"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

FCUKED - UK Nuclear Policy absolutely un-fucking believable

USA Plans for new Nuclear Plants

The US Senate approved funding for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at US$821.6 million for fiscal 2007 and US$916.6 for Fiscal 2008.

NRC Chairman Dale Klein said on February 8th 2007 they needed to take on 600 new staff to cope with licensing of new reactors that utilities want to build in the coming decade - helping to deal with the graying workforce the agency is dealing with.

He also encouraged the nuclear industry to work at encouraging young Americans to join the industry through financial incentives to students.

“Look at it this way,” said Klein. “The nuclear industry will be spending billions on hardware. It would be foolhardy not to spend the millions necessary to develop the human capital to operate all that expensive machinery efficiently.”

On February 4, 2008 The U.S. NRC released its proposed Fiscal Year 2009 budget to , requesting a total of $1.02 billion which is a hike of $90.9 million increase over the FY 2008 budget for enhanced regulatory activities driven primarily by continued industry interest in constructing new nuclear facilities and increased oversight of existing reactors, materials and waste licensing.

UK also has Plans (of a sort) for new Nuclear Plants

Paul Howarth, Director of Research at the Dalton Nuclear Institute at Manchester University said recently, "there is now desperate search to find the skills necessary to assess and test designs, build, and monitor the Government's declared nuclear power strategy. ...The nuclear industry went through a very unpopular period in the 80s and early 90s,” Even in the UK, where we still have a nuclear industry, we just about have enough expertise to evaluate new reactor designs. There is a serious need to refresh our skills base.”

Following on from the decision to build new atomic power stations, the UK government announced the formation of The National Skills Academy for Nuclear, to assist employers in the sector with training the 5,900 to 9,000 graduates and 2,700 to 4,500 skilled trades that will be needed over the next ten years. The UK’s new plants are to be located on the sites of existing generators, which must be decommissioned first, making decommissioning skills the first priority.

Elsewhere in Europe expansion plans have been setback with the news that the Finnish Olkiluto-3 plant, the first nuclear plant ordered in Western Europe since the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster was scheduled to come on line in 2009. This has now been postponed until 2011, which has pushed up bidgeted costs from US$3 billion to US$4.4 billion.

Supporters of nuclear energy argue that higher construction costs will be balanced by the lower fuel costs. But with only marginal differences between the cost of electricity generation from nuclear or coal-fired plants, delivering plants on time and to budget is critical.

The Finnish plant, being built by France’s Areva and the German company Siemens, is seen as a test case for Europe’s nuclear future. The whole project is being closely watched by older EU member states, many of which, like the UK, plan to pile investment into the nuclear industry in the next few years.

See previous post Tuesday, March 18, 2008 Training Nuclear Engineers - Lord Jenkin asks a very important question to which can now be added 2 contributions made by Lord Patel's fellow and cioncerned Members of the House of Lords ...

Lord Marlesford: (Con. Life Peer 1991) My Lords, does Britain have the capability to design and construct a nuclear power station so that it can come on stream, as the Government’s target has it, in 2020? If it does not, history will judge the Government harshly for the 10 years of delay in making a major strategic decision. Have they not failed to cherish and largely dismantled the capability we need? (Well worth a read is his contribution to hounding Lord Drayson over the a catalogue of major faults of the useless £2.017 billion Bowman radio here April 2007)

Lord Krebs: My Lords, the Minister has told us that the Government require a supply of skilled people trained in physics departments in the universities of this country. Would she agree that the recent cuts in funding to physics departments through the shortfall in the Science and Technology Facilities Council is a mistake and that those cuts should now be reversed?

With a typical Pollyannerish view from Baroness Vadera from a floundering Government ...

Lord Desai: (Labour.Economist 1991)My Lords, will the Government make sure that the nuclear plants are not only delivered on time but also at the proper cost—not with the usual 300 per cent overruns —and that they produce power economically?

Baroness Vadera: My Lords, I am pleased to say that that will be a risk carried by the private sector. (Like the London Underground perhaps ? In which Shreiking Lady Vadera was much involved)

In the meantime, the UK and other countries in Europe will have to look abroad to get the skills they need to bring the industry forward. “Student secondments and exchanges are already on the increase through the European Framework Programme,” says Howarth. But there is international competition for skills. “Countries outside Europe, such as Korea, Canada and Japan, are looking at ways to increase student mobility by providing opportunities for more overseas work and secondments.”

The curriously National Skills Academy for Nuclear was launched at the Science Museum, London on the 31st January this year," by the Skills Minister David Lammy and the Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, with the usual metropolitan junketing , the Press Rlease breathlessly tells us ..."175 Nuclear employers, training providers and key stakeholders who came together to celebrate the success of this employer-led initiative."

"The National Skills Academy for Nuclear will play a transformational role for the sector. The changing skills mix required by the nuclear sector, demands increased flexibility and mobility. As the transition from operating, to decommissioning, through to new build takes place, a flow of matching skills will be needed. At the request of employers the National Skills
Academy for Nuclear has been leading on a Nuclear Skills Passport scheme which will record peoples’ competences in a high-integrity transferable record. The Nuclear Skills Passport is being developed in partnership with Cogent as a result of evidence, through consultation with employers, that there is a clear demand to record all skills development, training and
Continuing Professional Development undertaken by all individuals working across the sector. It will give employees a clear record of achievement and the ability to develop their careers throughout the sector. A pilot is due to start in March 2008

God alone knows what this bollocks means. Please translate into Graduate and Post Graduate Nuclear Engineers, Physicists, Health Physics, and Civil Engineers. Please also tell us who will do the training, against a background of closing University Chenistry, Physics and Science facilities. Apparently The National Skills Academy for Nuclear has selected the Universities of Central Lancashire and Portsmouth to jointly develop and deliver the leading-edge foundation degrees that are needed by the nuclear sector to support job progression opportunities.

Apparently ..."The Nuclear Academy is a brand new facility to be built on the Lillyhall
Industrial Estate in West Cumbria - this £19 MN development cut the first sod on March 9th 2008. The facility will be a dedicated centre of excellence and innovation. It will provide a wide range of education and training facilities alongside business supports service as a lead delivery centre of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear." The Chief Executive is Jean Llewellyn seconded from the North West Regional Development Agency..er ... following a rigorous recruitment process.

The NWRDA Magazine for January 2008 Issue 14 page 30 described Jean Llewelyn .....

"She has had a versatile career having spent 12 years in Higher and Further Education including lecturing at Manchester Metropolitan University. She graduated in Hospitality Management and has managed hotels in Scotland, England and Italy as well as spending five years as an AA Hotel Inspector." She also has been on the Board of The Hotel and Catering International Management Association, and St George’s Primary School Board of Governors.

We have no desire to be rude to Jean Llewelyn, with all her expertise in hotels she may be able to clean rooms, and knock up a full English Breakfast, but to be honest a leader of such a key "Centre of Excellence" might better be filled by someone with some slight knowledge of the nuclear power plant construction and with some proven level of academic and commercial practical expertise.

Again there is no wish to belittle those academic powerhouses of the Universities of Central Lancashire and Portsmouth but one doesn't unhesitatingly place them at the centre of engineering expertise or a profound understanding of nuclear physics, energy conversion, power generation or even civil engineering... whichsome of our more ancient Universities have.

As it has take damn near 20 years to build a large shed at Heathrow which merely houses a few conveyors, trucks with a few posh shops and some smart IT , the chances that the UK are going to find the people to help assess, purchase, control, monitor, evaluate, assist in design and development, then run and monitor such critical bits of kit ... safely , leaves us with a bitter chill.

This is regrettably not a joking matter. The safety and security of our energy supplies rely on decisions being made now.

PS Keep an eye out for Julia Pyke who is partner at blue chip Solicitors Herbert Smith LLP and is involved in advising EDF on their plans for nuclear new build in the UK... whose head of PR happens by chance to be Gormless Gordon's bro.

PPS : We previously mentioned the 'Public Report on the Generic Design Assessment of New Nuclear Reactor Designs - Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd ACR-1000 Nuclear Reactor', March 2008 HSE's report setting out the conclusions of its initial assessment (overview of fundamental acceptability) of the ACR-1000 nuclear reactor. see PDF is now out of date as they have withdrawn from the opportunity to supply citing that they wish ..." to concentrate on opportunities in the Canadian market."

Leaving the field to the remaining 3 ..Areva/EDF UK EPR - GE-Hitachi ESBWR - Westinghouse AP1000 although the German power Utility Eon have said they have selected Areva's 1600 MWe European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) as its exclusive design choice for any UK nuclear power plants.

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