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Castor transport: French repression against non-violent activists

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Following a mobilization on an unprecedented scale, the transfer of  eleven containers of highly radioactive waste from La Hague (France) to Gorleben (Germany) took twice as long than expected. In Germany, 50.000 people demonstrated on November 6 near Gorleben and thousands blocked railway-lines and streets in the following days. A blockade by 1500-2000 people on Saturday in Southern Germany forced the train to take another route. In France, state repression and police raged against seven militants from GANVA (Group of Anti-nuclear Non-Violent Actions) who were attached in arm tubes under the rails to stop the "train from hell" in Caen (Normandy).

All newspapers all around the world reported on the Castor-transports, so not much we can add about the convoy of German vitrified highly radioactive compound of 11 "Castor" containers, which left Valognes on November 5. Very shortly after departure, at 3:40pm, 5 GANVA activists attached themselves under the rails with arm tubes just before the Caen trainstation, forcing the train to stop. It remained stationary for 3 and a half hours. The philosophy of this action was peaceful and non-violent and not having to physically confront the police. The actual blocking of the train was based on physical barriers. Five militants were attached  inside metal tubes passed under the tracks. It was the responsibility of the "gendarmes" and police to remove everyone safely!

Instead facing pressure from their superiors, the police lost their cool and injured three people by cutting the tubes. Even after the first person was injured, they continued in the same brutal manner. One of them had two severed tendons in his hand and had to undergo surgery, the other two were burned and must undergo a skin graft. Both directly burned were placed in custody and could not consult a doctor again until much later the next day. The militant who had two severed tendons was directly led into custody under police escort when leaving the hospital. In the end, six activists were kept in custody for 24 hours and seven are subject to bail before the case with 16 500 euros to pay before November 15. If they don't pay they will be incarcerated until their trial, to be held on 8 December 2pm at the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) in Caen. Faced with this injustice, Network "Sortir du nucléaire", calls for financial solidarity and massive support for the GANVA activists in Caen on 8 December. Our resistance knows no boundaries!

Source: Sortir du nucleaire
Contact: GANVA (Group of Anti-nuclear Non-Violent Actions)

  • 12th Castor-transport since April 1995
  • 1 transport
  • 11 containers
  • 1,000 kilometers
  • 5484 minutes duration
  • 18,000 police officers
  • 50,000 demonstrators
  • 3000 people on road for 48 hours
  • 80 million hits on
  • Estimated costs: 25 million Euro



Hermann Scheer

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Hermann Scheer, Member of the German Parliament, President of the European Association for Renewable Energy EUROSOLAR, Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy WCRE, honored with, amongst other prices, the Right Livelihood Award, died on 14 October 2010 at the age of 66 in Berlin.

In 1999, Hermann Scheer won the Right Livelihood Award for his tireless work for the promotion of solar energy worldwide. When he received the award, he described solar energy as "the energy of the people." And that is the difference between Scheer and many other renewable energy advocates: he knew energy has a political dimension and is therefore a tool to 'empower people' (see the quote on Desertec below). He also was very clear that the transition to renewable energy will not only bring about ‘winners’ but also ‘losers’, and that those were the ones where opposition would come from.

What follows are a few excerps from a rush transcript of an interview Scheer gave, only a few weeks before his death, to Democracy Now!

“The tragedy of our present civilization is that it became dependent on marginal energy sources. The marginal energy sources are fossil sources, fossil resources and nuclear, based on the raw material uranium. The gigantic energy potential is the renewable energy potential always all coming from the sun, including its derivates, like wind and the photosynthetic-produced—photosynthetically produced materials, organic materials, plants, hydro-base. And the sun offers to our globe, in eight minutes, as much energy as the annual consumption of fossil and atomic energy is. That means to doubt—the doubtings if there would be enough renewable energy for the replacement of nuclear and fossil energies, this argument is ridiculous. There is by far enough. (…)

Many people, including governments, including many scientists, who get their orders for studies from them, they believe and think that the present energy suppliers, the present energy trusts, the companies, they should organize the transformation. And this is a big mistake—a big mistake—because this part of the society is the only one who has an interest to postpone it. The only one. All others, all the others, have an interest to speed it up. But as long government think that it should be left to the energy companies, we will lose the race against time. (…)

It is a fight. This is a structural fight. It is a fight between centralization and decentralization, between energy dictatorship and energy participation in the energy democracy. And because nothing works without energy, it’s a fight between democratic value and technocratical values. And therefore, the mobilization of the society is the most important thing. And as soon as the society, most people, have recognized that the alternative are renewable energies and we must not wait for others, we can do it by our own, in our own sphere, together in cooperatives or in the cities or individually. As soon as they recognize this, they will become supporters.

From a press release by Hermann Scheer, 13 July 2009: "The Desertec project “Power for Northern Europe from the Sahara desert" is a Fata Morgana. The initiators know: There is no prospect of success. But for all that Desertec could be a good idea indeed. If the aim were to enable the Sahara countries to make the transition to energy generation completely from renewable sources, I would fully agree to the Desertec plan. The EU would make both an essential contribution towards stable economic and social prospects for the southern Mediterranean countries and to fighting climate change. Given their solar and wind power potentials, these countries would even be able to completely move to renewable energy for their electricity supply within less than 20 years. The beneficial effect to their economies would be much stronger compared with exporting power to Europe. (…)

Desertec advocates must also answer another crucial question: Where will happen the value add of renewable energy in future. There is a fundamental difference depending on whether renewable energy is produced in a decentralized manner and, the value add therefore is distributed to the decentralized producers, or whether it is produced by large utilities in a few large power stations concentrating the monopolistic value add."

The whole September 2010 Democracy Now! interview is available at:


Angela's nights with the nuclear industry

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Bernd Frieboese

When the Christian Democrat party (Christlich Demokratische Union, CDU) and the Liberals (Freie Demokratische Partei, FDP) formed their coalition Government under Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in September 2009, one of the projects they put into their coalition contract was the extension of the operation licenses of Germany's nuclear power plants.

Now almost a year has passed and the four big nuclear electricity corporations were getting nervous. The electricity production contingents according to the phase-out plan fixed in the 2002 nuclear energy law are running short for at least three of Germany's 17 reactors, and the operators are probably losing lots of money stretching their contingents by running reactors at minimum power or keeping them offline for extensive revisions and repairs. And of course, the minister of finances insisted on the introduction of the planned nuclear fuel tax!

So the government, under pressure to come forward with a plan, decided to hide behind science and commissioned a number of scenario studies from a group of research institutes. The scenarios included the development of the country's electricity supply in case of nuclear license extensions by between 4 and 28 years. Opposition parties and NGOs were astonished that there was no “business-as-usual” scenario with no license extensions, and outraged when they found out that one of the research institutes is partially financed by RWE, one of the four nuclear utilities.

The studies were delivered to the government on Friday, August 27, and the ministries claimed the right to read them before publishing them. Finally, in the first week of September, it turned out that even though the study scenarios were deliberately biased in favor of nuclear energy, for example by assuming very low future investments into nuclear safety and unrealistically low growth rates for renewable electricity, and by ignoring non-financial aspects of radioactivity, the results gave no good reason for license extensions.

Around this time, the federal ministry for environment, nature protection and reactor safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit, BMU), which is officially in charge of all issues around nuclear energy, played a relatively modest tune. Minister Dr. Norbert Roettgen (CDU) criticized the scenarios and demanded substantial safety upgrades as a condition for possible license extensions. According to him, a combined investment of EUR 6.2 billion was necessary to run each of the 17 reactors for 4 extra years, EUR 20.3 billion for 12 years, 36.2 billion for 20 years and 49.8 billion for 28 years.

And he kept reminding us and the other members of the government of a legal problem that any attempt to extend operation licenses will have to face: An amendment of the Nuclear Energy Law will have to be passed by both the Bundestag (the lower house of the German parliamentary system, representing the citizens of the Federation) and the Bundesrat (the upper house, representing the federal states). No problem in the Bundestag, as the two parties of the coalition hold a secure majority there. The Bundesrat, however, is dominated by anti-nuclear states governed by coalitions involving either the Social Democrats (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD) or the ecologist Green party (Buendnis90/Die Gruenen).

So Merkel's government declared that their amendment would be written very cleverly, denying the Bundesrat's participation in the process. The noisy arguments among legal experts are continuing, and any attempt by the coalition to bypass the Bundesrat will be challenged at the Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) by the non-nuclear states.

The next legal challenge for any license extension plan will be put to either German or European courts by the smaller and nuclear-free utilities, who will claim that any extension gives the four big nuclear corporations an unfair advantage in the electricity market. Now as Merkel was back from the summer break and being criticized because most of the big plans of her coalition so far had failed, she decided to speed up this nuclear plan and invite some ministers and the four nuclear utility managers to a meeting in the chancellor's office at noon on Sunday, September 5. The public was not invited and refrained to a demonstration with a large Merkel puppet and a lot of balloons outside the gate – and of course, we were told to be patient and wait for the results of the meeting to be revealed at a press conference on Monday morning.

The 40-page document “Energiekonzept” released on Monday, September 6 contains lots of friendly and unfriendly words about the future of the energy supply and climate politics until 2050. Like the need to reduce heat loss by improving thermal insulation of Germany's houses (the government has just reduced the subsidy program to almost nothing) and the importance of developing renewable sources of electricity (the government has just passed an amendment that will reduce the feed-in tariffs for new PV arrays to nothing within a few years) with an extremely unambitious timetable.

In the short nuclear chapter of the Energiekonzept we learn that the government wants to extend the operation licenses by 8 years for the 7 oldest reactors and by 14 years for the 10 newer ones. Of course, these years would once again be converted into electricity production contingents, which would be transferable from older to newer reactors. And if the share of renewable electricity in the German grid keeps growing, resulting in a shrinking demand for nuclear electricity, these production contingents might be stretched well into the 2040es. And the nuclear operators would be forced to pay at least 50 percent of their additional income to the new nuclear fuel tax and a new fund for the development of renewable energies.

And that was only the official part of what we learned on Monday, September 6. Later that day, in another press conference, a Greenpeace spokesman asked whether we could be sure that the nuclear corporations would indeed pay their contributions to the fuel tax and the renewables fund? The surprising answer from one of the nuclear managers was that they had signed an agreement with the government. It turned out that around midnight on Sunday, when the meeting in the chancellor's office was closed, not everybody had gone home. The four nuclear managers had proceeded to the ministry of finances, where they sat down to write what they called a “Termsheet” which was countersigned by a secretary of the ministry of finances around 4:30 Monday morning.

After a lot of public uproar, the government published the contents of this 10-page agreement, denying that they had ever intended to keep it secret. It contains a few interesting clauses, like a 500 million Euro cap on safety investments for each reactor and a kind of money-back guarantee to the corporations in case a future government would try to withdraw some of the new privileges.

In any case, if everything develops according to Merkel's plan and these agreements are turned into an amendment that can somehow be maneuvered past the Bundesrat and all the legal challenges it faces, the nuclear corporations have made quite a good deal. The Oeko-Institut estimates that their additional income, before taxes, may amount to EUR 150 billion, in a scenario expecting a moderate rise of electricity consumer prices over the next decades.

Through the years 2011 to 2016 they will pay a nuclear fuel tax: EUR 145 per gram of fuel, not EUR 220 per gram as had been suggested earlier this year. And from 2017 onwards, they will contribute to the “voluntary” renewable energy fund. Both the fuel tax and the fund will be tax-deductible, meaning that these payments will reduce the annual tax payments to states and counties. In total, Oeko-Institut estimates that a mere 37% of the additional cash flow to the corporations will be diverted to taxes or the new fund.

But then, Merkel's plan to turn these ideas into an amendment that can become law by the start of next year looks quite ambitious. The number of parties she will have to deal with keeps growing, with unlikely opponents like the pro-nuclear states – governed by her own party – demanding a share of the fuel tax and the government of neighboring Austria complaining about the increasing risk of nuclear accidents.

By the way, latest statistics from 'Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen' found that in the first 6 months of 2010, 23% of Germany's electricity came from nuclear power plants, and 19% came from renewable sources.

Many thousands participate in anti nuclear actions. On Saturday 18 September, some 100,000 people marched through the streets of Berlin to protest against nuclear power and to voice their anger over the government's decision to keep nuclear reactors in use beyond a deadline set by the previous government. The demonstration was organized by various environmental and anti-nuclear groups, with high-ranking politicians from opposition parties also taking part.

Now the preparations for actions against the Castor waste transport early November from La Hague in France to the interim storage facility in Gorleben really started. Several concepts are being put forward by activists: a big large blockade of the storage facility and a call to get onto the train tracks on the day the train is supposed to run there and to make the tracks unusable, to en masse remove the stones from under the tracks, i.e. to undermine them and to make them impassable in creative ways.

On November 6, a demonstration will be held, which is expected to be larger than ever before in the decade long history of the Gorleben fight.

Source and contact: Bernd Frieboese


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

No Nukes Asia Forum in Taiwan
Activist from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and India wil hold their (almost) annual meeting in Taipei, from September 18- 22.

NNAF began in 1993 and unites Asian based antinuclear organizations. The forum always combines education and exchange with direct action and media outreach. This year the international delegation will travel to Taiwan’s nuclear power station no. 1 and 2 at the northeast coast and nuclear power plant no. 3 at the southeast coast. At the University of the capital Taipei a two-day program will discuss the danger of  nuclear power plants in earthquake prone areas, the debate on climate change and the role of nuclear power and the situation in the different countries.
Contact and more information:

Doctors against uranium.
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) on September 1 adopted a resolution at its International Council meeting in Basel, Switzerland, calling for a ban on uranium mining and the production of yellowcake (uranium oxide). The resolution described both processes as “irresponsible” and “a grave threat to health and to the environment”.
The resolution also describes uranium mining and yellowcake production as a “violation of human rights”. The right to life, liberty and security, to physical integrity, self-determination, the protection of human dignity, the right to clean water are just some of the rights that are afflicted by uranium mining and its processes, say the doctors. IPPNW calls for appropriate measures to ban uranium mining worldwide
Although many national branches of the IPPNW network have been campaigning against uranium mining and nuclear energy for many years already it is seen as a major breakthrough that now the international federation has taken a firm position and has committed itself to support campaigns against uranium mining.
Source and contact: IPPNW, Anne Tritschler, Tel.: +49 (0) 30-698074-14,

Iran: Busher reactor finished after 36 years!
On August 21, Russia started loading fuel into the reactor at Iran's first nuclear power station Bushehr. The Bushehr plant is on the Gulf coast of southwest Iran. It is Iran's first nuclear power plant. Construction of two pressurized water nuclear reactors began in 1974 with the help of German contractor Siemens and French scientists. The Bushehr I reactor was 85 percent complete and the Bushehr II reactor was partially complete prior to the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the fall of the Shah. The project was halted and the site was then damaged during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, and equipment was looted.

The project was later revived with Russian help but construction ran into repeated delays blamed by Russia on problems with receiving payment from Iran. Current plans are for one reactor to be launched. Bushehr will have an operating capacity of 1,000 MW.
Reuters, 21 August 2010

Sudan: 4 reactors in 2030.
Well, if you think you read it all…. Sudan plans to build a four-reactor nuclear power plant to "fill a gap in the energy needs" of Africa's largest country by 2030, Mohamed Ahmed Hassan el-Tayeb, head of Sudan's atomic energy agency, said on August 24. He also said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would help to build a research reactor and power plant for Sudan by providing expert training for staff, fellowships and feasibility studies.

He said Sudan was hoping for "a medium size four-unit power plant with each reactor producing between 300-600 MW per year". El-Tayeb said bidding for equipment and technology could begin in five years time and a further 10 years for construction of the plant, so it could be completed by 2030, costing between US$3-6 billion.

Currently 20% of the population has access to electricity.
Reuters, 24 August 2010

Nuclear power: Goal or means?
Vice President Boediono of Indonesia said on August 20, that a proposal to build a nuclear power plant in Indonesia was still on the table although he could not say when or where it may be built. “We will continue trying. Someday, somewhere we will build the nuclear power plant.”

More often than not it seems that nuclear power is rather a goal than a means to boil water (because that’s all there is to it, or not…?).
Jakarta Post, 20 August 2010

Radioactive boars on the rise in Germany.
Almost a quarter century after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in Ukraine, its fallout is still a hot topic in some German regions, where thousands of boars shot by hunters still turn up with excessive levels of radioactivity and considered potentially dangerous for consumption. In fact, the numbers are higher than ever before. The total compensation the German government paid last year for the discarded contaminated meat shot up to a record sum of  425,000 euro (US$558,000), from only about 25,000 euro ten years ago, according to the Federal Environment Ministry in Berlin. "The reason is that there are more and more boars in Germany, and more are being shot and hunted, that is why more contaminated meat turns up," spokesman Thomas Hagbeck told The Associated Press. Boars are among the species most susceptible to long-term consequences of the nuclear catastrophe 24 years ago. Unlike other wild game, boars often feed on mushrooms and truffles which tend to store radioactivity and they plow through the contaminated soil with their snouts, experts say.

However, boars are actually the beneficiaries of another ecological crisis — climate change. Central Europe is turning into a land of plenty for the animals, as warmer weather causes beech and oak trees to overproduce seeds and farmers to grow more crops the boars like to feast on such as corn or rape, said Torsten Reinwald of the German Hunting Federation.

"The impact of the Chernobyl fallout in Germany, in general, has decreased," said Florian Emrich, spokesman of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. For example, radiation has ceased to be a problem on fields cultivated with commercial crops, he said. But forest soil in specific regions that were hit hardest after Chernobyl — parts of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg in southern Germany — still harbors high amounts of radioactive Cesium-137 which has a half life of roughly 30 years, Emrich said. In fact, the Cesium from the Chernobyl fallout is moving further into the ground and has now reached exactly the layer where the boars' favorite truffles grow. Therefore, the season for such truffles — a variety not eaten by humans — usually means a rising number of radioactive boars.
AP, 18 August 2010

Russian reactor too expensive for Belarus?
Alyaksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus might abandon plans to have its nuclear power plant project built by Russia and financed with a Russian loan, according to BelaPAN. The Belarusian leader said that the signing of an interstate agreement on the project had been postponed once again, and that the government did not reject the possibility of the plant being built by a contractor other than Russia s Atomstroiexport. Belarus chose Russia on the basis of "what they promised to us," Mr. Lukashenko noted. "They urgently demanded from us that they build this plant and then they started putting pressure on us for, I believe, purely subjective reasons. You know what the reasons are," he said.

Russia wanted Belarus to pay "in fact a double price," but Minsk refused, saying that there had been an agreement that the price would be "the same as in Russia," he said, adding that Belarus had agreed to pay the price at which the last nuclear power plant was built in Russia., 16 August 2010


Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Germany; coalition lost majority in Bundesrat.
After the May 9, elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition may have trouble pushing through planned nuclear lifetime extensions. Both Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Free Democrat (FDP) allies lost heavily and were left short of their previous state majority, leaving the make-up of the next government unclear.

Merkel, whose coalition has a majority in parliament's Bundestag lower house, could now be blocked on many issues in the Bundesrat upper house, which represents the states. "The nuclear extension has become politically more difficult because the

majority in the Bundesrat has been lost," said an analyst at Merck Finck. If the nuclear life extension plan can go ahead without needing approval by the Bundesrat, Merkel's government could in theory ignore the North Rhine-Westphalia result and grant longer life cycles for the reactors. But a panel of legal experts advising the Bundestag said the upper house has to approve any agreement to extend the lifetime of nuclear plants. Opponents to this view say the original nuclear phase-out law did not need Bundesrat approval.
Reuters, 10 May 2010

India: Nuclear liability legislation introduced to parliament.
On May 7, the "Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill" was introduced to parliament after the Indian Government deferred the introduction at the last minute at March 15.
The legislation faces tough opposition in the Indian parliament, and it may not pass. Communist parties and the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who could not prevent the government from going ahead with the nuclear agreement in 2008, are vehemently opposing this bill, and together with some other parties have the numerical strength in the parliament to obstruct its passage. "This is an opposition for the sake of opposition," Arundhati Ghose, India's former permanent representative to the United Nations told World Nuclear News, "People who are opposing this bill are those who oppose nuclear energy all together." (So…?) The critics of the bill also allege that the government is putting a low price tag on human lives.

The bill is crucial to the operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal. Critics say Inia is under no obligation to pass the bill, which , in reality, attempts to convert the liability of a foreign supplier to be paid by the Idian taxpayer. (More on the legislation in Nuclear Monitor 706, 26 March 2010; 'India: Profits for foreign investors, risks for taxpayers')
World Nuclear News, 7 May 2010 / Nuclear Monitor 607, 26 March 2010

Lithuania says official, decisive “no” to Belarusian nuclear power plant. The government of Lithuania expressed its official disapproval of a plan pushed by the neighbouring Belarus to build a nuclear power plant in the Belarusian town of Ostrovets, just 55 kilometres away from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. The former Soviet republic’s concerns were stated in an official note that was prepared by the Ministry of Environment and will be extended to Minsk, said the Lithuanian news agency on May 8. Lithuania’s note of concern states, in particular, that Minsk has yet to deliver a comprehensive environmental impact evaluation report on the future NPP and asks that Belarusian officials hold a new hearing in Lithuania where such information may be made available to the public.

Both Lithuania and Belarus, two neighbouring nations that used to be part of the Soviet Union, are parties to the 1991 Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context – or the Espoo Convention, called so because it was signed in the Finnish town of Espoo. Since the new NPP is projected to be built just 23 kilometres off

the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, any harmful potential impact it may have will also affect the environment and well-being of the population of Lithuania. A bilateral discussion of the issue is thus a requisite procedure.
Bellona, 9 May 2010

Bulgaria halts nuclear plant project.
‘Prime Minister Boyko Borisov says Bulgaria has put on hold construction of its second nuclear power plant until it finds a new investor and funds to complete the project. "The country has no money for an atomic power plant," the DPA news agency cited Borisov as saying in the May 4 edition of the 24Casa newspaper. "We will build it when investors come." The Russian company Atomstroiexport had originally been commissioned to build the planned 2,000-megawatt Belene nuclear power plant on the Danube River - 180 kilometers (about 112 miles) northeast of the capital Sofia - for 4 billion euros. The contract had been signed between the Russian firm and previous Socialist-led Bulgarian government. When new center-right government swept power in July elections, Borisov's conservative GERB party put the Belene under review due to rising costs. It recently announced a tender for a new consultant after German utility RWE walked out of the project due to funding problems and Sofia decided to redesign it to attract new investors.’
Nuclear Reaction, 5 May 2010

Chernobyl: commemoration and anti-nuclear struggle

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

More than 230 actions in 18 countries from Indonesia to Morocco, are listed on the Chernobyl-Day website, many in France and Italy. It shows that the lecagy of Chernobyl can still be felt and the accident is becoming over time more and more a symbol of a dangerous technology. It is now time to think about actions for next years 25th anniversary of the catastrophe.

To view the list go to but we will pay some attention to anti-nuclear actions in two countries: Germany and Belarus

Germany: 'renaissance' of the movement
Without any doubt, the largest ant-nuclear actions took place in Germany. More than 140.000 people took to the streets on April 24 not only to commemorate the catastrophe of  Chernobyl, but to demand an immediate end to nuclear power. Demonstrators formed a 120-kilometer (75-mile) human chain that stretched from the nuclear power plant in Kruemmel through the city of Hamburg along the Elbe River to the nuclear plant in Brunsbuettel, on the North Sea coast. Police in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein told the AFP news agency that there were "clearly more than 100,000 participants." Organizers estimated the total number at about 120,000. But is was only one of three large actions. In southern Germany, 17-20,000 demonstrators surrounded the reactor of Biblis and in Ahaus some 7,000 protested at the interim radioactive waste storage facility. After the large demonstration in Berlin, last September, when 50,000 people participated just before the general elections, this is a clear signal that large parts of society are objecting the planned Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to revoke a law that would shut down nuclear plants by 2020.

Although it was expetcted that tens of thousands of people would take part in the protests, the numbers exceeded all expectations. Political commentators claiming it is a rebirth of the movement and reminded at the 1970s and 1980s when nuclear power was a central issue in dividing society. Activists say it is not a rebirth of the movement, because they've always been there, but it is definitely a 'renaissance' of the anti-nuclear power movement.

Belarus: Chernobyl and anti-nuclear struggle
On April 26, the anarchist initiative Antinuclear Resistance held a few actions dedicated to the anniversary of Chernobyl disaster. It is common knowledge that a traditional demonstration "Charnobylski Shlah" is being held on this day organised by different political forces of the country. More than 5 years anarchists represent the most active and (for the last 2 years) the most numerous group of protesters. This year was different. Not only did anarchists not attend the demonstration, but called to boycott it and hold other antinuclear actions. They made their action in front of a movie theater in Minsk, playing samba-rhythms, shouting out anarchist and antinuclear slogans and delivering a speech explaining anarchists position concerning construction of the nuclear reactor. Apart from this, the actioners distributed leaflets, attracted attention by flags and fusees.

During this picket a small group of activists attended the traditional Charnobylski Shlah to distribute other leaflets named "Why are anarchists absent from Charnobylski Shlah?" Three main reasons were listed:

  1. this year the authorities made a fence with metals detector points, seaching and filming everyone who entered the place of the demo.
  2. The demonstration is losing its protesting character becoming rather a mournful event. Most of the people there don't care about the new power plant, they only want to commemorate the Chernobyl victims, which is stupid. Some of the official organisers even claimed that they will give anarchists and gays to the police as instigators and wanted to ban anarchist speeches and drum music during the event.
  3. Presence of the far-right and clear fascists on the latest demonstrations without any protest from other "liberals". It's become clear that the opposition would tolerate everyone to have more mass actions and will take the side of those if anarchists try to attack them. Anarchists will never march peacefully with the fascists, even if that prevents them from expressing our view in public.

For these reasons anarchist groups don't see a point in participating in "Charnobylski Shlah" this year (and maybe any more).

Sources: / German press reports, 24 & 24 April 2010 / Email: Anarchist initiative Antinuclear Resistance, 27 April 2010
Contact in Belarus: antiatombel[at]


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Utility tries to 'block' sun in Hawaii.

In a popular Simpsons episode, the diabolical Mr. Burns builds a giant disc to eclipse the sun and force Springfield's residents into round-the-clock reliance on electricity from his nuclear power plant. It's pitch-perfect cartoon sarcasm, but with a foot firmly in reality: the fledgling U.S. solar industry faces an array of Burnsian obstacles to its growth across the country.

In Hawaii, for example, the state's largest utility Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) is making a blatant effort to block homes and businesses from installing rooftop solar panels, a move that could strangle Hawaii's burgeoning homegrown solar industry, prevent residents and businesses from saving money, and keep the state addicted to imported oil. If there is anywhere that should be blazing the trail to a clean energy future, it is Hawaii. The islands are blessed with abundant sun, winds, and waves, yet today rely on imported fossil fuels for more than 96 percent of their energy. Hawaii consumers pay the highest electric rates in the nation. The state is trying to chart a new course, but the utility is resisting change and fighting to limit solar access to the local grid.

In so doing, HECO is holding back much more than just Hawaii. It is hindering an important experiment with solar energy that could provide valuable information to consumers, entrepreneurs, utility owners and policymakers throughout the U.S., because the program Hawaii is considering is the feed-in-tariff., 18 March 2010

German minister lifts 10-year ban on Gorleben.

The political and technical battle over the fate of Germany’s repository for high-level nuclear waste accelerated, as German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen announced he was lifting the 10-year moratorium on investigation of the Gorleben salt dome in Lower Saxony. The moratorium was declared in 2000 as part of the nuclear phase-out agreement between the nuclear industry and the then Socialist-Green government. On March 15, Roettgen promised "an open decision-making process and a safety analysis that would be subjected to international peer review". The Gorleben opponents allege that the government plans to privatize nuclear waste storage. "If these plans are implemented, those producing the waste would also be in charge of determining its ultimate repository,” the opponents argue.
Gorleben has been under consideration for the disposal of high- and intermediate-level waste and spent fuel since 1977, when it was selected by the Lower Saxony government as the only candidate for investigation, in a process that is still criticized for eliminating alternative sites too early. A total of about 1.5 billion Euro (US$2 billion) was spent on the site investigation between 1977 and 2007. Opponents have just presented to the media a CD compilation of leaked government documents from the 1970s and 1980s showing that expert studies showing Gorleben to be unsuitable were simply ignored.

First spontaneous protests about the resumption of work have taken place in Gorleben.
Immediately after the announcement of lifting the moratorium, some 300 people demonstrated and were forcibly evicted by the police using pepper spray. At the same day some 5.000 people demonstrated at the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant in southern-germany against possible life-time extension. It was the biggest demonstration at the plant in over 20 years. The national anti-nuclear power movement is gearing up for Chernobyl day, when demonstrations in Biblis (southern Germany), Ahaus (middle Germany) and a 120 km (!) human chain in northern Germany will take place to show massive popular resistance against nuclear power.

Nuclear Fuel, 22 March 2010 /

Sellafield: Radioactive birds.

Seagull eggs at Sellafield (U.K.) are being destroyed in an attempt to control bird numbers because of fears they might spread contamination after landing and swimming in open nuclear waste ponds. Sellafield said the pricking of eggs was reducing gull numbers around the site and stressed there was no public health concerns. However Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) said the gulls could fly well away from the site and spread contamination. In 1998 there was a cull of pigeons because they landed on buildings around Sellafield and spread contamination off-site. One garden in Seascale had its soil declared as low level waste because of the problem.

N-Base Briefing 644, 11 March 2010

S-Korea to build nuclear reactor in Turkey? 

On March 10, an agreement was reached between Turkey's state power company Elektrik Uretim (EUAS) and Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO), a state-controlled utility, on technical studies for the construction of a nuclear power plant to be built in Sinop, on Turkish northern coast of Black Sea. The South Korean company had earlier said it was in talks with Turkey to sell APR1400 (Advanced Power Reactor 1400), pressurized water reactor. Turkey, again, plans to build two nuclear power plants, one in Sinop on the northern coast of Black Sea and the other in Mersin on the southern coast. Construction of nuclear infrastructure could start in the short-term, said South Korean Deputy Prime Minister Young Hak Kim, speaking at a Turkish-South Korean business conference in Istanbul.

Turkey has long been eager to build nuclear power plants. A Turkish-Russian consortium led by Russia's Atomstroyexport had been the only bidder in a 2008 tender to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant in Mersin. However, Turkey's state-run electricity wholesaler TETAS canceled the tender following a court decision in November 2009. (See Nuclear Monitor 698, 27 November 2009: "Another setback on Turkey's nuclear dream"). Turkey has cancelled four previous attempts to build a nuclear plant, beginning in the late 1960s, due to the high cost and environmental concerns.

Xinhua, 10 March 2010 / Reuters, 10 March 2010

RWE: U.K. hung parliament danger for new reactors.

RWE chief executive designate Volker Beckers has warned that a hung Westminster parliament following the forthcoming election could threaten the prospects of new reactors being built in the UK. He said a hung parliament might make it inconceivable that utility companies would invest the huge sums needed to build the reactors. The Liberal Democrats opposed any new reactors and they might be involved in a new government, he said.

A 'hung parliament' is one in which no one political party has an outright majority of seats. This situation is normal in many legislatures with proportional representation, or in legislatures with strong regional parties; in such legislatures the term 'hung parliament' is rarely used. However in nations in which single member districts are used to elect parliament, and there are weak regional parties, such as the United Kingdom, a hung parliament is a rarity, as in these circumstances one party will usually hold enough seats to form a majority. A hung parliament will force either a coalition government, a minority government or a dissolution of parliament.

N-Base briefing 645, 17 March 2010

Announcement: Anti Nuclear European Forum (ANEF) on June 24, in Linz, Austria.

ANEF was established 2009 as counter-event to ENEF (European Energy Forum) since ENEF failed to fulfill ENEF´s official objectives and was/is used one-sided as a propaganda instrument for the promotion of nuclear power instead. Within ANEF negative aspects of nuclear energy will be discussed on an international level. ANEF is organized by the Antinuclear Representative of Upper Austria in cooperation with “Antiatom Szene” and “Anti Atom Komitee”. The participation of international NGOs is very important because it needs a strong signal against the nuclear renaissance.

The organizers would like to warmly invite you to participate in ANEF. Please let us know as soon as possible if you, or someone else from your organization, is considering to participate in ANEF by sending an informal email to The detailed program will be available soon and will be send to you upon request. Accommodation will be arranged for you. Further information on ANEF is published on

Learn about ANEF-Resolution here: 

Pakistan: US-India deal forces it to keep making weapons material.

Pakistan cannot participate in global negotiations to halt the production of high-enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons because the US-India nuclear cooperation agreement has tilted the regional strategic balance in India’s favour, a leading Pakistani nuclear diplomat said February 18. Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva said that under the US-India deal on nuclear cooperation, India may now import uranium under IAEA safeguards for its civilian power reactors. Because of that, India can devote its domestic uranium resources to production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, he said.

Last year, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, NSG, representing 45 members of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, NPT, agreed to lift nuclear trade sanctions against India, a non-NPT party. That action permitted the US-India deal to enter into force. In coming months, the US-India deal will most likely cause friction at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Every five years, the NPT’s 189 parties hold such a review conference. The 2005 event was bbitter and sharp in language and tone and resulted in no consensus conclusion between developing nations and advanced nuclear countries. How to deal with Israel and Pakistan (non-NPT-parties) in the wake of the US-India deal now deeply divides non-proliferation and disarmament advocates.

Nucleonics Week, 25 February 2010

U.K.: Camp against nuclear rebuild.

From 23 to 26 April 2010 at the Sizewell nuclear power stations, Suffolk. The U.K. government is planning to go ahead with a new generation of nuclear power stations. Not only is this a totally daft idea with heavy consequences, but it also diverting attention and investment way from the real solutions to climate chaos. Come and join us for a weekend of protest, networking and skill sharing. The camp will be held very near the existing power stations and the weekend will include a tour of the proposed site for Sizewell C and D reactors and anything else you would like to add.

For many more actions on Chernobyl day visit:

Japanese islanders oppose nuke plant construction.

On Tuesday March 23 opponents of the construction of a nuclear power plant on an island in Kaminoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, forced Chugoku Electric Power Corporation to cancel an explanatory meeting. More than 100 residents of Iwaishima island refused to allow officials of the company to disembark after they arrived by boat at the harbor. Kaminoseki's jurisdiction includes several islands. The proposed construction will take place on the island Iwaishima.

The company has held 15 meetings in other areas under the Kaminoseki town jurisdiction after applying for construction approval in December. The Tuesday meeting was to be the first for Iwaishima island residents, many of whom are opposed to the plan first proposed in 1982. Chugoku Electric officials said they will try again.

The Asahi Shimbun, 24 March 2010

150 German towns want nuclear power ended

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Local power utilities in Germany have formed an anti-nuclear power alliance saying that planned longer running times for nukes are endangering their plans to invest billions in climate-friendly green energies.

The local governments have coalesced to resist the power giants E.on, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall, which run nuclear stations. The local utilities are pressuring the federal government to either drop the nuclear extension or shut down coal burning stations instead. Lengthening the running times of atomic plants, as the present government intends to do, offers the companies billions in extra profits.

The threat to stop the climate-friendly local investments has weight because it involves double-digit billions of euros. Municipal utilities produce 10% of Germany’s power supply. They run many gas-fuelled and combined heat and power stations and produce above-average rates of power from green sources.

A report commissioned by them finds that extending nuclear power production would cement the predominance of the four nuclear producers for years. The move by the local utilities makes it harder for the right of centre government of Chancellor Angela Merkel to extend the running times of the country’s 17 nuclear power stations beyond 2022, the nuclear cut-off date agreed between power producers and the previous Social Democrat-Greens government.

The issue is fraught between the business-friendly Liberal and Conservative parties forming the present government. Some in the government want only a short extension, others and the nuclear lobbies want long ones. There is apparently agreement on at least half the additional profits flowing to public budgets. That’s not enough for the local utilities. They argue that if a nuclear extension can’t be stopped politically, either all the extra profits of the nuclear producers should go to public budgets or lawmakers need to think about structural market interventions.

In that scenario legislators should force nuclear power producers to shut down their coal-burning stations on the same scale as the nuclear capacities are left longer on the grid.
That would not only keep competition in the power market balanced, they say, but also cut CO2 output and drop wholesale power prices. The association of municipal works which groups 800 enterprises says the government needs to be aware that extending nuclear generation would be a massive intervention in market conditions.

The association points out that in the expectation of nuclear generation ending, many local utilities have planned investments in more decentralised and climate-friendly power production. Extending nuclear generation would take the necessary dynamism out of the restructuring of energy production, the association argues.

Meanwhile the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Germany’s central federal authority on environmental matters, responsible to the environment ministry, has demanded a 100% green-sourced power supply for the country by the middle of the century. UBA President, Jochen Flasbarth, has called on the power industry to focus all its efforts on achieving the goal.

He argues that climate protection demands that all fossil sources be successively replaced by renewables. Flasbarth told a summit of power companies: “In my view the only modernisation of the power supply has to be 100% green sourcing.” It was an extremely ambitious goal, he said, but unavoidable and fundamentally achievable. “Not just climate change but also the finality of fossil resources make this modernisation inevitable.”

Flasbarth said there was ever decreasing need for the basic power load to be coal or nuclear-fuelled. The nukes should go first, then coal. By mid-century renewables could also replace gas burning stations to take over the entire power supply. Electricity production accounts for about 40% of Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Source:, 17 March 2010
Contact: Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V. (BUND), Bundesgeschäftsstelle, Am Köllnischen Park 1, 10179 Berlin, germany
Tel: + 49 30 275 86 40

Fessenheim: radioactive steam generators

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jean-Marie Brom

The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) requests the replacement of the three steam generators at the French Fessenheim-2 reactor. The local anti-nuclear groups, supported by the national umbrella Sortir du Nucleaire, are calling for the definitive shut-down of the reactor.

In May 2009, during a "normal shut-down for refuelling and maintenance operations" of the second reactor at Fessenheim on the French-German border, traces of corrosion were detected on some internal tubes in one steam generator. The same observations were made earlier at the also French Bugey nuclear power plant. Both reactors are of about the same age, from 1977 and 1979 respectively.

The studies undertaken to find out the causes of the corrosion and the search for possible remedies took the rest of the year 2009. In January 2010, the ASN asked Électricité de France (EDF), the owner of the plant, to start a complete survey on the steam generator design and performance. “This will allow an early replacement, before too much damages occur to the steam generators". In other words, EDF has to replace the steam generators which have "serious anomalies". In 2001, the three steam generators of the first Fessenheim reactor have already been replaced. The operation costs were more than 100 million Euros (US$135 million).

Those three old steam generators, with a combined weight of more than 300 tons and highly radioactive, are still stored on the Fessenheim site. Since 1995, EDF adopted a 'standard building project' suitable for storage of contaminated steam generators on all French nuclear sites: a concrete roof and walls from 50 to 80 cm thick. This building can accommodate the three decommissioned steam generators of a unit.

Since the steam generators are part of the primary cooling system, with thousands of small tubes inside through which the primary coolant flows, these pipes have the same kind of contamination that all the other pipes in the primary cooling system have – fission products (which emit beta and gamma radiation) like cobalt-60 and cesium-137, transuranic elements (mostly alpha-emitters) such as plutonium, americium and curium, and corrosion products. Activation products such as tritium and carbon-14 (both beta-emitters with no gamma) are also present. The significance of the transuranic elements is their very long half-lives, measured in centuries or millennia, combined with their very high toxicity. Being alpha emitters, they are harmless inside the steam generator, but once outside in the environment they are very dangerous and remain so for a very long time.

Building new steam generators takes time and installing them takes about half a year, during which no electricity can be produced. The contribution of the second Fessenheim reactor to the total French nuclear electricity production is less than 1%. That is, if the reactor functions well. In the last 3 years it has been plagued by several incidents and has not been productive for more than 60% of the time.

In March 2010, EDF and ASN together decided to postpone the decennial check-up, initially foreseen for this year, to 2012, in order to prepare the replacement of the steam generators. This decision is in fact illegal, the previous authorization for 10 years has been issued in 2001. Even with new steam generators the plant will not be able to run for much more than ten years on. The replacement operation will cost at least 150 millions Euros, and take 6 months, at least. It is highly questionable whether the be-needed investment will be recuperated within the remaining 10 years of operation.

Sources: Press release "Stop transports - halte au nucleaire” / 'Replacement of Two-Blocks Steam Generators', Remi Thevenet, AREVA, 2009, available at: / Email Gordon Edwards, 10 March 2010

Contact: Stop transports – halte au Nucleaire, Jean-Marie Brom, 5 Rue de Mundolsheim, 67300 Schiltigheim, France. Tel: 33 3 8897 9884

Contaminated SGRs from Canada to Sweden.

Canadian Bruce Power's plans to ship 16 old radioactive contaminated steam generators (SGR) through the Great Lakes and over to Sweden where they will be taken apart by Studsvik. The intention is to take the steam generators apart in order to separate the more radioactive components from the less radioactive parts, with the idea that the less radioactive metals can be recycled whereas the more radioactive parts would be repackaged and shipped back to Bruce.

The 100-ton steam generators will be trucked and shipped to Montreal where they will be loaded onto an ocean-going vessel bound for Sweden. It is supposed to happen this year, possibly starting soon.

There is an interesting video available on youtube. It includes some discussion of radiation levels, but the concern is limited to (1) penetrating gamma radiation and (2) surface contamination. The video is called "Radiation Protection" and available at:


Fessenheim-2Sortir du Nucleaire


Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Germany: debate on n-power in CDU party.

Debate is still raging in the German government over the use of nuclear power. Chancellor Merkel has distanced herself from comments by environment minister Norbert Röttgen a day earlier. On February 20, Röttgen predicted that Germany would be free of nuclear power by 2030. By 2030, Germany's youngest nuclear power stations will have reached a lifespan of 40 years, eight longer than that agreed in 2000 on by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's centre-left coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. Röttgen, a member of the conservative Christian Democrats, told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper that even by the most skeptical of forecasts, Germany would reach its goal of getting 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, thus allowing the country's remaining nuclear power stations to shut down. Renewable sources currently supply 16 percent of Germany's electricity. "In the coalition contract it says that nuclear power is a stopgap until renewable energy can take over the supply reliably and at competitive prices. That's exactly the line I am following." But the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) believes that this target is still achievable. "We can still cover 40 percent from renewable energy by around 2020," UBA president Jochen Flasbarth told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on the same day.  A few days later, on February 23, Peter Mueller, Christian Democratic prime minister in the German state of Saarland, said the government should stick to its timetable to phase out nuclear power. Amending the phase-out, fixed by legislation in 2002 for about 2021, “needs plausible grounds,” Mueller is cited as saying. “I don’t see those.”
Source: The Local, 20 February 2010 / Deutsche Welle, 21 February 2010 / Bloomberg, 23 February 2010

EDF-AREVA quarrel over reprocessing resolved?

As mentioned in the January 29 issue of the Nuclear Monitor there is a lot of rivalry between the French nuclear giants AREVA and EDF. In the beginning of January AREVA stopped removing spent fuel from reactors for reprocessing at the facility at La Hague. At the end of 2008, the companies agreed on a framework for contracts for the 2008-2040 period. But since mid-2009 they have not been able to settle disagreements over prices and volumes. On January 20, the two companies were given a two-week deadline by the French government to resolve their differences on this matter. On February 5, the two companies said in a statement, they would sign a contract covering “transportation, treatment and recycling” of used nuclear fuel before the end of March. The agreement reached by the two groups lays out conditions for applying the framework agreement of Dec. 19 2008, which set out a partnership covering treatment-recycling of used fuel, and reprocessed fuel fabrication, the firms said.

Source: Reuters, 5 February 2010

European Union heading for clash on funding ITER.

European governments want to slow down construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) because they are paying for the bulk of the construction costs and are concerned that the budget is spiraling out of control. The EU is covering 45% of the costs of building and running ITER, which is to be built in Cadarache, France. The other six partners (the US, China, Russia, India, Japan and South Korea) are each paying 9%.  Concerned about the mounting costs, the EU rejected a construction timetable proposed by ITER's administration at a meeting of participating countries on 18-19 November. The administration had proposed that ITER, which was launched in November 2006, should conduct its first experiments in 2018. But the EU's member states agreed in a position paper in November that a 2018 deadline was “not feasible”. (see Nuclear Monitor 698, 27 November 2009: “Fusion Illusions”) They reaffirmed this at a working group of the Council of Ministers on February 1. A 2018 deadline, however, is strongly backed by all non-EU countries involved in ITER, with the exception of the US, which has shown signs of flexibility. Officials said that the EU would prefer to make construction costs less painful by spreading them over a longer period of time. Concerns about the ballooning budget led the Commission last year to set up an expert group tasked with reviewing the construction costs. The group's report, released to member states in January, said that the construction costs alone could rise as high as 1.5bn Euro (compared to a 2001 estimate of 598 million Euro).Total EU-contribution of ITER-project costs could rise to 3,5 billion Euro (US$ ) instead of the 1.5 billion estimated in 2001.The countries participating in the ITER project will hold a special high-level meeting in Paris on 23-24 February to try to resolve the dispute.

Source: European Voice, 4 February 2010

Replies safety AP1000 & EPR of 'poor quality'.

UK nuclear regulators have criticised the "long delays" and "poor quality" of replies they have received from Westinghouse and Areva following safety reviews of their reactor designs, AP1000 and the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR). The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has raised a number of serious issues on the design of the new reactors but in its latest report says the response from the two companies is less than expected.

The inspectors have already issued a formal 'Regulatory Issue' (RI) regarding the safety and control systems of the EPR and are now considering a RI on the shield building for the AP1000. Westinghouse is planning to use a new construction method for the reactor's shield building, using a sandwich of steel plates filled with concrete, rather than the conventional reinforced concrete. Regulators say they will have to be convinced the new techniques will be sufficient to withstand an accident, including a crash of a large aircraft. Westinghouse said it changed its construction methods in response to US regulations after 9/11 requiring it to withstand an aircraft impact.

Source: N-Base Briefing 642, 10 February & 643, 17 February 2010

Kakadu mine: Uranium contamination 5400 times background.

Australia: environmental regulators for the office of the Supervising Scientist admitted to a Senate Estimates committee on February 9, that water with uranium concentrations 5400 times background and a cocktail of other radionuclides are seeping from beneath the tailings dam at the Ranger Uranium Mine in Kakadu National Park. The Office of the Supervising Scientist acknowledged to Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam that the contamination was occurring, and said that the estimated amount of 100,000 liters per day was based on modeling and not measurement. "The biggest surprise is that despite knowing about this leakage for years, the regulators don't know how much is seeping, where it is going, or how highly contaminated it is. The regulator suggested that directly sampling this contaminated water would be 'impractical.' I suggest that it is now essential", Senator Ludlam said. "The mining company ERA booked a 2009 profit in excess of A$270 million dollars (US$240m or 177m Euro) and yet the regulator won't compel them to undertake any water quality sampling under the tailings dam. That has to change." Uranium is only one of a number of radioactive elements present in the tailings dam – others include Thorium, Polonium, Radon, Radium, Bismuth, etc.

Source: Media release Australian Greens Party, 9 February 2010


Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Germany: phasing out the phase-out. Utility companies and the government have agreed to allow two nuclear power plants which were scheduled for closure soon, to keep operating.

The two older reactors scheduled to be taken offline in the near future, Biblis A in Hesse and Neckarwestheim I in Baden-Württemberg, will remain operational until the current government finalizes its general energy program, expected in October. The move appears to be another step in reversing a 2001 plan passed by Germany's Social Democratic-Green party government under Gerhard Schröder to eventually phase out nuclear power in Germany. According to the media report, energy companies are using something of an accounting trick to enable the plants to stay online: unused allocations of electricity from newer plants will be transferred to the Biblis and Neckarwestheim facilities. The federal government met with the country's top four energy providers in Berlin on January 21 about possibly extending the life spans of nuclear power plants. While the government played down the meeting as "routine," anti-nuclear activists protested throughout the day.
Source: The Local (Germany), 23 January 2010

UK: Higher-burnup fuel needs century cooling period.

The higher-burnup fuel proposed for new reactors being considered in the UK could require a spent fuel cooling period so long that a UK geologic repository, as currently planned, would close before some of the fuel was ready for disposal. The concern surfaced in a response from Westinghouse to a study by the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Radioactive Waste Management Division, or RWMD, on the “disposability” of waste from the Westinghouse AP1000. In a similar study of the waste from the Areva EPR, the RWMD postulated that a 90- to 100-year cooling period would be necessary for the higher-burnup fuel planned for use in both companies’ reactors. As currently envisioned, a geologic repository is “assumed” to accept its first spent fuel and high-level waste around 2075, according to the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, or NDA. A repository is expected to operate 90 years before it is closed in 2165. However, if an AP1000 or EPR begins operation in 2020 — the date assumed in the RWMD studies — and operates for 60 years and the fuel needs 100 years to cool, spent fuel from the final years of reactor operations would not be cool enough for disposal until 2180, after the repository had closed.

More on high-burnup fuel in Nuclear Monitor 671, 17 April 2008: “Too Hot To Handle. The truth of high-burnup-fuel”

Source: Nuclear Fuel, 14 December 2009

Nuclear lobby: 4 key issues for 2010. In the January 2010 issue of Nuclear Engineering International Dan Yurman (“Serving nuclear energy markets since 1989”) sees four key priorities for 2010 to let a nuclear renaissance in the United States happen. Priorities, because he sees problems and uncertainties ahead: “Critics are exploiting the fault lines that have already appeared, and some, under the guise of scholarship, cherry pick their sources to make the case for failure. Their objective is to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the minds of business and government decision makers.” (January 28, 2010) Stating that “he is not prepared to accept a long term future for the U.S. as being an agnostic on nuclear energy while the U.K. France, Italy, India, China, and other countries put the pedal to the metal to build dozens of new reactors to meet the challenge of global climate change” he analyses four areas where things have to change.

1- US$200 billion loan guarantees for companies to build new reactors. “Without the loan guarantees, few utilities have the market capitalization to ‘bet the company’ on a multi-billion dollar investment in a new nuclear reactor.”

2- developing a “cadre of nuclear engineers and skilled trades capable of building new reactors on time and within budget”. Foreign competition will raid U.S. engineering programs for talent unless the “federal government” (again the government) puts in place a scholarship program.

3- The third priority is “revitalizing U.S. manufacturing capabilities including development of a facility to produce large forgings, e.g., 400 tons or more, for reactor vessels.” Because despite increases in capacity, Japan Steel Works (one of the few companies worldwide able to produce those large forgings) reports a three to- four year wait time for 400 ton reactor vessels. Currently three production facilities are under construction in the U.S.: by Areva in Virginia, Shaw in Louisiana, and Babcock & Wilcox/McDermott at locations in Ohio and Indiana.

4- If you think these three are difficult enough, read the fourth critical issue: re-invent the fuel cycle: two strategically located 500 ton/year reprocessing plants; a commercial MOX fuel manufacturing capability and the development of fast (breeder) reactors to “burn the MOX-fuel en complete the fuel cycle”.

It’s time to make clear that nuclear energy had its chance (after 50 years of pouring money in it),  admit it is something of the past and move forward to real energy solutions (but, that’s not Yurman’s conclusion).

Source: Nuclear Engineering International, January 2010 / blog Yurman at

Albania: Approval of Atomic Energy Agency.

On January 20, the government of Albania approved the creation of the country s National Atomic Agency, an institution that is suppose to supervise the development of nuclear projects. Earlier Prime Minister Sali Berisha had announced that the government was looking at the possibility of constructing a nuclear power plant. Albania’s power generation system has not seen major investment since the early 1980s, when the cash-strapped former communist regime stopped investing in new hydropower dams. Berisha's statements over constructing a nuclear power plant, have drawn interest from Italy Italian energy giant Enel who has expressed interest in locating a nuclear power generating project  in the Balkans, possibly in Albania or Montenegro. The Prime Minister said the government’s goal is to make his country a regional energy  superpower. However most commentators believe that Berisha’s statements are little more than hot air and will do little to help end electricity shortages.

Source: Balkan insight, 21 January 2010

Black workers got more radiation.

U.S.A.: A Tennessee company that processes nuclear waste has agreed to settle federal claims black employees were subjected to higher levels of radiation than others. The Studsvik Memphis Processing Facility, formerly known as Radiological Assistance Consulting and Engineering, or RACE, has signed a consent agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. Under the agreement, 23 black employees are to receive a total of US$650,000 (461,000 Euro).  The EEOC alleged the company assigned black employees to work with radioactive waste and manipulated dosimeters to show lower levels of radiation than the actual ones. Black employees were also paid less and subjected to other kinds of discrimination. Lewis Johnson, president of Studsvik, said the alleged discrimination took place before the Swedish-based company bought the Memphis facility.

Source: UPI, 16 January 2010

Radiation leak at Germany's uranium enrichment facility.

A radiation leak at Germany's sole uranium enrichment facility in Gronau (North Rhine Westphalia) has left one worker in hospital under observation. On January 21, in the preparation of a container at the Gronau uranium enrichment plant, a release of radioactive waste occurred. One employee of Urenco  Deutschland, who was operating at that time, has been admitted to hospital as a precaution for observation. He was contaminated on hands and feet with UF6 while opening a supposedly "empty and washed" container. It seems he also enhaled some. He was expected to be released within 24 hours on Friday, but had to stay over the weekend, when uranium was found in his urine. But press reports on Monday claim, he has to stay in hospital longer.According to the plant's operating company, Urenco Deutschland, there was no danger at any time to the local population. Urenco, is currently determining the cause of this incident, according to their press release.The national news in Germany reported widely on the accident. Even the prosecutor has started - on demand of local antinuclear organisations - an investigation against Urenco. On January 22 and 24 there were demonstrations in Gronau - with up to 100 people.

Source: Deutsche Welle, 22 January / Urenco press release, 22 January / WDR, 25 January 2010

U.S.: Power to corporate society.

On January 21, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out six decades of established law by granting corporations the right to use their incredible wealth and power to influence elections -- thereby diminishing the power of voting.. Imagine ExxonMobil, AIG or Entergy-Louisiana for that matter, throwing huge sums of money directly into Congressional or Legislative attack ads. And this on top of the already unbelievable amount of influence corporations have on elections. Such a scenario used to be illegal. But no longer, since the Supreme Court ruled to lift the ban that kept corporations from contributing directly to campaigns and candidates. The tortured legal argument is this: We the People are infringing on corporations' "rights" by preventing them from using all of the special advantages they have over real human beings (like unlimited life, limited liability, and lots of other ways of amassing great wealth) to influence political elections. A corporation is not a person. Corporations cannot vote. They do not live, breathe or die - at least not in the way people do and are not a part of "We the People." Giving corporations the rights of people is a cynical political move that fundamentally changes democracy. Unless we stand up, the problem of corporate money in politics could go from bad to unimaginably worse.Thankfully, some legislators are working to strengthen our campaign finance laws to prevent this. Congress needs to prevent a flash flood of corporate money into elections and there is a need to move fast. The alternative is an undemocratic system in which large corporations have even more power to drown out the voices of regular voters

Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Groups,, 21 January 2010

Spain: Nuclear law reformed.

Spain’s 1964 nuclear energy law is to be reformed to give nuclear plants greater possibility of functioning beyond the 40 years “useful life” for which they were designed, the Council of Ministers decided on December 23. The country’s eight nuclear plants must now be owned by a single limited company whose “exclusive object should be the management of the plants”, ministers decided. This is to “increase the transparency of the accounts and investments of the installations.” Ministers approved a series of measures to “clarify the criteria for the renewal” of operating licences. The 40-year “useful life” has been ratified, with extensions accepted “giving consideration to the general interest and the energy policy in effect, and the security of energy supply.” Utilities may now exchange participations to ensure that a nuclear plant belongs to a single company. Many of the eight are shared by two or three utilities, such as Garoña which is to be closed in 2013 shortly after completing 40 years’ operation. Garoña’s company, Nuclenor, was created by its 50-50 owners, utilities Iberdrola and Endesa. The ministers also approved tougher nuclear insurance conditions, increasing the obligatory insurance of a plant in case of an accident from 700 million Euro to 1.2 billion Euro (US$ 1.68 billion)

Source: Power In Europe, 11 January 2010

Scotland: New waste policy published.

The Scottish Government has published its proposed new intermediate level waste policy which is out to consultation until 9 April. In 2007 the Scottish Government broke away from the rest of the UK by rejecting the idea of a deep geological repository for its higher activity wastes. Instead it favoured long-term storage of waste in on- or near surface facilities, near the site where it was produced. The announcement was widely welcomed by environmental groups, the Nuclear Free Local Authorities and the Green and Liberal Democrat parties.Over the past two years Scottish Government officials have been consulting with stakeholders. The fact this consultation was almost entirely with regulators and the nuclear industry is reflected in changes to the original announcement that are likely to be widely questioned by the same people who initially supported the 2007 decision. It is now proposed that disposal of waste should be the preferred option, rather than storage, unless there are technical reasons why disposal of a waste stream is not possible. The concept of near-surface waste facilities has now been extended to depths of "tens of metres". The principle of waste facilities at or near where it is produced has also been widen to allow greater transport of material over longer distances. Surprisingly the Scottish Government has also revived a suggestion that storage or disposal facilities might be constructed under the seabed, but accessed from land. When this concept was proposed by the UK Government in the past there was considerable international opposition as its intended that any leakage would go into the marine environment. 'Export' of wastes to the UK or overseas is also explicitly allowed if treatment facilities are not available in Scotland.

Full details of the consultation documents are available at

Source: N-BASE Briefing 639, 20 January 2010


Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Thyroid cancer rates in Pennsylvania (USA) soared in recent decades and radiation from nuclear power plants may be the cause. This is the result of a study which was recently published in the International Journal of Health Services. Its author, Joseph Mangano, is the executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project. He calls the observed growth in thyroid cancers "an epidemic."  And there is much more evidence of the true risks of low level radiation.

WISE Amsterdam - Pennsylvania's incidence of thyroid cancer in the mid-1980s was 40 percent below the national rate, and now the rate is 44 percent above the national rate, he said, adding: "Something occurred to change Pennsylvania's rate from low to high, and one of these possible factors is radiation from reactors." Some of the highest thyroid cancer rates occur in eastern Pennsylvania, which has the nation's largest concentration of nuclear reactors, including the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Salem Township, he said. Other reactors are Three Mile Island in Dauphin County, Peach Bottom in York County and Limerick in Montgomery County. Seven continue to operate.

Some of the highest thyroid cancer rates - 80 percent above the national rate - are in Sullivan, Luzerne, Carbon, Northampton, Lehigh and York counties, according to his research.

Mangano noted that the radiation released from these reactors is relatively low, and not the high levels associated with the Chernobyl accident or the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. But the effects of low-level radiation needs to be explored further as a public health concern, he said, because radiation exposure is the only known cause of thyroid cancer. Mangano pointed to a 1999 study by the National Academy of Sciences that found more than 200,000 Americans developed thyroid cancer from above-ground atomic bomb tests in Nevada, which emitted low levels in the 1950s and 1960s.

Nuclear reactors also release low levels of radiation and these small metal particles come into contact with humans through the air, rain and snowfall and also enter the food chain. Once radiation enters the body, it seeks out the thyroid gland, damaging or killing cells, reducing hormones and causing disease and cancer, according to Mangano. Nuclear power plants emit extremely low levels of radiation - far below background levels in the area, said Joseph Scopelliti, a spokesman for PPL, which operates the Susquehanna plant. Mangano released similar study results in November pointing to high thyroid cancer rates in the counties surrounding the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which is 35 miles north of Manhattan in New York State. Those rates were also among the highest in the country, according to a news release.


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several studies revealed increased incidences of childhood leukemia near UK nuclear facilities. However, official estimated doses from released nuclides were too low, by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude, to explain the increased leukemias.

Recent epidemiological studies have reopened the childhood leukemia debate. Baker and Hoel(*1)  carried out a meta-analysis of 136 nuclear sites in the UK, Canada, France, US, Germany, Japan and Spain and found cancer death rates for children were elevated by 5 to 24 per cent depending on proximity to nuclear facilities. Hoffmann et al (*2)  found 14 leukemia cases between 1990 and 2005 in children living within 5 km of the Krümmel nuclear plant in Germany, significantly exceeding the 0.45 predicted cases.

Most important, however, is the KiKK study (Kinderkrebs in der Umgebung von Kernkraftwerken = Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants) Spix et al (*3) and Kaatsch et al (*4). The main findings were a 60% increase in solid cancer risk and a 120% increase in leukemia risk among young children living within 5 km of all German nuclear reactors. These are big increases in risk.

The KiKK report is significant because it is a large and well-conducted study; because it is scientifically rigorous; because its evidence is particularly strong; and because the German Government, which commissioned the study, has confirmed its findings. Over 60 other studies world-wide have investigated child leukemias near nuclear facilities (*5). The large majority of these studies have found increased incidences of leukemia: this lends considerable support to the KiKK findings.

The KiKK observations are presently the subject of intense research and discussion throughout the world, including at least three studies in the UK. Last November, the Department of Health requested the Government’s Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) to examine the German study and report back.

Also last November, in a case of unfortunate timing, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a Consultation paper justifying the radiation exposures from its proposed new nuclear stations. The problem is that COMARE’s report will not be finished until after the Consultation’s February 22 deadline, and DECC has refused public requests to extend its deadline until the COMARE report is finished. This is unfortunate and it is an unreasonable position for DECC to take. It is clearly important that we get to grips with the KiKK evidence before decisions are made on building more nuclear power stations.

In 2009, the UK Health Protection Agency submitted a memorandum (*6)  on health risks from radiation to the Government’s Consultations. This seeks to diminish the KiKK study and devotes only half a page to the lengthy KiKK report. The HPA’s criticisms are cursory, poorly argued and misleading. For example, the HPA  memorandum seeks to argue that the KiKK study merely found an association between nuclear power plant proximity and risk, ie and not between dose and risk - implying that radiation exposures were not a causative factor. This is unpersuasive: childhood leukemia is well known to be closely associated with radiation exposures. The HPA memorandum also states that a UK study and a French study “have not replicated” the KiKK findings. This is misleading as the two studies actually did find small leukemia increases in children near nuclear power plants. Their data were not statistically significant but this was due to the smallness of the studies and not the absence of effect. The HPA’s view remains that official estimated doses from NPP releases are much too small to result in the observed levels of leukemia. But the CERRIE report (*7) showed that there could be very large uncertainties in official dose estimates from inhaled and ingested radionuclides.

CERRIE was an independent Committee established by the UK Government in 2001, following concerns about the risks of internal radiation, including reports of increased incidences of cancer near nuclear sites and after Chernobyl. The Committee operated between October 2001 and October 2004. Although the commission found no clear evidence to date that current radiation risks were substantially wrong, it advised that greater attention should be paid to uncertainties and tougher action is needed to allow for new information about the risks from internal radiation. Uncertainties about the risks mean that in some cases we might be exposed to 10 times the risk previously thought, while in other cases the risk may be almost zero. Uncertainties in current methods of estimating risks from internal radiation require policy makers and regulators to adopt a precautionary approach when dealing with exposures to internal radiation. The CERRIE report warned also that newly discovered effects of radiation, genomic instability (ongoing, long-term increase in mutations within cells and their offspring), bystander effects (cells next to those that were irradiated can also be damaged), and minisatellite mutations (inherited germline DNA changes) are real biological events that need further research.

The nuclear establishment approach (the ICRP – International Commission on Radiological Protection - an advisory body providing recommendations and guidance on radiation protection) and the hormesis approach treat radiation as if it were equally distributed in the body.

The nub of the issue is that there are some kinds of radiation exposure which are uniform, that is evenly distributed in the body. This applies to forms of external radiation, eg. x-rays and gamma rays. But internal radionuclides which are inhaled or ingested  may not be evenly distributed, so that their damage is concentrated in some areas and not others. Auger emitters and low range beta emitters such as tritium are examples.

In these circumstances, as the CERRIE Report hinted in 2004, the concept of “dose” may be meaningless for internal emitters. So we should be very careful when using “dose” to describe the effects of internal radiation.

The main reason the nuclear establishment sticks to using dose is they got used to using it for external radiation and tried to extend it to internal radiation. But it really should not be used for this: internal concentrations of radionuclides (Bq per kg) should be used instead.


*1- "Meta-analysis of standardized incidence and mortality rates of childhood leukaemias in proximity to nuclear facilities", European Journal Cancer Care. 2007;16:355–363.2007

*2- "Childhood Leukemia in the Vicinity of the Geesthacht Nuclear Establishments near Hamburg, Germany", Environmental Health Perspectives. Vol 115, No 6, June 2007

*3- "Case-control study on childhood cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants in Germany 1980 – 2003. European Journal Cancer. 2008 Jan; 44(2) pp 275-84)

 *4- "Leukaemia in young children living in the vicinity of German nuclear power plants". International Journal Cancer. 2008; 122(4) pp 721-6

*5- Fairlie I and Körblein A: "Review of epidemiology studies of childhood leukaemia near nuclear facilities: Commentary on Laurier et al". Radiation Protection Dosimetry (2009) Vol 137, Number 3-4  doi:10.1093/rpd/ncp246

*6- Mobbs et al: "An introduction to the estimation of risks arising from the exposure to low doses of ionising radiation", HPA-RPD-055. Health Protection Agency. Oxford, UK

*7- “Report of the Committee Examining the Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters”, 2004

(Thanks to Ian Fairlie and Karin Wurzbacher)

Sources: Press release CERRIE, 20 October 2004 / Ian Fairlie, Evidence to House of Commons Committee on Energy and Climate Change, 19 January 2010 /, 22 January 2010: "Study: Nuclear plant radiation may be to blame for cancer spike"

Contact: Karin Wurzbacher, Umweltinstitut München, Email: 

Radiological Risk Theories

  • "Linear NoThreshold" (LNT). This theory is used by the world’s radiation authorities — UNSCEAR, ICRP, UK HPA, US BEIR, etc – to estimate risks at low doses. It presumes that risks decline proportionately as you lower the dose all the way down to zero, and that the only dose with no effect is zero mSv. In other words, under LNT there  is no safe dose of radiation: no matter how low it is, a small risk remains. The LNT model's virtue is its simplicity as radiation exposures can be added from different times/sources to compare with dose limits, and can be added to form population (ie collective) doses.
  • “Sub-linear”: which postulates that low levels of radiation are proportionately less harmful than a linear relationship
  • “Hormesis” approach: exposure of a cell or organism to a low dose results in an adaptive stimulatory/beneficial outcome, while exposure to a high dose results in an inhibitory / detrimental outcome: "radiation is good for you"
  • “Supra-linear”: the often ignored hypothesis that low levels of radiation are proportionately more harmful than a linear relationship



Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

An inventory of 126,000 drums of low- and medium level radioactive waste, placed in the former Asse salt mine in Lower Saxony between 1967 and 1978, will be brought to the surface and reconditioned if necessary. No final decision has been made about where to move the waste.

WISE Amsterdam - Wolfram Koenig, president of the German Federal Radiation Protection Agency, BFS, and Norbert Roettgen, since last fall Germany’s federal nuclear regulator and in charge of the Federal Ministry of Environment & Nuclear Safety, BMU, made statements mid January indicating they both agreed that retrieving the waste was the best option. During 2009, BFS internally evaluated several options for decommissioning and closing the Asse repository. The office also considered moving the waste to 1,000 meters underground at Asse or filling the mine with water and sealing it, but decided that removing it was the safest option for the long term. Koenig said the operation would be a "great scientific and technical challenge," with the BfS planning to present soon a concept on how best to proceed.

The German section of Friends of the Earth, BUND, said it was unclear where the waste will go once extracted from Asse. But press reports said that it would be stored in an old iron ore mine called Konrad Shaft near Salzgitter, which would then become Germany's first permanent storage site for nuclear waste.

Asse was commissioned in the 1960s by federal and state government agencies, without a formal nuclear licensing process, on behalf of waste producers. According to some German waste management officials, unless the federal government took control of the project, some utilities would not have agreed to commit themselves to invest in Germany’s initial nuclear power plants.

Extracting the waste is expected to be a laborious, hazardous and expensive operation. According to BFS officials, retrieving all the waste would take about a decade and cost at least 2 billion Euro (US$ 2.9 billion), while press reports mention it could cost as much as four billion Euro (US$ 5.8 billion). BFS is also preparing "emergency measures" in case of an enormous increase of flooding, and if it is determined that some of the containers are dangerously corroded, then removing them will be reconsidered.

It is uncertain who will ultimately pay for retrieving, repackaging, and disposing of the Asse waste. Before the last federal coalition government was voted out of power in September, then BMU-minister Sigmar Gabriel asserted that waste producers, including power reactor owners, should pay for the decommissioning of the site. But reactor owners of course disagreed, saying that, since the Asse project was led by the federal government’s research ministry, the federal government should pay for it. Last week, Germany’s research minister, Annette Schavan, said in interviews that the Asse mine was “more intensively used” by industry than would have been justified had Asse been solely a research project.

The Asse mine in central Germany, used to store waste from 1967 to 1978 between 500 and 700 meters underground, has been known for some time to be leaking and in danger of partial collapse. At first the barrels were stacked in an orderly manner, but in the 1970s they were simply dumped in and covered with the salt grit, with the result that many are now corroded and dented.

Although Asse is a disposal site for low- and intermediate level waste, that does not automatically mean there are no highly radioactive substances. Last August it was published that in the Asse pit, around 28 kg of plutonium, more than three times as much as previously assumed, is evidently being stored.

Sources: Parliamentary questions, 24 November 2009, European Parliament /  AFP, 15 January 2010 / Nucleonics Week, 21 January 2010

Contact: AG Schacht Konrad. Konrad-Haus, Bleckenstedter Str. 14a, 38239 Salzgitter, Germany, Email: , Web:

Exactly 200 issues ago, in issue 503 of this magazine (which was called the WISE News Communique by then), we published the following In Brief.

Asse storage is leaking. From 1967 to 1977, low and intermediate radioactive waste was stored in the former salt mine in Asse, Lower Saxony, Germany. There it is supposed to be stored in dry salt. Now water is seeping through to the waste drums. The environmental ministry of Lower Saxony confirmed the leakage on November 6.
At present about 10 cubic meters of water is pumped away daily. The drums are in danger of rusting. Experts are trying to find solutions to this problem. Since 1995 salt from another Kali-mine close to Hannover has been added to the Asse mine to cover the waste. The leakage of the soapy water (alkaline solution) had first been discovered in 1991, and from 1993 on, it slowly increased. But the environment ministry isn't yet considering 'evacuating' the 127,000 drums to another site. This would only be considered in a "worst case" scenario. Instead, it should be tried to make Asse water-proof again.

From WISE News Communique 503; 4 December 1998



Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

The new conservative-liberal government in Germany so far has been hesitant to go full speed in their support for nuclear energy. So far they still stick to the nuclear phase out and pretend to be tough towards the energy utilities, which want to operate their nuclear power plants longer.

Urgewald - This hesitant behaviour is due to the elections taking place in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in May where the same coalition of Christian Democrats and Liberals ruling the country has been working in a coalition over the past years and fears for its majority.

However, there are areas where the pro-nuclear take of the government becomes crystal clear. On Wednesday, 27 January, the budget committee of the parliament was informed about a huge guarantee for Areva NP (34% Siemens) for the Brazilian nuclear power plant Angra 3. This was the last step in getting rid of the exclusion criterion for guarantees for nuclear exports, which had been in place since 2001. It prevented export credit guarantees to be granted to Areva/Siemens for Olkiluoto 3 and an earlier attempt for Angra 3.

Yet the coalition treaty mentioned that the government wanted to get rid of the Hermes guidelines containing the exclusion criterion. Shortly after the elections Areva/Siemens handed in an application for guarantees over 2,5 billion Euro (US$ 3.5 billion) for Angra 3.

Although Siemens is in the process of ending its 34 % stake in Areva NP German law makers nor the majority of parliamentarians seem to be aware of the possibility of ending up financing a French state-company.

As the contracts for Angra 2 (ready built) and Angra 3 were set up in the 70's and plans were made at that time, Angra 3 is old technology before the building even starts, the plant being a second generation design. Further problems are that the plans for storage of radioactive waste are poor, provisional and not very advanced, that the Brazilian nuclear regulator is not an independent body, but has direct commercial interests in the Angra 3 project: the group providing the fuel to power Angra’s reactors is part of the regulatory body, according to Greenpeace in its "Financing Brazilian nuclear programme: a risky investment“ (November 2009). The emergency management has been strongly criticised and the environmental minister gave the license only with over 40 additional requirements, experts doubt whether the energy utility Electronuclear will be able to fulfil these requirements. One might wonder, too, whether it is the wisest decision to build a nuclear power plant in the only earthquake prone area in Brazil.

Despite parliamentarians brought up these critical questions in the budget committee discussion, the ruling majority accepted the assurance of the economics ministry that all was fine and in order and nothing to worry about with the project. This means back to square one on the German nuclear export promotion and if Angra goes through smoothly one can only wonder what else will follow.

Source and contact: Regine Richter, Urgewald. Im Grünen Haus, Prenzlauer Allee 230, 10405 Berlin, Germany. Email:, Web:


After the German elections

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

At the September 27, general elections (with an all time turnout low of only 67 %) Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party won enough seats to allow her to form a coalition with the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). The big winners were the FDP, the reformed communist Die Linke (The Left) party, and the environmentalist Greens. However, the left-wing parties do not have a majority and internal struggle (SPD will not form a coalition with Die Linke) would have made a centre-left coalition impossible.

The two traditional Volksparteien, the CDU with its Bavarian sister CSU, and the SPD, received only 58% of the vote. Compare that percentage to 78% in 2001, 82% in 1987, and over 90% in 1972.  Commentators called the election results, 'historic.' Angela Merkel, the German chancellor famous for her gift of non-expression, bridged over any historicism by grinning into cameras exactly as accustomed.

Brüchige Übergangstechnologie
Chancellor Merkel, an East-German-degreed physicist, is nuclear power pro-nostalgic. The CDU platform paper calls it a 'Brückentechnologie' (bridging technology). Her new coalition partner, the FDP, uses a slightly different term: 'Übergangstechnologie' (transition technology). Both words mean this: the German nuclear phase-out implemented by Gerhard Schroeder's SPD-led government will be pushed-back.

The CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union) and their Bavarian Division CSU (Christlich Soziale Union) are large parties covering a spectrum of opinions on particular points, even including a small anti-nuclear group. The Chancellor kept campaigning for extensions, while CSU speaker (and possible future minister for environment and nuclear) Markus Söder called for a deal with the utilities to use the profits from extended "life"times for research into renewable energy sources, implying that more research is needed before they are ready to use.

Are the ‘Friends of nuclear’ celebrating too early?
But, as an editorial of the Financial Times Deutschland put it the day after the elections, ‘Atomfreunde freuen sich zu früh’ (‘Friends of nuclear celebrate too early’)

One day later, on September 29, Der Spiegel online, published an article in which FDP environment expert Michael Kauch said that although FDP wants life-time extensions, the party does not want that for all reactors; "The FDP's committee decided before the elections that we want an extension of running times, but not for all reactors". He, however, did not mention a number.

But the race isn’t run in the CDU. According to an article in the September 30 issue of the Financial Times Deutschland, some leading persons within Merkel's party (CDU) are not supporting the party line of phasing-out the nuclear phase-out. "There is a timetable about how the phase-out of this bridge technology will go on. For the moment, that is mandatory", Saarland state Prime Minister Peter Mueller said. "To me, the question of nuclear power plant license extensions is not a priority." Instead of reversing the phase-out law decided by Red-Green, it would make more sense to achieve a secure, inexpensive and sustainable energy supply based on existing legislation, Müller said. "In this spirit, we are working on a future without nuclear energy". He demanded more energy efficiency and a fast expansion of renewable energies.

The decision on the nuclear phase-out was legislated in 2002 as a result of wide discussion and consensus in the society. It has largely stimulated the German energy industry to make major investments in wind and solar energy, making Germany a world leader in the large-scale renewable energy technologies. Rather than phasing out the nuclear phaseout, the new government should close down dangerous old reactors and maintain the country's leading role in clean energy.

Another important legacy of the Schroeder SPD/Green coalition government is the Renewable Energy Sources Act. This key law obliges grid operators to pay fixed feed-in tariffs for electricity won from renewable sources. This lucky law has gained popularity all across the German political spectrum – even the FDP has come to see its far-reaching importance: fixed feed-in tariffs, creating thousands of Green jobs, have helped Germany become the world's first address in wind technology.
Still, using the recovering economy as an excuse, the Merkel government will short-sightedly shorten renewable energy subsidies, particularly to solar power, which runs on panels 'Made in China.'

Stocks in Germany's main nuclear utilities rose on the news: EOn up 3.2% and RWE up 2.8% while solar power companies slumped between 1.9% and 4.3% on the expectation of a revision to €3.2 billion-a-year feed-in-tariff for renewables.

The German antinuclear movement has a fight ahead, but some say it is easier to fight an open conservative government than against one that pretends it would be anti-nuclear. The movement is actually growing stronger (see the 50,000-strong demonstration in Berlin on September 5), following the current crisis with radioactive waste and a recent series of accidents at aging German nuclear reactors.

Nuclear industry circles are optimistic and delighted. The World Nuclear News headlines: 'Election brings hope for German nuclear'. About the expected prolonged operational life with 10-15 years for the reactors (beyond the 32 years decided in the phase-out law), they stated: "similar reactors elsewhere operate for up to 60 years". 

According to the World Nuclear Association, the forthcoming change in Germany's stance "could bring a new zeal to energy and climate policies of the G8 group of industrialized nations as well as their approach to negotiations".

However that has to be seen; the climate issue was not on the forefront in the discussion on nuclear power in Germany; energy shortage and transition technology was.

Sources:  Newsreports and mail, 27 & 28 September 2009 / Der Spiegel, 29 September 2009 /, 29 September 2009 / World Nuclear News, 28 September / Financial Times Deutschland, 30 September 2009
Contact: BI Umweltschutz Luechow Dannenberg, Rosenstr. 20, 29439 Luechow, Germany
Tel: +49 5841 4684