Renew On Line (UK) 64
|Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 164 Nov-Dec 2006
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
15. Nuclear News
EPR public enquiry
Setting up a local public enquiry into the proposed construction of the European Pressurised-water Reactor (EPR) at EdF’s Flamanville site in N. Western France, prime minister de Villepin said the Flamanville reactor was ‘essential for our country’s energy future’. However, according to Modern Power Systems, current economic conditions have pushed the estimated cost of the development up by around 10% as steel and copper prices rise and the project is now estimated to cost some euro 3.3 bn, giving an estimated generation cost of euro46/MWh, a slight increase compared with the initial estimates. Given agreement from the Public Inquiry, which in France are relatively low key local affairs lasting a few weeks at most, construction is expected to start in 2007, with commissioning set for 2012.
However, there are some unresolved issues- and some opposition. See our Reviews for a report on IEER’s claim that France could do without nuclear and still reduce emissions: www.ieer.org/reports/energy/france
Moreover, according to a leaked EDF report seen by New Scientist (18/5/06), the EPR is not designed to withstand a 9/11-style aircraft attack by terrorists. New Scientist said that the report claimed that the EPR ‘is capable of resisting an accidental crash by a five-tonne military fighter... but only by extrapolation does it argue that the reactor will also withstand the impact of a 250-tonne commercial airliner flown deliberately into it’, a view challenged by independent nuclear engineer, John Large, as ‘entirely unjustified’.
* As the Daily Mirrors’ spoof bomb attack on a waste shipment in a NW London railway siding in July illustrated, the UK also has security problems. A paper presented to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management highlighted in particular the danger posed by liquid waste from the reprocessing of nuclear fuel at Sellafield. But the DTI’s Office for Civil Nuclear Security said it was convinced that the procedures for protecting civil nuclear installations and processes were ‘robust and fit for the purpose’, although it recognised that attention to some other issue, such as better waste conditioning, could ‘make a positive contribution to safety’. Sellafield already has a no-fly zone overhead and RAF fighters are ready to scramble if an aircraft enters the zone, plus other security measures, some imposed after 9/11, and is patrolled by its own armed police force- costing around £50m p.a.
*A web map showing the possible effects of a major accident at a UK nuclear plant (you can choose which), is available at: www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/Chernobyl-UK.php
Spanish phase out ?
After a six month period of review/discussion, a government-led study has concluded that it was important to keep the public involved in the question of what to do about nuclear energy. It added that Spain had to take decisions on the storage of nuclear waste as quickly as possible. The Industry Ministry said ‘it is advisable to intensify efforts to provide objective information... so people can form opinions based on knowledge’.
The Socialist government has pledged to wind down Spain’s nuclear industry, which provides around 20% of its electricity. However, this will be challenging since Spain imports 80% of its energy- but with oil prices rising, change is also attractive and many utilities are now focusing on renewable sources like wind and solar power. Spain closed down one of its nuclear plants in the spring and has six left.
Other phase out news
A two-year foundation degree, run by the University of Central Lancashire and Lakes College, west Cumbria, will be Britain’s first course in dismantling nuclear plants. Organisers said the course was being set up in response to the government’s pledge to spend £50bn cleaning up the nuclear facilities (now more like £70bn). But it will also look at plant construction and operation. FT May 29
In the USA the Trojan Nuclear plant is being decomissioned. You can
watch the spectacular demolition of its cooling tower at: www.youtube.com/watch?
A radioactive waste site, CSA in Soulaine in the Champagne area of France, has been leaking, according to ANDRA, its operator, who reported that ‘the wall of a storage cell fissured’ while concrete was being added to seal a recent layer of waste. In the 1980’s, when the site was first proposed, ANDRA stated categorically that their dump site would not release any radioactivity. Now the French nuclear authority is saying ‘this event revealed a flaw in the conception of the storage cells of the site.’
Once full, the site will be one of the world’s largest with over
1 million cu meters of low/intermediate waste. A new high-level waste
site is being planned in Bure, also in the Champagne region. EdF’s
reactors produce 1,200 tonnes of waste every year.
US poll: ‘renewables not nuclear’
US President Bush has suggested that ‘Nuclear power will help us deal with the issue of greenhouse gases... Nuclear power helps us protect the environment’, and in May the White House announced that a special working group, led by the National Economic Council, has been established to oversee the expansion of nuclear power in the United States, unofficially referred to as the nuclear accelerator working group. However, a national survey by the Civil Society Institute, a nonpartisan and nonprofit think tank, found that 61% of Americans think nuclear power is too costly and too far in the future to address climate change, and favour renewables /increased energy saving. According to the survey, 75% would be concerned if ‘nuclear power was focused on at the expense of renewable, clean and safe alternative energy solutions’ such as ‘solar, wind and other less expensive and more rapidly delivered energy solutions’.
IEER on Nuclear
The US based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER)
has produced a very timely, comprehensive and hard hitting book on nuclear
power: ‘Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power
to Combat Global Climate Change’ by Brice Smith. Download the
executive summary from:
‘Fusion is renewable’
The international consortium that is to construct ITER, the $5bn International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, at Cadarache, S.France, involves the US, Japan, China, Russia, India, S.Korea & the EU. It is expected to be completed by 2015 and to operate for 20 years. US energy secretary Samuel Bodman said ‘As partners in ITER, we are pursuing the promise of unlimited, clean, safe, renewable and commercially available energy from nuclear fusion, which has the potential to significantly strengthen energy security, at home and abroad. Fusion is renewable; commercial fusion reactors would use lithium and deuterium, both readily available natural resources.’ The US Dept. of Energy has already allocated $25m to ITER and Bush has asked for $60m next year.
UK round up
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