#424 - December 19, 1994

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Cracks in German plant

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) Cracks in welds have often been found in nuclear power plants over the last years. But now, for the first time in German reactors cracks have appeared that endanger a reactor's whole structure.

(424.4200) WISE Amsterdam - In the Würgassen NPP in North Rhine-Westphalia (FRG), cracks were found in the core shroud and in the core support grid for fuel assemblies and control rods. The length of the cracks add up to about 8 meters. Their depths have not been measured yet. Würgassen's owner, PreussenElektra, wants to replace the whole core shroud and core support grid. It will be the first attempt worldwide to do this.

Similar cracks had akeady been found in core shrouds in Switzerland and the US, but these were repaired by installing clamps around the welds to prevent the shroud from separating. To replace the core will be a huge operation -- the core shroud has a height of 6 meters and a radius of 4 meters. It is a thick stainless steel shell inside the vessel that contains the fuel rods and directs the flow of the coolant. PreussenElektra thinks that it will take 18 months to repair it and cost 15 to 120 millions US$. And it will decrease the volume of PreussenElektra's business up to 2.4 billion US$.

The North Rhine-Westphalia safety authorities point out that a new atomic licensing procedure will be necessary for the repairs, because it the first time to try this. Such a procedure can take a long time and its outcome is uncertain. Würgassen is the oldest boiling water reactor (BWR) in Germany and the discovery of the cracks could mean its closure.


  • Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 31 Oct. and 26 Nov. 1994
  • Spiegel, 48/1-994
  • Nucleonics Week (US), 13 Oct. and 10 Nov. 1994

Does Brazil have the Bomb?

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) WISE-Amsterdam recently received a book, "Brash a Bomba Oculta: o programa nuclear brasileiro" (Brazil: The Hidden Bomb), by Tania Malheiros. Unfortunately, the book is available only in Portuguese, but there are certainly points worth mentioning for our English-speaking audience.

(424.4201) WISE Amsterdam - A journalist for 15 years, Tania Malheiros has been writing about nuclear issues since 1986. Her new book exposes the Brazilian secret military program aimed at obtaining know-how and skills for the production of nuclear weapons.

Malheiros gives an extensive overview of the wheeling and dealing within the emerging Brazilian nuclear industry, constantly referring to the people and institutions involved. The book begins with the history of Brazilian participation in the nuclear era, which started with the supply of monozidic sands for the Manhattan Project in 1943. During the 1950's, when the power of nuclear deterrence was established in the cold war order, the Kubitchek government tried to escape US dominance in this area by seeking alternatives in Europe, particularly with French technology, to implement the first nuclear power plant in Brazil. This project was eventually aborted.

Instead, in 1963, the National Commission on Nuclear Energy (CNEN, created eight years earlier) started working on the construction of a Brazilian nuclear reactor. However, the military, which took power in 1964, wanted to consolidate the "Brazilian miracle" and decided to speed the access to peaceful nuclear technology by importing it, at all costs. After many misdealings with potential sellers -- mainly concerning the supply of nuclear fuel for the reactors -- an agreement was finally signed with Germany in the 1970's, and in 1981 the first Brazilian nuclear power plant, Angra I (nicknamed "firefly" by its public utility users, because of its regular shutdowns), was inaugurated.

Malheiros then summarizes the controversies around the safety and the real need of such power plants in an underdeveloped country with vast hydrological resources. But the red line throughout the book (and also its best merit) is formed by a well documented description of events around the so-called "delta" bank accounts destined to finance the military's secret nuclear program. First uncovered by Tania Malheiros herself for the daily newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo in 1987, the revelation of the existence of such accounts triggered an official investigation by the Brazilian Congress. Results from these investigations, together with a series of interviews by the author, make it plausible to assume that the Brazilian govern-inept -- which never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- has already attained the technology for the nuclear fuel cycle and the possibility to explode a nuclear artefact.

Malheiros points to circumstantial evidence in the discovery in 1987 of a huge nuclear testing site in the Amazon Valley, as well as developments at the naval nuclear facilities in Aramar, Sao Paulo, claiming that Brazil already had a level of uranium enrichment of 93%. This implies that Brazil should be able to produce fuel for nuclear submarines, in addition to a rudimentary atomic bomb, once it is wanted. Malheiros, however, is consciously careful with any hard statements in that direction, because, after all, the military nuclear, program is still considered one of Brazil's most protected national secrets.

Source: "Brasil a Bomba Oculta : o programa nuclear brasileiro", by Tania Malheiros, Gryphus, Rio de Janeiro. 164 pp.

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Swiss group appeals against waste plans.

(December 19, 1994) World Wildlife Fund Switzerland has appealed to the Federal Energy Office (BEW) against the request of the Wellenberg Nuclear Waste Management Cooperative (GNW) for "general authorization" of its low- and medium-level radioactive waste site, at Wellenberg. WWF claims GNW is unable to guarantee the long-term safety of the installation, which WWF describes as "too large" (150,000 cubic meters). The site was selected instead of three other proposed areas where opposition was strong. The deal includes the promise of cheap electricity for the canton (Nidwald), plus a bonus amounting to approximately US$ 5.5 million for local citizens. The deal could still be blocked by the canton's Citizens in a new popular vote. Meanwhile, the national radwaste co-operative Nagra has requested federal permission for a series of tests to locate a site for medium and high-level radio-active waste. Nagra wants to extend seismic testing and drilling in two crystalline rock structures in the northern Swiss canton of Aargau, and to investigate opaline clay sedimentary structure in the wine-growing region of Zurich. Power in Europe, 18, Nov 1994, p22.


The Marshall islands offers HLW site to Japan. According to Japanese officials, the government of the small South Pacific republic offered them one of its uninhabited islets as a potential site to dispose of Japanese high-level radioactive wastes during a nuclear energy seminar hosted by the Japanese in August. The republic is making a similar offer to the US (see WISE NC 418.4136) and South Korea. Nucleonics Week, 17 Nov. 1994, p.19. Contact: Pacific Concerns Resource Center, 83 Amy Street, Toorak, Pri-vate Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji. Tel: + 679-304-649; fax: 304-755.


Japanese group visits Marshall Islands for relief work. While their government is considering further radioactive pollution in the Pacific, a 20-strong team from the Japanese Council for the Prohibition of Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) is in the Marshall Islands trying to help clean up the radioactive mess left behind by the US. The group left Yokohama on 20 Nov. for a two-week visit to bring help to people suffering the after effects of the US atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. The team was also planning to visit former residents of Rongelap who were moved to the islands of Ebeye and Mejato after their own atoll was contaminated with radioactive fallout. As well as examining the residents and testing for residual radioactivity, the group plans to present a boat and medical equipment the residents had asked for. BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 24 Nov. 19~4 via Global News Headlines (Greenbase, 24 Nov. 1994).


ContrAtom Spokesman released Because they were unable to confirm their accusations, Swiss authorities have finally released the spokesperson from the Swiss anti-nuclear group ContrAtom. He had been held since 16 September. One of ContrAtom's founders, he was originally arrested at the same time as three other persons for suspected involvement in the missile attack on the French fast breeder Superphenix in January 1982. Later the accusations included supposed contact with the terrorist group set up by Illich Ramirez Sanchez ('Carlos'). (See WISE NC 422.4177.) However, authorities were unable to support their accusations and detention could no longer be justified. They were forced to allow him to leave prison. Despite this, he is required to remain at the disposition of the court for further interrogations and his passport has been taken to ensure that he does not leave the country. One of the four had been released earlier. The two others remain in prison. Contact: ContrAtom, Case Postale 65, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: + 41-22-320 45 67.


India cancels Rawatbhata units 5-8. The Indian government has given up the idea of building a major nuclear complex at Rawatbhata. In addition to the two reactors currently in operation and the two under construction, four units of 500 MW each had been planned for the site. A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's office has announced that Units 3 and 4 (235 MW each) are expected to be completed before the scheduled dates. But clearance will be refused for Units 5 through 8. Anumukti (India), Oct/Nov 1994.


Japanes SDP backs down recycled PU. Japan's Social Democratic Party agreed to back down on its opposition to using recycled plutonium in nuclear power plants, in negotiations with other ruling coalition parties. The SDP, the party of Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, softened its stance after strong pressure from one of its coalition partners, the Liberal-Democratic Party, in a meeting to determine the 1995 budget allocation for the Science and Technology Agency. It was decided to incorporate into the agency's budget 142.1 billion yen for the "steady development of recycling nuclear fuel." The amount is 2% more than the previous year's allocation. Part of the money going to the Science and Technology Agency is for the setting up of two "public information" rooms, to cost an estimated 110 million yen. In addition, 20 million yen will be spent to explain Japan's plutonium use on the Internet computer network. Mainicbi Daily News Nov. 30, 1994 via Global News Headlines (Greenbase 30 Nov. 1994).


All operators found sleeping at Swedish reactor... According to Kerstin Dahlgren at the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) in Stockholm, on at least one occasion all the operators at a nuclear power station in Sweden were asleep. This was revealed at a symposium on working hours, tiredness, and accidents held at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Dahlgren would not give any details on the incident or how it was discovered. She said, "We just have to admit that people who work night shift sleep a little and we have to deal with it." Source and contact: Kerstin Dahlgren, Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI), Box 27106, 5-10252 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel: +46-8-665 44 00; Fax: 8-661- 90 86.


...While at Swiss reactor, drugs and alcohol are "the order of the day". That is just one of the accusations Greenpeace has made against the operators of the nuclear power station Kernkraftwerk Beznau in a letter to communications minister Adolf Ogi. Among the other problems alleged by Greenpeace: between 1970 and 1974 radioactive primary cycle water seeped into the land outside the power station. The contaminated earth was dug up and tipped into the river Aare. This 'disposal" was said to be by order of Kurt Kueffer, a current director of the electricity producer Nordostschweizerische Kraftwerke AG (NOK) which runs Beznau. Greenpeace also called for a new safety audit of the power station. The group said there had been serious negligence in the realization of a new safety system; it had been informed by reliable sources that cables had been wrongly laid and some of the electric switchboxes did not work. Greenpeace added that the nuclear power station's safety department was aware of the problems. NOK, of course, has rejected all of the claims as completely groundless. Neue Zuercher Zeitung (Switzerland), 8 Dec. 1994 via Global News Headlines (Greenbase Dec. 8, 1994).


Regional spanish government acknowledges link between radioactivity and deaths and illnesses at U-factory. The regional environmental councillor of Andalucia, Manual Pezzi, has ordered health investigations into the cases of 35 former employees at the now closed uranium factory at Andujar. The investigations are necessary for them to receive pensions for 'professional illness'. Pezzi ordered similar measures to be taken for the relatives of 35 other men who died allegedly as a result of working at the factory. The Andujar factory was closed in 1981, and former employees have been fighting ever since for health compensation. When the factory was in operation, not only were its workers un-aware of the dangers of working there, but they -- and in some cases, their widows -- signed documents in which they acknowledged that any death or illness (usually silicosis or lung cancer) that they suffered was not caused by conditions at the factory. Pezzi also announced that periodic random checks would be carried out on water and foodstuffs in the surrounding area as a precautionary measure. Power in Europe, 4 Nov. 1994, p.15.


Just who is the foreign agent here, anyway? And why don't have a slush fund? Anti-nuclear activists have often been accused of being "anti-national foreign-funded agents'. Once in Rawatbhata, I was accosted by a journalist who told me, 'RAPS authorities (Indian nuclear authorities) have said that you have received a lot of CIA money for starting an agitation over here." I replied that the only way he could find out for sure would be to visit us in Vedchhi and live with us for some length of time and see if our lifestyle was that of people with a lot of available slush funds. However, my eyes fell on a headline in a newspaper he was carrying which said that Dr. P.K. Iyengar -- the then chairman of the Department of Atomic Energy -- was at the time in Paris negotiating for the supply of two nuclear reactors of French design. I pointed out to this journalist the anomaly of accusing antinukes of being foreign agents while the nuclear establishment was doing its damnedest to procure foreign investment. However, even in my most uncharitable moments I never thought that people in the nuclear establishment were anti-national. Conceited, smug and arrogant, certainly; technology and 'development' deluded megalomaniacs, probably; but anti-national, no.
Quote from Surendra Gadekar, in Anamukti: A Journal Devoted to Non-Nuclear India, Oct./Nov. 1994.


Spain's UI protest new appointments to CSN The Communist-led United Left (IU) has joined ecology groups in attacking the appointment of three new members to the Nuclear Safety council. IU deputy Manuel Garcia Fonseca said his party would undertake legal action to oppose the appointments. Fonseca said the law governing the appointment of CSN members made it clear that they should be independent on nuclear issues. 'All the (5) commissioners are professionals of nuclear technology, not one contributes any knowledge or sensitivity about medical problems, health at work,or the environment", he added. The new appointees include CSN's new chairman, Juan Manuel Kindelan, who is also chairman of the nuclear waste agency, Enresa. The other two are Ambal Martin, who works for the utility Hidroelectrica, which owns the nuclear plants Almaraz and Valdecaballeros, and Augustin Alonso, a former head of the CSN forerunner, the Junta de Energia Nuclear (JEN) and currently professor of nuclear technology at Madrid's Universidad Politecnica. Power in Europe, 18 Nov. 1994, p20.


Secret Sino-Soviet N-projects. Russian scientists are at work on secret Sino-Russian nuclear projects in south China, Hong Kong's Eastern Express newspaper reported on 23 Nov. The newspaper said officials of both sides had confirmed the existence of the projects in Haikou and Shenzhen. It said the deals were struck during a covert trip to China earlier this month by the minister and vice minister in charge of Russia's nuclear industry. According to the paper, the nuclear monopolies of both countries have established a US$10 million joint venture, the China-Russia Nuclear Company, in Shenzhen just across the border from Hong Kong. The newspaper quoted Kong Fandai, president of the joint company, as saying three Russian scientists were already working for the firm in Shenzhen. "Once we enter production in late 1995, we will continually bring in more and more of their scientists because this is Russia's strong point," Kong said. The paper said details on the projects were hazy, but quoted Russian Minister of Nuclear Power Engineering, Viktor Mikhaiov as saying that "super clean' isotopes imported from Russia for civilian use said the Chinese also sought supply of substantial quantities of the Cobalt-60 for a separate project in Haikou, capital of Hainan province, but no agreement has been reached yet.Reuter, 29 Nov., via Global News Headlines (Greenbase, 30 Nov. 1994).


China, France strengthen nuclear ties. The two countries have signed a protocol pled-ging to strengthen cooperation on the peaceful application of nuclear energy. The protocol, signed between the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and the China National Nuclear Corp on 23 Nov., is the fifth such agreement between the two parties. The new protocol says the two will be cooperating to improve the safety and technology of PWRs by sharing the results of their research. They also plan to carry out more joint research projects involving fast neutron reactors and the disposal and preservation of nuclear waste. China is rapidly expanding its use of nuclear power and has already begun construction of two new 600 MW reactors at its 300 MW nuclear station at Qinshan in southeastern Zhejiang. China has also announced plans to complete a third nuclear plant, with two 900 MW generators, at Lingao near Daya Bay, in 2002. Daya Bay already has two 950 MW PWRs in operation. Both were built by the French company Framatome, which has already submitted a bid to supply the two new units. A fourth plant is planned for Wafangdian in northeastern Liaoning province, with two Russian-built generators each with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts. 1994 is estimated at between 8 million megawatts and 10 million megawatts, up from 2.49 million MW last year when nuclear power accounted for 0.3 percent of total electricity output. Reuter, 25 Nov., via Global News Headlines (Greenbase, 27, Nov. 1994) and Nucleonics Week, 17 Nov. 1994, p.19.


Canadian PM pushes Candu sales in China... Seems France may have some competition. Ten years of on-again, off-again discussions have finally led to serious talks about marketing two Candu reactors, gamma-processing equipment, and other Canadian nuclear technology in China, On 7 Nov. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Chinese Premier Li Peng signed a 20-page Nuclear Cooperation Agreement spelling out Canada's "stringent nuclear non-proliferation policy." The agreement, which subjects any Canadian nuclear goods to LAEA safe-guards, "is designed to ensure that no Canadian-applied products or material can be used in China's nuclear weapons program nor can it be transferred to other countries or enriched or re-processed without consent," said the prime minister's office. Atomic Energy of Canada has meantime submitted a preliminary proposal to supply the two Candu-6 units (updated versions of the Candu-6 already in operation in Canada and abroad) on a turnkey basis. And, says AECL vice president David Bock, "There is the potential for up to 10 Candu reactors..." Nucleonics Week (Us), 10 Nov. 1994, p.14.


And Indonesia. Wow! This Jean Chretien really gets around. Seems after his China trip the Canadian Prime Minister took his "nuclear salesmanship across southeast Asia" (as a Nucleonics Weeks article so charmingly put it). By 14 Nov. he had touched down in Jakarta. There he tried to interest Indonesia in buying Candu reactors. At a meeting with political and business leaders he announced that four Indonesian officials will take a year-long course on the safe use of nuclear technology with Canada's Atomic Energy Control Board. "This would be very useful if you were to buy a Candu plant,' he told them. Real smooth, eh? Nucleonics Week (US), 17 Nov. 1994, p.19.


Pu storage in US Endangers workers and public The US Energy Department is planning on repackaging tons of highly radioactive plutonium after an internal review found storage conditions that endanger workers and possibly the public. The review, ordered in March 1994, examined Pu storage at 35 government sites in more than a dozen states. Investigators found what the rest of us already knew was there: plutonium in leaking and corroding packages, in cracking plastic bottles, in old decaying buildings and in pipes, ventilation vents, equipment and machinery. "Overall, the inventory of plutonium presents significant hazards to workers, the public and environment, and little progress has been made to aggressively address the problem," concluded the draft study. The study, involving 26 metric tons of Pu, was made public on 6 December. Tara O'Toole, the department's assistant secretary, said the task will be time-consuming and costly: US$200 million has already been set aside for Rocky Flats weapons facility in Colorado, alone. Investigators singled out Rocky Hats, 15 miles outside Denver, as posing the greatest potential danger. There are 12.8 metric tons of Pu believed to be on the site in various forms, from liquid solution in cracking plastic bottles to residues trapped in building ducts. Mark Silverman, Rocky Flats' director, said the task of repack-aging is "so complex. We have more than 10,000 containers, 90 different types of configurations, and in many cases we don't even know what is in each of these containers." Altogether the report identified 299 potential risks to either workers or the public at the 35 sites examined. AP report, "Plutonium Hazards", H. Joseph Hebert, via Global News Head-lines (Greenbase, 7 Dec. 1994).


Spirits 600 Kg HEU out of Khazakhstan. Twenty-seven US nuclear technicians landed in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan in early October, where they found a large cache of bomb-grade uranium (stored there without any of the high-tech safeguards commonplace at US facilities). A long warehouse containing enough uranium to be used in 20 to 25 nuclear weapons was located in the middle of a sprawling nuclear and metallurgical factory employing more than 14,000 people. The technicians were there to help repackage the uranium (a total of 600 kg highly enriched uranium) so it could be shipped out of Kazakhstan 'to thwart its potential theft by nuclear terrorists or other nations'. Washington officials did not say which nations they feared would obtain the material, but a senior defense official said the suspect countries are located near Kazakhstan. The uranium was shipped to the US (Dover Air Force Base in Delaware) in two C-S military cargo planes and then transported to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee in a secret operation that became public in late November, after all of the material had arrived at Oak Ridge. WP, 'Kazakhstan Site Had Lax Security', 24 Nov. 1994, via Global News Headlines (Greenbase, 24 Nov.).


US army depot ships PU air mail. An Army depot in California shipped plutonium by air via Federal Express in violation of US regulations. According to the Department of Energy, something less than a pound of the Pu arrived Nov. 7 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory where it had been sent to be disposed of. An army spokesperson later confirmed that it had been accidentally been shipped by air Nov. 4 "because of a human error in marking the shipping instructions for the carrier." The lab routinely receives plutonium from universities, cornpanies and the government. But in this case, lab spokes-man Jim Danneskiold said, the container was marked as plutonium and Federal Express should not have accepted it for air shipment. Rather they sbould have sent it by truck. 'Federal Express does ship nuclear materials, and they have hazardous materials experts who do know what to do in these cases," he said. Yeah, right. Anyway, Danneskiold added, the delivery arrived in an approved container, the size of a 30-gallon drum, with radiation shielding, and any dose of radiation to workers handling it would have been negligible... AP news report via Global News Headlines (Greenbase, 24 Nov. 1994).


Security also poor at Lithuanian plant. Lithuanian regulators are hoping that a computerized accounting system and changes in personnel routines at the Ignalina nuclear plant will prevent more fresh fuel elements from disappearing at the station. But a fresh fuel element, containing 200 kg uranium, which was discovered missing from the inventory at Ignalina-1 in February 199t3 has still not been found. The disappearance is 'the result of a bad system of accounting', say Povilas Vaishnis, director of the Lituanian Nuclear Safety Authority (Vatesi). "It has been very difficult to count all these elements precisely.' Nuclear Fuel (US), 21 Nov. 1994, p.15.

Latin American NPT Resolution: Scientist world-wide invited to sign on

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) The 'International Conference on a Latin America Point of View About the Extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty' was held in Cordoba, Argentina, the proceedings, a resolution was adopted at a joint meeting of the presidents of the Latin American Federation of Physical Societies (FEL-ASOFI) from 10 Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela).

(424.4202) WISE-Argentina - In the resolution the scientists declare:

"The ability to express our opinion about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation theme is based upon the bilateral agreement between Argentina and Brazil, and is strengthened by the corresponding Tlatelolco Treaty*. This is the first non-discriminatory treaty freeing a populated region of the world from all aspects of nuclear weapons. These two agreements constitute an example to be followed by all countries and could initiate a process of establishing nuclear weapons free zones in the rest of the world.

"We recognize the role played by Mexican diplomacy on the improvement of the NPT 4nd Mexico's leadership among the non-aligned countries in the process of eliminating nuclear weapons.

"It is our unanimous opinion that a world without nuclear weapons be considered our main goal.

"We have concluded that a first very essential step would be the signing of a Comprehensive Nuclear Tests Ban Treaty (CTBT) before the forthcoming NPT Review and Extension Conference.

"We understand that the states possessing nuclear weapons (NWSs) should announce their intention to eliminate them according to a specified schedule. We concretely ask for a declaration of intentions during the opening of the Conference covering the following points:

  1. A cessation in the production of nuclear weapons and a drastic acceleration in nuclear weapons arsenal reduction.
  2. The cutting off of the production of fissile materials for their use in nuclear weapons on a fixed date, and the gradual elimination of existing stocks.
  3. Assurances from NWSs not to attack or threaten the non-nuclear weapons states with nuclear weapons.
  4. A no first use of nuclear weapons agreement between NWSs.

"The NWSs should declare a moratorium on nuclear tests of all kinds until the CTBT enters into force."

Finally the resolution recommends a more complete agreement covering the civil uses of materials usable in nuclear weapons (plutonium, highly enriched uranium and tritium) as well as the ptohibition of "peaceful" nuclear explosions.

The idea of asking the NWSs to declare a moratorium on nuclear explosions of all kinds, entering into force by the time the Revision and Extension Conference opens, is for the purpose of creating a positive atmosphere of mutual understanding and confidence between participants. Physicists from other parts of the world (and from 'other branches of science) are invited to join with this set of demands.

* The 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty was to make Latin America a nuclear weapons free zone, but has never in fact been enforced.

More information: Marco Antonio Martinez Negrete, Fax in Mexico City: (5)6160326
Email: martinez@redv-axl.dgsca.uiiam.mx.

Moscow reveals deep nuclear secret

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) Russian scientists have disclosed that for more than three decades the Soviet Union secretly pumped billions of gallons of atomic waste directly into the earth. They say the practice in Russia continues today.

(424.4198) WISE Amsterdam - The Russians told a small group of Western experts that Moscow had injected about half of all the nuclear waste the Soviets produced into the ground at three widely dispersed sites, all thoroughly saturated. The three sites are at Dimitrovgrad near the Volga River, Tomsk near the Ob River, and Krasnoyarsk on the Yenisei River. The Volga flows into the Caspian Sea and the Ob and the Yenisei River into the Arctic Ocean. The amount of radioactivity injected is up to 3 billion curies. (By comparison, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine released about 50 million curies of radiation, mostly in short-lived isotopes that decayed in a few months. The accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania discharged about 50 curies. A curie is the amount of radiation given off by one gram of radium and, in any nuclear material is equal to the disintegration of 37 billions atoms per second.) The injected wastes include cesium-137 with a half-life of 30 years and strontium-90 with a half-life of 28 years and a bad reputation because it binds readily with human bones.

The Russian scientists claim the practice is safe because the wastes have been injected under layers of shale and clay which in theory cut them off from the earth's surface. But already the wastes at one site have leaked beyond the expected range and "spread a great distance". The Russians did not explain what that means exactly. (Meters? Kilometers? Or did it reach the surface?) The disclosure has set off a debate among experts over the likely consequences of the radioactive injections. Decades or centuries might pass before scientists know whether the injections are catastrophic or harmless.

Upon learning of the injections, Dr Henry W. Kendall, a Nobel laureate in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that 'Far and away this is the largest and most careless nuclear practice that the human race has ever suffered."

Source: International Herald Tribune (NL), 22 Nov. 1994.

NPT and East Europe

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) This autumn Turkmenistan and Moldavia formally acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as non-nuclear weapons states. In the same period, the Ukrainian Parliament ratified the Treaty but attached conditions, including the signing of an international accord guaranteeing Ukrainian security. The accord was to be signed by Britain, Russia and the United States at the Conference on Security and Coopertion in Europe, held 5-6 December in Budapest.

(424.4203) WISE Amsterdam - The Parliament also set a condition that its nuclear materials, with the exception of its nuclear warheads, remain the property of Ukraine, with the proviso that they could be used only for peaceful purposes. After Ukraine announced it was giving up its nuclear warheads, its conflict with Russia ended.

Another condition is that economic or military pressure from a nuclear weapons state would be considered an exceptional circumstance allowing Ukraine to re-examine its position on the NPT.

As a reward for signing the NPT, Kiev had hoped to win the approval for the lucrative financial rights to launch US satellites. Whether or not the Ukraine will get this deal is unclear at the moment, as its proposal has caused disagreements between US government agencies and Congress. However, it is unlikely.

In fact, the Ukraine will not get the security guarantees it is asking for either. According to western diplomats, although Ukraine is claiming it has won security guarantees from the major powers in exchange for its signature, the deal will not contain new guarantees to protect Kiev from aggression and has no binding legal status. "Ukraine wanted a special deal and what they will get is a special piece of paper which they can sell at home," said one diplomat involved in the negotiations. "There is nothing in it that goes beyond standard international commitments already in force. Kiev knows that."

Diplomats said it would have been impossible to give Ukraine formal NATO-style security guarantees, since the Western powers have refused to extend such assurances to any country outside the 16-nation Western alliance. "We could hardly give to Ukraine what we have refused to give to Eastern European states like Poland and Hungary," said one. "We would lay ourselves open to charges that we had been blackmailed by a nuclear threat."

What Ukraine does get by signing the NFT as a non-nuclear state is a commitment in that treaty which will be repeated in the four-power memorandum signed in Budapest. It stops far short of a formal security guarantee.


  • Agence France-Presse, 7 Nov. 1994
  • Washington Post Service 22 Nov. 1994
  • Reuter, 30 Nov., via Global News Headlines (Greenbase, 30 Nov. 1994)

Nuclear security in Russia: Inadequate and outdated

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) It is too early to make final conclusions while a working group of Russia's Security Council continues its study, but it is still clear that the situation with the storage of plutonium in Russia Is extremely unsatisfactory.

(424.4204) Milieu Kontakt Oost-Europa - Information has been published in the press more than once concerning the thefts of nuclear materials and smuggling. Now, though, for the first time, the Russian press has published a list of those institutions and enterprises which most urgently require modernization of their security systems. The main problem with the current security measures is that they were designed only for handling outside threats.

One reason for the 'growing number of attempts to steal nuclear materials is the sharp worsening of the economic situation faced by workers employed by the Ministry of Atomic Industry (MAI). Others are the lack of a good accounting system for registering and controlling the amounts of the materials entering and leaving facilities, as well as a safeguards system to ensure that those materials are physically protected. This was con-firmed at an international seminar, "Scientists for Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons", held in October at Nakhabina, near Moscow, an initiative of the Nuclear Society.

The current lack of funds does not allow for reorganizing the entire system. And the entire system needs reorganizing. Previously the production of nuclear materials and their control were carried out within the MAI alone, but the functions involved in the supervision 'of the nulcear fuel cycle have now been banded over to another organization, the State Committee of Atomic Supervision (SCAS). At the present stage, though, the two departments have still not been able to work out which department has which limits and responsibilities. And anyway, says Moscow News reporter Valery Menshchikov, "What independent checkup by an SCAS inspector is possible today when even operation of installations do not have the technical means for control and registering?"

The following is a list of nine institutions and enterprises urgently needing modernization of their systems of registering, control and physical protection is taken from Menshchikov's Moscow News article, though he says it is incomplete.

  1. Kurchatov Institute, Russian re-search center, Moscow.
  2. Physics and Energy Institue, Obninks.
  3. V.G. Khopin Radium Institute, St. Peterburg Scientific and Production Association.
  4. Federal nuclear centers Kremlev (Arzamas-16) and
  5. Snezhinsk (Chelyabinsk-70).
  6. Zheleznogorsk mining and chemical plant (Krasnoyarsk-26)
  7. Siberian Chemical Plant, Seversk (Tomsk-7)
  8. Mayak scientific and production association, Ozersk (Chelyabinsk-65).
  9. The Start production association, Zarechny (penza-19).

Source: Moscow News, 9-15 Dec. 1994.

Note: Valery Menshchikov's article, "Nuclear Security is Inadequate and Outdated", and other articles will appear in full in the first issue of 'Yademy Kontrol', published with support from the center for Policial Studies (PIR Center) in Russia.

Reactor waste in Saskatchewan

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) The developments in northern Canada around the waste issue have led to the formation of the Indigenous Women's Environmental Network. The Network's goal is to work toward educating people at the community level about these issues. Members of the new group have traveled to the US to Washington DC to take part in a workshop on nuclear waste issues, as well as attended an Indigenous Women's gathering in Minnesota.

(424.4199) Inter-Church Uranium Committee - Plans are also in the works to send delegates to New Mexico to meet with people fighting plans to build a temporary storage facility (or monitored retrievable storage -- an MRS -- as it is known) on the Mescalero Apache reservation. Other activists in Saskatchewan, Canada have pledged to continue to work with forces opposing nuclear insanity in Canada and around the world as well.

One of the things that has led up to all this is the attempts by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a federal crown corporation, to build a nuclear Waste repository in Saskatchewan. AECL has been searching for a site to build a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste in Canada for many years. In 1989, AECL came to the province of Saskatchewan with the stated goal of selling a CANDU-3 nuclear reactor to the provincial government. However, as well as attempting to sell nuclear reactors, AECL's real goal has been to convince Saskatchewan residents that nuclear waste disposal will create thousands of jobs and resolve the problems of a depressed economy.

In 1991, AECL commissioned a report to study the development of the entire nuclear fuel chain in the province, taking advantage of the existing infrastructure provided by the presence of the uranium industry. The report clearly states the objective is to site a high-level nuclear waste repository for domestic and international spent fuel. The report was followed in 1992 by a suggestion from Bill Gatenby, then Chief Executive Officer for CAMECO, that Saskatchewan should "rent" uranium and dispose of the waste resulting from its use. Gatenby said buyers would be reassured if they knew they could return spent reactor fuel to Saskatchewan for safe disposal.


Mescalero Apache tribe officials and representatives of 33 nuclear power companies met in Florida, US in early December to finalize an agreement for the temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel rods on Mescalero land. According to a Mescalero spokesperson, the agreement could be signed at any time now.

The Tribal Council applied about four years ago for a federal grant to study the possibility of siting a monitored retrievable storage facility on their New Mexico reservation. However, after they worked their way through several stages and received more than US$300,000 in federal funds, the US Congress cut off study money. Council members, headed by Wendell Chino, then turned their attention to the private sector for money to pursue a federal permit for a stOrage facility. In late February 1994, they signed their first deal, with Northern States Power. (See also WISE NCs 409.4054, 398.3878 and WISE Special Edition, 387/8 box.)

With regard to the current deal, even if the partners applied for a permit immediately, government experts estimate that fuel would not begin to arrive at the reservation until 2005.
Source and contact: SWNA Action Committee, 10011 Hickory Crossing, Dallas TX 15243, USA. Fax: + 1-214-183-1956.

AECL has been studying the granite rock formation in the Canadian Shield at its research station near Pinawa northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba) for its suitability for waste disposal since the late 1970s. In a report released 27 October 1994, AECL said spent nuclear fuel can be placed in containers and buried up to a kilometer below the surface in stable rock formations known as plutons. A federal government environmental assessment review is now underway to determine the acceptability of the deep rock disposal concept, with no specific site being examined. An AECL spokesperson in Pinawa said the next phase is to look for a specific site, and suitability could take another 20 years to be determined.

The Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC) representing nine treaty bands in northwestern Saskatchewan is conducting a feasibility study to examine the economic benefits of siting a high-level nuclear waste repository in northern Saskatchewan. Although MLTC representatives say no decisions have been made to proceed with such a project, a document outlining a plan to bring spent fuel from the US to Canada has been made public.

The document's plan calls for an exclusive contract between the "Meadow Lake Tribal Council Repository" and the Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico, US for permanent storage of the spent fuel which the Mescalero Apache are planning to store in a temporary facility (an MRS) on their reservation. The Mescalero Apache are presently in the final stages of negotiating an agreement for the MRS with 33 nuclear power companies (see box), but according to Oneil Gladue of the MLTC in an interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper, the Mescalero have "jumped the gun" by compiling the chart shown in the document. Gladue added, "we don't have a proposal in place". However, Mr. Gladue is also quoted as saying the Band Council believes its job is "to leave no stone unturned in identifying opportunities for the future," and as Saskatchewan has a large uranium mining industry, the permanent storage of used nuclear fuel seemed obvious.

The MLTC made its plans known to the international nuclear establishment by presenting a paper to the annual symposium of the Uranium Institute in September of this year. The paper, entitled "Resource Development and the Environment: Opportunities in Economic Development and Self Determination for Indigenous Peoples", outlines the MLTC's desire to "assert their 'Indigenous peoples' identity, regain their dignity and take their rightful place as equals in the global community." The MLTC, like many Indigenous communities in North America, is struggling to foster self-sufficiency and economic development for its people, and indeed, the discussion as to whether nuclear waste should come to Saskatchewan is already being framed as an issue of Native self-government by some players. This is not an issue of Indigenous sovereignty, however, but one of dumping nuclear garbage. All citizens of the world must be involved in this decision.

Although the idea of an environmental assessment review may provide some degree of comfort to Canadians fearful of the MLTC plan, it should be noted that environmental assessment recommendations are not legally binding for either provincial or federal governments in Canada.

As seen from the recommendations made by the two review panels examining uranium mine expansion in Saskatchewan, such recommendations can and most likely will be ignored. The review process provides a false sense of security and does nothing to protect the public from projects that may harm people and the environment for generations.

It should also be noted that the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement says Canada cannot refuse to accept nuclear waste coming into the country. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has been unsuccessful in its bid to site a waste dump south of the border and therefore the MLTC proposal will indeed be attractive to American utilities desperate to find some-where to put their, nuclear garbage. American Indian tribes have also been targeted for disposal, although there are currently only three tribes who have agreed to conduct feasibility studies.

Source & Contact: Inter-Church Uranium Committee, BOX 77~4, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7K 4R4.
Tel: + 1-306-934-3030; Fax: + 1-306-652-8277. (Sorry, we do not have the address of the Indigenous Women's Environmental Network, but you can reach them through Stephanie Sydiaha at the Inter-Church Uranium Committee.)


U-Plant closure blow to German industry

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) Siemens AG announced on 2 December that it would close its uranium processing plant in Hanau, FRG because anti-nuclear policies of the state government had made the plant uncompetitive.

(424.4197) WISE Amsterdam - The decision strengthens the hand of - opponents of nuclear power, especially as discussions on resumed. "This does not mean the end of nuclear power in Germany, but it is a success for the anti-nuclear movement [as it comes just] ahead of the resumption of the consensus talks," said a securities analyst who asked not to be identified in an interview with a Reuter's journalist.

Uranium conversion and fuel pellet production had already been suspend be formally closed until 30 September 1995. Siemens said it would transfer its uranium operations overseas, relying increasingly on its plant in Richland, Washington (US) and European suppliers for uranium.



A campaign to boycott Siemens, the only German manufacturer of nuclear facilities and plants, is now one year old. Its initiators are very satisfied with its progress over this first year. More than 120 German groups and organizations and 1000 individual persons actively support the campaign. Its purpose is to induce Siemens to close its nuclear branch. Only 2% of the volume of business from Siemens is produced by this branch, so the campaign aims to reduce the volume of business by 2% by not buying anything from the concern as long as Siemens is active in the nuclear field.

Many events and activities around the boycott have taken place throughout the year, and these are being stepped up now, during the pre-Christmas period. People can send postcards to Siemens saying that they support the boycott and will buy their things from other companies. Campaign organizers hope more of these postcards will be sent out next year and that the campaign will grow into a mass movement. For information and your own set of postcards, Contact: Koordinationskreis Siemens-Kampagne, Postfach 61 0285, D-10924 Berlin, FRG. Tel: +49-30-200 25 45, Fax: 30-229 1822.

The company said the decision does not affect another plant at Hanau, now nearly completed, for the reprocessing of plutonium into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel elements. But analysts said the decision underscores the uphill battle faced by nuclear projects m Germany, where Social Democratic (SPD) control of state governments has brought many nuclear projects to a halt.

The Bonn government hopes soon to restart the negotiations with opposition parties on national energy policy. Talks broke off in October 1993. Economics Minister Guenter Rexrodt, after talks on Monday with representatives of electric utilities, said they had agreed that nuclear power should remain a key part of the mix of energy sources Germany relies on. Nuclear power plants currently produce about 30 percent of Germany's electricity.

Source: Reuter, 9 Dec., via Global News Headlines (Greenbase, 11 Dec. 1994).

Contact: Koordinationskreis Siemens-Kampagne, Postfach 61 0285, D-10924 Berlin, FRG.
Tel: +49-30-200 25 45, Fax: 30-229 18 22.


Work halted on last NPPs under construction in the US

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) On 12 December the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the largest American power producers, said it would halt work on the last three nuclear power plants under construction in the United States.

(424.4196) WISE Amsterdam - Two of the unfinished units are at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant near Hollywood, Alabama. The third, Watts Bar Unit 2, was being built near Spring City, Tennessee.

According to the International Herald Tribune, the decision "is the symbolic death notice for the current generation of reactors in the US." Another article by the same newspaper says the deci-7 sion also marks the end of an era for the "once-mighty US nuclear power 7 industry, which had held the promise of freeing the country from dependence on foreign oil."

TVA once had the most ambitious nuclear program in the country, with 17 reactors on order. Only five units were actually bulk, and only three of those are still operating. The reasons are the same as for other US utilities:
high costs and the uncertainty whether the plants, once constructed, will actually be brought on line.

TVA has already spent US$6.3 billion on the units (they were 57%-88% complete), and authorities estimated that another $8.8 billion would be needed to finish them. This was too much for TVA, which is already over-burdened with debt. (Forty-four percent of that debt is a result of its nuclear program). This leaves a "substantial but aging" base of nuclear plants in operation in the US: 109 plants produce approximately 21% of US electricity. Most US utilities long ago dropped plans to build more because of the costs. No new plants have been ordered since 1978.

But TVA, which is owned by the federal government and protected from some of the competitive pressures, had continued to press ahead. Its decision to halt construction is a major shift for the agency. But, said a government spokesperson, the TVA, which was created more than 50 years ago under Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal, had to "recognize that policies conceived decades ago are no longer viable."

Although the end of the first generation reactors is welcome news, folks should be reminded that the US industry is already seeking federal certification for the next generation.

Source: International Herald Tribune, 13 and 16 Dec. 1994.
Contact: Katuab Earth First!, P0 Box 281, Chattanooga, TN 37401, USA.