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Georgia and the scheme to revive nuclear power in the US

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#742
17/02/2012
Karl Grossman
Article

The February 9 granting by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission of combined construction and operating licenses for two nuclear plants to be built in Vogtle, Georgia -both Westinghouse AP1000s. It is the first license for a new nuclear power facility in the United States since 1978 and the culmination of a scheme developed by nuclear promoters 20 years ago. Vogtle 3 and 4 are projected to come online in 2016–2017. The original construction plan for the Vogtle 1 & 2 reactors projected to cost US$660 million total. The construction cost ended up being US$8.37 billion in 1989-a 1200% cost overrun.

The strategy for what happened early February was set with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The vote in the House of Representatives was 381-to-37. “As the bill wound its way through the Senate and the House, the nuclear industry won nearly every vote that mattered, proving that Congress remains captive to industry lobbying and political contributions over public opinion,” reported NIRS then. (The same could be said about Congress now.) The New York Times said, “Nuclear lobbyists called the bill their biggest victory in Congress since the Three Mile Island accident.”

The measure, signed into law by the first President Bush, provided for “one-step” nuclear plant licensing. Previously, there were hearings held in the area where a nuclear plant would be built -one on granting a construction license and, later, a second on whether to issue an operating license.

This presented a big problem for the nuclear industry -not that the Atomic Energy Commission or its successor, the Nuclear Energy Commission, ever turned down an application for a construction or operating license. But at the hearings for a construction license major issues arose -such as, with the proposed Shoreham nuclear plant on Long Island, New York, the impossibility of evacuation off the crowded island in the event of a major accident, important in the eventual stoppage of Shoreham. And at operating license hearings, whistle-blowers would emerge, often engineers and others involved in the construction of the plant, going public with testimony about faults, defects and dangers.

Under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, instead of these hearings, the NRC, sitting in Washington far from the areas and people to be impacted, would be authorized to grant in one move a construction and operating license. That’s what the NRC did early February for the two AP1000 nuclear plants that the Southern Company plans to build at its Vogtle site.

Westinghouse said in the 1990s that with this “one-step” process, it would take but five years after NRC approval for an AP1000 to be completed. Indeed, that was what the nuclear industry was saying after the approval about the Georgia project: Vogtle 3 and 4 are projected to come online in 2016–2017.

The reactors chosen for the Vogtle expan­sion are of a new design—AP1000s by Westinghouse—that has never been built in the United States (not surprising, given that the most recently used U.S. design was deployed in the 1970s) or completed anywhere else in the world. Indeed, the NRC only approved the AP1000 design in December 2011. That means the reactors have never been tested under actual working condi­tions.

Westinghouse, before the Energy Policy Act of 1992, touted its AP1000 as an “advanced” nuclear power plant. The act specifically greased the skids for “advanced” nuclear power plants. It featured a section titled “Subtitle C-Advanced Nuclear Reactors” that stated: “The purposes of this subtitle are (1) to require the Secretary [of Energy] to carry out civilian nuclear programs in a way that will lead toward the commercial availability of advanced nuclear reactor technologies; and (2) to authorize such activities to further the timely availability of advanced nuclear reactor technologies.”

To push the new system along, NuStart, which calls itself “a consortium for new nuclear energy development,” was formed. NuStart, says further on its website, that it has been “formed to respond to a Department of Energy issued solicitation to demonstrate the NRC’s COL [Construction and Operating License] process.” NuStart has been working closely with utilities for them to utilize the one-step licensing process and build new “advanced” nuclear plants. As to its funding, its website says that “NuStart is participating in a 50-50 cost sharing program” with the Department of Energy.

Thus U.S. tax dollars have been and are being used for a system all but eliminating public input to get new “advanced” nuclear power plants up and running -and fast.

The chairman of the NRC, Gregory Jaczko, voted against the licensing on February 9. He cited the need to “learn the lessons from Fukushima.” Jaczko stated: “I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima had never happened.” But the other four NRC commissioners -nuclear power zealots all -voted for the licensing.

There will be challenges to the licensing -which beyond being the first issuance of combined construction and operating licenses is the first time since the 1970s that the NRC has given approval for a new nuclear power plant. There were no applications to build new nuclear plants as atomic energy, rightfully, went into a deep eclipse for decades.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy announced: “Our challenge maintains that the NRC is violating federal laws by issuing the license without fully considering the important lessons of the catastrophic Fukushima accident.” It will also raise various safety issues involving the AP1000.

Nine organizations, including the Southern Alliance, said they would sue to try to block the license because the commission had not adequately analyzed the new reactors' design for hazards in response to last year's calamity at Fukushima.

As to finances, not only was -and is- taxpayer money being used to facilitate the new nuclear plant licensing scheme, it is the basis for their construction. Wall Street is wary of nuclear power. So the Department of Energy is providing the Southern Company with US$8.3 billion in taxpayer-based loan guarantees for its new nuclear plants, part of a multi-billion dollar loan guarantee fund that has been established for new nuclear power plants.

In a sales brochure for the AP1000 -online at www.AP1000.westinghousenuclear.com-Westinghouse trumpets it as “Simple, Safe, Innovative.” Throughout the brochure is also the line: “The Nuclear Renaissance Starts Here.” But although the AP1000 might be of a different design, even the brochure acknowledges severe accidents can happen. “The AP1000 is designed to mitigate a postulated severe accident such as a core melt,” says the brochure. Mitigate, not eliminate.

It also includes a “Probabilistic Risk Assessment” by the NRC on the possibility of “Core Damage Frequency” and “Large Release Frequency” at an AP1000. For both, the odds are given as very low, reminiscent of the very low odds NASA once set for a catastrophic accident involving one of its space shuttles -until the Challenger blew up.

“It follows,” says Westinghouse, “that the AP1000 also improves upon the probability of large release goals for advanced reactor designs in the event of a severe accident scenario to retain the molten core within the reactor vessel.” Improves upon -not eliminates the release of catastrophic amounts of radioactivity.

If Americans are anxious about a disaster involving the AP1000 -and want wind and solar and other safe, clean, renewable energy technologies which they can live with instead- well, under the new system, that’s too bad. With the new nuclear licensing system -devised 20 years ago and now moving ahead despite Chernobyl and Fukushima and the availability of energy alternatives that render nuclear power unnecessary -the citizenry and what they want are to be excluded.

Loan guarantees under scrutiny.
President Obama has already promised Southern Company $8.3 billion in tax-funded loan guarantees towards the $14 billion cost of the proposed reactors. These taxpayer-insured loans would be lent at 0-.5% interest! The U.S. loan guarantee program has a 50% default rate history, and indeed, headlines have been captured lately by the failure of much smaller companies with much, much smaller loans. Several members of Congress are now bulldogging a recent audit of DOE's loan guarantee program which is currently under White House review. Chief among their complaints are the secrecy of DOE with respect to its selection process and the terms of the loan guarantees.

With the decision on the reactor license, the White House is expected to finalize its review of the loan guarantees program very soon and make a decision on whether to give Southern Company the coveted US$8.3 billion tax-funded loan at a rate of from 0% to .5% interest!  Read more and sign a petition at: http://www.nonukesyall.org/Action_Obama.html#action


Stop nuclear tax!
Progress Energy plans to cancel the main development and construction contract for its proposed 2 unit nuclear plant (the same Westinghouse AP1000 design as allowed to be built in Georgia), in Levy County, Florida, but its customers will have to keep paying in advance anyway. The move could add hundreds of millions of dollars to what customers are already paying, if Progress decides to restart the project. It also raises questions about the "pay as you go" advance fee set up by the Florida state Legislature explicitly to speed up nuclear plant construction and save money.

Progress spokeswoman Suzanne Grant said the utility will continue to seek federal approval for the US$20 billion project, and "we'll reassess the project once we receive the (operating) license.'' Grant would not discuss the reason Progress wants to cancel the contract.

So far, Progress Energy has spent US$1.1 billion on the development and planning of the Levy County nuclear project: US$545 million coming from its customers through the end of 2011. Progress' 1.6 million customers in Florida will eventually pay the remaining US$555 million, too.

The advance fee resulted from legislation passed by state lawmakers in 2006 to allow utilities to collect money from customers for future construction of nuclear power plants. It was considered a major shift in policy for building new power plants. Proponents said paying for the projects "as you go" would speed up construction and save money on the financing of the plants. But the Levy plant has not met either of those goals.

In 2006, Progress said the project would cost US$4 billion to US$6 billion and open in 2016. The price jumped to US$10 billion in 2007. In 2008, the utility said the project would include two reactors, instead of one, and cost US$17 billion. A year later, the price remained the same, but the start date moved to 2018. In 2010, the date moved to 2021, and last year price projections reached as high as US$22 billion. Under nuclear fee law, none of the money Progress has spent on Levy has to be refunded, even if the utility doesn't build the plant.
Tampa Bay Times, 26 January & 9 February 2012


Sources: This article is based on Karl Grossman's article The Nuclear Juggernaut, Counterpunch, 13 February  2012, with additions of  Nuclear Watch Southeast and a Union for Concerned Scientists fact sheet on Vogtle, available at http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nuclear_power/Georgia-nuclear-fac...
Contact: Karl Grossman, 13 February 2012
Email: kgrossman[at]hamptons.com

 

Blue ribbon commission issues final report on nuclear waste

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#741
6225
03/02/2012
WISE Amsterdam
Article

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) on January 27, released its final report to the U.S. Energy Secretary, "detailing comprehensive recommendations for creating a safe, longterm solution for managing and disposing of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste." The report is the culmination of nearly two years of work by the commission and its subcommittees, which met more than two dozen times since March 2010, gathering testimony from experts and stakeholders.

The United States currently has more than 65,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at about 75 operating and shutdown reactor sites around the country. More than 2,000 tons are being produced each year. The Department of Energy (DOE) also is storing an additional 2,500 tons of spent fuel and large volumes of high-level nuclear waste, mostly from past weapons programs, at a handful of government-owned sites.

The Blue Ribbon Commission's Final Report noted that the Obama Administration’s 2009 decision to halt work on a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada is the latest indicator of a nuclear waste management policy that has been troubled for decades and has now reached an impasse. Allowing that impasse to continue is not an option, the report said. “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 burdening future generations with the entire task of finding a safe, permanent solution for managing hazardous nuclear materials they had no part in creating,” the Commission wrote in the report’s Executive Summary.

The strategy outlined in the Commission report contains three crucial elements.

First, the Commission recommends a consent-based approach to siting future nuclear waste storage and disposal facilities, noting that trying to force such facilities on unwilling states, tribes and communities has not worked.

Second, the Commission recommends that the responsibility for the nation’s nuclear waste management program be transferred to a new organization; one that is independent of the DOE and dedicated solely to assuring the safe storage and ultimate disposal of spent nuclear waste fuel and highlevel radioactive waste.

Third, the Commission recommends changing the manner in which fees being paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund – about US$750 million a year – are treated in the federal budget to ensure they are being set aside and used as Congress initially intended.

The report also recommends immediate efforts to commence development of at least one geologic disposal facility and at least one consolidated storage facility, as well as efforts to prepare for the eventual large-scale transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste from current storage sites to those facilities. The report also recommends the U.S. continue to provide support for nuclear energy innovation and workforce development, as well as strengthening its international leadership role in efforts to address safety, waste management, non-proliferation and security concerns.

This is a bit curious recommendation because only two lines further down in the official Commission's press release it is stated: "The Commission noted that it was specifically not tasked with rendering any opinion on the suitability of Yucca Mountain, proposing any specific site for a waste management facility, or offering any opinion on the role of nuclear power in the nation’s energy supply mix." (emphasis WISE)

Criticism
Logically there is a lot of criticism on the Blue Ribbon Commission from the start and only two days before the publication of the final report, 88 national, regional and local environmental organizations, and more than 5,400 individuals, sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu urging him to reject the upcoming recommendation from the Commission that would encourage establishment of an “interim” radioactive waste storage dump and begin the transportation of high-level radioactive waste across the U.S. The letter was initiated by organizations representing communities around permanently closed reactor sites. The Commission's draft report cites these closed reactors, which are still storing their waste on their sites, as the reason that an “interim” storage site should be established immediately.

As the letter states, such a program runs exactly counter to the interests of these communities, “The Commission you appointed is claiming that it is acting in the interest of communities such as ours where closed nuclear power reactors are located, when in fact the Commission's recommendations are in opposition to our number one priority: isolation of radioactivity from our environment for as long as it is a hazard. Centralizing waste storage for purposes of expanded waste production or for reprocessing is contrary to this goal, and is not responsible policy.”

Below comments on some of the recommendations of the final report from Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER).

Military waste:
"It is tragic that the Commission did not substantively address the most pressing radioactive waste contamination threats to precious water resources – for instance hundreds of times the drinking water limit at Hanford, Washington on the banks of the Columbia River. The Commission had a charter to conduct a ‘comprehensive’ review of the nuclear waste problem, including defense wastes from the nuclear bomb program. Yet, it simply said it did not have the resources to deal with all the problems and punted the nuclear weapons waste issue to Congress while focusing on commercial spent fuel at nuclear reactor sites.”

“I am even more dismayed that the Commission suggested that Congress consider the possibility of leaving the defense waste disposal in the purview of the Department of Energy (DOE). The Commission has entirely ignored the immense evidence that DOE’s plans for disposal of several types of defense waste pose much greater threats to water resources, most especially at Hanford, than from even Yucca Mountain, a poor repository site.”

On reprocessing and breeder reactors:
The commission acknowledges in its report that:

“…no currently available or reasonably foreseeable reactor and fuel cycle technology developments -including advances in reprocess and recycle technologies- have the potential to fundamentally alter the waste management challenge this nation confronts over at least the next several decades, if not longer.” (p. 100)

Makhijani: “The Commission did reject some reprocessing advocates’ claims by recognizing that it will not eliminate the need for a repository and that no form of reprocessing is economical today. But it left the door open for reprocessing existing spent fuel at some future date. Reprocessing spent fuel from existing reactors will multiply risks and costs. There is simply no economic or technical case for that, and the Commission was provided with ample evidence to that effect. Even if the chosen path is breeder reactors, it would be technically better and economically far superior to use the half million tons of depleted uranium that already exist, enough to fuel a U.S. reactor fleet at the present size for 5,000 years. The Commission unfortunately chose to ignore these facts.”

“To its credit the Commission did recognize that reprocessing is not an answer to the waste management problem (as indicated by quote above) and that use of plutonium fuel creates an ‘increased proliferation risk’ (p. 105) both as currently practiced in France and as it might in the future be practiced with breeder reactors.”

“Despite having been presented with ample evidence of the failure of the sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor program – US$100 billion has been spent worldwide on the technology and yet it is nowhere near commercial – the BRC is suggesting more of the same. This is unwarranted when there are so many renewable energy options that are far closer to reality and far safer.”

On spent fuel storage:
Makhijani: “The Commission used the Fukushima tragedy to punt on the question of hardened dry rather than wet storage of spent fuel at reactor sites. The National Academies had already concluded well before Fukushima that dry storage was safer; Fukushima has only made the risks of wet storage clearer. Nothing we learn from it will indicate that wet storage is safer than dry storage. Yet, the Commission, citing lessons yet to be learned from Fukushima called for yet another study instead of hardened on-site dry storage that has been urged by dozens of organizations.”

“IEER calls on the Administration and Congress to mandate that all spent fuel aged more than five years be moved to hardened dry storage on site, and the remaining spent fuel kept in low-density storage in reactor pools. Nuclear Waste Fund monies should be used for on-site hardened dry storage.”

On siting:
Makhijani: “The Commission made real progress in pointing out that the top-down approach by which Congress simply mandated characterization of a single site – Yucca Mountain, Nevada – had failed. It recommended a “consent-based” process that would give some regulatory muscle to state, local, and tribal governments. This is a far better approach, even if it is likely to be slower at the start, as the Commission pointed out. Yet the consent-based process must be preceded by a prolonged scientific effort before siting begins.”

Makhijani: “The site is only one of three elements in geologic isolation – the others are engineered barriers and repository sealing approaches. The three elements must work together. There should be at least ten years of research on this problem before site selection begins. Without that the risk of environmental injustice, in a consent-based process is substantial.”

Makhijani: “I am dismayed that the Commission saw fit to recommend that DOE have a large upfront role in both the next steps for repository program, “including R&D on geological media” (p. 118) and for the Interim Storage site before a new organization is put in place to take over the responsibility. DOE was in large part responsible for the mess the program is in now, which began well before Congress cut off the process in 1987, pointing to Yucca Mountain alone. On the one hand the Commission has cautioned against haste; on the other hand, it has encouraged haste in a really ill-advised way by recommending a continuing DOE role in critical activities better left to an independent agency.”

Voices heard, but disregarded
"Since Secretary Chu appointed the Blue Ribbon Commission in 2010, concerned citizens living in communities impacted by radioactive waste from across the United States have participated in the BRC meetings, sent comments, and supported experts to participate," said Mary Olson of the Radioactive Waste Project of Nuclear Information and Resource Service. "Our voices have been heard, but disregarded. This comes as no surprise since a majority of the Commissioners are individuals who have made, or supported the making of, the radioactive waste in question over the course of their careers. Of course they want to move it -they want to make more."

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future does include several members who are not directly tied to the nuclear industry, but a controlling share of the seats are held by individuals who, at one time or another, have had primary decision-making authority, or who have personally profited from commercial nuclear technology.

Sources: NIRS News, 25 January 2012 / Blue Ribbon Commission press release, 27 January 2012 / IEER response to BRC, 27 January 2012
Contact: Mary Olson at NIRS

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WISE

Increasing nonproliferation through nuclear trade

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#741
6221
03/02/2012
WISE Amsterdam
Article

The Obama administration, in advanced negotiations on nuclear-cooperation agreements with Jordan and Vietnam, has withdrawn a demand that these countries forgo their rights to produce nuclear fuel, senior U.S. officials said. The policy shift, adopted after an extensive interagency review, drew criticism from some U.S. lawmakers, who charged that it could ease the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies.

A letter from senior US officials signals that the country will continue to seek nuclear trade agreements with conditions on enrichment and reprocessing implemented on a "case-by-case" basis. The letter from deputy energy secretary Daniel Poneman and undersecretary of state for arms control and international security Ellen Tauscher was sent to the administration of President Barack Obama on 10 January. The text of the letter was published by a Global Security Newswire article on 23 January.

The Obama administration in 2009 signed a nuclear-cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates that bound the Arab country not to enrich uranium domestically or reprocess spent plutonium fuel, the two technologies that can be used to produce nuclear weapons.

President Barack Obama cited the U.A.E. agreement as the "gold standard" for future nuclear-cooperation pacts. Washington has used the deal to press Iran over its nuclear program, arguing that Tehran should follow the Emirates and rely on the international market for nuclear fuel.

U.S. officials involved in the policy review said Washington risked losing business for American companies seeking to build nuclear reactors overseas, and could greatly diminish its ability to influence the nonproliferation policies of developing countries. And obviously the Obama administration concluded that most countries wouldn't be willing to follow the U.A.E. model, and that insisting on it would hurt American interests.

The fundamental justification for the decision is that insisting on the standard negatively impacts trade opportunities for U.S. companies, which in turn restricts the country's ability to set non-proliferation conditions: "Nuclear trade carries with it a critical nonproliferation advantage in the form of consent rights, along with other opportunities to influence the nuclear policies of our partners"

But the U.S. is pursuing a range of other tools (Nuclear Suppliers Group and fuel leasing arrangements), to ensure that developing countries seek to purchase nuclear fuel from foreign suppliers rather than developing the technologies needed to produce the fuel themselves.

In addition to negotiations with Jordan and Vietnam, the departments of State and Energy are beginning to renegotiate pacts signed in the 1970s with South Korea and Taiwan that will lapse in the coming years. The agreements, which are legally designated as treaties, require congressional approval.

South Korea is beginning to renegotiate its 1974 nuclear-cooperation agreement with the U.S. South Korean officials argue Seoul needs to use this method to safely dispose of the spent fuel coming from the country's growing nuclear-power industry. The 1974 U.S.-South Korean nuclear cooperation agreement requires U.S. consent if “any irradiated fuel elements containing fuel material received from the United States of America [are to be] altered in form or content.” As a matter of policy, South Korea requests that the United States agree to such activities even if U.S.-origin material is not involved. The cooperation agreement will expire in 2014, however, and South Korea wants to negotiate a new agreement that will give it the same programmatic permission that the United States has given the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, and, with certain conditions, India.

Under the agreements with the European Union, India, Japan, and Switzerland, the United States has provided advance long-term consent for reprocessing. In India’s case, according to the Indian-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement, this long-term consent does not go into effect until India has built and brought into operation “a new national reprocessing facility dedicated to reprocessing material” under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and the two countries have agreed on “arrangements and procedures under which reprocessing or other alteration in form or content will take place in this new facility.”

U.S. officials fear such a move would undercut efforts to get North Korea to give up its nuclear-weapons program. An agreement with Vietnam that doesn't follow the U.A.E. model could make it harder for the U.S. to get Seoul to accept stringent terms.

U.S. lawmakers are focused on the Jordan negotiation (an agreement is expected at the end of this year), fearing an agreement that allows domestic nuclear-fuel production could have a cascading effect across the Middle East. This is also because the U.A.E.'s pact allows it to renegotiate if another country in the Middle East gains more favorable terms. Saudi Arabia has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. and has echoed Jordan's reservations about giving up its right to enrich uranium, senior Arab diplomats said.

Lawmakers and nonproliferation experts fear more lenient nuclear-cooperation agreements with Jordan and Vietnam could undercut the campaign to contain Iran's nuclear program. "If the U.S. lets Jordan, Vietnam or South Korea make nuclear fuel, you can kiss any attempt to persuade Iran or any other state to forgo fuel making goodbye," said Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nuclear Policy Education Center.

Sources: Arms Control Today, Frank von Hippel, March 2010 / Nuclear Policy Education Center, 23 January 2012 / World Nuclear News, 25 January 2012 / Wall Street Journal, 25 January 2012 /

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WISE

Showdown time for Vermont Yankee

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#741
6220
03/02/2012
NIRS
Article

The future of the Vermont Yankee reactor remains murky following a federal judge’s January 19 ruling against state laws that would have required the shutdown of the reactor at the end of its original license period on March 21, 2012.

U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled that two state laws intended to prevent Vermont Yankee from operating after that date are pre-empted by the Atomic Energy Act, which gives all power to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission for regulation of nuclear power on safety or radiological grounds and forbids states from enacting their own laws on such issues.

That would appear to be a clear-cut victory for the Entergy Corporation, which owns the troubled reactor. But as is often the case with nuclear power issues, the outcome of this ongoing saga remains uncertain.

At Nuclear Monitor presstime, the state had not yet announced whether it would appeal the decision -and there do appear to be some grounds for appeal. Judge Murtha’s ruling was based not on the actual language of the Vermont laws, but on the fact that many state legislators had frequently and publicly expressed serious concern about the safety of the reactor during deliberations on the laws. In other words, Judge Murtha went after what he perceived as the motivations for the laws, rather than the laws themselves. Considering that there may be multiple motivations for nearly every law a legislature enacts, this would seem to be on slippery ground.

A little background: in 2002, Entergy agreed that the Vermont Public Service Board would have to issue a new Certificate of Public Good (CPG) to allow Vermont Yankee to continue operating, even if a license extension were granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Public Service Board does not deal with nuclear safety issues; rather it focuses on rates, quality of service, environmental matters generally, and radioactive waste storage and decommissioning issues -which courts have ruled can fall under state authority.

In 2006, with Vermont Yankee’s operations under mounting criticism within the state, the Vermont legislature passed a law requiring approval from both houses of the legislature for the Public Service Board to issue a CPG. And in February 2010, following revelations of radioactive tritium releases and other problems, the Vermont Senate voted 26-4 against allowing the Board to issue the CPG.

It was the 2006 law, and another related law, that the judge struck down. However, the judge also ruled against Entergy on another issue, and determined that the Vermont Public Service Board must still issue the CPG for Vermont Yankee to continue operating. Entergy has now applied for the CPG; it isn’t known at this point whether the Board will reflect the overwhelming sentiment of Vermonters and deny the Certificate, or whether it will allow the reactor to continue operating.

Meanwhile, in a separate legal proceeding, the State and the grassroots New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution have gone to court to argue that the NRC’s license extension for Vermont Yankee should be nullified because Entergy did not apply for a needed permit under the federal Clean Water Act. Entergy and the NRC have responded that the company did have a different but similar permit. States have a clear right to regulate water discharges from nuclear reactors.

Judge Murtha’s decision was met with outrage by those who have been fighting Vermont Yankee for years. Protests have taken place across the state—from the reactor gates in the south to a march by Occupy Burlington in the north. A number of actions will take place throughout March, including a mock evacuation on March 11 (Vermont Yankee is a Fukushima-clone GE Mark I reactor), a “retirement party” for Vermont Yankee on March 21 and nonviolent civil disobedience the next day, culminating in a major rally on April 1 in Brattleboro just a few miles from the reactor site. The actions are being coordinated by the SAGE Alliance (of which NIRS is a member) and more information can be found at http://sagealliance.net/action_center. The Alliance is also asking grassroots groups across the country to support Vermont Yankee shutdown efforts by holding support rallies at Entergy-owned facilities everywhere during March.

Source and contact: Michael Mariotte at NIRS Washington

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Vermont YankeeNIRS

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#740
13/01/2012
Article

India: nuclear lobbyist heads national solar company.
India's prime minister has appointed Anil Kakodkar, former head of the Atomic Energy Commission to be in charge of the national solar mission. The Solar Energy Corporation of India was recently set up as a not-for-profit company and will work under the administrative control of the New and Renewable Energy Ministry (NREM).  The move to appoint Kakodkar will likely create somewhat of a controversy, as India Today points out, calling the decision "a bizarre move that smacks of unfair public policymaking," and a "clear case of conflict of interest." His appointment as head of the solar mission is bound to upset anti-nuclear activists in the country who want the government to actively promote alternatives such as solar and wind while giving up investments in nuclear energy.

Ignoring this contribution of renewable sources of energy, Kakodkar has constantly projected nuclear energy as the "inevitable and indispensable option" that addresses both sustainability as well as climate change issues. But despite huge investments during the past half a century, nuclear power contributes just a fraction of India's energy needs. The total installed capacity of nuclear power in the country is 4,780 MW, while the total installed capacity of renewable sources of energy is 20,162 MW, according to data collected by the Central Electricity Authority.

In his new role, Kakodkar will be responsible for turning around the fortunes of the government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The Solar Energy Corporation of India has been created to act as its executing arm. Although still in its infancy, its organization has already come under fire from both developers and politicians. In the first days of 2012 the findings of a Parliamentary panel were released, labeling the Ministry’s approach to the national solar mission as “disappointing” and “lackadaisical”. This research followed on from disappointing end-of-year installation figures, which saw just 400MW of the 1.2GW of installations forecasted by the government achieve grid connection.
India Today, 6 January 2012  / PV Tech, 6 January 2012


Netherlands: Borssele 2 delayed; EDF no longer interested.
Delta, the regional utility wanting to build a nuclear reactor at Borssele, delayed its decision about investing 110 million in a new license by at least half a year. Furthermore they announced that Delta will no longer be the leading company in the project. Although it is hard to find out what that exactly means, it is clear that Delta will not have a majority stake in the reactor if the project continues. Many people expect this is the end of the project. However, in a press statement Delta is repeating its commitment towards nuclear energy.

Another surprising outcome was that the French state utility EDF (which signed a Memorandum of Understanding about investigating the possibilities for a new reactor in the Netherlands with Delta in 2010) is not longer involved in the project. Delta CEO Boerma, a passionate but clumsy nuclear advocate, left the company, but that cannot be seen as the end of the nuclear interest in nuclear power, either. It is a sacrifice to reassure the shareholders he offended several times in the last months.

German RWE (via the Dutch subsidiary ERH Essent) is another interested partner for a new reactor at Borssele. ERH is in the process to obtain a licence and has the same decision to make as Delta to invest 110 million euro in obtaining a license. If RWE is still interested at all, it is more likely they will cooperate with a large share in the Delta project.

Public support in Zeeland for a new reactor is plummeting according to several polls early December. This is another nail in the coffin, because Delta is very keen to point out there is almost a unanimously positive feeling in the Zeeland province about the second nuclear power plant.

If Delta can not present solid partners for the project at the next stakeholders meeting planned in June 2012, those stakeholders will decide to pull the plug. 
Laka Foundation, 11 January 2012


US: Large area around the Grand Canyon protected from mining.
On January 9, 2012, after more than 2 years of environmental analysis and receiving many thousands of public comments from the American people, environmental and conservation groups, the outdoor recreation industry, mayors and tribal leaders, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar withdrew more than 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) of land around the canyon from new mining claims for the next twenty years -the longest period possible under the law.

In the months immediately leading up to this landmark decision, many environmental organizations worked with conservation advocates and outdoors enthusiasts around the country to urge the Administration to halt toxic uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. Interior Secretary Salazar received comments from nearly 300,000 citizens urging him to withdraw one million acres of land from new mining claims.

The decision however would allow a small number of existing uranium and other hard rock mining operations in the region to continue while barring the new claims. In 2009 Mr. Salazar suspended new uranium claims on public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon for two years, overturning a Bush administration policy that encouraged thousands of new claims when the price of uranium soared in 2006 and 2007. Many of the stakeholders are foreign interests, including Rosatom, Russia's state atomic energy corporation.

The landscape is not the only thing at stake. Uranium mining in western states has an abysmal track-record. In Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, uranium mining has had undeniable health impacts on miners and nearby residents, including cancer, anemia and birth defects. Even the Grand Canyon itself bears the scars of uranium mining. Radioactive waste has poisoned streams and soil in and around the canyon, while abandoned and active mines are scars on the Arizona landscape. Soil levels around the abandoned Orphan Mine inside Grand Canyon National Park are 450 times more than normal levels, and visitors to the park are warned not to drink from Horn Creek. The closest mine currently in operation, Arizona 1, is less than 2 miles from the canyon’s rim. “Mining so close to the Grand Canyon could contaminate the Colorado River, which runs through the canyon, and put the drinking water for 25 million Americans at risk,” added Pyne. “Uranium mining has already left a toxic legacy across the West -every uranium mine ever opened has required some degree of toxic waste clean-up- it certainly doesn’t belong near the Grand Canyon.”
Environment America, 9 January 2012 / New York Times, 6 January 2012


Finland, Olkiluoto 3.
August 2014 is the date that Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) expects to see power flow from its new reactor, Olkiluoto 3, according to a single-line statement issued on 21 December. The announcement brought a little more clarity to the unit's schedule compared with TVO's last announcement, which specified only the year 2014. The Finnish utility said it had been informed by the Areva-Siemens consortium building the unit that August 2014 was scheduled for commercial operation.

Construction started in May 2005. A few days after the October announcement that Olkiluoto cannot achieve grid-connection before 2014 the French daily was citing a report stating that the costs for Areva are expected to 6.6 billion euro (then US$ 9.1 billion). The price mentioned (and decided on) in Finnish Parliament was 2.5 billion euro, the initial contract for Olkiluoto 3 was 3 billion euro.
World Nuclear News, 21 December 2011 / Nuclear Monitor 735, 21 October 2012


France: 13 billion euro to upgrade safety of nuclear reactors.
In response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, French nuclear safety regulator ASN has released a 524-page report on the state of nuclear reactors in France. The report says that government-controlled power provider Electricité de France SA (EDF) needs to make significant upgrades “as soon as possible” to its 58 reactors in order to protect them from potential natural disasters. The ASN gave reactor operators until June 30 to deliver proposals meeting the enhanced security standards of sites they run. Costs for the upgrades are estimated at 10 billion euros (US$13.5 billion); previously planned upgrades to extend the life of the nation’s reactors from 40 to 60 years are now expected to cost as much as 50 billion euros. Modifications include building flood-proof diesel pumps to cool reactors, creating bunkered control rooms, and establishing an emergency task force that can respond to nuclear disasters within 24 hours. Andre Claude Lacoste, the Chairman of ASN, said, “We are not asking the operator to make these investments. We are telling them to do so.” French Energy Minister Eric Besson plans to meet with EDF and reactor maker Areva, as well as CEA, the government-funded technological research organization, on January 9 to discuss implementation of ASN’s recommendations. Seventy-five percent of France’s energy comes from nuclear power, more than that of any other country. Experts say that the cost of nuclear power in France will almost certainly rise as a result of the required upgrades. EDF shares are down as much as 43 percent in the last 12 months.
Greenpeace blog, 6 January 2012 / Bloomberg, 4 January 2012


Nuclear's bad image? James Bond's Dr. No is to blame!
James Bond movies are to blame for a negative public attitude to nuclear power, according to a leading scientist. Professor David Phillips, president of the Royal Society Of Chemistry, reckons that supervillains such as Dr No, the evil genius with his own nuclear reactor, has helped create a "remorselessly grim" perception of atomic energy. Speaking ahead of Bond's 50th anniversary celebrations, Phillips said he hopes to create a "renaissance" in nuclear power. In the first Bond film of the same name, Dr No is eventually defeated by Sean Connery's 007 who throws him into a cooling pool in the reactor. And Phillips claims that this set a precedent for nuclear power being sees as a "barely controllable force for evil", according to BBC News, since later villains hatched similar nuclear plots.
NME, 12 January 2012


North Korea: halting enrichment for food?
On January 11, North Korea suggested it was open to halting its enrichment of uranium in return for concessions that are likely to include food assistance from the United States, the Washington Post reported. A statement said to be from a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman urged the Obama administration to "build confidence" by including a greater amount of food in a bilateral agreement reportedly struck late last year shortly before the sudden death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Washington halted food assistance to the North after the regime carried out what was widely seen as a test of its long-range ballistic missile technology in spring 2009.

While rebuking the United States for connecting food assistance to security concerns, the statement was less bombastic than the proclamations that are typically issued by the Stalinist state. The statement marked the first time Pyongyang made a public pronouncement about the rumored talks with Washington on a deal for food assistance in exchange for some nuclear disarmament steps. Washington has demanded that Pyongyang halt uranium enrichment efforts unveiled in 2010 as one condition to the resumption of broader North Korean denuclearization negotiations that also involve China, Japan, Russia and South Korea (the socalled six-party talks).

The Obama administration has been exceedingly wary about agreeing to any concessions with Pyongyang, which has a long track record of agreeing to nuclear disarmament actions in return for foreign assistance only to reverse course once it has attained certain benefits.
Global Security Newswire, 11 January 2012


Support for nuclear is not 100% any more in CR and SR.
Both Czech and Slovak Republic until recently announced intentions of keeping nuclear power and even increasing capacity by constructing new nuclear power plants – more the less for export.  However, Fukushima and “nearby” Germany´s phase-out caused doubts.  Mr. Janiš, the Chairman of the Economic Committee of the Slovak Parliament said today: “I have not seen an objective study on the benefits of constructing a new nuclear power plant in Jaslovské Bohunice,” said Mr. Janiš. According to him it would be a wrong decision to make Slovakia into a nuclear superpower, when e.g. Germany and Switzerland are phasing out their plants. Mr. Janiš thinks that biomass and sun are the future. Contrary to him, the minister of economy Mr. Juraj Miškov still believes that the fifth unit in Jaslovské Bohunice has a future; the feasibility study will be ready by mid 2012. He is convinced that due to the phase-out in some countries, the electricity demand will increase and Slovakia might become an even more important electricity exporting country than until now.

This comes only days after the Czech Republic announced to downsize the Temelin tender from 5 to 2 reactors thereby losing the possibility to negotiate a 30% lower price. Also here a major question is: will Austria and Germany be interested in importing nuclear power?
www.energia.sk, 10 January 2012


Russia: 25,000 undersea radioactive waste sites.
There are nearly 25,000 hazardous underwater objects containing solid radioactive waste in Russia, an emergencies ministry official said on December 26. The ministry has compiled a register of so-called sea hazards, including underwater objects in the Baltic, Barents, White, Kara, and Black Seas as well as the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan. These underwater objects include nuclear submarines that have sunk and ships with ammunition and oil products, chemicals and radioactive waste. Hazardous sites with solid radioactive waste sit on the sea bed mainly at a depth of 500 meters, Oleg Kuznetsov, deputy head of special projects at the ministry’s rescue service, said. Especially dangerous are reactor holds of nuclear submarines off the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and a radio-isotope power units sunk near Sakhalin Island, he added.
RIA Novosti, 26 December 2011

Internal NRC feud becomes public spectacle

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#740
6216
13/01/2012
NIRS
Article

A long-simmering internal feud at the top levels of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission erupted into full public view and spilled into the halls of Congress in December. On the surface, the dispute appeared to be about personality issues; but at its core the stakes are high: the argument is really over the fundamental role of the Commission -whether it should be a facilitator for the nuclear industry or a serious regulator.

Because the nuclear industry and its supporters fear an NRC committed to regulating the industry, they launched an unprecedented effort to topple the NRC’s chairman and grab control of the agency. So far, their campaign, which includes all the elements of a melodramatic soap opera or reality TV show, has failed.

The public drama began in early December, when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, released a letter written in October to President Obama from four of the five NRC Commissioners (William Magwood, Kristine Svinicki, George Apostalakis and William Ostendorff). The letter accused NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko of harassment and intimidation, especially of women staffers of the NRC, and of withholding information from the other Commissioners and changing NRC staff recommendations, and all but pleaded with the President to fire Jaczko.

The presumption appears to be that Obama would then appoint Magwood, who has emerged as the leader of the group, to be the new Chairman. Magwood, a Democrat, was the only one of the current batch of Commissioners whose appointment received substantial opposition from the environmental community. More than 100 national and regional groups signed a letter urging the Senate to reject his nomination. Before becoming a Commissioner, Magwood had promoted nuclear power at the Department of Energy and had once been a consultant to Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco).

Issa’s committee then held a lengthy livestreamed hearing at which the four Commissioners repeated their charges in public, although they refused to identify a single person who claims Jaczko had harassed or intimidated her or him. For his part, Jaczko denied ever harassing anyone and apologized if he had ever offended anyone in the heat of an argument.

Nonetheless, several Republican Congressmembers urged Jaczko to resign, which he chose not to do. Jaczko received solid support from several Democratic Members, including ranking member Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). And Markey released a major investigative report on December 9, dismissing the charges against Jaczko and arguing that the four complaining Commissioners were engaged in a conspiracy to delay or prevent adoption of the agency’s Fukushima Task Force recommendations, which issued a serious of proposed regulatory changes -all strengthening regulations- during the summer.

Later the same week, Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate’s Environment Committee, held her own hearing on the NRC’s response to the Fukushima disaster at which the tables were somewhat turned on the four Commissioners. Boxer complained the Commission was not moving fast enough to implement the recommendations and she gave a strong endorsement to Jaczko. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also strongly endorsed Jaczko -no surprise given that Jaczko was a key staff member for Reid in opposition to the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. Jaczko also had worked for Rep. Markey before joining Reid’s staff.

By the new year, it appeared that Jaczko had weathered the storm and would not be asked to resign by the President, although he was also hit by the resignation of his chief of staff. Replacing him is Angela Coggins, a longtime Jaczko staffer who also had a short stint working in Rep. Markey’s office, who has good connections with the environmental community.

The fundamental issue though, has not been resolved. Jaczko is a Commissioner much in the mold of a handful of earlier NRC Commissioners -Peter Bradford, Victor Gilinsky, James Asselstine- who support the concept of nuclear power but also believe it requires strong oversight and regulation (although Asselstine, at least, has taken a much more pro-industry stance since leaving the Commission). Jaczko’s first major task was to implement the Obama Administration’s policy of ending the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada radioactive waste dump- a policy vigorously opposed by the nuclear industry and many in Congress.

Jaczko has frequently been critical of the industry, and has been pushing hard for the NRC to identify and implement changes needed to address the issues raised by Fukushima. The U.S., after all, has 23 Fukushima GE Mark I clone reactors currently operating -far more than any other country- and while the other four Commissioners might wish the agency would take the ostrich approach and say ‘it can’t happen here,’ Jaczko knows better.

Commissioners even mildly critical of the industry have been the exception at the NRC, not the rule. And the four Commissioners mounting the challenge to Jaczko are much more in the tradition of those who believe the industry when it speaks, believe the industry is already over-regulated, and worry that adding new regulations would help put the brakes on the already-sputtering nuclear “renaissance.” The big difference between Jaczko and the earlier critics on the NRC is this: Jaczko is the Chairman, and as such holds significantly more power than they did. Moreover, Jaczko hasn’t been afraid to use this power -the real root of the other four’s complaints.

The question for the American public is less whether Jaczko himself survives the attempted coup d’etat, although it appears he will, but whether, as Chairman, he can push through new and potentially costly regulations on the nuclear industry or whether the other four Commissioners will succeed in their drive to thwart his efforts to improve the safety of U.S. reactors regardless of the potential consequences. And the jury is still out on that issue.

Rep. Markey’s December 9, 2011 report can be found here: http://markey.house.gov/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=4635&Itemid=125

Source and contact: Michael Mariotte at NIRS Washington

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US: Indian Point ordered by NRC to analyse accident migitation measures

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#740
6213
13/01/2012
WISE Amsterdam
Article

The United States' Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected a bid by Entergy, owner and operator of the Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River 35 miles from midtown Manhattan, to reverse an order to complete legally-required analyses of the facility's severe accident mitigation measures before it can be relicensed.

In the context of Indian Point's relicensing, the New York Attorney General's office argued that the NRC has the obligation to require Entergy to complete analyses of cost-beneficial measures, or to require that the measures be adopted - consistent with NRC's own regulations, as well as those of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. On July 15 2011, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued a decision, agreeing with the attorney general that Indian Point cannot be relicensed without completing the legally-required analyses of its severe accident mitigation measures. Now, in a December 2011 ruling, the NRC rejected the bid by Entergy to reverse the order to complete legally-required analyses of the facility's severe accident mitigation measures before it can be relicensed.

"It is a significant victory that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission firmly rejected an effort by Indian Point's owner to reverse a landmark federal ruling, won by my office, that the facility cannot be relicensed until legally-required analyses of its ability to control severe accidents are completed," attorney general Schneiderman's said on December 22, announcing the ruling.

The Indian Point nuclear plants are located in Buchanan, New York, approximately 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan. It is situated in the most densely populated region of any U.S. nuclear plant. The site has two nuclear reactors that supply power to Con Edison, which serves New York City and Westchester County. The reactors generate enough electricity to supply some two million homes.  A third reactor at the site was retired in 1974.

Entergy is seeking to relicense Indian Point for another 20 years.

Current evacuation and mitigation plans cover only the area within a 10-mile radius of a nuclear reactor, which, in many cases, may not be adequate. In Japan, high contamination levels were recorded far beyond 10 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant and the NRC recommended that U.S. citizens evacuate a 50-mile radius of the damaged facility.

The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles of Indian Point was 17.2 million, an increase of just over five percent since 2000. As part of the relicensing proceeding, nuclear power plants are required to identify the environmental impacts that could be caused by a severe accident and provide analyses of measures that facilities could take to protect the public if one were to occur.

The measures include improvements in equipment, training or procedures. In its environmental review, Entergy identified 20 such measures at Indian Point Units 2 and 3, including flood protection and auxiliary power improvements.

However, the NRC did not require Entergy to complete analyses of those measures, or to require that the measures be adopted, thereby violating NRC's own regulations, as well as those of two laws. Despite an obligation to conduct a full review, both Entergy and the NRC sought to limit the severe accident analyses to a narrow set of components.

Now, Schneiderman says, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must require Indian Point's owner, Entergy, to either adopt cost-effective upgrades that would improve responses and control the impact of a severe accident, or provide a compelling reason why it will not do so.

In February 2011, Schneiderman sued the NRC for authorizing the storage of radioactive waste at nuclear power facilities for at least 60 years after they close, without first conducting the necessary environmental, public health and safety studies.

Source: Sierra Club, Sierra Atlantic, Fall 2011 /  Environmental News Service, 4 January 2012
Contact: NIRS

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More "hot" waste planned for WIPP

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#739
6209
23/12/2011
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety
Article

The United States’ Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing to bring more "remote-handled" plutonium-contaminated waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant than will fit in the remaining designated space. Shielded containers at WIPP should allow more remote-handled waste that is dangerous to transport, store, and dispose. Despite what DOE says, shielded lead containers could not be handled like contact-handled waste because damaged or leaking containers could not be overpacked. It is another attempt by DOE to expand the mission of WIPP beyond its original purpose.

DOE has 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.

In 1999 when the Department of Energy opened the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), remote-handled (RH) plutonium-contaminated transuranic waste was prohibited. In 2007, the RH waste was allowed to be disposed with restrictions imposed by the New Mexico Environment Department. Even so, DOE has not shipped RH waste as rapidly as planned in order to use the available space drilled into the walls of the underground repository. Consequently about one-half of the planned RH space cannot be used because "contact-handled" waste was placed on the floors of the repository rooms. Contact-handled, or CH, waste has a surface dose limit of 200 millirems per hour, while RH waste can have a surface dose rate of up to 1,000 rems per hour. DOE plans to handle the RH shielded containers as if they were CH containers.

Because of DOE shipping and disposal practices over the past 12 years, the amount of underground space for RH waste at WIPP has been substantially reduced. DOE does not even know how much RH waste it has to bring to WIPP, when the waste would be ready to be shipped, or whether more than the remaining capacity is needed.

One additional issue is that DOE stated in its draft Greater-than-Class C waste environmental impact statement that it would use shielded containers to bring commercial waste, much of which is more radioactive than RH waste, to WIPP. Thus, DOE plans to use shielded containers could expand WIPP beyond its legal mission of disposal of up to 175,564 cubic meters of defense transuranic waste, the limit set by the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act of 1992.

DOE submitted the shielded container request as a class-2 permit modification, which allows for a 60-day public comment period. Within 30 days, which can be extended to 60 days, the Environment Department must approve, deny, or decide to use the more robust class-3 procedures.

Given the dangers of RH waste, the need for much more information, and public concern about RH waste, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) and other non-governmental organizations are asking that the shielded containers be a class-3 modification request, which provides for more extensive public comment and an opportunity for a public hearing.

Source and Contact: Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, 107 Cienega Street, Santa Fe, NM  87501. USA.
Tel: +1 505 986 1973
Mail: ccns@nuclearactive.org
Web: www.nuclearactive.org

More tritium from commercial reactors needed for U.S. n-weapons

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#736
6193
11/11/2011
WISE Amsterdam
Article

The United States' Department of Energy's semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration plans over the next few years to more than triple capacity to produce tritium at the commercial Watts Bar reactor in Tennessee. A mix of tritium and deuterium is maintained in a small reservoir in each (U.S.) nuclear weapon to boost the warhead's explosive power. U.S. nuclear weapons policy calls on the Department of Energy to maintain fresh tritium in the deployed arsenal of atomic warheads carried by ICBMs, submarine-launched missiles and bomber aircraft.

This budget year alone, the NNSA is seeking a US$27.3 million boost for its "tritium readiness" effort, in which production will increase from 240 to 544 rods per cycle at a cost of US$77.5 million, the NNSA fiscal 2012 funding request to Congress states. By 2020, the agency intends to boost production to 1,700 rods each cycle. The Obama administration seeks to spend $270.5 million on tritium readiness between fiscal 2013 and 2016, producing no fewer than 240 rods per cycle as a minimum "sustaining rate" during that period.

The readiness program also includes the process of extracting tritium from the irradiated rods at the Energy Department's Savannah River Site and of maintaining military reserves of the gas.
Tritium production has gone a bit slower than anticipated because more of the gas than expected has leached from rods at Watts Bar into reactor coolant water. That has left slightly less tritium available to extract from each rod. The nuclear agency is thus exploring options for further increasing its production capacity, the notice states.

A mix of tritium - a radioactive isotope of hydrogen - and deuterium is maintained in a small reservoir in each U.S. nuclear weapon to boost the warhead's explosive power. Just a few grams of the gas, injected into the hollow pit of a warhead's primary stage, initiate a chain reaction and trigger a much more powerful secondary stage.

U.S. nuclear weapons policy calls on the Energy Department to maintain fresh tritium in the deployed arsenal of atomic warheads carried by ICBMs, submarine-launched missiles and bomber aircraft.

Continuing a policy from previous administrations, the Obama White House is also keeping roughly 2,290 warheads in an active hedge reserve force that receives regular maintenance and is kept stocked with tritium, according to Nuclear Matters. This stockpile hedge force constitutes more than one fully assembled backup warhead for each strategic warhead deployed at bomber aircraft bases, on ICBMs or on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. One key distinction between a warhead in the active force -- either deployed or hedge -- and one that has been deactivated is that the tritium reservoir in the active warhead is routinely replaced every few years to ensure that the weapon's radioactive gas does not expire.

But not everyone sees new production as a must. If the United States can deactivate warheads at an average rate of at least 5 percent every year, "there would be no need to produce additional tritium," said Charles Ferguson, president of the Federation of American Scientists. That would offset the roughly 5 percent rate of annual decay in tritium in the remaining warheads, he said. Others raised additional tolls that tritium production might take. "I don't think people realize that this material is being produced in a commercial reactor and it does have environmental and health implications near the production sites," said Tom Clements, the southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth. He said that heightened levels of tritium are present in groundwater near the tritium-handling facilities, and that the long-term consequences are not well understood even if the chemical levels fall within of government-approved limits.

Source: Global Security Newswire, 28 October 2011
Contact: Tom Clements, Friends of the Earth, 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor, Washington, DC 20005 USA
Tel: +1 202-783-7400

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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#735
21/10/2011
Shorts

France: Thousands of activists take the streets to demand ending the nuclear age.
On October 15, some 25,000 people took part in several anti-nuclear rallies, organized by the Reseau Sortir du nucléaire (Nuclear phase-out) federation, the largest one in Rennes with almost 20.000 participants. The demonstrators called on the government to halt all its military and civilian nuclear activities, and criticized Paris for continuing its nuclear policy. The protesters particularly called for the closure of Bugey nuclear plant in eastern France, which they say is susceptible to high risks of earthquake and flood. They also held a minute of silence in honor of the victims of Fukushima nuclear disaster in eastern Japan, and urged the French government to take lessons from Japan's tragedy and turn to renewable energies.
Website: Reseau Sortir du nucleaire.


Lithuania Formally Submits Visaginas Plans To EC.
The Lithuanian government has formally notified the European Commission of plans for a new nuclear power plant at Visaginas to be developed with Estonia, Latvia and Poland. This means that the coordination of the Project with the EU institutions starts. The 1,350-megawatt advanced boiling water reactor is scheduled to begin commercial operation around 2020, Lithuania's energy ministry said. According to the ministry the Visaginas unit is intended to help replace generation from the two 1,300-MW Ignalina reactors that have been shut down as part of Lithuania's European Union membership agreement.

"Visaginas NPP project  is a strong step towards long term objectives of strengthening the security of supply and full integration of the Baltic States into European Energy market", according to the Visaginas press release. The information on Visaginas NPP was submitted according to European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) treaty (Article 41). This ensures that the developers of new nuclear facilities must notify the European Commission not later than three months before the first  contracts are concluded with the suppliers or, if the work is to be carried out by the undertaking  with its own resources, three months before the work begins.
NucNet, 14 October 2010 / Visaginas nuclear power plant project, press release, 10 October 2011


Indonesia: reactor plan delayed by Fukushima.
Indonesia’s National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan) head Hudi Hastowo told journalists that the 11 March Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan had impacted government plans to construct the country’s first nuclear power plant in Tanjung Ular Muntok Cape region, West Bangka, stating, "After the major earthquake in Japan that hit Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused some radioactive leakage, the plan is now delayed whereas it was previously accepted by the public," Jakarta’s government-owned Antara news agency reported. Experts noted that the proposed Tanjung Ular Muntok nuclear power plant is situated in a seismically active region and that a repeat of the December 2004 tsunami that devastated the country could cause a catastrophic disaster. Indonesia currently has three nuclear research reactors – Kartini, Siwabessy and the Triga Mark II nuclear research facility. Plans for a nuclear power plant date back from the 1970s.
www.Oilprice.com, 18 October 2011


Atomic radiation is more harmful to women.
(October 20, 2011) Women as a group suffer significantly more from the impact of ionizing radiation than do men. Today Nuclear Information and Resource Service published a Briefing Paper that focuses on a dramatic fifty-percent greater incidence of cancer and fifty-percent greater rate of death from cancer among women, compared to the same radiation dose level to men. To be clear: males suffer cancer and cancer death from exposure to ionizing radiation; but gender difference in the level of harm has been to date under-reported.

The data leading to this conclusion originally was reported in the National Academy of Sciences 2006 report, "BEIR VII" which is the seventh report in a series on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation. The greater vulnerability of females was not the focal point of that publication, and the concern has until now escaped notice.

NIRS is co-releasing the paper with activist groups in global "hot spots" including Japan (Green Action), Ukraine (Ecoclub) and Pennsylvania (Three Mile Island Alert). The paper is posted at: www.nirs.org/radiation/radhealth/radiationwomen.pdf
NIRS, 18 October 2011


Growth wind capacity vs nuclear.
2010 was a turning point in the global race to develop clean technology. It marked the first time that more new wind power generating capacity was installed in developing countries than in the rich world. China led the way, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), and now has the most wind generating capacity in the world, thanks to favorable government policies. A record capacity of 19 gigawatts (1 GW = 1000MW) was added in China last year, taking the total to more than 42GW. India also showed strong growth, in line with the government target of adding more than 10GW of new capacity by 2012, and there are industry estimates that 100GW is possible.

According to the IAEA PRIS reactor database in 2010 3720MW was connected and 130MW disconnected to the grid from nuclear reactors worldwide. So, just in China about 5times as much wind was connected to the grid as nuclear worldwide.
Guardian (UK), 18 October 2011 / PRIS: www.iaea.org/programmes/a2/


US: Crack in Davis Besse containment.
The Davis Besse nuclear plant was shut down years ago because of a hole discovered in a reactor. Now, a newly discovered 30-foot (about 9 meter) crack in the containment structure intended to protect the reactors from tornados and other potential threats raises new concerns about whether the reactor, now closed for maintenance, should ever be allowed to return to active status. “When a nuclear power plant that had a reactor with a hole in its head now has a 30 foot crack in its side, it is time to question whether the plant and the reactor are safe to operate,” said Rep. Ed Markey, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member on the Energy and Commerce Committee. “This large crack in a critical containment structure is yet another chink in the armor for the nuclear industry’s sweeping claims of complete safety.”

The Davis Besse plant has experienced multiple problems during the last 20 years, including a close call in 2002 when a hole was discovered at the top of one reactor that nearly breached the pressurized reactor chamber. Problems with replacements to that reactor have caused subsequent shut-downs of the reactor. The crack in the containment dome was discovered during activities to replace the pressure chamber head.
Press release, Ed Markey, 14 October 2011, http://markey.house.gov/

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#734
07/10/2011
Shorts

Oppose Nigeria's nuclear plans.
On September 15, President Goodluck Jonathan formally inaugurated Nigeria's Atomic Energy Commission and urged its members headed by Erepamo Osaisai to quickly evolve implementable plans and timelines for the delivery of atomic energy for peaceful purposes in the country. We recall that the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission was established in 1976 to investigate the development of nuclear energy but little progress was made. It was reactivated in 2006 and President Jonathan appointed a new team this year.

Nigeria has the world's seventh-largest natural gas reserves, yet the nation is blighted by persistent electricity outages which force businesses and individuals who can afford them to rely on generators. Much of this vast gas reserves sit untouched under the ground or are flared into the sky. Despite being Africa's biggest crude oil exporter, decades of corruption and mismanagement mean Nigeria has never built the infrastructure to farm its huge oil and gas resources for much-needed domestic use.

Deficits in our existing institutions remain a defining albatross on the path to meaningful development. Cut to the bone, this scenario suggests that Nigeria currently lacks the indigenous capacity, supporting infrastructure, discipline and security wherewithal to build and manage an atomic power plant. It simply is another way of courting disaster - one we cannot manage.

Let us explore and exploit other safer, rational options. These include solar, gas, hydro, wind and coal options. Nigeria has these resources in stupendous quantities. A presidential directive requesting timelines for the generation of electricity through these options is far better than the timelines he recently demanded from the newly-inaugurated Atomic Energy Commission. Our scientist-president should think again.
Editorial Leadership newspaper (Nigeria), AllAfrica.com, 3 October, 2011


Belene construction agreement extended.
Russia's AtomStroyExport (ASE) and Bulgaria's National Electricity Company (NEK) have signed a supplement to their agreement on the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant, extending it until the end of March 2012. Under an earlier extension, the agreement - originally signed in 2006 - was extended until 30 September. According to ASE, the extension 'confirms the parties' interest in the continuation of the project.' NEK said that during the next six months, the two companies will continue their activities related to completing a market study, clarifying the financial model and studying the project finance proposal submitted by financial advisor HSBC. It added that the extra time will allow Bulgaria to conduct an analysis of the results and recommendations of stress tests being performed at nuclear power plants across the European Union. ASE said that work on the foundation pit for the first reactor at Belene has now been completed. It said that a concrete plant at the site has already been put into operation and that water treatment plants have been built.
World Nuclear News, 03 October 2011


UAE: Construction first unit will start mid-2012.
According to the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), a government establishment created last year to oversee the ambitious nuclear construction project, said it would launch construction work for the infrastructure of four planned nuclear power plants in Barrakah in the western region in mid 2012 to pave the way for their operation in 2017. The UAE will award a contract in early 2012 for the supply of nuclear fuel to run its four nuclear reactors which the country is planning to construct as part of an ambitious nuclear power program.

Under the agreement to built 4 nuclear reactors, inked on December 27, the state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) and is partners in the consortium will design, build and run the reactors that will produce 5,600 MW of electricity. The contract to build the reactors is worth about US$20 billion (15bn euro).

The UAE has said the project is intended to diversify its energy supply sources and meet its rapid growing electricity demand, which is projected to surge to around 40,000 MW in 2020 from nearly 15,000 MW in 2009. The nuclear project will provide nearly 25 per cent of the UAE’s total energy needs of nearly 40,000 MW in 2020. Around seven per cent will be generated through renewable energy and the rest through conventional means.
Emirates 24/7, 25 September 2011


Pyhäjoki location for Finland's sixth reactor.
Fennovoima has chosen Pyhäjoki as the site for its nuclear power plant. Pyhäjoki municipality is located in North Ostrobothnia and the nuclear power plant will be constructed on Hanhikivi peninsula on the coast of Bothnian Bay. For the basis of the site selection, assessments were carried out during some four years. In the beginning of Fennovoima project in summer 2007, the company had almost 40 alternative sites. The number of alternatives was decreased gradually based on assessments and in December 2009 Fennovoima ended up having two alternatives, both located in Northern Finland: Pyhäjoki and Simo municipalities. In the final site decision, safety, technical feasibility, environmental matters, construction costs and schedule were the main factors examined as well as the ability of the site region to support a project that will bring thousands of people to work and use services there.

Fennovoima continues now the planning work together with the municipality, authorities and the plant suppliers and prepares applying for various licences and permits. For example, more detailed bedrock, environmental and water studies will be carried out on the Hanhikivi peninsula. Simultaneously, other preparations for the future phases of the project are carried out together with Pyhäjoki and Raahe region. First preparatory works on Hanhikivi will be started in the end of 2012 at earliest. The construction schedule will be elaborated after the plant supplier has been selected. Fennovoima sent bid invitations for Areva and Toshiba in July 2011 and the plant supplier will be chosen in 2012-2013.

Fennovoima has two owners: Voimaosakeyhtiö SF and E.ON Kärnkraft Finland. Voimaosakeyhtiö SF owns 66 percent of Fennovoima and nuclear expert E.ON Kärnkraft Finland 34 percent. Altogether Fennovoima has 70 shareholders. Voimaosakeyhtiö SF is owned by 69 finnish regional and local energy companies as well as companies in trade and industry.

Finland has 4 reactors in operation (two at Lovisa and two at Olkiluoto). The fifth (Olkiluoto-3) in under construction; over budget and over time.
Press release Fennovoima, 5 October 2011 / IAEA Reactor database.


Health effects radiation suppressed by tobacco companies.
Tobacco companies knew that cigarette smoke contained radioactive alpha particles for more than four decades and developed "deep and intimate" knowledge of these particles' cancer-causing potential; however, they deliberately kept their findings from the public. The study, published online in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, adds to a growing body of research detailing the industry's knowledge of cigarette smoke radioactivity and its efforts to suppress that information. The UCLA researchers analysed  dozens of previously unexamined internal tobacco industry documents, made available in 1998 as the result of a legal settlement.

“The documents show that the industry was well aware of the presence of a radioactive substance in tobacco as early as 1959; furthermore, the industry was not only cognizant of the potential 'cancerous growth' in the lungs of regular smokers but also did quantitative radiobiological calculations to estimate the long-term lung radiation absorption dose of ionizing alpha particles emitted from cigarette smoke." The study’s first author, Hrayr S. Karagueuzian, a professor of cardiology who conducts research at UCLA's Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, said: ‘We show here that the industry used misleading statements to obfuscate the hazard of ionizing alpha particles to the lungs of smokers and, more importantly, banned any and all publication on tobacco smoke radioactivity.” 

The radioactive substance, which the UCLA study shows was first brought to the attention of the tobacco industry in 1959, was identified in 1964 as the isotope polonium-210, which emits carcinogenic alpha radiation. Polonium-210 can be found in all commercially available domestic and foreign cigarette brands, Karagueuzian said, and is absorbed by tobacco leaves through naturally occurring radon gas in the atmosphere and through high-phosphate chemical fertilizers used by tobacco growers. The substance is eventually inhaled by smokers into the lungs.
LA Examiner, 28 September 2011


Dounreay: Belgium waste to be returned.
Dounreay has announced the return of reprocessing wastes from the BR2 research reactor in Belgium. The BR2 reactor in Mol was a good customer for Dounreay over the years, receiving new enriched uranium fuel from the reprocessed spent fuel. It planned to send considerably more spent fuel to Dounreay but the reprocessing plant was closed by a leak and never reopened. Wastes have already been returned to France and Spain. One Dounreay reprocessing customer has requested the substitution of vitrified high-level wastes for the intermediate level wastes at Dounreay (a consultation on this was held in 2010). However, Belgium wants to take back the intermediate level waste, as required by the original contract with Dounreay. Dounreay also had contracts with Australia, Germany and for Italian-owned fuel from Denmark.

There are 153 tons of BR2 reprocessing wastes cemented into 500-liter drums and this will involve an estimated 21 shipments over four years, starting this autumn. The shipments will be from Scrabster and will probably involve the former roll-on/roll-off ferry, the Atlantic Osprey.
N-Base Briefing 689, October 2011


IAEA Inspector exposed to radiation.
On October 5, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that one of its nuclear inspectors had been exposed to radiation during a 4 October inspection of the Belgoprocess nuclear waste facility in Dessel, Belgium. The inspector, along with an inspector from Euratom and a Belgoprocess employee, apparently received a dose of radiation after a vial or flask of plutonium accidentally fell on the floor, according to releases from the company and the Belgian Federal Nuclear Control Agency (AFCN). Plutonium is dangerous if ingested, but the amount received by the inspectors was less than the legal limit, the AFCN says. No radiation has been released beyond the site.
Nature.com, 5 October 2011


Atucha II, Argentina's third nuclear power plant.
President Cristina Kirchner inaugurated Atucha II, Argentina's third nuclear power plant on September 28. The German-designed reactor is expected to be fully operational in six to eight months after engineers run a series of tests. Construction of the plant began in July 1981, but work soon stopped and did not resume until 2006, when then-president Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007), the current leader's late husband, ordered the plant to be completed.

Argentina's other nuclear plants are Atucha I (335 megawatts) and the Embalse plant (600 megawatts). Once Atucha II is online 10 percent of Argentina's electricity will be produced by nuclear power. Plans are on the drawing board for Atucha III plant as well as an overhaul of the Embalse plant to add 30 years to its operational life, said Planning Minister Julio de Vido. Embalse was connected to the grid in 1983. Atucha II is located on the banks of the Parana river in the town of Zarate, some 100 kilometers north of the capital Buenos Aires. It was built at a cost of more than 2.4 billion dollars.
AFP, 29 September 2011


Another USEC deadline for DOE loan guarantee.
On September 30, USEC, announced morning it will reduce its spending on the American Centrifuge Project (ACP) in Piketon by 30 percent over the next month. It will also send out notices to its 450 employees Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland that layoffs are possible if the company doesn’t receive a loan guarantee before October 31. USEC has invested approximately US$2 billion in the ACP but needs significant additional financing to complete the plant. In 2008, USEC applied for a US$2 billion loan guarantee from Department of Energy for construction of the ACP. USEC significantly demobilized construction and machine manufacturing activities in 2009 due to delays in obtaining financing through DOE’s Loan Guarantee Program. Since then, many 'final' deadlines were set by USEC (three in the past half year: June 30, Sept. 30 and now Oct, 31) to obtain the loan guarantee.

In a call with investors, USEC President and CEO John Welch said the company must see a loan guarantee during the next month or risk the end of the project. USEC expects October “to be a month of intense interaction with the DOE,” in hopes of securing the loan guarantee.

The company had faced a September 30 deadline with two investors — Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation and Babcock & Wilcox Investment Company — to receive a US$2 billion loan guarantee. They agreed September 30 to extend that deadline to October 31. If USEC receives the loan guarantee, the companies have promised US$50 million to support the project.

In a statement, DOE Spokesman Damien LaVera said, “The Department of Energy has been working closely with USEC as the company has continued to test and validate its innovative technology, obtain private financing and meet other benchmarks that would be required for a successful loan guarantee application. We are strongly committed to developing effective, domestic nuclear enrichment capabilities and are looking at all options on a path forward.”

The ACP will utilize USEC’s AC100 centrifuge machine, which has been developed, engineered and assembled in the US. The AC100 design is a disciplined evolution of classified U.S. centrifuge technology originally developed by DOE. DOE invested already US$3 billion over 10 years to develop the centrifuge technology.
Dayton Daily News, 1 October 2011 /  ACP website: www.americancentrifuge.com


Taiwan: nuclear accident compensation increased.
On September 30, the Taiwanese Cabinet approved an amendment to the Nuclear Damage Compensation Act that imposes heavier compensation liability on nuclear power operators in the event of natural disasters such as an earthquake or a typhoon. Under the amendment, the maximum amount of compensation for losses caused by a nuclear accident was increased from NT$4.2 billion (US$138 million or 103 million euro) to NT$15 billion (US$5 mln or 3.7 mln euro) and the allowed period for compensation claims was extended from 10 to 30 years.

The amendment came after the Atomic Energy Council reviewed the act, which had not been amended since it was first enacted in 1997, in the wake of the nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin said the amendment fell short of her expectations as she had suggested further lifting the ceiling on compensation liability.
Tapei Times, 30 September 2011


36 year old construction permit extended. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has extended the construction permit for the unfinished Bellefonte unit 1 in Alabama.
The construction permit was originally granted in 1974. It was suspended in 1988, when Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) decided to halt work on the project, but the NRC agreed in 2009 to reinstate the permit. With the reinstated permit due to expire on 1 October 2011, TVA lodged an application for an extension in October 2010. The NRC has now agreed to that extension, meaning that the construction permit will remain valid until 1 October 2020. (see more in Nuclear Monitor 732, 9 September 2011)
World Nuclear News, 03 October 2011


Swiss parliament, no new reactors.
On September 28, the Council of States has followed the government’s lead by voting not to replace the country’s five nuclear power stations  and boost renewable energy resources. Switzerland currently has five nuclear power plants that will gradually come off the power grid at the end of their 50 year (!) lifespan: the first one in 2019 and the last one in 2034. The Senate followed the House of Representatives in calling on the government to ban new nuclear plants but keep parliament "informed about innovations in the field."

The clear result of the September 28 vote - with a three to one majority - came after a parliamentary committee prepared a compromise formula, promoted by the centre-right Christian Democratic Party, which will give parliament another chance to have a say at a later stage. “Even if we were to ban nuclear power plants now our successors in parliament could still one day decide on building on new reactors,” a Christian Democratic Senator, Filippo Lombardi from Ticino, said on behalf of the committee. Discussions on nuclear power are due to continue in the new parliament which is due to convene for the first time in December following general elections next month.

The Social Democrats, the Greens as well as the Christian Democratic Party hailed the Senate decision as an important step towards a new energy policy amid calls for further measures to switch to more renewable energy sources.

The government called for a withdrawal from nuclear energy in May – a proposal backed by the House of Representatives a month later.
Swissinfo.ch 28 September 2011


Hinkley Blockaded: No New Nuclear Power!
More than 300 people (even up to 400, according to a BBC-report), successfully sealed off the main entrance to Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset for nine hours on 3 October in opposition to EDF Energy's plans to build two new mega-reactors on the site. EDF said of 500 employees at the plant, only essential staff had been called in and had arrived by bus at dawn.

Blockaders were joined by a theatrical troupe who enacted a nuclear disaster scenario, while Seize the Day provided a musical backdrop to the event. 206 helium balloons were released to represent the number of days since the Fukushima meltdown. The balloons will be tracked, to show which areas of the West Country would be worst affected by a nuclear disaster at Hinkley.
Indymedia.uk; www.stopnewnuclear.org.uk; BBC, 3 October 2011

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#732
09/09/2011
Shorts

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


Town produces 321% more energy than it uses.
A small Bavarian town in Germany called Wildpoldsried produces 321% more energy than it uses, from renewable and natural sources. By selling the excess energy, Wildpoldsried has eliminated all the towns debt and generates 4.0 million Euro (US$5.7 million) in annual income. The point they are at now in terms of energy production and independence was reached by starting a plan about fourteen years ago to develop more clean energy sources and green building projects. The town with a population of about 2,500 started work on a huge community initiative involving the construction of nine new buildings and energy sources. The new buildings included a school, community hall and gym, and they employ solar panels, as do 190 private households. Five biogas digesters, nine windmills, three hydroelectric projects,  ecological flood control and a natural waste water treatment system were part of the plan for energy independence. It all has worked well, and the town is debt-free. They actually formed several local companies to construct, install and manage their wind turbines, with local residents as investors.
www.care2.com, 24 August 2011


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

For more information please visit: http://nuclearfreefuture.com/
GreenLeft (Aus.) 23 July 2011


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

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

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

Extract from a letter sent by ‘Special Operations’ - Cumbria Constabulary: "the issues you raise which I have listed below;
1. That specific people and institutions have breached the Human Tissue Act and that this should be investigated.
2. That an investigation into whether there was any unlawful corruption of the coronial processes had taken place
3. The stipends made to mortuary attendants are also of particular concern.
This was a Government led review which involved both the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Ministry of Justice. As such any requirement on the police to investigate identified breaches as outlined above would be made by the Government. No such request has been made". (end quotation Cumbria Constabulary correspondence)
Well, surprise, surprise: No such request is likely to be made.
http://101-uses-for-a-nuclear-power-station.blogspot.com/2011/07/dodgy-hacking.html


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

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

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

US: completion of construction of 1970's reactors

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#732
6165
09/09/2011
LAKA Foundation
Article

On August 18, the US Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve the completion of construction of the Bellefonte Unit 1. To finance construction, the Watts Bar 2 reactor (also under construction) will be completed and sold, and then be leased back to TVA. Construction on Bellefonte would not begin until after fuel loading at Watts Bar 2 is complete (not before 2013). Currently TVA has a debt of 24 billion USdollars.

(732.) Laka Foundation - Construction of the two-unit Bellefonte nuclear plant began in 1974 (exactly the same year as Busher in Iran), but work was suspended in 1988 in response to declining demand. Unit 1 was the furthest along, considered about 90% complete when work halted in 1988. Today it is considered about 55% complete due to the transfer or sale of many components and the need to upgrade or replace others. Completion of the Bellefonte Unit 1 reactor is expected to cost another US$4.9 billion, which is in addition to the estimated US$1.9 billion in value already existing at the plant. Unit 1 should be in operation by 2020. TVA obtained its construction permit for the plant in the early '70s and that permit is still active today. But TVA must get approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an operating permit before starting up the plant. A "future decision" on the potential completion of Bellefonte 2 will not come until at least mid-way through work on unit 1.

From 1992 to 2002, the TVA considered various proposals for Bellefonte, including completion as a combined-cycle natural gas plant, a coal gasification plant, a tritium production plant for the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons program, or a nuclear plant partnered with a private investor. In 2009 the NRC granted the TVA’s request to reinstate Bellefonte’s original construction permits so the TVA could evaluate the engineering and economic feasibility of completing Units 1 and 2.

The TVA decided to complete construction of the Watts Bar 2 project in August 2007 to help meet its growing demand for power (expected completion costs US$2.5 billion). The 1,180-MW Unit 2 will be the first new reactor to achieve commercial operations in the USA since Watts Bar 1 was completed in 1996. According to the World Nuclear Association “reactor details page” of Watt Bar 2, construction started on January 12, 1972. Remember 1972? In that year , as part of US-president Nixon's re-election effort, a massive campaign of political spying and 'dirty tricks' was initiated against Democrats, leading to the Watergate break-in to plant bugs inside the offices of the Democratic National Committee. Later that year, in November, Nixon won the presidential elections; McGovern lost. Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan and was recognized by the United Nations in 1972 and the German writer Heinrich Böll won the Nobel Prize for Literature. That long ago.

Well, if we are into history: When the Tennessee Valley Authority was established in 1933, at the height of the great depression, it rapidly became one of the controversial instruments of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. Designed, in Roosevelt's own words, for the "reclamation of land and human beings", the creation of TVA was a unique federal attempt to attack the grinding poverty of an entire region "by developing and conserving" its natural resources.

In the nineteenseventees TVA had the countries' most ambitious nuclear power program: the construction of 17 reactors before mid 1980's. But already on August 25, 1982, the Board of Directors decided to cancel four units (Phipps Bend 1 & 2 and Hartsville B1 & B2) under construction and in the following 3 years four more units followed. Original start-up date of the Watts Bar reactors was 1977.

On December 12, 1994, TVA announced it would halt work on three of the last four nuclear power stations under construction in the United States: Bellefonte Units 1 and 2 and Watts Bar 2: leaving only Watts Bar 1 to be finished. (as said, it was the last reactor finished in the US –1996)

According to an editorial in the Dec. 13 edition International Herald Tribune  the decision "is the symbolic death notice for the current generation of reactors in the US". The article in the WISE Nuclear Monitor devoted to this ended with the warning: "Although the end of the first generation reactors is welcome news, folks should be reminded that the US industry is already seeking federal certification for the next generation". While history may repeat itself, it is not always obvious in which way…..

Thirty-nine years after the first start of construction, in early August 2011, TVA has announced that construction of the US$2.5 billion Watts Bar 2 nuclear reactor is even behind the 2007 schedule and the project will not meet its sixty month timetable. The 1,180 MW Bar 2 nuclear reactor was expected (in 2007) to be operational sometime in late 2012, but the project is now expected to wrap up in early 2013 instead. The TVA’s Chief Operating Officer Bill McCollum said that the project’s schedule is being revised as a result of construction delays as well as lost time due to licensing delays.

Kim Greene, TVA group president of strategy and external relations, said that the utility expects to raise up to US$2.5 billion on the sale of the "new" Watts Bar reactor, which would then be leased back to TVA. "There have been sale/lease-backs of nuclear units in the past, and I do believe the closer we are to completion of construction, the easier it will be [to sell the reactor]," she said. "At this point, we have indications from the market that there would be an appropriate amount of interest in the Watts Bar Unit 2 facility."

So, on August 18 the TVA Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve the completion of construction of the Bellefonte Unit 1. But even with that approval, TVA officials say construction on the reactor would not resume for at least two years because of the planning and regulatory approval process that will still have to take place.

In fact, the board members amended the resolution to say that construction on Bellefonte would not begin until after the fuel loading at Watts Bar 2 is complete.  Which is projected to finish up by December of 2012.  After that, TVA would issue a 120-day notice of plans to begin construction at Bellefonte.
 


No zombies allowed…
TVA had a message for opponents of its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant at the Board of Directors meeting on August 18: No costumes. A month after zombie-costumed protesters paraded in Chattanooga to oppose TVA's plans to revive what they described as a "corpse of a power plant" in northeast Alabama, the nation's largest public utility installed a new ban on costumes at its board meeting on August 18. A TVA spokesman said the no-costume rule was intended to avoid any "disruption" at the meeting in Knoxville.

Despite the warning, several protestors turned up: one man was dressed as "corporate zombie," another as Santa Claus and yet another as Ben Franklin. Even as the protestors claimed a First Amendment right violation, security would not let them enter the meeting.


 

Sources: www.timesfreepress.com, 24 August 2011 / www.PowerMag.com, 24 August 2011 / www. Wbir.com, 16 August 2011 / www.constructiondigital.com, 9 August 2011 / WNA Reactor Details / WISE News Communique 424, 19 December 1994 / Int. Herald Tribune, 18 August 1985 / Atomic Energy Clearing House, 6 September 1982 / Nature, 26 August 1976
Contact: NIRS

 

 

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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#731
29/07/2011
Article

Philippines may rechannel its nuclear budget.
The Philippines government is considering rechannelling the US$100 million budget allotted to its nuclear energy development programme in the light of the Fukushima disaster. "Since the budget has been approved, the Department of Energy is currently studying what to do next. Whether we push through or delay or use the budget for more urgent matters. We are in discussion internally," Energy undersecretary Jay Layug has been quoted as saying. He noted that at this stage the country doesn't have any plans for nuclear other than to study it as an option. At the moment, he said, the DoE would be focusing on renewable energy development. "Renewable energy is the priority right now and not nuclear, we're looking at additional capacities through coal and natural gas plants," he said.

Nuclear Engineering International, News 22 July 2011


Chinese experimental fast reactor connected to grid.
On July 21, exactly one year after achieving first criticality, the head of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), declared that the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor's (CEFR's) had successfully achieved grid connection. The sodium-cooled, pool-type fast reactor has been constructed with some Russian assistance at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIEA), near Beijing, which undertakes fundamental research on nuclear science and technology. The reactor has a thermal capacity of 65 MW and can produce 20 MW in electrical power. The CEFR was built by Russia's OKBM Afrikantov in collaboration with OKB Gidropress, NIKIET and Kurchatov Institute. The unit was connected to the grid at 40% capacity.

Beyond the pilot plant, China once planned a 600 MWe commercial scale version by 2020 and a 1500 MWe version in 2030 but these ambitious ideas have been overtaken by the import of ready-developed Russian designs. In October 2009, an agreement was signed by CIAE and China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC) with AtomStroyExport to start pre-project and design works for a commercial nuclear power plant with two BN-800 reactors with construction to start in August 2011, probably at a coastal site (well, if they don't know that by now, the chance of starting constructing next month –August- is not that high).

In April 2010, a joint venture company was established for the construction of China's first commercial-scale fast neutron reactor, near the inland city of Sanming in Fujian province. The joint venture - Sanming Nuclear Power Co Ltd - was established by CNNC, Fujian Investment and Development Corp and the municipal government of Sanming city. CNNC holds a majority stake in the venture.

World Nuclear News, 21 July 2011


U.S.–India: quarrel on liability law.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recommended that India "engage" with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure the nation's civilian atomic liability law "fully conforms" with international accords, The Hindu newspaper reported July 19. Indian government sources said they would reject any hint that the domestic rule must be modified on the recommendation of the IAEA. The Vienna, Austria-based organization does not have the authority to make such recommendations, they said. India holds that its nuclear liability regulations are in compliance with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, though the United States contends the law allows a scope of actions that the convention does not.

New Delhi's law limits nuclear reactor operator financial culpability following an atomic accident to roughly US$320 million and allows lawsuits against suppliers of nuclear materials, technology and services. Officials in New Delhi insist the international convention cannot prohibit Indian courts from permitting private lawsuits to be filed by individuals injured in a nuclear incident.

The liability law has led a number of U.S. nuclear firms to reconsider their initial enthusiasm for engaging in atomic commerce with energy-hungry India following the signing of a 2008 agreement between Washington and New Delhi. The Indian government wants to see its liability law enacted before the end of 2011.
Global Security Newswire, 20 July 2011


Canada, Saskatchewan: 820 km walk to ban nuclear waste storage.
Native / First Nations people in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, one of the big uranium mining areas of the world, are organizing a 820-km-march from the small Northern community of Pinehouse to the capital of the province, Regina, beginning on July 27, 2011.

They are, besides raising awareness about the issue of nuclear waste and its dangers, collecting signatures for a petition to the Provincial Government to ban nuclear waste and its transportation in the province. This petition can only be signed by Saskatchewan residents (thus, it is not attached).

The First Nations and Metis / Native People are working together with environmentalist groups etc. from Southern Saskatchewan, i.e. Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan; there, you can find all details and documents re: the March, the petition etc.:  www.cleangreensask.ca

Contact: Committee for Future Generations, P.O. Box 155, Beauval, Saskatchewan, S0M 0G0 Canada
Email: committeeforfuturegenerations@gmail.com


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

For more information please visit: http://nuclearfreefuture.com/
GreenLeft (Aus.) 23 July 2011


New EU rules for nuclear waste open the door to dumping in Russia.
On July 19, European countries agreed to develop plans to address the ever-growing problem of nuclear waste. However, the EU also agreed to continue the dangerous practice of transporting radioactive material across great distances to storage plants outside EU borders.

EU ministers rubber stamped new rules obliging governments to publish plans by 2015 detailing their preferred options to store or reprocess radioactive waste from nuclear reactors. Some countries that generate nuclear waste, such as Bulgaria, Slovakia and Spain, had so far been reluctant to put together comprehensive plans.

Despite pressure from the European Commission to block exports, the new rules will allow Hungary and Bulgaria, countries that currently have agreements for the export of nuclear waste to Russia, to continue transferring radioactive material.

Greenpeace EU nuclear policy adviser Jan Haverkamp said: “European governments have adopted an out of sight, out of mind approach to radioactive waste, but all they are doing is dumping the long-term problem on someone else and putting Europeans at risk by allowing dangerous waste convoys. Only countries that face the unsolvable problem of radioactive waste head-on by ending their reliance on nuclear power can stop the vicious circle of waste that shifts responsibility to the next generations.”
Greenpeace press release, 19 July 2011


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

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

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

Extract from a letter sent by ‘Special Operations’ - Cumbria Constabulary: "the issues you raise which I have listed below;
1. That specific people and institutions have breached the Human Tissue Act and that this should be investigated.
2. That an investigation into whether there was any unlawful corruption of the coronial processes had taken place
3. The stipends made to mortuary attendants are also of particular concern.
This was a Government led review which involved both the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Ministry of Justice. As such any requirement on the police to investigate identified breaches as outlined above would be made by the Government. No such request has been made". (end quotation Cumbria Constabulary correspondence)
Well, surprise, surprise: No such request is likely to be made.
http://101-uses-for-a-nuclear-power-station.blogspot.com/2011/07/dodgy-h...

Refueling vermont yankee to continue

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#731
6154
29/07/2011
WISE Amsterdam
Article

Entergy Corporation has announced that its board of directors has voted to continue with a planned refueling of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant (Vermont, USA). The board has approved the US$60 million refueling during despite failing to receive a 20-year extension of its license to operate the nuclear plant from Vermont's legislature. Vermont Yankee's current operating license is due to expire March 2012.

On February 24 2010, in a move that sent shock waves through the nuclear power industry, the Vermont State Senate voted overwhelmingly (24-6) to close the Vermont Yankee reactor when its current operating license expires in March 2012. Later that same year, on November 2, the people of Vermont elected Peter Shumlin as Governor. Shumlin is a well known opponent of extending the Vermont Yankee license past its expiration date in 2012.

Vermont is the only state in the country with a law giving its Legislature a say over a nuclear plant's re-licensing. In the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that Entergy signed when it bought the plant in 2002, it agreed to seek a state-issued Certificate of Public Good and not sue the state if the CPG was denied. The Vermont Senate voted last year to direct the Public Service Board not to issue a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) for the plant. Despite all that, Entergy received a 20-year license extension from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in March 2011.

In April, two of Entergy's units, Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee LLC and Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc., filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the state of Vermont seeking a judgment to prevent the state of Vermont from forcing the plant to cease operation on March 21, 2012. On July 18, the Court issued a decision denying a preliminary injunction motion filed by the two units.

Federal law does not forbid individuals from raising safety or reliability concerns, said Parenteau, nor does it block lawmakers from addressing these concerns in the legislative process. However, the law does forbid nuclear safety regulation by the states. “The NRC will decide if that plant is safe, whether we like it or not.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on states’ power to regulate a nuclear power plant in the 1983 Pacific Gas & Electric v. State Energy Commission case. In its ruling, the court stated clearly that states can shut power plants for non-radiological safety reasons. But that same PG & E case also gives companies grounds to sue if a state enacts a law that blocks a plant. Entergy did not sue Vermont in 2006 over the Legislature gaining the right to vote on the awarding of a CPG.

The Court Case is due to start in September.

On June 30, fifteen women, included three women in their nineties (Valerie Mullen, 90; Frances Crowe, 92 and Lea Wood, 94) of the Shut It Down Affinity Group were arrested at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant  and charged with trespass after advocating for replacing nuclear power with solar power.

Sources: Nuclear Monitor 721, 17 December 2010 / Vtdigger.org, 21 July 2011 / Energyboom.com, 25 July 2011
Contact: NIRS, 6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 340, Takoma Park, MD 20912, USA.
Tel: +1 301-270-6477
Email: nirsnet@nirs.org
Web: www.nirs.org

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