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An insider saboteur could cripple Britain’s nuclear power stations with a simple USB stick.

 

Mirror 31st March 2018, Britain’s nuclear power stations swept for Russian sleeper agents over
fears of crippling insider attack. An ex-senior intelligence officer has
warned that an insider could launch a malware attack with a simple USB
stick.  https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/britains-nuclear-power-stations-swept-12283716

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April 2, 2018 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Tracking the transport of nuclear weapons through the UK

Nuclear Weapons Transport, Nukewatch 29th March 2018
A nuclear weapons convoy left AWE Burghfield on Thursday March 22. It was
later seen on the A1 at junction 49 near Dishforth (15 miles north of
Wetherby).

The following day it was spotted crossing over to the west on
the A66 and then on the M74 just south of Lesmahagow. It then continued
around the east of Glasgow on the M73 and past Cumbernauld on the M80 to
take a break at DSG Stirling mid-afternoon.

It then took the M9, A811 andA82 to RNAD Coulport. On Monday March 26 this convoy left Coulport to
return south. Taking a route through Balloch and Stirling then onto the M9
and M8 to the Edinburgh bypass it then took a break at Glencorse Barracks
in Penicuik.

After continuing south on  the A1 passing Berwick on Tweed it
passed through Newcastle and after an overnight stop it then continued down
the A1. It crossed country to the A34 travelling around Oxford and getting
back to Burghfield around 5pm.  http://www.nukewatch.org.uk/?p=809

April 2, 2018 Posted by | safety, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Serious flaws in “community consultation” process for selecting a nuclear waste dump site in Cumbria

CT responds to the BEIS consultation: “Working With Communities” https://cumbriatrust.wordpress.com/2018/03/31/ct-responds-to-the-beis-consultation-working-with-communities/ March 31, 2018  

After repeated attempts to find a site to bury the UK’s nuclear waste, the last of which ended in 2013 when Cumbria County Council voted to halt the process, the Government are about to restart the search process. Ahead of this launch, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have released a consultation document, Working With Communities.Cumbria Trust has examined the proposal in detail and we have some very serious concerns about this consultation and its implications for areas which volunteer.

BEIS are proposing to open the search process to allow anyone to volunteer, even a member of the public, a farmer or a business. They can do this behind closed doors, with no requirement to make public their expression of interest during the first few months. A process being presented as ‘open and transparent’ appears to fall a long way short.

In stark contrast to the flexible approach by which areas can enter the process, if they later wish to withdraw, they are obliged to follow a much more complex and convoluted procedure in order to be allowed to leave.

However the most alarming aspect of the proposal is that the first and only test of public support does not happen until some 20 years after the process starts. During this time the community will have to endure a programme of borehole drilling and other intrusive investigations lasting a decade or more. The last time this borehole programme happened was in the 1990s with Nirex, and that led Jamie Reed, MP at the time and prominent nuclear advocate, to declare in 2006

“The experience of Nirex endured by my community in the mid-1990s was so wretched that I was minded to entitle this debate fear and loathing”.

He continued

“As long as I have anything to do with it Nirex will never dig another sod of turf in West Cumbria”.

What BEIS are proposing will again potentially expose a community to this experience, and with no mechanism for the public to halt the process. Instead any right of withdrawal rests with a defined Community Partnership. Without regular tests of public support, the Community Partnership appears not to be answerable to the public.

For all the talk of an ‘open and transparent’ process, what BEIS are actually proposing is nothing of the sort, and seems likely to create an early breakdown of public trust. Cumbria Trust has responded to the consultation and would urge our members to read this and consider making their own submissions. The deadline is 19th April and we hope to publish some guidance notes to assist with this within the next few days.

Download the Cumbria Trust response here

April 2, 2018 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Britain’s uncompetitive electricty marke: big electricity companies don’t want the competition from renewables

Dave Toke’s Blog 1st April 2018, The media is awash with stories of the imminent emergence of ‘subsidy free’
wind and solar power in the UK, but the reality is that the uncompetitive  nature of the British electricity market mostly undermines that prospect.
In theory onshore wind power and maybe some solar power projects would be able to generate power to sell at competitive prices on the British
wholesale electricity market.

In practice most of the potential buyers of energy from new renewable energy projects will not be interested in buying
the energy even at cheap prices simply because it conflicts with their own  generation portfolios. True, there is a limited possibility for some very
large corporate consumers who are interested in buying green electricity to fund new projects by issuing corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs).

But in reality this market is small, and I have heard this estimated to be no larger than 100 MW a year. That means it would take around 20 years for
not quite 1 per cent of electricity to be supplied this way. PPAs are  needed for new renewable energy projects that offer the generators the
certainty that they can be paid a minimum amount for each MWh that they  produce for the long term. The UK Government’s PPAs, called contracts for
differences (CfDs), last 15 years. However they are no longer available for  onshore wind and solar.

The problem is that most of the market for offering PPAs that can fund new renewable energy projects comes from the big
electricity suppliers, who have been known in the past as the ‘Big Six’.

Only PPAs offered by really large companies will be usually taken seriously enough by banks and and other institutions to enable renewable energy
projects can obtain long term loans or equity. The trouble is that the Big Energy suppliers will usually have little interest in offering long term
PPAs to new renewable energy projects since. For a start they can buy in power at much the same price as the renewable energy generator can offer
without needing to commit themselves to long term agreements.

Crucially, the big electricity companies are struggling to keep their own power stations in business, and are not going to sign up competition from other people for their own business!
http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/why-britains-distorted-electricity.html

April 2, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – their connection to nuclear weapons development

Although unstated, by far the most likely source for such support is a continuing national civil nuclear programme. And this where the burgeoning hype around UK development of SMRs comes in. Leading designs for these reactors are derived directly from submarine propulsion. British nuclear submarine reactor manufacturer Rolls-Royce is their most enthusiastic champion. But, amid intense media choreography, links between SMRs and submarines remain (aside from reports of our own work) barely discussed in the UK press. 

This neglect is odd, because the issues are very clear. Regretting that military programmes are no longer underwritten by civil nuclear research, a heavily redacted 2014 MoD report expresses serious concerns over the continued viability of the UK nuclear submarine industry. And Rolls-Royce itself is clear that success in securing government investment for SMRs would “relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability” for the UK’s military nuclear sector.

Why is the UK government so infatuated with nuclear power? https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2018/mar/29/why-is-uk-government-so-infatuated-nuclear-power

As the nuclear option looks less and less sensible, it becomes harder to explain Whitehall’s enthusiasm. Might it be to do with the military? Guardian,  Andy Stirling and  Phil Johnstone, 29 Mar 18, 

Against a worldwide background of declining fortunes for nuclear power, UK policy enthusiasm continues to intensify. Already pursuing one of the most ambitious nuclear new-build agendas in the world, Britain is seeking to buck 50 years of experience to develop an entirely new and untested design of small modular reactors (SMRs). In 2016, then energy and climate secretary, Amber Rudd, summed up the government’s position: “Investing in nuclear is what this government is all about for the next 20 years.”

Despite unique levels of long-term policy support, this nuclear new-build programme is severely delayed, with no chance of operations beginning as intended “significantly before 2025”, Costs have mushroomed, with even government figures showing renewables like offshore wind to already be far more affordable. With renewable costs still plummeting, global investments in these alternatives are now already greater than for all conventional generating technologies put together. With worldwide momentum so clear, the scale of UK nuclear ambitions are an international anomaly.

Unswerving British nuclear support contrasts sharply with obstructive national policy on other technologies. In 2015 various strategies supporting renewables and energy efficiency were abandoned, with the cheapest UK low-carbon power(onshore wind), effectively halted. The consequences of these cuts are now clear. The output of community energy projects has fallen by 99.4%. National investment in renewables has halved. Meanwhile, UK industrial strategy continues to prioritise nuclearNuclear R&D gets 12 times as much funding as renewables in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s “Energy Innovation Programme”. Instead of considering alternatives to spiralling nuclear costs, the UK government is looking to accommodate them with entirely new models of public financing. It seems clear that – for some undeclared reason and regardless of comparative costs or global trends – Britain simply must have new nuclear power.

The depth of this Whitehall bias creates a challenging environment for reasoned debate over British energy policy. To many, it seems scarcely believable that UK plans are so massively out of sync with current trends. The sheer weight of UK nuclear incumbency has successfully marginalised the entirely reasonable understanding that – like many technologies before it – nuclear power is simply going obsolete.

With direct reasons for the UK’s eccentric national position still unstated, we should pay attention to body language. Here, clues may be found in the work of the National Audit Office (NAO)Its 2017 report of 2017 points out serious flaws in the economic case for new nuclear – highlighting “unquantified”, “strategic” reasons why the UK still prioritises new nuclear despite the setbacks and increasingly attractive alternatives. Yet the NAO remains uncharacteristically unclear as to what these reasons might be.

An earlier NAO report may shed more light. Their 2008 costing of military nuclear activities states: “One assumption of the future deterrent programme is that the United Kingdom submarine industry will be sustainable and that the costs of supporting it will not fall directly on the future deterrent programme.” If the costs of keeping the national nuclear submarine industry in business must fall elsewhere, what could that other budget be?

Although unstated, by far the most likely source for such support is a continuing national civil nuclear programme. And this where the burgeoning hype around UK development of SMRs comes in. Leading designs for these reactors are derived directly from submarine propulsion. British nuclear submarine reactor manufacturer Rolls-Royce is their most enthusiastic champion. But, amid intense media choreography, links between SMRs and submarines remain (aside from reports of our own work) barely discussed in the UK press.

This neglect is odd, because the issues are very clear. Regretting that military programmes are no longer underwritten by civil nuclear research, a heavily redacted 2014 MoD report expresses serious concerns over the continued viability of the UK nuclear submarine industry. And Rolls-Royce itself is clear that success in securing government investment for SMRs would “relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability” for the UK’s military nuclear sector. Other defence sources are also unambiguous that survival of the British nuclear submarine industry depends on continuation of UK civil nuclear power. Many new government initiatives focus intently on realising the military and civil synergies.

Some nuclear enthusiasts have called this analysis a conspiracy theory, but these links are now becoming visible. In response to our own recent evidence to the UK Public Accounts Committee, a senior civil servant briefly acknowledged the connections. And with US civil nuclear programmes collapsing, the submarine links are also strongly emphasised by a former US energy secretary. Nuclear submarines are evidently crucial to Britain’s cherished identity as a “global power”. It seems that Whitehall’s infatuation with civil nuclear energy is in fact a military romance.

So why does the UK debate on these issues remain so muted? It is now beyond serious dispute that nuclear power has been overtaken by the extraordinary pace of progress in renewables. But – for those so minded – the military case for nuclear power remains. In a democracy, it might be expected that these arguments at least be tested in public. So, the real irrationality is that an entire policy arena should so comprehensively fail to debate such crucial issues. In the end, all technologies become obsolete. If we are not honest about UK civil nuclear policy, the danger is that British democracy may go the same way.

March 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Wind and solar make more electricity than nuclear for first time in UK

In 2017 Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions also fell 3% as coal use dropped and renewables climbed, Guardian,  Adam Vaughan  , 30 Mar 18 

Windfarms and solar panels produced more electricity than the UK’s eight nuclear power stations for the first time at the end of last year, official figures show.

Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions also continued to fall, dropping 3% in 2017, as coal use fell and the use of renewables climbed.

Energy experienced the biggest drop in emissions of any UK sector, of 8%, while pollution from transport and businesses stayed flat.

Energy industry chiefs said the figures showed that the government should rethink its ban on onshore wind subsidies, a move that ministers have hinted could happen soon.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of the big six lobby group Energy UK, said: “We need to keep up the pace … by ensuring that the lowest cost renewables are no longer excluded from the market.”…….https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/29/wind-and-solar-made-more-electricity-than-nuclear-for-first-time-in-uk

 

March 28, 2018 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

UK slowly recruiting nuclear safety staff that it will need when it leaves European union

Utility Week 28th March 2018, Half nuclear safety team recruited for post-Brexit Euratom role. The
government has recruited just over half of the staff it will need to police
the UK’s nuclear safeguarding regime once the UK leaves Euratom. The
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [BEIS] department published its
first quarterly update on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU umbrella nuclear.
https://utilityweek.co.uk/half-nuclear-safety-team-recruited-post-brexit-euratom-role/

March 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) slams biased meeting promoting Bradwell nuclear power plan

Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG), 29 Mar 18,   BANNG despairs at the lack of mention of potentially serious problems atBradwell B cheerleading event hosted by Maldon District Council.

Reports in the local press of Maldon District Council playing host to the recent
annual meeting of the New Nuclear Local Authority Group (NNLAG) have been
met with amazement by the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG).

The location was chosen because of the proposals for a new nuclear power
station and the meeting included a visit to the proposed Bradwell B site.
Stephen Speed of the Civil Nuclear and Resilience Directorate at the
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and John
Devine from the Department for International Trade attended the meeting.

‘Not a whisper of the environmental problems at this utterly quite
unacceptable site is contained in the media reports – but they do talk of
the huge potential envisioned for the region from a new nuclear power
station. It is as if gold dust is being rained down on innocent citizens
and wildlife and landscape.

But it is gold dust that could quickly turn to
radioactive rain, polluted air, contaminated land and radioactive
discharges into the Blackwater estuary’, said BANNG’s Chair, Professor
Andy Blowers. ‘No word is spoken that this massive engine of radioactive
risk with its inevitable cargo of spent fuel and dangerous radioactive
wastes will be left on the site for way over a century.

And what will the territory be like then – if it exists at all? ‘No mention is made of the
fact that the site is only designated until 2025. Beyond that there is no
site at Bradwell. The site does not exist. So, to overcome this, the
Government is busily undertaking a deceptive consultation on siting
criteria, re-running the same ideas of a decade ago when Bradwell was
deemed a potentially suitable site for new nuclear development that could
be operational by 2025 – of course, it will not be.

If Bradwell was a poor site then, it is an impossible one now. And the case for nuclear
energy has, in the meantime, all but disappeared. By the time the Chinese
could build their reactors at Bradwell, a new nuclear power station will be
as dead as a dodo.

‘It’s scandalous that BEIS which is running the
consultation should be supporting this latest jamboree. It gives
credibility to the project, suggesting it is a foregone conclusion. But it
is not and the Government should insist it is neutral as to whether the
site should be designated. ‘BANNG and its supporters feel badly let down
by the biased approach being taken. Essex County and Maldon District
Councils appear to have totally ignored the fact that Colchester Borough
and West Mersea Town Councils do not support the new power station.

The environmental, public health, security and safety issues and the
indefinite, long-term storage on-site of radioactive wastes are not
mentioned – yet the public is overwhelmingly opposed to the project on
these grounds.’ BANNG has set out the case against the project in its
response to the consultation on siting criteria (see BANNG Paper 34 at
banng.info) and will shortly be meeting with the developers, EDF and China
General Nuclear Power Corporation.
https://www.banng.info/category/news/

March 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK considers Tidal Power Contract, with assistance from Welsh government

U.K. Weighs Tidal Power Contract Aping Hinkley Nuclear Deal, Bloomberg ,By  Alex Morales, 
  • Swansea Bay plan could open up 40 billion pounds of spending
  • U.K. and Welsh ministers seek to forge deal to enable project

U.K. officials are in intensive talks with their Welsh counterparts to kick-start a tidal power plan by copying the controversial contract awarded to Electricite de France SA for its Hinkley Point nuclear power project.

 Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd.’s Swansea Bay project would tap the ebb and flow of the tides to generate electricity. It’s been in limbo for 15 months since a government-commissioned review recommended giving it the go-ahead. The delay reflects a reluctance by ministers to accept costs for consumers that were once estimated at double the power price EDF will get.

Amid pressure from more than 100 backbench lawmakers who want the tidal plant to move ahead, ministers are grappling with how to make it palatable. The developer had proposed an initial power price a third higher than Hinkley’s. But an offer of assistance from the Welsh government has changed the game. Officials are now debating a deal on the same terms as Hinkley, according to Richard Graham, a lawmaker with the ruling Conservatives who chairs Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Marine Energy. ……..https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-27/u-k-weighs-tidal-power-contract-matching-hinkley-nuclear-deal

March 27, 2018 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

UK nuclear regulator has raised concerns with EDF Energy over management failings

Nuclear watchdog raises Hinkley Point C concerns  Management failings could affect safety at EDF power station if unaddressed, says inspector, Guardian,  Adam Vaughan, 26 Mar 18, 

The UK nuclear regulator has raised concerns with EDF Energy over management failings that it warns could affect safety at the Hinkley Point C power station if left unaddressed, official documents reveal.

Britain’s chief nuclear inspector identified several shortcomings in the way the French firm is managing the supply chain for the £20bn plant it is building in Somerset.

Though not serious enough alone to raise regulatory issues, together they “may indicate a broader deficiency” in the way the company is run, concluded Mark Foy, chief inspector at the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)………https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/25/nuclear-watchdog-raises-hinkley-point-c-concerns

March 25, 2018 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Can nuclear power be used to balance renewables? – “Nuclear Load Following”

Environmental Research Web 24th March 2018, Dave Elliott: Nuclear plants are designed to run flat out, in part to
recoup their large construction costs. Their output can be varied a bit,
but this entails thermal stresses and potential safety issues with the
build up of active Xenon gas that is released when fission reactions are
reduced. It needs time to decay. That limits how often and how quickly the
plant can be ramped down and then back up- so as to match changes in energy
demand (‘load following’) and the varying output of renewables.

So basically nuclear plants are inflexible. So do they have any role for
balancing variable renewables? Renewables will continue to expand of
course- by 2035 there might be 45GW.

But just in case you though that balancing some of that with nuclear might be possible in future, the
Hinkley nuclear EPR plant is not scheduled to load follow. And it seems
unlikely if any of the other proposed new large nuclear plants (Wylfa,
Olbury, Moorside, Sizewell, Bradwell) would do – it would undermine their
already precarious economics. Though as now, they may be added to the
capacity market, to be there for background support, if that makes any
sense. A more cynical view is that, as now, this inclusion is just a way to
provide nuclear with an extra subsidy, which, like the rest of the
contracted capacity, is paid for by a surcharge on consumers bills.
http://blog.environmentalresearchweb.org/2018/03/24/can-nuclear-be-use-to-balance-renewables/

March 25, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear politic s mess – what to do about Euratom ?

BBC 20th March 2018, The government has been defeated twice in the House of Lords over its plans  for nuclear co-operation after Brexit. Peers voted by 265 to 194 to insist the UK should not withdraw from the European nuclear agreement, Euratom, until a replacement deal is in place. They also backed a plan requiring the  UK to report to Parliament regularly on its future arrangements with Euratom.

MPs are likely to try and overturn the changes to the Nuclear Safeguards Bill when it returns to the Commons. Euratom, an association which is legally separate from the EU but governed by the EU’s institutions, covers issues such as the transport of radioactive materials, including those used in medical treatments, or in nuclear power stations.

The government has said it wants to establish a new domestic nuclear regime as well as negotiate a nuclear agreement with the EU once the UK leaves on 29 March 2019.   http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-43476337

Politics Home 21st March 2018, Peers voted by 265 to 194 to insist Britain should not withdraw from
Euratom on the day the UK leaves the EU unless a replacement has been
reached. Ministers were dealt a second blow through a Labour amendment
which demanded more regular reporting to parliament of future arrangements.
https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/foreign-affairs/brexit/news/93796/government-hit-double-lords-defeat-post-brexit-nuclear

Belfast Telegraph 20th March 2018, The Tory administration is accused of ‘playing Russian roulette’ with
the UK’s energy security by quitting Europe’s nuclear regulator.   https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/peers-inflict-double-defeat-amid-nuclear-safeguard-concerns-postbrexit-36726328.html

March 23, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK: renewable energy becoming cheaper than nuclear power

Times 21st March 2018,Onshore wind and solar farms capable of generating more than three times as much power as the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant could be built without any subsidy from taxpayers in Britain by 2030, energy analysts have forecast.

The plunging costs of the technologies, which were reliant on very high subsidies just a few years ago, could enable investors to build them without any government intervention by the early 2020s, said Aurora Energy Research.

The government has ended subsidy schemes for new onshore wind and solar farms, slowing their development, amid concern about their cost to consumers. Aurora, an Oxford-based consultancy, predicts that the fall in costs has brought the industry to the “cusp of breakthrough in Britain”, whereby such projects could be commercially viable even without subsidies.

It predicts that solar farms capable of generating up to 9 gigawatts and onshore wind farms with a maximum output of 5 gigawatts are likely to be built on this basis by 2030. The prediction is likely to further increase pressure on nuclear developers to show they can be cost competitive. The 3.2-gigawatt Hinkley Point C plant is only viable thanks to a subsidy contract that commits consumers to pay its developers well above the market price for power for 35 years — potentially costing tens
of billions of pounds. Renewables have only been made viable by similar commitments from government.     https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/wind-farms-on-course-to-be-free-of-subsidy-qfmpmm8dh

March 22, 2018 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

MP wants to stop Britain’s supplying of weapons grade nuclear materials to Russia

MP calls for sanctions on nuclear materials trade, Cambrian Newsby Alex Jones – Meirionnydd, Arfon & Dwyfor reporter @alexj_cn  alexj@cambrian-news.co.uk  

March 21, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK Conservatives – inconsistent, incoherent, policy – agreeing to Russia’s involvement in UK’s nuclear power development

Times 18th March 2018, Ed Davey: Vladimir Putin’s ambitions have been evident for some time, but
the Conservatives’ position has long been incoherent and inconsistent.
During the coalition years, the Conservatives seemed torn between the
national security evidence of the country’s wrongdoings and the billions
of roubles it had to invest.

Russian industrial investment plans would
never have stood up to the sort of detailed scrutiny we gave to Chinese
ones. I was particularly astonished when David Cameron agreed to Putin’s
request that the Russian state nuclear power company, Rosatom, be
introduced to the UK’s civil nuclear power market and develop an
international consortium with Rolls-Royce.

It was left to the Lib Dems to insist of downgrading this to a simpler, meaningless memorandum of
understanding. I was gobsmacked that even after Putin’s annexation of
Crimea, the prime minister clung on to the idea — even as we searched
around for sanctions to impose.  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/former-energy-minister-ed-davey-tories-position-on-russia-is-incoherent-and-inconsistent-fhnvfkmgp

March 21, 2018 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment