The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Clamour for new Nuclear Subsidies in Britain

uk-subsidy-2017Failing New Nuclear Programme should be Scrapped No2NuclearPower, No.93 March 2017

GMB national secretary for energy Justin Bowden reiterated his call for the government to bankroll the project. “It is time for government to show leadership and take over the reins at Moorside,” said Bowden. “The fiasco with Toshiba shows exactly why relying on foreign companies for our energy needs is just plain stupid.” Tim Yeo, a former minister and chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, a pro-nuclear group, said Moorside provided a “prime opportunity” for Theresa May’s administration to demonstrate its industrial strategy with support for the UK nuclear supply chain. He said that with lingering doubts over the viability of Hinkley Point and Wylfa “the only way forward is if the government is willing to participate”. This could involve the government taking a minority stake, or providing loans that would be repaid after construction was complete, added Mr Yeo. (17) The GMB says Moorside is vital as Sellafield’s workforce starts shrinking. By 2020 up to 3,000 jobs could be lost as the Thorp nuclear fuel facility closes and reprocessing of Magnox fuel ends. (18)

Ministers should also actively encourage investment from nuclear companies in China, South Korea and Russia where the industry is relatively insulated from the challenges faced by European companies thanks to strong state backing, says Yeo – there is a real danger that the pipeline of nuclear projects will fail to come on stream before 2030 unless Government agrees to intervene. The existing support regime, which guarantees a fixed price for each megawatt of power produced, does not go far enough to help investors who face billions in construction costs before the nuclear plant begins producing power. The Government should offer loans to developers which can be paid back once the plant comes on stream, or take an equity stake in the project which could be sold off to investors when construction is complete. “In neither case would the Government’s support constitute a permanent subsidy. It would directly cut the cost of electricity produced by the new plant because the Government’s borrowing costs will be lower than those of any private investor,” says Yeo. (19)

Right on cue, says Greenpeace Policy Director, Doug Parr, stories have begun to appear in the press saying that government is thinking about or even “under pressure” to inject huge amounts of taxpayers cash into new reactors in order to get them built. “Neither proposed plant (Moorside and Wylfa) is crying out as a good bet for a private investor” says Parr. “So why would it be a better investment for a government? Or for British taxpayers?” If the UK government takes stakes in these projects, it would be expensive. A 25% share in both Moorside and Wylfa on Anglesey could cost over £7 billion – and that’s before taking into account the cost overruns synonymous with nuclear projects. That would still leave over £20bn to find from other investors, but is a substantial commitment of public money. So it is worth spending a few No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.93, March 2017 6 moments to consider why direct government funding of these nuclear stations is such an eccentric and ill-conceived idea. (20)

First, why do these projects need public funding? The obvious answer is that private investors think they are too risky and too poor a return, even at the high price of £92.50 (2012 prices) that EDF got for their Hinkley Point plant. So why are they risky? Well, one of key reasons Toshiba is in such deep financial trouble is that its reactor design, the AP1000, has never been completed and operated, and is actually more costly and difficult to build than it thought. Its four AP1000 reactors now under construction in the US are ruinously late and over-budget.

Tens of billions of taxpayers’ money are at risk as pressure mounts to spend billions more on new nuclear, according to Dr Dave Toke, reader in energy politics at Aberdeen University. Giant portions of the public spending could be poured down a nuclear black hole as calls for the Government to make direct investments into new nuclear power plant intensify. Ultimately the sums at risk would be much larger than the Government’s own estimates of the cost of Trident. There has been a flurry of demands for government investment in new nuclear projects in the wake of the near bankruptcy of Toshiba. In fact nuclear power is proving to be virtually undeliverable and ruinously expensive in western countries. Despite the manifest bankruptcy of the technology, rather than question whether it is right to continue with the new nuclear programme, its supporters are in effect wanting us all to bet the British economy on it. If the Treasury are forced against their will to sanction ‘equity’ stakes in new nuclear reactors, the losses and., eventually, all the liabilities will fall on the taxpayer. (21)

Companies vying to build nuclear power stations in the UK have been told they must offer a price for their electricity sharply lower than the £92.50/MWh approved for Hinkley Point C, according to the FT. Prices 15-20% lower are seen as crucial to maintaining political support for new nuclear plants. “One of the biggest factors pushing up the strike price is the cost of capital. If government wants a low strike price, it is pretty clear that government has to think about a different kind of [financing] solution,” said one of the industry leaders. The FT says the government remains cautious about the idea of investing taxpayers’ money in nuclear power. One source told the FT there were signs the government wanted to pit NuGen and Horizon against each other in a competitive process, with no guarantee that both would go ahead. (22)

The Sunday Times said ministers are poised to admit that taxpayer cash will be used to fund a new fleet of nuclear power stations – reversing years of government opposition to direct public subsidy. Industry sources claim the business and energy secretary, Greg Clark, accepts that the hands-off approach cannot persist if the plants are to be built. They say Whitehall is preparing to launch a consultation, possibly this summer, on the government taking minority equity stakes in new nuclear projects to kick-start their construction. British taxpayer cash will probably be matched with funds from the Japanese government, possibly via the Japan Bank for International Co-operation and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance. Japan’s Hitachi, which is behind the Wylfa project, is locked in talks with the British and Japanese governments over how to fund the 2.7-gigawatt station. The consultation on state equity is likely to be launched alongside an outline deal on funding Wylfa. Sources said the deal and the consultation are not certain and could yet collapse. (23)

Treasury officials are still hostile to the direct state subsidy idea but Chancellor Philip Hammond, and business secretary, Greg Clark, have both taken part in talks over support for Wylfa and Moorside. Any deal would have to overcome opposition from parts of the Treasury, which has for decades

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

“Small Nuclear” lobby not very happy – says taxpayer funding is essential

uk-subsidy-2017NIA’s SMR conference: great discussion, now we need action, The Alvin text-SMRsWeinberg Foundation. March 3rd, 2017  by Suzanna Hinson

On Monday, the Nuclear Industry Association held its Small Modular Reactor conference. Weinberg Next Nuclear were delighted to attend and our director Stephen Tindale was one of the many speakers.

The conference was opened by Tom Wintle, deputy director of SMRs, decommissioning and waste at the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Though he spoke very eloquently about the importance of nuclear, and SMRs to the government, particularly in regards to the Industrial Strategy’s aims of home grown industries, developing skills, regional rejuvenation and a stronger economy for the growth areas of tomorrow, he would not be drawn on the real issues the audience clearly wanted to hear about: the much delayed SMR competition and the question of public funding at Moorside.

Instead, he highlighted changing priorities of the government, with a renewed focus on energy security, consumer bills and the potential for driving exports and capturing a global SMR market in a post Brexit UK. He would also not be drawn on the future relationship with Euratom, saying it was too early to speculate but repeating it was a non-negotiable aspect of exiting the EU, a decision many we spoke to think is premature and will lead to huge hurdles for British nuclear in the future………

When asked about government plans he said the Government have spent enough time building a vision; now, we need action. The action we need to see, Stephen recommended, was the Government telling the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to release sites for advanced nuclear and instructing the Office for Nuclear Regulation to undertake Generic Design Assessments for advanced reactors, expanding their capacity to do so if necessary. …….

This panel, comprising Fiona Reilly from Atlantic Superconnection LLP, Anurag Gupta from KPMG LLP and Gareth Price from Allan & Overy LLP, also argued that BEIS were putting too much hope into an export market as with bigger contributors emerging like China and the US, it is unlikely that the UK will be able to compete…….

they made a strong statement for state-led nuclear power incorporating the private sector at a later stage of development if possible…..

the clear mood is that talking and discussion are not being paralleled with policy progress. The sector desperately needs to see some action from government, to progress with the SMR review, provide certainty for Moorisde and clarify the terms of Euratom membership.

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Moorside nuclear power project now at serious risk

Moorside Failing New Nuclear Programme should be Scrapped No2NuclearPower, No.93 March 2017

Doubts Plans for three new AP1000 reactors to be built at Moorside in Cumbria next to Sellafield are now at risk from the financial crisis engulfing Toshiba. Toshiba owns 60% of Nugen, the consortium working on the plans. Nugen has said it wants to take a final investment decision by the end of 2018 in order to generate the first power in about 2025. However, it already faces an uphill battle to secure financing in time. Toshiba and France’s Engie, which owns the remaining 40% of NuGen, are believed to have been in talks for months with South Korea’s Kepco and are also understood to be talking to the UK and Japanese governments about potential financial support. (11)

But Kepco told the FT that it was not in talks with Toshiba about participation in NuGen, although several people involved in the process said South Korean investment was the best chance of keeping the project alive. “It’s hard to see how Moorside can go ahead without Kepco,” said one senior nuclear industry figure. It is thought that if Kepco were to get involved it would prefer to use its own reactor design, the APR-1400, rather than Westinghouse’s AP1000. This would set the project back at least four years because the Korean technology would need approval from UK regulators, while Westinghouse’s has nearly completed the clearance process. (12)

Cumbrians may be glad to see the back of corruption-plagued Toshiba ‒ but corruption-plagued South Korean utility KEPCO wouldn’t be much of an improvement. Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) commented:“KEPCO is itself still emerging from a major scandal that surfaced in 2012 involving bribery, corruption and faked safety tests for critical nuclear plant equipment which resulted in a prolonged shut-down of a number of nuclear power stations and the jailing of power engineers and parts suppliers.” (13)

Engie has also sounded increasingly lukewarm about Nugen, with Isabelle Kocher, chief executive, saying last year that there was “a place for nuclear new-build in the world, but less than before”. In December it was reported that Engie would like to abandon its 40% share of Nugen. (14)

US nuclear firms can only deal with overseas companies if the countries have a nuclear cooperation agreement. The US holds such an agreement with Euratom but not with the UK, raising the possibility that Westinghouse could be unable to continue working on the project once Britain leaves Euratom until a new bilateral deal is signed.

After much speculation that Toshiba would withdraw from the NuGen consortium, it now says it will “consider” a continued role in the development, so long as it can avoid any involvement in construction. Having completed a review of overseas nuclear operations, the company said it will seek to “exclude risk inherent on construction work and focus on equipment supply and engineering” in future. (15)

If NuGen is to make a final investment decision in 2018 and get the reactors up and running by 2025 there are huge challenges still to be overcome – a timescale many in the industry already think is highly unrealistic. The fact that Toshiba will no longer take on any of the financial risk of construction means Moorside is only likely to go ahead if new investors can be found to build the plant. (16)

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

The nuclear problems of Hitachi

Hitachi NO2NuclearPower, March 2  017Meanwhile the Japanese company Hitachi which is planning to build the proposed plant at Wylfa on Anglesey, is set to lose tens of billions of yen this financial year after withdrawing from a uranium enrichment joint venture in the US. Hitachi is expected to report a 70 billion yen ($620 million) non-operating loss by the time books are closed at the end of March. The deficit is largely attributed to the joint venture GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Inc. withdrawing from the uranium enrichment project. Hitachi no longer expects any profits from the North Carolinabased company, of which it owns 40% and the rest by General Electric. Hitachi and GE were expecting more nuclear power plants to be built when they launched the joint fuel enrichment business, but orders have been sluggish across the globe, forcing the project to be shelved. Nevertheless, Hitachi says it will be sticking with its nuclear power business. The company said No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.93, March 2017 4 that it plans to proceed with its project to build a plant in Britain by ensuring costs are thoroughly managed. (8)

In its favour is the fact that four ABWR reactors – the type of reactor it wants to build at Wylfa – have actually been built, in Japan. But their reliability has been poor. (9) The 2011 accident at Fukushima closed down all Japanese reactors, but according to IAEA the load factor – the proportion of time the reactors were generating power – for those ABWRs in the period between 2007-11 had been below 50%. (10

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, UK | Leave a comment

UK taxpayers up for tens of billions of pounds sterling as govt bends to pressure to build new nuclear reactors

screw-the-taxpayerflag-UKTens of billions of taxpayers money at risk as pressure mounts to spend billions more on new nuclear  Dave Toke’s green energy blog  

 Giant portions of public spending are now at risk of pouring down a nuclear power black hole as calls for the Government to make direct investments into new nuclear power plant intensify. Ultimately the sums at risk would be much larger than the Government’s own estimates of the cost of the Trident nuclear weapons system.Former Minister and House of Commons Energy Committee Chair Tim Yeo is the latest to call for the Government to take ‘minority’ equity shares in new nuclear  projects. There has been a flurry of such demands in the wake of the near bankruptcy of Toshiba, who spearhead the 3GW proposed plant at Moorside in Cumbria.

In fact nuclear power is proving to be virtually undeliverable and ruinously expensive in western countries. Toshiba’s problems stem from the fact that they own Westinghouse who are responsible for the construction (so-far non-construction) of AP1000 reactors in South Carolina and Georgia in the USA. These plant are as costly as the failing French EPR design that is so disastrous in  the cases of the Finnish and French reactors, something which is bankrupting the French nuclear industry and EDF.

Despite the manifest bankruptcy of the technology, rather than question whether it is right to continue with the new nuclear programme, its supporters are in effect wanting to bet the British economy on it. If the Treasury are forced against their will to sanction ‘equity’ stakes in new nuclear reactors, the losses and., eventually, all the liabilities will fall on the UK Government. Nobody else will invest in the projects unless the Government guarantees the lot.

Hinkley C (3.2GW planned) will cost over £24 billion according to the European Commission. The reactors at Moorside and Wylfa, assuming they cost similar amounts, would thus make the taxpayer responsible for around £50 billion of debt. People will claim that the Government is ‘only’ taking a minority equity stake. That’s how it will start, and then would represent an enormous amount of state spending and liabilities. After all one quarter of £24 billion is still £6 billion. But it won’t end there, as sure as night follows day, not with the construction costs as well as the rest. It never does with nuclear power!Normally of course under the Government’s ‘low carbon’ programme, project raise their own finance and the project owners earns their money from premium price contracts (CfDs) awarded through the Government. That is always the case with renewable energy projects. They find their own money. Electricity consumers pay a premium price to enable this on their bills. But now for nuclear to go ahead, so it is said, not only will the consumers have to pay a high premium price, but taxpayers will have to fund at least part of the construction as well. This is money, please note, that will disappear from the Government’s coffers as the plant is built – it is not something that will be shuffled onto future generations like decommissioning

The fact that the Government is effectively financing the building will produce a conflict of interests with the Government negotiating with itself in setting the CfD price. No doubt a ‘lower’ CfD price will be set (that is less than the notorious Hinkley C price) when in fact it will be the taxpayer that will end up paying out countless billions for the projects.

Annual spending on primary education is around £26 billion. Hence building just Moorside will give the Government liabilities (which are likely to be paid by the Government) which will rival this spending.

But then to listen to some people, you’d think building Moorside was more important than closing down all primary schools for a year.

It isn’t.

Some sources:

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point C – “risky and poor value for money” – House of Lords Committee

Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantNo2Nuclear Power nuClear news No.93, March 2017

The Hinkley Point C nuclear plant is risky and poor value for money, according to a House of Lords committee that urged the government to set out a “plan B” in case the £18 billion project is not built on time. (1)

In a damning report on energy policy, the Lords economic affairs committee said that household energy bills had already soared by 58% since 2003 and the risk of blackouts had increased, in part due to “poorly designed government interventions, in pursuit of decarbonisation”. Ministers should abandon plans to award subsidies to future nuclear plants through bilateral deals like that given to Hinkley, the committee said. Instead such projects should be forced to compete against wind farms, solar power farms and gas-fired power stations to find the cheapest way of keeping the lights on and cutting emissions. The committee said that the government should ensure that “the security of the UK’s energy supply is the priority of its energy policy” and suggested that climate change targets be “managed flexibly”. Lord Hollick, the committee’s chairman, highlighted Hinkley – which was signed off by Theresa May in September – as “a good example of the way policy has become unbalanced and affordability neglected”, and described it as “very, very expensive”. (2)

The total cost to consumers for Hinkley Point C is estimated to be £30bn. The committee called for an independent Energy Commission to advise Government on how to achieve an optimum balance of its three key objectives to keep the lights on at low cost while cutting carbon. “It would not be entirely different to the role that the OBR plays with regards to the Treasury. What it would do is provide a degree of transparency, not only for the Government itself to make its decisions but for industry and observers and analysts so that there is a greater degree of accountability as opposed to confusion,” he said. (3)

On the other hand the report was slammed by some environmentalists and renewable energy advocates for calling for decarbonisation to be relegated in favour of security of affordable supply. Critics said its conclusions were ‘out of touch’ and ‘backward-looking’. The report was accused of arguing that generation of electricity from fossil fuels is cheaper than renewable sources and that subsidies provided to clean energy generation have resulted in considerably higher costs for consumers……..

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK: New Nuclear Reactors in Jeopardy because of Brexit?

No2Nuclear Power nuClear news No.93, March 2017    A footnote in the Parliamentary Bill published on 26th January to authorise Brexit confirmed that the UK intends to leave EURATOM as well as the European Union. (1) Up until that point this was a grey area with disagreements over whether Brexit meant the UK would also have to leave EURATOM……..

The decision has wide-ranging implications for Britain’s nuclear industry, research, access to fissile materials and the status of approximately 20 nuclear co-operation agreements that it has with other countries around the world. The UK is going to have to strike new international agreements with all these countries to maintain access to nuclear power technology – crucially with the US because several of the UK’s existing and planned nuclear reactors use US technology or fuel. A new bilateral agreement will also be needed with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Nuclear co-operation agreements can take considerable time to agree and ratify. It may not be possible to complete them before Britain leaves the EU in 2019

New Reactors in Jeopardy? The concern now in the UK nuclear industry is that leaving EURATOM will complicate and delay the UK’s plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. “The new wave of British nuclear power stations was in jeopardy” said the Times. Withdrawal could cause “major disruption” according to the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) particularly for Horizon and Nugen, which are developing plans for reactors on Anglesey and in Cumbria because their plans involve co-operation with US nuclear companies. Former Labour MP Tom Greatrex, now chief executive of the NIA, said: “The UK nuclear industry has made it crystal clear to the government before and since the referendum that our preferred position is to maintain membership of EURATOM.” (3) Although Horizon, whose reactors would use US nuclear fuel, says it is reassured by the government’s commitment to put new regulatory arrangements in place quickly. (4)

The Hinkley Point C station in Somerset could also face renewed problems…..

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Scottish Greens politician speaks out against weakening of nuclear safety regulation

Green MSP hits out at Hunterston B nuclear decision,  Energy Voice, 1 Mar 17   A Scottish politician has criticised the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) over changes to safety regulations for the Hunterston B power station in Ayrshire.      THE ONR has ruled that a periodic safety review by operators EDF is “adequate”.

As a result the UK atomic agency has relaxed the safety case regarding the plant’s graphite core.

The revised safety case provides new limits and conditions of operation in response to keyway root cracking of the graphite in the core.

This is an expected part of the aging process as reactors get closer to their end of life. Acceptance of the safety case is also reliant on a revised inspection and monitoring strategy.

But Ross Greer, Scottish Green MSP for Wwest of Scotland, last night hit out at the lack of public consultation on the matter.

In January, Greer championed a report authored by an independent expert on nuclear safety, which concluded that despite it being probably illegal under international law, the Scottish public were being denied a say in the decision to keep Scotland’s oldest nuclear power station running.

The MSP said: “News that EDF are to be allowed more cracking within Hunterston’s reactor will concern residents across North Ayrshire, the West of Scotland and further afield. The lack of public consultation is simply unacceptable.

“It’s disappointing that the Scottish Government have not spoken out on the issue. European law says all ageing nuclear power stations should have an environmental impact assessment comparing their continued operation against alternative sources of energy such as renewables, and that the public should be involved, but that hasn’t happened.

“We should be putting efforts into building our renewables capacity and the secure, long term jobs which come with it, reducing demand through energy efficiency measures and ensuring a jobs transition for nuclear workers at sites such as Hunterston.”……..– 0   2/

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Brexit creates a huge impediment to Britain’s nuclear industry

questionflag-UKThe nuclear fallout from Brexit When Britons voted to leave the EU few realised the implications for its nuclear industry. Financial Times, 2 Mar 17 by: Andrew Ward and Alex Barker Perched on a remote stretch of coastline in north-west England is Europe’s most dangerous building. Inside the innocuous-sounding Product Finishing and Storage Facility at the Sellafield nuclear plant is enough plutonium for about 20,000 nuclear bombs.

It is the world’s largest stockpile of civilian plutonium — one of the most toxic substances on the planet — accumulated from decades of reprocessing nuclear fuel from power stations not only in the UK but also Germany, France, Sweden and other countries. When Britain voted to leave the EU last June few voters contemplated what the decision would mean for this deadly stash of radioactive material. Yet, as officials in Whitehall and Brussels prepare to negotiate Brexit, regulation of nuclear energy is emerging as one of the most difficult and pressing issues to resolve. One senior negotiator simply called it “a nightmare”.
Britain’s plutonium stockpile is overseen by inspectors from Euratom, the pan-European body that regulates the use of nuclear energy. The organisation has a permanent presence at Sellafield and owns the cameras, seals and testing laboratory used to monitor Europe’s largest nuclear facility. Brexit threatens to upend this decades-old arrangement because the UK’s departure from the EU will require withdrawal from Euratom, a separate legal entity but one governed by EU institutions. At stake is not just the safeguarding of Sellafield but also critical pillars of UK energy security, scientific research and even medicine.
All trading and transportation of nuclear materials by EU countries, from fuel for reactors to isotopes used in cancer treatments, is governed by Euratom. The UK now faces a scramble to assemble a new regulatory regime to uphold safety standards, while negotiating dozens of international agreements needed to maintain access to nuclear technology. Rupert Cowen, a nuclear specialist at Prospect Law, a London law firm, told a parliamentary hearing this week that the UK was “sleepwalking” to disaster. “If we do not get this right, business stops,” he said. “If we cannot arrive at safeguards and other principles which allow compliance [with international standards] no nuclear trade will be able to continue.” The potential consequences of failure — from the shutdown of nuclear power stations to the loss of radiotherapy for cancer patients — seem implausible, but coming up with a fix will not be easy. British ministers must renegotiate a relationship with Euratom where no template for close co-operation with outsiders exists. They must pass legislation to set up a new safeguarding system, then find, hire and train the personnel needed to do the job in an industry known for its chronic skills shortage. And Britain must strike up to 20 deals to re-establish the basis on which it engages with other countries, such as the US and Japan, outside of Euratom.
“There is a plethora of nuclear agreements that would have to be struck . . . before we could begin to move not only materials but also intellectual property, services, anything in the nuclear sector,” Dame Sue Ion told MPs. She is chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, which advises the UK government. “We would be crippled without [these deals] in place,” she added. All this potentially must be done by 2019, when the UK is due to leave the EU. There is a safety valve — remaining part of Euratom for a transition period — but the EU will demand that European courts oversee the arrangement, which crosses one of the red lines in the UK’s negotiating strategy. Little wonder industry is rattled………
Today, Euratom’s 160-strong nuclear inspectorate spend about a quarter of their time focused on British facilities.
Critical to replacing the Euratom regime will be a bilateral deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which oversees global nuclear safety and security. Euratom reports into the IAEA on behalf of its members and the UK would need to replicate this relationship. One option would be for IAEA inspectors to replace those of Euratom in the UK, although industry leaders questioned whether the global body would want its resources diverted from its non-proliferation monitoring in places such as Iran.
Yukiya Amano, the IAEA director-general, told the Financial Times that a rapid deal with the UK was possible. But he added a catch. “It depends very much on the progress on the UK-Euratom, UK-EU side. UK-IAEA negotiations [do not] go ahead of the UK-Euratom negotiations, we always follow,” he said. “If negotiations with UK-Euratom go fast, we can fix this issue fast.” However, if Britain sticks to an expected exit date of 2019, at best the UK may have 18 months or a year to re-secure its place in the international nuclear market. “There is a chicken and egg situation,” says one official involved in Brexit preparations. “You have to move seamlessly from one regime to another. But you can’t do that without a new safeguarding regime that [other countries] are satisfied with.” Britain has little experience of negotiating nuclear agreements. It took four years of “lengthy and difficult” negotiations in the 1990s to agree an upgrade to the Euratom-US co-operation agreement, which was due to lapse. And even then the deal could not be ratified on time by the US Senate. The wait caused a three-month hiatus when all transatlantic nuclear trade stopped dead. That is something the UK would not want to risk today. …….
Asked by MPs whether new arrangements could be put in place within two years, Dame Sue said: “I do not think it is possible.” One option to buy time would be to carry on paying Euratom to provide safeguarding services. But it is run by the European Commission, the EU’s executive, rather than as an independent agency which would have given Britain political cover. Perhaps more importantly, it relies on the European Court of Justice to give teeth to its intrusive inspection powers. Britain is determined to leave ECJ jurisdiction. But the nuclear area is where the EU will be most reluctant to split legal authority; the powers are too important, and the potential consequences and liabilities too big. “The only framework we are comfortable with is the existing framework,” says one EU official preparing for talks. “It works rather well.”………..

March 3, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Up to £219 billion to clean up the UK’s nuclear mess: autonomous robots to be developed

flag-UKUK funding development of autonomous robots to help clear up nuclear waste A new UK consortium will be developing robots to handle nuclear sites, bomb disposal, space and mining. International Business Times,     By   February 28, 2017 The UK government is funding a new consortium of academic institutions and industrial partners to jump start the robotics industry and develop a new generation of robots to help deal with situations that are hazardous for humans.


It is estimated that it will cost between £95 billion and £219 billion to clean up the UK’s existing nuclear facilities over the next 120 years or so. The environment is so harsh that humans cannot physically be on the site, and robots that are sent in often encounter problems, like the small IRID Toshiba shape-shifting scorpion robot used to explore Fukushima’s nuclear reactors, often break down and cannot be retrieved.Remote-controlled robots are needed to turn enter dangerous zones that haven’t been accessed in over 40 years to carry out relatively straightforward tasks that a human could do in an instant.

The problem is that robots are just not at the level they need to be yet, and it is very difficult to build a robot that can successfully navigate staircases, move over rough terrain and turn valves.

To fix this problem, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is investing £4.6m ($5.7m) into a new group consisting of the University of Manchester, the University of Birmingham, the University of the West of England (UWE) and industrial partners Sellafield, EDF Energy, UKAEA and NuGen…….


March 1, 2017 Posted by | Reference, technology, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

The silver lining on Brexit’s cloud:UK nuclear power stations ‘could be forced to close’

thumbs-downflag-UKUK nuclear power stations ‘could be forced to close’ after Brexit  Leaving Euratom treaty will shut down nuclear industry if international safety agreements are not made in time, MPs told, Guardian, , 1 Mar 17, Nuclear power stations would be forced to shut down if a new measures are not in place when Britain quits a European atomic power treaty in 2019, an expert has warned.

Rupert Cowen, a senior nuclear energy lawyer at Prospect Law, told MPs on Tuesday that leaving the Euratom treaty as the government has promised could see trade in nuclear fuel grind to a halt.

The UK government has said it will exit Euratom when article 50 is triggered. The treaty promotes cooperation and research into nuclear power, and uniform safety standards.

“Unlike other arrangements, if we don’t get this right, business stops. There will be no trade. If we can’t arrive at safeguards and other principles that allow compliance [with international nuclear standards] to be demonstrated, no nuclear trade will be able to continue.”

Asked by the chair of the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy select committee if that would see reactors switching off, he said: “Ultimately, when their fuels runs out, yes.” Cowen said that in his view there was no legal requirement for the UK to leave Euratom because of Brexit: “It’s a political issue, not a legal issue.”

The UK nuclear industry would be crippled if new nuclear cooperation deals are not agreed within two years, a former government adviser told the committee.

“There is a plethora of international agreements that would have to be struck that almost mirror those in place with Euratom, before we moved not just material but intellectual property, services, anything in the nuclear sector. We would be crippled without other things in place,” said Dame Sue Ion, chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, which was established by the government in 2013.

She said movement of the industry’s “best intellectual talent” was made easier by the UK’s membership of Euratom…….

Over the weekend, the GMB union called on ministers to reconsider their “foolhardy rush” to leave the treaty, claiming it could endanger the “UK’s entire nuclear future”…….

Norman also promised a decision was due soon on the next stage of a delayed multimillion-pound government competition for mini nuclear reactors, known as small modular reactors. “I love the projects and ideas but I want to be shown the value,” he told the peers.

March 1, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Tory grandee wants Britain to pour billions of taxpayer money into nuclear power projects

toffs-and-moneyYeo: Treasury needs to pour billions into nuclear projects , Telegraph UK    25 FEBRUARY 2017  The Treasury is facing calls to pour billions of pounds into a string of troubled new nuclear projects which threaten the UK’s energy supplies.

Tim Yeo, a former environment minister and energy committee chairman, is warning that the only way the Government can avert a crisis for the country’s nuclear programme is to take a direct financial stake in the projects.

Ministers should also actively encourage investment from nuclear companies in China, South Korea and Russia where the the industry is relatively insulated from the challenges faced by European companies thanks to strong state backing, he said.

Ministers are wary of involving the foreign powers in its energy security plans and have steadfastly resisted taking on the financial risk involved in nuclear construction.

In a letter to Business Secretary Greg Clark, the Tory grandee says there is a real danger that the pipeline of nuclear projects will fail to come on stream before 2030 unless Government agrees to intervene. Mr Yeo said the existing support regime, which guarantees a fixed price for each megawatt of power produced, does not go far enough to help investors who face billions in construction costs before the nuclear plant begins producing power……

The UK is banking on the 3.2GW nuclear power plant to provide as much as 7pc of the country’s energy by the middle of next decade. However, the Hinkley Point, Moorside and Sizewell B projects have all been dogged by delays and concerns over whether the multi-billion pound investments can be shouldered by the companies.

February 27, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s conservatives want new nuclear power stations in Scotland

Tories back plans for new nuclear power plants in Scotland, The Scotsman, SCOTT MACNAB  23 February 2017    The creation of two new nuclear power plants in Scotland has been backed by the Scottish Conservatives. They would be housed on the site of the current plants at Torness in East Lothian and Hunterston in Ayrshire which are coming to the end of their lifespans. Both have already had their operational lives extended – with the backing of the anti-nuclear SNP government – because they are seen as essential to keeping the country’s energy mix. Tory leader Ruth Davidson is also backing a target to ensure 50 per cent of Scotland’s energy comes from renewables by 2030 and a drive towards greater use of electric cars in proposals set out in a major new policy paper on the environment yesterday. The plans came under fire from opposition parties who dismissed the Tories’ “green” credentials.

….The Tory government at Westminster has already unveiled plans to rebuild the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset, which will be led by French operator EDF, with new nuclear projects in the pipeline…..the plans were dismissed by Greens environment spokesman Mark Ruskell. He said: “The Tories have no environmental credentials. Actions always speak louder than words, and the actions of their UK government have set back the creation of jobs in Scotland’s renewables industry. As they flap about, trying to shed their nasty image, ­people will recognise greenwash when they see it.” Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur accused the Tories at Westminster of “sweeping cuts” in renewables. “The Tories are about as eco-friendly as a dustbin fire,” Mr McArthur said…

February 25, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Former boss of BP’s Russian arm is the frontrunner to take charge of Europe’s biggest nuclear waste dump

Rowland Dye HANG ON…DID I READ THE CLEANUP COSTS ARE ……..£117BILLION FFS………The former boss of BP’s Russian arm is the frontrunner to take charge of  Europe’s biggest nuclear waste dump. David Peattie, 62, is being lined up
to run the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the state-owned body that manages the vast Sellafield site in Cumbria.

Peattie spent more than three decades with BP, leaving in 2013 to become boss of North Sea oil explorer Fairfield Energy. Unfortunately, the move coincided with the oil price collapse, and Peattie left the private equity-backed company two
years later.

The high-flyer’s imminent appointment reflects Whitehall’s determination to get a grip on the NDA. The authority faces a huge damages bill after a court ruling that it botched the award of the £7bn contract to clean up Magnox sites. It is considering an appeal. The NDA’s £3bn annual budget consumes 25% of the business department’s spend¬ing. The clean-up bill for the country’s nuclear plants is estimated at £117bn.

Ex-BP boss lined up for nuclear job Sun Times 19th Feb 2017

The former boss of BP’s Russian arm is the frontrunner to take charge of Europe’s biggest nuclear waste dump. David Peattie, 62, is being lined up to run the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)…

February 20, 2017 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Britain has faced 110 nuclear weapon alerts – four times more than the MoD admits

BRINK OF APOCALYPSE  Britain has faced 110 nuclear weapon alerts – four times more than the MoD admits, One incident reportedly saw nuclear weapons accidentally taken to Falklands War on ship carrying Prince Andrew, The Sun BY DANNY COLLINS 19th February 2017, 

February 20, 2017 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment