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Germans give up on UK nuclear

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Pete Roche

The two German utilities, E.ON and RWE, have announced they have decided not to proceed with plans to develop their UK joint-venture, Horizon Nuclear Power. Instead they will look for a buyer for Horizon, which was planning to develop up to 6.6GW of new nuclear capacity across two sites – one at Wylfa on the island of Anglesey in Wales and the other at Oldbury in Gloucestershire, South West England. 

RWE said the global economic crisis has meant that capital for major projects is at a premium and nuclear power projects are particularly large scale, with very long lead times and payback periods. The effect of the accelerated nuclear phase out in Germany has led to RWE adopting a number of measures, including divestments, a capital increase, efficiency enhancements and a leaner capital expenditure budget. A combination of these strategic factors, together with the significant ongoing costs of running the Horizon joint venture, has led to a situation where capital investment plans have been reviewed.  E.ON says in the UK, it will now focus on projects that will deliver earlier benefits, rather than the very long term and large investment new nuclear power calls for. Nevertheless E.ON and RWE both say they believe that for the right company Horizon remains an attractive project.

Despite promising that it would not subsidize new nuclear stations the UK Government has been working to implement an Electricity Market Reform program, which former Government advisor and Friends of the Earth Director, Jonathan Porritt describes as “…rigged in order to support nuclear power … at great cost to UK consumers, UK businesses and the long-term interests of the entire nationthe Coalition Government’s continuing pledge that any new nuclear programme will not get any additional public subsidy is now palpably dishonest”.

According to one Labour MP, Alan Whitehead, a member of the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, what the Government is trying to do is to design a subsidy system without incurring any action on ‘state aid’ from the European Commission. But even the promise of subsidies was not enough for E.ON and RWE. Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said: "Despite the Government's efforts to bend over backwards to support the nuclear industry, it is now blindingly clear that the economics just don't stack up.”  And Greenpeace's policy director Doug Parr said: "The Government's energy strategy is crumbling. Not even the billions of pounds of taxpayers' money they have offered as incentives to the German and French nuclear industry are enough to make a new generation of power stations economically viable.”

UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry attempted to play down the significance of the decision, insisting that it was based on pressures on the two Companies in Germany and not on any doubts about the role of nuclear in the UK. He claimed that Horizon represents an excellent ready-made opportunity for other players to enter the market. Whitehead says this idea is ‘whistling in the dark’ – it is pure whimsy. There are no new players. There are two other consortia already involved in the UK nuclear program. EDF Energy and Centrica are looking at building two EPR reactors at both Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. NuGen – a consortium made up of GDF Suez and Iberdrola are planning up to 3.6 GW at a site called Moorside adjacent to Sellafield.

The Nuclear Industry Association says it fully expects a new consortium to come forward for the “viable” project. A number of investors and utilities are already said to be talking to each other about forming consortia to bid for Horizon. For some time, these potential buyers, who are geographically spread from Europe to Japan, have been looking to take stakes of 10-30 per cent in Horizon. All that has changed is that they now have to buy the whole venture.

Speculation about who might be persuaded to buy Horizon and progress the idea of building new reactors at Oldbury and Wylfa seems to range across the whole global nuclear industry. EDF says it has enough on its plate with building four EPRs at Hinkley and Sizewell without taking on Horizon. Vattenfall has been mentioned. The NuGen consortium Iberdrola and GDF Suez might be interested – their current site adjacent to Sellafield is a long distance from large populations centers and needs expensive new grid connections that might have to cross national park land, and it is recently emerged that mineral rights on the site are owned by someone else who wants to be paid for them. NuGen is saying publicly that it is not pursuing an interest in Horizon, but privately saying there is a “fair chance” it will look at what’s on offer because of the complications at Sellafield.

The Daily Mail (March 31 issue) was virtually apoplectic about the possibility that the Russian company Rosatom might be a potential buyer. It said the company is known to have been looking for a way into the UK for a while. Under a picture of Chernobyl the right of center daily says Government dilly-dallying has opened the floor to a bid from the Russian firm that built Chernobyl. “No one with an ounce of common sense could be entirely comfortable with that prospect.”

The Financial Times (March 29) says sovereign wealth funds and Asian utilities are seen as possible buyers. According to the Lancashire Evening Post (April 2) the Government is talking with global sovereign funds in the Middle East and Far East about buying Horizon. According to The Express, Toshiba/Westinghouse is considering teaming up with GDF Suez. This could mean the construction of up to six AP1000s across the two sites. GE Hitachi is also said to be interested.

Some sort of consortium involving Westinghouse and funded by sovereign funds is perhaps most likely because the cancellation of these reactors would be a big blow to Westinghouse. The Company has been waiting for months for a decision from Horizon about which reactor design it would choose in the hope that its AP1000 reactor design would be selected. Many in the industry had assumed Horizon would choose Westinghouse, and the Government hoped to have two suppliers. But recent reports have hinted that Horizon might plump for Areva’s EPR giving the French - in the short-term at least - a monopoly on new British plants. The delay in the announcement by Horizon about its reactor choice was due at least in part to lobbying by Westinghouse, allegedly with officials from the US Embassy in tow. The reactor builder has even taken legal advice over whether it could mount a legal challenge on European competition grounds should it lose out to Areva in the Horizon bid. So the row threatened to develop into a full-blown legal confrontation.

The concern now is that, if no buyer is found, it will put EDF in an alarmingly powerful position. EDF is planning to make its investment decision about whether to go ahead with the first new nuclear station at Hinkley Point at the end of this year. The decision will hinge on whether the incentives the UK Government is prepared to countenance are large enough. As a result the French state-owned EDF will have the UK “over a barrel”. The current path will see the UK pay a French state-owned company to build new nuclear plants on what is effectively a “cost-plus contract.”

The UK Government is planning to introduce a new Energy Bill in Parliament in May which will include provision for a kind of feed-in tariff for nuclear known as a “contract for difference” which will guarantee nuclear electricity receives a certain price. That price is yet to be determined.

In a briefing note to Prime Minister David Cameron four former-Directors of Friends of the Earth argue that the Energy Bill will have significant implications for the future cost of electricity. It will replace our current liberalized market with one that is much more heavily planned and regulated, which is difficult to reconcile with the Government’s commitment to deregulation. They say even EDF cannot finance new nuclear in Britain on its own balance sheet and will rely on an implicit guarantee from the French and UK Governments to lower its cost of capital. The four former directors estimate that the Contracts for Difference Feed in Tariffs will provide a subsidy of £63 - £75 billion to EDF over the next 35 years –around £2bn (US$ 3.2bn or 2.4bn euro) per year.

Of course many of the same economic forces which made the German utilities to pull out will apply to all the other companies as well. The unfavorable attitude of the ratings agencies towards nuclear power, for instance, stems largely from the scale of investment required, together with future uncertainties surrounding power prices. The risks are writ larger when you think of a nuclear project compared with other forms of generation, because construction and planning is that much more tortuous, construction risk is higher and from an operational point of view they have a high fixed cost base. Moody's pays particular attention not only to nuclear power but to any large capital investment projects where the financial risk profile of a given utility may be affected by whether or not the project is completed on time and on budget.

Anglesey-based People Against Wylfa B spokesman Dylan Morgan said: “Now rather than focus on the fantasy that another consortium will come in [the Government] should follow the German lead and ditch nuclear altogether.

For further information: NuClear News No.39, April 2012, available at

Source and contact: Pete Roche
Email: Rochepete8[at]

Germany's energiewende: redefining the rules of the energy game

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Rick Bosman - MSc-student Renewable Energy Management at the Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg

German energy policy is increasingly being influenced by a diverse and growing group of renewable energy supporters. They pursue a transition towards an energy system predominantly based on renewable energy. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, these actors became dominant in Germany's energy policy arena. Consequently, the Energiewende, as the transition has been coined, has been taken up as a broad societal challenge, pursued by parties across the political spectrum and actively supported by a large part of the German public.

These forces, the renewable energy supporters, have convinced the Merkel government to transform the nuclear and fossil-fuel dominated energy system into one based predominantly on renewable energy sources: the "Energiewende". Germany's nuclear sector has been the first victim, but pressure on the coal sector is growing as well. The German renewables advocacy coalition will likely be able to continue to use their clout to tilt the energy playing field in their favor. Their biggest challenge will be to convince neighboring countries of the merits of the Energiewende.

The German government's rapid decision to exit from nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster on 11 March 2011, raised eyebrows across the globe. It was generally viewed as overly hasty. It means that Germany will be one of the few industrial countries to do entirely without nuclear power.

However, even before the Atomausstieg, in 2010 the German government had taken another momentous decision, namely to transform the German energy system from one based predominantly on nuclear and fossil fuels to one based primarily on renewables. This is called the Energiewende (Energy Transition). The Atomausstieg-decision should be seen in the context of the Energiewende. It is made possible by the successful growth of the renewable energy sector and the growing influence of its supporters. Understanding this context helps to make sense of the seemingly radical recent decisions and to be able to anticipate Germany's future energy policy, with its potentially large impact on neighboring countries and the EU as a whole.

Energy Concept
The "Energiekonzept" (Energy Concept) which sets out the direction for the Energiewende was published in September 2010 (coinciding with the Merkel's government controversial decision to reverse Germany's first nuclear exit decided on in 2002). Its main goal is that: 'Germany should become one of the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly economies of the world'. Furthermore, 'with the Energiekonzept the federal government describes the way into the renewable energy era'.

This vision has been translated into binding goals for 2050 (cut back CO2-emissions 80-95% compared to 1990, 60% of primary energy consumption and 80% of electricity consumption to be supplied by renewables and energy efficiency to be improved 2% per year). It also includes binding intermediate targets for 2020 (35% of electricity consumption from renewables), 2030 (50%) and 2040 (65%).

The German Ministry of Economic Affairs had asked a consortium of research institutes to make scenarios for the Energiekonzept which came out in August 2010. They focused on the economic effects of the Energiewende. In August 2011, the consortium updated the work to include the Atomausstieg.

Both scenarios project that the contribution of conventional power plants will decrease over time. Furthermore, it is presumed that renewables will gradually replace conventional sources and eventually become the dominant source of electricity. Existing conventional capacity is expected to be used more intensively in the short run, to fill the gap left in the wake of the nuclear exit. In the updated scenario more investment in coal-fired power plants than the capacity currently under construction is deemed unrealistic before 2020, while in the longer run coal with CCS could play a role, albeit a minor one. Contrary to coal, natural-gas-fired plants could see an increase from 2015 on, according to the most recent scenario. Hence, in this scenario it is presumed that natural gas will fill most of the gap left by the Atomausstieg. Nevertheless, Germany is expected to remain a net exporter of electricity until 2020.

The Environmental Ministry, too, had research carried out by a consortium of research institutes led by the German Aerospace Centre. This study, called The Leitstudie, deviates from Prognos' scenarios primarily in that the share of renewables increases faster and will be larger overall. The Leitstudie shows the role of natural gas as increasing only marginally. Both studies formed important input into the formulation of the Energiekonzept and the Energiewende.

Renewables Advocacy Coalition
So what makes German energy policy so much more "progressive" than in most other countries? The explanation lies in the success of an influential coalition of renewable energy supporters, who have managed to convince a majority of the public and the political classes that an energy system based on decentralized, renewable energy sources is feasible and indeed in many ways beneficial to the environment as well as to the economy.

Environmental interest groups were the first to argue that renewables offer an environmentally and economically friendly alternative to conventional energy sources. They argue that if external costs are included, the deployment of renewable energies is cheaper than conventional forms of energy and leads to domestic innovation and employment. With the gradual development of renewable energy, industry associations such as the Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft, Bundesverband Wind Energie and the umbrella organization Bundesverband

Erneuerbare Energien came to play an increasingly important role in the policy-making process. Also the Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau (German Engineering Federation), originally not a 'green' outfit, joined this coalition in 1997 when it realized that developing renewables would mean a lot of work for its members. In September 2011, Siemens, the German engineering giant, joined as well. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster it announced that it would pull out of the nuclear energy business: 'the chapter is closed', Siemens CEO Peter Löschersaid. The company will expand its renewable energy activities instead. The renewable industry associations argue that their sector employs a lot of people (370,000 in 2010) and has large potential for growth. In 2010 investments in renewables in Germany amounted to €26.6 billion. The associations therefore represent an increasingly important pillar of the German economy.

In addition to universities and research institutes, many of which are also involved in research into renewable energy, new agencies affiliated with the German government have been founded which support further development of renewable energy. For example, the Renewable Energies Agency, which is funded by the Ministries of the Environment and Agriculture and the renewables industry, argues that renewables lead to value creation for local communities, mostly because of avoided expenditures on fossil fuel imports. The Umwelt Bundes Amt, the executive branch of the German government regarding environmental law, also provides the government with advice regarding energy issues. It provides scientific support for an energy supply fully based on renewables.

Together, these actors cover a broad range of German society and because of their growing importance and influence, a more decentralized energy system based predominantly on renewable energy sources is increasingly viewed as a viable alternative to the current centralized conventional energy system by the general public as well as amongst decision makers.

Within the government, the leading role in the Energiewende is played by the Ministry for the Environment, which is responsible for renewable energy and nuclear safety. Environment Minister Röttgen (CDU), for example, said: 'Due to the Energiewende, the conflict between ecology and economy has finally been resolved'. Also: 'In future, the energy supply will become more decentralized, structured around the middle class, and technologically more challenging than today. It will be better tuned towards the end user, more efficient and based on local value creation. 'The Ministry of Economics and Technology, responsible for energy efficiency, energy markets and infrastructure and headed by Minister Rösler (FDP) is somewhat reluctantly following the Environment Ministry's lead.

The strength of the renewables advocacy coalition may be gauged from the struggle that broke out at the end of 2009 over the Renewable Energy Sources Act (RESA or EEG – Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz), and in particular the support for solar power. The then newly installed Merkel government announced plans to revise support for solar energy, possibly introducing a cap on total installed capacity. Newly installed solar capacity had grown from 42 MW in 2000 to 3,800 MW in 2009 thanks to the RESA support. It then grew to 7,400 MW in 2010. As a result of the generous support, the RESA-Umlage (the premium end users have to pay on their energy bills to cover the costs of developing renewables) had been rising steadily – from 0.2 ct/kWh in 2000 to 3.530 ct/kWh in 2011 (about €10 per household per month). Conservative powers within the governing coalition wanted to limit these costs. Therefore, a thorough revision of the RESA instrument was put on the agenda.

In response, the German solar industry started a massive campaign. Solar firms went on strike and advertisements were placed across the country to raise awareness about the planned cutbacks. Although the solar lobby had to concede some points, its campaign was largely successful. In a compromise reached in February 2011, it was decided to increase the frequency and extent of the "degressions", the periodic reduction of feed-in tariffs, but not to put a cap on installations. After new record installations in 2011 of 7,500 MW, renewed plans for a1,000 MW cap were announced by Economics Minister Rösler. Again, the renewables coalition managed to avert a cap, although in a deal struck in mid-February by Rösler and Röttgen, cuts in feed-in tariffs of up to 30% were agreed upon.

Moreover the initially announced revision of the RESA, which would have led to fundamental changes in the principles of the support scheme - such as cancelling the preference of renewable electricity over conventional power on the grid - did not come through. Actually, with the draft RESA for 2012, which was agreed upon after the Fukushima disaster, the Merkel government reaffirmed the basic principles of German feed-in policy, namely continued preference for renewable energy sources, an obligation to connect all renewable electricity producers to the grid and paying them a favorable price per unit of electricity for a long time period, mostly around 20 years.

And that's not all. The renewables coalition also managed to persuade the German government to reject European harmonization of renewable energy support schemes, which some people were advocating. The coalition feared that harmonization would mean the end of the RESA- scheme. The German government agreed. 'EU-harmonization would be the end of our Energiekonzept, we could throw it in the paper bin', said Environment Minister Röttgen. That marked the end of the EU-harmonization debate.

More progressive
The renewables coalition could not succeed without broad political as well as public support. It should be noted that the Atomausstieg and the Energiekonzept, which was written into law, are the products of a conservative government. The opposition in Germany is even more "progressive" when it comes to the Energiewende. This implies that within German politics consensus exists on the general direction of energy policy. Economics Minister Rösler, one of the most conservative forces on this dossier, confirms this: 'Our goal now is to exit from nuclear power faster than previously planned', he said. 'The pace is crucially dependent on how fast we can develop alternative sources of energy. The decision to exit from nuclear power was not satisfying in itself; we therefore initiated or changed 16 laws in order to also safeguard our entrance into renewable energies and ensure a reliable energy supply.'

The German public, too, agrees on the desirability of the Energiewende. A recent poll by TNS Infratest shows that the public broadly supports the Energiewende and is even willing to pay for it: 94% is in favor of an accelerated development of renewable energy and 80% thinks the costs, which currently amount to around €10 per household per month, are 'adequate' or even 'too low'.

Large groups of people are even willing to take to the streets over energy issues, e.g. to prevent nuclear waste transports or to protest the lowering of feed-in tariffs. Energy issues directly influence people's voting behavior. Extending the lifetimes of nuclear plants proved detrimental to the federal government's approval rates and especially after Fukushima led to defeats in state elections. Most noticeably, the populous and economically important state of Baden-Württemberg, which used to be a CDU stronghold, was lost to the Greens.

An important consequence of the development of renewable energy, which may not be sufficiently appreciated outside Germany, is that the RESA has stimulated many households, farmers and small businesses to become energy producers themselves. This means that an increasing number of private people take on an active role in the Energiewende. Fullyover 50% of current installed renewable capacity is owned by private citizens or farmers, compared to less than 10% by the four largest utilities. In addition, many regions are taking steps to become "energy autonomous". This trend constitutes a fundamental change in the organization of the energy system.

Clearly the Energiewende and the Atomausstieg also have their critics in Germany, but they are unlikely to be able to turn the tide. Hit hardest are the four large utilities operating in Germany, namely Eon, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW. These are still heavily dependent on nuclear and coal power and have trouble reaping benefits from a policy that favors decentralized renewable energy systems. It will require huge effort and investments by these companies, which serve close to 90% of the German market, to change their business models and become more active in the energy transition.

Some feel downright threatened by the Energiewende. For example, Jürgen Grossmann, CEO of RWE, commented on the record PV-installations in 2011 by saying that 'Photovoltaic power in Germany makes as much sense as growing pineapples in Alaska'. This comment is understandable from Grossmann's point of view. To make a profit on coal-fired and nuclear power plants, they need to run as much as possible, generally 80 - 95% of the time. However, with an increasing share of variable renewable energy, which has priority in the German grid, conventional power plants need to be operated more flexibly which results in a lower capacity factor and therefore lower returns.

Furthermore, solar PV generally produces energy at times of high demand, which used to be lucrative for utilities as energy prices were also high at these times. Because they have negligible running costs, wind and solar power push down electricity prices at the power exchanges. This means that every kW of wind and solar that is installed, worsens the business case for inflexible conventional power plants. From an end user perspective, however installing solar-PV makes perfect sense, because due to technological innovations and economies of scale, the costs of solar electricity are rapidly approaching the general consumer price level for electricity.

There are also critics who argue that the Energiewende will lead to much higher costs. Energy-intensive industries in particular are concerned. They depend largely on cheap and reliable baseload power and will have to find an alternative. Predictions are that energy prices will rise because of the Atomausstieg by as much as 20% by 2030, and that this will mostly affect energy-intensive industries, since a large part of their energy comes from bilateral contracts with nuclear power plant operators.

The renewable advocacy coalition concedes that in the short run, the price of energy will probably increase, but it points out that a distinction should be made between the price and the real cost of energy. At this moment only part of the actual energy costs are included in the kWh-price born by consumers, the rest is passed on to the public in the form of environmental damage. When accounting for these costs, most renewable sources are already cheaper than conventional energy sources.

Furthermore, the renewables advocates argue that the costs of most conventional energy sources will probably go up in future, either through the need of increased safety measures in the case of nuclear power, or by the increasing challenges in extracting fossil fuels, whereas the costs of most renewable technologies will go down, as they still have large potential for innovation and cost reduction. Studies, such as the 'Energy Concept 2050 for Germany with an European and Global Perspective' by a consortium of seven renown research institutes, including the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology, show that in the long run an energy system based fully on renewables is achievable and will in the end prove cheaper than continuing business as usual, even when the costs of grid expansion and electricity storage are included.

Dogmatic focus
Some critics point out that Germany still needs to import nuclear power sometimes, which they argue is hypocritical. But the renewable energy supporters counter that a dogmaticfocus on national markets is outdated anyway. After all, France also regularly buys wind and solar power from Germany when conditions favor such purchases, for example, during the recent cold spell in Europe, when France's nuclear power plants could not produce enough electricity for the country's largely electric heating systems.

Then there are experts who say that the Atomausstieg and Energiewende pose technical risks to the electricity system. Grid operators and the Bundesnetzagentur, the German Federal Network Agency, warned of the possibility of black-outs and marked the winters of 2012 and 2013 as critical. Idle capacity has been made available and Austria has been found willing to provide reserve capacity, if necessary, to stabilize the German grid. With these measures in place and great efforts from the Transmission System Operators (TSOs), the situation is 'manageable', according to the Bundesnetzagentur.

Finally, with regard to the Atomausstieg, defenders of nuclear power point out that it will make it more difficult for Germany to reach its CO2-reduction targets. Prognos expects that emissions will go up by 30 to 50Mt CO2 as a result of the Atomausstieg. However, it adds that these emissions fall under the European emission trading scheme (EU-ETS) and that higher emissions in Germany will lead to higher CO2-prices (around 1 to 2 euro increase), which will then improve conditions for new investments in low-carbon technology. On this basis, Prognos concludes that the Atomausstieg will not lead to higher CO2-emissions EU-wide. Whether this holds true depends largely on the proper functioning of the EU-ETS.

Redefining the rules
So what can we expect of future developments in Germany? The renewables advocacy coalition is still primarily focused on cementing the status of the RESA, as we saw before. But it is also taking other actions, for example, agitating against coal-fired power.

Most vocal on this front is BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany), which leads a campaign against construction of new coal-fired power plants under the slogan 'climate killer coal'. They say their actions have led to the prohibition or cancellation of sixteen coal fired power plants so far, of which eleven in the last three years.

The negative trend for coal-fired power is confirmed by the Prognos scenario studies mentioned earlier. The first scenario study in August 2010 showed new coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of around 14 GW planned and/or under construction. However, in the updated scenario published only one year later, they lowered their estimate for new coal fired power plants to less than 11 GW. They also said that investment in new coal-fired power plants are not likely before 2020.

The renewables coalition may also be expected to use their new-found power to redefine the rules of the energy game, increasingly tilting the playing field in favor of renewables. At this moment, the energy market is still configured in a way that favors centralized conventional sources of energy. The renewables advocates may be expected to lobby for legislation to correct market failures in the current energy system, for example by putting a price tag on pollution. This would enhance the competitiveness of renewables compared to fossil fuels. Favorable planning procedures for renewable generation capacity and the necessary (grid) infrastructure are being pushed as well.

The largest question mark for the future is probably the international dimension of the Energiewende. The German renewables coalition is quite focused on domestic issues and policies. This carries risks in the increasingly integrated European energy market.

Instead of alienating their neighboring countries with unilateral decisions and fighting harmonization of support schemes, Germany and its powerful renewables advocacy coalition might do well to channel their power to aligning its European partners in the energy transition. Strengthening cross-border interconnections of the electricity grid could reduce the costs of the transition. In addition, increased cooperation will result in the opening up of markets for Germany's leading clean tech firms.

If on the other hand, Germany will not be able to convince its neighboring countries of the merits of the Energiewende, the tensions and inefficiencies in the European market would greatly intensify, even to the extent that they could put the success of the Energiewende at risk.

Source and contact: Rick Bosman, first published in 'European Energy Review', (, 27 February 2012.
Rick Bosman is MSc-student Renewable Energy Management at the Albert-Ludwigs Universität Freiburg, Germany, and founder of the Energy Transition Blog. Rick on Twitter: @r_bosman. This article is based on his paper published by the Clingendael International Energy Program on 16 February: "Germany's Energiewende: Redefining the Rules of the Energy Game", available at:

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Germany exporting electricity to France.
Germany has shut down many nuclear power plants after Fukushima. France, in contrast, has still a very large nuclear capacity. So one might expect (and that was highlighted by nuclear proponents in Germany and elsewhere many times) that Germany needs "to pull some power from the reliable French nuclear plants" to make up for the fact that German solar power is not contributing anything in this season. But that's not exactly what happened during the cold winter days in western-Europe early February. Though the day is short, PV power production is still peaking at an impressive level during the current cold spell in Germany.

Because France has so much nuclear power, the country has an inordinate number of electric heating systems (but what is cause and effect?). And because France has not added on enough additional capacity over the past decade, the country's current nuclear plants are starting to have trouble meeting demand, especially when it gets very cold in the winter. With each drop of 1 degree in the temperature, the demand for electricity rises with 2,300 MW. In the French Brittany, citizens were asked by EDF to reduce their consumption.

As a result, power exports from Germany to France reached 4 to 5 gigawatts – the equivalent of around four nuclear power plants – early February according to German journalist Bernward Janzing in a Taz article. And it was not exactly a time of low consumption in Germany either at 70 gigawatts around noon on February 3, but Janzing nonetheless reports that the grid operators said everything was under control, and the country's emergency reserves were not being tapped. On the contrary, he reports that a spokesperson for transit grid operator Amprion told him that "photovoltaics in southern Germany is currently helping us a lot."
die tageszeitung, 3 February 2012

UK: the powers that be.
Newly appointed Energy Secretary Ed Davey performed a spectacular U-turn on nuclear power, February 5, as he declared he would not block plans for a new generation of nuclear reactors. Liberal Democrat Davey was appointed to the Cabinet post on February 3,  after Chris Huhne resigned to fight criminal charges. In the past, Davey has condemned nuclear power as dangerous and expensive. As Lib Dem trade and industry spokesman in 2006 Mr Davey was the architect of the party's anti-nuclear policy. He launched the policy with a press release entitled "Say no to nuclear", which warned a new generation of nuclear power stations would cost taxpayers tens of billions of pounds. What's that with being in power and changing positions?

Ed Davey used his first day as Energy Secretary to send a warning to more than 100 Conservative MPs that he is not prepared to back down over the issue of onshore wind farms. He insisted he was a 'lifelong supporter' of wind power.
Daily Mail, 6 February 2012 / The Times, 7 February 2012

Australia: Ferguson's Dumping Ground Fights Back.
The Gillard Government is pushing ahead with plans to host a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory (NT), despite local opposition. Traditional Owners have vowed to fight on, according to Natalie Wasley. In February 2010, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson introduced the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill into the House of Representatives, saying it represented "a responsible and long overdue approach for an issue that impacts on all Australian communities". The legislation names Muckaty, 120 kilometers north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, as the only site to remain under active consideration for a national nuclear waste dump. The proposal is highly contested by the NT Government and is also being challenged in the Federal Court by Traditional Owners. Despite this, the Bill is currently being debated in the Senate — and will likely pass.

Ferguson’s law is a crude cut and paste of the Howard government’s Commonwealth Radioactive Waste Management Act that it purports to replace. It limits the application of federal environmental protection legislation and it curtails appeal rights. The draft legislation overrides the Aboriginal Heritage Protection Act and it sidesteps the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. It allows for the imposition of a dump on Aboriginal land with no consultation with or consent from Traditional Owners. In fact, the Minister can now override any state or territory law that gets in the way of the dump plan.

Before it won government, Labor promised to address radioactive waste management issues in a manner that would "ensure full community consultation in radioactive waste decision-making processes", and to adopt a "consensual process of site selection". Yet despite many invitations, Martin Ferguson refuses to meet with Traditional Owners opposed the dump.

Medical professionals have called for federal politicians to stop using nuclear medicine as justification for the Muckaty proposal. Nuclear radiologist Dr Peter Karamoskos wrote in the NT News:

"…the contention that is most in error is that the radioactive waste to be disposed of there is largely nuclear medicine waste. Nearly all such waste is actually short-lived and decays in local storage and is subsequently disposed of safely in the normal waste systems without need for a repository. The vast bulk of the waste… is Lucas Heights nuclear reactor operational waste, and contaminated soil (10 thousand drums) from CSIRO research on ore processing in the 1950s and 1960s."
Natalie Wasley in,  13 February 2012

US: Watts Bar 2 schedule pushed back.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has said that it is ‘experiencing challenges’ with the cost and schedule for completion of its Watts Bar 2 nuclear power plant. The revised completion date for the plant may extend beyond 2013 and the costs are expected to ‘significantly exceed’ TVA’s previous estimate of US$2.5 billion. TVA, which operates three nuclear power plants: Browns Ferry, Sequoyah and Watts Bar, decided to restart construction at Watts Bar 2 in 2007. It originally planned to finish the plant, which was 55% complete, within a five year window. Now, the completion date has been put back to 2013 and TVA says it is performing a root cause analysis to better understand the factors contributing to the project's extended schedule and cost. According to TVA the delays to the completion of Watts Bar unit 2 may also affect the timing of the Bellefonte 1 completion. Construction is set to resume at Bellefonte 1 after initial fuel loading at Watts Bar 2. (More in Nuclear Monitor 732, 9 September 2011).
Nuclear Engineering International, 7 February 2012

Russia: Fire at nuclear sub at Murmansk
Russia’s deputy prime minister in charge of the defense industry Dmitry Rogozin has indirectly admitted that the Yekaterinburg – one of the Northern Fleet’s strategic nuclear submarines – which caught fire on December 29 while in dry dock for repairs near Murmansk had “armaments” on board when the 20-hour-long blaze broke out, injuring 9. The deputy prime minister had previously vociferously denied this in both Russian and international media – even though evidence discovered by Bellona at the time suggested otherwise. Evidence that has emerged since the fire, however, suggests that the burning vessel was loaded not only with nuclear missiles but torpedoes as well.

The Yekaterinburg Delta IV class submarine – capable of carrying 16 intercontinental ballistic missiles with up to ten nuclear warheads apiece and 12 torpedoes – caught fire in Roslyakovo when welding works reportedly went awry, though the real cause of the fire remains unknown. The fire was concentrated in the bow area of the vessel.

Had Russia’s Emergency Services Ministry –which was primarily responsible for handling the crisis– not extinguished the flames in time, the torpedoes in the front chamber of the submarine would have detonated first. Many Russian fire and resuce workers would have been killed and the blaze’s intesity would have increased. The fire would have spread to the missile compartment, which also would have detonated as a result of the high temperatures. An explosion would have then damaged the Yekaterinburg’s two nuclear reactors, resulting in a release of radiation into the atmosphere.

Murmansk (300,000-strong population, just 6 kilometers away) should have been evacuated along with other towns in the surrounding area. The fire occurred just prior to Russia’s New Year’s holidays, and an evacuation would have causes panic and chaos. Yet had things gone as they very possibly could have, even more explosions releasing more radioactivity could have resulted, making – as shown in Fukushima – efforts to extinguish the fire even more arduous, as radioactivity continued to spread.
Bellona, Charles Digges, 14 February 2012

No More 'hot' waste in WIPP.
On January 31, the New Mexico Environment Department denied a federal Department of Energy's  request for permission to use new lead-lined drums for some of the more highly radioactive waste being shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) (see Nuclear Monitor 739, 23 December 2011). DOE applied to the New Mexico Environment Department for a modification of the hazardous waste permit in order to dispose of "shielded containers" of remote-handled (RH) waste. The shielded containers, which have never been used before, are lead-lined in order to contain the high gamma emissions from the RH waste. DOE was proposing to bring more "remote-handled" plutonium-contaminated waste to WIPP than will fit in the remaining designated space. It is another attempt by DOE to expand the mission of WIPP beyond its original purpose.

But the NMED denied the request. The denial does not close the door on the possibility, but the Environment Department said a more detailed review, likely including the possibility of public hearings, would be required before any change is permitted.
ABQ Journal, 31 January 2012, / Nuclear Monitor 739, 23 December 2011

UK report: "A corruption of Governance?".
Parliament was kept in the dark and fed false information that boosted the case for nuclear power, campaigners claimed in a newly released report "A Corruption of Governance?" on February 3, 2012. MPs were handed a dossier which suggests that evidence given to ministers and Parliament promoting the use of nuclear power was "a false summary" of the analysis carried out by governmental departments. Specifically the report claims that on the basis of the government's own evidence there is no need for the controversial new generation of nuclear power stations if Britain is to achieve 80 per cent reductions in carbon dioxide by 2050. The report also alleges that government statements claiming that electricity supply will need to double or even triple in order to achieve a low-carbon economy are disproved by its own evidence. Katy Attwater, Stop Hinkley Point's spokesperson, said: "This scrupulously researched report shows that two of the National Policy Statements, EN-1 and EN-62, approved by Parliament, are based on false information and the public has no alternative but to deem them invalid. MPs have, likewise, no alternative but to consider them fraudulent, re-open the debate and bring those responsible for this corruption to account."
Press release Stop Hinkley Point, 6 February 2012

The EPR nuclear reactor: A dangerous waste of time and money.
The French EPR (European Pressurised Reactor, sometimes marketed as an ‘Evolutionary Power Reactor’) is a nuclear reactor design that is aggressively marketed by the French companies Areva and EDF. Despite the companies’ marketing spin, not only is the reactor hazardous, it is also more costly and takes longer to build than renewable-energy alternatives. While no EPR is currently operating anywhere in the world, four reactors are under construction in Finland (Olkiluoto 3, construction started in 2005), France (Flamanville 3, 2007) and China  (Taishan 1 and 2, 2009-10). The projects have failed to meet nuclear safety standards in design and  construction, with recurring construction defects and subsequent cover-ups, as well as ballooning costs and timelines that have already slipped significantly.

'The EPR nuclear reactor: A dangerous waste of time and money' is an update of the 2008 Greenpeace International briefing on this reactor. Added are some of the many new design and construction errors and the economic setbacks the EPR has run into. Greenpeace included more information on the tremendous gains in the cost performance of renewable energy and the increase level of investment.

The report is available at:

Austrian NGOs: Ban on import nuclear electricty!
At a February 3, meeting with German, Czech and Austrian anti-nuclear activists in Passau, Germany, including members of The Left Party (Die Linke) faction in the German Bundestag and from the Ecological Democratic Party (ÖDP), support for an Austrian import ban on nuclear electricity was clearly signalled. Spokeswoman for the Left Party Eva Bulling-Schröter: "It is absurd that Austria, which for very good reasons abandoned nuclear energy, is exporting clean hydropower to Germany for instance and then imports nuclear power for its own use. The planned and very controversial new Czech Temelin reactors would loose important custumors if Austria and Germany woud ban the import and not buy its electricity. The campaign of the Austrian antinuclear groups is welcome and could be a model for a similar campaign in Germany."

"It is a ridiculous idea of the federal government when it says that Austria could not do without nuclear power before 2015", says Roland Egger of  Atomstopp upper-Austria.
Press release atomstopp_oberoesterreich, (stop nuclear, upper-austria), 9 December 2011 & 3 February 2012

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

China denies nuclear accident reports.
China has denied reports that it was forced to shut down its newest nuclear reactor last year after an incident. A report from Japan's Atomic Energy Agency said the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) stopped generating electricity in October following an accident. The incident sparked alarm in Japan and South Korea over the prospect of radiation leaking from the CEFR. According to a Tokyo newspaper, which cited the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency's investigation, those fears were intensified by Beijing's failure to report the accident or release details of what happened. But Wan Gang, the director of the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE), denied there had been an accident or any cover-up and also refuted the allegations of poor safety. "CEFR hasn't been operating since July last year so reports that an accident occurred in the autumn are extremely inconsistent with the facts," Gang told Chinese media. But that again, is not in line with reports sofar. On July 21, 2011, exactly one year after achieving first criticality, the head of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Sun Qin, declared that the unit had successfully achieved grid connection.

CEFR is a fourth-generation reactor and China's first fast reactor. The sodium-cooled, pool-type fast reactor has been constructed with some Russian assistance at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIEA), near Beijing, which undertakes fundamental research on nuclear science and technology. The reactor has a thermal capacity of 65 MW and can produce 20 MW in electrical power.
World Nuclear News, 21 July 2011 / Telegraph (UK), 27 January 2012 /, 28 January 2012

Germany: site selection HLW repository after 2019
Under a new plan, agreed on by the national government and federal states, the Gorleben salt dome in Lower Saxony would be a reference site for the site selection of a spent fuel disposal facility. The plan does not rule out using Gorleben but also says no decision has been made to use the site. The scientific study of the site, Germany’s only existing candidate for a high-level nuclear waste repository, was halted under a moratorium 2000. The moratorium was lifted 2010 years after the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, or Bfs, filed an application to resume studies and prolong Gorleben’s operating license through September 2020.

Under the new plan, the first step will be the development of the legal and regulatory framework which is scheduled to be completed in mid-2012. The plan calls for development of safety requirements and determination of what types of geologic formations might be used for waste disposal, between mid-2012 and mid-2013. They could include salt domes and mines, clay and crystalline rock, according to the plan. Hydrological parameters will also be set. By mid-2013, the German parliament is scheduled to put the criteria into a federal law governing repository development. The authorities involved in site selection will have until mid-2014 to identify potential sites and until the end of 2014 to select candidate sites. Surface studies are planned through the end of 2019. After that, underground studies will be done and a site will be chosen, although the plan does not specify a date for that decision. Construction and commissioning approvals are to be issued after 2019.
Nuclear Fuel, 26 December 2012

Africans and the Global Uranium Trade.
A new book to be published early March 2012 and written by Gabrielle Hecht: Being Nuclear: Africans and the global uranium trade. Uranium from Africa has long been a major source of fuel for nuclear power and atomic weapons, including the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In 2002, George W. Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein had "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" (later specified as the infamous "yellowcake from Niger"). Africa suddenly became notorious as a source of uranium, a component of nuclear weapons. But did that admit Niger, or any of Africa's other uranium-producing countries, to the select society of nuclear states? Does uranium itself count as a nuclear thing? In this book, Gabrielle Hecht lucidly probes the question of what it means for something--a state, an object, an industry, a workplace--to be "nuclear."

Hecht shows that questions about being nuclear--a state that she calls "nuclearity"--lie at the heart of today's global nuclear order and the relationships between "developing nations" (often former colonies) and "nuclear powers" (often former colonizers). Nuclearity, she says, is not a straightforward scientific classification but a contested technopolitical one.

Hecht follows uranium's path out of Africa and describes the invention of the global uranium market. She then enters African nuclear worlds, focusing on miners and the occupational hazard of radiation exposure. Could a mine be a nuclear workplace if (as in some South African mines) its radiation levels went undetected and unmeasured? With this book, Hecht is the first to put Africa in the nuclear world, and the nuclear world in Africa. Doing so, she remakes our understanding of the nuclear age.

Gabrielle Hecht is Professor of History at the University of Michigan. She is the author of The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II and editor of Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War, both published by the MIT Press. Hardcover: 440 pages, published by MIT Press (expected on 2 March, 2012). ISBN: 978-0262017268

'Worst scenario' on Fukushima crisis kept under wraps.
Japan's nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono has said ‘the worst scenario’ on development of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima complex, which was compiled two weeks after the crisis began, was shared only by a few lawmakers, including then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, due to fears it might cause confusion among the public. "The scenario was not a possibility in fact. If it had been made public at that time, it was likely that no one would have remained in Tokyo," Hosono was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. "It would have caused trouble regarding the government's handling of the nuclear crisis," he said.
Asian Age, 30 January 2012

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

French revolution?
They have been talking about this for months, mostly behind closed doors; the French Parti Socialiste (social-democrats) and the French Greens have agreed upon a joint positionon the future of nuclear power. The Greens will support the PS candidate in return for his promise to cut France’s reliance on nuclear energy for its electricity from about 75 per cent to just half by 2025. If François Hollande, the socialist candidate wins over current President Sarkozy in the next spring’s presidential elections it will have profound implications for state-owned EDF, now making two-thirds of its operating profit domestically, mostly from its 58 atomic reactors.

EDF is in trouble anyway; the Fukushma disaster has lead to newly to-be implemented safety measures for the French nuclear fleet, with soaring costs as a to-be expected result. The shares have lost 35 per cent of their value in a year, even though profits were healthy and management won praise for cutting its net debt from 34.4 billion euro (US$46 bn) at the end of 2010 to 29.2 billion euro (US$ 39.2 bn) by June 30 of this year. EDF, the world’s leading supplier of nuclear power, has not officially responded to Mr Hollande’s plans for reasons of political propriety. But their lobby machinery was in full-swing, warning for instance that a cut to 50 per cent supply would create additional costs of 60 bn euro and that “1 million jobs are in peril” should the country abandon atomic power completely.

Of course there is always still a chance that Mr Sarkozy, a skilled campaigner, wins the elections or that Mr Hollande waters down his policy once confronted with the realities of office. The two opposition parties agreed to campaign for the shutdown of 24 nuclear reactors by 2025 and the immediate halt of the oldest plant at Fessenheim. The Greens favor a complete halt of France’s nuclear reactors, while the PS called for the lowering of France’s dependence on atomic power to 50 percent by 2025. Dispute between the parties is still ongoing over the question of the future of the reprocessing- and MOX fabrication plant in La Hague and the question whether the new EPR in Flamanville, currently under construction.

Anti-nuclear organizations criticized the accord as not going far enough. But considering the French history of massive support for nuclear power, also or even especially in for instance social-democratic and communist left-wing circles, the development can be seen as a serious breakthrough in the French political interrelations
Financial Times, 15 November 2011 / Bloomberg, 16 November 2011

Sellafield’s ‘Reassurance’ Monitoring.
Some road drains located on the main approach road to the village centre of Seascale (near Sellafield) have shown a significant rise in levels of Caesium-137 (Cs-137) and Americium 241 (Am-241) in 2010 compared to previous years. In 1988, following the cull of an estimated 2000 feral pigeons at Seascale that were found to be highly contaminated after roosting in Sellafield buildings overnight, radioactivity in the sediment of 18 Seascale road drains was assessed by Copeland Borough Council and the National Radiological Board. Since the cull and the wholescale removal of gardens and driveways to reduce contamination levels, subsequent annual reassurance monitoring of sediment in drains has been carried out by the Environment Agency and has  shown a decline and levelling off of radioactivity levels  – until last year.

For 2010, it is reported that in one drain on the Drigg Road, levels of Cs-137 have risen from 310 Becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) in 2009 to 1800 Bq/kg, and an increase in Am-241 from 31 Bq/kg to 130 Bq/kg. Elevated levels of Strontium 90 (Sr-90) and plutonium were also present in the drain sediment – with a second drain on the Drigg Road also showing raised concentrations of radioactivity.

An urgent explanation of this unprecedented hike in radioactive concentrations is required from Sellafield and the Environment Agency. Until then, there can be little public reassurance on the sudden appearance of these high levels being found in Seascale some 13 years after the effects of the Seascale pigeon saga were supposed to have been remediated. Put in context, the 2010 levels of Cs-137 in drain SS233 are some 500% higher than those reported for river estuary sediment around Ravenglass – an area known to be heavily contaminated by decades of Sellafield’s reprocessing discharges.
CORE Briefing, 20 November 2011

Japanese gov't reform body: cancel Monju and ITER.
A government body tasked with reforming public policy began a four-day review session Sunday, with ruling party lawmakers and private-sector experts proposing a sweeping review of long-running nuclear research programs in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The review process conducted by the Government Revitalization Unit of the Cabinet Office is aimed at identifying government policies for medium- and long-term reforms and will cover 10 areas including science, education and telecommunications.

In the first such screening sessions under Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, all seven members engaged in reviewing energy policy told an open-door screening session that a program to develop the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor needs radical revision. They recommended the cancellation of 2.2 billion yen (US$ 28.6 million, 21 million euro) of Monju-related spending included in the fiscal 2012 national budget request. According to press reports in September, the science ministry effectively froze research related to Monju  by cutting 70 to 80 percent of its current 10 billion yen budget for the next fiscal year from April.

The reactor project, on which the country has so far spent about 900 billion yen (US$ 11.7 billion or 8.6 billion euro), has been hobbled by a series of problems. The reactor first achieved criticality in 1994 but was shut down because of sodium coolant leakage and a resulting fire in 1995. On May 6 2010, Monju was restarted, after being shut down for over 14 years, but on August 26, 2010 when a 3-ton relay device used during replacement of fuel was being removed, it dropped back into the reactor vessel. Since then the reactor is closed again.

The screening body also urged the government to either halt, delay or cut spending for an international project known as ITER to build an experimental fusion reactor in southern France by holding negotiations with participating countries. ITER is a joint project being conducted by China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.
Mainichi Daily News, 26 Septemebr 2011 and 20 November  2011 / CNIC file on Monju

Areva: jobcuts in Germany.
Things are not going well with Areva, as mentioned in the last Nuclear Monitor. According to German weekly Der Spiegel on November 20, Areva will cut 1,300 jobs in Germany and close down two of its sites. The firm will slash its workforce by around 20 percent at its main site in Erlangen in central Germany, as well as making cuts at other sites across the country. The extent of the job cuts would be nearly twice as high as the 800 redundancies cited in the French press. Extra jobcuts in Germany could well be seen as a kind of 'revenge' for it's decision to abandon nuclear power. The company is expected to announce the move on December 13 in Paris.
Der Spiegel, 20 November 2011

Vietnam to lend 9 bn from Russia to buy Russian reactor.
Russia agreed to lend Vietnam as much as US$9 billion (6.7 bn euro) to fund the construction of the nation’s first nuclear power plant. The lending period will be as long as 28 years, but the interest rate has not been disclosed. Vietnam said last year it plans to build as many as 13 nuclear power stations with a capacity totalling 16,000 megawatts over the next two decades. The announcement attracted interest from nuclear plant builders including Russia's Rosatom and China’s Guangdong Nuclear Power Group. Construction of the two 1,000 MW advanced light-water reactors (called Ninh Thuan 1) is said to start in 2014. It is very likely that Rosatom sings the contract for construction, if the project will develop, and in that case Vietnam is lending money from Russia to buy a Russian reactor.
Bloomberg, 22 November 2011

Axpo says no to uranium from Mayak. Swiss nuclear utility Axpo has instructed Areva, its fuel supplier, to exclude uranium processed at Russia's Mayak plant from its supply chain pending the completion of environmental investigations.
Axpo owns the Beznau nuclear power station as well as stakes in the Gösgen and Leibstadt plants. It has been carrying out investigations into the quality and safety credentials of the Mayak processing plant near Chelyabinsk and at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk following criticisms from environmental groups. In the process of its investigations, Axpo was given access to Seversk by the plant's operators and had been due to visit Mayak in June, but was denied access to the plant, which is in a military area, at the last minute.
The company now says it has been able to complete enough work to enable it to conclude that current production at both plants meets statutory requirements and does not pose an environmental threat. However, its failure to gain access to Mayak means that it has now instructed its fuel supplier Areva, to exclude uranium from Mayak from its supply chain until such time as the chain can be fully monitored. Instead, it will use fuel from the SCC plant in Seversk. Greenpeace Switzerland welcomed Axpo's move towards greater transparency but questioned its decision to continue to source uranium from Seversk.
World Nuclear News, 14 November 2011

Large spikes in radioactive releases during refuelling reactors

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

For the first time, recent German data reveal large spikes in radioactive releases during the refuelling of nuclear power stations. Until now, the nuclide amounts were only published as annual averages throughout the world. Now, after requests by IPPNW and the Green Party in the Bavarian State Parliament, non-averaged values have been made available for scientific evaluation for the first time anywhere in the world. This provides a plausible explanation for the findings of the KiKK study published in 2007 and 2008 that under-fives living near nuclear power plants are considerably more at risk of cancer, particularly leukemia, than children living further away.

In September 2011, the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant (located between Ulm and Augsburg in Southern Germany) emitted much larger amounts of radioactive noble gases during inspection/refuelling  than are emitted during normal power operation. According to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) in Germany, the normal emission concentration of released radioactive noble gases during the year is about 3 kBq/m³. 

However during inspection/refuelling on September 22, this concentration suddenly increased to an average of ~500 kBq/m³ with a peak of 1,470 kBq/m³. During the following week (September 22 - 29), the concentrations were still much higher (average 150 kBq/m³) than during normal power operation (see table).

In order to refuel, reactor pressure vessels must be opened about once a year. This releases to the local environment very large volumes of radioactive gases and vapours, including noble gases, H-3 (tritium),  carbon-14, and iodine-131.  Until now, the nuclide amounts were only published as annual averages throughout the world. Now, after requests by IPPNW and the Green Party in the Bavarian State Parliament (Landtag), non-averaged values have been made available for scientific evaluation for the first time anywhere in the world.

Analyses by IPPNW Germany and Nuremberg physicist and statistician Dr Alfred Körblein demonstrate  dramatic increases in the emissions during the brief inspection and refuelling period at Gundremmingen. Dr Körblein stated “At its maximum value, the concentration of noble gas emissions during refueling was 500 times greater than during normal reactor operation ”.

These release spikes result in considerably larger radiation doses to people living nearby.  IPPNW Germany warns of the probable health impacts of such large emission spikes. “Especially at risk are unborn children. When reactors are open and releasing gases, pregnant women can incorporate much higher concentrations of radionuclides than at other times, mainly via respiration” said Reinhold Thiel, member of the German IPPNW Board. “Radioactive isotopes inhaled by the mother can reach the unborn child via the blood and placenta with the result that the embryo/fetus is contaminated (‘labelled’) by radioactive isotopes. This contamination could affect blood-forming cells in the bone marrow later resulting in leukemia. This provides a plausible explanation for the findings of the KiKK study published in 2007 and 2008 that under-fives living near NPPs are considerably more at risk of cancer, particularly leukemia, than children living further away”.

He demanded “Up to now,  supervisory authorities and nuclear operating companies have kept these spikes secret by only providing annually-averaged figures, despite our repeated requests for disaggregated data. We need these half-hourly data of the releases of each radioactive nuclide from all German NPPs for scientific evaluation. This is necessary for the protection of unborn children near German nuclear reactors. ”

Since 1998, the IPPNW is trying to raise awareness of the increase of children's cancer rates in the vicinity of nuclear power plants. After a massive public campaign by the IPPNW in 2001 due to elevated childhood cancer rates by Bavarian nuclear power plants, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection approved a scientific investigation resulting in the study "Childhood Cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants (KiKK study)." Its highly significant result was: "under-fives living near nuclear power plants are considerably more at risk of cancer, particularly leukemia, than children living further away". Operators and industry-friendly scientists still deny, however, the influence of radiation on these increased disease rates. Supposedly, the emitted radiation from the nuclear power plants is a factor of 1000 too low to cause the disease. But this argument is now contradicted by this research on release spikes during the refueling outage.

More on KiKK-study at:

Source: Press release IPPNW Germany, 11 November 2011
Contacts: German Section of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War: Doctors for Social Responsibility (IPPNW). Reinhold Thiel, Tel. 0049 172-24 57 852 or Henrik Paulitz, Tel. 0049 171-53 888 22

IPPNW Germany

Germany's half-hearted phase-out

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

German anti-nuclear activists saw the switching off of eight German nuclear power plants with mixed feelings. Eight reactors going offline is definitely a great success, however, it leaves nine reactors running for quite some time and gives the nuclear industry many opportunities to obstruct further progress in phasing out nuclear power.

The limits of the German phase-out became clear in the area of export promotion where it didn’t stop the German government to actively support the building of Angra 3, a new nuclear plant in Brazil. The deal goes back to the German-Brazilian nuclear treaty of the 70ies, which foresaw the building of eight nuclear power plants, a uranium enrichment plant and a reprocessing plant. In reality, it yielded into the building of one reactor, Angra 2, which went online in 2000. Still on the plate is Angra 3, the twin reactor of Angra 2, which existed for decades only as construction site. The original planning and offering was done by German Kraftwerks Union, which first became part of Siemens, then of Areva-Siemens and is now owned completely by Areva, after Siemens left the joint-venture. In late 2009 Areva (at the time still Areva-Siemens) asked for an export credit guarantee for deliveries to the construction of Angra 3 worth 1,3 billion euro (US$1.6 bn). The then new conservative government got rid of the still existing guidelines for export credits as they did forbid the promotion of nuclear exports. The government handed out a guarantee in principle for Areva’s deliveries in February 2010. This can turn into a final guarantee only once the financing of the project is fixed with private banks.

Areva and its Brazilian client Eletronuclear are negotiating with a consortium of mainly French banks including Société Générale and BNP Paribas for the financing. Which was the status when the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe happened.

Guarantees in principle can be cancelled when the legal or factual basis changes. Following Fukushima, urgewald and other environmental organisations addressed chancellor Merkel. They pointed out that the moratorium for the oldest German reactors as reaction to the accident represented a change in the factual basis and should lead to the cancellation of the guarantee in principle. In April an online petition by campact, urgewald and attac asking for the cancellation started. Over 130.000 people signed it until October. In July an action in front of the chancellors office accompanied the attempt to hand over the petition. The Angra case was taken up with a lot of interest by the media, asking what a German phase out might mean for nuclear exports.

Opposition members of the budget committee forced the government in July not to prolong automatically the guarantee in principle (due every six month until the final guarantee is given) in the light of Fukushima and the German phase-out.

Apart from the German phase-out, some facts in Brazil raised further doubt on the project: following the Fukushima accident, a close look into the two existing Brazilian nuclear power plants revealed that Angra 2 had been running for 10 years on a preliminary licence. The head of the Brazilian nuclear authority CNEN had to leave office. Further, existing criticism on the unsatisfactory evacuation plans and radioactive waste storage on site in open cooling pools was reinforced. In July the Brazilian bar association addressed the High Court on the grounds that the congress never voted on Angra 3, which is against the Brazilian constitution. Electronuclear claims that the project has a valid licence from the 70ies, while the bar association argues that after 20 years of de facto stalemate of the project it has to be considered a new projects and needs validation from the congress.

Urgewald and campact addressed the German government and the budget committee on these developments and asked its members to cancel the guarantee in principle. The committee had been involved into the granting of the guarantee as they have to be informed about guarantees surpassing one billion Euro and can reject it.

However, despite the German phase out the government decided to prolong the guarantee in principle and the budget committee swallowed this decision in September. In order to calm critics they demanded a study from Areva showing how Angra 3 takes into account the lessons from Fukushima and reacts to possible problems, especially earth quakes, landslides (regular in the area and often blocking the only evacuation road), floods, electricity supply in emergency situations and evacuation plans. This study is supposed to be done by ISTec, a German institute for safety technology. They did an earlier study for Areva explaining that Angra 3 was in line with international safety standards. Urgewald obtained the study under a freedom of environmental information act request and Greenpeace commissioned an analysis of it, which revealed that the outcome was questionable and mainly a courtesy to Areva. Which suggests what to expect from the new study. The study is supposed to be ready by the end of this year or early next year, which might be the moment when the financial deal with the private banks might be as well ready for signing.

In reaction to the outrageous decision in favour of maintaining the guarantee, urgewald, together with campact and attac launched a protest campaign. It addresses chancellor Merkel and members of the ruling parties with postcards and calls for protest actions in front of the constituency offices of ruling parties’ members. The aim is to criticise the hypocrisy of “phasing out” in Germany and supporting new builds of nuclear power plants in other countries in order to promote German exports no matter what. It is as well to show to the members of parliament that citizens don’t want to be bail for nuclear exports and these kind of export promotion is under public scrutiny.

Source and contact: Regine Richter, urgewald
Email: regine[at]

La Hague - Gorleben CASTOR: from November 24 on

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

A big number and high variety of actions is expected for November 25-28, 2011, due to the 13th transport of high level active atomic waste (the so-called Castor transport) from the reprocessing unit (plutonium factory) La Hague in France to the temporary repository in Gorleben, Germany.

Last year, the CASTOR reached its destination at the interim storage facility in Gorleben, after the longest journey ever in the history of this radioactive transport. Over a period of approximately 92 hours and 26 minutes the nuclear transport faced more resistance and peaceful direct action from the local population and their supporters than ever before.  No doubt the police were exhausted after a long weekend of – not only removing activists from the railway tracks and 600 tractors from the roadways – but also a herd of at least 500 sheep.  The sheep were herded onto the tracks by a local sheppardess in support of the protests, and finally some of them had to be carried off one-by-one by police to completely clear the railway tracks. This year the train will start at the reprocessing plant at La Hague in France on November 24 and actions at Gorleben will start with the set up of the camps from November 22 on. A mass demonstration will take place on November 26, 2011 at 12.30 PM in Dannenberg in the Gorleben region.

After several hundreds of kilometers on public railway tracks, after the city of Lüneburg the train will take railway tracks that are only used for the nuclear transport during these days. Due to this fact, this section of some 40 kilometers of tracks was in the focus of a big number of direct actions against the Castor transport in the past. In Dannenberg, the final destination of the nuclear train, the containers will be put from the tracks onto trucks to be transported some additional 20 kilometers on the roads to the repository in Gorleben.

Invitation Valognes 22-24 November
But this year, for the first time, there will be an international actioncamp and massblockade at the very startingpoint of the rail transport, in Valognes. English activists are invited too:

The French and the English government have this common feature of being mad about nuclear power. Whereas Germany, Switzerland and Italy are stepping out of the nuclear energy, France and Great-Britain are doing as if Fukushima never happened. If we refuse to let Fukushima become, like Chernobyl before, an accident without consequence, it is time to take action, now.

More than ever, it is obvious that it is only on an international level that we can think the struggle against nuclear power, because it is on this level that the contradiction between the states that step out of it and those who don't becomes explosive. As our aim “to free ourselves of those who destroy our lives and everything alive for the

last money left to make“ can in no way be achieved by them, as all the governments can do is greenwash their tools of destruction, we should use this moment to make it clear that we still envision a future. For it is not only the question of energy that we are determined to take back in our own hands but our lives.

That is why we invite all British comrades to join our initiative right on the other

side of the Channel, in Valognes (near Cherbourg) from the 22nd to 24th of November 2011. This year for the first time, in coordination with the German comrades, there will be a camp and mass action in order to block this transport at its very starting point, in Valognes, just like the Germans do it in Gorleben.

International guests at Gorleben
We want to invite you to join us in the "Wendland" region, the destination of the Castor transport. We are going to prepare a framework for international guests of the Castor resistance to come in contact with other English speakers and to help you to understand what is going on there. We will have a common meeting point where you can sleep, get food and information about actions and possibilities to join the protests.

We are offering to explore and join this colourful and creative resistance with each other, figuring out together what actions fit you, or just to visit actions to make experiences and get inspired for your own activities back home.

There will be some German activists who want to accompany and support the international guests. We will try to organize additional means to make it easier to get to interesting places, and there will probably be chances to speak about your anti-nuclear expertise or the fights you have in your region. For the local resistance it is also positive if we can show that the international community is supporting the anti-nuclear resistance and that it is not only a German struggle. It would also be a sign to the international public that anti-nuclear movements are supporting each other in Gorleben, and that we will do it in other places, too.

Find out more on our English website providing some basic informationabout this year's Castor resistance. We will add more materials during the next weeks. Please respond to to tell whether you are interested in our invitation to Germany. We will try to support you as good as possible, but have to know as soon as possible about your needs.

Websites: (French and some English) / (German)

Germany's phase-out: Siemens follows

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
LAKA Foundation

Europe's largest engineering company, Siemens, decided to withdraw entirely from the nuclear industry. Chief executive Peter Loescher told Spiegel magazine it was the firm's answer to "the clear positioning of German society and politics for a pullout from nuclear energy". Siemens was responsible for building all 17 of Germany's existing nuclear power plants, and some abroad.

Siemens has been active in nuclear power for decades, for the most part under the name of KWU (Kraftwerk Union AG). KWU was established on April 1, 1969, by Siemens and another Germany firm AEG. The first (foreign) order was signed on that same day, the construction of the 450MW PWR at Borssele, The Netherlands. As a matter of fact an option for the construction of a second reactor was signed too, but never materialized. Other foreign reactor construction contracts signed were with Brazil, Iran, Argentina, Switzerland and Spain

On January 1, 1977 Siemens bought the AEG 50% KWU share and 10 years later, on October 1, 1987 KWU ceased of being an independent company and became part of Siemens concern.

In early 1989 Siemens started talks with Framatome, the French builder of PWRs. Which resulted in the joint venture Nuclear Power International (NPI). In 1991 a technical reactor concept was decided called the European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR). "EDF and the major German utilities decided early 1992 to support the strategy and streamline their separate development of future reactors on the basis of this Franco-German cooperation", as Jean-Claude Leny Chairman and CEO of  Framatome put it in a March 1993 article in the German industry magazine Atomwirtschaft. The key milestone in the marketing of the EPR would be 1998 when first pouring of concrete was expected for the first EPR. EDF would place orders to Framatome and "hopefully" the German utilities to Siemens for EPR units to be built in Germany. "Framatome, Siemens and NPI will market and supply the EPR export markets", which was considered to be the main market.

Well as we know it didn't work out as planned.

In August 2000, Framatome and Siemens agreed to a new joint venture formally merging their nuclear activities into a new company called Framatome ANP, subsequently renamed Areva NP. Framatome would hold 66 per cent of the stock and Siemens the rest.

Continued delays to EDF’s order led Areva NP to switch to Finland as the focus for its marketing. In May 2002, the Finnish Parliament approved the construction of a fifth nuclear unit in Finland. In December 2003, the Finnish utility TVO signed a turnkey deal with Areva NP for a 1600MW EPR at a cost, including interest during construction and two fuel charges  of €3bn with first power first half 2009. Again, that didn't work out as planned: online not before second half of 2013 and costs expected to double.

In 2009 Siemens used an option to exit Areva SA. But an arbitration tribunal in May this year ordered Siemens to pay 648 million euro (more than US$900 million) to Areva after it failed to meet contractual obligations.

Due to the decision to withdraw entirely from nuclear, Siemens will cancel the long-planned joint-venture with Russian nuclear-power company Rosatom Corp. in the field of reactors. although Mr Loescher said he would still seek to work with their partner "in other fields". There are no financial implications linked to Siemens's retreat, according to spokesman Alfons Benzinger.

The German government's decision marked a complete U-turn by the chancellor, who only in September 2010 had announced that the life of existing nuclear plants would be extended by an average of 12 years. Siemen's move, announced on September 18, is also a turnaround. In 2009, the firm withdrew from the joint venture with Areva, because the German firm had ambitions to expand its own competence to build entire nuclear plants. "In view of global climate change and the increasing power demand worldwide, for us nuclear energy remains an essential part of a sustainable energy mix," Mr Loescher had said at the time.

Siemens has gradually scaled back its nuclear-power operations in recent years, after helping build some of the world's largest reactors in the latter part of the last century. While Siemens is pushing renewable-energy sources such as wind turbines and solar power, the company will continue to build steam turbines that can be used both in conventional as well as nuclear facilities.

The German engineering company makes products including high-speed trains, medical scanners, and factory-automation equipment. The entire energy division is Siemens's second- largest by revenue, generating 6.77 billion euros ($9.34 billion) in the most recent quarter.

Sources: Groene Amsterdammer (NL), 16 November 1977 /  Financial Times, 28 February 1989 / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14 April 1989 / Atomwirtschaft,: Franco-German Cooperation in Nuclear Development, March 1993 / Nuclear News ‘Siemens/Framatome nuclear merger completed’ August 2000 /  Nuclear Monitor 719/720, 12 November 2010 / Bloomberg, 18 September 2011 / BBC News, 18 September 2011
Contact: WISE Russia


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

French Nuclear Authority points to "weaknesses" of the EPR.
The construction of the EPR nuclear reactor being built in Flamanville, has many "weaknesses" that put the "final quality" into doubt. This is the conclusion drawn after a  thorough inspection conducted on site in May by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). The report of this "inspection review", highlighted by Le Canard Enchaine on August 24, is posted on the site of the ASN ( It is a 20 page letter sent by the ASN on June 24 to EDF, the prime contractor for the 1600 megawatt reactor designed by Areva. The inspection has was  carried out by fifteen experts, including an observer from the British regulator. The team found deviations from the construction requirements on essential parts of the reactor: the feed of the steam generators, water injection filters, the RIS batteries of the cooling system. "EDF has to make great efforts to show the final quality of the construction of Flamanville 3", judges the ASN, which points out: "inconsistencies between the requirements specified in sub-contracting and the demands mentioned in the preliminary safety report" - that is to say a non-compliance with initial prescriptions. Concerning an essential feature of the steam generators, experts estimate that "the quality of materials taking into account their importance for safety has not been demonstrated and their use in FLA3 is not possible". In two cases, they demand from EDF to "not engage in actions that are difficult to reverse before demonstrating" compliance.
Le Monde (Fr.) 24 August 2011 (translation Jan Haverkamp)

Town produces 321% more energy than it uses.
A small Bavarian town in Germany called Wildpoldsried produces 321% more energy than it uses, from renewable and natural sources. By selling the excess energy, Wildpoldsried has eliminated all the towns debt and generates 4.0 million Euro (US$5.7 million) in annual income. The point they are at now in terms of energy production and independence was reached by starting a plan about fourteen years ago to develop more clean energy sources and green building projects. The town with a population of about 2,500 started work on a huge community initiative involving the construction of nine new buildings and energy sources. The new buildings included a school, community hall and gym, and they employ solar panels, as do 190 private households. Five biogas digesters, nine windmills, three hydroelectric projects,  ecological flood control and a natural waste water treatment system were part of the plan for energy independence. It all has worked well, and the town is debt-free. They actually formed several local companies to construct, install and manage their wind turbines, with local residents as investors., 24 August 2011

Bushehr online after 36 years of construction.
Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant has been connected to the national grid. It began supplying around 60 MW of its 1000 MW capacity on Saturday 3 September at 11:29pm, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said. Construction on Bushehr by German company Siemens KWU started in 1975, but the work was stopped in 1979. Iran signed a deal with Russia in 1995, under which the plant was originally due to be finished in 1999, but the completion of the project was repeatedly delayed. The most recent delay, in February 2011, was caused by the discovery of damaged internals of a coolant pump supplied in the 1970s. To avoid potential consequences of metal debris getting on the fuel assemblies, they were unloaded and washed, while the reactor pressure vessel was cleaned. The fuel was reloaded in April and the plant achieved criticality in May 2011. In August 2011, the Government of Iran invited an International Atomic Energy Agency delegation to visit the country’s nuclear facilities, including nuclear power plant that has been built by Russia’s Atomstroyexport. According to Iran's nuclear officials, Bushehr power plant will reach 40% capacity during a ceremony that will be held on 12 September 2011. It is expected to reach full capacity in November or December 2011.
Nuclear Engineering International, 5 September 2011

North Anna shut down after earthquake.
The largest earthquake to hit the eastern US in 67 years has raised concerns about the safety of the country's nuclear power plants. The 5.8 magnitude quake's epicenter in Virginia on August 23, was close to the North Anna plant, 130 kilometers southwest of Washington. The plant lost power and automatically halted operations after the quake. While the operator reported no 'major' damage to the facility, three diesel generators were required to kick in and keep the reactors' radioactive cores cool. A fourth diesel unit failed. While nuclear power plants can operate safely on back-up power, failure of generators was a key reason for the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant

A spokesman for the operator said the plant was designed to withstand an earthquake of up to 6.2 in magnitude. But some groups have expressed concern about the narrow margin between the design metrics and the quake's size. 'It was uncomfortably close to design basis,' said Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has pushed for stronger nuclear regulations. 'If Fukushima wasn't a wake-up call, this really needs to be to get the NRC and industry moving to do seismic reviews of all the nuclear power plants in the country.' An article in the Washington Post reports that the earthquake moved dry casks (huge concrete containers holding spent nuclear fuel), weighing between 100 to 115 tons, by as much as four inches (10 centimeters).

Twelve other nuclear plants along the Eastern Seaboard declared an "unusual event" following the quake, the lowest of the NRC's emergency classification ratings. North Anna's "alert" status is one step further up on a four-step U.S. emergency scale.

North Anna's reactors are among 27 east of the Rockies that the NRC highlighted during a seismic review last year as presenting a potential hazard, due to the amount of ground-shaking they were designed to withstand. Many nuclear experts say plants in the United States were designed with big margins of error  built in, but last year's NRC survey found that the risks posed by earthquakes were higher than  previously thought.
RTE (Ireland), 24 August 2011 / Reuters, 24 August 2011 / Washington Post, 1 September 2011

Germany: no need for nuclear reserve capacity.
Germany's grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) said August 31 that it has decided against keeping one idled nuclear reactor on standby as reserve capacity for the coming two winter seasons to ensure power grid stability after the government permanently closed eight older reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in March. "Our investigations have shown that even in exceptional contingencies the transmission system will remain operational without the dispatch of a reserve nuclear power plant," BNetzA President Matthias Kurth said in a statement.

The government has asked the grid regulator to investigate the need for a nuclear reserve capacity during the winter after transmission system operators in May warned of possible blackouts during extreme winter weather should the eight older reactors remain shut permanently, removing at least 5,000 MW of nuclear capacity from the market.
Platts, 31 August 2011

International blockade Olkiluoto, Finland.
On August 20, 2011 a blockade of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant under construction took place for the second time gathering people from several regions of Finland and from other European countries on the streets. One year ago, on August 28, 2010, it was the very first public street blockade of an atomic facility in Finland ever. It had been started with the support of a number of European and Finnish environmental and anti-nuclear groups. The gathering of the Nuclear Heritage Network, an international network of anti-nuclear activists, taking part in March 2010 in Helsinki had initiated the idea of the blockade and developed it together with the variety of Finnish NGOs and groups. The goal was to question the international reputation of Finland as the country of the so-called "renaissance of nuclear power", and to show that even in this country being under strong pressure of the nuclear lobby atomic power has noch support of the citizens.

For Finnish anti-nuclear activists the Olkiluoto Blockade was also an important occassion for meeting each other and exchanging as so far there doesn't exist any other nationwide organizing structures for a common anti-nuclear strategy. In the south as well as in the north strong networks of local initiatives and organizations exist and in some cases they successfully opposed to projects of uranium mining and new nuclear reactors constructions. However, cross connections between those groups and networks are created so far only in mutual big actions like the Olkiluoto Blockade or the anti-nuclear infotour around the Baltic Sea that also took place in 2010.

This year a blockade of about 100 activists from Finland, Sweden, Germany, Russia, France, United Kingdom and Belarus several times stopped the traffic on the access roads to the disputed Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Finland. Police had announced to prevent the blockade of roads that were supposed to take place for the second time. They forced protesters from the streets again and again towards a bus stop nearby. Nevertheless, the activists succeeded several times to blockade the main access road to the nuclear power plant for some minutes, while an additional access street had been closed for some two hours by a wooden tripod construction with an activist on the top.

Donors agree to fund new Chernobyl shelter.
There appears to be enough money (at last after almost 15 years) for a new sarcophagus at the Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine. The Nuclear Safety Account and the Chernobyl Shelter Fund donors agreed to provide the necessary financial resources for the implementation of the Chernobyl projects. The decision was made at the Assembly of Contributors to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund meeting on July 7, 2011, in London. The new construction will help "neutralize any possible future threats to the environment from the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine".

The needed amount of financial resources for the Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP) funding is EUR 740 mln. On the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy on April 26, 2011, a fundraiser was held resulting in donors' obligations of EUR 550 mln. The new decision of the world donors allows for the immediate start of the SIP execution and its completion by 2015. The SIP involves stabilization of the existing sarcophagus and the construction of a New Safe Confinement (NSC) for the damaged nuclear reactor.

In 1988 local scientists announced that the life time of the sarcophagus was 20 to 30 years. The Chernobyl Shelter Fund (CSF) was established nearly a decade later in December of 1997 to collect funds for the NSC project. Currently, the European Union, the United States, and Ukraine cooperate to help meet the CSF's objective while the EBRD is entrusted to manage the CSF and provide oversight of the funds disbursement.

The construction of the original Chernobyl sarcophagus began on May 20, 1986 - three weeks after the accident, and lasted for 206 days.
PRNewswire, 14 July 2011

PSC shifts risks costs overruns to public.
US: Georgia utility regulators agreed on August 2, to scrap a proposal that would have eaten into Georgia Power’s profits should the costs for its nuclear expansion project exceed US$300 million. The Georgia Public Service Commission unanimously approved the plan after making sure the commissioners could review previously approved project costs if there is a budget increase. Customers would pay for cost overruns in their monthly bills unless the PSC determines the overruns are Georgia Power's fault.
Georgia Power is part of a group of utilities building two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. The utility is responsible for US$6.1 billion of the estimated US$14 billion project. The company has been at odds with the PSC’s advocacy staff over how to handle potential cost overruns for the project. The advocacy staff wanted to cut into the utility’s profits if the costs exceeded US$300 million over budget. The advocacy staff agreed to drop its plan if Georgia Power allowed regulators to re-examine previously approved parts of the project if there is a budget increase. If regulators determine that Georgia Power's mistake led to the cost overruns, consumers would not have to pay the additional costs.
Consumer advocates have criticized the PSC's move as shifting all of the burden of the project's cost onto Georgia Power customers, who already are paying for the plant's financing costs.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2 August 2011

Walk away from uranium mining.
Footprints for Peace, an international grassroots group that organizes walks, bike rides and runs around the world, invites families and people of all ages, background and cultures to come and support traditional owners in their opposition to uranium mining in Western Australia by taking part in the “Walk away from uranium mining” that began in Wiluna on August 19 and will finish in Perth on October 28. "We will demonstrate that we have the choice to walk away from this costly, toxic industry — which produces radioactive waste and weapons usable material — in favour of renewable energy options." Footprints for Peace are working together with the Western Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (WANFA) to organise this grassroots awareness-raising and action-based campaign. Everyone is welcome to join the walk for a few hours, a day, a few weeks or the whole way. Even if you cannot walk we still require financial assistance, drivers, kitchen crew members, media liaison volunteers, video operators and photographers, musicians, artists, singers and general support for daily events, such as camp set up and pack up, food shopping and water collection. The walkers will cover a distance of 20 to 25 kilometres a day, with a rest day every five days……… The walk’s conclusion in Perth will coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. There we will deliver our well-supported and strong message that it is time to shut down the nuclear industry’s plans to expand in Western Australia and the rest of Australia.

For more information please visit:
GreenLeft (Aus.) 23 July 2011

Sellafield: No prosecutions for organ harvesting.
Recent correspondence has revealed that no one will be prosecuted over the body hacking scandal carried out by the nuclear industry for over 40 years in collusion with government, hospitals, coroners and doctors.

From 1960 to 1991, body parts were taken without consent from 64 former Sellafield workers and 12 workers from nuclear sites in Springfields, Capenhurst, Dounreay and Aldermaston. The liver was removed in all cases and one or both lungs in all but one incident. Vertebrae, sternum, ribs, lymph nodes, spleen, kidneys and fermur were also stripped in the majority of cases. Brains, tongues, hearts and testes were also taken on the advice of the medical officer at Sellafield.

Correspondence from Cumbria Constabulary has been seen which says that despite the findings of the Redfern Inquiry (into the scandal; see Nuclear Monitor 721, 17 December 2010)  that the relationship between the nuclear industry and fellow bodysnatching conspirators was "too close" no one will be prosecuted as it is not "in the public interest".

Extract from a letter sent by ‘Special Operations’ - Cumbria Constabulary: "the issues you raise which I have listed below;
1. That specific people and institutions have breached the Human Tissue Act and that this should be investigated.
2. That an investigation into whether there was any unlawful corruption of the coronial processes had taken place
3. The stipends made to mortuary attendants are also of particular concern.
This was a Government led review which involved both the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Ministry of Justice. As such any requirement on the police to investigate identified breaches as outlined above would be made by the Government. No such request has been made". (end quotation Cumbria Constabulary correspondence)
Well, surprise, surprise: No such request is likely to be made.

Floating Nuke Plant Seized in Bankruptcy
A St. Petersburg court seized the 70MW floating nuclear power station under construction at the Baltiisky Zavod shipyards after Rosenergoatom, the division of the Rosatom nuclear monopoly that commissioned it, demanded recognition of its right of ownership to the unfinished vessel. The July 26 court order gave the go-ahead for the seizure on the basis of "significant risk" that Rosenergoatom could lose its investment in the 9.8 billion ruble ($334 million) vessel if another claimant seized Baltiisky Zavod's assets during bankruptcy proceedings.

The ship yard, which is 88.3 percent owned by former Tuva governor Segei Pugachev's United Industrial Corporation is facing litigation from numerous disgruntled creditors. International Industrial Bank, also known as Mezhprombank, had its operating license revoked when it declared itself bankrupt in November. In January prosecutors launched a criminal case against the bank for intentional bankruptcy.

The dispute is not the first to hit Rosatom's ambitious plans to build a generation of floating nuclear power stations to serve remote coastal communities in Russia's north and Far East. Interfax on Thursday quoted an unidentified source at Rosatom saying the contract could be reassigned to another shipbuilder. If true, it would be the second time a contractor has lost the order from Rosatom, which originally commissioned the Sevmash shipyard to build the controversial floating nuclear plants in 2006. Rosenergoatom tore up that agreement in 2008 and signed a new deal with Baltiisky Zavod in 2009. Baltiisky Zavod is scheduled to finish the first station in 2012, according to the contract. The 70-megawatt plant is destined for Kamchatka.
Moscow Times, 15 August 2011

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Centrifuge crash report allegedly delayed until after financing deadline. SONG (the Southern Ohio Neighbors Group) disclosed on July 6 that a power outage and centrifuge crash happened at USEC's project site near Piketon, Ohio. As reported in that newsrelease, Osiris Siurano, the NRC project manager for USEC's centrifuge project license, told SONG in an interview on July 5 that USEC had notified NRC and DOE "within 24-hours as required." According to NRC's "Event Notification Report" of that day, July 5, however, NRC was not actually notified of the situation until July 1.

July 1 just happened to be one day after USEC's original financing deadline of June 30, by which time USEC needed to secure a "conditional commitment" for a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. That is, there is now evidence that USEC waited nineteen days before reporting a serious safety incident to NRC, in hopes that DOE would provide the "conditional commitment" before the incident became known. Silence from USEC, from DOE, and from USEC's two financing agents in the United States Senate, as the June 30 deadline neared, is now explained. In nuclear industry lingo, Mr. Siurano's statement that the 24-hour notification requirement had been met could be characterized as having "suboptimal veracity."

There is no decision yet on the Department of Energy's US$2 billion loan guarantee for USEC Inc. to complete the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon. USEC says it is now “most likely” looking at further cutbacks and a reduction of future investment in its planned American Centrifuge Project at Piketon. “We are reaching a critical point regarding continued funding for the American Centrifuge Project. We need to obtain a conditional commitment for the loan guarantee from DOE,“ the company said already in May.
Portsmouth Daily Times, 1 & 13 July 2011 /, 8 July 2011

Germany’s phase-out by 2022 sealed (again). On July 8, Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, passed the amendment to the atomic energy bill sealing Germany's exit from nuclear power by 2022. Ten days before, on June 30, the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, approved with an overwhelming majority plans to phase-out nuclear power by 2022. The nuclear phase-out bill cleared the lower house with only the far-left voting against, while the opposition Social-Democrats and Green party both supported the bill.
Germany's new energy strategy reverses the extension of nuclear run-times, which became law earlier this year. Seven reactors built before 1980 as well as the Kruemmel reactor, which has not been online since 2007, will remain shut permanently, according to the bill. The nine remaining  reactors will be gradually phased-out between 2015 and 2022.

Germany's E.ON feels no pressure to replace nuclear power plants with alternatives after the  policy shift. "There is no strategy to replace lost nuclear capacity one-to-one. As an entrepreneur I always ask myself is my investment profitable?," Chief Executive Johannes Teyssen said on June 30. It is one of the four utilities with German nuclear power plants.

E.ON, which in an outcry earlier in June had demanded damages from the government for the closures, was holding on to the legal pursuits but had in the meantime adopted a more conciliatory stance, Teyssen said. But the group will now respect the change in policy towards renewables.
Reuters, 30 June 2011 / Platts, 30 June and 8 July 2011

Finland: inviting bids for construction npp. Finnish company Fennovoima has invited Areva and Toshiba to bid for the construction of a new nuclear power plant, which will be built at one of its greenfield sites Pyhäjoki or Simo, in northern Finland. Bids will be for the delivery and construction of the reactor and turbine islands. Infrastructure work during the first phase of construction and preparatory work such as earthmoving and excavation are excluded from the bid.

Fennovoima has already selected three alternatives for the plant design: Areva’s 1700 MW EPR, its advanced boiling water reactor the 1250 MW Kerena and the 1600 MW ABWR by Toshiba Corporation. The plant supplier and the model of delivery is due to be decided in 2012-2013. Fennovoima is planning to select the site for its nuclear power plant in 2011 and preparatory work could start by the end of 2012.
Nuclear Engineering International, news 5 July 2011

Citygroup: nuclear “uninvestable for public equity markets”. According to Peter Atherton, Citygroup’s head of European utilities research, Britain's nuclear strategy is "uninvestable" for private clients, who are only likely to put money into new plants if the government shoulders more of the risks involved. He says the investment environment is "dire." "Investors are demanding more of their returns up front in cash rather than dividends, indicating they don't trust the capital growth of the sector. "As we stand today, is (new nuclear) an investable option for Centrica, RWE? Simply put, no. The cost of capital based on those risks would be way too high to give you an electricity price which is affordable. "You would be looking at a project cost of capital of at least 15 percent. That would require a power price of about 150-200 pounds per megawatt hour (based on 2017 money) to make that project work," Atherton said, which is three to four times as much as current UK spot power prices.

"If we want (plants) built, the state will have to take on the risks," he added, saying the government could do this through direct subsidies, taxes or building new plants itself. Shares in the European utility sector have fallen about 30 percent since February 2009, according to Citigroup, as EU utilities have been more exposed to commodity price rises than in Asia or the U.S., and, most recently, due to the impact Japan's nuclear crisis.
Reuters, 6 July 2011

U.S.: Reactor proponents are batting 0-6 in state legislatures in 2011. Deep-pocketed nuclear power lobbyists may pack a big punch in Washington, D.C., but they are getting knocked out altogether at the state legislative level. So far in 2011, the nuclear power industry has a record of zero wins and six losses in Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. The nuclear power industry’s dismal track record is in keeping with its history of state legislative failures in 2010 (when it went 0-8) and 2009 (0-6).

The nuclear power industry’s 2011 state legislative failures:
* Minnesota – A heavily lobbied bill to overturn the state’s moratorium on additional reactors died in conference committee.
* Wisconsin – A push to reintroduce a bill to overturn the Badger State’s moratorium on new reactors failed.
* Kentucky – A bill to overturn the state’s moratorium on new reactors died in the House.
* Missouri – Despite a major industry push, a bill to charge utility customers in advance to pay for an “Early Site Permit” for the proposed new Callaway reactor died.
* North Carolina – A “Super Construction Work in Progress (CWIP)” bill to eliminate prudence review of CWIP expenses was proposed but never introduced due to strong on-the-ground opposition.
* Iowa – A bill pushed by MidAmerican to charge utility customers in advance for “small modular reactors” as well as potentially larger reactors stalled in the state Senate and cannot be taken up again until 2012.

In 2010, nuclear power lobbyists failed in legislative pushes in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Vermont and West Virginia and Wisconsin. In 2009, the industry enjoyed no success whatsoever in its lobbying efforts in Kentucky, Minnesota, Hawaii, Illinois, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Safe Energy Program at Physicians for Social Responsibility,, 6 July 2011

Khan: North Korea paid Pakistan for nuclear secrets. In a letter released by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced nuclear scientist and ‘godfather of Pakistan's atomic bomb’, the North Korean ruling party appears to confirm that it paid more than US$3.5m (2.5m euro) to the serving army chief and at least one other senior general for transferring nuclear weapons technology to North Korea. The 1998 letter, was released as part of an attempt by Khan to establish that he was not working on his own when nuclear secrets were passed on to Iran, North Korea and Libya before his fall from grace. The two generals named in the letter fiercely denied the allegation, and denounced the letter as a forgery.

But opinion is divided not just over the authenticity of the documents, but also whether they establish that Khan was not acting alone. The Washington Post quoted unnamed US officials as saying that the letter's contents were "consistent with our knowledge" of the events described. But David Albright, a nuclear proliferation expert with the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, disputes Khan's claims that top military officials were complicit. "[The letter] shows that Khan was a rogue agent and he colluded to provide centrifuge components to North Korea without Pakistani official approval," the AP quoted him as saying. More on Khan at
Independent (UK), 8 July 2011

Germany: popular resistance makes 2022 phase-out likely; movement wants faster

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

Only four of Germany’s 17 nuclear plants are in operation after some reactors were shut down for maintenance on May 21.  Some antinuclear organizations even warn for staged black-outs. Germany’s seven oldest reactors were shut down after the March 11 Fukushima disaster and five more have been halted for planned maintenance. Another hasn’t been in operation for years. Power generated from nuclear energy in Germany has fallen to under 10 percent, about half of what is produced from sun, wind and hydro, from 23 percent of the total before March.

On Saturday 26 March, only 2 weeks after the Fukushima accident started, an unprecedented 250.000 people took to the streets in four cities in Germany. Since Chancellor Merkel decided to revoke the 2000 phase-out scenario last year, the German anti-nuclear power movement became even stronger than it already was. Since that decision to prolong the life of nuclear power in Germany every Monday evening demonstrations ('Montagsdemo') took place in many cities and a 100,000+ demonstration in Berlin on September 18, 2010, but after Fukushima the movement changed gear with ‘Montagsdemos’ in several hundred (up to 840!) cities. For May 28, again large demonstrations in 21 cities are announced, which will most likely attract well over 150.000 people. Blockades are planned at two reactor sites (Biblis and Brokdorf) mid June just before the 3 months closure of the 7 oldest reactors ends. A decision whether to restart these 7 reactors has not been made yet.

Meanwhile, the pro-nuclear Angela Merkel changed her mind again and decided that a phase-out has to take place in about 10 years. The Bavarian faction of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative union, the CSU, set its first-ever target for Germany to stop using nuclear power late on May 20, suggesting a total withdrawal by 2022. The markedly conservative group that dominates Bavarian politics held a closed-door meeting for its top brass which ran several hours late as they debated the issue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the next day that 2022 was "a good time" for Germany to end nuclear power.

Germany had been scheduled to stop all nuclear power production by 2020 as part of a legislation introduced by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrat and Green coalition in 2000, until the current administration overturned this law in 2010 after winning the general elections.

The Green party, meanwhile, says the current government should complete a nuclear withdrawal before the end of the current legislative period in 2017.

A draft report from Germany's ethics commission, set up by Chancellor Merkel to debate the pros and cons of nuclear energy in Germany, says the country could and should close down all its nuclear power stations by 2021. And it says this date could even be moved forward by some time.

Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats slipped behind the environmentalist opposition Greens into third place in Bremen, Germany's smallest state, in May 22's regional election. It was their worst showing there since 1959. In March, the Christian Democrats lost a traditional heartland, the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, to a Green-led center-left coalition.

RWE buys into Dutch nuclear.
Meanwhile, one of the four German utilities with nuclear power plants, RWE, succeeded in the long wish to take a stake in the only Dutch nuclear power plant at Borssele. On May 17 it reached agreement with utility Delta for a 30% stake in the 1973 PWR.

Legal wranglings over ownership of  Borssele have been rumbling on since RWE announced an offer to buy Dutch utility Essent in January 2010. Essent owned 50% of the plant, together with Delta, through the EPZ joint venture. However, Delta took legal steps to prevent the sale of Essent's share in the Borssele reactor to RWE, arguing that the plant should remain in public ownership, in line with EPZ's articles of association and shareholders' agreement. Dutch courts duly upheld Delta's view and as a consequence, Essent's 50% stake in Borssele was excluded from the buyout to RWE. Now, according to a statement by Delta, the two companies have reached an agreement that will see Delta remain the majority shareholder, thereby protecting the public interest in the plant. Final agreements on the deal are due to be signed by the end of the year.

But more important, with this agreement, it is likely RWE will be a partner for Delta in the planned construction of (a) new reactor(s) at Borssele. At the moment there are still two formal applications for new units: one by Delta and one by the shareholders of Essent, called ERH.

Sources: AFP, 21 May 2011 / AP, 25 May 2011 / Sueddeutsche Zeitung,  20 May 2011 / Deutsche Welle, 11 and 21 May 2011 / World Nuclear News, 17 May 2011
Contact:.ausgestrahlt. Marienthaler Straße 35 (Hinterhaus), 20535 Hamburg, Germany
Tel. + 49 40 - 2531 89 40

International IPPNW Congress, Urania, Berlin, Germany. April 8 – 10, 2011

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Chernobyl: 25 Years After
Stop the Nuclear Timebomb – Abandon Nuclear Power Now!

25 years ago, the Chernobyl catastrophe changed the world. Millions of people were affected. 180,000 kilograms of highly radioactive material from inside the reactor were released into the air. The radioactive cloud did not stop at borders, it circled the world. Even now, the effects of the accident are still being suppressed.

Chernobyl opened our eyes to the dangers of nuclear technology. Nuclear energy kills. Not only when there is an accident but also all along the nuclear chain from uranium mining to nuclear waste. Even before one single kilowatt of electricity is produced, people are dying.

The technology required for nuclear energy also provides the wherewithal for the development of nuclear weapons. Thus, more reliance on nuclear energy increases the risk of proliferation and causes the number of states possessing nuclear weapons to grow.

Peace is dependent upon the abandonment of nuclear energy and converting to a decentralised system that supplies renewable energy – wars cannot be fought over the sun and the wind!

The Congress in Berlin aims to:

  • provide information on the effects of Chernobyl
  • analyse the risk potential of the nuclear chain
  • offer solutions for a world free from the nuclear threat
  • present possibilities for action.

You can get more information about the Congress, the speakers and how to register at:

We hope to see you in Berlin!


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Criticism South Korean UAE contract
A news program has belatedly exposed the fact that the South Korean government agreed to provide a loan covering approximately half the construction costs for the exportation of a nuclear power plant to the United Arab Emirates. While the government explained that this was part of ordinary power plant export financing, controversy has been flaring up as this revelation couples with previous controversies over inflation of the order amount and the deployment of troops to the UAE as a condition for receiving the order. A Jan. 30 episode of the MBC program 'News Magazine 2580' revealed that in the process of signing a contract with the UAE for the power plant export in December 2009, the South Korean government agreed to provide a loan for approximately US$10 billion (7.25 billion euro) of the total order amount of US$18.6 billion through Korea Eximbank. In addition, the program reported that the repayment period was set at 28 years, and that the transaction generates a loss due to the fact that South Korea, which has a lower credit rating than the UAE, has to borrow the money at high interest rates and lend it at low interest rates. The program also reported that the construction has encountered setbacks, including a delay in the groundbreaking ceremony from its originally scheduled date in late 2010, as the Korean government has encountered difficulties coming up with the promised US$10 billion loan.

Hankyoreh, South Korea, 1 February 2011

the 1st International Uranium Film Festival is Latin America´s first film festival to highlight nuclear and radioactive issues. It is an annual event with 2 international competitions.

The Uranium Film Festival wants to inform especially the Brazilian and Latin American societies and stimulate the production of independent documentaries and movies about the whole nuclear fuel cycle, about the dangers of radioactivity and especially about the environmental and health risks of uranium exploration, mining and processing. The Uranium Film Festival will be held from May 21th to 28th 2011 in the city of Rio de Janeiro and from June 2nd to 9th in the city of São Paulo

The first 18 films have been selected: look for the list at:

Germany: Complaints against runtime extensions to Constitutional Court.

In cooperation with citizens living close to Germany's seven oldest nuclear powerplants, Greenpeace has submitted a complaint to Germany's Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht). While Greenpeace Germany generally argues that the runtime extensions endanger each citizen's right of being protected against bodily harm, the new constitutional complaint is specifically directed at the latest Nuclear Energy Law's paragraph 7d. The new §7d tells reactor operators, in rather poetic language, to reduce risks threatening "the population". This is, according to Greenpeace's law experts, a significant point. It means that individual citizens who have lately filed complaints (with support from Greenpeace) against the extension of the licenses for reactors in their neighborhood will be denied the right of action. In other words, the old Nuclear Law was designed to protect citizens and gave them the right to complain in local courts against the risks caused by the local polluter, and the new law withdraws this right.

Parallel to Greenpeace's action, two other complaints against the new Nuclear Law

will be filed at the Constitutional Court later this year. One is by a number of states of the German federation and the other is by groups of members of the federal parliament.

Greenpeace press release (in German), 3 February 2011

Norway: severe consequences of Sellafield accident.
An accident at the high-activity liquor storage at Sellafield would have severe consequences for Norway's wildlife, agricultural industry and environment. The Norwegian Radiological Protection Authority has published a second report on the consequences of a accident that releases just one per cent of the high-level liquid waste at Sellafield. This report looks at the consequences to the environment and animals, while the first report considered the fallout likely from a similar accident. The report use the typical weather experienced in October 2008 and only considers the release of caesium-137. An actual accident would release other radionuclides, particularly strontium.

It is estimated the amount of caesium-137 deposited on Norway would be about seven times that from Chernobyl. Direct costs from Chernobyl on agriculture and reindeer in Norway have been over 665 million kroner (US$118 million; 86 million euro) and there are still annual costs of 15 million kroner. Up to 80 per cent of all lambs in Norway would be expected to have excess radiation levels and restrictions apply for decades. The report is available at

N-Base Briefing 681, 25 January 2011

Canada: White Elephant 'Pointless Lepreau' reappears in New Brunswick.
The Point Lepreau nuclear generating station provides the quintessential definition of a white elephant. The aging nuclear plant opened its doors three times over budget in 1983. The Energy and Utilities Board refused to support spending on refurbishing it beyond its expected lifetime, but politicians went ahead anyway. Today, costs for the touch-and-go overhaul are already over Cdn$1.4 billion (1.4 bn US$, 1 bn Euro). The latest guess at a completion date is May 2012, a delay of almost three years. Damage to public and worker health and the environment have yet to be calculated and the final costs for taxpayers may not end for generations.

An alliance of public interest groups in New Brunswick, known as the Point Lepreau Decommissioning Caucus, is spreading a simple, but powerful message: Point Lepreau is a white elephant, we don't need it. Pointless Lepreau is old, sickly and on its last legs: Do Not Resuscitate. To underline the foolishness of refurbishing Lepreau, the groups are holding surprise events featuring their newest member, an actual white elephant costume aptly named Pointless Lepreau.

Press release, 19 January 2011

When the dust settles.
The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) and IKV Pax Christi have been working on a joint project to create an animated short film on the hazards of depleted uranium and the international campaign against its use and are happy to announce that the English language version has now been completed. We have sought to render down a complex issue into six and a half minutes and at present the animation is available in English and Dutch, we hope that additional languages will be available in future.

Both versions are available from our Youtube channels at the links below. ICBUW can also provide copies for use at events and to help support your national campaigns.

English version:

UK Gov't sending papers down the memory-hole. The UK government and its agencies like the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA; successor to Nirex) are trying to airbrush out the history of the attempt to find a nuclear waste repository in West Cumbria. Documents and scientific papers which were formerly available on their websites have been removed; the Nirex documents have been transferred to the safe keeping of the British Geological Survey, where they may be 'consulted' at Keyworth, Nottinghamshire. But nothing remains online, not even an index of the documents and reports. Now, David Smythe has re-scanned much of the material and collected links of other parts.

Sellafield (West-Cumbria) was disqualified for several reasons, but now NDA and government is looking again at that region for final disposal.

Papers are available at:

Monju: accident delays startup with 3 more years. The task of removing a device that accidentally fell into the prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju in August will delay its full startup about a year to 2014 or later.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the operator of the 280 MW Monju reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, is expected to remove the device next summer or later and then conduct checkups, delaying the test operation initially scheduled to start next spring and subsequent full-fledged run. Removing the 3.3-ton device, which was used for fuel exchange before it fell into the reactor vessel in the Aug. 26 accident, requires special equipment, approval from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and a followup inspection.
Monju resumed operations with limited power output in May 2010 after 14 years and five months(!) of suspension due to a sodium coolant leak and a resultant fire and coverup attempt in 1995.
Kyodo, 17 December 2010

Extended operation for Paducah enrichment plant? US uranium enrichment company USEC said that it is working to extend the operation of its Paducah plant in Kentucky beyond May 2012, when the old and inefficient gaseous diffusion plant had been expected to shut down. The company said that it will "base its decision to extend operations upon economic considerations and the ability of the plant to operate profitably." The Paducah plant – currently the only operating uranium enrichment facility in the USA - is set to be replaced by USEC's planned American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) project in Piketon, Ohio.

The full ACP plant was originally expected to commence commercial operation in early 2010 and achieve full annual capacity at the end of 2012. However, early in 2009 the whole project was slowed pending funding through the Department of Energy (DoE) loan guarantee program, and in July 2009 it was suspended due to the DoE refusing to award a US$2 billion (1.5 billion euro) loan guarantee, and asking USEC to withdraw its application. USEC refused to do this, and in July 2010, it submitted an updated loan guarantee application to the DoE. In October 2010, DoE informed USEC that it has largely completed its initial technical review of USEC's application and is proceeding to the next stage of the loan guarantee process.

Although USEC earlier secured investment of U$200 million from Toshiba and Babcock & Wilcox to support the ACP, the company maintains that additional financing is needed to complete plant construction.

World Nuclear News, 12 January 2011

Italy: referendum on relaunching nuclear power.
Italy's constitutional court ruled on January 12, a national referendum could be held against the construction of nuclear power plants, dealing a potential blow to government plans to relaunch the sector. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wants nuclear plants to generate a quarter of the country's electricity in the future. The court allowed a request by opposition politician Antonio Di Pietro for a referendum, which will take place between on a Sunday between April 15 and June 15.

Antonio Di Pietro is leader of Italia dei Valori (Italy of Values) a centrist political party and an outspoken opponent of nuclear power. An April 2010 petition by the party successfully gathered the 500,000 signatures of Italian voters needed for the referendum to proceed through the Italian legislative system. This was presented to the Constitutional Court for it's final ruling on the admissibility of the proposed referendum.

Public opinion in Italy has been generally hostile to nuclear energy, and a 1987 referendum following the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986 closed all plants and phased out production.

Reuters, 12 January 2011, Rete Nazionale Antinucleare (RNA) International, 13 January 2011

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

IAEA-DG: less watchdog, more lobby.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano presenting his first report to the UN General Assembly on November 8, said that he aims to change the widespread perception of the agency as the world's "nuclear watchdog." The label "does not do justice to our extensive activities in other areas, especially in nuclear energy, nuclear science and applications, and technical cooperation." Established by the UN in 1957 as the "Atoms for Peace" organization, the Vienna-based IAEA gained its reputation as the world's nuclear watchdog from its nuclear verification activities and reports of "non-compliance" by states that have failed to abide by the safeguards imposed by the agency. As countries consider introducing nuclear energy and expanding their nuclear power, the IAEA will need to cement its role in assisting such developments. "When countries express an interest in introducing nuclear power, we offer advice in many areas, including on how to put the appropriate legal and regulatory framework in place and how to ensure the highest standards of safety and security, without increasing proliferation risks," he said.  Amano added that "access to nuclear power should not be limited to developed countries but should be available to developing countries as well."

The IAEA chief encouraged international lending institutions to place greater consideration in funding nuclear power projects, as he drew the Assembly's attention to practical applications of nuclear energy. Meanwhile, cables leaked by Wikileaks show cosy US relationship with IAEA chief. When Yukiya Amano took over as the head of the UN nuclear watchdog last year, American diplomats described him as "director general of all states, but in agreement with us"

Source: Statement to the Sixty-Fifth Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, 8 November 2010 at / Guardian (UK), 30 November 2010

News in the nuclear age: rabbits and mice trapped and killed.

 A radioactive rabbit was trapped on the Hanford nuclear reservation (USA), and Washington state health workers have been searching for contaminated rabbit droppings. The Tri-City Herald reports that officials suspect the rabbit sipped some water left from the recent demolition of a Cold War-era building used in the production of nuclear weapons. The rabbit was trapped in the past week and was highly contaminated with radioactive cesium. It was killed and disposed of as radioactive waste.

Only one rabbit sipped from that water? No because a few weeks later, radioactive mouse-droppings were found. It has been difficult to find mice in the current cold and snowy weather. Sixty mouse traps were set, but the two mice reported trapping and killing the holiday were not contaminated. Now PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is asking to stop killing mice in search for contaminated ones. “Live traps should be used to catch mice and then they can be released or humanely euthanized as appropriate after they are checked for radioactivity,” PETA writes. Hanford currently is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup. Last year, 33 contaminated animals or animal materials such as droppings were found on the site.

Source:The Associated Press, 5 November 2010 / Xinhua, 6 November 2010 / TriCityHerald, 25 November 2010

US: Vermont elects Governor that wants Vermont Yankee closed.

In an extremely close race on the November 2 House of Representatives elections, Peter Shumlin (D) defeated Brain Dubie (R) and will be the next Governor of the state of Vermont. Shumlin is an avowed opponent of extending the license of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon past its expiration in 2012, citing the plant's leaks and other problems and its owners' poor record in dealing with state officials. Dubie was open to granting the plant an extension to operate and wanted decisions about the Vermont Yankee’s future made by "experts" at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Vermont Public Service Board.
In February, in a 26 to 4 vote, the Vermont Senate decided that the continued operation of the 38-year-old nuclear reactor was not in the best interest of Vermonters. Entergy, which owns the decrepit 38 year old reactor, has vowed to challenge the state and attempt to relicense the reactor.When Entergy bought the reactor, the corporation agreed that the State of Vermont would decide whether splitting atoms beyond the 40 year license was in the best interest of Vermonters.
Within hours of the election of Peter Shumlin as the next Governor of Vermont, Entergy put the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear plant up for sale. According to Entergy, dumping the aged reactor from their books would benefit their stockholders. But Entergy's announcement has everyone wondering, who in their right mind would buy this rust bucket of a reactor?

Just days after the announced sale, Vermont Yankee was forced into an emergency shutdown due to radioactive leaks, this time inside the nuclear plant. Entergy should behave like a responsible corporate citizen and begin preparations to permanently shut down Vermont Yankee as scheduled.

Source: Blogs at; 3 and 8 November 2010

First victory for Finnish campaign on nuclear investors.

Early November, Greenpeace started a campaign aimed at a group of investors in the E.ON/Fennovoima nuclear project. One of them, with a 3% share, is Finland's largest retail & service chain called S-Ryhmä ("S Group"). On November 25, two of their regional subsidiaries, including the Helsinki area one with most weight, have pulled out. This is a very quick result, quicker than expected. The pulling out is financially small but psychologically very important. There was a major feeling of apathy and inevitability and a lot of people thought there is no more fight to be fought. With at least a year to go to the investment decision, with the cost doubled from 4 to 8 billion euro and timetable pushed back by a couple of years, there is a good chance of splitting the investor coalition. This result will show the movement and the local groups that nothing is cemented and the investors can be swayed. The first, ongoing campaign push is aimed at Christmas sales so the timing could not be better to energize the movement.

Source: Lauri Myllyvirta – Greenpeace, 25 November 2010

Czech Republic: CEZ to pay its regulator?

The Czech Green Party has voiced its alarm at government proposals to change the law so that nuclear companies - principally the semi-state owned energy giant CEZ - would directly finance the budget of the state watchdog responsible for regulating their activities. The plans to amend the Atomic Act, which are still in the draft stage but could become  government policy within months, envisage saving 500 million Czech Koruna (Kc) (US$27.9  million or 25.1 million euro) from public spending over the next decade by asking nuclear firms to finance the State Office of Nuclear Safety (SUJB). Under the proposal, for example, the cost of the three permits needed to open a nuclear reactor would be increased to a total of 250 million Kc, with an annual operating fee of 30 million Kc thereafter. The opening and operation of new uranium mining facilities would also face additional fees, as would the storage of spent nuclear fuel.

The Green Party (SZ) has strongly criticized the proposals, saying the nuclear company should not be allowed to directly fund its own regulation and arguing the state is already being governed by CEZ rather than the other way round. "If it is the case that direct funding of SUJB would be moved under CEZ, that is obviously alarming," SZ spokesman Tomáš Průša said to the ‘The Prague Post’. CEZ and other semi-state firms should be taxed like private companies, he said it was important to maintain a system of indirect funding under which "the state collects fees that then become part of state budget revenue." "An independent regulator can never be under the direct financial influence of the regulated." The Greens believe that CEZ, the country's largest energy firm, was already under-regulated even before this proposed change.

Source: The Prague Post, 14 November 2010

Germany: higher cancer rates near Asse radwaste dump.

Newly published figures from the Lower Saxony state cancer registry show that in the area around Asse, the site of the controversial nuclear waste dump Asse, some cancer rates are higher than normal. Between 2002 and 2009 there were 12 cases of leukemia in the greater Asse region. The area had twice the rate expected for men. While there was no significant  increase in leukemia for women, their rate of thyroid cancer was three times as high as normal. The government has not yet determined if the increase is related to the proximity to the nuclear waste site. A working group of representatives from Lower Saxony’s environment, social, and health ministries as well as the federal agency for radiation protection is set to meet to take a closer look at the data. Asse was originally a salt mine. Between 1967 and 1978 around 126,000 drums of low- and intermediate level waste were stored in the facility. More recently it's been declared unstable because of a danger of collapse and water leaks and is due to be emptied out and shut down.

Source: Deutsche Welle, 24 November 2010

Kenya (Kenya?) seeks sites for nuclear power plant.

The government of Kenya has formed a committee to help identify sites for the construction of a nuclear power plant along its coast, and ensure that all terms and conditions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) necessary for the approval of a nuclear power plant are met. "Prepare and endorse a detailed road map for the realisation of these terms and conditions indicating the milestones and time lines for approval by the IAEA," Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said in the notice, outlining the mandate of the 13-member committee. Earlier this year, Kenya's National Economic and Social Council (NESC) recommended that east Africa's biggest economy embark on a program to start generating nuclear energy by 2020 to meet its growing demand for electricity. Kenya relies on hydropower to generate about 65 percent of its electricity but has began channelling investments towards geothermal plants and wind farms to diversify energy sources.

Kenya's main electricity producer, KenGen, is already hunting for a partner to produce nuclear power by 2022 to help match-up rising demand and diversify from hydropower. The power producer projects that Kenya as a whole could produce some 4,200 megawatts (MW) using nuclear by 2022.

Source: Reuters, 26 November 2010

Court greenlights lawsuit seeking to open Yucca.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a lawsuit seeking to relaunch plans for a Yucca Mountain nuclear dump can go forward. The lawsuits had been on hold while the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals waited for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to decide whether DOE had the authority to withdraw its license application for Yucca Mountain. In June, an NRC legal panel ruled that DOE must move forward with the license, but the NRC commissioners have not issued a required decision since then. The Department of Energy has until Jan. 3 to file a brief defending its authority to shut down the site. The states of Washington and South Carolina and the National Association of Utility Regulators filed the suit that insists only Congress can decide Yucca Mountain's fate. The plans were to bury at least 77,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Source: AP, 10 December 2010 / News Tribune 12th Dec 2010

Quote of the Day                                

It is like in a zombie movie, where you shoot off its arms and then its head and it still comes after you. USA: Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects head Bruce Breslow, describing other states' efforts to sustain a one-time federal plan to build a massive underground nuclear-waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain.

Source: Global Security Newswire 13 December 2010

RWE wins ‘Worst EU Lobbyists 2010’ Award!

RWE (npower), Goldman Sachs and derivatives lobby group ISDA have been given the  dubious honour of being named the Worst EU Lobbyists of 2010. The results of the dual climate and finance categories of the Worst EU Lobbying Awards 2010 were revealed on November 2, during a ceremony outside the ISDA office in Brussels. Citizens across Europe participated in an online public vote for the most deserving of the climate and finance nominees.

In the climate category, German energy giant RWE’s subsidiary npower, nominated for claiming to be green while lobbying to keep its dirty coal- and oil-fired power plants open, won with 58% of the total vote. BusinessEurope, nominated for its aggressive lobbying to block effective climate action in the EU while claiming to support action to protect the climate, took second place with 24% of the total votes and Arcelor-Mittal, the steel Industry “fat cat”, came in third with 18% of the total votes. Nina Katzemich, speaking for the organisers of the 2010 Worst EU Lobbying Awards, said: "These awards show that people around Europe are fed up with deceptive lobbying practices used by big business when it comes to climate regulation. RWE claims to be green but has pulled out all the stops to keep its dirty power plants open, promoting their profits over public interests. If the European Commission is serious about tackling climate change, it must stop listening one-sidedly to corporations.


Another location for Indonesia’s first nuclear power reactor.

The Indonesian government hopes to relocate the planned site of the country’s first nuclear power plant to Bangka island in Bangka Belitung province from Muria, Jepara, Central Java due to strong opposition from the local people. Public resistance has long been the main constraint for the government to build nuclear power plants. The previous plan to build a nuclear power plant in Muria, Jepara, Central Java, faced strong opposition from the local people and non-governmental institutions. Most people, particularly those living near planned nuclear power plant sites, have deep suspicion and distrust concerning the issues of the plant's operational safety.

National Atomic Energy Agency’s spokesman, Ferhat Aziz, said that people's rejection most likely came from negative opinions disseminated by anti-nuclear groups that prompted people to remember the nuclear reactor accidents on Three Mile Island, the United States, in 1979 and in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1985 (uh, again?). To address the public's negative perception of nuclear technology, he continued, his agency had to assist people to understand the urgency and benefits of having such technology for future electricity supply in the country.

Source: Jakarta Post, 2 December 2010

Israel stops Mordechai Vanunu getting Carl von Ossietsky Prize in Berlin.

Israel has barred Mordechai Vanunu, who spent 18 years in jail for revealing secrets of the country's nuclear program, from going to Germany to accept a prize, organisers said on December 10. Accoding to a spokesman for the International League for Human Rights Vanunu was to be awarded the Carl von Ossietsky Prize in Berlin two days later, for his work promoting disarmament but has not received permission to leave Israel. The League decided to cancel the ceremony and held a protest rally on behalf of the 56-year-old former nuclear technician instead. The group had previously appealed to Israeli leaders to allow Vanunu to come to Berlin. The medal, which the League has bestowed annually since 1962, is named after a German pacifist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935 and died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1938. Vanunu served time for disclosing the inner workings of Israel's Dimona nuclear plant to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper in 1986. He was kidnapped and sentenced, released in 2004 but was banned from travel or contact with foreigners without prior permission.

Source: Middle East online, 10 December 2010

Research report "The Uncertain Future of Nuclear Energy".

In late October, the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) has released a new research report ‘The Uncertain Future of Nuclear Energy’. The report provides an overview of the status of nuclear power worldwide, with country studies for China, India, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Western Europe. It discusses why the International Atomic Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency project nuclear power as approximately maintaining but not greatly increasing during the next two to four decades its 14% of global electric power generation in 2009. The reasons include the currently very limited capacity to build nuclear power plants, high capital costs in North America and Western Europe, the perception by the private sector that nuclear power plants are risky investments, and continuing public mistrust of the nuclear industry despite the passage of two and a half decades since the Chernobyl accident. Frank von Hippel is the editor and lead author of the report, which includes contributions by Matthew Bunn, Anatoli Diakov, Tadahiro Katsuta, Charles McCombie, M.V. Ramana, Ming Ding, Yu Suyuan, Tatsujiro Suzuki, and Susan Voss.

Source: The report can be found at: