All entries for September 2007
September 16, 2007
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/6997270.stm
Yesterday motorsport lost one of the great names of a generation. McRae lit up the world of the World Rally Championship and brought it to the fore, with a combination of a likeable prankster in his character and amazingly balls-out commitment in his driving. When on form on gravel, no-one could hold a candle to him, and though he threw the car off the course time and time again he never reigned in his instinct to race at, and often beyond, the limit of what the car was capable of. When leaving his home territory of Rallying, other motorsport arenas showed that his talent was supremely flexible, with creditable performances not just in similar off-roading evens such as the Paris-Dakar Rally buy also circuit racing events, most famously perhaps at Le Mans. For over a decade his name has been synonymous with Rallying and Motorsport, and he will be sorely missed by his millions of fans.
September 07, 2007
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6982884.stm
Hands up who saw this one coming? Environmentalist groups have pulled out from the government’s nuclear power consultation, claiming an unfair and incomplete debate on the issue. As I understand it, their concerns relate specifically to the issue of nuclear waste and the ‘misrepresentation’ that it is an issue that has been dealt with. Well as far as I’m aware it has been. The vitrification plant has been open at Sellafield since 1991, which uses a proven technique of sealing high level wastes into a glass block, and then cooling the blocks until activity has died down. Many radioactive materials generated in the nuclear industry have much shorter half-lives than most people think, with in excess of 99% of activity decaying within 40 years of a reactor shutdown. Low level and intermediate level wastes, which make up over 95% of nuclear waste, are simple to deal with via direct shallow burial, or in some cases where medium wastes are active over longer periods by deeper burial.
High level waste, which is really only generated in the civil industry by reprocessing activities, represents less than 3% by mass of nuclear wastes (but over 95% of activity); a typical power station producing about 3 cubic metres of high level waste a year (after reprocessing and vitrification). There is space capacity in current facilities for over 100,000 tonnes of HLW, with around 12,000 tonnes a year generated by current activities; storage is currently therefore not an urgent issue. After a cooling off period of a few decades, HLW can then be transferred into secure long term underground storage facilities. Sweden is advanced in this area, with the KBS-3 geological disposal process designed to secure wastes for over 100,000 years, after which the wastes are no more radioactive than the ore from which they were mined. Natural fission reactors that occured millions of years ago demonstrate the security of nuclear reaction products even in rock formations that we would deem unsuitable and with extensive ground water present and no man-made containment around the wastes. The French are also investigating transmutation of wastes in their Phenix reactor.
In conclusion then, the technologies and processes for dealing with nuclear wastes are in fact highly developed and have in most cases been around for some years, and are well proven. This is unsurprising for an industry that has been operating and generating waste for over 50 years. An issue not dealt with? I highly doubt that.
Mr Hutton said the government had made a preliminary view about the nuclear issue but did not have a “closed mind”.
In reality, the closed mind belongs not to the government and the industry, but to those who oppose it.
September 03, 2007
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6972759.stm
Well I’ve been arguing this for some time – see previous comments and posts on the excessive cost of fuel duty vs the cost to the environment for example – but a report out today claims to back up my view that green taxes are already too high. According to the report, in 2005 the UK’s total impact on the environment was valued at about £11.7bn damage against a green tax cost of £21.9bn. In the same day, George Osborne has come out with an outline of Conservative taxation policy that would see Labour’s high rates of public spending met, and taxation shifted from an income-basis to an environmental impact-basis. I used to enjoy following politics with interest, but since Cameron’s leadership began I’m more of the opinion that everyone in Westminster is in a race to prove they’re more insane than everyone else there. Pathetic.