The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

France’s EDF resisting the closure of Fessenheim nuclear power plant

Poster EDF menteurEDF board prepares to defy Hollande on nuclear closure Power company’s bid to keep plant open shows president’s waning authority, 19 Jan 17 by: Michael Stothard in Paris François Hollande risks falling short on another pledge as the board of state-controlled energy company EDF next week prepares to vote down his plans to close France’s oldest nuclear plant.

The French president promised in 2012 to shut down the Fessenheim power plant near the German and Swiss borders — long a target for anti-nuclear activists — in a bid to win over the Green party. But with just months left of his mandate ahead of the presidential election on April 23, some within EDF are attempting to drag their feet long enough for a change of government, according to three people with knowledge of the situation……..
Mr Hollande’s difficulties are partly down to a legal quirk with the vote. Six government-appointed representatives on the boardare not allowed to vote on the motion because of a conflict of interest, according to people close to the company. Six union representatives are set to vote against closure. The CGT and moderate CFDT unions have both said publicly that they will do so to protect the 850 workers at the site. This means it will take only one of the six remaining independent board members to vote against closure for the motion to be rejected. According to several people with knowledge of the situation, at least one is willing to vote no.
 The Hollande government has put immense pressure on EDF to formalise the closure……..
The government does hold some cards. The state, as well as owning 85 per cent of the company’s equity, is participating in a €3bn capital raising. It must also sign off on an extension of the licence for a stopped second reactor at Paluel in northern France. A person close to the situation said the government could conceivably find a way around the board opposition or convince some board members to change their mind. …….
If EDF hangs on long enough, it might be able to resist the closure of Fessenheim completely. François Fillon, the centre-right presidential candidate who is the frontrunner to win the presidential election, has said he is against the closure of the plant.

January 21, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Netherlands, Luxemburg and Germany want Belgium’s dangerous nuclear reactors to be closed

Neighbouring countries concerned about the risk of a Belgian Nuclear meltdown  19th January, 2017 

On 10 January 2017 a new emergency plan was presented in a commission in Belgium’s Parliament. The evacuation perimeter was conveniently halved to 10km to avoid an evacuation of Belgium’s second and third cities in case of a meltdown. The plan has been called totally inadequate. NICK MEYNEN reports

It’s not the metaphorical political meltdown of Belgium that neighbouring governments fret about, but a nuclear meltdown. The Netherlands, Luxemburg and Germany have all asked Belgium’s government to close its most risky reactors with immediate effect. The city of Aachen and 30 other major cities and districts are also suing Belgium for not closing them. The German government no longer trusts the Belgian Nuclear Safety Agency and wants permission for its own agency to do safety checks. So far, foreign pressure is falling on deaf ears.

Belgians have even more reasons to worry. On 10 January 2017 a new emergency plan was presented in a commission in Belgium’s Parliament. The evacuation perimeter was conveniently halved to 10km to avoid an evacuation of Belgium’s second and third cities in case of a meltdown. Nuclear Transparency Watch, a European organisation created by Members of the European Parliament of all political colours, called Belgium’s plans totally inadequate and incoherent.inad

So rather than signing agreements with Belgium about sharing information, where are the economic sanctions for Belgium? There are both EU and UN regulations that could shut the reactors down, as more than a million people requested a year ago. Belgium’s neighbours have reasons to get tough.

Belgium is your backyard

Belgium’s recent nuclear history reads like a mirror of Germany’s, where the highest court decided that Merkel’s decision to speed up the nuclear phase-out after the Fukushima incident was justified. Belgium did just the opposite. The Belgian government reversed a nuclear phase-out law from 2003 only a year after the Japanese reactors exploded, pushing retirement back from 2015 to 2025. The last bill to postpone retirement with 10 years was approved at the end of 2016. The Government can ‘take comfort’ at the fact that 2017 started better than 2016: unlike last year when only a week incidents after which the first incident (in which one person got severely injured) took place with an unexpected shutdown as result.

Yes, the protesting former president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz was born and raised close to Belgium’s border and yes, I was born and raised 15 km from four nuclear reactors in Doel, in the city of Antwerp (half a million people). But before you call us NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) activists: our backyard contains six to seven million people that in the event of a nuclear meltdown would never be able to go home again. Depending on the wind direction on the day of a meltdown, a radioactive cloud will poison and kill many additional people in London, Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin as well. The possibility of that scenario has increased in recent years.

Cracks, extortion and sabotage

In 2012 it became known that the mantle around the old Tihange 2 reactor shows signs of erosion. Further research in 2015 concluded that there are thousands of cracks of up to 15 cm. Later that year, 10 security incidents were recorded in Tihange in just six weeks, leading Belgium’s nuclear safety agency to suspend four members of staff and raise serious questions about the safety culture. In 2015, Belgian’s nuclear plants spent longer in shutdown or “maintenance” than in being operational.

Who said nuclear energy was a reliable source of energy?

But it is the Doel plant that reads like the script of an apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster, part one. The plant was sabotaged in 2014. The sabotage was found before things spiralled out of control, but the culprit(s) remain unknown. A year later, police found hidden cameras that followed the movements of a nuclear researcher, raising alarming questions about criminals extorting staff. Research also revealed a staggering number of cracks in the mantle that is supposed to keep the Doel 3 reactor in check: 13,047. The cracks are on average 1 to 2 cm wide, but the largest ones are up to 18cm. And with 35 years of operational history, the researched Doel 3 is the second “youngest” of Doel’s four reactors. Belgium’s nuclear safety agency concluded after the tests in Tihange and Doel that the erosion of the mantle was due to normal reactor activity. They can thus be expected to be present in all plants in the world of similar age and to keep multiply through normal reactor use.

The economic and terrorist threats

In terms of potential economic impacts, Doel is by far number 1 in Europe. The major Fukushima disaster knocked 2 to 10% from Japan’s GDP, but when Doel goes into meltdown, the cost is estimated to be 200% of the GDP of Belgium. In such a scenario, GDP won’t really mean much. Most of Flanders and the capital of Europe will become inhabitable zones, sending millions of refugees to France, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Will they open their borders for a flood of immigrants from Belgium?

And then there’s terrorism. For the last two years, Belgian authorities have claimed we are living under emergency level 3, just one notch below the State of Emergency that France is living under. This means a terrorist threat is “serious” and an attack “probable”. France has already experienced a series of undeclared drone flights over various nuclear power stations. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists later explained that the danger of that is not about drones carrying small explosives and crashing on the plant because in theory a nuclear plant can cope with a jumbo jet crash (although this has never been tested). But drones can easily carry AK47s and drop them inside the territory of the plant, even at night.

In another scenario laid out by the atomic scientists, drones can attack the power lines and then the diesel generator back-up system. It requires a bit more organisation than driving a truck into a crowd, but less than teaching a terrorist team how to fly a jumbo jet, hijack several at the same time and fly them into the two WTC towers and the Pentagon. As we have learned the hard way in recent years, Belgium also happens to be a favourite hide-out for terrorists. Belgium’s authorities want us to believe that the terrorist risk has never been so high, but they don’t want you to connect that with our nuclear plants and with unexplained drone flights over nuclear plants.

Corrupted centralised power plants

All this raises the question: is it still smart to count on a few vulnerable centralised power plants? And what about the waste of state money that seems to come hand-in-hand with nuclear power? Bulgaria wasted 1,221 billion euro on a plant that never materialized. Bulgaria is also still spending money to deal with the legacy of uranium mining, even though the last mine closed in 1992. When I visited the surroundings of the now closed Buhovo mine, stones of a size that would fit a child’s hand showed radiation 100s of times above normal. They were ready to be picked up and played with at a popular local picnic place.

Conflicts against nuclear power plants and the formulation of constructive alternatives are popping up outside Europe as well: from India to Japan. So are the conflicts and externalised costs around the uranium that now feeds most of our reactors, from Niger to Namibia. Although there’s one other country that has become the EU’s main supplier: Russia. But as environmental justice, geopolitical weakening or financial debacles don’t seem to stop the nuclear addiction: will it have to take another meltdown? Policymakers seem to have forgotten that our countries signed up to the precautionary principle, which the EU still has in its Treaty. Maybe it’s time that the Germans, who are kicking nuclear out of their country, march once more on Belgium. As a Belgian citizen I do kindly request to come in peace and only armed with the renewable energy solutions that swept your country.

This Author

Nick Meynen was the organiser of a 72km long anti-nuclear energy march from Doel to Brussels. He works for the ENVJUSTICE project and writes articles and books on environmental issues.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Greens Party running anti nuclear platform in UK by-election

logo Greens UKGreen Party to contest Copeland seat in anti-nuclear campaign  15 January 2017 

THE Green Party has announced it will contest the upcoming Copeland by-election on an anti-nuclear and anti-poverty campaign.

Members of Allerdale and Copeland Green Party decided to stand in the Copeland vote which was brought about by the resignation of the constituency’s current Labour MP Jamie Reed.   A candidate will be selected on January 24.

Clare Brown, chairman of the Allerdale and Copeland Green Party, said: “We feel it’s vitally important to offer a vote to those people who want to see a fair and sustainable future for the area.

“There are clear differences between us and the other parties and we welcome this opportunity to campaign on our priorities, which include sustainable energy and standing against nuclear power, as well as anti-poverty measures and exposing the lie of austerity.”

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “The Greens are the only party in Copeland campaigning against nuclear power, to defend the NHS and for a close relationship with Europe.”

Pundits say the poll for his replacement could be held on May 4, linking in with the county council elections. As the party that currently holds the seat, Labour has to formally move the by-election writ to select his replacement and can dictate the date constituents go to the polls.

Labour are defending a majority of 2,564 in Copeland from 2015, making it the tightest by-election for the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

The Liberal Democrats have already announced Cockermouth councillor and health campaigner Rebecca Hanson as their candidate.

Labour will choose a candidate from a shortlist of Barbara Cannon, Gillian Troughton and Rachel Holliday.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Political row over proposed west Cumbria nuclear plant

flag-UKRow breaks out over Labour’s position on proposed west Cumbria nuclear plant North West Evening Mail 16 January 2017  A POLITICAL row has broken out after the leader of the Labour Party refused to give his support for a nuclear development in west Cumbria.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, Jeremy Corbyn did not endorse the proposed Moorside Power Station when asked.

He said: “I want to see a mix, I want to see a greater emphasis in the long-term on renewables in the way Germany and other countries have done but we do have nuclear power stations, we do have a nuclear base at the moment and that will continue for a long time.”

Responding to Mr Corbyn’s comments, John Stevenson, Conservative MP for Carlisle, said: “Once again Jeremy Corbyn refuses to back a new nuclear power plant at Moorside……..

The comments come at a crucial time as Labour and Conservatives battle for votes in the upcoming by-election in Copeland, home to Sellafield and the proposed Moorside project.

However, John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness, insisted Labour’s stance on Moorside was clear.

He said: “Jeremy Corbyn is more relaxed about expressing his personal opinions than most party leaders but Labour’s position on Moorside is clear: in government we passed the legislation that made new civil nuclear possible and locally and nationally we continue to champion the new power station……..

The Conservatives have put the nuclear industry at the centre of their campaigning, saying Corbyn’s views would be a “catastrophe” for Cumbria and industry jobs.

Responding to what his message to the constituency’s voters would be, Mr Corbyn said: “My message to the voters of Copeland is the NHS is in crisis, your hospital is about to be continuing underfunded and understaffed and your A&E department is at risk.

“We will be protecting jobs in that area and we would also be trying to protect the pensions of those people that have worked so very hard for so very long to keep the nuclear industry safe.”

January 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | 1 Comment

Russia to lock Bangladesh into a 20 year big nuclear power debt

nuclear-marketing-crapRussia extends $11.38 bln loan to Bangladesh to build nuclear power plant January 13 Bangladesh will repay the actually spent loan in equal six-month installments over a twenty year period MOSCOW, January 13. /TASS/. Russia’s government has extended a $11.38 billion loan to Bangladesh to build the Rooppur nuclear power plant. The relevant document was published on the government’s website containing legal information.

According to the draft inter-governmental agreement, the loan will be used from 2017 to 2024. Bangladesh will repay the actually spent loan in equal six-month installments over a twenty year period. The first installment will be paid out on March 15, 2017.

Two units of the Rooppur nuclear power plant, with a capacity of 1,200 MW each, which are being built with Russia’s assistance, are planned to be put into operation in 2022 and 2023.

In mid-December 2015, Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation signed an EPC contract for a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.

The construction work is being done in accordance with the inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in building a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh, dated 2011. The nuclear power plant will be located on the eastern bank of the Ganges River, 160 kilometers from the country’s capital of Dhaka.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | ASIA, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

European Union approves France’s massive subsidising of AREVA nuclear power industry!!

EU clears French rescue of troubled nuclear firm Areva AFP  |  Brussels January 10, 2017 anti-regulators today cleared the French government’s massive restructuring of troubled state-owned nuclear reactor builder Areva.

Problem-prone Areva, which is 87-per cent owned by the French state, has faced severe difficulties since 2011, when the Fukushima disaster in called nuclear power generation into question across the world.

 In April, Paris notified the Commission of an big restructuring plan to save the national champion that included a massive payout from public coffers.
Tax - payers

“The European Commission has concluded that French plans to grant a capital injection of 4.5 billion euros (USD 4.75 billion) to Areva are in line with state aid rules,” a statement said.

The Commission added that other regulatory decisions were still needed, including a greenlight by the on the buyout of Areva’s reactor business by EDF, the French state-owned electricity supplier. Areva’s woes were compounded by construction problems affecting its first EPR reactor in — now expected to open nine years late in 2018 — putting company finances deep into the red.

In addition, Areva’s former CEO Anne Lauvergeon has been charged in a case linked to the company’s disastrous 2007 purchase of a Canadian uranium mining firm.

EDF, also majority-owned by the French state, agreed in June 2015 to purchase up to 75 per cent of Areva’s reactor unit at a valuation of around 2.7 billion euros, with the deal expected to be finalised in 2017.

France sees nuclear energy as a key national industry and the has been closely involved in talks to restructure the sector.

The French state has already poured in billions to keep Areva afloat and thousands of French workers in their jobs.

January 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Hungary’s nuclear regulator not independent, but European Commission approves its Russian-supplied nuclear reactors anyway

exclamation-Smflag-EUBrussels unswayed by concerns over Hungarian nuclear project  Opponents are continuing to fight, but Budapest insists the reactors will be built.  and  1/13/17,

The European Commission is standing behind its approval of Hungary’s decision to buy two nuclear reactors from Russia for its Paks II power plant without holding a tender.

The Commission dismissed the concerns of environmental groups questioning the lack of a bidding process in a letter, saying the “arguments put forward did not provide new elements that would have led the Commission to reconsider its previous position.”

Hungary had argued that only Rosatom’s VVER-1200 reactors could fulfill all of its requirements for the project.

Under EU rules, competitive tenders can be skipped when “for technical reasons the contract may be executed only by a particular economic operator.” Hungary wouldn’t be the first country to make use of that rule. France’s EDF handed the contract to build a reactor at the Flamanville nuclear power plant to state-owned Areva in 2007, arguing it was the only company that could fulfill the technical requirements.

Critics, including Greenpeace and Hungarian Green MEP Benedek Jávor, complained that the Commission hasn’t given an explanation as to why only Russian technology could fulfill Hungary’s requirements. They also pointed out that Hungary had been thinking of holding a competitive bid for the contract before opting for the Russian reactors.

The letter from the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said that although Hungary may have initially thought of holding a competitive process, nothing precluded it from concluding that “only the Russian technology could technically fulfill the final Hungarian requirements.”

The Commission still needs to give its final say on whether financial support for the €12 billion project breaches EU state aid rules; Moscow is financing 80 percent of the costs with a loan. However, Brussels is expected to grant its approval in the coming weeks.

Hungary’s nuclear law raises concerns

Despite the Commission’s refusal to block Paks, opponents of the project are continuing a broader fight over Hungary’s nuclear policies.

The parliament in December passed amendments allowing the government to seize powers from the Hungarian Atomic Energy Agency.

The move has raised worries that the new rules not only compromise the regulator’s independence but also enable the Hungarian government to change the license conditions the agency set for Paks II. Environmental groups worry that this essentially makes the government the funder, owner, operator and regulator of the nuclear power station.

A group of NGOs called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to raise concerns about the developments at its next meeting on nuclear safety in March and April.

Budapest dismissed the claims in a statement to POLITICO, calling them attempts “to provoke international tension related to Hungary’s pro-nuclear stance.”

The government said it has no plans to reverse course on Paks II, saying it “is necessary, and we shall realize it — despite opposition from anti-nuclear green organizations.”

January 14, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Giant solar farm to be built on Ukraine’s land contaminated by Chernobyl radiation

Solar power to rise from Chernobyl’s nuclear ashes, Guardian, Kieran Cooke, 12 Jan 17 
Chinese companies plan to spend $1bn building a giant solar farm on land contaminated by the nuclear disaster in Ukraine, reports Climate News Network 
It was the worst nuclear accident in history, directly causing the deaths of 50 people, with at least an additional 4,000 fatalities believed to be caused by exposure to radiation.

The 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine also resulted in vast areas of land being contaminated by nuclear fallout, with a 30-kilometre exclusion zone, which encompassed the town of Pripyat, being declared in the area round the facility.

Now two companies from China plan to build a one-gigawatt solar power plant on 2,500 hectares of land in the exclusion zone to the south of the Chernobyl plant.

Ukrainian officials say the companies estimate they will spend up to $1bn on the project over the next two years…….

Radiation that escaped as a result of the explosion at Chernobyl reached as far away as the mountains and hills of Wales in the UK, and a substantial portion of the radioactive dust released fell on farmlands in Belarus, north of Ukraine.

Until now, the exclusion zone, including the town of Pripyat, has been out of bounds for most people, with only limited farming activity permitted on lands that are still regarded as contaminated.

Many former residents of the area are allowed back only once or twice a year for visits – to their old homes or to tend their relatives’ graves. …..

As yet, neither the Ukrainians nor the Chinese have disclosed the safety measures that will be adopted during the construction of the solar plant……

January 13, 2017 Posted by | renewable, Ukraine | Leave a comment

France’s desperate move to save nuclear company AREVA

AREVA crumblingflag-franceFrance to buy out Areva shareholders in bid for nuclear fix, Geert De Clercq

France, which owns 87% of Areva, said it would offer €4.5 per Areva SA share to minority investors which include Kuwait’s investment fund and French energy group Total Paris: France will buy out minority shareholders in Areva and delist the troubled nuclear group, the government said on Wednesday as talks with potential investors in a new nuclear fuel company being spun out of Areva neared a conclusion.

The state, which owns 87% of Areva, said it would offer €4.5 per Areva SA share to minority investors which include Kuwait’s investment fund, French utility EDF and French energy group Total.

Areva’s shares have fallen by as much as 90% from their 2007 highs as the group chalked up repeated losses. The stock was suspended on Tuesday at €5.2.

European Union (EU) antitrust regulators approved the French government’s plan to inject €4.5 billion ($4.8 billion) into Areva on Tuesday, saying the rescue would not unduly distort competition.

The ruling will allow Areva, whose capital has been wiped out by years of losses, to restart as a smaller firm focused on uranium mining and nuclear fuel production and recycling.

Legacy Areva SA—the firm left over after this split and the sale of Areva’s reactor unit to state-controlled EDF—will get a €2 billion capital increase and will hold the liabilities related to the troubled Olkiluoto 3 project in Finland, which has been hit by delays.

Areva said negotiations with unspecified investors in the new company were being finalised. It said last month that two investors have made a €500 million ($526.40 million) offer for a combined 10% stake in the new entity.

Paris: France will buy out minority shareholders in Areva and delist the troubled nuclear group, the government said on Wednesday as talks with potential investors in a new nuclear fuel company being spun out of Areva neared a conclusion.

The state, which owns 87% of Areva, said it would offer €4.5 per Areva SA share to minority investors which include Kuwait’s investment fund, French utility EDF and French energy group Total.

Areva’s shares have fallen by as much as 90% from their 2007 highs as the group chalked up repeated losses. The stock was suspended on Tuesday at €5.2.

European Union (EU) antitrust regulators approved the French government’s plan to inject €4.5 billion ($4.8 billion) into Areva on Tuesday, saying the rescue would not unduly distort competition.

The ruling will allow Areva, whose capital has been wiped out by years of losses, to restart as a smaller firm focused on uranium mining and nuclear fuel production and recycling.

Legacy Areva SA—the firm left over after this split and the sale of Areva’s reactor unit to state-controlled EDF—will get a €2 billion capital increase and will hold the liabilities related to the troubled Olkiluoto 3 project in Finland, which has been hit by delays.

Areva said negotiations with unspecified investors in the new company were being finalised. It said last month that two investors have made a €500 million ($526.40 million) offer for a combined 10% stake in the new entity.

A person familiar with the situation said the two investors are Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and JNFL. Talks are continuing with China’s National Nuclear Corporation about also taking a minority stake.

“These talks are continuing and focus on governance issues, and on the issue of the balance between the different third-party investor parties,” French industry minister Christophe Sirugue told Reuters in an interview.

Sirugue, who said he had discussed the governance issue with Chinese vice-premier Ma Kai during his visit to France in November, added that the make-up of the board of the new company is another important issue in the talks. Reuters

January 13, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear power an issue in UK’s Copeland by-election

Copeland by-election goes nuclear  12 January 2017  “……. Conservatives are putting Jeremy Corbyn at the centre of their Copeland by-election campaign.

His image is all over Tory leaflets, and their logic is very simple. Copeland relies on the nuclear industry and Jeremy Corbyn has opposed new nuclear power stations.

It means that when a by-election date is set, the contest in Cumbria could reveal a lot about how national politics will play out in the coming months. Tories will highlight an issue that divides Mr Corbyn and his colleagues……..

The economy revolves around Sellafield, and job numbers are set to fall there as reprocessing work ends. A new nuclear power station is proposed. Labour backs new nuclear energy, and local politicians certainly do. But Mr Corbyn has made plain in the past that he disagrees.

policy document for his leadership campaign in 2015 says plainly: “I am opposed to fracking and to new nuclear on the basis of the dangers posed to our ecosystems.”

In a 2011 speech in the wake of the Fukushima disaster he went further, suggesting existing nuclear power stations should be decommissioned………

If it’s successful, a Labour strategy of responding to relentless attacks on Mr Corbyn with an equally relentless focus on the NHS may provide a model for the opposition in the years ahead.


January 13, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

China to build ANOTHER nuclear reactor in Britain – concern for nuclear regulator

Buy-China-nukes-1China Is Building Britain ANOTHER Nuclear Reactor, Daily Caller ANDREW FOLLETT Energy and Science Reporter  12 Jan 17 Britain’s nuclear regulators are considering whether another Chinese-funded and designed nuclear reactor should be built in Bradwell, Essex.

The reactor would be funded and designed by the state-controlled China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and the French power company Électricité de France (EDF). It could take British authorities up to four years to formally approve or reject the new reactor.

“The robust independence of the UK’s regulators is seen across the world as a key strength for nuclear in Britain,” Zhu Minhong, General Manager of CGN in Britain, told Reuters. “CGN and EDF will bring to this enterprise their joint experience in China, Britain and France over many years.”

The U.K.’s previous attempt to build a nuclear power plant with the exact same Chinese company didn’t got well.

British Prime Minister Theresa May almost cancelled a previous China-backed nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point due to its high costs and environmentalist opposition. The U.S. charged the Chinese company behind the Hinkley Point plant with nuclear espionage in August.

A columnist for a Chinese state-run media outlet called May’s reluctance to approve of the Hinkley Point nuclear power project a result of “China-phobia.” CGN agreed to pay about $8 billion of the reactor’s $24 billion dollar cost.

China’s ambassador to Great Britain issued an ultimatum over the delay earlier in August, pointing out Chinese companies have invested more in the U.K. over the past five years than in France, Germany and Italy combined.

EDF agreed in July to build the Hinkley Point nuclear reactors by 2025 after years of delays. If the reactors aren’t built, U.K. taxpayers could be on the hook for $31.6 billion, according to documents released by the government. EDF is still planning to build the reactors, despite the company’s serious financial problems and the fact that the project is below investment grade.

EDF previously delayed making a decision about Hinkley Point several times before finally approving it after already investing $2.85 billion. EDF is more than $40 billion in debt and has a history of abandoning or delaying similar reactors in France…….

January 13, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Dispute on pensions brings about strike by British nuclear weapons workers

British nuclear weapons workers to go on strike over Atomic Weapons Establishment pensions dispute The Independent, 12 Jan 17  Staff manufacture and maintain nuclear weapons including the Trident programme Lizzie Dearden @lizziedearden Employees responsible for manufacturing and maintaining the UK’s nuclear weapons are to go on strike.

Workers at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) are to stage two 48-hour walk-outs as part of a long-running dispute over pensions.

 Unite said 600 of its members, who work as managers, craft and manual workers at the AWE’s two sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, will strike on 18 and 30 January.

A spokesperson said workers felt “deeply betrayed” by promises made decades ago guaranteeing their pensions, when they were transferred from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to the private sector, being broken………

“The four days of strike action later this month are not being taken lightly. It is not a ‘political’ strike, but one taken reluctantly by our members who have no desire to see thousands of pounds wiped off their retirement incomes.”

Unite claimed new pensions proposals, which would see the AWE’s pension contributions lowered, violated pledges made in a ministerial statement to the Commons in the 1990s. The AWE, owned by a consortium of Lockheed Martin, Jacobs Engineering and Serco, is contracted by the MoD to build and maintain nuclear warheads for Royal Navy submarines. 

January 13, 2017 Posted by | employment, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trains 100% wind powered for Netherlands, by 2018

text-relevantll Netherlands Railways trains will be 100% wind powered by 2018 When its citizens demanded clean energy, The Netherlands responded in the best possible way. Following a ruling earlier this year when 886 citizens sued their government to reduce CO2 emissions, a court at the Hague ordered the Dutch government to adopt a goal of cutting carbon emissions by at least 25 percent over the next five years. In response, the Dutch railways unveiled plans to become 50 percent wind-powered by the end of this year and 100 percent by 2018.


The trains are reported to carry 1.2 million passengers each day and emit 550 kilotons of carbon dioxide, yet this number is hoped to reach zero within only a few years. Michel Kerkhof of energy company Eneco stated, “Mobility is responsible for 20 percent of CO2 emissions in the Netherlands, and if we want to keep traveling, it is important that we do this without burdening the environment with CO2 and particulate matter.” This speedy upgrade to renewable, safe energy sources is just what we need to address growing climate change issues.
Wind energy used to power the trains will be sourced not only by the Netherlands, but also from Belgium and Scandinavian countries. This allows the country’s resources to be used in other ventures. It also strengthens partnerships with other providers and encourages expansion of railway use throughout Europe. Perhaps this could be an inspiration to other nations – on all continents – to jump on board with the Netherlands’ enthusiasm to tip the scales toward renewable energy.

January 9, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

Inside Britain’s secret nuclear bunker

text-historyThe secret nuclear bunker built as the UK’s last hope, Dug for an underground ‘shadow factory’ for aircraft during World War Two, the Drakelow tunnels were re-purposed as a nuclear bunker to be used by the UK government. We went inside., BBC By William Park 4 January 2017

Deep beneath a hill in the Worcestershire countryside, about 20 miles west of Birmingham, lie a series of hidden tunnels. Once home to a secret aeroplane factory during World War Two, they were later repurposed to protect the UK in the event of a nuclear war: it’s from here that the government would have continued to run the country.

“This would have been the last resort of the UK government,” says Michael Scott, a volunteer with the Drakelow Preservation Trust, which is restoring the site. The Trust’s aim is to reopen parts of the tunnels as a museum to preserve their history in World War Two and the Cold War. But the organisation remains some years away from finishing the work, and without much funding, the volunteers are restricted mostly to repainting walls.

When cities across the UK came under siege during the war, the government needed to find a way to continue production of tanks, aircraft and ammunition. The solution was to build underground factories – also called shadow factories – away from large cities. The Drakelow Tunnels housed one of them. And the same remoteness and fortress-like qualities that made Drakelow an effective underground aircraft factory would later make it the location of choice for responding to nuclear attack in Britain.

Today, the entrance used by Scott and the other volunteers is called Adit A; it’s where the security office would have stood. Most of the hillside around the entrance is bare, revealing a sandstone mass towering above us that would have made this site virtually bomb-proof in World War Two.

Adit A shows many signs of the alterations that were made to Drakelow Tunnels to retrofit it for use as a nuclear bunker – including covered air vents that would have protected those inside from fallout. Through the heavy steel door, visitors would have had to strip, incinerate their clothes and shower as they decontaminated themselves……..

There are examples of similar subterranean shadow factories in Germany, too. The largest was Mittelwerk, Kohnstein, which produced V-1 and V-2 bombs from 1943 to 1945. The move underground was a direct result of the destruction of other, above-ground V-2 production plants, like Peenemunde in northern Germany. Unlike Drakelow, Mittelwerk was left in ruins after the war.

Perhaps the most intriguing underground network of Nazi military tunnels is the series of seven structures that make up Project Riese. Buried in the Owl Mountains – then part of Germany but now in south-west Poland near the Czech border – these sites were never finished and documents about their full purpose seem to have been destroyed…….

Cold comfort

Top-secret military construction did not end with World War Two. In 1949, as the Cold War bloomed, the UK government began to build 15 fortified war rooms across the country.

But in the case of the much bigger threat of a nuclear attack, these buildings would not have been enough to protect their inhabitants. They were too small, making them unable to support a workforce for the extended period of time they’d need to remain indoors to avoid the fallout of a nuclear explosion. They also were built too close to the major cities which could have been a target for an attack: five were built in London, for example.

Having seen the effect of a nuclear attack in Japan, the British government commissioned the Strath Committee, led by head of the Central War Plans Secretariat William Strath, to analyse the potential effects of a nuclear attack on the UK. In 1955 the committee published the Strath Report which found that even a ‘limited’ attack would have devastating consequences. Food and water would be contaminated, the NHS would be overwhelmed with four million serious casualties and 12 million deaths, and industry would shut down. In short, the “social and economic fabric of the country [would be] destroyed”.

Strath recommended the UK invest in a network of nuclear bunkers to protect the population. However, estimates put the cost of such an enormous series of bunkers at £1.25bn (equal to £30.88bn in 2016)………

January 7, 2017 Posted by | history, UK, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Wales introduces solar ‘eco hamlet’ – the first of many?

solar rooftopstext-relevantInside Glanrhyd, the first solar ‘eco hamlet’ in Wales  Residents of the new eco hamlet in Pembrokeshire can expect greatly reduced fuel bills and shared use of an electric car, Guardian, , 6 Jan 17, 

Most of the houses in the Welsh village of Glanrhyd are of traditional construction – walls made out of hefty local stone, roofs of grey slate. They can get chilly when the winter winds whistle through the gaps.

The six houses that make up the “eco hamlet” of Pentre Solar look and feel very different. They are built using light, bright timber sourced from a nearby valley. The houses are carefully insulated, airtight and powered by solar panels.

Over the next few weeks the first tenants, local people from Pembrokeshire county council’s housing list, will move into what is being billed as the only development of its kind in the UK.

Their fuel bills are expected to be a fraction of their neighbours’ – and they will even get the use of a shared electric car for the school run, the shopping trip to nearby Cardigan, or even for a jolly to one of the many glorious local beaches…….

If the project, which has been backed by the Welsh government, does work, the hope is that similar developments could be rolled out across Wales and eventually across the UK.

Western Solar’s first venture was a solar farm, five miles from the eco hamlet. Doubts that it was sunny enough in this part of the British Isles (after all, the nearby village of Eglwyswrw made headlines last year after it rained for more than 80 days in a row) proved unfounded and the project thrived…….

Using technology borrowed from Germany, Western Solar built a prototype eco home called Tŷ Solar (Tŷ is Welsh for house). The idea was to produce a high-quality, brilliantly insulated, airtight house made of locally sourced timber and powered by solar energy…….

Western Solar’s ambitious plan is to build 1,000 more houses across the UK in the next 10 years and is looking for investors to help. The Welsh government is keen to see the concept work elsewhere. One of the key pledges of the current Labour-led administration is to provide an additional 20,000 affordable homes by 2021.……

January 7, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment