, association, assembly, and religion” by Human Rights Watch in a recent report.

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Paul Flynn, the anti-nuclear power Labour MP for Newport West, motioned in the House of Commons last week for the Coalition to cancel any proposed nuclear agreements with China. “This House… believes, in light of appalling human rights violations, that accepting money from the Chinese State Investment Bank to invest in UK new nuclear is accepting money tainted with blood,” said the motion.

This echoes concerns of union leaders, who said last year that giving the Chinese access to UK power plants meant they had the power to “turn the lights on and off” and so put national security at risk. …..http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/mps-

June 24, 2014 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear waste cleanup spirals above £110 billion

Britain’s nuclear clean-up bill soars to £110bn http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10921309/Britains-nuclear-clean-up-bill-soars-to-110bn.html Spiralling costs at Sellafield site in Cumbria contribute to £6.6bn increase in bill for tackling Britain’s nuclear waste By Emily Gosden

8:16PM BST 23 Jun 2014 The bill for cleaning up Britain’s nuclear waste has topped £110bn, after a £6.6bn increase in the cost estimate for work required over the next 120 years

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority said that the biggest increase derived from a fresh assessment of the work required at Sellafield, the country’s biggest and most toxic nuclear site.

Sellafield, in Cumbria, is now estimated to cost £79.1bn to clean up, but the NDA warned that the total would “increase significantly next year” once it had fully assessed a new “performance plan” for the site.

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The NDA controversially renewed a contract with Nuclear Management Partners to manage Sellafield despite fierce criticism from MPs on the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office of the company’s performance.

The NDA’s annual report and accounts make clear the huge scale of uncertainty that exists over the ultimate bill for Britain’s civil and military nuclear waste.

It says it has “reviewed a number of scenarios with a range of possible outcomes” and found that “the estimated cost could have a potential range from £88bn to £218bn”.

The figure of £110bn is on an “undiscounted” basis. Once discounted, the total is £65bn.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

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