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Member since: Wed Nov 10, 2004, 12:55 AM
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New threat to Hinkley nuclear plant cash

Source: The Sunday Times of London

Britain could withdraw financial support for the controversial £18bn nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Somerset, if a similar plant being built by France’s EDF is not running by 2020, The Sunday Times can reveal.

The condition, attached to a Treasury loan guarantee, raises fresh questions about the future of Britain’s first new atomic power plant in a generation.

Last week EDF, which is 84% owned by the French state, postponed a board meeting in Paris to approve Hinkley Point, amid concerns about the heavily indebted company’s ability to fund the project. The plant will be financed by EDF and its Chinese partner CGN, with the backing of a 35-year contract to sell power to households at above-market rates.

The arrangement hinges on a Treasury agreement to guarantee up to £17bn in loans. Mounting problems at Flamanville, where EDF is building a plant of the same reactor design, could void ...

<snip - paywalled>

Read more: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/energy_and_environment/article1662807.ece?CMP=OTH-gnws-standard-2016_01_30

Letter alleges problems hidden at Hanford nuclear plant

Source: Yakimi Herald

The Energy Northwest executive board is hiring an outside attorney to investigate allegations in unsigned letters sent in the past few weeks to some board members.

The letters allege information about sub-par performance of the nuclear power plant near Richland is being hidden from Energy Northwest governing boards, employees and the public.

Although unsigned, the letters say they are from a group of unnamed Energy Northwest employees.

“The executive board takes this matter very seriously,” said Sid Morrison, executive board chairman, in a letter sent to employees Thursday.


Read more: http://www.yakimaherald.com/news/local/letter-alleges-problems-hidden-at-hanford-nuclear-plant/article_54c0bb20-c76a-11e5-9569-47dac2f0f89d.html

Hinkley Point nuclear fiasco spooks Hitachi boss

Source: Telegraph

Hitachi boss raises concerns about funding of its own Wylfa Newydd project with foreign secretary during visit to Japan

The head of Hitachi has warned that the debacle surrounding the construction of Hinkley Point nuclear plant throws up “very serious concerns” about its own investment in the UK.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman and chief executive of the Japanese industrial giant, said the setbacks experienced by Hinkley’s developer EDF raised questions about how future plants including its Wylfa Newydd project are funded.

Hitachi’s subsidiary Horizon is planning to build a nuclear plant on Anglesey that is expected to start generating power by the mid-2020s.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Nakanishi revealed that he had expressed concerns about the expected costs of the project with Philip Hammond during the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Japan this month.


Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/12128405/Hinkley-Point-nuclear-fiasco-spooks-Hitachi-boss.html

Exclusive: EgyptAir mechanic suspected in Russian plane crash


World | Fri Jan 29, 2016 7:44pm EST Related: WORLD, RUSSIA, EGYPT, SYRIA

Exclusive: EgyptAir mechanic suspected in Russian plane crash


But the sources, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation, said the mechanic had been detained, along with two airport policemen and a baggage handler suspected of helping him put the bomb on board.

"After learning that one of its members had a relative that worked at the airport, Islamic State delivered a bomb in a handbag to that person," said one of the sources, adding the suspect's cousin joined Islamic State in Syria a year and a half ago.

"He was told to not ask any questions and get the bomb on the plane."

Another source said of the other suspects: "Two policemen are suspected of playing a role by turning a blind eye to the operation at a security checkpoint. But there is a possibility that they were just not doing their jobs properly."

None of the four have been prosecuted so far, the sources told Reuters.


French, Finnish reactor problems cast shadow over UK nuclear plan

Source: Reuters

* Finland claims hold up EDF takeover of Areva unit

* French government wants resolution in a month

* Flamanville weak spots potentially bigger threat

* Hinkley Point too crucial for EDF to abandon

By Geert De Clercq and Benjamin Mallet

PARIS, Jan 28 Intractable problems at two nuclear plants under construction in France and Finland threaten more delays to EDF's plan to build four nuclear reactors in Britain.


Now it is being delayed by EDF's planned takeover of the reactor arm of Areva, which itself is being held up by EDF's refusal to take on financial responsibility for delays and cost overruns at an EPR Areva is building in Finland.


On Wednesday, the French state came to the rescue of Areva - virtually bankrupt after four years of losses - with a five billion euro capital increase and EDF agreed on a provisional valuation of 2.5 billion euros for the reactor business.

Areva shares surged as much as 35 percent on Thursday.

But EDF also said it would not make a binding offer for Areva's reactor arm until it is "completely immunised" against any risks related to Areva's Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) reactor project in Finland.


A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that before finalising Areva's reactor arm takeover, EDF wants guarantees not only for OL3, but also for Flamanville.

"EDF's offer depends on total immunisation against the OL3 case and the Flamanville vessel," the source said.


Read more: http://uk.reuters.com/article/edf-britain-idUKL8N15C22S

Senate approves Crapo nuclear energy legislation amendment

Source: KIFI TV

The U.S. Senate today approved overwhelmingly legislation written by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo that would increase nuclear research efforts at the Idaho National Laboratory and other national labs through new partnerships between the public and private sectors. The vote of 87 to 4 to approve the amendment makes it a part of a larger energy policy reform bill before the Senate.

Crapo, along with Senators Jim Risch, Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-Rhode Island), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) originally introduced the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), which was the foundation of the Crapo amendment voted on today. The legislation, S. 2461, directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize partnering with private innovators on new reactor technologies and the testing and demonstration of reactor concepts. Under the agreement today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would report to Congress on any barriers that would prohibit the licensing of new reactors within a four-year time period.


The Senate continues debating S.2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Bill, which now includes Crapo’s bipartisan amendment.

Read more: http://www.localnews8.com/news/Senate-approves-Crapo-nuclear-energy-legislation-amendment/37689752

Soon the country will be littered with dozens of Crapo reactors, and taxpayers and our children's children will have to clean up the mess.

Dr. Herbert L. Abrams, Who Worked Against Nuclear War, Dies at 95

Source: New York Times

Dr. Herbert L. Abrams, a radiologist at Stanford and Harvard Universities and a founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for its work in publicizing the health consequences of atomic warfare, died on Jan. 20 at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 95.

The death was confirmed by his son, John.

In the late 1970s, Dr. Abrams became interested in the health implications of nuclear policy. “It began to dawn on me that these weapons of annihilation were being considered for use in the settlement of disputes between nations when I had honestly not thought that that was ever in the cards,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 1989.

With a group of American and Soviet doctors, he helped create International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, with the goal of publicizing the health risks of a nuclear exchange and countering theories that physicians might be able to save enough people to continue civilized life. He later called nuclear weapons and nuclear war “the central health issue of the 20th century.”


Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/science/herbert-abrams-worked-against-nuclear-war.html

Exclusive: Iran's Supreme Leader Personally Set Conditions for Nuclear Deal: Negotiator

Source: NBC

It took Iran's Ayatollah, an Arab sultan, secret letters, and an American college connection to help seal the historic deal between Iran and the United States, according to a senior Iranian negotiator.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the energetic, English-speaking head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told NBC News in Tehran how the deal unfolded from Iran's perspective, revealing for the first time some of his country's calculations, preconditions and continued mistrust of Washington.

Salehi, who is also one of Iran's vice presidents, said the country's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khameini, was involved at every step of the way in the secret so-called "second track" with Washington.

"Without the supreme leader, we were not able to start the second track. That is for sure," he said.


Iran's conditions

Salehi said the supreme leader's four conditions limited how far the negotiators were able to go in their talks with Washington.

"One condition was that, 'Look, you just discuss the nuclear issue. You do not enter into any other issue. I mean, no political negotiations. It's only nuclear issue negotiation.'"

The second condition, he said, was for the talks to be quick, and not drag on "lethargically."

"The third condition was that they (Washington) will have to recognize our basic right, which is enrichment. And the fourth condition was a condition that, let's keep it for ourselves."

When pressed, Salehi said the fourth condition was "procedural," but provided no further details.


Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/iran-s-supreme-leader-personally-set-conditions-nuclear-deal-negotiator-n506001

Don't Blame Americans for Blaming China; Free Trade With China Wasn't Such a Great Idea for the U.S.


Don't Blame Americans for Blaming China
JAN 27, 2016 5:40 PM EST
By Megan McArdle

Was opening our markets to trade with China a good idea?

My colleague Noah Smith argues “maybe not,” citing a new paper from David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson.

They write:

Adjustment in local labor markets is remarkably slow, with wages and labor-force participation rates remaining depressed and unemployment rates remaining elevated for at least a full decade after the China trade shock commences. Exposed workers experience greater job churning and reduced lifetime income. At the national level, employment has fallen in U.S. industries more exposed to import competition, as expected, but offsetting employment gains in other industries have yet to materialize.

This is, as Tyler Cowen suggests, “some of the most important work done by economists in the last twenty years”. Adds my colleague: “Economists may blithely declare that free trade is wonderful, but our best researchers have now shown that public misgivings about these smooth assurances have been completely justified.”

It’s fashionable for columnists to write “I was wrong” pieces, and if this work by Autor et al holds, this will go down as one of the four things I was most mistaken about: the Iraq War, the severity of the financial crisis that followed Lehman’s collapse, the rise of Donald Trump, and now, China trade. It’s been obvious for a while that China has played some role (though not the biggest) in the decline of labor-market opportunities for workers without a college diploma. But the authors suggest that the effect is both bigger, and longer lasting, than I would have predicted. Nor has much seemed to help the adjustment: workers are less mobile than expected, domestic American industries less able to absorb the surplus, particularly among the lower-skilled workers whose human capital was job- and industry-specific.


I’d be happy to offer government assistance to these folks, but it’s hard to name the government assistance that is going to undo the damage. The rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders points to the hollowness of the traditional sops that both parties trot out. The people enraged by the loss of the lower-middle-class American dream don’t think a cut in the corporate income tax or capital gains rate is going to offset China’s enormous wage advantage, and they’re right to disbelieve something so ludicrous. Their problems are also not going to be fixed by paid family leave, college tuition, or free daycare for the kids while they’re at the jobs that don’t exist; these are the preoccupations of an educated professional class that is already doing very well. And wringing another 75 cents an hour out of Wal-Mart is probably not going to cut it either, particularly if that means that their local Wal-Mart will then close.

Politicians know that what people want most is work and community -- not tax cuts, not welfare, not more generous government benefits. The problem is, they have no idea how to actually deliver it. Whatever mistakes we made 20 years ago, we’re stuck with them now.

The problem is, that’s not really a very satisfying answer, is it? I’m not stuck with them; I have a stable job, a lovely if somewhat decrepit row home in our nation’s capital, and a marvelously cheap smartphone manufactured in China. It’s someone else who got stuck with the decisions the elites made, and all the elites can seem to offer is pretty much exactly the same policy prescriptions they were in favor of 25 years ago. I can’t blame the elites, exactly. But I can’t blame the folks who have decided they’re sick of listening to them, either.

China admits nuclear emergency response 'inadequate' as safety concerns halt construction of two Gua

Source: South China Morning Post

China admitted on Wednesday its nuclear emergency response mechanism is “inadequate” for coping with “new situations and challenges” arising from its nuclear power plants.

The central government also said it had halted construction of two new-generation nuclear reactors in Guangdong province, because of safety concerns, but vowed that they would not be abandoned.


Xu Dazhe, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, told a press conference on Wednesday that the construction of the two European Pressurised Reactors in Taishan, in Guangdong, had been delayed owing to safety concerns.

French nuclear safety authorities reported last year that a possible manufacturing defect might lead to unexpected spreading of cracks on the reactor vessel which contained the nuclear chain reactions.


Read more: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/1906287/china-admits-nuclear-emergency-response-inadequate
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