LONDON — The U.K. government is mulling plans which would hike household energy bills to help pay for a new nuclear energy plant.
Ministers are considering tweaking the funding deal for Sizewell C, a proposed £20 billion nuclear plant in Suffolk, as they scramble to attract investors.
Under one proposal being looked at in Whitehall, the development would be part funded by electricity suppliers — and those firms “would be expected to pass these costs onto consumers through their electricity bills,” according to a consultation paper on the plans.
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero is set to publish its response to that consultation later this week, according to two industry figures granted anonymity to discuss the process.
Officials insist potential additional charges to consumers would be low. But any move leading to higher bills would be controversial during a cost-of-living crisis driven by two years of rising energy costs.
Britain’s public spending watchdog has launched an investigation into risks and costs at Sellafield, the UK’s biggest nuclear waste dump.
The National Audit Office (NAO), which scrutinises the use of public funds, has announced it will examine whether the Cumbria site is managing and prioritising the risks and hazards of the site effectively as well as deploying resources appropriately and continuing to improve its project management.
The findings of its investigation are expected to be published this autumn.
Sellafield is Europe’s most toxic nuclear site and also one of the UK’s most expensive infrastructure projects, with the NAO estimating it could cost £84bn to maintain the site into the next century.
Predictions of the ultimate bill for the site, which holds about 85% of the UK’s nuclear waste, vary. It cost £2.5bn to run the site last year, and the government estimates it could ultimately take £263bn to manage the country’s ageing nuclear sites, of which Sellafield accounts for the largest portion.
As nuclear plant is hit by further delay, real cost will be far higher after inflation is included, as project uses 2015 prices
The owner of Hinkley Point C has blamed inflation, Covid and Brexit as it announced the nuclear power plant project could be delayed by a further four years, and cost £2.3bn more.
The plant in Somerset, which has been under construction since 2016, is now expected to be finished by 2031 and cost up to £35bn, France’s EDF said. However, the cost will be far higher once inflation is taken into account, because EDF is using 2015 prices.
The latest in a series of setbacks represents a huge delay to the project’s initial timescale. In 2007, the then EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said that by Christmas in 2017, turkeys would be cooked using electricity generated from atomic power at Hinkley. When the project was finally given the green light in 2016, its cost was estimated at £18bn.
However, the Hinkley Point C delay will add to concerns over project delays and costs, as well as skills in an industry earmarked to deliver a quarter of the national electricity demand by 2050.
The UK’s most hazardous nuclear site, Sellafield, has been hacked into by cyber groups … the Guardian can reveal.
The astonishing disclosure and its potential effects have been consistently covered up by senior staff at the vast nuclear waste and decommissioning site, the investigation has found.
The Guardian has discovered that the authorities do not know exactly when the IT systems were first compromised. But sources said breaches were first detected as far back as 2015, when experts realised sleeper malware – software that can lurk and be used to spy or attack systems – had been embedded in Sellafield’s computer networks.
The full extent of any data loss and any ongoing risks to systems was made harder to quantify by Sellafield’s failure to alert nuclear regulators for several years, sources said.
The revelations have emerged in Nuclear Leaks, a year-long Guardian investigation into cyber hacking, radioactive contamination and toxic workplace culture at Sellafield.
The site has the largest store of plutonium on the planet and is a sprawling rubbish dump for nuclear waste from weapons programmes and decades of atomic power generation.
In one highly embarrassing incident last July, login details and passwords for secure IT systems were inadvertently broadcast on national TV by the BBC One nature series Countryfile, after crews were invited into the secure site for a piece on rural communities and the nuclear industry.
CAMPAIGNERS have won permission to appeal against the building of Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk because the government did not ensure there was a sufficient water supply to meet its demands.
The Court of Appeal overturned a refusal by the High Court to grant a judicial review into the decision by Kwasi Kwarteng, the then-business secretary, to give the station on the Suffolk coast the go-ahead.
The case was brought by the Together Against Sizewell C (Tasc) campaign group.
Tasc’s case included an argument that because of the power station’s need for huge quantities of water for its cooling system, the development should include a desalination plant to avoid endangering local domestic water supplies.
Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Coulson said that given that Mr Kwarteng gave permission for the power station against the advice of the planning authority, and because of Tasc’s arguments about the need for a water supply, the appeal had “a real prospect of success.”
“The policy of the Japanese government to dump nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean is not based on scientific or environmental protection principles and has no justification.”by Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Storage tanks for radioactive water stand at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Jan. 29, 2020 in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. (Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)
Greenpeace sounded alarm Friday over the Japanese government’s plan to release stored water from the ill-fated Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, releasing a new report warning about the presence of carbon-14, which the group says “has the potential to damage human DNA.”
The warning laid out in a new report says the government and plant operator TEPCO’s controversial plan—which has been under consideration for some time—is founded on “a series of myths” and pursues the cheapest option to get rid of the water over what is best for human and ecological health.
The plan allows “the government [to] create the impression that substantial progress is being made in the early decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors,” Greenpeace says.
Entitled Stemming the tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis, the publication argues that the planned release of the water “will have serious, long-term consequences for communities and the environment, locally and much further afield.”
“Nearly 10 years after the start of the disaster, TEPCO and the Japanese government are still covering up the scale of the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi,” said Shaun Burnie, author of the report and senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany. He further accused the entities of having “deliberately held back for years detailed information on the radioactive material in the contaminated water.”
Beyond the remaining radioactive material tritium in the water, an additional problem is the presence of high levels of carbon-14, which belies the government’s assertion that the water is not “contaminated,” said Greenpeace.
According to the report,
If the contaminated water is discharged to the Pacific Ocean, all of the carbon-14 will be released to the environment. With a half-life of 5,730 years, carbon-14 is a major contributor to global human collective dose; once introduced into the environment carbon-14 will be delivered to local, regional, and global populations for many generations. […]
Contrary to the understanding of the Japanese government, water that contains large quantities of radioactive carbon-14 (as well as the other radioactive isotopes including strontium-90 and tritium) can only be described as contaminated.
Burnie said that TEPCO and the Japanese government “have failed to explain to the citizens of Fukushima, wider Japan, and to neighboring countries such as South Korea and China that the contaminated water to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean contains dangerous levels of carbon-14. These, together with other radionuclides in the water will remain hazardous for thousands of years with the potential to cause genetic damage.”
“It’s one more reason why these plans have to be abandoned,” said Burnie.
The report puts some of the blame on TEPCO’s decision to rely on technology known as ALPS that the operator should have known was incapable of bringing concentrations of radionuclides down to acceptable levels.
Rather than quickly moving to dump the water into the ocean, the Greenpeace report says the government should pursue “continued long-term storage and processing of the contaminated water.”
“There is no technical, engineering, or legal barrier to securing additional storage space for ALPS-treated contaminated water. It is a matter of political will,” said Burnie.
“The policy of the Japanese government to dump nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean is not based on scientific or environmental n principles,” he said, “and has no justification.”
Poor little snowflake Donny’s been super busy throwing tantrums after one of those mean girl reporters hurt his feelings again. When 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl started her interview with, “Are you ready for tough questions?” – and then asked some – he was so mad he left in a huff and posted it all to expose her “bias, hatred and rudeness,” aka her competence as he lied, dodged, stumbled. And earlier he even gave her a big book of all the health care things he’s done! It was blank, but still. Read More… More Further
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I got the impression that the people supposedly in charge were far too relaxed and too fast to excuse anything and everything, that the people in charge of Sellafield were not taking it all seriously.
Isn’t that the impression you got? Oh radioactive half life of Plutonium Pu-239 of 24,100 years. We’ll just put it in this pond here, forget and ignore it and let seagulls
I got the impression that they had no idea about anything – that they were totally inept. they were treating it like it was nothing. Oh yes, no need to worry that we have got this serious radioactive waste which we have ignored for the past 60 years. There’s no need to worry about that we put it in water in these concrete ponds that are falling to bits.
ed: Sellafield is a nuclear waste shithole
Sellafield needs urgent inspections. Please get in there urgently. International, EU inspectors?
ed: I intend to do an article on the Radioactive Pollution of Irish Sea which is largely due to Sellafield.
16/9/16: it has been announced that Theresa May’s Conservative government are going for Sellafield C in partnership with EDF and China.
I intend to further investigate and publish on Sellafield’s irrsponsible and fantastically negligent actions of pollution of the Irish Sea and their ridiculous shite pools.
Sellafield – originally called Windscale but the name was changed as a PR stunt after the 1957 Windscale fire – was built initially as a plant producing plutonium to build the UK’s first nuclear bombs. Political pressures dictated that the plutonium was produced quickly … so that the UK would have nuclear bombs sooner. Everything was secondary to producing the plutonium quickly. There’s also the issue that there was very little experience or expertise in running nuclear reactors – it had only been done in the States at that time. UK and USSR were desperate to catch up.
The Sellafield site is a huge sprawling mess of past endeavours. It is now a nuclear shitehole having accumulated foreign as well as UK’s nuclear waste extremely poorly stored and mismanaged. Sellafield is a filthy nuclear waste site that dumps thousands of litres of radioactive waste into the Irish Sea daily.
Central to Sellafield’s crap storage of nuclear waste are vast open-air storage ponds 5 or 6 metres deep. There is nothing high-tech about these ponds – they are simply rotting concrete ponds dating from the 50s containing water and highly radioactive waste open to the elements. There are accounts of flocks of seagulls, sparrows and other birds spreading this radioactivity since there is no way of preventing them.
The images … from an anonymous source, show the state of spent nuclear fuel storage ponds that were commissioned in 1952, and used until the mid-1970’s as short term storage for spent fuel until it could be re-processed, producing plutonium for military use. However they were completely abandoned in the mid-1970s and have been left derelict for almost 40 years.
NOTE: The full set of original leaked photos is now placed in the public domain, available here.
The photographs show cracked concrete tanks holding water contaminated with high levels of radiation, seagulls bathing on the water, broken equipment, a dangerous mess of discarded items on elevated walkways, and weeds growing around the tanks.
The fuel storage ponds, the largest measuring 20m wide, 150m long and 6m deep, are now completely packed with spent fuel in disastrously poor condition.
If the ponds drain, the spent fuel may spontaneously ignite
The ponds are now undergoing decommissioning in order to restore them to safe condition. But the process is fraught with danger – and nuclear expert John Large warns that massive and uncontrolled radioactive releases to the environment could occur.
“This pond is build above ground”, he said. “It’s like an concrete dock full of water. But the concrete is in dreadful condition, degraded and fractured, and if the ponds drain, the Magnox fuel will ignite and that would lead to a massive release of radioactive material.
“Looking at the photos I am very disturbed at the degraded and run down condition of the structures and support services. In my opinion there is a significant risk that the system could fail.”
“If you got a breach of the wall by accident or by terrorist attack, the Magnox fuel would burn. I would say there’s many hundreds of tonnes in there. It could give rise to a very big radioactive release. It’s not for me to make comparisons with Chernobyl or Fukushima, but it could certainly cause serious contamination over a wide area and for a very long time.”
URGENT clean-up of two of the world’s most dangerous radioactive waste stores will be delayed by at least five years, despite growing safety fears.
The waste is stored at the UK’s Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site, which holds radioactive waste dating back to the dawn of the nuclear age. An accident at the derelict site could release radioactive materials into the air over the UK and beyond.
Last week, the UK government sacked the private consortium running the £80-billion-programme to clean up Sellafield, and gave the job back to its own agency, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The clean-up operation, scheduled to end by 2120, costs the government £1.9 billion a year.
The private consortium, Nuclear Management Partners, was meant to “bring in world-class expertise” and allow the government to “get to grips with the legacy after decades of inaction”, according to a 2008 statement by Mike O’Brien, energy minister at the time. But six years on, the privatisation experiment has been abandoned.
The surprise renationalisation comes after delays at two of the four waste stores prioritised for clean-up. The four ponds and silos contain hundreds of tonnes of highly radioactive material from more than 60 years of operations. The decaying structures are cracking, leaking waste into the soil, and are at risk of explosions from gases created by corrosion.