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Select a news topic from the list below, then select a news article to read.

Geological Fault At Dounreay

Dounreay's operators have had to revise their plans to build a new low-level waste dump after discovering their preferred site lies on top of a geological fault-line.

They had been working on flawed information provided by the Nirex agency that drilled a series of boreholes in the early 1990s when Dounreay was being considered as the site for a national intermediate-level nuclear waste dump.

New research has led to the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) moving the location of the dump further north and revising the layout of the six underground concrete vaults.

The changes will prompt a new round of consultation over UKAEA's bid to dispose of up to 175,000 cubic metres of lightly contaminated solid debris, much of which comes from Dounreay.

Delay in US warhead modernisation

left

The plan to modernise the US W76 warhead has fallen behind schedule.  The first production unit of W76-1 was due to have been produced by September 2007.

There are issues at the six government plants involved in the Life Extension Programme (LEP). One of the problems is at Y12, Oak Ridge. Y12 is responsible for refurbishing the Secondary part of the warhead. Frank Munger's blog on  Knoxnews reports:

Ted Sherry, the NNSA's chief in Oak Ridge, last month indicated that Y-12 was still grappling with the technical issues on the W76, and said a decision would be made in early 2008 on whether to proceed or how to proceed.

"We have done a lot of up-front work and work on trying to certify that (manufacturing) process, but we have not produced the first production unit", Sherry said

Steven Wyatt, NNSA spokesman, said on 24 January that no decision has yet been made.

As part of the W76 LEP a new processing plant for a non-nuclear special material has been built at Y-12, but the name of the material has not been disclosed.

NATO want First Strike Nuclear Option

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical Manifesto for a new Natoby five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

The Manifesto has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to Nato's Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The proposals are likely to be discussed at a Nato Summit in Bucharest in April.

Scottish Parliament Rejects Nuclear Power

MSPs have voted by 63 to 58 to reject nuclear power, exactly a week after Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, committed the UK government to a new generation of such stations.

The Holyrood vote was hailed by SNP ministers as signalling a clean, bright future for Scottish energy.

Jim Mather, the Energy Minister, said: "This vote transforms the terms of the energy debate in Scotland – we now have a Parliament and Government able and willing to take forward Scotland's clean, green energy future. Scotland's energy future is bright."

An alliance of the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens was enough to see the policy through, with the Tories and Labour voting to retain nuclear energy.

Hidden Subsidies for Nuclear Power

The Government's  go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations has sparked a fierce row over financial sweeteners to private sector operators. John Hutton, the Business Secretary, insisted there were no subsidies but the small print of the White Paper showed concessions had been given away.

Private companies who wanted to build new stations would have to pay for the entire cost while "meeting the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs", argued Hutton who said atomic power was needed to reduce carbon and the growing reliance on energy imports.

But a campaign by French nuclear operator, EDF, and others to win Government help for an attractive financial framework which would make nuclear cost-effective against other forms of power appeared to have borne fruit.

· The Government is effectively making electricity generated by coal or gas more expensive by promising "greater certainty for investors" through unilateral action to underpin the price of carbon. Coal and gas power stations emit relatively large quantities of CO2 for which they will need costly permits.

UK Government To Pay Local Communities To Store Nuclear Waste

The operators of the controversial Sellafield nuclear complex have agreed to pay local people in Cumbria some £75m for expanding the only national dump for low-level nuclear waste.

The unprecedented deal – which is being called a "bribe" – is widely thought to be the precursor of a payment of at least £1bn to the community that agrees to take a much more controversial planned repository for infinitely more dangerous waste that will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years.

The Government plans to invite communities across Britain to "express an interest" in hosting such a repository, and expects them to put forward proposals for inducements to take it that will "enhance "their "wellbeing".

Professor Gordon MacKerron, who until recently chaired the Government's official Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), said that the "totally surprising" move sets set a precedent for a much more expensive deal over a more controversial repository.

Annual Trident Maintenance Cost

Hansard, 3 Dec 2007 : Column 845W

 

Trident: Finance

 

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the

estimated annual maintenance cost of the Trident weapons system is

expected to be in (a) 2007-08 and (b) each year until 2024. [169443]

 

Des Browne: The annual expenditure for capital and running costs of the

current Trident nuclear deterrent, including costs for the Atomic

Weapons Establishment, is expected to be around £1,500 million in

2007-08 and 2008-09, some 5 per cent. of the defence budget, and around

£1,700 million in 2009-10 and 2010-11, some 5 1/4 per cent. of the

defence budget. Spending plans for subsequent years will be set as part

of the Government's spending review process.

£4 Miilion Dounreay Clean-Up Cost

THE bill to deal with Dounreay's radioactive liquor spill within a waste plant is now expected to be over £4 million.

The job of recovering the fissile material which accidentally spewed on to the floor of a shielded cell in September 2005 has been much tougher than initially envisaged. A failure of management systems led to intermediate-level active liquid waste spilling over a steel drum after an automatic mechanism to release its lid failed to activate.

Before the flow was stemmed, 58 gallons had poured out, much of it mixing with a separate feed of cement powder.

It has also halted operation at the plant where the highly-active liquor – viewed as the site's highest hazard – is cemented in drums before being put in long-term storage.

Those dealing with the clean-up initially envisaged having the plant back in action in the summer of last year at a cost of about £1 million. But it has proved much trickier than anticipated.

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Funding eliminated for new US warhead

As a result of action by Congress there will be no funding for programme to build a new US 
nuclear warhead, the Reliable Replacement Warhead, in the next financial year, 2008.
Funding was finally eliminated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed by President Bush
on 26 December.
The plan for a new warhead cannot go forward until the President develops a strategic nuclear 
weapons plan to guide transformation and downsizing of the stockpile and nuclear weapons complex.
 

New missile may not fit

Research by Scottish CND has established that the US are planning to build new nuclear missiles to replace Trident. 
The new system is called the Underwater Launched Missile System (ULMS). However the US will not have ULMS in
service until 2029 and have not yet established the capabilities required of the missile, let alone its dimensions.  A test
bed for the new missile will be designed to allow for options of missiles wider and heavier than Trident.
 
This may pose a major problem for the designers of the new British submarine. The British submarine programme is
running 5 years ahead of its American counterpart.
 
The test bed specifications suggest that the US may ignore the promise which George W Bush made to Tony Blair
- that the new missiles would fit inside a Trident missile tube.