The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

The next nuclear accident may be much sooner or more severe than the public realizes

Risk of another Chernobyl or Fukushima type accident plausible, experts say : Broadcast: News items : University of Sussex

 “The next nuclear accident may be much sooner or more severe than the public realizes.”
Biggest-ever statistical analysis of historical accidents suggests that nuclear power is an underappreciated extreme risk and that major changes will be needed to prevent future disasters
A team of risk experts who have carried out the biggest-ever analysis of nuclear accidents warn that the next disaster on the scale of Chernobyl or Fukushima may happen much sooner than the public realizes.
Researchers at the University of Sussex, in England, and ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, have analysed more than 200 nuclear accidents, and – estimating and controlling for effects of industry responses to previous disasters – provide a grim assessment of the risk of nuclear power.
Their worrying conclusion is that, while nuclear accidents have substantially decreased in frequency, this has been accomplished by the suppression of moderate-to-large events.  They estimate that Fukushima- and Chernobyl-scale disasters are still more likely than not once or twice per century, and that accidents on the scale of the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island in the USA (a damage cost of about 10 Billion USD) are more likely than not to occur every 10-20 years.
As Dr Spencer Wheatley, the lead author, explains: “We have found that the risk level for nuclear power is extremely high.
“Although we were able to detect the positive impact of the industry responses to accidents such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, these did not sufficiently remove the possibility of extreme disasters such as Fukushima. To remove such a possibility would likely require enormous changes to the current fleet of reactors, which is predominantly second-generation technology.”
The studies, published in two papers in the journals Energy Research & Social Science and Risk Analysis, put fresh pressure on the nuclear industry to be more transparent with data on incidents.
“Flawed and woefully incomplete” public data from the nuclear industry is leading to an over-confident attitude to risk, the study warns.  The research team points to the fact that their own independent analysis contains three times as much data as that provided publicly by the industry itself. This is probably because the International Atomic Energy Agency, which compiles the reports, has a dual role of regulating the sector and promoting it…

September 26, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Uranium Prices at 11-Year Low

 Economic Calendar, September 23, 2016  Uranium prices remain under pressure, and are currently at an 11-year low, as demand for the commodity remains weak with nuclear power in a hiatus while new plants come online. Even though demand is depressed, miners continue to explore for the commodity, which is adding sentimental pressure over concerns that new uranium supplies will come online before demand takes off

September 24, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear power is NOT emissions-free

climate It's a lieMy Turn: Nuclear power isn’t emissions-free  By ROB BLAKENEY For the Monitor, September 23, 2016 I am dismayed at the Monitor for giving readers a second bite of the same radioactive nuclear apple from Vermont Yankee’s Howard Shaffer (Monitor Forum, Aug. 31).

This is Shaffer’s second atomic power promotion to appear in the Monitor this year (MonitorOpinion, June 13), again hyping the industry’s discredited tale that nuclear energy is “emissions-free.”

I am grateful I was able to show (Monitor Forum, June 23) why that claim is blatantly false, when nuclear power’s carbon footprint properly includes emissions from atomic fuel extraction and manufacturing. But now the Monitor has brought back the same industry representative to fly in the face of undisputed facts and disseminate the same misinformation.

In my opinion, that is as bad as Matt Lauer letting Donald Trump get away with his often-repeated lie about having opposed the Iraq War. Better to remember the old adage: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

I repeat: only reactor operation is carbon-free; all the many other stages in the nuclear fuel chain – uranium mining, uranium milling, fuel fabrication, fuel enrichment, reactor construction, reactor decommissioning and waste management – use massive amounts of fossil fuel and emit massive amounts of carbon. As does transportation from each stage of the fuel cycle to the next, via ship, truck or rail. This information has been quantified by independent researchers with ties to no industry.

Among further facts independent researchers have exposed: nuclear carbon emissions are increasing with the industry’s growing reliance on low-grade uranium ore as high-grade supplies are exhausted; and, emissions from the construction and decommissioning of nuclear power plants are so significant that each plant must operate for two or three years just to offset its energy inputs. (By comparison, a wind power plant offsets its sunk energy costs in only three to seven months of operation.)

Growing up in the 1950s – the dawn of the atomic era – I felt the appeal of nuclear power hype – that it would be the “peaceful atom” and “too cheap to meter.” Once those claims were categorically exposed as noxious hype, the world’s most dangerous industry seized on the climate change crisis to contrive a fig leaf to try to counter the inescapable reality – atomic power is poison power. Hopefully people will not get fooled again by nuclear energy’s shiny new “emissions-free” hype.

September 23, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

South Aftica’s President Zuma signs secret Russian nuclear deal

secret-dealsZuma signs secret Russian nuclear deal, The Times, Stuart Graham, 19 Sept 16 South Africa is moving ahead with a multibillion-pound deal for eight Russian-built nuclear power stations despite warnings that the century-long project would plunge it into massive debt and shift a key western ally towards Moscow.

President Zuma, who has had several meetings with President Putin since 2014, has been pushing for the project with Rosatom, Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, to be approved.

The first tender in the project, a 171 million rand (£9.2 million) contract for a system to manage the nuclear build project, was assigned to the son of one of Mr Zuma’s friends on Friday.
The decision… (subscribers only)

September 21, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Theresa May caved in, approving Hinkley nuclear, but the nuclear debate is far from over

while Hinkley could finally become a reality, the debate about nuclear power stations is far from over.

may-theresaHinkley must not be taken as a precedent for other nuclear stations, 18 Sept 16

Political reality made it hard for Theresa May to deny the French and Chinese their project. But other new plants still can, and should, be opposed. Despite the majority of the British public being opposed to a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, according to various surveys, Theresa May has approved the £18bn project.

The arguments against it are well understood – cost, safety and national security. On the first point, George Osborne, the former chancellor, was on the radio supporting the project last week, claiming that the costs would be borne by French group EDF and its Chinese partner CGN.

That is disingenuous at best, misleading at worst. EDF and CGN expect to make a profit from their investment and the National Audit Office has said the project could cost taxpayers almost £30bn in subsidies to these companies.

Other factors May had to consider when making a final call about whether to go ahead with Hinkley included the diplomatic repercussions of scrapping a project that was significant to France and China. The shadow of Brexit also hung over the decision: this is not a time to be damaging relationships with two key trading partnerships.

EDF and CGN’s reputations were on the line. EDF has lost its finance director and is at war with its trade unions because of the project. China – a country not renowned for taking disappointment well – has said the opportunity to invest in UK nuclear will allow it to advertise its technological expertise to the world.

As a result, May faced a decision akin to not inviting your boss to your wedding. It is your day, you are more than entitled to make that decision and you probably shouldn’t have invited them in the first place: but snubbing them is not going to be positive for your career prospects.

The government was not overwhelmed by alternatives either. Yes, Rolls-Royce could build smaller nuclear reactors around the country and yes, other forms of renewable energy could help. But Hinkley is scheduled to start producing electricity by 2025 and deliver 7% of the UK’s energy needs. Could the other options really deliver that much electricity in the same time frame?

One of the criticisms of Hinkley is that it is an answer to an old question, with energy requirements and technology evolving all the time. Well, yes: that is partly because the project was first dreamt up 10 years ago – and to block construction now would eradicate a decade of work.

Taking all this into account, it looks like May and her government have played the percentages. They may not have been excited about the idea of Hinkley, but the cons of scrapping it at this stage probably outweigh the pros.

However, Britain’s energy strategy beyond Hinkley is another matter. It was surprising that alongside the government’s announcement that the nuclear power plant would go ahead there were suggestions emanating from Whitehall and Beijing that similar projects in Bradwell, Essex, and Sizewell, Suffolk, were also on track.

The Bradwell B project is particularly noteworthy because CGN will design the reactor and own two-thirds of it. The Chinese company plans to submit its design for Bradwell within weeks.

May and her government must seriously think about whether they want more nuclear power stations popping up around the country. While the decision on whether to proceed with Hinkley became wrapped up with diplomatic issues, Bradwell and Sizewell must only be approved if the government genuinely believes they are the best solution to Britain’s energy issues. Most experts would say they are not.

Stopping Bradwell and Sizewell would not be straightforward: one of the main reasons that CGN supported Hinkley Point was so it could develop its own power station at Bradwell. However, it is possible that the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the government could, for example, reject CGN’s design for the reactor. Or the Chinese could be offered the opportunity to invest in another high-technology project on attractive terms, such as High Speed 2.

So, while Hinkley could finally become a reality, the debate about nuclear power stations is far from over.

September 19, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

A second successful nuclear convoy holdup by intrepid Scottish pensioner

text-NoAnti-nuclear pensioner holds up transportation of nuclear warheads – again! The National,  SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2016    THE FULL MIGHT OF BRITAIN’S NUCLEAR ARSENAL HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO ITS KNEES – AGAIN – BY 77-YEAR-OLD PROTESTER BRIAN QUAIL.

Anti-nukes campaigner Quail and his colleague Alasdair Ibbotson managed to hold up four gigantic trucks thought be carrying nuclear warheads, by simply flagging them down and then crawling underneath.

In one of the pictures, a stumped cop can be seen scratching his head, as colleagues try to coax Quail out from under the armoured car. The trucks had left the Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield near Reading on Wednesday before slowly making their way up to Scotland…….

The retired teacher is no stranger to protests, and has a successful track record when it comes to stopping convoys carrying warheads.

In March this year he held up at least four 100 kiloton nuclear warheads being taken through Scotland by using nothing more than a Pelican crossing…..Veronika Tudhope of Scottish CND said there was widespread opposition to weapons being transported through Scotland: “It’s time the people of Scotland’s views were respected.”

September 19, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Inhofe, Capito question NRC’s preparedness for reactor completion at Vogtle and V.C. Summer Inhofe and Capito expressed concern in the letter that the NRC may not be adequately prepared to handle the more than 850 inspections, tests and analyses that will be required for Southern Co.’s Vogtle 3 and 4 and SCANA Corp’s V.C. Summer 2 and 3 reactors.

September 19, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Major challenges ahead for Britain’s new nuclear plans – warns EDF chief

UK new nuclear plans face major challenges, warns EDF chief    Emily Gosden, energy editor , Telegraph 17 SEPTEMBER 2016 

Britain’s ambitions for a new era of nuclear power face a series of major challenges, the UK boss of the French energy giant behind Hinkley Point C has warned.

Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, this week secured Government approval for his £18bn project to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation at the Somerset site.

Ministers want Hinkley to be the first of a wave of new reactors, including EDF’s plans to lead on a second new plant at Sizewell in Suffolk and to support China’s CGN, its junior partner in Hinkley, to build its own reactor at Bradwell in Essex.

However, in an interview with The Telegraph, Mr de Rivaz said EDF faced a challenge to make Sizewell “significantly cheaper” than Hinkley, which has been criticised for its high cost.

He also said he did not yet know how EDF, which struggled to afford Hinkley, would fund the Suffolk plant. “We are not in a position to say anything about the way we are going to finance Sizewell,” he said. “We have a lot to do to deliver a lower cost and we have a lot to do to find a way to finance it. We are not yet there. What is down the road is not going to be easy. To build these two plants will not be easy.”
He also said China’s planned plant at Bradwell faced “many hurdles” to get the go-ahead and would “not be delivered before the next decade”, though he was “confident” it would eventually succeed. However, he insisted new security safeguards announced by the Government last week did not present an obstacle and the Chinese were happy with the rules…….

Peter Atherton, the analyst who has called the Hinkley deal “one of the worst ever signed”, said: “You have to recognise it’s a fabulous achievement by EDF and Vincent in particular to get it to this point.… They should make [de Rivaz] French ambassador, because he’s capable of getting the UK Government to do inexplicable things.”

September 19, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

 Sinkhole Sends Millions of Gallons of RADIOACTIVE WATER Into Florida Aquifer

September 17, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Subsidies to France’s EDF, problems with France’s reactor build – UK MPs and analysts not happy about Hinkley nuclear decision

UK-subsidy 2016MPs and analysts issue fresh nuclear warnings over Hinkley Point project, Business Matters, 16 Sept 16   Fresh warnings have been triggered over the cost, security, and deliverability of Britain’s first new nuclear reactors for decades following yesterday’s green light for the £18bn build at Hinkley Point in Somerset.  Hinkley Point C will be built by France’s EDF with £6bn of
Chinese investment. It is effectively subsidised by the UK taxpayer under the terms of the guaranteed “strike price” that will be paid by consumers for the electricity generated, reports City AM.

This price is more than twice the current wholesale price of electricity, prompting the Energy Intensive Users Group to describe the subsidy as “astonishingly generous”.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said the deal would produce “the most expensive energy in the history of energy generation”.

The Chinese state-backed firm that is investing in Hinkley, CGN, intends to take a majority stake in another reactor at Bradwell, in Essex. However, this has fuelled security concerns over Chinese involvement in UK strategic infrastructure.

“China has said it has ambitions to proceed with [Bradwell] but having China or a Chinese company running a nuclear reactor like that is always going to be difficult for national security concerns, so I’m not sure how you can bridge that gap,” said Alan Mendoza, executive director at The Henry Jackson Society……..There are also doubts over whether the reactors can be built in the allotted timeframe, and as to whether they can bridge the UK’s looming energy supply gap.

The new reactors are due for completion in 2023 but Whitman Howard utilities analyst Angelos Anastasiou believes a timescale of 2025 to 2030 is more realistic.

“Approval of Hinkley C is necessary but not sufficient to avoid a future supply crunch,” said Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group…….

the cost to billpayers will be substantial. It will be necessary to maintain a focus on cost for future plants,” Institute of Directors (IoD) chair Lady Barbara Judge said. She also said that despite the costs of the Hinkley project, the move signals a clear geo-political strategy being pursued in Whitehall.She added: “Approving Hinkley shows that the government believes China is an important and strategic market for Britain.”……….

September 17, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

General Electric a big winner from UK’s Hinkley nuclear decision

GE wins $1.9 billion order from UK’s Hinkley Point nuclear plant, CNBC 16 Sept 16 
General Electric said it will receive $1.9 billion for a contract to supply steam turbines, generators and other equipment to the Hinkley Point C project, the United Kingdom’s first new nuclear power plant in decades…….GE is also bidding on nuclear competitions in Finland, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India and China……

September 17, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Britain follows up quixotic Brexit decision with quixotic Hinkley nuclear decision

Britain Does A Brexit On Nuclear Power Seeking Alpha Sep. 16, 2016 


Hinkley Point C nuclear project approved by UK Government: backs nuclear over renewable energy. Is this, like Brexit, a lonely position?

$23.7 billion construction cost financed by French ((EDF)) ($15.8 billion) and Chinese Government CGN ($7.9 billion); this cost excludes financing costs.

Completion 2025+, agreed power price 92.50 pounds/MWh in 2012 prices (double wholesale rate now) for 35 years regardless of wholesale price of power (consumers will make up difference).

Further nuclear projects planned in the UK by the EDF/CGN consortium.

GE an early beneficiary.

As everyone is getting used to Britain’s Quixotic decision to exit the EU, the British have done it again by deciding to go ahead with the massive Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor program, despite the fact that this locks Britain into expensive power for the next 35 years.

The Hinkley Point C story…….

The project is not without risk. Only four nuclear plants using the technology planned for Hinkley Point C are under construction. The two European plants under construction have had massive cost blowouts and neither is yet operational (see below).

The cost structure and completion date for Hinkley Point C has already grown considerably since the project was first announced. The guaranteed cost of power is twice what was first envisaged and completion has slipped by 8 years…. (registered readers only)

September 17, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Podcast: Why nuclear war looks inevitable  By Jason Fields

Several developments have the potential to move the hands of the nuclear doom clock closer to midnight.

A new U.S. nuclear policy has a chance of destabilizing the balance of terror by creating a larger arsenal of smaller weapons.

Why?Smaller weapons are more tempting to use. The argument for so-called “tactical” nukes is that they would destroy a smaller area and create less fallout, making them more “safe” to use than traditional many-megaton bombs. And that could lead to temptation to use them.

Just as importantly, that could give other nuclear-armed powers the impression that the U.S. would be more likely to use the weapons – a dangerous spiral that could culminate with…the end of the world, literally.

The United States is hardly the only nation adding stress to a system that is always a hands-breadth from tragedy.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has rattled the nuclear sabre, even threatening to station missiles in annexed Crimea. Pakistan, another nuclear-armed country, is a divided nation with government agencies linked to Islamic extremism and a beef with India. India has a beef with Pakistan and territorial disputes with China.North Korea is a wildcard with an accelerating nuclear program that may still be getting help from Pakistan – which denies it. Recent tests by North Korea and China’s lack of overt response has set U.S. teeth on edge.

In the end, the basic question is whether humanity can have such dangerous toys and not use them.

Incredible as it may seem, at the height of the Cold War the world might actually have been safer, experts say. Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union had a death wish, and those were clearly the stakes.

And, of course, nihilistic militants have no such qualms.

September 16, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear anxieties as South Korea experiences biggest earthquake

South Korea’s biggest earthquake triggers nuclear safety concerns, Reuters,  By Jane Chung | SEOUL, 13 Sept 16, Two earthquakes that jolted South Korea on Monday night, including the largest ever recorded in the country, prompted concerns about the safety of nuclear plants clustered in the quake-prone southeast.

Korea’s Meteorological Agency said the two earthquakes, of magnitude of 5.1 and 5.8, occurred near the city of Gyeongju. They could be felt in the capital Seoul, over 300 km (186 miles) to the northwest.

Fourteen people were injured but there were no reports of serious damage, a Ministry of Public Safety and Security official said.

Nonetheless, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co shut down four nuclear reactors at the Wolsong complex in Gyeongju as a precaution.

South Korea’s reactors are designed to withstand a magnitude 6.5 or 7.0 earthquake, according to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

Orders were given to nuclear operators to upgrade old reactors to that standard after the disaster at Japan’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

“That will be completed by next year,” said Shim Eun-jung, a spokeswoman at the nuclear watchdog……….

As in many countries, nuclear power is controversial in South Korea, especially after a 2012 scandal over parts being supplied with fake certificates prompted shutdowns.

Park Jong-kwon, head of an anti-nuclear civic group in South Gyeongsang Province, said no more nuclear reactors should be built in southeastern cities like Ulsan and Gyeongju as they are close to an active fault line.

“Even though nuclear reactors are designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude 7.0, if they are hit by 4.5 and 5.8 magnitude earthquakes several times, they can be knocked down by a real 7.0 magnitude earthquake at a single blow,” Park said…….

Greenpeace Korea filed a lawsuit against the nuclear watchdog on Monday, before the earthquakes, urging it to scrap a plan to add two more reactors in Ulsan.

Koreans living near the nuclear power plant in Gyeongju city also voiced anxiety……

September 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Going nuclear is highly inappropriate for the Philippines

Nuclear Philippines is a future full of costly risks,, By:  @inquirerdotnet, 13 Sept 16  CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts—The Duterte administration recently floated the revival of a white elephant of the martial law period—the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)—to meet the country’s burgeoning energy needs. “Revival” actually is an inapt word; the facility never went online in the first place.

Going nuclear is a highly inappropriate option because of its potential to cause catastrophic damage due to accidents, sabotage or terrorism; to produce very long-lived radioactive wastes; and to exacerbate nuclear proliferation. It is also water intensive, slow to construct, and very expensive. With many countries already phasing out nuclear power in favor of renewable energy technologies, the nuclear option is but a costly and risky diversion for the Philippines……..

Large-scale property damage and evacuation costs from nuclear accidents are the key liabilities of having a nuclear facility in an earthquake-prone country like the Philippines. In a matter of hours, a nuclear disaster could generate global fear and horror; this has been illustrated in the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, that brought about the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Managing radioactive waste produced by nuclear reactors is another challenge. If we cannot even effectively attend to simpler solid waste management problems, how can we ensure that we will have the capacity to store radioactive wastes for thousands of years?……

The best energy option for the Philippines is not nuclear but the already proven and demonstrated renewable energy technologies. These are relatively less risky, environmentally benign, socially acceptable, and economically plausible options. These include utility-scale and distributed solar, wind, micro-hydro, and geothermal installations. Our equatorial, geographic and archipelagic location, which translates into a tremendous renewable energy potential, is a natural blessing many countries are envious of.

Projects that transform our huge wind, water, sunlight and geothermal resources into our much-needed energy can be constructed quickly, within two to five years, but without the risks and costs attached to nuclear. Wind farms, for example, take one to three years in the development stage—that is, the time required to identify a site, purchase or lease a land, monitor winds, install transmission, negotiate a power-purchase agreement, and obtain permits—and between one and two years to construct. Solar farms take almost the same time………

Bringing the BNPP—or any nuclear energy facility for that matter—online is nothing but a risky and costly digression to an effective approach to our energy supply problem. Adopting this most expensive and very risky remedy only curbs what we can (and must) spend on the more promising approaches. For this administration to be truly concerned about the future of energy in the Philippines, renewables, not nuclear, is the way forward.

September 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment