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Nuclear waste repositary still needed: reprocessing is no answer to radioactive trash problem

EU paints challenging picture of Europe’s nuclear future, Energy  Post. February 2, 2016 by  “……….Limited prospects for recycling nuclear fuel

France is the only country in Europe that is still working towards a fully closed fuel cycle with fast neutron reactors and advanced reprocessing technology. Other countries use open cycles.

France will be the only country to operate reprocessing facilities after 2018 (when those in the UK are shut down). The partially closed cycle that technology currently permits “is not expected to give a major reduction of the final disposal solution footprint in comparison to an open cycle”.

The future of recycled nuclear fuel is limited by the lack of fast-breeder reactors, more safety requirements, a higher risk of proliferation, lower competitiveness, and the fact that it still requires a final waste depository……. http://www.energypost.eu/exclusive-eu-paints-challenging-picture-europes-nuclear-future/

nuclear-chain-not-cycle

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February 3, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, reprocessing | Leave a comment

European Commission faces the astronomic future costs of nuclear power

Without lifetime extensions, around 90% of the EU’s existing nuclear reactors would be shut down by 2030. But even with lifetime extensions, 90% of existing nuclear electricity production capacity will need to be replaced before 2050. This will cost €350-500 billion, estimates the Commission.

The Commission admits that the costs of new-build projects “are in the high range” of what analysts expected. Hinkley Point C tops the charts with €6.755 per KWe (vs. a €5.290 per KWe average for a “first of a kind” twin unit). There is a “historical trend of cost escalation”, the Commission concludes.

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flag-EUEU paints challenging picture of Europe’s nuclear future, Energy Post. February 2, 2016 by 
 In a leaked draft document obtained by Energy Post, the European Commission outlines the investments in the EU nuclear industry that it believes are needed out to 2050. The document, originally announced for last year, but off the table again for February, paints a challenging picture for the European nuclear industry. €450-550 billion will have to be spent on new plants and lifetime extensions, costs of decommissioning and waste management are high, competitiveness is a challenge and nuclear’s share in the energy mix will decline from 27% today to 17-21%. Sonja van Renssen investigates.

The “Communication for a Nuclear Illustrative Programme” or PINC is a non-legislative document “periodically” produced by the European Commission, as required by the Euratom Treaty (article 40) that “provides an overview of investments in the EU for all the steps of the nuclear lifecycle”. The last PINC dates back to 2008 so the one currently under preparation will be the first since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011. It “provides a basis to discuss the role of nuclear energy in achieving the EU energy objectives”………

Globally, nuclear-related investment needs are estimated at around €3 trillion out to 2050, with most of that money due to be spent in Asia. ……

Total investments in EU nuclear energy approaching three-quarters of a trillion Euros are needed from now to 2050, the Commission calculates….

Escalating costs of new-build

Without lifetime extensions, around 90% of the EU’s existing nuclear reactors would be shut down by 2030. But even with lifetime extensions, 90% of existing nuclear electricity production capacity will need to be replaced before 2050. This will cost €350-500 billion, estimates the Commission.

“Different financing models are being examined or used in several EU Member States,” the Commission notes, citing the UK’s Contract for Difference for Hinkley Point C and the Mankala model in Finland. It does not give an opinion on state aid for nuclear, however, although this is fully within its remit. Then the understatement of the year: “Some new first of a kind projects in the EU, have experienced delays and cost overruns.” The Finnish Olkiluoto and French Flamanville projects are both at over three times their original budgets and years behind schedule.

The Commission admits that the costs of new-build projects “are in the high range” of what analysts expected. Hinkley Point C tops the charts with €6.755 per KWe (vs. a €5.290 per KWe average for a “first of a kind” twin unit). There is a “historical trend of cost escalation”, the Commission concludes. ……

Squeezing out lifetime extensions

The average age of the nuclear fleet in Europe is 29 years. By 2030, most of the EU’s nuclear fleet would be operating beyond its original design life. The Commission expects lifetime extensions of 10-20 years to require investments of €45-50 billion by 2050. Note that more than 80% of this would be spent from now to 2030. The post-Fukushima safety upgrades increase the cost of these lifetime extensions by some 5-25%, the Commission estimates……http://www.energypost.eu/exclusive-eu-paints-challenging-picture-europes-nuclear-future/

February 3, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, Reference | Leave a comment

South Africa: CORRUPTION GOES NUCLEAR – Jacob Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians

13a47-corruptionflag-S.Africa

Zuma’s 9 600MW nuclear procurement programme and its accompanying contracts are tainted with alleged vested interests of the most deplorable kind.
If the country has any hope of having a rational, legal, and transparent evaluation of the need for nuclear energy, the procurement process has to start afresh.
This however can only occur under new leadership, which places the country’s interests ahead of its own.

If this does not occur, the future of South Africa will consist of a dark and discontented nuclear winter.

Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story
Part 1: In pursuit of satisfying his insatiable greed — Jacob Zuma will liberate us from our constitutional democracy, and destroy the chance of a ‘better life for all’ 
Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story RAND DAILY MAIL LILY GOSAM 02 FEBRUARY 2016

“……..PART 1: CORRUPTION GOES NUCLEAR

I wish to make it clear from the outset that this piece is not about arguing the merits or demerits of nuclear energy. It is whether Zuma’s decision for nuclear energy is based on sound economic principles for the good of the country, or for some other purpose.

Zuma’s (rabid) pet project

On 9 of December 2015 (and hours before Nene was fired), Zuma’s cabinet approved the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme (nuclear programme). This paves the way for nuclear vendors to present proposals in March 2016 to build 6 to 8 nuclear reactors, at an estimated cost of between R800-billion and R1.6-trillion ($50-billion to $100 billion)[5] [6] [7.

The nuclear programme, however, glows with controversy. According to Peter Attard Montalto (an emerging market economist at Nomura), the nuclear programme is Zuma’s “pet project”, and is highly interwoven with politics and the succession issue[8]. His analysis is supported by a Mail and Guardian [M&G] source who said that the programme was regarded as one of Zuma’s “presidential legacy projects” [9]. Professor William Gumede, of Democracy Works, added that the programme is being implemented essentially from a purely patronage point of view[10]. While Andrew Feinstein, executive director of Corruption Watch UK (and former ANC MP), said simply, “I fear that the corruption in this deal might dwarf the arms deal” (News24)[11].

A nuclear procurement process in a constitutional democracy should be transparent, logical, considered, legal, participatory, and unbiased.

Yet Zuma has assumed personal control of the nuclear programme, and it has been characterised by: secret meetings; undisclosed documents and classified financial reports; deceit; aggressive campaigning; damage control exercises; illegality; use of apartheid (‘national key-point’) legislation[12]; sidestepping of Eskom’s technical and financial oversight; destruction of oversight organs of state; disregarding of industry experts; refusal of public consultation; ignoring of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) and ANC resolutions; and the removal of any government opponents, the most notable of whom was Nene…………

Below exposes the reasons why Zuma is so hell bent on forcing the Russian 9 600 MW programme through, irrespective of: the evidence against it (from independent and government sources); the laws that stand in his way; the people that advise against it; and the grave concerns of his own party.

Radioactive plant-feed

Nuclear reactors require uranium to function, in particular low-enriched uranium (LEU). But first one must mine the uranium, and for South Africa’s 9 600MW nuclear programme, plus the existing Koeberg Nuclear Plant, the demand for uranium would steadily increase as the nuclear power plants come online. Luckily South Africa is said to have 6% of global identified resources of uranium (or 970 000 tons), the seventh highest share in the world [OECD-NEA, 2013][62].

With a 9 600MW nuclear deal, local uranium reactor demand would grow from the current 290 tons of Uranium (Ut) per year, to eventually 3300 Ut per year, once all the reactors are operational [OECD- Nuclear Energy Agency, 2014][63]. That’s a dramatic 11 times increase in local demand for uranium.

And as it just so happens, in 2010 the Guptas (a family well-known for their backing of Zuma), along with Zuma’s son, Duduzane, emerged as buyers of a South African uranium mine — the Dominion Rietkuil Uranium Project — amid claims that Zuma intervened to ease state funding for the project (according to amaBhungane – M&G’s investigative arm)[64].

[For summaries of the Guptas’ influence with Zuma and his family, read Verashni Pillay’s 2013 M&G article, or Franz Wild’s 2015 Bloomberg article. There are also excellent standalone articles on the Guptas dealings with the state, such as the Sunday Times piece by Sabelo Skiti on how Eskom allegedly went to extraordinary lengths to make sure the Gupta family landed a R4-billion coal deal, or M&G’s amaBhungane articles on a former Gupta associate allegedly involved in R835-million Transnet kickbacks]

All mine

Uranium One Incorporated (Uranium One) — a public company in Canada — owned a number of uranium mines around the world, including a uranium and gold mine in the North West province, South Africa[65] [66]. The local mine was called the Dominion Rietkuil Uranium project, which proved to be a disappointment to the company and so it was mothballed in late 2008.

Uranium One’s global uranium holdings attracted the attention of Rosatom, which from 2009 onwards began buying up the company’s shares through one of its many wholly-owned subsidiaries. (Rosatom would eventually indirectly secure 51% ownership of Uranium One in 2010, and 100% in 2013, after which it was delisted[67])[68].

As Rosatom (through its subsidiary) was buying into Uranium One, the company sold the South African Dominion Rietkuil Uranium project. Reporters picked up on Uranium One’s “low-key announcement” in April 2010 of the sale of the mine to an undisclosed party[69] [70]. The mine was sold for $37.3-million, at a loss to the company of $242-million (based on the company’s interim financial statements)[71]. Thus the mine was sold for about 14% of its reported value.

One month later, in May 2010, the media got wind that the mine — which would come to be known as Shiva Uranium — was bought by Oakbay Resources and Energy Limited (a Gupta-controlled company) together with minority shareholders, which consist of companies within companies (like a Russian nesting doll), including indirectly the ANC’s MK war veterans and its women’s group[72], and the black economic empowerment group Mabengela Investments (Mabengela).

Mabengela is headed by Zuma’s son Duduzane and Rajesh “Tony” Gupta (the youngest of three Gupta brothers). 45% of Mabengela is owned by Duduzane Zuma; 25% by Rajesh “Tony” Gupta (the youngest of the three Gupta brothers); 20% by an array of Gupta employees, former business partners and friends; and the last 10% is owned by an obscure offshore company, with its sole owner a Dubai resident with discernible traces in South Africa[73] [M&G]. The M&G wrote that Mabengela appears to be the vehicle for the Zuma family’s empowerment by the Gupta family[74].

(The North West province — where the mine is situated — is governed by Supra Mahumapelo, the province’s premier, and he is said to be a member of the so-called “premier league”, which consists of premiers loyal to Zuma. The other premier-league provinces are the Free State and Mpumalanga[75]. For the 2014/15 period, the auditor-general found the number of “clean audits” — that is, financial statements that present a fair and accurate picture and comply with accepted accounting principles — for the departments and public entities in Mpumalanga and the North West came to 24% and 4% respectively, while 32% of the Free State’s audits were deemed clean[76] [77]. This excludes financial statements by departments not submitted on time, or at all[78].

amaBhungane and the Sunday Times uncovered that the Guptas had expected the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to facilitate funding for the Uranium mine purchase. (The state-owned PIC is the country’s largest institutional investor, with more than R750-billion — as at 2010 – in civil servants’ pensions under its management[79]).

……….At the time of the purchase of the Dominion Rietkuil Uranium mine, journalist Brendan Ryan [Fin24] pondered, “Who in their right mind would buy one of the most notorious dogs in the entire South African mining sector — the failed Dominion Uranium mine — and do it at a time when uranium prices are still depressed? That’s the $64 000 question following news that the Gupta family — the ultimate controlling shareholder in Shiva Uranium — has bought Dominion for $37.3-million. It’s either the steal of the century — given that developers Uranium One wrote off an investment of $1.8-billion when they shut Dominion down in October 2008 — or it’s a classic case of throwing good money after bad.”[93]

Unbeknownst to Ryan, at the time, was that Zuma and his benefactors had set the course for a large-scale nuclear programme.

Atomic timeline: 2000 to 2010

In the early 2000’s, Zuma — then South African deputy president — met the Guptas for the first time, as a guest at a business function held by a Gupta company, Sahara Computers[94].

In 2005, during the power struggle between Zuma and Thabo Mbeki for the presidency, the Guptas were said to have sided with Zuma, even after he had been fired as deputy president. The Guptas had tried to court Mbeki, but did not get far. (The Guptas claim that they were friends with Mbeki as much as they are friends with Zuma). The Guptas don’t mind telling whoever cares to listen that they were there for Zuma when his days were dark [Business Day][95].

Early in 2007, Eskom approved a plan to expand South Africa’s overall electricity capacity by the year 2025. The plan included the construction of 20 000 MW of new nuclear capacity, consisting of up to 12 nuclear reactors. France’s Areva and the United States’ Westinghouse were contenders[96].

In December 2007, Zuma was elected as ANC president[97].

Six month’s later, in June 2008, Duduzile and Duduzane, Zuma’s daughter and son joined the board of the Gupta-controlled company, Sahara Computers[98] [99]. (Duduzile resigned from the position in 2010[100]. Duduzane and Gupta family members are directors of at least 11 of the same companies, as at December 2015 [Timeslive][101].)

In September 2008, Mbeki resigned as South African president.

In December 2008, Eskom abandoned the 20 000MW nuclear plan for being unaffordable in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis and the renewed appreciation for coal production[102] [103] [104][Professor J. van Wyk of Political Sciences]

Zuma was inaugurated as South African president in May 2009. In November 2009, the Guptas’ formed a new company, which would come to be known as Oakbay Resources and Energy Limited[105](Oakbay).

One month later, in December 2009, Zuma declared at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen that South Africa was going to reduce its carbon emissions by 34% by 2020[106]. His announcement took both local and international commentators by surprise, but it revealed Zuma’s nuclear ambitions.

Four months after that, in April 2010, the Guptas, Duduzane Zuma, and other investors bought the mine — soon to be called Shiva Uranium — with Zuma allegedly ensuring state assistance. The Guptas and Duduzane then jumped into action, refurbishing the uranium and gold plant “very aggressively”[107] to make the plant operational for production. They also possessed due diligence studies and a comprehensive bankable feasibility study (a document required to raise capital)[108] [109]……..

In August 2010, Zuma met with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, during his first official visit to Russia. Zuma was accompanied by 11 cabinet ministers and more than 100 South African business people[112].

During the trip, Zuma concluded a deal with Medvedev for Rosatom to supply 40% of Koeberg’s enriched uranium needs until 2017 to 2018[113] [114]. The Head of Rosatom told reporters that the company hoped to eventually control 45% of the low-enriched uranium (LEU) market in South Africa[115].”Our share of the market in South Africa will rise,” he said…………….

Gupta and Gupta-linked companies involved in mining – including Shiva Uranium – have several times run into trouble with regulatory requirements, as well as those on environmental compliance[226] [227][TimesLive]. Due to changes in environmental and mining legislation, Zwane is in charge of enforcing those regulations[228] [229]………..

South Africa has become one of the leading destinations for renewable energy investment, so said a 2015 research report by the Energy Research Centre UCT. The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Project (REIPPP) is a joint private-public initiative for renewable energy generation, mainly from wind, solar PV and concentrated solar power. Since its inception, the REIPPP has been hailed an unprecedented success. The programme is unique in that for projects to qualify, developers must contribute to the reduction of socio-economic inequity, through community ownership and economic development benefits[237].

As of October 2015, 92 projects had been selected as part of the REIPPP, mobilising private investment of R193-billion, and with a combined capacity of 6 327MW. In addition, 37 out of the 92 projects had been completed by then and they contributed 1 827MW of power to the national electricity grid (this is equivalent to one Koeberg nuclear power station), while also providing social upliftment[238] [239] [240][241]. In June 2015, the energy department issued a determination to procure a further 6 300 MW for the project[242]. The national treasury expected the REIPPP to eventually contribute 17 000 MW of electricity capacity to the grid by 2022[243].

Yet, in October 2015, just when bidding by renewable power producers was set to start for the additional capacity[244], Brian Molefe — now CEO of Eskom — halted the process, with the non-issuance of budget quotes for the programme. He said it was a temporary measure taken to protect the financial sustainability of Eskom. Effectively, he was saying Eskom could not afford to support new REIPPP connections as well as energy purchases. He added that, “very soon a lasting solution will be found to address this matter” [Fin24][245] [246] [247]. (As of writing, no reports on Eskom’s future commitment to the REIPPP could be located.)

On Wednesday, 9 of December 2015, Zuma held a cabinet meeting to discuss key government programmes and decisions. Amongst them was the nuclear procurement programme for 9 600 MW, which was then approved by cabinet (but excluded the then Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Gordhan, who was off sick) [Carol Paton of Business Day uncovered cabinet’s decision][248].

Just hours after the meeting, and to the cabinet’s great consternation and surprise (according to Jeff Radebe, who is a cabinet member, an ANC NEC member, and minister of the presidency)[249], they heard along with the rest of the public that Zuma had fired Nene, and replaced him with a parliamentary backbencher, David van Rooyen. The move was met with shock and disbelief in all sectors at home and abroad[250].

Two days later, on Friday, 11 of December 2015, the post-cabinet media briefing by Radebe and accompanying press statement made no mention of the fact that the 9 600MW nuclear deal had been approved[251] [252] [253]. It was only on Monday, 14 December 2015, after Gordhan had taken the helm of treasury that cabinet’s decision was publically confirmed by him.

Uranium enrichment

“Global uranium demand is predominantly driven by its use in nuclear power generation plants,”[254]declared Oakbay, the majority shareholder in Shiva Uranium. But uranium cannot be used as fuel to run nuclear reactors until it has been converted into low enriched uranium (LEU)[255] [256].

The World Nuclear Organisation states that Eskom procures its conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication services from world markets, and that nearly half of its enrichment is from Russia. However, historically, South Africa has sought self-sufficiency in its fuel cycle[257].

In the 1970s the Apartheid government established a uranium enrichment company, which later, in 1999, was restructured to become Necsa (currently under the management of Zuma’s “lynchpins” Seekoe and CEO Tshelane). But actual enrichment operations ceased in 1995, and the only two conversion plants were both demolished. Much of the high-enriched uranium (HEU) is still stored away. (Some say there’s a 250kg cache[258]).

With the prospect of 9 600MW of nuclear power, local enrichment operations are again a priority. ………

Uranium is not the only commodity with dubious links to the nuclear programme.

In July 2013, John Helmer (a provocative American journalist who focuses on the Russian business sector) flagged a strange deal with a company Nemascore which had links to Zuma’s associates ……….

Stacked deck 

Overall, the tendering process for the 9 600MW nuclear build programme will include 80%  South African sourced construction companies, engineers, waste management system suppliers, security systems providers, cabling, cement, steel, finance, transport, IT firms, mining, and more[286] [287].
Which on the face of it sounds wonderful, but not when one considers it is for a nuclear programme that has already been declared by government and independent studies to be unnecessary and unaffordable, will ultimately result in 10 to 50 times higher electricity costs than we are paying now, and already exhibits alarming signs of fixed tendering through devious means[288]……..

Zuma is the bomb

Besides LEU, enrichment plants can also produce high enriched uranium (HEU), which is used in nuclear weaponry.

In March 2012, at a Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Zuma stated on the subject of HEU, “…South Africa has adopted a policy on the benefication of our mineral resources, including uranium.”[293] What Zuma meant by “benefication” was that SA has a policy of enriching Uranium and does not want to limit its options by foreswearing the production or use of HEU [IOL]. Officials further explained that Zuma was not only keeping SA’s options open for producing HEU in the future, but also defended its decision to hold on to its existing stock of HEU from the nuclear weapons programme of the Apartheid government [IOL]………..

Conclusion

Zuma’s 9 600MW nuclear procurement programme and its accompanying contracts are tainted with alleged vested interests of the most deplorable kind.
If the country has any hope of having a rational, legal, and transparent evaluation of the need for nuclear energy, the procurement process has to start afresh.
This however can only occur under new leadership, which places the country’s interests ahead of its own.

If this does not occur, the future of South Africa will consist of a dark and discontented nuclear winter.  http://www.rdm.co.za/politics/2016/02/02/zuma-the-guptas-and-the-russians–the-inside-story

February 3, 2016 Posted by | politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa, Uranium | Leave a comment

UK Hinkley Point nuclear plant project director quits

rat leaving sinking shipEDF project director for UK Hinkley Point nuclear plant quits, 7 News, Reuters February 3, 2016 LONDON – An executive of French utility EDF in charge of Britain’s first new nuclear power station project for 20 years is leaving to join U.S. energy company Entergy Corp , the U.S. firm said on Tuesday.

As an executive director at EDF’s British unit, EDF Energy, Christopher Bakken had been project director since 2011 for the Hinkley Point C nuclear project in southwestern England.

He was responsible for the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the planned new nuclear plant………

Intractable problems at two similar nuclear plants under construction in France and Finland threaten more delays to EDF’s British plans.  https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30718466/edf-project-director-for-uk-hinkley-point-nuclear-plant-quits/

 

February 3, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, employment, France, UK | Leave a comment

Germany’s costly nuclear waste dump correction

Environment state secretary Jochen Flasbarth, who described the situation in Asse II as “disastrous”, told journalists in Berlin that the current plan was to store the Asse waste, once retrieved, with the high-level radioactive waste for which the government is still searching a site…….

The Asse case shows how difficult it can be to undo a decision related to nuclear waste storage. It will take longer to retrieve the waste than it did to dump it

waste cavern Germany

text-relevantWhy Germany is digging up its nuclear waste, By  , EU Observer, WOLFENBUETTEL, GERMANY, TODAY, 2 Feb 16  “….. in hindsight, the Asse II salt mine should never have been used in the 1960s and 1970s as a site to dump nuclear waste, said Ingo Bautz of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection………To anti-nuclear activists, Asse is a prime example of government not listening to citizens’ concerns. “Incidents were predicted,” said Wolfgang Ehmke, activist in the Gorleben region.

But the waste had to be stored somewhere, so the voices that warned against selecting Asse II were ignored.

“The potential risks for the future were accepted,” Bautz said, during a recent press visit to the mine organised by Clean Energy Wire, a non-profit group supported by the Mercator and European Climate foundations.

Road signs, deep underground

Until 1978, low and intermediate-level radioactive waste was stored in Asse II, the only such site in Germany.

Ten years later, the operator of the mine discovered leaks of radioactive brine. But it was not until 2008, when media reported about it, that the leaks became public knowledge.

The German government took control of the mine and tasked the Federal Office for Radiation Protection with its decommissioning.

The office concluded that the risk of groundwater contamination was too big, and the only truly safe option was to retrieve all the waste from the mine and store it elsewhere. In all, 126,000 containers filled with contaminated clothes, paper and equipment were stored in Asse, the office said.

“This task is very difficult,” said Bautz, who joined journalists to travel into the mine, 658m below the surface.

The lift plunged to the bottom at 36km/h. Inside the mine, the temperature was about 30C even though it was freezing above ground.

The mine is so large that workers have to use cars to get around. In one tunnel an LED road sign typically found in residential areas tells drivers to watch their speed……..

Since the mine is over a century old, it needs to be protected against a collapse or flooding. It will also need another lift to use for retrieving the waste.

And because of safety regulations regarding evacuation, only 120 people can be down in the mine at the same time. Workers are monitored for any exposure to radiation……..

In 2011, the EU adopted a rule obliging each country that has produced nuclear waste to have policies on how to manage their waste. Last August, all member states were due to report about their national programmes for the first time.

Germany told the commission it planned to put “all types of radioactive waste in deep geological disposal facilities with the aim to guarantee isolation from the biosphere in the long term, thus ensuring the safety of man and the environment without any need for maintenance”.

Environment state secretary Jochen Flasbarth, who described the situation in Asse II as “disastrous”, told journalists in Berlin that the current plan was to store the Asse waste, once retrieved, with the high-level radioactive waste for which the government is still searching a site…….

The Asse case shows how difficult it can be to undo a decision related to nuclear waste storage. It will take longer to retrieve the waste than it did to dump it…….

This is second part in a two-part series about Germany’s nuclear waste. Part one was about how Gorleben refused to be the country’s permanent waste repository.  https://euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/132085

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Germany, wastes | Leave a comment

How Gorleben refused to be Germany’s nuclear dump 

By  GORLEBEN, GERMANY, 1. FEB (subscribers only) https://euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/132065

February 3, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Electricite De France : 6 union board members will oppose Hinkley Point nuclear project

text Hinkley cancelledEDF’s union board members to oppose Hinkley Point – sources, Yahoo 7 News, Reuters February 3, 2016 By Geert De Clercq  PARIS – The six union members on EDF’s 18-seat board would vote against the French utility’s plans for two nuclear reactors in the UK, but other board members do not want to postpone the project, sources familiar with the situation said.

The unions want EDF to put off the 18 billion pound project to build two Areva-designed European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) at Hinkley Point in southwest England until it has strengthened its balance sheet and started up at least one of the four EPRs it has under construction elsewhere.

A united front of EDF’s unions opposing a major investment decision would be unprecedented, but the lack of support from other board members removes a major element of uncertainty for the plan.

“If the Hinkley Point project was put to the board today, the six union representatives would all vote against it,” one of the sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

EDF first announced Hinkley Point in 2013 and said in Oct. 2015 that Chinese utility CGN would take a 33.5 percent stake in the project, but it has not yet taken a final investment decision as it struggles to find financing.

On Monday, EDF’s dominant CGT union, which has three board members, called on the firm to postpone the project, saying EDF should prioritise upgrading its ageing nuclear fleet in France, start up the long-delayed EPR it is building in Flamanville, and design a new-model EPR reactor…….

A united front of EDF’s unions opposing a major investment decision would be unprecedented, but the lack of support from other board members removes a major element of uncertainty for the plan.

“If the Hinkley Point project was put to the board today, the six union representatives would all vote against it,” one of the sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

EDF first announced Hinkley Point in 2013 and said in Oct. 2015 that Chinese utility CGN would take a 33.5 percent stake in the project, but it has not yet taken a final investment decision as it struggles to find financing.

On Monday, EDF’s dominant CGT union, which has three board members, called on the firm to postpone the project, saying EDF should prioritise upgrading its ageing nuclear fleet in France, start up the long-delayed EPR it is building in Flamanville, and design a new-model EPR reactor……https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30718719/edfs-union-board-members-could-vote-against-hinkley-point-sources/

February 3, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

Increasingly, it’s the “back end” of nuclear power that will be astronomically costly

wastes-1EU paints challenging picture of Europe’s nuclear future, Energy Post. February 2, 2016 by  “…..Paying for the aftermathIt is the back-end of the fuel cycle – waste management and decommissioning – that is going to claim a rising share of investments in the years ahead. More than 50 of the EU’s 131 reactors are likely to be shut down by 2025, the Commission says. Member States are moving “from research to action” on geological disposal. The first facilities are expected to be up and running in Finland, Sweden and France between 2020 and 2030 (Finland is in the lead with a due date of 2023). Almost all other Member States are at the “preliminary studies” stage. Public acceptance remains a challenge. So does deciding who is finally liable for the waste.

The projected costs of long-term geological storage depositories run from less than half a billion in Slovenia and Croatia to over €20 billion in France, the Commission says. It all adds up to €68 billion, or nearly half of the total estimated waste management costs of €142 billion out to 2050. For these, the average result of €3.23 per MWh is more than double what was estimated in recent studies, the Commission notes. Over a third of the total costs are for France.

nuke-reactor-deadThe other half of the end-of-life equation, decommissioning, is largely unknown terrain. When a nuclear site is decommissioned, it is released from regulatory oversight. Given “the ageing status of the European reactors, the capability of the industry and regulators to develop safe and cost effective decommissioning programs will determine to a great extent the future of nuclear commercial power in Europe”. This includes greater transparency in cost estimates, it adds. The Commission comes up with a total cost of €126 billion for decommissioning out to 2050. Some will argue that real costs are likely to be far higher.

Estimates of decommissioning costs per unit also vary “significantly” between Member States, from €0.20 billion in Finland to €1.33 billion in Lithuania. Germany and the UK are at the high end (€1.06 billion and €0.85 billion, respectively) while France is at the low end (€0.32 billion). The estimates depend on technology, the size and location of the reactor, and dismantling strategy, the Commission says.

Experience is scarce: although 89 reactors had been permanently closed in Europe as of October 2015, only three had been fully decommissioned. All three were in Germany. Worldwide, only 13 more have been decommissioned; all of them in the US. The Commission suggests a “European Centre of Excellence” to exchange best practice might help. http://www.energypost.eu/exclusive-eu-paints-challenging-picture-europes-nuclear-future/

EU paints challenging picture of Europe’s nuclear future, Energy Post. February 2, 2016 by  Not the full picture

In theory, the money for waste management and decommissioning is being accumulated throughout reactors’ lifetimes, primarily through a fixed contribution based on electricity sales. In most Member States, regulators define the method for securing funds (some, such as Germany however, rely on commercial law to require companies to build up reserves in their balance sheets).

Of the €268 billion needed in the EU by 2050, there is already €150 billion in the bank. In other words, as of 2014, European nuclear operators had dedicated assets that would cover 56% of the total estimated nuclear end-of-life costs, for reactors that were 64% of the way through their lives. A “possible explanation” for the difference is that some Member States are anticipating lifetime extensions.

The Commission concludes that “as a reliable low carbon technology and a major contributor to security of supply”, nuclear energy “is expected to remain an important component of the EU’s energy mix”. Maintaining EU technological leadership, including through the nuclear fusion project ITER, is “essential”. But this does not make nuclear energy competitive or affordable, nor does it ensure it can play a useful role in an EU power system dominated by renewables, where flexibility is central.

There are a few other things the draft PINC does not (yet) do. It does not advise on the involvement of foreign firms in supposedly strategic energy projects (e.g. China in Hinkley Point C). It does not draw lessons from recent upheavals in the nuclear industry (e.g. Areva’s bankruptcy). It does not tackle liability, although a former PINC suggested setting up a harmonised system of liability and financial mechanisms in case of an accident. And finally, it does not discuss harmonising strategies for decommissioning funds – also suggested in the former PINC – beyond proposing a European Centre of Excellence. http://www.energypost.eu/exclusive-eu-paints-challenging-picture-europes-nuclear-future/

February 3, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

Behind the Russia – South Africa nuclear love affair

World Nuclear Association strategist Steve Kidd said that it was highly unlikely that Russia would succeed in carrying out even half of the projects in which it claims to be closely involved.

While a world nuclear report by two independent international energy consultants concludes that, “the lack of realism and overblown market expectations drive nuclear companies and traditional utilities into ruin”.

This may explain why rating agencies consider nuclear investment risky and the abandoning of nuclear projects explicitly ‘credit positive’.

Over and above that, the project as it stands threatens our country’s sovereignty, since our energy supply will be solely in the hands of Russia, which Allister Sparks describes as a country with “one of the world’s nastiest dictatorships”

truthZuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story RAND DAILY MAIL LILY GOSAM 02 FEBRUARY 2016  “………From Russia with love of all things nuclear   Russia is Zuma’s “preferred partner” for the 9 600 MW nuclear build, according to energy experts, analysts and journalists. He has had numerous personal negotiations (some undisclosed) between 2009 and 2014 with his Russian counterparts — Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev[13] — and within that time two agreements were signed (and both concealed from public scrutiny[14] [15] [16]).

Should the nuclear programme go ahead as Zuma and his benefactors have planned, Rosatom — Russia’s state-owned nuclear company — will build the nuclear power plants.

Rosatom consists of 360 companies, with 34 reactors in operation, and 29 under construction, including nine in Russia [M&G][17]. It is a nuclear mass production machine designed and dependent on worldwide nuclear energy expansion and domination[18].

Over the past five years, Rosatom has quietly cornered the market in nuclear energy, systematically seeking out agreements and contracts with roughly 30 nations interested in the installation of nuclear power plants. According to Global Risk Insights, Russian-built nuclear power plants in foreign countries become more akin to embassies — or even military bases — than simple bilateral infrastructure projects. The long-term or permanent presence that accompanies the exportation of Russian nuclear power will afford president Vladimir Putin a notable influence in countries crucial to regional geopolitics[19] [20]. Continue reading

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Reference, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Renewabl eenergy is winning the world – University expert

renewable-energy-world-SmWorld is embracing clean energy, says expert http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160201123053.htm  Source: University of Exeter

Summary:
An expert argues that investment in renewable electricity now outstrips that in fossil fuels, and that increasing numbers of policies to improve the efficiency of energy use and to make energy systems more flexible are pointing to a global momentum in the adoption of sustainable energy systems.
Renewable, energy efficient and flexible electricity sources are being adopted by policy makers and investors across the globe and this is sign of optimism in the battle against climate change, a University of Exeter energy policy expert is suggesting.

In a journal article published in Nature Energy, Professor Catherine Mitchell from the University’s Energy Policy Group argues that investment in renewable electricity now outstrips that in fossil fuels, and that increasing numbers of policies to improve the efficiency of energy use and to make energy systems more flexible are pointing to a global momentum in the adoption of sustainable energy systems.

“While the world is still dependent on fossil fuels, because energy systems have long lives, it has got to the point where more than half of global electricity system investment is in renewables rather than fossil fuels investment. It is a sign that globally we have moved our public policy discourse and investor preferences from the old ‘dirty’ energy system to a clean one,” she said.

The adoption of renewable electricity by a few countries like Denmark and Germany in the 1990s, has led to improved understanding of energy system operation and a fall in prices which has had a knock on effect. A few countries, like the UK, remain dominated by conventional energy systems but most are supporting the move to sustainable energy systems.

“They are just trying to act as good global neighbours and have realised that meeting their climate change reduction commitments is no longer as expensive as they thought, and it helps, rather than makes worse, the security of their energy systems, ” added Professor Mitchell, who us based at the University’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

While the changing discourse is welcome, Professor Mitchell stresses that the challenge of climate change has not yet been met and that policy statements need to be backed up with firm action

“The recent United Nations meeting on climate change in Paris and its agreements has led to strong support for individual country’s sustainable energy policies. However, these statements need to be backed up with appropriate governance — policies, institutions, incentives and energy system rules — to make sure they are implemented and are successful.”

Momentum is increasing towards a flexible electricity system based on renewables by Catherine Mitchell is published in Nature Energy.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Exeter.Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. Journal Reference:

  1. Catherine Mitchell. Momentum is increasing towards a flexible electricity system based on renewablesNature Energy, 2016; 1 (2): 15030 DOI: 10.1038/nenergy.2015.30

February 3, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

25 toxic years of use of depleted uranium weapons

depleted-uranium“The most toxic war in history” – 25 years later, International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons,  Quarter of a century on from the first widespread use of depleted uranium munitions, have lessons been learned about the need to protect civilians, military personnel and the environment from conflict pollution and the toxic remnants of war? 1 February 2016 – Doug Weir 

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the start of Operation Desert Storm, the combat phase of the Gulf War. Precipitated by Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait in August 1990, the conflict was the first to see the widespread use of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition. US and UK forces subsequently acknowledged firing a combined 286,000kg of DU – the vast majority of which was fired by US Abrams and M60 tanks, and A10 and Harrier aircraft.

The decision to deploy the radioactive and chemically toxic weapons, which had been under development since the 1950s as a response to Cold War concerns over defeating Soviet armoured divisions, would prove highly contentious in the following years. Once the media and military’s enthusiasm for what was promoted as a new paradigm in high-tech low-casualty warfare began to subside, veteransjournalists and civil society organisations in the US and UK increasingly began to challenge the general conduct of the war, and the use of DU in particular.

This was largely to be expected, and had been anticipated just six months before the conflict in a US military study on the environmental and health risks of DU: “Public relations efforts are indicated, and may not be effective due to the public’s perception of radioactivity. Fielding and combat activities present the potential for adverse international reaction.” Those wishing to continue to use DU weapons recognised that they would need to plan vigorous public relations efforts in order to justify their continued use, a pattern that continues today. Following 1991, this saw DU branded as the “Silver Bullet” – a weapon capable of such astonishing feats, and so militarily important, that any concerns over its potential health or environmental impacts should be disregarded.

“The most toxic war in history”

As increasing numbers of veterans began to report post-deployment health problems in the years that followed, attention began to focus on the overall toxicity of the conflict. From oil fires and pesticides, to the use and disposal of chemical weapons, the Gulf War was increasingly viewed as “the most toxic in history”. Whether it was – conflict pollution had been developing in concert with the mechanisation of warfare and industrialisation throughout the 20th Century, or whether this just represented a growing awareness of the linkages between chemicals and health is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, questions were asked about whether possible exposures to a suite of chemicals could be responsible for the ailments reported by veterans. These ranged from birth defects to chronic fatigue, and led to the emergence of the catch all term Gulf War Syndrome (GWS)…..

In the case of DU, it also became clear that scientifically unjustified assumptions had been made about the health risks it posed. Continue reading

February 3, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, depleted uranium | Leave a comment

Strange progress of Class Action lawsuit against Brookhaven National Lab

Book Shirley“The Brookhaven scientific culture still doesn’t understand the interrelationship between humans and the natural world and the lethal consequences their work in nuclear technology imposes on the population and environment of the world. They still don’t understand that nuclear power is a polluting, deadly technology”

The book “Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town” by Kelly McMasters links widespread cancer in neighboring Shirley to radioactive releases from BNL.

Class action lawsuit against Brookhaven National Lab moving ahead, Enformable,  Karl Grossman 2 Feb 16 A class action lawsuit—begun 20 years ago—that charges Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) with contaminating neighborhoods adjacent to it will be moving ahead again in New York State Supreme Court this month.

Court action is scheduled for the last week in February. Since it was first brought in 1996, the lawsuit has gone back and forth between the State Supreme Court and the Appellate Division several times, as BNL has fought it.

In July the Appellate Division—the judicial panel over the Supreme Court in New York State —ruled the case can move towards trial. It declared that “the causes of action of the proposed intervenors are all based upon common theories of liability.” In other words, it stated that the plaintiffs could sue for damages.

But, outrageously, the radioactive contamination caused by BNL—documented in the 2008 book “Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town” and focused upon by the award-winning 2012 documentary “The Atomic States of America”—can no longer be part of the case. Continue reading

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s $30 billion new cruise nuclear missile makes no sense financially or strategically

bomb B61-12A Nuclear Weapon the U.S. Doesn’t Need, Bloomberg View  FEB 1, 2016   By 

 For a president who famously advocated for a world without nuclear weapons, Barack Obama has done a lot to keep the U.S. nuclear arsenal intact. That’s not a criticism — it was his promise that was naive, not his policy — but in one respect, his strategy is unnecessarily destabilizing.

The administration’s proposal to spend up to $30 billion to create a new nuclear cruise missile meant to be carried by the aging B-52 bomber makes no sense
. . Cruise missiles, which are smaller than land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and fly farther than tactical bombs dropped by planes, are the wild card of the nuclear arsenal: Unlike ICBMs, they are very hard to spot by radar or satellite, and, even if detected, they’re indistinguishable from conventionally armed cruise missiles.

This is a problem because a successful deterrence strategy requires that both sides in a potential nuclear conflict have a pretty good idea of what the other would do. Three years ago, the U.K. decided not to develop a submarine-based nuclear-tipped cruise missile because it carries too great a risk of “miscalculation and unintended escalation.”…….

Today, with Russia a much-diminished nuclear threat and China little interested in challenging U.S. nuclear superiority, the need to overwhelm either nation’s air defenses is less of a priority. Meanwhile, lesser potential adversaries such as Iran and North Korea have limited capability to protect their airspace. And technological advances have made the nuclear submarine fleet vastly more capable of penetrating enemy anti-missile defenses.

So why the push for the new cruise weapon? In part, it’s the natural inclination of the military to trade up……

plans to upgrade the nuclear cruise missile would not make the U.S., or the world, any safer.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley atdavidshipley@bloomberg.nethttp://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-02-01/a-nuclear-weapon-the-u-s-doesn-t-need

February 3, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Zuma and the get rich plan about uranium

uranium-enrichmentflag-S.Africa Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story RAND DAILY MAIL LILY GOSAM 02 FEBRUARY 2016 “……..Below exposes the reasons why Zuma is so hell bent on forcing the Russian 9 600 MW programme through, irrespective of: the evidence against it (from independent and government sources); the laws that stand in his way; the people that advise against it; and the grave concerns of his own party.

Radioactive plant-feed Continue reading

February 3, 2016 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa, Uranium | Leave a comment

Another new plan to try to inspect Fukushma nuclear reactor 1

New Plan To Inspect Fukushima Unit 1 Unveiled, Simply Info  January 31st, 2016 

IRID has published a new plan to complete phase 2 of the robot containment inspection of unit 1 at Fukushima Daiichi. The initial plan involved dropping the shape changing robot down to the basement level of the containment structure. Due to brackish water and small debris in the water they have opted to not attempt to drop the shape changing robot or another swimming robot down into the lower level……..http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=15279

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment