Category: New Build

Negotiations on new nuclear power plants ‘need more scrutiny’

Negotiations on new nuclear power plants ‘need more scrutiny’

Sellafield Nuclear Plant T

Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood has called for a “pause” in negotiations over new nuclear power stations to allow parliamentary scrutiny of whether they were likely to result in a good deal.

He urged the government to ensure that the construction of new nuclear power stations was not subsidised.

Mr Horwood likened the nuclear industry to a “freeloader”.

But Energy Secretary Ed Davey said “rigorous processes” would ensure the “best possible” deal for taxpayers.

Leading a Commons debate on the subject, Mr Horwood said the use of subsidies for renewable energy was “justified”.

But he said of the nuclear industry: “Wouldn’t it be extraordinary if into this exciting young, diverse and competitive energy market we found that a 56-year-old freeloader, a tailgater left over from another era was trying to slip in unnoticed and pick up all the same kind of advantages and support?”

‘Lack of transparency’

Mr Horwood claimed negotiations on the “strike price” – or minimum price for nuclear generated power – are going on “behind closed doors, as we speak, before the relevant legislation has even passed through this House”.

He said he was not calling for “the instant abandonment of nuclear power” but “just for a pause, for the referral of the strike price negotiation to the Public Accounts Committee, other select committees or to an independent panel of experts”.

Sessions could be held in private if issues of commercial sensitivity arose, he added.

Joan Walley, the Labour chair of the Environment Select Committee, supported Mr Horwood’s plan.

She said there was a “complete lack of transparency” because of commercial confidentiality agreements with energy firms.

“Is new nuclear going ahead with or without public subsidy? I think the plain truth is we have no way of telling,” she told MPs.

‘Part of the answer’

Labour’s shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint reiterated the party’s support for nuclear power.

But she said it should not be a “one-way thing”, stressing energy companies’ social and economic obligations.

Mr Davey said he shared concerns about affordability, but assured MPs: “This is not about getting a deal at any price.”

“We have put in place rigorous processes to ensure any contract for Hinkley Point C, the most advanced nuclear project, represents the best possible deal for consumers,” Mr Davey said.

The energy secretary told MPs nuclear power was a “key part” of government’s strategy towards a low-carbon future, but stressed it was only “part of the answer”.

The Conservative MP for Warrington South, David Mowat, said nuclear technology is much safer and more advanced than when it was first being developed.

He said that without subsidies the energy market would focus on coal and gas instead.

Source: BBC News


Draft approval for new Indian nuclear site

Draft approval for new Indian nuclear site

A new six-unit nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi in Gujarat will be “environmentally benign and sustainable” while benefiting the region both economically and socially, said a draft assessment on behalf of the proposing company.

Nuclear power in India is located in India

The study was carried out for Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) by Engineers India Ltd. (EIL), itself an Indian government-led organisation, to set out to establish baseline environmental data for the project to build up to six imported 1000 MWe light water reactors at the coastal site 40 kilometers from Bhavnagar. It also evaluated potential impacts of the project and formulated environmental management plans for both the construction and operation phase. EIL collected data within a ten-kilometer radius of the site over three seasons (summer, post-monsoon and winter) from December 2010 to November 2011 to prepare its report.

Mithi Virdi received approval in principle from the Indian government as a site for up to six imported 1000 MWe light water reactors in 2009. In 2012 US reactor vendor Westinghouse signed a memorandum of understanding with NPCIL agreeing to negotiate an early works agreement for the construction of up to six AP1000 units at the site. According to the preliminary environmental impact assessment (EIA), the project is not anticipated to have any significant impact on local flora, fauna or human activities. The report details the planned systems to manage gaseous, liquid and solid radioactive wastes and keep discharges below the required limits in normal operation as well as the passive safety design and engineered safety features of the plant.

Based on its findings, the report concluded that the planned Mithi Virdi project would be “environmentally benign and sustainable” and would provide “much needed electricity with minimal environmental impact”. It noted that the project will benefit the region generally and contribute to improved social conditions, with NPCIL contributing towards “uplifting” of the surrounding areas and positive impacts including employment, better transport facilities, and improvements to basic education, health and infrastructure in the area.

The power plant project is expected to be completed in three stages, with the first two units penciled in for completion in 2019-2020, the second two units in 2021-2022 and the final stage completed in 2023-24. The cost is still under negotiation.

Mithi Virdi is one of four sites for which NPCIL is currently involved in pre-project activities. The others are Gorakhpur (Haryana), earmarked for four Indian-designed 700 MWe pressurized heavy-water reactors (PHWRs); Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh), where six GE-Hitachi ESBWR units are planned; and Chutaka (Madhya Pradesh), earmarked for two indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs. A final EIA for the Gorakhpur plant has been submitted to India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests for appraisal, while preliminary EIAs are still in preparation for Kovvada and Chutaka.

Source: World Nuclear News

Trident upgrade likely to be cheaper than Lib Dem plan, says Philip Hammond

Trident upgrade likely to be cheaper than Lib Dem plan, says Philip Hammond

Upgrading Trident would probably be cheaper than any alternative nuclear deterrent proposed by the Liberal Democrats, the Defence Secretary has said.

Philip Hammond on the future of the TA: 'I don't want people playing at being soldiers'

Philip Hammond is committed to a like-for-like replacement for Trident

Philip Hammond today said the Trident missiles and warheads have “many, many years of life in them” and will only need new submarines to carry them by 2028.

Any attempt to create a whole new nuclear deterrent system is unlikely to be economic, he said.

His comments are a deepening of the Coalition rift over Trident, since Mr Hammond ordered £350 million of preliminary design work on new submarines.

The Liberal Democrats accused him of “jumping the gun” as the Conservatives have promised not to think about replacing the system until 2016 in the next parliament.

During the row this week, Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, said a “like-for-like entirely unchanged replacement of Trident is basically saying we will spend billions and billions and billions of pounds on a nuclear missile system designed with the sole strategic purpose of flattening Moscow at the press of a button”.

But Mr Hammond today made it clear he is on the side of replacing the Vanguard class submarines that carry Trident missiles.

Speaking today at the Chief of the Air Staff’s Air Power Conference 2012, he said: “The question is only around whether we replace the Vanguard class submarines when they start to go out of service in 2028.

“As it is well known our Liberal Democrat coalition partners want to look at the alternatives that would still deliver a credible strategic nuclear deterrent.

“But given that we have the warheads, we have the missiles, and we are only talking about replacing the submarine, it is difficult to envisage a new complete system which you have to design everything, warheads, missiles, carriers, platforms from scratch, could ever be a more economic proposition.”

He said the Government will be able to afford to replace the Trident submarines.

“Can we afford it?”, he added. “Yes we can. Looked at over its lifetime, the submarine-based Trident deterrent costs us about 6 per cent of the defence budget to operate.”

At the same conference, Mr Hammond called on European nations to work together more on defence “in their own back yard”.

He said working in coalitions has proved particularly successful in Afghanistan and Libya.

“With the United States reflecting, in its strategic posture, the growing importance of the developing strategic challenge in the Pacific, the nations of Europe must find the political will to take on more responsibility for our own back yard, and fund the capabilities that allow us to do that,” Mr Hammond said.

Source – TDT

Virginia-class sub USS Minnesota to be christened today

Virginia-class sub USS Minnesota to be christened today

Workers for the nation’s largest military shipbuilder hurriedly arranged chairs, tested microphones and inflated some 2,400 red, white and blue balloons early Friday inside a cavernous construction bay.They were moving in the shadow of the submarine Minnesota, the newest Virginia-class sub, which is set to be christened today during a ceremony at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The 377-foot, nuclear-powered, fast-attack submarine was in pieces when Cmdr. John Fancher showed up at the shipyard two years ago to lead the ship’s first crew. The sailors worked with the shipbuilders to test systems as they came online and to troubleshoot problems.

“Seeing pieces and parts turn into this is incredible,” Fancher said, looking up at the hulking vessel. “They say you’ll never know a ship as well as the first ship you’re on. I’ve got to tell ya, after going through this, we know this ship pretty well.”

Sailors dressed in blue camouflage uniforms posed for photos and mingled with civilian shipbuilders. Nearby, the submarine’s sponsor, Ellen Roughead, practiced smashing a bottle of sparkling wine.

“It’s fun,” said Roughead, a Minnesota native and the wife of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. “I want to make sure I get it right when it counts.”

Shipbuilder Dale Wagner, a 32-year shipyard employee, helped install bunks, berthing lockers and the ship’s battery. Operating heavy tools inside a cramped submarine is tough work, Wagner said.

“It’s easy compared to what these guys do,” he said, motioning toward a group of sailors. “I get to get out of there at the end of the day. If they closed the hatch, I’d scratch a hole in the side.”

The opposite was true for some of the ship’s 100 crew members, many of whom joined the Navy to go to sea and get stir crazy during prolonged shore duty.

“It can be a challenge,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Witte, the submarine’s executive officer. “But it’s also an opportunity that most sailors won’t ever have, to see a ship come together.”

The Minnesota is the 10th of a projected 30 Virginia-class submarines. Construction began in February 2008.

Weather permitting, the submarine will be moved into the water Tuesday and moored at a pier, where the final construction phase will begin.

Its sea trials could begin in the spring.

Attributed to Mike Hixenbaugh (The Associated Press)

Source –

Alex Salmond reiterates SNP’s ‘no to nuclear weapons’ policy – Video Clip

Alex Salmond reiterates SNP’s ‘no to nuclear weapons’ policy

SNP leader Alex Salmond has reiterated his party’s policy on outlawing nuclear weapons in an independent Scotland.

BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics Scotland host, Isabel Fraser, quizzed the first minister on whether a go-alone Scotland would prevent nuclear weapons-carrying warships doing exercises in Scottish waters.

Mr Salmond said: “The issue about visiting warships, etc, no country ever confirms the existence of nuclear weapons on its warships – that is well known.

“This is an issue all non-nuclear countries have to face up to within Nato and out of Nato and we will do exactly the same thing.”

Nuclear weapons ‘outlawed’ in an independent Scotland, says Salmond

Faslane submarine
Nuclear weapons carrying submarines currently reside at the Faslane Naval base on the Clyde

The leader of the SNP has said that if his party won power in an independent government it would make nuclear weapons illegal.

Alex Salmond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that Trident, which currently resides at Faslane Naval base on the Clyde, would have to go.

He also said a go-alone Scotland would remain a member of the European Union.

Mr Salmond was being interviewed from Perth where his party has been holding its annual conference.

The first minister was asked by the broadcaster to respond to UK government suggestions that moving Trident from Scotland would be “prohibitively expensive”.

Interview One: Alex Salmond is quizzed by the BBC’s Andrew Marr

He said: “The UK government has two choices – they either relocate Trident to another part of the rest of the UK or alternatively they could use nuclear facilities in America or France.”

Mr Salmond made a further point that it was possible for a UK government to decide a “much better policy” and decommission its weapons system.

He added: “That would be a matter for the London government. That doesn’t mean we think it reasonable to lease out part of Scottish territory to what you [Andrew Marr] describe as a Cyprus situation. If Scotland, by majority, doesn’t want nuclear weapons, the SNP proposition is to write that into the constitutions of the state.

“So, that would make the possession of nuclear weapons illegal.”

The SNP leader was being interviewed after a decision by his party to back joining nuclear-based military alliance Nato in the event of an independent Scotland.

Following his appearance on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Salmond reiterated SNP policy to outlaw nuclear weapons during an interview on the Sunday Politics Scotland programme, hosted by Isabel Fraser.

“There is a large amount of good will toward Scotland in the rest of the EU”

Alex Salmond SNP leader and first minister

She quizzed him on whether an independent Scotland would prevent nuclear weapons-carrying warships doing exercises in Scottish waters.

Mr Salmond said: “The issue about visiting warships, etc, no country ever confirms the existence of nuclear weapons on its warships – that is well known.

“This is an issue all non-nuclear countries have to face up to within Nato and out of Nato and we will do exactly the same thing.”

The first minister’s BBC appearances follow a deal reached earlier this week between the Scottish government and UK government on the rules governing a Scottish independence referendum in two years’ time.

Mr Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron signed the Edinburgh Agreement in which it was decided there would be a one-question referendum to be held before the end of 2014.

Sturgeon speech

On the subject of Scotland’s membership of the EU in the event of a independence, Mr Salmond told the Andrew Marr Show that it would not lead to “vexed negotiations”.

He said: “We are part of the EU, we have been part of it for 40 years. We would be negotiating our positions from inside the EU. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. I don’t think it will be a vexed negotiation at all.

“There is a large amount of good will toward Scotland in the rest of the EU.”

The SNP conference will finish later with a speech by deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon.

She is expected to say that UK Chancellor George Osborne should use the opportunity presented by his forthcoming Autumn Statement to increase capital spending for the UK, including Scotland.

Source – BBC News

Work to build submarines delayed by flooding in Barrow

Work to build submarines delayed by flooding in Barrow

HMS Ambush is one of the Astute Class submarines being built at Barrow
Workers at Barrow have been building the Astute Class submarines

Work to build the Royal Navy’s most technologically-advanced submarines at a Cumbria shipyard has been delayed due to flooding.

BAE Systems is building the nuclear-powered vessels in Barrow, but staff were evacuated after heavy rain on Tuesday.

A clean-up operation in the main dock hall was carried out, with staff being allowed back on Wednesday.

The second of seven Astute class submarines left Barrow last month.

A BAE Systems spokesman said: “Following the flooding incident in the Devonshire Dock Hall, the clean up is progressing well, with subsequent damage being rectified.

“There has been no damage to the submarines as a result of the flooding and areas of the facility are gradually being re-opened.”

Source –

US Navy Defends Boomer Submarine Replacement Plans

US Navy Defends Boomer Submarine Replacement Plans


boomer sub 428x285

A top U.S. Navy official is defending the service’s plans to replace its Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine fleet, saying the Navy has the right design and boat numbers to execute the mission for decades to come.

“We conducted a detailed analysis of many force structure options,” says Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, Navy undersea warfare director, in a recent blog. “A force of 12 Ohio Replacement nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) with 16 missile tubes satisfies national strategic deterrent requirements at the most affordable cost. Twelve Ohio Replacement SSBNs meet at-sea strategic patrol requirements and sustain this requirement while some of the SSBNs are unavailable due to planned maintenance.”

Bruner says, “Reduced-force options [that] we considered failed to meet the current at-sea and nuclear employment requirements, increased risk for force survivability, and limited the flexibility in response to an uncertain strategic future. A 12-ship, 16-missile-tube SSBN force has sufficient, not excessive, flexibility and capacity.”

He acknowledges that because ship construction of the Ohio Replacement shifted to 2021 from 2019, there will be fewer than 12 SSBNs from 2029 to 2042 as the Ohio-class retires and Ohio replacement ships join the fleet.

// Addressing recent critics of the shortfalls, he says, “During this time frame no major SSBN overhauls are planned, and a force of 10 SSBNs will support current at-sea presence requirements.”

However, he says, “This provides a low margin to compensate for unforeseen issues that may result in reduced SSBN availability. The reduced SSBN availability during this time frame reinforces the importance of remaining on schedule with the Ohio Replacement program to meet future strategic commitments. As the Ohio Replacement ships begin their mid-life overhauls in 2049, 12 SSBNs will be required to offset ships conducting planned maintenance.”

He also says the Navy and Pentagon are keeping a lid on proposed costs. “The Department of Defense set an aggressive cost goal of $4.9 billion per hull (calendar year 2010) as an average cost for hulls 2-12. To date, the Navy has reduced costs by reducing specifications to the minimum necessary to meet national strategic deterrent requirements, implementing modular construction design, reusing the Trident II D5 Strategic Weapons System, and reusing Virginia- and Ohio-class components where feasible. The Virginia-class construction program, through aggressive management and collaboration between government and industry, has developed into a model ship building program, continually coming in under budget and ahead of schedule. Ohio Replacement design and construction will build on this success.”

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