The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Legal case against UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

money-in-nuclear--wastesUK nuclear body faces £200m damages claim from Energy Solutions. By Gill Plimmer 15 June 14,Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is facing a £200m damages claim from one of the bidders who lost out on a £7bn deal to clean up Britain’s oldest nuclear power plants.

Energy Solutions, a Salt Lake City-based company, filed a High Court writ last week after losing the 14-year contract to engineering company Babcock and Texas-based Fluor. The deal is one of the largest and most sensitive government contracts ever put out to tender.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the government-funded body responsible for Britain’s state-owned nuclear sites, started the competition two years ago and work is expected to start by Babcock in September.

But Energy Solutions, which has been managing the nuclear sites for the past 14 years, has alleged in documents filed to the High Court last week that the NDA’s point scoring system is flawed and that it didn’t follow its own procedures. It competed for the contract in partnership with the US company Bechtel but is taking legal action alone……..


June 16, 2014 Posted by | Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Questions raised about UK independence as it co-operates closely with USA over nuclear warheads

Exclusive: UK to step up collaboration with US over nuclear warheads Documents released under FoI reveal ‘enhanced collaboration’ plans, raising questions over independence of UK deterrent   The Guardian, Friday 13 June 2014 Britain is stepping up its cooperation with the US over the design of nuclear warheads, raising new questions about the independence of the UK deterrent, according to documents disclosed after a freedom of information request.

Increased cooperation on warhead design and the exchange of material crucial in the manufacture and stockpiling of nuclear weapons will be sealed in a pact being drawn up by senior officials from the two countries.The pact, renewing the 1958 mutual defence agreement (MDA) between the UK and US, is expected to be signed in a discreet ceremony in Washington in the next few weeks. It does not have to be debated or voted on in parliament. Though the agreement is incorporated in US law, it has no legal status in Britain.

A document prepared for a visit by a senior American nuclear official to the Aldermaston atomic weapons establishment (AWE) refers to “enhanced collaboration” on “nuclear explosive package design and certification”, on “maintenance of existing stockpiles”, and the “possible development of safer, more secure, warheads”.The partially censored document refers to a letter Tony Blair wrote to George Bush in 2006 asking for US help in maintaining Britain’s “nuclear delivery system” and the white paper of the same year, which gave the green light for replacing the existing fleet of Trident nuclear missile submarines.

One document describes the MDA as an agreement that enables Britain and the US “nuclear warhead communities to collaborate on all aspects of nuclear deterrence including nuclear warhead design and manufacture”.

A briefing paper drawn up for ministers and Ministry of Defence officials argues that physical “movements under the MDA do not involve nuclear weapons or devices” and therefore the agreement does not contravene the letter of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Most of the documents now released were drawn up at the time of the last renewal of the MDA in 2004. They make it clear Whitehall did not welcome a debate in parliament about the mutual defence pact……

Peter Burt of Nuclear Information Service, who obtained the papers, told the Guardian: “The UK and US are setting a dreadful example to the rest of the world by renewing the MDA, and are seriously undermining the credibility of international efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

He added: “If Iran and North Korea had signed a similar agreement for the transfer of nuclear weapons technology, the UK and US would be branding them pariah nations and screaming for the toughest of international sanctions to be imposed.”

Renewing the MDA showed the “worst kind of two-faced hypocrisy” and demonstrated that neither nation was serious about meeting its legal obligations under the NPT, Burt said.

The MoD said the agreement would be renewed by the end of the year

June 13, 2014 Posted by | politics international, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK government’s secret list of ‘probable nuclear targets’

Atomic-Bomb-Smflag-UKUK government 1970s made a list of 106 cities, towns and military bases thought to be at risk of attack contained in documents shared by National Archives    The GuardianFriday 6 June 2014  The UK government drew up a top secret list of 106 cities, towns and bases across the country seen as “probable nuclear targets” in the early 1970s, according to documents released by the National Archives.

During the cold war, a list of the places thought likely to come under nuclear attack by the Soviet Union was agreed by military commanders, the intelligence services and the Cabinet Office under Conservative prime minister Edward Heath………
London was expected to be devastated by two to four bombs of up to five megatons each exploding over the city. Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester were each said to be in line for one or two “airbursts” of up to five megatons. That’s 333 times more powerful than the 15-kiloton US nuclear bomb that flattened the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, killing 140,000 people…….
Another target was Orford Ness on the Suffolk coast, which was involved in an experimental US radar system known as Cobra Mist and is now a nature reserve. Nuclear submarine bases on the Clyde near Glasgow were on the list, along with nuclear airfields like those at Greenham Common in Berkshire and Machrihanish on the Mull of Kintyre.

Other high-level memos from 1971 said that the target list was drawn up for military planning purposes and to help “contingency planning particularly in the field of home defence”. Home defence meant protect and survive measures such as shelters to help civilians under nuclear attack.

But according to the researcher who found the documents, formernuclear weapons design engineer Brian Burnell, the real aim was not to defend civilian targets. Military planners wanted to try to ensure that UK-based nuclear bombers survived to launch a counter-attack against the Soviet Union, he said……..


June 6, 2014 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Britain taking risks in extending safety limits of old nuclear reactors

safety-symbol1UK will have to gamble with nuclear safety to provide power, analyst warns Safety limits of Britain’s ageing nuclear power plants may have to be extended to avoid major blackouts  The GuardianThursday 5 June 2014 Britain may have to stretch safety limits on nuclear power stations to keep the lights on, warned a leading energy analyst on Wednesday.

Dorian Lucas, a nuclear specialist at energy consultancy, Inenco, made his comments after it was revealed that power group, EDF, had won permission to change the rules for its Dungeness B station.

flag-UK“Britain has no choice but to gamble with extending the safety limits of the country’s ageing fleet of nuclear power plants to avoid the looming spectre of 1970s-style blackouts,” said Lucas.The atomic power station in Kent has come to an agreement with the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) that it can have the margin increased on the shrinkage of the graphite bricks inside the reactor from 6.2% to 8%.

The bricks are losing weight due to decades of radiation but a spokeswoman for EDF said the new limit was only a “teeny little step” that was well within the most conservative safety case.

In a statement, the nuclear regulator said: “ONR would not allow continued operation of any nuclear reactor unless it was safe to do so. We recognise the challenges presented by ageing of the Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) fleet in the UK, and we continue to pay close attention to the problems associated with the graphite core of the reactors. We are satisfied that the reactors are safe to operate.”

But Steve Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich, told the BBC: “It doesn’t feel good when we come up against limits and the first thing they [the ONR] do is to move the goalposts.”

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

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


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