The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Protest opposing USA military use of Ireland’s Shannon Airport

Peace group stages early morning march on Shannon Airport to protest US military use, 07/01/2018, By Patrick Flynn

A group of anti-war protestors marched on Shannon Airport early this morning to show their opposition to the US military’s use of the airport.

The march was led by 82-year-old peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy who was previously jailed for making an illegal incursion onto the runway at Shannon in 2012. Shortly before 7am today, Ms D’Arcy led the group of about 15 women on the 2km walk to the main airport building.

The women had been taking part in a 25-hour peace vigil at a camp at Drumgeely close to the airport.

The 25-hour event was organised by Shannon Airport Women’s Peace Camp to mark Nollaig na mBan

A spokeswoman said: “We gathered to draw attention to the use of Shannon Airport as a military base and to demonstrate the revulsion at state-sponsored violence and facilitation of the US military.”

When the group reached the security checkpoint at the entrance to the airport, they were advised they could march to the terminal but would not be allowed inside.

On reaching the airport building, the women sat and sang peace songs before dispersing again at around 9am and returning to their camp.

Some members of ShannonWatch, a group that monitors US military used of Shannon Airport, also attended and supported the event.


January 8, 2018 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

UK Trident bomb base in Scotland has ‘significant’ radioactive waste problem

‘Significant’ radioactive waste problem at Trident submarine base, The Ferret, Ferret Journalists on January 7, 2018, Scotland’s environmental watchdog has criticised nuclear waste handling at the UK Trident bomb base on the Clyde after a “significant” mix-up over the disposal of submarine waste.

During an August 2017 visit to the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) staff found untested waste from submarines, potentially containing radioactive material, had been mixed with other waste.

This meant that radioactive waste could have been taken off site and disposed of as if it were non-radioactive waste.

 Sepa also said that the Royal Navy was in breach of an agreement about when and how it should tell Sepa about waste incidents, prompting the SNP to say the issue was “deeply worrying” while calling on the UK Government to investigate.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is supposed to tell Sepa ‘without delay’ when an environmental incident occurs. It should then provide a written report within 14 days.

Documents released under freedom of information legislation show that an internal MOD probe found that no radioactive waste left the site. But the only reason the untested material was not taken off the base is because vigilant civilian waste contractors refused to pick up the incorrectly processed waste.

Sepa letter to the MOD said that the watchdog considered this type of incident as “significant” adding that had the Royal Navy been a civilian operator, it would have considered issuing a formal written warning.

Sepa’s chief officer, John Kenny, told The Ferret that the incident raised concerns regarding the “adequacy of arrangements for radioactive waste handling” at the Coulport site…….

Campaign group Navy not Nuclear pointed to a long history of MOD “poor practice” when it comes to handling nuclear materials in Scotland, dating back more than a decade.

“The most damning thing about this is that nothing has changed,” it said. “The MOD are still failing to follow their own operating procedures, and they’re still failing dismally when it comes to telling the regulator and protecting the environment.”

The group called for more to be done by both the MOD and Sepa to alert the public when environmental incidents occur.

“It shouldn’t be the case that this information should come to light by freedom of information, they should have a statutory public duty to disclose this information,” it said.

January 8, 2018 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Japanese taxpayers now join in Britain’s scandalous subsidising of the nuclear industry

The profitability of nuclear plant construction has been worsening all over the world

Nevertheless, the government intends to extend all-out support for the project.

Japanese gov’t to guarantee bank loans for Hitachi’s nuclear plant project in Britain  (Mainichi Japan) The Japanese government is poised to guarantee the full amount of loans that three megabanks will extend for a nuclear plant construction project in Britain by Hitachi Ltd., sources familiar with the project said.

January 7, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Governments can use social media to target activists – UK and the Iran protests

Could GCHQ influence Iran protests? They’ve done it before, claims researcher 

January 3, 2018 Posted by | Iran, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Hinkley nuclear project rife with scandalous conflicts of interest

Times 1st Jan 2018,Consultancy firms working for the government on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station were advising the project’s Chinese investor and its French builder at the same time, an investigation by The Times has revealed.

KPMG, the professional services group, was paid £4.4 million between 2012 and 2017 as a financial adviser to the energy and business departments, despite telling officials that it was also acting for China General Nuclear Power
Corp on the project.

The apparent conflict of interest has been revealed after the Information Commissioner’s Office intervened to press for
disclosure from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Previously, officials had redacted the information, claiming that it was commercially sensitive.

In a second potential conflict, Lazard, the financial advisory firm, was paid £2.6 million between 2012 and 2015 to
advise the business department on Hinkley Point. Details of its previously redacted tender documents reveal that it was an adviser to EDF, the French developer that is investing in Hinkley Point alongside the Chinese. A source said that Lazard’s advice to EDF was not related to the Somerset project.

Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, said that Hinkley Point was crucial public infrastructure and therefore it was “vital that auditors get full sight” of the potential conflicts. It “looks cosy”, she said, adding that it was “not really appropriate” for firms to be advising both sides.

The details have been released more than a year and half after The Times complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which informally advised the business department to reconsider its position. The department previously had handed over heavily redacted documents in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said that there was a “significant and important public interest”, something that had been strengthened by a report from the National Audit Office in June, which found that the government’s deal had “locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits”. The project has been riddled with delays and controversy over its spiralling costs.

The National Audit Office also criticised the business department for insufficiently managing the potential conflict of Leigh Fisher, another government adviser. The Times reported in November 2016 that Leigh Fisher, the management consultant, had been awarded contracts worth a combined £1.2 million despite telling officials that the British division of Jacobs Engineering Group, an American firm that owns Leigh Fisher, was working for EDF on Hinkley Point.

January 3, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Delay in removal of nuclear wastes from Anglesey’s Wylfa power station

Wylfa’s nuclear waste removal delayed by machinery snags, The removal of all nuclear waste from Anglesey’s Wylfa power station will take almost a year longer than planned.

The decommissioning process at the site, which closed in December 2015, has been hit by delays following problems with machinery.

About half of the fuel has been removed from the plant and work to remove fuel was expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Operator Magnox has now said it will not be completed until November 2019. The site’s two reactors held 49,000 fuel elements which have to be cleared as part of the decommissioning process.

But the work has been delayed because the 50-year-old machine used to remove them needed new parts.

Wylfa is the last of Magnox’s 12 UK power stations to be switched off and, across the firm’s sites, the cost of the process has almost doubled to an estimated £6bn.

It will take more than 100 years for the site to be fully cleared.

Horizon wants to build a replacement nuclear plant, Wylfa Newydd, next to the site, which would operate for 60 years and generate electricity for around five million homes.

But the proposals have to overcome planning and cost hurdles – the “strike price” for the electricity generated – before the plant can get the go ahead.

January 3, 2018 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear financial meltdown in Britain – Moorside in doubt

Blunders, catastrophic, delays, even bankruptcy… ANOTHER nuclear power plant is going into financial meltdown  Neil Craven for The Mail on Sunday, 1 January 2018 The company behind one of Britain’s biggest nuclear power projects has plunged to a £266 million loss citing ‘uncertainties’ over its future and the viability of crucial technology.

Japanese firm Toshiba said the huge loss incurred by one of its UK subsidiaries was due to writing off hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in the proposed Moorside plant, in west Cumbria.

It is the latest sign of financial strain at the Tokyo-based firm amid wider concerns over the spiralling costs and catastrophic delays that have beset the UK’s nuclear industry.

Britons were last week supposed to be cooking their turkeys with power from EDF’s nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, which is now not expected to be in use for another decade. ‘EDF will turn on its first nuclear plant in Britain before Christmas 2017,’ said Vincent de Rivaz in 2007, who stepped down as group chief executive in November. ‘It is the moment of the power crunch. Without it, the lights will go out.’

It was envisaged that new nuclear plants at Moorside, Hinkley Point and Wylfa in Anglesey would between them generate a fifth of the UK’s electricity.

This may still happen. But right now, nuclear firms are struggling with the expense, stringent regulatory hurdles and costly project delays – just as the cost of other forms of electricity fall. Toshiba won the contract to build the nuclear power plant at Moorside, on land next to the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing site.

But it was forced in March to place its US nuclear division Westinghouse into bankruptcy protection. Last month, it said it would sell Westinghouse for £4 billion. Troubled Toshiba is now in talks to sell its interests in the Moorside project to Kepco, majority-owned by the South Korean government.

Toshiba has two UK subsidiaries: Advance Energy UK, which incurred the £266 million loss; and NuGeneration, which is directly responsible for running Moorside.

With a cloud of uncertainty over the project, the Japanese firm has admitted in reports issued by its UK subsidiaries: ‘The directors do not know whether a sale of the shares of [NuGeneration] will be completed nor how any successful bidder will frame the deal.’

Kepco said it hoped to complete a deal to take over the running of the project early next year.

Uncertainties are understood to include the use of Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor. Approval for use at Moorside was first sought from UK regulators in 2011. It was granted approval by the Office for Nuclear Regulation in March – just days after Westinghouse entered bankruptcy protection.

Should Kepco decide to ditch the design and use its own, the project would likely be delayed for years until a new design is approved. Some estimates say that could put any launch back from 2025 to the late 2020s at the very earliest. ‘The whole thing is a mess,’ said Martin Forwood of campaign group Core, which opposes the Moorside development.

‘Kepco would almost certainly push to use its own reactors so the big question is whether they would have to start afresh on consultation.

‘A lot of people around Moorside believe it will never take off.’

Forwood said the costs of other forms of renewable energy are falling and energy storage systems are being developed. ‘The longer these plans get delayed the less nuclear is needed,’ he added.

And, according to Forwood, the firms involved in the projects at Moorside and Wylfa ‘are not going to get anywhere near what the Government signed up for at Hinkley’.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee last month said there had been ‘grave strategic errors’ awarding French government-backed EDF the Hinkley Point contract.

It said ‘the economics of nuclear power in the UK have deteriorated’ and a ‘blinkered determination’ to agree the 35-year Hinkley deal, ‘regardless of changing circumstances’ had lumbered consumers with £30 billion payments over market rates for electricity.

January 1, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

UK rejected Irish minister’s nuclear power complaints.

Times 29th Dec 2017, In 1987 Ray Burke,
then environment minister, received a firm reply from his British
counterpart after calling for the closure of the Sellafield nuclear
processing plant.

State papers showed that Peter Walker, the UK energy
secretary, rejected what he claimed were the Fianna Fáil TD’s unfounded
allegations about the safety of British nuclear energy facilities,
including Sellafield. Walker, who died in 2010, said that the Nuclear
Installations Inspectorate, the British nuclear watchdog at the time, was
satisfied that closure of the plant would be “out of all proportion to
the very low risks which arose from a few minor incidents”.

Mr Burke wrote to Walker on March 24, 1987 to raise concerns about the threat posed
to Irish citizens by nuclear installations in Britain. He also criticised
the British government’s decision to proceed with the construction of
another nuclear reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk given the number of
incidents at British nuclear plants.

January 1, 2018 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

UK: Renewables a better option than nuclear power: but nuclear is needed for maintaining nuclear weapons

Cheap renewables undercut nuclear power,  The technology advances and plunging costs of cheap renewables make base load nuclear power redundant. Climate News Network, by Paul Brown, LONDON, 29 December, 2017 “………Completion doubts

Even the former UK energy secretary Sir Edward Davey, who signed off on the Hinkley Point deal, said “the economics have clearly gone away.” He doubted that the building would ever be completed, he told Greenpeace in an interview.

All the other UK nuclear projects are still at various stages of planning, and how any of them will be paid for is yet to be worked out. It is already clear that none can be financed without government subsidy.

An important political development in 2017 was that for the first time both the US and the UK admitted that their support for the nuclear industry is linked to the need to maintain their military capability in nuclear submarines and personnel. This is key, because both powers have previously claimed that there is no link between civil and military nuclear industries.

Even before their admission it was already clear that the big economies which have no nuclear weapons, like Germany, can see no point in having a civil nuclear industry.

Export drive

That does not stop smaller countries, some without any nuclear power stations at all at present, signing agreements with the Russian state-owned company Rosatom. In what many see as a Russian policy to extend its international influence, Rosatom already says it is building reactors in Belarus, China, India, Bangladesh, Hungary, Turkey, Finland and Iran, and is seeking to expand, with tenders in for 23 other reactors abroad.

These include Sudan, where the current president is wanted for war crimes. Whether all the plans will come to fruition remains doubtful.

December 30, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics international, UK | 1 Comment

Disturbing links between Britain’s nuclear power stations and the military

Military secrets of our nuclear power plants

Disturbing links between Britain’s nuclear power stations and the military are highlighted by Dr David Lowry. In her excellent article on the Hinkley C nuclear plant financial fiasco (The long read, 21 December), Holly Watt mentions the innovative insight of Sussex University academics Prof Andy Stirling and Dr Phil Johnstone, who have identified the central importance of expansion of the skill base of the new nuclear build programme – headed by Hinkley C – for the Trident military nuclear renewal programme. Watt also mentions the first nuclear plant built on the same site, Hinkley A. What is barely acknowledged about this reactor is it was both built and operated to manufacture plutonium for British nuclear warheads, and probably some plutonium it created was sent to the US for use in its military stockpile too.

I have dug up considerable evidence that demonstrates this beyond any doubt. The first public hint came with an announcement on 17 June 1958 by the Ministry of Defence, on “the production of plutonium suitable for weapons in the new [nuclear] power stations programme as an insurance against future defence needs”.
The Conservative government’s paymaster general, Reginald Maudling, told parliament a week later: “At the request of the government, the Central Electricity Generating Board has agreed to a small modification in the design of Hinkley Point … so as to enable plutonium suitable for military purposes to be extracted should the need arise. The government made this request in order to provide the country, at comparatively small cost, with a most valuable insurance against possible future defence requirements.”

And that is exactly what they did. The nuclear world has thus turned full circle, as the atomic conjoined twins that had been painfully separated for nearly 50 years are being rejoined in an insidious way by this new Conservative government.
Dr David Lowry
Senior research fellow, Institute for Resource and Security Studies

December 29, 2017 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Sellafield Ltd buries the cost of its expensive Evaporator D Nuclear waste processing project

CORE 26th Dec 2017, There can’t be many nuclear bodies that choose to bury – just three days before Christmas – what is touted as a good news story by the industry. But this is exactly what Sellafield Ltd has contrived to do in its 22nd December announcement that the long overdue and eye-wateringly expensive Evaporator D has come on line at Sellafield.

Yet by confirming that the new Evaporator actually came on line at 0800 on the 8th December, the start-up has been kept under wraps for a fortnight until a time when public attention was focused on seasonal festivities rather than on nuclear
news. Keeping such a story under the public radar for so long is, to say the least, wholly out of character for the industry – though the Evaporator’s history is hardly something to shout about.

It is not however just about the burial of ‘good’ news itself that many will find disturbing, but rather the manner in which the burial rites have been manipulated and massaged to dupe the wider world. Designed to process the dangerous high level waste liquids produced by the site’s reprocessing operations so that they can be vitrified and canned for eventual disposal, Evaporator D is located in the site’s Highly Active Liquid Evaporation and Storage (HALES) facility.

Its tortured construction track record since its inception over a decade ago by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) is well
documented and gives the lie to its original costings and timescale. As reported in the industry’s Nuclear Fuel journal in 2009 ‘Sellafield operators estimated (in 2007) the cost of the proposed Evaporator D at GBP90 million and said they expected it to be operational around 2010/2011’. Now in operation over six years late, the Evaporator’s £750M cost today represents an eight-fold increase on its original costing. …..

There are few positives to be taken from the Evaporator D saga that rivals the similar squandering of public money on the ill-fated and now defunct Sellafield MOX plant and even – when its financial accounts are eventually exposed publicly for the first time – the THORP plant itself. The one positive that will bring at least some cheer to the UK taxpayer is that, then costed at £600M, plans for an Evaporator E were abandoned by Sellafield in 2012.

December 29, 2017 Posted by | UK, wastes | 1 Comment

Hinkley point Nuclear Power – a bad deal in every way – obsolete before it ever starts working?

Hinkley Point: the ‘dreadful deal’ behind the world’s most expensive power plant, The Guardian, 21 Dec 17  Building Britain’s first new nuclear reactor since 1995 will cost twice as much as the 2012 Olympics – and by the time it is finished, nuclear power could be a thing of the past. How could the government strike such a bad deal? By Holly Watt Hinkley Point, on the Somerset coast, is the biggest building site in Europe. Here, on 430 acres of muddy fields scattered with towering cranes and bright yellow diggers, the first new nuclear power station in the UK since 1995 is slowly taking shape. When it is finally completed, Hinkley Point C will be the most expensive power station in the world. But to reach that stage, it will need to overcome an extraordinary tangle of financial, political and technical difficulties. The project was first proposed almost four decades ago, and its progress has been glacial, having faced relentless opposition from politicians, academics and economists every step of the way.

Some critics of the project have questioned whether Hinkley Point C’s nuclear reactor will even work. It is a new and controversial design, which has been dogged by construction problems and has yet to start functioning anywhere in the world. Some experts believe it could actually prove impossible to build. “It’s three times over cost and three times over time where it’s been built in Finland and France,” says Paul Dorfman, from the UCL Energy Institute. “This is a failed and failing reactor.”

Others have pointed to the cost. At present, the estimated total bill for Hinkley Point C is £20.3bn, more than twice the London Olympics. To pay for it, the British government has entered into a complex financial agreement with Électricité de France (EDF), the energy giant that is 83% owned by the French government, and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), a state-run Chinese energy company. Under this contract, British electricity consumers will pay billions over a 35-year period. According to Gérard Magnin, a former EDF director, the French company sees Hinkley as “a way to make the British fund the renaissance of nuclear in France”. He added: “We cannot be sure that in 2060 or 2065, British pensioners, who are currently at school, will not still be paying for the advancement of the nuclear industry in France.”

Many British observers agree that the deal is ludicrously favourable to EDF – “a dreadful deal, laughable” says Prof Steve Thomas, who works on energy policy at the University of Greenwich. But even insiders at EDF aren’t entirely happy with it. In the months before the EDF board finally signed off the deal in autumn 2016, the finance director resigned, along with Magnin. “The Hinkley Point project remains very risky,” Magnin told me. He is particularly concerned about EDF’s ability to complete the project before the current deadline of 2025. “Why have we reached this point?” asked Magnin. “It is the construction of a house of cards.”

Not everyone has lost faith in the project. When John Hutton was business secretary in 2008, he announced that the government would encourage the “safe and affordable” development of nuclear reactors. Back then, he insisted the plants would be completed “well before 2020”, and wouldn’t receive a penny in subsidies from the British government. Today, despite those earlier promises having been broken, Hutton still lobbies for nuclear: “We’re not just creating power stations,” he told me. “We are making history.”

 But the irony of Hinkley Point C is that by the time it eventually starts working, it may have become obsolete. Nuclear power is facing existential problems around the world, as the cost of renewable energies fall and their popularity grows. “The maths doesn’t work,” says Tom Burke, former environmental policy adviser to BP and visiting professor at both Imperial and University Colleges. “Nuclear simply doesn’t make sense any more.”

The story of Hinkley Point C is that of a chain of decisions, taken by dozens of people over almost four decades, which might have made sense in isolation, but today result in an almost unfathomable scramble of policies and ambitions. Promises have been made and broken, policies have been adopted then dropped then adopted again. The one thing that has been consistent is the projected cost, which has rocketed ever upwards. But if so many people have come to believe that Hinkley Point C is fundamentally flawed, the question remains: how did we get to this point, where billions of pounds have been sunk into a project that seems less and less appealing with every year that passes?…..

December 22, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation approves nuclear power plans for Wylfa, Anglesey. Now where’s the funding?

Plans for major nuclear power station in Wales win green light, Office for Nuclear Regulation approves design for new reactor at Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, Anglesey, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 13 Dec 17Plans for a major new nuclear power station in Wales have taken a crucial step forward as UK regulators approved the project.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and two other government bodies gave the green light on Thursday for the Japanese reactor design for Horizon Nuclear Power’s plant at Wylfa, marking the end of a five-year regulatory process……

Attention will now turn to financing the Hitachi-backed project on the island of Anglesey, which was the site of Britain’s oldest nuclear plant until it closed two years ago.

During a visit by UK ministers to Japan last December, it emerged that London and Tokyo were considering public financing for Wylfa. This would be a significant break with the UK government’s previous approach.

Hitachi has already spent £2bn on development. Last week the consortium said it needed a financial support package by mid-2018 or it could stop funding development.

Japan’s Toshiba has bowed out of the race to build nuclear plants in the UK, confirming last week that a South Korean nuclear firm had been chosen to buy its venture to build a plant in Cumbria.


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

British parliamentarians worried that the UK nuclear industry will suffer as Britain leaves Euratom, in Brexit move

Independent 13th Dec 2017, Britain should retain as a close as possible a relationship with the European civil nuclear regulator after Brexit, a Commons committee has demanded ahead of a crucial vote on the issue. MPs on the committee warn that the impacts of leaving Euratom will be “profound”, putting the UK in a much weaker position to drive regulatory standards at a European level.

“We conclude that the Government should seek to retain as close as possible a relationship with Euratom, and that this should include accepting its delivery of existing safeguards requirements in the UK,” the report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee states.

The committee’s report comes as more than 100 MPs signed an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, dealing with the
Government’s intention to leave Euratom after Brexit. They want the Prime Minister to guarantee protections for the nuclear industry.

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

Wikileaks ruled by UK tribunal to be a media organisation

Julian Assange welcomes UK ruling that WikiLeaks is a media organisation, WikiLeaks founder welcomes ruling by UK tribunal. IBT ,By Jason Murdock, December 14, 2017  WikiLeaks has been recognised as a “media organisation” by a UK tribunal in a ruling that flies in the face of claims by US officials who have branded it a “hostile intelligence agency”.

The anti-secrecy website – helmed by Julian Assange – has faced the ire of CIA director Mike Pompeo, who has compared its work to Hezbollah, Isis and al-Qaeda. Over the years, WikiLeaks has disclosed countless documents pilfered from the US government……….

The tribunal, in a section detailing the public interest for disclosing any withheld information, described Assange as “the only media publisher and free speech advocate in the Western world who is in a situation that a UN body has characterised as arbitrary detention”.

It added: “The circumstances of his case arguably raise issues about human rights and press freedom, which are the subject of legitimate public debate.”….

December 16, 2017 Posted by | UK, Wikileaks | Leave a comment