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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Britsh govt still intending to pump billions of tax-payers’ money in Hinkley nuclear white elephant

Hinkley Point: Britain’s nuclear white elephant trumpets again The NAO has produced a scathing report on a prestige project that could cost more than any tinpot tyrant’s folly, Independent, James Moore Chief Business Commentator @JimMooreJourno , 25 June 17 Brits, eh. We like to think we’re all about common sense (except, well, Brexit, but we’ll park that for the moment). We certainly don’t pump money into white elephants. Surely that sort of thing is best left to dictators with God complexes. We’re responsible with taxpayers’ cash!

If that is so, how on earth does the Government explain the plans for a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset?

The National Audit Office has just put a swarm of new flies into that particular bottle of radioactive ointment with the release of a scathing new report.

  • Here’s the (withering) top line: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s deal for Hinkley Point C has locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits.”

    Ouch.

    But there’s more, and as the NAO makes clear, it’s we consumers who will be suffering the pain of it. The report says the Government failed to consider the costs, and the risks of the project. Moreover, the subsidy handed to its overseas backers, has ballooned.

    “Delays have pushed back the nuclear power plant’s construction, and the expected cost of top-up payments under the Hinkley Point C contract for difference has increased from £6bn to £30bn.”

  • That’s right: £30bn. You might have read about the capital city of Myanmar, Naypyidaw, which is 7,054 square kilometres in size and roughly four and a half times the size of London (1,569 square kilometres) but with only a tenth of the population.

    The cost of that white elephant has been put at just over £3bn, a bit less than a tenth of where the NAO currently has Hinkley’s subsidy, agreed to guarantee that the developers will make a profit when it is built, regardless of what happens to electricity prices.

    It should be said that the project still isn’t exactly risk free for the backers. EDF had directors resign over its interest in the thing.

    But let’s say EDF and its partners start to encounter difficulties during its construction. Do you think they’ll take any cost over-runs on the chin, as the contractual terms suggest that they should? Or do you think it’s more likely that we will see them knocking on the Chancellor’s door in search of another hand out?

    I’d bet on the latter, because that’s the way these things always seem to go. The NAO certainly fears that is what will happen……http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/hinkley-point-britains-nuclear-white-elephant-trumpets-again-a7805311.html

June 26, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Critics call for an end to $14 billion South Carolina nuclear plant project

End $14 billion SC nuke plant project, critics say, http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article157587959.html, BY SAMMY FRETWELL, 

June 23, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Ohio State gets $1.5M in federal money to study nuclear energy

Jun 16, 2017,Tom Knox The federal government has awarded $1.55 million to Ohio State University for nuclear energy research.

More than half of the money, almost $800,000, goes toward a research and development project through the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program that deals with risk assessment in power plants…..http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2017/06/16/ohio-state-gets-1-5m-in-federal-money-to-study.html

June 19, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Confusion and anxiety over UK’s energy policy

FT 15th June 2017 The UK’s second shock poll result in a year has created fresh political
uncertainty and renewed concerns over climate and environment policies
following Brexit.

Countless important decisions had already been put firmly
on the backburner before the June 8 election, as ministers’ time was
consumed by the arduous complexities of Brexit. They include the question
of how the UK will fund wind farms and other forms of clean energy after
2020, and the future of the coal power-killing carbon tax that some
manufacturers are lobbying to end, not to mention how the UK will meet its
own domestic climate goals.

The decision to leave the EU has exacerbated this gridlock and raised fresh uncertainties about the future shape of
green regulations for investors and companies. These include:Will the UK
still try to abide by EU air pollution standards the government has failed
to meet, despite being repeatedly dragged to court by environmental
lawyers? How will the UK replace Euratom, the pan-European nuclear energy
regulator? https://www.ft.com/content/a64ba474-51bf-11e7-bfb8-997009366969

June 19, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Exponential production of radioactive trash – with no solution in sight

France Culture 15th June 2017 [Machine Translation] It’s not eternity, but it’s like it. Hundreds of
millions of years. We leave a poisoned gift to a humanity of the future of which we know nothing. Neither their language, whether they are hordes in rags armed with cudgels or a peaceful technological civilization in the
apogee, knowing how to recycle this radioactive waste …

It is hardly if we decipher the intentions of the civilizations Maya or Egyptian women far away from us by a few thousand years ago …

Reprocessing, vitrification, burial, so many ways to admit that we have not found any really satisfactory solution for our radioactive waste bins. Waste is produced exponentially, and we do not know what to do with it. Neither fuel rod waste nor dismantling tanks, accidentally or unintentionally contaminated water, or radioactive drums that have been thrown randomly on land and in the seas.

Not for eternity, no, but for so long a time that it is, even in thought, unimaginable. Engineers then find themselves with the responsibility of having to think about deeply anthropological issues, which clearly go beyond them.
https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/lsd-la-serie-documentaire/lombre-des-centrales-nucleaires-44-des-poubelles-radioactives

June 19, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Will production of plutonium pits used in nuclear warheads shift from New Mexico to the Savannah River Site?

Plutonium pits at core of new Savannah River Site debate By Michael Smith msmith@aikenstandard.com Jun 14, 2017, 

Will production of plutonium pits used in nuclear warheads shift from New Mexico to the Savannah River Site?

One nuclear watchdog group fears so, based on remarks made during a recent nuclear symposium in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

But other nuclear observers say discussion of pit production shifting to Aiken County’s SRS is premature……http://www.aikenstandard.com/news/plutonium-pits-at-core-of-new-savannah-river-site-debate/article_0c9c4504-513d-11e7-946c-6beea5792367.html

June 16, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

USA Senate under deadline to confirm appointment of Nuclear Regulatory Commission boss

Barrasso: Senate risks closing nuclear energy watchdog, Washington Examiner, by John Siciliano |  The Senate is under a strict deadline to confirm the head of the nation’s top nuclear watchdog or risk closing the agency for lack of members.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, raised the concern Thursday in advancing the nomination of Kristine Svinicki, President Trump’s pick to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, by voice vote to the Senate floor.

“Unless Ms. Svinicki is confirmed by June 30th, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will lose its quorum,” Barrasso said. “We must not let that happen.”…..

The Senate is under a strict deadline to confirm the head of the nation’s top nuclear watchdog or risk closing the agency for lack of members.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, raised the concern Thursday in advancing the nomination of Kristine Svinicki, President Trump’s pick to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, by voice vote to the Senate floor.

“Unless Ms. Svinicki is confirmed by June 30th, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will lose its quorum,” Barrasso said. “We must not let that happen.”……http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/barrasso-senate-risks-closing-nuclear-energy-watchdog/article/2626089

June 16, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

The planet invaded by plastic

Plastic is everywhere; here’s how it conquered the world ABC, RN  By Keri Philips and Tiger Webb for Rear Vision, 15 June 17 A hundred years ago, almost everything in our daily lives would have been made of natural materials like wood, leather and cotton. Today, the world we live in is full of things made of plastic. The first plastics were developed as an alternative to ivory. One of the earliest was called celluloid. Semi-synthetic, it was made through mixing camphor and cellulose into a material that, according to historian Jeff Meikle, resembled a kind of baking dough……

June 16, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

No subsidies for nuclear power

 Times Tribune,  JOHN INTERVAL , 12 June Wth coal plants closing and nuclear power in serious trouble, natural gas has taken on increasing importance. Cheap and abundant gas has emerged as the Northeast’s No. 1 source of electricity.

Compared to coal and nuclear power, natural gas is a bargain. Natural gas-fired combined-cycle units are more cost-competitive than coal or nuclear power. The idea that natural gas will increasingly displace nuclear power in Pennsylvania is taken seriously.

A case in point: Owners of the Beaver Valley nuclear plant in Shippingport and Three Mile Island in Middletown have announced plans to retire both plants prematurely, unless the state government attaches a value to nuclear power’s role in carbon mitigation and power reliability. But Pennsylvania has rejected the idea of including nuclear power in its renewable electricity standard.

Whenever it finally happens, the tipping point from profitability to loss at Pennsylvania’s three other nuclear plants — Limerick, Peach Bottom and Susquehanna — will reverberate across the state, overhauling energy planning and placing greater emphasis on natural gas and renewable sources. When it happens, it will happen fast. Marcellus Shale offers an abundance of natural gas that goes beyond the dreams of energy planners.

The reality is that owners have either shut down or announced plans to shut down 14 U.S. nuclear plants since 2012, so actually relying on nuclear power for base-load electricity in the years ahead is all but impossible. Huge cost overruns and lengthy delays at the only nuclear plants under construction — two each in Georgia and South Carolina — are also a sign that nuclear power has a long road ahead before it can be relied on again.

The fate of any power plant should be determined by the electricity market, not by cutting deals that force consumers to bail out unprofitable facilities. In that regard, politicians in Illinois and New York State have approved as much as $10 billion in subsidies for five financially ailing nuclear plants, all owned by Exelon, a Chicago-based utility. Bloomberg Intelligence, a finance company, estimates that if every state with reactors in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic adopts subsidies at the same level as those in Illinois and New York state, ratepayers would have to shell out an additional $3.9 billion a year.

For decades, nuclear-generated electricity was competitive with coal and substantially cheaper than natural gas. But a combination of the shale revolution and higher nuclear costs changed the energy calculus. Gas prices declined, but the cost of maintaining and operating aging nuclear plants increased. When faced with the cost of replacing steam generators and other plant components, the owners of nuclear plants in Florida and California closed the facilities rather than shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for replacement parts.

While political interference in the energy market is precisely what we don’t need from government, making a switch to cheap natural gas will benefit consumers and put Pennsylvania in the driver’s seat for economic growth. Replacing aging nuclear plants with efficient gas units is what manufacturers of everything from computers to household appliances seek. Pennsylvania’s future is with natural gas.

 …….Whenever it finally happens, the tipping point from profitability to loss at Pennsylvania’s three other nuclear plants — Limerick, Peach Bottom and Susquehanna — will reverberate across the state, overhauling energy planning and placing greater emphasis on natural gas and renewable sources. When it happens, it will happen fast. Marcellus Shale offers an abundance of natural gas that goes beyond the dreams of energy planners.

The reality is that owners have either shut down or announced plans to shut down 14 U.S. nuclear plants since 2012, so actually relying on nuclear power for base-load electricity in the years ahead is all but impossible. Huge cost overruns and lengthy delays at the only nuclear plants under construction — two each in Georgia and South Carolina — are also a sign that nuclear power has a long road ahead before it can be relied on again.

The fate of any power plant should be determined by the electricity market, not by cutting deals that force consumers to bail out unprofitable facilities. In that regard, politicians in Illinois and New York State have approved as much as $10 billion in subsidies for five financially ailing nuclear plants, all owned by Exelon, a Chicago-based utility. Bloomberg Intelligence, a finance company, estimates that if every state with reactors in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic adopts subsidies at the same level as those in Illinois and New York state, ratepayers would have to shell out an additional $3.9 billion a year……http://thetimes-tribune.com/opinion/no-subsidies-for-nuclear-po

June 14, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

EDF chief who ran Hinkley nuclear project makes surprise exit

Emily Gosden, Energy Editor, The Times, June 13 2017 Vincent de Rivaz, who spearheaded the development of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, is to step down as EDF’s chief executive in Britain later this year.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear fuel chain releases much carbon

Robert Methot http://www.theday.com/letters-to-the-editor/20170610/nuclear-fuel-chain-produces-much-carbon   The Day continues to publish nonsense about “carbon-free” nuclear power, including its editorial “Don’t miss opportunity to secure Millstone’s future,” (June 6). Noting scientific reality as a substitute for alternative facts, only reactor operation is essentially carbon-free. All other stages of the nuclear fuel chain − mining, milling, fuel fabrication, enrichment, reactor construction, decommissioning and waste management − use fossil fuels and hence emit carbon dioxide.

Also, the transport between these segments of the fuel cycle can be very energy intensive, as they can occur in different countries and require long-range shipping. In the longer term CO2 emissions from the nuclear fuel chain will increase substantially as limited supplies of high-grade uranium ore are depleted and lower-grade ore is mined. This is not to suggest that Millstone be shut down, but that the genuine environmental impact of its total operational cycle be recognized.

 

June 12, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

‘Korea should review current radioactive waste management to go nuclear-free

The South Korean government should rethink its current approach to radioactive waste treatment technologies before attempting to go nuclear free, a renowned American nuclear expert said. In an interview with The Korea Herald, Frank von Hippel, a professor at Princeton University, warned that the state-run Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute is working on technologies that have failed in all other advanced industrial countries. http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170607000727

June 9, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Why Trump is pulling out of the Paris climate deal

 Axios, 1 June 17 “…..The people urging him to withdraw were louder, more influential and more relevant to Trump than the people urging him to stay in, even though there were more of the latter than the former.
 The major players outside the White House:
  1. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt helped orchestrate a campaign along with conservative interest groups that rallied Trump’s most ardent supporters.
  2. Obama administration officials, including John Podesta and Todd Stern, urging Trump to stay in the deal tied the issue to people unpopular with Trump.
  3. Most major fossil-fuel companies supported staying in Paris, but they weren’t as loud and persistent as the conservative interests pulling the other way, such as the 22 Senate Republicans who sent a letter last week to Trump urging him to withdraw.
  4. Backers of the deal, including world leaders, were not united in pushing for the U.S. to stay in the deal but ratchet down the commitment put forth by former President Obama, which muddled the debate at the G-7 meeting last week and didn’t create a convincing argument to Trump.
  5. The warring views inside the White House:

    • Nationalists, as captured by my colleague Jonathan Swan: Paris is the antithesis of America First. It’s a global deal, which other major countries have no interest in abiding by in good faith, that has potentially profound consequences for American workers. Withdrawing from the climate deal is just as if not more significant than withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Trump began the process of withdrawing from as one of his first acts as president.
    • Globalists: If America withdraws from the deal, it’d be America alone, not America first. Leaving the deal leaves millions of U.S. dollars on the table funneled to the global climate effort by the Obama administration. The U.S. has more leverage and power by remaining at the negotiating table than by leaving. Ivanka has been aggressively arguing for him to stay in, sources told Swan.
    • Not mentioned: The environmental and public health consequences of climate change are not top of mind for either perspective……https://www.axios.com/why-trump-is-pulling-out-of-the-paris-climate-deal-2427900950.html

June 2, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear power not a viable option

http://www.gazettenet.com/Ann-Darling-argues-that-it-s-past-time-to-stop-thinking-of-nuclear-power-as-a-viable-option-10339507 In response to the letter writer promoting nuclear power as safe and clean (“Nuclear energy safest source of power in US,” May 23): I lived a few miles north of Vermont Yankee for decades, and I made a point of educating myself about nuclear power and nuclear waste.

What I learned scared me so much that I left my beloved home and moved as far away from Vermont Yankee as I could and still keep my job.

Nuclear power is not green. Yes, it puts almost no carbon into the atmosphere while the reactor is operating. But since when do we only look at what happens in part of a fuel cycle to determine if something is “green”? Haven’t we learned that extracting, refining, and cleaning up the waste have to be considered, too, with any source of power?

The mining and refining of uranium are extremely energy-intensive and lay waste to areas inhabited mostly by indigenous peoples worldwide. The waste from both ends of the cycle is the most toxic substance on earth, and it is harmful to life for centuries.

These new types of reactors are no magic bullet, either. They still create radioactive waste. And safe? Oh please. Tell the people who lived near Chernobyl and Fukushima who will never be able to go home that nuclear power is safe.

Closer to home, tell the people who live near the nuke in Plymouth that it’s safe. And if there is an emergency, the road off the Cape will be closed. I hope they all have boats.

The more nukes we build, and the older they get, the greater the likelihood of more catastrophes. It’s past time to stop thinking of nuclear as a viable option and put our resources toward bringing truly sustainable power generation to scale.

 

June 2, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Toshiba to present UNAUDITEDaccounts at the company’s AGM next month

Carlisle News & Star 31st May 2017 Toshiba, the key backer of Cumbria’s proposed nuclear new build, is to present unaudited accounts to its shareholders at the company’s AGM next month. The troubled Japanese giant – which has a 60 per cent stake in NuGen, which has plans for a power plant at Moorside, near Sellafield, and is taking on full ownership – has not been able to submit detailed results to officials in Japan because of ongoing discussions with its auditors over its American nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse Electric.

Toshiba is forecast to make a £6.5bn loss for the last year of business and its woes stem mainly from Westinghouse, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the USA, which may have overpaid – by several billion dollars – for another
nuclear construction and services business.    http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/business/Moorside-nuclear-backer-Toshiba-to-present-unaudited-accounts-to-shareholders-0b3b0a0e-d673-4d1d-afda-7171325aaa68-ds

June 2, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment