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Hinkley nuclear- the wrong energy path for UK: five much better alternatives

Hinkley is a deal that has nothing to do with market reality. Nothing to do with affordability, let alone with the ‘hard-working families’ that [energy secretary] Amber Rudd keeps bleating on about. And nothing to do with addressing our climate change responsibilities.

“By contrast, it’s got everything to do with political leaders in three nations – the UK, France and China – all of which ‘need’ Hinkley Point to happen for grubby geopolitical interests of their own.”

text-relevantflag-UKFive ways to power the UK that are far better than Hinkley Point

These alternatives to the troubled planned nuclear plant will be faster to build and cheaper for energy consumers, say experts, Guardian,  The planned £18bn nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset are derided by critics as “one of the worst deals ever” for Britain, but defended as crucial to the UK’s energy policy by the government.

Recent resignations and financial warnings have knocked confidence in the Hinkley C deal, raising the question of whether clean energy alternatives could plug the gap. The fast-changing economics of the energy world, with renewables and other clean technologies falling in cost, indicate they can. The alternatives also look faster to build – it would take a decade to get Hinkley into operation – and cheaper for consumers, who ultimately foot the bills.

Energy policy expert Jonathan Gaventa, from the thinktank E3G, has come up with five better ways of powering the nation:

Energy efficiency

Electricity demand is already falling. The Somerset site for Hinkley C was approved in 2010 but since then UK demand has already fallen by more than the plant will produce, about 25TWh a year or 7% of today’s demand. Due to repeated delays, Hinkley C is unlikely to produce electricity much before 2030, by which time six Hinkleys’ worth of electricity could have been cut from the national demand, according to a McKinsey report for the government.

Wind turbines

Wind power generation equivalent to one Hinkley has been connected to the national grid since 2010. Onshore wind power, having dropped 20% in cost over the last five years, is much cheaper than the heavily subsidised price Hinkley is guaranteed for over 35 years. The costs of offshore wind are also falling and likely to be below Hinkley well before 2030.

graph price-history-silicon cells

Solar power

Electricity from solar power is now also cheaper than Hinkley, having fallen by half in the last five years. From almost no solar panels in the UK, a third of a Hinkley has been added since 2010. Half of that was delivered in just 18 months, according to government statistics. [excellent graph]   

Cost of silicon photovoltaic solar cells,


Another third of a Hinkley has been added to the UK grid since 2010 by new cables to other European countries, where electricity is currently cheaper. New interconnectors to Norway, Denmark and France could be laid by 2025, adding another two or three Hinkleys to the grid, according to a report for the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) in February.

Storage and flexibility

Another NIC report for the government found that four Hinkleys’ worth of electricity could be saved by 2030 by increasing the ability to store electricity, inlarge batteries for example, and making the grid smarter. This would also save bill payers £8bn a year.

“It is clear that a combination of efficiency, renewables, interconnection and flexibility would be more than enough to fill the gap if Hinkley C is withdrawn – and could do so more quickly, more reliably and more cheaply,” says Gaventa.

“It is clear that a combination of efficiency, renewables, interconnection and flexibility would be more than enough to fill the gap if Hinkley C is withdrawn – and could do so more quickly, more reliably and more cheaply,” says Gaventa.

But Cameron’s government seems determined to do the opposite. It has slashed its home energy efficiency programme by 80%, ended all support for onshore wind and heavily cut solar subsidies. Its argument is always that it wants to keep energy bills low. Yet the vastly expensive Hinkley project will increase them.

So why isn’t Hinkley dead already? Many energy policy experts are baffled. But veteran green campaigner Jonathan Porritt, who chaired the UK’s sustainable development commission for a decade, thinks he knows: “Hinkley is a deal that has nothing to do with market reality. Nothing to do with affordability, let alone with the ‘hard-working families’ that [energy secretary] Amber Rudd keeps bleating on about. And nothing to do with addressing our climate change responsibilities.

“By contrast, it’s got everything to do with political leaders in three nations – the UK, France and China – all of which ‘need’ Hinkley Point to happen for grubby geopolitical interests of their own.”


March 19, 2016 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

UK taxpayers up for huge liabilities if Hinkley nuclear power project goes ahead?

“The £22bn ‘poison pill’ effectively reduces the risk to zero for EDF and its backers, which is great for them. But from an outside perspective, it smacks of desperation.”

“Energy economics are changing rapidly and so the momentum is towards decentralised, smart and flexible energy systems. It is moving away from large, inflexible power plants like Hinkley. If it ever gets funded, it will be a white elephant before it is even finished and this government, with this £22bn ‘poison pill’, will have tied the next generation into paying for it, for no reason that I can understand. If it is simply political saving face, it really is pitiful.”

Hinkley costs

flag-UKHinkley Point C nuclear deal contains £22bn ‘poison pill’ for taxpayer
Public left with huge liability for a government closure of power plant before 2060 under UK’s agreement with EDF,
Guardian, , 18 Mar 16, The Hinkley nuclear power deal contains a “poison pill” which could leave taxpayers with a £22bn bill if a future UK government closed the plant before 2060, according to an official document seen by the Guardian.

The huge liability shows Hinkley is a “terrible deal” for the UK public, according to critics, with the company also guaranteed three times today’s price for electricity for 35 years. The project has recently been battered by financial warnings and resignations at its prime backer EDF, although on Thursday France’s economics minister, Emmanuel Macron, said that the French state would bail the company out.

The deal the UK government has agreed with EDF, set out in an unpublicised “minute”, commits the British public to pay subsidies of up to about £40bn in real terms and provides state guarantees on nuclear waste disposal and insurance, while allowing the plant to begin producing electricity as late as 2033.

A shutdown that triggers the “poison pill” compensation is not entirely within the control of the UK government but could also be forced by the EU or an international regulator such as the International AtomicEnergy Agency, according to the document. [ EU par inserted here on original]

“This is a dreadful agreement for the nation,” said Prof Catherine Mitchell, an energy policy expert at the University of Exeter. “The government is already paying a high price, index-linked for an incredibly long 35 years. This should be more than sufficient for a professional, business contract.

“The £22bn ‘poison pill’ effectively reduces the risk to zero for EDF and its backers, which is great for them. But from an outside perspective, it smacks of desperation.”

“There could be so many reasons over 35 years that you would want to close the plant,” she said, including rising costs, changes to the UK’s energy system or loss of public confidence.

Green party MP Caroline Lucas said: “Even before we knew about this ‘poison pill’, Hinkley represented a terrible deal for taxpayers and a huge burden on bill payers too. This flies in the face of relentless ministerial rhetoric on value for consumers – especially compared to the costs of solar power and wind – which are already cheaper than nuclear and continue to fall.”………

Former Conservative energy secretary Lord Howell has criticised the Hinkley dealas “one of the worst deals ever” for British consumers and industry and has protested against “endless government guarantees for risk-free returns to the investors”.

Tom Burke at thinktank E3G, a former special adviser to three Conservative environment secretaries, said: “Why would a Conservative government want to buy 35 years of electricity ahead of time? They are supposed to believe in the market. But they have tied themselves in knots and now it is too embarrassing to untie it.”

The UK government argues that new nuclear power is essential to provide large amounts of reliable, low-carbon energy.

But Mitchell said: “Energy economics are changing rapidly and so the momentum is towards decentralised, smart and flexible energy systems. It is moving away from large, inflexible power plants like Hinkley. If it ever gets funded, it will be a white elephant before it is even finished and this government, with this £22bn ‘poison pill’, will have tied the next generation into paying for it, for no reason that I can understand. If it is simply political saving face, it really is pitiful.”

March 19, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Armed UK vessels secretly take weapons grade plutonium from Japan to USA

The Pacific Egret and its escort ship Pacific Heron are reportedly lightly armed UK flagged vessels and arrived in Kobe port from Barrow-in-Furness, England on March 4th. The Egret docked in Tokai for pre-transport logistics last week. Both ships after departing Tokai port will sail together most likely through the South Pacific to the east coast of the United States.

ship radiationNPT and Nuclear Security Risks’ Exposed by Secret Plutonium Shipment: NGOsMarch 18, 2016 Tokyo- (PanOrient News) A coalition of five non-governmental organizations warned today that a shipment of weapons-grade plutonium scheduled to
depart the port of the Japanese Tokai nuclear station in Ibaraki prefecture this coming weekend highlights the failure, but also the proliferation risks, of the current Japanese nuclear policy. 

A cargo of 331kg of plutonium will be loaded on to the Pacific Egret, an armed British nuclear transport ship, prior to departure under armed escort to the United States. It will be the largest shipment of separated plutonium since 1.8 tons of plutonium was delivered to Japan by controversial Akatsuki-maru in 1992. The two month voyage to the Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station will then see the plutonium dumped at the Department of Energy Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, which is responsible for the shipment, has identified that storage in Japan poses a security risk justifying its removal.

The organizations, Citizen Nuclear Information Center (Japan); Green Action (Japan); Savannah River Site Watch (U.S.); CORE (England), and Greenpeace, said in a statement they condemn the shipment as a dangerous distraction from the major problem in Japan which is its overall nuclear energy policy, where over 9 tons of plutonium remains stockpiled and there are plans to produce many tons more during the coming decade. The representatives of the five organizations have worked together over the past quarter century against Japan`s plutonium and nuclear fuel cycle program.

 Two-hundred and thirty six kilograms of the Tokai plutonium was supplied to Japan from the UK, with 2 kilograms from France and the remainder from the U.S. for neutronic testing purposes at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency Fast Critical Assembly facility at Tokai-mura in Ibaraki, the statement said noting that the facility has been used as a basis for Japan`s failed fast breeder reactor program, in particular the MONJU reactor.For more than five decades, Japanese nuclear policy has been based on the production and use of plutonium as a nuclear fuel. However, “the failure” of both its breeder program and plans to use plutonium as mixed oxide (MOX) fuel in light water reactors, has led to Japan acquiring the largest stockpile of weapons usable plutonium of any non nuclear weapon state.

For the U.S. and Japanese government, the Tokai shipment will be mistakenly hailed as demonstrating their commitment to reducing the threat from fissile materials, the statement noted. Both Prime Minister Abe and President Obama plan to announce the ‘success’ of the removal from Japan, at the fourth Nuclear Security Summit from March 31st -April 1st in Washington, D.C., while Japan will be desperate to avoid any discussion of the proliferation and security threat posed by its plutonium fuel cycle program.

“If 331 kg of plutonium warrants removal from Japan on the grounds of its vulnerability and in the interests of securing nuclear weapons material, then there is no credible justification for Japan’s current program and future plans to increase its plutonium stockpiling. Hailing a shipment of hundreds of kilograms of plutonium as a triumph for nuclear security, while ignoring over 9 tons of the weapons material stockpiled in Japan and in a region of rising tensions, is not just a failure of nuclear non proliferation and security policy but a dangerous delusion,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany, who is currently in Japan. ……..

The Pacific Egret and its escort ship Pacific Heron are reportedly lightly armed UK flagged vessels and arrived in Kobe port from Barrow-in-Furness, England on March 4th. The Egret docked in Tokai for pre-transport logistics last week. Both ships after departing Tokai port will sail together most likely through the South Pacific to the east coast of the United States.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan, reprocessing, safety, USA, wastes | 1 Comment

Toshiba investigated Over Westinghouse Accounting

bribery handshakeToshiba Said to Face U.S. Probe Over Westinghouse Accounting, 17 Mar  Tom Schoenberg and Matt Robinson,  2016, Bloomberg Toshiba Corp. is under investigation by the U.S. government over allegations that it hid $1.3 billion in losses at its nuclear power operations, according to two people familiar with the matter. Shares plunged in Tokyo.

The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into whether fraud was committed, said the two, who asked not to be named because the investigations aren’t public. The probes, they said, follow one by Japan’s securities regulator, which found that Toshiba falsified financial statements and documents involving its issuance of corporate bonds.

U.S. authorities are scrutinizing allegations made in an internal review published last year by the Tokyo-based company, the two people said. The report, a 334-page version of which was published in English on Toshiba’s website in December, said management was complicit in padding profits for almost seven years. It led to the resignations of top officials, including Hisao Tanaka, Toshiba’ president and chief executive officer.

Until now, the investigation into Toshiba’s accounting practices had been limited to its home country, where regulators fined the company $62.1 million — the largest penalty ever imposed — and fined its former auditor, Ernst & Young ShinNihon, $17.4 million and barred it from accepting new business for three months. Toshiba President Masashi Muromachi, who took over as the scandal unfolded last year, promised to take steps to overhaul operations and prevent future wrongdoing.

The stock fell 8 percent to 192 yen in Tokyo, the biggest drop since Feb. 5. The shares had climbed as as much as 4.9 percent before the probe was reported.

“The markets are very sensitive to any news of impropriety,” said Yukihiko Shimada, a Tokyo-based analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. “Toshiba has previously assured investors that everything was right at Westinghouse. Their track record isn’t great.”

The recent expansion by U.S. authorities, which are known to open cases even when another jurisdiction is already investigating, means Toshiba could face further enforcement action in America. The U.S. can exert jurisdiction in part because the allegations involve its Westinghouse Electric Co. unit, which is based in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. The report also names Ernst & Young, which audited the Westinghouse accounts……..

In Japan, Toshiba’s accounting scandal is the largest since 2011, when Olympus Corp. admitted to using takeovers to hide $1.7 billion in losses. Toshiba, a 140-year-old industrial group that makes everything from nuclear reactors to microchips and home appliances, dropped to a 35-year low in Tokyo in February after widening its annual loss forecast to a record $6 billion as it restructures in the wake of the scandal.

Toshiba said it initially uncovered irregularities related to “percentage of completion” estimates used on infrastructure projects including nuclear, hydroelectric, wind-power equipment, air-traffic control and railway systems. Percentage of completion accounting is a subjective method that relies almost completely on management estimates on the profitability of long-term contracts………

Westinghouse was purchased by Toshiba for $5.4 billion in 2006. Toshiba explained to investors in November that Westinghouse’s nuclear plant construction business was harmed by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Toshiba’s internal report describes how the company failed to account for more than $100 million in Westinghouse losses on its 2013 books involving the construction of a nuclear power plant in Florida. Toshiba officials traveled to the U.S. to meet with Westinghouse executives to discuss findings showing increasing costs of the Florida project…….

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Cocaine use among staff at Nuclear Missile Base

Air Force Investigating Cocaine Use at Nuclear Missile Base Sam Biddle 18 Mar 16, Cocaine and nuclear weapons: A good mix? That’s what an official probe into coke abuse by “about a dozen airmen” at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming will investigate, the AP reports.

The coked-up airmen in question are, reassuringly, not the people who have their fingers on the literal button required to begin a nuclear war. But they are, scarily, the people tasked with defending the 150 Minuteman III ICBMs (each with an explosive yield roughly eight times greater than the bomb that leveled Hiroshima, easily capable of destroying an entire large modern city) from the rest of the world. As the AP notes, they’re crucial to the operation and safety of America’s vast nuclear stockpile:

Security forces at nuclear missile bases are entrusted to patrol the missile fields and respond to any security emergencies. They are highly trained and given enormous responsibility. Just last month, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work visited F.E. Warren and observed a demonstration by security forces of the techniques and equipment they would use to recapture a missile silo that had been taken over by intruders.

In other words, not the kind of people you want doing key bumps in the bathroom. This is the second time in two years that F.E. Warren has been under investigation: In 2014, missile officers responsible for actually launching those ICBMs were caught cheating on their proficiency tests and also doing a lot of illegal drugs.

This sounds like it would be a very fun job were it not for the possibility of fucking up and beginning a nuclear holocaust.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea’s ballistic missiles, and claim to have miniaturized nuclear warhead

missile-risingflag-N-KoreaN. Korea launches ballistic missiles, claims miniaturized nuclear warhead As if to seal THAAD deal, ballistic missiles flew 500 miles across Korean peninsula. by  – Mar 19, 2016 

Just over a month after successfully putting a satellite into orbit, the government of the  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) claimed to have successfully built a miniaturized nuclear warhead capable of being placed on ballistic missiles. As if to add emphasis to that message, North Korea’s military has gone on a missile testing binge.

On March 10, North Korea launched two “Scud” tactical ballistic missiles from North Hwanghae Province, the North Korean border region just north of Seoul, toward the Sea of Japan. Then on March 17, the North Korean military test-launched longer-ranged ballistic missiles from South Pyongan Province, near the Yellow Sea, across the Korean peninsula. The missiles flew 500 miles, again landing in the Sea of Japan. The latest launches took place early on Thursday morning local time, 20 minutes apart, according to a statement from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) joint chiefs of staff.

John Grisafi, director of intelligence for North Korean watchdog site NK Newsbelieves the miss
iles launched Thursday were likely the Rodong-1 missile. “It’s beyond any known Scud variant’s range,” he said.

North Korea built the Rodong-1, introduced in 1990, based on Scud designs obtained from Egypt and China, with modifications to increase its range.

Previous launches of North Korean ballistic missiles have come from the east coast of the country toward the sea. Analysts believe that the cross-country missile launches show that the North Korean military is confident in the reliability of their missile systems.

The launches coincided with the joint US-South Korean military exercise Key Resolve, which ends today. Those exercises were accompanied by a threat from North Korea to launch a nuclear strike on New York City and carry out other attacks on the US mainland as well as threatening to invade South Korea “with an ultra-precision blitzkrieg strike of the Korean style.” The nuclear test earlier this year and North Korea’s continued missile tests led the Republic of Korea’s government to officially request the US deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to South Korea, over China’s objections. Talks on the deployment began March 5. The US military will be in command of THAAD batteries sent to South Korea.

US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in a prepared statement, “We call again on North Korea to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations.” He added that the US would continue to “coordinate closely” with South Korea and Japan.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Toshiba to dump its nuclear business, as U.S. units probed?

radiation-sign-sadToshiba says it may write down nuclear business, U.S. units probed, Reuters TOKYO | BY MAKIKO YAMAZAKI AND RITSUKO ANDO  , 18 Mar 16, Japan’s Toshiba Corp (6502.T) said on Friday it was looking at whether it would need to write down its nuclear business given damage to the company’s credit profile after a $1.3 billion accounting scandal last year.

The electronics conglomerate also confirmed a report that U.S. authorities are probing accounting at its U.S. units, although its Westinghouse nuclear power subsidiary denied that its finances were under investigation.

Wanting to draw a line under the accounting scandal, Toshiba has sought to move on to streamlining its businesses, whose poor performances had been masked by years of false bookkeeping.

At a business strategy update on Friday, it unveiled an extra 3,000 job cuts, taking its planned total to 14,000 – a restructuring measure that comes on top of a $5.9 billion sale of its medical equipment unit as well as the sale of its home appliances business announced this week.

But the latest developments concerning its nuclear business and the probe highlight that its accounting woes are far from over…….

The Asahi newspaper reported earlier on Friday that Toshiba is considering a 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) writedown for Westinghouse, fanning investor concerns that the value of assets and goodwill related to the unit were overstated.

Nuclear power has become less popular since Toshiba’s acquisition of Westinghouse in 2006, especially in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster which prompted many countries to freeze nuclear energy expansion plans.

Toshiba confirmed a Bloomberg report that several U.S. units have received a request forinformation from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding accounting issues…..

March 19, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Huge stockpile of weapons grade plutonium to sail from Japan to USA

ship radiationStockpile of weapons-grade plutonium big enough to make FIFTY nuclear bombs to be shipped to US from Japan after it was loaned for research 

  • Huge stockpile has caused disquiet among various anti-nuclear groups 
  • Some 730 pounds of plutonium will be sent by armed UK transport ship
  • Departure from north of Tokyo port could happen as soon as this weekend
  • Material will be disposed of in United States, says Japanese spokesman

Daily Mail, By MATT HUNTER FOR MAILONLINE  19 March 201

Japan will return enough plutonium to produce 50 nuclear bombs to the US starting this weekend.

The stockpile, provided by the US, Britain and France decades ago for research purposes, has caused disquiet among anti-nuclear groups and neighbouring countries given Japan has the know-how to produce a nuclear weapon, although it does not possess any.

Some 730 pounds of plutonium will be sent by ‘an armed British nuclear transport ship… under armed escort to the United States,’ said a joint statement by five groups, including Greenpeace.

Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace said: ‘The departure from a port north of Tokyo could occur as early as Sunday.’

The shipment, which comes ahead of a nuclear security summit in Washington this month, is meant to underscore both countries’ commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. apaneses government official, Tsukasa Yamamura, said: ‘The material will be disposed of in the United States.’

The government confirmed in January the plutonium would be sent to the US and said that preparations for the shipment were under way.

But Yamamura declined to elaborate. ‘We can’t comment on details such as the departure date and route for security reasons,’ he said.It will take two months for the ship to arrive at a nuclear facility in South Carolina, the campaign groups said

Mr Burnie added: ‘Hailing a shipment of hundreds of kilogrammes of plutonium as a triumph for nuclear security, while ignoring over nine tonnes of the weapons material stockpiled in Japan and in a region of rising tensions, is not just a failure of nuclear non-proliferation and security policy but a dangerous delusion.’  …….

March 19, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

For the first time, most Americans now against nuclear power

Most Americans now oppose nuclear energy, poll finds By Mark Hensch, 18 Mar 16  A majority of Americans oppose using nuclear energy for the first time, according to a new poll.

Fifty-four percent dislike nuclear energy in the Gallup survey released Friday, with 44 percent who support using it.Pollsters found that opposition toward nuclear energy is up 11 points since last year, when 43 percent rejected using it as an energy source.

Support for nuclear power is down 7 points during the same period, with 51 percent backing the resource in 2015.

The poll has tracked public opinion on nuclear power since 1994. The high point in support for nuclear energy was in 2010 at 62 percent.

In 2011, support was at 57 percent just before the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. Support for nuclear energy in the U.S. remained relatively unchanged the following year, but has slipped since.

The Fukushima plant suffered nuclear meltdowns after it was damaged in an earthquake and tsunami. It’s considered the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Gallup polled 1,019 Americans via cell and landline telephones from March 2-6. The poll has a 4 percent margin of error.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Union of Concerned Scientists Annual Review of U.S. Nuclear Plant, Near Misses 

March 17, 2016 :: Staff infoZine
In 2015, three of the ten near misses reported at U.S. nuclear power plants occurred at reactors owned by one company—Entergy. Washington DC – infoZine – There were only 10 “near miss” incidents at U.S. nuclear reactors last year, but more than 60 percent of the near miss safety violations occurred at three plants owned by Entergy Corp., according to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) annual review of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) performance and nuclear plant safety.

A near miss incident is an event or condition that could increase the chance of reactor core damage by a factor of 10 or more, prompting the NRC to send an inspection team to investigate. The number of near miss incidents has declined since UCS initiated its annual review in 2010. In 2010, there were 19; last year there were nine. All told, from 2010 through 2015 there were 91 near misses………

“Many U.S. reactors are entering their fourth decade, and as they age, safety equipment will wear out and need to be repaired or replaced,” said Lochbaum, who worked in the nuclear industry for 17 years before joining UCS. “Given the very real possibility that one of these screw-ups could lead to a serious accident, plant owners have to make sure their workers make repairs correctly. If they don’t do it right the first time, aging reactors will experience even more problems.”

March 19, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Failure of Japanese nuclear reprocessing plan. What to do with all that plutonium?

NPT and Nuclear Security Risks’ Exposed by Secret Plutonium Shipment: NGOs, March 18, 2016 Tokyo- (PanOrient News) “……..In total, Japan`s current stockpile is around 46,700 kg, of which 9,528kg is located in Japan, the remaining balance being stored in France and the UK. The shipment from Tokai port will reduce its stockpile to 9,197 kg. Less than 8kg is sufficient for one nuclear weapon. While the Tokai shipment consists of weapons grade plutonium, and the vast bulk of Japan`s remaining stockpile is designated reactor-grade plutonium, from a security and non proliferation perspective there is no practical distinction and reactor-grade plutonium is capable of being used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons — a point highlighted by Shigeru Ishiba, a former Liberal Democratic Party Defense Minister, when speaking in 2011 described Japan`s nuclear energy program as “a tacit nuclear deterrent”, the statement said.

Sellafield-reprocessingTwo reactors, Takahama 3 and 4, owned by Kansai Electric, began operation in January and February 2016 loaded with plutonium MOX fuel, with unit 3 operating with 24 assemblies containing 1,088kg of plutonium and unit 4 with 4 assemblies containing 184kg of plutonium. Unit 4 shutdown due to an electrical failure three days after start up, while unit 3 was forced to shutdown on March 10th following a court order. Both reactors remain shutdown and are subject of a court injunction preventing operation issued by the Otsu district court, Shiga prefecture on March 9th. They are expected to be non operational for many months. Of the 26 reactors under review by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), Ikata-3, Genkai-3 and Tomari-3 are all intended to operate with plutonium MOX fuel.

“On current plans, and if ever the Rokkasho-mura reprocessing plant begins operation, Japan`s program could yield as much as 93,000kg by 2025 – most of which will remain unused. The reactor program in Japan is in crisis with no credible program for either restarting most reactors or using large amounts of this plutonium. If ever there was a time to abandon its current doomed nuclear energy policy, it is now. The Obama administration in its last year has an opportunity to step up and actively reduce the spiraling proliferation dynamic in East Asia – this should be top of the agenda in Washington instead of being ignored. The next step is to challenge the basis of the U.S.-Japan nuclear cooperation agreement which runs to 2018 – approval for Japan to continue acquiring plutonium must be reversed,” said Burnie.

The Department of Energy has no plans for final disposal of the Japanese plutonium, which will be added to the existing stockpile of 13 tons at the SRS, demonstrating that the shipment is largely a commercial dumping operation to secure funds for the beleaguered weapons material production site near Aiken, South Carolina, as pointed out by Savannah River Site Watch, the organizations said…….  .

March 19, 2016 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan, reprocessing, wastes | Leave a comment

Electric vehicles not green if they’re fuelled by nuclear power

flag-canadaDisadvantages lurk in push for nuclear power

Electric cars are only as eco-friendly as the fuel powering our electricity grid,  By: the Star, Mar 18 2016 I’ve recently focused on electric vehicles, especially Ontario’s steps to promote them with more charging stations and bigger incentives. The tone generally has been that the moves are positive, helping to pave the way for greater use of electric vehicles as part of a greener, more sustainable future.

But EVs are only as green as the electricity that powers them. If it comes from coal-burning generating stations, they can be responsible for more toxic and greenhouse-gas emissions than internal combustion engines.With stations fuelled by oil or natural gas, it might be a wash. Things are supposed to improve as you travel along the scale from nuclear power to hydro, and then, in the best case, wind, solar and other renewable sources. Ontario claims to be on the greenest end of the spectrum, since most of our electricity comes from hydro and nuclear generation, and we no longer burn coal.

Not so fast.

A few weeks ago, Premier Kathleen Wynne, in an unsuccessful bid to boost the Liberal candidate in the Whitby-Oshawa byelection, announced a $13 billion refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear generating station.

A similar amount is to be spent on the Bruce Nuclear station near Kincardine on the shores of Lake Huron.

 The aim is to ensure that about half the province’s electricity is generated at nuclear facilities for a dependable base load.

What’s wrong with this?

  • Nuclear power is far from pollution-free. It creates toxic greenhouse-gas emissions as uranium is mined, shipped and processed, and the plants are built, operated and dismantled.
  • It raises safety issues, particularly from radiation releases. That danger is acknowledged by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which now requires that potassium iodide pills — to reduce the threat of thyroid cancer after radiation exposure — be distributed to everyone within 10 km of nuclear plants, and available to anyone within 50 km.
  • Despite decades of expensive research, there’s still no consensus on how and where to store the most radioactive waste from these facilities.
  • The plan to store low- and medium-level waste at the Bruce site is raising concern all around the Great Lakes.
  • The $26 billion estimate for the two Ontario refurbishments is a lot of cash. Worse, the actual total will likely be far higher, given the history and apparent inevitability of cost overruns. Construction and refits at Darlington and Bruce have ranged from 50 to 350 per cent over budget. Even taking inflation into account, the overruns are substantial.

All this makes nuclear power dangerous, uncertain and very expensive.

Many reports suggest alternatives — including conservation, hydro, and renewables such as wind, solar and biofuels — could ensure we have the electricity we need, at far less cost and risk. They say EVs, with their ability to store electricity and level fluctuations in supply and demand, could be part of a solution.

It’s at least worth an objective, open look. But pouring so much into nuclear power kills the chance to even consider other options. Sadly, while renewables spark growth and jobs elsewhere, that’s the route we’re on. We need to stop and examine all the choices

Which brings us back to EVs. They can only be considered truly green if they’re fuelled by the greenest-possible power sources, which is what we should demand.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Canada, renewable | Leave a comment

NASA and Rosatom want nuclear rockets to take astronauts to Mars

Nasa wants to use nuclear rockets to get to Mars: Space agency claims the technique is ‘most effective way’ of reaching red planet

  • Nuclear propulsion weighs almost half as much as a chemical rocket
  • Nasa is also are planning to build rockets powered by nuclear fission
  • They hope it could be used to carry astronauts to the red planet in 2033
  • Follows news this week that Russia plans to test a nuclear engine in 2018


Nuclear thermal propulsion is ‘the most effective’ way of sending humans to Mars.

That’s according to Nasa administrator and former astronaut, Charles Bolden, who made the statement when speaking to Congress this week.    

‘We are on a journey to Mars and most people believe that, in the end, nuclear thermal propulsion will be the most effective form of propulsion to get there,’ he said.

Kiriyenko--tsarHe didn’t, however, expand on details on how quickly Nasa hoped the technology could get astronauts to Mars.  ……..’A nuclear power unit makes it possible to reach Mars in a matter of one to one and a half months, providing capability for manoeuvring and acceleration,’ Sergey Kirienko, head of Rosatom told RT .

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Russia, technology, USA | Leave a comment

 Disastrous nuclear deal puts UK energy security at risk

text Hinkley cancelled Karl Sheridan, Yorkshire Post 18 Mar 16 I FERVENTLY pray that EDF do, indeed, pull the plug on the proposed new build nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point. Although the Government is all for it, surely common sense would dictate that it just doesn’t make sense for our country to invest billions on a design that is already outdated and, according to figures, will be highly expensive to run?

We, as a nation, should be investing in this country, not allowing other countries to fleece us, as is already happening. EDF is already proving to be a lame duck in the energy market place and to form a partnership with them would be disastrous in the long term. Why couldn’t the money being wasted on HS2 be used instead? Far better for us to have a secure UK-owned energy supply than knocking half an hour off a train journey, surely?

March 19, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Singapore cutting emissions by tapping the sun

MAR 18, 2016  Singapore plans to curb its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and is moving to meet the target by tapping more of the sun’s energy.

Solar power usage here has gone up almost 30-fold since 2009, statistics from the Energy Market Authority (EMA) show.

Total installed solar photovoltaic capacity rose from 1.5MW in 2009 to 43.8MW at the end of last year. “This is the equivalent of powering around 14,000 four-room HDB flats for a year,” an EMA spokesman said. There are now 886 solar installations here, most of which are for non-residential use, for instance, at the Singapore Sports Hub…….

March 19, 2016 Posted by | ASIA, renewable | Leave a comment