The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

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.


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……

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.

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.

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, 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

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

Urgent need to revive the anti-nuclear protest movement

No more nukes? Why anti-nuclear protests need an urgent revival Before the end of the cold war, nuclear apocalypse was a frightening possibility that overshadowed everyone’s lives. With tensions rising between the US and North Korea, we can learn valuable lessons from CND and Greenham Common Guardian, by Zoe Williams , 7 Sept 17,  “…….. For those of us who reached majority with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the coming of age is indivisible from the relief of an existential threat lifted, so that worrying about nuclear annihilation is filed as part of childhood, a monster in the wardrobe. It was real, until suddenly it wasn’t.

A lacuna followed, a gap that remains. Where once we had a thriving peace movement – a muscular response to nuclear weapons, articulated by ordinary people with agency and resilience – suddenly, for the most part, the arguments went quiet.

British anti-nuclear campaigns came in two waves, says David Fairhall, author of Common Ground: The Story of Greenham. The first big Aldermaston march took place at Easter 1958, demonstrators walking between London and the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, in Berkshire. These were calls for disarmament, “against a background of nuclear confrontation,” says Fairhall, “that had frightened people into thinking there might be a nuclear war next week”. This was quintessential cold war stuff, against the background of the establishment view that Russian ambitions to take western Europe as they had the east were real, and the US had to be kept onside at all costs. “Aldermaston was effectively a bomb-making factory,” says Fairhall. “That’s what people came out in duffel coats to protest against. Then that died down a bit.”

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, CND, was born in this era, and was at the root of the campaigns in the 80s; in that sense, this is all one peace movement. ….

The government’s own public-information initiative, chilling in the recollection, was called Protect and Survive and imparted asinine advice from the early 60s until the 80s – for instance, remove your door from its hinges and lean it against a table in order to create a makeshift bomb shelter. This eventually spawned a playful citizenly response: Protest and Survive. But if the descriptions of nuclear war sometimes seemed lurid in a slightly gleeful way, they underpinned a real and trenchant moral case; that weapons capable of the indiscriminate massacre of hundreds of thousands of people were wrong in and of themselves, regardless of who was holding them and what their intentions were. This is the change that really shocks Mary Kaldor, professor of global governance at the London School of Economics; that you are now “not allowed to be a politician unless you can say you would use a nuclear weapon. There’s even a problem with Jeremy Corbyn saying he would be extremely cautious about pressing the button. Somehow, you have to be part of the lie to be part of the establishment.”……..

The movement had distinct political impact, nationally and internationally. First, Fairhall says, the Greenham women “dragged discussion of nuclear weapons out of the dark world of SS20s and CTBTs [comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaties], all those acronyms and technical details, and forced people to discuss them in plain language. And that meant they had to be discussed in the House of Commons. There was a very important secondary issue of who would control these weapons: up until then, the Americans had just been landing wherever they fancied and putting up bomb sites ready to use in retaliation to a Soviet attack. We had no control, and that was a scandal.”……..

A seismic cultural shift started only tangentially with CND; in 1980, Kaldor, Thompson and Ken Coates launched the call for European Nuclear Disarmament……..

What worries Fairhall today is that while we used to worry about the arms race, it is now not a race so much as a pub brawl between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un – “an idiot and a lunatic” threatening one another with “fire and fury”, a reckless bravado never seen during the cold war, or since. Fairhall uses those terms not as insults, but almost as a technical military analysis. “Nuclear capability is relatively stable, so long as it’s a game of deterrence and diplomacy. They used to be a military insurance policy, or a status symbol. They have never before been in the hands of anyone who would actually use them – even with John F Kennedy, that was never the threat. So it does feel that we have drifted across a barrier.”

Fairhall says this with an understatement not typical of the peace movement, but it does underline the message: we need a revival more than ever.

September 9, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Concerns over growing number of live bombs found near Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Plant

Somerset Live 5th Sept 2017, Concerns are growing after numerous Second World War explosives are being
discovered near Bridgwater’s Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Plant. But
according to Watchet Coastguard in a Twitter exchange, the site is being
searched by Hinkley Point C contractors to clear the coastline ahead of the
Nuclear Power Plant developments. Explaining the procedure, contractors
report any ordnances to Royal Navy and Maritime and Coastguard Agency. A
1,000 metre exclusion zone is then set up around the discovered bomb before
a specialised Royal Navy team safely detonate the explosive.

September 9, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s offshore wind farms set to be much cheaper than nuclear power projects

UK offshore wind power subsidy set to undercut nuclear, , Campaigners for renewable energy say this is a key moment for the industry by: Nathalie Thomas and Andrew Ward , Sept 8 17 The results of an energy subsidy auction held by the government will prove offshore wind farms are a much cheaper way to meet the UK’s future electricity needs than contentious nuclear projects such as Hinkley Point, supporters of renewable technology have claimed.

The latest auction results, to be published on Monday, are expected to show a dramatic fall of as much as nearly 50 per cent in the minimum electricity price that is guaranteed by the government to offshore wind farm developers compared with the last similar subsidy round in 2015. They are also expected to show a substantial discount on the £92.50 per megawatt hour “strike price” guaranteed by the government to the French and Chinese companies behind the Hinkley Point nuclear plant in Somerset during its first 35 years of operation. The Hinkley price, which was set in 2012, rises with inflation and is now worth closer to £100/MWh. The latest subsidy auction was aimed by the government at “less established technologies” including offshore wind and energy derived from tidal currents.

Successful offshore wind projects are expected to be guaranteed electricity prices in a range of £60 to £75/MWh for 15 years linked to inflation, according to Cornwall Insight, a consultancy. This compares with the average £117.14/MWh awarded to offshore projects in the last auction in 2015. Offshore wind farm developers are seeking much lower subsidies after their costs tumbled, reflecting how the industry has matured and learnt how to construct projects more cheaply.
“This expected reduction in the price of power from offshore wind will mark a huge moment for the UK energy sector,” said Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK. Jonathan Cole, managing director for offshore wind at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “These ongoing cost reductions show that offshore wind is in pole position to be the foremost low carbon power source.” The low auction prices for offshore wind will be seized on by critics of nuclear power, who argue it is too expensive to compete in a world of cheap renewable energy…….

September 9, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Scotland tackles greenhouse gas emissions, with new Programme for Government

Edinburgh Reporter 6th Sept 2017, Environmental groups applauded the new Programme for Government announced in Holyrood yesterday, which contains a host of ‘green’ measures.
Friends of the Earth believe such steps will improve the lives of people in
Scotland through cleaner air, reduced waste, investment in green energy and
ensuring the transition to a low carbon economy is fair.

Key measures announced in the PFG: phasing out diesel and petrol vehicles from 2032;
tackling air pollution with 4 Low Emission Zones across Scotland by 2020;
new Just Transition Commission to help Scotland move to a low-carbon
economy fairly; new National Investment Bank to fund long term, patient
projects; deposit return scheme for bottles and cans; decision on fracking
in the coming weeks

September 9, 2017 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Dismantling of Sellafield’s Pile Fuel Cladding Silo (PFCS) locked vault

Energy Live News 5th Sept 2017, The world’s oldest nuclear waste store has been cut open for the first
time. Experts at the Sellafield site in Cumbria have cut the first hole in
the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo (PFCS), a locked vault which was never designed
to be opened – which holds radioactive material dating from the 1950s. It
is the first of six holes that will allow radioactive waste to be removed
from one of the site’s most hazardous buildings.

Giant steel doors will cover the holes and seal the radioactive waste inside for safer storage.
Preparations have been underway for a number of years, which involved
practicing the cutting operation at a full-scale replica test rig in
Rosyth, Scotland. The waste retrieval process is expected to start in 2019.

September 9, 2017 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Confusion and anxiety over UK’s withdrawal from Euratom as part of Brexit

Bridgwater Mercury 6th Sept 2017, BRITAIN’S electricity supply could be hit if the Government leaves Euratom
without new measures being put in place, a leading industry body has
warned. There could also be a “significant potential impact” on the new
£18 billion Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, according to the Nuclear
Industry Association (NIA). Chief executive Tom Greatrex said the “clock is
ticking” for ministers to determine the UK’s future relationship with
Euratom, which oversees nuclear safety in Europe.

The Government has faced cross-party criticism over its decision to withdraw from Euratom as part of
Brexit. This week a Lords committee will grill industry experts on how
Brexit will affect the UK energy supply, with questions over continued
access to the EU’s internal energy market and Britain’s ability to
influence future policy.

Much of the maintenance work on Britain’s existing
fleet of nuclear reactors takes place when parts are shipped to Europe. Mr
Greatrex also said the NIA had made specific representations to ministers
about the potential impact on Hinkley Point, which is now being built by
state-controlled French energy firm EDF. “I think the first nuclear
concrete is due to be late 2019, so you can see that the timings could make
this potentially difficult,” he said. “So EDF have to be able to plan
around the implications of leaving Euratom, if that’s what they’re going to
be doing, and that’s why having clarity about what those arrangements are
and what transition period there might be and what succession arrangements
they are intending to put in place becomes quite important in their
planning processes pretty soon.

“You can’t have a situation where they don’t know until January 2019, without there being a quite significant
potential impact on that project and on other new build projects as well.”
Ministers have previously said they could pay EDF billions of pounds in
compensation over Hinkley Point, including over a so-called “political shut

September 9, 2017 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s new nuclear power projects – a public spending disaster in the making

No2NuclearPower 5th Sept 2017, Steve Thomas, Emeritus Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Greenwich, says many of the issues that arise with Hinkley Point C (HPC)
that might derail it apply equally to the whole Government programme.

He says we are probably at the point where we are looking at a public spending
disaster. Financing HPC will stretch EDF Energy to the limit and maybe

He thinks there is no possibility of Sizewell C being built on the
timetable that the Government is looking at. He says we are in a surreal
situation where we are planning the two largest construction projects ever
built on UK soil – HPC and Moorside – and we are contemplating buying
the equipment from bankrupt and disgraced companies using technologies that
have abjectly failed wherever they have been built.

None of the three consortia (excluding Bradwell which is further off in the future) are
financeable in their present state. Here we look at the evidence presented
by Steve Thomas and others which questions whether any of these projects
will ever be successfully completed. On the other hand continuing with
these projects will seriously damage renewable and energy efficiency
programmes and delay real action to combat climate change.

September 9, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, ENERGY, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Promising development in non nuclear production of medical isotope technetium-99m (Tc-99m)

ARTMS Products Inc. partners with Alliance Medical to modernize, stabilize UK medical isotope supply chain May 16, 2017

ARTMS Products, Inc., a Vancouver-based medical technology company, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Alliance Medical to enable and demonstrate an alternative, non-reactor supply of technetium-99m (Tc-99m) within the United Kingdom. ARTMS will provide to Alliance the hardware, know-how, and proprietary consumables to gain regulatory marketing approval within the UK and subsequently implement commercial supply of accelerator-, or cyclotron-produced Tc-99m. This technology will enable a reduction in the reliance in the UK of foreign, subsidized, reactor-based medical isotope production; enhancing supply reliability and eliminating the use of enriched uranium as a source of life-saving medical isotopes.

Tc-99m is used in over 80% of all nuclear medicine imaging procedures in areas such as cardiology, oncology, and neurology. Typically sourced from an ageing fleet of global nuclear reactors, this important isotope has been subjected to significant supply disruptions in recent years. ARTMS’s technology to produce Tc-99m using medical cyclotrons is a viable alternative and forges a path to securing a safe, reliable, and environmentally sound supply of a critical medical isotope for the future. Continue reading

September 6, 2017 Posted by | Canada, health, UK | Leave a comment

Japan will fully insure bank loans for costly UK nuclear projects!

Hitachi UK reactors to get full Japanese loan insurance, Lenders seek guarantees as nuclear projects face post-Fukushima cost overruns, 2 Sept 17,  TOKYO — Japan intends to fully insure bank loans for one of Hitachi‘s British nuclear plant projects in order to encourage domestic lenders to finance a particularly risky type of infrastructure export that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government seeks to promote.

 When Abe met with U.K. counterpart Theresa May here Thursday, the two leaders reaffirmed bilateral cooperation on nuclear plant construction. Japan’s support will include coverage for two reactors at the proposed Wylfa Newydd nuclear station in Wales — a rare example of loan insurance for a project in an advanced economy.

State-owned Nippon Export and Investment Insurance will write the loan insurance for reactors, which Hitachi will build through British arm Horizon Nuclear Power. The Japanese conglomerate, together with Tokyo and London, will conduct working-level talks to hash out a funding support framework, with the aim of breaking ground in 2019.

The project is estimated to cost over 2 trillion yen ($18.1 billion). Hitachi, the U.K. government and two state-backed entities — Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Development Bank of Japan — are expected to pick up part of the tab. But private-sector financing will also be needed to close the funding gap.

NEXI, which normally indemnifies private lenders for 90-95% of financing, will enter into talks with Japanese banks toward fully guaranteeing loans for the Wylfa project.

Nuclear project costs have tended to balloon since since Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster owing to increased safety precautions. Seeing a higher risk of debt default, Japanese megabanks Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho Bank have sought full coverage by NEXI for any loans for nuclear plant development. Such insurance typically covers financing for projects in developing countries. NEXI is expected to impose conditions, such as a loan period of several decades, in return for an exception.

An accident or other troubles at the plant could expose BTMU and Mizuho to lawsuits from third parties because the banks would bear responsibility for financing the project. The two banks will decide on Wylfa financing based partly on discussions between Tokyo and London concerning damage compensation.

A default on the Wylfa loans would entail a taxpayer-funded repairs to the balance sheets of NEXI and JBIC. The loan insurance proposal is likely to spark a debate on whether promoting infrastructure exports in this way is worth the risk. The Abe government, for its part, will try to use the NEXI assurances to elicit more funding, public and private, from the British side.

With little prospect of constructing new reactors in Japan following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, domestic builders have focused their business offshore. Chinese state-owned enterprises are undertaking more global infrastructure projects, emboldening those who argue that Japan will be left behind in the race for overseas orders unless the country takes risks. In 2015, the U.K. became the first developed nation to approve a Chinese-made reactor.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Japan, marketing, politics, UK | Leave a comment