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Britain’s great white elephant, Hinkley C nuclear power plant , can still be stopped

The Hinkley C nuclear power plant will be a costly mistake – we can still stop it  Spiralling bills and delays show why we should abandon this white elephant. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/energy/2017/07/hinkley-c-nuclear-power-plant-will-be-costly-mistake-we-can-still-stop-it

4 Jul 17 With every day that passes, the proposed new Hinkley Point power station looks less flagship and more shipwreck. But we don’t have to go down with this one.

Yesterday’s announcement that the cost of building the new nuclear plant has risen again, this time by a staggering £1.5bn, came just ten days after the National Audit Office confirmed what campaigners have been saying for years – that the deal is overpriced and risky.

According to a 2015 report from the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), Hinkley would make new nuclear power in the UK the world’s most costly. In fact the power station would, according to Greenpeace, be the most expensive object in history.

 French state-owned company EDF will join China in paying for the plant, but taxpayers and consumers will cough up £30bn in subsidies for the energy produced. This could rise to an eye-watering £50bn.

With the cost of renewable energy now falling faster than anyone anticipated, it’s hard to imagine a more expensive way of producing power, or indeed a common sense reason for continuing with such a folly.

In 2007, EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said Hinkley C could be providing the power to cook Christmas turkeys by 2017. That slipped to 2025. Now we are told it could be another 15 months more – and this with a reactor design which has yet to be shown to work anywhere else in the world. The project threatens to sink into a whirlpool of expensive defensiveness and self-justification, all for a terrible deal which we will all be locked into, and paying for, for years to come.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Over the past month, Theresa May’s administration has crumbled. Propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party, unable to implement its manifesto promises and derided in Europe, the disastrous election has left this government on its knees. But this moment of weakness creates an opportunity – we have the real chance to stop Hinkley in its tracks and think again.

The government appears committed, come what may, but if politicians from across political divides speak up against this expensive white elephant, we can force May to take the courageous decision needed to cancel the project.

It’s well known that politicians share a penchant for big projects like Hinkley – Heathrow expansion and HS2 to name but two – but even in this case it’s hard to see what is actually keeping the idea afloat.

Although the plans may be fatally holed, it is the lack of any real opposition holding the government to account that is stopping it going under completely. Labour and the Lib Dems both support the project. But it’s time to break away from the old school consensus around the often illusory benefits of building big new things. An opposition working together, along with a few sympathetic Tories, could consign Hinkley to the dustbin of history.

We know that alternative plans are available. There are many, much cheaper options. Germany, which is phasing out nuclear, is breaking renewable records and we can, too. You can’t have your cake and eat it when it comes to environment policy, any more than you can have your cake and eat it on Brexit. We need to make the right choices and ploughing such colossal subsidies into Hinkley sucks resources from where they are really needed: investment in renewables.

The New Economics Foundation has suggested we could provide more than six times our annual electricity needs through a Blue New Deal, getting renewable offshore energy through wind and wave while rejuvenating our coastal communities with 160,000 new jobs. Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has shown how the South West alone could meet all its energy needs through renewables, creating more than 100,000 new jobs. This puts the 900 full-time posts expected to be available at Hinkley, if construction is ever completed, into sharp perspective.

But to transition to this jobs-rich, decentralised, renewable energy economy, we need to make the right political choices now. In the case of Hinkley that means politicians holding the government to account when it is wasting taxpayers’ money on a project that is not fit for purpose – and simply won’t deliver what we need for the future. Jonathan Bartley is co-leader of the Green party. He was formerly the co-director of the thinktank Ekklesia.

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July 5, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

If you live in USA, you could well be uncomfortably close to a nuclear bomb


How Close Do You Live to a Nuclear Bomb? 

How Close Do You Live To A Nuclear Weapons Facility? http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/how-close-do-you-live-to-a-nuclear-weapons-facility-1796554219   Terrell Jermaine Star You’re probably thinking about BBQ and hanging out at the beach instead of the nuclear apocalypse, and why would you? It’s Fourth of July, for God’s sake. But, for fun, let’s take a quick nuclear weapons quiz. Do you live near any nuclear weapons?

If you live south of the equator, you don’t. But if you live in the United States, there’s a good chance you live near a facility that houses nuclear weapons.

 The fine people over at Real Life Lore produced a video detailing where most of the world’s nuclear facilities are located. There are 10 nuclear weapons facilities spread across ten states here in the U.S., including in Georgia, Texas, North Dakota, and Washington.

If you live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, you might be close to the Kirtland Underground Munitions Maintenance Storage Complex. And if you don’t know about it, you should. There is no known facility on earth that has a higher concentration of nuclear weapons than Kirtland. Taking up more than 301,000 feet underground, can hold up to 3,000 bombs or 19 percent of all of the world’s nukes.

 To put this in context, Britain, the world’s third-largest nuclear power after Russia, has just 215 nuclear warheads in its entire arsenal. If Russia wanted to strike a blow to America’s nuclear capabilities, it is likely they’d shoot one of their ICBMs (or a shitload of them) right at Albuquerque.

But don’t worry about that. The Russians are too busy prepping for President Donald Trump’s visit with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany this week. You’re safe, for now.

That said, you should know where weapons designed to destroy the world are located and your proximity to them. Another fun fact: America stores nukes in other countries, including Italy, where some of located just 43 miles from Venice.

Happy Fourth of July!

July 5, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fire on board a Russian floating nuclear plant near St Petesburg

Fire breaks out on floating nuclear plant at Russia shipyard https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/fire-breaks-out-on-floating-nuclear-plant-at-russia-shipyard/2017/07/04/a5d82a7e-60    July 4 MOSCOW — Russia’s emergency services ministry says a fire broke out on the floating nuclear power plant being built at a shipyard near the center of St. Petersburg, but was extinguished before anyone was injured.

Construction of the floating plant, which is to be deployed in Russia’s Far East, has caused concern among environmentalists. Rashid Alimov of Greenpeace’s Russian branch said Tuesday’s fire showed that plans for loading nuclear fuel into the plant’s reactors are “irresponsible.”

The shipyard is about two kilometers (1.25 miles) downriver from some of St. Petersburg’s most renowned tourist sites, including the State Hermitage Museum.

The ministry statement says the fire was caused by a short circuit in a storage battery.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

USA and Russia have no intention of scaling back nuclear weapons

The two countries with nearly all the world’s nuclear weapons have no intention of scaling back https://qz.com/1020437/the-two-countries-with-nearly-all-the-worlds-nuclear-weapons-have-no-intention-of-scaling-back/, 4 July 17 The US and Russia, which possess nearly 93% of all nuclear weapons in the world, don’t plan to continue reducing their nuclear arsenal, but instead are spending money to modernize and modestly expand their weapons systems.

The world’s nuclear arsenal has gradually declined since its peak of nearly 70,000 nuclear warheads in the mid-1980s, but reductions have slowed in recent years. According to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPR), an independent think tank, in 2017, there were approximately 14,935 nuclear weapons, a slight reduction compared with 15,395 in early 2016. The report notes that both the US and Russia have failed to commit to further reductions. Just nine states possessed these weapons: the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.

States with nuclear weapons are spending billions on updating their systems and developing weapons. The US will spend approximately $400 billion over a 10-year period to maintain and modernize its arsenal; the US plans to buy replacement systems and build new nuclear weapon facilities. To maintain strategic parity with the US, Russia is limiting any further reduction in its nuclear arsenal and working to modernize its aging, Soviet-era missiles. The British government is investing £31 billion ($45.2 billion) to maintain its nuclear arsenal, while Pakistan and India are both gradually expanding the size of their nuclear weapon stockpile.

North Korea carried out high-profile tests of its nuclear weapons in the last year. The country has prioritized building a long-range ballistic missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the US (experts suggest there’s no independently verified evidence that the country currently has the capability to do so). US president Donald Trump has pressed president Xi Jinping of China to address what Trump called the “growing threat” (paywall) posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

The United Nations drafted the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weaponslast month. More than 130 countries currently support the initiative that would outlaw nuclear weapons. Unsurprisingly, not one of the nine countries currently possessing nuclear weapons support the proposed measure.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pentagon now withholding results of nuclear weapons inspection

Pentagon withholding nuclear weapons inspection results: report http://thehill.com/policy/defense/340599-pentagon-withholding-nuclear-weapons-inspection-results-report The Pentagon has started withholding the results of inspections of its nuclear weapons operations, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Overall inspection results, such as “pass-fail” grades, at the country’s nuclear weapons facilities were previously made public. But the Pentagon told the AP that by ending such disclosures, it’s hoping to withhold key information about the U.S. nuclear arsenal from the country’s adversaries.

U.S. nuclear weapons operations have faced a bevy of embarrassing failings and shortcomings in past year stemming from security blunders, substandard performance, insufficient funding and poor leadership.

By withholding inspection results, the Pentagon is following a recommendation generated by an internal review of shortcomings in the country’s nuclear arsenal, including where and how the weapons are kept and the workers responsible for them.

Chuck Hagel, the former defense secretary under former President Barack Obama, ordered the internal review, as well as a separate study by an independent group, in 2014.

The recommendation to withhold inspection results was put forward in the internal review, which remains secret.

The Air Force personnel office posted on its website last month that the overall results of the inspections could no longer appear in personnel documents, such as performance reports. But that change began taking effect in the Navy in March, according to the AP. The Navy oversees the country’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles, while the Air Force operates aerial bombers and land-based missiles — in all, the three components that make up the nuclear triad.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

NASA spending $millions on plan for nuclear reactors on Mars

NASA to place NUCLEAR REACTOR on Mars to help humans colonise Red Planet NASA is working on an £11 million project that will see the space agency develop nuclear fission reactors on Mars. Express UK  By SEAN MARTIN, 4 July 17, As humanity gears up to make a move across the solar system, with some experts believing the Red Planet could be in the midst of a colonisation process by 2030, space agencies are preparing ways to sustain life.

One of the necessities for life to be built and sustained on Mars will be power, which is why Nasa is working on nuclear fission reactors that could work on Earth’s next door neighbour.

Nasa has already built the small 6’5” reactors which they will soon test on Earth, and if all goes to plan, could be shipped off to Mars in the future.

The reactors work by splitting uranium atoms in half which generate huge amounts of power – which will be needed to generate oxygen, light, heat, electricity and even water…….http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/824664/NASA-NUCLEAR-REACTOR-Mars

July 5, 2017 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Ever more dangerous – the transport of plutonium by sea

CORE 2nd July 2017, The Pacific Heron and sister shipPacific Egret, armed with naval canon and
carrying security ‘swat- squads’ sailed unladen from their home port of Barrow-in-Furness early this morning en-route to Cherbourg where MOX (mixed oxide) plutonium fuel assemblies will be loaded for onward delivery to Japan.

The 16 fuel assemblies, fabricated in French company Areva’s MeloxPlant and containing some 500kg of nuclear weapons useable plutonium aredestined for Kansai Electric’s Takahama 4 reactor in the south west of Japan. Preparation for the two-month voyage have been evident over the last few days at Barrow’s Ramsden Dock nuclear terminal with the loading of stores, the arrival of the security swat-squads provided by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary’s Strategic Escort Group (aka Sea-Plods), the
loading of ammunition and the sweeping of the ships’ hulls by divers.

Commenting on the preparations, CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood said today that the need for this level of armed security brings home the reality of the very real and significant dangers of transporting plutonium – in this case enough for around one hundred nuclear weapons – and demolishes the industry’s complacent and short-sighted claim that such shipments pose no risks.

“At a time of heightened and increasingly sophisticated action by terrorists we re-iterate our condemnation of the trans-world shipment of such dangerous material by sea. This voyage not
only foists needless risks on the marine environment and communities along the route, but also raises additional and significant concerns in Japan on the use of MOX fuel in the Takahama reactor (as also used in the fated Fukushima reactors) which has only just re-started after the overturning of a court injunction by local activists which kept the reactor off-line for inadequate safety standards”
http://corecumbria.co.uk/news/nuclear-gunships-sail-from-barrow-on-plutonium-voyage-to-japan/

July 5, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Determined opposition to Bradwell nuclear power project, UK

BANNG Summer Newsletter. 4 Jul 16 Don’t be deceived by the silence on the Bradwell
front. The project for a new nuclear power station at Bradwell is still
very much alive although little information has been made public. BANNG
remains as determined as ever to reveal what is happening and to oppose a
project which threatens the safety and security of the Blackwater
environment and the local communities. Please continue with your support
for BANNG as we enter a new phase in the effort to stop Bradwell B
http://www.banng.info/newsletters/

July 5, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

 EON SE nuclear plant now losing millions

EON’s Old Nuclear Money Spinners Are Now Just a Big Hassle, Bloomberg, By Weixin Zha and Tino Andresen, 4 July 2017, 

Brokdorf reactor halt has cost more than 100 million euros
Utility awaiting regulatory approval after February outage 

An EON SE nuclear plant that made billions for the German utility is now losing money.

Essen-based EON is battling repeated delays to production at its Brokdorf reactor that has cost the company more than 100 million euros ($114 million) since halting in February, the utility said by email. The unit is now scheduled to start July 19.

Brokdorf, a 1.4-gigawatt reactor capable of powering 2.8 million homes, is offline after regulators raised concerns about oxide layers on fuel rods discovered when the unit stopped for maintenance. EON has submitted its examination results to the regulator and is awaiting approval to restart.

EON, which last year separated its conventional power plant business into a new company called Uniper SE, still operates three atomic plants including the 31-year-old Brokdorf facility. EON had to keep the nuclear business after the government made plant operators permanently liable for decommissioning costs under the nation’s plan to exit atomic power.

“For the market, it will be an issue if Brokdorf still wasn’t available in the fall,” said Lueder Schumacher, an analyst at Societe Generale SA in London.

EON transferred on Monday its share of 24 billion euros that the government demanded from utilities into a fund that will pay for costs related to the final storage of radioactive waste.

Brokdorf’s outage contributed to a 20 percent drop in EON’s first quarteradjusted net income to 525 million euros, the utility said in May.

“The financial damage to our company due to the production loss is now at a three-digit million amount,” Almut Zyweck, a spokeswoman for EON’s nuclear unit, said by email on Monday…….https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-04/eon-s-old-nuclear-money-spinners-are-now-just-a-big-hassle

July 5, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Germany | Leave a comment

What are the real costs of Britsain’ s planned Bradwell B nuclear power project?

Harwich & Manningtree Standard 1st July 2017 In September the Chinese agreed to take a stake in Hinckley on the understanding the UK Government would
approve a Chinese-led and designed project at Bradwell on the Dengie – to become Bradwell B. Now we have the authoritative national audit officer saying Hinkley C itself is a risky and expensive project………

last Wednesday the Bradwell Local Community Liaison Council, held at Mundon, was informed by the
representative from the government’s Nuclear Development Agency that they have just agreed to pay out £100 million to Magnox’s competitors as the procurement process was incorrectly done – the size of the work being far more than anticipated.

Think what that would have bought in terms of the NHS or police and fire services. It also makes you wonder how well managed the nuclear procurement process is. The same meeting also heard from another Government body dealing with radioactive waste management that finding somewhere to put the nation’s store of highly radioactive waste
is likely to take another 100 years, despite offering communities £1 million a year whilst they volunteer a site. (Yes, they are proposing to build power stations still not knowing where they will put their dangerous
waste.)

In costing Bradwell B it is important that the full costs of all these directly related items to do with waste handling are included. Including of course the cost of the Government bodies themselves. Whilst Phil Greatorex was saying to Radio 4 that Hinkley is cheaper than renewables, he wasn’t challenged as to what figures he was including, but from everything we know to date coming from the likes of authoritative sources within Baang (Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group) we can be sure he wasn’t comparing like with like.
http://www.harwichandmanningtreestandard.co.uk/news/north_essex_news/15383519.LETTER__Full_costs_of_Bradwell_B_required/

July 5, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Australian uranium miner Paladin Energy goes into administration

Paladin Energy enters administration, WNN, 03 July 2017  Paladin Energy Ltd has today appointed administrators after it was unable to agree a delay to the repayment of $277 million it owes Electricité de France (EDF). The administrators will continue to operate the company on a business-as-usual basis until further 

Western Australia-based Paladin in February announced plans for a balance sheet restructuring to enable it to meet debts due in April, after plans to sell a 24% stake in the Langer Heinrich uranium mine in Namibia to China’s CNNC Overseas Uranium Holdings failed to progress. The sale of a 30% stake in the Manyingee project in Western Australia to Avira Energy Ltd (formerly MGT Resources), announced at the same time as the CNNC sale in July 2016, also failed to complete.

CNNC, which already owns a 25% joint venture equity stake in the Namibian project, subsequently began a process that could lead to it exercising an option to acquire all of Paladin’s share of Langer Heinrich. This led to the proposal in May of an alternative restructuring plan by Paladin, as the original plan had assumed the company would retain an ongoing interest in its Namibian flagship project.

Paladin is due to pay EDF $277 million by 10 July under a long-term supply agreement signed in 2012. The company said it had approached EDF to grant a “standstill” agreement, which would allow time for the alternative restructure proposal to be implemented. Although terms had been negotiated they had not been signed.

“EDF has now informed Paladin that it is not prepared to enter into a standstill agreement and requires payment of the amount when due on 10 July 2017,” Paladin said today……. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/UF-Paladin-Energy-enters-administration-0307177.html

July 5, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

With Brexit, Britain about to dump its Paris climate commitments?

Morning Star 1st July 2017, A BUNGLING Brexit bureaucrat has blown the lid on the government’s
“shocking attitude towards climate change,” official documents seen by
the Star reveal today. The files were part of a bundle of “sensitive”
papers seen by a Star reporter travelling on the Eurostar to Brussels on
Thursday morning.

They revealed how negotiators “have not yet engaged
with the EU Commission” on climate change and indicated that agreed
targets to reduce carbon emissions could be used as “political and
bureaucratic capital for bigger issues in the exit negotiations.”

GreenMP Caroline Lucas said the documents “appear to reveal a shocking
attitude towards climate change at the heart of government” and warned
that the government’s failure to take the issue seriously was a “dark
stain on their already tainted record.”

The papers suggest that on Britain’s exit, should Britain decide to no longer act jointly with the
EU on climate change, the EU will be faced with a decision of either
meeting the Paris Agreement by increasing remaining members’ targets or
setting a lower target overall — “both of which are politically
difficult.”   http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-b7f9-Sensitive-Documents-Reveal-Climate-Deals-are-at-Risk-Following-Brexit

July 5, 2017 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

San Onofre Safety monitors The Shimkus bill H.R. 3053 on nuclear waste

San Onofre Safety Action needed: The Shimkus bill H.R. 3053 Nuclear Waste Policy Amendment Act of 2017 will make us less safe and not solve the nuclear waste problems, yet preempts existing state and local water and air rights and other rights. It removes safety requirements needed to prevent radioactive leaks. Learn more and share handouts with elected officials and others.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Cause of Japan’s Oarai research center nuclear accident is thought to be decomposing resin

Rotten resin gas ‘most likely’ cause of Ibaraki nuclear accident http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201707040020.html  July 4, 2017 The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) now considers the most likely cause of last month’s nuclear contamination accident at its Oarai research center to be gas produced by decomposing resin containing plutonium and other radioactive substances.

The June 6 incident at the facility in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, exposed five workers to plutonium when they handled 26-year-old radioactive waste stored there.

Resin was used to stick the radioactive waste on an aluminum sheet and stored in a tightly sealed polyethylene container, which was wrapped in plastic bags and placed in a stainless steel container.

The accident occurred when the workers opened the steel container and were exposed to radioactive particles that seeped out of the polyethylene container in gas that ruptured the plastic coverings and escaped into the room they were in.

“Decomposition of resin by a radioactive substance is considered as the most likely cause of the gas’s formation,” said Toshio Kodama, JAEA president, at a July 3 meeting with the science and technology ministry’s special investigation team that was set up to determine the cause of the accident.

JAEA found that the polyethylene container inside the plastic bags contained powdered plutonium set in pieces of epoxy resin.

The agency is looking at other possibilities, but now considers decomposition of the resin as the most likely cause.

On the same day, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba announced that three of the five workers have been admitted to its facility for the third time to receive medication via an intravenous drip that speeds the excretion of radioactive substances from their bodies as urine.

The health of the five workers has not changed, according to NIRS.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

UN convention on environmental impact – meeting reveals influence of nuclear lobby

EU Observer 3rd July 2017, A meeting of the parties to the UN convention on environmental impact
assessment in a transboundary context (Espoo) took place last week in
Minsk, Belarus. Among other things, it helped to showcase the influence
that politics and the nuclear industry lobby have over decisions that have
potentially severe impacts on European citizens’ health and the
environment.

The meeting – gathering over 200 people, including
government delegates, civil society, EU officials and business – ended in
an unprecedented way, without the endorsement of any decision, despite
worrying evidence of the non-compliance of several governments’ nuclear
energy plans.

With many more decisions coming up in Europe on either the
construction of plants, or the prolongation of old nuclear units, the lack
of a decision following the Espoo meeting leaves no legal precedent for
countries to follow. It also provides the public with even more unclarity
on the participation procedures that ought to be followed.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment