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Russia’s environmental groups protest nuclear waste imports

Russia is not a dump!

Stories of solidarity under coronavirus

25 June 20    Coronavirus hasn’t affected everyone equally. We’re sharing stories from across our European and global network of what lockdown and life under coronavirus look like around the world. Hearing from those who are among the worst affected, and how they are taking action.

I’m with Russia

Russia and Germany have taken advantage of the coronavirus crisis to resume shipping radioactive waste to dump in the Urals and Siberia in northern Russia.

When Russian environmental groups discovered, in autumn 2019, that Germany was exporting radioactive waste from it’s nuclear power stations to Russia, via the harbor of Amsterdam, they directly organized protests in the three countries.

Those protests had success, and the transport by rail and sea of uranium – a waste product of nuclear fuel production by Urenco Germany – was put on hold. That was before the coronavirus crisis hit.

But in March 2020, when Covid-19 lockdowns restricted people’s right to protest in Russia even further, the shipments of radioactive waste were set to resume.

BBC news reports that twelve rail cars carrying 600 tonnes of depleted uranium left Germany bound for Russia earlier this week.

Vitaly Servetnik from Russian Social–Ecological Union/Friends of the Earth Russia said:

“This radioactive waste is being sent to the Urals and Siberia. There it will be stored in containers above ground posing a direct danger to the environment and people living in the area. Disguised as a commercial transaction between Rosatom and Urenco, Germany exports its radioactive waste problem.”

Olaf Bandt, chair of BUND / Friends of the Earth Germany said:

“The federal government stands by while part of the unresolved nuclear waste problem moves quietly and secretly to Russia. German nuclear waste should not be disposed of in other countries, putting lives of people in danger. Germany must finally complete the nuclear phase-out.”

In response, the Russian Social–Ecological Union/Friends of the Earth Russia and other environmental and human rights groups organised a digital action. Images of activists holding signs reading “No uranium tails!” and “Russia is not a dump!” flooded social media.

June 30, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

France’s EDF in a financial pickle over huge costs of UK’s Hinkley C nuclear project

Dave Toke’s Blog 27th June 2020, The chickens are coming home to roost for EDF for their questionable decision to go ahead with building Hinkley C -a decision they took despite the lack of certainty over whether they would get enough backing from the British Government.

Originally EDF was publicised as being offered UK Treasury loan guarantees that had been widely touted as a vital basis for building Hinkley C. But now the French Financial Markets Regulator has
sanctioned EDF for not flagging up how conditional such loan guarantees were. These loan guarantees have never materialised.

Essentially, EDF is now continuing to build Hinkley C using money borrowed on its own balance
sheets – borrowings which are much more costly than UK Government backed guarantees and which reduce its own (EDF) profitability.

The Finance Officer of EDF actually resigned at the time EDF decided to go ahead with building Hinkley C. Of course all this is happening at the same time when we are being asked to believe that the next EPR (at Sizewell C) is going to be delivered at low cost to the consumer if the risk of building the plant is transferred from EDF to the British taxpayer and consumer!

This is the so-called RAB mechanism, something that could well just turn out to be an
almost unlimited cash facility for EDF to park their financial black hole in the centre of British finances (as well as those of the French).

June 30, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Hitachi- no plans to sell Wylfa nuclear site to China

Hitachi has said it has no plans to sell a Welsh nuclear power site to a
Chinese corporation after comments by Donald Trump. The US president was
quoted by the Sunday Times warning it not to sell Wylfa, on Anglesey, “to
Work on the £13bn project was put on hold last year because of
rising costs after Hitachi failed to reach a funding agreement with the UK
government. A Horizon Energy spokesman said: “We don’t comment on
speculation. “Our focus remains on securing the conditions necessary to
restart this crucial project, which would bring transformative economic
benefits to the region and play a huge role in helping deliver the UK’s
climate change commitments.”
Horizon is owned by Hitachi and was set to
lead the project to build the site. “We are not aware of any plans to sell
the project to China,” Hitachi told the Reuters news agency.

June 30, 2020 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Donald Trump intervenes in Wylfa nuclear project discussions

North Wales Live 28th June 2020, Donald Trump is understood to have intervened in discussions about the next generation of nuclear power on Anglesey. According to reports, the US
president’s administration has warned Hitachi, the company behind the site,
not to sell it on to the Chinese government. The intervention is a sign of
escalating tensions between the Americans and the Chinese, according to the
Times. It reports today that the White House is heaping pressure on Hitachi
– which is a Japanese-owned company – not to sell on its interest into the
site to Beijing.


June 30, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

New nuclear disaster plans sent to thousands of homes in Plymouth

June 30, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Hungary to apply for nuclear plant expansion licence

Hungary to apply for nuclear plant expansion licence on Tuesday, BUDAPEST, June 29 (Reuters) – Hungary will on Tuesday submit licensing paperwork to the state atomic agency to expand its sole nuclear power plant and fast-track the first phase of its construction, the earth works at the reactor site, the government said on Monday.

Hungary is planning to double the capacity of its 2-gigawatt Paks nuclear power plant with two Russian-made VVER reactors.

The project, awarded in 2014 without a tender to Russian state nuclear giant Rosatom, is often cited as a sign of the exceptionally warm ties between Hungarian premier Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a connection that has unnerved Western allies.

Budapest has requested and received European Union approval for the fast-track process which will allow it to start construction at the site in January 2021, Minister Janos Suli, who is in charge of the expansion, told parliament.

In response to a question from an opposition lawmaker, he denied sweetening the process for Russia. ……..

Experts have warned that approval for the reactor hole, a massive project to remove 8 million cubic metres of earth and build a 2,500 metre (8,200 ft) concrete wall more than a metre thick, could make the project much more difficult to abandon……

June 30, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Sizewell nuclear plant – untried, costly, environmentally damaging, and no electricity for 10 years or more!

the government is exploring novel ways in which to lay the burden for financing a dangerous and costly nuclear venture on you, the consumer. 

The Sizewell C plans are an insult to the people of Suffolk’   27 June 2020, Pete Wilkinson, Together Against Sizewell C

Chairman of Together Against Sizewell C, Pete Wilkinson, has described it is a “battle for the soul and integrity of East Suffolk”. Here he explains why he is opposing the nuclear project.

Anyone new to Suffolk, ignorant of EDF’s nuclear plans, would be forgiven for laughing out loud.

An untried reactor, labelled ‘technically complicated to construct’ by its own designers, a cost of £20billion-plus, taking at least 10 years to build, producing waste which is not only lethal to living tissue but which remains so for thousands of years and for which there is no agreed or proven disposal or management route, to be built in the middle of a community of 5,000, which will not produce electricity for at least 10 years by which time its output will be redundant to needs, built on an eroding coast? Yeah, sure: pull the other one.

You really couldn’t make it up.

Yet this is what residents up and down the East Suffolk are facing. They have been led to believe that the destruction of their environment on a massive scale, the compulsory purchases, the roads, the workers’ campuses, the borrow pits, the huge water demand in the driest county is inevitable – and to make the best of it.

When did anyone ask YOU, resident of East Suffolk, if you wanted your tranquil, culturally rich and peaceful rural environment urbanised and anonymised, requiring six new roundabouts on the A12 and up to 1,000 vehicle movements a day along our country roads to ferry the material required for our own white elephantine carbuncle on our heritage coast, light, noise and dust pollution 24 hours a day, seven days a week or a decade of accommodating 4,000 workers? Of course you were not asked. They knew the answer. The new nuclear policy has not been subjected to anything like forensic public or Parliamentary scrutiny.

Democratic deficit runs through all aspects of this programme like the letters in a stick of rock and is presented by its advocates as ‘inevitable’. The National Policy Statement process renders what government calls ‘national infrastructure projects of over-riding importance’ inviolate, untouchable and – yes – inevitable unless the planning authorities have the courage or unless the Secretary of State has the guts to do what they should – throw the EDF plans out as an insult to the people of Suffolk. Sizewell C is important to no-one other than EDF.

But just how ‘over-riding’ is the need for Sizewell C? The French-made film, ‘The Nuclear Trap’ makes it clear that Hinkley C in Somerset and Sizewell C are more critical to the survival of the French nuclear industry than they are to providing electricity to UK consumers.

There has been a huge reduction in electricity demand since 2013 – over 16% – making earlier predictions of an increase of 15% by 2020 an overestimation of more than 30%.

Renewables out-compete nuclear on every front – cost, waste, jobs, CO2 and time for deployment. If ever Sizewell was built, it would be at least a decade, probably more like 15 years given the history of cost and time over-runs of its flagship plant at Flamanville, before it turned one kilowatt hour of electricity.

In 15 years, we will – one can only hope – have grown out of our obsession with nuclear and invested at suitably high levels in realising the huge job potential in micro-technology, decentralisation, efficiency and conservation of energy, and look back on our nuclear infatuation with a shake of the head.

The current National Policy Statement which covers the nuclear component of the energy policy, EN6, is entirely unfit for purpose as it gives policy authority only to those nuclear plants which can be deployed before 2025 – i.e. not, Hinkley, not Sizewell and not Bradwell, none of which will be generating electricity by that date.

Therefore the EN6 policy document is null and void. Its replacement is still undergoing review and will depend heavily on the financing arrangements the government can agree to in order to remove the need for EDF to fork out for it.

Instead, the government is exploring novel ways in which to lay the burden for financing a dangerous and costly nuclear venture on you, the consumer. 

So much for ‘no subsidy’ nuclear, but in policy terms, it is legally questionable for Hinkley C to continue to be built, for Sizewell C’s planning application to be submitted or for CGN/EDF to consult on plans to build Bradwell B when there is no policy architecture to justify and legitimise any of this work or progress.

EN6 has fallen as a legitimate policy statement for new nuclear build but that does not seem to have any effect on the way the French and Chinese backers of new nuclear in the UK are required to act nor the complacency and indifference with which the government seems to take these gaping legal inconsistencies.

The waste problem that nuclear generates is probably the most intractable. In the 15 years of the existence of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, it has failed to secure a site, a volunteer community or to satisfactorily solve many of the dozens of technical and engineering problems associated with burying 500,000 cubic metres of legacy waste while ensuring that the estimated 78,000,000 units of radioactivity remain underground.

While new build waste such as that from Sizewell C is likely to be less bulky, its high burn up in the reactor means that it will be far hotter than even Sizewell B’s waste and will generate much more radioactivity – up to five times that contained in the legacy waste. How can any government or industry knowingly embark on a development programme which will create such a mountain of waste when a repository for its safe disposal is still more a matter of hope over expectation?

The only legacy Sizewell C will leave for Suffolk is a degraded environment and a radioactive waste mountain which future generations will have to deal with. Please tell your councillor to vote to remove the support for Sizewell C at the full council meeting on July 7, please write to the planning inspector to voice your concerns and please urge your MP to tell the Secretary of State to put EDF’s planning application where it belongs – in the bin.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, environment, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Cloud with tiny levels of radioactivity detected over Scandinavia and European Arctic.

Radioactivity is blowing in the air for humans, but detectable for radiation-filters. A cloud with tiny levels of radioactivity, believed to originate from western Russia, has been detected over Scandinavia and European Arctic. By Thomas Nilsen, June 26, 2020

First, in week 23 (June 2-8), iodine-131 was measured at the two air filter stations Svanhovd and Viksjøfjell near Kirkenes in short distance from Norway’s border to Russia’s Kola Peninsula. The same days, on June 7 and 8, the CTBTO-station at Svalbard measured tiny levels of the same isotope.

CTBTO is the global network of radiological and seismic monitoring under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

Norway’s nuclear watchdog, the DSA, underlines that the levels are very small.

“We are currently keeping an extra good eye on our air-monitoring system,” says Bredo Møller with DSA’s Emergency Preparedness unit at Svanhovd.

While iodine-131 is only measured in the north, in the Kirkenes area and at Svalbard, Swedish and Finnish radiation authorities inform about other isotopes blowing in the skies over southern Scandinavia.

Bredo Møller says to the Barents Observer that his agency can’t conclude there is a connection between what is measured up north and what his Scandinavian colleagues measured in week 24.

“As part of our good Nordic cooperation we are currently exchanging data,” he says.

Møller tells about radiation just above detectable levels. “We found 0,9 microBq/m3 at Svanhovd and 1,3 microBq/m3 at Viksjøfjell.”

Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) detected on June 16 and 17 small amounts of the radioactive isotopes cobalt, ruthenium and cesium (Co-60, Ru-103, Cs-134 and Cs-137).

STUK says the measurements were made in Helsinki where analysis is available on the same day. “At other stations, samples are collected during the week, so results from last week will be ready later.”

Likely from a reactor

All these isotopes indicate that the release comes from a nuclear-reactor. Iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days, and given the small amount measured in the north, this isotope could be gone before the radioactive cloud reached the southern parts of Finland and Sweden a week after the first measurements in the north. That be, if the release was somewhere in the Arctic or northwestern Russia and winds were blowing south or southwest.

Neither of the Scandinavian radiation agencies will speculate about the origin.

“It is not possible now to say what could be the source of the increased levels,” writes the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority in a statement. Also the Swedes underline that the levels are low and do not pose any danger to people or the environment.

In the Netherlands, though, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has analyzed the data from Scandinavia and made calculations to find out what may have been the origin of the detected radionuclides.

“These calculations show that the radionuclides came from the direction of Western Russia,” RIVM concludes.

Calls for info-exchange

Senior Nuclear Campaigner with Greenpeace Russia, Rashid Alimov, says to the Barents Observer that the composition of the isotopes strongly indicates that the source is a nuclear reactor or a spent fuel element from a reactor.

“The Russian monitoring systems have not reported any unusual levels of radioactivity in June,” Alimov says, emphasizing that could be due to delayed publication of data.

Greenpeace calls for rapid international cooperation that includes Russia.

“We think information exchange is crucial,” Rashid Alimov says.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | environment, EUROPE, radiation | Leave a comment

Russia denies its nuclear plants are source of radiation leak, 28 June, 20

Russia has said a leak of nuclear material detected over Scandinavia did not come from one of its power plants.

Nuclear safety watchdogs in Finland, Norway and Sweden said last week they had found higher-than-usual amounts of radioactive isotopes in the atmosphere.

A Dutch public health body said that, after analysing the data, it believed the material came “from the direction of western Russia”.

It said the material could indicate “damage to a fuel element”.

But in a statement, Russia’s nuclear energy body said its two power stations in the north-west – the Leningrad NPP and the Kola NPP – were working normally and that no leaks had been reported.

“There have been no complaints about the equipment’s work,” a spokesperson for the state controlled nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom told Tass news agency.

“Aggregated emissions of all specified isotopes in the above-mentioned period did not exceed the reference numbers.”

Radiation levels around the two powers stations “have remained unchanged in June”, the spokesperson added.

Lassina Zerbo, executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) tweeted on Friday that its Stockholm monitoring station had detected three isotopes – Cs-134, Cs-137 and Ru-103 – at higher than usual levels but not harmful to human health.

The particles were detected on 22-23 June, he said.

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands said on Friday that the composition of the nuclear material “may indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant”.

The International Atomic Energy Agency – the UN’s nuclear watchdog – said on Saturday it was aware of the reports and was seeking more information from member states.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | radiation, Russia | Leave a comment

Ukraine declassifies Chernobyl nuclear disaster documents

Ukraine declassifies Chernobyl nuclear disaster documents

Sunday, 28 June 2020  Ukraine has declassified previously secret Soviet documents on the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant on 26 April 1986, making them public on Monday.

The archives, published in a book edited by the Ukrainian secret service, SBU, give an overview of the various construction errors, accidents and emergency interruptions at the plant between 1971 and the day of the disaster.

After Reactor 4 of the Soviet nuclear plant at Chernobyl exploded, a no-go zone was set up around the area due to the risk of radiation.

The biggest nuclear disaster in History caused the deaths of thousands of people, while tens of thousands had to be displaced.

On Sunday, a new fire occurred in the red zone around the plant, which is about three hectares in area. The Ukrainian authorities said on Monday that the fire had, for the most part, been put out.

In early April, a forest fire fed by gusty winds and unusually dry weather had broken out around the abandoned nuclear plant.

By the time it was brought under control in mid-May, about 11,500 hectares had been destroyed.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | politics, Ukraine | Leave a comment

France’s old Fessenheim nuclear reactor to finally shut down- the first of many

France’s oldest nuclear reactor to finally shut down,Guardian, 

Environmentalists have welcomed news that the 43-year-old Fessenheim reactor will close, nine years after it was first planned, Agence France-Presse, 28 June 20, 

France’s oldest nuclear power plant will shut down on Tuesday after four decades in operation, to the delight of environmental activists who have long warned of contamination risks, but stoking worry for the local economy.

The Fessenheim plant, opened in 1977 and already three years over its projected 40-year life span, became a target for anti-nuclear campaigners after the catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima in Japan in 2011.

Despite a pledge by then-president Francois Hollande just months after the Fukushima disaster to close Fessenheim – on the Rhine river near France’s eastern border with Germany and Switzerland – it was not until 2018 that his successor Emmanuel Macron gave the final green light.

Run by state-owned energy company EDF, one of Fessenheim’s two reactors was disconnected in February.

The second is to be taken off line early on Tuesday, but it will be several months before the reactors have cooled enough for the used fuel to be removed.

That process should be completed by 2023, and the plant is not expected to be fully dismantled before 2040 at the earliest. …..

More will follow, with only 294 people needed on site for the fuel removal process until 2023, and about 60 after that for the final disassembly. ……

There is no legal limit on the life span of French nuclear power stations, but the EDF had envisaged a 40-year ceiling for all second-generation reactors, which use pressurised water technology.

France’s ASN nuclear safety authority has said reactors can be operated beyond 40 years only if ambitious safety improvements are undertaken.

In the 1990s and 2000s, several safety failures were reported at Fessenheim, including an electrical fault, cracks in a reactor cover, a chemistry error, water pollution, a fuel leak, and non-lethal radioactive contamination of workers.

In 2007, the same year a Swiss study found that seismic risks in the Alsace region had been underestimated during construction, the ASN denounced a “lack of rigour” in EDF’s operation of the plant.

Without Fessenheim, France will still have 56 pressurised water reactors at 18 nuclear plants generating some 70% of its electricity. Only the US, with 98, has more reactors, but France is by far the world’s biggest consumer of nuclear energy.

In January, the French government said it would shut 12 more reactors nearing or exceeding the 40-year limit by 2035, when nuclear power should represent just 50% of the country’s energy mix in favour of renewable sources.

At the same time, the EDF is racing to get its first next-generation reactor running by 2022 – 10 years behind schedule – and more may be in the pipeline…….

June 29, 2020 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Wylfa nuclear project: Donald Trump plea over site sale dismissed

Wylfa nuclear project: Donald Trump plea over site sale dismissed, Hitachi has said it has no plans to sell a Welsh nuclear power site to a Chinese corporation after comments by Donald Trump. BBC, 28 June 20The US president was quoted by the Sunday Times warning it not to sell Wylfa, on Anglesey, “to China”.

Work on the £13bn project was put on hold last year because of rising costs after Hitachi failed to reach a funding agreement with the UK government.

A Horizon Energy spokesman said: “We don’t comment on speculation.

“Our focus remains on securing the conditions necessary to restart this crucial project, which would bring transformative economic benefits to the region and play a huge role in helping deliver the UK’s climate change commitments.”

Horizon is owned by Hitachi and was set to lead the project to build the site…….

June 29, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Unacceptable to build a radioactive waste repository on the BiH border, Bosnia forming an expert team to plan Croatian nuclear waste disposal .

Bosnian Minister announced Formation of Expert Team for Croatian Radioactive Waste Repository near Bosnia, Sarajevo Times, JUNE 28, 2020  The Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations in the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stasa Kosarac, expects that at the next session of the Council of Ministers, a decision will be made on the formation of an expert team for Trgovska Gora, because it is unacceptable to build a radioactive waste repository on the BiH border.Kosarac emphasized that this will enable experts in BiH, on the basis of scientific, research and professional knowledge, to answer all open questions regarding the possible construction of a nuclear and radioactive landfill on Trgovska Gora, news portal reports.

He expects that after the formation of the expert team, a meeting with the competent ministry in the Government of Croatia will follow and that, based on the application of European conventions, scientific, research and professional staff from BiH will be able to come to Trgovska Gora……  Košarac added, they are working on forming a proposal of a team for legal experts not to give up on the internationally recognized rights that BiH has signed at the international level.

He reiterated that it is completely unacceptable to build such a landfill on the border with BiH.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Need for action on global heating – It’s 38°C in Siberia

June 27, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Russia | 1 Comment

Sizewell planning documents reveal higher-than-expected £20bn price tag

June 27, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment