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UK’s Sizewell C nuclear project not likely to provide many local jobs

East Anglian Daily Times 14th July 2019 Anti-nuclear campaigners have disputed the number of jobs that a new power
station on the Suffolk coast will create – and say it will not provide
enough long-term opportunities. EDF Energy says the Sizewell C nuclear
plant is expected to provide 25,000 jobs over the 10-year construction
period with 5,600 workers on site at its peak, and says it is “absolutely
committed” to creating local jobs, skills and training opportunities. It
says the project will provide up to £200million a year to boost the
county’s economy, and create 900 full-time jobs once operational.

But Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) has cast doubt on the job numbers. EDF
has already said that £14billion Sizewell C will be 20% cheaper to build
because Hinkley construction techniques will be mirrored, grid connections
are already available and it will use different finance models. However,
TASC fears this could mean a transfer of skills, with possibly a large part
of Hinkley C’s experienced workforce moving to Sizewell.

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/sizewell-c-edf-energy-tasc-1-6159158

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July 15, 2019 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s new nuclear funding model would leave taxpayers liable for rising costs or delays.

New UK nuclear funding model could leave taxpayers liable, Guardian,  Jillian Ambrose, Energy correspondent 14 Jul 2019

Ministers are expected to announce plans to bolster nuclear industry this week,  The government will set out plans to resuscitate the UK’s struggling nuclear ambitions with a new scheme which would leave taxpayers liable for rising costs or delays.The funding model, expected this week, could help bankroll the multibillion pound plans for a follow-on to EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, which ministers aim to build at the Sizewell site in Suffolk.

It could also resurrect the dormant plans for a £16bn new nuclear reactor at the Wylfa project in North Wales, which fell apart last year due to the high costs of nuclear construction.

Government officials are expected to reveal a new financial framework based on the model being used to finance the £4.2bn Thames Tideway tunnel.

Under those plans, the government has allowed the super-sewer’s developers to charge customers upfront for the project, and agreed to cover cost overruns above 30% of the budget and step in as a lender if funding dries up.

The nuclear plans are expected to be unveiled before parliament’s summer recess at the end of this week, alongside a long-awaited energy white paper.

The policy roadmap will set out the government’s plans for the energy sector as the economy moves towards the UK’s target to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.

The industry is expected to have three months to respond to an official consultation before ministers decide whether to move ahead with the scheme…..

The plans would hand developers an upfront regulated return on their investment at each new phase of the project. This could encourage more investment from infrastructure and pension funds and better borrowing terms for the developer.

Government officials are under pressure to find a new way to finance nuclear projects after the National Audit Office condemned the 35-year deal to support the Hinkley Point project through energy bills at a cost of £92.50 for every megawatt-hour of electricity it produces.

The average electricity price in the UK last year was between £55 and £65 per megawatt-hour.

The watchdog accused ministers of putting energy bill payers on the hook for a “risky and expensive” project which offers “uncertain strategic and economic benefits”.

The new financing plan has already raised concerns that applying the Tideway model to a nuclear project that costs £20bn and takes around a decade to build could leave taxpayers exposed to a far higher financial risk.

Nuclear projects have suffered high-profile delays and multibillion-pound cost overruns in recent years, making them almost impossible to finance without state intervention.

EDF said last month that its struggling French nuclear project at Flamanvillecould be delayed by another three years to repair eight faulty weldings discovered at the site.

The latest delay could push Flamanville’s start date, originally in 2012, to 2022. The project was expected to cost about €3bn when construction began but the latest estimates put its cost at almost €11bn……… https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/14/new-uk-nuclear-funding-model-could-leave-taxpayers-liable-edf-sizewell

July 15, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Huge carbon footprint of Hinkley nuclear project, and itself threatened by climate change

Somerset County Gazette 14th July 2019 Jo Smolden: AT a time when climate change discussions are in everyone’s minds, and individuals are looking at what energy they are
using and the waste they are producing, the French company EDF is moving
thousands of HGVs full of aggregate across the county and making the
biggest pile of concrete this country has ever seen at Hinkley next to the
Severn Estuary.

Taking into account the carbon footprint of such large
infrastructure projects, remember this starts with uranium mining where
around 1% is usable, the rest is immediately radioactive waste for
indigenous people to deal with. The end of the nuclear process is high
level, dangerous, radioactive waste having to be looked after for hundreds
of thousands of years.

Should we not be questioning how something with such
a huge carbon footprint is being dumped on the next generations to somehow
deal with?

The biggest concern of all this having been planned using last
century technology so long ago, is the impact of global warming and sea
level rise predictions of today. Is the base of the structure high enough
to keep the nuclear reactor and waste stores safe for the next 160-plus
years? There is no flexibility with nuclear, do we want such a hazardous
fixed structure on our coastline? So many questions and EDF can’t
possibly reassure us with any of this as they have committed themselves, to
this white elephant.

https://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/17755677.letter-39-no-flexibility-nuclear—want-coastline-39/

July 15, 2019 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Safety breaches at Sellafield nuclear waste plant

NUCLEAR FEAR Security scares at Sellafield nuclear waste plant raise fears of disaster ‘worse then Chernobyl’, Sun, John Siddle, 14 Jul 2019,

SECURITY scares at Sellafield raise fears of a disaster “worse than Chernobyl”, campaigners warn.

The Sun on Sunday can reveal there have been 25 safety breaches logged at the massive nuclear waste plant in the past two years. The 6km razor-wired compound stores a 140 tonne plutonium stockpile and handles radioactive waste generated by the UK’s working reactors.

The clean-up site in Cumbria has been dubbed the most hazardous place in Europe. Nuclear bosses insist safety is an “overriding priority”.

Incidents logged at Sellafield include radiation leaking from a water pipe and a nuclear waste container that was not welded completely shut.

Other alerts were triggered when potentially harmful uranium powder was spilled and acid was discovered leaking from a bust pipe

Janine Smith, from the campaign group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, said locals lived in fear of a serious incident.

‘COULD BE WORSE THAN CHERNOBYL’She said: “One safety breach is one too many. There just shouldn’t be any. Just one error could be catastrophic.

“It’s not like making a mistake inside a chocolate factory. The buildings at Sellafield are all so close together that if something was to happen at that site it would be a disaster.

“We just keep our fingers crossed, and everything else, that we don’t ever have to witness a nuclear disaster in this country. It could be worse than Chernobyl”.

According to the logs, the bomb squad was called in October 2017 when potentially unstable chemicals sparked an emergency scare.

A month later, in a separate incident, a worker was found to have been exposed to a low level of radiation……

‘ONE ERROR COULD BE CATASTROPHIC’The Environment Agency has taken enforcement action against Sellafield ten times since September over compliance breaches.

A spokesman said: “Nuclear facility operators must adhere to the highest waste control standards.

“Where Sellafield has fallen short of these standards, the impact has generally been extremely small and we have taken firm and appropriate action.”

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also hit Sellafield with an improvement notice this year after a high-voltage cable was sliced, causing a power loss……….https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9502371/security-fears-chernobyl-sellafield/

July 15, 2019 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Sizewell B nuclear plant ammonia leak closes part of beach

Sizewell B nuclear plant ammonia leak closes part of beach https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-suffolk-48968813, 12 July 2019

A beach near a nuclear power station had to be closed to the public after a “small amount of ammonia leaked”, an energy firm said.

EDF Energy said the leak from a storage tank at Sizewell B in Suffolk on Friday afternoon was “immediately contained”.

But part of the beach was cordoned off “as a precaution” because ammonia fumes could have a “strong smell”.

A spokeswoman said: “There is no risk to public health and no-one was hurt as a result of this incident.”

She said the power station remained switched off for planned maintenance and refuelling.

The beach has reopened.

EDF Energy said ammonia was used on the site to control pH levels.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s energy industry plans, especially nuclear, stalled while waiting for new Prime Minister

Bloomberg 12th July 2019 Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is blocking a set of government proposals to overhaul the U.K. energy industry because of the potential
spending implications for a new prime minister, people familiar with the
matter said.
The plans are included in a long-awaited energy white paper
that the business department has been working on for months, according to
the officials, who asked not to be identified because the policies
haven’t been announced.
Measures include the way nuclear power plants get funding, boosting technology to capture industrial greenhouse gas emissions for storage, accelerating the decarbonization of the power industry and efforts to make housing more energy efficient.
Greg Clark hoped to publish the proposals in July, but Hammond is reluctant to give the go-ahead to new spending before a successor to Theresa May is in place, the people said.
Whitehall officials across departments are also concerned the document is
both incomplete and too sizable a policy plan to put forward just before a
new premier takes over, according to two of the people familiar. One option
being considered is to publish more urgent sections before recess leaving
the rest for the next government to handle.
If Johnson wins, as expected, neither Hammond nor Clark are likely to remain in their cabinet jobs.
That’s because Johnson has said his cabinet members will have to be
prepared for the U.K. leaving the European Union without a Brexit deal —
something that Hammond and Clark have said they can’t support. The new
prime minister will be announced on July 23.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-12/hammond-poised-to-halt-plans-to-overhaul-u-k-energy-industry

July 15, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Future of the nuclear industry in Britain is far from clear

Times 14th July 2019 If all goes to plan Hinkley Point C should start powering 6m homes from
2025, earning its developers the hefty, taxpayer-backed price of £92.50
per megawatt-hour of electricity produced.

Hinkley is a rare dash of activity in a sector battered by bad news and government inactivity. This week, business and energy secretary Greg Clark will try to sketch out a
future for the new nuclear industry with a funding blueprint that will pass
some of the risks and costs on to bill-payers.

He has been spurred intoa ction by Japan’s Hitachi and Toshiba, which have both pulled the plug on new nuclear projects in Britain. Clark’s paper was meant to appear
alongside a broader revamp of energy policy, but sources suggest political
turmoil and Treasury concerns are expected to delay the full white paper
until autumn, when a new energy secretary is in post.

In a sector being upended by technological change, from electric cars to smart power grids,
every delay in devising a coherent, long-term policy further weakens the
power system and Britain’s competitiveness. For now, the industry is likely
to have to settle for Clark’s nuclear blueprint. Even if a full energy
paper emerges, it could be torn up by his successor. Many tip the current
chief secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss. If they are right, Truss will
arrive to a full in-tray.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/a8f5d97c-a589-11e9-97a3-6b6d400e533

July 15, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

£1.68bn pre-tax loss forHorizon Nuclear Power, builder for suspended Wylfa Newydd project

BBC 5th July 2019 The company behind plans to build a new nuclear power station on Anglesey has reported a £1.68bn pre-tax loss. Work at Wylfa Newydd was suspended in
January by Hitachi due to rising costs. The latest accounts filed by its
subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd show it cut the value of the land and
equipment by £1.52bn as it does not intend to build a new power station.

The accounts also show that staff redundancies and winding up work also
cost £127m. Horizon will now be put into a “suspended state” following the
release of most of its workforce and termination of most of its commercial
contracts, according to its annual report.

A report by the Welsh Affairs Committee said the UK government should encourage Hitachi to sell the site if it is not prepared to resume work. Horizon previously said its main
planning permission was being considered, as it keeps its options open.
“They are going ahead with the application because they’ve done so much
work already, it’s worth spending the additional money to finish that
work,” said Dr Edward Jones, economics lecturer at Bangor University.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-48888093

July 8, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Expert opinion: small nuclear reactors a very bad deal for Scotland

“Even if a safe and affordable design were to emerge from the current research projects, the whole concept relies on there being a sufficient guaranteed pipeline of orders for the construction and ramping up to scale of a large and expensive production facility,” NCG said.

“Without such a pipeline – itself requiring an unlikely level of long-term policy consistency – it is difficult to see the private sector being willing to finance such a facility.”

“We need to rapidly scale up investments in clean, safe renewable power and improving energy efficiency rather than fall for the latest sales pitch of the failing nuclear industry.”

Small nuclear reactors for Scotland? No thanks, say experts, The Ferret, Jenny Tsilivakou on July 7, 2019

A report by scientists proposing that Scotland should consider building an array of small nuclear power reactors to help combat climate warming has been dismissed as “disingenuous”.

Three experts under the banner of the Nuclear Consulting Group think tank say that a new report from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) displayed a “disappointingly poor grasp of the realities of the nuclear issue”.

They have been backed by campaigners, but the RSE has warned against ruling out energy technologies that may not meet “every possible criterion”. The nuclear power industry welcomed RSE’s report.

The RSE report on ‘Scotland’s Energy Future’ was published on 17 June 2019 following a two-year inquiry. Its lead authors were Sir Muir Russell, who was head of the Scottish civil service and principal of the University of Glasgow, and Rebecca Lunn, an engineering professor at the University of Strathclyde.

It accepted that there were “well recognised challenges” with nuclear such as costs, decommissioning, and the disposal of radioactive waste. “Addressing these issues will require substantial investment over a prolonged period of time,” it said.

But the RSE report suggested that “small modular reactors” (SMRs) could be a solution. They are reactors designed to be assembled from pre-made parts to generate under 300 megawatts of electricity, a quarter of that produced by current nuclear stations……

“SMRs could provide many of the benefits of large-scale nuclear energy, but in a form that may prove more acceptable to the public,” the report said.

“There is a high level of uncertainty over how long this technology will take to sufficiently develop.”

The RSE report cautioned that “no energy policy, no matter how well-considered, will ever solve all of the problems and paradoxes of energy supply and use”. There was an “energy quadrilemma”, it contended, that had to take account of climate change, affordability, energy security, and social acceptability and economic wellbeing.

The Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG) has now issued a sharp riposte to the RSE report. It has published a paper by three experts: Dr Paul Dorfman from University College London; Tom Burke from the climate think tank E3G; and Steve Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy from the University of Greenwich.

They concluded that “Scotland’s energy future has no need for nuclear”. They criticised the RSE report for “conflicting” and “confusing” messages about nuclear power.

The RSE report didn’t provide evidence to back up some of its claims, the NCG paper argued. The RSE failed “to note that all nuclear is significantly more carbon intensive than all renewables”.

NCG maintained that renewables such as wind power were cheaper than new nuclear. It was particularly critical of the idea that SMRs could help Scotland achieve its climate targets. Continue reading

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Together Against Sizewell C: the battle to save UK’s Suffolk coast from nuclear development

The nuclear fight for Sizewell on Suffolk’s coast, BBC, 7 July 2019  

Joan Girling has been fighting the nuclear industry most of her adult life.

She was at school when the new Magnox reactor was begun on the Suffolk coast at Sizewell in the 1960s.

Her father told her it was a “necessary evil”.

But when she moved to Leiston, just a few miles from the nuclear power station, and work began on Sizewell B in the 1980s, she could no longer ignore it………

in 1989 the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) proposed a Sizewell C and Joan decided she had to do something.

At a fractious meeting at the Leiston Film Theatre in the High Street opposite the fish and chip shop, she founded Community Against Sizewell C.

Joan and an array of other anti-nuclear groups won that fight. Sizewell C was cancelled. The plan was resurrected in 1993 and Joan helped fight and win that one as a local councillor. But she has no illusions about what swung the argument.

“It was the finances that didn’t work out for them, ” she says resignedly. “Not the environment. It’s always finance that has the final say.” ……..

EDF and Sizewell C

The CEGB is now long gone. Today it is the giant French energy group EDF who wants to build Sizewell C. The protestors now call themselves Together Against Sizewell C (TASC).

In the next few weeks the plans will go to the Planning Inspectorate and then on to Secretary of State. If it is approved Joan expects ten years or more of construction, millions of tonnes of aggregate roaring in by road or rail, spoil heaps and a campus of more than 6,000 workers, on what she calls “my beloved coast.”………

Sizewell and Hinkley would  be a blueprint for a nuclear future.

Joan sighs at the thought: “No, nuclear plant, never, not one, has come in on time and on budget.”

Protected areas

Sizewell is hemmed in with every kind of protected area. Philip Ridley, Head of Planning and Coastal Management at East Suffolk Council, admits: “If you were looking for a place to build a nuclear power station you could not have chosen a more environmentally sensitive spot.”

The whole coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The shingle beach is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Sizewell Marshes, just behind the plant is a Special Protected Area (SPA). The Leiston Sandlings to the south are another SPA. There’s even an ancient monument nearby, Leiston Abbey.

Minsmere

But it is hard to compromise on Minsmere, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and an SSSI. The thousand hectares of marsh, less than a mile to the north, is the pride of the RSPB, where in 1947 the avocet, now the emblem of the charity, started breeding again for the first time in 100 years. It is home to 5,800 plant and animal species, marsh harriers, otters, water voles and bearded tits.

Adam Rowlands, Minsmere senior site manager, says: “For the RSPB, the scale of risk is higher than anything else we have ever been faced with before.

“The proposed footprint extends into the marshes behind the site which is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and we are concerned at the loss of habitat over the ten years of construction due to noise and light and disturbances, and also the effects on the water table.”

At the moment Minsmere’s water levels are delicately controlled by sluices. Mr Rowlands says any unexpected rise or fall of a few centimetres could flood nests and destroy habitats.

It’s not just the fresh water inland but the salt water of the North Sea that worries the RSPB.

It is an unpredictable and mobile coastline. The RSPB fears that higher sea defences and a concrete landing strip for barges could drastically alter the shoreline – and Minsmere.

Consultations

In response EDF has issued lengthy consultation papers. The local Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s response to the latest and most detailed one is littered with references to “inadequate assessment”.

What’s more, there are fears EDF will only release a full assessment immediately before the plans go before the Planning Inspectorate, giving local groups little time to respond…….https://www.bbc.com/news/business-48828820

July 8, 2019 Posted by | environment, opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear power – unsustainable – half Scotland’s reactors offline – but renewables supplying the load

The simple reason why nuclear power is finished – Dr Richard Dixon https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/the-simple-reason-why-nuclear-power-is-finished-dr-richard-dixon-1-4957211

Half of Scotland’s nuclear reactors are off-line over safety concerns, but the lights still stayed on, writes Dr Richard Dixon. July 3  2019

Nuclear power is the ultimate unsustainable form of energy. For some electricity today, we are leaving a thousand generations of future humans dangerous radioactive waste.

During the 1990s public inquiry into the Hinkley Point C nuclear station, I saw a poster showing a Roman legionary standing outside a nuclear plant and carrying the message “If the Romans had had nuclear power, we would still be guarding the waste”.

I thought it was terribly clever but it took me quite a while to realise that Roman Britain was far too close at hand. To cover the generally accepted 25,000 years, it would need to have referred to Cro-Magnon humans.

The politics of Scotland mean that new reactors here are almost unthinkable and the price of the renewable energy alternatives has fallen so far below the cost of nuclear that you would have to be crazy to go for new nuclear.

Labour’s Jack McConnell was the First Minister who said he would block new nuclear plants until there was a solution to the waste problem (14 years later, there is none). And while it is in the SNP’s DNA to oppose nuclear power. EDF and some unions do still try to lobby Scottish Ministers and officials, but to no avail. Meanwhile the industry is doing a great job of showing how terrible a bet nuclear is.

The nuclear industry is almost unique in that every new reactor costs more than the last, while everything else gets cheaper, including offshore wind power which is now coming in at just over half the price of nuclear for a unit of energy.

Hinkley Point C, the only nuclear station under construction in the UK, was supposed to be cooking the Christmas turkey in 2017. It is now expected to be producing electricity at the end of 2025 at the earliest. The only way it could be built was for the UK Government to agree that electricity consumers would pay bills well over the odds for the next 35 years.

The same sort of reactor is being built in Finland. It may start producing electricity next year – 11 years late. The other one of the same design is in France and is currently running 12 years late, at twice the original budget.

The latest wheeze the industry has come up with is to ask the UK Government to agree to pay any costs more than 30 per cent above the original budget for any more reactors. Not a good bet given their history.

Of course we already have four reactors in Scotland. The two at Torness are the second newest in the UK, having been opened by Margaret Thatcher in 1989. The two at Hunterston in Ayrshire are already well past their sell-by date, having started up in 1976. They were supposed to have closed in 2006 but have had three extensions with planned closure now in 2023. Because of a large number of cracks in their cores one reactor stopped generating in March last year and the other in October. Owners EDF are arguing with regulators about whether they can safely restart.

Did you notice the lights going out across Scotland with Hunterston not producing a single electron for eight months? No, thanks largely to renewables having a record first quarter of 2019 and supplying nine out of ten households in Scotland.

We certainly don’t need new nuclear and, with renewables rapidly on the rise, we should not take the unnecessary risk of starting up the Hunterston reactors ever again.

Dr Richard Dixon is director of Friends of the Earth Scotland.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear power projects not economically viable, and adding to global warming

Nuclear power is helping to drive the climate crisis, Guardian, 3 July 19  Linda Rogers says the CBI has its head in the sand over nuclear reactors and Iain Climie wants politicians prepared to fund action to combat the climate emergency

Has the Confederation of British Industry got its head in the sand, or in the record levels of carbon-intensive concrete just poured at the Hinkley C nuclear site (Build more nuclear reactors to help climate crisis, says CBI, 28 June)? Nuclear power, apart from destroying biodiversity throughout its life cycle, produces up to 37 times the CO2 emissions of renewable energy sources, owing partly to the mining and refining of uranium. The impact of this process on people and the environment is not included in the rationale for nuclear power in the UK.

As the CBI looks for investment from abroad, UK taxpayers will pick up the bill for the likely time and cost overruns of new nuclear build under the regulated asset-based funding proposals so welcomed by the CBI. Nuclear has failed to achieve the investment needed so far because it is no longer seen as economically viable. Even Hitachi (one of the world’s largest multinationals) cannot magic Wylfa Newydd into a commercially viable business. In January this year, Hitachi announced it had failed to squeeze the UK government for the very high levels of subsidies desired by large investors upfront for Wylfa. Nobody can afford the costs or the many risks attached to building new nuclear power stations.
Linda Rogers

July 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Claims of bullying and sexual harassment rock Sellafield nuclear facility

Daily Mail 26th April 2019 , Exposed: Britain’s largest nuclear power plant Sellafield is rocked by  claims of bullying and sexual harassment with female staff ‘routinely
propositioned by male bosses’  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6965179/Exposed-Britains-largest-nuclear-power-plant-rocked-claims-bullying-sexual-harassment.html

July 4, 2019 Posted by | culture and arts, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has concerns about the security of Sellafield’s plutonium

David Lowry’s Blog 28th June 2019 A week ago the UK national nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), released its annual report and accounts to zero media
attention. But embedded in its 164 pages was the following intriguing
revelation:

“Early in the reporting year, a number of security events
required us to apply regulatory attention to several of Sellafield Ltd’s
security investigations.” It then added: ” Appropriate lessons have been
identified and we will continue our regulatory focus on security culture
and on influencing improvements in the security competence of the internal
assurance function.

” Sellafield is a big nuclear site that, inter alia,
holds 140,000 kilogrammes of plutonium. A devastating warhead can be made
with just 5kgs. We cannot afford any serious security events at
Sellafield!

http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2019/06/sellafield-security-questioned-by.html

July 1, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Gaps revealed in Scotland’s nuclear convoy crash preparations

Gaps revealed in nuclear convoy crash preparations, A series of shortfalls in Scotland’s emergency arrangements for coping with a nuclear bomb convoy crash have been exposed by a Scottish Government review.  The Ferret,  Rob Edwards on June 28, 2019

Leaking radioactivity from an accident would put “strains” on the resources for monitoring the contamination of people, food and the environment, it says. Monitoring may be required “at scale” because of the large number of people involved.

The review reveals that the fire service hasn’t finalised its emergency procedures for convoy crashes, the police need to be better briefed and vetted, while the ambulance service is not told about convoy movements.

The emergency services have also failed to properly record the lessons they learn from emergency exercises, it adds.

Convoys comprising up to 20 or more military vehicles transport Trident nuclear warheads by road at least six times a year between the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport on Loch Long, near Glasgow, and the bomb factory at Burghfield in Berkshire. The warheads have to be regularly maintained at Burghfield.

Though the Ministry of Defence attempts to keep them secret, the convoys are often photographed, filmed and followed on social media. They travel close to major centres of population such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham.

The Ferret revealed on 23 June 2019 that an emergency exercise in Scotland called Astral Climb in 2016 had suffered communication breakdowns that could have put people at risk.

report by campaigners in August 2017 warned that Scotland was “wholly unprepared” to deal with an accident or an attack on a convoy. When the issue was raised in the Scottish Parliament in May 2018, Scottish ministers promised to ask the police and fire inspectorates to conduct a review. ……..

According to the review, the hazards from a bomb convoy crash come from the “explosive, radioactive and toxic materials” that are transported. “The explosive hazard is the same as that which is associated with any chemical high explosive,” it said.

“The main radioactive materials are plutonium and uranium. Plutonium and uranium are both toxic and radioactive. The convoy may also contain other toxic (but not radioactive) materials such as beryllium and lithium. Beyond the immediate hazard area, the potential dispersion of airborne plutonium particles represents the dominant radioactive hazard.”The Scottish Government’s review listed five emergency procedures that have still to be “finalised” by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, including operational guidance and intelligence sharing. They should be completed “as a matter of priority”, the review concluded.

Police Scotland were criticised for only conducting a “verbal briefing” for officers prior to convoy movements. “There would be merit in considering a more formal process to provide a record of the information given to officers,” the review said.

“We found that Police Scotland uses appropriate measures to secure information but there was a lack of clarity regarding vetting and which staff and officers have access to sensitive information.”

The fire and police services were both upbraided for failing to record the lessons learned from emergency exercises such as Astral Climb in 2016. They were urged to introduce new systems to ensure that that improvements were made. ……….. https://theferret.scot/nuclear-convoy-safety-scotland-review/

July 1, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment