The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Manchester’s cold war nuclear bunker revealed

flag-UKFrozen in time: Cold war nuclear bunker built by panicking council chiefs revealed after 50 years, [good pictures] Mirror 24 MAY 2015 BY  The never-before-seen images of the safe room cast an eerie light on the tensions of the times….It was designed to act as a safe room to protect the town’s decision-makers and civic leaders from any nuclear attack or fall-out, reports the Manchester Evening News .

Thankfully it was never used, but many thousands of people have walked into the 200ft-high tower ever since without knowing what lies beneath their feet. Today the bunker, made up of subterranean corridors and rooms, is used for storage.

The different chambers, reinforced by concrete and brick, were part of the centre’s overall design. It opened in 1977 but the bunker wasn’t publicised.

The fascinating images reveal boxes of binary code tape, which would have been used to send messages to the government, still on the floor.

Abandoned telephones and an old exchange system also give a glimpse of how the post-apocalypse survivors would have kept in contact with the world.

Spare fuses and light bulbs are revealed and abandoned sinks, desks and chairs also give a glimpse of how office equipment has changed over 40 years.

The council said only a select few people would have gained entry should the sirens have sounded – senior councillors and officers, police chiefs, engineers, doctors and communications experts……..It’s understood that the government ordered the construction of thousands of underground complexes during the Cold War.

Most have been decommissioned.

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

New private consortium to decommission nuclear power stations – will cut 1600 jobs

flag-UKMagnox nuclear decommissioning consortium to cut up to 1,600 jobs, Guardian, , 22 May 15  Cavendish Fluor Partnership says plans reflect ‘stepdowns’ in work at nuclear plants around UK The new private consortium that recently won the £4.2bn management contract for the decommissioning of 12 Magnox nuclear power stations has revealed plans to cut up to 1,600 jobs. Cavendish Nuclear, a division of Babcock International, plus its US partner Fluor, said the cuts reflected “planned stepdowns in the work programme” at a number of atomic sites around the UK.

The move comes amid speculation that Babcock is preparing to demand millions of pounds of extra subsidies from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on the grounds that the workload was much heavier than anticipated.


Unions expressed shock that staff, agency and contract workers would lose their jobs between now and September 2016, although the Cavendish Fluor Partnership said it would try to find some alternative posts. Eleven of the plants have already shut down and the remaining one in operation – Wylfa on Anglesey in North Wales – is due to stop generating power at the end of the year.

Problems with the decommissioning of the separate Sellafield site in Cumbria have recently led to the private consortium there which includes Amec and Areva of France – being thrown off the management contract.

The 12 nuclear power sites managed by the Cavendish consortium for Magnox include Berkeley, Gloucestershire; Bradwell, Essex; and Hinkley Point A in Somerset.

EDF last month announced plans to cut 400 construction jobs at the site of the planned new atomic plant of Hinkley Point C.

The reduction in workers comes amid continuing delays over a final investment decision on the £24.5bn project as negotiations with potential investors continue to move more slowly than expected.

May 22, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, employment, UK, wastes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear power link to breast cancer

there was twice the chance of dying of breast cancer if you lived next to the Blackwater than if you lived next to the Crouch.

BREAST-CANCERBreast cancer and nuclear power – statistics reveal the link ‘they’ wanted to hide,
Ecologist  Chris Busby 18th May 2015  The link between nuclear power and cancer is real, writes Chris Busby, and revealed in the UK’s cancer statistics – if only you look for it. Previous approaches have focused on rare cancers over large, poorly selected populations. But look at common cancers among those most exposed to nuclear radiation, and the statistical evidence is overwhelming.

Do nuclear sites cause increases in cancer in those living nearby? This is the question which has always been the key to stopping the development of nuclear energy.

For if the answer is Yes, the laws would cut in; human rights would cut in. Check Mate. The nuclear industry and its supporters have always known this, just as the cigarette companies and the asbestos makers recognised their own specific nemesis.

You can argue about the economics of nuclear till you are blue in the face, but they can always move the goalposts, global warming, future security of supply, special new safe thorium reactors and so forth. But killing people with your radioactive discharges: that’s it. The End.

This week saw the publication in a peer-reviewed journal – Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine – of a study which I carried out in 2003 of breast cancer mortality 1995-2002 near Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Reference, UK, women | 1 Comment

UK’s hunt for Trident nuclear system whistleblower

British Submariner Goes AWOL After Leaking UK Military Nuclear Secrets British Royal Navy is searching for Able Seaman William McNeilly after he leaked an 18-page report called “The Secret Nuclear Threat.”

In the document, the submariner explained a wide range of insights relating to the UK’s submarine operations, reports The Independent. It covers everything from the mundane, such as food hygiene, to more worrying topics such as hydraulics failures that prevent submarines from launching missiles. In fact, he describes submarine floods during testing that would have killed if they’d happened at sea, and writes that he “learnt that HMS Vanguard is in the worst of the worst condition.”

Elsewhere, he claims that it’s”harder to get into most nightclubs” than into sensitive parts of the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde in Scotland. “I’ve gotten through a few times by just showing my pale white room key; looks nothing like a Green Area Pass,” he wrote.

He also explains that alarms on the UK’s Trident nuclear submarine’s missile control are often muted. “I could sometimes hear alarms on the missiles control and monitoring position while lying in bed,” he writes. “I later found out that I would have been hearing them more frequently if they hadn’t muted the console just to avoid listening to the alarms.”

McNeilly — who describes himself as “an engineering technician submariner for the UK’s Trident IID5 strategic weapons system” — didn’t return from leave on 11th April. In a press release, the Royal Navy explained that it is “concerned for the whereabouts and well-being of Able Seaman McNeilly and is working closely with civilian police to locate him.” [Independent]

May 20, 2015 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Britain outsources guarding of its nuclear facilities to private company

Command and control contract for Britain’s armed nuclear police outsourced to Capita The Independent 19 May 15 A contract for the command and control centre of Britain’s heavily armed nuclear police is being outsourced to the private company Capita.

The outsourcing giant is to play a technology support role at the command centre of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, a heavily-armed special police service that protects nuclear power plants, waste dumps, and nuclear material in transit.

The deal will see Capita provide specialist support staff for the command centre’s systems and provide “enhanced support” to firearms commanders.

Most of the CNC’s officers are trained in the use of firearms and its officers are routinely equipped with assault rifles in their regular line of duty.

The force is not involved in Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system, which comes under the jurisdiction of the armed forces.

Last year it was reported that a Capita-run army recruitment project beset by IT disasters and missed targets had made the firm over £100m of public money in a two-year period……….

May 20, 2015 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK Navy investigating Trident nuclear submatine whistle-blower William McNeilly

whistleblowerflag-UkraineRoyal Navy investigates Trident whistle-blower William McNeilly who claims nuclear programme is a ‘disaster waiting to happen’ , The Independent 17 May 15 The Royal Navy is investigating claims by an apparent whistle-blower that there is a “complete lack of concern for security” that makes the Trident nuclear weapons programme vulnerable to terror attack.

The claims were made in an online post by 25-year-old William McNeilly, and included a photograph of his Navy ID card.

McNeilly said he had “sacrificed” his freedom and a well-paid career to make the claims in an 18-page report entitled “The Secret Nuclear Threat”, and that after posting it he had gone on the run.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that McNeilly was a member of the naval service, and a source said the Navy was “concerned for the whereabouts and wellbeing of AB (able seaman) McNeilly and working closely with civilian police to locate him”.

In his report, McNeilly claimed he had witnessed a host of inadequate systems and checks while training with the Trident programme, from “things like food hygiene” to failed launch tests, flooding on board submarines, fires in the missile compartment and “a complete lack of security”.

“If airport security and nuclear weapon security were both compared to prisons,” McNeilly writes, “the airport would be Alcatraz and base security would be house arrest.”

McNeilly’s report: Key claims

• Missile launch tests failed on three occasions
• Collision with French nuclear sub covered up
• Failures to carry out security checks on bags
• Computer waste representing major fire risk
• Missile safety alarms muted and ignored
• Accidental flooding of torpedo compartment
• Failure to question recording of top-secret info

McNeilly described the state of Trident security as “the biggest threat the UK faces”, and said he was only releasing “selected information” in order to avoid damaging security further.

“I’m releasing this information in this way because it’s the only way I can to be sure it gets out,” he said, adding that he had “raised concerns through the chain of command on multiple occasions” and got nowhere……….

May 18, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Trident nuclear submarines plagued by security lapses: whistleblower claims “high risk”

Trident-nuclear-submarineTrident whistleblower says nuclear subs are insecure, unsafe and ‘a disaster waiting to happen’, Herald Scotland  Sunday 17 May 2015 TRIDENT submarines are plagued by serious security lapses, beset by multiple safety blunders and are “a disaster waiting to happen”, according to a nuclear weapons engineer turned whistleblower who is now being hunted by the police. William McNeilly, who says he was on patrol with HMS Victorious from January to April this year, alleges that the Trident missiles it carries are vulnerable to a terrorist attack that “would kill our people and destroy our land”. Infiltrators have “the perfect opportunity to send nuclear warheads crashing down on the UK”, he claims.

He has written a detailed 18-page report called The Nuclear Secrets, which claims to lift the lid on the alarming state of the UK’s ageing and short-staffed nuclear deterrent. He went absent without leave from the Royal Navy last week, is on the run and expects to be arrested. “This is bigger than me, it’s bigger than all of us,” he says. “We are so close to a nuclear disaster it is shocking, and yet everybody is accepting the risk to the public. If we don’t act now lives could be lost for generations.”

The risk was “extremely high”, he told the Sunday Herald. “My information comes from good sources and I have no reason to lie. If change isn’t made, a nuclear catastrophe almost certainly will happen.”

McNeilly’s report alleges 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines, based at Faslane on the Clyde. They include failures in testing whether missiles could be safely launched, burning toilet rolls starting a fire in a missile compartment, and security passes and bags going unchecked.

He also reports alarms being muted because they went off so often, missile safety procedures being ignored and top secret information left unguarded.

“It’s just a matter of time before we’re infiltrated by a psychopath or a terrorist,” he says. “There were some people that I served with on that patrol who showed clear psychopathic tendencies.”

The Royal Navy has launched an investigation into McNeilly’s report, and is working with the civilian police to find him. It describes his criticisms as “subjective and unsubstantiated”, stressing that submarines never go to sea unless they are completely safe.

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson MP, is demanding a full explanation and action to rectify all the failings. “These revelations, if true, are extremely concerning. It reads as a nightmare catalogue of serious safety breaches,” he said.

“They add to what appears to be a chaotic, shambolic safety culture on these aged subs. Broken or faulty equipment with no spares leading to slapdash patch-up jobs have no place in the Navy and just shows how utterly stretched it is.”

Robertson added: “Failure to follow standard safety procedures is unacceptable in any workplace but on a Trident submarine on patrol it could result in extreme tragedy, not just for those on board but indeed for the entire planet.”

McNeilly claims that there was a “massive cover-up” of what happened when HMS Vanguard collided with the French nuclear submarine, Le Triomphant, in the Atlantic in February 2009. He quotes a senior officer who was on Vanguard at the time as saying: “We thought, this is it, we’re all going to die.”

The crash dislodged high-pressure air (HPA) bottles, he says. “They had to return to base port slowly, because if one of HPA bottle groups exploded it would have created a chain reaction and sent the submarine plummeting to the bottom.”

McNeilly also outlines a litany of equipment problems, including a seawater leak, a flooded torpedo compartment and defective toilets. A missile compartment was used as an exercise gym, he alleges, and the submarine speaker system was difficult to understand.

He insists that he has been careful about what he has said publicly in order to avoid prejudicing security. He repeatedly raised concerns with his superiors but they were ignored, he says………….

“Most people know the Trident programme is a disaster waiting to happen, but they never tell the public. You’re guaranteed to lose everything, if you talk. Career, money, everything you own, your freedom, contact with family and friends.

I believe it’s in the Prime Minister’s best interest to pardon me. Prosecuting someone for alerting the people and the government to a major threat isn’t a good image for someone who serves the people.

I raised my concerns about the safety and security of the weapon system through the chain of command on multiple occasions. My concern couldn’t have been any clearer. Not once did someone even attempt to make a change.

I strongly believe that the Prime Minister and most people that defended Trident have no idea about how dire the situation is. This is not the time to judge on what they did when they didn’t know. It’s about what they do now that they know”.

May 18, 2015 Posted by | safety, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Renewable energy racing ahead – nuclear power declining

It’ s harder to find real new about nuclear power, than it is for renewable energy.  Renewable energy is the future, and this website should, theoretically, be following the excitinfg developments in both large and small-scale wind and solar developments.

However – it IS “nuclear-news” – so from now on, I’m concentrating on the more strictly “nuclear” issues, and just pointing to headlines and brief notes for that other topic – however tantalising its news:

renewable_energyRENEWABLE ENERGY:

California’s Renewable Energy Plan Will Save $51 Billion a Year  on Friday, May 15th, 2015 California’s new renewable energy target, proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown during his inaugural address in January, is not only achievable: It would result in as much as $51 billion in annual savings for the state’s residents, according to an analysis by Strategen Consulting that “quantifies the economic and societal impacts” of the governor’s proposed goals.

Ahead of schedule when it comes to meeting a current goal of sourcing 33 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, Gov. Brown proposes raising the state’sRenewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) target up a big notch – to 50 percent by 2030…….


UK Renewable Energy Investment And Generation Surges In 2014, Clean Technica May 15th, 2015 by   A new report shows that renewable energy investment in the United Kingdom hit a record high in 2014, with electricity generated from renewables increasing by 20% as well.

In fact, in 2014, not only did renewable energy investment hit a record of £10.7 billion, but renewable jobs increased by 9% as well…..

Renewable energy storage will end capacity payments Capacity payments and fossil energy can be made redundant by electric cars, writes Teodora Serafimova. The European Commission recognises the important role energy storage technologies will have to play in the future energy system, both in its Energy Security Strategy of May 2014 as well as in its more recent Energy Union strategy. Bellona has long been convinced of the necessity of energy storage in the face of a rapidly growing share of renewables in the energy mix. With such storage technology quickly materialising, notably from the electric car industry, it’s time to take stock of the changes this will bring.

Energy storage does not only hold the potential for us to make better use of renewable power, but in doing so it also allows us make less use of fossil power. Being less dependent on fossil power erodes the case for subsidies like capacity payments keeping this industry alive.

Energy storage technologies, such as compressed air storage and batteries, can store low-cost renewable energy when the system experiences oversupply, then release this energy to the grid when it is more needed, such as at night in the case of solar or when the output of wind power falls below demand.

In short, energy storage gives renewable energy the flexibility it currently lacks. ……

May 16, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable, UK, USA | Leave a comment

Safety limits relaxed at Sellafield nuclear facility

regulatory-capture-Trusting Sellafield to comply with the new operating rule to control waste stocks was like asking a fox to guard chickens,

Sellafield nuclear waste storage safety limit relaxed following accident, Guardian, , 14 May 15  Amount of radioactive waste that can be kept in tanks allowed to breach legal limits to help cope with backlog caused by an accident in November 2013. Safety limits on the storage of some of the world’s most dangerous nuclear wastes at Sellafield in Cumbria have been relaxed after an accident knocked out a treatment plant.


The government’s safety watchdog, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), has permitted the private company that runs Sellafield to breach legal restrictions on the amount of hot, high-level radioactive waste that can be kept in tanks. The limits are likely to be exceeded by up to 350 tonnes between April 2014 and July 2016. Continue reading

May 15, 2015 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

£2 billion fleet of jets for UK Navy to look for nuclear submarines

RAF to get £2billion fleet of jets to spot Putin’s nuclear submarines off British coast, Sunday Express BRITAIN’S defences are to get a £2billion boost in a bid to counter the ongoing threat from Russian armed forced. By ROB VIRTUE, May 10, David Cameron and George Osborne will be persuaded to part with the cash to buy a fleet of jets to hunt Vladimir Putin’s nuclear submarines, which have regularly been patrolling the coast of Britain in recent months.

Often the Russian underwater vessels have only been discovered after colliding with private boats and now Government ministers are eager to plug the gap in defences with aircraft totrack them.

Around a dozen top of the range planes will be bought for the RAF over the next two years.

These are likely to include the US developed Boeing Poseidon P8, designed for ‘long-range anti-submarine warfare’ and worth around £150million each.

The P8 jets look for magnetic fields under the water’s surface.

Despite the promise of more austerity cuts in the coming months, the Government has been persuaded to invest in submarine detection …….

May 13, 2015 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trident nuclear submarines – the sticky issue in UK election

ballot-boxSmflag-UKThe nuclear dimension to UK election BBC 6 Mchray 15 Anthony Zurcher  The British naval base in Faslane, Scotland, is home to four Vanguard submarines – and the source of a fierce debate that illustrates the sticky political issues presented by the rise of the Scottish National Party in this year’s general election……It’s become a common Conservative Party talking point in these last days of the campaign that the only way the Labour Party can return to power is by striking a deal with the SNP. Although it’s a charge Labour vehemently denies, the SNP will likely post major wins at Labour’s expense in Scotland’s 59 parliamentary seats. If that happens, one of the bargaining chips in any deal could become the Faslane submarines and their Trident nuclear missile systems.

The SNP wants the submarines gone not just from Scottish waters, but decommissioned entirely. “Trident is utterly irrelevant to the defence and security challenges we face in the 21st century,” SNP defence spokesperson Angus Robertson said last month.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has called defunding the Trident programme a non-negotiable “blood red line” and, in a Scottish leaders debate in Edinburgh Sunday night, refused to rule out voting down a Labour budget that includes maintaining the missiles.

Complicating all this is the fact the nuclear missile programme is aging – and will require additional moneys to stay operational. Coming on the heels of steep austerity cuts imposed after the 2008 recession, the estimated investment of at least £17.5bn is proving a bitter pill for many to swallow.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said he wants to keep the UK a nuclear power, but he hasn’t ruled out reducing the number of submarines.

And so the Conservatives have pounced on Mr Miliband, whom they charge with threatening to forsake the protection provided by a nuclear deterrent…….
All of this is just “stale Westminster politics” and the bickering of “grey men in grey suits”, says Chris Higgins.

Higgins has a particularly unique view of the nuclear issue, as the Faslane navy base and its submarines are his neighbours. Since September, he’s been a resident of the Faslane Peace Camp, a brightly coloured collection of caravans, trailers and hand-constructed shelters that has been a permanent fixture just down the road from the base for more than 33 years………

The SNP has a plan to use its strength as a voting bloc in a fractured Parliament after Thursday’s election to finally take aim at the nuclear subs.

“No sensible UK government would develop a nuclear weapons capability now if one didn’t exist,” SNP’s Robertson said, sounding a lot like one of the Faslane peace activists. “Therefore, a strong group of SNP MPs in a hung parliament, working with other progressive political forces, can bring common sense to bear now – and halt Trident renewal in its tracks.”……

May 6, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Highly hazardous clean-up begins, of Sellafield’s radioactive sludge

Radioactive Sludge Clear-Up At Sellafield, Sky News, 23 Apr 15 The radioactive waste held in a six-metre-deep pond dates back to the 1950s, and would fill 21 double decker buses. Work has begun to remove sludge from an old storage pond at one of the most hazardous nuclear plants in Europe, Sellafield in Cumbria.
sludge removal Sellafield

Around 1,500 cubic metres of radioactive material is being emptied from an area which was built to store nuclear fuel for recycling in the 1950s.

Sellafield’s reactor is being decommissioned but reprocessing continues

The storage vessels were brought to Sellafield in separate sections and welded together, before being carefully slid into a reinforced concrete building to safeguard against leaks.

But there is an added complication: the pond is full of large metal boxes of nuclear fuel which they will have to work around and make sure remain fully submerged at all times.

Andy Lindley, from the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said: “This is highly hazardous waste and its removal will take some years to complete….

April 25, 2015 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Flamanville nuclear safety problem – a knockout blow for UK’s EPR reactor project?

Reactor-EPR-FlamanvilleFrance’s nuclear calamity has UK worried, The Local,  21 Apr 2015 France’s world renowned prowess in the nuclear industry is being seriously undermined by its efforts to build a flagship nuclear reactor which is fast becoming a costly calamity. The future of the Flamanville 3 project appears to hang in the balance after yet another major setback that has London worried.

It was supposed to showcase the expertise of France’s nuclear energy industry to the world and is key to the UK’s own nuclear strategy. But after being beset by hold-ups and snags – the latest and potentially most serious one coming last week, the flagship project to build a new state of the art nuclear reactor, France is getting a reputation for all the wrong reasons and London has been left looking on nervously.

In 2005 the French government proudly gave the green light for construction to begin on the first third-generation nuclear reactor at Flamanville in Normandy on the north coast, a site environmentalists say is threatened by flooding.The third-generation “European Pressurized Reactor” (EPR), built by EDF and Areva, was supposed to be in operation by 2012 and is meant to be one of the safest reactors in the world, and the most energy efficient. It was commissioned as part of France’s nuclear renaissance programme that will see the country’s aging nuclear plants replaced over time.

However Flamanville 3, as it is known, is unlikely to start producing power anytime soon after being hampered by a litany of problems and incidents, including the death of a construction worker in 2011 (see below).

The latest setback came last week when it was revealed that “a very serious fault” had been detected in the steel of the “pressure vessel” – a key component of the reactor, meaning another delay of at least a year was likely. “It is a serious fault, even a very serious fault, because it involves a crucial part of the nuclear reactor,” said Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of France’s nuclear safety agency (ASN).

That “fault” means construction is unlikely to be completed before 2018 and more worryingly, the budget, initially set at €3.3 billion, is now estimated at more than €9 billion and counting.

In short Flamanville has become France’s own “nuclear catastrophe” as it was described in one of the many critical articles in the French press. Tests will need to be carried out on the steel vessel but if after these tests the vessel still does not meet necessary safety standards, it will need to be changed.

“That’s a very difficult operation in terms of costs and time,” said the ASN’s Chevet. The steel vessels weigh around 425 tonnes and stand around 11 metres high so building a new one would take considerable time and come at a huge cost.Changing the vessel would be a major headache given all the construction work that would need to be undone.

Some in the business of nuclear safety have even suggested that if the steel vessel needs replacing then the whole project could be scrapped. That will have authorities in the UK sweating as the same steel has been used to build two vessels destined for the planned EPR nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in the UK.…….

“This is clearly the knock-out blow for the EPR reactor,” said Yannick Rousselet from Greenpeace. “What foreign client would want to purchase a reactor of this type, if even France itself is not able to complete the construction?

“The bill from the EPR reactor will be so high that it won’t end up showcasing what to do, but exactly the opposite,” said Rousselet. “This is a huge blow to the know-how of the French nuclear industry.”

Greenpeace has called for work at Flamanville to be called off.

“It must be stopped immediately so there is no more wasting of public funds on this industrial nightmare,” said Rousselet, who added that France should be concentrating resources on finding renewable energy solutions……..

April 22, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Energy investors advised to “cut their losses” and dump Hinkley nuclear reactor

protest-Hinkley-CEDF should ‘cuts its losses’ as Hinkley plans come under threat, Western Morning News 18 Apr 15  Campaigners are calling on energy investors to “cut their losses” on plans for a new reactor at Hinkley Point after a “very serious” fault was discovered in a similar French scheme.

Members of the Stop Hinkley group say project backers EDF should “give up” on plans for two new nuclear reactors at the Somerset plant and pursue a more “sensible” sustainable energy strategy. The comments come as French officials revealed details of an anomaly that occurred during the construction of an identical EPR power plant in Normandy.

EDF Energy, which will own and operate the Hinkley plant, said further investigations would be carried out on the development as soon as possible.

But the revelation has given rise to concerns about the future of Britain’s power supply, as Hinkley was expected to generate roughly 16% of the country’s electricity by the mid-2020s.

The problem with the new reactor at Flamanville is understood to surround the quality of the steel used to construct a casing around the reactor, known as the pressure vessel. Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of France’s nuclear safety inspectorate, said it was potentially “very serious” as it involved “a crucial part” of the reactor.

He added that the same manufacturing techniques had been used for the identical casings intended for Hinkley Point, which “have already been manufactured”.

Plans to develop a new generation of British reactors at Hinkley go back to the last Labour government in January 2008. The EPR reactors chosen for the site use pressurised water and are built to resist the impact of a commercial airline crash……..

Alan Jeffery, spokesman for Stop Hinkley, suggested the company should abandon its plans for the Somerset plant and start pursuing alternative options for the Westcountry.

“EDF Energy should cut its losses and give up on Hinkley C now, so that the South West can get on with developing a sensible sustainable energy strategy,” he said.

“To tackle climate change effectively we need to get started on energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes now, not waiting around for the nuclear industry to sort out its problems first.

“We don’t need this massive project that is going to leave us with a legacy of highly dangerous nuclear waste and radioactive emissions into our environment.”

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April 20, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s £14bn Hinkley project – future now in doubt, as faults found in identical French project

Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantUK nuclear strategy faces meltdown as faults are found in identical French projecThe faults could also scare off the Chinese state investors who are supposed to cover part of the cost of the £14bn Hinkley project Independent JOHN LICHFIELD Author Biography PARIS Friday 17 April 2015 A “very serious” fault has been discovered in a French nuclear power station which is at the heart of David Cameron’s strategy to “keep the lights on” in Britain in the next decade.

The future of two nuclear reactors planned for Hinkley Point in Somerset has been thrown into doubt by the discovery of a potentially catastrophic mistake in the construction of an identical EPR power plant in Normandy.

“It is a serious fault, even a very serious fault, because it involves a crucial part of the nuclear reactor,” said Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of France’s nuclear safety inspectorate.

A second investigation has been ordered into the quality of the steel used to make a 50ft-high safety casing, or “pressure vessel”, which encloses the groundbreaking new reactor at Flamanville, near Cherbourg. If the steel proves to be defective, the completion of the prototype EPR plant – already behind schedule and nearly three times over budget – could be delayed for several years.

Mr Chevet also revealed that the same manufacturing techniques had been used in the steel for the identical safety casings destined for Hinkley Point, which “have already been manufactured”.

The fault could undermine the already fragile finances of the French state-owned nuclear construction company Areva, which is supposed to build two EPR reactors at Hinkley by 2023 and a third at Sizewell in Suffolk. It could also scare off the Chinese state investors who are supposed to cover part of the cost of the £14bn Hinkley project, intended to supply six per cent of Britain’s energy needs for six decades.

A final “investment” decision for Hinkley, several times delayed, is now expected in June. The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called a crisis meeting on 17 April to discuss the threat posed by the fault to France’s nuclear construction industry – the largest in the world.

Mark Hackett, a councillor in Manchester who chairs Nuclear Free Local Authorities, said: “This is a devastating blow to proponents of new-build nuclear power stations in the UK. It is likely to scare off the Chinese backers. If I was a betting man, I would now bet that Hinkley Point will never be built.”

Yannick Rousselet, of Greenpeace France, said the latest problems to beset the prototype power station in Normandy are “clearly the coup de grâce for the EPR idea”. He asked: “What foreign client would want to buy this reactor when France itself is not capable of completing its construction?”

Apart from Britain, the United States and China are in the process of buying versions of the new generation of European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) – supposedly safer and more efficient – from France. Both Areva and Eléctricité de France (EDF), the French energy giant which will own and operate Hinkley Point, have refused to comment in detail………

Sources in the French nuclear industry told the newspaper Le Parisien yesterday that dismantling the faulty pressure vessel and ordering and manufacturing a new one could take several years. “If the weakness of the steel is proved, I don’t hold out much hope for the survival of the EPR project,” a former senior nuclear safety official told Le Parisien………..

April 18, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, safety, UK | Leave a comment


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