Legal challenges against nuclear power projects in Slovakia and UK
Slovakia's nuclear watchdog violated the law when it issued a building permit for ENEL's 3.7 billion-euro nuclear reactor project, the Supreme Court has ruled. The Italian utility's local unit, Slovenske Elektrarne AS, began building two new reactors at the Mochovce nuclear power plant in 2009 after receiving a permit by the Office for Nuclear Supervision. The Supreme Court has directed the regulator to reopen the public consultation process. The battle continues − the Slovak nuclear regulator UJD said it would order a new round of public consultation but that ENEL can continue with construction.
Greenpeace, along with Ireland's heritage group An Taisce (the National Trust for Ireland), have launched two independent legal challenges to the UK government plans for new nuclear power plants at Hinkley Point, Somerset. The reactor plan is being challenged on the basis of the EU's Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, which requires that affected EU members states are informed and consulted during the planning stage of infrastructure projects that "could have a significant impact on the environment". Irish people were not properly consulted on the proposals.
In a separate case, Greenpeace is challenging the UK Government's decision to grant planning permission for the reactors because it hasn't found a site to store the new nuclear waste, following Cumbria's resounding rejection of a national nuclear waste site in the area.
Greenland uranium ban may be lifted
The ban on uranium mining in the Danish realm is expected to be lifted in the Greenlandic parliament in the coming months. The first reading of the new uranium bill will be on October 1, the second on October 24 and the third in Spring 2014. The decision will then have to be confirmed in the Danish parliament. The Greenlandic government decision will be preceded by publication of two reports – one scientific and independent and one political – on the consequences of lifting the ban. The scientific report has already been written, but the government has so far refused to make it public, a fact that has caused outrage among the opposition parties.
The Greenlandic Minister of Industry and Labour has also stated that a comprehensive public debate on uranium mining is unnecessary, before the ban is lifted, because the government was given a clear mandate to do so during the recent elections.
Abolishment of the uranium zero tolerance policy is not only a hot topic in Greenland, but also in Denmark. Even though the Danish government has given notice that it favours the bill, it could still be voted down in the Parliament. The Danish government is a minority government and even within the government itself there is opposition to lifting the ban.
Avataq, the Danish Ecological Council and NOAH FoE Denmark have weighed in on the debate and last month they published a feature article in Politiken, one of the biggest Danish dailies. The article has been translated into English:
− Niels Hooge
Uranium smuggling arrest at JFK airport. Patrick Campbell of Sierra Leone was recently caught at Kennedy Airport with uranium hidden in his shoes and luggage. He was charged with plotting to sell 1,000 tons of uranium to an FBI agent posing as a broker for Iranian buyers. He had allegedly responded to an advertisement in May 2012 on the website Alibaba.com. Campbell claimed to represent a mining company in Sierra Leone that sold diamonds, gold and uranium, and is accused of seeking to arrange the export of uranium from Sierra Leone to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, packed in drums and disguised as the mineral chromite.
Plutonium and enriched uranium removed from nuclear test site in Kazakhstan. Working in top secret over a period of 17 years, Russian and US scientists collaborated to remove hundreds of pounds of plutonium and highly enriched uranium — enough to construct at least a dozen nuclear weapons — from a remote Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan that had been overrun by impoverished metal scavengers, according to a report released in August by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The report sheds light on a mysterious US$150 million cleanup operation paid for in large part by the US, whose nuclear scientists feared that terrorists would discover the fissile material and use it to build a dirty bomb.
UK − Heysham shut down after electrical fault. Heysham 1 Power Station shut down both of its nuclear reactors after an electrical fault in a gas turbine generator. Firefighters were called to the plant on August 22. EDF Energy, which operates the plant, said it had been shut down as a precaution. In May, a reactor was shut down after smoke was seen coming from a turbine due to smouldering lagging on a turbine.
Lithuania opposes new reactor in Belarus. The Lithuanian government has made known its deep concerns about Belarus's nuclear power project near Ostroverts, and is demanding work be halted until safety issues are addressed and international treaties are complied with. Two diplomatic notes have been sent to Belarus over the past month to protest earth-moving and other initial work for the plant. "We have many concerns about safety and information we've asked for hasn't been provided," Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said. A UN committee said in April that Belarus wasn't abiding by the terms of the Espoo Convention on cross-border environmental issues.
ESPOO Convention: www.unece.org/env/eia/eia.html