July 2006

links:  [david healy] [green party]

The operator of the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria has been rapped over a leak of radioactive water.

The incident happened in February 2006, during routine tests, which required levels of contaminated water in storage pools to be raised temporarily. But levels remained high for too long and radioactive water leaked from a gap in a pool wall. Although water was contained within the plant the Environment Agency criticised failings by British Nuclear Group. more
also in the news
The re-opening of the THORP nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield is causing concern. The Nordic environment ministers have demanded that any resumption of reprocessing at THORP be preceded by an evaluation of all the risks as well as an action plan for the treatment and ultimate disposal of radioactive waste. more

In order to fight the comeback of nuclear power, we aim to collect one million signatures against nuclear power in Europe. Help us to reach this one million: by signing the petition below, by spreading the word and by collecting signatures from friends and colleagues! MORE ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN

[I have been searching for the cover story from summer 06 issue of socialist view, journal of the socialist party in Ireland. I have found part of it.]

FOR THE first time in a generation the British government is proposing a major expansion in the use of nuclear power. A debate has opened on the benefits and risks of nuclear power. This debate occurs against the background of general acceptance of two ideas: that global warming is a real phenomenon and is man-made, and, that the world is rapidly running out of fossil fuels such as oil and gas.

THE DEBATE in Ireland is different from that in Britain. There are no proposals at the present time to build nuclear power stations, North or South. In the 1970s it was proposed to build a nuclear power plant at Carnsore Point in Wexford but this plan was shelved in 1980 after widespread opposition.

The increasing links between the electricity grids of Ireland and Britain however mean that we will use nuclear power indirectly in the future. A major concern is the proximity of the Sellafield nuclear power plant in Cumbria and reprocessing facilities to both Northern Ireland and the South.

Working people care little for Blair’s opinions but are genuinely worried about the future. Is nuclear power inherently dangerous? How quickly will oil run out? Will renewable energy sources ever meet demand?

[full text not available online. for copies contact the Socialist Party ]

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dick Roche T.D., stated today (11 July 2006) that the outcome of the energy review in the UK was disappointing but not surprising. The Minister was commenting on the today’s publication of the review which concluded that the nuclear option could make a significant contribution to meeting future UK energy needs.

Political statements made at the highest level have indicated for some time a definite and predisposed view for the nuclear option in the UK. Coincidently recent changes to the UK Ministerial line-up have seen prominent nuclear skeptics moved out of directly relevant Departments.”

“The decisions taken by the UK in relation to nuclear issues are of significant concern to Ireland. We made our views known to the UK during the public consultation on the Energy Review Policy. These reiterated our concerns on radioactive discharges to the Irish Sea, the danger of accidents, the continued reprocessing of spent fuel, the threat of terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities, proliferation issues, marine transports of nuclear fuel as well as waste and the risks arising from the proximity of nuclear power stations located in the UK to Ireland itself. Ireland’s views were informed by the experience of past events but it is obvious that minds were already made up on the outcome of this review.

full text

ergobalance.blogspot.com writes

Safety assessment documents have come to light which report that major cracks have been located in some of the reactor cores of Britain’s current generation of nuclear power stations. The documents were retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act, and show that the Nuclear Safety Directorate (NSD) had expressed concerns over the deterioration of reactor cores at Hinkley Point B in Somerset, among other U.K. nuclear power stations. The company, British Energy, which operates 13 advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGR) including Hinkley, apparently does not know fully why the cracking has occurred, is unable to monitor the progress of the deterioration and hence cannot provide a clear estimate of the extent of damage that has occurred.
Cracks in the graphite brick cores of the ageing AGR’s have been noticed for some time, but without any real public awareness of the problem arising until now. In 2004 British Energy warned that it might not be possible to extend the lives of its Hinkley Point B, Hunterston B, Heysham 2 and Torness plants beyond the30 year span initially envisaged for them because of the cracked graphite brick problem. The company are keen to extend the lives of its AGR reactors but the papers, which were obtained by Greenpeace via “Stop Hinkley”, a local nuclear watchdog group, suggest that unless British Energy introduces more stringent safety monitoring this might be impossible. The NSD says that it does not believe that there is any imminent public danger from radioactive release, but “some lesser event” is inevitable at some stage, without a “more vigilant precautionary approach… [being] …adopted”. more

The operator of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations over a radioactive leak.

British Nuclear Group Sellafield (BNGSL) now faces an unlimited fine after a criminal hearing on June 8th.

At Whitehaven Magistrates Court the company admitted three breaches of the Sellafield site licence conditions.

The conditions of the Nuclear Installations Act (1965) require BNG, as Thorp’s operators, to make and comply with written instructions; to ensure safety systems are in good working order and to ensure radioactive material is contained and, if leaks occur, to make sure they are detected and reported.

However, magistrates decided that their limited powers – they could only fine BNG up to a maximum of £15,000 – were not enough. The hearing has now been adjourned for sentencing on 7th July at Carlisle Crown Court, where the fine could be unlimited. [more]