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Britain’s nuclear power dreams melting away – with soaring costs, and political problems

U.K. Nuclear Fleet Plans Evaporating Amid Economic, Political Problems,    September 20, 2020, Peter Reina

The U.K.’s hopes for a fleet of new nuclear plants, potentially exceeding 13,000 MW, took another hit when Japan’s Hitachi Ltd. recently pulled out of a major project in Wales. With Chinese investment in two other projects alsolmore doubtful, only the 3,300MW Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, England, has so far progressed to construction

Having suspended development work on the Welsh two-unit plant at Wylfa Newydd in January 2019, Hitachi earlier this month announced that the already difficult investment environment had “become increasingly severe due to the impact of COVID-19.” The company wrote off $2.8 billion of investment in the Welsh plant last year.

Hitachi’s departure followed the Toshiba Corp.’s decision in late 2018 to quit the 3,400-MW Moorside plant, in Cumbria. It had failed to find co-investors for its Westinghouse powered project.

With uncertainty growing, Hinkley Point C is the only U.K. nuclear project o have started work, which is so far largely on schedule, according to Electricité de France (EdF), which controls 66.5% of the deal. China General Nuclear Corp. owns 33.5% of project, which will be powered by two French EPR pressurized water reactors.

Hitachi’s withdrawal from the U.K. market has alarmed supporters of the nuclear industry, since it also casts a cloud over the planned 3,340-MW Sizewell C project in Cumbria.

“For the first time in a generation the U.K has developed a world class nuclear construction and engineering supply chain. Without Sizewell C, we will not sustain it,” says Cameron Gilmour, spokesperson for the Sizewell C Consortium lobby group of key companies in the sector.

The Sizewell C plant would replicate Hinkley Point C and is “shovel ready” according to Gilmour. The U.K. Planning Inspectorate is considering an application for the project submitted this May. The agency’s recommendations will end up on the government’s desk for a final decision at some point.

However, general investment uncertainties and increasingly frosty relations between the U.K and Chinese governments bode ill for the deal, says Stephen Thomas, an energy policy specialist at the University of Greenwich, London.

Set up under a previous conservative administration, the Hinkley Point C deal included CGNC’s participation as a junior partner in Sizewell C. Also, CGNC would have full responsibility for a proposed 2,300 MW Bradwell plant in Essex.

Bradwell would be a global showcase for the technology as it would be the first plant in an industrialized country to use the Chinese Hualong One reactors, Thomas says.

However, the Chinese government was angered over the U.K.’s rejection this July of Huawei technology for the cell phone networks. At the same time, criticism by the country’s lawmakers of China’s participation in critical infrastructure is increasing.

Both developments make the Bradwell deal uncertain. And if Bradwell falls, the Chinese are unlikely to remain merely as passive, junior investors in Sizewell C, potentially scuppering the whole deal, says Thomas.

Investment uncertainties lie at the heart of the U.K.’s fading nuclear hopes. The government offered the Hitachi team a far less generous deal than the one secured by EdF for Hinkley Point C.

While the Hinkley deal protects U.K. electricity consumers from cost escalations, it comes at a high price, according to Thomas. The deal is based on a “contract for differences” which sets an index linked energy price of $120 per MWh at 2012 prices for 35 years. That is hugely more than the $51 per MWh now being bid for offshore wind contracts, he says.

For subsequent deals, the government last year turned to the Regulatory Asset Base (RAB) form of funding used by water and types of utilities. Rather than having a target energy price, electricity tariffs would be controlled by the regulator, which would consider factors such as need for investment and a fair rate of return on capital.

The government completed a review of the system this January but has yet to make a decision, adding to investment uncertainty, says Thomas.

Meanwhile, in the west of England, contractors recently placed the 170-tonne base of the second reactor’s steel containment liner at Hinkley Point on time, despite pandemic working restrictions.

EdF claims to have met critical path goals during the pandemic, but it has yet to reveal the extent of delays on other parts of the job. The site’s workforce is now back to its pre-pandemic level of 4,500 having fallen to 2,000 after February.

Civil and building work is being handled by a joint venture of Paris-based Bouygues Travaux Publics and the U.K.’s Laing O’Rourke Plc. in a contract signed in late 2017, then valued at around $3.6 billion.

However, “challenging ground conditions” and additional design effort have contributed to an overall project cost rise to $29 billion from around $23 billion in 2016, reports EdF. The company still plans to commission the first unit in 2025, but the project has yet to enter its trickier nuclear component phase, officials concede.

Europe’s only two other projects using the same reactor design and involving Bouygues are hugely over schedule. Finland’s Olkiluoto 3 plant and EdF’s flagship French project at Flamanvile are both running about a decade late.

With this track record and future financing doubts, prospects for new projects around the world look bleak, says Thomas.

But nuclear power “has had a history of climbing out of the coffin,” he adds.


September 22, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | 1 Comment

45 nations have now ratified the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

U.N. nuclear ban treaty reaches 45 signatories. NEWS KYODO NEWS21 Sept 20 Malta, a Mediterranean island country, completed the ratification process for a U.N.-adopted nuclear ban treaty Monday, bringing the number of such countries and regions to 45 with a total of 50 required for the pact to enter into force, a nonprofit antinuclear organization said.The latest ratification comes on the same day the U.N. General Assembly held a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the world body’s founding.

With the addition of one more signatory to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, hopes for an early enforcement of the pact, possibly by the end of this year.

However, the treaty’s potential effectiveness remains uncertain as all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, all of which are nuclear powers, have declined to ratify it.

Japan, the only country in the world to have experienced nuclear bombings, has not ratified the pact either, in light of its security alliance with the United States providing nuclear deterrence against adversaries.

The nuclear ban treaty, adopted in 2017, will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 50 countries and regions. According to the United Nations, 84 countries and regions have signed the nuclear ban treaty.

In a related move, a group of 56 former leaders or ministers from countries that depend on U.S. nuclear deterrence on Monday released a letter urging the leaders of their respective countries to participate in the U.N. nuclear ban treaty.

From Japan, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka and former Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka joined the petition.

September 22, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japanese government dangles financial carrot to persuade reluctant communities to take nuclear wastess

But there is no prospect for the establishment of such a recycling system which would allow for disposing only of the waste from reprocessing and recycling.

Eventually, Japan, like most other countries with nuclear power plants, will be forced to map out plans for “direct disposal,” or disposing of spent fuel from nuclear reactors in underground repositories.

Hokkaido Governor Suzuki has taken a dim view of the financial incentive offered to encourage local governments to apply for the first stage of the selection process, criticizing the proposed subsidies as “a wad of cash used as a powerful carrot.”


September 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics, reprocessing, wastes | 5 Comments

David Suzuki on nuclear power as a climate change solution ”I want to puke.”

I want to puke. Because politicians love to say, “Oh, yeah, we care about this and boy, there’s [nuclear] technology just around the corner.”

Yeah, it’s taken a child [environmental activist Greta Thunberg] to finally have an impact that is more than all of us environmentalists put together over the past years. 

The power of that child is that she’s got no vested interest in anything. She’s just saying: “Listen to the science because the scientists are telling us I have no future if we don’t take some drastic action.”

I want to puke’: David Suzuki reacts to O’Regan’s nuclear power endorsement

The Nature of Things host also addressed the climate crisis and youth’s role in climate change

CBC Radio Sep 21, 2020   David Suzuki spoke to Checkup host Ian Hanomansing about how to tackle climate change while in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and took questions from callers, in Sunday’s Ask Me Anything segment.

With the COVID-19 pandemic at the forefront of the news cycle, it might be easy to forget about the ongoing climate change crisis.

While managing the pandemic has become the first priority of the Canadian government and other governments around the world, climate change was a major talking point in the 2019 federal election campaign.

This summer, the last intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic collapsed. South of the border, dry, hot weather conditions in states such as Oregon and Washington have led to historic wildfires.

David Suzuki is a scientist and environmental activist. He’s also the host of The Nature of Things on CBC television. Continue reading

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

Iran will not renegotiate nuclear deal if Biden wins US presidency, Zarif says

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Tsunami risk for nuclear reactors on coastlines of India and Pakistan

Nuclear plants in Arabian Sea face tsunami risk, by SciDev.Net, 21 Sep 20,  A major tsunami in the northern Arabian Sea could severely impact the coastlines of India and Pakistan, which are studded with sensitive installations including several nuclear plants, says the author of a new study.

“A magnitude 9 earthquake is a possibility in the Makran subduction zone and consequent high tsunami waves,” says C.P. Rajendran, lead author of the study, which was published this September in Pure and Applied Geophysics.

“Our study is a step towards understanding the tsunami hazards of the northern Arabian Sea,” says Rajendran. “The entire northern Arabian Sea region, with its critical facilities, including nuclear power stations, needs to take this danger into consideration in hazard perceptions.”

Atomic power stations functioning along the Arabian Sea include Tarapur (1,400 megawatts) in India’s Maharashtra state, Kaiga (being expanded to 2,200 megawatts) in Karnataka state and Karachi in Pakistan (also being expanded to 2,200 megawatts). A mega nuclear power plant coming up at Jaitapur, Maharashtra will generate 9,900 megawatts, while another project at Mithi Virdi in Gujarat may be shelved because of public opposition.

Nuclear power plants are located along coasts because their enormous cooling needs can be taken care of easily and cheaply by making using abundant seawater.

“Siting nuclear reactors in areas prone to natural disasters is not very wise,” says M.V. Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and Director, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, tells SciDev.Net. “In principle, one could add safety systems to lower the risk of accidents—a very high sea wall, for instance. Such safety systems, however, add to the cost of nuclear plants and make them even more uncompetitive when compared with other ways of generating electricity.”

“All nuclear plants can be subject to severe accidents due to purely internal causes, but natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and storm surges make accidents more likely because they cause stresses on the reactor that could lead to some failures while simultaneously disabling one or more safety systems,” says Ramana, who has worked extensively on nuclear energy.

Rajendran and his team embarked on the study after noticing that, compared to peninsular India’s eastern coast, tsunami hazards on the west coast were under-recognized. This despite the 8.1 magnitude earthquake that occurred in the Makran subduction zone in 1945.

The study relies on historical reports of a major disturbance that struck the coast of western India in 1524 that was recorded by a Portuguese fleet off Dabhol and the Gulf of Cambay, and corroborated by geological evidence and radiocarbon dating of seashells transported inland which are preserved in a dune complex at Kelshi village near Dabhol.

Modeling carried out by the team produced results suggesting that the high impact in Kelshi could have been generated by a magnitude 9 earthquake sourced in the Makran subduction zone during the 1508 —1681 period, says Rajendran. Subduction zones occur where one tectonic plate slides over another, releasing seismic energy.

As per radiocarbon dating of the shells, the inundation may have occurred during 1432—1681 and overlaps the historical reports of major sea disturbances in 1524 that were recorded by a Portuguese fleet of 14 ships led by Vasco da Gama, the man who discovered the sea-route between India and Europe.

A future mega-tsunami originating in the Makran subduction zone could not only devastate the coasts of Iran, Pakistan and Oman but also the west coast of India, says Rajendran, adding that alternate offshore quake sources are yet to be identified in the Arabian Sea.

The larger Indian Ocean features another tectonically active tsunamigenic source—in the Andaman-Sumatra region where the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami occurred. “The next tsunami, after our experience in 2004, will likely be on the west coast,” says Rajendran.

The 2004 tsunami claimed more than 250,000 lives and devastated the beaches of Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, and claimed lives as far away as Yemen, Somalia and South Africa. Significantly, an atomic power plant at Kalpakkam, on the coast of India’s south-eastern, Tamil Nadu state, was flooded.

Earlier studies, such as the one published in 2013 in Geophysical Research Letters, have indicated that tsunamis, similar in magnitude to the one caused by the 2004 Sumatra earthquake, could occur at the Makran subduction zone where the Arabian plate is subducting beneath the Eurasian plate by about 1.5 inches per year.

According to the 2013 study, the Makran is a wide-potential seismogenic zone that may be capable of generating a very significant (greater than 8.5 in magnitude) tsunamigenic earthquake that poses risks to the coastlines of Pakistan, Iran, Oman, and India.

Vinod Menon, a founder member of India’s National Disaster Management Authority tells SciDev.Net that the new study “raises pertinent questions on the seismic and tsunamigenic risks from a potential rupture of the Makran subduction zone.”

“The tsunami risk and vulnerability of the west coast has not received adequate attention in spite of a history of occurrence in the past as curated by the authors as well as previous studies,” says Menon, who adds that it is worth noting that there are far more sensitive installations around the northern Arabian Sea than in the Andaman-Sumatra region.

Ramana says that such studies serve as a warning against the risks and costs of setting up nuclear power plants in seismically vulnerable areas. “A decade after the 2011 disaster in Fukushima, the prefecture retains radioactive hotspots and the cost of clean-up has been variously estimated to range between US$20 billion and US$600 billion.”


September 22, 2020 Posted by | India, Pakistan, safety | Leave a comment

Russia rejects USA’ s terms for extending the New START arms control treaty

September 22, 2020 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

The pandemic is a massive thrat – so is climate change


September 22, 2020 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors look good – on paper!

Lockdown alternatives look good on paper: So do nuclear reactors, Independent Australia, By John Quiggin | 22 September 2020,  Amid mounting pressure for a “hands-off” approach to pandemic controls, Professor John Quiggin explains the real costs of the “let her rip” strategy.

BACK IN 1953, the founder of the U.S. naval nuclear program, Admiral Hyman Rickover, drew a striking contrast between “paper reactors” and “real reactors”:

An academic [paper] reactor or reactor plant almost always has the following basic characteristics: (1) It is simple. (2) It is small. (3) It is cheap. (4) It is light. (5) It can be built very quickly. (6) It is very flexible in purpose (“omnibus reactor”). (7) Very little development is required. It will use mostly “off-the-shelf” components. (8) The reactor is in the study phases. It is not being built now.

On the other hand, a practical [real] reactor plant can be distinguished by the following characteristics: (1) It is being built now. (2) It is behind schedule. (3) It is requiring an immense amount of development on apparently trivial items. Corrosion, in particular, is a problem. (4) It is very expensive. (5) It takes a long time to build because of the engineering development problems. (6) It is large. (7) It is heavy. (8) It is complicated.

The tools of the academic-reactor designer are a piece of paper and a pencil with an eraser. If a mistake is made, it can always be erased and changed. If the practical-reactor designer errs, he wears the mistake around his neck; it cannot be erased. Everyone can see it.

Rickover’s insight has been borne out many times, as a long series of new reactor designs, promising power “too cheap to meter”, have come in over time and over budget. The latest such paper reactor, the Small Modular Reactor being developed by NuScale Power recently received design approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Quietly tucked away in the announcement was the prediction that the first 12-module plant being developed for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems would be operational by 2030. Until last week, the announced target was 2027. And when the project was first funded, commercial operation was projected for 2023

The contrast drawn by Rickover applies equally well to the policies proposed by critics of the elimination and suppression policies adopted around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic………..

Unlike Rickover’s paper reactors, these theoretical policies are typically not spelt out in much detail. Rather, the adverse effects of real policies, such as the hardship associated with travel restrictions and the economic cost of lockdowns are pointed out, and it is claimed that it would have been far better to accept a few deaths, mostly of old people who were going to die soon anyway.  ….

Broadly speaking, the earlier and more comprehensive the control policy, the better the outcomes in terms of both (market) economic activity and health outcomes. (With a proper understanding of economics, health outcomes are economic outcomes, whether or not they affect market activity). ……..


September 22, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

USA.Federal Bill to promote nuclear waste borehole system, and the dubious plan for reprocessing

September 22, 2020 Posted by | politics, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Nuke Ban: Former Statesmen, et al Promoting — limitless life

Open Letter in Support of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Under embargo until 21 September 2020, 00:00 UTC This open letter in support of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been signed by 56 former presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and defence ministers from 20 NATO member […]

Nuke Ban: Former Statesmen, et al Promoting — limitless life

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The week in pandemic, climate, nuclear, even bank, news

Well, all news, by its very nature is likely to be bad. (Good behaviour is pretty ordinary, not news.) But there’s  bad news, and there’s very bad news.  And this has been a week for the very bads.

Start with the pandemic. The global death toll exceeds 957,000. cases nearly 31 million.  India’s coronavirus cases pass 5 million as hospitals scramble for oxygen. A second wave grips EuropeUK cases could grow exponentially, if no action taken. Most of the US is headed in the wrong direction again with COVID-19 cases as deaths near 200,000.

Climate. Weather extremes are more frequently with us now, and as with the pandemic, the longer term future is unceetain:  abrupt changes could bring interconnected tipping points.

Economics. The FinCEN files: Dirty little secrets of the world’s banks revealed in mass US government leak.

BUT – some good news. East Asian countries – China, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore Malaysia -have learned, through their previous SARS epidemic, how to structure their health systems to plan for and manage pandemics,  mount particularly effective responses to COVID-19, and reduce the death rate.

Why harsh COVID-19 lockdowns are good for the economy. 

World’s Biggest Rooftop Greenhouse in Montreal is as Big as 3 Football Fields – Now Can Feed 2% of the City.

Julian Assange was offered a pardon, if he would name a source.  Julian Assange exposed “a very serious pattern of actual war crimes”.  Assange insisted on not revealing names of informants.  Julian Assange case: Witnesses recall Collateral Murder attack: “Look at those dead bastards,” shooters said.

David Attenborough now wants us to face up to the state of the planet.  In tropical areas, increasing heat and humidity will make life almost unbearable.  Importance of the ocean’s biological carbon pump

What Frogs Can Teach Us about the State of the World.

53 million tons of plastic could end up in rivers, lakes and oceans every year by 2030.  The persistence of plastic.

The coronavirus pandemic and the increased safety risks for nuclear reactors.

Nuclear exposure standards discriminate on the basis of sex .

Why NuScam and other ”small” nuclear proposals just don’t make any sense.

The hidden stumbling block to progress on nuclear weapons.

BHP betrays international safety efforts.

ARCTIC. Arctic sea ice becomes a sea of slush.  Rapid climate change has made Greenland lose a record amount of ice.  USA. Relicensing Turkey Point nuclear station – a striking example of a dangerous action in climate change times.  Global heating is disrupting the ground in Siberia.

JAPAN. Suttsu, Hokkaido, residents oppose radioactive waste dump plan.

GERMANY. Nuclear energy CHEAP? Nuclear has drained Germany of more than €1trn to date



CHINA.  China ditches US nuclear technology in favour of home-grown alternative.

CANADA. Nuclear waste flyers heading to 50,000 households in Grey-Bruce.  Indigenous woman’s long trek to protest nuclear waste dump, and encourage others..  Western Canadians do not want ”Small” Nuclear Reactors in Sakatchewan.

PHILIPPINES. Duterte asks nations to reject war, eliminate nuclear weapons.

IRAN. While other nations seek conciliation, agreement, the U.S. will declare that all international sanctions are back in force.  Iran a most transparent country for IAEA inspections.

NORTH KOREA. U.S. general says that North Korea has a ‘‘small” number of nuclear weapons (over 70?)

SOUTH KOREA. South Korea says no use of nuclear weapons in joint operational plans with U.S.

EGYPT. Egypt supports Bamako Convention banning import of hazardous waste, especially radioactive, into Africa.

RUSSIA. Russia developing a nuclear-powered missile that can ”attack from unexpected directions”.

SAUDI ARABIA. IAEA and China helping Saudi Arabia with its nuclear ambitions.

AUSTRALIA    CORONAVIRUS. The State of Victoria has achieved remarkable success in bringing down the infection rate to 11 in one day, death toll 2.  This is the result of the strict lockdown regime imposed by Premier Daniel Andrews, despite vicious attacks on him by the opposition party. You know the good result is true, when even the Murdoch Press has to admit it, and its opinion poll  backs the Premier.

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment