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Evacuation order lifted in Fukushima’s Naraha Town

Japan’s government has lifted an evacuation order for Naraha Town, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The measure took effect on Friday at midnight. Nearly all of the area is located 20 kilometers from the plant in Fukushima Prefecture and was subject to the March 2011 evacuation order.

The government says decontamination has been completed in the area. Officials say the town’s environment is almost ready for residents to return to their homes.

This is the third evacuation order to be lifted since the accident. The previous 2 were the Miyakoji district in Tamura City and the eastern part of Kawauchi Village.

But Naraha is the first municipality among the 7 towns and villages around the plant to have its evacuation order lifted.

These 7 municipalities totally emptied of residents, as well as local government workers. The evacuation was ordered by the central government soon after the disaster.

The lifting of the evacuation order allows the town’s approximately 7,300 residents to return to their homes. It also permits them to resume commercial and business activities.

At the same time, the town faces the challenge of addressing residents’ concerns about radiation and building a safe environment for its residents. It also faces the task of resuming the town’s commercial and medical services for the first time in 4-and-a-half years.
An evacuation order remains in place for about 70,000 people in 9 municipalities surrounding the Daiichi plant.

The central government plans to lift the order for the remaining municipalities once decontamination is complete and services are capable of supporting people’s lives. 

Source: NHK

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Plant operator to reactivate another reactor

The operator of Japan’s only active nuclear power station plans to prepare to restart a second reactor at the plant.

Kyushu Electric Power Company on Friday told the Nuclear Regulation Authority, or NRA, of its plan to start putting fuel rods into the Number 2 reactor of the Sendai plant in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima on September 11th.

The company says loading the 157 units of fuel rods into the facility will take 4 days.

NRA officials are to then inspect emergency equipment and procedures for handling severe accidents. If no problems are found, the utility plans to reactivate the reactor in mid-October, aiming at starting commercial operations in mid-November.

The firm restarted the plant’s Number 1 reactor on August 11th. The reactor is to undergo final checks by the NRA next Thursday and, if it passes them, become the first in Japan to supply electricity in 2 years.

The 2 reactors are the first to meet regulations introduced after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011.

Source: NHK

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order lifted in Naraha, but few returning home

naaha evacuation order lifted sept 5 2015

NARAHA, Fukushima Prefecture–Authorities lifted an evacuation order for 7,400 residents of this small town close to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Sept. 5, but very few homeowners have indicated they plan to return anytime soon.

Most of Naraha is located within the 20-kilometer-radius evacuation zone surrounding the stricken plant. Even though the evacuation order was lifted at midnight for the entire town, there are lingering fears of radiation contamination and concerns over a lack of essentials that would allow residents to pick up the threads of their former lives.

Of the seven Fukushima municipalities where all residents were ordered to evacuate after the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, Naraha is the first one to have the evacuation order removed.

One evacuee who did return to his Naraha home was 68-year-old Fusao Sakamoto.

“Looking back, I feel my four-and-half-years as an evacuee was agonizingly long,” the landscape gardener said.

According to the town government, only 780 residents of 351 households, or just over 10 percent of the entire population, were registered at the end of August with the town’s program to allow them to stay overnight to prepare for permanent resettlement.

It was the third removal of an evacuation order among areas in the former no-go zone set within 20 km of the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The number of residents allowed to return home is the largest with the lifting of the Naraha evacuation order. It is expected to set a precedent for large-scale resettlement of Fukushima evacuees.

Almost all Naraha residents fled from their hometown on March 12, the day after the nuclear disaster unfolded. The Fukushima plant is located in the nearby towns of Okuma and Futaba.

Naraha was initially designated as a no-entry zone, which in principle prohibited residents from entering the town. But it was redesignated as a zone being prepared for the lifting of the evacuation order in August 2012, which meant that residents were allowed to enter the town during daytime hours.

With decontamination work and restoration of basic infrastructure largely completed, evacuees were allowed to return home for long-term stays in April to prepare for permanent resettlement.

On Sept. 5, the town government, which relocated its functions to Iwaki and other municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, began to resume operations at the town office building in central Naraha.

“The clock has just started ticking again for our town with the lifting of the evacuation order after many months,” Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto told town officials. “We will accelerate efforts to achieve full recovery of the town.”

Source: Asahi Shimbun

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Japan ends evacuation of Naraha as ‘radiation at safe level’

The town’s 7,400 residents are allowed to return to their homes after the four-year-old evacuation order was lifted on Saturday

naraha town evacuation order lifted sept 5 2015 A man lights candles in Naraha, Japan. Residents of Naraha will return from Saturday to live in the town near the Fukushima nuclear power plant for the first time since the 2011 disaster.

The Japanese town of Naraha has lifted a 2011 evacuation order that sent all its 7,400 residents away after the nearby Fukushima nuclear plant was crippled by a tsunami that led to a meltdown and contamination.

Naraha was the first among seven municipalities forced to empty entirely due to radiation contamination following the massive earthquake and tsunami that sent the reactors into meltdown.

The government says radiation levels in town have fallen to levels deemed safe following decontamination efforts, and on Saturday lifted the four-year-old evacuation order.

The town represents a test case, as most residents remain cautious amid lingering health concerns and a lack of infrastructure. Only about 100 of the nearly 2,600 households have returned since a trial period begun in April.

The Naraha mayor, Yukiei Matsumoto, said Saturday marked an important milestone. “Our clock started moving again,” Matsumoto said during a ceremony held at a children’s park. “The lifting of the evacuation order is one key step but this is just a start.”

He said fear of radiation and nuclear safety was still present and the town had a long way ahead for recovery. It would be without a medical clinic until October and a new prefectural hospital would not be ready until February next year.

A grocery store started free delivery services in July, and a shopping centre will open in 2016. Still, many residents, especially those who do not drive, face limited options for their daily necessities.

Residents are given personal dosimeters to check their own radiation levels. To accommodate their concerns the town is also running 24-hour monitoring at a water filtration plant, testing tap water for radioactive materials.

In 2014 the government lifted evacuation orders for parts of two nearby towns.

Source: The Guardian

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Nearly 700,000 tons of radioactive water stored at Fukushima plant

700,000 tons contaminated water sept 5, 2015

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture–Almost 700,000 tons of radiation-contaminated water have accumulated at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. disclosed Sept. 4.

The water is stored in rows of massive tanks on the plant’s premises.

Contaminated water has been a persistent problem since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster triggered a triple meltdown at the plant, resulting in a vast amount of radiation being spewed from the facility.

Each day, about 300 tons of groundwater still seeps into the basements of the reactor buildings, where it mixes with melted nuclear fuel and becomes highly contaminated, the utility officials said.

The storage tanks TEPCO has constructed to store the water are 10 meters tall and positioned on the inland, and not seaward, side of the reactor buildings.

The plant operator said it had lowered the radiation level of a large portion of the contaminated water using a multinuclide removal apparatus called ALPS (advanced liquid processing system) and other equipment.

The utility completed processing the most highly contaminated water stored in tanks by the end of May.

TEPCO has also worked to replace flange-type bolted storage tanks that are susceptible to leakage with welded tanks to reduce the risk of accidental seepage.

To intercept clean groundwater before it flows into contaminated reactor buildings, TEPCO started a “subdrain plan” Sept. 3 to pump tons of groundwater from “subdrain wells” before it reaches the contaminated reactor buildings each day. The water will be released into the sea after undergoing decontamination treatment

Source: Asahi Shimbun

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby’s wishful thinking about Small Modular (SMR) and Generation IV reactors

text-relevantNor should the industry look for help from the trendy new kids on the block: small modular reactors (SMRs) and Generation IV technologies. The report predicts that electricity costs from SMRs will typically be 50-100% higher than for current large reactors, although it holds out some hope that large volume production of SMRs could help reduce costs–if that large volume production is comprised of “a sufficiently large number of identical SMR designs…built and replicated in factory assembly workshops.” Not very likely unless the industry accepts a socialist approach to reactor manufacturing, which is even less likely than that the approach would lead to any significant cost savings.

As for Generation IV reactors, the report at its most optimistic can only say, “In terms of generation costs, generation IV technologies aim to be at least as competitive as generation III technologies….though the additional complexity of these designs, the need to develop a specific supply chain for these reactors and the development of the associated fuel cycles will make this a challenging task.”

So, at best the Generation IV reactors are aiming to be as competitive as the current–and economically failing–Generation III reactors. And even realizing that inadequate goal will be “challenging.” The report might as well have recommended to Generation IV developers not to bother……..


Nuclear advocates fight back with wishful thinking. Green World, Michael Mariotte September 3, 2015 It must be rough to be a nuclear power advocate these days: clean renewable energy is cleaning nuclear’s clock in the marketplace; energy efficiency programs are working and causing electricity demand to remain stable and even fall in some regions; despite decades of industry effort radioactive waste remains an intractable problem; and Fukushima’s fallout–both literal and metaphoric–continues to cast a pall over the industry’s future. Continue reading

September 5, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

Japan’s Monju nuclear reprocessing reactor, plagued by safety errors, offline for most of 20 years

text-relevantErrors found in safety management of Monju reactor Sep. 3, 2015 Japan’s nuclear regulators have found fresh faults with the safety management of the country’s fast-breeder reactor, which is currently offline. They say they have found thousands of errors in safety classifications of the equipment and devices at the Monju reactor.

The operator of the prototype reactor in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, has been banned from conducting test runs since 2013 following discoveries of a large number of safety inspection oversights.


The Nuclear Regulation Authority says it has recently found at least 3,000 mistakes with safety classifications of equipment and devices at the reactor during its regular inspections which are conducted 4 times a year. Its officials say, equipment and devices with high importance were, in some cases, classified in lower ranks in the 3-level system, which suggest the operator might have failed to carry out necessary inspections for them.

The errors found recently include those going as far back as 2007. The fact suggests that government inspectors have also overlooked the operator’s mistakes. The operator, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, built the Monju fast-breeder reactor in the early 1990s to reuse the spent nuclear fuel MOX, a mixture of plutonium extracted from spent fuel and uranium.

But it has been offline for most of the period after it underwent a fire from a leak of sodium, the reactor’s coolant, in 1995.
The operator aims to conduct the reactor’s test run by next March. But it is uncertain when the ban by the authority will be lifted. The plant’s director, Kazumi Aoto, says he will take the government’s report seriously. An NRA inspector, Yutaka Miyawaki, says the regulators will try to identify the actual effects of the errors.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing, safety | Leave a comment

New nuclear power plants – a distraction from real climate action – Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein will be appearing at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas on Saturday, September 5. The talk will also be streamed live online.

text-relevantNaomi Klein says building new nuclear power plants ‘doesn’t make sense’  
SEPTEMBER 04, 2015 BUILDING new nuclear power plants to create a carbon-free world “doesn’t make sense” and just serves as a distraction from the risks, Canadian author Naomi Klein says.

The activist and author of This Changes Everything, was asked what she thought about the possibility of building a nuclear flag-Australiapower plant in South Australia, which a Royal Commission in the state is currently considering.

Backers of nuclear power often spruik it as an alternative to renewables because it does not produce greenhouse gases, unlike coal-fired power stations.

But Klein said building new nuclear plants did not make any sense to her.

“What’s exciting about this renewables revolution spreading around the world, is that it shows us that we can power our economies without the enormous risk that we have come to accept,” she told media on Thursday.

  • These risks are sometimes called “sacrifice zones” and this is actually a phrase that was used in government policy documents in the United States, Klein said.“Fossil fuels have always required those sacrifice zones,” she said, and these huge risks were often borne by certain groups of people, who were overwhelmingly the most vulnerable people in society.”

    She said these included indigenous and the poorest people who were the ones who had their lands mined and dealt with the health impacts.

    “Nuclear carries those same risks and that same logic … so no, I don’t think that’s the solution,” Klein said.

    She said the latest research showed renewables could power 100 per cent of the world’s economies.

    “We can do it without those huge risks and costs associated with nuclear so why wouldn’t we?” she said.

  • While there was still debate over the timing of when renewables should be introduced, and whether existing nuclear power plants should be taken offline first, Klein said it didn’t make sense to her to build new nuclear facilities.“People are constantly holding this promise of next generation nuclear which supposedly doesn’t have the risk of our current generation nuclear but at this point it’s notional, that’s not what’s being constructed and I think in large part that serves as a distraction from the risk associated with actual nuclear power.”

    In her book, Klein argues there is a conflict between what the planet needs in order to continue supporting human life, and what the current economic system needs to thrive, which is short term growth and “putting profits above all else”.

    “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war,” she writes. RELATED: Naomi Klein says she hopes Tony Abbott is still paying attention  “The International Energy Agency warns that if we do not get our emissions under control by a rather terrifying 2017, our fossil fuel economy will ‘lock in’ extremely dangerous warming.”

    In her book she said people needed to start speaking about climate change in terms of “right and wrong”, not of pragmatism and cost-benefits. But contrary to some people’s views, Klein said it was possible to have a stronger, fairer, more stable economy, and still act on climate change.

    “Every time he (Prime Minister Tony Abbott) tells Australians that they need to choose between the economy and climate action, that is a lie,” she said. “The latest studies show we would create six to eight times more jobs if we invested in those sectors than if we invest the same amount of money in the extractive sectors (like mining).

    “The problem we’ve had is only those extractive jobs have all too often been the only jobs on the table.”

    Klein said Germany was already getting 30 per cent of its daily electricity from renewables. On sunny days renewables can make up to 80 per cent.

    “They’ve created … 400,000 jobs in this transition, they’ve also deepened their democracy because they have taken back control of their energy grids in hundreds of cities and towns in Germany and are able to keep the profits of energy generation and use them to pay for services,” she said.

    “So this is not just about flipping the switch from one energy model to another, it’s also about changing our economy to make it fairer.

    “It is true that some of the most powerful actors in our current economic system … stand to lose a lot.” Naomi Klein will be appearing at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas on Saturday, September 5. The talk will also be streamed live online.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

In Japan’s hot summer, solar power ramped up its contribution to electricity

sunflag-japanSolar power supplies 10 percent of Japan peak summer power: Asahi–finance.html?utm_content=buffer78331&utm_medium=social&  September 2, 2015 TOKYO (Reuters) – Solar power generation contributed to about 10 percent of peak summer power supplies of Japan’s nine major utilities, equivalent to more than 10 nuclear reactors, the Asahi newspaper reported on Thursday.

Though solar power accounts for about 2 percent of annual generation of all power sources, summer’s favorable sunlight conditions increased power output, generating up to about 15 gigawatts of power in total in early August, the paper said.

Japan has been pouring billions of dollars in clean-energy investment after introducing a feed-in tariff (FIT) program in 2012, aiming to help the world’s third-biggest economy shift away from its reliance on nuclear power after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Asahi’s survey showed that the ratio of solar power at peak hours was as low as Hokuriku Electric Power’s <9505.T> 5.9 percent and as high as Kyushu Electric Power’s <9508.T> 24.6 percent, depending on access to ample land with favorable sunlight conditions.

The installed capacity of solar power taking advantage of FIT scheme has reached more than 24 gigawatts at the end of April, government data showed, up from about 5 GW before the scheme started.(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Japan, renewable | Leave a comment

Mordechai Vanunu discussed Israel’s nuclear program on primetime TV

Vanunu,MordechaiIsrael lets Mordechai Vanunu discuss its nuclear program on primetime TV
In a remarkable departure from decades of ‘nuclear ambiguity,’ man convicted of treason for leaking details of Israel’s nuclear arsenal is allowed to warn of the ‘danger’ posed by ‘Dimona powder keg’ 
TIMES OF ISRAEL,   BY DAVID HOROVITZ September 4, 2015  In a remarkable departure from decades of nuclear secrecy, Israel’s military censors permitted nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu to give a lengthy interview to primetime Israeli television on Friday night, in a move that took Israel closer than ever to acknowledging the existence of its nuclear arsenal..

The interview on Israel’s Channel 2 news featured several fascinating revelations and anecdotes, but its most dramatic aspect by far was that Vanunu — who was barred from giving interviews under the terms of his release from 18 years in jail for treason in 2004 — was allowed to speak freely, with the full permission of Israel’s security establishment, about what his interviewer rightly termed his exposure of “one of Israel’s greatest secrets.”

A technician from 1976-85 at Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona, Vanunu revealed overwhelming evidence of Israel’s nuclear program to Britain’s Sunday Times in 1986, including dozens of photographs, enabling nuclear experts to conclude that Israel had produced at least 100 nuclear warheads.

To this day, Israel has never acknowledged that it has a nuclear arsenal, instead maintaining a policy of “nuclear ambiguity” while vowing that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

The timing of the interview Friday appeared particularly telling, as Israel internalizes that its lobbying efforts have likely failed to prevent Congress approving the world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called “a historic mistake.” Netanyahu has repeatedly pledged to act alone if necessary to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. Two weeks ago, the military censor allowed the broadcast on TV of tape-recorded conversations in which former defense minister Ehud Barak describes at least three occasions in 2010, 2011 and 2012 when Israel ostensibly came close to striking at Iran’s nuclear facilities……..

Israel has repeatedly denied him permission to leave the country, in part because he allegedly still constitutes a security threat, and a further High Court hearing on the issue is expected soon. (In 2007, Vanunu was jailed for an additional six months for violating his release provisions when he was found traveling towards the West Bank city of Bethlehem, away from his home in Jerusalem.)

Vanunu also claimed he was punished more severely because he comes from a poor Moroccan background as opposed to a more privileged European one. But the bottom line, he pleaded, was that, “They should close the Vanunu file.”


September 5, 2015 Posted by | Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

International conferences in Hiroshima: call for disarmament measures is weakened by USA, Britain and Canada

world-nuclear-weapons-freeNuclear disarmament needs a push, Japan Times SEP 3, 2015

The city of Hiroshima hosted two international conferences in a row last week to discuss efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons — the fourth conference of the Group of Eminent Persons for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the 25th United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues. These meetings coincided with the 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the founding of the United Nations. But they were held in an atmosphere not necessarily conducive to nuclear disarmament — in the wake of the collapse in May of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry, a member of the group pushing the CTBT who took part in both conferences, said moves to abolish nuclear weapons have been on the decline and warned against a growing complacency, citing dwindling worldwide concern about a potential nuclear conflict. Given such a situation, it is all the more important for Japan, the sole country to suffer nuclear attacks, and all other nations and civil society to consider what they should do to remove the danger of such a conflict and take concrete steps to abolish nuclear arms.

A draft for the final document of the NPT review conference, which was held under U.N. auspices, contained positive measures, including steps to increase transparency by nations possessing nuclear weapons and setting up a working group to efficiently push for nuclear disarmament. But the conference ended without adopting the document as the United States, Britain and Canada opposed a proposal in the draft by Egypt and other Arab countries to hold a regional conference on banning weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East because it was viewed as being aimed at Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

The aborted document would have expressed for the first time a serious concern over the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons. It contained this phrase: “The Conference expresses its deep concern at the continued risk for humanity represented by the possibility that these weapons could be used and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons.”……..

Now is the time for the nuclear weapons powers — and countries like Japan and some NATO member that rely on the nuclear umbrella provided by the U.S. — to seriously consider whether they should continue to depend on nuclear deterrence, which cannot be separated from the risk of nuclear war, for their security.

The declaration issued by the Group of Eminent Persons for the CTBT should provide a clue for these countries. It called the CTBT “one of the most essential practical measures for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.” It also urged North Korea, which has conducted three nuclear tests, to “join the international community’s efforts toward nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation by refraining from conducting any further nuclear tests.”

The treaty, which aims to establish a verifiable global ban on tests of all types of nuclear explosives, has been signed by 183 countries and ratified by 164. For it to enter into force, the treaty must be signed and ratified by the 44 countries that have nuclear reactors for research or power generation. Of these countries, eight, including the U.S., China and India, have not yet ratified it. It’s the U.S. that holds the key for the CTBT to take effect. However, ratification there remains difficult due to opposition by Republicans in Congress………

September 5, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment


justiceFORMER TEPCO EXECUTIVES FACE MANDATORY INDICTMENT FOR FUKUSHIMA DISASTER The Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution announced last July that former Tokyo Electric Power Co. Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, as well as two other former company executives, should be indicted for his role in the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

The will of the people trumped the prosecutor’s decision not to indict the men. Despite public support, convicting the three men for “culpable negligence in an accident associated with a natural disaster” will be difficult, as The Japan News reported.

The decision clearly states that [TEPCO] should’ve been able to foresee the onslaught of the tsunami,” said Hiroyuki Kawai, lawyer for the Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, at a press conference. “The prospects for the trial are bright.”(1)

The prosecution hinges upon whether the three men knew that a tsunami would likely strike the power plant, and whether the gentlemen made adequate preparations in light of that knowledge.

A 2008 TEPCO  report suggest that the three men were aware of the threat that a potential tsunami posed to the nuclear plant. The report predicted a maximum credible tsunami of 15.7 meters. Nevertheless, TEPCO claims that, since the report was preliminary, it lacked scholarly credibility. The company argues that it didn’t have sufficient reason to believe a tsunami would strike the plant, and that more evidence was needed before stirring a panic.

The inquest committee was made up of 11 members of the public. In response to these remarks, the committee stated, “it is sufficient that there must be foreseeability given the fact that a tsunami occurred and some sort of response was required.”(1)

The committee went on to note that the men held high positions of power and responsibility, and that the 2008 report should not have been taken with a grain of salt.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

EDF admits Hinkley Point Nuclear Station won’t be ready by 2023

radiation-sign-sadNuclear delay: EDF admits Hinkley Point won’t be ready by 2023 Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation has been delayed and will not start generating power in 2023 as planned, French energy giant EDF admits Telegraph UK, By , Energy Editor

2:04PM BST 03 Sep 2015……a decision has yet to be taken, following a protracted EU state aid inquiry and extended negotiations with the UK Government over subsidies and with Chinese investment partners.

Although a decision is now expected in October, Mr Levy admitted the 2023 start date for the project, which will be subsidised by households through their energy bills, would no longer be met………

Mr Levy also disclosed that the final investment decision would be based on solely EDF and Chinese investment, after failing to tie up deals with any other potential investment partners in time.

EDF said in 2013 it planned to retain only a 45pc to 50pc stake in Hinkley, with Chinese groups China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation taking a combined stake of 30pc to 40pc.

Areva, the reactor maker, was expected to take 10pc and other “interested parties” were expected to take up to 15pc. But financial troubles at Areva have forced it to sell its nuclear business to EDF, and Mr Levy said no other investors would be confirmed by the time of FID……

in the first phase EDF and the Chinese will be the investors at the final investment decision.”
It is understood EDF will now retain a majority stake, although the precise share to be taken by Chinese investors is still under discussion.

Hinkley Point was once supposed to be ready in time for Christmas 2017 but has suffered numerous delays and setbacks.
Fears have grown that the project will suffer a similar fate to that of EDF’s troubled Flamanville reactor in France, which uses the same technology as the proposed Hinkley plant.

Flamanville was originally due to cost €3bn and be ready by 2012 but has seen costs spiral. On Thursday EDF said Flamanville would now not start generating until 2018, a year later than the most recent estimates, and would cost €10.5bn………

September 5, 2015 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

King of Saudi Arabia willing to back Iran nuclear deal

King Salman of Saudi Arabia set to back Iran nuclear deal — at a price, Washington Times,  By Guy Taylor – , September 3, 2015

President Obama is set to receive an official, albeit reluctant nod of approval for the Iran nuclear deal when Saudi Arabia’s new king visits theWhite House for the first time Friday, but analysts say it will come at a price as Riyadh seeks Washington’s support for its increasingly anti-Iranforeign policy in the Middle East……..

Saudi Arabia, backed by its vast oil wealth and reserve, has pursued an increasingly activist foreign policy that now features support for insurgent forces in Syria, as well as a proxy war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

But analysts say that despite some key differences, the U.S.-Saudi connection remains solid.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir hasalready expressed the kingdom’s willingness to accept the Iran nuclear deal, despite its misgivings on Tehran and a larger frustration with what it sees as a passive U.S. approach to the region under Mr. Obama.

“Both nations are close strategic partners in spite of their differences, and both states need each other,” said Anthony Cordesman, a longtime Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington.

King Salman’s visit will likely end in “some kind of public statement that puts as positive a spin as possible on the meeting,” Mr. Cordesman told Agence France-Presse. Ahead of Friday’s meeting, Jamal Khashoggi, head of al-Arab News Channel, owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Reuters that the U.S.-Saudi “relationship is entering a new phase.”……….

Mr. Obama’s hand in the talks was considerably strengthened this week as the White House obtained the bare minimum Senate votes needed to sustain his veto of any congressional rejection of the Iran deal.

The veto threat itself may prove unnecessary as the number of Democrats supporting the deal now numbers 37 following Thursday’s announcements by the three Democratic lawmakers. With four more votes, Democrats could filibuster the rejection motion in the Senate and avoid a veto fight altogether. Several of the seven undecided SenateDemocrats are reportedly leaning toward supporting Mr. Obama.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Pilgrim Nuclear Station on the brink of permanent shutdown

Pilgrim nuclear plant one step from shutdown by regulators, Cape Cod Times  Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is now at the bottom of the performance list of the nation’s 99 operating reactors, based on its forced shutdowns and equipment failures, and in a category just one step above mandatory shutdown by federal regulators. By Christine Sep 2, 2015  PLYMOUTH

Only two other plants in the country are currently in that category: Arkansas Nuclear One and Arkansas Nuclear Two. Those two, like Pilgrim, are Entergy-owned.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the downgrade of the Pilgrim plant today. In a letter to Entergy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the downgrade was due to the plant’s failure to adequately address the issues that have caused the plant’s high number of unplanned shutdowns.

A supplemental inspection will focus on the plant’s shortcomings, “including human performance, procedure quality and equipment performance.”

The results of the supplemental inspection will “provide the NRC with additional information to be used in deciding whether the continued operation of the facility is acceptable and whether additional regulatory actions are necessary to arrest the licensee/plant performance,” the NRC said……..U.S. Sen Edward Markey, D-Mass., issued a statement on Pilgrim’s dubious status. “For decades, I have raised concerns about Pilgrim’s operations, security preparedness, the safety of the surrounding communities in the event of a nuclear accident, and the willingness of Entergy to dedicate sufficient resources to run the reactor safely,” Markey wrote.
The senator noted Pilgrim is the same boiling water reactor design as those that suffered meltdowns at Fukushima.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment