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Fukushima - Political and public anti-nuclear sentiment in Japan

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#772
15/11/2013
Jim Green - Nuclear Monitor editor
Article

The pro-nuclear policies of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have been criticised by four former Prime Ministers.

Junichiro Koizumi told the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on November 12: "I think we should go to zero now. If we re-start the reactors, all that will result is more nuclear waste." He said the LDP is divided equally between those who want to get rid of nuclear power and those who think it's necessary.[1] "Nobody has had more favourable conditions to achieve a nuclear-free option than Abe," Koizumi said.[2]

Last year, former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama joined an anti-nuclear protest outside the residence of then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.[1]

Naoto Kan, the DPJ prime minister when the earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011, told an audience in New York on October 8 that he had been a supporter of nuclear power, but after the Fukushima accident, "I changed my thinking 180-degrees, completely." He said that in the first days of the accident it looked like an "area that included Tokyo" and populated by 50 million people might have to be evacuated. "There is no other disaster that would affect 50 million people − maybe a war," Kan said. "There is only one way to eliminate such accidents, which is to get rid of all nuclear power plants."[1,3,4]

A fourth former prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, said in an interview published on November 12 that Abe's nuclear energy policy was a "crime" and that he was willing to campaign against it.[1]

On October 28, Niigata Prefecture Governor Hirohiko Izumida said TEPCO must give a fuller account of the Fukushima disaster and address its "institutionalized lying" before it can expect to restart reactors. Izumida cited TEPCO's belated admission in July − following months of denials − that the Fukushima plant was leaking radioactive substances into the ocean as evidence that TEPCO has not changed. "If they don't do what needs to be done, if they keep skimping on costs and manipulating information, they can never be trusted," he said.[5]

Izumida effectively holds a veto over TEPCO's plan to restart reactors at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant, the world's largest. Even if Japan's nuclear safety regulators approve restart plans for Kashiwazaki Kariwa, Izumida can effectively block them because of TEPCO's need to win backing from local officials.

Izumida said he would launch his own commission to investigate the causes and handling of the Fukushima crisis and whether strengthened regulatory safeguards were sufficient to prevent a similar disaster. He warned TEPCO: "If they cooperate with us, we will be able to proceed smoothly. If not, we won't."[5]

Izumida urged Japan's government to strip TEPCO of responsibility for decommissioning the Fukushima plant: "Unless we create a situation where 80-90 percent of their thinking is devoted to nuclear safety, I don't think we can say they have prioritised safety."[5]

Izumida also called on the government to make the 6,000 decommissioning and decontamination workers public employees. "The workers at the plant are risking their health and giving it their all. They are out in the rain. They are out at night," Izumida said. "The government needs to respect their efforts and address the situation."[5]

And in case Izumida's message was lost on TEPCO, he added: "There are three things required of a company that runs nuclear power plants: don't lie, keep your promises and fulfil your social responsibility."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on November 12: "It's the government's responsibility to ensure a stable and inexpensive supply of energy. There is no change to our policy of keeping nuclear power to a minimum."[1]

A member of the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament has been reprimanded for handing a letter to Emperor Akihito at an October 31 imperial garden party expressing his anti-nuclear concerns. The Upper House steering committee summoned Taro Yamamoto, who campaigned as an anti-nuclear independent in the July 2013 election, for questioning about the incident.[6] On November 8, Yamamoto was reprimanded by the Upper House and barred from attending events with the imperial family.[7]

Yamamoto said. "I, as an individual, only wanted to tell the emperor the truth about the health hazard posed to children and the workers who are exposed to radiation and being abandoned [at Fukushima]. I wanted to explain the plight of children exposed to radiation released after a nuclear accident and people who are working at the facility in the worst conditions."[6]

In 2011, Yamamoto flew to Saga Prefecture and attempted to break into the governor's office to protest the restart of a nuclear power plant.[8]

Protest marches and actions
An estimated 40,000 people rallied against nuclear power in Tokyo on October 13. The protest was organised by three anti-nuclear groups − the Metropolitan Coalition against Nukes, 'Sayonara Genpatsu 1,000 mannin Action' ('Good-bye to nuclear power through action by 10 million people') and 'Genpatsu wo Nakusu Zenkoku Renrakukai' ('National conference on abolishing nuclear power plants') − to express their opposition to the government's push for reactor restarts. After the rally, protesters marched nearby to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry office as well as the head office of TEPCO.[9,10]

About 600 people attended a march on the evening of Wednesday, October 30. Most of the attendees came straight from their offices. Participants marched nearly 2 kms in the business district and passed by the TEPCO head office. The event organiser's aim was to increase the involvement of office workers, who generally hesitate to join demonstrations, in the anti-nuclear movement.[11]

Many 'Fukushima is Here' photo-actions took place around the world on October 19. For more information visit:
www.fukushimaresponse.org
www.facebook.com/FukushimaResponseCampaign
www.fukushimaishere.info

Surveys published in the Asahi and Mainichi newspapers on November 12 found 60% and 54% of respondents respectively agreed that Japan should aim to go nuclear-free. The Asahi newspaper polled 1,751 people by phone on November 9-10, the same days the Mainichi polled 966 people by phone.[1]

Citizens targeted in cyber-attacks

At least 33 groups anti-nuclear citizens groups around Japan have been targeted in a campaign of cyber-attacks since mid-September. They have been on the receiving end of a blizzard of e-mail traffic − more than 2.5 million messages since the attacks began. These are known as 'denial of service' attacks because they aim to obstruct the activities of the targeted organisations. Experts said there was little doubt that a computer program developed exclusively for the purpose was used.[12]

The groups targeted include the Women's Active Museum on War and Peace and the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes. One e-mail read: "Unless we kill all of the anti-nuclear believers, world peace will be never achieved."[12]

Lawyer Yuichi Kaido, acting on behalf of citizens groups, said he is considering filing a criminal complaint against the senders of the e-mails on grounds of forcible obstruction of business ... if the perpetrators can be found.[12]

References:
[1] Isabel Reynolds and Takashi Hirokawa, 12 Nov 2013, 'Abe Mentor Koizumi Reignites Post-Fukushima Nuclear Debate', www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-12/japan-ex-premier-koizumi-to-speak-agai...
[2] Ayako Mie, 12 Nov 2013, 'Koizumi calls on Abe to ditch nuclear power', www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/12/national/koizumi-calls-on-abe-to-di...
[3] Karl Grossman, 10 Oct 2013, 'Powerful Presentations on Fukushima and Nuclear Power', www.opednews.com/articles/Powerful-Presentations-on-by-Karl-Grossman-Cat...
[4] David Biello, 'The Nuclear Odyssey of Naoto Kan, Japan's Prime Minister during Fukushima', www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=nuclear-power-odyssey-of-naoto...
[5] Antoni Slodkowski and Kentaro Hamada, 29 Oct 2013, 'Tepco can't yet be trusted to restart world's biggest nuclear plant: governor', http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/70199
[6] 1 Nov 2013, 'Anti-nuclear politician under fire for handing letter to emperor' http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201311010075
[7] Elaine Lies, 8 Nov 2013, 'Japan lawmaker reprimanded after emperor letter hits nerve', www.euronews.com/newswires/2200052-japan-lawmaker-reprimanded-after-empe...
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taro_Yamamoto 
[9] 'Thousands mass for antinuclear rally in Tokyo', 13 Oct 2013, www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/13/national/thousands-mass-for-antinuc...
[10] 'Tens of thousands of protesters attend anti-nuclear events in Tokyo', 14 Oct 2013, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201310140073
[11] 'Office workers march in anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo', 31 Oct 2013, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201310310072
[12] Tatsuya Sudo, 10 Nov 2013, 'Anti-nuclear citizens groups targeted in massive cyber-attack', http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201311100027

(Written by Nuclear Monitor editor Jim Green.)

Taiwanese nuclear politics heats up

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#766
23/08/2013
Jim Green - Nuclear Monitor editor
Article

A parliamentary vote on whether to hold a referendum on the completion of the Lungmen nuclear power plant descended into a brawl between opposing parties on August 2. [1] The vote, proposed by the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang − KMT), had been scheduled to decide whether construction of Taiwan's fourth nuclear power plant, which is nearing completion, should continue. Fourty politicians from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) barricaded themselves inside the legislative chamber on August 1, remaining there overnight in an attempt to stop the August 2 vote taking place.

The brawl broke out as KMT politicians tried to take possession of the podium to allow the vote to proceed. Television footage showed politicians pushing and shoving, two male politicians wrestling on the floor, and bottles and cups of water being thrown at each other. The scuffle led to the session being suspended, without a vote on the referendum taking place.

The DPP is calling for the Lungmen plant to be scrapped without holding a referendum. At least 50% of eligible voters would have to participate in a referendum for it to be binding. Taiwan has never passed a referendum. The 50% participation threshold has not been reached in any of the six referenda held since the Referendum Act came into effect in January 2004, despite those referenda being held in conjunction with national elections in 2004 and 2008. The Taiwan Anti-Nuclear Action League is calling for the Referendum Act to be made less restrictive.

The KMT said it would arrange six shifts, each comprising 15-20 people, to break through the DPP's grip on the podium, but the ruling party later said it would put on hold a motion to allow for a referendum on the nuclear plant. "We will not rule out the possibility of holding another, or third, extraordinary session of the Legislature to deal with the issue," said Lin Hung-chih, KMT Legislator and head of the party's Central Policy Committee.[2]

Around 100 citizens protested against the Lungmen plant inside and outside the parliament on August 2 as the political parties wrestled for control of the podium.[3] Many are associated with the Taiwan Anti-Nuclear Action League, which comprises most of the anti-nuclear civic organizations in the country including the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, the Humanistic Education Foundation and the Green Citizens' Action Alliance. Other protesters unfurled anti-nuclear banners at 12 major intersections in Taipei.

On the same day, Greenpeace Taiwan warned that in the event of a nuclear accident, none of the subcontractors working on the Lungmen power plant would shoulder any responsibility. At a press conference co-hosted by the Green Citizen's Action Alliance, Greenpeace said that General Electrics and Mitsubishi are indemnified against all responsibility. Senior Greenpeace member Ku Wei-mu said the contractors had no right to ask Taiwanese to trust the safety of nuclear reactors if they themselves were not prepared to accept liability. A Greenpeace report states that in the event of a nuclear accident at the Lungmen plant, the potential economic losses could exceed US$1.1 trillion per annum.[4]

On July 31, Lin Tsung-yao, a consultant on the Lungmen plant's safety monitoring committee, posted a report detailing a number of construction problems on the project. Lin questioned the quality of GE's structural designs, and said that the project is hampered by the dearth of professionals at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Atomic Energy Council who understand the issues and can adequately oversee the project. [5,6,7,8]

Construction began on the two 1350 MW Lungmen reactors in 1999, with the first originally scheduled to enter commercial operation in 2006 and the second in 2007. However, the project has been beset with political, legal and regulatory delays. The DPP halted construction of the plant when it came to power in 2000.

The DPP is calling for a phase-out of nuclear power, and even the KMT has pledged to make Taiwan nuclear-free by the middle of this century.[9] Six reactors at three plants currently provide about 18% of the country's electricity.

On March 9, anti-nuclear rallies swept across Taiwan ahead of the second anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. According to rally organisers around 200,000 people attended protests nationwide, with 120,000 taking to the streets in Taipei.[10] An opinion poll conducted by the Taipei City Government in March showed that 66% of residents in the capital wanted the Lungmen plant to be scrapped, with just 18% supporting its continuation.[11]

The Fukushima disaster resonated strongly owing to similarities and links between the two countries. Taiwan and Japan both suffer from seismic activity (a 1999 earthquake in Taiwan killed around 2,400 people). Both countries are hit by typhoons − in mid July, a typhoon left Taipower's Chinshan 2 reactor offline and in need of repair.[12]

Taiwan's Shihmen nuclear power plant may have been leaking small amounts of radioactive water for more than three years according to a report published in August by the Control Yuan, a government regulator.[13,14] A Taipower official said the water did not come from the storage pools, but may have come from condensation or water used for cleaning up the floor. The Control Yuan did not accept the explanation and asked Taipower to look into other possible sources of the leak such as spent fuel storage pools. The contaminated water has been collected in a reservoir next to the storage pools.

The Control Yuan said there had been a catalogue of errors, including a lack of a proper plan for how to handle spent nuclear materials and inadequate supervision by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. "The company has yet to clearly establish the reason for the water leak," it said.

References:
[1] www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-Taiwanese_nuclear_vote_turns_violent-02081...
[2] http://focustaiwan.tw/search/201308050034.aspx
[3] http://focustaiwan.tw/search/201308020040.aspx
[4] www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2013/08/02/2003568747
[5] www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2013/08/06/385655/Exp...
[6] http://focustaiwan.tw/search/201308040010.aspx
[7] www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2013/08/02/2003568699
[8] www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2013/08/06/2003569049
[9] www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-New_nuclear_energy_policy_for_Taiwan-03111...
[10] www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2013/03/10/372647/Up-...
[11] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142412788732368190457864318373908535...
[12] www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Taiwan_reactor_offline_after_typhoon_16071...
[13] www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/09/taiwan-nuclear-idUSL4N0GA0KI20130809
[14] www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-09/nuclear-water-leaking-in-taiwan-plant-...
 

About: 
Greenpeace East Asia - Taipei

In brief

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

Has Sweden learned to love nuclear power?

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#713
6068
09/07/2010
Charly Hultén at WISE Sweden
Article

Outside Sweden, the decision to allow what the British call "new build" that was taken in the Swedish Parliament June 17 is widely thought to mean that an eminently "green" Sweden has accepted nuclear power as part of the recipe to "save the climate". Inside Sweden the implications are far less clear. Even the ruling coalition has two contradictory versions of what the decision means!

For one thing, the decision was taken with a margin of only two votes. Had MPs been able to vote their conscience – the party whips were lashing on all sides – the Government's Bill may not have passed at all. The opposition has said that if they win the election this Fall, they will tear the decision up. So, talk of "Sweden" having changed "its" mind about nuclear is a very misleading generalization.

Nuclear Monitor 's editors have asked for an assessment of what has happened, what it means, and what is likely to happen when the dust has settled. Even the first part is complicated. Answers to the other two questions tend to depend on who you are talking to. All I can do is report different assessments

As an issue, nuclear power in Sweden continues to split both parties and coalitions rather than differentiate between them. Consequently, few political leaders can afford to be categorical. It is also important to understand that the parliamentary system seems to be tending toward a two-party system: the ruling Conservative-led 'Alliance' vs. the so-called 'Red-Green coalition' (see box 'Understanding Sweden').

The two bills voted into law had three elements:

  1. The existing nuclear plant may be replaced by new reactors – no more than ten in number, but each producing significantly more electricity – in the three communities where reactors currently operate. No new reactor can be put on line unless an existing reactor is permanently retired. Laws calling for total phase-out of Sweden's nuclear program in 2010 and a ban on planning and construction of new reactors have been scrapped.
     
  2. The insurance requirement for licensed operators has quadrupled from 3 billion Swedish Krona to 12 billion SEK (US$1.6 billion or 1.2 billion euro). This part is to take effect August 1.
     
  3. Owners of nuclear power reactors will have unlimited financial liability for the consequences of nuclear accidents. Sounds good, but there are limits -- more below.

A fourth point, a ban on public subsidies, direct or indirect, surfaced when the Parliamentary committee responded to a motion filed by Sven Bergström, Center Party (see below).

No commitment to renewables – described by the Minister for Energy on June 17 as "the most ambitious in the world" – was mentioned in the bills.

Understanding Sweden: Deep background
Nuclear energy has been a divisive political issue in Sweden from its first beginnings in the 1960s. But until the late 1970s Swedish energy policy was largely an internal matter within the ruling Social Democratic Party. From the 1950s into the 1970s, Sweden also had a secret defense agenda that included a nuclear bomb. But, in fact, the Social Democrats were divided on the issue of nuclear, and the shock wave following the 1979 partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in the USA, led to a decision to let the people, not the parties, decide the future of nuclear energy. Six of a planned 12 publicly financed reactors were nearing completion, but public opinion had clearly shifted away from nuclear.

A national referendum was held in 1980. It was a strange affair. The people could vote for one of three alternatives:
Linje 1 (Conservatives): Continued reliance on nuclear energy. No limits.
Linje 2 (Social Democrats and Liberals): Continued expansion from 6 to 12 reactors, followed by a gradual phase-out of all 12, as renewable sources of energy became available.
Linje 3 (Center Party, Christian-Democrats, Left): No to nuclear: stop construction and decommission the existing 6 reactors as soon as possible. (The Green Party did not yet exist.)

The Yes-but-No alternative got most votes. Linje 1 got only 18%. There were dissidents in all parties; not even the Conservatives were totally unified.

Shortly after the referendum Parliament passed a law that envisaged a gradual phase-out of the nuclear program. All 12 reactors would be taken off line by 2010. Only two have been decommissioned so far.

Sadly, the main legacy of the referendum was a bitter polarization of opinion – which to some extent has dampened political interest in renewables as alternatives.

Times change. The political front lines on energy policy today are quite different from those in 1980. Today, Sweden is governed by a Conservative-led "Alliance" in which Center, Liberals and Christian-Democrats participate. A recent change of course on the part of the Center Party leadership made it possible for the Alliance to introduce the two Bills that were voted into law June 17. Many Center voters are still 'in shock'; how they choose to vote in this year's election may decide the fate of the Alliance.

The three Opposition parties -- Social Democrats, Greens and Left -- are running on a common platform that includes a call for phase-out of nuclear. Whereas the party leaders are agreed, the Social Democratic and Left parties have many dissidents, who are more worried about unemployment than 'sustainable energy solutions'. In Sweden there is, namely, a common belief that nuclear energy means cheap electricity, and cheap electricity means jobs.

Finally, the fact remains that the Social Democrats were responsible for the failure to phase out nuclear in the twenty-odd years they ruled since 1980. Has the party changed its stripes?

How we got here
The Alliance was able to win the last election (2006), thanks in part to a pledge not to embark on any new policy regarding nuclear energy. The purpose of this pledge, repeated in the Cabinet's program declaration, was to keep the Center Party's voter-base intact by neutralizing nuclear energy as an issue.

In February 2009 the Alliance parties reached an agreement, whereby phase-out would be abandoned and old reactors might be replaced with new. At the same time, a commitment to renewable energy sources would be written into Alliance energy policy. The agreement was possible thanks to a reversal of policy in the Center Party. They have traded their once firm opposition to nuclear power for Alliance support for renewables – which, critics say, would have been given, anyway. After all, even the most nuclear-friendly politician knows the value of 'greenwash'.

The government introduced its Bills on March 23 -- ironically, on the day of the thirtieth anniversary of the 1980 referendum. Swedish parliamentary procedure then gives the parties time to file motions on a Bill; the motions are referred to the relevant committee, which review the Bill in the light of the motions. The (possibly amended) Bill then is put to a vote.

Three motions were filed. The Alliance moved to adopt the Bills; the Red-Green coalition moved to reject them. The third motion was filed by Center Party MP Sven Bergström, who had declared his opposition to the new party line. He was ostensibly one of four dissidents among the Alliance parties' MPs. His demands:

1. The Government should postpone rescinding the current ban on new reactors until 2011. After all, the Alliance had pledged not to change energy policy during the current term of office.

2. The Government should be more specific about the agreed-on principle that "no subsidies, direct or indirect" will be extended to new nuclear reactors.

3. The Bill needs clarification on the question of liability. Power companies should, as in Germany, bear "unlimited liability" for any damage, including impaired effects, resulting from nuclear accidents that occur in their facilities.

The first two points were agreed to; the third, handled by another committee, took more time and hardly resulted in anything approaching the German law.

Bergström declared his satisfaction and swung 'round to support the Bills.

He admits that his motion was drafted "in consultation with" the party leadership, and in a newspaper interview May 19 he related how some of his conscience-torn Center colleagues had come and congratulated him: "Now it will be easier for them to vote Yes," he said. In all fairness, Bergström may be credited with having revived the ban on public subsidies. Nonetheless, the prime purpose of the motion appears to have been to secure passage of the Bill and to pacify those Center voters who have trouble swallowing the new party line.

Bills 2009/2010:172 and 173 were put to the vote on June 17. Two Center dissidents followed their conscience and voted No. The Bills were passed with a margin of two votes. It is fair to say that the Bills voted into law June 17 are a new attempt by the Alliance parties to neutralize the issue in time for the election this coming September. But, is Center's voter-base still intact this time 'round?

Bones of contention
Public subsidies
The original agreement on energy policy among the Alliance parties included a ban on public financing of new reactors. The Bill put before the Parliament referred to that agreement, but did not actually include the ban among the amendments the new law would entail. This 'detail' resurfaced in the parliamentary committee's treatment of the above-mentioned motion filed by Sven Bergström. The committee writes: "As the concept, 'subsidy' does not always have a precise definition, the Committee sees some value in a clarification by the Government of what is intended in this particular case. The Committee recommends that Parliament unequivocally state as its opinion, that public support to nuclear energy cannot be counted on." So voted the Parliament. The Committee, for its part, instructed the Government to clarify its position.

But, what exactly does "cannot be counted on" mean? How broad, how strong a ban is it? Does it mean (A) Under no circumstances will public funding ever be extended to nuclear power projects? (B) The present Government and Parliament will not spend public money on such projects? or (C) Any consortium that plans such a project will have to present an economic plan that covers all costs from other sources, but in the event of a financial emergency public funding might be made available?

Secondly, what is meant by "public support"? The current Finnish project at Olkiluoto offers a regular catalogue of kinds of subsidies, overt and covert. Has the Parliament voted to rule out credit guarantees? For example.

At this writing neither question has been answered. Moreover, most observers assume that the ruling would apply only to Swedish tax money, that the door remains open, should other governments wish to participate.

"Unlimited liability"
First of all, it should be noted that "unlimited liability", as used here, is a narrow legal term. I quote from the Bill (section 7.1, p 53): "An unlimited liability means ... only that the legislator has not set any fixed limit to the liability." The previous law relating to nuclear responsibility put a ceiling on the amount an actor would have to pay, the new law does not. Ergo liability is 'unlimited'.

The former law limited a company's actual liability to the amount of its insurance coverage; its assets were protected. The new law removes that protection. Bankruptcy due to a major accident is now possible – but unlikely, in the Government's view.

In keeping with the requirements of the Paris Convention public money will be used to compensate claim-holders who have not been able to receive compensation from the nuclear reactor owner (section 7.1, p 52). This is of particular importance in Sweden inasmuch as the law holds the reactor owner liable for damages. In Sweden reactor owners are subsidiaries of the power giants, and have very limited assets of their own. The Bill explicitly exempts the power companies from liability (section 7.1, p 54):"That liability is unlimited does not mean that the owners of a reactor owner shall be held liable to pay out compensation for damage due to a radiological accident."

Here, most of the debate is due not to a lack of clarity in the Bill, but to a misunderstanding of the scope of the technical term. Still, there are questionable points. Should the power giants be protected from financial liability? It is, after all, their greed that made the owners force the operators at Barsebäck (now decommissioned) to disregard a faulty valve in the cooling system for months. The problem was detected during the season of peak demand, and the owner ordered continued production. The parent company pocketed the profits. Problems like this will continue as long as those who have a profit interest are held 'blameless'.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation urges that nuclear power companies be held fully liable for any damage their reactors cause. Nonetheless, the Bill is an improvement over the previous law. Greater liability will hopefully mean a sharper focus on safety issues, the SSNC concludes.

What next?
The new law limits the number of Swedish reactors to ten, but capacity might increase 3- to 4-fold in each. Will the new law actually result in ten new Swedish reactors? Will it result in any, at all?

Perhaps the only way to describe the outlook is to present a spectrum of comments as to the consequences of the vote. Let us start with the industry itself.

OKG, owner-operator of the three reactors at Oskarshamn, is already at the drawing boards. Their oldest reactor is ready for retirement, and the change in policy has been long awaited.

The Alliance has voiced two diametrically opposed assessments:

1. The Liberal Party is now Sweden's most nuclear-friendly party. Liberal spokesman Carl B. Hamilton sees the vote as a breakthrough long overdue. No longer will 'policy' stand in the way of technological development. Hamilton is highly critical of the arbitrary deadlines and priorities that have kept nuclear power in Sweden from developing as it has in other countries, like France. "Finally! The door stands open!" Glut is no problem, not when cables connect Sweden with the rest of Europe. Investors are sure to step forward; nuclear is a money-maker. The only clouds on Hamilton's horizon are interest rates. Unless interest rates remain low, financing may prove difficult.

2. All along, Center Party leadership (and MP Sven Bergström) has claimed that lifting the ban on 'new build' means nothing. The negative incentives that increased financial liability implies will only make nuclear even less attractive to investors. And where has nuclear energy ever been built without massive public subsidies? Just look at the Finnish reactor at Olkiluoto!

The Center Party is also hard-pressed to show environmental gains. The party has two key Cabinet posts: Industry and Energy. Both ministers stress that the Alliance has committed to public investments in renewable energy, notably, bio-fuels. Maud Olofsson, the party leader and Minister of Industry, goes so far as to say that Center's backing off on nuclear was necessary in order to break a decades-long deadlock and get that commitment from other Alliance parties. There are two problems here. The gains, especially in wind power, the Ministers point to were made before the party's about-face; the gains they expect were not included in the Bill, and the "most ambitious commitment in the world" has yet to see the light of day. Secondly, there is the problem of glut on the electricity market. How may it be expected to impact on industry's willingness to invest in in-house co-generation and energy efficiency? How will it affect the market for electricity from renewable sources?

Maria Wetterstrand, MP and spokesperson for the Greens, deplores what the party considers "the most far-reaching energy policy decision that the Parliament has ever taken. It can lead to a dependency on nuclear power for the next 100 years and will have consequences for 100,000 years" (Riksdagen, press release June 17).

Jonas Sjöstedt, former MEP for the Left, worries that continued dependence on nuclear energy will heighten pressures to start mining uranium in Sweden – which would have disastrous consequences for the environment. He also points out that any ban on subsidies can easily be circumvented (http://jonassjostedt.se/7p=1789).

The Red-Green Opposition have declared that if they win the election they will tear up the June 17 decision and reinstate the ban: "Nuclear is a dangerous technology. It should be phased-out successively -- at a pace consonant with high employment, welfare and the ability of renewables to meet Sweden's energy needs" (Riksdagen, press release May 27).

There has been some discussion in Danish environmental circles of the impact overproduction of electricity in Sweden may have on Danish wind power. The key factor is whether or not glut leads to falling prices. This may not be the case, inasmuch as Sweden plans to produce for the European market and has no reason to give any discounts.

To sum up...
The most uncertain factor here in Sweden is the outcome of the September election. As things stand today public sympathies are fairly evenly divided between the two blocs. But, two of the Alliance parties are dangerously close to the 4% threshold that qualifies parties for representation in Parliament. One of the two is Center. If either of the parties sinks under the threshold, the Red-Green coalition will most likely win.

Does the new policy mean that Swedish nuclear is on the rebound? Yes and no.

Yes: The phase-out has been abandoned, but then de facto the deadline has been abandoned for many years. At the turn of the century, who could expect all eleven of the remaining reactors to be taken off line by 2010? One might have hoped for more than just one (Barsebäck 2 in 2002), but all eleven?

No: Sweden is divided on nuclear power. Center has shown where its loyalties lie. Voters who don't like nuclear power can only vote Red or Green this coming September. On the other hand, just how the Red-Green coalition will perform once in office, is hardly a sure thing.

Source and contact: Charly Hultén at WISE Sweden

About: 
WISE Sweden

IN BRIEF

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#709
12/05/2010
Shorts

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#708
29/04/2010
Shorts

Finland: building nukes for electricity export?
On April 21, the Finnish government proposed two new nuclear power plants. The parliament will make the final decision on the issue earliest in the summer, but most likely in the autumn. On both reactors will be voted separately - there are possibilities to have 2, 1 or 0 new nuclear plants. Building twe nuclear power units would lock Finland's energy consumption to unrealistic, artificially high levels, and are clearly aimed for electricity export. However, Parliament has taken the line that it opposes the construction of generating capacity for export purposes.

Minister of Economic Affairs Mauri Pekkarinen (Centre Party) insisted on April 21, that Finland would adhere to this principle of opposing the construction for export. But the Greens are accusing Pekkarinen of turning his coat on the matter by endorsing two new reactors just a year after saying that Finland’s need for new nuclear energy units was “zero, or one at the most”. “Now he is proposing two units on the basis of the same electricity consumption estimates. This certainly shows how poorly founded Pekkarinen’s proposal is”, Sinnemäki says. The Greens also point out that the forest company UPM, a part owner of TVO, has put forward the idea of electricity exports. “Nobody in Finland -not even the forest industry- has proposed such a fantasy in electricity production that this proposal would not mean export. It becomes clear even in all of the most daring consumption estimates. We simply cannot consume this much electricity.”

Environmental organisations are organizing a large anti-nuclear demonstration in Helsinki on May 8.
Helsingin Sanomat (Int. edition) 22 and 24 April 2010


Japan: Restart Monju expected in May.
The Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, which was shut down in December 1995 after sodium leaked from the cooling system, is set to resume operations in May.  Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa signaled his willingness to approve reactivation of the experimental reactor, located in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, during a meeting with science and technology minister Tatsuo Kawabata and industry minister Masayuki Naoshima on April 26. In the 1995 incident, the reactor operator was heavily criticized after it was found to have concealed information about the accident. During the past 14 years or so that Monju has been in limbo, the operator has come under fire for delaying reports on alarm activation incidents and flawed maintenance work.

Under the government's plan, the next stage in the fast-breeder project will be the construction of a demonstration reactor, which is larger than Monju, around 2025. It would be followed by the development of a commercial reactor around 2050. But the outlook for the plan is bleak, to say the least.

Some 900 billion yen (US$ 9.6 billion or 7.3 billion euro) of taxpayer money has already been spent on the construction and operation of the Monju reactor. It will require additional annual spending of about 20 billion yen (US$ 215 million / 162 million euro).

More on the history and current status of Monju and Japan's fast breeder programm: Nuclear Monitor 702, 15 January 2010: "Restarting Monju – Like playing Russian roulette"
The Asahi Shimbun (Japan), 27 April 2010


Belene contruction halted until investors are found.
Belene construction was halted in search for Western strategic investors after Bulgaria dismissed an offer from Russia to finance the coming two years of construction with an option for a complete Russian take-over of the project. The Bulgarian government has opened a tender for a financial consultant to work out a new financial model for the project. This consultant is expected to be chosen in June 2010. On the basis of this new financial model, strategic investors will be invited for participation. After EU Energy Commissioner Günther Öttinger warned Bulgaria for the dependency that a fully Russian Belene project would create, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borrisov made it clear that Belene only will be continued if it can pay for itself and if it is developed under participation of European and/or US partners. Russia was not to expect more than a 25% participation, if any at all. In his straightforward way, Borissov characterised Belene as either a  European project or no project.

On 16 April, it was also announced that the Bulgarian Energy Holding, which was set up in 2008 to create a pool of assets that could lure possible lenders to the Belene project, will be dismantled before summer. Deputy Minister for Economy, Energy and Tourism Maya Hristova said that BEH was set up to the secure the construction of Belene by the assets generated in the holding, "but this is no longer feasible." She told the Bulgarian press agency BTA that the assets of all state-owned energy companies are of lower value than the estimated value of  Belene. Daily Dnevnik announced that there is currently a discussion to bring the electricity  assets of BEH, including the Kozloduy nuclear power plant and the Maritsa East power station under in state utility NEK and the gas assets in a seperate holding.
Email Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace EU Unit, 26 April 2010


U-price low: "explosive growth in nuclear power hasn't yet happened". 
The spot price of uranium has dropped below US$42/lb (1 lb = 453.59 grams) through in April, down almost US$4 from the 2009 average of US$46 as, according to Purchasing.com, weakening demand has depressed transaction pricing. Lyndon Fagan, an analyst at RBS in Sydney Australia, tells Bloomberg that spot prices indeed have weakened in recent months because the explosive growth in nuclear power hasn't yet happened. Current uranium prices are well down from the levels reached in 2007, when the prices spiked to nearly US$140. Supply concerns drove the price up at that time, and while there's no guarantee that prices could once again reach those levels, such past performance does imply that the potential for such dramatic price moves is possible.

Meanwhile, Admir Adnani, CEO of US-based UraniumEnergy, tells Reuters that a renewed focus on nuclear energy and current mining shortfalls are likely to drive prices of uranium, higher in the coming years. "In the next two to three years, we will see a period of rising uranium prices," Adnani says. "There is absolutely no doubt that the nuclear renaissance and the construction of new reactors plus the existing reactor requirements will bring growing demand... and we need uranium prices to be higher for new mines to be built." But in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, for instance, only two companies have done exploration work over the past couple years, a notable drop from the 10 or so firms that were searching for uranium back in 2007, according to the Canadian Department of 

Natural Resources. www.purchasing.com, 14 April 2010 / Telegraph Journal (Canada), 21 April 2010


Regulators investigating Olkiluoto piping.
Nuclear safety authorities in Finland, France, the UK and US are assessing the significance of undocumented welding on primary circuit piping for the EPR reactor under construction at Olkiluoto, Finland. However, Petteri Tiippana, director of the nuclear reactor regulation department at the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority STUK, told Platts in an interview on April 8, that regulators from those four countries are not preparing a joint statement on the piping quality issue. He reacted on a statement made by a commissioner of French nuclear safety authority ASN,

The piping was manufactured by Nordon, a subcontractor to Areva, the French vendor which is supplying the nuclear part of the Olkiluoto-3 unit under a turnkey contract to utility Teollisuuden Voima Oy. Nordon, based in Nancy in eastern France, is a unit of the Fives group and has long been a major supplier of piping for nuclear power plants. In October 2009, STUK found that small cracks in piping made for the main coolant lines of Olkiluoto-3 had been repaired with welding procedures that were not documented. Tiippana said the piping is still in France and that analysis of the significance of the undocumented welding could be finished within several weeks. STUK will then do final inspections, probably before summer, he said. Until the piping is approved by STUK, it cannot be transported to Olkiluoto.The design of Areva's EPR reactor is under regulatory review for construction in the UK and the US.
Platts, 8 April 2010


Australian uranium for India?
Not that long ago, Australia took a firm stand against selling uranium to India (or any Non-Nuclear proliefration Treaty signatory for that matter): in January 2008, Australia’s new Labor government outlawed uranium sales to India. Stephen Smith, Australian foreign minister emphasizes that in saying in October 2009: “We have had a long-standing principal position which is not aimed at India, it is the long-standing position that we do not export uranium to a country that is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,”

Now, just over a half year later, Australia is planning to change its domestic rules to allow India to import uranium from the country.

India is signing the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement and many other civil nuclear agreements with different countries. The 46-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has also granted a waiver to India in September 2008 allowing nuclear fuel from other nations. However, Australia being a member in that group, didn’t allow India to import nuclear fuel from the country. Now, South Australia’s Department of trade & economic development director Damian Papps said Australia would like to amend the current regulations to enable uranium export to India.
Press TV, 14 October 2009 / Spectrum, April 26, 2010


Further increase heavy forging capacity.
Known as a leader in the ultra-heavy forgings required for the highest capacity nuclear reactors, Japan Steel Works set about tripling its capacity and has completed its second press for ultra-large nuclear forgings. It has now completed the ¥50 billion (US$530 million, 390 million euro) first phase of the expansion with the installation of a new forging shop complete with heavy cranes, heat treatment facilities and the necessary 14,000 ton press.

JSW told World Nuclear News that the new shop was the core of the first investment phase and that the second ¥30 billion (US$320 million, 235 million euro) investment round should be completed in 2011. At that point, JSW said, it would have tripled the nuclear capability that it had in 2007 - enough for about 12 reactor pressure vessels and main component sets per year. The increase in capacity should be felt by mid-2012 as new components are planned to emerge from the factories. Muroran also manufactures generator and steam turbine rotor shafts, clad steel plates and turbine casings for nuclear power plants.

While JSW may be the current leader in the global market for large nuclear components, there are several other (Russian, Chinese and South-Korean) manufacturers tooling up to the same levels for domestic supply. Britain's Sheffield Forgemasters and India's Bharat Forge will join JSW as global ultra-heavy suppliers around 2014.
World Nuclear News, 1 April 2010


Switzerland: Canton slams radioactive waste plans.
Plans for a radioactive waste disposal unit in the canton of Schaffhausen has come under fire in a study published by the local government. The National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste outlined two possible sites for the unit: one in Zurich Weinland and one near Sudranden in the canton of Schaffhasusen. That’s just a few kilometers from the city of Schaffhausen, where 80 percent of the canton’s population live and work. The report published on April 21 says a disposal centre would have a detrimental effect on the town of Schaffhausen, and on the development of both the canton’s economy and population. The report estimates it would lose between 15 and 33 million francs in tax revenue a year and the population would drop by up to 5,000 people.
World Radio Switzerland, 21 April 2010


U.K.: Low-level radwaste in a landfill.
Five bags of radioactive waste from the Sellafield nuclear processing facility were dumped in a landfill site after a faulty scanner wrongly passed them as safe. Environment Agency inspectors have found one of the bags but is still searching for the other four at the Lillyhall landfill site near Workington, Cumbria. The bags contained waste collected in restricted areas of Sellafield where disposal of all items, including protective clothing, is strictly controlled because of the risk of radioactive contamination. The error was discovered by a member of staff who became suspicious when a scanning machine declared as safe a bag that had come from the restricted area. Staff checked the machine's records and found that five other contaminated bags had been passed as safe and sent to the nearby landfill site, which handles a mixture of household and industrial waste. A Sellafield spokeswoman was unable to say for how long the machine had been malfunctioning. The waste should have been sent for storage in concrete vaults at the Low Level Waste Repository near Drigg in Cumbria.

The incident may undermine the nuclear industry's plan to save billions of pounds by adopting lower safety standards for thousands of tonnes of low-level radioactive waste from decommissioned reactor sites. Several landfill sites have applied for permits to handle low-level waste.
Times online (U.K.), 26 April 2010


U.K. political parties and nukes.
The political party manifestos for the General Election show no surprises concerning nuclear policies - and they reveal the fundamental difference on nuclear issues between the Liberal Democrats and both the other two main parties. These difference will make for some tough bargaining in the event of a hung Parliament in which no political party has an outright majority of seats.

The Conservatives commit themselves to "clearing the way for new nuclear power stations - provided they receive no public subsidy". The party is also committed to the new Trident nuclear submarine system.

Under the heading 'Clean Energy' the Labour manifesto says "We have taken the decisions to enable a new generation of nuclear power stations" and the party is also committed to the Trident replacement.

The Scottish National Party wants Trident scrapped, rejects nuclear energy and the deep geological disposal of radioactive wastes.

The Liberal Democrats don't want a "like-for-like" replacement for Trident and promise a review of the proposals. They also reject new reactors "based on the evidence nuclear is a far more expensive way of reducing carbon emissions" than renewable energy and energy conservationAccording to the LibDem spokesperson on energy and climate issues, Simon Hughes, the curent government plans for a new fleet of nuclear reactors are based on a "completely foolish delusion". And he added; "they are too costly, wil take too long to build, will require government subsidy and will drain investment away from the renewable energy sector".  He says the party will not soften anti-nuclear stance.

General elections in the UK will be held on May 6.
N-Base Briefing 649, 21 April 2010 / BusinessGreen.com, 26 April 2010


Rand Uranium: no super dump tailings in Poortjie area.
South-Africa: following a successful protest march on April 23 by emerging black farmers and the Mhatammoho Agricultural Union, and the potentially affected landowners against the proposed super dump (centralized tailings storage facility -TSF) Rand Uranium decided to abandon the project. The protest march, the second in a few weeks, took place at the offices of Rand Uranium in Randfontein. Soon after the protest, Rand Uranium, which had proposed to establish the TSF within the Poortjie area on high agricultural land, issued a statement. The last paragraph of the document reads:  "Through the assessments, and in consideration of planning requirements of the City of Johannesburg, Area 45 is not considered appropriate for the long term TSF." The protest was against Site 45 (Poortjie area).  This means, Rand Uranium has abandoned its intention to establish a super dump in the Poortjie area. 

The proposed super dump would contain 350 million tons of uraniferous tailings and will be established on 1 200 hectares of land. The farmers and landowners claim that the public participation process was fatally flawed and that they were not consulted. It would have impacted the Vaal Barrage Catchment, a highly compromised Catchment. In terms of the Water Research Report No 1297/1/07 (2007) only 21% of the Vaal Barrage showed no evidence of cytotoxicy (i.e. toxic to human cells).  The Report suggests that the underlying problems of this catchment are largely due to heavy metals.  It furthermore states:  "It is clear that mining operations, even after they have been discontinued, are still having a major impact on water quality in the Vaal Barrage catchment, to the extent that it can no longer be compared with other natural water systems."
Emails Mariette Liefferink, 21 and 24 April 2010


U.A.E.: First nuclear site named. Braka has been named as the site for the United Arab Emirate's first nuclear power plant. Limited construction licence applications and environmental assessments for four reactors have been submitted.
The Braka site is in a very sparsely populated area 53 kilometers from Ruwais and very close to the border with Saudi Arabia. It is closer to Doha, the capital of Qatar, than to Abu Dhabi about 240 kilometers to the east. Dubai is another 150 kilometers along the coast. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) said Braka was selected from ten shortlisted sites, all of which were suitable for nuclear build, on the basis of its environmental, technical and business qualities.

Two requests have been made to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). One is for a site preparation licence for the four-reactor power plant to allow Enec to conduct non-safety related groundwork at Braka such as constructing breakwaters and a jetty. The other is for a limited licence to "manufacture and assemble nuclear safety related equipment."  In addition, a strategic environmental assessment for the project has been submitted to the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) addressing environmental impacts and mitigation including for construction work.

But since there is no civil society whatsoever, there will be no independent scrutiny of those documents.
World Nuclear News, 23 April 2010


Contract for ITER buldings.
The Engage consortium has been awarded the architect engineer contract for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) buildings and civil infrastructures. The contract, worth some €150 million (US$200 million), was signed by the Engage consortium and Fusion for Energy (F4E) on 13 April. F4E is the European Union's (EU's) organization for Europe's contribution to ITER. The Engage consortium comprises Atkins of the UK, French companies Assystem and Iosis, and Empresarios Agrupados of Spain. The architect engineer will assist F4E during the entire construction process, from the elaboration of the detailed design to the final acceptance of the works. The contract covers the construction of the entire ITER complex, including 29 out of a total of 39 buildings, site infrastructure and power supplies.

Seven parties - China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the EU - are cooperating to build ITER, a 500 MWt tokamak, at Cadarache. The partners agreed in mid 2005 to site Iter at Cadarache. The deal involved major concessions to Japan, which had put forward Rokkasho as a preferred site. The EU and France will contribute half of the €12.8 billion (US$18.7 billion) total cost, with the other partners - Japan, China, South Korea, USA and Russia - putting in 10% each. Site preparation at Cadarache began in January 2007. The facility is expected to be in operation around 2018. As part of the reactor's phased commissioning, it will initially be tested using hydrogen. Experiments using tritium and deuterium as fuel will begin in 2026. Much later than expected a few years ago.
World Nuclear News, 15 April 2010

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#695
02/10/2009
Shorts

Sellafield HLW returns to customers.
For over 30 years, overseas used nuclear fuel has been reprocessed in the UK, under contract at Sellafield. Since 1976 all UK reprocessing contracts have contained an option for this radioactive waste to be returned to its country of origin. The contracts to return the high level waste to Japanese and European customers now sit with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The program of work to transport canisters of vitrified (solid glass) waste to customers is known in the UK as the Vitrified Residue Returns (VRR) programme. 'Vitrified ' - refers to HLW in the form of a Glass block -

as compared to the original waste fuel rod, liquid nitric acid stock - which are the initial product of the plutonium separation. The NDA has "received advice from Sellafield Ltd and the NDA's commercial and transport subsidiary, International Nuclear Services that the infrastructure is in place and plans are sufficiently advanced" to return the waste to the countries of origine in the current financial year (2009/10).

Overall the UK phase of the program will return approximately 1,850 containers of vitrified waste to overseas customers and will include a number of containers being returned in accordance with the Government policy on waste substitution. The VRR program, which will substantially reduce the amount of highly active waste currently stored in the UK at Sellafield, is planned to take around 10 years. The NDA's commercial transport subsidiary, International Nuclear Services, will be responsible for transporting the vitrified waste to destinations in Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

NDA press release, 28 September 2009, WNN, 29 September 2009


Sizewell 5 anti-nuclear blockaders found not guilty. On September 29, two days into their four-day trial, the Sizewell five have been found not guilty of aggravated trespass after a blockade in 2008 of the Sizewell nuclear power station in Suffolk, UK. The Sizewell Five have been acquitted by the Lowestoft Magistrates' Court in Suffolk, after the prosecution failed to provide evidence that the defendants were on private land, meaning that they were all acquitted on this legal technicality. The trial related to a physical blockade of the sole access road to the Sizewell nuclear power plant last year. The defendants had held up a banner reading "Nuclear Power is Not a Solution to Climate Chaos" as they physically blocked the road with their bodies and arm tubes. The defendants had planned to use the defence that they were acting to prevent breaches of health and safety legislation resulting from the continued operation of the nuclear power plant in Suffolk. They had planned to call at least one expert witness, an independent nuclear consultant, but the judge had refused to allow this on the first day of trial, despite earlier pre-trial reviews. 
Direct action groups are meeting in London in November to discuss strategies to fight the plans to build nuclear power plans in the U.K. The weekend will be a space for grassroots campaigners to network, share ideas and information and make plans to win. “By developing skills and confidence in creating and implementing campaign and action plans we can identify when and where our interventions can be most successful”. 

More information: Nuclear People Power network 
e-mail: [email protected] 
http://stopnuclearpower.blogspot.com


113,488 say ‘no’ to uranium mining in Slovakia.
Late September, Greenpeace delivered a petition with 113,488 signatures calling for the Slovak parliament to change laws regarding uranium mining in the country. Under the Slovakian constitution, any petition having more than 100,000 signatories must be discussed by the country’s parliament. The petition is seeking a change in the law allowing municipalities to have a say on uranium mining in their areas. As all the towns and cities near potential mining sites are against the idea, this could mean very little or no uranium mining being done in Slovakia.

The campaign was launched three years ago, in order to stop a project aggressively pushed by the Canadian-based company Tournigan. It planned to open two uranium mines: one located just six kilometres upstream from Košice, the second largest city in Slovakia with a population of 250,000 people; the other at the border of the stunning UNESCO national park, ’Slovak Paradise‘. A coalition of groups lead by Greenpeace mobilized dozens of towns and local councils, regional governments, and over 100,000 citizens to express their refusal to turn Slovak Paradise into a contaminated and devastated landscape.

The authorities are now counting the signatures.

Nuclear Reaction, 25 September 2009


Nuclear fuel wins carbon exemption - for now.
Processing of nuclear fuel (uranium conversion and enrichment) has been granted an exemption from European Union (EU) plans to auction carbon dioxide emissions allowances from 2013, although the exemption list will be reviewed before 2010.

Currently, participants in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme receive emissions allowances for free to cover the majority of their expected carbon dioxide emissions based on their past emissions under a scheme known as 'grandfathering'. Participants then buy and sell allowances depending on what their actual emissions are. However, from 2013 the scheme will progressively reduce the free allocation and companies will be required to buy allowances in an auction. Brussels unveiled on 18 September a draft list of industrial and business sectors it fears could relocate outside Europe to jurisdictions with weaker climate change rules in future. Among these was the 'processing of nuclear fuel', which will be given carbon emission allowances under the EU's emissions trading scheme from 2013 to 2020.

World Nuclear news, 24 September 2009 


Four Arizona tribes ban uranium on their lands.
In the United States of America, the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the Havasupai Tribe and the Hualapai Tribe have all banned uranium on their lands. The tribes are worried about damage to the environment. "Contamination emanates from mining, does not know any boundaries, and it could easily cross community after community without them ever knowing," said Robert Tohe, a member of the Navajo Nation, told the Associated Press. "I think that's the real danger, and that's why tribes have become unified."

The Interior Department recently barred new mining claims near the Grand Canyon. All

four tribes have land in the area. The tribal ban adds to a temporary mining ban on nearly 1 million federally owned acres around the Grand Canyon. The combined actions mean uranium-bearing lands in northern Arizona open to companies hungry to resume mining are growing scarce.

AP, 17 September 2009


Uranium royalty laws favour miners, exploit aborigines.
Anti-nuclear activists in Alice Springs say changes to uranium royalties in the Northern Territory will make way for the exploitation of Aboriginal communities. The bill extends the royalty system so miners pay a fixed rate only if they are making profits, rather than basing the rate on production. The bill was passed in the federal Senate early September.

Jimmy Cocking from the Arid Lands Environment Centre says the Federal Government has bowed to industry pressure and Aboriginal people will suffer. “It’s going to be easier for companies to get it up so you might find that companies who are more marginal – not the big producers but the more marginal companies – will start digging and then find out that they can’t even pay for the rehabilitation costs,” he said.

ABC News, 11 September 2009


Saving the climate would bring more jobs in the power industry.
A strong shift toward renewable energies could create 2.7 million more jobs in power generation worldwide by 2030 than staying with dependence on fossil fuels would. The study, by environmental group Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), urged governments to agree a strong new United Nations pact to combat climate change in December in Copenhagen, partly to safeguard employment. “A switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual,” the report said. Under a scenario of business as usual, the number of jobs in power generation would fall by about half a million to 8.6 million by 2030, hit by mainly by a decline in the coal sector due to wider mechanization.

The report said that, for the first time in 2008, both the United States and the European Union added more capacity from renewable energies than from conventional sources including gas, coal oil and nuclear power. The report suggested the wind sector alone, for instance, could employ 2.03 million people in generating power in 2030 against about 0.5 million in 2010.

The report can be found at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/working-for-the-cl...


U.K.: Keeping the nuclear fire burning.
A stinging attack on the nuclear policy of the United Kingdom's Government and the role played by civil servants has been made by Jonathan Porritt. Retiring as chairman of the Government's Sustainable Development Commission he spoke of wasted years and opportunities in pursuing the revival of the nuclear industry. In 2003 the commission had worked with the Department of Trade and Industry minister Patricia Hewitt on a new White Paper which concluded that "nuclear power is not necessary for a secure low-carbon efficient UK economy". However, instead of implementing the plans, civil servants "kept the nuclear flame burning" until a new minister was appointed. "The civil servants won that battle at a great cost to energy policy in the UK. We have had years of delay on critical things that could have been done on renewable energy and energy efficiency. We had six to eight years of prevarication when we could have been getting on with it."

N-Base Briefing 622, 19 August 2009


U.S.A.: Grandmothers against nuclear power!
From inside the security gate at Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, four Massachusetts women opposed to nuclear power looked out at VY security personnel, state and town police officers, and representatives of the media. The plant's security gate rumbled to a close too slowly to bar the four, including three grandmothers. Within half an hour, the four were arrested by state troopers and Vernon Police Chief, who arrived at the scene within minutes of the security breach. Charged with trespassing and ordered to appear December 15 in Windham County District Court are Ellen Graves, 69; Frances Crowe, 90; Paki Wieland, 66; and Hattie Nestel, 70.

Acting on behalf of the Shut It Down affinity group, the four women wanted to demonstrate that inadequate safety at Vermont Yankee is not limited to radiation leaks and collapsing cooling towers, according to Nestel. Women from Shut It Down have been arrested seven times previously at the Vernon plant or at headquarters in Brattleboro. Each time, they have pointed to the unsafe, inefficient, and unreliable characteristics of nuclear power, Nestel said. The women carried signs calling for the closure of the nuclear plant. Mary-Ann DeVita Palmieri, 71, chauffeured the four to the main Entergy VY gate with Marcia Gagliardi, 62, who got out of the car with those eventually arrested. "We hope we demonstrated that there is no way to make Vermont Yankee secure," said Nestel. "It is time to shut it down."

Press release, Shut It Down!, 28 september 2009


UK: LibDems cave in to nuclear power lobby.
Tom Burke, the veteran director of the Green Alliance, was invited to the Liberal Democrats Conference to debate nuclear power. However, shortly before the conference, he was informed that he was dis-invited. It seems that EDF, the nuclear power company, was experiencing sphincter problems at the prospect of debating with Burke, so they leaned on the LiberalDems, who collapsed like a tower of toilet paper in a thunderstorm.
Tom Burke writes: "I thought you would all like to know that I was originally invited by Dod’s to speak at the three low carbon fringe meetings at the party conferences. I accepted the invitation and received a confirmation of my participation sometime early in the summer. Three weeks ago I was notified by e-mail that I had been disinvited at the request of EDF who were sponsoring the meetings. This dis-invitation arrived too late to change the programme for the event at the Lib-Dem Conference where I was listed as a speaker. Given that EDF have now owned up to the fact that they cannot do new build nuclear without subsidies I am not totally surprised that they no longer wish to debate the issue in public."

http://greenerblog.blogspot.com


Australia: radioactivity in dust storms?
Environmentalists have raised concerns that another giant dust storm blowing its way across eastern Australia may contain radioactive particles. It is argued that sediment whipped up from Australia’s centre may be laced with material from the Olympic Dam uranium mine. Scientists have played down concerns, saying there is little to worry about. On September 23, Sydney and Brisbane bore witness to their biggest dust storm in 70 years. Both were shrouded in red dust. The dust storm is believed to have originated around Woomera in outback South Australia near the massive Olympic Dam uranium mine, prompting fears it was radioactive and dangerous…………

The massive clouds of dust that choked heavily populated parts of Australia have caused problems for people with asthma, as well as those with heart and lung conditions.

But some environmental campaigners believe that the dry, metallic-tasting sediment could threaten the health of millions of other Australians. David Bradbury, a renowned filmmaker and activist, claims the haze that engulfed some of the country’s biggest cities contains radioactive tailings –carried on gale force winds from a mine in the South Australian desert.

“Given the dust storms… which [the] news said originated from Woomera, and which is right next door to the Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs, these [storms] could blow those tailings across the face of Australia,” he said.

BBC News, 28 September 2009


Brazil and nuclear wepaons.
Brazil’s Vice-President Jose Alencar has said possession of nuclear weapons would enable his country to deter potential aggressors and give the South American nation greater ‘respectability’ on the world stage, according to a media report from Sao Paulo. “Nuclear weapons as an instrument of deterrence are of great importance for a country that has 15,000 km of border”, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper quoted Alencar as saying while referring to the security of the country's offshore oil deposits. Besides deterrence, nuclear weapons “give more respectability”, citing the example of Pakistan, a poor nation that “has a seat in various international entities, precisely for having an atomic bomb”.

Brazil's military regime (1964-1985) had a covert nuclear-weapons program that was shut down after the restoration of democratic rule.

MercoPress, 28 September 2009

After the German elections

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#695
5978
02/10/2009
WISE Amsterdam
Article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:  Newsreports and mail, 27 & 28 September 2009 / Der Spiegel, 29 September 2009 / www.Nuclear-free.com, 29 September 2009 / World Nuclear News, 28 September / Financial Times Deutschland, 30 September 2009
Contact: BI Umweltschutz Luechow Dannenberg, Rosenstr. 20, 29439 Luechow, Germany
Tel: +49 5841 4684
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.bi-luechow-dannenberg.de

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#694
17/09/2009
Shorts

ElBaradei: Threat Iran ‘hyped’.
On September 14, the 53rd IAEA General Conference confirmed the appointment of Mr. Yukiya Amano of Japan, a Japanese career diplomat, as the next IAEA Director General. Mr. Amano assumes office on 1 December 2009, succeeding Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei to the Agency´s top post. His appointment is for a term of 4 years - until November 2013.

Meanwhile, in an interview with The Bulletin Of Atomic Scientists, Elbaradei stated that there is no concrete evidence that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program. "But somehow, many people are talking about how Iran's nuclear program is the greatest threat to the world. In many ways, I think the threat has been hyped." ElBaradei said there was concern about Iran's future nuclear intentions and that Iran needs to be more transparent. “But the idea that we'll wake up tomorrow and Iran will have a nuclear weapon is an idea that isn't supported by the facts as we have seen them so far," said ElBaradei.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 24 August 2009 / IAEA, 14 September 2009


France: charges dropped for publishing document.
The public prosecutor in Paris has decided not to press charges against Stephane Lhomme, the spokesperson for the anti-nuclear Sortir du Nucleaire organization. Lhomme had been under investigation since 2006 for breach of national security in connection with the publication of a classified document acknowledging weaknesses in the EPR reactor design's ability to withstand the crash of a commercial jetliner. After he was arrested many organizations published the documents on their website. 30,000 People, several of them wellknown political figures, intellectuals, writers and artists, signed a petition demanding the case to be closed.

Lhomme revealed in 2006 that he was in possession of an internal Electricite de France document, stamped "defense confidential," that acknowledged weaknesses in the EPR's resistance to an aircraft crash, a major issue after the terrorist attacks with airplanes in the US on September 11, 2001. The revelation came during public inquiry and licensing proceedings for EDF's first EPR unit, Flamanville-3. Lhomme was charged with endangering national security by revealing the contents of a classified document.

Nucleonics Week, 27 August 2009


SE tries to stifle opposition.
Plans by Slovak utility Slovenske Elektrarne (SE) to stifle opposition to its contested Mochvoce 3, 4 nuclear power reactors have mistakenly been leaked to Greenpeace. The leaked documents show that SE, which is jointly owned by Italian energy giant ENEL and the Slovak State, intends to manipulate public hearings on the environmental impact assessment for the project which involves the construction of two new Soviet-era reactors. The documents also mention strategies to "prevent [a] public hearing in Vienna", "reach the lowest possible media & public attention" and "avoid antinuc [sic] unrests [sic]". "These tactics are more akin to communist era manipulation and show that the Mochovce nuclear project is in dire straits," said Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace EU dirty energy policy officer.

Construction of the Mochvoce 3,4 nuclear reactors started in the 1980s but was halted after the velvet revolution. After privatization of state utility SE to the Italian electricity giant ENEL, the Slovak government demanded from ENEL to finish the project. Because the reactors are from a 1970 Russian design and much of the civil construction already has happened in the 1980s, it is not possible to replace it with a modern design. As a result, the safety level of these nuclear reactors is lower than what is currently considered appropriate, especially after the 9/11 attacks.

Greenpeace 11 September 2009


US enrichment plant denied loan guarantee, or not?
US enrichment company USEC is preparing to 'demobilize' - or cancel - its partially built uranium enrichment plant after the US Department of Energy (DoE) denied its application for a loan guarantee in July.  As mentioned in the July 16 Nuclear Monitor In Briefs, loan guarantee from the Department of Energy was essential for continued construction. The American Centrifuge Plant is mid-construction at Piketon, Ohio. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted a construction and operation license for the plant in April 2007. The plant had been scheduled for commercial operation in 2010, but financing for the plant has long been a concern and earlier this year USEC announced that it was slowing the plant's schedule pending a decision on the DoE loan guarantee.  The company applied for loan guarantees amounting to US$2 billion (Euro 1.37 billion) in July 2008. After the DoE decision in late July, however, the company said it is initiating steps to demobilize the project in which it has already invested US$1.5 billion.

Two weeks later, in a surprising announcement, the Department of Energy said it has agreed to postpone by six months a final review of USEC's loan guarantee application for the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. The additional time will allow USEC to address financial and technical concerns about its application that caused the DoE to deny the loan guarantee.

Sources: World Nuclear News, 28 July & 5 Augusts 2009

DOE loan guarantees.
Established under the US Energy Policy Act of 2005, the DoE loan guarantee program was set up as a way of helping to drive forward the "commercial use of new or improved technologies to sustain economic growth while delivering environmental benefits such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing a stable and secure energy supply".

Up to US$18.5 billion of loan guarantees are available for the construction of advanced nuclear reactors and up to US$2 billion for front-end fuel cycle projects such as enrichment plants. The only front-end projects to submit loan guarantee applications by the September 2008 deadline were USEC's American Centrifuge Plant and Areva's Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility. Together, the USEC and Areva loan guarantee applications far exceeded the US$2 billion set aside for front-end fuel cycle loan guarantees.


Saving the climate equals 8 million jobs in the power industry.
A strong shift toward renewable energies could create 2.7 million more jobs in power generation worldwide by 2030 than staying with dependence on fossil fuels would. The study, by environmental group Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), urged governments to agree a strong new United Nations pact to combat climate change in December in Copenhagen, partly to safeguard employment. “A switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual,” the report said. Under a scenario of business as usual, the number of jobs in power generation would fall by about half a million to 8.6 million by 2030, hit by mainly by a decline in the coal sector due to wider mechanization.

The report said that, for the first time in 2008, both the United States and the European Union added more capacity from renewable energies than from conventional sources including gas, coal oil and nuclear power. The report suggested the wind sector alone, for instance, could employ 2.03 million people in generating power in 2030 against about 0.5 million in 2010.

The report can be found at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/working-for-the-cl...


U.K.: Keeping the nuclear fire burning.
A stinging attack on the nuclear policy of the United Kingdom's Government and the role played by civil servants has been made by Jonathan Porritt. Retiring as chairman of the Government's Sustainable Development Commission he spoke of wasted years and opportunities in pursuing the revival of the nuclear industry. In 2003 the commission had worked with the Department of Trade and Industry minister Patricia Hewitt on a new White Paper which concluded that "nuclear power is not necessary for a secure low-carbon efficient UK economy". However, instead of implementing the plans, civil servants "kept the nuclear flame burning" until a new minister was appointed. "The civil servants won that battle at a great cost to energy policy in the UK. We have had years of delay on critical things that could have been done on renewable energy and energy efficiency. We had six to eight years of prevarication when we could have been getting on with it."

N-Base Briefing 622, 19 August 2009


MOX-transport delayed.
A planned transport of MOX-fuel (Plutonium-uranium mixed oxide) from Sellafield to Grohnde nuclear reactor in northern Germany, which had been planned for this autumn is to be postponed. A spokeswoman of power plant operator E.on said September 10, that the transport will not be done within the next two months (probably meaning September and October). According to E.on the reasons are purely organizational and recent discussions about routes for the planned transport did not matter in the decision.

However, at the moment there is no agreement on which harbour should be used on the route to Grohnde. Bremen (harbor management) rejected the shipment. Earlier plans for a route via Cuxhaven had been withdrawn by the applicant (either a haulage company or E.on) after (encountering) strong criticism.

But the reason may actually be political. With German parliament elections late September, which may lead to either a nuclear-friendly or an anti-nuclear government for the next 4 years, polluters may be trying not to provoke more anti-nuclear publicity.

Die Welt online, 11 September 2009 / Junge Welt, 14 September 2009


Clean energy in Germany cheaper than nuclear power.
In July a study of the German ecological NGO "Deutsche Umwelthilfe" has been published that analyzed the electricity market in Germany. The results are very interesting and maybe a good argument for anti-nuclear campaigning in other countries, too: In practice all offers of nuclear companies are more expensive than clean energy of independent ecological electricity companies!

This result was surprising as the nuclear power has been much subsidized and the reactors have been paid for itself since a long time - so they have only the costs of running the reactors, but don't have to repay the costs of the construction any longer. In addition the nuclear fuel is tax-exempted, the nuclear companies don't have to have an insurance covering all the costs of the accidents they could cause, they don't have to pay a realistic price for the final disposal of their radioactive waste and other consequences...

But it is a fact: nuclear energy is more expensive than ecological energy - at least in Germany as the study proofs!

You find the tables (German) of this study in the internet: http://www.duh.de/uploads/media/Vergleich_Preis_Stromkennzeichnung_07-20...

Elections in Bugaria, financial troubles and RWE cause confusion for Belene

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#691
5966
16/07/2009
Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace EU energy campaigner
Article

The July 5, parliamentarian elections in Bulgaria saw a landslide. The ruling coalition of Socialists, ethnic Turks and the former Bulgarian king Simeon II's party was wiped away by the new party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria). GERB, the political child of Sofia mayor Boyko Borisov, won with 39,7% of the vote 120 of the 240 seats in Parliament. Borisov is now creating a minority government that will seek votes for support from the right wing parties in parliament: the extreme-right nationalist Ataka and Order, Lawfulness and Justice parties and the centre right Blue Coalition of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria and United Democratic Front.

The Blue Coalition was the first party to openly speak out against the Belene nuclear power project, and there were hopes that it would be needed for a coalition with GERB. GERB's victory is so large, however, that it does not need to grant too many favours. And GERB itself is not very clear on Belene. Party officials including Borisov had stated over the last months that Belene would not get any financial support any more from the state. The nominee for finance minister, Simeon Djankov, currently working at the World Bank, declared that Bulgaria should invest in energy efficiency instead. On July 13, he announced in the daily Standart that in the preparation of the Belene project around 500 BGN (some 230 million Euro) must have disappeared as the Ministry for Energy and Economy informed him 800 million BGN was used for the deconstruction of the old unfinished nuclear power plant. Djankov claims that in other countries, this would have cost nothing more than 250 million leva.

Party leader Borisov, however, announced in a television interview on 12 July that he still stands firmly behind the project. Rumors are that he has been contacted intensively in the last weeks by the pro-Belene lobby within and outside his party. Also he, however, expressed doubts about the availability of state funds for the project.

And without state funding, Belene might be dead. Over the last years, 12 different Western banks withdrew initial interest from the project after they found out more details. French top-nuclear-bank BNP Paribas - after Citi the largest nuclear financier in the world and usually not caring about its nuclear image - initially brokered a 250 million Euro bridging loan for 2007, which was extended to 2008. In 2008 it also won the tender for financial adviser of the project. But over time it has virtually withdrawn its interest and declared that the project is too risky. It also stated publicly that it will not invest in Belene itself anymore.

The bridging loan ran out in November 2008 and the outgoing Bulgarian government counted on the freshly chosen strategic investor RWE to cough up some cash to run the program in 2009. RWE, however, did not like the current risks either and demanded that the Bulgarian side first secure its 51% participation financially before it was going to make any monetary commitments.

In a hasty move, the Bulgarian socialist party turned towards Russia and asked an earlier offer from Prime Minister Putin for a loan of 3,8 billion Euro to be re-opened. The Russian side is now still mulling over the conditions under which it would be willing to do this, and one of them seems to be a full government guarantee. But this would be against EU state aid legislation.

Nevertheless, bills need to be paid. In a bold move, the Bulgarian government injected in the hight of the financial crisis 300 million BGN into the Belene project in the form of an increase of shares by the Bulgarian utility NEK, which resides under the energy-giant Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH EAD). This money was meant to cover ongoing costs and was transferred in December 2008. Standard and Poor's put NEK on CreditWatch and in July downgraded its rating from “developing” to “negative”. Greenpeace and the Bulgarian Green Policy Institute directly filed a complaint to the European Commission, because such a capital injection is only allowed when it is done in a way that would be similar to what a normal operator on the free market would do. They argue that the Bulgarian State is abusing its position as state to give Belene a financial advantage - an advantage that other operators on the electricity market do not have access to. With that, the capital injection would be illegal state aid and would have to be retracted. The European Commission opened an investigation which is still ongoing.

In the mean time, German energy giant RWE, the strategic investor in Belene, is trying to find a way to participate in the project without hurting its image even further. Its reputation already got severely budged because of shareholder opposition against the participation in Belene as well as several glitches in its German nuclear power plants. It has become clear that RWE will not accept the project as it was - and there continue to be severe doubts whether it will accept the project at all. To hedge against financial risks, RWE is currently looking for partners. It is in negotiations with Fortum of Finland, and two unnamed Swedish companies of which one is most probably Vattenfall. It also talks with InterRAO from Russia, complicating the picture of Russian control over the project even further. This would mean that not only the design and construction are done by Russia (Atomstroyexport), the fuel will come from Russia (TVEL), the money might come from Russia, but also operation would happen with Russian participation. This picture raises many eyebrows because the Belene project was always sold to the public with the argument of less energy dependence on Russia.

Environmental NGOs in Finland and Sweden are already gearing up to make possible investors aware of the problems surrounding Belene. In Germany, Belene is becoming increasingly the big blotch on the shirt of RWE and actions are in preparation on the side of environmentalists, but also RWE customers and shareholders.

Pressure is high on the whole project and all partners seem to try to create an image that things go forward - all waiting for an other one to make the first step out. The question does not seem any longer whether the Belene project will be stopped, but rather who will be courageous enough to pull the plug. Borisov has a unique chance to prevent further financial bleeding of his country into megalomania projects, unless he is hit by the virus himself. RWE has a chance to dump the Belene project as a first step towards making the company more sustainable. Your bets, please!

Source: Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace energy campaigner, EU Unit Brussels, Belgium.
Contact: Jan Haverkamp (Greenpeace): [email protected]
Heffa Schücking (urgewald): [email protected]
Petko Kovachev (Green Policy Institute, Sofia); [email protected]

Belgian nuclear phase-out law coupled with windfall profit tax

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#691
5969
16/07/2009
Bram Claeys, Bond Beter Leefmilieu
Article

Federal prime minister Van Rompuy contemplates filling the budget deficit with a tax on the depreciated nuclear power plants. The Belgian nuclear energy production indeed delivers a profit of at least 1 billion Euro a year to Electrabel (GdF/Suez). They have been depreciated quicker in the regulated market, at the expense of the Belgian consumer. Therefore, it is more than legitimate to try to recuperate this windfall profit, something that the environmental movement, the trade unions and the consumer’s organizations, have been advocating for over a year now. There is however no reason at all to couple this windfall profit tax with a lifetime extension of the nuclear power plants.

The windfall profit tax is a compensation for the faster depreciation of the power plants. It increased the Belgian power prices, and therefore the Belgian consumer has a right to compensation, now that the markets have been deregulated. Electrabel does not need to get something in return. To the contrary, if in return for the tax, the power plant’s lifetime would be extended, this would mean an extra bonus for Electrabel. They would thus be able to maintain their domination over the Belgian energy market with their depreciated power plants.

And of course there is no logic to the train of thought of the prime minister, as he is looking for a solution to the budget deficit today, with a fix that would only enter into force as of 2015, the date the first reactors should shut down.

The energy minister, Paul Magnette, ordered a team of Belgian and international experts to advise him on the ideal energy mix for Belgium. The so-called GEMIX-commission produced their draft report on July 2. The purpose of the report is to help decide the Belgian government what to do with the nuclear power plants.

The primary advice of the commission is to focus much more on energy efficiency. They also advocate strongly in favor of a windfall profit tax on the nuclear power plants. The commission puts a lot of emphasis on the sub-ideal functioning of the Belgian power market. And of course they discuss at length the possibilities for lifetime extension of the nuclear power plants. The report considers all options as still open, including the maintenance of the phase out as planned. It does however not consider the building of a new nuclear power station as a realistic option at this point, due to uncertainties over the economics and technical aspects of the new generations of nuclear power plants.

The argumentation in connection with the lifetime extension is very weak, however. Notably the feasibility and financial aspects of the extension is very poorly documented, and omits key aspects. The report now enters a phase of public consultation.

Source and contact: Bram Claeys, Bond Beter Leefmilieu. Tweekerkenstraat 47, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.bblv.be

Nuclear Power in Taiwan: accidents waiting to happen

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#688
5950
07/05/2009
Gloria Hsu, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union
Article

It was in February 2001, in order to mend political rift caused by cancellation of fourth nuclear power plant in Taiwan, both parties, the Democratic Progressive (DPP, ruling, then) and the Nationalist (KMT, ruling, current) Party agreed, Taiwan will be a “no nuclear homeland”, and the fourth nuclear power plant is the last one.

As climate change is becoming too imminent to ignore, the only remedy of the KMT government is nuclear power, which happened to be the main theme in recent National Energy Forum, held last April. KMT’s energy proposals includes: extended lifetime to 60 years for current reactors; 6 to 8 new reactors from 1.35GW each to increase the share of nuclear in electricity-mix from 13.5% in 2007 to over 30% after 2025. But strong opposition from civil society (and renewable industries) prevented those proposals reaching “consensus” in the April National Energy Forum. However, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan still stresses that “nuclear is the essential transition energy towards low carbon economy” in his closing remarks.

By the way, this energy forum produced no targets on energy efficiency improvement, or the share of renewable energy and also no cap on industry energy consumption. President Ma Ying-jeou only promises CO2-emissions returning to 2008 levels between 2016 and 2020, and back to 2000 levels at 2025. Taiwan’s CO2 emissions in 2000 were 100% more than that of 1990.

NPP4, disaster in the making

In 1996 General Electric won the contract of the fourth nuclear power plant (NPP4). Since it no longer manufactures any reactors, it subcontracted the reactors to Hitachi and Toshiba, and the generators to Mitsubishi. One question is whether this arrangement violates the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty since no diplomatic ties exist between Japan and Taiwan.

Unlike the construction of the existing three nuclear power plants more than 20 years ago, construction of the fourth plant is now supervised by Taipower Company which has no experience in this matter. On February 5 2008, a local newspaper (the Apple Daily News: “Hidden Dangers of the fourth nuclear power plant”) revealed that between January and November 2007, Taipower changed the GE design in 395 places without applying permission from the Atomic Energy Council, as law requires.

Among the 395, a total of 20 alternations may jeopardize major safety features. One alternation is the welding of the emergency cooling water system. Instead of using nuclear-grade sealing gaskets in conduit, Neoprene, or Chlorinated Polyethylene materials are found in NPP4 nuclear islands. These materials are specifically disallowed in GE design. In addition, hot-dip galvanized steel or galvanized steel are replaced with zinc electroplating steel. Zinc electroplating steel is usually 10 to 30 times thinner than the other two types of steel.

In the same February 5 article, Taipower claimed that GE’s design flaws makes welding of the cooling-water system impossible and that they had to alter the original design. In June 2008, in an article (“Current status and challenges of Taiwan nuclear energy”) in the Taiwanese edition of Scientific American, Taipower states that the GE’s NPP4 design is over conservative, and requires ‘10 to 100 times more (steel, cement) than necessary’. A Taipower representative admits that toxic fumes will be released if neoprene is heated. However, “under such condition, everyone dies, who cares about toxic gases.”

Saving 2/3 of cost is the main reason to replace galvanized steel with zinc electroplating steel. Taipower representative also claimed that power plant indoor is dry enough, therefore “no need to worry about material life expectancy (corrosion).” However, NPP4 safety specifications clearly state that material for indoor equipment has to last 40 years under 10 to 100% normal humidity, and maximum humidity during accident conditions – first 6 hours steam, next 99 days 18 hours 100%.

Amid those questions, officials from the regulatory body – the Atomic Energy Council – said “(material of) gasket and conduit are no concern of plant safety.”

A recent incident revealed how good the construction quality control is! In the night of September 13 2008, Typhoon Sinlaku hit northern Taiwan. The nuclear island of the second reactor of NPP4 was flooded with more than 2 meters of muddy water for 4 days due to heavy rain! Almost all major safety features were under water, including control rod moving assembly and cooling-water condenser, along with 50+ pumps, numerous valves, etc. To blame for this was a not properly sealed opening to an unfinished underground tunnel.

What else will follow?

Low-level nuclear waste

By Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council's definition, everything except the used fuel is low-level nuclear waste. Initially, Taipower (i.e., the Taiwan Power Company) promised in the initial Environmental Impact Assessment of NPP4, to have a permanent low-level nuclear waste storage facility in operation by the end of 2001. This sentence was removed in later EIA modifications. As of December 2008, a total of 192,898 barrels of low level nuclear waste were produced from existing 6 reactors. Since shipments are blocked from unloading since 1996, some 97,960 barrels are stored at the designated site on Orchid Island, home of the Tao tribe. The rest is stored inside three nuclear power plants.

In May 2006, the DPP government passed the “Low-level nuclear waste permanent storage site act”. Commissions formed by selected experts first have to find ‘potential sites’, and then select “suggested candidate sites (SCS)” from these “potential sites”. Local governments of SCSs will vote (agree or reject) to be “candidate site”.  On August 29, 2008, the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced three potential sites: WangAn of PengHu (Pescadores) County, DaZen of TaiDong County, and MuDan of PingDong County. On March 17, 2009, it was announced that MuDan was eliminated from the Suggested Candidate Sites. PengHu County opposes the possibility to be nuclear waste dumpsite by designating the location as a “Nature (Basalt) Reserve”. But the Taipower Company said it will not give up easily.

Residences of DaZen of TaiDong County are mainly indigenous tribes, with an average income lower than national. The County parliament hosted a public hearing on April 8, opposing the central government decision and demanded removal of the nuclear waste from Orchid Island (which is located in the same county).

High-level nuclear waste

Currently all spent fuel is stored on-site. As of October 2008, there are 5,206, 6,864, 2,127 fuel assemblies, respectively, in three nuclear plants. Taipower claims it will fall short of space for spent fuel if all existing reactors run 40 years. Interim on-site (dry) storage for spent fuel was proposed for NPP1 and its EIA passed in 1995. Taipower revived the idea in 2005. After nine review meetings, the modified EIA finally passed in March 2008, despite opposition from local government and residences. A similar process for on-site dry storage of spent fuel from NPP2 is underway.

Citing costs-concern and self-dependency, it is decided that dry casks will be home made. Worries about this include lack of experiences, early rust and leakages in the humid salty environment, and that the interim storage may eventually become a permanent dump site.

Source and contact: Gloria Hsu, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union. 2nd Floor, No. 107, Section 3, Ting Chou Road, Taipei, Taiwan 100.
Tel: +886 2 363 6419
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.tepu.org.tw/

Fight against Borssele not over

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#588
13/06/2003
Article

(June 13, 2003) The new three-party coalition government of The Netherlands (Christian-Democrats, Liberals and Democratic-Liberals), installed in the last week of May, has decided to keep the last Dutch NPP, Borssele, open until at least 2013. Officially, the text of the government agreement reads: "The nuclear power plant Borssele will be closed when its technical design lifetime has ended (at the end of 2013)".

 

(588.5521) WISE Amsterdam - For environmentalists it had been exciting months after the 22 January parliament elections. A coalition of Social-Democrat PvdA and Christian-Democrats CDA appeared to be evident, seen the outcome of the elections (both won and could gain a clear majority coalition). The Social-Democrats had a very out-spoken promise on the table to get Borssele closed as soon as possible.

However, coalition talks failed when the Christian-Democrats withdraw after several weeks of talks. Within a few weeks a coalition was formed between CDA, Liberals (VVD) and Democratic -Liberals (D'66). D'66 was also in favor of closing Borssele but gave up this position in the talks.

Although not surprising (but nevertheless wrong) The Netherlands are still being considered one of those countries who decided to step out of nuclear energy. Already in 1994, the government decided that Borssele was to be closed at the latest before 1 January 2004. It followed a parliament decision which voted in majority for this closure date.

The implementation of the parliament vote was also a coalition agreement (the Netherlands have at least 12 parties in parliament and almost always a government based on a coalition with three parties) and the Liberals in the government made very clear they did actually not support the decision.

As one of the Liberal ministers was responsible for implementation of the decision (initiating - on time! -, amendments to law etc.) the government failed to do so correctly.

The utility successfully went to court and won the case; in a much more liberalized energy-market is was not up to the government to take a decision in the way it had been done (it could have been done otherwise) to close the reactor.

After the disastrous outcome of the elections in May 2002 (short after the assassination of the very popular right-winged politician Fortuyn by a radical environmental activist), a massive majority for the conservative parties was established, including Christian-Democrats, Liberals and the Fortuyn Party.

These three formed a government coalition. There was little hope that the NPP would ever be closed. But the government managed to blow itself up after less than 3 months.

WISE has been continuously pressing for closure of Borssele. Besides political (lobby)work. WISE also campaigns against the owner of the plant, Essent, the largest electricity utility in the country. They want to keep Borssele open as long as possible. Essent is also the largest importer of nuclear electricity from other countries (France, Germany and Belgium).

Since 18 months the domestic market for so-called green electricity is free for private consumers; everyone can switch to another retailer. The aim of the WISE campaign was to make Essent known as the nuclear retailer.

In this way WISE put pressure on Essent as quite some people - at least those who decided to buy green electricity - do not want to support a utility which owns a nuclear reactor.

The campaign itself has been quite successful, although there was little support from other - much bigger - environmental organizations. Most of them do not consider nuclear energy as an important issue anymore and quite some of them work closely together with Essent (like the Dutch branch of WWF) as Essent successfully markets itself as the retailer which does the most to promote green electricity.

On 27 May, WISE was invited by the CEO of Essent to have a round-table conversation. The opportunity was also used to hand over the more than 10.000 signatures of people asking Essent to stop selling nuclear energy.

The meeting appeared to be a waste of time. The Board of Essent in no way feels itself responsible for issues as whether nuclear energy is dangerous for the environment and mankind. As Borssele has been economically written-off this year it is a good money-maker for Essent.

Essent says it is up to the politicians to decide on the future of nuclear energy, but they also made clear their believe that nuclear would still have a bright future ahead.

As of 1 January 2004, the whole electricity-market in The Netherlands will be opened (green. coal, nuclear, etc.). Everyone can switch from one retailer to the other. This will open new opportunities for campaigning efforts by WISE.

To be continued,

Source and Contact: WISE Amsterdam

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