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Power firms agree on route to close Spain’s oldest nuclear plant

MADRID, March 22 (Reuters) – Spain’s main electricity providers have reached an agreement to renew the life of the country’s oldest nuclear plant until its planned closure, the company that operates the site said on Friday.

The Almaraz plant in Western Spain is the first nuclear reactor slated for closure in a calendar which foresees all seven in the country going offline between 2027 and 2035.

Phasing out nuclear power, which provides around a fifth of Spain’s electricity, is part of a package of energy market proposals that was one of the last gambits of the Socialist government before parliament was dissolved ahead of a general election next month.

A disagreement between Almaraz’s owners, Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy, over how much to invest to keep the plant running rumbled on close to a March 31 licence renewal deadline, putting the plant at risk of an earlier closure.

The firms will now apply to keep the site’s two reactors running until 2027 and 2028 respectively, on condition they will spend no more than 600 million euros on them, three sources with knowledge of the talks said.

Endesa had resisted adding any spending limits to a protocol signed last week setting out the closure dates, but a spokesman for the company said it was pleased with the deal.

We are very satisfied with the agreement because it fulfils the protocol signed last week which allows the plants to keep operating,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman added that the agreement also applied to two other nuclear power stations in which it holds majority stakes, whose licences likewise need renewing.

Iberdrola and Naturgy declined to comment.


March 23, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Spain | Leave a comment

Bradwell B nuclear project – a risk to UK’s national security?

Is Bradwell B a risk to nationalsecurity?    Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group  (BANNG)21 March 2019

Andy Blowers considers whether the ‘golden relationship’ with China might be a Trojan Horse in the BANNG Column for Regional Life March 2019.  The state visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, in October 2015 proclaimed the beginning of a ‘golden era’ in Sino-British relations. The deal was sealed with the promise that China would be offered the opportunity to construct a new nuclear power station at Bradwell with a state-owned company, CGN, using its own technology. In return the Chinese would provide the lion’s share (two-thirds) of investment in the project, with its partner the French state backed-company EDF finding the rest.

The jubilation of the Cameron Government turned to scepticism when his successor’s Joint Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy, declared, ‘The Government is selling our national security to China’. Fears that a critical part of sensitive infrastructure could be open to control by a potentially hostile power have continued to cloud the project. The fact that China, like the UK, is a military as well as civil nuclear power makes the issue of security and control especially worrying.

Bradwell B – a Trojan Horse?
Concerns about security threats are not without foundation. There is the broad charge that China plays by its own rules and the United States has long claimed that China has stolen American atomic secrets…….
Fears of Chinese infiltration in national security have led the United States to ban foreign ownership or control of nuclear power plants (see Box). No such injunction has been proclaimed in the UK; rather, at this very moment, the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation is deeply engaged in the process which may lead to approval for the Chinese Hualong One reactor design, thereby paving the way for overseas expansion of Chinese nuclear technology and the inevitable proliferation of security concerns. Bradwell B could be the Trojan Horse that leads into the heart of our national security  …..

nothing is said at all about what will be a deteriorating nuclear complex with stores of highly radioactive nuclear wastes strewn on a disappearing coast for the indefinite future. And will the Chinese still be around when the risks increase?

The Chinese are intent on accelerating the Bradwell B programme to begin construction before the end of the next decade. That is a tall order but they have the resources and apparent determination. But, the risks to national and local security and safety from a nuclear power station constructed and controlled by a foreign power cannot easily be allayed. Despite all the soothing words and promises of energy security, Bradwell B, if it materialises, may be a dangerous and unpredictable cuckoo in the nest.

March 23, 2019 Posted by | politics international, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Dangers of nuclear weapons convoys travelling through Northampton

Northampton Chronicle 21st March 2019 , Campaigners have raised concerns about nuclear warheads travelling through
Northampton after a convoy passed an accident-prone stretch of motorway.
Nuclear warheads are regularly driven from Burghfield Atomic Weapons
Establishment (AWE) near Reading to Coulport, Scotland, for loading onto
the Trident missile submarines.

March 23, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Irish Council opposes dumping of UK’s nuclear waste in any part of Ireland

Councillors back motion to oppose dumping of nuclear waste, The Impartial Reporter, 18th March A motion to oppose the dumping of any toxic waste in any part of Ireland was passed unanimously by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, however it was not without some political wrangling between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

The motion proposed by Sinn Fein’s John Feely states the Council’s opposition who said that the “dumping of nuclear waste has dire consequences for our environment and also poses a serious health risk to the population”.

Councillor Feely said the geological screening for geological disposal facilities for nuclear waste raised a number of questions such as about how much radiation would reach the surface and water sources.

He added that the proposals by the British Government showed once again “the complete and total disregard” it has for the citizens of “Fermanagh and Omagh, the North of Ireland and all its people”.

Councillor Barry Doherty seconded the motion saying everybody had obligation to ensure future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the area in the same way that people do today and Ireland should not turn into anyone’s dumping ground……..

Councillor Alex Baird said the UUP were happy to support the motion with an amendment to stop anybody dumping toxic waste in Northern Ireland.

Councillors, Shields, McAnespy and Deehan all welcomed the motion, with Councillor Deehan describing the prospect of a disposal facility for nuclear waste in the country as “chilling”……..

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Ireland, politics international, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

UK pledges to fully fund EU nuclear-fusion facility

Britain will pay £60 million to keep the Joint European Torus near Oxford running if negotiations to continue EU funding stall. Nature, Elizabeth Gibney, 20 Mar19,

The UK government has said that it will step in to pay for a European Union-funded nuclear-fusion laboratory near Oxford after 29 March, if European cash cannot be agreed in the next ten days.

The Joint European Torus (JET) laboratory currently has only a short-term funding contract with the European Commission, which will run out on 28 March, the day before Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union. Until now, JET has received around 88% of its funding from EU sources, and the remainder from the United Kingdom. Negotiations with the EU to agree a new contract to fund the facility until the end of 2020 are ongoing, but have stalled in part because of uncertainty over Brexit.

In a statement to Parliament on 13 March, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond promised to front up to £60 million (US$80 million) to run the JET in 2019–20, should no new agreement be reached in time.

The £60 million would cover the whole of the lab’s 2019–20 budget, says Ian Chapman, chief executive of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy near Oxford, which hosts JET. Chapman says that the pledge is effectively an “insurance policy”: he is still optimistic that a contract with the EU will be signed in time, and that the commission will continue to fund JET in the long term. “It’s not the intention on either side for [JET] to become a UK facility. This is to make sure we’re covered and operations continue in every eventuality,” he says. ……

Unless the deal is passed by Parliament, or Brexit is delayed, the United Kingdom will leave the EU without a deal. Although it would be possible for the bloc to keep funding JET in a ‘no deal’ Brexit, it is unclear whether this would happen. A UK government spokesperson said that the funding for JET would come from existing funds earmarked for science.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | politics international, technology, UK | 1 Comment

EDF Energy extends outages at UK’s Hunterston B nuclear plant

Nina Chestney, Reuters LONDON (20 Mar 19,  – EDF Energy, owned by France’s EDF, has extended outages at two nuclear reactors at its Hunterston B plant in Scotland while it waits for Britain’s nuclear regulator to assess their safety cases.

  • Hunterston B-8 reactor is now expected to restart on April 30, a month later than previously forecast. Hunterston B-7 is scheduled to restart on June 29, compared with a previous date of April 30, according to EDF Energy’s website.
  • In March last year, the two reactors were taken offline to carry out inspections of the graphite core. These confirmed the presence of cracks and showed these were happening at a higher rate than modelled………


March 21, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Are the UK’s cracked Hunterston nuclear reactors safe?

The Ferret 19th March 2019  Plans to restart two cracked and ageing reactors at Hunterston in north Ayrshire have again been delayed as operators struggle to convince regulators they are safe.

EDF Energy, the French company that runs Hunterston B nuclear power station, has postponed the restart date for reactor three by two months to 30 June 2019. The restart of reactor four has been postponed a month until 30 April 2019.

Some 370 major cracks have been found in the graphite core of reactor three, which has been closed down for more than a year since 9 March 2018. There are estimated to be around 200 similar cracks in reactor four, which was closed down on 2 October 2018.

The operational safety limit for cracks imposed by the UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is 350. EDF is now trying to convince ONR that reactors should be allowed to operate with up to 700 cracks.

The proposed restart dates for both reactors have been repeatedly delayed over the last six months. They started generating electricity in 1976 and were originally due to close in 2006 – but EDF wants to keep them going until at least 2023.

Critics, however, reiterated calls for the reactors to shut down permanently. “It really is time for EDF to admit that these stations are well past their sell-by date and need to close,” said nuclear consultant, Peter Roche. “They should start talking to the Scottish Government about providing alternative employment opportunities in Ayrshire, preferably by bringing forward decommissioning and dismantling and developing robot technology.”

Rita Holmes, chair of the Hunterston site stakeholder group chair, said that personally she had no doubt that ONR would take time to scrutinise EDF’s safety cases. “Some people find the delays reassuring because EDF is sparing no expense, leaving no stone unturned, consulting the experts in order to build a robust safety case,” she said.

“Some feel the opposite – if it takes EDF that long to provide a robust safety case then maybe there is something far wrong. The safety case might or might not satisfy the regulator………. 

March 21, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK communities not convinced by bribes to host nuclear waste

GDF Watch 17th March 2019 The sociopolitical challenges RWM faces were starkly revealed by the
community sector’s response to a recent major Government funding
announcement. Their reaction suggests that the package of GDF-related
investment and other funding, while being ‘necessary’, is not
necessarily ‘sufficient’ to secure a community’s consent to start
initial discussions or formally enter the siting process. At the forefront
of the sectors’ concerns is ‘collaboration’, and more active
involvement in shaping policy and how it is implemented. This aspiration,
particularly in the context of a ‘consent-based’ siting process, is
likely to become a key area of discussion as RWM seeks to build awareness,
trust and confidence with communities. The evidence for this analysis can
be found in the community/civil society sector reaction to the
Government’s recent £1.6 billion ‘Stronger Towns Fund’ announcement.

Instead of welcoming the extra cash, across the board there was frustration
and concern that once again there had been no consultation with those
affected, that this was another top-down solution, and was throwing good
money at bad means of delivering real benefits to communities.

March 20, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK Labour undermines renewable energy pledges with state ownership plan for new nuclear power plant.

Dave Toke’s Blog 17th March 2019, Labour’s energy spokesperson, Rebecca Long-Bailey, having previously pledged to put renewable energy on top of the energy agenda has now relegated it far below nuclear power. They have done this with a pledge to take partial state ownership of new nuclear power projects and saying they will do this for nuclear projects that have been abandoned. But giving state priority to these projects, far from keeping the lights on will actually ruin the chances of aspiring renewable energy generators.

The figures speak for themselves. Bailey pledges to reverse what she calls the Government’s ‘cancellations’ of new nuclear projects (Moorside, Oldbury, Wylfa) (factcheck; it was the developers who cancelled them despite being promised tens of billions of state aid). If these projects are brought on line (in addition to the existing Sizewell B and still-not-cancelled projects of Hinkley C and Sizewell C) then nuclear generation will climb to at least 35 per cent of current generation – and even that does not count the Chinese led project at Bradwell.

Meanwhile renewable energy generated 33% of UK electricity in 2018, a figure that, with the recently announced ‘sector deal’ for offshore wind, will increase to around 65% by 2030 even without any more onshore wind and solar pv which the Labour Party claims to support. It doesn’t need a mathematical genius to work out that with 35% coming from nuclear power, there simply will not be any market space for any more renewable energy.

Yet renewable energy, as we have discussed is cheap, becoming cheaper, and needs little or no public subsidy – a big contrast with nuclear, which despite all the promised support, high consumer subsidies, public guarantees of loan funding (none of which is available for new renewable schemes) has failed so far to generate a single kWh. And it will not until at least 2026 even if EDF’s schedules for Hinkley C construction prove (miraculously in the light of recent nuclear construction history) to be achievable………..

Labour have come out with a daft policy that threatens to take us back to the dinosaur age by comparison.

I really hate to say this, but because the Tories have actually (so far) stopped short of the financial insanities involved in getting all of the projected new more nuclear power stations online and are thus leaving some space for new renewable energy schemes, there is actually a plausible argument to say that now, compared to Labour’s new policy position the Conservative Party policy actually favours renewable energy more than Labour!

March 20, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Scotland’s First Minister refused to meet Australian Aboriginal nuclear waste protestor – for political reasons

Gaffe reveals why Sturgeon refused to meet nuclear waste protestor  James McEnaney on March 14, 2019 The Scottish Government has mistakenly revealed that Nicola Sturgeon refused to meet an Aboriginal nuclear waste protestor in an attempt to avoid political damage – not because she was too busy, as her officials said. 

Internal emails uncovered by The Ferret reveal that the First Minister was advised to turn down a request for a meeting in 2018 so as not to become a “focus for criticism”. But officials said the public reason given for her refusal would be “on the standard basis of diary pressures”.

Campaigners reacted with sadness, saying that the Scottish Government’s “ears are closed”. The government stressed that it had “very limited scope” to address the issues raised.

Nuclear fuel was sent from an Australian research reactor to Dounreay on the north coast of Scotland for reprocessing in the 1990s. The resulting radioactive waste, amounting to 51 cemented drums, was originally due to be returned to Australia for disposal.

But under the terms of a waste substitution deal in 2014, Scottish and UK governments agreed that the drums should stay at Dounreay. Instead, the plan is to send four containers of “radiologically equivalent” waste to Australia from the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria.

Two sites have been identified for a planned store for the waste in south Australia – Wallerberdina Station, near Hawker, and Kimber – both of which face opposition from indigenous communities. The Ferret reported in February that Scottish ministers had been advised that they had powers to prevent the waste being exported to protect human rights.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Danger in Russia’s nuclear- powered icebreakers parked at Murmansk

Nuclear safety expert says it’s time to consider moving risky icebreaker operations out of Murmansk

Rosatomflot’s service base is not sized for all the planned new nuclear-powered icebreakers, says Andrey Zolotkov, who previously worked as engineer onboard one of the service vessels storing spent nuclear fuel. Barents Observer  By Thomas Nilsen  March 13, 2019 

«So far, so good, but what if something goes wrong one day. Then questions will come in terms of why such operations take place within the city limits of Murmansk,» says Andrey Zolotkov, head of the autonomous non-commercial organization Bellona.

Before he started working for the nuclear safety watchdog group, Zolotkov worked for decades onboard «Imandra», a service ship storing spent nuclear fuel from the fleet of icebreakers. The vessel is berthed at Rosatomflot’s service base less than two kilometers north of the nearest blocks of flats in the Rosta district in Murmansk, a city with 300,000 inhabitants.

There are few cities in the world where more reactors’ maintenance work, change- and storage of uranium fuel, handling and storage of radioactive waste takes place within the boundaries of such big city.

«Look at the bases of the [military] Northern Fleet,» Andrey Zolokov illustrates. «There, all the maintenance and repair work with nuclear submarines take place outside and away from the towns where people are living.»

Every three to four years, the uranium fuel in the reactors of the icebreakers have to be replaced. Such high-risk operations are carried out with the most comprehensive safety precautions in the nuclear industry. Additionally, due to heat and high radiation, the fuel elements have to be temporarily stored for a few years before being transported away by train. At the base in Murmansk, such interim storage takes place onboard the two ships «Imandra» and «Lotta», as well as in spacial designed casks onshore.

An accident with release of radioactivity could reach densely populated areas in Murmansk long before anyone manage to trigger the emergency evacuation alarm.

«Considering the many new icebreakers coming the most risky parts of the nuclear maintenance operation should be moved further away from the city centre,» Andrey Zolotkov argues. He, however, underlines that there has never been any accidents at the service base.

Currently, Russia has four nuclear-powered icebreakers and one container carrier. Rosatomflot is the world’s only fleet of civilian nuclear powered vessels and when not sailing in icy waters, they are all moored at the quays in Murmansk……..

March 16, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

UK govt’s health study of nuclear veterans – but they’ve lost half the records

Nuclear test guinea pigs study announced – then Government admits it’s lost half of them

Veterans say the research is meaningless, and demand a long-promised medal review By Susie Boniface,  14 MAR 2019 

The government has “lost” all trace of almost half its nuclear veterans – making a mockery of a planned health study.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is now facing calls to cancel the expensive and “meaningless research” which survivors of the bomb tests say has no chance of proving their claims to have been irradiatedduring Cold War radiation experiments.

It comes after officials at Public Health England, which is conducting the six-figure study, admitted they have no way of checking the health of all 22,000 servicemen who took part in the 1950s tests.

Alan Owen, chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association, said: “We have been palmed off with meaningless research that has no chance of being definitive or accurate. The only reason for continuing it is shameless PR.

“Mr Williamson should cancel this useless study immediately, and use the money to provide our veterans with a medal for their exemplary service.”

Several studies have been carried out since the 1980s into the veterans’ rate of cancer, which if accurate could indicate radiation exposure.

But veterans says they are flawed because they compare the health of scientists with soldiers, and the health effects of smaller weapons that had fewer eyewitnesses with massive hydrogen bombs. Many of the servicemen lived in the fallout of such weapons for more than a year.

In 1983 the MoD said it could find records of only 85 per cent of those present, and now PHE staff have admitted they have lost almost half.

An official has now said privately to campaigners that they can trace 12,000 deaths of veterans for the research, but details for the remaining 9,400 people – or 44 per cent of the total – are missing from the records.

Those who have moved abroad, not registered with a GP after moving home, or who use private doctors will not be included. If a veterans’ NHS number becomes inactive they cannot be tracked for the study.

The Ministry of Defence did not confirm the figures that were leaked to the veterans.

A spokesman MoD said: “Around 2,000 [of the veterans] have emigrated and around 100 have not yet been traced. We continue to follow up with the remainder and are confident this study will bring the current information up to date.”

March 16, 2019 Posted by | health, UK | Leave a comment

Was this horrific murder done in order to protect the nuclear industry?

Robert isn’t alone. He has documented the harassment and even murder of other whistleblowers who spoke out about contentious nuclear issues, or attempted to supply him with sensitive information.  

March 14, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce, EDF, Centrica – all trying to sell of their money-losing nuclear businesses

Ian Fairlie 11th Marcvh 2019 UK nuclear going down the pan? Readers will have seen the news that Rolls
Royce is trying to get rid of the main bulk of its civil UK nuclear
business though not Small Modular Reactors, nuclear submarines and Hinkley
Point C involvement.

It has appointed the consultancy firm KPMG to find a
buyer. This follows the earlier revelation that EdF Energy has been doing
the same for at least a year, ie trying to find a buyer for its ageing UK
reactor fleet.

It is unlikely either company will find a buyer, or at least
find one willing to pay a reasonable price . For example, UK energy giant
Centrica[4] has been trying for years to offload its 20% shareholding of
EDF Energy. Back in 2012, after it pulled out of the mooted Hinkley Point C
development (thereby losing £200 million in sunk costs), Centrica
appointed the German investment bank UBS to look for a suitable buyer but
none has ever been found.

The main reason these companies are trying to
offload their nuclear reactor businesses is that they are essentially
unprofitable: the electricity they produce is more expensive than the sales
they generate. And their fuel costs are far more expensive than the
effectively zero fuel costs of electricity from wind and solar.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Petition against Sizewell nuclear project – an “overwhelming” case against it

BBC 12th March 2019   A 1,500-strong petition opposing plans for a new nuclear plant has been
delivered to a county council leader. EDF Energy hopes to build the £16bn
Sizewell C on the Suffolk coast, next to the existing Sizewell B.

The petition was handed to Suffolk County Council’s Conservative leader Matthew
Hicks ahead of the authority’s cabinet meeting.

Campaign group Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) said the case against the development was
“overwhelming”. Chairman Pete Wilkinson said it would force “10 to 12 years
of crippling social and environmental disruption on the county”. “It will
fundamentally change the way of life in this region, cause people to lose
their homes, destroy an area of outstanding natural beauty and leave us
with another legacy of lethal radioactive waste,” he said.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment