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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Pressure grows on Theresa May to sign UN nuclear weapons ban treaty

Theresa May under growing pressure to sign UN anti-nuclear treaty
Campaigners urge the Prime Minister to back global treaty calling for the total ban of nuclear weapons, Inde[endent  
Lizzy Buchan Political Correspondent, 17 Sept 17  Pressure is mounting on Theresa May to sign up to a UN treaty calling for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.

More than 120 nations endorsed the global treaty at a summit in July, which warns that a complete ban is the only way to prevent the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of the use of nuclear weapons.

Britain and other nuclear nations opposed the move, but critics have called on the Prime Minister to change course this week when the treaty will be opened for signatures at the UN’s annual general assembly.It comes amid escalating tensions between the US and North Korea, after a string of nuclear tests from the pariah state and war-like rhetoric from Donald Trump.

Anti-nuclear campaigners called on Britain to take the lead on disarmament, or risk offering a “blank cheque” to other nations seeking to boost their nuclear arsenal.

The UK and other nuclear powers support a non-proliferaton treaty, which prevents the spread of nuclear weapons – but the pact has previously attracted criticism for being ineffective.

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said the Government had “utterly failed” in its commitment to nuclear disarmament, and urged the Prime Minister to back the UN treaty, in which signatories agree not to develop, test, buy or possess nuclear weapons………

Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “For far too long, UK foreign policy has been guided by an unbending commitment to militarism and interventionism. Trident has been right at the heart of it.
“Despite this, there is a growing international consensus against nuclear weapons.

“It’s time for Trident-owning countries like the UK to take a lead, and take a crucial step towards a nuclear-free world.

“To continue doing otherwise will only provide an excuse and a blank cheque for every other country that seeks nuclear proliferation.”

Downing Street was unavailable for comment. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-nuclear-treaty-un-pressure-weapons-a7949346.html 

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September 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

No – nuclear industry is NOT “emissions free”

Beware nuclear industry’s fake news on being emissions free
 David Lowry on nuclear not being zero-carbon technology Guardian, 18 Sept 17  
Your incisive editorial makes many strong points, not least highlighting the exigencies of potential security compromises and terrorism vulnerabilities of the planned new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point. But there is a fatal flaw in the argument you set out. The editorial asserts: “Nuclear power has a trump card: it is a zero-carbon technology which delivers a continuous, uninterrupted supply.”

This is demonstrably untrue. On the latter point, you only have to consult the published operating record of reactors to see this is an unsustainable claim. All reactors have lengthy planned outages (shutdowns) for operational reasons; some have significant unplanned outages due to operational failures; and in the extreme case of post-accident safety prudence, such as in Japan, their 54 reactors were all closed for years after the 2011 Fukushima disaster – and became hugely expensive “stranded assets”.

On alleged zero-carbon status of nuclear plants, you repeat a similarly erroneous assertion made in your editorial of 1 October 2005 (Pre-empting debate), where you wrote: “The big advantage of nuclear generation is that it does not produce environmentally degrading emissions in the way that fossil fuel generation does.”

You printed my response to this assertion (There is nothing green about Blair’s nuclear dream, 20 October 2005) in which I set out the various ways the carbon footprint of nuclear power is substantial, if the whole “cradle-to-grave” nuclear fuel chain (uranium mining, milling, enrichment, fuel production, in-reactor fuel irradiation, storage and final long-term management) is properly calculated. I pointed out that the nuclear industry’s proponents, such as those gathered at last week’s World Nuclear Association jamboree in London, are fond of spreading fake news such as describing nuclear energy as “non-carbon emitting”. It is about time this dangerous falsehood was confined to the dustbin of history.
Dr David Lowry
Senior research fellow, Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/17/beware-nuclear-industrys-fake-news-on-being-emissions-free

September 18, 2017 Posted by | media, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Liberal Democrats faltering in their support for nuclear power

Nuclear power plants may not keep Britain’s lights on, say Lib Dems
Party raises concerns over nuclear costs as Vince Cable says record low wind power prices should lead to ‘radical reappraisal’,
Guardian,  Adam Vaughan and Jessica Elgot, 16 Sept 17, New nuclear power stations may not be the best option for keeping Britain’s lights on and meeting the country’s carbon targets, the Liberal Democrats have said.

The party said there were legitimate concerns over nuclear’s cost and the risks it would not be delivered on time, just days after windfarms secured state support far more cheaply than the Hinkley Point C atomic power station.

However, the party, which voted in support of nuclear four years ago after decades of opposition, said the technology should still be considered an option in the UK’s future energy mix.

“Nuclear power should be kept open as an option – but there is a risk that it may not be able to keep the lights on and that it may not be the lowest-cost option,” said the Lib Dems in a new report, authored by the former coalition minister Lynne Featherstone.

Vince Cable, the party’s leader, said this week that the breakthrough low subsidy prices for offshore windfarms should prompt a “radical reappraisal” of how Britain is powered.

 If the Lib Dems were to go so far as opposing atomic power again, it would mark a break in the pro-nuclear cross-party consensus of the three main parties……. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/16/nuclear-power-plants-lib-dems-vince-cable-wind-energy

September 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s ‘Operation Temperer’ replaces police with military personnel at nuclear power plants

Soldiers on the streets and extra armed police on patrol as Theresa May raises terror level to CRITICAL after ISIS claim Tube bucket-bomb attack was carried out by a cell of several jihadis –IED had timer attached meaning terrorist probably exited at an earlier station but bomb failed to detonate CLG News,  15 Sept 2017 | Soldiers are being deployed on London’s streets as the terror threat level is raised to critical amid fears the Parsons Green bomber could strike again, Theresa May announced tonight.

Operation Temperer will see military personnel replacing police at key sites such as nuclear power plants to free up extra armed police for regular patrols. Scotland Yard said it is making ‘excellent’ progress in hunting the suspected terrorist who set off an improvised bucket bomb on a packed commuter train by Parsons Green tube station in west London at 8.20am. Mrs May said in a statement from Number 10: ‘The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has now decided to raise the national threat level from severe to critical – this means their assessment is that a further attack may be imminent.’ Minutes later Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley suggested there may have been more than one person involved stating that police were ‘chasing down suspects’.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK: spectacular drop in the cost of offshore wind brings Hinkley nuclear plan into question

Nuclear plans ‘should be rethought after fall in offshore windfarm costs’
Lib Dems and green groups say reduced price of state support should sound death knell for plants such as Hinkley Point C,
Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 12 Sept 17 The government is under pressure to reconsider its commitment to a new generation of nuclear power stations after the cost of offshore wind power reached a record low.

Experts said green energy had reached a tipping point in the UK after two windfarms secured a state-backed price for their output that was nearly half the level awarded last year to Britain’s first new nuclear power site in a generation, Hinkley Point C.

Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the breakthrough should prompt a rethink of the government’s energy plans, which have pencilled in atomic plants at Wylffa in Wales, Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex.

“The spectacular drop in the cost of offshore wind is extremely encouraging and shows the need for a radical reappraisal by government of the UK’s energy provision,” he said.

The government spending watchdog this year described Hinkley as a “risky and expensive” project that generations of British consumers will have to pay for through electricity bills. Experts hailed Monday’s auction results, for a group of windfarms that will open early in the next decade, as evidence that large scale renewable projects had come of age in Britain.

“The epoch of renewables as the most cost competitive technology has arrived,” said energy analysts Cornwall Insight, while the Economist Intelligence Unit said they showed “the trajectory of cheaper renewable technologies is irreversible”.

Ministers said the multimillion-pound pot of subsidies would generate clean power for 3.6m homes. Two windfarms – the Hornsea 2 project off the Yorkshire coast and the Moray offshore windfarm in Scotland – secured a guaranteed price for their power of £57.50 per megawatt hour (MWh) from the government. This is far below the £92.50 awarded to Hinkley last year.

Richard Harrington, the energy minister, said: “The offshore wind sector alone will invest £17.5bn in the UK up to 2021 and thousands of new jobs in British businesses will be created by the projects announced today.”………https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/11/huge-boost-renewable-power-offshore-windfarm-costs-fall-record-low?CMP=share_btn_tw

September 16, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Sellafield nuclear site seen as “a great strategic target for terrorists”

Express 13th Sept 2017, NUCLEAR plant Sellafield was yesterday branded a potential “coup for
terrorists” as police who protect it warned against budget cuts. Safety
fears were initially raised last year after an investigation into security
at Britain’s main nuclear decommissioning site in Cumbria. Now
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall has warned his
constabulary must not lose a penny in any forthcoming shake-up of national
police funding. “In my opinion the number of officers in the county is at
an irreducible limit. “We’ve all seen the tragic terrorism events
across the country this year. Cumbria is not immune to that. “We’ve got
a big strategic target here in Sellafield and that would be a great coup
for terrorists.”
http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/853568/Sellafield-nuclear-plant-ltd-cumbria-terrorists-peter-mccall

September 16, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

EDF warns on Britain’s nuclear safety problems, in the exit from the European Union

Reuters 13th Sept 2017, EDF, the French utility that runs Britain’s nuclear reactors, said on
Wednesday power plants could suffer extended outages if a new safeguard
regime and other measures were not in place when Britain exits the European
Union in 2019.

The regulation chief for EDF’s British unit, EDF Energy,
also said construction of Hinkley Point C – the first nuclear plant to be
built in Britain for more than 20 years – would be delayed unless Britain
had a new regulatory regime to replace the EU‘s.

Angela Hepworth was speaking at a parliamentary hearing on the impact of Brexit on Britain’s
energy security. Her comments illustrate the challenges faced by London as
it attempts to disentangle itself from decades of EU regulations, treaties
and institutions. In the nuclear industry, the race is on for the
government to replicate strict oversight of the industry and strike deals
with other countries or concoct a transition agreement, in time for
Britain’s withdrawal from the union in March 2019.
https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-nuclear/uk-nuclear-operator-warns-of-plant-outages-if-brexit-mismanaged-idUKKCN1BO212

September 16, 2017 Posted by | politics international, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Tories stick with nuclear ideology, although wind power is cheaper

Wind power is cheaper than nuclear – so can we finally ditch the pro-nuclear ideology? http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/09/wind-power-cheaper-nuclear-so-can-we-finally-ditch-pro-nuclear-ideology

Tory MPs back Hinkley Point yet block wind turbine developments. This week’s auction of government subsidies for energy show clearly that not only have the Tories been undermining our chances of transitioning to a renewable energy future, they are also forcing up our energy bills.

Two big offshore wind farms came in at £57.50 per megawatt hour and a third at £74.75. These “strike prices” compare with a guaranteed price for electricity from Hinkley of £92.50. This is the price the government agreed in order to persuade the French and Chinese to build the new nuclear plant. So effectively, consumers and businesses will be forced to pay a premium of 60 per cent for the privilege of receiving electricity from Hinkley; a premium that will increase further as the price of renewables falls further over the next six years, up until Hinkley comes on grid – if it ever does.

It is clear that only a government suffering from an acute dose of economic illiteracy would continue with this project. Unless, of course, there are other reasons for continuing this madness.

No one doubts that Hinkley is an economic disaster, but it has been kept alive by a dubious subsidy regime. As a “mature technology”, nuclear should never receive a subsidy, which is why there are ongoing legal challenges on this point. By contrast, the dramatic fall in the cost of offshore wind, and other renewable technologies, prove the value of subsidising “infant industries” until they are mature enough to survive and thrive subsidy-free.

But it’s not just dodgy economics that have kept the Hinkley white elephant staggering on. It is also a warped anti-renewables, pro-nuclear ideology, something highly evident in my own constituency of the South West.

It would appear there were no applications for subsidies to build offshore wind in the South West. Why would there be when our region is stalked by Tory dinosaurs who will fight their planning proposals; destroying opportunities for local people, pushing up their energy bills, and denying us the clean energy future we deserve in the process?

Since I became an MEP, there have been two exciting large scale offshore wind proposals in the South West. The Navitus off-shore wind development in Dorset could have secured enough energy to power 700,000 homes, while the Atlantic Array off the North Devon coast, was forecast to power 900,000 homes. Both were ditched in no small part due to dogmatic opposition to wind power.

In both examples, some of the most active opponents were local Tory MPs. In the case of Navitus Bay, where local Tories allegedly opposed the development on the grounds of its potential impact on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Private Eye pointed out that local MP and vociferous opponent of Navitus, Conor Burns.  received regular payments from an engineering firm connected with the oil and gas industry (it is listed in his register of interests). Navitus was proposed in an area off the Dorset coast thought to be suitable for oil and gas drilling. Conor Burns has never spoken out against plans to drill for oil and gas in the area.

As for Atlantic Array, the campaign group Slay the Array was led by none other than Steve Crowther, interim leader of Ukip. His party’s policies for the 2017 general election included the repeal of the 2008 Climate Change Act. Interestingly, they promised to support renewables when they could be delivered at competitive prices. Given that is now clearly the case, perhaps Mr Crowther would like to reconsider his staunch ideological opposition to Atlantic Array?

Lest we think it is just the Tories and Ukip standing in the way of a genuine transformation to cheaper, greener energy, Labour too has refused to ditch nuclear. The party is still trumpeting the thousands of jobs new nuclear, including Hinkley, can deliver. This view is deeply flawed. Evidence suggests that renewables create around three times as many jobs as nuclear for every £1m invested.

It is not only operating and servicing renewable energy projects that create jobs. There is also huge potential for job creation through the manufacture of components to support the renewables sector. Siemens in Hull provides a good example of what is possible. The company has invested £310m in wind turbine production and installation facilities, creating more than a thousand jobs.

Back in 2015, I commissioneda report which demonstrated the potential we have in the South West to generate in excess of 100 per cent of our energy from renewables. The report concluded that we could create 122,000 jobs across the region and add over £4bn a year to the economy. This is not unique to the South West; other areas of the UK could also be energy self-sufficient and reap the economic rewards. And the report was of course written before offshore wind was so much cheaper than nuclear.

Now is the time to end our affair with the dangerous and expensive technologies of the past and usher in a new green industrial revolution. There is an opportunity for political unity against Hinkley and in favour of renewables.

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

Investigation of radiation contaminated Dalgety Beach

Dundee Courier 8th Oct 2017Radiation remediation work at Dalgety Bay has edged closer with the start
of ground surveys at the contaminated beach. Investigations into ground
conditions began on Monday,before the long-awaited clean-up of dumped
radioactive debris from the Second World War, which is due to begin in
spring 2019.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed this week engineers are now
on site, having secured access. Stephen Ritchie, of the MoD’s Defence
Infrastructure Organisation, said: “Work started on site on Monday on a
ground investigation survey which has been the subject of ongoing
negotiations with the landowner.“That’s likely to take six weeks,
depending on the weather.” Updating south and west Fife councillors on
progress, Mr Ritchie also said it was hoped planning consent would be
issued soon for the remediation works.
https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/504987/surveys-begin-of-radium-contaminated-fife-beach-ahead-of-mod-clean-up/

September 16, 2017 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

UK government being strongly lobbied by makers of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

City AM 10th Sept 2017 ,A consortium developing small modular reactors is expected to urge the
government to push forward with a plan to develop so-called baby reactors
to secure the UK’s energy needs after the decommissioning of older
nuclear power stations. The government launched a competition to find the
best value SMR reactor design for the UK in 2016, and this week a
consortium led by Rolls-Royce will publish a report in Westminster which
claims it can generate electricity at £60 per megawatt hour, which is
two-thirds the price of recent large-scale nuclear plants.
http://www.cityam.com/271732/mps-review-baby-nuclear-reactor-plans-cheaper-source-secure

September 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Britain and USA differ on Iran nuclear agreement

Tensions surface between UK and US over Iran nuclear deal, But Boris Johnson and Rex Tillerson unite in urging Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out against massacre of Rohingya, Guardian, Patrick Wintour, 15 Sept 17, Tensions between the US and UK over whether to tear up the Iran nuclear deal were exposed on Thursday when the secretary of state Rex Tillerson said the US viewed Iran in default of the deal’s expectations, but the British foreign secretary Boris Johnson urged the world to have faith in its potential to create a more open Iran.

Tillerson repeatedly emphasised the US decision of whether to end the agreement signed in 2015 will be based on a wider assessment of Iranian behaviour – including in Yemen and Syria – and not just whether Tehran is complying with the strict terms of the deal……https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/14/tensions-surface-uk-us-iran-nuclear-deal-rohingya

September 15, 2017 Posted by | politics international, UK, USA | Leave a comment

Closed since 1977, Dounreay Fast Reactor at last being emptied of radioactive fuel elements

BBC 12th Sept 2017, Work has begun on the “challenging” task of removing radioactive fuel
elements stuck inside the most famous of Dounreay’s reactors. Closed since
1977, the Dounreay Fast Reactor is known for its dome-shaped exterior.
Almost 1,000 fuel elements have been in the reactor for years after the  work to remove them was halted because they were swollen and jammed in.

New technology has now been developed to make it possible to remove them. It
could take three years to complete the job at the nuclear power site near
Thurso in Caithness. Once all the elements have been removed work can begin
on dismantling the reactor.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-41245375

September 14, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Risky Hinkley nuclear project: extra costs to be paid by international partners, not British tax-payers – says UK Finance Minister

Reuters 12th Sept 2017, Taxpayers will not be on the hook for any additional costs incurred in the building of the new $24 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant, British
finance minister Philip Hammond said. A British parliamentary watchdog said
in June that the deal to construct the nuclear power station, which is
being built by French state-owned utility EDF, was risky.

It said the project could lead to requests for more cash and electricity payment
top-ups worth 30 billion pounds ($40 billion). EDF said in July that costs
at Hinkley Point were likely to be higher than it originally thought.
“Costs are not rising for the bill payer or the taxpayer. They may very
well be rising for our development partners, but that’s their problem,”
Hammond said on Tuesday.   http://uk.reuters.com/article/britain-power-hinkley/taxpayer-insulated-from-rising-hinkley-point-costs-says-hammond-idUKL5N1LT4XL?rpc=401&

September 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Renewable energy has priced out Hinkley nuclear power for Britain

Hinkley nuclear power is being priced out by renewables https://www.theguardian.com/environment/nils-pratley-on-finance/2017/sep/11/hinkley-nuclear-power-no-match-for-renewables, Nils Pratley
The UK should concentrate on wind- and gas-fired stations, and involve nuclear only if it can vaguely compete on price  Reuters  12 September 2017  

Hinkley Point C nuclear power station was conceived in the days when offshore wind cost £150 per megawatt hour and a few misguided souls, some of them government ministers, thought a barrel of oil was heading towards $200.

Successive governments swallowed the line that Hinkley represented a plausible answer to the UK’s threefold energy conundrum – keeping the lights on, reducing carbon emissions and producing the juice at affordable prices for consumers and business.

Hinkley still scores on reliability and low carbon (if one ignores the effect of spoiling the Somerset countryside with so much concrete), but the extent to which its costs are obscene is now plainer than ever. In Monday’s capacity auction, two big offshore wind farms came in at £57.50 per megawatt hour and a third at £74.75. These “strike prices” – a guaranteed price for the electricity generated – are expressed in 2012 figures, as is Hinkley’s £92.50 so the comparison is fair.

The dramatic improvement in offshore wind’s competitiveness is easy to explain because it was predicted. The turbines have become bigger and more efficient, installation costs have fallen and operators are able to use existing infrastructure. Even the post-Brexit fall in sterling has not altered the script because more of the equipment is produced in the UK these days.

By contrast, nuclear – a technology that has been around for half a century – seems to only become more expensive in a world of tighter safety regulation. Hinkley Point’s construction tripled between conception and contract, remember.

As for the argument that we must pay up for reliable baseload supplies, there ought to be limits to how far it can be pushed. A nuclear premium of some level might be justified, but Hinkley lives in a financial world of its own, even before battery technology (possibly) shifts the economics further in favour of renewables. A credible energy strategy would concentrate on wind- and gas-fired stations, and invite nuclear to the game only if it can vaguely compete on price.

The government should draw the obvious conclusion from Monday’s successful auction. One Hinkley is bad enough; a series of follow-on white elephants would be a disgrace.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

NuScale wooing Britain on Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Chain reaction? NuScale seeks to reignite UK small nuclear reactor plans
US nuclear technology specialist NuScale Power has this week unveiled a new
action plan, in an attempt to kickstart UK efforts to establish the country
as a pioneer in the development of small modular reactors (SMRs).

Last year the UK government launched a competition to accelerate the development of
SMRs, amid predictions the technology could help cut greenhouse gas
emissions and curb the cost of nuclear power.

However, the promised £250m, five year R&D programme has been beset by delays and earlier this summer
reports suggested a ‘crunch’ meeting was recently called between government
officials and potential SMR developers over the competition.

NuScale, which is backed by US engineering giant Fluor Corporation, this week sought to
highlight the UK’s potential role as an SMR hub with the publication of an
action plan detailing how it could deliver the technology by the 2020s. The
five-point UK SMR Action Plan sets out how the firm would partner with UK
industry to deliver a multi-billion pound SMR venture, which could see UK
firms provide more than 85 per cent of the content required for UK
reactors.   https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3016958/chain-reaction-nuscale-seeks-to-reignite-uk-small-nuclear-reactor-plans

September 11, 2017 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment