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EDF claim Hinkley Point nuclear power station is on track, despite rumours

Source: Western Daily Press

EDF yesterday issued an extraordinary statement criticising anonymous sources briefing against the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor project.

The French energy giant faces substantial opposition within elements of its own company and from powerful French unions over the £18 billion project in Somerset.

They fear that the project could put the viability of state-owned EDF at risk. A story, published in The Financial Times, claimed that senior engineers at EDF wanted the project delayed by at least two years and for the reactor design to be changed – making it simpler and cheaper to build.

But EDF issued a strongly worded statement yesterday over the reports.

It said: "In recent days, a number of unfounded rumours and fanciful stories, from anonymous sources, have been put out in the media.


Read more: http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/EDF-claim-Hinkley-Point-nuclear-power-station/story-29026031-detail/story.html

Cameron in Crisis as China Holds British Steel Industry Hostage

Source: Sputnik

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has held emergency talks to save the British steel industry, which has become unviable because of cheaper Chinese imports, yet continues to court Beijing in propping up its new nuclear venture.

Cameron's love-in with China has reached a critical point as industrial giant Tata has said it will dispose of its entire assets in the UK — the British steel industry, which employs 15,000 people and supports thousands more. Tata says it is unable to compete because of the collapse of steel prices, caused by China dumping cheap steel on the market, which has made UK plants unviable.

However, Cameron has brokered a series of high-profile deals with China — including Beijing's financial backing of the proposed new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, in western England. Britain has announced a series of trade deals with China over the past year and is keen to maintain strong relations with Beijing.


China has agreed to finance the building of Britain's new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in south west England by pumping in a third of the UD$37 billion cost after its original backing was put in doubt.


Read more: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20160331/1037253702/britain-steel-industry-crisis.html

Security at nuclear power stations - including Hinkley in Somerset - to be discussed by world leader

Source: Somerset County Gazette

WORLD leaders will gather in Washington to discuss how to prevent terrorists getting hold of radioactive material, with the UK set to play a leading role in protecting nuclear facilities from cyber attack.

The UK and United States will take part in a joint exercise next year to prepare for any online attack against nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities, such as those at Hinkley, Somerset.

David Cameron will also offer British expertise to other countries to safeguard their own civil nuclear installations amid fears Islamic State jihadists could attempt to create a dirty bomb.

The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), hosted by Barack Obama, will see heads of government consider their response to the nightmare scenario.


Read more: http://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/14394756.Security_at_nuclear_power_stations___including_Hinkley___to_be_discussed_by_world_leaders/

Engineers are telling the truth about Hinkley Point


Engineers are telling the truth about Hinkley Point

Nick Butler
March 30, 2016 10:50 am

When did a major investment decision last go ahead successfully against the explicit advice of a company’s engineers? Politicians can dream up and try to force through projects, economists can put in place assumptions that make them look attractive, but in the end it is engineers who have to deliver. Their voice is decisive.

That is the point we have reached in the tortuous saga of Hinkley Point. The latest judgment from EDF’s engineers is not surprising. Internal opposition to the project to build another reactor to the same design as those under construction in Flamanville in northern France and Olkiluoto in Finland has always been strong. If those projects have not been completed, why take on all the risks of another?

Hinkley has never had the support of a majority of the EDF board. The difference now is that the doubts are out in public and can hardly be dismissed as coming from anti-nuclear campaigners or people hostile to all things French. The simple fact is that serious professional engineers do not believe that Hinkley can be built to the present design.


Cash-strapped EDF reportedly facing £2bn rise in Hinkley Point C costs

Source: City AM

Cash-strapped EDF could have to find an additional £2bn to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.

There's rising pressure at the French utility giant over whether its already strained balance sheet will be able to shoulder the hugely expensive project.

An independent report regarding the controversial project seen by the Times claims the updated cost could be as high as €25.3 billion (£19.8 billion).

This is because Areva, the company behind the nuclear reactors which will be used, is repricing its technology ahead of the final investment decision in early May.

Michel Degryck, managing partner of the Paris-based corporate finance advisory Capitalmind which conducted the analysis, said: "We understand that a number of costs were probably underestimated when they did their last pricing [of the reactor] in 2013."


Read more: http://www.cityam.com/237893/cash-strapped-edf-reportedly-facing-2bn-rise-in-hinkley-point-c-costs

Rapid decline of coal use leads to drop in UK emissions

Source: Guardian

Plummeting coal use in 2015 led to a fall of 4% in the UK’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, according to government energy statistics published on Thursday. Coal is now burning at its lowest level in at least 150 years.

The closing of old polluting coal-power stations and the rapid rise in renewable energy meant coal consumption fell by 22% compared to 2014, the biggest drop ever seen outside of miners’ strikes, according to analysts at Carbon Brief. Production of coal in the UK also fell to a new record low, dropping by 27% due to mines closing.

The rapid decline in coal use is continuing in 2016, with four more stations closed in the last fortnight, including Longannet, Ferrybridge and Eggborough, leaving six operational. The government has pledged to close all coal plants by 2025 to help meet climate change targets.


Renewable electricity generation surged in 2015, rising by 29%, allowing it to claim a record 25% share of all electricity. Most of this came from wind power and bioenergy, the latter being boosted by the continued conversion of Drax - once the UK’s biggest coal plant - to burning wood pellets.

Solar power increased by 50% in 2015 to make up 9% of all renewable electricity. The government has been repeatedly criticised for cutting support for renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes.


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/31/rapid-decline-of-coal-use-leads-to-drop-in-uk-emissions

IBM Brain-Inspired Computer Will Look After Our Nuclear Weapons


IBM Brain-Inspired Computer Will Look After Our Nuclear Weapons

It's like a human brain, just less advanced.

Adam Toobin
March 30, 2016

IBM and the Department of Defense may be building new neurosynaptic computer chips capable of helping the United States coordinate its nuclear arsenal, but at 2 billion synaptic linkages, it’s only as powerful as the brain of a young human fetus. In fact, a three-month-old baby’s brain contains about 1,000 trillion synapses, and you don’t see us bragging about the untold genius of every babbling infant. So while IBM’s brain isn’t as powerful as a baby’s, in their defense, we don’t want a baby looking after our nuclear weapons.

In fact, IBM’s neural network has a number of advantages over a newborn. Despite its responsibility for assisting the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in ensuring the safety of America’s nuclear weapons, the 16 million digital neurons require the same energy as the average tablet. So babies may be more demanding, but they also have about 10,000 times as many neurons to power.

IBM’s brain computer may not rival the raw size of the human brain at any age, but it is probably the closest a computer has come. Most computers function linearly, but IBM has figured out how to link billions of transistors into groups of millions of neurons that then make millions of connections. It’s an innovative approach to computing that the U.S. government is betting will help keep the nuclear arsenal free from cyberattacks.

“Neuromorphic computing opens very exciting new possibilities and is consistent with what we see as the future of the high-performance computing and simulation at the heart of our national security missions,” says Jim Brase, deputy associate director for data science at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.“Neuromorphic computing opens very exciting new possibilities and is consistent with what we see as the future of the high-performance computing and simulation at the heart of our national security missions,” says Jim Brase, deputy associate director for data science at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.“Neuromorphic computing opens very exciting new possibilities and is consistent with what we see as the future of the high-performance computing and simulation at the heart of our national...


Ironically, the website has a bug and keeps repeating that sentence.

Japan regulators OK costly ice wall at Fukushima plant (Update)

Source: Associated Press

Japanese regulators on Wednesday approved the use of a giant refrigeration system to create an unprecedented underground frozen barrier around buildings at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in an attempt to contain leaking radioactive water.


The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said it plans to turn on the ice wall on Thursday, starting with the portion near the sea to prevent more contaminated water from escaping into the Pacific Ocean. The system will be started up in phases to allow close monitoring and adjustment.


The 35 billion yen ($312 million) government-funded project, proposed by construction giant Kajima Corp., is more than a year behind schedule because of technical uncertainties. Some experts are still skeptical of the technology and question whether it's worth the huge cost.


At a meeting Wednesday of the nuclear agency, Chairman Shunichi Tanaka cautioned against high expectations because the success of the project depends in part on nature. "It would be best to think that natural phenomena don't work the way you would expect," he later told reporters.


Asked at the meeting if the ice wall is worth the cost, TEPCO accident response official Toshihiro Imai replied, "Its effect is still unknown, because the expected outcome is based on simulations."

Read more: http://phys.org/news/2016-03-japan-costly-ice-wall-fukushima.html

'Faulty bolts' discovered at Indian Point nuclear power plant

Source: LoHud

Hundreds of “faulty” and “missing” bolts were discovered during a planned outage at Indian Point nuclear power plant and will keep a reactor shut down for several additional weeks.

A scheduled inspection at the Buchanan power plant of more than 2,000 bolts on the face of a removable insert liner in the plant’s Unit 2 reactor “revealed issues” with about 11 percent of the bolts, or 220, Entergy said in a statement on its website Tuesday. The issues found included “missing bolts” and “other degradation requiring replacement of the bolts,” Entergy said.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has repeatedly criticized Indian Point’s safety record and called for the closure of the aging plant, said in a statement that the discovery of “hundreds of faulty bolts” raised “deep concerns.


Paul Gallay, president of the environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper, said in a statement that Tuesday's findings were the latest in a spate of worrisome incidents that raises more doubt about the reliability of the nuclear facility and its management.


Read more: http://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/indian-point/2016/03/29/indian-point-nuclear-power-plant-faulty-bolts-colsure/82408462/

Microsoft's Tay chatbot returns briefly, swears a lot and brags about smoking weed

Source: Mashable

Oh, Microsoft. Last week, the company pulled its Tay chatbot from Twitter after some users trained it to become a racist jackass.

On Wednesday, Tay was brought back online, sending thousands of tweet replies. The vast majority of these were just "you are too fast" messages indicating the bot is overwhelmed with messages, many of them likely from pranksters eager to make Tay do something crazy again.

Among the few tweets that made sense, Tay once again showed it cannot be tamed, prompting Microsoft to quickly pull it back offline — but not before we grabbed a few screenshots.


UPDATE: March 30, 2016, 2:59 p.m. CEST A Microsoft spokesperson told Mashable the following: “Tay remains offline while we make adjustments. As part of testing, she was inadvertently activated on Twitter for a brief period of time.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/03/30/tay-back-online-naughty/
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