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GOING NUCLEAR IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA?

The South Australian government supports continued investigation as to whether a used nuclear fuel disposal facility should be established. The only path forward they say is the restoration of bipartisanship and broad social consent, secured through a state-wide referendum. Edward de la Billiere looks at the latest developments in the debate.

In reaction to a declining economy, in 2015 the Labour government of South Australia (SA) set up a Royal Commission to examine the feasibility of expanding its nuclear fuel cycle activities from the existing uranium mining and export endeavours to something much more. After extensive consultations, the Royal Commission reported in May 2016 focusing on four areas of potential development: further radioactive minerals mining, nuclear energy implementation, uranium enrichment and fuel leasing, and offering the world a high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel disposal solution. Of these, the multi-national disposal facility was seen as the most promising option and so the government set about testing public reaction to the idea through establishing a Citizens’ Jury – not an uncommon feature in SA.

The Jury gave the government its opinion on 6 November with a resounding two-thirds rejection of the proposal. The other third wanted further dialogue. At first sight, that may seem to be the end of the proposed development, but in the government’s official response to the Commission’s recommendations published on Monday this week, SA Premier Jay Weatherill appears to have left the door ajar for further discussion.

So, what lay behind the Jury’s negative response? Proposing such an idea in the first place was a risk for the government to take, but originally they had opposition support and established a cross-party parliamentary committee to consider the recommendations. Some feel that the question asked of the 300 Jurors was poorly framed and invited a negative response: “Under what circumstances, if any, could South Australia pursue the opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries?”

Against this background, a two-day conference – ANFC16 – held in Adelaide this week brought together the Chairman of the Royal Commission, politicians from both sides in the SA parliament, representatives from Aboriginal communities, nuclear specialists, nuclear regulators, activists, academics, the nuclear industry, lawyers, ecomodernists, professional associations and the international waste management community, to discuss the situation. Several protesters also demonstrated outside the conference on occasion.

The conference was opened with a traditional welcome to the country by a representative of the Kaurna people. In turn, many of the Australian speakers acknowledged that the meeting was taking place on the traditional land of the Kaurna people and paid their respect to Elders past and present.

So, let’s take a look at some of the issues discussed.

The Royal Commission Process – It was thought by some that the Royal Commission was the wrong vehicle in any case to look at the issues and that in it was biased in favour of nuclear at the outset.

The Citizens’ Jury – Several commentators thought that if the question to the Jury had been along the lines of “do you think that South Australia should do its bit to help world poverty in considering allowing the introduction of nuclear power in many countries through offering waste disposal facilities?”, might have elicited a less negative response. One of the main concerns of the Jury was the underlying economic case presented, saying the authors were biased; the counter was that the report was peer reviewed and was only intended as a scoping study in any case, not a definitive answer. The legitimacy of the make-up of the Jury was also called into question, with some feeling that the more vociferous members opposed to nuclear had gained an unfair advantage. It was also asserted that misinformation had been presented to the Jury relating to domestic and international legal matters. The time they had to consider the evidence was also questioned with the six days taken being thought to be too little time.

The Politics – It was apparent in discussions that party politics has now come into the mix. Not only was it the local SA state politics, but also Federal government and opposition stances were also relevant. NIMTO (Not In My Term of Office) was an underlying factor also. The opposition SA Liberal Party had “drawn a line in the sand” with its rejection of further debate and the thought of a referendum down the road. Politicians were also criticised for not being able to take tough, long-term decisions on controversial projects, although they had done so in the past such as with the Olympic Dam mine. It was recognised that the federal government’s assent would be required for SA to move ahead with the idea.

The Economics – As well as questioning the underlying assumptions of the economic case, there were concerns about whether there would be a market for the repository and whether also there could be competition and how this could be managed. SA would have the advantage of being the “first mover” to capture potential customers. However, it was felt that the risks associated with the upfront costs for a small state budget were too high and equated to the cost of a new hospital for example. This, it was thought by others, could be managed through contractual arrangements.

The Aboriginal situation – Given that it would be Aboriginal communities most likely to be affected by the development, the conference heard from several of their representatives. Under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and as also promised by Premier Weatherill, they would have to give their consent for any project to go ahead. It was clear that they were opposed to the idea and that they could never be convinced it would be a good idea. At the heart of their opposition were the memories of the British weapons tests at Maralinga where many communities had been displaced and indeed many individuals had suffered directly from the side effects of the blasts. They clearly felt they had not received full reparation for this and were looking for more. The question was raised as to whether if they did receive full recompense for the damage suffered, would this ease the way for a repository. A further issue arose in discussion which related to the contamination remaining on the land. The common understanding was that there were areas of significant contamination still present, but this was challenged. A clean-up exercise had taken place which aimed to achieve a level of residual contamination which could deliver a dose rate of 5 millisievert per year, but in many cases accomplished 1 millisievert per year, in line with the range of natural background radiation in Australia. However, this fact seems to have been lost within the communities and the conference heard that this will be looked into further.

Safety – Safety wasn’t a major factor in discussions, with the possible exception for the Aboriginal representatives and some others. The conference heard that nuclear operations and transport continue safely around the world, and for the long term, that SA had about as good a geology and hydrogeology as you could want for a repository. There would still be some challenges to investigate further but there would be a very high chance of finding a good site. SA was also politically stable and had a good economy.

Continued public debate is important and a matter that the people should decide and not political parties. If there was broad social consent the local Aboriginal community would be given a final right of veto. From now the government will facilitate continued discussion and work to restore a bipartisan position.

Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory provide a unique combination of legal and technical advisory services for clients involved in energy, infrastructure and natural resource projects in the UK and internationally.       

Edward de la Billiere is a Solicitor and co-founder of Prospect Law. He retains a strong interest in energy related projects and has developed a particular specialisation in Regulatory Law, advising individual and major corporate clients in the UK and abroad on international requirements for compliance with various legislative frameworks and also defence and strategic advice where clients are involved in litigation connected with allegations of regulatory breaches. He has been named as a leader in his field since 2009.

This article is not intended to constitute legal advice and Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory accepts no responsibility for loss or damage incurred as a result of reliance on its content. Specific legal advice should be taken in relation to any issues or concerns of readers which are raised by this article.

This article first appeared on World Nuclear News on 18th November 2016. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/V-Going-nuclear-in-South-Australia-18111601.html

For more information please contact us on 01332 818 785 or by email on: info@prospectlaw.co.uk.

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SAUDI ARABIA’S NUCLEAR PLANS: A TURN FOR THE BETTER?

Saudi Arabia has a very ambitious nuclear plan, with the intention to install 17.6 GW(e) by 2032. Key to seeing this plan come to fruition is, as with other prospective nuclear power countries, having the Kingdom sign up to international nuclear obligations, especially in relation to nuclear safety, spent fuel and radioactive waste management safety and safeguards.

So it was interesting to see the Arab News report that, “The Cabinet, in its weekly meeting on Monday, reiterated Saudi Arabia’s belief in the legitimate right of Middle Eastern countries to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, under supervision of and according to the International Agency for Atomic Energy standards.”

At first sight, this is a statement of the obvious, but is there more to this? Saudi has signed up to the main international nuclear conventions. However one associated with “safeguards” has, to date, has proved controversial.

Safeguards

The purpose of the IAEA’s safeguard arrangements is to ensure that countries are honouring their legal obligations to only use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, not to manufacture nuclear weapons. Such assurance is sought through physical verification and having IAEA inspectors visit facilities and see for themselves that these obligations are being honoured. The importance of this arrangement was demonstrated in the case of Iran not allowing such inspections, resulting in sanctions being imposed on the country until an agreement was reached last year. The IAEA has now verified that Iran has fulfilled its obligations under the agreement and sanctions have been lifted. Saudi Arabia expressed its support for this agreement.

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

The first stage of becoming subject to IAEA safeguards is for a country to sign up to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and conclude a safeguards agreement with the Agency. Saudi signed up to the NPT in 1988 and the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement in 2009.

However, it has yet to sign the Additional Protocol, which is designed to fill a number of gaps in the safeguards framework and which would give the IAEA expanded rights of access to information and sites, as in the case of Iran. The Additional Protocol itself was introduced as a result of the Agency’s experience in Iraq and North Korea in the early 1990s, and is seen as key to a country being accepted as a nuclear energy state.

Bilateral Nuclear Co-Operation Agreements

As well as international treaties, it is also usual for countries to sign bilateral Nuclear Co-Operation Agreements (NCAs). In summary, these allow the trade of nuclear equipment and components to take place between the respective parties and ensure such material will only be used for peaceful purposes. Certain countries such as the US and the UK have yet to sign NCAs with Saudi Arabia, (known as 123 Agreements in the US), which means that nuclear companies in these countries are prevented from doing business. The sticking point here seems to be Saudi’s unwillingness to sign the Additional Protocol, but, given the announcement from the Cabinet last week, are we about to see a change of stance?

We await with interest if there will be any further clarification on what exactly the Cabinet statement will mean in practice.

For more information please contact Edward de la Billiere on 020 7947 5354 or by email on edlb@prospectlaw.co.uk

Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory provide legal and business consultancy services for clients involved in the infrastructure, energy and financial sectors.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

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NEW ARRIVAL: IAN JACKSON

Ian Jackson is a nuclear consultant and author at Prospect Advisory with 30 years experience working in both the public and private nuclear sectors. Ian joined Prospect Advisory from the UK National Nuclear Laboratory where he was Head of International Business.

Prior to that Ian was a nuclear regulator at the Environment Agency. Ian recently negotiated and secured funding for the £50 million UK-China nuclear Joint Research and Innovation Centre (JRIC) announced by British Chancellor George Osborne in 2015.

Ian developed and negotiated China’s first-ever commercial nuclear contracts in the UK on Small Modular Reactor (SMR) design and research. Ian also negotiated additional contracts for virtualisation and computer simulation of Chinese nuclear reactor designs. Ian is a Fellow of the Society for Radiological Protection and a Chartered Radiation Protection Professional.

Ian’s books and publications include “Nukenomics: The Commercialisation of Britain’s Nuclear Industry” (Nuclear Engineering International), “Nuclear Energy and Proliferation Risks: Myths and Realities in the Persian Gulf” (Chatham House), “Siting New Nuclear Power Stations: Availability and Options for Government” (UK Department of Trade and Industry) and “Effluent Release Options from Nuclear Installations: Technical Background and Regulatory Aspects” (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).

Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory provide legal and business consultancy services for clients involved in the infrastructure, energy and financial sectors.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

For more information please contact us on 020 3427 5955 or by email on: info@prospectadvisory.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

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NEW ARRIVAL: JONATHAN LEECH

Jonathan Leech joins us from law firm Dentons where he was a partner in their energy and infrastructure practice.

Jonathan is a solicitor specialising in project and infrastructure work, with particular emphasis on the energy, nuclear and utility sectors. His work includes advising on legal and contracting strategies and regulatory issues associated with major nuclear development, decommissioning, waste and reprocessing projects, energy infrastructure and other utility and infrastructure related projects.

Jonathan also works extensively on procurement strategies for development and renewal of UK electricity and gas network infrastructure, including development of multi-party alliance structures and innovative incentive models, as well as broader energy and construction projects.  He blends regulatory, commercial, construction law expertise to provide effective solutions for clients.

Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory provide a unique combination of legal and technical advisory services for clients involved in energy, infrastructure and natural resource projects in the UK and internationally.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

For more information please contact us on 01332 818 785 or by email on: info@prospectlaw.co.uk.

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NEW ARRIVAL: JOHN FAULKS

John Faulks is a commercial lawyer with over 25 years’ experience in a wide variety of roles in private practice, the not-for-profit sector and in-house as General Counsel.

John qualified as a solicitor in 1990 and has a law degree from Oxford University, as well as a Masters in Environmental Law from King’s College, London. He was General Counsel at Solarcentury for 15 years and a key player in taking the business from start-up in the UK to a £200m turnover group active across 4 continents.  This gives him a deep knowledge of what it takes to make renewable energy projects commercially successful, and an excellent understanding of what it takes to keep a fast growth company profitable. John has advised on a wide range of commercial law matters including utility scale energy projects, multi building portfolios and high volume residential programmes, as well as on product development and commercialising innovation.  He has had a specific focus on construction and supply chain contracts; sales, marketing, distribution and licensing agreements; and contract manufacturing and joint ventures.

Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory provide legal and business consultancy services for clients involved in the infrastructure, energy and financial sectors.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

For more information please contact us on 020 7947 5354 or by email on: info@prospectlaw.co.uk.

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NEW ARRIVAL: GEMMA SHORE

We are pleased to have expanded our Real Estate team.

Gemma Shore trained at Trowers & Hamlins and qualified in 2007 when she moved to Oxford and worked at Blake Lapthorn as part of the development team in the commercial property department. She advised on a wide range of general commercial property work, including landlord and tenant transactional work; and acquisitions and disposals of freehold and leasehold commercial and industrial premises, industrial estates, office buildings and retail units. She also advised on transactions involving land development. Gemma acted for individuals, partnerships, banks, retailers, investor landlords, corporate users, universities and charities. She also provided support on corporate transactions and has managed large-scale real estate project work involving financing, acquisitions and disposals of commercial property portfolios and the preparation of certificates of title.

From 2011 to 2012, Gemma worked as a commercial property manager at Genesis Housing Association. She was employed to review and report on the commercial property portfolio owned by Genesis, reporting on the terms of Leases and Licence Agreements; setting up a database for the commercial properties; advising on Lease renewals and assisting with the management of one of the residential portfolio teams.

Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory provide legal and business consultancy services for clients involved in the infrastructure, energy and financial sectors.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy.

For more information please contact us on 020 7947 5354 or by email on: info@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

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NEW ARRIVAL: ED AUSTIN

We are pleased to have expanded our Real Estate team.

Ed Austin is a Commercial Real Estate Solicitor with over 25 years’ experience.

After getting a first class honours degree in Law from Manchester University, Ed trained with a major City law firm and then worked for a large regional practice in the South-West of England. During this period he undertook a great deal of commercial property and estate management work for a major port operator and for a national tyre retail chain.

Ed also advised on property secured lending for one of the big four banks and landed estate work for the National Trust. He went on to become General Counsel of the former Birmingham Midshires Building Society, dealing with its entire property portfolio and its large commercial lending and securitisations book. Ed managed the legal aspects of BM’s acquisition by HBOS, becoming divisional company secretary. More recently he was an equity Partner in a high street law firm.

Ed has also worked with and advised public authorities, particularly on development proposals, EU procurement law, commercial contracts, community asset transfers to charitable trusts, and general estate management.

Ed has contributed to Butterworths ‘Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents’, authoring the ‘Sales of Leaseholds’ Section, and frequently publishes articles on topical legal issues.

Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory provide legal and business consultancy services for clients involved in the infrastructure, energy and financial sectors.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy.

For more information please contact us on 020 7947 5354 or by email on: info@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

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NEW ARRIVAL: PAUL TOULOUMBADJIAN

Paul Touloumbadjian is a Middle East affairs specialist with 35 years’ experience in Corporate Finance and Asset Management in that region.

He holds a B.A. & M.A. in Engineering, Economics and Management from Oxford University.

Paul acquired his experience at Citibank over 20 years assuming varied responsibilities in Riyadh and London including participating in financing nuclear and conventional energy and other infrastructure projects in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He then briefly headed Private Banking for Ahli Untied Bank in Bahrain before joining Wellington Management to cover its institutional business development in the Middle East for 5 years. He was subsequently invited by JP Morgan Private Bank to set up its Islamic Products platform before joining a prominent Jeddah based family office to help organize and implement its global wealth management strategy. Paul developed particular expertise in structuring investment and financing transactions compliant with Islamic principles. He has also established over the years relationships with and access to most privately and government held institutions in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries.

Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory provide legal and business consultancy services for clients involved in the infrastructure, energy and financial sectors.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy.

For more information please contact us on 020 3427 5955 or by email on: info@prospectadvisory.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

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NEW ARRIVAL: DOMINIC WHITTOME

We are pleased to have added a further consultant to our team of technical experts.

Dominic Whittome is an economist, and graduated with BA and MA degree qualifications from Exeter University.

He has 25 years of commercial experience in oil & gas exploration, power generation, business development and supply & trading. Dominic has served as an analyst, contract negotiator and Head of Trading with four energy majors (Statoil, Mobil, ENI and EDF), first joining the industry in 1990.

His tasks included the start up and management of UK and European trading activities and handling arbitration & expert determination cases relating to terminated long-term contracts. As a consultant, Dominic Whittome has advised government clients (including the UK Treasury, Met Office and Consumer Focus) and various private entities on a range of energy origination, strategy and trading issues.

Recent assignments have included advising on UK market entry and regulation, and the optimisation of renewable energy assets through storage and direct access to trading markets. Dominic has established a network of government and industry contacts across the oil and gas sector, and he also assists British manufacturers as the elected representative of the Energy Intensive Users Group on the Nord Pool power exchange.

Prospect Law and Prospect Energy provide a unique combination of legal and technical advisory services for clients involved in energy, infrastructure and natural resource projects in the UK and internationally.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy.

For a PDF of this blog click here

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NEW ARRIVAL: UGO PALAZZO

We are pleased to have expanded our defence team.

Ugo Palazzo is a defence solicitor with an economics background. After graduating from City University London in 1978, Ugo worked for a company accounts department, completing his common professional law examination in 1983 and Law Society finals in 1984, before qualifying as a solicitor in 1986.

After five years practice in property law, Ugo moved into criminal defence work, specialising in high end fraud cases. He has defended cases brought by the Serious Fraud Office, Fraud Investigation Group, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Post Office Prosecutions Department, HM Revenue and Customs, DBERR, Royal Military Police and the CPS.

Ugo’s case experience, inter alia, includes: a major fraud  allegation against the CAP intervention board;  a multi-million dollar US  insurance fraud; an international property money laundering allegation; VAT evasion allegations on the importation of gold; a $30m fraud allegation and extradition to USA; hotel chain VAT fraud allegations; Missing trader (MTIC) fraud allegation; excise duty breaches relating to the importation of alcohol; bonded warehouse duty evasion allegations and both mortgage and banking fraud.

With extensive experience as a Legal Services Commission serious fraud case supervisor and peer reviewer, Ugo has conducted and supervised cases at all levels. Having represented bankers, magistrates, lawyers, teachers and surveyors as well as hundreds of clients from all backgrounds over his extensive career, Ugo fully understands the pressures faced by clients at the critical investigation stage of their case. Ugo also recognises that defence work is a 24/7 job and will always personally attend clients where possible regardless of the location. Ugo is a member of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association and sits on the management committee of the British Italian Law Association. His knowledge of the Italian language means he can comfortably service the needs of Italian clients.

Prospect Law and Prospect Energy provide a unique combination of legal and technical advisory services for clients involved in energy, infrastructure and natural resource projects in the UK and internationally.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Energy.

For more information please contact us on 01332 818 785 or by email on: info@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here