The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear submarine commander reveals horror of 2011 accident

submarine,-nuclear-underwatHorror on board Plymouth nuclear submarine as crew battles to survive By Plymouth Herald   June 04, 2014 By TRISTAN NICHOLS Defence Reporter @tristan_nichols A “CATASTROPHIC” systems failure on board a Devonport-based nuclear submarine caused a mass-casualty incident, The Herald can today exclusively reveal.

When HMS Turbulent’s air conditioning plants malfunctioned during a deployment in the sweltering heat of the Indian Ocean, it resulted in 26 casualties.

Eight of those casualties were in a ‘life-threatening’ condition.

Temperatures inside the boat soared to 60 degrees Celsius with 100 per cent humidity as the crew battled to fix the problem miles from land.
With the three-year anniversary of the previously unreported incident having just passed, Ryan Ramsey, the submarine’s Commanding Officer at the time, today revealed: “I genuinely thought there was going to be a loss of life on board. People were going to die.”

The tragic incident happened at about 10.30am around three hours after the hunter-killer submarine had left Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on May 26, 2011……….

June 5, 2014 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

EDF wants to weaken safety standard at Dungeness nuclear atation

safety-symbol-Smflag-UKNuclear power plant dismisses safety concerns Folkestone Herald, By Antony Thrower  June 04, 2014

DUNGENESS power station has dismissed claims in the media this morning which claimed a reactor at the site would have breached the agreed safety margin “within months” and could have to “shut down”.

The BBC reported graphite bricks at the core of the advanced gas-cooled reactors were cracking and starting to lose weight due to decades of radiation, which could affect safety.

It suggested the current graphite weight loss limit for Dungeness is set at 6.2% but the regulator says when it reached 5.7% its operator, French power giant EDF, applied to raise it to 8%…….

June 5, 2014 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK can lead the world to nuclear disarmament

peace cStates will have to review and change their security strategies, and recognise the dependence of their security on the health of the international system.

 And they will need to understand the complex trade-off between national capabilities and the need to reduce arsenals worldwide – to everyone’s benefit. 

flag-UKNuclear disarmament – the UK can lead the world, Ecologist,  Paul Ingram 23rd May 2014  The belief that unilateral reductions in the UK’s nuclear weapons arsenal would bring no international benefits is deeply engrained in officialdom, writes Paul Ingram. Deeply engrained – and profoundly mistaken. The very quiet failure of this year’s Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee to agree any final document, and the daunting challenge of the treaty Review Conference next year, mean that frustration is growing about the pace of progress by the nuclear-weapons states to disarm.

In fact, progress is so slow it feels like we are going backward. Continue reading

May 24, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Dalgety Beach, Scotland to get radiation warning signs

text-radiationRadiation warning signs to be put up at Dalgety Bay beach within days  By AILEEN ROBERTSON, 23 May 2014  Warning signs telling people not to dig on Dalgety Bay’s radioactive beach will be put up in a matter of days. The signs will warn: “Radioactive contamination has been found on this beach. “To minimise any risks members of the public are advised that digging should not be carried out.” Local MP Gordon Brown, who demanded the move, previously claimed a medical experts’ report calling for new safety measures at the contaminated stretch of shore was suppressed for months. A report by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) was leaked ahead of its publication this week. It concluded there is unlikely to be a link between cancer rates and radiation at the beach but said there could be risks through skin contact or ingestion.

May 24, 2014 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

UK peace activists make a daring blockade against construction of nuclear weapons

protestBritain: Activists Disrupt Construction of New Nuclear Weapons Factory By Global Research News  May 19, 2014by Action AWE (Atomic Weapons Eradication)

flag-UK£2 billion project going ahead, but Parliament has not yet voted on further nuke development.

That’s what you call “democracy”. But it is all for a good cause.  Nuclear weapons are an “instrument of peace”.

Daring dawn blockade of Berkshire’s nuclear weapons factory

This morning at 7.20, a group of people began blockading the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) site at Burghfield, near Reading. The protesters, acting as part of ActionAWE [1], a campaign of nonviolent direct action, are trying to disrupt construction of a new nuclear warhead factory on the site.

The new development at AWE Burghfield is being built at a cost to the tax payer of almost £2 billion, despite the fact that parliament has yet to vote on replacing the current generation of nuclear warheads that the site would build.

The eight protesters, aged between 19 and 40, are locked together using handcuffs inside ‘lock-on’ devices – made from drainpipes, and vegetable oil drums filled with concrete in order to block the gate to the construction site to prevent further work on the site. Traffic is now queued up, unable to enter the facility. The Christians amongst the protesters are singing hymns.

Catherine Bann, 40, mother of two from Todmorden, said: “The money we would spend renewing Trident could pay for all A & E hospital departments in the country for the next 40 years! It’s a huge waste of public money to be investing in nuclear weapons, and people like us must make a stand now, so that future generations do not have to bear the cost.”

Joanna Frew, 35, a member of the United Reformed Church living in London but originally from Scotland, said

“Trident is illegal, immoral and a waste of money. It is the opposite of everything that Jesus teaches us about being co-creators of life and loving your enemies. Political and religious leaders in Scotland are opposed to retaining Trident at Faslane. We have a real opportunity over the next year to say that it is no longer acceptable , and that we don’t want an illegal renewal.”

Phil Wood, 20, a student at Bradford University added

“To be spending millions of pounds and planning to spend billions more on nuclear weapons while cutting back on essential public services that people rely on is unforgivable”.

Matt Fawcett, 39, from Yorkshire CND said Continue reading

May 20, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Ministrty of Defence fails in bid to censor report on radioactive contamination

text-radiationflag-UKMoD loses battle to block radioactive waste contamination report, Rob Edwards, Guardian 14 May 14, Report warning contamination of military sites could pose public health risk to be published next week after six-month delay

Read the Comare report on contamination of military sites (pdf) The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been forced to abandon attempts to block a report by government advisers warning that radioactive contamination of military sites across the UK could pose a risk to public health.

The report was submitted for publication last October by the 18-memberCommittee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (Comare). To the frustration of its authors and the Scottish government, UK ministers have sat on it for the past six months after objections from the MoD.

But after the 75-page report was leaked to the Guardian, a decision was taken in Whitehall on Tuesday to publish it early next week. It will reveal that Comare is concerned about radium contamination from the second world war at Dalgety Bay in Fife and at least 25 other sites across the UK.

The contamination at Dalgety Bay poses “a potential risk to public health”, the report says. It condemns the MoD’s failure to provide a comprehensive list of other potentially contaminated sites as “unacceptable” as it “implies an unknown risk to the general population”.

Because of the “extensive” contamination, parents should be recommended not to allow their children to dig on the beach, the report says. Although it concludes that there is no immediate evidence of increased cancers, it points out that side-effects can take time to appear and recommends a study of cancer rates to be carried out around Dalgety Bay in five or 10 years.

Comare’s report recommends that the Scottish government should ensure that Dalgety Bay is cleaned up as soon as is possible. An evaluation of the best means of remediation should be instituted immediately, “considering efficacy, practicability and cost”, it says.

According to the report, disposal of radium – used to paint aircraft dials so that they could be read in the dark – was “very widespread”. It criticises the MoD for only providing a limited list of sites where this could have happened. Though the only site named in the report is Dalgety Bay, 15 have been previously listed by the MoD.They include the old SAS headquarters at Stirling Lines in Hereford, a former naval air base near Portsmouth and a previous home to the Red Arrows in Gloucestershire. There are also potentially contaminated sites in Hampshire, Bedfordshire, Nottingham, Shropshire, Cumbria, Stirling, Perth and Kinross, Angus, Moray and the Mull of Kintyre.

Comare is demanding authority from the government to force the MoD to draw up a full list of potentially contaminated sites. “The information available for each site should be evaluated and, where deemed necessary, investigation and/or remediation instituted,” it says.

The MoD has been accused of resisting funding an expensive cleanup at Dalgety Bay to avoid setting a precedent for dozens of other sites around the country. “The MoD would rather this report hadn’t existed,” said one insider……….

May 19, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Ministry of Defence short of nuclear safety officers

flag-ScotlandNuclear safety on Clyde at risk SNP.  18/05/2014 It has been revealed that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is suffering a severe and worsening shortage of skilled nuclear engineers that could threaten the safety of nuclear weapons and submarines on the Clyde.

SNP Westminster defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP was told by the UK Defence Equipment and personnel Minister, Philip Dunne, that the MoD was short of 165 suitably qualified and experienced nuclear personnel on March 31, 2014. Some 60 of those vacancies relate to nuclear submarine activities, and 26 vacancies are at the Faslane and Coulport nuclear bases in Argyll.

Commenting, Angus Robertson MP said:

“The revelations are shocking and completely unacceptable.

“This is extremely dangerous and unsustainable, and lays bare the reality of the risks of the shambolic MoD cuts agenda. The MoD must immediately explain what it is doing to rectify this and when.

“Although the MoD insists that none of vacancies defined as “safety critical” is in nuclear operations, it has repeatedly been warned by its own advisers that nuclear safety is at risk. The Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator, the MoD’s internal watchdog, has described shortages of skilled nuclear staff as “the principal threat to safety in the defence nuclear programme in the medium term.”

“The majority of Scots  do not want weapons of mass destruction in Scotland but to find out there is a significant safety risk will add salt to the wound. Only a Yes vote will ensure Scotland is rid of weapons of mass destruction.”……

May 19, 2014 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

2005 Nuclear Lobby cons UK government. Nothing has changed

Kemeny,-Leslie-salesman-Smflag-UKThe nuclear charm offensive  New Statesmanby Jonathan Leake  23 May, 2005 We are all being taken in by a carefully planned public relations strategy. Its mission: to push nuclear power

In the plush surroundings of the Army & Navy Club on London’s Pall Mall, Mike Alexander, chief executive of British Energy, was holding court. Assembled before him were more than a hundred leading figures from the UK’s energy industry – all there at the behest of the Energy Industries Club, an industry body that keeps its membership secret.

The point of the event, held just a few weeks ago on 15 March, was to hear a keynote speech, to be delivered by Alexander, with the title “UK Nuclear Energy: fuel of the future?” It was not, however, a purely private affair. Around the room were a selection of top opinion formers: analysts, corporate traders and members of the media. The journalists could not report the event directly – the invitations were based on so-called Chatham House rules, meaning it was for “background use only”. What they were meant to take home was a message: nuclear power is coming back. Alexander’s speech itself was simple. Within the next 20 years, he said, Britain’s nuclear power stations will come to the end of their operating lives. To meet the country’s climate-change targets, they must be replaced with some form of power generation that does not produce the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Anywhere else, that line might have prompted some sharp questions. But for Alexander, whose company owns two-thirds of Britain’s nuclear power stations, the audience was an unusually receptive one – and not just because of the fine wines. Continue reading

May 13, 2014 Posted by | history, spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Conservative financier stresses energy security importance of renewable energy

flag-UKGuy Hands: Ukraine crisis underlines importance of UK renewable energy

City financier calls on government not to ignore energy security after instability in eastern Europe     The Guardian, Monday 12 May 2014 

WIND-FARMGuy Hands, one of the City’s most flamboyant deal-makers, warns on Monday that the Ukraine crisis has underlined the importance of the UK’s renewable energy sector, and attacks those wanting to phase out onshore wind subsidies.

The financier, who has close links to the Conservative party, says energy security cannot be achieved by markets alone and that the government needs to play a decisive role. “We should be grateful to President Putin for bringing energy security back to the top of the political agenda inEurope. But it is up to us to ensure we understand and act on the long-term threat. And that is certainly not by turning our backs on renewable energy, no matter how persistent or loud the voices against it,” Hands argues in an article on the Guardian website.

The intervention by Hands, who runs the Terra Firma private equity firm, comes at a time when instability in Crimea has been used as a major argument in favour of shale gas – most notably by a House of Lords committee last week.

Hands, whose best man at his wedding was the foreign secretary, William Hague, expresses astonishment that there has been speculation the Tory election manifesto could contain a commitment to end financial help for onshore wind, given it is the “most affordable” of all green power technologies.

Hands’s Terra Firma invests in onshore wind but also landfill gas and other green schemes through a business called Infinis. The financier said Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea had done Britain an indirect favour by putting energy security at the top of the agenda. “We have a large industry of successful and enterprising renewable energy businesses which are ready to rise to the challenge of powering homes and businesses from clean and sustainable sources. But politicians are being pressed by a coalition of opponents of renewable energy to ignore this potential.”

He argues that the subsidy debate has been dominated by those who believe energy is a market like any other, and that all efforts should be focused on prices.

“This is nonsense. Energy is not just another commodity but the lifeblood of an economy. No responsible government can step away from a market which is at the heart of a nation’s security and prosperity. Security of supply as well as affordability are  critical. So too are environmental impact and public acceptance.”

May 12, 2014 Posted by | politics, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Almost cetain hat European Commission will find UK’s Hinkley nuclear funding illegal

justiceflag-EUEuropean Commission likely to find Hinkley aid illegal: Europe London (Platts)–8May2014 The European Commission will almost certainly find that EDF Energy’s funding mechanism for the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear unit in the UK is illegal state aid, an Austrian law professor told Platts.

Franz Leidenmuhler, who specializes in EU state aid cases and European competition law, said in an email that he believed “a rejection is nearly unavoidable. The Statement of the Commission in its first findings of December 18, 2013 is too clear. I do not think that some conditions could change that clear result.”

The new Hinkley unit will be built based on a funding model in which the UK government guarantees a floor price for future power sales. This floor price, known as a “strike price,” is the reference price below which EDF would receive UK government financial support and above which EDF would pay back money, effectively a guaranteed price for the power.

The strike price has been set at GBP92.50/MWh ($156.04) if the proposed new EPR there is the only new nuclear unit built by EDF Energy. The strike price would be GBP89.50 for both units if EDF is able to use the same EPR design to build another reactor at Sizewell C.

The support, known as contracts for difference, will be delivered through investment contracts designed to provide the most efficient long-term support for all forms of low-carbon generation. If the EC were to find the aid illegal, it is unclear whether EDF would go forward with the construction of the new reactor.

In a speech delivered at an industry conference last month, Leidenmuhler said that “in my opinion, the result has to be that this CfD is illegal state aid. Contrary to renewables, there is no exception for nuclear power in the general block exemption regulation, so that, as a result, CfDs in the field of nuclear power are not compatible with EU law.”…..

The categories of aid that are allowed under the block exemption include the areas of small- and medium-sized businesses, research, innovation, regional development, training, employment of disabled and disadvantaged workers, risk capital and environmental protection.

Leidenmuhler indicated he believed EDF’s funding mechanism for Hinkley Point C did not meet these criteria to be granted an exemption for state aid…….

The issue of a potential precedent being set was a point emphasized indirectly by Leidenmuhler in his presentation, when he cited the recent decision by the Czech government not to offer aid guarantees for the construction of a new nuclear unit at Temelin that would be similar to the guarantees offered by the UK government for Hinkley Point C.

“The decision of the Czech Government three weeks ago not to give such price guarantees in the case of Temelin is not only an economically reasonable step, but also legally required from the view of EU State aid law,” Leidenmuhler said.

May 10, 2014 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal, UK | 1 Comment

Green Party a powerful presence in UK’s Shroud District a powerful force for Green

flag-UKStroud District Green Party 8 May 14 Stroud District Green Party is active in the Stroud and Cotswold District Council areas and parliamentary constituencies. Werepresent Stroud on the County Council and five wards on Stroud District Council.  A majority of Stroud Town Councillors are Greens and we are represented on several other Town and Parish Councils.

The Green Party is about more than just the environment: we believe that social justice and environmental responsibility are fundamentally linked.  Find out more about our policies.

Stroud District is one of the country’s greenest communities and we are an active local party with a solid membership base.  If you agree with our core values, please consider joiningdonating or otherwise getting involved……..

May 10, 2014 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK climate denial organisation’s plan to avoid having to be accurate

Nigel Lawson’s climate sceptic thinktank to launch campaigning arm Global Warming Policy Forum will escape scrutiny for accuracy of information by becoming a non-charitable company Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, Saturday 10 May 2014  The climate sceptic organisation founded by former chancellor Nigel Lawson is to set up a new campaigning arm, which would be free from charity regulations.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is classified as an educational charity and thus covered by strict Charity Commission rules that restrict its ability to conduct political campaigns, said that the new non-charitable company would undertake “activities which do not fall squarely within the educational remit of the charity”.Similar structures are also used by some other non-profit organisations, because it gives them greater freedom in lobbying and in some commercial activities.

The new arm, to be called the Global Warming Policy Forum, will share the same website and initials and publish reports and research papers, as well as organising lectures and debates on science and policy. In particular, it will put out news articles and opinion columns through a section of its website.

If the Charity Commission agrees with the restructuring, the new organisation will start operating by the end of July.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, last yearcomplained to the Charity Commission, over what he saw as the dissemination by the GWPF of “misleading and inaccurate” information. Charity Commission rules require organisations granted charitable status – which allows them, and their donors, to benefit from favourable tax treatment – to ensure that any information they put out is fair and as accurate as possible.

Ward said: “I think it is apparent that this move is designed to get around Charity Commission rules that specify that it must not disseminate inaccurate information. It is a deeply cynical move by the Foundation to avoid any formal requirement that they should stop misleading the public with inaccurate information. However, I hope now that it will be more obvious that when Lord Lawson speaks about climate change, it is as a campaigner rather than as an expert. And at least its secret donors will no longer be able to claim tax relief on funding the Foundation’s political propaganda.”

Greenpeace, which was named by the GWPF as an organisation that operates a campaigning arm as well as its core charity, told the Guardian: “They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” But he said that if Lord Lawson really wants to emulate Greenpeace’s structure he should be open about where his funding comes from and “root his political campaign in the reality of climate science.”

The GWPF does not disclose the names of organisations or individuals who provide its funding, but says that fossil fuel companies are not among them. It did not respond to requests for comment.

May 10, 2014 Posted by | climate change, spinbuster, UK | 1 Comment

“Bringing Nuclear to Life” – new PR campaign to hit Britain

for the money being thrown at new nuclear you could scrap the bedroom tax, double renewable energy and take every household on Britain out of fuel poverty. 

It would still, of course, be public money. But it’s use would be far more effective in saving lives and cutting carbon than in bailing out a near bankrupt corporation.

So, while other countries are racing into demand reduction or decentralised energy generation, distribution and storage, and while Europe looks at the energy security to be found in increased interconnection, us Brits can expect to be “normalised” into acceptance of clapped-out claims about an energy source that never was and never will be economic.

flag-UKChuggers For Nuclear Take Us For Mugs Tuesday 6TH  by Alan Simpson, Morning Star  In the sleazy world of energy politics, prepare to be groomed – or even ‘normalised,’  AT A high-powered PR summit in London, energy giant EDF’s head of communications proudly reported that sponsoring the Olympics had “added value to the nuclear brand.” 

Flushed with this success, EDF now plans to harness a new team of company volunteers who will “go out into the community and schools to tell the story.” Their Bringing Nuclear to Life initiative will unleash hundreds of volunteer EDF joggers onto the streets, each carrying the torch for new nuclear. Their stated objective will be to “normalise nuclear to consumers.”


So, just when you thought it might be safe to step out a bit more — when double glazing salesmen, charity fundraisers and energy company “swappers” might be taking a breather — a new sort of “chugger” is about to hit the streets. 

You don’t have to fear being Saved for God or tapped for a standing order.

These chuggers will just want to normalise you. ……….. Continue reading

May 7, 2014 Posted by | spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s contract with EDF to build Hinkley nuclear station may not be valid

justiceHinkley Point nuclear power contract ‘may be invalid’ BBC News 6 May 14 The contract for building the UK’s first nuclear power station in a generation might not be “valid”, a leading legal academic has warned.

Former Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth, who lectures at Cambridge, said the deal with EDF over a plant at Hinkley Point could be seen as an “unjustifiable subsidy” under EU law.

flag-UKThe contract fixes a price for energy provided if the scheme goes ahead.

The government said the deal was “robust” and would give a “fair deal”.

The government announced last autumn that EDF, a French firm, would lead a consortium to build the Hinkley Point C station in Somerset, expected to supply around 7% of the UK’s electricity.

The company and ministers agreed a “strike price” of £92.50 for every megawatt hour, almost twice the current wholesale cost of electricity.

But Mr Howarth told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme there was a “problem with whether this is a valid contract at all”.

He argued that, under EU law, its terms could be described as an “unjustifiable subsidy” and that “because the system doesn’t allow for non-British generators to come within it, it might be a violation of the basic principle of EU law of freedom of movement of goods”. Mr Howarth added that English law could also be violated, as “the contract simply says what price it will get if it happens to supply a nuclear power station”, rather than compelling the company to build one.

Setting the price paid for the energy produced could also undermine the “long-standing legal doctrine that contracts which unduly bind the future discretion of governments to act in the public interest are void as being against public policy”.

“It’s quite possible that a contract of this size, over a period of 40 years, might find itself being caught by it,” he added…….

May 7, 2014 Posted by | Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Sellafield – a nuclear security nightmare

elephant-terror-in-roomNuclear power undermines nuclear security, The Ecologist, Dr David Lowry 2nd May 2014 “…… In Britain, the biggest nuclear security problem is the huge nuclear facility at Sellafield, originally built in the early 1950 on England’s northwest coast, in Cumbria, which is also home of the wonderful Lake District National Park.

Sellafield however is also the home of hundreds of decaying and decrepit building, many stores of liquid and solid radioactive waste, and, from a security perspective, most importantly, 111 tonnes of weapons – useable plutonium.

Let me give you that figure in another way. 111 tonnes is 111,000 kilogrammes. A nuclear bomb can be made with as little as 5 kilograms of plutonium – a lump about the size of a large orange.

Note: the ‘Fat Man’ nuclear bomb detonated above Nagasaki in August 1945, with a blast equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT, contained jut 6.2 kg of plutonium

The Sellafield deer

And how well prepared are Sellafield’s managers for the unexpected? Not very, as we can see from the story of the Sellafield deer.

As a result of a recent security review, the Sellafield management decided to strengthen the perimeter fence around the site. Unfortunately in doing so they unintentionally captured a small herd of wild deer.

But rather than releasing the corralled deer, they shot them, as the local newspaper, the Whitehaven News revealed early on 3rd April. Their headline ran: “Three deer shot dead as Sellafield carries out cull”.

Now – if the deer could find themselves, un-noticed, on the wrong side of the security fence, what about people? The insecurity of the storage buildings for the waste products arising from operating nuclear power reactor is a a huge and as yet unsolved problem.

We are often told these stores are robust against terrorist attack. …….


UK score on nuclear security: 11%

NTI publishes a table in its new report (see below) that ought to set the alarm bells ringing in DECC and across Whitehall. The NTI assessed the nuclear security of 25 countries identified as having the nuclear materials capable of making nuclear nuclear WMDs. The UK ranked bottom with a score of just 11/100.

But the problem is clearly systemic. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who also happen to be the ‘Big Five’ nuclear weapons states – the US, Russia, China, UK and France – all ranked 18th or worse out of 25, with scores of 34/100 or worse.

Intriguingly Iran – condemned by the US and other countries as representing a major nuclear proliferation hazard and punished by the Security Council with severe sanctions as a consequence – ranked 4th with a score of 89/100, putting the UNSC permanent members to shame…….

May 3, 2014 Posted by | Reference, safety, UK | Leave a comment


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