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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#730
15/07/2011
Shorts

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Next plutonium space launch set

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#730
6152
15/07/2011
Bruce K. Gagnon, coordinator GNAW & NPS
Article

The next plutonium enabled space mission, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), is scheduled to be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida between November 25 and December 18 of this year. The MSL rover, known as "Curiosity," will be fueled with 4.8 kilograms (10.56 pounds) of plutonium dioxide. It will be, NASA says, "the largest, most capable rover ever sent to another planet."

Fifty years ago, on June 29, 1961, an electrical generator driven by nuclear energy was launched into space for the first time. NASA sadly appears committed to maintaining their dangerous alliance with the nuclear industry. Both entities view space as a new market for the deadly plutonium fuel.

Back in 1997 the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space organized an international campaign against NASA and the Department of Energy's launch of 72 pounds of plutonium on the Cassini mission. A man by the name of Alan Kohn volunteered to help GNAW&NPS with that campaign. Kohn had been the Emergency Preparedness Officer at NASA during the Galileo (1989) and Ulysses (1990) plutonium launches at the space center in Florida.

By the time Cassini was to be launched Kohn had retired from NASA and felt free to speak out. He told the New York Times, just prior to the launch, that NASA had no plan to contain and clean-up after an accident on or near the launch pad that released plutonium into the environment. He said the operating plan he had worked with during the two previous nuclear launches was a joke and was only intended to serve as a reassurance to the public. Kohn told that a long-time family friend, working in the White House, had informed him that more people contacted Washington opposing Cassini than any other issue in U.S. history.

While NASA maintains that they are "searching for the origins of life" on Mars, in reality they are mapping the red planet and doing soil sampling which is all intended to serve the ultimate goal of establishing a nuclear powered mining colony there in the future. The Haliburton Corporation, known for their connections to the Bush-Cheney administration and fraud in Iraq, has been working on a drilling mechanism for Mars exploration for some time.

The taxpayers are being asked once again to pay for nuclear missions that could endanger the life of all the people on the planet. As we saw in Louisiana, following the Hurricane Katrina debacle, the federal government is not prepared to do disaster relief and clean-up. A plutonium release over Florida could devastate a 60-mile radius - from the space center to Disney World.

It would only take one pound of plutonium-238 released as dust in the atmosphere to give everyone on the Earth a lethal dose of the toxic fuel. Have we not learned anything from Chernobyl and Fukushima? The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space believes we don't need to be launching nukes into space. It's not a gamble we can afford to take.

You can send NASA a message opposing the plutonium Mars rover mission using the NASA contact page at: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/hq/about/contact_us.html

Source and contact: Bruce K. Gagnon. Coordinator Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, PO Box 652, Brunswick, ME 04011, USA
Tel: +1 207 443-9502
Web: www.space4peace.org

About: 
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

America's nuclear fuel storage pool problem

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#729
6149
01/07/2011
Robert Alvarez
Article

After more than fifty years, the quest for permanent nuclear waste disposal remains illusory. One thing, however, is clear, whether we like it or not: the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet will remain in storage at US reactor sites for the indefinite future. And the corporations that own the nation's nuclear reactors are stuffing about four times more spent fuel into storage pools than the pools were designed to accommodate.

In March 1992 George Galatis, a nuclear engineer at the Millstone nuclear power station in Waterford, Connecticut, became alarmed during a refueling. The reactor had to be shut down and the full radioactive core of the Unit 1 reactor, which held thousands of rods, was removed and then dumped into the spent fuel pool—a blatant violation of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) safety requirements.

The pool was already quite full. It wasn’t designed to suddenly hold those very radioactive and thermally hot fuel rods, which give off so much radiation that an unshielded person nearby would receive a lethal dose in seconds. In a previous incident around that time, a worker’s boots melted during this procedure. Because the pool could overheat, and possibly cause the pumps and cooling equipment to fail, the NRC had required reactor operators to wait for sixty-five days before performing this task—with good reason. NRC studies over the past thirty years have consistently shown that even partial drainage of a spent fuel pool that exposed highly radioactive rods could release an enormous amount of radioactivity into the environment. Arnie Gunderson, a nuclear engineer with many years of experience at US nuclear reactors, describes this kind of accident as “Chernobyl on steroids.”

Northeast Utility (which sold the Millstone reactors to Dominion Power in 2000) was standing to lose about US$500,000 a day for replacement power if it followed the rules calling for a shutdown that would last more than two months. It had taken this shortcut for many years, while the NRC deliberately looked the other way.

By this time, the corporations that owned the nation’s nuclear reactors were stuffing about four times more spent fuel into storage pools than the pools were designed to accommodate, with the NRC’s blessing. It took several years for Galatis to force the NRC to take action at Millstone, at the expense of his career. His whistleblowing landed him on the cover of Time and embarrassed the NRC into performing a more thorough inspection of the reactor. The agency found a host of problems and ordered Unit 1 closed in 1996. The reactor was permanently shut down in 1998, but the spent fuel remains in a pool while the reactor is still being decommissioned, thirteen years later.

In the tradition of no good deed going unpunished, the Republican-controlled Congress, led by then–Senator Pete Domenici, was outraged over Millstone 1’s closure and made sure that the NRC would never do this again. In his autobiography, Domenici proudly notes that he sought to cut 700 jobs at the NRC in 1999, effectively gutting its regulatory efforts. “While many NRC requirements had questionable impact on safety,” Domenici said, “their impact on the price of nuclear energy was far more obvious. This ‘tough love’ approach was necessary.”

Domenici had his way. By 2000, the NRC sharply curtailed its oversight activities and became more of an enabler of nuclear power than a regulator. To this day, it remains overly dependent on nuclear industry self-reporting of problems.

Nearly twenty years after George Galatis began his lonely struggle to improve safety of spent fuel pools, the Fukushima catastrophe in Japan has once again turned a spotlight on this serious hazard in the United States. The explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi station left the spent fuel pools at three reactors exposed to the open sky, as Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the company that owns the crippled power station, desperately try to keep them cool with thousands of tons of water. Spent fuel in one pool is believed to have caught fire and exploded. American reactors have generated about 65,000 metric tons of spent fuel, of which 75 percent is stored in pools, according to Nuclear Energy Institute data. No other nation has generated this much radioactivity from either nuclear power or nuclear weapons production.

Even though they contain some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet, US spent nuclear fuel pools are mostly contained in ordinary industrial structures designed to merely protect them against the elements. Some are made from materials commonly used to house big-box stores and car dealerships.

The United States has thirty-one boiling water reactors with pools elevated several stories above ground, similar to those at Daiichi. As in Japan, all spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants do not have steel-lined, concrete barriers that cover reactor vessels to prevent the escape of radioactivity. They are not required to have back-up generators to keep used fuel rods cool if offsite power is lost.

For nearly thirty years, NRC waste-storage requirements have remained contingent on the opening of a permanent waste repository that has yet to materialize. Now that the Obama administration has cancelled plans to build a permanent deep-disposal site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, spent fuel at the nation’s 104 reactors will continue to accumulate and is likely remain onsite for decades to come.

Domenici and the nuclear industry have often said that spent nuclear fuel could be stacked on a football field ten feet deep. There’s a problem with this assertion. First, it’s not remotely feasible and, most certainly, ill advised to squeeze the largest concentration of radioactivity on the planet onto a field. This would unleash chain reactions involving enough plutonium to fuel about 150,000 nuclear weapons, and could ignite a radiological fire that would cause long-term land contamination that would make Chernobyl and Fukushima look like pimples on a pumpkin. It would deliver lethal radiation doses to thousands if not millions of people hundreds of miles away. In other words, storing the entire nation’s spent fuel in one place would be a mistake.

On June 7 the Japanese government reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency that the amount of radioactivity released into the atmosphere during the first week of the accident was twice its previous estimate. The government failed to mention that an equally large amount was discharged into the sea, indicating that the Fukushima accident may have released more radioactivity into the environment than was released at Chernobyl. Around the same time, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan reported that cesium-137 contamination from the accident had rendered an area about seventeen times bigger than Manhattan uninhabitable.

I co-authored a report in 2003 that explained how a spent fuel pool fire in the United States could render an area uninhabitable that would be as much as sixty times larger than that created by the Chernobyl accident. If this were to happen at one of the Indian Point nuclear reactors—located about twenty-five miles from New York City—it could result in as many as 5,600 cancer deaths and $461 billion in damages.

The US government should promptly take steps to reduce these risks by placing all spent nuclear fuel older than five years in dry, hardened storage casks—something Germany did twenty-five years ago. It would take about ten years and cost US$3.5–7 billion (2.4-4.8 bn euro) to accomplish. If the cost were transferred to energy consumers, the expenditure would result in a marginal increase of less than 0.4 cents per kilowatt-hour for consumers of nuclear-generated electricity. Despite the destruction wreaked by the earthquake and tsunamis in Japan, the dry casks at the Fukushima site were unscathed.

Another payment option is available for securing spent nuclear fuel. Money could be allocated from US$18.1 billion in unexpended funds already collected from consumers of nuclear-generated electricity under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to establish a disposal site for high-level radioactive wastes.

After more than fifty years, the quest for permanent nuclear waste disposal remains illusory. One thing, however, is clear, whether we like it or not: the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet will remain in storage at US reactor sites for the indefinite future. In protecting America from nuclear catastrophe, safely securing the spent fuel by eliminating highly radioactive, crowded pools should be a public safety priority of the highest degree.

With a price tag of as much as US$7 billion, the cost of fixing America’s nuclear vulnerabilities may sound high, especially given the heated budget debate occurring in Washington. But the price of doing too little is incalculable


Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the US.
U.S. reactors have generated about 65,000 metric tons of spent fuel, of which 75 percent is stored in pools, according to Nuclear Energy Institute data. Spent fuel rods give off about 1 million rems (10,00Sv) of radiation per hour at a distance of one foot - enough radiation to kill people in a matter of seconds. There are more than 30 million such rods in U.S. spent fuel pools. No other nation has generated this much radioactivity from either nuclear power or nuclear weapons production.

Nearly 40 percent of the radioactivity in U.S. spent fuel is cesium-137 (4.5 billion curies) - roughly 20 times more than released from all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. U.S. spent pools hold about 15-30 times more cesium-137 than the Chernobyl accident released. For instance, the pool at the Vermont Yankee reactor, a BWR Mark I, currently holds nearly three times the amount of spent fuel stored at Daiichi's crippled Unit 4 reactor. The Millstone reactors, which have the largest spent-fuel inventory in the United States, hold over five times more radioactivity than the combined total in the pools at the four wrecked Daiichi reactors.

Systems required to keep pools cool and clean are being overtaxed, as reactor operators generate hotter, more radioactive, and more reactive spent rods. Reactor operators have increased the level of uranium-235, a key fissionable material in nuclear fuel to allow for longer operating periods. This, in turn, can cause the cladding, the protective envelope around a spent fuel rod, to thin and become brittle. It also builds higher pressure from hydrogen and other radioactive gases within the cladding, all of which adds to the risk of failure. The cladding is less than one millimeter thick (thinner than a credit card) and is one of the most important barriers preventing the escape of radioactive materials.


Source and contact: Robert Alvarez, Institute for Policy Studies, 1112 16th Street, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC, 20036, USA.
Email: bob@ips-dc.org
Web: www.ips-dc.org

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#729
01/07/2011
Shorts

Invitation to the 2011 Nuclear Heritage Network-meeting Czech Republic.
The first international anti-nuclear networking gathering in Europe after the Fukushima disaster organized by activists of the Nuclear Heritage Network will take place from August 1-5, 2011 in Ceské Budejovice (Budweis) in the Czech Republic close to the Austrian border and near to the controversial Temelín nuclear power plant.

As part of the gathering anti-nuclear activists from several countries will also meet with Czech and Austrian activists who cooperate in a unique cross-border network, which is partly coordinated and funded by the Upper-Austrian regional government. We will visit a group of Lower-Austrian activists, who have been organizing for years now so called "energy-meetings" and have become pioneers in using and making renewable energies popular.

The gathering is also supposed to get to know each other in person, to share experiences in the anti-nuclear field, and to develop mutual projects and campaigns. Goal is to improve the international anti-nuclear cooperations and to discuss how to  provide more resources by the Nuclear Heritage Network as well as by activists and organizations out of the network for international anti-nuclear activities. Thus, the initiatives are supposed to strengthen the anti-nuclear movement as well as to face various obstacles within and outside the movement.

As the logistic frame of our meeting is limited, please announce your participation to us as early as possible, and not later than July 20: falk@nuclear-heritage.net or b.riepl@eduhi.at.


Swiss police clear Mühleberg protest camp.
On June 21, police cleared the protest camp against the Mühleberg nuclear power station which was set up in the city of Bern at the beginning of April. The city government issued a statement saying the decision to clear camp outside the headquarters of BKW Energy, which operates Mühleberg, had been taken after the activists had refused to dismantle the tents despite lengthy discussions. It said it would have been prepared to allow a permanent vigil, but had made it clear from the beginning that it would not tolerate a camp with a permanent population. It added that it had now withdrawn its permission for a vigil and would not allow the area to be re-occupied.
The Mühleberg Abschalten (Switch off Mühleberg) association accused the Bern city government of taking the side of the nuclear lobby after the cantonal parliament decided last week not to do anything to take Mühleberg out of the grid. But it said the protest would continue until the power station was switched off. Only a few hours after the eviction, about 200 people gathered around the site for a lunchtime protest picnic with flags and placar. In the evening of the same day, several hundred demonstrators marched through Bern peacefully to protest the clearing of the camp.
World Radio Switzerland, 21 June 2011 / Swissinfo.ch, 21 June 2011


Threats to nuclear reactors in US.
In July, the United States' Nuclear Regulatory Commission will release the final results of its 90-day reactor safety review. The NRC will claim that nuclear reactors in the United States are safe. But the report will leave out critical information that exposes that claim as a myth.

We've already seen in Japan the catastrophic combination of inadequate regulations, aging reactors and unpredictable weather. What will be missing from the NRC report?

*As severe weather becomes more frequent, nuclear reactors have become more vulnerable and less reliable. Flood waters have knocked out power at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station in Nebraska. On June 27, the barrier intended to keep water from immersing the reactor grounds was breached. The plant is now reportedly running on emergency generators to maintain the cooling systems. But floods are not the only weather phenomena to threaten reactors; extreme heat and droughts also force reactors offline. Nuclear power plants consume more water than any other energy technology. In recent summers, water rationing due to heat waves in the southeast has required shutting down nuclear plants in Tennessee and Florida. Current regulations - amazingly - fail to account for possibility of a single weather event or natural disaster knocking out electricity from both the grid and emergency generators.

*U.S. nuclear reactors are being pushed well beyond their operational design and the resulting deterioration undermines their safety. In the U.S., reactors were designed and licensed for 40 years, but 66 of the 104 operating units have been relicensed to operate for 20 more years. In fact, the NRC has never denied a renewal - not even for the Vermont Yankee plant, where problems like groundwater contamination from leaking tritium led the state senate to vote against renewing its license. Corroded underground piping in aging plants is responsible for radioactive tritium leaks at 75% of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites.

*Federal regulators are far too cozy with the nuclear industry. Together they are maintaining the illusion that the nation's aging reactors operate within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards or simply failing to enforce them. According to a recent investigation by The Associated Press, NRC officials have - time after time, and at the urging of the industry - decided that original regulations were too strict and argued that safety margins should be eased.

Immediate steps can and must be taken to strengthen the regulation of nuclear reactors. But ultimately, we need to shift away from nuclear to renewable, safer and more efficient power choices. 
Public Citizen's Climate & Energy Program, 28 June 2011


Jellyfish block Torness.
Two reactors at the UK Torness nuclear power station have been shut down after huge numbers of jellyfish were found in the sea water entering the plant. The jellyfish were found obstructing cooling water filters. The plant's operator, EDF Energy, said the shutdown was a precautionary measure and there was never any danger to the public. A clean-up operation is under way, but according to the utility it could take a week to re-start again. Torness has two Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors but also relies on supplies of sea water to ensure it operates safely. It has filters which are designed to prevent seaweed and marine animals entering the cooling system. If these are blocked, the reactors are shut down to comply with safety procedures. Staff at the plant took the decision to shut down the reactors in the afternoon on June 30.  In February 20101 one of the two reactors was also shut down following a technical failure which affected the transformer, causing an automatic shutdown.
BBC Scotland, 30 June 2011

Benefit concert to support disaster relief efforts in Japan and non-nuclear groups worldwide

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#729
6150
01/07/2011
MUSE
Article

An impressive line-up of artists are coming together for a special benefit event on August 7 in Mountain View, California, USA. Amongst them names as Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Jason Mraz, The Doobie Brothers, Tom Morello, John Hall, Kitaro, Jonathan Wilson, Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Proceeds from the concert will be distributed to Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) to support Japan disaster relief efforts, and organizations worldwide working to promote safe, alternative, non-nuclear energy. “The disaster in Fukushima is not only a disaster for Japan. It is a global disaster. We come together now across cultural boundaries, political and generational boundaries, to call for changes in the way we use energy, and in the ways we conduct the search for solutions to the problems facing humanity,” says Jackson Browne. “We join with the people of Japan, and people everywhere who believe in a non-nuclear future.”

It was shortly after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan that the decision was made to coordinate a benefit. Shoreline Amphitheatre was chosen because of its close proximity to the Pacific Rim, Northern California’s history and deep association with Japan—and because nuclear reactors on the California coast store spent fuel rods in the same manner as at Fukushima. The concert date falls between the anniversaries of atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945).

“The MUSE concert will not only be a great show, it will hopefully entice the public to become better informed of the tremendous dangers of nuclear power,” says Graham Nash. “We have to keep real and true information flowing so that people can act on it.”

“We’re so lucky to have been able to bring back some of the original MUSE team to collaborate with some new and younger artists for MUSE 2, so that we can immediately help with the Japan relief effort and raise funds and awareness for the no nukes issue,” says Bonnie Raitt. “I'm excited to be a part of this important and truly collaborative effort. It’s going to be a very special, one of a kind event.”

Pat Simmons, of The Doobie Brothers, who performed at the original MUSE shows adds, "We are so proud to be reuniting with so many of our talented friends, who share our concern for the safety, and sustainable future of our fragile planet. Current events have brought us to a turning point in our human existence. It's time to consider alternatives to the present course of energy production that have been forced upon us by an aggressive corporate power structure. We join together to generate funds to help our Japanese friends, as they recover from the devastation that they have had to endure, due to man's careless use of nuclear energy, and nature's unpredictability. Through these efforts we also hope to raise public awareness of the challenges we are faced with, and the important responsibilities we share in moving us towards a safer, nuclear free future."

The concert stage will be powered by an integrated system of clean, alternative energy sources, using solar, biodiesel, and wind technologies. One goal is that the concert will inspire musicians in other areas to organize shows that both employ and promote safe energy alternatives, and that raise funds for disaster relief efforts and for groups—local, regional, national, and international alike—advocating non-nuclear programs and initiatives.

“As Japan struggles to subdue meltdowns at Fukushima, and Ft. Calhoun Nuclear in Nebraska struggles to keep its reactor and spent fuel above the Missouri's floodwaters, we once again face a crucial choice,” says John Hall. “Will we, as a country, invest in clean, renewable sources of energy, or will we continue to use taxpayer dollars to indemnify and subsidize the dirty, deadly old technologies that are making our planet unlivable?”

"Even though the news cycle has moved on from the Fukushima disaster, this is another massive world energy disaster from which there will be long-term effects,” adds Jason Mraz. “I am thrilled to be a part of this amazing show that will not only help those in Japan, but that will also call attention to the urgent need to embrace safe, clean energy alternatives."

Japanese musician and multi-instrumentalist, Kitaro, joined the bill as a way to give thanks “for all of the support for Japan from the world, and to all of the Japanese, who are helping each other.” He adds, “It is time to consider the change to alternative clean energy instead of nuclear power.”

For more information, please visit: www.musiciansunited4safeenergy.com and www.nukefree.org

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#726
13/05/2011
Shorts

Areva suspends work on US nuclear manufacturing facility.
Areva Newport News, a joint venture of Areva NP Inc. and Northrop Grumman, has postponed indefinitely further construction of a nuclear power reactor component manufacturing facility in Newport News, USA, "until market conditions become more favorable," spokesman Jarret Adams said on May 9. And "the situation in Japan" is not helping the market, according to Adams. The facility is for the manufacture of heavy components for Areva power reactors, such as reactor vessels and steam generators, including components for its US-EPR design being considered for construction by utilities in Maryland, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

When ground was broken for the facility in July 2009, the companies said manufacturing would begin in mid-2012. In August 2010, that date was pushed back to 2013. The plant represents a US$360 million investment, the partners said in 2009.
Platts, 10 May 2011


Still funding needed for new shelter Chernobyl reactor. 
On April 19, at a pledging conference in Kiev, Ukraine, representatives of about 30 countries promised to collectively provide Euro 550 million (US$ 785 million) to finish the shelter, called the New Safe Confinement for the Chernobyl-4 reactor, and a long-term spent fuel storage facility. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the funding gap before the conference was estimated at Euro 740 million — Euro 600 million for the shelter and Euro 140 million for the spent fuel facility — out of a total cost estimated for the two projects of about Euro 1.9 billion.

The projects have been delayed repeatedly and the price tags have crept up due to increases in labor and materials costs, as well as the requirement for more detailed technical knowledge.The NSC is currently estimated to cost Euro 1.6 billion and the spent fuel facility Euro 300 million. (More on the NSC project: Nuclear Monitor 719/20, 12 November 2010).
Nucleonics Week,  21 April 2011


Italy: WikiLeaks documents show nuclear industry corruption.
In the wake of the emotion prompted by Fukushima and at a time when the Italian government appears to be reluctant to implement a policy of redeploying nuclear power (phased out following a referendum in 1987), the Italian magazine L'Espresso publishes in its March 18 "All'Italia mazzette sull'atomo" article, a series of American diplomatic cables that reveal how "bribes could have a major impact on the future of the country’s energy industry." The documents obtained by WikiLeaks provide details of a four-year US campaign, which began in 2005, to encourage Italy to re-start a nuclear power program with a view to reducing its energy dependence on Russian gas and limiting the influence of the partnership between Italian energy company ENI and Russia’s Gazprom. To this end, according to the article in the March 18 issue of L'Espresso, Washington fought a prolonged battle with the French nuclear power specialist EDF-Areva in which it took advantage of its close ties with several Italian companies. In the end, writes L'Espresso, the American lobbyists succeeded in convincing Rome to set aside EU safety standards for new power stations and to adopt more flexible OECD norms — a victory for US industry, obtained at the expense of the safety of the Italian people.
Presseurope, 18 March 2011, WikiLeaks - nuclear industry corruption


Arrests at antinuclear action Belarus.
Activists from Belarus and Germany arrested brutally at peaceful anti-nuclear action. On  April 25, six activists from Germany and five activists from Belarus, as well as one activist from Poland have been brutally arrested in the Belarus capital of Minsk. Around 40 activists have protested peacefully against the construction of the first nuclear power in Ostrovetz, Belarus. They held banners saying «Chernobyl, Fukushima --- Ostrovets?» and «We are against nuclear power plants» and handed out leaflets. There were two flashmobs - the first lasted around 5 minutes.

However, the second flashmob was interrupted immediately. After around one minute two vehicles with civil police stopped, as well as a red prisoner's transport. Peaceful protestors were thrown to the ground and arrested using brutal force.

All German people and the person from Poland were deported by train to Warsaw on the evening of April 27.
Indymedia Germany, 25 & 27 April 2011

U.S.: Washington continues to pretent nuclear emperor is wearing clothes

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#726
6129
13/05/2011
Michael Marriott
Article

The Fukushima accident has exposed a deep and growing gulf between the people of the United States and U.S. policymakers. How this plays out over the next couple of years likely will determine the future of nuclear power in the U.S.

On one hand, the public—after several years of at least lukewarm support for new nuclear reactors—has turned solidly against new reactor construction, against taxpayer support for the nuclear industry, and is increasingly skeptical about the operation of existing reactors.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released April 20, for example, 64% oppose new reactors versus 33% supporting them. Strong opposition was even more striking: 47% strongly oppose new reactors, only 20% strongly support them. The opposition runs across party lines, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents all against new reactor construction.

Other recent polls show that about 75% of the public opposes taxpayer loan guarantees for new reactors. One might think this overwhelming public sentiment might cause a similar re-examination of the issue by policymakers. But in Washington, being tone-deaf to public opinion appears to be considered a virtue (consider, for example, Republican insistence on dismantling the Medicare program in the face of 70-80% opposition).

In official Washington, support for nuclear power remains strong. In mid-March, even while his Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman was recommending that U.S. citizens within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of Fukushima evacuate (an area five times larger than U.S. standards), President Obama reiterated his support for nuclear power as a “clean” energy source and repeated his call for US$36 billion more in taxpayer loan money for new reactors.

Congressional hearings have produced a parade of Congressmembers and witnesses asserting that “it can’t happen here, U.S. reactors are safe;” ignoring the fact that the Fukushima reactors were General Electric Mark I designs, 23 of which happen to be operating in the U.S. now and 22 of which already have been relicensed to operate another 20 years.

Just days after the accident began, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—also apparently deciding there is nothing to learn from Fukushima--authorized a 20-year license renewal for the most controversial reactor in the U.S., Vermont Yankee, which the State of Vermont has vowed to close when its initial license expires next year. Vermont Yankee, of course, is a GE Mark I of the same vintage as the Fukushima reactors. Fortunately for the people of Vermont, the State is likely to prevail in legal battles to close the reactor.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a longtime nuclear critic, introduced a bill in Congress to improve nuclear safety by setting new requirements for backup power supplies, among other measures, but so far has been able to rustle up only a handful of co-sponsors. And with Republicans in charge of setting hearing schedules, it is highly unlikely hearings will be held on the issues or that the bill will go anywhere. Markey is also pressing hard to force implementation of a law that passed in 2002 requiring stockpiling of potassium iodide near reactors—and even that effort, to implement a law Congress passed and was signed by President Bush, is finding opposition.

On the Senate side, the first post-Fukushima nuclear legislation that will be considered is most likely to be a bill to encourage development of new “small modular reactors” in the U.S., with the government offering to pick up half the price tag for the design work. (see box)

And over at the Environmental Protection Agency, a program to provide enhanced radiation monitoring for Fukushima fallout reaching the U.S. has been ended—despite the fact that the accident hasn’t ended and, especially in Hawaii, radiation levels significantly above legal limits have been detected in milk. Move along, nothing to see here….

But even as official Washington continues to pretend the nuclear emperor is wearing clothes, the reality is that Fukushima is already having and will continue to have its inevitable impact.

NRG Energy already has backed out of its plans to build two new reactors at South Texas, which were to be financed by a combination of U.S. Department of Energy and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) loans. One of NRG’s partners in the project was Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which no longer has the financial means to participate, and Japan’s new stance on nuclear power makes the already questionable JBIC loans exceedingly unlikely. Another NRG partner, Toshiba, is officially attempting to continue the project, but can’t obtain a license or build them on its own.

In Maryland, UniStar Nuclear’s Calvert Cliffs-3 project is on the verge of final collapse. Onetime UniStar partner Constellation Energy dropped out of the project last fall and sold its share to Electricite de France (EdF), which now owns 100% of UniStar. In April, the NRC staff ruled that EdF cannot legally obtain a construction/operating license because of the Atomic Energy Act’s prohibition against foreign ownership, control or domination of a U.S. reactor project and the NRC’s licensing board in the case is now considering whether to deny a license and end the process.

The odds of UniStar finding a U.S. partner seem vanishingly small in the post-Fukushima climate, and grew even smaller when the largest U.S. nuclear utility, Exelon, announced a merger with Constellation Energy. Questioned about rejoining the Calvert Cliffs-3 project, Exelon CEO John Rowe emphatically said Exelon has no interest in that reactor.

Meanwhile, the NRC is in the midst of a 90-day review of U.S. reactors to determine whether there are regulatory changes that must be made immediately to incorporate lessons from Fukushima. Most observers believe this very limited review will result in modest changes at most. But a longer-term (6-month) review will follow closely, and is likely to include more public participation and have a much broader mandate than the initial review, which is both limited in scope and is being conducted entirely internally within the NRC. Some top NRC officials have privately speculated that this broader review may well lead to more significant regulatory changes, some delays in the reactor licensing processes and perhaps even some reactor closings.

And President Obama’s request for US$36 billion more in nuclear loan money? He made the same request last year, and didn’t get it. This year, both because of hesitance over Fukushima and because of opposition to basically any federal spending among many in Congress, Congressional approval appears even less likely.

Source and contact: Michael Mariotte at NIRS


No private money for Next Generation Nuclear Plant.

The United States' Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project faces a number of challenges as the Department of Energy (DOE) struggles to find private investors to share the program’s cost. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which initiated the NGNP program, specified that private companies have to share at least 50% of the cost of the NGNP, a gas-cooled design that would produce combined heat and power.

The NGNP Alliance said the September 2021 deadline to complete the demonstration plant as specified in the Energy Policy Act “is in jeopardy” due to delays and lack of funding. The NGNP Industry Alliance is an industry group aiming to facilitate the commercialization of a high-temperature reactor, consists of reactor developers, potential end users such as petrochemical companies and nuclear utility Entergy. DOE also believes the 2021 deadline is not feasible because “we haven’t got the level of funding we needed, or done the level of design and licensing reviews” necessary for the project to proceed on schedule, according to a spokesperson

Nucleonics Week, 28 April 2011


 

About: 
NIRS

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#723
25/02/2011
Shorts

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

Hankyoreh, South Korea, 1 February 2011


URÂNIO EM MOVI(E)MENTO,
the 1st International Uranium Film Festival is Latin America´s first film festival to highlight nuclear and radioactive issues. It is an annual event with 2 international competitions.

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

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

http://www.uraniumfilmfestival.org/html/selected_films.html


Germany: Complaints against runtime extensions to Constitutional Court.

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

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

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

Greenpeace press release (in German), 3 February 2011


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

It is estimated the amount of caesium-137 deposited on Norway would be about seven times that from Chernobyl. Direct costs from Chernobyl on agriculture and reindeer in Norway have been over 665 million kroner (US$118 million; 86 million euro) and there are still annual costs of 15 million kroner. Up to 80 per cent of all lambs in Norway would be expected to have excess radiation levels and restrictions apply for decades. The report is available at www.nrpa.no/dav/0942d3dc93.pdf

N-Base Briefing 681, 25 January 2011


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

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

Press release, 19 January 2011


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

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

English version: http://www.youtube.com/user/ICBUW


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

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

Papers are available at: http://www.davidsmythe.org/nuclear/nuclear.htm


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


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

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

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

World Nuclear News, 12 January 2011


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

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

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

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

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#722
21/01/2011
Shorts

US embassy cable on Belene.
A US diplomatic cable, originating from the WikiLeaks organisation and published in the Guardian newspaper just before Christmas, relates the serious misgivings of US Ambassador in Bulgaria, Nancy McEldowney, over the planned Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. Commenting in 2009, McEldowney notes that the controversial nuke project, slated for construction in an earthquake zone, “is dogged by cost overruns, financing woes, construction delays, and now serious safety and quality assurance concerns. Belene may end up costing Bulgaria more than money in the long run.” 
The high-level revelations thus confirm the concerns consistently raised in recent years by campaign NGOs such as the BeleNE! Coalition, CEE Bankwatch Network, Greenpeace, Urgewald, BankTrack and many others in Bulgaria and across Europe. The project-related information described by the US Embassy in Sofia is derived from various sources, including project experts and Bulgarian governmental officials.
The cable also presents the problems experienced by RWE, the German energy utility giant that was involved in Belene as a strategic investor throughout 2007-2009. “RWE is clearly feeling 'buyer's remorse' about its participation in Belene. Belene experts said that RWE remains 'in the dark' on most on-site day-to-day and technical issues. During a late May 2009 Belene project meeting, RWE asked numerous basic questions, indicating that they have not seen any of the on-site safety and environmental reports.”
This confirmation about the project's serious shortcomings comes during a period of renewed pressure from the Russian government to speed up Belene's construction. Meanwhile, the British-based bank HSBC has been recently selected as the financial consultant to organise financing for the Bulgarian nuke. In 2009 French bank BNP Paribas pulled out of a similar role following its own fruitless attempts to convince private and public European investors to put up money for Belene.
In parallel, and following invitations from Bulgaria's prime minister Boyko Borisov to invest in Belene, none of the other countries in the region has as yet confirmed their participation. Croatia has already declared no interest, while Serbia and Macedonia await more documents before taking their decisions. The most damning – and credible – Belene documentation looks already to have been delivered.

Source: The Guardian (UK), 20 December 2010


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

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

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

Source: World Nuclear News, 12 January 2011


USA: another huge victory.
More than 15,000 letters were sent to Congress in December and many, many phone calls made to stop US$8 billion (6 billion euro) in taxpayer loans for new nuclear reactor construction. And the final government funding bill, signed by President Obama, contains not one dime for new nukes! The Senate was forced to pull the "Omnibus" funding bill it had proposed, which included the US$8 billion in taxpayer loans for the nuclear industry, and instead a "Continuing Resolution" was passed that funds the government through mid-March.

That makes at least seven major efforts over the past two years by nuclear industry backers to increase taxpayer loans for new reactors -and every one of those efforts has been blocked! Grassroots people power works! Michael Mariotte: "Take a moment to celebrate … and get ready to do it all over again early in the new year -because the nuclear industry will surely be back, hat-in-hand, looking for your money again. We will, of course, keep you informed."

NIRS, nirsnet@nirs.org, 23 December 2010


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

Kyodo, 17 December 2010


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

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

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

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


UK: more no-subsidies.
The government's Green Investment Bank could fund the building of new nuclear reactors, it has emerged. It is the latest form of public financial support on offer to the industry from the government which continues to insist that the industry will not receive any more subsidies. The Conservatives' pre-election manifesto promised that the Green Investment Bank - which was also in the coalition agreement - would finance "new green technology start-ups". But documents issued before Christmas by Vince Cable's business department list new reactors, along with offshore wind farms and new electricity grids, as one of the three proposed "target sectors" on which the bank would initially focus.

Guardian (UK), 13 January 2011


Israel: Founders antinuclear information network died.
Shirley Rose Benyamin died late last year and Herschell Benyamin died early January in Jerusalem. After the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, Shirley Benyamin "decided to do something to stop Israel from going down the nuclear power pathway," as environmentalist Alon Tal recounted in his book Pollution in a Promised Land. In addition to her husband, she enlisted the late Dr. Dvora Ben-Shaul, a journalist and scientist. The group founded the Israel Agency for Nuclear Information, but in the post-Vanunu affair atmosphere, the Interior Ministry refused to register the non-profit. The group reconstituted itself with broader environmental goals as EcoNet and was approved. The establishment was suspicious of the couple, but Shirley was undeterred. Funds she raised made it possible to examine the state of health of employees of the Dimona reactor, for which EcoNet won the Israel Prize in 1994. Donations she solicited also helped provide seed money for the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, Green Action and others.

Haaretz.com, 7 January 2011

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#721
17/12/2010
Shorts

IAEA-DG: less watchdog, more lobby.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


US: Vermont elects Governor that wants Vermont Yankee closed.

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

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

Source: Blogs at www.greenpeace.org/usa; 3 and 8 November 2010


First victory for Finnish campaign on nuclear investors.

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

Source: Lauri Myllyvirta – Greenpeace, 25 November 2010


Czech Republic: CEZ to pay its regulator?

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

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

Source: The Prague Post, 14 November 2010


Germany: higher cancer rates near Asse radwaste dump.

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

Source: Deutsche Welle, 24 November 2010


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

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

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

Source: Reuters, 26 November 2010


Court greenlights lawsuit seeking to open Yucca.

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

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


Quote of the Day                                

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

Source: Global Security Newswire 13 December 2010


RWE wins ‘Worst EU Lobbyists 2010’ Award!

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

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

Source: http://www.worstlobby.eu/


Another location for Indonesia’s first nuclear power reactor.

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

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

Source: Jakarta Post, 2 December 2010


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

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

Source: Middle East online, 10 December 2010


Research report "The Uncertain Future of Nuclear Energy".

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

Source: The report can be found at: http://www.fissilematerials.org/blog/rr09.pdf

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#719-720
12/11/2010
Shorts

UK & US regulators: unresolved safety issues EPR and AP1000.
On November 10, the UK nuclear regulator said it expects both the Areva EPR and the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to have unresolved safety issues when the generic design assessment, or GDA, program completes next year. In a quarterly progress report, the NII said it has potential open issues in 10 out of 18 topical areas on the Areva EPR design review and in 16 out of the 18 topical areas on the Westinghouse AP1000 design. The GDA program was set up to issue design acceptance confirmations, or DACs, to the reactor vendors, which would see the regulator sign off on all but site specific licensing issues. The DAC could then be referenced in site license applications by utilities building the reactors. But the program has been plagued by delays resulting from NII Staff shortages and "a failure on the part of the reactor vendors to satisfy the regulator's queries", as Platts puts it.

A day earlier, World Nuclear News reported that Westinghouse has been told by the U.S. NRC that it's AP1000 aircraft impact study is not adequate. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that documents put to it in order to demonstrate a 2009 requirement did not include 'realistic' analyses and that this amounted to a violation of requirements that Westinghouse must explain and rectify. A rule introduced by NRC in 2009 states that  new nuclear power plant buildings and safety systems must maintain containment, cooling of the reactor core and the integrity or cooling of used fuel facilities in the event of the impact of a large passenger jet. All reactor vendors must fulfill this requirement for their designs. For Westinghouse this regulatory work comes in addition to a 2007 design amendment to the original AP1000 design, which was certified by the NRC in 2006.

In February, UK regulators already criticized the "long delays" and "poor quality" of replies they received from Westinghouse and Areva following safety reviews of their reactor designs.
Source: World Nuclear News, 9 November 2010 / Platts, 10 November 2010 / Nuclear Monitor 704, 26 February 2010


Update Belene, Bulgaria
The situation around the planned nuclear power station in Belene in Bulgaria has become unclear again. Under heavy Russian pressure (among others directly from Prime Minister Putin) and political pressure from a faction within his own party GERB around the Parliament Chair Tsetska Tsacheva, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov declared he is dedicated to the construction of the power plant on the shores of the Danube. Russian Atomstroyexport, a part of Rosatom, prolonged the construction contract with half a year under the condition of a price increase of maximally 2,5 billion Euro on top of the initial 4 Billion price tag. According former director of the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency and current professor in risk analysis at the university of Vienna, Georghi Kashchiev, during a round table discussion on 18 October in Sofia, this does, however, not include the first load and large parts of the non-nuclear equipment. With that, the demand from Borisov that the total cost of the project remain under 7 billion Euro come under severe pressure. It is also unclear whether the 500 Million Euro already sunk into Belene are part of this budget. On 1 November, Bulgaria's finance minister Simeon Djankov once more confirmed that no state finances would flow into the project.

In a surprise move, Prime Minister Borisov declared on 25 October after a visit to Muenich a week earlier, that he had found a strategic investor from Bavaria for Belene. Bulgarian media speculate interest from Siemens, the engineering firm that recently broke its alliance with Areva and partnered instead with Rosatom. Siemens, however, refuses to comment on these speculations. An announcement from the Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism that the new strategic investor would be announced in the first week of November was not realised, however, and German media have remained suspiciously silent about a possible deal. On 5 November, Borisov announced an offer of up to 2% participation to each Serbia and Croatia in what he said was a pragmatic attempt to secure markets for the output of Belene.

… and Mochovce, Slovakia

Slovakia has asked and received an extension of the period of comment on the draft verdict of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, that the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Mochovce 3,4 project has violated the rules of the Convention. The NGOs that originally filed the complaint, Za Matku Zem, Greenpeace Slovakia, Global2000 and the Oeko-buero Wien, did not object to an extension to 30 November. The ACCC is expected to come with a final verdict in December. A spokesperson of the Slovak nuclear regulator UJD, which was responsible for issuing construction licenses in spite of the fact that the EIA procedure had not been finalised, is currently looking for possibilities to implement a likely final verdict of the ACCC, but stated to Greenpeace that it has problems finding a proper legal pathway to do so.

An ACCC verdict is, however, binding and a breach of the Aarhus Convention is also a breach of EU legislation on Environmental Impact Assessments, which means that the European Commission would be obliged to start corrective procedures against Slovakia in case the ACCC verdict concludes a violation of the rules.

… and Temelin, Czech Republic

The submission date for the tender for five new nuclear power stations issued by the Czech utility CEZ has been extended with a year to 2013. CEZ argued that some of the contenders had asked for such an extension, though analysts are of the opinion that the lack of growth in electricity demand in the Czech Republic has bitten into the economic viability of the project. The tender for five blocks, two for Temelin and one for Dukovany in the Czech Republic, one for Jaslovske Bohunice in Slovakia and one for a still to be decided project is expected to cost around 500 billion Czech Crowns or 25 billion Euro. Each block is supposed to deliver between 1000 and 1600 MW capacity.
Source of these 3: Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace EU Unit, email, 6 November 2010


Another fiasco at Monju, Japan.
A12-meter-long, 46-centimeter-wide, 3.3-metric-ton heavy fuel exchange component that lodged in the reactor vessel of the Monju fast-breeder reactor after being dropped on August 26, cannot be extracted using "usual methods," the Japan  Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has stated. The JAEA made the announcement November 9, after examining the component -a cylinder now stuck in an opening in the reactor vessel cap- with a camera. The agency believes that to get the part out, equipment on the reactor vessel cap will have to be removed, and an entirely new structure built to prevent sodium now covering the cylinder from mixing with the outside air and igniting during the process. The agency is now considering ways to do this, but gave no hint when testing of the reactor may recommence.

Since Monju resumed test operations on May 6 after shut down since a 1995 sodium leak, it has undergone the first stage of testing. These core confirmation tests were completed on July 22. Preparations were being made for the next stage, which involves increasing power output to 40%, planned for July 2011. However,  the jammed relay cylinder has made further long delays probable.
Source: Nuke Info Tokyo 138, Sept/Oct 2010 / The Mainichi Daily News, 10 November 2010


UK: What 'no subsidies' means: more help will be given.
Following lobbying by the nuclear industry the Government has accepted that it needs to give more financial incentives in order to ensure a new generation of reactors are built in the UK. Energy minister Charles Hendry said he now agreed with the industry that fixing a high minimum price for carbon emissions was not enough. Instead he thought other financial incentive measures would be need to encourage nuclear and other low-carbon energy sources.
Source: N-Base Briefing 674, 10 November 2910


IEA: US$312 billion subsidy annually for fossil.
On November 10, the International Energy Agency published its World Energy Outlook 2010. The IEA report clearly states that fossil fuels are heavily subsidized by more than US$312 billion per year globally! This leads obviously to unfair competition with clean and climate friendly renewable energies. IEA is increasingly recognizing the important role renewable energy can play to fight climate change and improve security of supply. However, it is failing to shift technology recommendations from unproven, dangerous and expensive technologies such as CCS and nuclear power plants.
Source: Press release Greenpeace, 9 November 2010

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#718
29/10/2010
Shorts

Argentina reactivates enrichment plant.
Argentina has formally reactivated its gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant at Pilcaniyeu over two decades after production there halted. The plant is expected to become operational in September 2011. Plans to recommission the Pilcanyeu plant, which operated from 1983 to 1989, were announced in 2006 and form part of Argentina's ambition to build a self-sufficient nuclear fuel cycle. Work has been underway to refurbish and upgrade the plant, which uses gaseous diffusion, using Argentina's own technology. The first stage of the refurbishment has involved the construction of an advanced prototype of 20 diffusers, and the plant is expected to be able to produce its first enriched uranium for nuclear fuel use by September 2011 according to the CNEA. President Fernandez said that in reactivating the plant, Argentina was recovering lost time. She described uranium enrichment as "a right that we should never have resigned." The project was "a source of great pride" for the country, she said. The original Pilcaniyeu plant had a modest enrichment capacity of 20,000 SWU per year, although plans call for the upgraded plant ultimately to reach a capacity of some 3 million SWU.
Source: World Nuclear News, 26 October 2010


INES 20 years old.
Jointly developed by the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency (of the OECD) in 1990, in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, the International Nuclear and radiological Event Scale (INES) helps nuclear and radiation safety authorities and the nuclear industry worldwide to rate nuclear and radiological events and to communicate their safety significance to the general public, the media and the technical community. INES was initially used to classify events at nuclear power plants only, but since 2008, INES has been extended to any event associated with the transport, storage and use of radioactive material and radiation sources, from those occurring at nuclear facilities to those associated with industrial use. INES has mainly become a crucial nuclear communications tool. Over the years, national nuclear safety authorities have made growing use of INES, while the public and the media have become "more familiar with the scale and its significance". According to the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency "this is where the true success of INES stands, having helped to foster transparency and to provide a better understanding of nuclear-related events and activities".
Source: Nuclear Engineering International, 22 October 2010


International Uranium Film Festival 2011 in Brazil.
For the first time in history Brazilians will be able to see international independent Nuclear-Energy and Uranium-Documentaries in cinema. The film and video festival Uranio em Movi(e)mento - 1st International Uranium Film Festival 2011 will help to bring the Uranium- and Nuclear question into the national and international public. The deadline  for entries is January 20, 2011. The Uranium Film Festival wants to inform especially the Brazilian and Latin American societies and stimulate the production of independent documentaries and movies about the whole nuclear fuel cycle, about the dangers of radioactivity and especially about the environmental and health risks of uranium exploration, mining and processing. The Uranium Film Festival will be held from May 21 to 28, 2011 in the city of Rio de Janeiro and from June 2 to 9 in the city of Sao Paulo.

Until today most of the documentaries about uranium and the nuclear risks are mainly in English, German or French - but not in Portuguese. So the second advantage of our Uranium Film Festival is to subtitle the films to create the so called Yellow Archives. Yellow is the color of Uranium and for that a symbol for the whole nuclear industry.

The Yellow Archives will be the first-ever film library in Brazil and Latin America dedicated to films about the whole nuclear fuel chain organized by the Uranio em Movi(e)mento Festival. Believing that awareness is the first step in making positive changes to better our environment, the Yellow Archives hopes to increase public awareness especially in Brazil and in other Portuguese speaking countries like Portugal or Angola and Mozambique. The DVDs will be used for non-profit, educational and research purposes. Especially schools, universities, environmental groups and other grass root movements will have access to the Yellow Archives.
Contact  and source:  info@uraniumfestival.org / Website: www.uraniumfestival.org


India: antinuclear activists arrested.
On October 6, eleven activists of "Paramanu Bidyut Birodhi Prachar Andolan" (Campaign against Nuclear Power) were forcefully seized by the local police while distributing leaflets opposing the proposed Haripur nuclear power plant, in the vicinity of Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, where Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, the Atomic Energy Commission Chairman, had arrived to preach the merits of setting up of a 'nuclear park' at Haripur. The handful of activists present had not even entered the institute campus and were distributing leaflets on the road outside. First one activist was forced into a police jeep and hauled away to the local police station. The rest were pushed away from the immediate vicinity of the Saha Institute. But when the activists continued distributing their leaflets, a police van was brought in, the police suddenly pounced, herded the activists into a police-van and taken to the local station. The activists were held for over 6 hours in the name of interrogation. However, no actual interrogation was conducted. For the real reason for detention, which the officers divulged off-the-record, was to keep the activists away from the site (where the vast benefits of nuclearisation was being preached). That, in their minds, was the ideal way of handling critics and criticism.
Source: Radicalsocialist.in, 7 October 2010


Vermont Yankee tritium leaks into aquifer.
The leaking radioactive tritium from Vermont Yankee has now leaked into the aquifer that drinking water is pulled from in and around the town of Vernon, Vermont. Entergy Louisiana, the corporate owners of Vermont Yankee, could do more to contain the contamination but are refusing. The Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Natural Resources are doing nothing to require Entergy to increase the cleanup effort. More is needed to pressure the state agencies into action. When the Oyster Creek Nuclear Reactor in New Jersey contaminated the ground water with radioactive tritium the NJ Department of Environmental Protection took enforcement action. When the Braidwood Station Nuclear reactor in Illinois contaminated the ground water and then the drinking water aquifer of the local community the Illinois EPA took enforcement action. Entergy Vermont Yankee, likely leaked radioactive materials into our state's ground water for two or three years and now it is clear that at least some of that contamination has also gotten into the local drinking water aquifer. Continued pumping, at deeper depths, should be able to keep hundreds of thousands if not millions of gallons of contaminated water from migrating further into the aquifer and yet there has been no talk from your agencies about requiring even this simple step.  Instead Entergy Vermont Yankee is planning on ending all of their pumping in December. Ultimately, the contaminated soil needs to be removed and that can't happen until the plant is retired and cleaned up.

Vermont Yankee is scheduled to close in March of 2012. It is one of the oldest reactors in the country but its owners, Entergy Corporation, want to run it for 20 years past its expiration date. Poor management and old age have lead to a string of accidents and safety concerns.
Entergy has refused to add money to the reactor's clean-up fund, potentially leaving Vermonters with most of a $1 billion dollar clean-up bill in addition to the nuclear waste that is being stored on the banks of the Connecticut River.
On February 23, 2010, and by a margin of 26 to 4 the Senate voted to retire the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant as scheduled. This historic vote marks the first time a state legislature has been able to deny a nuclear plant a 20-year life extension. In March, fifteen towns voted on town meeting to close Vermont Yankee as scheduled. That combined with the 36 towns that voted in 2009, a total of 51 towns, have spoken -- they want Vermont Yankee to close as scheduled.

The public sentiment expressed by the town meeting votes this year and last show overwhelming opposition to continued operation of Vermont Yankee after 2012 and very strong support for requiring Entergy to fully fund the cleanup and for safe, clean and renewable sources of electricity.

The resolution calls for the plant's closure in 2012 and for Entergy-- the owner of Vermont Yankee-- pay for the full cost of decommissioning the plant. A vast majority of Vermonters know Entergy cannot be trusted.
Source: www.vpirg.org


U.S.A.: Hanford cleanup; new deadlines.
Washington state and federal officials have agreed on a new schedule for the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear reservation. The good news is that the federal government could no longer ignore cleanup deadlines with impunity. The bad news is that the agreement would push the deadlines forward by more than two decades. Under the new cleanup schedule, 53 millions gallons of radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks near the Columbia River would not have to be emptied until 2052. That's a 24-year delay from the existing timetable. (see more on the Hanford tanks, Nuclear Monitor 696, October 23, 2009). Thirty-five of those tanks are double-walled and considered 'reliably safe'.  All of the 142 single-walled tanks would have to be emptied by 2047 under this new schedule. And the tanks of most concern — the 67 single-walled tanks known to be leaking — would be emptied by 2014. It's estimated that more than 1 million gallons (1 US gallon is 3.787 liter) of radioactive waste already have leaked. Some of that waste has made it into the groundwater and is slowly moving toward the nearby Columbia River.

The state has long sought to make Hanford cleanup deadlines enforceable in court. Until now, the federal government has steadfastly refused to do so and now the government finally agreed to the court-enforceable deadlines. This accountability has become critical. Without it, there can be little confidence that the government would adhere to any cleanup schedule. The federal government has failed to meet numerous deadlines established in the 1989 Tri-Party Agreement signed by the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Washington. It's not as though the state has refused to be flexible. Washington has agreed to more than 400 changes in the Tri-Party Agreement. Yet as recently as last year, the government missed 23 project deadlines.
Source: The Daily News Online (tdn.com), 19 October 2010


South Africa: six reactors up and running in 2023.
On October 7, The department of Energy of South Africa published an ambitious plan to reduce SA reliance on coal by almost half by 2030 and to more than double the use of nuclear energy The proposals, which are part of the department's draft integrated electricity resource plan (IRP), show the government's preferred energy mix for the next 20 years. They provide prospective investors with an indication of the shape of South African future energy industry. The integrated resource plan is a 20-year electricity capacity plan that gives an outcome of projected future electricity demand, how the demand would be met and at what cost.

In the draft IRP, the department is proposing that coal contribute 48% to the energy mix by 2030, followed by renewable energy (16%), nuclear (14%), peaking open cycle gas turbine (9%), peaking pump storage (6%), mid-merit gas (5%) and baseload import hydro (2%).  Coal currently accounts for over 90% of electricity generation. Eskom's two nuclear reactors at the Koeberg power station supply 1800MW or 6% of SA's electricity needs. The renewable energy industry is yet to take off in SA. The draft plan envisages average gross domestic growth of 4,6% on over the next 20 years, which would require 52 248 MW of new power generation capacity to be brought on line. The government plans to build six new nuclear power stations which are expected to be up and running by 2023. Only  a few months ago, the government stopped the PBMR-nuclear project after it poured billions in it over the last decades.
Source: Eastcoast radio, 8 October 2010 / Engineering News (SA), 8 October 2010


CEZ delays Temelin reactors.
CEZ AS, the Czech Republic's largest power producer, will delay the construction of two  additional reactors at its Temelin nuclear power plant, Hospodarske Noviny reports, citing Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kocourek. The construction could be delayed by as much as several years, the newspaper said,citing an unidentified person from the company. The main reason is uncertain demand for electricity after 2020, according to the report. CEZ selected Westinghouse Electric Co., Areva SA and a Russian-Czech consortium led by ZAO Atomstroyexport as the three bidders for the contract.

This is good news for the whole CEE region. Until recently, CEZ has been agresivelly pushing construction of 5 new reactors in the region (2 in Czech Republic, 1 in Slovakia,  other 2 to be determined). But now the plans are put to ice, citing less demand and lower  prices on electricity markets, as well as less optimistic rating outlook of the utility. But there are more interesting details in original Hospodarske Noviny article: Quoting for example an internal CEZ document: "The expansion plans were based on increasing of our [CEZ] debt. But we are not anymore sweetheart of the markets, we are not considered as a stable and growing corporation, we are getting first signals from rating agencies..."

Similarly to EdF, CEZ already had to reduce its investment program by 2015 from 425 to 333 billion CZK [ca 13 billion EUR], and this is not enough - it admits the cuts will have to be deeper.
Source: Email: Greenpeace International, 13 October 2010


New press for reactor pressure vessels.
A major new facility has been commissioned in Germany for the production of large reactor components. The 12,000 ton press installed at Völklingen by Saarschmiede GmbH Freiformschmiede can handle ingots of up to 370 tons - enough to make all but the largest reactor pressure vessels. The time for construction was only two years. Due to its geometrical dimensions," the company said, the press is "able to deal with all parts of the AP1000." It estimated that some four to six sets of heavy forgings for AP1000s could be made annually at the facility, given certain other expansions. Westinghouse has sourced forgings from South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries for the four AP1000s under construction in China as well as the four forthcoming units at Vogtle and Summer in the USA.
Source: World Nuclear News, 14 October 2010


Chernobyl 1986-2011
Next year April marks the 25th anniversary of the disaster in the Chernobyl nuclear power station, in the Ukraine. For sure there will be many commemorative activities taking place all over the globe. WISE will, starting next issue, try to cover relevant developments and news on Chernobyl in the Nuclear Monitor, and we would like to start listing as much as possible activities, publications, actions, official reports, meetings and conferences on this issue.

With several other NGO’s in different parts of the world we are preparing a joint call for action. You will hear from us soon, we hope to hear from you aswell; please send in anything you have heard about activities on the coming Chernobyl Day. In the meantime; join the Virtual March on Washinton, for April 26, as part of an International Radioactive Waste Action Day. Go to http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/actionday/dayhome.html

CE pulls out of Calvert Cliffs-3 leaving EDF & EPR in the lurch

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#718
6094
29/10/2010
Article

In many ways, Calvert Cliffs-3 was the flagship of the U.S. nuclear renaissance. In the summer of 2007, it became the first reactor to submit even a partial application for a construction/operating license from the NRC in more than 30 years. The company created to build and operate the reactor -UniStar Nuclear- was a combination of giants in the nuclear industry: Constellation Energy (CE) and Electricite de France (EdF), using the most modern reactor design available, the EPR from Areva.

Calvert Cliffs-3 would be built on a site already hosting two reactors and the idea received enthusiastic support from local officials, as well as nearly every statewide public official in Maryland -Democrats and Republicans alike. It would be located in a region with a booming economy that was projecting serious future shortfalls in electricity demand. It had come up with an innovative financing scheme to eliminate financial risk: 100% financing from U.S. and French taxpayers coupled with a protective layer of seven Limited Liability Corporations between the reactor itself and the parent companies.

What could go wrong? As it turned out, just about everything.

When Constellation announced late on Friday, October 8 -through a deliberate leak to the Washington Post- that it was pulling out of the Calvert Cliffs-3 project despite having just been offered only the second taxpayer loan for a new nuclear reactor, the reason given was the conditions attached to that loan. Constellation complained that the upfront cost of the loan -US$880 million for a US$7.5 billion (5,4 billion euro) loan, or less than 12%, was too high. And a second proposal from DOE -to cut the upfront fee to US$300 million if UniStar would simply promise to actually complete the reactor and guarantee it would sell 75% of its electricity, was “onerous.”

Really? The profit margin on a US$10+ billion reactor (UniStar earlier had received a promise of US$2.9 billion from COFACE, the French Export-Import Bank) designed to operate at least 60 years is so narrow that US$300 million would kill the deal? Not likely.

In fact, NIRS had predicted the demise of Calvert Cliffs-3 two months earlier for a bevy of reasons -none related to “onerous” loan conditions- in a lengthy post on DailyKos August 5, 2010. If you want a full explanation of the reasons, you can read the post here.

Briefly, the Calvert Cliffs-3 project collapsed because of a combination of factors, including soaring construction cost estimates; a large drop in electrical demand due to the ongoing recession and the institution of new energy efficiency programs; plummeting natural gas prices; continued revelations of EPR design deficiencies coupled with alarm over the horrific experience of EPR construction in Finland and France; determined opposition from opponents like NIRS; and unforeseen competition from renewable energy sources, especially offshore wind.

Indeed, it may only be coincidence, but almost immediately after Constellation’s announcement, a consortium led by Google announced it would spend US$5 billion to build transmission lines to bring thousands of megawatts of offshore wind power from the mid-Atlantic coast to the mainland. Earlier in the year, a small offshore wind company, Bluewater Wind, which already has received permission to build hundreds of megawatts off the Delaware coast and is seeking approval for larger projects off the coasts of Maryland and New Jersey, was bought by energy giant NRG Energy -bringing a deep-pockets competitor to Constellation’s service area.

Constellation could see the writing on the wall, and began to shift gears. With an option, contained in the contract when EDF purchased 49.9% of Constellation’s five existing reactors to bail out the company from bankruptcy (and Warren Buffett, who almost certainly would have ended the UniStar project) in 2008, to force EDF to buy a handful of ancient coal and gas plants scattered around the U.S. for US$2 billion, Constellation saw another possible future.

Those old plants are worth only about US$500 million combined. Forcing EDF to buy them for US$2 billion would leave US$1 billion plus in profit. Constellation put in a bid to buy a fleet of much more modern gas plants in New England. This would allow it to become a regional electricity powerhouse (three of Constellation’s existing reactors are in the region), and it wouldn’t even have to go into debt to do so. At this writing, Constellation has not yet exercised this “put” option, and is apparently still negotiating with EDF on the issue, but Constellation’s intent is clear.

EDF reacted to Constellation’s announcement it was leaving the project with what appeared to be genuine surprise -although anyone following the investment community’s advice, which was generally consistent in opposing Constellation’s continued involvement in Calvert Cliffs-3, shouldn’t have been shocked. Constellation’s stock went up the first week of trading after its announcement.

In any case, EDF is scrambling to resurrect the project. In an October 13 letter to Constellation, it offered “to shoulder 100% of the risk and burden until construction begins.” Alternatively, the letter said, “EDF is prepared immediately to purchase all of Constellation’s 50% interest in UniStar at fair market value…” But, EDF said Constellation would have to agree not to exercise its US$2 billion “put” option.

Constellation responded immediately, saying it would be happy to sell its share of UniStar -including the land for the reactor- for US$1, plus repayment of US$117 million it has invested in the project. But it said the “put” option was a separate issue.

That should give some idea of the value Constellation believes a new nuclear reactor in a deregulated market like Maryland’s holds -essentially zero.

For EDF to rescue the project, it would have to find another utility to take at least 50% of it -the U.S. Atomic Energy Act prohibits “foreign ownership, control or domination” of a U.S. reactor, and thus EDF could not even get a license to build a reactor. NIRS is already in litigation on this issue in the NRC’s license hearing process; we have charged that the Constellation/EDF UniStar structure is illegal under the Atomic Energy Act, even without additional involvement from EDF. For the moment, at least, that hearing process continues.

And what utility would be crazy enough to take on a US$10 billion+ project in a deregulated electricity market when the largest utility already in that market has been intimately involved with the project for years, and has determined that it is simply far too economically risky to undertake?

Meanwhile, the effects of the Calvert Cliffs case extend far beyond Maryland. Originally, EDF and Constellation had teamed up to build four EPRs in the U.S., with an eye toward additional expansion after that. The collapse of Calvert Cliffs certainly ends the UniStar project to build at Nine Mile Point in New York. An EPR proposed for Missouri, with UniStar involvement, was cancelled last year. And an EPR proposed for Pennsylvania, which even the plant’s owner PPL admits on its website would cost US$13-15 billion for a single reactor -the highest cost acknowledged to date by a U.S. Utility- appears to be on life support.

EDF’s -and the French government’s- dreams of becoming a major player in the U.S. nuclear energy future appear dashed. For its part, Areva now has no orders for reactors in the U.S. and has at least temporarily abandoned plans to build a reactor component plant in Virginia to serve what it once thought would be a growing U.S. market.

But it’s not only EDF, Areva and the French government that are being left behind by the new electricity realities in the U.S. The reactor project that actually got in the first entire application to the NRC -NRG’s South Texas Project- is also in trouble, for many of the same reasons. It too wants a loan from the Department of Energy, and presumably at less cost than offered to Calvert Cliffs. But it too operates in a deregulated market, faces increased cost estimates (one partner, the City of San Antonio, already essentially dropped out of the project due to soaring projected costs), issues of foreign ownership and control, and enormous competition from natural gas and wind power (Texas is already the U.S. leader in wind power). On October 19, NRG CEO David Crane told Associated Press that if natural gas prices are expected to stay low, NRG won’t build South Texas even if they receive a taxpayer loan. And gas prices are expected to stay very low for the foreseeable future.

Source and contact: Michael Marriott at NIRS Washington


Shares and nuclear power. After the news that Constellation Energy Group Inc had cancelled plans to build at third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs in, the companys share price rose by 15 cents to ÚS$32.50. Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, EdF - the largest shareholder in the Constellation Group - saw its share price fall by 3.4 per cent on the news (the share price is down 27 per cent this year).

Source: Greenpeace Nuclear Reaction, 14 October 2010

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R.E.C.A. and compensating Navajo Nation U-miners

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#718
6097
29/10/2010
WISE
Article

In a new book, “Yellow Dirt. An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed”, award-winning environmental journalist Judy Pasternak follows four generations of Navajo families in a uranium mining area. She chronicles the cultural stoicism that prohibited them from complaining for so long about the alarming rates of cancer deaths, the betrayal of trust by corporate and government interests, the growing awareness of the tragedy visited on them in the name of national security, and the efforts to fight for restoration.

The crime story in "Yellow Dirt" develops around early tensions within the Atomic Energy Comittee. Pasternak quotes AEC safety inspector Ralph Batie telling a Denver Post reporter in 1949: "Definite radiation hazards exist in all the plants now operating." Batie was ordered to "keep your mouth shut." Jesse Johnson, the liaison between Washington and the mining companies, cut Batie's travel budget and strong-armed him into transferring out of the area. Pasternak writes that "Johnson simply would not allow uranium to pose a distinct peril of its own; he would not let cancer be an issue."

Sixty years later, while U.S. Congress considers amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA)  which would specifically allow compensation to workers exposed after 1971, make qualification for benefits easier to obtain, incorporate additional exposure testing and apply to those exposed to fallout from nuclear testing in more geographical areas, additional RECA coverage efforts are in the works.

One movement seeks to expand RECA to cover members of the Navajo Nation who were workers or children of workers in the uranium industry. Navajo workers and their descendants have experienced unique and devastating effects since uranium mining began on or near reservation lands.

Uranium Mines on Reservation Lands
As the largest Native American tribe in the U.S., the Navajo Nation covers about 27,000 square miles of parts of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. Because some of the uranium mines operating during the 1950s and 1960s were located on Navajo reservation lands in these states, many of the uranium mine workers were members of the Navajo Nation and were repeatedly exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. This caused the uranium miners, their families and later generations throughout the Navajo Nation to experience radiation-related illnesses like cancer, kidney disease and birth defects.

In addition, there has been a significant environmental impact on Navajo lands. According to Navajo President Joe Shirley, some uranium mines and milling sites were never properly closed or cleaned up. Residents near exposed areas have experienced sickness from radiation and pollution to the land and water surrounding their homes. This resulted in a tribal decision in 2005 to ban all uranium mining and milling on Navajo lands, but as the cost of uranium rises, companies have been knocking on the Navajo Nation’s door.

Efforts to Expand RECA
The Navajo Nation Dependents of Uranium Workers Committee has led a grassroots effort in recent years to aid the children of Navajo uranium miners who suffer ongoing effects related to radiation exposure. This group claims that many Navajo people who would otherwise be eligible for RECA coverage cannot get the help they deserve because the medical records from 50 or more years ago they need as proof no longer exist.

In past meetings with the Navajo nation about the continued effects of uranium mining, U.S. Senator Tom Udall has stated that “he is committed to continuing a dialogue on the effects of uranium mining on Navajo people and to seek justice for those who have been harmed.” His recently proposed amendments to RECA could benefit many members of the Navajo nation.

In addition to adding areas of coverage and including post-1971 workers, the RECA amendments could help the Navajo by allocating funds for further research on the impact of radiation exposure to workers, their families and communities. They could also allow RECA claimants to use affidavits in place of non-existent records and grant more compensation and medical benefits to eligible victims.

Respect and Support
Navajo President Joe Shirley continues to fight for RECA amendments, a moratorium on uranium mining in the U.S. and help with addressing the reservation environmental issues. The first step in compensating the Navajo people exposed to radiation and uranium activity who need help today would be for Congress to pass the proposed amendments, which are currently awaiting a hearing before the Senate or House Judiciary Committee.

Source: http://knowledgebase.findlaw.com/kb/2010/Oct/145201.html and “Yellow Dirt. An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed”, written by Judy Pasternak, Sept. 2010, Free Press.  317 pp. ISBN 978-1-4165-9482-6

For more information look at the Navajo Justice Page at: http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/sdancy.html


Navajo Attitudes Toward the Resource. In the Navajo creation story, there is mention of uranium. Uranium - called "cledge" - is from the underworld, and is to be left in the ground. According to the creation story, the Navajo were given a choice between yellow corn pollen and uranium. In Navajo belief, the yellow corn pollen possesses the positive elements of life. The pollen is prayed for and carried in medicine bags. Uranium was thought of as an element of the underworld that should remain in the earth. When uranium was released from the ground, Navajos believed it would become a serpent. Evil, death and destruction were seen as the problems the Navajo would face. These problems have become reality to the Navajo since mining began.


 

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Radwaste action day & virtual march on Washington

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#717
6093
08/10/2010
Mary Olson, NIRS
Article

Reflecting the global extent of the impact of radioactive waste from industrial scale nuclear energy and weapons production, grassroots activists have joined together in coordinated action to send this message: Stop Making More Radioactive Waste; there are better options for electric power production and conflict resolution. September 29 was chosen because on that day in 1957, a liquid radwaste tank in Russia exploded causing widespread contamination.

This September 29, day of coordinated action wa the first in a string planned for the coming years. The next day of coordinated action is scheduled for April 26, 2011 -25 years since one of the reactors at Chernobyl exploded and burned for 14 days, spreading plumes of radioactivity around the globe.

Radioactive Waste Day Events took place across the US, Canada, in Sweden, Russia, Finland, England, Australia and South Africa.

Virtual March on Washington
Inspired by the actions of September 29, for the April Action Day NIRS is sponsoring an International Virtual March on Washington! No matter where you live in the world, you can take part, and it's easy and fun! Here's how:

  1. Download and print one of the signs shown on the website (see below), or make one of your own;
  2. Hold your sign in front of you and have your partner or a friend take your photo.
  3. Then give the sign to your friend and take a photo of her.
  4. Then e-mail both photos (or as many photos of as many friends as you have!) to nirsnet@nirs.org.

NIRS will add every photo they receive into the slideshow (watch it, it’s fun) and put together a photo petition to present to the Department of Energy's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future in April! Think of it as a virtual march on Washington -a way you can have your say to this Commission that seems far more interested in finding ways to make more lethal radioactive waste than in finding solutions to the waste problem we already have.

Source and contact: NIRS, Mary Olson, PO Box 7586 Suite 300 North, Asheville, NC 28802, United States
Tel: +1 828-242-5621
Mail: maryo@nirs.org,
Web: www.nirs.org/radwaste/actionday/dayhome.html

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NIRS South East

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