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Nuclear problems may boost UK energy costs

Original headline: “Energy prices will rise, say experts”
Damien Henderson, The Herald (UK)
Problems at Britain’s nuclear power stations will put pressure on energy bills and increase the risk of blackouts during any winter cold snap, a leading market analysis group warned yesterday.

Wood Mackenzie said price rises were “inevitable”, given the significant reduction in Britain’s power output as a result of technical problems which led to reactors at Hunterston in Ayrshire and Hinkley in Somerset being shut down earlier this month.
(26 Oct 2006)

Hinkley Point power station ‘may never open again’ say campaigners

Questions are being raised about the future of Hinkley Point B nuclear power station, near Burnham-On-Sea.

Both its advanced gas-cooled reactors are currently shut down and campaigners say it may never open again.

Problems at the plant include cracks in a reactor’s graphite core, and cracks in boiler pipes, which are currently being repaired by engineers.
(26 Oct 2006)

Hunterston nuclear station’s cracks ‘a threat to safety’

The Scotsman
IMMINENT cracking in the Hunterston nuclear station will affect its ability to operate safely, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has warned.

Its assessment of the Ayrshire plant and its twin, the Hinkley Point station, raised concerns about the safe running of Britain’s ageing nuclear reactors.
(27 Oct 2006)

Think-tank raps Blair over nuclear policies

Heather Stewart, The Guardian
The Government’s Energy Review was a messy political compromise which leaves Britain trapped in a ‘poker game’ with nuclear giants, according to a report by one of Britain’s leading experts on energy policy.

Dismissed by some campaigners as a smokescreen for introducing nuclear power, the Energy Review was launched in July with the personal backing of Tony Blair.

But in a report published tomorrow by think-tank the Social Market Foundation, Dieter Helm, a specialist in energy economics at Oxford University, accuses the government of fudging the question of whether it supports nuclear power. ‘The review provides little by way of concrete policy proposals and it is unclear as to whether it is pro-nuclear,’ Helm said.
(22 Oct 2006)

UK nuclear cleanup to cost $122 billion

Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, set up in April 2005 to oversee the dismantling of old nuclear power stations, said on Thursday it would cost 65 billion pounds ($122 billion) to clean up civil nuclear sites.

“The latest version of our lifetime plans — which detail the commercial operations, decommissioning and clean up programmes of our 20 sites — now show a total cost of 64.8 billion pounds, a net increase of 2.1 billion pounds,” it said in a statement.

The NDA said the increase was due to an “improved understanding” of the costs involved in cleaning up the nuclear reprocessing plant Sellafield.

The NDA also said that current plans submitted by contractors had weaknesses that could lead to substantial changes in clean-up costs.
(26 Oct 2006)
Since no plant in the world has ever been decommissioned and cleaned up, these costs are highly speculative. It seems likely that underestimates might be more likely than overestimates. -AF

What is the best solution to dispose of Britain’s nuclear waste?

Steve Connor, The Independent
David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, announced this week that the country’s most dangerous radioactive waste, accumulated over the past half century, will be buried in deep underground facilities. He said these repositories will be built in “geologically suitable” areas and with the support of local authorities.

…Haven’t we heard this before? Deep disposal has been discussed for more than 30 years but successive governments have failed to grasp the nettle. As a result there has been no coherent plan to deal with waste in the long term. Instead we have had several inquiries, many reports and a mish-mash of stop-gap measures that involved short-term storage at the surface or shallow disposal of the many kinds of lower-level radioactive waste built up over the decades.
(27 Oct 2006)