interim report commissioned by
the Japanese government reveals:
". . . at times an almost cartoon-like level of incompetence."
safety agency have said
power plant stress tests do not prove
that a nuclear plant is safe
Nuclear Rail Transport
An interesting document has found its way to us from a representative
of a small local residents' group, who have grave concerns over the
railway lines used for transporting the nuclear waste to and from the
various parts of the country.
Apparently the residents have been trying for some time to raise
awareness of their concerns, to no avail. Their local MP's
office couldn't understand what the problems were. Local
councillors fared a little better, holding a couple of their beloved
meetings to discuss problems, resolving to deal with matters urgently,
but after almost a year nothing has changed for the better.
The document makes for interesting reading even as a railway-related
article, but when one adds in the nuclear factor, it really does worry
one. We accept that not all nuclear traffic uses the section of
line mentioned, but, a considerable amount of nuclear material for and
from Sellafield does, as it makes its way around the country or travels
to ports for onward distribution.
Altruistic Aims, or Just Another Scam?
an article in The Times, 22/11/13, Germany is trying to
force Britain and other European countries to build more wind and solar
farms. Ostensibly the 2030 emissions target - which we
thought everyone had written off as impractical and unnecessarily tight
- is the reason. Of course, Germany is nuclear-free and a
couple of years ago RWE announced that it was withdrawing completely
from nuclear development. The article tells that 405 wind
turbines were built around British coasts last year alone.
The majority of people believe that they are unsightly and detract from
seascape vistas, yet even more are planned and in the pipeline and
there is nothing that can be done by normal people to stop the
march. The sea bed is owned by the Crown, so presumably
only the Queen can say when enough's enough, but at present it must be
"a nice little earner" (with apologies to Dellboy Trotter).
We would not suggest that there is any chance of bias in the German
demands, but all 405 turbines are reported to have been supplied by
"corruption is us" Siemens, that well-known German company.
A Non-angelic HAARP
Not much is
being said about the problems of the global warming pundits
in Stockholm earlier this year, but it seems that not quite as many
people nowadays are convinced by the alleged causes. (Could
the I.A.E.A. be losing its grip?)
However, we wonder whether the following is of any moment.
It has long been
known that the American Armed Forces are developing methods for
controlling waveforms at all frequencies. From extremely low
levels, such as those generated by the eath's own mechanisms through
radio waves and higher, up to light waves. Its stated aim is the
"full spectrum domination the yearf 2020". Ostensibly for the
protection of Americans, like so many other scientific projects, the
various aspects have alternative uses and side-effects. Several
of HAARP's researchers have presented evidence suggesting that these
disturbances can even be used to trigger earthquakes, affect
hurricanes, and for weather control. Interestingly, such events
have become even more common these days, and the nuclear industry is
cashing in on these unfortunate and devastating phenomenon, so the
Americans must be grateful for the global warming lobby presenting a
nice distraction. One has to be mindful that other major powers
will also be working along the same line. According to a CBS
documentary, "Directed energy is such a powerful technology it could be
used to heat the ionosphere to turn weather into a weapon of war.
Imagine using a flood to destroy a city or tornadoes to decimate an
approaching army in the desert. If an electromagnetic pulse went off
over a city, basically all the electronic things in your home would
wink and go out, and they would be permanently destroyed. The military
has spent a huge amount of time on weather modification as a concept
for battle environments." Half a century ago the tsunami bomb
referred to as Project Seal was tested off Auckland. As the
programme asks, if they could do that half a century ago, what can they
Back in May
the Atlantic Cartier caught fire in the port of Hamburg. The
vessel is an aging member of the ACL fleet, at the end of its
commercial life, and carries containers in the old style. The
interesting thing about this incident is that, although not registered
as a nuclear-carrying vessel, she had on board nine tonnes of uranium
hexafluoride, a highly volatile compound used in the manufacture of
nuclear fuel. Other cargo included flammable ethanol and other
hazardous items Some smart work by the longshoremen removed the
necessary containers to a safer place, thus averting a disaster which
could have affected a large area of Hamburg.
to an article in Private Eye, 1349, one consultant described the
incident as a very near miss. Inspection by the Hamburg port
authorities revealed a catalogue of 33 deficiencies, including
emergency fire pumps, fire detection equipment, fire dampers, and the
accessibility of fire-fighting equipment. Other deficiencies
which would have impaired the ship's seaworthiness, were detected. The
ship was nevertheless allowed to leave the port and later docked in
Anyone wishing to know the whereabouts of this and similar vessels can
see their current location and other details, including a recent
history of their travels at: http://www.marinetraffic.com/
What Are The
attention has been brought to a
document available on Sellafield sites (the official website for
Sellafield). It was written in May, 2012, and was sent by the
Toxicology Department of the Environment Agency to the manager of the
Environmental and Monitoring Department at Sellafield. The
contents related to the analysis of a sample obtained from a member of
the Nuvia team, employed by Sellafield to survey the beaches along the
Cumbrian coast for radioactive particles. Although the sample
seemed to suggest that the individual had
ingested Americium241 (half-life over 400 years), the
happy to conclude that the sample was most likely contaminated and that
there was, in fact, nothing to worry about. Very satisfactory
from Sellafield's point of view, one supposes.
Are we really and truly expected to believe that the handling of such
samples is so lax and unprofessional that they can somehow be
contaminated in the laboratory, or that such an event is much more
likely than an individual who handles such particles on an almost daily
basis accidentally ingested one? Did the laboratory offer any
explanation as to how they became so lax: were any staff
disciplined? We shall never know.
agency has issued several
documents and written to us directly, stating that the chances of
us/our children/grandchildren being unlucky enough to find a particle
and be damaged by one
of them are very remote, concluding that we have nothing to fear.
However, if the sample from the Nuvia employee was not, in
result of chance contamination (how careless can these people be?)
then, despite all their experience and equipment they can still be
affected, why can't members of the public? We and other members
of the public spend a lot more time than the Nuvia staff on the beach,
and some even build sand-castles and dig for bait. The
Nuvia vehicle.can detect particles only up to around 4 - 6" below the
surface. The larger lug and rag worms go more than that.
Another thought is that if errors are made so readily, what reliability
can be placed on anything they say?
Just how risky are holidays at the beach in Cumbria? To July,
2011, 766 particles have been found on various beaches around
Sellafield - despite the fact that some of the beaches have not been
surveyed as they are inaccessible to the vehicle used to perform the
survey. We have often wondered at the seemingly cavalier way in
which discoveries are handled. Nothing high-tech - just a bucket
and spade and a big box to place samples in. Again we would
point out, as we have done several times to those with the
responsibility to do something, none of the beach bungalow or their
environs have ever been checked. Good job there is nothing to
worry about, eh? What about other locations though, where only a
third the number of particles discovered on Cumbrian beaches has
resulted in the beaches being closed to the public? See our
entry of the 12/1/12 on the Home page.
Fukushima Two Years On
In a rare and
unbiased up-date, the BBC yesterday broadcast a variety
of permutations of a report on the current state of the Fukushima site.
At 0345 hrs., there
was a fairly lengthy report which visited the site
and its environs. The length of the report varied throughout the
day, as alternative news events came to the fore - including the
jailing of the ex-Energy Minister, C. Huhne and his wife, for
perverting the course of justice. (How many politicians now have
been jailed for dishonesty and should we really trust them with
spending billions of pounds of taxpayer's money when they can,
apparently, be so corrupted by small things?)
The reporter's conclusions suggested that
progress had only been made on devising plans for what they might do to
solve the vast array of problems. Sadly, one of the main
problems was that they didn't have any idea what the state of the
various cores was. It is thus difficult to imagine how the plans
could be in any way meaningful. The scene outside the
reactors was akin to the aftermath of a bomb attack and the reporter
advised viewers that there were "hundreds
of tonnes of highly
radioactive spent fuel rods exposed to the atmosphere without any
covering." Reactor 3 was "still far too radioactive for anyone to go
see the state of things". The commenorative reports
from other broadcasters showed roadcleaners decontaminating
streets. Quite how that works is anyone' s guess. Still,
it made for optimistic, if somewhat irrational, viewing.
A copy of one of the
reports can be found here: http://enenews.com/live-bbc-dont-state-fukushima-reactor-cores-video
When Did You Last See
I.A.E.A. have obviously now got their act together and have come up
with the necessary responses to those who question the wisdom of
nuclear power generation in the aftermath of Fukushima. It is
now very rare that anything relating to Fukushima comes up on the
European television programmes, and when it does, it is just an
endorsement of what the Japanese are doing. There is no bad
news, it seems. Government broadcaster, NKK World, do come up
with reports from time to time, but again, nothing too serious.
The standard response from the pro-nuclear lobby is that no-one has
died as a result of the melt-downs. The missing vital word
being, "yet". With Chernobyl it was four to five years before
the reports of cancers and other health effects got out. By then
it was increasingly difficult to link them directly with the fallout.
Even so, is it right to forget that radiation-related sicknesses are
not the sole result of the disasters. Other effects can be just
Shunichi Yamashita, a
Japanese expert on the effects of radiation
exposure who seems to be lacking in basic tact and any bedside manner -
or it may just have got lost in translation,
said, "The effects of radiation do
not come to people who are happy and
laughing, they come to people who are weak-spirited."
When pressed as to
what he meant about this, by Der Spiegel in an
interview, Yamashita said that he was shocked that no-one around
Fukushima was laughing, everybody was so serious. One has
to wonder at the apparent shock at finding that an earthquake, tsunami
and subsequent exposure to radiation had had a depressing
effect. However, the inteview went on to explain that from
experiments on rats, they had discovered that stress was not a good
thing. (!) Stress is apparently not good for
people exposed to radiation, either, as mental stress suppresses the
immune system, and therefore may promote some cancer and non-cancer
diseases. Hmm, and what about the effects of radiation per
se, we wonder?
A study of two
million people is planned, to assess the effects of the
Fukushima melt-downs. Surely that will only add to their
stress levels, increasing what Yamashita has termed 'severe radiation
anxiety, real radiophobia'.
One of the
nonsensical things to us lay people is that the study will
obviously need to correlate any assessed effects to the amount of
radiation exposure. How are people supposed to know what
they were exposed to and for how long? Seems a bit like the
kind of health assessment carried out in Cumbria to us.
However, even if we
permit the authorities to dismiss radiation effects
entirely, we are still left with the effects which are entirely the
result of the melt-downs: the mental effects. Even
Yamashita acknowledges, 'We know from
Chernobyl that the psychological
consequences are enormous. Life expectancy of the evacuees
dropped from 65 to 58 years - not because of cancer, but because of
depression, alcoholism and suicide. Relocation is not easy,
the stress is very big. We must not only track those
problems, but also treat them. Otherwise people will feel
they are just guinea pigs in our research'. One
whether those affected will be compensated by Tepco or the Japanese
authorities just as if they had been affected by the
radiation. Or will there be "no direct causal link" as is
usually the case with such suffering?
up-date on the current situation at Fukushima can be
viewed on Japan television's http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/movie/feature201302012000.html
The whole response seems to be scripted, which we cynics
slightly suspect. We would be very concerned by the
presence of the many huge water tanks that can be seen in the video -
are they full of contaminated
coolant? Still, provided that they can build the robots
capable of working in the contaminated environment, then the 40 year
road map for full decommissioning may be reasonable. Sadly,
that doesn't mean that the radioactive material has been finally dealt
with, merely moved somewhere else.
The I.A.E.A.'s Director General, Yukiya Amano, has visited
the site and
said, "So many people are working
with passion, so I felt that the
outlook is bright." Still, we know the mission of
I.A.E.A. is to promote nuclear expansion around the world, so he would
wouldn't he? Nonetheless, despite the effort to bring good
news, 66% of the Japanese people think that
nuclear should be phased out in their country, according to a recent
poll. Needless to say, there was no mention by the Director
General of the
organised crime syndicates that have moved in. One yakuza
(a sort of Japanese Mafiosa) was arrested last year and another in
January this year. A journalist on a Japanese website says,
"They 'find people and send them to
the site,' recruiting men who owed
money to the yakuza, who were homeless, unemployed or even mentally
handicapped." According to the journalist, this
didn't start with Fukushima – the nuclear industry has always
used the yakuza to recruit people for the most dangerous tasks, the
jobs no one else wants. Nice to know that such a high
calibre of staff is dealing so honestly with a difficult and dangerous
situation that could adversely affect many thousands of people and the
a committee investigating the Fukushima incident decided it
would be helpful if they visited the site for themselves.
Tepco erroneously informed them that the building was pitch dark and
dangerous. The committee was investigating suggestions that
crucial equipment designed to keep the reactor cool had been damaged by
the earthquake before the tsunami struck. It now seems that
the company "made a mistake", having overlooked the fact that 60% of
normal ambient light was available and in any case, there were some
rather large mercury lights installed.
reports the New York Times, the potential for a disaster
occurring as the result of "common cause failures" (i.e. simultaneous
failures of more than one piece of equipment or system) was brought to
the attention of the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission four years
before Fukushima. Similar scenarios have been highlighed
for Sellafield and just as much has been done about them.
The Fault Is Ours
Atomic Power Company is having a bit of a tizz at the
moment. There have been concerns that the plant at Tsuruga
had been built on an active fault-line. Before the plant
could be restarted after the temporary shut-down, a site survey was
performed and fault lines - not just one, but two - were found to be
active, with volcanic ash alongside them. JAPC had wanted
to know the contents of the survey prior to it being released, but it
was leaked by a senior official with the Japanese Nuclear Regulation
Authority, so the company could not prepare the usual whitewash.
Integrity at the Helm?
former Energy Secretary, Chris. Huhne,
today pleaded guilty to
criminal offences and may be facing a jail sentence. The
at stake was a driving licence ban; the offences stemming
being caught by a speed camera. For such a comparatively
original matter, Huhne has lost his reputation, his job, and now will
resign as an M.P. This is the man who hoped to become Prime
Minister. When considered with the M.P.'s expenses
scandal and the apparent lack of any ingegrity of politicians of any
colour, what chance is there that the national interest will be placed
above self-aggrandisement or pecuniary gain - especially when the
stakes concern billions of pounds?
seems that whether it is dealing with
media barons or heads of
industry - at home or abroad, the ruling interest is purely financial
and anything goes. How many
peers of the realm have now been convicted of criminal offences, and
how many more peers and politicians would, if they were ordinary
citizens without friends in high places, be languishing at Her
Majesty's pleasure? Yet these are the people who create the
for the rest of us. It appears now that one former prime
minister may even have scotched a criminal investigation into the head
of a government department who now owns property worth £6
million. Somewhat exorbitant even for a senior civil
Pays the Cost of
de France has
France, the rest abroad. With that number of
its control it is of concern as to whether Électricité
have any accident. One accident would cause severe financial
problems, we believe, Multiple accidents don't bear thinking
government's experts seem willing to accept the figures
that the various reactor manufacturers have put forward in their
applications - their sales pitch if you
Areva's submission guesstimates an average of one core-damage incident
per reactor in 1.6 million years. On the other hand, Westinghouse
claims that its AP1000 reactor offers "unequalled safety," in part
because the company's probabilistic risk assessment (a wonderful phrase
well worthy of Sir Humphrey) calculated that the core melt frequency is
roughly one incident per reactor in 2 million years. Older reactors in
the US are estimated to have higher frequencies; for example, the NRC
calculated an average of about one incident in 10,000 years for the
Peach Bottom reactor in Pennsylvania, which is a boiling water reactor
with a Mark 1 containment like the reactors at Fukushima
Daiichi. Sadly history says
journal, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, suggests: "The
actuarial frequency of severe accidents may be as high as 1 in 1,400
reactor-years. At that rate, we can expect an accident involving core
damage every 1.4 years if nuclear power expands from today's 440
commercial power reactors to the 1,000-reactor scenario laid out in the
MIT study. In either case, though, our experience is too limited to
make any reliable predictions."
Not very reassuring,
especially as it comes from an industry-led
various calculations do not take into account multi-reactor sites
encountering a domino effect - where a problem on one site directly
affects a second site. The proposed reactor to be
Sellafield, for example, if it were to encounter major problems could
well adversely effect (diminuating euphemism!) the redundant site
alongside, wherein are stored the hugely problematic results of earlier
percentage of French consumers being in "energy
poverty", the French government has pledged to pay Électricité
almost 5 billion
euros before 2018. The sum will be recouped by the
government by way of yet higher energy costs and increased taxation.
this year be cut this year for the first time in
four years, as investors are said to be worried that the previous
dividend levels are unsustainable. Électricité
diminished in value by 14% in the last year and by 65% since
2008. Small wonder they want to hold the
government over a barrel with future energy costs, guaranteed income,
assistance in building new reactors, U.K. taxpayer-funded insurance in
the event of nuclear accidents, and by setting out waste disposal costs
now when neither the amount or toxicity of the future waste is
currently unknown. Our politicians, aided
working in DECC, are doing a wonderful job for the French company, we
we have to
wonder just how many politicians and peers have a
vested interest in promoting new reactors and associated projects.
Green Is My
uranium mining licence for Trekkopje was originally
granted in June 2008, and the mine was originally expected to start
production in early 2010. The estimated initial output was
projected to be 3000 tonnes of uranium per year. Typically,
what we would expect from these over-optimistic companies, in 2011,
Areva realised that things were not working out too well and announced
that the mine was now not expected to reach full capacity until 2013.
the very low uranium content of the ore, approximately
tonnes of rock per day will need to be processed in order to produce
the planned output of 3000 tonnes of uranium per year.
this means that uranium extraction from this mine would exceed the
current market price. The project has now been put on hold
uranium has become scarce enough to make the processing of low-grade
ore financially viable. This raises two points (at least!):
i) How is the process even loosely considered to be green
the material has to undergo so many CO2 producing phases to meet even
the lowest quality fuel, and ii) what damage to the environment ensues
from such large-scale mining where the profit is inevitably too low to
ensure adequate rectification when the mine eventually becomes
obsolete? Naturally, Areva state in their publicity material
that the "AREVA Foundation supports humanitarian and public-interest
projects underpinning the Group’s commitment to society and
community involvement in countries in which it develops and conducts
business. The Foundation supports concrete, targeted and
sustainable actions, especially those benefitting children, women and
students. These actions focus on education, health and culture."
So compensation will be forthcoming for those unfortunate
to suffer consequences. It may be a little difficult to
damage stemming from multi-national companies who come and dig huge
holes in your countryside. Who will be the judge?
Better Than Tepco's
some time now
Arne Gunderson of Fairewinds
has been informing the world of what really happened when reactors
at Fukushima exploded. Tepco and Japanese experts all
opined that the containment vessel could not have leaked, something
which Fairewinds demonstrated to be incorrect. An animation
their webpage illustrated what they believed happened. For a
year the Japanese denied it could happen. However a report
issued in September now agrees that the containment vessels did leak.
In fact, despite denying for more than a year that it
happen, they now admit that there were at least nine potential
weaknesses that could have caused the leaks. The original
scenarios being declared "unrealistic". Slide 12 has the
statement: "Also, agreement with the plant data was poor on
The report referred to can be found here: http://www.fairewinds.org/sites/fairewinds.org/files/reports/TEPCO-%20Containment%20Leaked_1.pdf
Another point made by Gunderson is that the latest report concurs with
his original explanation of events in that a detonation did occur.
It seems that the nuclear regulators discount the
a detonation event damaging containment vessels.
The new favourite flavour of nuclear, thorium reactors are explained at
the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists in America.
Reading their expert's views, it seems that thorium is of no real
benefit, the technology hasn't yet been made to work and the resultant
waste is just as big a danger as that currently being produced, but for
which no safe and secure disposal method has yet been found.
writing in the current edition of Private Eye, seems to
marvel at the interest being displayed in expanding the road networks
by George Osborne. In typical London-centric mode, the
manages to overlook some areas that do not have roads to the standards
enjoyed in the south of the country, especially those around London.
One of the major arguments against
the dump is that the road system serving the western Lake District
relies on just one main road: the A595. When that
blocked there are
scant options, especially for large goods vehicles (including those
which are required for carrying
spoil from the massive hole they want to dig somewhere in the region).
The sole available diversion would involve a journey of
90 miles extra.
Indeed, the paucity of transport options is also the reason
coastal railway line being subsidised by the U.K. taxpayer and
Sellafield. Without that link, transport of nuclear waste
the country would
be somewhat difficult. After all, how else could they add to
dangerous and threatening stockpile of nuclear waste at Sellafield with
the material from, for example, Dounreay?
Hedgehog seems to have missed is that a prominent ex-Sellafield
manager, now, fortunately for Sellafield interests an even more
prominent councillor supporting nuclear expansion, has already been in
contact with a large multi-national company of
consultants on road development with the remit of finding out what
needs to be done to improve Cumbria's road system. Perhaps a
trifle premature, but
one has to ensure that everything is in place should the plans for
Sellafield's expansion be forced through and imposed on the residents -
whether they wish it or not. Consider, for
example, the status of Yucca Mountain, where the residents
overwhelmingly decided they didn't want the waste in their backyard, so
the stockpiles are building up areound the States. So much
that it is now being debated whether Nevada will be forced to host the
American dump with highly dangerous waste being shipped across the
country. A scenario sinisterly similar to the Sellafield
situation. It increasingly seems that the
principle of volunteerism is very likely to be a casualty in the
determination by those with vested interests to provide a means of
removing the highly toxic waste from public view by shoving it down a
hole and forgetting about it.
In common with most of the facts
associated with this large-scale development, there are absolutely no
details of how it will affect residents. Whether digging a
hole or carving up the countryside to tarmac it over, disruption, noise
and substantial delays are glossed over. The only permitted
"facts" are those which relate to money, nothing too adverse is made
clear to the residents The disruption to be caused by
the sole major road has largely been overlooked, as the main focus is
kept on nebulous factors involving the dump. Yet is is
to see how the planned expansion at Sellafield and the dump can both be
mooted with consideration of the requisite road "improvements".
Finnish Quarry News
In a brief article in The Times on Saturday, 10th November, the assured
competence of miners and the predictability of the geology is amply
illustrated. Given that not too far away the Olkiluoto
dump is being advanced, it may be of concern to some. The
The Misery for Talvivaara
Mining Company Shareholders Endures
In the past
couple of years, they have weathered a series of setbacks
for the Finnish nickel miner.
production targets were cut repeatedly and police
investigated allegations of pollution by its Sotkamo mine in eastern
Finland, which caused the shares to slide and Pekka Pera, the founder
and chief executive, as well as 20.7 per cent shareholder, to step
aside. More recently, a worker died.
news that radioactive uranium more than 50 times higher
than the normal level had been discovered in a stream not far from the
FTSE 250 company’s mine, which it shut down on Sunday after
discovering a leak of waste water.
authorities in Finland said it did not see a risk to public
health and Talvivaara said the leak was fixed, reports in Finland
suggested the problem persisted. The company is setting up a committee
to investigate the leak.
which changed hands for as much as 625p in February 2011,
fell a further 18p, nearly 15 per cent, to 103½p, their
since late 2008.
It was a
choppy end to the week for stock markets across Europe,
carried still on the ebbs and flows of confidence in the global economy.
Still, we can be assured by Energy Minister, Mr. Davey's statement that
the underground dump in Cumbria will be safe, in response to a question
by Mr. Farron. There didn't seem to be any question of the
not going ahead, or that public opinion might have to be ignored to
accomplish the feat.
Blows Through Public Health
some amazingly slow correspondence with
a member of the Environment Agency,
we expressed our opinion that the Cumbria Public Health people were
somewhat lacking in their responses to the various events of the last
few years. This was met with the wonderful generic response:
Public Health team in
Cumbria has done all that was required
of them". Read
that as you wish. Do they mean
required of them by the public,
or the government, or local politicians or industrialists?
Perhaps we should be glad that they didn't waste time digging into
matters that might have proved nasty (and expensive)?
remain amazed that they (along with all
the other statutory bodies)
saw fit to do nothing about the Redfern Report, and did not even deem
it necessary to perform an
impact assessment on the proposals to build the six or more reactors at
the three sites within their domain: Kirksanton, Sellafield,
Braystones. Not to mention the proposed dump in which to
all the nasty stuff we would rather forget about.
thought that any one of these would have
required at least some
basic appraisal by the Public Health protectors. Their remit
after all, in their title. Nope. Despite Freedom
Information requests, we never did get a response from the man in
charge. Don't need to do anything so we won't, it seems.
A scary attitude, we feel, but perhaps not unsurprising considering
their record. Other correspondence with specialist members
the team led us to feel that there was actually very little or no
interest in discovering whether the incidents at Sellafield were in any
way harming, or had harmed, residents - especially vulnerable children.
Still, Cumbria's record on child health over the past many
is not renowned for being good.
our low opinion of the Public
Health team was seemingly upheld by the statement of the new Chief of
Health England (another yuppy tittle for a government department who
should be above such pointless things?), who, according to an
article in the Health Service Journal (20/9/12) says that Public Health
departments have been, to put it
kindly, lack-lustre. Duncan Selbie is reported as saying, " . .
. individual colleagues have done good work and made a
difference over the past 40 years. However, what you
say is that as a whole we've done much good. We still have
same gaps in life expectancy and expectation of good health.
That hasn't altered and, arguably, it's getting worse."
article also reports that commissioners "were required to redo
accounts last year after unexpected ommissions were uncovered in
relation to public health".
Doesn't inspire much confidence,
does it? With any amount of luck, the forthcoming reshuffle
Public Health responsibility to devolve it to the local councils will
see a change in attitude and interest. We just hope that the
usual pro-nuclear representatives don't get on the controlling branches
of local government! Sellafield's ability to find friends on
whole variety of committes, sub-committees, panels, and quangos, to
further their own interests is quite remarkable.
Chink In The
of the bigger
firms you have never heard of is moving steadily in the field of
telecoms, Huawei, is Chinese. Announcing that it is
invest almost £1½ billion in the U.K. over the
years, the company was welcomed by Cameron, as the expansion will
create around 700 jobs. Sadly, there is the
shadow that large corporations always seem to tug round with
them. The Australian government was concerned that
company has very strong ties to the Chinese government and the
Americans have decided to investigate whether the company should have
privileged access to the telecommunications
network. In the
U.K., it appears not to matter that a foreign government, who is widely
regarded as being the major instigator of cyber-attacks attempting to
access corporate and government information and who already
manufactures the vast majority of networking chips and add-in boards
for P.C.s, will have easy access to the spine that almost everyone
relies on for their day-to-day business - personal and corporate.
some time we have
drawn attention to the vulnerability of nuclear plants to hacking and
malicious coding. A recent check of computers being
manufactured in China revealed that some of them were even leaving the
factory with deliberately installed back-door access, which will leave
them wide-open to future hacking and the theft of data and personal
information. Earlier this year, Mike McConnell, the
director of National Intelligence at the National Security Agency, told
Reuters that the US had indeed attacked foreign computer systems at one
time or another, and confirmed that America has “the ability
attack, degrade or destroy” the computer and communications
channels of adversaries. Symantec and Kaspersky, purveyors
anti-virus software, have now studied Stuxnet and three other
associated viruses and come to the conclusion that America was behind
the attack, possibly with assistance from the Israelis.
Information and control via electronic equipment is now a viable and
accepted form of conduct, apparently.
that such attacks could leave the likes of Sellafield as vulnerable to
hacking as Fukushima was to earthquakes and
anyone listen? No, of course
not. We were told
that Sellafield does not rely on computer controls alone was the
patronising reply. One is left wondering how much
code in the control gear has been examined and whether the possibility
of another Stuxnet-type virus might be lurking.
if there has been no signs of malfunctioning equipment why
bother? Should any malicious coding decide to
it will be too late, we reckon. The lessons of
Island, where a faulty electrical indicator led to an operator
over-riding an automatic process to decrease the flow of cooling
water. A partial melt-down was the
clean-up took over 14 years, with costs amounting to $1 billion, but
happily for the authorities no-one was killed or
(Unless you believe the sources that suggest that an increase in
cancers in the area are related to the release of
radiation. For some obviously altruistic reason,
in the area with children born with defects received $15 million,
whilst a further $82 million was paid in an out-of-court settlement for
"loss of business revenue, evacuation expenses and health claims" -
with no liability on the part of the plant that was a kind
gesture.) The plant, which was only 18 months old
closed down and is unusable.
with the "no-one" was hurt mantra, the accident was described as
"unexpected, incomprehensible, uncontrollable, and
unavoidable". Aren't they all?
there were design flaws similarly fell on deaf
the plus side,
Private Eye 1323, gives an explanation as to why the company might have
found easy popularity: Baroness Wheatcroft, Andrew Cahn
head of U.K. Trade and Investment) and John Suffolk (a former
government chief information officer) have all found employment with
the company. The Eye tells us that the latter
provided a report for governments advising how good the company is.
owners of a
uranium mine in Australia have sold off one of their
According to an article in The Times, on 29/8/12, BHP Billiton has sold
the Yeelirrie mine for $430 million to a Canadian
Billiton had to shelve a £20 billion expansion plan at the
world's largest uranium mine after its profits fell by
Shares fell, too. Perhaps investors have seen
Truths (Whether Convenient or Not)
The BBC's Countryfile programme seems to be a little confused, and
seems unsure of whether it believes in global warming or not.
Leastways, so it seems from their programme of the 9/9/12.
Reporters on each side of the country, one in Cumbria and t'other in
Yorkshire, presented differing views of the subject, perhaps
unintentionally. The Cumbrian article included evidence of
extent and effects of the last ice age and demonstrated that rocks from
a variety of regions around Cumbria were now represented on the sea
shores. Commenting that the depth of ice might have been in
excess of two kilometres and thus well over the top of the highest
mountains, the rocks now apparent on the Cumbrian beaches had been
carried by the glaciers. grinding them very small and eventually
depositing them on the edges of the ice sheet ast it retreated.
Over in Yorkshire was being blamed for the poor summer that most of the
coutnry had experienced this year. High winds, frequent
and torrential rains had all contributed to the poor crops and forced
farmers to resort to keeping animals inside and buy food for them,
instead of letting them graze. This weather phenomenon was
result of global warming, sometimes known as climate change as the
facts do not confirm global warming. So far so good, but
if there was such a quantity of very thick ice as recently
(comparatively speaking) as 10,000 years ago, then global warming must
have started way back then. After all, if the earth had not
warming, the ice sheet would probably have extended further south each
year, as more and more of the sun's heat was reflected each year.
As it is, then global warming might just be a natural
that has become exacerbated by man's activities, rather than one which
has been wholely caused by man's activities. Or is there
something wrong with our logic?
for an interesting explanation of the various cyclical phases of global
warming and cooling.
Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland flounder in a miasma of
escalating costs and stretched deadlines
the middle of June, 2012, it was announced that a £2 billion
contract had been awarded by the French company, Électricité
to build a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point,
The lucky recipient of the contract is French company Bouygues* and
British construction group Laing
O’Rourke. Touted as
offering "up to" (yeah, right!) 4,000 jobs, there is no clear idea yet
of whence the money for the project will come.
de France are believed by many to be struggling financially and the
source for building new projects is expected to be the U.K.
government. In an article in Moneyweek, Bill Bonner quotes
debt levels which the country [France] has are as
Britain’s, yet its policies are more irresponsible and its
remedies more restricted. Although it is considered a core country in
the eurozone, France’s economic profile now bears more
resemblance to Greece’s the Germany’s.
debt in France is
at 86.1pc of GDP (146pc if ECB liabilities and bank guarantees are
included). The projected budget deficit this year is 4.5pc, with France
having exempted itself from the EU’s instruction to bring
deficits down to 3pct by the end of the year."
According to Private Eye, discussions as to the
amount which will be extracted from taxpayers in this country are
taking place in a smoke-filled room. Hopefully they
trying to indicate a seedy atmosphere rather than one which may inflict
cancers on the participants. Whatever, the closeted
are being far from open and honest in their negotiations, we think.
usual there is no breakdown of the workforce figures, and it remains
likely that the well-paid high-tech jobs will be for French personnel
and the labouring will be done by immigrant workers living in the kind
of shanty towns that we have seen in other countries. It is
difficult to discern how contracts can be awarded when the final
decision as to whether to build or not has (allegedly) not yet been
taken - either by the U.K. government or the French power
it keeps the project in the news and helps people get used to the idea
that it will go ahead regardless of the wishes of the locals.
the I.A.E.A. (the global sales branch of the industry) has suggested
that nuclear fuel itself will run out in about 100 years and says that
Europe could be "left out of the nuclear power boom",
is set to decrease. The stock of good quality (and
easily-processed) uranium ore has fallen by 14% and the known stock of
high-cost uranium ore has risen by 12.5%. We wonder
the government's calcualtions have been done on the lowerest-cost
alternative, ignoring the fact that commodities in demand but with
finite stocks will inevitably rise. Given the
situation and massive price increases for the U.K. consumer,
dramatic increase in raw material cost is only going to make the
situation worse. By the time that has become
is possible that the country will have been forced into
a power source that is ever more unaffordable and unsustainable than is
obviously the case at present.
*We are pretty sure that the construction company devised the project
plans several years ago - before the outcome of the farcical
"consultation process" had even begun, and will employ non-indigenous
Are In (at least) Two Minds
If you look at Gosforth's
web pages, you
may be forgiven for being a
little puzzled. We are certainly confused.
initially concluding that they are against the dump for the most
obvious reasons: geology, impacts ("We have serious
concerns about the impacts of a Repository on West Cumbria."), the
engagement and siting processes, benefits packages,
retrievability, they then go on
to say that: "Our overall view
is that Government should now
intervene to terminate the MRWS Partnership and associated process, and
in its place institute a process along the lines of those already used
in Sweden and Finland."
How does that address the points
that they have used to refuse the dump? There
are differences between
the proposed dump for Cumbria and those being built in Finland.
The main difference seems to be that there is little question as to the
suitability of the rock in Finland, compared to the substantial
problems already noted by geologists for west Cumbria, and the fact
that the people of Olkiluoto have had the dump imposed on them.
Their dump will only be used for medium level waste, too, unlike the
proposed Longlands Farm one.
Happily there are more residents in favour over there, on the apparent
basis that, as they have benefited from the power generated, they
should host the dump for its waste. We're not sure that the
30,000 future generations will concur with that sentiment.
though the plans are being implemented in Olkiluoto, there remain
considerable doubts about the moral and practical aspects of it.
We would recommend the film, "Into Eternity", which examines the
The Gosforth website goes on to quote Dr Tim McEwen, an independent and
geologist who worked with the British Geological Society and NIREX
1980’s, who said:
CORWM’s statement to mean that it is not possible, based on
current level of geological knowledge of the area of West Cumbria, to
state that the area is definitely unsuitable for geological disposal.
This is a perfectly reasonable statement to make as there is
insufficient evidence to state anything more at present, although if it
were possible to select anywhere in the UK for repository development,
based on geological factors alone, one’s first choice would
be western Cumbria.”
The geologist is then reported as going on to criticise the report used
by the government, which apparently deals with the question of
of geology of the proposed site in just 2.5 pages out of a total of 65
pages. This report is said to have been the
worst, geologically speaking, that Dr. McEwen has ever
read. The report was labelled as "politically
expedient". Small wonder that the writer was the
geologist of choice. Apparently, even the British Geological
Society expressed surprise that the investigation had been concluded in
just a few weeks, instead of the many months that one might expect for
a proper job to be done.
Referring to the actual problems in the area, there are said to be
areas of complex folding and faulting, characterised by strong
hydraulic gradients, with the water following an upward course on
reaching the Irish Sea coast.. Once again, the
of Finnish excavations said to be preferable by the Gosforth committee
are somewhat puzzling.
The upshot of Dr. McEwen's contribution is that he believes that there
is a "greater possibility that a convincing safety case cannot be made,
and thus a repository cannot be developed."
by Their Own
others have recently announced that they are withdrawing from
their proposals to build nuclear reactors in the U.K. Being
cynical we reckoned it might just be a threat to encourage the U.K.
government to be more forthcoming with subsidies - not that there are
any, of course. However, having read their statement, it
appear that they really are getting out. Interesting that
are following the footsteps of Siemens and other large companies.
However, one wag suggested that they will believe RWE's
intentions when they sell the land they bought at Braystones on which
they intended to build two or three reactors. Amusingly, the
wondered whether they would get their money back as, since RWE
announced their original plans, four years ago, property prices have
been blighted by the proposed developments. Never mind,
they will never get fed up with being sheep farmers . . .
A recent publication from Greenpeace makes
reading if you are interested in the situation prior to the tsunami in
failure of the Japanese regulator to anticipate,
enforce standards based upon risks posed to the public was a key cause
of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. This failure can partially
attributed to the Japanese regulator’s close affiliation with
government policy to promote nuclear policy and its familiar
connections with nuclear operators. The nuclear industry is often
closely interlinked with its regulators due to the highly specialised
nature of nuclear technology. To counteract this tendency, strong
structural and policy separation needs to be established between
nuclear safety regulators and the industry it purports to
appraisal of the Nuclear Inspectorate's situation in the U.K., we have
made the point that there seems to us to be failures to perform their
role as inspectors. The report from Dr. Weightman into his
current and future staffing levels perhaps made for an explanation:
he has done the best he can with inadequate resources.
have already pointed out the lack of inspections, per se, and Weightman
covers this by explaining that he prefers the industry to, in effect,
police itself. Given the previous history of the industry this seems a
forlorn hope, and may explain how accidents can arise and/or be covered
Sadly, the separation between the regulators and the
industry is, in our opinion, decidedly lacking. The whole
institution is far too familiar to each other to allow proper controls
to be enforced. From the private and state companies that
the various facilities through to the officials that make decisions and
influence policy, through to the share-holding peers and policiticians,
the whole is too close and introspective.
course, politicians seeking personal gain or glory cause their own
problems. On page 37 of the Greenpeace document, "Lessons
Fukushima", referred to above, is a quotation from a book by Marc
Gernstein, "Flirting With Disaster":
people, who are not malicious, and whose intent is not to kill or
injure other people, will nonetheless risk killing vast numbers of
people. And they will do it predictably, with awareness.
knew the risks
from the beginning, at every stage.
leaders chose, in
the face of serious warnings, to consciously take chances that risked
in power are
willing to risk any number of human lives to avoid an otherwise certain
loss to themselves, a sure reversal of their own prospects in the short
that when such "reasonable" people are deliberately misled by those
purporting to represent the views of the people and the state of
science, the self-deception is merely exacerbated.
has always said that the operation of nuclear plants carries a
tolerable risk. They assessed that risk at one accident
resulting a meltdown for every 100,000 years of operation.
(IAEA). Currently there are around 400 nuclear power plants
operations around the world. Thus there should only be a
nuclear accident every 250 years, which may, or may not be tolerable,
depending on your viewpoint. However, reality require
these optimistic projections to be revised, in order to
the reality that accidents have happened at the rate of one every seven
The World's Nuclear Accidents
France (Level 2 1999
1983 Bueos Aires
Three Mile Island
Swizerland (Level not
1960 Waltz Mill test reactor
Santa Susana Field Laboratory U.S.
As always, it is necessary to bear in mind that these are just the ones
that are so severe they couldn't get away with. There have
many incidents (as opposed to the accidents
allowed the operators to get away with an entry in the accident table.
In some instances, of course, operators have just omitted to
tell the regulators. Some of the problems have had their
odd circumstances, such as the jellyfish that blocked cooling water
entries in several plants worldwide, forcing emergency shutrdown, or
from straightforward poor management, such as when Sellafield's cooling
water was greatly diminished when pipes - which had not been checked or
replaced in their 50 year life - froze during cold weather.
at least three occasions in the last few years cooling water has been
lost at the plant.
So how many of these incidents have been the result of tsunami or
earthquakes? We make it two. However, as Naoto
Kan, ex-Prime Minister of Japan says, "With 2,000 to 3,000 reactors
world-wide, how can the world possibly be safe?" The vast
majority of the incidents have been the result of either
experimentation, part of the learning process, equipment failure or
faulty operation. A tsunami is not a pre-requisite for a
is building 26
new nuclear power stations. 60 are being built worldwide.
the U.S. and
France, time-served reactors are not being shut-down,
they are having their licences extended. There have been
problems with the reactors in the Carolinas, but in Florida Progress
Power have a problem with their Crystal River power station.
De-lamination of the reactor walls (as the result of a botched attempt
to cut corners to replace a steam generator), means the company will
face a bill of around $2.5 billion to put right. That
bit of a conundrum, as the company's insurers apparently stopped paying
out some time ago. So, who will pay? Without the
station, or a replacement, Florida could suffer a distinct lack of
We note the observation that:
"The blunder shows that a
experienced nuclear operator with a
sterling reputation in the industry is not immune from unforeseen
miscues that raise questions about judgment and competence."
is an excellent timeline depicting the history of nuclear industry
of those surveyed in France, which, despite a high nuclear contribution
is still a net importer of power, say they would be in favour of a
withdrawal from nuclear power. To that end, Socialist French
presidential candidate François Hollande
pledges that 24 of France's 58 nuclear power plants will be shut down
Nuclear power is also being run-down in Kuwait,
Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, South Korea, Italy, Germany, Austria,
Sweden, the Philippines and France (if Hollande is elected).
Most of which leads us to ask what the government's plans are.
If we, out of all Europe are the only ones pursuing nuclear
development, will be expected to supply electricity to those other
countries, thereby gaining all the waste that caused them to reject it?
That hardly seems fair.
According to newspaper reports (11/3/12), DECC have witheld information
to them by the Environment Agency, relating to the risk of flooding at
the U.K.'s nuclear power stations. Apparently the risk
19 out of 26 of the sites, including Sellafield. This raises
questions: how did Dr. M. Weightman overlook this when he
compiled either of his two recent reports, and why did DECC see fit not
to release the information voluntarily? Surely this is
example of the way in which the public are being deliberately misled
over the risks of nuclear expansion? Were Iberdrola aware of
situation at the Sellafield site when they bought it off the NDA a
couple of years back, presumably having been assured that they would be
given permission to build a new power station there?
announcements on the balance
between green power generation and
nuclear, left us wondering how a Liberal Democrat could actually be in
favour of nuclear expansion when the majority of the population are
against it, the industry has such an appalling record on pollution and
environmental damage, not to mention the huge risks involved and the
failure to deal with its toxic waste for over 50 years.
at the minister's web page reveals these selected quotes:
power is] 'The
sort of thing Liberal Democrats in a
that aims to be the greenest ever should be unequivocally behind.'
commitment to the environment was why I joined the party in the
website also has a quote from an
article which appeared in
the Guardian when his appointment was announced::
Ed Davey says, his strong views on the environment that pushed
him into becoming politically active – and following his
promotion to energy and climate change secretary last week, he now has
a fantastic opportunity to act on his concerns and play a crucial role
in developing a cleaner, safer future.'
of which leaves us still wondering
. . . Still needs must when personal gain and/or
self-aggrandisement is at stake.
the Function of Quangos
and Local and National Government
it the function of
a Prime Minister, or any other minister, to act
as a sales representative for big organisations?
reason we are asking is because we are
getting a bit tired of
hearing about MPs and their entourages toddling off round the world at
great expense, to promote the latest fad - from arms deals to aircraft
to oil to nuclear. Cameron has said that
the next big scandal will be the lobbying system. Yet, as we
note on our current Home page lead, he is off to act on behalf of the
nuclear industry in France. The majority of people in the
do not want nuclear power expansion. So just whose interests
he promoting? Why is he not representing the views of the
Cumbria, there is a similar set-up,
where the industry has in place
a couple of Sellafield ex-PR people and their hangers-on who are
controlling what the people are told. That the information
touted by this gang is manifestly lacking in veracity seems to be of no
moment. Yet the local councils are paying for the service.
Why are Cumbrian rate-payers obliged to fork out on
for the nuclear industry? Who has judged, for example, that
West Cumbria: Managing Radioactive Waste Safely group is what the
local councils should be about? Who gave the group the power
the money? From its humble beginnings it now commands and
controls considerable amounts of ratepayers's funds, which is uses to
promote nuclear power. How many of this group are working on
behalf of the nuclear industry, using public funds to do so?
Well done Sellafield.
the group are heavily promoting
the nuclear underground
dump. Their choice of "expert" pales into insignificance
the previously acknowledged leaders in the field. Yet the
have been travelling round the county talking to the public.
favourite tale is the expert's demonstration of a piece of Cumbrian
granite, showing how solid the repository walls will be, and thus how
safe the proposed system is. Sadly, there seems to have been
bit of an oversight, in that no matter that granite per se is
indisputably solid, if it is in the form of chippings then it is not
even airtight, never mind secure for nuclear waste storage.
According to the Nirex enquiry, the geology of west Cumbria is
unsuitable for the dump. Yet the WCMRWS group remain keen to
support Dr. Dearlove in his misleading assertions. Is this
proper role, assuming that they are supposedly representing an honest
and independent assessment of the proposals?
suggest that a short time spent studying
correspondence regarding the matter would rewarding and a breath of
fresh air. It can be found at: Nuclear
Waste Advisory Group (Kindly
note the insinuation of honest
independence implicit in that name.)
Is it the
function of local government to promote potentially-damaging industrial
expansion on localities?
In Doubt, Let It Out
Some confusion has arisen over the cold shut-down of the Fukushima
reactors. According to official sources there are
within reactor No. 2, but observers watching the live camera feeds
point out that there appears to be steam or smoke emanating from
reactor No. 4. The official version has it that,
more than fourfold increase in the amount of water being poured into
the reactor (to 13.5 tonnes/hour) the temperature in the vessel has
risen by more than 26 degrees. Despite their
that all is understood and in control, the various bodies cannot
explain why, after a period of apparent stability, the temperatures
should increase so rapidly. However, again despite
professed understanding of the situation, they have no idea what can be
done to relieve the problems. Informed Japanese
also tell us that reactors 3 and 5 are also heating up by more than
70%. Still, everything is safe . . .
which officials admit, arise from the spent fuel
storage ponds near reactor No. 4, which contain more nuclear fuel than
the whole of that stored at Chernobyl. However, we
that only a few people from Chernobyl were harmed and even fewer
killed. Leastways, that is what the nuclear
various government officials would have us believe, aided and abetted,
it seems by the BBC.
nuclear power plant operators say they will
introduce a venting system to pressurized water reactors to enhance
safety in case of emergencies. The idea is to release gas,
includes radioactive substances, from containment vessels to protect
them from damage when internal pressure reaches a critical
level. Already used in some designs of reactor,
suppliers had said that pressurized water reactors do not need vents,
since pressure does not rise easily in containment vessels of
pressurized water reactors.
sounds a bit
like the original ideas for the Sellafield plant,
where there had been deemed to be no need for the tall chimneys and
integrated filters. Actually there was, it turned
out. Sadly, the filters didn't last very long in
intense conditions, but some of the material at least must have been
collected by them before they disintegrated.
Japanese plans, their filters will cut the amount of released
radioactive substances to less than 1/1000th and will be capable of
being remotely controlled - just in case there is an on-site power
government has engaged a firm in Brighton to interview
people who have responded to government consultations on the generic
design approval for nuclear reactors. You may recall that
approval process effectively removes another layer of the previous
system that allowed
objections to be made to unpopular developments on a technical basis.
Basically, the "new, improved" method
permits a one-size-fits-all approach to nuclear development.
the designs have received generic approval you can no longer object to
them on a technical basis. This might have been alright
that the two reactor types proposed for the U.K. are both known to have
design faults. Happily, that has not stopped the government
granting type approval. We do wonder, though, if there are
already known faults in the design, how many more faults (perhaps
hidden, or arising from defective construction or faulty workmanship,
or mere as a result of adaptations of the generic design to accommodate
site variations) there might be.
those at the helm (including those within DECC who supplied
confidential material to the reactor manufacturers) will be able to
tick alll the boxes when this process is completed and that is what
matters, not the concerns of the public.
It may seem like a tremendous waste of time, effort, and money, after
all, what notice was taken by the bureaucrats when people protested
about the unfairness of the consultation system at the outset?
From the very first consultation exercise there have been objections
yet nothing changed. Will any change ensue as a result of
costly exercise? Hardly seems likely to us cynics.
Broadcaster Assesses the Fukushima Situation
in Japan, NHK, yesterday gave space to several
articles on the current situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
This follows the publication of reports into what went wrong
prior to the melt-down and what lies ahead so far as the clean-up is
concerned. Neither report gives much hope for those in other
parts of the world.
up just one part of the countryside will involve the removal
and storage of 28 million cubic metres of soil. Workers are
currently involved in bagging up the removed soil, and the broadcaster
shows pressure-washing of roof-tops. Quite where any of that
contaminated materil might end up is not made clear. It does
look good, though, all those people cleaning up - as if it were merely
a matter of removing some sort of superficial dust and that was the end
of it. However, the problems extend to what they are going
with this 28 million cubic metres of radioactive material.
Strangely, no-one really wants to provide a home for it. As
the U.K., the government has decided that the best idea is to ask for
volunteers. Sadly, again as with the U.K., these seem to be
and far between. In the mean-time, growing numbers of bags
littering the streets awaiting some sort of disposal.
removed from the 20 km. exclusion zone also appear to be
getting somewhat impatient. Since the incident they have
temporary housing in areas away from their home, and their patience is
wearing a little thin. Alarmingly, they seem to want to
home - the location having been returned to normal, having been cleaned
of radioactive material. We are not sure how this could be
achieved. NHK did seem to suggest that within a few
months this might happen. However, this seems doubtful to
Currently all the reactors are said to be in a state of cold
shut-down, but there are some suggestions that this is not the whole
picture. Tepco officials admit that they have not got much
what is going on inside some of the reactors, partly because of the
lack of instrumentation and partly because the instruments weren't
designed to monitor the current situation.
At some point it will be necessary to drill into the reactor vessel in
order to remove the melted material and to get to the remaining fuel to
remove that for storage. Sadly, because they have no idea
the situation inside the reactor vessels really is, this may be subject
to some delay. Hazards include the extremely high levels of
radiation, the evidence which would allow "experts" to decide that the
situation was stable and safe enough for them to drill the necessary
holes, and the lack of experience anywhere in the world in dealing with
this type of thing. The closest was Three Mile Island, and
Japanese workers are hoping to be able to study the material that was
extracted from the core there, in order to develop the equipment
necessary. Doesn't seem to us that this bodes well for the
ex-residents of the area.
In the interim, of course, water with varying degrees of radioactivity,
leaks from the plants and into the Pacific Ocean.
into the cause of the incident says that the authorities
failed to predict the possibility and cater for it.
emergency procedures did not exist (presumably, we think, because the
authorities lacked the vision to see the possibility). Other
comments related to poor communications and the failure of the
authorities to inform either residents or local communities of the true
scale of the melt-down. In our view, these things seem to be
exactly what is happening in Cumbria at the moment
In Cumbria, suggestions
of potential damaging events are dismissed as impossible to happen, the
infra-structure of the area would preclude safe handling of any
incident so far as those outside the Sellafield site are concerned,
external emergency personnel and equipment would not be able to get to
the scene of any incident quickly enough to be effective, and the
government have been fooled by the pro-nuclear lobbyists into believing
that the proposed developments are ideal. With regard to the
latter point, the only ideal thing is that it is a long way from
London, which would mean the politicians would be safe even if there
were to be an incident. Happily, because of the rural nature
the area, residents would remain blissfully unaware.
'Making a fair profit
is important but
it can't be done in an underhand and predatory way.'
statement from the leader of the opposition, who, when in power, was in
charge of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. We
whether he remembers the capping of the liability for costs incurred as
a result of a nuclear accident - the shenanigans which allowed the
limit to become approved and the anger of the then Speaker,
Michael Martin at what he described as a "gross abuse of parliamentary
process". To our minds, it seems that that abuse of
parliamentary process was done in an underhand and predatory way.
We also have to wonder why. Politicians are not
renowned for altruism. Nor are energy companies,
Hot and Cold
officially described as a "baseless rumour", rumours of a
further explosion - this time in Reactor 2's torus - at Fukushima
continue. (The explosion has been both announced and denied
Tepco, apparently.) Together with the
information contained in the Pacific Free Press (see below link), it is
worrying that so much is apparently being suppressed. Not
in Japan, but world-wide. It is almost as if there is a
attempt to remove the entire incident from the public's mind.
That an industry can be so secretive and wield so much power
concerns one almost as much as the Murdoch's empire. Why do
politicians feel that such power is acceptable?
Mr. E. Milliband, speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on 15/1/12, told us
that the energy producers are "ripping us off". Strange that
party condoned all this at the time they were in power, and several
members of his party are actively engaged in promoting the foreign
companies that do this "ripping off". One has to wonder why
change in attitude now that they are in opposition, and why he is not
doing anything to curb his own party members' support for the system.
Other Sites Are Saying
links to specialist sites, which might indicate that not all is well
around the world's nuclear sites. Strange how the articles
make it to U.K. news channels, only the official text being broadcast.
Can all these other people be wrong?
of the material
is obviously in need of proper scrutiny - such as
the origin of the photographs of corium (melted core and surrounding
materials) as the strength of radiation from such material would
presumably preclude the use of a digital camera, and would in any case
result in the probable very hasty death of the photographer.
However, who would make up a report of an earthquake (if that is what
it was) or report that bright lights have been spotted at the base of a
reactor? It seems to us that there is no fire without some
of melt-down. The feeling is compounded by the belief that
nuclear industry is already corrupt enough and dishonest enough to be
engaged in a full-scale cover-up of the true situation. A
of inverse version of the boy who called "wolf".
was speaking of
nuclear fission in reactor 2 just a couple of weeks ago. Nuclear
radiation is still extremely high in the Fukushima prefecture and
contaminated water continues to flow into the sea. High levels of
radiation continue to be found in rice, meat, vegetables, seafood, milk
and tea in the region. And thousands of people have been displaced by
the nuclear disaster and continue to live in evacuation shelters. They
will receive a small amount in compensation – but it will be
payed out of the pockets of Japanese tax payers and not out of
Choose to Shoot the Messenger
nuclear waste problem has reared its ugly head with the decommissioning
of the UK's fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
the decision is alleged to have already been made to dispose of them at
Plymouth, some inconsiderate members of the panel set up to discuss the
move have voiced opinions that this might not be the right thing to
do. The Submarine Dismantling Project is now
two as one member resigned and another has had the temerity to suggest
that the government had not liked what she was telling them, and has,
consequently, resigned in sympathy. No doubt there
a consultation exercise to discover that the people of Plymouth really,
truly wish to have nuclear waste coming their way and it will find an
overwhelming body of people in favour of the project - just as they are
working on Cumbrians to host the dump. In Scotland, of
there are even more of these expensive leviathans to be disposed of, as
they have been rotting away quietly for nearly 20 years
now. There are suggestions that those ungrateful
might not want to take part in their disposal. Pah!
We remain confident that Dave's Big Society will impose its will on
wherever they choose to use for the dismantling project.
situation in Japan as seen by Central China TV:
a typical piece of political shenanigans, those who wish to apply for
compensation have to complete a huge complicated form before they can
be considered - yet these people are not highly-educated.
to AFP, some farmland in Japan is too radioactive to be farmed
safely. (Although a report on NHK television showed
stallholder in a Tokyo market deliberately selling
the Fukushima exclusion zone.) The study has been
in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
report suggests that two thirds of the radioactive material from the
plant went into the Pacific Ocean. Along with much
tsunami debris, this will probably eventually reach Hawaii and the
western seaboard of the United States. However, the
point is that, with just one third affecting the Fukushima area,
serious problems are being encountered. Bear in
mind that a
similar catastrophe occurring at Sellafield, assuming the prevailing
winds are from the west at the time, will devastate a huge area, not
just of the U.K., but also of western Europe or Scandinavia.
Over Kuwaiti Future
facility at Bushehr continues to give concern for surrounding
countries, especially the Kuwaitis.
There is so much doubt about the integrity of the operation that
everyone is suggesting it is not
a matter of if,
but when, there is a nuclear accident.
envisaged include leaks to sea, which would contaminate southern Iran,
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Since
the sea to
be affected (the Arabian Gulf) supplies
(via desalination plants) to several of those countries, the problems
could be compounded.
The result is forecast to be mass panic and evacuation of millions of
people, although the reports
suggest how the inhabitants of the desert regions would get to know of
the danger they were
Although the Kuwaitis have prepared as much as they can, they
apparently still see the situation
is of greatest
concern to western powers is the threat to oil supplies, as these will
stop virtually immediately,
consequent rapid escalation in oil prices
Implementation of the plans already
in place to
protect the Gulf and maintain oil exports would cost the west dearly,
and it is recognised
that many of the oil workers would simply evacuate, leaving
insufficient staff to provide the west's
oil and gas.
Russia was the
builder of the plant and already has expertise following Chernobyl, and
elsewhere in Russia,
their assistance to Japan, they are likely to be the responsible for
note elsewhere the
allegations of involvement of Chinese, U.S., Israeli and U.K. states in
the Stuxnet computer
its latest incarnation, Duqu, but it seems that someone is taking
things to the next stage.
According to a report in The Times, (Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article3103870.ece),
Iran has accused the US and Israel
masterminding the assassination of Dariush Rezaeinejad, who was shot
dead by men on a motorcycle
his home in the Iranian capital on Saturday
wife was wounded in the attack.
incident is the
latest in a string of attacks on Iranian scientists that have sparked
fears in Tehran that a
hit squad is
stalking anyone who may be connected to Iran’s disputed
confirmed that the victim was a master’s student in
at university in Tehran and was
reported to have
had connections with the Defence Ministry.
Iranian physicist was killed and another injured after men on
motorcycles attached bombs
cars. Tehran blames Israel and the
Several men were rounded up and one, a member
of the Iranian
Revolutionary Guard, confessed to working with the Israeli spy agency
Mossad to carry
out the murder.
January last year
another scientist was killed by a bomb strapped to a motorcycle outside
his house. Activists
claimed that the murdered scientists supported the opposition Green
accused Iran of enriching uranium to build a nuclear weapon, although
Iran denies that
they have any
military nuclear plans. Last week Iran announced
were improving the centrifuge
produce material enriched to 20% - just one step down from that
required for a nuclear
All Comes Down to
(VERY) Big Money
(alhough for some reason they prefer to be known in this country as EdF
- almost as if they are keen to hide their nationality!) and GDF Suez
have fallen after an announcement that the Belgian government wishes to
"wean itself off nuclear". The country's two
stations are currently set to close by 2025, and if the Belgians can
find alternative sources of energy they do not wish to continue with
nuclear. In a demonstration of the nature of the
suppliers GDF Suez has threatened to take their bat and ball home - or
rather to close three reactors early, leaving Belgium to face power
shortages. We always said they were nice people to
the home of both companies, 75% of the electricity is derived from
nuclear. It seems highly probable that President
will be heavily dependent on sales of nuclear equipment abroad to keep
his country afloat, albeit heavily dependent on Chineses
support. However, there are national elections in
next year and his position is rather shaky. The
expected to win is the Socialist candidate, François
but to bolster his chances Hollande will need to court the
environmental lobby. With 58 nuclear power stations
there may be some demands for a reduction.
the Spreading Nuclear Cloud
Yokohama, officials are testing samples in an area of Kohoku ward after
a resident removed sediment from an apartment building roof that
laboratory tests showed contained strontium found in radioactive
fallout. A Yokohama city official yesterday
declined to confirm if the first lab tests showed the sediment
contained strontium 90.
90 has a similar structure to calcium and tends to accumulate in bone
and can cause bone cancer and leukemia. The half
strontium 90 is about 29 years, thus the sample found in Yokohama is
not a legacy of the wars, but is most likely a product of the
explosions at Fukushima, probably material from spent fuel
rods. Yet Yokohama is almost 200 miles north of
Japanese government is to budget 1.1 trillion yen by the end of 2012 to
pay for the clean-up after Fukushima. The cost will
decontamination of soil and water. From interim
from individual localities, it seems unlikely that the budget will be
adequate to complete the task.
given that the chances of a serious nuclear accident have changed to 1
every 20 years, if these are typical costs incurred each time (leaving
aside the human and ecological costs) it rather makes a mockery of the
figures showing that nuclear can be in any way viable when compared to
other energy production methods.
in The Times, an article appeared relating to the recently-commissioned
Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr. According to
article, the reactor was commenced in 1975 by the German company,
Kraftwerk Union, who pulled out in 1979, long before the reactors were
finished. During the Iran-Iraq war, 1980-88, it is
that the reactor's containment vessel was punctured by bullets, leaving
1700 holes and letting in tonnes of rainwater. One
imagine that rainwater and perforations are not the best thing to be
incorporated in a reactor vessel. According to The
much of the original equipment became corroded in the 35 years it lay
abandoned. The problems are compounded by the fact
site is in one of the most seismologically active regions in the world,
but the installation could not withstand a major earthquake.
Iranian regime, the article continues, revived the project in the
1990s, with just one reactor to be built. Russian
engineers, who had not built a reactor since 1989.
apparently wished to start all over again, but the Iranians did not
wish to write off the $1 billion already spent with the German company,
and insisted that the work be continued using the existing
construction. During the construction phase it
the Russians identified a shortage of skilled Russian engineering and
construction specialists with suitable experience.
article suggests that much of the necessary work for Bushehr is outside
the competence of the Russian consulting engineers, who allegedly
consider the project a "holiday". Iranian
simply lacked the experience required for such a complex project, the
with nuclear facilities world-wide, the suggestion is that the public
should trust the industry, but, as the article says, there is no such
thing as "trust us" in nuclear politics. Over and
industry has shown it cannot be trusted with its cover-ups, accidents,
deliberate and accidental discharges, etc.
article points out that in February a 30-year-old cooling pump broke,
sending metal into the system, whilst three other cooling pumps failed
to meet the required standards. Never mind, the Iranian
authorities say that the installation complies with all necessary
Just Take Our Word For It
An excellent article appeared in The Guardian a couple of weeks back.
This gave a dramatic analysis of the current state of the
leading up to the triple melt-down and the impact on social, financial
and health. Some of the comments are astutely observed -
especially those relating to the corrupting influence of the nuclear
industry and the strange relationship between the industry, the
regulators and governments. Equally telling is that 70% of
population now want to see nuclear power phased out. In the
U.K., the number is around 56%, but we have been spared the details and
direct effects of the melt-downs. We note elsewhere that the
nuclear industry and regulators seem to have a prodigious capacity for
suppressing any bad news. How much have you seen on U.K.
television about the continuing difficulties of the Japanese - or even
news about the protests taking place in a whole raft of countries?
What kind of influence can persuade broadcasters world-wide
to transmit such material?
The scale of the disaster is at least as great as Chernobyl, and, as
the article points out, whereas Chernobyl and its environs was sparsely
populated, round Fukushima it was densely populated.
Becomes More Expensive and May Be Delayed
cost of new-build
nuclear plants seems set to rise to double the original cost, if the
French experience is any guide. Despite the U.K.
rigid adherance to the proposed timetable, regardless of any
distractions such as Fukushima and the consequent public-reassurance
exercise carried out by Dr. Weightman, the Times (21/7/11) suggests
that following the delays encountered at their Flamanville (Brittany)
site, the start of any projects in the U.K., such as at Sizewell and
Hinkley Point, may be delayed "until the U.K. government needs
The lack-lustre demonstration of the combined Areva / Électricité
flagship project is still causing the companies
problems. Amusingly (or not!), these problems are advertised
"useful for gaining experience to enable us to become more competent
when we next build". Heaven protect us from P.R.
people. We just hope that someone is taking notes before the
lessons are forgotten.
In the five years since they started, the
risen from £2.8 billion to last year's £3.4 billion
stands at £5.3 billion!
How could the costs have been so
wrong, and what does this do to the projected cost of electricity (henceforward
to be called électricité,
produced? Not only that, but the
project is now 4
With typical sang froid,
the management are still saying that
the build is on budget - not pointing out that the budget is constantly
changing. It is certainly a very long way off the original
budget - as witness the nearly doubled costs.
There is a bit of a scrap going on at the moment between the builders
and the French nuclear energy inspectorate, as the latter accuse the
sub-contractors - Bouygueres - of under-reporting the occupational
accidents on the site, and have expressed their concerns about safety.
Over the period of building, there have been many problems.
June/July the whole operation was suspended as the inspectors decided
that the system for concrete pouring was inadequate. There
already been problems with suspect welding on the containment vessel
and errors made in the installation of steel reinforcement.
If these problems are manifested over here, we are in for trouble.
Sadly, they do sound very similar to the problems
the same companies in their build at Olkiluoto, in Finland, which has
ended up with each side suing the other. Happy times indeed.
The Bouygoueres website is somewhat intriguing. It seems
is in for the building of the the U.K.'s sites. There is to
plan (isn't there always?) which entails an 18 month gap between
building each of the sites. Now, this sounds rather like
are planning on using the same teams for every construction.
Whilst this is a fine and sensible process, we do wonder whether the
much vaunted job-creation which the constructions entail, will actually
just be French teams (or at least, French managed teams) attending to
each site. Thus politicians would say, 500 men times 8 sites
4,000 jobs, when in fact
is just the same 500 jobs repeated, which, of course, does nothing much
for the unemployment figures or the economy.
Invasion Causes Concern
News 24 referred to the exponential growth of the
jellyfish population around U.K. shores. Apparently caused
over-fishing - thereby removing the jellyfish's natural predators - and
warming of the seas around the coast. We have consistently
pointed out that the discharge of hot water from nuclear waste and
energy generation cooling systems will have an adverse impact on the
situation. Whilst seemingly inoccuous in itself, warming is
much of a problem as the heat allegedly saved by reduced CO2
production. Consider the cooling required for hundreds of
megawatts of electricity, and you get some idea of the scale of the
problem. Not only that, but the Irish Sea was one of the
problem areas. With so many current and projected nuclear
all discharging into the limited flows of the Irish Sea and unable to
dissipate through the Atlantic, the jellyfish are likely to become even
more of a problem. Elsewhere on the site we have reported on
problems of jellyfish congregating around the inlet pipes for nuclear
plants, blocking the screens and stopping the water-flow.
Earlier this year, on 29th June, two reactors were closed down because
of this. The suggestion was that the sea temperatures around
east coast of Scotland were approximately one degree warmer than
normal. The blame for this was put on global warming.
Quite why that was the case, rather than the discharges from the
nuclear sites, we don't know. Further
information from Reuters
to Pull Out of
Horizon Venture? Électricité de France
in both Germany and the U.K., RWE are likely to pull out of the joint
venture with E.ON to build new nuclear plants in the U.K.
According to RWE managers the costs have risen too high. The
failure of the industry in Germany is also said to be influencing the
decision. The first of the Horizon schemes was a 6 Gigawatt
station at Wylfa, alongside an existing plant on Anglesey.
Despite no decisions having been made (HA!) and no permissions given
(HA!), preparations for expansion at the site were already well in
hand. It is tempting to wonder whether this is a genuine
for the company, or just a ploy. Having helped stampede the
government into an expansion scheme with their suggestions that the
lights will go out, and touted nuclear as the antidote to global
warming, pretended that handing control of the electrical grid to
foreign companies helps reduce our dependency and increases our energy
security (DOH!), and got so far down the line (decisions are expected
to be announced before the parliamentary summer holidays - sorry,
recess), these people are now in a prime position to blackmail the
government into even greater assistance in new build. The
politicians can hardly say that we don't need it any more, having spent
so much time, effort and money in waving the nuclear banner.
the other hand,
there have been rumours for quite some time that there may be financial
problems for RWE back in Germany, which could leave them without the
investment capabilities required. The cost of building the
proposed plants has risen already from £15 billion to
billion. Not bad when building has not (officially) yet
What is the eventual cost likely to be if the cost is going
increase by £1 billion a year? What does this
rise say about the future decommissioning costs, and how much will they
have risen in 160 years? Have these rapid rises been
and incorporated into the viability of new plant? We bet
haven't. As with PFI, the best case scenarios will have been
presented for nuclear and the worst case scenarios for other generating
methods. Still, any increase in dumping costs will not be a
worry for any of the nuclear generators - it will be the tax-payer who
has to cough up, thanks to our highly-biased government ministers and
civil servants. A white paper is expected next week in which
government's support for low-carbon generators (amongst whom they
include nuclear) and methods for assisting the financial problems
likely to be encountered.
Surely, if this is just a bit of muscle-flexing by the foreign
companies in order to extract the maximum financial assistance, it just
demonstrates how reliant on their goodwill we will become in future,
when conventional methods of generation have been usurped by nuclear.
There are suggestions that the companies will be paid merely
having the capacity to provide electricity - whether it is needed or
not. Nice one. With a former chairman of British
in the driving seat of the Green Investment Bank . . .
know who owns British Energy these days?
Continuing the farce that is the assessment of U.K. nuclear plant
inspections, Dr. M. Weightman is expected to produce a final report
into site safety "in the autumn". Already we are seeing
in the press that suggest Weightman will see no problems with the
current situation and that everything is very safe. It is
amusing to imagine what would happen if the Chief Inspector were to
report that there are too many unknown unknowns (with apologies to
Donald Rumsfeld) and expansion should be stalled until the problems are
resolved. How likely is that? We reckon that we
reliably forecast exactly what the report will conclude - and we would
be a lot cheaper.
Ain't politics wonderful?
Information Continues to be
Alleged Whilst The Ecomic Cost Rises
amount of radiation released by the Fukushima Daiichinuclear
power plant in the days after the 11 March tsunami could have been more
than double that originally estimated by its operator, Japan's nuclear
safety agency has said.
The revelation has raised fears that the situation at the plant,
where fuel in three reactors suffered meltdown, was more serious than
government officials have acknowledged."
operator of Japan's
announced record losses of 1.25 trillion yen (£9.5bn) as it
counts the cost of ongoing efforts to contain the world's worst nuclear
accident since Chernobyl.
Electric Power (Tepco) said the losses – the biggest ever by
Japanese firm outside the financial sector – compared with a
profit of 134bn yen the previous year.
firm's beleaguered president, Masataka Shimizu, said on Friday that he
would resign to take responsibility for the crisis at the Fukushima
plant, now in its third month.
Nishizawa, managing director, will replace him after a shareholders'
meeting on 28 June.
Potential - Another Point
for a Judicial Review?
The current issue of Cumbrian Wildlife magazine (May, 2011, No. 90)
contains an article on Birds and Wind Turbines. Given the
we would reluctantly have to go with wind farms, despite their being a
blight on the landscape. However, the penultimate paragraph
states: "At the same time Cumbria's western coast has been
designated "The Energy Coast", without any prior environmental
assessment." So, the clever people behind this stampede have
managed to do away with the environmental assessment and the health
assessment that such large and contentious developments should have
completed before being put forward. Wonderful, eh?
- Did Someone Really Post This?
A note from a Babcock employee (albeit an ex-Sellafield manager)
appeared on the Office for Nuclear Regulation's web-site for two days
before it was removed. We reproduce the questions as
complete with inappropriate capitalisation and strange grammar.
key points include:
- There were occasions when the
required the utilisation of “Off Site support" [cranes etc].
These off Site units were never called in to Site on a “Real
basis ", due to exercise time constraints.
- Rehearsal of ‘multiple' or
emergencies, was occasionally played out but frequently the scenarios
were interrelated. Loss of Services and uncontrolled release of
activity to the environment.
- Only once on the Sellafield Site was
exercise played out in " Real time" and this was abandoned after less
than 24 hours: with minimum involvement of replacement Emergency Duty
- It is several years since a
Loss of Electricity Supply” to Site were exercised, requiring
coupling of Diesel Back up generators etc.
The writer went on to ask:
- Have they rehearsed adequately
and inter dependant Emergency Scenarios, such as Loss of Power and
- Have they ‘played out’
emergency exercise in REAL Time over say a 48+ hour’s basis?
- Have they ever tried to secure Off
Support Equipment in 'Real Time': specifically: cranes, Mobile
generators, additional /replacement emergency staff etc.
- Have they considered within their
Planning the possibility of losing ALL the Key Utilities to the Site:
Electricity, Water, Steam, Compressed air & other essential
concurrent with say Chemical or other toxic releases.
- Have they got contingency plans in
secure whatever additional resources they may require.
- Have they considered the scenario
staff on site at the time of a Major Incident, also affecting the local
area, may demand to be released to go to the aid of their families?
Possible scenarios include:
Result would be
the need to secure large Diesel Generators, pumps & fuel
from say Manchester or Newcastle: not an easy task if the attack was
timed for say a bank holiday Friday!!
attack from out with the Site Security Fence.
destroy the following, without requiring access to the Site.
out not only
Fellside [for Electricity & steam] but also the adjacent
Diesel & Steam Supply units.
standby Gas Turbine and Diesels Generators on the main Site
destruction of the Brow Top Reservoir & pumping station.
a couple of
Electricity Supply Pylons to both North & south of the Site,
rendering it, and the whole of West Cumbria, completely devoid of
The write concludes with:
. . . not sure where we have heard all this said before -
perhaps on this site?
scenario been necessary last year when the Bridges in Workington were
down, how long could it have taken to secure equipment from those
it ma have been
possible to provide police escorts but many of these large items of
equipment do not travel at speeds greater that approx 30 mph: and
require considerable road space. If these items were acquired, what
about the logistics of keeping them supplied with diesel fuel etc??
sounds negative, but it was a debate that was held by the Duty
Engineering Teams following a terrorist attack some years ago, the
Sites preparedness at that time was based on minimum personnel
infiltration to the Site, where as it was considered that there is the
potential for sever damage that could readily and easily be caused,
without gaining access to the secure areas, and the impact would not
only be to the Site but also the surrounding areas.
of the Isle of
has written to the Office for Public Management (Who?) to put their
views on the nuclear future. Suffice to say, they are not in
favour of anything being developed which may increase the risk to
residents of the Isle of Man. Like us, they foreseee the
from new reactors (more concentrated than the legacy waste) being
shipped around the U.K. to find a centralised home at Sellafield where
it will await reprocessing (if they - or the French - ever get the
process to work) prior to disposal down the Big Hole, where it will
remain a threat virtually for eternity.
their concerns over the proposal to build a further set of reactors at
Sellafield, particularly in such close proximity to the existing stored
from Sellafield's high hazard legacy facilities. The
for a major accident at one of these redundant nuclear facilities (e.g.
the legacy ponds and waste silos) has been highlighted on numerous
occasions and, again only recently, by the Nuclear Installations
Inspectorate (NII) in October, 2009. The NNI (sic) Principle
Inspector at Sellafield reported on the current safety status of these
high hazard facilities to the local community as follows:
. NII is
concerned that the risk of a major event caused by further degradation
of the legacy plants or increased time at risk due to deferrals is far
too high. NII has written to Sellafield to advise that every
effort should be given to reduce the risk at the earliest opportunity'.
quite clear that there is a potential for a serious nuclear accident at
Sellafield if, for example, in cicumstances during decommissioning of
one of these high hazard facilities, there occurs some 'major technical
failure'. The nuclear regulator may itself regard the
possibility of a serious nuclear accident as extremely remote, but the
consequences could be calamitous for the region, including the Isle of
Man. The construction of a nuclear power station at
creates a potential situation, whereby the UK authorities could face
dealing with a major nuclear accident at Sellafield, whilst having to
maintain operational safety at an adjacent nuclear power station.
Such a dangerous situation is entirely avoidable.
Furthermore, such a scenario must surely be considered during the
planning process for a new power station at Sellafield and will surely
also have implications for emergency planning at the Sellafield site."
further into the document, include:
- 'However, as yet, little
evidence has been
produced to invalidate previous expert opinion that West Cumbria
possesses no suitable rocks in which to site such a repository';
- 'The government's
assurances regarding the
safety and security of surface storage facilities over this timescale
[100 years+] have not inspired the high level of confidence Isle of Man
expects for such plans;
- 'The accumulation of
nuclear waste at
Sellafield to the extent that it presently contains the largest part of
the UK's total waste inventory is considered to be a danger to the Isle
of Man's evironment and its economic interests.'
from the quango devoted to promoting the nuclear dumps in Allerdal and
Copeland. Stangely, not a word about the implications of
a massive hole under people's property or how they are going to reverse
the findings of the Nirex Inquiry. Everything is hunky-dory
the nuclear waste industry and this is the best way forward -
allegedly. One of the matters which support the process is
finding by a company called GVA Ltd., which says that they "talked to"
740 people, including residents, businesses and visitors.
an in-depth analysis, then, given that there are around quarter of a
million people in Cumbria. Happily, in true form, he who
the piper calls the tune, and most people thought that the dump was a
good idea. Most also thought that it would be good for
and improve investment in transport. How fortunate for the
industry and the Partnership. The document is a little
to judge, however, as there is, so far as we can see (but we will keep
looking!), no proper indication of how many people were actually
interviewed to give the relevant percentages. Numbers
to the graphs indicating alternative or uncategorised responses do not
translate as a percentage, so it is impossible to tell how many
people's opinion/perceptions are being depticted
An annexed document.shows some "case studies". Hardly the
heavyweight stuff one might imagine. Just a few paragraphs
quotes from reports published elsewhere, such as one from the Swedish
town of Östhammar, which has as Fig A1: The change in
Östhammar residents perceptions. This depicts the
residents' perceptions in relation to something unspecified - showing
whether they are "For", or "Definitely For" whatever the idea might
have been. It strikes us as being another smokescreen,
to look impressive superficially, but not having any real substance in
also have problems
with statements like, "80% of residents think there will be more jobs",
etc. The wording should be a lot more circumspect and
the phrase, "of those interviewed". Basically the whole
seems to be what the Partnership wanted to hear, but who ultimately,
pays for this sort of propaganda and misinformation?
face it, if it were really that good, why are only those areas subject
to this continuous bombardment of propaganda the ones "expressing an
interest"? Everyone is out of step except our Johnny, eh?
New-build Nuclear Projects?
article in the Times, 25/5/11, the German company, RWE , would struggle
to fund its share of the multi-billion pound programme even if it went
ahead. Its partner, another German company E.ON, together
Horizon as a joint venture to build reactors in the U.K., and the first
of these in Anglesey was due to have been a contract award stage by
early this year. It hasn't happened. Now it is
be delayed for at least three to six months as the German nuclear
industry is still in some disarray following the Fukushima Dai-ichi
melt-downs. Seems like the nuclear issue is somewhat
in Germany at the moment and they feel it would not be right to be
building in another country something which they won't have in their
own. Good. So how much of a subsidy will they get
their collective consciences - despite the reassurances to the contrary
Spanish company Iberdrola, another proposer of new-build in
U.K., including at Sellafield, has problems of its own. The
construction group ACS , already owner of 18% of Iberdrola, is making
efforts to take over the whole company. It might take their
off bring the risks of nuclear to the U.K. for a while whilst they
fight off ACS's bid.
short note, in
the 25/5/11, Robert Lea wrote about the proposed dump being worth
£20 million a year and the project will cost £12
overall. The projections are for 1,000 skilled people
550 over the next 140 years (!!). One wonders
these figures are like those of Hutton, who, as part of his pro-nuclear
stance suggested that 100,000 jobs would be generated as a result of
the nuclear new-build. Decidedly at odds with the forecasts
the companies building the reactors. £20 million
pretty small money for the potential of catastrophic pollution.
We're not even sure that $40 billion would be enough.
idea is to build
a 480,000 cubic metre hole and fill it with canisters of nuclear waste.
We still await answers as to what the plan is.
the material be buried so that it cannot under any circumstances be
disinterred, or will it be retrievable in the event of a leak or other
problem? It seems unlikely that the mining, processing, and
packaging in copper, etc., will have been included in the claims that
nuclear is CO2
light, as that might
negate the claim. Will the dump chamber be excavated and
the nuclear waste be placed there, with no expansion of the facility?
If further expansion to the same chamber is to be
permitted, what would happen if geological conditions result in a leak
- given the fractured state of the local rock, that is something that
is quite possible.
no mention of the infra-structure difficulties that might ensue from
the dump being located in the Gosforth/Sellafield area.
the locals have not been appraised of the effect of blasting rock on a
regular basis for up to three years. Our property is already
shaken by the test-firing of munitions at Drigg. Goodness
knows what structural damage might ensue from the dump's construction.
Month's Wait -
up with being
ignored and following a request about how to make a formal complaint,
we suddenly got some action from Cumbria Constabulary. In a
poorly-written letter, we have been informed by an Assistant Chief
Constable that the constabulary were too busy still dealing with a
six-month-old event to write to us. Strange how, when
with a formal complaint they can respond within a week.
Redfern investigated events
which took place in Cumbria over a thirty year period! We
heard some tales, so what were the police doing during that time?
Did none of them
know what was going
on? The police regularly attend post mortems, and it is
reasonable to believe that they may have been present when samples were
taken inappropriately and illegally for use by Sellafield.
from the action of the medical staff involved, we have to wonder about
the involvement of the union representatives.
upshot of it all is that no action will be taken against anyone,
the findings in the Redfern Report that criminal offences had occurred,
that there had been corruption of the coronial procedures and that
everyone had become too close to Sellafield. To out mind
a highly qualified and competent inquisitor, determined that criminal
offences had been committed by certain, named, parties.
Nowadays, it seems, politicians can determine whether crimes should be
investigated. These transient office-holders seem to think
an apology is all that is required to wipe the slate clean.
Perhaps a little too much, "There but for fortune . . "?
letter from the Assistant Chief Constable tells us that they would only
if the government asked them to, and they hadn't. She also
us that the government had made a full apology to the relatives of
those affected, continuing, "They were of the opinion that no
public interest would be served by bringing a prosecution."
Whether, by that, she meant the government felt that way, or
relatives, is unclear.
Even if no action should be taken by the police over the Human Tissue
Act breaches, surely there is prima
facie evidence of corruption,
perhaps even fraud? Still, like the Irish Sea, it is best to
leave waters unstirred for fear it might become cloudy. Just
far might those clouds reach? However, as seems to be the
these days, if politicians are involved, or big money, an apology will
suffice and to heck with the law.
Two films showing the impact of nuclear events were shown on More
4: Nuclear Eternity, and Heavy
former shows the debate around Onkalo in Finland, a nuclear dump being
developed by Posiva, and near to the Olkiluoto nuclear
sites. Some of the government officials seem to be
confident that the dump will survive
100,000 years that the waste will remain active.
more realistic, pointing out that nothing man-made has ever lasted
anything like that long. It also raised the
how and what should future generations be told about the dump, and to
what extent the site should be sealed - whether virtually
eternally, or just enough so that in the event of a method of safely
disposing of the waste coming to light, the waste could be resurrected
and treated. There seemed to be confidence about
ability of the dump to be leak-proof, despite evidence of water
dripping through the ceiling. Perhaps that can be
becomes the home of the 120 tonnes of high-level waste that Finland
expects to produce each year.
Water is rather
arty and, personally, we would have preferred a more documentary
commentary. It did, however, show the real
Chernobyl. It reiterates the "on-the-ground"
figures of 140,000 in Belarus/Ukraine and 60,000 for
Russia. Yet the World Health Organisation figure is
56, as it ignores the
of thyroid and other cancers from the area as being directly associated
with the nuclear explosion. Another scary fact is
600,000 children carry cards with them stating that they, or their
parents, have been exposed to radiation. It was not
what use was made of the cards, or whether the data was
processed for any purpose.
allegations of incompetence and deceit by TEPCO and Japanese government
officials, we are now informed that 10,500 tonnes of "not too
radioactive water" has been pumped into the sea. According
our reckoning, that equates to about 2.5 million gallons, but that
would be much more scary than the tonnage. (Whoever measures
the tonne?) Of course, there is the standard rider that
accompanies all nuclear bulletins: the radioactive iodine
have decayed within 8 days to a safe level. No doubt no-one
been hurt, either. What damage will be done by the
iodine before it has decayed to an inconsequential level, and what
about other substances present in the water? We are supposed
be reassured by placating remarks that no-one has died as a result of
the incident (although two workers have been treated for radiation
burns) yet. It is interesting to note that according to an
American publication, "The steepest rise in thyroid cancer in
neighbouring Belarus came nearly two decades after the explosion" [at
Chernobyl]. The article is very poignant and can be found here. The
reason for the dumping is to make room for much more highly radioactive
water from the reactors. How long before that, too, is
sea to make room for even more lethal water? Japan has also
requested assistance from Russia, asking that they send a floating
waste-handling barge to Japan to help them dispose of a further 60,000
process will not provide
ultimate disposal of the material, but will solidify contaminated
liquid waste from the country's crippled nuclear power plant. The main
idea behind the floating plant is that it treats radioactive liquid
with chemicals and turns it into solid cement. In common
the rest of the world, there are no processes - other than natural
decay over decades/centuries - that will render the end product safe.
Japan's nuclear waste disposal plans are unsustainable,
their plan demands safe disposal of all wastes. The basis of
disposal is underground storage after concentration of the waste to
enable encapsulation of the most radioactive materials. In
light of recent events, the stability of Japan's geology, this may not
be seen to be a safe option. The process, akin to the one at
Sellafield, also produces more low- and intermediate-level wastes which
also require storage.
In the interim, Korea has lodged objections to the sea-dumping,
claiming it violates universally agreed protocols on reporting nuclear
accidents. Apologising, Japanese government officials
that they did not need to inform Seoul as the dumping was taking place
on the eastern seaboard - perhaps imagining that once in the sea the
material would just stay put and not be affected by the currents which
circulate towards Korea from Japan. Having now realised the
scale of the problem, the nuclear industry's PR people seem to have
swung into action, and only good news makes it to the world's news
agencies. Apart from the stopping of the high-level waste
from the concrete bunker, little has been said about the current status
by the BBC or Sky. It is necessary to go to NHK World to
any insight. Oh, and the caesium in the fish will decay very
quickly. We have heard nothing much about the other
that are usually to be found in nuclear plants.
A diplomatic source in Tokyo said.
"It seems Japan is
trying to downplay the scale of the disaster by keeping a lid on
contamination was worsening Tuesday in the sea near the Fukushima
plant, with iodine-131 detected in coastal waters at 7.5 million times
above normal. Contamination fears have led to a sharp drop in seafood
consumption in Japan."
(Korean) . The
reasons for the allegations mentioned above stem from the mistakes made
in radioactivity levels made by TEPCO (is it likely, under the
circumstances, that a professional - used to taking such readings,
would make a mistake of the order of thousands the actual level?),
together with the apparent current news blackout. How much
the latter perceived blackout is the result of the influence of the
industry, and how much the desire of the Japanese government to
minimise the perceived damage will only be known in the decades to come.
The Power of the Press
intriguing announcement on Press TV's ticker tape (not expanded to an
article as yet, so far as we can discern) says that journalists are
becoming rather cross about being denied honest information about the
true state of affairs at the Fukushima plant. Given
nature of the nuclear industry, their political influence, and the
financial backing that they have, small wonder that they can even
control what the residents are entitled to know.
have been told that sea water is now at 4,000 the legal limit, that
highly radioactive particles have been found around the site, the
basements and lower-level corridors of the reactor houses are full of
highly radioactive water, and that very high levels of radioactivity
have now been detected in the groundwater. Farm produce,
vegetables, milk and beef is also contaminated.
Currently, we are told, the workers are pumping out the radioactive
water so that they can go in and attempt to reconnect the cooling
system. According to France 24 (31/3/11), workers were
from the site after radioactivity reached a new high - said to be a
President Sarkozy is currently on a visit to Tokyo and has announced
"solidarity" with the Japanese. He has also called for a
of G20 nuclear regulators in May (France 24 television, 1/4/11).
Desperate, no doubt to rescue what he can from the increasingly likely
loss of £billions of nuclear reactors that would have helped
desperately flagging popularity at home. Loss of these
following on from the collapse of the sale of fighter aircraft would
make his re-election even less likely.
On a more mundane level, there has been scant mention of the earthquake
overnight centred on Blackpool. A mere 2.2 on the scale, it
of academic interest only, we suppose, but is there really anything to
stop a much larger event occuring?
Nuclear Free Local
Committee Press Release
At a meeting between UK government ministers the Nuclear Free Local
Authorities it was confirmed that the 8 joint demands of the
Non-governmental Organisations and the NFLA were being fully
considered. The 8 demands have also been passed on to the
detailed review of nuclear safety currently being undertaken by Dr. M.
Weightman, head of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.
The key 8 demands made by the NFLA and NGOs in its letter to Chris
Huhne, Mike Weightman and the Nuclear Industry Association were as
UK Government’s nuclear safety review must be undertaken in
be fully open and transparent. It should include non nuclear industry
representatives and consider nuclear reactors, spent fuel stores and
‘exclusions’ arrangement in the Generic Design
and those arrangements, such as deferring issue resolution in order to
artificially meet the nuclear new build timetable, must be abandoned.
The GDA process and the governance regime of nuclear safety in the UK
should be reviewed as a result of the Fukushima incident;
NO public subsidies for nuclear new build as per the UK Government
coalition agreement. All the groups oppose the development of new
nuclear build in the UK and are concerned that the development of the
low carbon price gives an indirect subsidy of up to £3.2
health effects of
low level radiation on land and in the marine environment need to be
Ministerial statements that they have confidence that the proposed
arrangements for new build radioactive waste management will exist
should cease or be required to be justified or qualified;
Government should commission an urgent independent security review on
current and projected radioactive waste and spent fuel interim storage
Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority need to resolve
over 100 identified scientific and technical uncertainties before
developing a deep-underground radioactive waste repository;
Government should abandon the option of using separated weapons-grade
plutonium as reprocessed Mox fuel for use by domestic and overseas
Says the Obvious
journalists whilst in South America, Mr. Clegg has been reported as
saying that the economics of new nuclear will have to be reappraised in
light of the Fukushima melt-down.
with the idea
that 10 new reactors could be installed at eight sites around England
and Wales, he has said that if those wishing to build could do so to
improved safety standards (thereby pre-empting the findings of Dr. M.
Weightman's checks) and without any further government money, they
would be allowed to do so. However, he thought that it was
unlikely such power stations would be economically viable.
Tokyo Power and Electric's share value has decreased by almost 75%
since the problems arose at Fukushima, where engineers now say that
they think the fuel rods have melted through the floor of the
containment vessel and may be causing the pollution. (!)
Together with the costs of the earthquake and the tsunami, the repair
bill being faced by insurers is now believed to be in the region of
$300 billion. Just who do you think will have to pay for
Ultimately everybody, in the form of elevated insurance
and increase cost of products from Japan.
Lies, Damned Lies
current situation in Japan, and the assertions in national press that
only 56 people died as a result of the Chernobyl accident, has prompted
us to have a look at the
evidence available from the Chernobyl accident.
According to the
Guardian, 10/1/10, the
proposed that there would be around 16,000 deaths. However,
evidence from hospitals and other institutions who are actually having
to deal with the cases, over 200,000 deaths have occurred.
wonder how the discrepancy has arisen and why those with the first-hand
experience of dealing with cases have taken second place to
theoreticists and "information managers" hundreds of miles away.
Is there not a case for an
honest appraisal and an end to the obfuscation? We
galling when people suggest that there have been no deaths in the
nuclear industry. The greater majority of these dead people
not even benefit from the industry that caused their suffering - they
merely undured the
consequences of those with vested interests and an eye to personal gain.
To add insult to injury, the World Health Organisation says that only
56 have died and 4,000 will eventually die. So the next time
someone says that there have been no deaths in the nuclear industry,
put them right.
Whilst we are on the subject of statistics, we are intrigued as to why
a statistician might take a sample size of 0.00001% as being
representative or indicative of a trend and use it to justify a theory
which has universal ramifications. Yet this is what has
to figures for global warming!
The latest edition of
The National Trust's "Near You" supplement has a lovely picture of St.
Bee's Head from the Whitehaven side, across lush fields. The
heading says, "Opening up the Colourful Coast". A far cry
Mr. Reed and his cohorts' "Energy Coast" that will result in the
destruction of all this
The article describes the area as 'part
of the hidden
gem of the North West coastline'
and associates it with the
of Whitehaven. The project co-ordinator says, "It offers so much
for ordinary people to enjoy: walking, cycling, wildlife
watching, angling [!??], water
sports, or simply enjoying the coastal
views and beaches."
The colourful coast project website can be
found at the Trust's colourful
would be to get there whilst it lasts - before the politicians have
undermined it all (literally) and filled it with nuclear reactors,
reprocessing plants, and have disturbed the polluted soil at
Sellafield, and the sediments in the Irish Sea, transforming
whole into a major unwelcoming construction site.
ran secret lobbying
campaign to reduce nuclear waste disposal levy
Zone? Ideal for nuclear reactor sites?
earthquake with an
intensity of 3.5 on the Richter scale, centred on Eskdale
under 10 miles from Sellafield's existing site and a mere 2½
miles from the proposed nuclear dump!), shook buildings at just before
2300 hrs., on Tuesday, 21st December, 2010. It was
residents of towns as far away as Blackpool and Dalbeattie,
Dumfries and Galloway. Less than a fortnight later, on
3rd January, 2011, another quake occurred less than 100 miles away,
outside Ripon. This one measured 3.6 on the scale.
Not being seismologists we don't
have a great understanding of the relevance of earthquakes to the
proposed (or even the existing) nuclear sites and
will be interesting to see how the nuclear industry reacts to any
challenge relating to this. What is the betting
will be a whole range of experts willing to dispute the natural,
uneducated, reaction that instability is not a beneficial quality when
considering nuclear dumps? Nothing to worry about there,
From other sources we have received confirmation that Sellafield is far
from being a favourite with the industry for development, being tenth
in the list of popular sites. Seems like there are worries
something called "contamination" and the poor
wonder, though, whether those problems are of less concern than the
money which will be required to overcome them.
Still, the proposals must be safe as the industry's supporters,
including nearly all the local politicians, (has anyone heard the MP,
Jamie Reed, actually say anything adverse about the proposals to do
away with Braystones and Kirksanton?) are in favour. So,
to heck with the future. Let us fudge the figures and
the pragmatism of those who value human life and the environment over
the greed of a totally unnecessary industry.
Back on the List for Ratepayer Handouts
loan to facilitate Sheffield Forgemasters' development of high-grade
steel - originally worked out with that master of probity and
integrity, Lord Mandelson - is apparently back on the agenda.
Labour government never actually said what the money was going to be
Although it was apparent that Mr. E. Miliband had already determined
that nuclear development would take place (despite the requirement
for him to remain
impartial until all the evidence was in - including the public
consultations, which had not even begun at that time!).
We noted, even back then, that only one country was
the required grade of steel for the new reactors, and it wasn't the
U.K.. Nowadays, it appears, there is ready acknowledgement
the money was to enable Sheffield Forgemasters to produce steel for
we were expected to
belive that the Sheffield Forgemasters deal was put together to produce
the steel that would be required for the new-build nuclear reactors
well before any decision had been made to actually go ahead!
we to believe that E. Miliband had not made the decision regarding
nuclear development at that stage? Perhaps it would be rude
us to question how long Mandelson had been involved in putting the deal
together, and whether there was any connection between that deal and
the mothballing of the huge Corus steelworks on Teesside?
more opportunities to be ignored!
. . . and still they come! Yet more
One was scheduled for 9th December in the Civic Hall, Whitehaven.
The invitation list included over thirty people, of whom just 3 have
anti-nuclear views. Due to travel and other constraints we
not able to attend, but did send in a submission outlining our
opinion on the removal of Braystones and Kirksanton from the list of
potential sites. Click
here to read our views.
Apparently there was no appearance from RWE. Perhaps they
too busy persuading politicians to change their minds and put
Braystones and Kirksanton back on the list?
No suggestion of bias anywhere - especially not at the BBC - but we do
wonder why they haven't picked up on the protest held outside the
European Parliament. No mention of it has been found on the
website, nor was it transmitted by Russia Today, Al
France 24. EuroNews did carry it on a late night
bulletin on 7th October.
The protest consisted of samples of sand, soil, mud., etc., collected
from sites readily
accessible to the public, being placed in drums outside the building.
Although not classified as posing a threat when deposited in the sea,
once it has been collected together it magically becomes radioactive
thus has to be treated accordingly.
channel we could find carrying pictures and the article was
Although some American newspapers picked up on the AP report.
activists hoisted flags and held up banners proclaiming, "Nuclear
waste, no solution."
You will note that one of the samples is from the U.K., and from the
beach at Sellafield
our Home Page heading picture):
(1.2kg) from Sellafield, contaminated by waste water from the nearby
reprocessing facility. The
11,670 Bq/kg Americium-241
and 5,990 Bq/kg Cesium-137. The levels of Americium-241 are 11 times
over the limit set by Belgian authorities for radioactive waste of
1,000 Bq/kg. The Sellafield
reprocessing facility, owned by the
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – – a
public body- -
takes spent fuel from nuclear power stations in the UK, Canada,
Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan.
It extracts usable uranium and plutonium while producing vast amounts
of radioactive waste. Part of that is emitted into the Irish Sea, where
it contaminates shores, seabed, plants and fish.
surprised by this article from the Guardian?
is being offered what campaigners claim is a taxpayer subsidy on the
disposal costs of waste from new reactors following a secret lobbying
campaign, the Guardian has learned.
revelation will put further scrutiny on the new government's promise
that there will be no subsidy for nuclear power. Liberal Democrat Chris
Huhne, the new energy and climate change secretary of state, admitted
to the Guardian this week that the government already faces a
£4bn funding black hole over existing radioactive waste.
previous government had planned to charge the industry a high, fixed,
disposal levy tied to the amount of nuclear waste it produced. It had
also originally told the industry that responsibility for the waste
should be transferred to the state only once the waste had been
disposed of, at least 110 years from the start of a reactor's
operations. Both proposals were deeply unpopular with the industry. In
the Labour government published revised proposals that made significant
concessions on both issues. Consultation on the plans will conclude
this month. A spokesman for the energy department said the consultation
was continuing but declined to comment on whether the new government
would take a different approach to the previous administration.
released under a freedom of information request reveal the extent of
behind-the-scenes lobbying last year in Whitehall by EDF Energy, the
French firm that wants to build the first new reactors in the UK for
decades. The lobbying focused on the two key proposals which were
revised in March.
meeting with officials from the energy department in July last year,
EDF Energy's presentation concluded that the original proposals were
another meeting in October, the presentation
warned: "At current levels, [the proposed] fixed price model will
significantly impact the economics
and could make an investment unattractive." In a letter
in July to
department, the company even warned that the cost calculations could
"be open to challenge in future on the grounds of prudency".
spokesman from Greenpeace said: "These
blow EDF's claim that
they won't need any subsidies for new nuclear clean out of the water.
They know full well that the economics of nuclear don't stack up and
that new reactors will only ever happen if the British taxpayer is
forced yet again to carry the atomic can."
effort to protect the taxpayer from having to pick up the tab, last
year the government proposed charging a very high fixed unit price for
waste disposal. But EDF argued it was much too high. The revised
proposal would allow operators to set aside a much lower amount for the
first 10 years of a reactor's operation.
original plan had also been for the government to assume title
responsibility – for the waste once it had been disposed of
underground storage facility, which has yet to be built. This transfer
– and the transfer of funds by operators to the government to
costs – would take place after 110 years of the reactor
operation, at the earliest. But EDF said this would involve too
long-term an investment risk, as the returns from their waste disposal
fund would have to cover the costs when it matured over a century
later. The consultation instead proposed the transfer taking place once
decommissioning has been completed, after around 60 years.
department spokesman said: "The allegation that outcomes of the
consultation have been pre-agreed with industry have no foundation. The
coalition has committed that there will be no public subsidy for new
The sole idea for disposing of nuclear waste is to shove it in a hole
and leave it for someone else to deal with. This constitutes
Plan A. When pressed for a Plan B, the answer was, "To make
A work." (Spokesperson on Radio 4 interview.) The
councils who have expressed an interest are Copeland and Allerdale, yet
geology seems to preclude safe disposal in these areas.
remember the Nirex enquiry?
Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geology at Glasgow University, is not
opposed to geological disposal in principle, but he says the
evidence carried out in the 1990s which cost the public purse
£400M shows that no site in West Cumbria is suitable for
was surprised that Nirex had ruled out the feasibility of
three-dimensional (3D) seismic surveys at Sellafield, and offered to
conduct for Nirex an experimental 3D survey, which took place in 1994.
The survey was over a proposed rock characterisation facility (RCF)
– a deep underground laboratory planned as a precursor to
waste disposal. This was a double world
– the first ever 3D seismic survey of such a site, and the
academic group to use this method, which is now an essential tool of
the oil exploration industry."
An excellent letter in the Whitehaven News, week ending 23/9/10, from
Dr. D. Lowry, who points to the many hidden subsidies enjoyed by the
"No Subsidy" nuclear industry.
lists many of the differing ways in which the UK government subsidises
the industy; the cumulative total being over
million. This takes no account of the many other costly
measures, such as the £8.44 billion (and rising) to be given
the NDA for the three years 2008 - 11. Of
such high financing requires the bosses be paid huge bonuses and, sure
enough, these materialised in 2010 whilst simultaneously 1200 job
losses were announced. Sadly, there is now insufficient
left for the planned decommissioning of the Windscale site, which is
now to be "mothballed". Effectively, this means that nothing
will be done to remove these highly contaminated structures.
They will be "observed" and, occasionally, "maintained".
Times are hard, too, for West Cumbria's Managing Radioactive Waste
Safety Partnership - yet another committee, this one designed to come
up with a positive answer to the burial of radioactive waste in the
county. Apparently DECC have withdrawn their funding for
meetings this year.
According to the Whitehaven News, the leader of the local council for
Copeland, Ms. Elaine Woodburn, is upset that the managers at Sellafield
- Nuclear Management Partners - haven't been talking to the council.
Not altogether sure how this differs from the way the public
were kept in the dark - by politicians and the industry - about the
potential new build projects which will, if carried out, decimate the
area's amenity.. It seems about par for the course in
whether dealing with the local council or any of the various quangos
pursuing their own quiet agenda.
Private Eye, 1272, 1/10/10, has an interesting article about the future
of new nuclear. Apart from the mistaken assertion that
is low carbon, it mentions the involvement of Angela Merkel in the
possibly-unconstitutional agreement reached with the German nuclear
generators re. the extension of several reactors' life. The
article then goes on to explain the tricky relationship between EdF and
Areva. The EdF president, M. Francois Roussely is apparently
proposing a form of merger for the two companies. Apparently
Roussely is not impressed with Areva's failure to win contracts
overseas and their continuing troubles with the new EPR reactors being
built in France and Finland. Both are grossly over-budget
behind schedule. M. Roussely also suggests that the EPRs are
unlikely to be successful outside France, as most countries want a
cheaper version, which Areva does not offer at present.
Presumbably then, efforts will be made to come up with a cheaper
(intimating a less-safe version) reactor. The article
with a question as to what would be the reaction of Mr. C. Huhne to
such a corner-cutting alternative. He has already admitted
the government faces a black hole of £4 billion over the
of existing radioactive waste. (Source: www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jun/02/edf-nuclear-waste-lobbying)
It is still a puzzle as to how such unnecessary investment
be justified. There seems to be no ability to step outside
box and see that the nuclear industry is not, in truth, financially
viable. The only reason it continues to exist is to use a
circular argument. It presses the government to help it
the industry up, whilst simultaneously saying it needs to expand - a
process that will produce yet more highly toxic waste to be cleaned up.
Do away with the industry,
clean up the
legacy, then there will be no need for such futile investment.
2010, the Manx Government's scientific advisors announced that
Sellafield's polluting discharges to the Irish Sea were at an
all-time low. (Coincidence, given that they need to keep a
profile until the nuclear future is resolved?) However, they
added that the discharges were still affecting the Manx fishing
industry, as well as the marine environment - seaweed and molluscs,
etc. - and the whole island.
it coincidence, or just a morbid sense of humour that the
underground laboratory investigating the feasibility of a deep
geological repository is called HADES?
It is not only the UK
government that is
manipulating the market. According to our translation, the
French Greenpeace website tells us that:
chancellor, Angela Merkel, signed an agreement on 6th September, with
E.ON, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW that will permit these companies to
continue producing nuclear energy until 2040. This
despite her government's commitment to end nuclear power by
2022. The agreement was signed in camera,
worse is that the agreement permits the building of new plants, as
energy production is transferred from aging plants.
announcement, which was apparently reluctantly
brought to the
fore questions into the role of the nuclear lobby and its
influence in the Bundestag since 2009. Opponents
the plan will bring to an end the expanding job-creation in green
industries - which has reached quarter of a million so
They also ask whether the 66% of Germans who favour ending nuclear have
currently sees itself as a world leader in renewable energy production.
parties are intending to file a complaint about the agreement in
federal courts, with a view to challenging the proposals.
coverage on any of UK news programmes was the
demonstration in Berlin on Saturday, 18th September, 2010, where "tens
of thousands" of people demonstrated against the German government's
proposals to extend the life of nuclear power stations. Nor
there been much mention of the above agreement which
extends the life
of current power stations by up to 12 years. This means that
some reactors will not be phased out until 2030 - somewhat different to
nationally agreed policy.
the agreement guarantees the government will receive
€1.4 billion up to 2017. Quite an incentive.
However, the deal does not rule out the building of new reactors to
replace the aging one due to be closed. However, the
may be deemed unconstitutional and several groups are considering
seeking a legal opinion.
sources, inc. www.thelocal.de/money/20100909-29705.html
one of the stories which doesn't appear on the Sellafield Good News
Media Centre web pages is this one:
HSE acts over lax safety
Sellafield nuclear plant
• Report highlights widespread failings at Europe's
• Safety watchdog closes one plant and takes legal
against site's operators
The government's safety watchdog is cracking down on Britain's biggest
and oldest nuclear complex after a series of radioactive leaks and
safety blunders, despite private sector managers receiving
multimillion-pound "performance-related" payments from the Nuclear
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has closed down a vital nuclear
waste plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, and is taking legal action to
force the site's operators to improve their flawed safety procedures.
The HSE has also rejected a £40bn plan for cleaning up
because of proposed delays in dismantling ageing and potentially
The disclosures come at a critical time for the nuclear industry which
is trying to convince Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change
secretary, it is efficient enough to build a new generation of reactors.
But the crackdown is also embarrassing because Nuclear Management
Partners (NMP) – a consortium involving Amec, URS and Areva
believed to have made "profits" of up to £50m over a 12-month
NMP took over control of Sellafield in November 2008 and was given the
opportunity to win incentive payments if it improved the efficiency of
Europe's biggest atomic site over the first 12 months. A spokesman for
Amec confirmed "fees were paid" but said he was unable to give further
The decommissioning agency said the private companies had received
£16.5m for the first four months of their work but it said
the last financial year would be published in July. It said the maximum
under the contract could be £50m – in line with
£16.5m for four months
– and independent industry experts believe NMP won close to
The HSE's latest report on Sellafield, posted online, discloses a
litany of problems at the crowded site which sprawls over six square
miles on the edge of the Lake District and is home to more than a
thousand nuclear facilities, some dating back more than 50 years.
One of the main plants for solidifying highly radioactive liquid waste
has been shut for safety reasons since 31 March, the report said. The
case for continuing to operate the facility safely has been deemed
"inadequate" by HSE inspectors.
According to the report, HSE has also taken enforcement action after
cooling water needed to prevent highly radioactive waste tanks from
overheating leaked twice in 10 months.
Sellafield has been
rectify an alleged breach of its safety licence – failing to
proper training – by 18 June.
HSE has taken further regulatory action over a leak of radioactively
contaminated water from a pipe during nuclear fuel reprocessing
operations. Along with another government watchdog, the Environment
Agency, it has ordered Sellafield to correct breaches of radiation
rules that enabled the leakage to occur.The
HSE report, which
covers the first three months of this year, revealed there had been two
other leaks in evaporators which process "highly active liquor".
Sellafield is also criticised for taking more than 18 months to fix
"known defects" with the fire protection systems at the thermal oxide
said the site will fail to meet a deadline of 1 August for clearing
radioactive sludge out of old ponds and repackaging it into steel
containers. The watchdog also has "concerns" about the management of
change on the part of the site still known as Windscale.
addition, HSE has refused to endorse the latest "lifetime plan" for
Sellafield outlining schedules for decommissioning plants over the next
110 years. "It will not be a plan we can accept," its report said,
because of worries about the "deferral dates for some facilities".
is home to "the world's most dangerous stockpile of high-level liquid
waste," according to Marianne Birkby, from the anti-nuclear group,
Radiation Free Lakeland. "The evidence shows the industry cannot safely
look after its existing wastes."
Ltd, the company that runs the site, conceded there were "challenges"
due to "ageing facilities and assets". "The new NMP team has been
specifically brought in to improve on the historic record and is
already delivering significant improvements and results," said a
company spokesman. The site has been given £1.5bn this year
– its highest level of funding to date – to reduce
spokesman added: "We have a clear focus on hazard and risk reduction on
the site and have prioritised our significant resources at those areas
that present the most difficult challenges."
said it will continue to highlight problems at Sellafield. "Our
inspectors closely regulate operations on the site and on occasion
where required will take enforcement action," said an HSE spokeswoman.
"We are satisfied that Sellafield Ltd recognises, and is taking steps
to effectively manage the risks and hazards on the site."
A Clean Sweep for
Panic Attack - Again
the Daily Express, 19/7/10, the front page article is devoted to
"when the lights go out", prompting many of the usual comments on-line.
the article is just an opinion expressed by an ex-National Grid
employee, who coincidentally, has a new book to promote, entitled,
"When Will the Lights go Out?" No conflict of interest or
ulterior motive, then?
[There is no
consideration of the various alternatives, and statements in other
to the proposed nuclear expansion, like "new nuclear could be
on-line by 2017", are risible,
especially given the remote locations of most of the sites.
is impossible to create the infra-structure and design / purchase /
build such a complex project with all the necessary safety measures
incorporated, in less than 8 years?
to persuade those in power to increase the cost of all fuels, thus
making nuclear-generated power seem more cost-effective.
this strategy includes fixing the price of future waste disposal as
soon as possible in order that the tax-payer can be made to pay when
the inevitable cost-increases arise in 50 - 100 years' time.
Hopefully our government won't fall for it.]
Sunday Times - 19/7/10
Power companies will scrap plans to build nuclear power stations in
Britain unless electricity markets are radically reformed, according to
research from KPMG, the accountancy firm.
Up to eight [?] new reactors are expected to come on stream
2017, just as the current nuclear stations are closed down.
hit the deadline, investment decisions must be taken in the next "6 to
18 months", said Richard Noble at KPMG.
EU probes Areva, Siemens
France 24 News Service
European competition regulators announced they are probing the terms of
a deal between French and German nuclear giants Areva and Siemens. AFP
- European competition regulators announced on Wednesday they are
probing the terms of a deal between French and German nuclear giants
Areva and Siemens.
The European Commission is investigating whether "non-compete
clauses... in the field of civil nuclear technology may be in violation
of European Union antitrust rules," according to a statement.
Areva and Siemens came together in this area in 2001 with a joint
venture, Areva NP, that was cleared by the commission with the
subsequent acquisition of sole control by Areva also cleared in 2009,
"The non-compete clauses that are now being analysed by the commission
relate to the period after Areva took full control," the statement
explained, stressing that national competition authorities no longer
French daily Le Figaro reported on Wednesday that Siemens wanted the
commission to probe the post-divorce ties, which prevent it from
concluding a tie-up with Russian group Rosatom, slated since March 2009.
[We note elsewhere
standards of Siemens and their background in respect of bribery, and
other dubious practices.]
Greenpeace alerts WHO over
France 24 News Service,
at Somair mineral treatment plant near the uranium opencast mine in
Arlit in the Air desert, one of the world's most impoverished regions
in 2005. Greenpeace on Thursday reported French nuclear group Areva to
the World Health Organisation, accusing it of endangering the local
population with radioactive waste from its uranium mines in Niger. AFP
- Greenpeace on Thursday reported French nuclear group Areva to the
World Health Organisation, accusing it of endangering the local
population with radioactive waste from its uranium mines in Niger.
environmental pressure group sounded the alarm last month over Areva's
two mine sites at Arlit and Akokan in northwestern Niger, saying waste
was contaminating the soil, air and water in the region.
WHO is "competent on health issues and we want it to look into the
problem," a spokesman for Greenpeace Switzerland told a news conference
in Geneva Thursday.
hope they will make their own independent investigation and call on
Areva to take action," added Rianne Teule a nuclear expert at
Greenpeace which is calling for a thorough inquiry into safety
standards at the Niger sites.
of Areva's uranium comes from Niger, one of Africa's poorest countries
despite being the world's third uranium producer, where the company has
been mining since the late 1960s.
world leader in nuclear energy, and Niger's top employer, Areva has
struck a deal to start tapping a third mine in the desert nation from
2013 or 2014.
carried out on-site tests in Arlit and Akokan last November, in
partnership with the France-based Research and Independent Information
on Radioactivity Commission (CRIIRAD) and Niger's Network of
Organisations for Transparency and Budgetary Analysis (ROTAB).
says its research showed abnormal concentrations of uranium in the
soil, as well as of radon, a radioactive natural gas in air, while
radioactive scrap metal from the mines was available for sale at local
tests were carried out around the mines as well as in mining villages,
located several kilometres (miles) away and home to 80,000 people.
said in January it would before the end of the year carry out a general
inspection of its Niger sites to ensure the population was not exposed
[Small wonder that
E. Miliband was
happy to suggest that Britain is not responsible for what happens
outside the country - even if we benefit from such practices.]
Hosts Nuclear Conference
An article (France
24 article) describing the
high-level talks promoting the nuclear
industry - in which France is a major competitor - explains the current
situation in respect of many countries considering a nuclear future.
In a humiliation for Areva, French companies lost out in December to a
South Korean-led consortium for a 20-billion-dollar contract to build
four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates.
The association estimates that more than 450 new reactors are scheduled
to be built worldwide by 2030 -- a market worth hundreds of billions of
[Given what some
politicians will do
for a paltry sum, the temptations must be tremendous.]
Sizewell B fire involved
A SENIOR firefighter has reassured the public over the scale of a fire
at Sizewell B nuclear power station.
Although about 50 firefighters were at the scene for seven hours after
fire broke out in a charcoal filter on Friday night. Mr.
Kevin Burton, area manager for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service who was
in charge of the incident,
said their presence was mainly
precautionary. Mr. Burton said the heat generated
small blaze was less than that of a lit cigarette.
The fire began just before 8.45 p.m. in a cabinet measuring about 10
cu.m. The heavy steel construction had a door on either side with a
filter containing fresh charcoal taking up about a third of the space
inside the cabinet. Mr Burton said the
had not been used for about 18 months. In the air
the cabinet, there was a heater to ensure no moisture got into the
charcoal. It is believed a component of the heater
faulty, causing it to malfunction and the charcoal to
A little flame was seen coming from the filter as it began smouldering.
About 45 firefighters were sent to the power station, including
retained crews from the surrounding areas. However,
Burton said the incident was dealt with by two crews employed at
Sizewell B. Water was put through pipes to
blaze, but initially it did not seem to make any
difference. Mr Burton said thermal imaging cameras
used to check on the heat and the temperature of the fire was just
above 200°C. He added a lit cigarette burned at 300°C.
The effort to put the fire out and cool down the charcoal was hampered
as engineers were needed to clamp the cabinet doors shut as the water
was pumped in. Mr Burton said: “The crews
out the work were from Sizewell. Our role was providing advice, support
and direction for what they were doing.”
He said one
of the first officers on the scene had taken the precaution of calling
in more firefighters in case the incident spread.
the fire had got outside the cabinet and duct work, then we could have
been dealing with a bigger incident. However, it
was only a
small fire and not a fast-burning one. There was no radioactive
material involved whatsoever.”
Jim Crawford, Sizewell B’s station director, said:
time was there any risk to the public.”
Sizewell B has been shut down since the end of March and is not
expected to be in operation until the third quarter of 2010.
Not sure about the relevance of the cigarette. If
temperature was sufficient to ignite other material, then surely there
is a more fundamental principle? Seems a bit of a waste of
and money retaining so many fire service personnel on site for seven
hours if they were in, in fact, dealing with such a minor incident.
We note the standard statement re. risk to the public.
are also a bit intrigued that, given the potential link between nuclear
incidents and what was happening with BP in the Gulf of Mexico, so
little was made of it. Nuclear leaks and accidents have the
potential for so much more harm than an oil leak - unfortunate though
the latter may be, they at least respect some natural boundaries.]
article - made all the more so by what
seems to be innuendo - the Sunday Times (Page 3, 18/7/10) reports on
our least favourite peer, Lord Mandelson and his link to what is
described as "a multi-millionaire French business fixer", by the name
of Alain Minc. For a fee (for part-time work) of
of what he was getting paid for full-time employment as an MP,
Mandelson was able to introduce Minc to eminent business men in Britain
when Mandelson was out of government in 2002-4.
Adding to the intrigue is the suggestion that Minc employees just three
staff - Minc, an assistant and a chauffeur - yet his company, AM
Conseil, has a turnover of £5.5 million a year with Minc
to be earning in excess of £3 million. There is no
explanation of what the company does to earn such large returns.
The article go on to say that Mandelson stopped working for
in 2004, to avoid any possible conflict of interest. Still,
two have remained good friends . . .
interesting revelation in that august journal, Private
This time in relation to the black art (sorry) of carbon
trading. Noting that carbon trading may be useless
tackling climate change (merely paying someone in another country to
take the blame for your company's emissions doesn't reduce the output -
almost literallly a case of smoke and mirrors), the article (in Private
Eye, 1258) explains the role of the scheme's architect, Richard Sandor,
in pioneering the "collateral mortgage obligations" that eventually
brought the financial markets to their knees. He
the architect of the first pollution permit trading scheme in sulphur
emissions, in the US.
now chairs Climate Exchange plc., which controls more than 80% of the
EU carbon emissions trading. According to the
has also been a "big mover" behind plans for a mandatory trading system
in the US, from which his company would dramatically
benefit. Business is also booming as the EU
in discussion over 30% cuts in emissions and the move to 100%
auctioning of allowances in 2011. Apparently
£70 billion last year, yielding a profit for the company of
£11.5 million. The Eye then gives a brief
of why, despite the profits, none of it is taxable in this country.
again we see a motive for encouraging the link between CO2
emissions and any apparent global warming. Perhaps
promoters were not making quite so many £ millions from their
spiel we might be more believing? Perhaps a more pertinent
question might be: who gave any company the rights to
pollution - whether real or virtual?
Not content with the
failures of the University of East Anglia, and their destruction of
vital data, we note the article on P. 5 of the Sunday Times, 17th
A warning that climate change will melt
most of the Himalayan glaciers
by 2035 is likely to be retracted
after a series of scientific blunders
by the United Nations body that issued it.
years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a
benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most
detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim
was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the
Himalayas could vanish by 2035.
In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted
that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular
science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.
It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a
short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian
scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not
supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the
most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up
precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific
advice on climate change.
Professor Murari Lal, who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC
report, said he would recommend that the claim about glaciers be
dropped: "If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or
that it is a wrong presumption, than I will recommend that the
assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC
IPCC's reliance on Hasnain's 1999
interview has been
highlighted by Fred Pearce, the journalist who carried out the original
interview for the New Scientist. Pearce said he rang Hasnain in India
in 1999 after spotting his claims in an Indian magazine. Pearce said:
"Hasnain told me then that he was bringing a report containing those
numbers to Britain. The report had not been peer reviewed or formally
published in a scientific journal and it had no formal status so I
reported his work on that basis.
"Since then I have obtained a copy and it does not say what Hasnain
said. In other words it does not mention 2035 as a date by which any
Himalayan glaciers will melt. However, he did make clear that his
comments related only to part of the Himalayan glaciers. not the whole
The New Scientist report was apparently forgotten until 2005 when WWF
cited it in a report called An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier
and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China.
The report credited
Hasnain's 1999 interview with the New Scientist. But it was
campaigning report rather than an academic paper so it was not
subjected to any formal scientific review. Despite this it rapidly
became a key source for the IPCC when Lal and his colleagues came to
write the section on the Himalayas. When
published, the IPCC report did
give its source as the WWF
study but went further, suggesting the likelihood of the glaciers
melting was "very high". The IPCC defines this as having a probability
of greater than 90%.
The report read: "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in
any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the
likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is
very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."
However, glaciologists find such figures inherently ludicrous, pointing
out that most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could
not melt fast enough to vanish by 2035 unless there was a huge global
temperature rise. The maximum rate of decline in thickness seen in
glaciers at the moment is 2-3 feet a year and most are far lower.
Professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research
Institute at Cambridge University, said: "Even a small glacier such as
the Dokriani glacier is up to 120 metres [394ft] thick. A big one would
be several hundred metres thick and tens of kilometres long. The
average is 300 metres thick so to melt one even at 5 metres a year
would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing
now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistically
Some scientists have questioned how the IPCC could have allowed such a
mistake into print. Perhaps the most likely reason was lack of
expertise. Lal himself admits he knows little about glaciers. "I am not
an expert on glaciers.and I have not visited the region so I have to
rely on credible published research. The comments in the WWF report
were made by a respected Indian scientist and it was reasonable to
knew what he was talking about," he said. Rajendra
Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, has previously dismissed criticism of the
Himalayas claim as "voodoo science". Last
week the IPCC
refused to comment so it
has yet to explain
how someone who admits to little expertise on glaciers was overseeing
such a report. Perhaps its one consolation is that the blunder was
spotted by climate scientists who quickly made it public.
The lead role in that process was played by Graham Cogley, a geographer
from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who had long been unhappy
with the IPCC's finding.
He traced the IPCC claim back to the New Scientist and then contacted
Pearce. Pearce then re-interviewed Hasnain, who confirmed that his 1999
comments had been "speculative", and published the update in the New
Cogley said: "The reality, that the glaciers are wasting away, is bad
enough. But they are not wasting away at the rate suggested by this
speculative remark and the IPCC report.
'The problem is that nobody who
studied this material bothered chasing the trail back to the original
point when the claim first arose. It is ultimately a trail that leads
back to a magazine article and that is not the sort of thing you want
to end up in an IPCC report.”
Pearce said the IPCC's reliance on the WWF was "immensely lazy" and the
organisation need to explain itself or back up its prediction with
another scientific source. Hasnain could not be reached for comment.
The revelation is the latest crack to appear in the scientific
concensus over climate change. It follows the so-called climate-gate
scandal, where British scientists apparently tried to prevent other
researchers from accessing key date.
Last week another row broke out
when the Met Office criticised suggestions that sea levels were likely
to rise 1.9m by 2100, suggesting much lower increases were likely.
meeting in Whitehaven on 16th January, the point was raised about the
impact any achieved reduction by the UK would have in global terms,
especially when other countries, such as India, China, and America emit
far more than us. The point of the question relating not to
value of reducing emissions per se, but the the excessive haste of the
UK government to achieve something which, being so rushed will
exaggerate the horrendous impact of their policies on rural
communities. Sadly the idea was above the abilities of the
"consultation lead" to follow. He only understood the bit
not immediately reducing emissions and announced that the Copenhagen
meeting (which he seemed to think were a success) required everyone to
reduce their CO2
output as soon as
possible. Surely a more sustainable result would ensue from
better-judged approach? Even a better implementation of
micro-generation (each home having a generator to contribute to its own
power-usage) and better facilitated house-insulation would produce
dramatic reductions in grid-based demands. If all local
were to become involved in such schemes, there would be an obvious
reduction in the need to build contaminating and destructive reactors
on any green-field site.
say we didn't warn you:
Energy wants Britain
to fix the market if it builds nuclear plants
families could be forced to pay up to £227 extra on their
energy bills to help to fund a new generation of nuclear power stations
under plans proposed by the French company expected to build most of
Energy, which wants to build four reactors in Britain at a cost of
about £20 billion, was accused of holding the Government to
ransom last night, after an executive told The Times that none would be
built unless the Government agreed to underwrite part of the cost.
Speaking before a government announcement on Britain’s energy
future on Monday, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of EDF
Energy’s new nuclear business in Britain, said the nuclear
programme would proceed only if the Government ensured that consumers
paid more for electricity from fossil fuels, such as coal and gas,
which is cheaper but produces more greenhouse gas, making nuclear more
the market in favour of nuclear energy he proposed a minimum price on
the permits that energy companies need to buy to emit carbon dioxide.
The cost of permits was too low — at about €14 per
— for energy companies to be encouraged to invest in nuclear
rather than gas-fired power stations, which are far cheaper and quicker
to build. He
that a price of €25-35 per tonne of carbon dioxide was
to make construction ofnuclear stations profitable. “A floor
price for carbon is needed ... The waste product of fossil fuel
generation needs to have a cost,” he said. His
intervention threatens the Government’s plan to boost the
proportion of electricity generated from nuclear power, which is
considered critical to Britain’s energy security as supplies
North Sea gas run out, and to meet the Government’s goal of
cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The
Government has pointedly refused any kind of subsidy for new nuclear
power stations and is relying on private industry to finance the
Matthew Sinclair, research director at the TaxPayers’
strongly rejected the proposals. He said: “There is no way
the Government should even think of acceding to EDF Energy’s
demands for a floor price on carbon.” Mr
Sinclair claimed that the cost to British consumers would be about
£4.2 billion to £5.9 billion per year, or
£227 per household, and that it would hit poor and vulnerable
households hardest. Ben
Ayliffe, a campaigner for Greenpeace, accused EDF of holding the
Government to ransom over the new build programme. “They have
them by the short and curlies ... Even with the full resources of the
French Government behind them, it seems they cannot make the economics
of new nuclear stack up.” With
supplies of North Sea gas rapidly running out, on Monday the Government
will disclose an approved list of sites for new nuclear plants, each of
which would churn out enough electricity to power a city the size of
Manchester for 60 years. By
it hopes that at least eight will be under construction, with the
first, at Hinkley Point, Somerset, due to enter service in 2017. Ed
Miliband, the Energy Secretary, will offer a formal justification for
the new plants to Parliament. He will also discuss new clean coal
plants, wind parks and other key energy projects that the Government
wants to fast-track through the planning system, using powers created
last month. This
national nuclear policy statement comes amid mounting pessimism that a
UN climate conference, in Copenhagen next month, will succeed in
establishing a high international price for carbon dioxide emissions.
This would drive greater investment in low carbon of energy, including
nuclear and renewables such as wind and solar power. A
spokesman for the
Department of Energy and Climate Change said that the Government had
“no current plans” to introduce a floor price for
and said “all our efforts are towards an ambitious deal at
The Guardian's Potted
Today's news that body parts were taken from dead workers at the
Sellafield nuclear facility is grisly, but not entirely unexpected when
considered within the history of what is possibly Britain's
longest-running public relations disaster. Over its
of nuclear work, the Sellafield complex, by the village of Seascale on
the west Cumbria coast, has attracted the ire of everyone from
environmentalists to governments of every political hue in Ireland and
Sellafield's long lifespan has been due to two factors: firstly, the
economic importance of the thousands of jobs it generates, and secondly
the sheer complexity and expense of decommissioning the nuclear
The one and a half square mile site's dubious public reputation began
almost immediately, when it was still known as Windscale. A
former second world war munitions factory, it became Britain's first
nuclear complex in the late 1940s, and its Calder Hall reactors began
generating electricity in 1956. However, a major fire broke
in a reactor chimney a year later, spreading radioactivity across the
surrounding countryside in what is generally thought to have been the
world's worst nuclear accident before that at Three Mile Island in the
US in 1979. This, more than anything, made Windscale a
hate for environmentalists and opponents of nuclear energy, something
that barely changed even when British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) decided to
try and banish the bad memories by changing the plant's name to
Sellafield in 1981.
The reactor involved in the fire had to be shut down and sealed, but
Windscale continued to generate power using its other Magnox reactors
and a later, more advanced, gas-cooled reactor housed in the site's
distinctive spherical "golfball" building.
From the 1960s, Windscale also began reprocessing nuclear fuel, an
operation later expanded to take in spent fuel from other countries.
It was this activity that enraged Ireland and Scandinavian
nations including Norway and Denmark, which bitterly oppose the
practice of discharging water contaminated with radioactive waste
substances such as Technetium-99 into the Irish sea.
The Irish government took its complaints to the UN in 2001, saying
pollution from the site broke the UN convention on the law of the sea.
In 2003, UK government tests also found traces of Technetium-99 in
salmon bred in farms near the plant.
Electricity production finished in 2003 when the last of the elderly
Calder Hall reactors were closed after almost 50 years of generation.
However, bad publicity has dogged the waste reprocessing work,
including a lengthy saga in 2002 when containers of spent fuel were
sent back to Japan only to be rejected and returned to Sellafield.
In April 2005, Sellafield's Thorp reprocessing facility had
be shut down after acid containing 20 tonnes of uranium and 160kg of
plutonium spilled from a broken pipe. The accident caused no
injuries and no radioactive material escaped, but a Health and Safety
Executive report highlighted serious failings, including staff ignoring
alarms. Just three months earlier, the UK Atomic Energy
Authority had announced that nearly 27kg of plutonium - enough for
seven nuclear weapons - was "unaccounted for", although it stressed
this appeared merely to be an auditing error.
These days, however, opposition to Sellafield is largely academic
because the complex is being gradually shut down, meaning around
three-quarters of its 10,000-strong workforce will lose their jobs by
While BNFL still manages Sellafield, the complex has been owned by the
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which is overseeing the closure
process, since 2005.
But there is still plenty of time for more PR trouble ahead- with some
waste remaining dangerous for 250,000 years, the authority warns that
the closure process could take up to a century. Source:
military action against Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme is not
a bluff, the country's deputy foreign minister has told Sky News.
UK, RWE npower nuclear joint
venture fully established
5/11/09, RWE npower and E.ON UK announced further details of
their nuclear joint venture, which is to be called Horizon Nuclear
company will begin operation from 16 November working from new
headquarters near Gloucester.
joint venture was created in January and aims to develop around 6,000MW
of new nuclear capacity in the UK - enough to power a city the size of
Greater London - by 2025. The first reactor is expected to come online
this year the company secured development land at Wylfa on Anglesey and
Oldbury-on-Severn in South Gloucestershire. Its programme of new
nuclear power stations could involve more than £15bn in
investment and create around 11,000 jobs, including around 800
permanent jobs at each site and up to 10,000 during construction.
Operating Officer Alan Raymant said: "Nuclear energy will form a key
part of Britain's low carbon future and Horizon Nuclear Power will play
a key role in delivering new nuclear stations, helping achieve the UK's
stretching environmental targets and stabilise energy prices."
company is also progressing its competitive tender process with Areva
and Westinghouse for the selection of a reactor technology.
our reactor supplier is a significant milestone and the technical and
commercial evaluation of our options is well underway," said Alan. "A
team of nuclear experts from across RWE and E.ON has been put in place
to support this process, with the aim of selecting a preferred supplier
for exclusive negotiation early in the new year."
company will also look to establish local offices close to its
development sites at Wylfa and Oldbury. "We've met a lot of local
people and groups around our sites at Oldbury and Wylfa and we'll
maintain an open, no-surprises approach," said Alan.
investigations are progressing well and we'll shortly be engaging
further with local organisations and the public on the detailed studies
required to prepare consent applications.
imminent publication of the Government's Nuclear National Policy
Statement is also a key step and we look forward to playing our part in
the consultation process that follows. It's vital that the Government
sticks to the timeline for establishing the regulatory and consenting
framework for new nuclear if we are to deliver what the country needs
in terms of reliable, low carbon electricity."
Nuclear Power will have an initial focus on consenting and constructing
new nuclear power stations which will have a 60 year lifetime.
RWE have interests in 23 nuclear reactors in Germany and Sweden,
including two jointly owned reactors at Gundremmingen and one at Lingen.
supplied by RWE)
Interestingly, the joint company is already in the throes of
determining the reactor supplier: Westinghouse or Areva.
Strange, when they don't even have planning permission and the
consultation period is still running!
prices in France set to double in ten years:
2010, EDF's rivals could buy electricity from the former monopoly's
nuclear power plants at about 34 euros ($50.90) per megawatt hour, a
price that would gradually increase to 55-60 euros until 2020.
still owns all of
France's 58 nuclear reactor, which provide an 80 percent share in
overall electricity consumption. Competitors
Poweo (ALPWO.PA) or GDF Suez (GSZ.PA) are struggling to attract clients
because they do not have access to baseload electricity output.
plan includes ending state-set electricity tariffs for industries by
2015 and allowing rival power suppliers to buy nuclear-generated
nuclear power at production cost.
said it was not part of the body's remit to decide on a price level but
up to the [French] government. "We
are discussing a
general industrial framework but it is absolutely not up to us to
decide on a price level," she said. French
businesses benefit from low regulated prices, making it hard for
newcomers to beat EDF's state-fixed tariffs. EDF is the world's largest
single nuclear producer.
land sale agreed
attend debate on price of nuclear power
refused an invitation to attend a public debate on the cost of new
nuclear power today, which will be attended by industry figures,
academics and many other interested parties.
senior research associate at Warwick University and the event's
organiser, said it showed ministers were scared about the cost to
consumers and taxpayers of nuclear power.
forefront of plans to build new reactors, such as EDF and Centrica,
have said they will attend the meeting at Portcullis House, next to the
Houses of Parliament. But the Office for Nuclear Development (OND)
– an arm of the Department of Energy
Change – said: "On this occasion ministers and officials have
decided not to attend."
said the OND
had offered to talk through the issues but insisted this happened in
private. "The government do not want to be challenged in public. I
think it is reasonable to assume that they are deeply concerned about
their position and know reactors
built at a competitive cost without public subsidies."
industry's track record, there is good reason to be sceptical about the
economics of nuclear power, even before the debacle in Finland. The
last reactor constructed in Britain was Sizewell B in
was originally budgeted to cost about £1.9bn
eventually came in at about £3bn. The cash was all provided
the public sector – half of it being taken from the nuclear
that was created to help cover decommissioning and waste disposal costs.
have also been
financial – and technical problems – with other
as the mixed oxide (Mox) and Thorp fuel reprocessing facilities at
Sellafield, the UK's largest atomic complex. Mox was meant to cost
£265m but ended up costing £490m within
It produced only 5.2 tonnes of reprocessed fuel between 2001 and 2007,
despite an promised annual output of 120 tonnes.
also promised nuclear developers that taxpayers will meet any of their
cost overruns from decommissioning the new reactors and storing the
waste. Officials are in charge of setting a fixed price for the waste
and experts are setting it deliberately
factor in any cost overrun.
who up to 2007 was chairman of the Committee on Radioactive Waste
Management, set up by the government to work out how to deal with the
UK's nuclear waste, admits that it will be decades before we know for
sure what the bill is
and whether the
taxpayer will have to pay more.
More on the Infallible
a rare joint statement, nuclear safety bodies in France, Britain and
Finland on Monday ordered France's Areva (CEPFi.PA) and EDF (EDF.PA) to
modify the safety features on its European Pressurised Reactors (EPR)
due to insufficient independence between the day-to-day systems and the
to nuclear power latched on to the news, with France's opposition
socialist party calling for a parliamentary inquiry.
political party founded by Corrine Lepage, a former environment
minister, also said more investment should be made in renewable energy
rather than nuclear.
President Nicolas Sarkozy has championed nuclear power, both at home
and abroad, where he hopes French companies will benefit from a global
drive to find ways of generating electricity that produce less CO2
emissions and are independent of oil price fluctuations.
problems come as a blow to Areva, which has staked its export growth on
the EPR and is hoping that it will beat out American rival
Westinghouse, owned by Japan's Toshiba (6502.T), to become the
standard-bearer for a new generation of nuclear plants.
Boucheny head of French research at financial service company Kepler
capital markets told Reuters Areva's financial visibility was obscured
by unexpected hitches and delays in the construction of the firm's
first EPR in Finland.
problem (over safety) might cause a delay of a few months, maybe more,
but it's hard to say what it will cost," he said.
shares in Areva closed 3.9 percent lower at 8.75 euros.
on Monday it was in talks to modify the design of the EPR plants before
the end of the year and insisted the safety of the EPR plants was not
operates all of France's 19 nuclear power plants, said on Tuesday it
had been asked to conduct a closer study of secondary systems at its
Flamanville EPR reactor and would respond by year-end.
started building two EPRs in China's Guangdong province and in January
Sarkozy gave approval for the construction of a second EPR plant in
also joined forces with Total (TOTF.PA) and GDF Suez (GSZ.PA) in a
consortium to bid build at least four nuclear power reactors in the
United Arab Emirates
also is mulling whether to relaunch its nuclear energy programme with
modern plants and the Italian government has signalled that it intends
to build four new nuclear plants.
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is pleased to announce that
today, following a period of market engagement and negotiation with
interested parties, it has sold an area of land comprising 190 ha (470
acres) lying to the north of the existing site at Sellafield in Cumbria
for a value of at least £70 million. The winning consortium
comprises Iberdrola S.A, GdF Suez S.A and Scottish and Southern Energy
will result in an upfront payment of £19.5 million for the
followed by a further payment of at least £50.5 million in
next six years. The sale represents further continuation of the NDA's
programme of asset disposals, all raising funds which the NDA can put
towards its core mission of decommissioning the UK 's fleet of existing
nuclear power stations.
consortium will now progress with detailed site investigations to
determine the exact location for its proposed nuclear development and
then apply for the necessary planning and licensing permissions. Land
surplus to requirements will be returned to the NDA.
Clarke, NDA Commercial Director said: "The
sale of this
land is a significant milestone in our asset disposal programme and
follows on from the successful sale of land at three of our sites
earlier this year. The £450 million generated from these
will be utilised to support the NDA's clean-up mission and is good news
for the UK taxpayer."
[ . . . and
increase the size of bonuses paid to NDA staff! Source http://www.cnplus.co.uk/news/nda-sells-sellafield-land-for-nuclear-development.]
and from the Whitehaven
News of the same
troubled Mox plant (SMP)
has been given a lifeline after picking up its performance.
plant's future has been hanging in the balance for
months but has been given a vote of confidence by the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority after a review of itis operations and
staff were told the news today (Tuesday) and
it comes as a big boost not only to the site as a whole but the 800
workers who operate SMP, which was designed to manufacture nuclear
reactor fuel by mixing plutonium and uranium but has been plagued by so
many technical problems that it has still not been fully commissioned.
NDA spokesman said: "The plant first went into
production in 2002 and to date has failed to meet its throughput
targets, but its performance has improved in the last few months.
best course of action at this stage is the
continued operation of SMP and to complete the current campaign of fuel
manufacture while seeking to improve operational performance further.
Nuclear Services, our commercial
subsidiary, will continue to explore new commercial arrangements that
would make the continuing operation of the plant economically
acceptable to the NDA in the longer term."
the face of
growing energy-related environmental problems, the nuclear power
industry and government officials promote it as a clean source of
energy. This proposition is based on the myth of nuclear
safety as: Safe;
contributor to the national energy supply; Climate-friendly.
further from the truth. Currently,
the primary causes of climate change consist of the emissions of major
“greenhouse” gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2),
and nitrous oxide (N2O),
through human activities. Emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as
hydrofluorocarbons, also contribute to global warming. The prime
villain in the climate change problem remains carbon dioxide, a
constant by-product of nuclear power from ground extraction to
manufactured reactor fuel. Throughout the process that produces nuclear
power, carbon dioxide is emitted at every stage of the seven phases of
the nuclear fuel cycle. In
comparison to renewable energy sources, power generated from nuclear
reactors releases four to five times more CO2
of energy produced, when taking into account the entire nuclear fuel
cycle. Among conventional power generation methods, nuclear
produces more CO2
than oil-fired power plants (but less
than gas-fired power plants). Reducing
the rate of climate change can be accomplished by conserving
electricity and opting to purchase electricity from renewable sources.
Ultimately, citizens should support state and federal legislation to
expand renewable energy sources.
By Bill Dougherty - a senior scientist at
Environmental Institute. He is a professional engineer with broad
experience in engineering analysis and regional planning. He
worked on projects in Morocco, Sudan, Pakistan, Thailand, and South
Africa. His work in the United States has focused on power plant
emissions and impacts, emission control technologies and costs,
greenhouse gas emissions, fuel cycles, and nuclear power plant aging.
viable solution to the
manifold problems of nuclear waste storage and transportation is to
stop generating the waste.”
The BBC's "You and Yours" lunchtime programme on 13th October covered
quite a range of opinions on the future of energy in the UK.
Only the Lib Dems seemed able to say that nuclear is not clean and
green, and is in fact, extremely expensive. A statement from
SNP indicated that Scotland would not be taking part in any nuclear
expansion, pointing out that the production of energy from renewables
had risen by 10%, whilst the production from nuclear plants had fallen
A range of comments revealed that several contributors had actually
fallen for the industry hype, and said that nuclear was low carbon and
that the waste could - eventually - be managed when science had come up
with the method. Happily, the nuclear lobby did not win the
as another contributor illustrated that the actual production of the
nuclear fuel required lots of carbon-using resources.
from the Experts Source:
the aftermath of the 1973 oil
shock, France launched its first large
series of nuclear reactors as a reaction to energy shortages.
conservation was to help in the short term, but nuclear power was
supposed to bring the country independence from oil in the longer run.
The strategy was dubious from the start, because the power sector was
responsible for less than 12%of the total oil consumed in France in
1973. The key oil problem was not in electric generation but in
transport and inefficient buildings, and those uses were
neglected. The result three decades
later is stunning. French per capita consumption of oil is higher than
in non-nuclear Italy, nuclear phase-outGermany or the EU on average
hardly proof of an enviable level of oil
France’s nearly exclusive focus
on (nuclear) energy supply has meanwhile eroded access to affordable
energyservices. Even before the recession, the National Housing Agency
(ANAH) found that ‘three million French are cold in
winter.’ With energy
poverty now widespread, requests for social assistance to pay energy
bills is rising 15%per year. Almost one household
its power, gas, water or phone bills.
Electric space heating was heavily promoted and now equips
three-quarters of new housing, in particular multi-family homes.
Electric heat is not just inefficient end-to-end, it is very costly for
the user and creates severe distortion of the power system, with daily
peak loads in the winter three times those of summer loads. This in
turn leads to increasing use of old oil and coal-fired power plants and
to significant power imports.
The Times is reporting massive power flows from Britain to France,
mainly because about a third of French nuclear capacity is offline for
maintenance, refueling, or insufficient cooling water. Thermal power
plants account for over half of France’s freshwater
about one-tenth of precipitation.
Cheap power was to make French industry competitive; however, as well
reaching a record trade deficit of EUR58 billion, France
become a net importer of German coal-based power.
The power-trade trend
thus not only further degrades the French trade imbalance but also
increases the carbon content of the kWh consumed in France, wherever
it's produced. Per capita greenhouse gas emissions
9t CO2-equivalent in 2006, are lower than in other European countries,
but not by much: Italy, Spain and the whole EU are around 10, the UK 11
and Germany 12.
Nuclear waste is an enormously difficult political problem which, to
date, no country has solved. It is, together with the
inviability, the Achilles heel of the nuclear industry. Could these
problems bring down France's uniquely successful nuclear program?
France's politicians and technocrats are in no doubt:
France is unable to solve this issue, says one expert, then "I do not
see how we can continue our nuclear program."
Sunday Times, 11th
October, 2009, has an interesting and thought-provoking article
relating to global warming. We have long pondered over
the climate change is being over-hyped (possibly by those with a vested
interest in taking our money) as we are aware from archaeology that
dinosaurs once roamed our lands, and that an ice-sheet several
kilometers deep covered a lot of what is now the UK. We have
strong belief that nature will deal with those who ignore her power.
Amongst the suggestions from American scientists is the
that the modern clean air moves have removed considerable amounts of
particulates from the atmosphere, thus allowing more sunlight through.
Thus, the planet is returning to its natural state because
is less pollution. As a result, the article suggests, the
are warming up, and we all know that warming things causes them to
expand. Thus the sea levels rise. CO2, far from
poison benefits plants, and the enhanced growth of plants subjected to
a CO2 enriched environment demonstrates that they can deal with the
& Star 21/8/09
A Government report this week revealed what, on the face of it, sounded
like a catalogue of incidents at nuclear installations across the
country – 81 coolant leaks and 80 fires.
Sellafield say they have a grip on the dangers and every incident is a
lesson to be learned. Opponents argue the real effect may not be known
until it is too late.
According to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the first
leak at Sellafield was in July 2004 and a further problem was reported
12 months later. The next leak was in 2006 when problems were reported
with the cooling tower and storage pond, and the final one, in January
2007, was at the Waste Vitrification Plant.
Sellafield Limited say they were all dealt with in a professional
manner and no workers were exposed to harm. But they
reveal further details about the incidents and the company is to appear
at Carlisle Crown Court tomorrow over health and safety breaches after
admitting that two contractors were exposed to radioactive
contamination in July 2007. The two received an internal
radiation during the contamination of an area of concrete floor.
Nigel Lawrence, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said
the seriousness of the incident was borne “out of the
extent” of the contamination.
Fires also caused two problems at Sellafield in 2001, and two Magnox
fuel decanning fires were reported in 2004 at the Fuel Handling Plant.
The final fire was on the power plant turbine. Loose waste material
also combusted at Drigg Low Level Waste Repository in west Cumbria in
October 2005, according to the government figures.
Nuclear critics say the problems are a sign of the dangers of the
nuclear plants and that the unpredictably of the subject coupled with
human error means that we are never very far from a disaster.
Forwood from Cumbrians
Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) said that the real effects
of the leaks and fires may not be known until it is too late.
CORE was first formed in 1980 and today has hundreds of supporters.
They originally campaigned against reprocessing of nuclear fuel at
Sellafield but have expanded their arguments and are now opposed
nuclear energy entirely. He told the News & Star:
“There has to be more focus on renewables, energy efficiency
conservation. The government pays lip service to renewable
– wind power is not the
only option. Tide and wave power are serious alternatives.
power has always taken the majority of resources and
Renewables in the UK are way behind.”
Mr Forwood said the unpredictability of what happens when there are
leaks and fires at nuclear power plants was a serious
lot of the accidents come from human error and there are no safety
measure you can put in place to combat this,” he said.
“In 1999 we became concerned because there were a string of
accidents one after another at Sellafield. We
the nuclear installations inspector to carry out an inspection and they
did, listing a number of issues. Perhaps it is time that they had
Mr Forwood added that some of the campaigners’ concerns are
mirrored by the public.
“The majority of calls CORE get are from people coming to
Cumbria or for a holiday with their kids, asking us if it is
said. “We tell them it is safe but the levels of
parts of the coast are high. The last thing we want to do is put people
off coming to west Cumbria. The big problem with the argument
against nuclear power is influence
on jobs. It is difficult to know how all these jobs would be taken up
by another employer. But there is so much work to
and decommissioning would take hundreds of years of work.”
A spokesman from Sellafield Limited said that the organisation operated
a “learn from experience” system where all
and any lessons that can be learned from these are communicated through
the workforce. He added that these are also used to review practices
and can lead to changes.
The spokesman added: “Sellafield Limited reports incidents,
minor, to the authorities and the public and this is a sign of a
rigorous and transparent safety regime.
The incidents referred
were dealt with in a highly professional
manner and although some of the incidents caused limited damage to non
essential plant equipment, they did not result in injury to
personnel. Sellafield’s new parent body, NMP, has
world class experience
and expertise in conduct of operations and are driving disciplined
professionalism throughout the workforce.”
Despite the risks nuclear power still remains high on the government
agenda and ministers have given the go-ahead for new nuclear plant and
reactors expected to be built in Copeland, along with new build at
Sellafield. Each new reactor built would create up to 10,000
jobs – 9,000
them in construction and the rest operational.
Critics say there are other ways to secure Britain’s energy
have pointed to past problems at Sellafield as proof it is not the
solution. But with the current opposition to windfarms and
renewable energy sources, the debate is far from over.
What the Other Papers Think
potential threat of theft of nuclear material is a scenario which may
seem rather far-fetched, but is it? In our objection to the
proposed developments we pointed out that, despite the presence of a
no-fly zone over Sellafield, a light aircraft circled the area for over
15 minutes in 2008, before RAF fighters arrived on the scene to escort
the plane away. A happy ending, but it could have been so
different . . .
Nuclear attack fears as
terrorist raids on
atomic bases revealed
Dean Nelson in New
al-Qa'ida have attacked Pakistan's nuclear weapons bases at least three
times in the last two years, it was claimed yesterday. The
allegations, by a leading British expert on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal,
added to fears that terrorists could acquire a nuclear device or bomb
an atomic facility.
Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at
Bradford University, gave details of three attacks since November 2007
and raised the spectre of more. He said militants had struck
nuclear storage facility at Sarghoda on November 1st, 2007;
launched a suicide bomb assault on a nuclear airbase at Kamra
December 10th, 2007; and set off explosions at the entrances
Wah cantonment, one of Pakistan's main nuclear assembly plants, in
attacks were carried out despite an extensive security cordon and
millions of dollars in American technical aid to prevent militant
infiltration. Pakistan's nuclear weapons establishments are
protected by heavily armed soldiers, while inside, sophisticated
sensors guard against intruders. But despite this system,
Gregory said the facilities remained vulnerable because they were in
areas where "Taliban and al-Qa'ida are more than capable of launching
risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons was "genuine", he said.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)
that there will be no levies to provide funding for new nuclear sites,
the industry has a growing sense that EdF, E.ON and RWE npower, the
backers of new nuclear plants, may find that construction is uneconomic
without them. There is also a strengthening feeling that
national energy security ought to take a priority over the targets set
by the European government that say UK emissions must be reduced by 80%
from 1990 levels by 2050.
The problem lies in the European Union's decree that Britain's dirtiest
power stations – the old-style coal and oil generation plants
– must be shut down not at a certain date, but after a
number of hours. These plants, which are used as back-up generators for
times of peak demand, are expected to shut in about 2015.
Following in the fashion set by Enron may be another ploy to be used
(if it isn't already), by limiting the amount of electricity made
available by the six electricity and gas suppliers. Indeed,
combined efforts of the already-acutely-vulnerable nuclear industry and
the electricity suppliers has scared the UK government into
ill-considered moves. We note elsewhere that the profits to
made from the supply of electricity in this country are actually to the
benefit of foreign countries, namely Germany and France.
utility giant RWE saw global pre-tax profits rise by 20% to
€3.38bn (£2.91bn) despite revenues down 1% to
for the six months to the end of June.
success is partly due to locking-in power tariffs before the recession,
which caused wholesale gas and power prices to slump.
on reducing costs in the UK comes as its npower division put in a "weak
performance due to the above-average price and cost pressure",
especially those related to new Government green initiatives and rising
cost-cutting programme may result in reduced headcount through unfilled
vacancies, although redundancies were not ruled out. "Like all big
companies, we are looking at everything from travel costs to mobile
phone use," a spokesman for RWE npower said. "There is no big
redundancy programme planned."
npower has a 15% share of the UK market, where it has been one of the
last electricity providers to reduce tariffs for consumers and
businesses, despite falling wholesale prices. Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/utilities/6023859/RWE-cuts-UK-costs-as-green-initiatives-bite.html
course, one of the main things being touted as an
essential which will be met by nuclear new-build is "energy security".
Yet we do seem to have a history of disagreement with both
countries which have been invited to take over large swathes of the UK
coast. Who knows how long it might be before a similar
breakdown in amicable relations occurs?
|On the 19th April,
the Guardian on Sunday newspaper, ran
article by Robin McKie, science editor, about Sellafield.
the most hazardous place in Europe
Last week the government announced plans for a new generation of
nuclear plants. But Britain is still dealing with the legacy of its
first atomic installation at Sellafield - a toxic waste dump in one of
the most contaminated buildings in Europe. As a multi-billion-pound
clean-up is planned, can we avoid making the same mistakes again?
The disused plutonium reactors at Sellafield are a 'slow-motion
Chernobyl', according to Greenpeace campaigners against nuclear energy.
Building B30 is a large, stained, concrete edifice that
at the centre of Sellafield, Britain's sprawling nuclear processing
plant in Cumbria. Surrounded by a three-metre-high fence that is topped
with razor wire, encased in scaffolding and riddled with a maze of
sagging pipes and cabling, it would never be a contender to win an
architectural prize. Yet B30 has a powerful claim to fame,
albeit a disturbing one. "It
is the most
hazardous industrial building in western Europe,"
George Beveridge, Sellafield's deputy managing director.
Nor is it hard to understand why the building possesses such a fearsome
reputation. Piles of old nuclear reactor parts and decaying fuel rods,
much of them of unknown provenance and age, line the murky, radioactive
waters of the cooling pond in the centre of B30. Down there, pieces of
contaminated metal have dissolved into sludge that emits heavy and
potentially lethal doses of radiation. It is an unsettling place,
though B30 is certainly not unique. There is Building B38 next door,
for example. "That's the second most hazardous industrial building in
Europe," said Beveridge. Here highly radioactive cladding from reactor
fuel rods is stored, also under water. And again, engineers have only a
vague idea what else has been dumped in its cooling pond and left to
disintegrate for the past few decades.
During the miners' strike of 1972, the nation's nuclear plants were run
at full stretch in order to supply electricity to a beleaguered nation.
As a result, it proved impossible to process all the waste that was
being generated. Cladding and fuel were simply thrown into B38's
cooling ponds and left to disintegrate. But the building,
so many other elderly edifices at Sellafield, is crumbling and
engineers now face the headache of dealing with its lethal contents.
This, then, is the dark heart of Sellafield, a place where engineers
and scientists are only now confronting the legacy of Britain's postwar
atomic aspirations and the toxic wasteland that has been created on the
Cumbrian coast. Engineers
estimate that it could cost the nation up to £50bn to clean
up over the next 100 years.
Sellafield's decommissioning is around £1.5 billion per year.]
The figure is, by far, the largest part of the £73bn that has
been committed to cleaning up Britain's nuclear-polluted past. It is
also an acute embarrassment to the government, which is now anxiously
promoting nuclear power as the solution to Britain's energy problems.
Last week ministers revealed a list of 11 sites for new nuclear plants
around Britain. Atomic power will be the nation's salvation as it
battles global warming and seeks to cut its carbon emissions, they
insisted. But the condition of edifices such as B30 and B38 - and all
the other "legacy" structures built at Sellafield decades ago - suggest
Britain might end up paying a heavy price for this new commitment to
nuclear energy. After all, if it is going to cost that much to
decommission early reactors, green groups and opponents of nuclear
energy are asking, what might we end up paying for a second clean-up if
we go ahead with new nuclear plants?
For its part, the nuclear industry is adamant. New reactors will
produce little waste and pose few threats to the environment, say UK
nuclear chiefs who point to the example of France where almost 80% of
electricity is generated by atomic fission and waste is safely
reprocessed. Atomic energy today is safe and Sellafield's problems are
merely a historic accident - the result of Britain's desperation to be
a leading postwar power, they say. But it will be a tricky
convincing the public that modern nuclear plants are the answer to
Britain's energy worries, given that there are buildings in Sellafield
filled with "appalling radioactive crap", as one senior nuclear
physicist put it, and which will cost tens of billions of pounds to
"It is going to be a very difficult business," admitted Dr Paul
Howarth, executive director of Dalton Nuclear Institute at Manchester
University. "The taxpayer now has to pay around £1.5bn a year
clean up Sellafield's waste problems and will have to maintain that
investment for years to come. "That is a very large
commitment. Nevertheless it would be wrong to dismiss nuclear energy
out of hand. Modern reactors are indeed very different creations
compared to the first reactors that were built at Sellafield in the
1940s and 1950s. New ones produce relatively little waste, will be easy
to decommission and are intrinsically clean and safe. Convincing the
public of these points will not be easy, however."
A former second world war ordnance factory, Sellafield was chosen to be
the site for Britain's first atomic reactors - known as Pile 1 and Pile
2. These were not built to generate electricity, but to produce
plutonium for the nation's independent nuclear deterrent. Construction
was carried out at breakneck speed as political leaders pressed
scientists to complete the project quickly. As a result of
efforts, Britain was able to explode its own atomic bombs by 1952. The
UK became a nuclear power and won itself a permanent seat on the UN
security council, thanks to its nuclear engineers and scientists.
But success came at an appalling price. Those scientists had
time to think about the waste produced by their atomic bomb programme,
a point starkly demonstrated by another Sellafield legacy building,
B41. It still stores the aluminium cladding for the uranium fuel rods
that were burnt inside Piles 1 and 2. That aluminium posed serious
disposal problems when it was removed, in a highly radioactive state,
from the two reactors as their fuel was decommissioned and their
So scientists hit on what seemed to be an ingenious solution: they
would dump it in a silo. "If you drive across the plains of North
America, you see these isolated grain silos where farmers store their
grain," says Beveridge. "And that, essentially, is what B41 is - a
grain silo." Nuclear waste was tipped in at the top of B41
it was erected and then allowed to fall to the bottom. Later, when it
was realised that pieces of aluminium and magnesium among this waste
could catch fire and cause widespread contamination, inert argon gas
had to be pumped in to smother potential blazes. And so, for the past
60 years, building B41 has remained in this state, its highly
radioactive contents mingling and reacting with each other. Now
engineers have been told to clear it up.
They do, fortunately, have a plan. In a few years, vast metal-cutting
machines will be brought into Sellafield and used to slice into the
sides of the B41 silo before mechanical grabs pull out and sort through
its contents. Then this radioactive debris will be mixed with liquid
glass and allowed to solidify, a process known as vitrification, before
it is kept for subsequent storage in underground vaults. Isolating this
material will be immensely difficult, however: B41 will have to be
covered and sealed to ensure no leakage of radioactive material. At the
same time, the giant cutting machines employed to slice open the silo
will have to negotiate the treacherous, tight concourses that separate
Sellafield's different buildings. These are lined with cabling, ducts
and, most worrying of all, elevated pipes, called pipe-bridges, that
carry radioactive liquid waste around the site. Damaging or opening up
one of these could have disastrous consequences. Hence the
taken by engineers as they prepare their plans for B41 while their
colleagues continue their work at the silo's sister plant, B29, where
decommissioning work has already begun.
In effect, B29 is simply a huge covered cooling pond that once
stretched between the heat stacks of Piles 1 and 2. Fuel
were removed from these two reactors, moved into the cooling pond of
B29 and split open. Most of this material was removed for reprocessing
but several tonnes of waste and old fuel still lies below the pond's
thick milky waters and it is the task of Steve Topping, leader of the
building's decommissioning team, to ensure that this is extracted and
Calm, with greying hair, Topping has a reassuringly confident air about
his work despite the fact he has to deal with tonnes of nuclear waste
and old oxide fuel whose exact composition and location is unknown.
"The trouble is there is no one left at Sellafield to tell us where
things were put down there. The stuff in the pond has been down there
for 50 years," says Topping.
Today B29 is showing its age and looks more like a dirty old dock than
a pool with its crumbling grey concrete, grimy brickwork and old ducts
and sections of corroding pipes. The water is filled with green algae
and has the clarity of Milk of Magnesia, which defies all efforts to
see what lies beneath. To clean it up, robot machines will
begin to split open the submerged skips in which old waste and fuel
from Piles 1 and 2 are stored. The radioactive sludge at the bottom of
the pool will then be pumped into a new tank that is now under
construction beside B29. Then the internal linings of its walls will be
scraped clean of radioactivity before the edifice is taken down,
concrete section by concrete section. At the same time, the most
dangerous waste will be vitrified ready for disposal. The
process will take at least 10 years to complete - and that is just for
a single building. On top of the dismantling of B29 and B41, in which
the waste from Britain's atom bomb programme is stored, there are the
headaches that will be involved when dealing with the contents of B30
These hold the leftovers from the nation's first civil reactor
programme, a series of reactors known as Magnox plants. Eleven of these
were built and two are still in operation. Piles of the waste they have
generated is to be found around Sellafield awaiting the attention of
engineers like Topping, who has spent his working life at the site.
"Sometimes I think this is the best job in the world," he
"There are real skills needed to dismantle buildings like these. Every
action has to be carefully planned. I love being among it all. On other
days, though, it is really frustrating work. Everything has to be done
in such a slow, safe and controlled manner."
The key problem for Sellafield is that so much of its highly
radioactive waste has been stored in water. This was done to cool fuel
rods and cladding as they emerged from reactors heated to hundreds of
degrees celsius. But once in water, they disintegrated and immediately
posed a hazard in case a pond wall became breached, and that is why
Sellafield is now undergoing its massively expensive clean-up. Those
pond walls are getting old and their contents - forgotten by
politicians for half a century - must be turned into solid waste that
can be contained safely and buried once Britain has finally decided on
the location of a deep underground repository.
"We are delivering the largest environmental restoration programme in
Europe and making safe and disposing of some of the most hazardous
material anywhere in the world, much of which originates from early
nuclear research and military projects," says Richard Waite, acting
chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. "At the same
time we are providing essential services to enable current nuclear
sites to 'keep the lights on'."
Nuclear opponents have less complimentary views about what goes on at
Sellafield, of course. The place is "a slow-motion Chernobyl",
according to campaigners from Greenpeace, a group which has a
reputation for never missing out on the catchy phrase.
Nevertheless, Greenpeace has a point. Many of Sellafield's buildings
are, essentially, no more than containers of highly radioactive scrap
whose disposal is set to devour tens of billions of pounds of
The site has become the biggest, and mostly easily waved, stick in the
armoury of the green movement. As one senior employee admitted: "If you
want to object to anything nuclear, you just have to point to
is a classic illustration of the failure of British industry.
We were pioneers of nuclear power but in our desire to build our own
atomic weapons, failed abysmally when it came to developing and
managing our own civil reactors and reprocessing plants. As a
result, we have been left with a multibillion-pound clean-up bill and
the prospect of buying either American or French reactors for our next
generation nuclear plants. The lesson of Sellafield is not so much that
nuclear power is dangerous but that Britain seems incapable of
implementing any long-term engineering plan that comes its way, from
high-speed trains to wind turbines or rocket launchers.
We have to ask what is the true cost of electricity generated in this
fashion? By the time all the cleaning up costs have been
it is surely not economically sensible, nor can it be sustainable.
Sellafield's former managing director Brian Watson is joining the
KeySource Group as senior associate consultant and director of its UK
and European strategic consulting services.
Mr Watson said: “I feel both privileged and delighted to join
with KeySource given their track record of strategic successes working
in the US and UK nuclear markets.
“With the recent award of the Sellafield PBO contract,
major decommissioning programmes, and the
new-build power plants,
KeySource is well positioned to help
shape the future of the nuclear markets in the UK and Europe.”
News Article, 3/10/08
- Not that any of the
public - let alone the politicians for the area, would know anything
about this wave of new-build power plants back then, of course.
the Politician says:
Mr. J. Reed announced an interest: "I should declare an
in Sellafield. Although I have no direct
financial interest, I am a former employee of the plant."
We have to note the qualification there, and ask whether Mr. Reed has
interest? If nothing else, he has surely earned a
seat on the board for his stirling assistance in promoting the nuclear
Actually, the problems of Sellafield have even been acknowledged by the
arch-supporter, Mr. J. Reed. In a debate on "Energy Security
Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Hansard
1 July, 2009, Column 133WH, Mr. Reed said:
have been significant processing problems at SMP, which have caused
Sellafield management, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the
government to assess the future of SMP for a number of years.
That is not a new development."
"[It] has underperformed, but it will have a use until a new
plant is built at Sellafield." Why
build more underperforming plants? How many more plants will
take to do the work that the original plant was supposed to achieve?
is but the fleeting by-product from nuclear power. The actual product
is forever-deadly radioactive waste.
product is poison.”
Keegan, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great
Farron (Westmorland &
Lonsdale, Liberal Democrat):
In all of that, it is essential that local communities are in control
of their own destiny. As we have seen from the loss of post offices,
the decline of many communities and the cuts to rural health services,
there is an overwhelming sense of anger at things being done to us
without our consent. We are sometimes offered consultations, but that
has become a meaningless word under this Labour Government. Never have
we been more consulted and less listened to. The top-down decisions to
close jobcentres in rural areas, rob our rural communities of post
offices, take away rural tax offices, force through the reduction in
social housing stock and remove acute hospital services have all
damaged our rural communities, but we were given no say in them. Source:
Hansard HC Deb, 15 June 2009, c62
Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs,
Environment, Food & Rural Affairs; Arundel & South
the construction of THORP, a heavily contractorised work force from all
over the United Kingdom created an unsustainable spike in the local
economy. Neither the rise nor the fall of the spike was properly
planned for. Consequently, the local economy overheated and, once
construction came to an end, the spike rapidly disappeared, leaving a
deflated economy and an enfeebled supply chain.
For markets to grow, take hold and work, economies need businesses that
are not only flexible and responsive but socially responsible.
Hansard HC Deb, 15 June 2009, c692
I agree with my
hon. and learned Friend. It is important to remember that rural areas
are not a theme park. We cannot allow rural communities to be
dormitories, where people only live, then go to work somewhere else. We
must have sustainable, vibrant communities and remember the importance
of farming and agriculture in those communities to manage the land.
Farmers need to be allowed to get on with their businesses.
Hansard HC Deb, 15 June 2009, c41 Does he agree
that we need to do an awful lot more in this country to ensure that
supermarkets exercise a much greater duty of care towards our farmers? Source:
Hansard HC Deb, 15 June 2009, c59
Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs,
Environment, Food & Rural Affairs: "There is
no such thing as a separate rural economy."
(Bromsgrove, Conservative) How
much of the UK's
energy production will be sourced from nuclear by 2020?
Miliband (Secretary of
State, Department for Energy and Climate Change; Doncaster North,
Labour) That depends on how
quickly the plans move forward. From 2018, the new
stations will start to
As I said, the companies have plans for about
12 GW, which is more than existing capacity. I do not think that all of
it will be built by 2020, but it will probably be built in the early
part of the following decade. Source:
Hansard HC Deb, 15 July 2009, c305
member of Cumbria County
Council, who for many years has been responsible for the
emergency plan should anything like a radioactive leak happen at
Sellafield has criticised the proposed scheme at Kirksanton.
the proposal for a power
station on land owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)
next to Sellafield he said: “I
don’t have much of a
problem with that because we already have a well developed emergency
plan and a well educated local population.
“What does concern me is the new reactors at Kirksanton and
Braystones. What this does is it brings in an entirely new population
being put at risk from these reactors.
“As an emergency planner it creates major new problems but it
sounds as if the land has been sold and the job has been done.”
NW Evening Mail, 19/3/09 (ref:
find an excess of leukaemia and
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma near other nuclear installations including
1950 and 2000 there have been 21 serious incidents or accidents
involving some off-site radiological releases that merited a rating on
the International Nuclear Event Scale, one at level 5, five at level 4
and fifteen at level 3. Additionally during the 1950s and 1960s there
were protracted periods of known, deliberate, discharges to the
atmosphere of plutonium and irradiated uranium oxide
particulates. These frequent incidents, together with the
2005 Thorp plant leak which was not detected for nine months, have led
some to doubt the effectiveness of the managerial processes and safety
culture on the site over the years.
Auken, the Danish minister, called for urgent talks with Britain. He
said it was "unpleasant to have a report which shows how poorly the
safety work at Sellafield functions". The
23/2/2000, in relation to the discharges from Sellafield into the Irish
Sea, and the falsification of documentation in relation to a fuel rod
shipped to Germany. In fact, the Nuclear
report found that data had been falsified for over 4 years, and fuel
assemblies shipped to Japan, Switzerland and Germany had been unsafely
Nine years on and two more incidents are reported
Of course, rough justice does exist: on the very day the
Minister visited the plant last January, a drip was discovered: there
was a slow leak of radioactive liquid from a valve flange on a
condensate drain line from a ventilation duct which serves the Magnox
fuel reprocessing plant. Initially the leak was
an "anomaly", but in June this was raised a level, to "incident".
On the more positive side, a leak which existed for half a century was
finally sealed. However, the Irish were not overly
defies belief that an
organisation responsible for handling lethal radioactive waste would do
nothing about a leak for such a long time.
shows how the plant's
management are contemptuous of both the Irish people and those British
people living in Sellafield's vicinity. I've been there with a geiger
counter, and it goes wild as you approach the plant.
need to realise just
how dangerous this place is," said Louth TD, Arthur Morgan.
(Not contiguous paragraphs.) "I
shall sum up the politics of nuclear energy at the start. Until last
week policy was made by impractical crackpot zealots dominating
politicians with no backbone or, even less, knowledge of the subject.
have drifted for years.
week the Government, in
some desperation, broke out of the Green straitjacket by opening the
way to a new nuclear future. This has been a long time coming
and possibly too late for the good of the economy. "
is a classic example of
the results of a vigorous, committed tail wagging a passive and cowed
sake of completeness,
there have also been some expensive problems with nuclear processing
technology at Sellafield."
"I doubt whether we would now be going nuclear if politicians were not
becoming acutely aware that they could be marked down in history any
time in the future as the foolish virgins who allowed the lights to go
management like this,
the input from an ex-PR manager, now MP, and the various committees all
stuffed with ex-industry employees and pro-nuclear lobbyists, we should
be greatly afeared of any further nuclear development on the Cumbrian
coast. Let each area around the country develop the
stations it requires; why should Cumbria be despoiled for the next
hundred years or so, merely to export energy to those not willing to do
their own dirty work? We are given one
employment. With Sellafield closing within ten
(unless the MP has his way and they build more processing plants)
unemployment is set to rise dramatically. The
suggest that all those employed at Sellafield are
Cumbrians. Is this truly the
case? We think
not. We believe (and the Doll Report seems to
that there was a great influx into the area from Northumberland and
elsewhere. After all, how else could the higher incidence of
leukemias in the area be explained, without blaming the industry?
authorities should ensure
the Thorp plant at Sellafield remains permanently closed down, it was
claimed today as the nuclear operators were fined €743,000
following a radioactive leak.
Around 83,000 litres of acid containing 20 tonnes of uranium and 160kg
of plutonium escaped from a broken pipe into a sealed concrete holding
site at the Thorp plant in west Cumbria in April 2005.
Environment Minister Dick Roche stressed safety issues and concerns
remain around Sellafield.
The operator of the plant, British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd, were
fined €743,000 and €101,000 costs by Carlisle Crown
The operators had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts
of breaching conditions attached to the Sellafield site licence,
granted under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.
Mr Roche welcomed the actions of the UK Regulator in holding the
operators accountable for the serious lapses in safety procedures at
“The level of this fine, together with the fines already
by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority earlier this year, goes some
way towards reflecting the serious issues which resulted in the leak of
this large volume of toxic material.
"However it gives little comfort that the poor, ongoing safety culture
identified can, or will, be tackled by the UK authorities,”
“We have been here before. The new safety dawn promised, and
ultimately signed off on, by the UK regulatory authorities has proved
to be false. The Irish Government’s concerns are in no way
diminished by this episode.
"This leak provides further evidence, if such were needed, that the UK
authorities should make the current shutdown of the Thorp plant a
Richard Matthews, prosecuting, said the first indication of a leak at
the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp) was on August 24, 2004
when 50 grams of uranium was detected following a sample test.
The full extent of the leak was finally uncovered on April 14, 2005 and
Thorp was shut down four days later and remains closed.
The minister said the Irish Government would continue to hold the UK
government accountable and responsible for the operation of the
“As Minister for the Environment, I will continue to
these concerns clearly and consistently, not only to the UK Government
and Administration, but also to the European Commission,” Mr
The court heard that the leak should have been detected within days
rather than eight months.
Mr Justice Openshaw said British Nuclear Group Sellafield did not have
a good safety record.
The court heard that the company had seven previous convictions on
safety related matters and had received fines totalling more than
€171,000 but none of these involved a leak.
The court was told that a change in the handling process had caused the
In a statement the Health and Safety Executive, which brought the case,
said: “Our extensive investigation into the events at Thorp
shown that British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd fell well below
required standards for a considerable period of time, something we are
not prepared to tolerate.”
in any doubt about the current series of magazines issued with the
Whitehaven News each week, entitled, somewhat pretentiously, "West
Cumbrian Futures", need only to read the sub-title - "In association
with the NDA and Energus".
Issue 34: August 2009 edition has a wonderful piece
from Energus' chief executive. Surprisingly, not everyone
to Cumbria to look at industrial developments. We wonder if
person is unique, or just in need of his job?
Eat your heart out Julia Bradbury! Who needs all that
as no surprise to you that there is a slight element of bias, apart
from his salary, of course, which allows the chief executive to wax so
lyrically. To quote from the Energus web site:
'ENERGUS is a limited company
overseen by a partnership between the
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the Northwest Development Agency,
West Lakes Renaissance and Sellafield Ltd. Additional representatives
from local industry make up its Board of Directors. In addition to the
partners referred to above funding has also been secured from the
Northern Way and the European Regional Development Fund initiatives.
This iconic development is a key part
drive to turn West Cumbria into a global centre for energy, environment
and technology, consistent with the aims of the West Cumbria Masterplan
and the Energy Coast initiative.'
as we know them, the usual manipulative quangos out to enhance their
status at the cost of the Cumbrian coastline, with no mention of
personal gain. Sometimes referred to as Jamie's Gang.
an aside, we approached the Northwest
Development Agency for assistance in tarmacing a dirt track leading to
the railway station at Braystones. Beyond the railway
the lane crosses the Barrow to Carlisle railway line, via a
self-operated crossing, to serve the beach community. It is
difficult proposition to maintain it - almost as difficult as trying to
find out who owns it. In the past Sellafield and Network
both chipped in with assistance towards the cost of materials.
Volunteers then fill in the pot-holes. Sadly, it has become
heavily-used and needs almost constant refurbishment - hence our
approach to the Northwest Development Agency.
they managed to lose our
initial request, after several weeks we made a personal visit to their
Workington office. Here we were given hope; the
eventually found and forwarded to the regional headquarters, where it
got lost again. After further enquiry we were eventually
that the agency don't actually have any money to distribute, they
merely make recommendations to the government with regard to funding of
meant to say was, "NO". Strange then that they are credited
so much of the funding for the nuclear industry. (Or that
managed to fund new drainage, new seating, a new stand and a
scoreboard for Old Trafford Cricket Club. The area
is in Warrington - not very far away from Old Trafford.)]
if to confirm our deep concerns about the secret gang-mentality of
those supposedly improving the area, we note two articles on the front
page of the Whitehaven News for 30/7/09. The first relates
Conservative councillor being turned away from a meeting at which
future healthcare plans were to be debated. We are not in
political, recent events having amply demonstrated the nature of the
beast, but the local MP tried to justify his colleague's action by
reportedly saying, ". . . This was not a political meeting -
those people who have helped bring the new build to this point, who
have a genuine focus and who are committed to its success were
invited". Would a fair interpretation be, only "Yes" men are
allowed a voice in Mr. Reed's kind of democracy? Certainly
experiences of meetings to discuss the future have met with the "only
if you're in our gang" mentality.
of this restriction on free speech: why was the
subject of the nuclear industry's effect on health and the environment
taboo at the April and May meetings to "consult" residents?
nuclear industry is here, and here to stay. We will
not permit matters of health and the environment to be included in
are the prime arguments against
the industry. Without these considerations there is little
object to, surely? With these, however, it is
to have been contributed to the death of the former Sellafield worker .
magistrates heard that two workers received an internal dose of
radiation during the decontamination of an area of concrete floor."
that it had breached health and safety laws."
Surely, these are important matters?
in one week's newspapers, (the
Whitehaven News for the week
ending 31/7/09) and there
are similar stories almost every week.
What about RWE and its purported
concerns for good
practise and observation of proper processes?
brought under control a major blaze at Tilbury Power Station in Essex.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said the fire covered an area
measuring 200 metres by 300 metres.
spokesman for energy firm
RWE npower said: "We can confirm that a
fire broke out within the turbine hall at Tilbury Power Station this
afternoon at approximately 3pm."
the secrecy that surrounds these people: RWE n-power, who are
proposing to build at Braystones wrote to a few
selected people the day before concluding the purchase of farmland, to
them. The letter, of course, arrived the day the deal was
concluded. So much for openness and transparency.
not the highest ranking outfit in New Labour's targets and performance
league table in any category,
323rd out of 352 councils in permitting locals to
do indeed have to be in the
"gang" to have any influence.
Yet Sellafield and the NDA seem to have no difficulty in communicating
their ideas to either Copeland Council or Cumbria County Council.
We note elsewhere the presence of employees, or
Sellafield in both organisations, as well as the many quangos and
Chance? Does the money distributed by the nuclear industry
no influence at all? If not, why do they continue to
the propaganda tells us how much we are in favour of new build for
nuclear power stations and how much more money the NDA and Sellafield
are pouring into the local economy.
We note the forthcoming 400 acre land
sale of "agricultural land" around Sellafield. We see the
for an industrial estate in Beckermet. We read of the
Coast Masterplan" and the developments at Kirksanton and Braystones.
It doesn't take much
imagination to see
that from east of Barrow
to north of Maryport will become a huge ribbon of industrial estates
in a throwback to the Victorian industrial age, where there was little
or no consideration of the damage being done to the populace and the
How little our politicians have
Even queries to central government about the planning
are countered by the
planning system - with its already scant regard for public
amended so that approval can be made much more quickly! (i.e.
with even less chance of the public having a say in their local
amenity.) So said Mr. Miliband talking on the Andrew Marr
has been written by an expert from the group Radiation Free
chilling indictment of the government's laissez-faire attitude to the
power trashing the
12 August 2009
The Nuclear Fuel cycle produces greenhouse gases thousands of times
more potent than carbon dioxide.
Following a Freedom of Information request from Radiation Free Lakeland
it has come to light that Sellafield
longer producing electricity) quadrupled its emissions of
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from the period 2007 to
HFC’s are hundreds, and can be thousands of times, more
than carbon dioxide.
The reporting threshold is 100kg but Sellafield produced over 4 times
this amount in 2008 alone.
Last week’s report urging new nuclear build
former energy minister Malcolm Wicks (now the government’s
“Special Representative on International Energy”)
new nuclear build would “boost energy security” and
“tackle climate change.”
Regarding “energy security,” the known UK
uranium is on Orkney where the Orcadians successfully won a battle in
the 1970’s to keep their uranium in the ground.
Regarding climate change Wick’s report misleads the public
believing that nuclear power does not produce Green House
This assertion is clearly untrue.
Far from being the saviour of planet Earth, it was nuclear power that
first blew a hole in the ozone layer.
Apart from hydrofluorocarbons and other potent greenhouse gas
emissions, the nuclear cycle absolutely relies on the production
of chemicals such as concentrated nitric acid in large
Nitrous oxide (N2
is produced by nitric
acid production and is not only 310 times more powerful than CO2
but it lasts over 100 years in the troposphere.
According to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Sellafield is home
to the most dangerous concoction of tens of millions of gallons of
nitric acid (1086.7 m3) in High Level Liquid Waste tanks holding
“nitric acid solution containing fission products, some
and some solids”.
One teaspoon (0.2 ounces) of nitric acid is
mucous membranes and/or fatal.
Fossil fuel and the internal combustion engine has done much to trash
the environment but fossil fuel is well and truly trumped by
nuclear power at the top of the polluting industrial food chain and
reliant on all other polluters for its existence.
For instance, Sellafield spent
£30 million last
year on gas at the nearby “Fellside” gas plant
built at the nuclear industry’s behest to insure
of supply” for a nuclear plant that no longer produces
A spokesperson for Radiation Free Lakeland said, “Malcolm
Wick’s dodgy dossier is in the same spirit as the dodgy
presented as an excuse for the Iraq ‘war’.
mind the known link between nuclear power plants and cancers,
is obvious that nuclear power is neither “home
“climate friendly, ” to pretend otherwise is the
vicious confidence trick imaginable."
HFC’s are hundreds and can be thousands of times more
than carbon dioxide. (Ref.: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/montreal-protocol/
Some estimates suggest that increases in HFC use could overwhelm all
the planned cuts in CO2
2040, releasing the equivalent of hundreds of gigatonnes of CO2
Following a Freedom of Information request from Radiation Free Lakeland
it has come to light that Sellafield (no longer producing electricity)
quadrupled its emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from the period
2007 to 2008:
(10689349) - initial NDA response extract: Hydrofluorocarbons
(HFCs): 2007: 176kg (Figure from Magnox,
431kg (Figure from Magnox,
Thorp and FCHP).
the reporting threshold for HFCs is 100kg.
Energy Security Paper backs Dash for Homegrown Energy (Ref.:
In Feb '77, the Orkney Islands Council had unanimously rejected an
application from the SSEB for permission to begin uranium prospecting.
Nuclear Power first blew a hole in the ozone layer, “In July
NASA announced that high altitude nuclear tests had created a new
radiation belt 750 miles deep, girdling the earth.
…………military tests have
contributed to ozone depletion and global warming”.
(Ref.: Dr Rosalie Bertell - "Planet Earth
Weapon of War" - The Women's Press, London, 2000.)
The nuclear cycle absolutely relies on the production of
chemicals (Ref.: The Nuclear Fuel Cycle –
Society of Chemistry, http://www.rsc.org/images/essay7_tcm18-17769.pdf
Sellafield is home to the most dangerous concoction of tens of millions
of gallons of nitric acid (1086.7 m3) in High Level Liquid Waste tanks
holding “nitric acid solution containing fission products,
actinides and some solids”. (Click
here for reference.
Known link between nuclear power plants and cancers.
to further illustrate
point about Sellafield events taking a regular chunk of the Whitehaven
News, the August 6th edition has the headline on P. 3,
knuckles rapped over radioactive water spill"
We mention the leak (noticed, somewhat embarrassingly, during a visit
by the Prime Minister) elsewhere. The leak had been extant
at least 14 months. A report on the incident by
Environment Agency (not always known for perspicacity) stated:
initial investigation has identified a number of areas where the
company failed to comply with the requirements of its certificate of
authorisation, notably in the use of inadequately designed and
installed equipment; in not carrying out sufficient
and maintenance of equipment and in not establishing clear
responsibility for managing the equipment in question."
report points out that the
public are not allowed into the area which was contaminated, so there
was no danger to them at any time. Surely employees are just
members of the public who happen to work at Sellafield?
customary spokesperson stressed, "Since taking over control
Ltd., in November, the new executive team is continuing to emphasise
the importance of safety, disciplined professionalism and first-class
conduct of operations
One has to wonder just how many
of the established managers actually got changed when the new regime
came in. If, as we suspect, not many, then were they not the
ones responsible for the failure in the first place? How
will they keep playing the New Kid on the Block card?
What guarantees are there that any
company will fare any better - especially one trying new designs?
Sellafield has had over half a century to get things right.
RWE, we are led to believe, will be able to design and
commission a new type of reactor (of a similar type to the one causing
the Finnish government to despair) on greenfield sites, with no
infrastructure in place, no means of obtaining resources without
considerable environmental damage, and distribute it without detracting
considerably from the amenity of the whole area, with no problems and
on budget. Hmm. Dream on . . .
version from the past:
by Jason Adkins, a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.
"Everyone knows the whole area near the Sellafield nuclear plant is
radioactive," explains one nearby resident, a British Rail conductor
who won't let his family near the beaches there.
British Nuclear Fuels is waging a defensive credibility campaign to
convince its critics at home and abroad that its plant is safe.
indicate that over a
quarter of a ton of highly radioactive plutonium has been discharged
into the Irish Sea since 1952
Barrow Action Group head Jean Emery argues that British Nuclear Fuels
has violated the human rights of local people with the radioactive
discharges. "Everything we know about it scares me," she says, "from
the presence of radioactive isotopes in fish, to the fact that many
birds are no longer breeding in local estuaries, to the high incidence
of cancer in the area."
The radioactive slick originated when Windscale workers inadvertently
discharged large quantities of radioactive solvents used to flush out
storage tanks during maintenance operations. The discharge of 1,500
curies did not exceed permissible levels of 3,000 curies over a three
month period. But the company conceded that concentrations of
radioactivity or particulate material could have a "significant health
risk" if handled for a period of several hours or if ingested.
Plant critics claim that the most severely contaminated flotsam and
beaches from the November discharge had produced a radioactivity count
that would reach up to the permissible annual exposure in several
hours. Normal background radiation measures ten counts per second. By
contrast, the contaminated beaches near Sellafield had counts above
1,000 per second for over nine months. (The United Kingdom's permitted
levels for public exposure to radioactivity are the highest in the
world, some 20 times higher than those in the U.S.)
Although British Nuclear Fuels performed extensive cleaning of 15 miles
of contaminated beach and removed thousands of tons of sand, flotsam
with considerable levels of radioactivity was found on the seashore 25
miles north of Sellafield. Seven months after the contamination took
place, restrictions on the use of area beaches were relaxed so that
people could walk there, but not pick up anything. Parents were advised
to keep children away.
To the dismay of BNFL, in early August  the Director of Public
Prosecutions decided to prosecute the company for last November's
radioactivity release, charging that BNFL failed to maintain proper
records, and to keep radioactive materials under control and discharges
"as low as reasonably achievable." Company executives may be named in
Sir Douglas Black confirmed the high incidence of local leukemia, and
acknowledged that radiation is the only "known" cause of leukemia in
children. While the report stopped short of saying that Sellafield was
responsible for the cancer, it didn't rule out that possibility, and
Black called for more extensive, historical inquiries into local
in 2001, Greg Palast
wrote a very cogent analysis of the Enron fraud in
The basis of this is that George Bush Sen. brought in deregulation in
return for the energy companies donating $16 million to the
Republicans. (7 times what was given to the
Democrats.) Regulation prior to G. Bush Sen. had
in several US companies being fined very heavily for manipulating
prices of electricity and maximising profits by cutting maintenance
down-times and reducing staff levels, subsequently lying to the
regulators and falsifying data to cover up what they were
doing. When the market was deregulated, Enron and a
others saw the opportunity to blackmail electricity users and
California was the first to suffer. The energy
spent $39 million on defeating a referendum which would have resulted
in the industry controls being retained, capping the charges to users
and specifying maintenance levels, etc. A further
million was used to "lobby" and assist in politician's
campaigns. So deregulation was
promised price cut of 20% in San Diego actually resulted in a rise of
The supplies to the state
manipulated so that the energy companies could charge whatever they
According to this article, the British National Grid also had a play on
this market, by buying Niagra Mohawk, getting rid of 800 workers - thus
saving on the wage bill, enabling a bonus for stockholders approaching