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US NRC to find out just how confident public is in radioactive waste policy

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#768
27/09/2013
Michael Mariotte
Article

Against the backdrop of this year's unprecedented spate of reactor shutdowns and cancellations, attention in the US is turning this Fall to the complete breakdown of radioactive waste policy.

Featured will be 12 public meetings across the country over the next 45 days to discuss the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's "waste confidence" policy, and likely action in the Senate on legislation that might − or might not − set a new path on radioactive waste.

Last summer, a federal court threw out the NRC's "waste confidence" policy, which forced the agency to institute a moratorium on licensing new reactors and relicensing old ones. The policy was established in the 1980s, after Congress decided that the federal government would be responsible for disposal of high-level nuclear waste.

At the time, Congress also decided that the government would begin accepting the waste for disposal in 1998 and directed the Department of Energy to sign contracts to do so. So much for bad ideas and poor prognostication. More than 25 years since the legislation was passed, the government has been unable to make good on any of those contracts − and is therefore being sued by nuclear utilities − and is also no closer to a radioactive waste solution than it was in the 1980s.

At the core of the "waste confidence" policy was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) assertion that it was confident high-level radioactive waste would always be stored or disposed of safely, no matter where it was and that, in any case, a permanent waste disposal site was just around the corner. This assertion allowed the NRC to license and relicense reactors which otherwise would have been prohibited (as it is today).

But the court ruled that the utter lack of progress toward establishing a permanent site and the Obama Administration's efforts to end the Yucca Mountain, Nevada project meant there is no reason to assume a permanent site ever will be established. Further, the court said the NRC had provided no technical basis whatsoever to assume that waste would, or even could, be stored indefinitely onsite. Thus, the "waste confidence" policy was merely an assertion without foundation.

The NRC vowed to provide a basis for its waste confidence policy and resume licensing within two years − even though the agency's own experts said doing the job properly likely would take seven years. The result is a new proposed rule that asserts that radioactive waste can be stored indefinitely − as in essentially forever − in dry casks and even in fuel pools even without a permanent disposal site. The rule is backed by a 600-page "Generic Draft Environment Impact Statement" (DEIS) that conveniently understates, downplays and just plain ignores most of the possible, some would say likely, pitfalls and problems posed by long-term storage at both casks and pools.

For example, the DEIS determined that the risks of a fuel pool fire are "inconsequential". That's not because a fuel pool fire itself would be inconsequential − in fact, it would be calamitous. But the NRC says the odds of such a fire are so low the agency doesn't have to worry about it. The NRC put the odds at 1 in 60,000 per reactor year. Multiply that by 99 reactors over the next hundred or so years, and the odds grow scarily close to inevitable. And before March 11, 2011, most experts would have put the odds of three simultaneous meltdowns and four endangered fuel pools at well below 1 in 60,000.

Nor does the DEIS attempt to determine the relative value of dry cask versus fuel pool storage, apparently assuming both are equally safe − a view not shared by most outside experts. And while dry casks are the preferred technology for most concerned with nuclear safety issues at this time, few believe they are a permanent solution and the DEIS fails to consider any of the potential dangers they might pose in the future. For example, the NRC believes dry casks should last 100 years; then the fuel would have to be transferred to new dry casks − but unloading a cask full of extraordinarily radioactive fuel roads and re-loading them into a new cask is a job that never has been done. The potential effects of climate change-related sea-level and other water-level rise on dry casks also has been sloughed off, among other issues.

On October 1, the NRC will hold a public meeting (although industry and anti-nuclear groups already have been briefed by the agency) at its Rockville, Maryland headquarters to begin trying to sell its DEIS and proposed rule to the public. The next week it takes its show on the road, starting with a meeting in Denver, Colorado on October 3 and ending back in Rockville on November 14. In between, there will be meetings in California, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Florida.

Activists across the country have vowed to pack the meetings to challenge both the technical details of the DEIS as well as to protest the very notion that new radioactive waste should be generated at all. The Nuclear Information and Resource Service has a new webpage with location and schedule information, talking points, and more: www.nirs.org/radwaste/wasteconfidence.htm

Note, however, that Tea Party interests seem intent on forcing a government shutdown over President Obama's attempt to ensure that most Americans are able to obtain some sort of health care. If a shutdown occurs, some or all of the meeting dates may be changed.

New independent agency?
Meanwhile, in the Senate momentum seems to have slipped from Energy Committee efforts to pass a bill (S.1240) to establish a new independent agency to take over the Department of Energy's (DOE) radioactive waste program. That bill, which is based on the recommendations of the DOE's Blue Ribbon Commission on waste (brc.gov), would also set up a new consent-based process for finding a permanent waste disposal site. In addition, it would allow creation of one or more new "consolidated interim storage" sites − a gift to the nuclear industry so that it could begin shipping high-level waste off its property and let the federal government take responsibility for it.

But the bill hasn't received the kind of support its backers had hoped. Environmentalists oppose it because the idea of "interim" storage would lead to massive transport of high-level waste across the country ("Mobile Chernobyl") to an unsuitable site from where it would have to be transported again. The Nuclear Information and Resource Service has collected about 40,000 signatures on petitions opposing the bill for that reason.

The program also would take a lot of the impetus away from the search for a scientifically-defensible permanent site since the industry's only real interest is in getting the stuff off its property and into government hands. Moreover, the bill fails to ensure that fuel pools would be emptied as quickly as feasible into dry casks, which environmentalists believe are much safer than the overcrowded pools.

And some Republicans don't want to see the establishment of a new federal agency of any kind for any reason, and don't really care that a new agency might be able to begin making up for the myriad of mistakes the DOE has made on waste policy over the years; thus they are at best lukewarm toward that idea. What they really want − especially in the House of Representatives, which would also have to approve radioactive waste legislation for it to become law − is a return to the discredited and failed Yucca Mountain project.

Republicans have seized on a recent federal court decision that ruled the NRC improperly ended its licensing review of Yucca Mountain; the NRC has said it will comply with the decision and is now working on how to restart its review. In the US, the DOE currently is responsible for finding a permanent disposal site and submitting an application for it to the NRC, which has final approval to license the site. But the NRC only has about $11 million left in its fund for the license review, and it will cost about half that just to re-establish the computer system to provide access to the literally millions of pages of documents involved in the licensing process.

As long as Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is Senate Majority Leader, Congress won't approve any more money for the NRC to complete the process (nor will it approve any legislation to mandate Yucca Mountain), so it's unlikely that either the court decision or legislative efforts to bolster the Yucca site will have any actual practical effect.

But despite the relatively poor outlook for radioactive waste legislation, sources indicate that S.1240's sponsors in the Senate Energy Committee are still hoping to hold a mark-up session and committee vote on the bill in mid-October. Whether any changes to the bill, one way or the other, will be sufficient to move it beyond the Committee level remains to be seen.

Author: Michael Mariotte − Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
Web: www.nirs.org
Email: nirsnet[@]nirs.org

About: 
NIRS

US warned Kodak, not us, about radioactive fallout (John LaForge)

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#764
28/06/2013
John LaForge
Article

In the 1950s and '60s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) doused the United States with thyroid cancer-causing iodine-131 − and 300 other radioisotopes − by exploding atomic and hydrogen bombs above ground in Nevada. To protect the dirty, secretive bomb-building industry, the government chose to warn the photographic film industry about the radioactive fallout patterns, but not the public.

In 1951, Eastman Kodak Co. had threatened a federal lawsuit over the nuclear fallout that was fogging its bulk film shipments. Film was not packed in bubble wrap then, but in corn stalks that were sometimes being fallout-contaminated. By agreeing to warn Kodak, etc., the AEC and the bomb program avoided the public uproar − and the bomb testing program's possible cancellation − that a lawsuit would have precipitated. The settlement kept the deadliness of the fallout hidden from the public, even though the government well knew that fallout endangered all the people it was supposed to be defending.

This staggering revelation was heralded on September 30, 1997, in the New York Times headline, "U.S. Warned Film Plants, Not Public, About Nuclear Fallout." The article began, "(W)hile the government reassured the public that there was no health threat from atmospheric nuclear tests. ..." The fallout's radioactive iodine-131 caused thyroid doses to virtually all 160 million Americans.

According to the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Takoma Park, Md., which discovered the cover-up, children were especially affected and received higher doses because they generally consumed more milk than adults and since their thyroids are smaller and growing more rapidly. The "milk pathway" moves radio-iodine from grass, to cows, to milk with extreme efficiency − a fact known to the government as early as 1951. Ingested iodine-131 concentrates in the thyroid gland where it can cause cancer. Doses to children averaged 6 to 14 rads (0.06−0.14 Gy), with some as high as 112 rads (1.12 Gy). Before 1997, the government claimed that thyroid doses to children were 15 to 70 times less.

Radioactive fallout spread to every corner of the US
My friend Steve O'Neil of Duluth, Minn., who was born in 1951, has been a public-spirited political activist all of his adult life, an advocate for the homeless and a campaigner against the causes of homelessness. As a St. Louis County commissioner in his third term, Steve made headlines by announcing that he has been attacked by an aggressive form of thyroid cancer. Steve is not alone in his affliction − more than 60,000 thyroid cancers will be spotted this year in the US. Tens of thousands of them have been caused by our government's nuclear weapons establishment.

The National Cancer Institute disclosed in 1997 that 75,000 thyroid cancer cases can be expected in the U.S. from just 90 − out of 235 − above-ground bomb tests and that 10% of them will be fatal. That year, the cancer institute said, about 70% of the thyroid cancers caused by iodine-131 fallout from those 90 tests had not yet been diagnosed but would appear years or decades later.

Its 14-year study said the 90 bomb blasts produced more than 100 times the radioactive iodine-131 than the government had earlier claimed. The cancer institute estimated that the tests dispersed "about 150 million curies of iodine-131, mainly in the years 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1957." The study reported that all 160 million people in the country at the time were exposed to iodine-131 (the only isotope it studied out of more than 300 dispersed by the blasts.) Children under 15, like Steve O'Neil, were particularly at risk.

High doses of fallout were spread nationwide. Wind patterns and local rainfall caused "hot spots" from Montana and Idaho to South Dakota, Minnesota, and Missouri and beyond.

In 1962, according to IEER, officials in Utah and Minnesota diverted possibly contaminated milk from the market when iodine-131 levels exceeded radiation guidelines set by the Federal Radiation Council. The council reacted harshly and declared that it did "not recommend such actions." It also announced that its radiation guidelines should not be applied to bomb test fallout because "any possible health risk which may be associated with exposures even many times above the guide levels would not result in a detectable increase in the incidence of disease." IEER's scientists condemned this fabulously implausible assurance, writing: "Since thyroid cancers can develop many years after radiation exposure and are therefore not immediately detectable, this reassurance was highly misleading."

Thyroid cancers are tip of bomb test cancer iceberg
The cancer institute's 1997 study said about 16,000 cases of thyroid cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. annually, and that 1,230 would die from the disease. It was a gross understatement.

Today it reports that 60,220 cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in the US this year, and that 1,850 of them will be fatal.

The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation says that iodine-131 doses comprise only 2% of the overall radiation dose from weapons testing. Ninety-eight percent of the fallout dose is from 300 other isotopes produced by the bomb. It is not idle speculation to suggest that the cancer pandemic afflicting the U.S. has been caused by our government's deliberately secret and viciously reckless weapons program.

This article appeared earlier in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Author: John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, USA, edits its Quarterly newsletter and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.

Inhuman radiation experiments

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#764
28/06/2013
John LaForge
Article

Author: John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, USA, edits its Quarterly newsletter and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the declassification of top secret studies, done over a period of 60 years, in which the US conducted 2,000 radiation experiments on as many as 20,000 vulnerable US citizens.[1]

Victims included civilians, prison inmates, federal workers, hospital patients, pregnant women, infants, developmentally disabled children and military personnel − most of them powerless, poor, sick, elderly or terminally ill. Eileen Welsome's 1999 exposé The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War details "the unspeakable scientific trials that reduced thousands of men, women, and even children to nameless specimens."[2]

The program employed industry and academic scientists who used their hapless patients or wards to see the immediate and short-term effects of radioactive contamination − with everything from plutonium to radioactive arsenic.[3] The human subjects were mostly poisoned without their knowledge or consent. An April 17, 1947 memo by Col. O.G. Haywood of the Army Corps of Engineers explained why the studies were classified. "It is desired that no document be released which refers to experiments with humans and might have adverse effect on public opinion or result in legal suits."[4]

In one Vanderbilt U. study, 829 pregnant women were unknowingly fed radioactive iron. In another, 188 children were given radioactive iron-laced lemonade. From 1963 to 1971, 67 inmates in Oregon and 64 prisoners in Washington had their testicles targeted with X-rays to see what doses made them sterile.[5] At the Fernald State School in Massachusetts, mentally retarded boys were fed radioactive iron and calcium but consent forms sent to their parents didn't mention radiation. Elsewhere, psychiatric patients and infants were injected with radioactive iodine.[6]

The vast testing program went ahead in spite of a warning to use chimpanzees instead of humans, because, as a top radiation biologist wrote at the time, the experiments might have "a little of the Buchenwald touch," comparing them to the Nazis' torture of concentration camp inmates.[7]

A rare public condemnation came from Clinton Administration Energy Sec. Hazel O'Leary in 1994, who confessed being aghast at the conduct of the scientists. She told Newsweek: "I said, ‘Who were these people and why did this happen?' The only thing I could think of was Nazi Germany."[8] None of the victims were provided follow-on medical care.

Scientists knew from the beginning of the twentieth century that radiation can cause genetic and cell damage, cell death, radiation sickness and even death. A Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments was established in 1993 to investigate charges of unethical or criminal action by the experimenters. Its findings were published by Oxford U. Press in 1996 as The Human Radiation Experiments.

The abuse of X-radiation "therapy" was also conducted throughout the 1940s and '50s. Everything from ringworm to tonsillitis was "treated" with X-radiation because the long-term risks were unknown or considered tolerable. Children were routinely exposed to alarmingly high doses of radiation from devices like "fluoroscopes" to measure foot size in shoe stores.[9] Nasal radium capsules inserted in nostrils, used to attack hearing loss, are now thought to be the cause of cancers, thyroid and dental problems, immune dysfunction and more.[10]

Experiments spread cancer risks far and wide
In large scale experiments as late as 1985, the Energy Department deliberately produced reactor meltdowns which spewed radiation across Idaho and beyond.[11] The Air Force conducted at least eight deliberate meltdowns in the Utah desert, dispersing 14 times the radiation released by the partial meltdown of Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979.[12]

The military even dumped radiation from planes and spread it across wide areas around and downwind of Oak Ridge, Tenn., Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Dugway, Utah. This "systematic radiation warfare program," conducted between 1944 and 1961, was kept secret for 40 years. ("Secret U.S. experiments in '40s and '50s included dropping radiation from sky," St. Paul Pioneer, Dec. 16, 1993) "Radiation bombs" thrown from USAF planes intentionally spread radiation "unknown distances" endangering the young and old alike. One such experiment doused Utah with 60 times more radiation than escaped the Three Mile Island accident, according to Sen. John Glen, D-Ohio who released a report on the program 20 years ago.[13]

The Pentagon's 235 above-ground nuclear bomb tests, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are not officially listed as radiation experiments. Yet between 250,000 and 500,000 U.S. military personnel were contaminated during their compulsory participation in the bomb tests and the post-war occupation of Japan.[14]

Documents uncovered by the Advisory Committee show that the military knew there were serious radioactive fallout risks from its Nevada Test Site bomb blasts. The generals decided not to use a safer site in Florida, where fallout would have blown out to sea. "The officials determined it was probably not safe, but went ahead anyway," said Pat Fitzgerald a scientist on the committee staff.[15] Dr. Gioacchino Failla, a Columbia Univ. scientist who worked for the AEC, said at the time, "We should take some risk ... we are faced with a war in which atomic weapons will undoubtedly be used, and we have to have some information about these things."[16]

With the National Cancer Institute's 1997 finding that all 160,000 million US citizens (in the country at the time of the bomb tests) were contaminated with fallout, it's clear we did face war with atomic weapons − our own.

References:
1. Secret Radioactive Experiments to Bring Compensation by U.S.," New York Times, Nov. 20, 1996
2. Eileen Welsome, The Plutonium Files: America’s Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War, Delta Books, 1999, dust jacket
3. Ibid. p. 9
4. "Radiation tests kept deliberately secret," Washington Post, Dec. 16, 1994; Geoffrey Sea, "The Radiation Story No One Would Touch," Project Censored, March/April 1994
5. Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power, "American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on U.S. Citizens," U.S. Government Printing Office,
ov. 1986, p. 2; St. Paul Pioneer, via New York Times, Jan. 4, 1994
6. "48 more human radiation experiments revealed, Minneapolis StarTribune, June 28, 1994; Milwaukee Journal, June 29, 1994
7. Keith Schneider, "1950 Note Warms About Radiation Test," New York Times, Dec. 28, 1993
8. Newsweek, Dec. 27, 1994
9. Joseph Mangano, Mad Science: The Nuclear Power Experiment, OR Books, 2012, p. 36
10. "Nasal radium treatments of ’50s linked to cancer," Milwaukee Journal, Aug. 31, 1994
11. "Reactor core is melted in experiment," Washington Post service, Milwaukee Journal, July 10, 1985
12. "Tests spewed radiation, paper reports," AP, Milwaukee Journal, Oct. 11, 1994
13. Katherine Rizzo, Associated Press, "A bombshell: U.S. spread radiation," Duluth News-Tribune, Dec. 16, 1993
14. Catherine Caufield, Multiple Exposures, p. 107; Greg Gordon in "Wellstone: Compensate atomic vets," Minneapolis StarTribune, Mach 17, 1995; Associated Press, "Panel Told of Exposure to Test Danger," Tulsa World, Jan. 24, 1995
15. Philip Hilts, "Fallout Risk Near Atom Tests Was Known, Documents Show," New York Times, March 15, 1995, p. A13; and Pat Ortmeyer, "Let Them Drink Milk," Institute for Environmental & Energy Research, November 1997, pp. 3 & 11
16. Philip J. Hilts, Ibid

This article appeared earlier in CounterPunch and TruthOut.

Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#763
13/06/2013
Shorts

Spain: Garoña plant closer to definitive end?
The nuclear power plant of Garoña (Burgos), the oldest of the Spanish nuclear plants, is a hostage of its owner Enterprise Nuclenor (itself owned by the large enterprises ENDESA and Iberdrola). Garoña, whose reactor is identical to Fukushima Daiichi reactor #1, has been used by the Spanish nuclear lobby to press on the Government.

The first part of this struggle, until December 2012, was public and Nuclenor used Garoña to try to stop the new Law on Fiscal Measures that introduced a tax on the spent fuel of Spanish nuclear power plants. The amount of this tax could be of the order of 1.6 euro-cents per kWh. As it was ordered by the European Commission, the tax was not modified and therefore Nuclenor decided to stop the plant and to put all the uranium into the spent fuel pool on 28 December 2012. So Garoña is now stopped with all the fuel in the pool.

The second part of the argument has been hidden and the citizens have had no information on the discussions. We know that the Industry Minister is preparing a new law covering the electricity sector but we do not know if any of the proposals of the large Spanish electrical enterprises will be taken into account. It is clear, nevertheless, that something has happened since Nuclenor surprisingly asked the Minister to keep Garoña 'frozen' for one more year, thus allowing for the possibility of restarting the plant.

This happened on May 24, only one month and ten days before the definitive closure of Garoña. Minister Soria decided to pass the request directly to the Spanish Regulator, the Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear (CSN). The CSN was heavily pressured by the nuclear lobby and approved an extension of Garoña's licence for one year. Three CSN members voted for the extension, two voted against.

This has damaged CSN's reputation, since it appears as a puppet that is able to approve a request in a very short time under pressure from the nuclear enterprises. Moreover, the CSN gave a new type of authorisation to keep the plant in its present status, with the fuel in the pool, but without starting the decommissioning.

The main spokespeople from Iberdrola, ENDESA and Unesa have been making public declarations that Garoña cannot stop or the investments of these enterprises will move from Spain to other countries like the US if they are not guaranteed by the new law under preparation. The CSN appears ready to accept the schedule imposed by the nuclear lobby.

Once the CSN has given its permission, the Government has only to issue an Order that allows Nuclenor to ask for the prolongation of the life of Garoña. This should have been published before June 6, that is the last day to start studying the documents issued by the CSN to proceed to the definitive stop of Garoña. Strange things happened again, since the Government did not publish such an order! So the CSN sent the documents related to the closure of the plant. Only a very strange and scandalous legal manoeuvre by the Government could avoid the definitive closure of Garoña.

We have a strange contradictory feeling now. On one hand, we are happy since we are closer to the end of this dangerous nuclear plant. On the other hand we have seen how the nuclear lobby is able to modify Government decisions and to press strongly on the regulator. Meanwhile, the public has been excluded from the debate. We would like to start thinking of future development of the area without Garoña.

− Francisco Castejón, Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
www.ecologistasenaccion.org
castejon.francisco[@]gmail.com

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UNSCEAR Fukushima propaganda
Since the last issue of the Monitor, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effect of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has published a media release, based on an as-yet unpublished report, trivialising the long-term cancer death toll from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. UNSCEAR states in its May 31 media release that: "It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers."

That tells us nothing we didn't already know: epidemiological studies are unlikely to produce statistically-significant results given the high incidence of cancers in the general population. As discussed in Nuclear Monitor #758 (15 March 2013, available at wiseinternational.org), early estimates of the long-term cancer death toll range from 130 to 3,000.

The media release says that actions taken to protect the public (evacuation and sheltering) significantly reduced radiation exposures. Wolfgang Weiss from UNSCEAR said: "These measures reduced the potential exposure by up to a factor of 10. If that had not been the case, we might have seen the cancer rates rising and other health problems emerging over the next several decades." Weiss's statement falsely implies that cancer rates will not rise due to Fukushima fallout.

Carl-Magnus Larsson, chair of UNSCEAR, said: "Families are suffering, and people have been uprooted and are concerned about their livelihoods and futures, the health of their children ... it is these issues that will be the long-lasting fallout of the accident." Again, the implication seems to be that radiation exposure is not an issue. Larsson's statement is also an invitation to nuclear apologists and propagandists to trot out tired old lies about how the problem is not radiation itself but fear of radiation. Responding to the UNSCEAR media release, a World Nuclear News item was titled: 'Fear and Stress Outweigh Fukushima Radiation Risk'.

The UNSCEAR media release has still more to offer nuclear apologists and propagandists, noting that additional exposures received by most Japanese people from Fukushima fallout are less than the doses received from natural background radiation. That is certainly true, but UNSCEAR should note that radiation doses below background levels can cause cancer. A 2010 UNSCEAR report states that "even at low doses of radiation it is likely that there is a very small but non-zero chance of the production of DNA mutations that increase the risk of cancer developing. Thus, the current balance of available evidence tends to favour a non-threshold response for the mutational component of radiation-associated cancer induction at low doses and low dose rates."

The 31 May 2013 UNSCEAR media release is posted at www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/en/pressrels/2013/unisinf475.html
The 2010 UNSCEAR report is posted at www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2010/UNSCEAR_2010_Report_M.pdf
For useful background to UNSCEAR's latest jiggery-pokery, see Dr Ian Fairlie's 25 February 2013 web-post, 'UNSCEAR Attempt to Limit Collective Dose Assessments from Fukushima's Fallout', posted at www.ianfairlie.org/news/unscear-attempt-to-limit-collective-dose-assessm...

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USA: San Onofre reactors permanently shut down
Both reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California are being retired after a long battle. "We have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about when or if San Onofre might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors or the need to plan for our region's long-term electricity needs," said Ted Craver from Edison International - the parent company of San Onofre owners Southern California Edison (SCE).

In January 2012, a fault in one of two new steam generators installed as part of an uprate program of reactor #3 resulted in an automatic shut down when radioactive material was detected coming from a worn tube in the steam generator. Reactor #2 was kept off-line after a maintenance outage because it shares the same steam generator design and also suffered from tube wear and vibration issues to a lesser degree.

A review process by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, incomplete after eight months, will presumably be discontinued in light of the decision by Edison / SCE. The two reactors have licences to operate until 2022.

A well-organised local, state and national campaign fought against the restart of the reactors. Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth US, said: "This is very good news for the people of Southern California. We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and the wind."

The two reactors — situated along the Pacific Coast in the densely populated corridor between San Diego and Los Angeles — are the largest to shut down permanently in the US in the past 50 years. San Onofre's two reactors are the third and fourth reactors to be retired so far this year in the US − Dominion shut its reactor in Wisconsin in May because of unfavourable economics, and Duke said in February that it would not restart Crystal River 3 because mechanical problems were too expensive to fix.

In other shut-downs over the years, the Shoreham plant in New York was completed in 1984 for US$6 billion but never opened because of community opposition. Decaying generator tubes helped push San Onofre's original reactor into retirement in 1992, even though it was designed to run until 2004. In 1993, the Trojan plant in Oregon was closed years earlier than planned because of cracks in steam tubes.

World Nuclear News, Regulatory delay closes San Onofre, 7 June 2013, www.world-nuclear-news.org/C_Regulatory_delay_closes_San_Onofre_0706132....
Timeline: San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station www.10news.com/home/timeline-san-onofre-nuclear-generating-station
Friends of the Earth to NRC: Operating San Onofre as a Nuclear Experiment Is Not an Option, http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2013/05/24-1
San Onofre insider says NRC should not allow nuclear restart, www.10news.com/news/investigations/san-onofre-insider-says-nrc-should-no...
San Onofre Nuclear Plant at the Brink, www.counterpunch.org/2013/05/17/san-onofre-at-the-no-nukes-brink

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Santa Maria de GaronaSan Onofre 2San Onofre 1San Onofre 3

US MOX plant may get the axe

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#763
13/06/2013
Article

The Obama administration has reduced funding for the construction of a MOX fabrication plant at the Department of Energy's Savannah River site in South Carolina. The plant is about 60% complete but the Obama administration has asked Congress for US$320 million in its 2014 budget — down more than 25% from the current annual budget of US$435 million. In its budget request, the administration wrote that its high costs "may make the project unaffordable" and pledged to look for different ways to dispose of plutonium.

The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility is being built to carry out a bilateral deal with Russia to dispose of 34 tonnes of plutonium. However there is currently no agreed customer for the eventual MOX fuel, while Russia has decided to incorporate its plutonium into fuel for fast-neutron reactors rather than MOX for conventional reactors.

Planning for a MOX plant at Savannah River was first announced in 1998. The Department of Energy projected the construction and 25-year operating cost at US$1.8 billion to $2.3 billion, with operations starting in 2007. By the time construction began in 2007, the estimated construction cost had climbed to US$4.9 billion and the completion date had slid to 2016. In March, the Government Accountability Office told Congress that the construction cost has increased to at least US$7.7 billion, and the operational date will slip to 2019. Thus the estimated cost has risen from US$1.8 billion to US$7.7 billion, and start-up has slipped from 2007 to 2019. The project has cost US$3.7 billion so far, and the proposed allocation of US$320 million in 2014 represents less than 10% of the estimated US$4 billion required to complete construction.

Robert Raines from the National Nuclear Security Administration said that the project has suffered from rising costs, poor oversight, unrealistic expectations and inadequately designed critical components. He told a House appropriations subcommittee: "There was a tendency towards optimism in developing project estimates, assessing and assigning risks, identifying and locking in project requirements, and evaluating and monetizing the cost and schedule impacts of building a first-of- a-kind Hazard Category 1 nuclear facility."

Meanwhile, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing board is reviewing claims that the propsed MOX plant does not include adequate security measures. Watchdog groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Nuclear Watch South and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, argue that "the risk of plutonium theft would be increased to an unacceptable level" if a federal contractor does not make "fundamental changes" to its plans to secure and account for material at the plant.

Shaw Areva MOX Services, which is building the plant, "proposes to rely on a computerized inventory system to meet certain NRC … regulations in lieu of conventional approaches that entail physical verification of plutonium items," the groups said in a statement.

Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with Union of Concerned Scientists, argued the company "is proposing a cut-rate approach for plutonium accounting that will make it much harder to detect a diversion or theft of plutonium before it is too late." The "computer-heavy approach could also increase the vulnerability of their accounting system to cyber attack," Lyman said.

Shaw Areva MOX Services said its proposed system meets NRC standards requiring "a licensee to verify, on a statistical sampling basis, the presence and integrity of [sensitive nuclear material], with a 99 percent power of detecting losses of five formula kilograms or more, plant wide, within 30 days ..."

Problems associated with plutonium management and accounting were all too evident at the Sellafield plant in the UK in 2005. A broken pipe in the THORP reprocessing plant led to the leaking into a containment structure of 83,000 litres of a highly radioactive liquor containing dissolved spent nuclear fuel. The spill contained 160 kgs of plutonium − enough to build 15-20 nuclear weapons − yet the loss went undetected for at least eight months. The accident was classified as Level 3 ('serious incident') on the 7-point International Nuclear Event Scale. British Nuclear Group Sellafield Limited was fined 500,000 pounds plus costs after pleading guilty to three serious, prolonged breaches of its licence conditions.

The UK Health and Safety Executive concluded: "An underlying cause was the culture within the plant that condoned the ignoring of alarms, the non-compliance with some key operating instructions, and safety-related equipment which was not kept in effective working order for some time, so this became the norm. In addition, there appeared to be an absence of a questioning attitude, for example, even where the evidence from the accountancy data was indicating something untoward, the possibility of a leak did not appear to be considered as a credible explanation until the evidence of a leak was incontrovertible."

References and main sources:

 

EPR: outstanding desing issues

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#751
4250
15/06/2012
Pete Roche
Article

In both the Unites States and United Kingdom, the EPR-design is awaiting approval from the nuclear regulatory bodies. A whole list of outstanding issues have to be addressed by EDF and Areva in the UK and in the US, a new revised schedule shows the EPR is unlikely to receive design certification by the nuclear regulator before the end of 2014.

On 14th December 2011 the United Kingdom’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and Environment Agency granted interim Design Acceptance Confirmations (iDACs) and interim Statements of Design Acceptability (iSoDAs) for the UK EPR and the AP1000 reactor designs. The ONR‘s interim approval for the UK EPR came with a long list of caveats – 31 so-called “GDA Issues”.

UK: Generic Design Assessment
Since then EDF and Areva have closed out only one of the 31 “GDA Issues” According to the ONR’s latest Generic Design Assessment (GDA) quarterly report — issued on 24th May for the period ending March 31 — EDF and Areva have fallen substantially behind in the number of responses to the GDA Issue resolution to date. ONR said the shortfalls in deliverables “are having an effect on our progress and on our ability to use the (outside) technical support contractors we had programmed to support our work, as their availability is not always guaranteed when the original assessment dates have been missed.”

The GDA Issue resolution plan Areva and EDF agreed to with ONR called for all GDA Issues to be resolved by November 2012. This will now extend into 2013. Areva and EDF have committed to deploy additional resources and submit a revised GDA Issue resolution plan, but ONR is still waiting to receive it. Building magazine reported in its May 25 issue, that the process is three months behind schedule.

Among the 30 remaining GDA Issues that have yet to be closed is one on the EPR’s control and instrumentation (C&I) system, which was the subject of an unprecedented joint regulatory letter from the UK, France and Finland in 2009. The French safety regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, on April 16 removed its reservations about the digital C&I system for the EPR, but the ONR is still waiting for some deliverables due from EDF and Areva on the C&I GDA Issues.

The process of working to close out the 31 “GDA Issues” is leading to some design changes, according to ONR. “We have received a number of modification proposals to amend the EPR design to take account of the solutions proposed to some of the GDA Issues,” ONR said in its latest quarterly report, citing two examples. There are two related design changes to the main coolant loop pipework and both improve the quality of inspection achievable during construction and operation.

US: delay EPR certification
Design certification in the US is also likely to be delayed: the EPR is unlikely to receive design certification by the US nuclear regulator, NRC, before the end of 2014, and even that will “present a challenge”. Design certification for the EPR had earlier been targeted for June 2013. Areva submitted its application for certification of the EPR design in December 2007 aiming to clear the way for reactors of that generic type to be built anywhere in America subject to site-specific licensing procedures and the issue of a combined construction and operating licence (COL). Four COL applications referencing the EPR have already been submitted to the NRC.

The NRC has issued a new review schedule to allow Areva to respond to outstanding technical issues previously raised by the NRC and to provide additional information related to new post-Fukushima requirements issued by the commission in February.

Under the revised schedule, Areva is expected to submit to the NRC, by 30 August 2013, details about how the EPR design meets the post-Fukushima requirements and all outstanding technical issues should be resolved by 1 November 2013.

Matthews told Areva that there is "no margin" in the schedule to allow for the timing of "critical milestones" to be changed and still achieve certification by the end of 2014. He added, "While the staff has increased its attention to meeting the schedule, we will ensure that the design meets all applicable NRC regulatory requirements before we proceed to certification rulemaking."

In July 2010, the NRC highlighted two areas of concern related to the EPR design. These centered on design complexity and independence issues: each safety division within the system must be able to perform its function without relying on data from outside and must also be protected from adverse external influences. Areva needs to demonstrate to the regulator's satisfaction that these issues have been addressed, and show that data exchange between systems will not adversely affect safety.

Areva has already described proposed design changes intended to reduce the level of complexity as well as to address some of the intercommunication issues. However, Areva has notified the NRC of some areas where its feels that design changes are not advisable, and these appear to be the areas which the regulator feels may not meet its standards.

Source: NuClear News No.41, June 2012 / World Nuclear News, 31 May 2012
Contact: Pete Roche
Email: pete[at]no2nuclearpower.org.uk

About: 
WISE

Shake-up at U.S. NRC: Jackzo resigning, anti-Yucca geologist nominated as replacement

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#750
4239
01/06/2012
Michael Mariotte
Article

For many months, four of the five NRC Commissioners, backed loudly by Congressional Republicans, have been waging an unprecedented and nasty campaign to remove NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko from his post. Their public complaints have focused on management style, accusations of bullying of NRC staff, and an unwillingness to keep the four informed on some key issues.

The real issue for waging a campaign to remove NRC Chairman Jaczko from his post has been policy. Jaczko was appointed Chair by President Obama in 2009 at the urging of his former employer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in part because Jaczko was a longtime and effective opponent of the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump. Obama had agreed to end the Yucca Mt. project and Jaczko was expected to—and did—end NRC review of the Department of Energy’s license application for the project. After all, with DOE no longer pursuing the project nor willing to spend money to defend its application or participate in the process, there wasn’t much left to review. But some of the Commissioners felt differently.

That alone wouldn’t have been enough, however, to foment this kind of revolt. The last straw for the Commission majority was Fukushima. First, Jaczko kept them out of the NRC’s emergency operations center during the height of the crisis. He didn’t want critical NRC staffers having to disrupt their 24-hour/day work to answer Commissioner questions. Then Jaczko stood with President Obama and urged Americans within 50 miles of Fukushima to evacuate—even though NRC policy only contemplates evacuations out to 10 miles.

And when an NRC staff task force was set up to examine lessons learned from Fukushima and recommend regulatory changes, Jaczko ran interference for them and kept the other Commissioners from disrupting their process. He then took those recommendations and pressed hard for their speedy implementation against the opposition of the other Commissioners. Finally, Jaczko voted against both new reactor licenses granted by the NRC in 2012 (and voted against relicensing of the Fukushima-clone Pilgrim reactor in Massachusetts end of May).

None of this was welcomed by the nuclear power industry, nor their allies on the Commission and on Capitol Hill. So despite the fact that the NRC ranked in annual surveys as the best place to work in the entire federal government throughout Jaczko’s term, Jaczko’s management abilities were suddenly brought into question and the bullying (and worse) charges levied against him. Bitter Congressional hearings were held.

Jaczcko has his powerful Congressional supporters of course, like Sen. Reid, along with Senate Environment Committee chair Barbara Boxer and Rep. Ed Markey, usually the most outspoken nuclear critic in Congress. But it was becoming obvious that he would be unlikely to be confirmed for another term as Chair when his appointment runs out in June 2013. And, really, who in his right mind would want to subject themselves to five more years of the kind of abuse heaped on him?

So in May, Jaczko announced he would resign, but that his resignation would only become effective upon confirmation of a new chair. Given the slow pace of action and deep polarization in Congress, that might keep him in the job for months and perhaps fully through his term.

But the nuclear industry and Congressional Republicans really want a new term for Commissioner Kristine Svinicki—by voting record the most pro-industry Commissioner of them all. Her term ends next month. Sens. Reid and Boxer had already stated their opposition to that renomination (which Obama unfortunately did make), and it appeared unlikely she would be confirmed.

But with Jaczko’s announcement, Reid—who is dedicated to permanently defeating Yucca Mountain--seized on the opportunity, and apparently convinced President Obama to nominate Allison Macfarlane as the new NRC chair.

Macfarlane is a geologist and a longtime opponent of Yucca Mountain, on strictly scientific grounds. She simply doesn’t believe it is a suitable site for radioactive waste and has said so clearly. She also opposes reprocessing of radioactive waste, and believes waste in fuel pools should be moved to dry casks. Most recently she was a member of the Department of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which adopted some of her positions.

Macfarlane is not anti-nuclear power, however, and it is somewhat unclear how far her expertise extends on nuclear reactor safety issues.

Macfarlane would never be confirmed by the Senate in normal times. Except there is that Svinicki nomination, which was headed for a no vote. So, the Nuclear Energy Institute quickly fell into line and endorsed Macfarlane as a package deal with Svinicki. So did Senator Reid. While some extreme right-wing commentators and industry people have since weighed in urging the Senate to reject Macfarlane, at this point it looks like the deal will hold. One thing is certain at this point: either the NRC will get both of them, or neither of them. Hearings are expected on both nominations early in June, and possibly a Senate floor vote shortly thereafter.

Source and contact: Michael Mariotte, NIRS Washington
Email: nirsnet[at]nirs.org

About: 
NIRS

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#749
11/05/2012
Shorts

Two possible suppliers left for Jordan's first.  Jordan's first nuclear power plant will be supplied by either AtomStroyExport of Russia or the Areva-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries joint venture, Atmea.
The past three years have seen the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) whittle down a list of seven offers from four reactor vendors to the two announced on April 30. Jordanian official news agency Petra reported that the JAEC has decided to continue discussions with AtomStroyExport and the Atmea consortium, describing them as the two suppliers "best qualified" with the technology to best meet Jordan's requirements and needs. Both reactors still under consideration are advanced pressurized water reactors (PWRs) offering enhanced active and passive safety systems. The 1150 MWe Atmea 1 represents an evolution of French standard designs, and received preliminary safety approval from French nuclear regulators earlier this year. The AES-92 is a version of the VVER-1000 with enhanced safety and seismic features. Two AES-92 units are under construction at Koodankulam in India, while the closely related AES-91 is under construction at Tianwan in China. The JAEC will now continue discussions with the two shortlisted suppliers to resolve outstanding technical issues including the site selection process.
World Nuclear News, 30 April 2012


Charges dropped against Vermont Yankee protesters.
Prosecutors in Vermont are dropping criminal trespassing charges against 136 protesters who were arrested March 22,  at the corporate offices of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The protesters were arrested at the Entergy Corp. offices in Brattleboro. They refused to leave the property while demonstrating on the first day of the Vermont Yankee plant's operation after the expiration of its 40-year state license. On April 26, Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Shriver decided against moving forward with the charges given the limited resources of her office and the courts. "Weighing the seriousness of the criminal offences committed by the protestors against the time and means necessary to proceed with these cases has led me to decide against moving forward with these cases."

The Vermont Yankee plant, located in Vernon, has a new permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate for 20 more years, but its state license is expired. Over a 1000 people took place in the March 22 protest. (see Nuclear Monitor 741: Showdown for Vermont Yankee).
Brattleboro Reformer, 26 April 2012


Jaitapur: commemoration of death protestor. 
In India, opposition to nuclear projects is large. Besides the more publicized, but still rather unknown struggle at Koodankulam, the struggle at Jaitapur is fierce. On 18 April 2012, it was exactly one year ago that the people’s expression of anger against the proposed 9900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project at Madban village of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra was on full display. People were continuously protesting from 2005 on when the land acquisition was set in motion and against environment clearance granted by the central government. A group of furious women ransacked and burnt papers and furniture at the Nate police station. The tension between the police and the people mounted which culminated in the police firing causing the death of Tarbej Sayekar, a 27 year youth.

The people in the Jaitapur locality observed the first death anniversary of martyr Tarbej Sayekar by observing a bandh (Bandh originally a Hindi word meaning 'closed', is a form of protest. During a Bandh, a political party or a community declares a general strike) and once again opposing the Jaitapur power project. On this occasion, between 3 to 5 in the afternoon, a crowd of about 3000 people gathered together and offered their tributes to martyr Tarbej Sayekar by reading the Koran.

Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is a proposed 9900 MW power project of Nuclear Power

Corporation of India (NPCIL) at Madban village of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. On December 6, 2010 agreement was signed for the construction of first set of two third-generation European Pressurized Reactors and the supply of nuclear fuel for 25 years in the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
South Asians Against Nukes (SAAN), 18 April 2012


South Africa: environmental campaigner resigns from regulator.
Long-time environmental campaigner Mariette Liefferink has resigned from the NNR (South Africa's National Nuclear Regulator) citing her frustration over the organization's failure to deal with vulnerable communities exposed to dangerous mining waste. In 2009, the Minister of Energy appointed Liefferink, the chief executive of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, to the board of the regulator to represent the concerns of communities affected by nuclear issues. But now she says: "I see no benefits to remaining on the board because I cannot raise the concerns of communities." "There are 1.6 million people living in informal settlements on or adjacent to radioactive waste... and there are no management plans in place." A number of 36 sites are identified as 'radiological hotspots' in the Wonderfonteinspruit area. These sites are radioactive because of the uraniferous nature of the ore, but "[T]here is still no physical evidence of rehabilitation."

"The communities living in radioactive mine residue areas are mostly informal settlements but no regulatory decisions have been take regarding their protection."

She ends her resignation-letter saying: "It has become evident that there is a fundamental anomaly between what I perceive as the duty of the Board and the NNR and the Board’s and the NNR’s understanding of their duties."
Mariette Lieferinks resignation letter to Energy Minister Peters, 16 April 2012 / Star newspaper, 21 April 2012


PE planned reactor project now decade delayed.
US: Progress Energy -not long ago considered to be in the forefront of the US's nuclear renaissance- said on May 1, it will delay building its planned Levy nuclear plant in Florida by another three years. The announcement sets back the twin reactor project to a 2025-26 time frame from the original planned date of 2015-17 for the reactors to come online and start generating electricity. The company also updated its cost estimate for the planned Florida reactors from US$17 billion. The new estimate is US$19 billion to US$24 billion. The estimates don't include the cost of debt interest, which would likely add hundreds of millions of dollars to the price tag.
The delay in Florida is also taking place in North Carolina. Progress had originally planned to add two reactors at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in Wake County by 2020-21. But now those proposed reactors are not in the company's 15-year plan, which means they would not be added until 2027 at the earliest, and possibly much later.
.biz (blogs.newsobserver.com/business), 1 May 2012


Lithuania: no case for compensation Hitachi before 2015. On May 9, Lithuania's government gave its final approval to several plans aimed at "reducing its dependency on Russian energy sources", including the 1,350 ABWR nuclear power plant which it said could cost up to 7 billion euros (US$9.1 billion).

Lithuania has already initialled an outline plan with Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy with aim to build it by 2020-2022 for about 5 billion euros. However, the Finance Ministry said in a statement the end cost for the project could be 6.8 billion euros.

Around 4 billion euros would be borrowed and the rest would come from the countries backing the project, Lithuania (38%), Latvia (20%) and Estonia (22%), as well as Hitachi (20%). Poland was originally part of the project, but dropped out.

On April 16, Lithuanian Finance Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, said Lithuania has time until March 2015 to cancel the Visaginas plant without having to pay high compensation to the Japanese company Hitachi. "Based on the information that I have, in the initial design stage, before a final decision to invest and build a nuclear power plant, financial risks, which may be incurred by Lithuania is very limited", said Šimonytė.

According to the President of the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance, Kestutis Glaveckasa, however, Lithuania will be forced to pay billions in damages, if the government withdraws from the contract for the construction of nuclear power plant. But Šimonytė stresses that the Ministry of Finance is at the stage of analyzing the concession agreement, the Lithuanian government signed in late March with a Japanese corporation. Later, a draft agreement will be presented to Parliament.
www.cire.pl, 16 April 2012 / Reuters, 9 May 2012


Why the fuzz? Lauvergeon vs Lauvergeon.
Anne Lauvergeon, the former head of France's state-controlled nuclear group Areva accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of wanting to try to sell a nuclear reactor to  Muammar Gaddafi's Libya at least until the summer of 2010. In interview published on April 10, on the website of L'Express weekly Lauvergeon said that Sarkozy proposed in July 2007 to sell a nuclear reactor to the Gaddafi government to be used to desalinate ocean water. Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years, was overthrown and killed in October by rebels backed by a NATO force in which French warplanes played a major role. Lauvergeon said she opposed the idea "vigorously". She said: "The state, which was supposed to be responsible, was supporting this folly. Imagine, if we'd done it, how it would look now!" Nothing new, one would imagine, but the interview received some resonance in the international press.

On July 2, 2007 Sarkozy signed an widely publicized global partnership agreement with Libya: the two countries "agree to enhance cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, possibly leading to a civilian nuclear power program". It paved the way for the potential export by Areva of an EPR reactor to Lybia. There are no documents showing Lauvergeon, at that time head of Areva, opposed such a deal then. Lauvergeon was fired June last year.

Sarkozy was defeated by socialist party candidate Francois Hollande in the presidential elections on May 6, 2012.
Yves Marignac, WISE Paris, 15 November 2007 / Reuters, 10 April 2012.


Metsamor operations officially extended.
The Armenian government formally decided on April 19 to extend operations at the Metsamor VVER 440/230 nuclear power reactor, apparently because there is a delay in its planned replacement by a new facility. "Taking into account possible time frames for the launch of the new atomic energy block in the Republic of Armenia and the need to maintain the country´s energy security and independence during that period, it is necessary to extend the exploitation period of the Power Block No. 2," Energy Minister Armen Movisian said at a cabinet meeting that approved the measure.

The government assigned the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources to draw up by May next year a program of measures to ensure Metsamor´s longer-than-planned operations and their safety. The program will have to be submitted to the government for approval by September 2013. The construction of the new reactor is currently planned in 2013.

Metsamor was due to be decommissioned by September 2016 in accordance with the 30-year design life span. Armenia and in particular the area where Metsamor is located is an extreme seismic active area.
Azatutyan, 19 April 2012

Vogtle construction faces "additional delay"

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#749
4234
11/05/2012
Article

Late March, less than two months after receiving a nuclear construction license for its new Vogtle reactors, Southern Company is already pressing Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an expedited license amendment to avoid further slippage. Delays are already considerable, since pouring of the concrete, planned to start immediately after receiving permission in February, will not start before June. Furthermore, Southern Company has already identified 32 License Amendment Requests it will seek by 2014. This could add millions to cost overruns already documented at Vogtle and lead to other construction delays.

Less than two months after receiving the nuclear construction license for Vogtle in eastern Georgia, Southern Company is already requesting a license amendment to allow changes to the foundation on which the reactor building would be built. A request which the company aimed to file by last Friday seeks to relax standards for the concrete foundation due to Southern’s miscalculation of soil compaction, and the company is pressing regulators for swift approval to avoid what it calls “an additional delay in the construction of the nuclear island basemat structure and subsequent construction activities …”.

In a letter to the NRC dated March 30, 2012, Southern Company admits that construction of the reactor base has not yet begun and that construction will begin in mid-June – if NRC quickly approves the licensing change. It had been thought that pouring of so-called “nuclear concrete” would begin immediately on issuance of the construction license in February, but the letter confirms the long delay.

In the filing made public early April, Southern has asked the NRC to allow it to pour the foundation at its own risk in June even though the foundation may not meet current license specifications. Southern asked that NRC approve the preliminary amendment request (PAR)  by June 1. If NRC does not object to a PAR, the licensee may proceed with the action described at its own risk while the agency reviews the related license amendment. If NRC were to subsequently reject the license amendment request, the licensee would have to restore the site to an acceptable condition, the agency has said. Industry pressed for the PAR process to prevent project delays while NRC conducts year-long reviews of license amendments.

Southern Company’s amendment request describes how recent surveys determined that a level foundation for three “nuclear island” buildings cannot be obtained unless the previously allowed one-inch variation in the “mudmat” substrate is increased to four inches. The nuclear island foundation supports the weight of the buildings and equipment and is vital in protecting the plant against earthquakes and other loads.

Southern told NRC that the increased tolerance should not impact earlier analyses or require additional testing, and it warned that the unforeseen need for the foundation change could cause serious delays to numerous parts of the project. But public interest groups pointed out today that foundational concrete is central to the entire project, and that any relaxing of requirements could have serious safety and cost implications.

“Southern Company clearly miscalculated soil compaction in the holes excavated for both reactors at the Vogtle site, which could be an omen about the path forward,” said Jim Warren of NC WARN today. “The NRC simply cannot skip any steps in reviewing this fundamental safety issue just to accommodate the construction schedule, and a public hearing on the design change is warranted.” 

32 Amendment requests
Additionally, Southern Company has already identified 32 License Amendment Requests it will seek by 2014. The list of LARs contains little mention of impacts on construction schedule or cost. Nor is it clear how the list of proposed changes might impact a federal lawsuit that is seeking to stop construction at Vogtle.

NC WARN and the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability believe that the changes being sought via the LARs could add millions to cost overruns already documented at Vogtle and lead to other construction delays.

The public interest groups noted today that each LAR proceeding normally takes up to one year or longer, and that one or more of the nine nonprofits contesting the Vogtle project might choose to intervene in any of the 32 license amendments being sought. Regardless of interventions, the NRC’s ability to handle so many license amendment reviews is in question.

Also, it is not clear whether Georgia utility law allows Southern to continue construction without the NRC’s full approval of LARs – while pre-charging ratepayers for the plant. And the problems could further complicate a pending and highly controversial US$8.3 federal taxpayer loan guarantee.

Tom Clements of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability said: “The foundation problem raises questions about quality control and highlight concern about slippages in the construction schedule. The foundation problem and the long list of scheduled license amendments show that other changes and unexpected ahurdles are ahead for the Vogtle project.”

Source: News release from NC WARN and Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, 9 April 2012 / International Energy (en.in-en.com), 10 April 2012
Contact: NC WARN (North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network), P.0. Box 61051, Durham NC 27715-1051, USA.
Tel: +1-919 416-5077
Email: ncwarn@ncwarn.org
Web: www.ncwarn.org

About: 
Vogtle 3Vogtle 4

Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#746, 747, 748
Waste special
01/05/2012
Article

Taiwan

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

6

1977-11-16

19.02%

Taiwan has adopted the following management strategy for spent nuclear fuel: “storage in spent fuel pools for the near term, onsite dry storage for the mid-term, and final deep geological disposal for the long term".(*01)

Atomic Energy Council (AEC) was founded in 1955 at the ministerial level under the Executive Yuan as the Competent Authority (regulatory body). FCMA is the unique agency for the supervision of spent fuel and radioactive waste safety management. Radwaste Administration (RWA) was established in January 1981, as an affiliated agency under AEC, to meet the growing need for radioactive waste management. After restructuring RWA was renamed as Fuel Cycle and Materials Administration (FCMA) in early 1996.(*02)

Low-level waste
The Lan-Yu Storage Site provides off-site interim storage for solidified low-level radioactive waste from 1982 to 1996, and has not received any radioactive waste since then. Because of the high temperature, moisture, and salty ambient atmosphere in Orchid Island, many drums stored on site for decades has shown paint scaling or rusted, some waste in drums even presents solification deformation.(*03)

Interim dry storage
Taiwan’s current policy calls for dry storage of spent fuel at the reactor site until final disposal, although it is recognized that additional storage facilities will be needed soon to deal with the growing amount of spent fuel being produced. Taiwan is also looking at sending its fuel overseas for reprocessing. However, U.S. government opposition to Taiwanese reprocessing has so far blocked significant movement on this; since Taiwanese reactors and fuel are of U.S. origin, bilateral agreements require Taiwan to obtain U.S. consent for reprocessing.(*04)

Recognizing the problem of spent fuel storage, the authorities began looking toward cooperation on the development of dry storage technology, with mixed success. China offered to take over Taiwan’s spent fuel inventory in the late 1990’s but Taiwan refused due to fears that Beijing would demand political concessions in exchange.(*05) In 2001, Taiwan also explored the possibility of storing its spent fuel on Russian territory; but dropped negotiations after U.S. objections.(*06) However, this could still be a possibility in the long-term.

Since December 1983, research for final disposal has been carried out. The "Nuclear Materials and Radioactive Waste Management Act" was issued in December 2002. It states that the producer of high-level waste is responsible for the implementation of final disposal and is required to submit a final disposal plan for HLRW within two years after the Act came into effect. In Dec. 2004, TPC submitted the "Spent Nuclear Fuel Final Disposal Plan" to AEC. The plan was approved in July, 2006, and will be carried out in five phases: (1) Potential host rock characterization (2) Candidate site investigation; (3) Detailed site investigation and testing; (4) Repository design and license application; and (5) Repository construction. Finally, a deep geological disposal repository is expected to be operational after 2055.(*07)

Ukraine

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

15

1977-09-26

47.20%

Established in 1996 the State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company 'Energoatom' is responsible for everything nuclear in Ukraine, including radioactive waste management. There is no intention for final disposal in Ukraine in the coming decades, though the possibility remains under consideration. In 2008 the National Target Environmental Program of Radioactive Waste Management was approved. Storage of used fuel for at least 50 years before disposal remains the policy.(*01)

Waste management: Interim storage
Before 2005, Ukraine transported annually about 220 tons of spent fuel to Russia.(*02) Because of the rising price of Russia’s reprocessing and spent-fuel storage services, however, Energoatom  decided in the 1990s to construct dry storage facilities. The first Ukrainian dry-cask interim storage facility came into operation in July 2001 at the Zaporozhe nuclear power plant for storage of fuel from the six reactors.(*03) But since 2005, Ukraine has been shipping spent fuel again to Russia from its other sites: about 150 tons a year from seven VVER-1000s and about 30 tons a year from its two VVER-440s,(*04) at a cost to Ukraine of over US$100 annual.(*05)

In December 2005, Energoatom signed a US$ 150 million agreement with the US-based Holtec International to implement the Central Spent Fuel Storage Project for Ukraine's VVER reactors.(*06) This was projected for completion in 2008, but was held up pending legislation.

Then in October 2011 parliament (and upper house in February 2012) passed a bill on management of spent nuclear fuel. It provides for construction of the dry storage facility within the Chernobyl exclusion area. The storage facility will become a part of the spent nuclear fuel management complex of the state-owned company Chernobyl NPP,(*07) also constructed by Holtec.

The first pond-type spent fuel storage facility (SFSF-1) for RBMK-1000 spent fuel at Chernobyl has been in operation since 1986. Due to the “unavailability of SFSF-2 and taking into account the future prospects of this project it was decided to withdraw SFSF-1 from the list of facilities, subject to decommissioning.

SFSF-2 (or Interim Storage Facility-2 as it is often called outside Ukraine) construction started in June 2000 by Framatome (later Areva), financed by EBRD's Nuclear Safety Account, and part pf the Shelter Implementation Plan. ISF-2 is designed for long-term storage (100 years) of all Chernobyl spent fuel and is a necessary condition for decommissioning Chernobyl and SFSF-1. At the beginning of April, 2007 the agreement was canceled and in September 2007 a contract for completion was signed also with Holtec.(*08) The design of the new facility was approved by the Ukrainian regulator in late-2010. Work can commence once the contract amendment for the implementation is signed. It is expected that construction work will be finalized by 2014.(*09) Negotiations with Holtec on the construction could be completed in April 2012. Costs, however, have been escalating since the project financing scheme was drawn up before the 2008 financial crisis: some U.S. banks that participated in the financing scheme had ceased to exist.(*10)

High-level wastes from reprocessed spent fuel will be returned from Russia from 2013 onwards and should be stored at the existing repository 'Vektor' 17 km away from Chernobyl where a low-level waste repository has been built.(*11) Preliminary investigations have shortlisted sites for a deep geological repository for high- and intermediate-level wastes including all those arising from Chernobyl decommissioning and clean-up.(*12)

United Kingdom

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

17

1956-08-27

17.82%

In 1981, the government in Britain decided to postpone plans for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste. In 2010, the NDA came up with a plan that has to lead to final disposal of high-level waste from 2075. The government claims to follow an advisory committee, but the committee thinks the government gives a distorted view of their advice. Nuclear fuel is reprocessed and liquid and glassified waste is stored at Sellafield until a final repository will be opened.

Low- and medium-level radioactive waste
Great Britain dumped solid low and intermediate level radioactive waste in sea from 1949 untill 1982.(*01) A near-surface repository in Drigg (near Sellafield) has operated as a national low-level waste disposal facility since 1959. Wastes are compacted and placed in containers before being transferred to the facility.(*02)

Investigation from 1978 to 1981 into the disposal of high-level radioactive waste in Caithness led to much opposition. In 1981, the British government therefore decided to postpone a decision on the storage of high-level waste by fifty years.(*03)

Although in 1981 the government decided to postpone the plans for a high-level radioactive waste facility, the search for a storage place for low- and medium-level  radioactive waste had to be continued. For this purpose the British nuclear industry created Nirex in 1982. After repeated selections of a number of new sites and abandoning them again, Nirex chose Sellafield in 1991 for detailed studies on a deep repository for long-lived low-level and intermediate level radioactive waste.(*04)

In March 1997, however, the government rejected Sellafield due to the unfavorable geological conditions. The government has also decided that a new choice of location can take place only  after the government has adopted new procedures for that purpose, and for that participation is required. It took until 2001 before new procedures have been settled.(*05) It will take at least 25-30 years before a deep geological disposal facility for low en intermediate level radioactive waste will be in operation.(*06) Large information campaigns for years and years hasn’t led to a final repository for nuclear waste.

High-level radioactive waste
After the 1981 postponement of a decision on the storage of high-level, the parliament established a new waste policy in 2001, which led to the foundation of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in 2002. The government set up the commission on radioactive waste management (CoRWM) in 2003 to consider long-term waste strategy. This committee has to advise the government on all sorts of nuclear waste, of which "inspire public confidence" and "protect people and the environment" have been central principles.(*07)

The CoRWM released an advice in July 2006.(*08) The committee calls robust interim storage (100 years) and geological disposal as the end-point for all high and intermediate level waste. in deep underground after intensive research into the long-term safety of disposal. For the realization of the storage "voluntarism and partnership" is important: the local population should be willing to cooperate. The government adopted the recommendations of the CoRWM in October 2006 and initiated a new round of official consultations that would end in 2008. Nirex was wound up and the government-owned Nuclear Decommissioning Authority was given responsibility for the long-term management of all UK radioactive wastes.

Meanwhile, it became clear there was a more positive feeling about the construction of nuclear power plants. CoRWM found it necessary to emphasized that its opinion is about nuclear waste that already exists ('legacy waste'): with nuclear waste from new-build power plants other ethical and political aspects play a role than with the present waste. CoRWM states there was no distinction, technically. Both could be accommodated in the same stores and disposal sites. But creating new-build wastes was a choice, and there were alternatives. The political, social and ethical issues surrounding the deliberate creation of new wastes were therefore quite different from those arising from the inevitable need to manage the legacy.(*09) CoRWM argued that the waste implications of any new build proposals would need their own assessment process.

On 10 January 2008, the government announced plans for the construction of new nuclear power plants, followed by a new nuclear waste policy on 12 June 2008.(*10) The government indicated to make no distinction between waste, which is now simply inevitable, and waste from new power plants. The government said that principles of "voluntarism and partnership" are to be used in the selection process and calls on municipalities to present themselves to host a disposal facility. Most of the land in the UK is thought to be geologically suitable for the store.(*11)

Several members of the first CoRWM don’t agree with the government. On a November 20, 2009, letter to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change(*12), Ed Miliband, they stated that the government has reproduced the CoRWM report in an incorrect and distorted way. "In conclusion we reiterate that we do not consider it credible to argue that effective arrangements exist or will exist either at a generic or a site-specific level for the long—term management of highly active radioactive wastes arising from new nuclear build." The members also protest against the fact that the government makes no distinction between unavoidable nuclear waste, which has been produced already, and new nuclear waste that can be avoid. "However, it is clear that government has conflated the issue of new build with legacy wastes and thereby intends the CoRWM proposals to apply to both. No separate process, as suggested by CoRWM1, for new build wastes is contemplated. There will be no opportunity for communities selected for new nuclear power stations to consider whether they wish to volunteer to host a long term radioactive waste facility; it will simply be imposed upon them."

On 15 January 2010, the Scottish government said that nuclear waste must be just stored above ground at or close to existing nuclear facilities (in Dounreay, Hunterston, Torness and Chapelcross), reducing the need for waste to be transported long distances. A consultation exercise on the issue has been launched. Underground storage is not eligible because "Having an out of sight, out of mind policy is losing support." The strategy is at odds with the UK government's preferred option of storing nuclear waste deep underground.(*13)

In March 2010, the NDA published a report in which it states that "a geological disposal facility will be available to receive ILW and LLW in 2040 and HLW and spent fuel in 2075",(*14) but spending cuts could delay the plans, and community support is vital.(*15)
The government thinks this takes too long, and Energy Minister, Charles Hendry, asked NDA's Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) to look at reducing the timescales for first emplacement of high level waste (currently 2075) as well as the dates for spent fuel and waste from new build power stations presently indicated to take place in 2130.(*16)

In a preliminary response to the Minister's request RWMD says: "There are fundamental principles that are critical to the success of the implementation of the geological disposal programme. These are: the vital role of voluntarism and partnership with local communities (…); and, the need for technical and scientific work necessary to underpin the safe disposal of radioactive waste to be done rigorously and to the required high standard."(*17) RWDM will evaluate and "be in a position to consider whether or not changes to the programme would be realistic" in December 2012. (*18)

The long and tortuous story of UK radioactive waste policy demonstrates that achieving legitimacy around the management of these wastes is a social process with long time horizons. After 50 years of policies, institutional change and debate, extraordinarily little has been achieved in securing the long-term disposition of wastes.

United States of America

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

104

1957-10-19

19.25%

The U.S. nuclear waste management policy in the 1960s was focused on underground storage in salt. From 1987 on it was all about Yucca Mountain. In 2009 newly elected President Obama thwarted the plan and a commission was founded to study possible disposal: the nuclear waste policy is back to square one. Awaiting a final disposal facility, spent fuel is stored on site of nuclear power plants. U.S. nuclear utilities are eager to demonstrate that the spent fuel will not stay on-site indefinitely. Thus far, however, all efforts to establish central interim storage facilities have been unsuccessful.(*01) The U.S. dumped between 1949 –1967 in an unknown number of operations radioactive waste in the Atlantic Ocean, and between 1946-1970 in the Pacific Ocean.(*02) No commercial reprocessing has taken place.

No high-level radioactive waste in salt
Already in 1957 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) called storage of nuclear waste in salt the best option.(*03) Also the Atomic Energy Commission developed plans in that direction. In 1963 test drilling in salt began at Lyons, Kansas for a national repository. Because this produced unfavorable results, one went to other places to drill in salt. Also without success.(*04)

Then the eye fell on salt at Carlsbad, New Mexico. The construction of the storage mine (called Waste Isolation Pilot Plant -WIPP) was expected to cost US$ 100 million in 1974,(*05) was cancelled by president Carter in 1980, but Congress restored budget to keep it alive.(*06) The storage would initially begin in 1988, but, although the underground facility was finished by then, because water leaked into the mine (*07) the start of disposal is delayed many times.(*08,09,10) The first waste arrived at WIPP on March 26, 1999. (*11) Construction costs were estimated at US$ 2 billion. (*12)

Around 64,000 m3 of waste – out of the maximum allowed quantity of 175,600 m3 - was stored by the end of 2009. Storage is planned to continue until the end of the 2020s when the maximum allowed capacity will be reached; the mine will be closed in 2038.(*13) It is the world's first geological repository. However, not all nuclear waste can be stored at WIPP. The U.S. government makes a distinction between nuclear waste generated from the production of nuclear weapons and nuclear waste generated by the production of electricity from nuclear power plants. In Carlsbad, the storage of low and high level radioactive waste (including spent fuel) from nuclear power plants for electricity production has been expressly prohibited by the government.(*14) However, one part of the radioactive waste from nuclear weapons production was allowed to go there. Generally, TRU (Transuranic) waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, residues, debris, soil and other items contaminated with radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.(*15)

In 1982, the government established the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. This Act gave states with possible locations an important role in the supervision on the choice of location, including federal funds for its own investigation into the suitability of the site, for an amount of US$10 million per year. States also had the power to prevent the storage. The NWPA mandated that the DOE select three candidate sites for a geological repository for U.S. spent fuel and high-level waste.(*16)

The government adapted the rules. In 1984, the DOE put salt lower on the list and a year later only one salt layer remained on the list: Deaf Smith, Texas.(*17) In 1986, the DOE nominated sites in Texas (salt), Washington state (basalt) and in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain (volcanic tuff).(*17)

At the time, two of the most politically powerful members of Congress, the Speaker of the House and the House Majority Leader, represented Texas and Washington state respectively. They opposed siting the repository in their states. By comparison, the delegation from Nevada was politically relatively weak and so Yucca Mountain became the focus of attention.(*19) In 1987, therefore, Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to direct that Yucca Mountain would be the only site to be examined for suitability for the first U.S. Geological repository. (*US20) The 1982 NWPA had mandated that the second repository be in crystalline rock, i.e., in the eastern half of the country, where most of the country’s power reactors are located. However, the 1987 amendments also instructed the DOE to “phase out in an orderly manner funding for all research programs … designed to evaluate the suitability of crystalline rock as a potential repository host medium.” (*21)

To reassure Nevada that other states would ultimately share the burden of hosting the nation’s radioactive waste, Congress also set a legal limit on the amount of radioactive waste that could be emplaced in Yucca Mountain “until such time as a second repository is in operation.” The limit was established as “a quantity of spent fuel containing in excess of 70,000 metric tons of heavy metal or a quantity of solidified high level radioactive waste resulting from the reprocessing of such a quantity of spent fuel.”(*22)

No high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain
The implementation of the decision to dispose nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain did not go smoothly. "Yucca Mountain is not selected through a scientific method, but through a political process," said Robert Loux. He worked for the government of the state of Nevada as a leader of the real estate developer for radioactive waste. "The choice of the repository led to much resistance. The governor, congress delegates, local authorities and almost the entire population was against it." Yucca Mountain is located in an earthquake zone. Loux: "There are 32 underground fractures and four young volcanoes. In the summer of 1992, an earthquake occurred with a magnitude of 5.4 on the Richter scale. This led to considerable damage. Therefore Yucca Mountain is unsuitable. The government of Nevada has made laws that prohibit the storage.”(*23) In March 1998, a survey of the California Institute of Technology found that the risk of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions is larger than hitherto assumed.(*24)

The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository would have to come in operation in 2010, according to plans made in the 1980s. But it took until July 2002, when President Bush signed a resolution clearing the way for disposal at Yucca Mountain, (*25) and until June 2008 before the DOE applied for a permit to build the storage.(*26) President Barack Obama stopped the storage at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, in late February 2009,(*27) although DOE had spent US$14 billion (in 2009 dollars) from 1983 through 2008 for the Yucca Mountain repository. The construction of the storage mine and exploitation would have cost between US$41 and US$67 billion (2009 dollars) according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).(*28) Obama finds Yucca Mountain unsuitable and unsafe for the disposal of radioactive waste and therefore "no option". A new strategy for the disposal of nuclear waste must be developed and on 29 January 2010, Obama appointed a commission to work out a new policy: the 'Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future'.(*29)

On 27 January 2012, after nearly two years of work, the Blue Ribbon Commission has issued its final recommendations for "creating a safe, long-term solution" for dealing with spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. Efforts to develop a waste repository and a central storage facility should start immediately, it says. “Put simply, this nation's failure to come to grips with the nuclear waste issue has already proved damaging and costly. It will be even more damaging and more costly the longer it continues.” It continued, "The need for a new strategy is urgent, not just to address these damages and costs but because this generation has a fundamental, ethical obligation to avoid overburdening future generations with the entire task of finding a safe, permanent solution for managing hazardous nuclear materials they had no part in creating."(*30) Experience in the U.S. and in other nations suggests that any attempt to force a top down, federally mandated solution over the objections of a state or community - far from being more efficient - will take longer, cost more, and have lower odds of ultimate success. By contrast, the approach the commission recommends is explicitly adaptive, staged, and consent-based. In practical terms, this means encouraging communities to volunteer to be considered to host a new nuclear waste management facility while also allowing for the waste management organization to approach communities that it believes can meet the siting requirements. Siting processes for waste management facilities should include a flexible and substantial incentive program.(*31) On 31 January 2012, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that the U.S. will likely need more than one permanent repository for commercial nuclear fuel.(*32) The U.S. nuclear waste policy is therefore back to square one. Except that there is no chance of returning to the option of salt domes or layers. This follows from the 2008 "Nuclear waste trust decision" of the U.S. government,(*33) stating: "Salt formations currently are being considered as hosts only for reprocessed nuclear materials because heat-generating waste, like spent nuclear fuel, exacerbates a process by which salt can rapidly deform. This process could potentially cause problems for keeping drifts stable and open during the operating period of a repository”.

Refrerences:

Taiwan
*01- Atomic Energy Council: High Level Radioactive Waste Final Disposal, 1 April 2011
*02- Taiwan: National Report under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, June 2007
*03- Atomic Energy Council: Lan-yu Storage Site status, February 2012
*04- Nuclear Fuel:  Long-Term Spent Fuel Dilemma at Issue in Taiwan-U.S. Renegotiation, Nuclear Fuels, June 1, 2009.
*05- Nuclear Fuel: Taiwan Rejected Chinese Offer of Fresh Fuel for Waste Disposal, 20 April 1998
*06- Nuclear Fuel: Taiwan to Wait on U.S.-Russian Deal Before Taking Spent Fuel Initiative, 9 July 2001
*07- Atomic Energy Council, 1 April 2012

Ukraine
*01- World Nuclear Association, Nuclear Power in Ukraine, February 2012
*02- K.G. Kudinov: Creating an Infrastructure for Managing Spent Nuclear Fuel, in Glenn E. Schweitzer and A. Chelsea Sharber, ed., An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility-Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype, National Academies Press, 2005, pp. 145-151
*03- David G. Marcelli and Tommy B. Smith: The Zaporozhye ISFS, Radwaste solutions, Jan/Febr 2002
*04- International Panel of Fissile Materials: Managing spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, 2011
*05- World Nuclear Association,  February 2012
*06- Business wire: Energoatom and Holtec International Formalize the Contract to Build a Central Storage Facility in Ukraine, 30 December 2005
*07- World Nuclear Association,  February 2012
*08- JC-  Ukraine: Ukraine National Report on Compliance with the Obligations under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, September 2008, p.48-49
*09- EBRD: Chernobyl: New Safe Confinement and Spent Fuel Storage Facility, March 2011
*10- Ukrinform: Talks on construction of storage facility for spent nuclear fuel to be completed in April, 28 March 2012
*11- Foratom: Ukrainian Nuclear Forum Association, 28 February 2012 www.foratom.org/associate-members/ukraine.html
*12- World Nuclear Association, February 2012

United Kingdom
*01- IAEA: Inventory of radioactive waste disposals at sea, IAEA-Tecdoc-1105, August 1999, p53
*02- Low Level Waste Repository Ltd: http://www.llwrsite.com
*03- Gordon MacKerron and Frans Berkhout: Learning to listen: institutional change and legitimation in UK radioactive waste policy; in: Journal of Risk Research, Volume 12 Issue 7 & 8 2009, December 2009, p. 989 – 1008. 
*04- John Knill: Radioactive Waste Management: Key Issues for the Future, in: F. Barker (ed), Management of Radioactive Wastes. Issues for Local Authorities. Proceedings of the UK Nuclear Free Local Authorities Annual Conference 1997 held in Town House, Kirkcaldy, Fife, on 23 October 1997, Publisher Thomas Telford, London, 1998, p 1 - 17.
*05- Gordon MacKerron and Frans Berkhout
*06- NDA: Strategy for the management of solid low-level radioactive waste from the nuclear industry, August 2010
*07- Department for Trade and Industry (DTI): Managing the Nuclear Legacy: a Strategy for Action, CM 5552, HMSO, London, July 2002.
*08- The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management: Managing our Radioactive Waste Safely, CoRWM’s recommendations to Government, Doc 700, HMSO, London, July 2006
*09- The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management: Re-iteration of CoRWM’s Position on Nuclear New Build, Doc 2162.2, HMSO, London, September 2007
*10- Defra/BERR: Managing Radioactive Waste Safely: A Framework for Implementing Geological Disposal, Cm 7386, HMSO, London, June 2008.
*11- World Nuclear News: Waste Plan Revealed, 12 June 2008
*12- Blowers, MacKerron, Allan, Wilkinson, Pitt and Pickard:  New Nuclear Build and the Management of Radioactive Wastes, Letter to Secretary of State from Former Members of CoRWM, 20 November, 2009
*13- BBC News: Nuclear waste storage options examined, 15 January 2010
*14- NDA: Geological Disposal, Steps towards implementation, March 2010 p.24
*15- BBC News on line: Budget cuts caution on UK nuclear waste plan, 7 July 2010
*16- NDA, Review of timescales for geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste, 22 December 2011
*17- NDA: Geological Disposal. Review of Options for Accelerating Implementation of the Geological Disposal Programme, December 2011
*18- NDA, Review of timescales for geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste

United States of America
*01- IPFM: Managing spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, 2011, p.106
*S02- IAEA: Inventory of radioactive waste disposals at sea, IAEA-Tecdoc-1105, August 1999
*03- Department of Energy: WIPP Chronology, 5 February 2007
*04- For a detailed discussion on the history of the plans for the storage of nuclear waste in the U.S. we refer to: 1- Ronnie Lipschutz: Radioactive Waste: Politics, Technology and Risk, Cambrigde USA, 1980; 2- A.A. Albert de la Bruhèze, Political Construction of Technology. Nuclear Waste disposal in the United States, 1945-1972, WMW-publication 10, Faculteit Wijsbegeerte en Maatschappijwetenschappen Universiteit Twente, Netherlands, 1992; 3- Roger E. Kasperson, Social Issues in Radioactive Waste Management: The National Experience, in: Roger E. Kasperson (ed), Equity Issues in Radioactive Waste Management, Oelgeschlager, Gunn & Hain Publishers, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1983, chapter 2.
*05-World Watch: WIPP-Lash: nuclear burial plan assailed, Vol 4, No 6 , Nov/Dec 1991, p.7
*06- Science: Radwaste dump WIPPs up a controversy,19 March 1982
*07- US Guardian weekly: Pilot waste dump is already in trouble, 12 October 1988
*08- Nucleonics Week: WIPP moves toward 1993 waste tests, senate okays bill in 11th hour, 15 October 1992. p 8
*09- WISE News Communique: US DOE delays (abandons?) giant waste projects, no 389, 19 November 1993, p 6
*10- WISE News Communique, US: WIPP is delayed again and again…, no. 496, 21 August 1998, p 2
*11- WISE News Communique: First waste at WIPP, but problem not solved, no 508, 9 April 1999
*12- Nuclear Fuel: After two decades and $2billion, DOE targets spring for WIPP operations, 9 March 1998, p 6-7
*13- Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: Renewal Application Chapter 1, Closure Plan, May 2009
*14- WIPP: Why WIPP, 5 February 2007
*15- Luther. J. Carter, Waste Management; Current Controversies  over the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant; in: Environment, Vol. 31, no. 7, September 1989, p 5, 40-41
*16- Ralph. L. Keeney and Detlof von Winterfeldt: Managing Waste from Power Plants, in: Risk Analysis, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1994, pp 107-130.
*17- Department of Energy: Mission Plan for the Civilian Radioactive Waste Management Program, June 1985, Volume 1, p 41
*18- Department of Energy: A Multi-attribute utility analysis of sites nominated for characterization for the first radioactive waste repository – A decision aiding methodology, DOE/RW-0074, 1986
*19- IPFM: Managing spent nuclear fuel from power reactors, 2011, p.109
*20- United States of America Congress: Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, The Act was extensively amended on 22 December 1987, Sec. 160
*21- NWPA, Sec. 161
*22- NWPA, Sec. 114, d
*23-  Interview Robert Loux by Herman Damveld, in: Herman Damveld, Steef van Duin en Dirk Bannink: Kernafval in zee of zout? Nee fout! (Nuclear waste in sea or salt? No wrong!),  Greenpeace Netherlands, 1994, p. 29-30
*24- Nuclear Fuel: 6 April 1998, p 13.
*25- Reuters: Bush clears way for Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, 23 July 2002
*26- Barry D. Solomon: High-level radioactive waste management in the USA, in: Journal of Risk Research, Volume 12 Issue 7 & 8 2009,  p. 1009–1024
*27- World Nuclear News: Obama dumps Yucca Mountain, 27 February 2009
*28- Government Accountability Office: Nuclear Waste Management. Key attributes, challenges, and costs for the Yucca Mountain repository and two potential Alternatives, GAO-10-48, November 2009. p.19
*29- World Nuclear News: Post-Yucca nuclear waste strategy group, 1 February 2010. One issue that will not be on the table is the exact location of any eventual waste facilities. The 'Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future' is only to consider strategy, not implementation
*30- World Nuclear News: Immediate action needed on US waste policy, 27 January 2012
*31- Blue Ribbon Commission: Report to the Secretary of Energy, 26 January 2012
*32- Platts: More than one permanent US nuclear repository likely needed: Chu, 31 January 2012
*33- Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Waste Confidence Decision Update, 9 October 2008, p. 59555

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#745
04/04/2012
Shorts

Construction of Ohma nuclear plant indefinitely delayed.
Japan’s Electric Power Development Co has decided to delay the construction of its Ohma nuclear power plant indefinitely. The plant, which is under construction in Aomori prefecture (northern Honshu), was expected to be complete in late 2014. However, construction has been suspended since the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. J-Power said in a statement that it is ‘moving ahead to review safety enhancement measures in response to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi’ and that it would incorporate any necessary measures.

Work started on the Ohma plant, a 1383 MW Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design, in May 2008. Originally due to start up in 2012, J-Power amended its scheduled start date to November 2014 towards the end of 2008. The Ohma plant has been designed to (eventually) run on a full mixed oxide (MOX) core. In 2009 J-Power entered into an agreement with Global Nuclear Fuel Japan to procure the MOX fuel for Ohman, which was to be manufactured in France.
Nuclear Engineering International, news 3 April 2012


Vermont Yankee: 130 arrests.
More than 1,000 people turned up in Brattleboro to march the 6 km from the town common to Entergy’s offices. Over 130 people trespassed on the company’s property and were arrested. Signs carried by the 1,000 protestors had messages like “time’s up” and “Entergy corporate greed”. March 22, was a monumental day for residents of the tri-state area near the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Forty years after the plant opened, its license expired the day before, but the plant continued to operate pursuant to a federal court order.

The plant’s continued operation sets a precedent nationwide in the nuclear as well as in the legal realm. Earlier this year, federal Judge J. Garvan Murtha issued a ruling finding two Vermont laws requiring legislative approval for the plant to continue operating were unconstitutional as pre-empted by federal law. The plant hasn’t received a new license to replace the one that expired this March. The Vermont Public Service Board has yet to issue an order on the new license and no one has ordered the plant to cease operating in the interim. Entergy does have a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but its state license is expired. The company argues state law allows it to operate while the Public Service Board proceeding to approve a new license goes on.

Meanwhile the state and Entergy have appealed Judge Murtha’s decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Legal experts say the case could have national ramifications. (More in Nuclear Monitor 741, 3 Febr. 2012: Showdown time for Vermont Yankee).
EarthFirst Newswire, 23 March 2012


Bidding process starts for Olkiluoto-4.
The Finnish nuclear power company Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) has started a bidding process for their Olkiluoto 4 project as a part of the bidding and engineering phase. Bids for the new nuclear power plant are expected at the beginning of 2013. TVO reported on March 23, that there are five plant supplier alternatives at the bidding phase of the OL4 project, namely the French installation company Areva, the American GE Hitachi, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power in South Korea, as well as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toshiba in Japan. TVO is not willing to take a stand on whether the difficulties and problems experienced by the Olkiluoto 3 project will have any influence on the possibilities of Areva's involvement.

TVO is to submit an application for a building permit by the summer of 2015. In April 2010, Finland's previous government decided to grant a permit to IVO for the construction of a new reactor in Olkiluoto. The decision was approved by Parliament in July 2010. According to TVO, the electric power of the new plant unit will be in the range of 1,450 to 1,750 MWe, while the projected operational life time of the new reactor is at least 60 years.
Helsingin Sanomat (International edition), 23 March 2012


NRC approves COL for V.C.Summer.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on March 30 approved the combined construction and operating licenses (COL) for the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina, just the second construction license approved for a nuclear plant since 1978. The NRC voted 4-1, just as the Commission did for the Plant Vogtle COLs. The NRC is expected to issue the COLs within 10 business days.

South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. and South Carolina Public Service Authority, or Santee Cooper, the owners and operators of the existing single-unit, 1,100 MW V.C. Summer plant, submitted the application for two new 1,117 MW Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built at the site in March 2008. The US$10 billion project, adjacent to the company’s existing reactor approximately 40 km northwest of Columbia, S.C., began in 2009 after receiving approval from the Public Service Commission of South Carolina.

The NRC did impose two conditions on the COLs, with the first requiring inspection and testing of squib valves, important components of the new reactors’ passive cooling system. The second requires the development of strategies to respond to extreme natural events resulting in the loss of power at the new reactors.
Power Engineering, 3 April 2012


Search for Jordan's reactor site expands after protests.
The search for a potential site for Jordan's first nuclear reactor in Mafraq has expanded by a 40 kilometer radius. Officials are searching for a site near the Khirbet Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant, which, according to current plans, is to serve as the main water source to cool the 1,000 megawatt reactor.

According to a source close to the proceedings, the government directed the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) to find an alternative to the initially selected site, Balaama, near Mafraq, after coming under political pressure from tribal leaders and prominent local residents.  The announcement of the transferral of the planned site for the Kingdom's first nuclear reactor from Aqaba to Mafraq in late 2010 prompted a backlash from local residents, who held a series of protests and rallies over the past year urging decision makers to go back on their decision. 
Jordan Times, 19 March 2012


IAEA: safety concerns over aging nuclear fleet.
A 56-page IAEA document highlights safety concerns of an ageing nuclear fleet: 80%  of the world's nuclear power plants are more than 20 years old, and about 70 percent of the world's 254 research reactors have been in operation for more than 30 years "with many of them exceeding their original design life," the report said. But according IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano nuclear power is now safer than it was a year ago. The report said the "operational level of nuclear power plant safety around the world remains high".

"There are growing expectations that older nuclear reactors should meet enhanced safety objectives, closer to that of recent or future reactor designs," the Vienna-based U.N. agency's annual Nuclear Safety Review said. "There is a concern about the ability of the ageing nuclear fleet to fulfill these expectations."
Reuters, 13 March 2012


Japan after Fukushima: 80% distrust government's nuke safety measures.
A whopping 80 percent of people in Japan do not trust the government's safety measures for nuclear power plants. The results are from a nationwide random telephone survey of 3,360 people conducted by The Asahi Shimbun on March 10-11. It received 1,892 valid responses. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said they are opposed to restarting nuclear reactors currently off line for regular maintenance, compared to the 27 percent in favor. A gap between genders was conspicuous over whether to restart the reactors. Although men were almost evenly split, with 47 percent against and 41 percent in favor, 67 percent of women are opposed, compared with just 15 percent who support the restarts.

Regarding the government's safety steps for nuclear plants, 52 percent said they "do not trust so much," and 28 percent said they "do not trust at all." Although the government has been proceeding with computer-simulated stress tests on reactors, which are necessary steps to reactivate them, people apparently have a deep distrust of the government's nuclear safety provisions.
Asahi Shimbun, 13 March 2012


Tepco: water level reactor #2 wrong by 500%.
Tepco is reporting that the results of an endoscopy into reactor #2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant show that water levels are far lower than previously thought. The utility had estimated that water in the reactor, which is required to keep melted fuel cool and prevent recriticality, was approximately three meters deep. In fact, it is only 60 cm deep. Tepco insists that the fuel is not in danger of overheating, and continues to pump in nine tons of water every hour. However, experts say that the low water levels show that leaks in the containment vessel are far greater than previously thought, and may make repairing and decommissioning the crippled reactors even more difficult. Tepco attempted an endoscopy in January, but the effort failed because the scope used was too short.
Greenpeace blog, Fukushima Nuclear Crisis Update 28 March 2012


Tokyo soil samples would be considered nuclear waste in the US.
While traveling in Japan in February, Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen took soil samples in Tokyo. He explaines: "I did not look for the highest radiation spot. I just went around with five plastic bags and when I found an area, I just scooped up some dirt and put it in a bag. One of those samples was from a crack in the sidewalk. Another one of those samples was from a children's playground that had been previously decontaminated. Another sample had come from some moss on the side of the road. Another sample came from the roof of an office building that I was at. And the last sample was right across the street from the main judicial center in downtown Tokyo."

Gundersen (an energy advisor with 39-years of nuclear power engineering experience) brought those samples back to the US, declared them through Customs, and sent them to the laboratory. And the lab determined that all of them would be qualified as radioactive waste there in the United States and would have to be shipped to a radioactive waste facility to be disposed of.
http://www.fairewinds.com/content/tokyo-soil-samples-would-be-considered...


Canada: court case against 2 new reactors Ontario.
A group of environmentalists has gone to court to challenge Ontario's plan to build new nuclear reactors, arguing the environmental risks and costs involved haven't been properly assessed. Lawyers for Ecojustice and the Canadian Environmental Law Association have filed arguments in Federal Court on behalf of several green agencies, saying a review panel failed to carry out a proper environmental assessment on building new reactors at the Darlington station in Clarington, Ontario. Despite a push for green energy projects, Ontario remains committed to nuclear energy, which makes up 50 per cent of its energy supply, and is moving forward with the construction of two new reactors. But the groups, which include Greenpeace, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Northwatch  and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, argue the government provided only vague plans to the federal government-appointed review panel, which nonetheless recommended the project be approved. They argue that, contrary to the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the panel also didn't gather the evidence required to evaluate the project's need and possible alternatives.

The groups are asking Federal Court to order the review panel to take a second look at the project. A proper environmental study, the groups add, is especially important after lessons learned from the disaster at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant. They also note that the government didn't select a specific type of nuclear reactor, making its possible impact difficult to assess. "Despite the profound lack of critical information regarding the project's design and specific means by which the radioactive waste it generates will be managed, the (joint review panel) report purports to conclude that no significant environmental effects are likely," said the court filing, obtained by The Canadian Press. That assumption implies that the "sizable information gaps" will be eventually considered by other bodies, and that "numerous to-be-determined mitigation measures" will be implemented. Such a "leap before you look" approach, the filing adds, "is the antithesis of the precautionary principle, and should not be upheld by this honourable court."
CTV News, 21 March 2012


Chernobyl: Crime Without Punishment.
Alla A. Yaroshinskaya describes the human side of theApril 1986 Chernobyl disaster, with firsthand accounts. Chernobyl: Crime without Punishment is a unique account of events by a reporter who defied the Soviet bureaucracy. The author presents an accurate historical record, with quotations from all the major players in the Chernobyl drama. It also provides unique insight into the final stages of Soviet communism.

Yaroshinskaya actively began to pursue the truth about how the nuclear disaster affected surrounding towns starting April 27, 1986 - just a day after the Chernobyl accident - when the deception about the lethal radiation levels was only just beginning. She describes actions taken after the disaster: how authorities built a new city for Chernobyl residents but placed it in a highly polluted area. Secret documents discovered years after the meltdown proved that the government had known all along the magnitude of what was going on and had chosen to hide the truth and put millions of lives at risk.
Twenty-five years later, the author reviews the latest medical data and the changes in the health of 9 million Chernobyl victims in over two decades since the nuclear blast. She reveals the way the Chernobyl health data continued to change from official Kremlin lies to the current results at national research centers in independent states after the Soviet Union collapsed and the Kremlin lost its monopoly over the Chernobyl truth. The author also details the actions of the nuclear lobby inside and outside the former Soviet Union. Yaroshinskaya explains why there has been no trial of top officials who were responsible for the actual decisions regarding the cleanup, and how these top officials have managed to subvert accountability for their actions. 
Alla A. Yaroshinskaya is a Russian journalist and winner of the Right Livelihood Award. She was also a member of the Ecology and Glasnost Committees of the Supreme Soviet and advisor to former Russian president Boris Yeltsin. This book has been edited by Rosalie Bertell and Lynn Howard Ehrle, translated from Russian by Sergei Roy.
Chernobyl 25 years later. Crime without punishment, Alla A.Yaroshinskaya; 2011, Transaction Publishers. ISBN: 978-1-4128-4296-9. 409 pages, hardcover


BAS: Selected readings on TMI and Chernobyl.
The nuclear crisis in Japan following the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, has brought the past tragedies at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl into the spotlight again. To offer a more thorough understanding of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the Bulletin of the atomic Scientists has compiled a reading list from its archives.
Check: http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/special-topics/the-bulletin-archi... and then add -three-mile-island or -chernobyl

Small modular reactors: no advantages in costs and risks

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#745
4246
04/04/2012
NIRS
Article

Early March, the US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced three public-private partnerships to develop deployment plans for small modular reactor (SMR) technologies at its Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The DoE said that it had signed three separate memorandums of agreement with Hyperion Power Generation, NuScale Power and Holtec International's SMR LLC subsidiary. Hyperion has designed a 25 MWe fast reactor, while Holtec and NuScale have designed small pressurized water reactors with capacities of 140 MWe and 45 MWe, respectively. However, the DoE stressed that the new agreements "do not constitute a federal funding commitment." It said that it envisages private sector funding to be used to develop these technologies and support deployment plans. The DoE added that the agreements are unrelated to its funding opportunity announcement for SMR cost-share projects announced in January.

According to their promoters, small modular reactors are the solution to the problems of high cost and risk. But they are not the nuclear nirvana that the industry seeks.

Having built small reactors to start with - Shippingport, the first commercial power reactor in the United States, was just 60 MW - the industry went to 1,000 MW and even larger sizes precisely because of economies of scale. Reactor power output goes up much faster than the materials and fabrication costs as size increases. Economies of scale also apply to electric generators and steam turbines.  So, the costs per kilowatt would tend to rise, not fall if reactor size is decreased greatly.

Proponents claim economies of scale would be offset by mass manufacturing small modular reactors. It is true that on-site fabrication is a cumbersome and expensive process. However, there have to be dozens or hundreds of orders before anyone will invest in a large factory to churn out reactors. Without that level of demand, small reactors will tend to be custom made - and costly.

Second, and even more importantly, building one or two small modular reactors on a site guarantees high costs. An entire security, administrative, control, and monitoring infrastructure must be built at every reactor location - making each kilowatt more expensive.

One approach would be to prepare a site and its infrastructure for a large number of small reactors. But, if they were all built at the same time, we are back to a large, risky project. If they are built one or two at a time, the first units will be very costly - far more than today's reactors - since a disproportionately large infrastructure would be necessary.

The hype about new reactors is hiding many difficult questions. Burning uranium and generating plutonium just to boil water was never a good idea; it was never destined to be cheap. Why would the U.S. government want to throw more tax dollars after a nuclear dream that is likely to dissolve into a harsh reality?

Source: World Nuclear News, 5 March 2012 / Iowa City Press Citizen, 9 March 2012, Arjun Makhijani
Contact: NIRS

About: 
WISENIRS

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#743
05/03/2012
Shorts

Dounreay: 'significant' hot particle found on beach.
Experts have discovered the most significant radioactive particle yet on a public beach two miles (approximately 3km) west of the redundant nuclear site of Dounreay, Scotland, UK. Dounreay clean-up contractor DSRL has informed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency of additional tests being carried out on a particle recovered during routine monitoring of a beach near the redundant nuclear site. The particle was detected at the water's edge at Sandside. The beach at Sandside is located. The particle - detected on February 14 - was the 208th to be recovered from the beach at Sandside in the last 15 years.

Provisional checks carried out on the beach indicated the particle had a higher than normal beta dose rate. A spokesman for DSRL said it was the first time a particle classed as significant - the highest classification in terms of radioactivity - had been found on the beach, although many had been found on the seabed and foreshore at Dounreay as well as on the site itself. Any particle with radioactivity above one million Becquerel (Bq) units is classed as significant.

Work is due to resume in May to clear particles from the seabed near the site. More than 1800 have been recovered so far from the seabed where there is evidence of a "plume" from historic effluent discharges dating back 50 years. Particles are fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel.
Dounreay Site restoration Ltd, website, February 20, 2012 / The Herald, Scotland,  21 February 2012


Defend democracy; Unite to shut Vermont Yankee down!
In 2010, the citizens and legislature of the State of Vermont, with support from their neighbors in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, decided to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor permanently by March 21, 2012, when VY's 40-year license expires. In 2011, Entergy, the New Orleans mega-corporation that owns Vermont Yankee, sued the State of Vermont, defying the democratic will of the people, to keep their aged, accident-plagued reactor running for 20 more years. On January 19, 2012, federal district court judge J. Garvin Murtha sided with Entergy against the State of Vermont and the people of New England. On February 18, the State of Vermont appealed Murtha's ruling. With the future of VY still hanging in the balance, nonviolent citizen action is more important than ever.

Let us make clear: We will NOT allow unbridled corporate power to deprive us of our inalienable right to live in safety on our homes, and to determine our own energy future – a future that is safe and green for our children and our children's children. Many events have taken place and will take place to shut Vermont Yankee down. The most important one is 'Occupy Entergy HQ' on March 22. There will be a brief rally at the Brattleboro, VT Commons starting at 11:00am, then a walk to Entergy Headquarters on Old Ferry Rd. in Brattleboro (3.5 miles) where there be a direct action, likely to include civil disobedience.
More information at: http://sagealliance.net/home


Franco-British nuclear cooperation agreement.
On February 16, UK Prime Minister Cameron met his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris at a joint summit for the first time since their bitter clashes over Europe. The joint declaration on energy made contained a range of goals, the greatest of them being to encourage "the emergence of a Franco-British industry that is highly competitive across the whole supply chain at the international level." Most prominent in this will be the work of France's majority state-owned firms EDF and Areva and their cooperation with privately held UK firms for the construction of new reactors in Britain.

The agreement to co-operate on developing civil nuclear energy is meant to pave the way for the construction of new nuclear power plants. It was accompanied by the news of a deal between Rolls-Royce and French nuclear reactor developer Areva. Areva has asked Rolls to make complex components and provide engineering and technical services for two reactors to be built at Hinkley Point, Somerset.

But not everybody is confident that the agreement will bring much for Britian's industry. According to Tim Fox, head of energy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers "Although some relatively small contracts are to be awarded to Rolls-Royce and BAM Kier, it looks increasingly likely that the vast majority of the contracts involved in the manufacture and construction of the new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell will go to France rather than the UK." Friends of the Earth's Energy Campaigner Paul Steedman said: "Cameron's deal today will leave British taxpayers footing a massive bill for new nuclear plants we don't need and can't afford - while EDF continues to rake in huge profits."
World Nuclear News 17 February 2012 / FOE Press release,  17 February 2012 / The Manufacturer, 17 February 2012


Meanwhile at Hinkley Point ….
From Febr. 12 on, following an occupation of trees a week earlier, activists are occupying a farmhouse close to Hinkley Point, to stop EDF Energy trashing land for the planned new nuclear power station. Anti-nuclear campaigners have been joined by members of Seize the Day as the first residents of Edf-Off Cottage which is on the 400-acre site earmarked for two new reactors.

At the High Court on February 27, EDF Energy failed in their bid to impose an injunction to stop an alliance of anti-nuclear groups from protesting on the 400-acre site set aside for two new mega-reactors at Hinkley Point. This injunction was being sought to remove these campaigners, but it was simultaneously designed to restrict future demonstrations. The Orwellian language even prohibits campaigning groups from 'encouraging other persons' to protest at the site. Speaking on behalf of the Stop New Nuclear alliance, Kate Hudson from CND stated "It should be inconceivable that private companies could restrict basic civil liberties in this way. They are not the arbiters of the nuclear debate, nor the guarantors of our freedoms. We will fight to ensure the rights of future generations to peaceful protest and to preserve essential democratic principles."

On 10 and  11 March, one year since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, antinuclear groups call for a human chain/blockade around the station to show "our determined opposition to new nuclear".
www.stopnewnuclear.org.uk


Spain: OK for 41-year old Garona life extension. Spain's nuclear security agency CSN has determined that the country's oldest nuclear reactor, the 468 MW Santa Maria de Garona nuclear power plant, is safe to operate until 2019, in response to a request by the industry minister to review the installation. The approval, disclosed on February 17, clears the way for the recently installed Spanish conservative government to overturn the previous socialist government's 2009 order to have the generator closed in 2013. Although the CSN said there was "no safety or security issue that should impede continued operation of the power plant", the agency added that it would still have to review any formal application by the operator to extend the installation's license, including scrutiny of its latest operating data and future security measures being considered. Garona was first connected to the grid in March 1971!
The CSN in 2009 had given authorization for the station to operate for another 10 years, but the government at the time opted instead for an earlier expiration date. Since then, new regulations have been put in place, particularly following the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant early last year.
Platts, 20 February 2012


World oldest reactor (44 years) closed. The world's oldest operating nuclear power reactor – Unit 1 of the Oldbury nuclear power plant in the UK - has been closed after 44 years of power generation on 29 February 2012. Unit 2 was shut down in June 2011, while unit 1 was expected to continue operating until the end of this year. Plant operator Magnox Ltd announced last October that it had decided to end operations ten months early as it was "no longer economically viable."
World Nuclear News, 29 February 2012


Beznau now oldest in world; call for closure.
After Oldbury's closure, Switzerland's Beznau nuclear plant holds the dubious record of being the oldest nuclear plant in the world and should be shut down, a group of environmental organizations said on February 23. Switzerland is phasing out nuclear energy but not fast enough, say the groups. They list a number of problems and point out that the company that runs it is planning to increase the earmarked CHF500 million (US$ 557m or 415m euro) to make it safe, money they believe could be better spent shutting it down and moving to safer energy sources.
Genevalunch.com, 23 February 2012


U.S.: Fourth Legislative Attack on Grand Canyon Uranium Ban Fails… The fourth legislative attempt to block the Obama administration's ban on new uranium development across 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park died February 14, when the House rules committee ruled it out of order. The amendment was sponsored by the same three Republican congressmen who sponsored three previous failed anti-Grand Canyon legislative proposals - Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and Paul Gosar, all from Arizona. The most recent amendment sought to overturn a January decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar enacting a 20-year 'mineral withdrawal' that bans new mining claims and development on existing claims lacking rights-to-mine across Grand Canyon's million-acre watershed (see Nuclear Monitor 740, 13 January 2012, In Briefs).

In 2010 and again in 2011, Flake, Franks and Gosar sponsored legislation that would have prohibited the Interior Department from enacting the mining ban; in 2011 they attempted to add a rider to a budget bill - their third failed attempt prior to this most recent amendment.

Over the past few years, nearly 400,000 people from 90 countries wrote the Department of the Interior urging it to ban new uranium mining around the canyon after a uranium boom threatened to bring a new wave of destructive mining threatening recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat and waters in Grand Canyon National Park. The mining ban has won wide support among American Indian tribes, regional businesses, elected officials, hunting and angling groups, scientists and conservationists.
Press release Centre for Biological Diversity, 16 February 2012


….but next attack imminent. The withdrawal of lands in northern Arizona from mining activities is unconstitutional, unlawful and violates the National Environmental Policy Act, said organisations representing the US mining and nuclear industries in a lawsuit against US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The suit has been filed with the US Federal District Court in Arizona by the National Mining Association (NMA) and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the US nuclear energy industry's organization. The Department of the Interior (DoI), US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service and US Department of Agriculture are named as co-defendants alongside Salazar, in his capacity as Interior Secretary.

The NEI and NMA argue that Salazar does not have the legal authority to make withdrawals of public lands in excess of 5000 acres, citing a landmark 1983 Supreme Court ruling that such withdrawals would be unconstitutional. Furthermore, they claim, the decision to withdraw the land is "arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law." Finally, the environmental impact statement (EIS) and record of decision on the withdrawal violate the terms of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in failing to take a "hard look" at the economic and environmental consequences of the withdrawal.
World Nuclear News, 28 February 2012


Finland: Uranium mine granted permission.
The Finnish Talvivaara mine today gained permission to extract uranium and process it into uranium oxide. The UO4 would be transported away by rail and ships, possibly to Russia. The mine was opened a few years ago mainly as a zinc mine. It's using an experimental biosoaking process to extract small amounts of minerals from the ore. The company has been crippled by scandals from the beginning, with sulphuric acid and other chemicals continuously spilling all over nearby woods and lakes. The company has failed to make any profit so far and its CEO was forced to quit last year.

In a strange technocratic turn of events, the environmental authorities concluded that instead of closing down the mine, it would be beneficial to grant the mine a permission to separate the uranium from the rest of the waste so that the further spills bound to happen at least wouldn't contain radioactive materials. As a last minute effort, environmentalists tried to convince the government to at least demand a description of the separation process so as to ensure this doesn't just produce a lot more radioactive/toxic sludge. The government decided not to do so and instead just granted the permission "because it brings 40 million euros worth of investment to the area".

The local municipality and just about every major business in the area was opposed to the permission after the previous scandals and their trade being spoiled by the smelly pollution in the environment.
Jehki Harkonen, energy campaigner Greenpeace Nordic, Helsinki, 1 March 2012


Rosatom-owned company accused of selling shoddy equipment to reactors.
Russian Federal Prosecutors have accused a company owned by the country’s nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, with massive corruption and manufacturing substandard equipment for nuclear reactors under construction both at home and abroad.  The ZiO-Podolsk machine building plant’s procurement director, Sergei Shutov, has been arrested for buying low quality raw materials on the cheap and pocketing the difference as the result of an investigation by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor organization to the KGB. It is not clear how many reactors have been impacted by the alleged crime, but reactors built by Russia in India, Bulgaria, Iran, China as well as several reactor construction and repair projects in Russia itself may have been affected by cheap equipment, given the time frame of works completed at the stations and the scope of the investigation as it has been revealed by authorities.
Bellona, 28 February 2012

Help stop the radioactive poisoning of recycling! Again.

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#743
6235
05/03/2012
NIRS
Article

It is an environmental and economic success story that (non-radioactive) metal and other materials are recycled and reused to prevent unnecessary mining and extraction of new materials from the Earth. The nuclear power and weapons industries, their government promoters and so-called “regulators” and the international radiation establishment are threatening this success by sending radioactive metal and other materials into the mix.

The nuclear industry is shifting its waste liability to the steel industry, the most successful recycling industry in the world. The Steel Manufacturers Association said in its 2009-2010 Policy Statement (*1)

“SMA opposes policies or rulemaking activities that sanction the free release of radioactively contaminated scrap metals from nuclear power plants or DOE facilities, without any additional regulatory controls. The US steel industry cannot be the dumping ground for the discards of the global nuclear age.”

There has been widespread opposition to releasing nuclear waste into commons since it was first attempted publicly in 1981. The US public has stopped every known effort to legalize dispersing radioactive waste unregulated and out of control. Euratom, as a force in the European Union representing the nuclear industry, not the general population, has succeeding in forcing member states (even those that oppose nuclear power) to adopt regulations allowing nuclear waste to get into commerce. Before the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and irradiated fuel pools started melting down and releasing untold amounts of radioactivity to the world, Japan had been moving to release nuclear waste from control. Since the disaster allowable contamination levels have been raised to unconscionable levels and radioactive rubble is being deliberately dispersed (and incinerated) across the country thus around the world. Canada adopted “clearance” rules without any public knowledge or input in 2008 according the Canadian Nuclear Safety Council.

Although it did not apply to commercial nuclear power reactors, the public and the metal industry breathed a sigh of relief in January and July of 2000 when US Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Bill Richardson banned the release of metal from any and all radioactive areas of the US weapons complex into commercial metal recycling. In September of 2011, US Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu signed off on reversing the bans. We don’t know how soon potentially contaminated metal from US nuclear bomb factories might enter the metal market in the US, but we do have a chance to stop it…again. In the near future we can expect an Environmental Assessment with a brief public comment period. Unless public outrage is expressed and acted upon by decision makers, DOE will proceed to overturn both the “moratorium” and the “suspension” from the year 2000. DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) refuse to provide details of the reversal in public protection, but this is not the first time DOE site managers have tried to overturn them. Radioactive Exchange Monitor reports that buildup of metal at the Piketon/Portsmouth Ohio nuclear weapons site pushed hard for the change. DOE had secretly adopted internal orders (Chapters 2 and 4 of Order 5400.5) in 1990 allowing radioactive materials to be released or cleared from controls to go to landfills, incinerators and reuse/recycling. In 2011 DOE replaced it with a new one (Order 458.1) which, according to the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), requires property “release” and “clearance.”

Nuclear Monitor readers are well aware that every facility in the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining to irradiated fuel and waste management, releases radioactivity into the air and water and generates various amounts of radioactive solid, liquid and/or gaseous waste. The buildings themselves become radioactively contaminated. Metal pipes and components exposed to neutrons in the core of nuclear reactors become “activated,” meaning that the originally-stable metal atoms are transformed into radioactive elements such as Nickel-59 and Niobium-94 with half lives of 76,000 years and 20,300 years, respectively. Radioactive Cobalt-60 with a 5 year half life thus 50 to 100 year hazardous life also forms.  Some of the radioactivity lasts for such long periods of time that for practical purposes, it requires permanent isolation from our environment and living systems. In other parts of the reactor and the fuel chain, metal can get contaminated on the surface with radionuclides.

In Canada, the Bruce nuclear power reactors were refurbished. Eight radioactively contaminated steam generators were removed with the intent to ship them to Studsvik in Sweden to be melted and most of the metal released into the commercial metal recycling market. It is not possible to remove all of the radioactive contamination, thus Canada’s nuclear power waste would make its way via Sweden into everyday household and personal use items sold around the world. Opposition from over 50 US and Canadian organizations, nearly 30 Canadian local governments, and governments of First Nations along the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway have slowed the shipments. Over 20 European nongovernmental organizations have passed resolutions opposing the shipments and the release of nuclear waste into metal recycling. The immediate concern is about the dangers and precedent for transporting the enormous nuclear power components on the world’s largest fresh water body, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway through treacherous waters of the North Atlantic, through the narrow straits of Denmark into the Baltic Sea to Nykoping, Sweden where Studsvik would melt and release the majority of the metal.

As the value of metals (and other materials) in the marketplace varies, the incentive to sell contaminated metal fluctuates. Regardless, selling it into the “recycling” supply makes money (for the waste generator putting the public at non-consensual, secret but real risk), whereas efforts to “dispose” of it cost money. Disposal as regular trash is cheaper than in a licensed nuclear waste site. There is now another option that has evolved since the late 1980s-- sending nuclear waste to a “processor” (most of which are located in Tennessee, USA), paying a fee to treat and dispose or “recycle,” and sometimes transfer title and liability to the processer. If you were the manager of a nuclear decommissioning project, would you throw it into the “recycle” bin or the radioactive waste bin?

*1- quoted in http://www.ccnr.org/SMA_Radioactive_Scrap.pdf )

Read more: Nuclear Free Local Authorities briefing paper July 2011: http://nfznsc.gn.apc.org/docs/briefings/A199_(NB85)_Canadian_waste_shipments.pdf
Source and contact: Diane D'Arrigo, NIRS Washington
Email: dianed[at]nirs.org

About: 
NIRS

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#742
17/02/2012
Shorts

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

The report is available at: www.laka.org/temp/2012gp-epr-report.pdf


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

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

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