UK government and EDF anxious about Austria’s lawsuit against state aid for Hinkley Point nuclear station
Government and EDF in talks over liabilities if Austria wins nuclear state aid appeal, Telegraph, Energy giant and Government yet to agree what would happen if Austrian challenge against state aid for Hinkley Point C is successful By Emily Gosden, Energy Editor 30 Jun 2015 The Government and EDF are in talks over who will pick up the costs if Austria wins its appeal against the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant once construction has begun.
Plans for the £16bn Hinkley Point plant received state aid clearance from the European Commission last year but Austria has vowed to challenge this, alleging that subsidies for the project constitute illegal state aid.
Although the Government and EDF both insist the appeal, expected to be lodged this week, has no merit, it is understood they are yet to agree on what would happen in the unlikely event Austria does win.Andrea Leadsom, the new energy minister, said on Tuesday she was “confident that the key investment decision on Hinkley C will happen soon, which will enable construction to start”.
But speaking on the fringes of the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference, Ms Leadsom also confirmed that the Government was “looking very closely” at the issue of how the project could go ahead with a state aid challenge ongoing.Austria’s state aid appeal is likely to hang over the project for at least a year and potentially as long as six years – during which time billions of pounds would be spent on construction.
The Government and EDF are believed to be targeting a final investment decision by October.A series of issues remain outstanding including EDF’s takeover of reactor-maker Areva’s nuclear business, deals with Chinese investors, and finalising contracts with the Government.
Writing on legal website Lexology, lawyers at Shearman and Sterling LLP wrote: “While the prospect of success is low, even a small chance of success creates additional risk for project financiers.
“In a worst-case scenario, where the Commission makes an adverse decision, the UK Government’s support scheme – including the strike price and guarantee – would be ruled unlawful and unenforceable, with any aid already received having to be repaid. A competitor or other party with standing could apply to the UK national court to enforce this.
“While this outcome is the least likely, it may have a severely adverse impact on investors in the Hinkley Point C project.”
They added that “investors may find insuring themselves contractually (e.g., via indemnities or similar means) difficult” and that “any provision seeking protection from the UK Government for such an eventuality could itself risk being struck down as unlawful State aid”…..http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11709083/Government-and-EDF-in-talks-over-liabilities-if-Austria-wins-nuclear-state-aid-appeal.html
there is growing talk in the U.K. of whether the government should cut and run from nuclear.
In a speech to the House of Commons last week, Labour MP Paul Flynn questioned whether Whitehall would have made the same decision if it knew what it knows now about the cost of nuclear.
“Nuclear power was promised as an energy source that would be too cheap to meter. It is now too expensive to generate,”
While the European public has largely turned against nuclear since the Fukushima accident in Japan in 2011, the British have been shielded by a “skilled public relations operation,”
Trouble ahead for UK’s nuclear hopes Britain’s push for new reactors is coming under fire. Politico Sara Stefanini 25/6/15, The next generation of reactors in the U.K. has been in the works for a decade, but now a looming challenge in the European Court of Justice attacking nuclear subsidies, growing technical problems and cost overruns are casting doubt on the idea of using nuclear to meet emissions reduction targets……..
the future of Hinkley Point C looks increasingly uncertain, as the first EPR projects in France and Finland have been hampered by delays, cost overruns and safety concerns, and as the Austrian government prepares to challenge the European Commission on its approval of the U.K.’s state aid. Continue reading
McNeilly disclosed last week that he had been dishonourably discharged by the Royal Navy for making public a dossier alleging that Trident was “a disaster waiting to happen” and going absent without leave. He is promising to say more in July.
The Sunday Herald revealed his allegations on May 17, while he was on the run. The following day he handed himself in to police at Edinburgh airport, saying he had achieved what he wanted.
His dossier, which detailed 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines, was raised in the House of Commons by the former SNP leader, Alex Salmond. But it was dismissed by the MoD as “factually incorrect or the result of misunderstanding or partial understanding”…….
“You were lied to about nuclear weapons in Iraq, and now you’re being lied to about how safe and secure the weapons are on your homeland,” he said.
“The government overestimated Saddam and now they are underestimating the Islamic State. If things stay the way they are I put the odds of a terrorist attack at some point in the next eight years at around 99 per cent.”
He claimed that his concerns about lax security at Faslane had been backed by senior military figures. “The equipment that is brought on board by civilian contractors and military personnel isn’t checked,” he said.
“People are in positions without the proper security clearance. Mass amounts of people are being pushed through the system due to manpower shortages. IDs aren’t being checked properly.”
A pin code at a security gate wasn’t being used “because it’s either broke or people just get buzzed through because they’ve forgotten their pin,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”
It was wrong to regard current security as “the best we can do” when it wasn’t, he argued. “It’s literally harder to get to the careers office in Northern Ireland than it is to get down a nuclear submarine.”
People have become far too relaxed in the war on terror, he claimed. “The fact is anyone with a couple of fake IDs can get unto a nuclear submarine,” he added. “Islamic State have already shown that they can acquire fake documentation and IDs.”
McNeilly called for security to be tightened, and for the removal of Trident missiles. “The military seem to be happy with the security at the site,” he told the Sunday Herald.
“Islamic State have the ability to easily penetrate through the security that the navy is currently providing. The site’s security must be heightened above its current highest state until the missiles are removed……..
Nuclear adviser attacks ‘perverse’ idea of Chinese building UK reactors Prof Dieter Helm also identifies security pitfalls as unions accuse government of sacrificing safety for free-market ideology over Hinkley Point C plant, Guardian, Terry Macalister, 19 June 15, A leading energy academic and government adviser has called on ministers to take an equity stake in the planned new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset, saying it would not make sense to prefer Chinese money.
The comments from Dieter Helm, professor of energy policy at Oxford University, came as trade union leaders accused the government of letting political beliefs override practical and safety issues in the nuclear sector. In a paper entitled British Energy policy – What Happens Next? , Helm said the British government should issue debt or specific nuclear guaranteed bonds, that could cut the cost of capital from 10% to 2%.
“It is a no-brainer,” said Helm. “Add in the military and security issues of letting Chinese state-owned companies into the heart of the British nuclear industry, and it seems positively perverse to prefer Chinese government money to British government money in so sensitive a national project.”
Helm usually champions free-market methods and is on the economic advisory committee at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Meanwhile the attack on government nuclear policy from the GMB union came after comments from Amber Rudd, the energy and climate change secretary, left the door open to Chinese state companies building and operating a new plant at Bradwell, in Essex.
Gary Smith, the union’s national secretary for energy, said the Conservatives seemed ready to allow Beijing to use its own equipment and supply chain in return for funding the new stations at Bradwell and Hinkley Point.
“Energy policy is a shambles because the government is driven by ideology. It will do anything to bring in private or Chinese state money to build British energy infrastructure rather than have it (debt) on George Osborne’s balance sheet,” he said.
This would extend to the Chinese being allowed to ship over large amounts of equipment from Chinese factories, potentially affecting British nuclear safety and as well as hitting UK jobs, he said. Smith noted that an eminent Chinese nuclear scientist, He Zuoxiu, had raised concerns about the safety of his country’s atomic equipment………….http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/18/nuclear-adviser-attacks-chinese-uk-reactors-dieter-helm-hinkley
The public has been ‘protected’ from the truth of Fukushima Many people are gravely disturbed by the prospect of new nuclear power. That is particularly so among Treasury civil servants. We are in an extraordinary situation, where there is still public support in spite of Fukushima.
One of the main reasons for that is that the British public were ‘protected’ by a skilled public relations operation from knowing the terrible cost of Fukushima – between $100 billion and $250 billion.
Civil servants must speak out: ‘the time has gone for nuclear power’, Ecologist, Paul Flynn MP 18th June 2015 Despite the PR spin the truth about nuclear power is clear, says Paul Flynn. Current projects are plagued with technical failures, cost escalations and long delays – while renewables power ahead. As tin-eared ministers refuse to get the message, it’s time for civil servants to speak out direct to the public.
Nuclear power was promised as an energy source that would be too cheap to meter. It is now too expensive to generate.
If we were planning a nuclear policy from scratch, would we choose to do a deal with two French companies, one of which is bankrupt, while the other, Électricité de France, has a debt of €33 billion?
Would we also collaborate with a country with a dreadful human rights record – China, whose national investment department is coming into the arrangement – and with Saudi Arabia, with its atrocious record on human rights, where people are executed on the street? Continue reading
EDF Energy, the French state-owned company behind Hinkley, has suffered a five-year delay and escalating costs at its flagship Flamanville project in Normandy.
The £7bn French scheme — designed to showcase new atomic technology — is based on an “EPR” European pressurised reactor, the same model that will be used in Hinkley. Further concerns mounted last week when a leaked report from France’s nuclear safety watchdog highlighted faults in Flamanville’s cooling system. That followed a warning in April by the French Nuclear Safety Regulator that there was an excessive amount of carbon in the steel of the reactor vessel.
EDF’s struggles in France have prompted worries at a senior level of the Treasury about the £24bn Hinkley scheme.“I think there are serious questions about the technology,” said one Treasury figure.
The Treasury has struck an agreement promising to pay a guaranteed price for energy generated by Hinkley for 35 years.It has also promised to guarantee £16bn of debt towards the project — but it has inserted conditions to ensure that taxpayers are not left on the hook if the technology fails.
Instead the agreement stipulates that it will be shareholders and not the government that retains the “principal exposure to the viability of the EPR technology” — until EDF can prove the success of its other projects such as Flamanville………
there are growing suspicions in Westminster and within the industry that the Treasury has been dragging its heels over supporting the project. One source close to EDF said he believed there had been “briefings from people at the Treasury” against the deal.
Some civil servants believe the government struck an overgenerous “strike price” to buy energy from Hinkley’s two reactors for 35 years. “I think Treasury officials would not be disappointed if Hinkley never happened,” said one Whitehall source. “They have been foot-dragging for at least a year.”
One Tory figure said: “I think the Treasury don’t really want that deal to work.”……….http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b8741dd0-1048-11e5-bd70-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3d4bv74Km
Nuclear safety fears as China to build atomic reactor in UK using imported parts, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/nuclear-safety-fears-china-build-5866142 11 JUNE 2015 BY MARK ELLIS
In return for investment in Somerset’s Hinkley Point the Chinese want to take over the decommissioned nuclear station in Bradwell, Essex Britain is risking a nuclear crisis by letting China build an atomic reactor here, the GMB union has claimed.
National Secretary Gary Smith said the Chinese want to use their own parts, which a top expert has criticised, to replace Essex’s Bradwell plant.
The government has also been accused of holding up the “white flag” and surrendering Britain’s role as a serious player in the nuclear industry.
The stark warning to Energy Secretary Amber Rudd come in a letter from Britain’s third biggest union, raising serious concerns about national security.
The Chinese National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is involved in a multi-billion deal to fund Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset and Bradwell in Essex. Continue reading
Faulty valves in new-generation EPR nuclear reactor pose meltdown risk, inspectors warn http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11662889/Faulty-valves-in-new-generation-EPR-nuclear-reactor-pose-meltdown-risk-inspectors-warn.html
Flamanville third-generation EPR nuclear reactor – the same model Britain plans to use for two new plants at Hinkley Point – has multiple faults in crucial safety valves, inspectors warn By Henry Samuel, Paris 09 Jun 2015 Nuclear safety inspectors have found crucial faults in the cooling system of France’s flagship new-generation nuclear power plant on the Channel coast, exposing it to the risk of meltdown.
The third-generation European Pressurised Reactor currently under construction in Flamanville is the same model that Britain plans to use for two new plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
State-controlled nuclear giant Areva is responsible for the design and construction.
France’s nuclear safety watchdog found “multiple” malfunctioning valves in the Flamanville EPR that could cause its meltdown, in a similar scenario to the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the US.
The inspectors listed the faults in a damning presentation obtained by Mediapart, the investigative French website. This is the latest setback for what is supposed to be France’s atomic energy showcase abroad, following the revelation last month that its steel reactor vessel has “very serious anomalies” that raise the risk of it cracking. The vessel houses the plant’s nuclear fuel and confines its radioactivity. Continue reading
- Studies looked at rates of various cancers in people living close to Trawsfynydd, Bradwell and Hinkley Point power stations
- At the Welsh plant breast cancer rates were five times higher than expected
- At Bradwell and Hinkley Point they were twice as high as UK average
- Researchers warned their ‘very clear’ findings are ‘remarkable’
By LIZZIE PARRY FOR MAILONLINE 9 June 2015 Women living downwind from nuclear power plants are at five times greater risk of developing breast cancer, experts have warned.
In three separate studies, a team of scientists looked at the rates of various cancers in populations living close to Trawsfynydd power station in North Wales, Bradwell in Essex and Hinkley Point in Somerset.
They discovered breast cancer rates, in particular, were higher than expected national averages at all three sites.
At Trawsfynydd, rates of the disease were five times greater than average, while in Essex and Somerset women had double the risk of developing breast cancer. Continue reading
Six nuclear incidents at Plymouth dockyard including employee contaminated with radiation By Plymouth Herald, June 09, 2015 Plymouth’s naval base is facing legal action after an employee suffered a dose of radiation.
The safety breach is one of six highlighted at Devonport Naval Base by the Office for Nuclear Regulation from the end of last year.
Radioactive water from the cooling system of a nuclear reactor was also mistakenly discharged into a submarine.
The ONR says reporting of safety incidents at the Plymouth base has been below standard…….http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/nuclear-incidents-Plymouth-dockyard-including/story-26661676-detail/story.html
‘Beautiful’ nuclear power stations can win over sceptics, says Energy Secretary Amber Rudd The Independent 7 June 15 Britain’s new nuclear power stations and other energy infrastructure projects must be designed to look beautiful to garner essential public support, the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said…..flood defences will need to be built to protect buildings, along with weather-resistant transport, waste and water services, as climate change makes weather conditions increasingly extreme.
Ann Robinson, of the uSwitch price comparison website, welcomed Ms Rudd’s call to visual arms. “I think she’s absolutely right. We’re a small island and it’s important to do things in a sensitive way. Public acceptability is important and the key to that is making the infrastructure as attractive as possible.”
Ms Robinson added: “A lot of these projects can be controversial and Amber Rudd is proposing to give people more say in local developments. Against this backdrop, it’s increasingly important that projects fit in with their surroundings.”……..http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/beautiful-nuclear-power-stations-can-win-over-sceptics-says-energy-secretary-amber-rudd-10301365.html
Nuclear missiles could be sited again on British soil in new ‘Cold War’ with Russia Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says there are ‘worrying signs’ about the increased activity of Russian forces and the UK would consider the pros and cons of taking US intermediate-range weapons By Christopher Hope, Chief Political Correspondent Telegraph, 07 Jun 2015 The UK could site American new nuclear missiles on British soil amid heightened tensions with Russia, Philip Hammond has indicated.
The comments raise the prospect of a return to a Cold War-type arms race with Russia over the use of nuclear missiles
The Foreign Secretary said there were “worrying signs” about the increased activity of Russian forces and the UK would consider the pros and cons of taking US intermediate-range weapons. Mr Hammond said there was “no clear sign” of an imminent attack on Ukraine but Vladimir Putin is “keeping his options open”.
But he warned against making “unnecessary provocations” against Russia, which has a “sense of being surrounded and under attack”.
Mr Hammond told BBC1’s Andrew Marr programme that Mr Putin “has not ruled out a military option”. He said: “As we go into the G7 meeting and then to the European Council later this month renewing sanctions, we have got to send very clear signals to the Russians that we will not tolerate any breach of their obligations under Minsk.”
The UK is thought to retain a stockpile of around 225 thermonuclear warheads, of which 160 are operational, but has refused to declare the exact size of its arsenal. Since 1998, the submarine based Trident programme has been the only operational nuclear weapons system in British service.
The Pentagon is reportedly considering axing a Cold War-era treaty and deploying nuclear-capable missiles in Europe in response to Russia’s breaches of international law……..http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/11657690/Nuclear-missiles-could-be-sited-again-on-British-soil-in-new-Cold-War-with-Russia.html
Fears over nuclear reactors in Plymouth as UK spends £16m keeping unwanted submarines By Plymouth Herald June 03, 2015 Campaigners have raised fears over the safety of nuclear reactors in Plymouth after it emerged the MoD is spending £16million to store old submarines it no longer wants – 12 of them in the city.
It has cost the UK £16million to store and maintain Britain’s 19 laid-up nuclear submarines over the last five years – 12 of them at Devonport in Plymouth – while a decision is being made about their future.
The boats which have been taken out of service have been kept in Plymouth since 1994 while the MoD decides where to finally store their nuclear reactors.
The BBC has obtained the figures regarding the upkeep of the submarines, seven of them in Rosyth, Scotland, from the Ministry of Defence through a Freedom of Information request.
Another eight submarines are to leave service over the next 15 to 20 years.
The submarines are having to be stored and maintained as no location has yet been found for storage of the sub’s nuclear reactors.
A site is set to be named this year.
Ian Avent, of Plymouth campaigners Community Awareness Nuclear Storage and Radiation, told the BBC: “The big problem is that eight submarines on Devonport still have their fuel on board and that is potential for [a] disaster.” http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Fears-nuclear-reactors-Plymouth-UK-spends-16m/story-26626000-detail/story.html#ixzz3c2NipJ8q
Unfair state aid The new British government is already facing legal challenges from Austria and Luxembourg and from various renewable energy groups for unfair state aid for this nuclear project.
[Britain] has not developed renewables as fast as Germany and other European neighbours—claiming that new nuclear build would fill the gap.
It now looks as though the government will urgently need to rethink its energy policy
New Energy Policy Needed as Nuclear Giants Take a Hit,TruthDig May 29, 2015 By Paul Brown, Climate News Network LONDON—The European nuclear industry, led by France, seems to be in terminal decline as a result of the cancellation of a new Finnish reactor, technical faults in stations already under construction, and severe financial problems.
The French government owns 85% of both of the country’s two premier nuclear companies — Areva, which designs the reactors, and Électricité de France (EDF), which builds and manages them. Now it is amalgamating the two giants in a bid to rescue the industry.
Even if the vast financial losses involved in building new nuclear stations can be stemmed, there is still a big question mark over whether either company can win any new orders…………. Continue reading
Dounreay to Sellafield nuclear shipments completed http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-32919502 The transfer of 11 tonnes of nuclear material from Scotland to England for reprocessing has been completed.
Work to move the irradiated uranium, a material used in the making of fuel for nuclear power stations, from Dounreay to Sellafield started in December 2012.
Dounreay, an experimental nuclear power complex in Caithness, is being demolished and the site cleaned up.
A further 33 tonnes of material still inside the Dounreay Fast Reactor will also eventually be moved to Sellafield.
The first 11 tonnes were transported in 32 shipments by rail.
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