Monday, 28 March 2011

The flags of Wales

The current welsh flag that we use and wear with pride was first used by Henry VII, the Welsh King of England and founder of the Tudor dynasty.

The flag incorporates the Red Dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd, along with the Tudor colours of green and white. It was used by Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 after which it was carried in state to St Paul's Cathedral. The red dragon was then included in the Tudor royal arms to signify their Welsh descent. It was officially recognized as the Welsh national flag in 1959.

Flag of Gwynedd Gwynedd petty kingdom of several Welsh successor states which emerged in 5th-century post-Roman Britain in the Early Middle Ages, and later evolved into a principality during the High Middle Ages.

It was based on the former Brythonic tribal lands of the Ordovices, Gangani, and the Deceangli which were collectively known as Venedotia in late Romano-British documents. Between the 5th and 13th centuries Gwynedd grew to include Ynys Môn and all of north Wales between the River Dyfi in the south and River Dee (Welsh Dyfrdwy) in the northeast. The Irish sea (Môr Iwerddon) washes the coast of Gwynedd to the west and north and lands formerly part of the Kingdom of Powys border Gwynedd in the south-east.

Gwynedd's strength lay in part due to the region's mountainous geography which made it difficult for foreign invaders to campaign in the country and impose their will effectively. Popular tradition attributed to Nennius, a 10th-century Welsh chronicler, traced Gwynedd's foundation to Cunedda. According to Nennius, Cunedda migrated with his sons and followers from Brythonic Lothian, in southern Scotland, in the 5th century.

The main court of the Kingdom of Gwynedd was originally at Deganwy Castle, where Maelgwn Gwynedd (died 547) had his stronghold. The senior line of descendants of Rhodri the Great would make Aberffraw on Ynys Mon as their principal seat until 1170. In the thirteenth century, Llywelyn Fawr, his son Dafydd ap Llywelyn and grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffudd had Abergwyngregyn on the north coast as their home.

Flag of Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd or Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf ('Llywelyn, Our Last Leader') (c. 1223 – 11 December 1282), sometimes rendered as Llywelyn II, was the last prince of an independent Wales before its conquest by Edward I of England.

Flag of Owain Glyndŵr

Owain Glyndŵr or Owain Glyn Dŵr, anglicised by William Shakespeare as Owen Glendower (c. 1354 or 1359 – c. 1416), was a Welsh ruler and the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales. He instigated an ultimately unsuccessful but long-running revolt against English rule of Wales

Source: Wikipedia - Flag of Wales

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The puffins of South Stack are back home.

Good news from the RSPB - the puffins of South Stack Cliffs, Holy Island, Anglesey have returned.

You can find out more at their RSPB Community blog.

Also find more information about puffins on the RSPB website.

Updated 29/04/2011 broken link fixed and additional link added

Monday, 21 March 2011

Wylfa A and Fukushima Daiichi, Japan


The nuclear emergency at Fukushima Japan, brought about by the earthquake and tsunami has risen questions about the safety of nuclear plants throughout the world.

Here on Anglesey we have Wylfa A, which is programmed to be shut down and decommissioned from next year. So what lessons can we learn from the accident from Japan, and how safe is Wylfa A?

The first thing to note they are of a different design, the nuclear plants at Fukushima being boiled water reactors (BWR), whereas the two reactors at Wylfa A are gas cooled reactors (GCR).

Wylfa A was the last Magnox nuclear power plant to be built in this country and is the largest of its type. The reactors themselves operate at relatively low pressure in comparison with modern reactors. The reactor is cooled by C02, and are designed that should the pumping systems fail the reactors would still be kept cool (after shut down) by natural circualtion of the C02. As the coolant is already a gas, explosive pressure buildup from boiling is not a risk, as happened in the catastrophic steam explosion at the Chernobyl accident.

The main reason the Magnox design were abandoned was cost and the fact that they only operate at 28% efficiency.

The reactor fuel is unenriched uranium, which is encased in the alloy magnox (hence name for design) that is a mixture of magnesium and aluminium. Because of the low burn up rate of the fuel, on load refuelling was considered essential, as the cost of shutting down the reactor to refuel would have made them uneconomical.

In Fukshima we know that initially the emergency shut down of the reactors was going well and that the control rods had been inserted succesfully. What failed were the cooling systems required to remove the residual heat, at Wylfa A even in the event of the pumps failing cooling would still take place by natural circulation of C02.

The other major and potential greatest danger at Fukushima was the loss of water from the spent fuel ponds. As these ponds are outside the primary containment building, any fire or melting of the rods would have resulted in the radiation being realised directly into the atmosphere.

The system for storing spent fuel rods at Wylfa A are completely different in that they are kept in dry store cells, also cooled by carbon dioxide.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Concerns about Wylfa B following the serious incidents the Fukushima Daiichi power station?

Schematic UK EPR

The serious incidents at the Fukushima Daiichi power station is of serious concern to the whole world. If like me, you find the news bulletins not providing sufficient information; about what has happened at the nuclear plant, you might find the following blog useful Symmetry Factor.

For latest updates see Nuclear Energy Insitute website (includes schematic of BWR at Fukushima)
For latest press release from Fukushima plant operators see TEPCO English Website
Or see NISA - Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of Japan

It is reactor 4 that is causing the greatest concern. It seems fuel rods stored in cooling ponds (during the shutdown period) may have been exposed to air. It is these cooling ponds that the helicopters and fire appliances are trying to refill and/or keep cool.

If this is not achieved in the worst case senario harmful radiation could be released into the atmosphere as the ponds are not within the containment building of the reactor, other than within the second containment building which was damaged by the explosions.

For the proposed European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) one of the designs being considered for Wylfa B, according to a Nuclear Directorate report – Step 3 Reactor Chemistry assessment of the EDF and AREVA UK Division 6 assessment report No AR09/036:

" Refuelling


Refuelling requires the removal of used fuel elements from the reactor core and replacement with new (or partially used) fuel assemblies via transfers between the refuelling cavity and the spent fuel ponds. The UK EPR refuelling process is very conventional in this sense, following the same principles as all previous generations of PWRs.

The principle difference of the UK EPR refuelling procedure to previous generations of PWRs is the use of the In-Containment Refuelling Water Storage Tank (IRWST). The IRWST is part of the reactor building and is a large volume, stainless-steel lined tank located inside the containment."

For more information about the UK EPR see Areva EDF website.

The other reactor design being considered for Wylfa B is the Westinghouse AP1000, this design also has a In-Containment Refuelling Water Storage Tank. See HSE Report Step 2 Fault Analysis Assessment of the Westinghouse Submission for the AP1000:

"The AP1000 provides for in-vessel retention with features that promote external cooling of the reactor vessel:

  • The reliable multi-stage reactor coolant system depressurization system results in low stresses on the vessel wall after the pressure is reduced.
  • The vessel lower head has no vessel penetrations to provide a failure mode for the vessel other than creep failure of the wall itself.
  • The floodable reactor cavity can submerge the vessel above the coolant loop elevation with water intentionally drained from the in-containment refuelling water storage tank. "

For more information about the AP1000 see Westignhouse UK website.

Udpated 21:40 Additional information added.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

At last - Goodbye Anglesey County Council

Not many of us will weep the passing of the failed Anglesey County Council.

Failed on a political front that is, with the so-called Councillors of the island having failed abysmally to provide effective government.

Soon we shall find out the fate that awaits the Council, hopefully the Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant shall end our pain quickly.

This blog fully supports his actions as the people of Anglesey have had enough.

We the people of Anglesey, have for the last twenty years endured grown men who claimed to be Councillors behaving like children - pathetic, incredible and unbelievable!

P.S The Conservatives and their friends the Liberal Democrats claimed today in the National Assembly for Wales debate on the Local Government Order 2011 that they did not understand what 'effective' local government meant - my suggestion why haven’t they visited Anglesey and soon they would have found out what a failing and ineffective local government was really like.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Saddest quote of the year

Over the weekend an image that is now ingrained in our minds is that of Natsuko Komura. She was found by BBC reporter Damian Grammaticas, you can read his report at the BBC website. She was picking her way through the mud, looking lost.

"Words fail me," she said, "because there is nothing here, the things that are supposed to be here, everything is gone."

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Was 'The Lightning Car Company' the answer for Anglesey?

Much is being made; by the Anglesey Conservatives, of a meeting back in September 2009 where the possibility of a start-up car company moving to Anglesey was discussed. See today’s Holyhead and Anglesey Mail.

The company involved 'The Lightning Car Company' hope to manufacture their first production car in 2012, at a cost to you of £150,000.

It is a powerful electric car, based on their previous model of the Lightning "that was powered by a conventional Ford Mustang, which first appeared at the 1999 Earl's Court Motor Show, where it attracted 20 orders. The project was then put on hold, although seven pre-production cars were built, all of which still exist."

You can read more about the merits of the car in this Daily Telegraph report from September 2007.

It is interesting to note that the meeting on Anglesey took place well before the company attempted to attract major investment in the project, see press release from 24 October 2010.

The UK has a fine tradition of small niche car manufactures, and of developing new concepts, and whilst we should offer our full support, we need to be realistic.

At the bone, small independent car manufactures can never compete with the large multinationals. A number of whom are either producing or will produce in the near future sporty electric cars i.e Tesla Motors

The Lightning Car Company hopes to enter production in 2012, but seeing that even their website is still under development I sadly would not hold my breath.

It seems to me that the possibility of the company opening a factory on the island was far from a certainty that some people make it out to be.

See also:
Autoblog-green Lightning's electric GT entering late prototype phase; production set for 2012

* Updated to correct spelling mistakes with thanks to commentator twice struck