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British Prime Minister Tony Blair (PM 1997-2007)
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We Welcome Nuclear Waste NYT 9 August 2014
We Welcome Nuclear Waste
Video The New York Times
9 August 2014
Some people in Loving County, Texas,
the second least populous county in the United States,
think that storing the entire country’s
nuclear waste would be
a good thing
for their community.
Produced by: Poh Si Teng
Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1ouLmJG
Watch more videos at:
Ratcliffe power station Study 40
UK's reliance on gas
continues to grow,
December 24, 2008
From The Times
Energy and Environment Editor
Britain's dependence on natural gas as a source of energy is growing, even as
supplies from the North Sea are running out, figures suggest.
They indicate that the UK is relying increasingly on gas as its primary source
of fuel for electricity generation, even though the country is being forced to
import more and more as domestic reserves grow scarce.
The use of gas to generate power in the UK soared by 21 per cent in the third
quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year, to 44 terrawatt
hours, according to Energy Trends, a quarterly report on UK energy use published
by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Meanwhile, output from Britain's ageing fleet of nuclear power stations, which
have been beset by maintenance problems this year, fell by 30 per cent during
the same period, to 11 terrawatt hours.
The figures emerged as leaders of some of the world's leading gas-exporting
countries met in Moscow yesterday for talks about the formation of the Gas
Exporting Countries Forum, an Opec-style cartel.
The meeting has alarmed gas-consuming countries, raising fears that the group,
which includes Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Libya, would try to massage prices
higher by setting production quotas.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, who is embroiled in a dispute with
Ukraine over gas supplies, told delegates at the meeting: “The time of cheap
energy resources, cheap gas, is surely coming to an end. Costs of exploration,
gas production and transportation are going up. It means the industry's
development costs will skyrocket.”
The figures contained in the British Government's latest study reflect the huge
challenges facing the country in weaning itself off gas and other fossil fuels.
The report showed that household use of gas in the UK fell by about 6 per cent
during the third quarter of the year, mainly as a result of record price rises
that prompted consumers to adopt a more frugal approach to energy use. However,
the commercial use of gas for power generation is surging, as it displaces other
fuels, such as coal and nuclear power.
Overall, UK gas demand in the third quarter was 5.3 per cent higher than during
the third quarter of last year.
Although the Government wants energy harnessed from renewable sources, such as
wind and waves, to play a much bigger role in electricity production in the long
term, it still accounts for only 5 per cent of electricity supplies.
Meanwhile, many coal-fired plants are operating under restricted hours because
of tough new European emissions standards, and Britain's nuclear industry, which
produces little carbon dioxide, has also struggled with a string of technical
problems at key plants this year. Commercial reactors at Hartlepool, Dungeness,
in Kent, and Heysham, in Lancashire, were all out of service for repairs this
With the depletion of gas from the UK continental shelf, Britain is becoming
dependent on imports, either by pipelines from Norway or elsewhere on the
Continent or as liquefied natural gas from places farther afield, such as
Algeria and Qatar.
Andrew Horstead, of Utilyx, the energy consultancy, said: “Having an energy
system that is so reliant on gas at a time when our own supplies are running out
is a concern.”
By 2015, the UK is expected to import up to 80 per cent
of its gas supplies
compared with about 40 per cent now.
The UK was a net exporter of gas as recently as 2004.
UK petrol consumption has fallen by 6 per cent
over the past year.
Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change
UK's reliance on gas
continues to grow, as domestic fuel reserves diminish,
As Nuclear Waste Languishes,
Expense to U.S. Rises
February 17, 2008
The New York Times
By MATTHEW L. WALD
WASHINGTON — Forgotten but not gone, the waste from more than 100 nuclear
reactors that the federal government was supposed to start accepting for burial
10 years ago is still at the reactor sites, at least 20 years behind schedule.
But it is making itself felt in the federal budget.
With court orders and settlements, the federal government has already paid the
utilities $342 million, but is virtually certain to pay a total of at least $7
billion in the next few years and probably over $11 billion, government
officials said. The industry said the total could reach $35 billion.
The payments come from an obscure and poorly understood government account that
requires no new Congressional appropriations, and will balloon in size, experts
The payments are due because the reactor owners were all required to sign
contracts with the Energy Department in the early 1980s, with the government
promising to dispose of the waste for a fee of a 10th of a cent per
kilowatt-hour. It was supposed to begin taking away the fuel in the then far-off
year of 1998.
Since then, the utilities have filed 60 lawsuits. The main argument — employing
legions of lawyers on both sides — is when the government would have picked up
the fuel if it had adhered to the original commitment, and thus how much of the
storage expense would have fallen on the utilities anyway.
But the damage number is rising. If the repository that the government is trying
to develop at Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas, could start accepting waste at the
date now officially projected, in 2017, the damages would run about $7 billion,
according to Edward F. Sproat III, director of the Office of Civilian
Radioactive Waste Management.
But that date is actually “clearly out the window,” Mr. Sproat said in a
conference call with reporters, because Congress underfinanced the effort to
build the repository, among other problems, he said. Mr. Sproat said the goal of
applying by this June for a license to build Yucca could no longer be met.
If the repository opens in 2020, the damages would come to about $11 billion, he
said, and for each year beyond that, about $500 million more. The industry says
the total could reach $35 billion.
“The rate-payer has paid for it,” said Michael Bauser, the associate general
counsel of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade group. “The
Department of Energy hasn’t done it, and now the taxpayer is paying for it a
Initially, the Energy Department tried to pay the damages out of the Nuclear
Waste Fund, the money collected from the nuclear utilities, plus interest, which
comes to about $30 billion. But other utilities sued, saying that if the
government did that, there might not be enough money left for the intended
purpose, building a repository. So the government now pays the damages out of
The damages are large relative to the annual budget of the Energy Department,
which is about $25 billion. But the money comes out of the Treasury, not the
Energy Department. Under a law passed in the Carter administration, such
payments are recognized as obligations of the federal government and no further
action by Congress is required to make them.
The money comes out of a federal account called the Judgment Fund, which is used
to pay settlements and court-ordered payments. For the last five years, the fund
has made payments in the range of $700 million to $1 billion, with the average
payment being $80,000 to $150,000. In contrast, payments to utilities have been
in the tens of millions.
The government is also running up extra expenses on its own wastes. Some of the
waste that is supposed to go to Yucca, left over from nuclear weapons
production, is sitting in storage that is expensive to maintain.
Some extra expense was assured, because Yucca has been beset with legal and
managerial problems, and it is not clear whether the geology is suitable for the
goal, storing the waste for a million years with only very small radiation doses
for people beyond the site boundary. The interim solution is storing wastes in
steel casks, pumped full of inert gas to prevent corrosion, an arrangement that
will keep the wastes isolated for decades at least.
At some point, the escalating costs slow down, because some of the expenses for
dry storage are incurred only once, like the engineering work, or installation
of a crane to get the cask in and out of the spent fuel pool, officials said.
But costs rise again at the point where the reactor that generated the fuel
becomes too old to run, and is torn down; at that point, the entire expense of
the guard force and the maintenance workers are attributable to the waste.
That has already happened in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and
Michigan. Jay Silberg, a lawyer who represents some of the utilities, said some
companies that had sold reactors were suing the government and maintaining that
they could have gotten a higher price if their plants had not come with the
Each reactor typically creates about 20 tons of waste a year, which is
approximately two new casks, at roughly $1 million each. If a repository or
interim site opened, clearing the backlog would take decades, experts say. At
present, waste is in temporary storage at 122 sites in 39 states.
The Energy Department has launched an initiative to gather the waste and run it
through a factory to recover re-usable components, which would allow centralized
storage, but that program’s prospects are highly uncertain.
The government has spent $11 billion on Yucca Mountain, Mr. Sproat said. The
project has dragged on so long that some of the research data is stored on
obsolete computers that must be replaced, program officials said.
As Nuclear Waste
Languishes, Expense to U.S. Rises,
On This Day - June 13, 1957
From The Times Archive
A year after the first
opened in Britain,
and at a time
when the country
on Christmas Island in the Pacific,
scientists were beginning to
if the risks
from nuclear power
“VERY small amounts at the present time but
amounts that we need to watch” was the phrase applied to radiation dangers by
Dr. F. G. Spear in an address yesterday to the Royal Society of Health in
London. Dr Spear is deputy director of the Strangeways Research Laboratory,
Cambridge, and served on one of the panels contributing to the Medical Research
Council study, published last year, of radiation hazards.
He commented that the amounts of radioactive matter scattered into the
atmosphere by bomb tests and later incorporated in plants or ingested by animals
or fish used as human food, though detectable, had so far no biological
significance. Dust near the site of an explosion might be highly charged with
radioactive material and sufficient in quantity to be a serious hazard.
On civil uses of radiation he observed that nearly everyone took sides, very
often without the slightest knowledge. As a rule beneficial effects had been
discovered before harmful effects, which tended in the early, optimistic days to
be explained away. The present uneasiness was partly the result of a genetic
hazard of undetermined dimensions, and partly the fact that any element could be
made radioactive by the “machinations of modern physicists”.
The Times Archives >
On This Day - June 13, 1957,
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