Following Canada’s Bad Example, Now UK Wants To Muzzle Scientists And Their Inconvenient Truths https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150331/06512830496/following-canadas-
bad-example-now-uk-wants-to-muzzle-scientists-their-inconvenient-truths.shtml from the non-appliance-of-science dept Free Speech by Glyn MoodyWed, Apr 1st 2015
Under the new code, scientists and engineers employed at government expense must get ministerial approval before they can talk to the media about any of their research, whether it involves GM crops, flu vaccines, the impact of pesticides on bees, or the famously obscure Higgs boson.
The fear — quite naturally — is that ministers could take days before replying to requests, by which time news outlets will probably have lost interest. As a result of this change, science organizations have sent a letter to the UK government, expressing their “deep concern” about the code. A well-known British neurobiologist, Sir Colin Blakemore, told the Guardian:
“The real losers here are the public and the government. The public lose access to what they consider to be an important source of scientific evidence, and the government loses the trust of the public,” Blakemore said.
Not only that, by following Canada’s example, the British government also makes it more likely that other countries will do the same, which will weaken science’s ability to participate in policy discussions around the world — just when we need to hear its voice most.
Under the latest rules, the long search for a place to store Britain’s stockpile of 50 years’ worth of the most radioactive waste from power stations, weapons and medical use can be ended by bypassing local planning.
Since last week, the sites are now officially considered “nationally significant infrastructure projects” and so will be chosen by the secretary of state for energy. He or she would get advice from the planning inspectorate, but would not be bound by the recommendation. Local councils and communities can object to details of the development but cannot stop it altogether.
The move went barely noticed as it was passed late on the day before parliament was prorogued for the general election, but has alarmed local objectors and anti-nuclear campaigners.
Friends of the Earth’s planning advisor, Naomi Luhde-Thompson, said: “Communities will be rightly concerned about any attempts to foist a radioactive waste dump on them. We urgently need a long-term management plan for the radioactive waste we’ve already created, but decisions mustn’t be taken away from local people who have to live with the impacts.”
Objectors worry that ministers are desperate to find a solution to the current radioactive waste problem to win public support to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.
Zac Goldsmith, one of the few government MPs who broke ranks to vote against the move, criticised the lack of public debate about such a “big” change. “Effectively it strips local authorities of the ability to stop waste being dumped in their communities,” he said.
Labour abstained in the vote, indicating that a future government will not want to reverse the change of rules. However, the shadow energy minister, Julie Elliott, has warned that the project is expected to take 27 years to build even after a preferred site was identified and would cost £4bn-5.6bn a year to build, plus the cost of running it for 40 years.
Since the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution found in 1976 that it was “morally wrong” to keep generating nuclear waste without a demonstrably safe way of storing the waste, there have been at least four attempts to find the right site, all of them shelved after strong protest.
There are now 4.5m cubic metres of accumulated radioactive waste kept in secure containers at sites across Britain, though only 1,100m3 of this is the most controversial high-level waste, and 290,000m3 is intermediate-level waste. Itcosts £3bn a year to manage the nuclear waste mountain, of which £2bn comes from taxpayers.
The most recent proposal for a more permanent solution was to ask local authorities to volunteer to examine whether they could host the development. Initially, a coalition of Cumbria county council and Copeland and Allerdale borough councils put their names forward, but the policy stalled in 2013 when the county council pulled out.
Last year, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published awhite paper which said ministers would prefer to work with public support, but reserved the right to take more aggressive action on planning if “at some point in the future such an approach does not look likely to work”.
The day before parliament rose, MPs voted in an unusual paper ballot to implement a two-page statutory instrument which adds nuclear waste storage to the list of nationally significant infrastructure projects in England, via the 2008 Planning Act.
Officials have said approval depends on a “test of public support” and any site would undergo extensive geological safety tests.
Copeland borough council, one of the two areas most affected by any such development at Sellafield, said it was pleased with the government’s change to planning rules.
Radiation-Free Lakeland – set up to block the Sellafield proposal because they claim there is no evidence deep storage is safe or that the geology of Cumbria is suitable – claimed, however, “the test of public support is a fig leaf: the government hast’t said what the public support will be”.
The only existing high-level radioactive underground waste storage, in New Mexico, USA, has been closed since last year following two accidents.
Germany has put similar plans for burying high-level waste on hold and four other countries, including France and Japan, are examining the idea.
The government’s role would be in helping headteachers to crowdsource funds for the panels. Civil servants would also deal with linking up schools to the national grid and payments.
Gareth Thomas, a Labour MP mooted as a potential Labour candidate for London mayor in 2016, said the policy could help to free schools from reliance on the big six energy firms.
Thomas, who is promoting the policy as chairman of the Co-operative grouping of MPs within Labour, said: “Britain needs to expand community energy to give people more control over the energy they depend on. Helping schools to set up energy co-operatives to get a self-financing solar roof is a great way to spread understanding about sustainability.”
Friends of the Earth says that if every school installed solar panels the amount of energy generated would be the same as that used by 380,000 homes and would cut carbon emissions by the same amount as taking 110,000 cars off the road. A charity called Solar Schools is helping 66 schools raise a target of £851,000 and has crowdsourced half the target in six months.
The education sector represents a major potential market for the solar industry, as schools typically have large rooftops ideal for panels and rarely face planning difficulties. Current government regulations stop schools from borrowing to fund solar installations, even though ministers had said they wanted more solar panels installed on the roofs of public sector buildings.
EDF has almost completed the project’s preparatory earthworks, drainage, welfare facilities and roadworks, but is yet to decide on the investment to mark the beginning of the construction the plant in Somerset.
The company said a decision would be reached in the coming months, and it has already launched a 45-day redundancies consultation, said the unions…….
It is the first new new nuclear plant in the UK in decades and is scheduled to start producing electricity in 2023. EDF, however, is still negotiating with UK authorities about government debt guarantees for the project, along with decommissioning costs and other details.
It is also negotiating with two Chinese utilities about their role in Hinkley Point and possible future UK nuclear projects with EDF……http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/02/hinkley-point-c-nuclear-project-workers-face-layoff-power-station-investment-edf
Radiation leak at Torness nuclear power station, Herald Scotland Rob Edwards Sunday 29 March 2015 An investigation is under way after a radiation leaked at the Torness nuclear power station in East Lothian, the Sunday Herald can reveal. According to the French state company that runs Torness, EDF Energy, radioactive tritium was discovered in water contained in part of the power station’s drainage system. The discovery was immediately reported to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and the UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)……
Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, warned that Torness was “well into middle age and the cracks are literally beginning to show”.
He said: “This is the latest in a series of problems at Scotland’s two nuclear stations and shows that regulators need to be very vigilant if we are to avoid a serious release of radioactivity to the local environment while these plants continue to operate.”
The local liaison committee was told that reactors at Torness had to be unexpectedly shut down four times in 2014 because of a series of equipment faults. EDF Energy also operates a 39-year-old nuclear power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire, where cracks and breakdowns were reported in October 2014.
Jason Rose, Scottish Green candidate for MP in East Lothian, thought that the number of leaks and shutdowns showed that Torness was well past its prime. “Those of us who have to live with a nuclear plant on our doorstep need assurances from EDF that more effort will be made to prevent these sorts of serious incidents,” he said.
“I remain extremely concerned that there will be no public scrutiny of plans to extend the operating life of the plant, and no effort by local or national government to prepare a smooth transition for workers and the economy. Local people should have a say in what happens next at Torness.”……http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/environment/investigation-under-way-into-radiation-leak-at-torness-nuclear-power-station.121878992
Official data from the U.K. government has confirmed that renewable energy contributed more to the grid than nuclear power for the first time ever in 2014.
The statistics show that renewables accounted for 19.2% of electricity generation last year, ahead of nuclear power, which generated 19% of the country’s electricity.
Total renewable electricity capacity at the end of the year stood at 24.2 GW, which was 4.5 GW – or 23% – more than a year previously.
Although solar PV’s share of renewable generation was a mere 6%, the industry’s participation in electricity generation grew a massive 93% last year, boosted by the 2.8 GW of solar PV capacity added over the course of 2014. Solar PV powered 3.9 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. No other renewable energy source grew as fast. Continue reading
The figures show that renewables generated 32% more electricity than any other single source of power in Scotland.
In total, the renewables sector generated a record 10.3TWh, compared to 7.8TWh2 from nuclear generation – previously Scotland’s main source of electricity. The figures also show that coal and gas-fired electricity generation produced 5.6TWh and 1.4TWh respectively over the same six-month period. Historic Wind made the most significant contribution to the total with 11,592 GWh, up 4% from 2013, and making it another record breaking year for wind. Bioenergy saw the biggest increase in output – rising 11.7% in the last year.
Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said: “The announcement that renewables have become Scotland’s main source of electricity is historic news for our country, and shows the investment made in the sector is helping to deliver more power than ever before to our homes and businesses.
“Every unit of power generated from renewables means less carbon emitted from the burning of fossil fuels, decreases our reliance on imported energy and supports jobs and investment in communities across Scotland.”
Top priority Energy Minister Fergus Ewing added: “2014 was also another record breaking year for wind output and the Scottish Government remains committed to continuing this upward trend. The recent independent survey by YouGov shows further support for the development of wind power, with an increase to 71 per cent in public backing.
“The Scottish Government has made its energy policy a top priority and has achieved great progress, despite being limited in terms of its devolved responsibilities. We look forward to proposals for more powers encompassing the necessary levers to deliver Scottish priorities.”
WWF Scotland said that for Scotland to meet its next renewable target in 2020, the offshore wind sector would have a major role to play.
WWF Scotland’s head of policy Dr Sam Gardner said: “To ensure the continued growth of this industry, attract supply chain investment, and continue to bring down costs, the next UK Government must provide a stable and sustained funding pipeline for offshore wind and clear volume signals in the 2020s.”
Scotland is significantly ahead of the rest of the UK, where renewables still only account for a fifth of all UK electricity. However this increase in greener energy generation has still contributed to an 8% drop in total emissions.
Whose idea was it to scrap democracy in order to dump nuclear wastes? https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/whose-idea-was-it-to-scrap-democracy-in-order-to-dump-nuclear-wastes/ Radiation Free Lakeland and others are asking: Just whose idea was it to plan to scrap democracy in order to dump nuclear wastes? Was the bright idea given to Government by the PR firm Copper Consulting?
Copper Consultancy a PR firm with offices in London, Bristol, Suffolk and most recently Cumbria, told the Department of Energy and Climate Change that: “allowing local authorities to determine the outcome of a process which is designed to deliver a national Government policy may not be the most appropriate route.” This piece of work is a response to Cumbria County Council and the majority of Parish Councils’ saying no to geological disposal of nuclear wastes.
In their blog Copper Consulting go on to say that: “local authorities are consultees rather than decision makers. The final decision rests with the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State. A logical conclusion might therefore be to classify the GDF as an NSIP”
There has always been a suspicion that nuclear is a PR strategy rather than an energy strategy, now we have proof. There is a revolving door between the NDA and Copper Consultancy a PR firm. Ivan Stone who was Executive Director of Copper Consultancy is now the Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Director – of the NDA/RWM (Radioactive Waste Management – a new arm of NDA) Copper Consultancy have also just been awarded the PR job of selling newnuclear build and new nuclear wastes at Moorside to the public. Continue reading
Scottish Party May Prove Crucial to Future of Britain’s Nuclear Fleet NYT, By STEPHEN CASTLE MARCH 21, 2015 “…….Scotland’s growing political importance has made the future of the nuclear arsenal an issue in Britain’s general election campaign, intensifying debate over whether the country can afford its nuclear deterrent, a quarter-century after the end of the Cold War.
That question is being asked because of the surging popularity of the Scottish National Party, which stands to the left of the opposition Labour Party and has promised to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons, putting it at odds with both Labour and the Conservative-led government.
Despite losing its bid last year for Scotland to win independence from Britain, the Scottish National Party has gained strength in the polls and could tilt the balance of power if, as happened in the last national election in 2010, neither Labour nor the Conservatives win an outright majority in Parliament in the voting on May 7.
Should Labour win the opportunity to form a government and turn to the Scottish National Party for support — a prospect analysts say is very real despite a Labour promise not to enter a formal coalition with the party — the question of abandoning the Trident missile system, moving the fleet from Scotland, or at least delaying an expensive modernization program would be on the table……..
The politics of Scotland is now crucial to the future of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Angus Robertson, the Scottish National Party’s defense spokesman, said that Faslane is a symbol of how Scottish views on Trident have been “totally ignored” and that “repeated British governments have made decisions over the heads of people in Scotland.”
Cost of nuclear clean up at Sellafield increased an extra £5bn in the past year Chronicle Live UK By Will Metcalfe 15 Mar 15 The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has been slammed by MPs for the ever-increasing costs at the site in Cumbria Constantly increasing costs for the clean up of Sellafield are Britain’s bill for the Cold War, an MP has claimed.
This week MPs launched a fresh attack against the rising cost and delays of decommissioning and cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear site.
Leading figures from the nuclear industry were questioned by the Public Accounts Committee following the revelation that the expected costs have increased by £5 billion in a year, to £53 billion.
In a recent progress report on the work, the National Audit Office (NAO) criticised the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which oversees the plant, for delays in cancelling a clean-up contract with the consortium Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) after demands from MPs a year ago to do so.
The report said the contract was terminated only last month, at a cost to the taxpayer of £430,000 in cancellation fees.
- The site is used to store nuclear material from across the UK and was the host of a facility which secretly produced nuclear materials for the UK’s defence programme during the Cold War which was finally demolished in 2014……..
Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, described the rise as “astonishing” and repeated her criticism during a hearing on Wednesday.
Delays had increased by 86 months since September 2013, while costs were going up by billions of pounds, she said…..
She said she was struck by the “unpredictable massive burden on future generations”, telling the nuclear industry officials it was a good idea to have strong targets and ambitions……..http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/cost-nuclear-clean-up-sellafield-8838478
LABOUR ‘PONDERS FEWER NUCLEAR SUBS‘, Herald Scotland, 15 March 2015 A Labour government would consider if one submarine fewer could be used to provide Britain’s nuclear deterrent, Ed Balls has said……..
The SNP is committed to scrapping the nuclear weapons system, with the issue proving a major election issue north of the border.
Labour’s support for maintaining the nuclear deterrent could be a stumbling block to any post-election deal with the SNP.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics, Mr Balls reiterated Labour’s commitment to providing Trident while offering the greatest value for money…..
In a statement, SNP MSP Bill Kidd said: “One submarine armed with Trident nuclear weapons of mass destruction is one too many – and a recent New Statesman survey showed three quarters of Labour’s Westminster candidates agree as they don’t support Trident renewal.
“An absolute priority for a strong team of SNP MPs at Westminster will be to use their clout to make sure that we don’t waste £100 billion on putting a new generation of nuclear weapons on the River Clyde – with the money saved invested in health, education and childcare.” http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/scottish-politics/labour-ponders-fewer-nuclear-subs.120693836
Nuclear waste workers at Dounreay power station fear for their safety Decommissioning staff, hit by injuries and concerned about equipment, express ‘no confidence’ in management Independent UK, MARK LEFTLY SUNDAY 15 MARCH 2015 THE DECOMMISSIONING OF ONE OF THE UK’S MOST SIGNIFICANT NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS HAS RUN INTO SERIOUS PROBLEMS AFTER WORKERS RESPONSIBLE FOR DISPOSING OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUSED THEIR MANAGERS OF FAILING TO KEEP THEM SAFE.
Staff at Dounreay, on Scotland’s northern coast, have written to the site’s managing director, Mark Rouse, to raise concerns about decommissioning process.
The letter, seen by The Independent on Sunday, says workers have reported an “increasing number of injuries” and have “serious concerns” about the quality of new protective suits and other safety equipment. And they have “no confidence in senior management”.
The letter was sent to Mr Rouse last November, six weeks after a fire at the plant resulted in a serious radioactive leak. Staff warn that the situation at Dounreay is now similar to that of the mid-1990s, when a major safety audit had to be carried out.
Later this week Mr Rouse and a senior executive from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will address the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, but the problems will add to growing concerns around the UK’s multi-billion pound nuclear clean-up industry. Earlier this month, the National Audit Office reported that the cost of decommissioning and cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria has increased by £5bn to £53bn. The private sector consortium responsible for Sellafield was sacked in January.
In September, it emerged that the overall cost of cleaning up Britain’s toxic nuclear sites has risen by £6bn, from an estimated £63bn over the next century to £69bn. The Government and regulators have been accused of “incompetence”…..
The workers’ letter claims that the focus on delivery has been “at the expense of safe processes and practices on health, safety and welfare”…….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/nuclear-waste-workers-at-dounreay-power-station-fear-for-their-safety-10108715.html
For the past week, something strange has been going on in the European internet. For five days, web traffic from Texas to certain addresses in the UK has been routed through Ukrainian and Russian telecoms, taking a detour thousands of miles out of the way. Network traffic often takes a circuitous route as a result of network congestion or interconnection difficulties, but neither one would be enough to account for these routes. Instead, this was the result of a bad route announced by Ukraine’s Vega telecom, inserting itself in between. “At this point, I have to believe this was an innocent mistake by Vega,” said Dyn’s Doug Madory, who first discovered the redirection, “but it’s concerning nonetheless.”
It’s still likely that the redirection was simply an innocent error, but it underscores the insecure nature of the global routing system. While much of the web has grown more wary of digital attack, routing is still based on trust, with networks freely announcing routes and friendly telecoms adopting them as a matter of habit. As a result, inefficient and potentially insecure routes like this one can linger for days without being corrected, without the parties involved ever being aware of them.
The full traceroute is below, with the Ukrainian telecom visible at line 11 and Russian interconnection at 12 and 13:…..http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/13/8208413/uk-nuclear-weapons-russia-traffic-redirect
- 1 NUCLEAR ISSUES
- business and costs
- climate change
- indigenous issues
- marketing of nuclear
- opposition to nuclear
- politics international
- Religion and ethics
- secrets,lies and civil liberties
- weapons and war
- 2 WORLD
- MIDDLE EAST
- NORTH AMERICA
- SOUTH AMERICA
- Christina's notes
- Christina's themes
- RARE EARTHS
- resources – print
- Resources -audiovicual