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UK’s nuclear energy renaissance derailed, as Japanese companies step back from nuclear investment?

Japan’s nuclear rethink could derail UK energy plans, https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/01/09/japan-uk-nuclear-plans-go-awry/, Doug Parr, 11 Jan 19,   Reports in the Japanese press claim Hitachi is set to suspend all work on Wylfa, its nuclear power project in Wales.

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe is in London this week, and it seems likely in his meeting with Theresa May that the Japanese-backed nuclear power plant in Wales will come up.

The Wylfa project, to be built by Hitachi and its subsidiary Horizon, is one of a clutch of planned nuclear power stations which the UK government has heavily prioritised for security of power supply, and meeting the country’s climate obligations.

Late last year another of the 6 major projects, the proposed Moorside plant in Cumbria, was effectively abandoned after Toshiba pulled out. And another has come under fire as questions are raised about security issues flowing from the Chinese builders.

These developments effectively illustrate that UK nuclear power policy is heavily dependent on overseas developers. What is less understood is that there are significant shifts underway in Japan which strongly suggest Hitachi’s projects may too be at risk.

‘Nuclear export superpower’   The most advanced of Horizon’s nuclear plans is a large power station to be built at Wylfa on Anglesey, North Wales.

In fact, with the collapse of Moorside, the Wylfa plant is the only nuclear project that could realistically be built before 2030, in addition to the plant already under construction at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Japan, however, is reconsidering its nuclear export strategy. Because it keeps going wrong.

Until recently it had 3 companies interested in building nuclear power stations abroad: Toshiba, Mitsubishi and Hitachi.

These companies have experience building nuclear stations at home but since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, they have had to look elsewhere. Seeking to help these giants of Japanese industry to maintain their businesses, Prime Minister Abe reportedly wanted to turn Japan into a “nuclear export superpower”.

Misfires   Toshiba pulled out of Moorside last year because it had run up huge losses in building 2 nuclear plants in USA. One, the Summer project in South Carolina, was abandoned altogether despite it being nearly half-built. Toshiba has pulled out not just of Moorside, but of building new nuclear power stations altogether.

Meanwhile, another of Japan’s nuclear groups, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), has also been struggling to get its international project off-the-ground. It had one nuclear power station in the offing, at Sinop in Turkey, following an agreement years ago between the two countries’ prime ministers. However it seems clear that MHI is preparing to leave the project amid its “ballooning costs”. This is the only nuclear power station project MHI had an interest in.

The last of the companies involved in Japan’s nuclear export push is Hitachi. It has one active overseas nuclear project in UK at Wylfa, North Wales, and one more speculatively planned at Oldbury in Gloucestershire.

Hitachi, however, are reportedly be thinking of scrapping the project as its costs and risks become unmanageable. Hitachi could be looking at Toshiba’s near-bankruptcy and thinking ‘let’s not go there’.  According to their chairman the project was in “an extremely severe situation” as it struggled to attract investors, even though UK government may have promised as much as two thirds of the build cost.

Despite this already generous largesse (on behalf of UK taxpayers, not offered to any other energy projects) Hitachi are intending to come back to UK government and ask for more. It looks like no assessment of the risks by a private funder come back looking good, and the only way nuclear plants can be built is with government stepping into very risky projects that require taxpayers to shoulder the risk.

The aversion from private investors may not only be because of the rising costs, but also that the operating performance of the proposed reactor is pretty poor (albeit partly due to earthquakes). Notably Hitachi continues to be happy to spend many billions of pounds on power grid investments, but not its own nuclear reactor, which it wants UK taxpayers to fund.

Second thoughts  Unsurprisingly this tale is making many in Japan have second thoughts.

Major Japanese newspapers have opposed their own taxpayers lending supportto the Wylfa project, even though a home-grown company would be getting the benefits. And during the Xmas break, Japan’s third largest newspaper called for the nuclear export strategy to be abandoned. Another paper attacks the ‘bottomless swamp’ of nuclear funding in UK and remarks upon how few countries seem to be following the UK-style nuclear-focused policy.

Reportedly Japanese government has asked its development banks to fund the ‘nuclear export strategy’, and Wylfa in particular, but they don’t want to. It is quite difficult to see how Hitachi can manage the risks of this project without some home support, and support in Japan is ebbing away.

Few other countries will be stepping into the UK’s nuclear hole. The South Korean company KEPCO – that once might have taken over the Moorside project – is also finding exporting nuclear power tough to export, as ‘shoddy’ construction in a nuclear plant in United Arab Emirates, with attendant delays and extra costs, is showing.

For the UK, which has made a heavy bet on new nuclear to cover for retiring plants and make up a significant share of its decarbonisation targets, news from the other side of the world makes that bet look a dodgy one.

 

January 12, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics, UK | Leave a comment

A nuclear cover-up? Britain removes from public access, files on atomic bomb tests in Australia

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

“worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

Review or ‘cover up’? Mystery as Australia nuclear weapons tests files withdrawn https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/11/australia/uk-australia-nuclear-archives-intl/index.html, By James Griffiths, CNN

More than 65 years since the UK began conducting secret nuclear weapons testing in the Australian Outback, scores of files about the program have been withdrawn from the country’s National Archives without explanation.

The unannounced move came as a shock to many researchers and historians who rely on the files and have been campaigning to unseal the small number which remain classified.

“Many relevant UK documents have remained secret since the time of the tests, well past the conventional 30 years that government documents are normally withheld,” said expert Elizabeth Tynan, author of “Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story”.

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

Withdrawal of the files was first noted in late December. Access to them has remained closed in the new year.

Dark legacy   The UK conducted 12 nuclear weapons tests in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in the sparsely populated Outback of South Australia.

Information about the tests remained a tightly held secret for decades. It wasn’t until a Royal Commission was formed in 1984 — in the wake of several damning press reports — that the damage done to indigenous people and the Australian servicemen and women who worked on the testing grounds became widely known.

Indigenous people living nearby had long complained of the effects they suffered, including after a “black mist” settled over one camp near Maralinga in the wake of the Totem I test in October 1953. The mist caused stinging eyes and skin rashes. Others vomited and suffered from diarrhea.

These claims were dismissed and ridiculed by officials for decades — until, in the wake of the Royal Commission report, the UK agreed to pay the Australian government and the traditional owners of the Maralinga lands about AU$46 million ($30 million). The Australian authorities also paid indigenous Maralinga communities a settlement of AU$13.5 million ($9 million).

While the damage done to indigenous communities was acknowledged, much about the Totem I test — and other tests at Maralinga and later at Emu Field — remained secret, even before the recent withdrawal of archive documents.

“The British atomic tests in Australia did considerable harm to indigenous populations, to military and other personnel and to large parts of the country’s territory. This country has every right to know exactly what the tests entailed,” Tynan said. “Mysteries remain about the British nuclear tests in Australia, and these mysteries have become harder to bring to light with the closure of files by the British government.”

Alan Owen, chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, which campaigns on behalf of former servicemen, said “the removal of these documents affects not only our campaign, but affects the many academic organizations that rely on this material.”

“We are very concerned that the documents will not be republished and the (Ministry of Defense) will again deny any responsibility for the effects the tests have had on our membership,” Owen told CNN.

Unclear motives Responding to a request for comment from CNN, a spokeswoman for the National Archives said the withdrawal of the Australian nuclear test files was done at the request of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which has ultimate responsibility over them.

The NDA said that “a collection of records has been temporarily withdrawn from general access via The National Archive at Kew as part of a review process.”

“It is unclear, at this time, how long the review will take, however NDA anticipates that many of the documents will be restored to the public archive in due course,” a spokeswoman said.

Jon Agar, a professor of science and technology at University College London, said the withdrawal “is not just several records but two whole classes of files, many of which had previously been open to researchers at the National Archives.”

“These files are essential to any historian of the UK nuclear projects — which of course included tests in Australia. They have been closed without proper communication or consultation,” he added.

Agar shared correspondence he had with the NDA in which a spokeswoman said some files would be moved to a new archive — Nucleus — in the far north of Scotland. Howevethe Nucleus archives focus on the British civil nuclear industry, and it is unclear why files on military testing would be moved there, or why those files would need to be withdrawn to do so.

Nucleus also does not offer the type of online access to its records as the National Archives does.

“Why not just copy the files if the nuclear industry needs them at Nucleus for administrative reasons? Why take them all out of public view?” Agar wrote on Twitter.

Information freedom In correspondence with both CNN and Agar, the NDA suggested those interested in the files could file freedom of information (FOI) requests for them.

Under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, British citizens and concerned parties are granted the “right to access recorded information held by public sector organizations.”

FOI requests can be turned down if the government deems the information too sensitive or the request too expensive to process. Under a separate rule, the UK government should also declassify documents between 20 and 30 years after they were created.

According to the BBC, multiple UK government departments — including the Home Office and Cabinet Office — have been repeatedly condemned by auditors for their “poor,” “disappointing” and “unacceptable” treatment of FOI applications.

Commenting on the nuclear documents, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, a UK-based NGO, said it was “worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

“It suggests that the historical record is fragile and transient and liable to be snatched away at any time, with or without good reason,” he added.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hitachi to post $2 billion special loss, will suspend UK nuclear power operations

Hitachi to suspend UK nuclear power ops, post $2 billion special loss https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/hitachi-to-suspend-uk-nuclear-power-ops-post-2-billion-special-loss/67484807

Hitachi is set to vote on the planned suspension at its board meeting next week, the Nikkei said without citing sources REUTERS  |  January 11, 2019, TOKYOHitachi has decided to suspend its 3 trillion yen ($28 billion) nuclear project in Britain and to post a special loss of about $2 billion for the year ending March, the Nikkei business daily reported on Friday.

Hitachi is set to vote on the planned suspension at its board meetingnext week, the Nikkei said without citing sources.

The loss is expected to be 200 billion to 300 billion yen ($1.9 billion to 2.8 billion), it said.

Hitachi representatives could not be immediately reached for comment

January 12, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

As coal and nuclear power stations retire, 2019 U.S. renewable generation additions expected to far outpace gas

2019 US renewable generation additions expected to far outpace gas: EIA https://www.utilitydive.com/news/2019-us-renewable-generation-additions-expected-to-far-outpace-gas-eia/545836/ AUTHOR, Iulia Gheorghiu @IMGheorghiu

Dive Brief:

  • 23.7 GW of new U.S. electric generating capacity, mostly from wind, natural gas and solar, are expected in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) inventory of electric generators.
  • In addition, EIA data shows 8 GW of primarily coal, nuclear and natural gas generation are expected to retire this year, though that number could increase as utilities continue to evaluate their generating portfolios.
  • The expected retirements include Arizona’s 2.3 GW Navajo coal-burning power plant, Exelon’s 819 MW Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania and Entergy’s 677 MW Pilgrim nuclear power station in Massachusetts.

Dive Insight:

Cheaper prices of natural gas and renewable energy have impacted the competitiveness of more traditional generation fuels.

Renewable additions are projected to more than double gas in 2019. Last year, natural gas capacity additions outpaced renewable energy additions for the first time since 2013. 2018 was also a landmark year for new capacity additions, as EIA expected nearly 32 GW of new capacity — the most in a decade.

The estimates, based on EIA data, do not include additions in the residential and commercial solar sectors, which are expected to be an additional 3.9 GW by the end of 2019.

In 2019, EIA is tracking about 6.1 GW of combined-cycle gas plants and 1.4 GW of combustion-turbine gas plants, expected to be mostly online by June, in order to meet high energy demand during the summer peak. The rest of the expected additions include wind, solar and about 2% of other renewable and battery storage capacity.

Renewable capacity typically comes online at the end of the year, according to the EIA. This matches the upcoming changes in renewable energy tax credits. The wind production tax credit will phase out completely at the end of the year from its current status at 40% of 2015 levels. On the solar side, this is the last year for a full 30% investment tax credit for developing solar energy systems, which will begin to phase down in 2020.

Utility integrated resource plans (IRPs) are beginning to show that renewables can beat out older coal plants, as the Northern Indiana Public Service Company demonstrated through its 2018 IRP analysis last fall, assessing a scenario to eliminate the resource by 2028.

Half of the 4.5 GW of coal-fired capacity expected to retire in 2019 comes from the Navajo Generation Station (NGS), which has not found enough customers for its power generation despite support from a number of groups and the Trump administration to keep it open. Last September, private equity firm Middle River Power dropped its bid to purchase the plant.

In addition, the Pilgrim nuclear plant, set to retire in May, and Three Mile Island, scheduled to retire in September, follow announcements from the plant operators of “severe economic challenges.” Exelon’s Three Mile Island failed to clear the PJM Interconnection capacity market auction in 2017 and Entergy based the decision for Pilgrim on a range of financial factors, including low current and forecast wholesale energy prices.

While the Trump administration has worked to support existing coal and nuclear power plants and to create economic conditions to add new coal and nuclear capacity, trends are pointing away from nuclear and coal additions.

“I don’t think there are any trends in the current electricity market that favor the idea of building new coal or nuclear power plants,” Tim Fox, vice president of ClearView Energy Partners, told Utility Dive.

The natural gas plants set for retirement largely consist of steam turbine plants, mostly located in California. They are older units that came online more than 50 years ago. Other capacity retirements for the year include a hydroelectric plant in Washington state and smaller renewable and petroleum capacity.

Follow Iulia Gheorghiu on Twitter

January 12, 2019 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Hitachi looks certain to cancel its plans for a £16bn nuclear power station in Wales

Hitachi set to cancel plans for £16bn nuclear power station in Wales Guardian, Adam Vaughan @adamvaughan_uk-12 Jan 2019

Move by Japanese firm would be blow to UK plans to replace coal plants and ageing reactors  The Japanese conglomerate Hitachi looks certain to cancel its plans for a £16bn nuclear power station in Wales, leaving Britain’s ambitions for a nuclear renaissance in tatters.

An impasse in months-long talks between the company, London and Toyko on financing is expected to result in the flagship project being axed at a Hitachi board meeting next week, according to the Nikkei newspaper.

The company has spent nearly £2bn on the planned Wylfa power station on Anglesey, which would have powered around 5m homes.

Another Japanese giant, Toshiba, scrapped a nuclear plant in Cumbria just two months ago after failing to find a buyer for the ailing project.

Withdrawal by Hitachi would be a major blow to the UK’s plans to replace dirty coal and ageing reactors with new nuclear power plants, and heap pressure on ministers to consider other large-scale alternatives such as offshore windfarms.

It would also mark an end to Japan’s hopes of exporting its nuclear technology around the world.

Hitachi and the UK and Japanese governments have been negotiating over a guaranteed price of power from Wylfa and a potentially £5bn-plus UK public stake in the scheme.

Talks have proved “tricky to find a solution that works for all parties”, industry sources said.

Unions said the prospect of Wylfa being cancelled was extremely worrying and losing two projects in such a short period “should set alarm bells ringing” about the government’s commitment to nuclear………

an insider said: “There has been a serious rift in Hitachi, and the group that said this is too large and risky an investment of Japanese capital have won out. They pointed to the uncertainty created by Brexit to say this was another reason to pull the plug.” ……….

Nuclear critics said a collapse of the scheme was not a disaster but an opportunity for a policy shift. Doug Parr, the chief scientist of Greenpeace UK, said: “We could have locked ourselves into reliance on an obsolete, unaffordable technology, but we’ve been given the chance to think again and make a better decision.”

Sara Medi Jones, the acting secretary general of CND, said: “With offshore wind now cheaper than nuclear it’s clear there is a clean and workable alternative. We just need the political will to make it happen.”

Just one new nuclear power station, EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C in Somerset, has been given the green light and begun construction. The French company and Chinese firm CGN both want to build more. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/11/hitachi-cancel-plans-nuclear-power-station-angelsey-wales

January 12, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

America’s EPA preparing to appoint yet another anti-environment chief

The Energy 202: Senate Democrats warn EPA may be ‘afoul’ of law by prepping Wheeler for confirmation during shutdown, The Hour, Dino Grandoni, The Washington Post, January 11, 2019 A group of Senate Democrats says the Environmental Protection Agency may be violating spending laws by preparing the agency’s acting chief, Andrew Wheeler, for his confirmation hearing during a partial government shutdown.

Four members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee – Thomas Carper of Delaware; Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island; and Benjamin Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both of Maryland – sent a letter to the agency questioning whether it is improperly using resources to help Wheeler get ready for his confirmation hearing before them next Wednesday.

The move underscores the extent to which Senate Democrats are ready to fight President Donald Trump’s second pick to run the EPA after the former chief, Scott Pruitt, and now Wheeler have sought the reversal of many environmental regulations implemented under President Obama.

In response to the letter, the EPA told The Washington Post it is well within its rights under Justice Department guidelines to work toward getting the agency a Senate-confirmed leader.

The EPA is one of the agencies that isn’t receiving funding as the partial government shutdown drags into its 21st day over the standoff surrounding President Trump’s border wall. Only about 800 of the EPA’s 14,000 employees have been deemed essential to work through the shutdown. The vast majority of those remaining at work are “necessary to protect life and property.”

Only a handful of other employees – six top-level political appointees and a dozen others “necessary to the discharge of the President’s constitutional duties and powers” – are still allowed to work during a shutdown, according to the agency’s Dec. 31 contingency plan.

But according to the Democratic senators, five EPA employees have been involved in coordinating meetings with senators, who will have to approve Wheeler to serve as the agency’s permanent chief after President Trump this week formally tapped him for the position.

An EPA notary also worked to certify an ethics form for Wheeler, who worked for years as a lobbyist.

“It is difficult to understand how preparing you for next week’s confirmation hearing credibly falls within any of the categories listed in EPA’s Contingency Plan, particularly the category of employee that is ‘necessary to protect life and property,’ ” the senators wrote in their letter to Wheeler, sent Thursday.

“Using EPA resources in this manner may also run afoul of the Antideficiency Act,” they added, referring to the law requiring a federal agency’s expenditures not exceed the amount appropriated by Congress.

……… The EPA has been without a Senate-confirmed chief since the White House forced Pruitt to resign in July amid investigations into his ethical and managerial decisions.

While happy to see Pruitt gone, many environmentalists are fiercely oppose to Wheeler’s nomination after he spent years representing coal mining and nuclear energy firms in Washington.

They have long been critical of the EPA under both Pruitt and Wheeler for pursuing the rollback of Obama-era rules. During the shutdown, however, much of that work rewriting regulations has been put on pause.

But activists still take issue with Trump and Senate Republicans working to advance Wheeler’s nomination while other EPA employees are furloughed, such as those working to inspect factories for pollution or prepare cleanup plans for toxic waste sites.

“It’s a shocking waste of precious resources to spend any staff time preparing Andrew Wheeler’s nomination,” Collin O’Mara, president and chief executive of the National Wildlife Federation, said while calling for a delay in the hearing. https://www.thehour.com/news/article/The-Energy-202-Senate-Democrats-warn-EPA-may-be-13526124.php

January 12, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Iowa Utilities Board OK’s Alliant ending nuclear power purchase: Duane Arnold nuclear plant to shut down

State board OK’s Alliant ending nuclear power purchase, The Gazette, 11 Jan 19Alliant Energy’s request for a settlement that will allow the utility to end its purchase of energy from Duane Arnold Energy Center has been approved.

The Iowa Utilities Board’s approval of Alliant’s request to recover a one-time $110 million payment allows the utility to end its purchase of power from the state’s sole nuclear power plant. The plant, based in Palo, is slated to shut down in late 2020 — five years sooner than the current power purchase agreement between NextEra Energy Resources and Alliant Energy.

The Iowa Utilities Board announced the settlement agreement in a Thursday news release.

Duane Arnold, which first began producing power in 1975, is about 9 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids and is one of the larger employers in Linn County. The power plant, at 3277 Daec Road, is owned by Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources……..https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/business/state-board-approves-alliants-plan-to-close-duane-arnold-in-2020-20181213

 

January 12, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe in UK to beg for more money for Wylfa nuclear project?

Unearthed 9th Jan 2019 Doug Parr: Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe is in London this week, and it seems likely in his meeting with Theresa May that the Japanese-backed
nuclear power plant in Wales will come up. The Wylfa project, to be built
by Hitachi and its subsidiary Horizon, is one of a clutch of planned
nuclear power stations which the UK government has heavily prioritised for
security of power supply, and meeting the country’s climate obligations.

Late last year another of the 6 major projects, the proposed Moorside plant
in Cumbria, was effectively abandoned after Toshiba pulled out. And another
has come under fire as questions are raised about security issues flowing
from the Chinese builders.

These developments effectively illustrate that
UK nuclear power policy is heavily dependent on overseas developers.

What is less understood is that there are significant shifts underway in Japan
which strongly suggest Hitachi’s projects may too be at risk. The most
advanced of Horizon’s nuclear plans is a large power station to be built
at Wylfa on Anglesey, North Wales. In fact, with the collapse of Moorside,
the Wylfa plant is the only nuclear project that could realistically be
built before 2030, in addition to the plant already under construction at
Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Japan, however, is reconsidering its nuclear
export strategy. Because it keeps going wrong. Until recently it had 3
companies interested in building nuclear power stations abroad: Toshiba,
Mitsubishi and Hitachi. These companies have experience building nuclear
stations at home but since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, they have had to
look elsewhere.

Seeking to help these giants of Japanese industry to
maintain their businesses, Prime Minister Abe reportedly wanted to turn
Japan into a “nuclear export superpower”. Hitachi, however, are
reportedly be thinking of scrapping the project as its costs and risks
become unmanageable. Hitachi could be looking at Toshiba’s
near-bankruptcy and thinking ‘let’s not go there’. According to their
chairman the project was in “an extremely severe situation” as it
struggled to attract investors, even though UK government may have promised
as much as two thirds of the build cost.

Despite this already generouslargesse (on behalf of UK taxpayers, not offered to any other energy projects) Hitachi are intending to come back to UK government and ask for
more. It looks like no assessment of the risks by a private funder come
back looking good, and the only way nuclear plants can be built is with
government stepping into very risky projects that require taxpayers to
shoulder the risk.

The aversion from private investors may not only be
because of the rising costs, but also that the operating performance of the
proposed reactor is pretty poor (albeit partly due to earthquakes).

Notably Hitachi continues to be happy to spend many billions of pounds on power
grid investments, but not its own nuclear reactor, which it wants UK
taxpayers to fund. Major Japanese newspapers have opposed their own
taxpayers lending support to the Wylfa project, even though a home-grown
company would be getting the benefits.

 

And during the Xmas break, Japan’s
third largest newspaper called for the nuclear export strategy to be
abandoned. Another paper attacks the ‘bottomless swamp’ of nuclear
funding in UK and remarks upon how few countries seem to be following the
UK-style nuclear-focused policy. Reportedly Japanese government has asked
its development banks to fund the ‘nuclear export strategy’, and Wylfa
in particular, but they don’t want to. It is quite difficult to see how
Hitachi can manage the risks of this project without some home support, and
support in Japan is ebbing away.
https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2019/01/09/japan-uk-nuclear-plans-go-awry/

January 12, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Sizewell nuclear project – a monstrous folly that is shrouded in misleading information

TASC 9th Jan 2019 , TASC’s initial opinion of the EDF 3rd stage consultation is that it is
‘vague to the point of being misleading.’ Pete Wilkinson, the group’s
chairman, said today, ‘This is the last chance before the Development
Consent Order for people of east Suffolk to submit their views about how
the proposed EDF development will affect their lives.
‘The glossy  consultation brochure states baldly that, ‘An Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA) process is on-going and is being used to identify any
likely significant effects arising as a result of Sizewell C’ (emphasis
added). This renders the document premature and deliberately vague to the
point of being misleading.
How can people therefore judge whether they feel
the impacts are acceptable or not when the developer itself does not know
to what degree and in which areas the environment will be degraded?
Consultees are being asked, in effect, how they want the deck chairs
arranged on the Titanic. TASC believes we should not embark on the Titanic
at all and we encourage all those who agree with us to write to EDF, Dr
Coffey and Greg Clark, the government minister responsible for this
unnecessary monstrosity on our precious coast, to tell them so.’ TASC’s
opinion is that very little of significance has changed since the 2nd
consultation.
The “Road-Led” vs “Rail-Led” strategies appear to be
no more than a red herring to distract from the overriding fact that
Sizewell C will have a devastating and unacceptable impact on the Suffolk
coastal community. This is a rural area lacking in the type of
infrastructure needed to construct such a massive industrial complex. It is
this lack of major roads and railway lines that has made this area a mecca
for walkers, cyclists, bird watchers and those that just enjoy the peace
and tranquility of a beautiful landscape. There is no doubt that the
monstrous folly of Sizewell C will put all this, and the vibrant and
sustainable tourist industry that has developed around it, at risk.
http://tasizewellc.org.uk/index.php/news/242-sizewell-opposition-group-condemns-consultation-as-deliberately-vague

January 12, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Activists Want Details On Inquiry Into Ex- Nuclear Weapons Plant at Rocky Flats

Rocky Flats Controversy Continues: Activists Want Details On Inquiry Into Ex-Nuke Weapons Plant, 4 CBS Denver,  By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press  DENVER (AP) — Activists asked a U.S. judge Thursday to make documents public from a 27-year-old criminal investigation into former nuclear weapons plant Rocky Flats outside Denver with a history of fires, leaks and spills.The activists said the documents could show whether the federal government did enough to clean up the site before turning part of it into a wildlife refuge and opening it to the public.

The government built plutonium triggers at the Rocky Flats plant from 1952 to 1989. It was shut down after a two-year grand jury investigation into environmentalviolations.

After the investigation, Rockwell International, the contractor that operated the plant, pleaded guilty in 1992 to criminal charges that included mishandling chemical and radioactive material. The company was fined $18.5 million.

The documents from the grand jury investigation are still sealed. Seven groups representing environmentalists, former nuclear workers, nearby residents and public health advocates filed a motion in federal court Thursday asking for the information to be made public.

Officials from the U.S. attorney’s office and the U.S. Department of Energy, which oversaw the plant, didn’t immediately respond to emails and a phone call seeking comment. Many employees of the two agencies are furloughed because of the partial government shutdown.

Pat Mellen, an attorney representing the activist groups, said the documents could show whether the government tracked down and cleaned up all the contamination.

Mellen said the grand jury subpoenaed documents from the plant that would have shown where plutonium and other hazardous wastes were disposed of, spilled or buried.

Comparing those documents to the cleanup would show whether all the known contamination sites were remediated, she said………https://denver.cbslocal.com/2019/01/10/nuclear-weapons-plant-rocky-flats/

January 12, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Funding deadlock looks set to sink Japan’s last overseas nuclear project.

Nikkei Asian Review 11th Jan 2019 , Hitachi to suspend all work on UK nuclear plant. Funding deadlock looks set to sink Japan’s last overseas nuclear project. Hitachi plans to put a U.K.
nuclear power project on hold as negotiations with the British government over funding hit an impasse, all but closing the book on Tokyo’s vision for nuclear infrastructure exports.
The Japanese industrial conglomerate’s
board is expected to officially decide next week to suspend all work on the
plant, including design and preparations for construction. Hitachi will
freeze the roughly 300 billion yen ($2.77 billion) in assets held by its
British nuclear business and write down their value, likely booking a loss
of 200 billion yen to 300 billion yen for the fiscal year ending in March.
The move would bring to a halt Japan’s last active overseas nuclear project
after the news last month that a Japanese-led consortium including
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was scrapping a project in Turkey. With the
aversion to nuclear power that took hold after the March 2011 Fukushima
Daiichi disaster showing little sign of abating, prospects look grim for a
sector that the Japanese government had positioned as a pillar of its
infrastructure export drive. Hitachi had taken on the planned construction
of two reactors on the Welsh island of Anglesey after acquiring U.K.-based
Horizon Nuclear Power in 2012. The company is leaving the door open to a
return. The project is “not being abandoned,” a source close to Hitachi
told Nikkei, suggesting the company would keep an eye on the situation and
resume the project if possible.
While negotiations with London are
apparently set to continue, reworking the project to the extent Hitachi
requires will be no easy task. As things stand now, it appears likely that
the company will ultimately be forced to bow out.
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-Deals/Hitachi-to-suspend-all-work-on-UK-nuclear-plant

January 12, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, UK | Leave a comment

Dr Gordon Edwards explains the background to former NRC chairman’s opposition to nuclear power

Nuclear Regulatory Commission ex-Chairman Gregory Jaczko is adamantly opposed to the idea of keeping existing nuclear reactors running as a way to offset climate change, because each reactor is like a time bomb ready to explode if the cooling is cut off by a total station blackout, by equipment failure, by major pipe breaks, or by acts of warfare, sabotage, or terrorism. The societal dislocation caused by the spread of radioactive material over wide areas, affecting drinking water, food and habitation for decades or centuries, is as bad as the ravages of climate change for the communities so affected.
As Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time of the Fukushima disaster, Jaczko has a unique insight into the factors that make nuclear power plants dangerous even after so-called “safe” shutdown. The Ex-NRC regulator argues against nuclear energy as a tactic to fight climate change 4 knows, too, that the arguments levied against renewables are ultimately incorrect, as technology to store energy and to rechannel it is growing by leaps and bounds. Investing tens or hundreds of billions of dollars into maintaining old nuclear reactors, which are becoming increasingly dangerous as they age, is simply stealing money away from investments in the renewable revolution that is our best hope for a sustainable energy future.     
Ex-NRC regulator argues against nuclear energy as a tactic to fight climate change 1 Background:  by Dr Gordon Edwards, http://www.ccnr.org/Jaczko_nixes_nukes_2019.pdf January 11, 2019 Commercial nuclear power plants are water-cooled. They are fuelled by ceramic uranium fuel pellets stacked inside long narrow rods made of zirconium metal. A number of these rods are bound together into a fuel assembly — in Canada such an assembly is called a fuel bundle.
Heat is produced by splitting uranium atoms. That heat is transported by the liquid water coolant which flows past the zirconium tubes containing the fuel. The heat is used to produce steam that will turn the blades of a steam turbine to generate electricity.
As the uranium fuel undergoes nuclear fission (splitting uranium atoms), hundreds of varieties of intensely radioactive byproducts build up inside the fuel. These are (1) broken fragments of uranium atoms, called “fission products”; (2) heavier-than-uranium elements, including plutonium, called “transuranic actinides”. These byproducts are millions of times more radioactive than the original fuel.
  Loss of Cooling During a severe nuclear accident, the cooling is lost. Even if the reactor has been safely shut down just beforehand, and the fission process has been totally arrested, the temperature of the fuel will still soar to destructive levels without adequate cooling.
 The problem is that radioactivity cannot be shut off. The radioactive byproducts created during nuclear fission remain in the fuel, and they continue to generate heat. In the case of a 1000 megawatt reactor, immediately following shutdown, over 200 megawatts of heat continue to be generated by the ongoing atomic disintegrations of the radioactive waste byproducts. After one hour this drops to about 30 megawatts of heat, which is still a tremendous rate of thermal energy release.
If the coolant is no longer circulating — perhaps because of a station blackout, as at Fukushima, or due to a large pipe break followed by a failure of emergency cooling — that “residual heat” or “decay heat” will not be removed from the core of the reactor.
Make no mistake, even 30 megawatts is a lot of heat — unless it is rapidly removed, that heat is more than enough to melt the fuel and surrounding structural materials of a nuclear reactor at a temperature of 2800 degrees C (5000 degrees F). That’s more than twice the melting point of steel. It’s the beginning of a partial or total core meltdown.
Hydrogen Gas Buildup At about 1800 degrees C (3300 degrees F), long before the fuel melts, the solid zirconium “cladding” surrounding the fuel starts to melt. Any failure of the zirconium cladding allows the escape, under high pressure, of dozens of radioactive waste byproducts that were previously trapped inside the fuel. The superheated steam that now fills the reactor vessel is suddenly infused with a multitude of radioactive gases, vapours, aerosols and ashes, all ready to be expelled into the atmosphere if there is any failure of containment.
At an even lower temperature, 700-800 degrees C, steam reacts chemically with the zirconium metal. Recall that water molecules are combinations of hydrogen and oxygen atoms (H2O). The blistering hot zirconium metal strips the oxygen out of the steam, forming zirconium oxide, while releasing all the left-over hydrogen. Hydrogen gas mixes with the steam-filled radioactively contaminated air to form an explosive mixture. Any spark will detonate the hydrogen in a devastating blast, more powerful than a natural gas explosion.
Such hydrogen gas explosions almost always accompany a nuclear meltdown. There were several such explosions during the partial meltdown of the NRX reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, in 1952; during the Three Mile Island partial meltdown in Pennsylvania in1979; and during the triple meltdown at Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan in 2011. Such explosions will often damage the containment envelope of the nuclear reactor, spewing highly radioactive materials into the outer atmosphere.
Radioactive Exposures People, animals and plants are irradiated from above by “skyshine” from gamma-radiation-emitting gases passing overhead. Metallic radioactive vapours such as cesium-137, iodine-131 and strontium-90 will condense on vegetation, soil, buildings, skin, clothing, and surfaces of all kinds, leaving a lasting legacy of radioactive contamination, irradiating living things by “groundshine”. And these radioactive materials gradually work their way into the food chain, sometimes re-concentrating along the way, yielding contaminated crops, meat, fish, water, milk, mushrooms, berries, and much else besides. Ingesting or inhaling such materials will lead to the internal irradiation of people and animals by radioactive materials that lodge in the lungs, the bones, the blood, or the soft organs of the body.
For example, radioactive iodine condenses on pastureland, and the concentration of radioactive iodine in the grass becomes about 100 times greater than in the air above the pasture. The concentration of radioactive iodine in cow’s milk is about 100-1000 times greater than it is in the grass they eat. Then, when a young child drinks the cow’s milk, the concentration of radioactive iodine in the child’s thyroid gland is about 7-10 times greater than it is in the contaminated milk. So, a child’s thyroid can be exposed to radioactive iodine levels that are several orders of magnitude greater than that found in the contaminated air that they might breathe.
Radioactive cesium accumulates in meat and fish, often making them unsuitable for human consumption. Even today, hunters in Germany and the Czech Republic are compensated by their respective governments if they kill a wild boar, because they cannot eat the meat due to radioactive cesium contamination from the Chernobyl accident 33 years ago. In Japan, wild boars in the Fukushima forested areas have levels of radioactive cesium in their bodies that are 10 to 150 times greater than the maximum permissible levels for human consumption. Boars love mushrooms, and fungi are especially adept at concentrating radioactivity.
 Nuclear Regulatory Commission ex-Chairman Gregory Jaczko is adamantly opposed to the idea of keeping existing nuclear reactors running as a way to offset climate change, because each reactor is like a time bomb ready to explode if the cooling is cut off by a total station blackout, by equipment failure, by major pipe breaks, or by acts of warfare, sabotage, or terrorism. The societal dislocation caused by the spread of radioactive material over wide areas, affecting drinking water, food and habitation for decades or centuries, is as bad as the ravages of climate change for the communities so affected.
As Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time of the Fukushima disaster, Jaczko has a unique insight into the factors that make nuclear power plants dangerous even after so-called “safe” shutdown. The Ex-NRC regulator argues against nuclear energy as a tactic to fight climate change 4 knows, too, that the arguments levied against renewables are ultimately incorrect, as technology to store energy and to rechannel it is growing by leaps and bounds. Investing tens or hundreds of billions of dollars into maintaining old nuclear reactors, which are becoming increasingly dangerous as they age, is simply stealing money away from investments in the renewable revolution that is our best hope for a sustainable energy future.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | radiation, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Japan, the U.S. and France failing in their efforts to sell nuclear reactors overseas, (or at home)

Japan’s Nuclear Export Struggles Narrow the Field of Suppliers, Only a handful of nations now seem capable of building new reactors, with the ability of the U.S. also in doubt. Greentech Media, Japan is struggling to find viable foreign buyers for its reactor technology in an expensive and competitive global nuclear market.

Only half a dozen nations currently have credible nuclear export capabilities. And besides Japan, the true export potential of at least two — the U.S. and France — is in doubt.

A recent report in the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun said a government strategy to export nuclear power technology had “run aground amid rising safety costs and deteriorating prospects for project profitability.” Proposed projects in Turkey and the United Kingdom had both hit roadblocks, the Mainichi Shimbun noted……..

Also, and perhaps more importantly, Japanese nuclear vendors are not state-owned like developers from China, Russia and South Korea. That puts Japanese firms at a disadvantage in terms of accessing finance and accepting risk.

These problems are not restricted to Japanese firms, though. They also apply to U.S. vendors.

Struggles in the U.S. nuke sector

While Japanese nuclear is at least enjoying something of a gradual recovery at home, with nine reactors back online after Fukushima and a further 17 looking to restart, in the U.S. the domestic sector is a mess.

This month saw Dominion Energy absorbing Scana Corporation after the latter failed to keep construction of two reactors at the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station afloat.

A little over 100 miles away, Georgia state lawmakers have expressed concerns that a couple of new reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, which are already half a decade behind schedule, could see further delays.

Six reactors out of a total of 104 have shut down across the U.S. since 2012, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, and a further 13 are due to close before 2025.

Meanwhile, a 2017 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found two-thirds of U.S. nuclear power capacity could become unprofitable over the next few years.

When publicly owned U.S. nuclear developers do not even have a viable domestic market to play in, it is hard to see how they might compete overseas. There are efforts underway to revive the U.S. nuclear industry, but industry advocates say much more support is needed.

U.S. nuclear export prospects are thus beginning to look a lot like those in Japan — and also those in France, which has been struggling to launch its Evolutionary Power Reactor technology. Like the U.S. and Japan, France seemingly has little appetite to attach state guarantees to nuclear projects abroad……

January 12, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia keen to get nuclear technology from USA

Saudi Arabia to work closely with US on nuclear power plans,  https://www.straitstimes.com/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-to-work-closely-with-us-on-nuclear-power-plans JAN 10, 2019, RIYADH (REUTERS) – Saudi Arabia aims to work closely with the United States on its plans to build nuclear power generation capacity in the oil producing kingdom, the energy minister said on Wednesday (Jan 9).Riyadh wants Washington to be “part and parcel” of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear programme, which will be entirely for peaceful purposes, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said.

He also said the United States was a key provider for nuclear technology.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

USA electric-power producers call on Supreme Court to overturn state subsidies for nuclear power

No states’ nuke subsidies, power group tells Supreme Court https://www.reuters.com/article/no-states-nuke-subsidies-power-group-tel/no-states-nuke-subsidies-power-group-tells-supreme-court-idUSL1N1ZB0F6, Barbara Grzincic, – 11 Jan 19

A trade group for electric-power producers has doubled down on its fight against state-mandated subsidies for nuclear power plants, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn two appellate courts that upheld Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) programs in New York and Illinois last fall.

The Electric Power Supply Association, represented by former U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr, argues that the 2016 state regulations infringe on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s power to regulate wholesale electricity rates, which Congress gave to FERC in the Federal Power Act in 1935.

To read the full story on Westlaw Practitioner Insights, click here: bit.ly/2SKaXWt

 

January 12, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment