The decommissioning of nuclear facilities is one of the major challenges of the coming decades for Europe. A precise agenda of decommissioning is not available yet, but Europe will face a large number of closed down facilities. It is inevitable that facilities will stop, either because their planned lifetime comes to an end, otherwise because of economic, industrial or security reasons. According to statistics from the World Nuclear Association (association gathering producers of energy coming from nuclear power), 14 reactors have stopped operating as a result of an accident or a serious incident, 22 were shut down because of political choices and 97 were closed for economical profitability reasons. Preparations should be made immediately to manage the massive decommissioning coming. The European Union has currently 131 nuclear plants in operation, 75% run for over 27 years, while the technical lifetime of a reactor ranges from 30-40 years, even though some will be extended to 50-60 years of operation. Europe has already several closed down reactors, but none of these plants have been completely decommissioned. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recognizes the final shutdown of 29 reactors in Britain, 28 in Germany, 12 in France, 4 in Bulgaria, four in Italy, two in Lithuania, one in the Netherlands, three in Slovakia, two in Spain, three in Sweden.
Nuclear Transparency Watch 6th Feb 2017 read more »
To enter Europe’s largest nuclear site, a visitor must be wearing construction coveralls, steel-toed boots, a hard hat, and a pager-size device that rings if radiation levels get too high. Contamination enters the body through open wounds, so any cuts must be bandaged with medical tape. On the way out, after you remove your protective gear, a security guard sweeps your body with a handheld detection device to make sure nothing latched on. It’s as unsettling as it sounds. This is Sellafield, on the coast of the Irish Sea, more than 300 miles north (and a bit west) of London. At the dawn of the Cold War, the U.K. chose this site as the place to begin enriching uranium for its first nuclear weapon. But in the country’s haste to build a bomb, little thought was given to disposing of the waste. Much of it was placed in concrete ponds larger than Olympic swimming pools. In 1957 a reactor fire contaminated the local countryside and a devastating meltdown was narrowly avoided.
Bloomberg 16th Feb 2017 read more »