The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

UK’s nuclear waste cleanup operation could cost £260bn

“While we are clear about the current legacy of waste which already exists, a GDF would have to handle additional waste from new facilities being developed,” the NWService said. “The actual cost will … depend on the number of new nuclear projects that the UK develops in future and any additional waste from those stations.”

Cost of safely clearing waste from ageing power stations is soaring, say experts, Sandra Laville Environment correspondent

The cost of decommissioning the UK’s 20th-century nuclear waste could rise to £260bn as the aged and degrading sites present growing challenges, according to analysis presented to an international group of experts.

As the government pursues nuclear energy with the promise of a new generation of reactors, the cost of safely cleaning up waste from previous generations of power stations is soaring.

Degrading nuclear facilities are presenting increasingly hazardous and challenging problems. Ageing equipment and electrical systems at Sellafield, which is storing much of the country’s nuclear waste and is one of the most hazardous sites in the world, are increasing the risk of fire, according to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. They require increasing maintenance and present growing risk. Last October a faulty light fitting started a blaze at a Sellafield facility which led to its closure for several weeks.

Analysis by Stephen Thomas, a professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich, estimates the total bill for decommissioning the UK’s nuclear waste mountain will grow to £260bn.

Thomas told a conference of international experts the cost of decommissioning Sellafield had risen from to £110bn, according to freedom of information requests.

Other sites that need decommissioning are the 11 Magnox power stations, built between the 1950s and 1970s, including Dungeness A in Kent, Hinkley Point A in Somerset and Trawsfynydd in north Wales, and seven advanced gas-cooled reactors built in the 1990s, including Dungeness B, which closed last year, Hinkley Point B and Heysham 1 and 2 in Lancashire.

Deterioration of one of the Magnox stations, Trawsfynydd, which shut down in 1991, is such that substantial work is needed to make it safe, according to the NDA. “Work that would then need to be undone to complete reactor dismantling,” the agency said.

Thomas told the International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group similar problems are expected at other Magnox sites. The timetable for decommissioning the old nuclear power stations has been abandoned, with no new timescale yet published.

The Nuclear Waste Service has said deferring decommissioning for 85 years from shutdown, which was previous policy, is not suitable for all the reactors because of their different ages and physical conditions. Decommissioning of some Magnox stations will have to be brought forward, the NWS has said

Attempts to speed up the decommissioning would only add to the growing bill, Thomas said, which he estimated had increased to £34bn.

In 2005, the cost for decommissioning and disposing of the radioactive waste from nuclear power stations built in the 1950s, 70s and 90s was put at £51bn.

Last year the NDA estimates rose to £131bn, and its latest annual report said £149bn was needed to pay for the clear up. But Thomas said rising costs meant the total bill was on track to reach £260bn.

Part of the soaring increase is the cost of building a large underground nuclear waste dump or geological deposit facility (GDF) to safely store the 700,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste – roughly the volume of 6,000 double decker buses – from the country’s past nuclear programme.

The mammoth engineering project was initially predicted to cost £11bn but the bill is now estimated to be up to £53bn because of uncertainty about where the site will be located, and the need to provide space for an unspecified amount of waste from the new generation of nuclear reactors which the government wants to build.

Four areas of the country are being considered for the GDF but no decision on where it will be located has yet been made.

“While we are clear about the current legacy of waste which already exists, a GDF would have to handle additional waste from new facilities being developed,” the NWService said. “The actual cost will … depend on the number of new nuclear projects that the UK develops in future and any additional waste from those stations.”

The cleanup of past nuclear waste will take more than 100 years, the NDA has said. Highlighting the challenges of the degrading and hazardous facilities, the authority said in its annual report that robots and drones were increasingly being used to carry out site inspections.

September 22, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Sizewell C: Planning shake-up – getting rid of environmental assessment ‘runs roughshod over objectors’.

A government shake-up of planning which could bring forward the building of Sizewell C is “deeply dismaying”, campaigners said.

BBC News 24 Sept 22,

New legislation aims to cut planning rules and get rid of environmental assessments to speed up construction.

The nuclear power station in Suffolk is among projects to be “accelerated as fast as possible”, the Treasury said.

Stop Sizewell C said the plan “rode roughshod over the ability to fight damaging projects”.

The scheme, currently estimated to cost £20bn, was given government approval in July, against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate.

The new plant would be built by French-owned EDF next to the existing Sizewell B, which is still generating electricity, and Sizewell A, which has been decommissioned.

Fellow campaigners Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) has instigated a judicial review process over the planning approval, claiming it was illegal.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, who gave Sizewell the go-ahead when he was business secretary, made the latest announcement as part of his Autumn statement.

New legislation would be brought forward to “address barriers by reducing unnecessary burdens to speed-up the delivery of much-needed infrastructure”, the Treasury said………………………….. more

September 22, 2022 Posted by | environment, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Is UK government’s nuclear power policy scientifically feasible? – asks House of Commons Science and Technology Committee 

The deadline to submit to the Commons Science and Technology Committee’s
inquiry on the Government’s approach to developing new nuclear power is
fast approaching. The Committee of MPs is accepting written evidence
submissions until Friday 30 September.

The Committee’s inquiry is looking
for evidence from experts on what is required for the Government to achieve
its aim to approve up to eight new nuclear fission reactors by 2030, as
committed in its energy security strategy, and for nuclear to supply 25% of
electricity by 2050.

More than half of the UK’s 11 nuclear reactors are due
to be retired by 2025 with no immediate replacements, an approach which was
criticised in a recent Public Accounts Committee report. The Science and
Technology Committee’s inquiry is examining how the gap in nuclear
generating capacity, which currently accounts for around 15% of the UK’s
electricity, will be filled and energy supply protected.

Other issues in
scope of the Committee’s inquiry are: the funding and regulation of nuclear
power, including provisions in the Energy Security Bill introduced into
Parliament this year; the status of the different nuclear power
technologies, including fusion, and their role in achieving the net zero by
2050 target; the technical challenges facing the next generation of nuclear
power plants; what further research and development is required to build
capacity and how the management of nuclear waste can be improved.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee scrutinises the Government and
exists to ensure that policies and decision-making are based on solid
scientific evidence and advice.

HoC Science & Technology Committee 22nd Sept 2022

September 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) want government assurances about new rules on compensation liability for nuclear accidents

New rules increasing the financial compensation payable by the nuclear
industry in the event of an accident have been welcomed by the Nuclear Free
Local Authorities, and a letter sent to a government energy minister
seeking assurance that the British public will be property protected.

Under amendments to the Paris Convention so far approved by most signatory
states, including Britain, the liability of nuclear plant operators to pay
compensation has increased to €700 million, with this figure increasing
by a further €100 million in each of the next five years.

Smaller amounts are payable by companies involved with the transportation of nuclear
materials. In the UK, the impact will be felt to the bottom line of EDF
Energy, which operates Britain’s nuclear power plants, and the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority, with responsibility for transporting nuclear

Now Councillor David Blackburn, Chair of the NFLA Steering
Committee, has written to Lord Callanan, Minister of State with
responsibility for corporate governance and regulation in the nuclear
industry, to seek reassurance that nuclear operators will be required to
take out suitable insurance with private sector providers or make some
other financial provision to pay compensation in respect of an accident. He
is particularly concerned that ministers may attempt to subsidise the
industry by underwriting insurance provision or by downgrading their
operations to ‘low risk’ to reduce their liability.

NFLA 22nd Sept 2022

September 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Liz Truss could break fracking election pledge to bypass local opposition

Liz Truss is considering designating fracking sites as nationally important
infrastructure, potentially cutting out local communities and breaking a
leadership election promise, the Guardian can reveal.

During her campaign
to be the Conservative party leader, Truss said new sites would only go
ahead with local consent. However, those familiar with discussions in the
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), led by
Jacob Rees-Mogg, say there have been discussions about pushing through
sites without local approval by designating them as nationally significant
infrastructure projects (NSIPs).

This means they would bypass normal local
planning requirements. The designations usually apply to infrastructure
such as roads, airports and energy sites.

Guardian 22nd Sept 2022

September 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry Beating Retreat at Bradwell? 21 Sept 22, Recent news received by the Nuclear Free Local Authorities from an Essex resident appears to indicate that the development of a new Chinese-backed nuclear power plant at Bradwell-on-Sea is at a halt.

Like Operation Sealion before it, this unwanted foreign invasion of Southern England seems also to have been indefinitely postponed.

The Bradwell B power station project has been led by majority shareholder, the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), a Chinese-state owned energy corporation, with junior partners, French-state owned EDF Energy. CGN owned 66.5% of the equity and EDF Energy the rest. CGN had proposed to install two of its own UK HPR1000 reactors designed specifically for the plant, and the design received approval from the Office of Nuclear Regulation only in February 2022.

However, even before then, things were turning sour for the project. UK – China relations have been on a downward track for many months and Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith described Chinese investors as ‘not trusted vendors’ in Parliament. Giving substance to this sentiment, the Conservative Government passed the National Security and Investment Act, which entered into force in January 2022. This allows Whitehall ‘to intervene in certain acquisitions that could harm the UK’s national security’ such as civil nuclear power plants, and Ministers have frequently talked openly about their determination to terminate Chinese involvement in the Bradwell project.

Householders have now received letters that appear to indicate that the Bradwell B project team is indeed making a withdrawal from the site. Workers will soon be returning to fill in the exploratory boreholes they dug from 2018 to 2020 to conduct ‘early investigative surveys’ into ground conditions. Restorative work will take place from mid-September to make land available once more to enable local farmers to grow crops. And there is news that the project team will be ‘closing the current site compound’ and ‘removing the temporary site offices’ ‘by the end of the year’. Furthermore, there are no plans to ‘conduct further temporary ground investigation and load testing works’, for which planning approval has been granted, in 2023.

Commenting Councillor David Blackburn, Chair of the NFLA Steering Committee, said: “We do not know for certain if the Bradwell B project is finally dead and buried, but the fact that the project team is beating retreat from the site is a clear indication that no work will progress for the foreseeable future.

“Clearly Chinese involvement, which includes the bulk of the equity investment and the employment of a reactor specifically designed for this project, is as dead as the Dodo! It is unlikely that EDF Energy, which is already tens of billions of Euros in debt, will want to take on any further financial liability given its existing heavy involvement in both the Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C nuclear power projects, and frankly the appetite of most private investors to back new nuclear projects is almost nil”.

For more information, please contact NFLA Secretary Richard Outram by email on or telephone 07583 097793

September 21, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Sizewell C nuclear project might be scrapped as UK faces ‘long winter’ due to energy crisis

A NEW NUCLEAR reactor which is planned for the Sizewell site in Suffolk could face numerous problems with funding and completion, an expert has warned.

Express UK, By MATTHEW DOOLEY, Sun, Sep 11, 2022  Sizewell C nuclear power station is a proposed nuclear plant in Suffolk which would meet up to seven percent of the UK’s energy demand. The project is owned by the French nuclear giant EDF and the China Nuclear group who own an 80 and 20 percent stake, respectively, in the project.

……….  the plant will take years to complete, so it is unlikely it will have any effect on consumers’ bills in the short term.

Concerns have also been raised about the French company taking on the project, EDF. The company is reportedly heavily in-debt – €42.8billion (£37billion) at the end of June, according to Bloomberg.

In July, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced that EDF would be nationalised with the French Government buying 14 percent of the company which it did not already own.

This led some experts to express concern over the viability of the new Sizewell plant amidst an ongoing energy crisis.

Associate Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit, Sussex Business School, University of Sussex Paul Dorfman is an expert in civil nuclear technology.

He said that following the winter, EDF may lose its appetite for building a nuclear project in the UK, particularly when the rest of Europe was struggling with its own energy crisis.

He said: “EDF has huge problems, as they are massively in debt – essentially bankrupt, right now about €42billion in debt, with huge waste and decommissioning costs on the horizon.

“At the moment half of all French EDF reactors are offline, many with ageing maintenance and corrosion safety problems. Because of all this, the French Government has been forced to fully nationalise EDF.

“This winter will be a long time in energy and in politics. It will be a cold winter, and what would happen if France needed all its power for Paris, and fails to deliver power to the UK? How will that go down with UK people and policy, and could that impact the any new nuclear decision at Sizewell C?”

“What will happen if France says, ‘well we are in such problems with our nuclear, we don’t want to commit to the UK?’ Already, just this week, the EDF Board has refused sign off on Johnson’s Sizewell C contract – are they getting cold feet because they worry about taking on more debt for another UK project, when they have their own problems at home.”

Dr Dorfman was referring to a number of sources close to the matter who apparently told the French magazine Le Figaro EDF’s board of directors had voted against the Government’s negotiated decision with EDF to build the reactor at Sizewell……………….

The Sizewell C project would be funded by three parties – EDF would fund 20 percent while the Government would take on another 20 percent of the project. Private investors would take on another 60 percent of the funding while current investor China General Nuclear Power is expected to ease out of its 20 percent investment.

This adds more uncertainty to the project, according to Dr Dorfman who claims the current market won’t “touch nuclear with a barge pole”.

A portion of the construction will be funded by the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) module, which will see consumers pay a premium on their energy bills to go towards the construction of the plant.

September 21, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK and Europe cannot depend on nuclear power, with reactors shutting down, just as winter hits.

 The first real winter test of how strained the UK’s energy supplies are will come next month when nuclear reactors start closing for maintenance, just as the heating season kicks off.

Nuclear output makes up roughly 15% of Britain’s energy mix, and the planned shutdowns may challenge
electricity production when the country can least afford it. Two units at n the Heysham plant in northern England are set to halt for periods between October and November, and more nuclear closures are scheduled through winter.

European power prices have surged amid an energy crisis linked to soaring gas costs caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. While early winter weather is expected to be mild, the UK grid risks becoming particularly
tight as it gets colder, with the country exporting power to France because of major outages at reactors there.

 Bloomberg 7th Sept 2022

September 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Why future sea levels matter to Suffolk’s Sizewell nuclear plant

Global coastal inundation is now expected to be far worse than previously predicted Paul Brown, 16 Sept 22,

he caution of scientists, reinforced by accusations scaremongering from the well-funded fossil fuel lobby, has meant computer estimates of sea level rise in official forecasts have been low. Scientists mostly only counted the rise of the oceans because of expansion of warmer water then added on melting glaciers in the Alps and other temperate regions.

Originally ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica were excluded, in case increased snow fall in winter was greater than the ice melt in summer. Real time measurements of ice lost in polar regions has changed that. Coastal inundation in places such as East Anglia, Florida, and the Nile and Mekong deltas is expected to be far worse and quicker than previously predicted. Food supplies are threatened. The melting is also irreversible.

This makes Boris Johnson’s last act as prime minister to back a giant nuclear power plant on a low lying coast at Sizewell in Suffolk look a gamble. The builders, EDF, say there is no danger because the twin reactors will be built on a concrete raft seven metres above mean sea level, with a further surrounding wall to protect the nuclear island. But this concrete monolith will need to withstand sea level rise and storm surges for up to 200 years to protect future generations from its radioactive content.

September 20, 2022 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Tory Minister Zac Goldsmith, who actually cares about the environment, sacked as Environment Minister

Boris Johnson ally Zac Goldsmith has been axed as an environment minister
and told he will no longer be attending Liz Truss’s cabinet, it has
emerged. The Conservative minister has been stripped of his brief
overseeing animal welfare at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (Defra), government sources confirmed to The Independent. Mr
Goldsmith appeared to issue a warning to Ms Truss in an exit letter to
Defra staff, saying the government has “so much more to do to turn the
tide” on the environment, according to The Guardian, which first reported
on his sacking.

Independent 15th Sept 2022

September 19, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Scotland, with its renewable energy success, has no need for nuclear power

the reason the UK Government has backed nuclear so completely is less to do with net zero, and more to do with military needs.

Holyrood, 14 Sept 22, “………………………………………………………………….Torness nuclear power station is now coming to the end of its life. It is expected to shut down in 2028. Forrest explains: “The life-limiting factor of Torness – and it was the same at Hunterston [B, a nuclear power plant in North Ayrshire which ceased operations in January] – is our graphite core. The graphite core, as it gets older, we get a thing called keyway root cracks. Now, operationally we don’t see them, we don’t feel them, it doesn’t affect the plant in how it operates safely. How it does affect the plant is that we are required to demonstrate that we can withstand a Californian-style seismic event… As the onset of keyway root cracking progresses, that becomes more difficult and therefore at some point, because of the seismic input motion, we will choose to shut this power station down.”

It’s been clear since the 80s that we don’t have to have nuclear

The Scottish Government’s opposition to nuclear means that once Torness closes, that will be the end of nuclear power in Scotland. It is in stark opposition to the approach of the UK Government, which is backing the installation of eight new nuclear reactors by the end of the next decade…………………

Andy Stirling, a professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex, has been working in this field for over three decades. He says: “Simply looking at the government’s own assessments – albeit often hidden away in the grey literature – it’s been clear since the 80s that we don’t have to have nuclear. …………

A paper published last month by LUT University in Finland, supported by academics from 14 other institutions, confirms Stirling’s view. Taking evidence from hundreds of studies, it concluded: “In the early 2020s, the consensus has increasingly become that solar PV and wind power will dominate the future energy system and new research increasingly shows that 100 per cent renewable energy systems are not only feasible but also cost effective.”…………………….

Chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatrex says” “……………the UK Government’s decisions mean Scotland will be able to access nuclear power from the grid. “In one sense, the Scottish Government position – whilst I think it’s not particularly robust in terms of science or logic, I can understand the politics behind it – it doesn’t matter because other bits of the GB system will be able to provide the bits that there’s no political appetite in Scotland to do,” he says.

The Scottish Government, for its part, argues a mixture of renewables, storage and hydrogen offer “the best pathway to net zero by 2045”. The leaps made in renewables in recent years strengthen that argument. Phil Johnstone, a research fellow also at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit, says it is “staggering” that the UK as a whole is “not shouting from the rooftops more about what has happened in Scotland”.

He adds: “It’s gone from less than 30 per cent renewables electricity to nearly 100 per cent in 10 years. And it’s just amazing that you have people in Westminster and the [UK] Government saying Scotland is being very irrational in not having nuclear. I mean, the comparison could not be more stark – what Scotland has done with renewables and what’s happened in 10 years [versus] what has happened with the nuclear renaissance in 10 years.”

He continues: “If you’re looking at net zero and you’re looking at speed and you’re looking at the urgency of the situation and you’re looking on the grounds of cost, if you use these criteria, which are the things you evaluate energy policy from, then it would suggest to me that Scotland is a doing a sensible thing.”

Both he and Stirling say the reason the UK Government has backed nuclear so completely is less to do with net zero, and more to do with military needs. When this argument was put to a senior civil servant by MPs during an inquiry on Hinkley Point C in 2017, they were told: “We have at some point to renew the warheads, so there is very definitely an opportunity here for the nation to grasp in terms of building up its nuclear skills. I do not think that that is going to happen by accident; it is going to require concerted government action to make it happen.”

Indeed, the SNP’s position on nuclear power is linked to their long-standing opposition to Trident. But Stirling says using the civil sector to maintain the nuclear deterrent is “a feasible way of funding it,” if the government so chooses. However, he says there needs to be more transparency, particularly when ultimately the cost of building nuclear plants falls to consumers via energy bills………………………………………… more,is-the-scottish-governments-antinuclear-stance-the-right-one

September 19, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Public opinion in UK – overwhelming support for solar and wind energy

The UK’s general public is overwhelmingly supportive in building new
wind and solar farms in order to tackle the ongoing cost of energy crisis,
according to Survation. Identified within polling released by Survation and
commissioned by RenewableUK, the data showcased that almost every
constituency in the UK is in favour of developing renewable generation
sites in a bid to reduce the cost of energy.

In fact, 77% of people in the
UK believe the government should use new wind and solar farms to reduce
electricity bills, with 76% of people also in support of building renewable
energy projects in their local area, according to Survation’s data.

This contradicts the new prime Minister, Liz Truss’ previous statement about
solar farms being “paraphernalia”, as in fact the majority of the
general public thoroughly support the development of these farms to tackle
the energy crisis. Causing a further headache for Truss is the fact that
84% of those who backed the Tories at the last election now urge the
government to use new wind and solar farms to cut electricity bills. 81% of
2019 Tory voters also support a renewable energy project being developed in
their local area.

 Current 8th Sept 2022

September 19, 2022 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, public opinion, UK | Leave a comment

Some UK government ministers are mentioning the radical idea of ENERGY CONSERVATION!

 Ministers are drawing up plans for a public information campaign to
encourage people to reduce energy use this winter amid fears that a price
freeze will deter them from doing so.

There is concern within government
that an intervention by Liz Truss to tackle the sharp rise in energy costs
could increase the risk of blackouts if it means that households and
businesses do not reduce consumption.

The Times has been told that
ministers want to work with energy companies on a public information
campaign over the winter to encourage people to turn down their thermostats
and turn off electrical appliances instead of leaving them on standby.

 Times 8th Sept 2022

September 19, 2022 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, UK | Leave a comment

France’s problems with nuclear power now causing electricity shortage in Britain, too

More than half of France’s 56 nuclear reactors are offline due to issues
around corrosion. That has left their owner, EDF, struggling to generate
enough electricity to meet the nation’s needs.

Last week it warned it
would take a €29 billion hit as production from nuclear power dipped to a
30-year low. EDF has indicated it wants to get its reactors back online by
the winter, but the problems have raised fears not just for France’s
energy supply, but the UK, which typically imports a chunk of its energy
via undersea cables called interconnectors.

 Times 18th Sept 2022

September 19, 2022 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Permit problems for Sizewell C nuclear project? Cooling system could kill millions of fish.

Permit problems for Sizewell C predicted after report confirms cooling
mechanisms can kill millions of fish. The Sizewell C nuclear reactor may
face obstacles in receiving an environmental permit after a report revealed
that the cooling mechanism at a similar development could kill millions of

ENDS 12th Sept 2022

September 19, 2022 Posted by | oceans, UK | Leave a comment