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Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan

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

Iran

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

1

2011-09-03

0.0

The nuclear industry is relatively young in Iran. Most activities, up to now, have been focused on the research and production of radioisotopes for research, medical and industrial uses. Recently, due to the planning and construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,  Iran is investing heavily in developing its fuel cycle facilities. The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) oversees uranium milling and mining at Saghand, yellowcake production at Ardakan, conversion at Esfahan, enrichment at Natanz, fuel fabrication at Esfahan, and an interim waste facility at Anarak. The AEOI also oversees the nuclear research centers.(*01)

There are a few known waste storage facilities, but only very limited knowledge about scope and capacity. The IAEA learned of the Karaj radioactive waste storage facility in 2003. In the same year, Iran shipped dismantled equipment used in laser enrichment experiments and materials resulting from uranium conversion experiments to the site, where IAEA inspectors viewed them in October 2003. Environmental samples taken by the IAEA at the site in 2005 revealed traces of highly enriched uranium on a container. In response, Iran declared that the traces originated from leaking reactor fuel assemblies at the Tehran Research Reactor. After further investigating the issue, the IAEA concluded that "the statements of Iran are not inconsistent with the Agency's findings, and now considers this issue as resolved."

Anarak is also a nuclear waste disposal site. Iran told the IAEA in 2003 that waste resulting from the experiments irradiating UO-2 targets and separating the plutonium at JHL nuclear center was solidified and sent to Anarak.(02)

In February 2005, Iran agreed to repatriate Bushehrs spent fuel to Russia and thus significantly reduced the risk of nuclear proliferation (and the need for spent fuel disposal), and Russia has a deal with Iran to provide nuclear fuel for the first 10 years to the Bushehr power plant.(*03)

Italy

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

0

1963-05-12

0.00%

The 8 November 1987 Italian referendum on nuclear power was launched after the April 1986 Chernobyl accident by the Green Party. A majority voted against nuclear power. (*01) Subsequently, the government decided in 1988 to phase out existing plants 1990.(*02) The main national operator entitled to perform spent fuel, radioactive waste and decommissioning activities is Sogin (Società Gestione Impianti Nucleari).(*03)

A quest to find host communities for national sites to build repositories for the disposal of low and intermediate level and of high level waste met strong local and national opposition and no site was selected.(*04) A new procedure national repository for the LLW disposal was established in 2008. Sogin will make a list of suitable regions, and if no community volunteers, Sogin will submit the list to the Ministry of Economic Development indicating the first three more suitable sites. Within 30 days an inter-institutional Committee will be created, with the participation of representatives from different Ministries and Regions. However, the time schedule (site selection in 2012) has been postponed.(*05)

Reprocessing
Since the beginning of its nuclear program, Italy had pursued the option to reprocess abroad the spent fuel. After the political decision to stop all nuclear power activities, the policy of reprocessing abandoned, even though the last shipment took place in 2005 as closure of the service agreements signed in the past. As far as the spent fuel still present in Italy, in 1999 the option of on-site dry storage was initially selected , this was difficult to implement due to the strong opposition of local communities, who considered the presence of the dry stored spent fuel as an obstacle for the release of the site.

So the option to reprocess was reopened and in November 2006 an agreement with the French government, regulating the transfer to France of spent fuel, was signed and in April 2007, Sogin signed a contract with Areva. The first shipment of spent fuel to France took place in December 2007 and shipping the waste has to  be completed in 2012. All reprocessing waste is scheduled to return in 2025 at the latest.

Waiting for the availability of the national storage site, the waste will continue to be stored on site. In most nuclear installations new temporary storage facilities have been constructed or are under design or construction. In some cases the refurbishing of existing buildings has been considered.(*06)

In 2010, Sogin was selected as the organization responsible for the identification of the national site and the construction of the high-level radioactive waste repository (surface and reversible). Within the same decree is laid out the siting procedure for the repository, which, in an attempt to soften opposition in possible host communities, will be part of a technology park including a center of Excellence for research and training in the field of decommissioning and radioprotection.(*07)

From 2009 on, the Italian Government, with the aim to restart a new nuclear program, established the necessary legislative provisions. But another popular referendum (launched before the March 2012 Fukushima accident) on 12 June 2011  abandoned the new nuclear program in Italy again.(*08)

Japan

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

50

1970-11-17

18.14%

In Japan the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NUMO) was set up in October 2000.

The country has interim storage facilities for all waste classifications at or near the Rokkasho-mura reprocessing plant. A final disposal facility is expected to be in operation at 2035. The waste management strategy is reprocessing of all spent fuel: first in Europe, and then domestic at Rokkasho. Japan dumped low-level waste in the Pacific Ocean in 12 dumping operations between 1955 and 1969.(*01)

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is seeking permission from the Aomori prefecture to build a low-level waste storage facility at Rokkasho, adjacent to the reprocessing plant. In particular this will be for LLW and what is internationally designated as ILW returned from France from 2013. NISA recommended approval early in 2012 to increase capacity to 2000 drums (200-liter).(*02)

Interim storage & reprocessing
In 1995, Japan's first high-level waste interim storage facility opened in Rokkasho-mura - the Vitrified Waste Storage Center. The first shipment of vitrified HLW from Europe (from the reprocessing of Japanese fuel) also arrived in that year. The last of twelve shipments from France was in 2007, making a total of 1310 canisters. The first shipments from UK arrived in March 2010, with 1850 canisters to go in about 11 shipments in the coming decade.(*03)

In 2005 the utilities Tepco and JAPC announced that a Recyclable Fuel Storage Center would be established in Mutsu City.The application was licensed in May 2010. Application for the design and construction approval was submitted to the Minister of METI in June 2010, and it was approved in August 2010, and the construction work started. The center will store spent fuel generated from Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) and Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs) in metallic dry casks, and is scheduled to start commercial operation in July 2012.(*04) The JPY 100 billion facility will provide interim storage for up to 50 years before used fuel is reprocessed.(*05)

The Rokkasho reprocessing plant is seriously delayed. First expected to start operation in 1992(!)(*06) and in 1998 supposed start in January 2003,(*07) is currently (April 2012) in a test phase and still not in full commercial operation. The pre-service tests of the main part of the reprocessing plant are now implemented by Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), and the completion is planned in October 2012.(*08)

Final disposal site selection
In the 1980s and 1990's two sites were selected for underground research laboratories: already in April 1984 Horonobe, and in August 1995 Mizunami. Mizuname is adjacent to the Tono uranium mine where various kinds of research were conducted using existing mine shafts.(*09)

In May 2000, the Japanese parliament (the Diet) passed the Law on Final Disposal of Specified Radioactive Waste (the "Final Disposal Law") which mandates deep geological disposal of high-level waste (defined as only vitrified waste from reprocessing spent fuel). In line with this, the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NUMO) was set up in October 2000 by the private sector to progress plans for disposal, including site selection, demonstration of technology there, licensing, construction, operation, monitored retrievable storage for 50 years and closure of the repository. Some 40,000 canisters of vitrified HLW are envisaged by 2020, needing disposal - all the arisings from the Japanese nuclear plants until then.

In December 2002, NUMO started to solicit applications (without a specified deadline) from local communities to host a geological repository for vitrified high-level waste that would be at least 300 meters underground. The plan is to select a site by the late 2020s. The selection process is to go through three stages: literature survey; preliminary investigation; detailed investigation for selection of a repository site (about 15 years). The facility would open to accept high-level wastes in the late 2030s.(*10)

Due to a lack of response from municipalities, the amount of the money offered to incentivize applications for the literature-survey stage was raised in 2007 to a maximum of ¥2 billion ($25 million). Up to ¥7 billion (US$90 million) would be provided during the preliminary investigation stage.(*11)

In January 2007, the mayor of Toyo-cho in Kochi Prefecture made the first application(*12) - but without consulting his town council. This resulted in his forced resignation and a special election in April 2007 that resulted in the victory of a candidate opposed to the application. The application was withdrawn.(*13) After this fiasco, the siting policy was changed to allow the government to actively solicit targeted municipalities to apply for a literature survey. So far, as of this writing, it has been the only application.(*14)

Repository operation is expected from about 2035, and the JPY 3000 billion (US$ 28 billion) cost of it will be met by funds accumulated at 0.2 yen/kWh from electricity utilities (and hence their customers) and paid to NUMO. This sum excludes any financial compensation paid by the government to local communities.

In mid 2007 a supplementary waste disposal bill was passed which says that final disposal is the most important issue in steadily carrying out nuclear policy. It calls for the government to take the initiative in helping the public nationally to understand the matter by promoting safety and regional development, in order to get the final disposal site chosen with certainty and without delay. It also calls for improvement in disposal technology in cooperation with other countries, revising the safety regulations as necessary, and making efforts to recover public trust by, for example, establishing a more effective inspection system to prevent the recurrence of data falsifications and cover-ups.

In order to make communities volunteer as possible repository host, the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan´s Advisory Board on High-level Waste Repository Safety issued the report on 'Safety Communication on Geological Disposal' in January 2011. This report is based on the "Committee’s recognition that it is important, in confidence building of the safety of geological disposal, to establish a safety communication system, which enables stakeholders or their representatives to participate in the process".(*15)

In the vision of Green Action Japan, “Japan's nuclear waste management policy is unsustainable and in deep trouble because it is dependent on reprocessing with no alternative plan formulated. Aomori Prefecture is concerned that without a final repository site selected and without the implementation of the pluthermal program, it will become the final de-facto repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste. In turn, local sites being targeted for interim storage are concerned that if reprocessing at the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant in Aomori does not go forward as planned, they in turn may become a de-facto waste dump because the spent fuel stored at their sites would not be able to be shipped to Rokkasho. In the meantime, the prefectures with nuclear power plants are stating they do not want to extend nuclear waste storage space any further.”(*16)

Kazakhstan

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

0

1973-07-16

0.00%

In 2003, Kazatomprom, the state owned nuclear company, developed a scheme where revenue generated from importing foreign radioactive waste would be used to fund the disposal of Kazakh waste. The country's environmental groups and the public severely opposed the proposal, and it never went ahead. (After joining the Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone, Kazakhstan committed itself to not importing foreign radioactive waste.) Still, Kazatomprom regularly pays fines for failing to follow laws regarding the storage of existing waste due to a lack of disposal sites.(*01)

Radioactive waste from nuclear power is stored in five different nuclear facilities. At present time Kazakhstan has no integrated and completed system for dealing with radioactive waste, raising serious environmental concerns. The Provisions for radioactive waste disposal were enforced by the Government Decree of 18 October 1996. The Provisions define the order for radioactive waste disposal in a deep geological repository, the procedure for obtaining permission from the regulatory bodies for its deep geological disposal and also establishes the list of necessary documents for this procedure.(*02)

In May 2011, the Minister of Environmental Protection Nurgali Ashimov said, Kazakhstan will not store nuclear waste from other countries. "In accordance with the legislation, it is prohibited to import nuclear waste to Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan will never store nuclear waste. Neither the Ministry nor the Government will allow importing it."(*03)

The Aktau BN-350 nuclear power plant was connected to the grid in 1972 and was shut down in 1999. It's spent fuel was stored on site in cooling pools, but in November 2010, all the fuel was removed to a new long-term storage facility. Over the course of 12 shipments during the last year, the spent fuel was transported over 3,000 kilometers from Aktau, near the Caspian Sea, to the Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility in Eastern Kazakhstan (MAEC).(*04

References:

Iran
*01- Nuclear Threat Initiative – Country Profile: Iran
*02- ISIS: Nuclear Iran, website, visited April 2012
*03- Ali Vaez, Charles D. Ferguson:  Towards Enhanced Safeguards for Iran’s Nuclear Program, FAS Special Report No. 2, October 2011, p.25, 28

Italy
*01- Energie e Innovazione: I risultati dei referendum sull' energia, November/December 1987
*02- WISE News Communique: Nuclear power in Italy finished,15 July 1988
*03- Italy: Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, Second Italian National Report, October 2008, p.5
*04- AFP: Italy backtracks on nuclear waste decision after mass protests, 27 November 2003
*05- OECD: Radioactive waste management and decommissioning in Italy, 2011, p.13-14
*06- Italy, October 2005
*07- OECD, 2011
*08- Nuclear Monitor: No to nuclear power – Historic victory Italian referendum, 17 June 2011 p.1

Japan
*01- IAEA: Inventory of radioactive waste disposals at sea, IAEA-Tecdoc-1105, August 1999
*02- World Nuclear Association, Nuclear Power in Japan, March 2012
*03- IPFM: Managing spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, 2011, p.54
*04- Japan: Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management National Report of Japan for the fourth Review Meeting, October 2011
*05- Akahata Sunday Edition: N-related money behind restart of N-waste storage facilities construction, 2 October 2011
*06- Nuclear Monitor 716: Two year delay for Rokkasho plant, 24 September 2010, p.6
*07- Nuke Info Tokyo: Japan's HLW disposal plan, CNIC, March/April 1998
*08- Japan, October 2011, p.2
*09- Nuke Info Tokyo, March/April 1998
*10- Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan: Siting Factors for the Selection of Preliminary Investigation Areas, December 2002
*11- NUMO 2008: Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Japan, July 2008, p.8
*12- NUMO: Toyo town applies as a volunteer area for exploring the feasibility of constructing a repository for high-level radioactive waste, Press release, 25 January 2007
*13- Aileen Mioko Smith: The Failures of Japan's Nuclear Fuel Cycle Program 1956 – 2007, Green Action Japan, May 2007
*14- no further applications are announced at the NUMO website, April 2012
*15- OECD: National framework for Management and regulation of radioactive waste and decommissioning, October 2011, p.9
*16- Green Action Japan: Japanese nuclear power plant waste, website, visited April 2012

Kazakhstan
*01- Togzhan Kassenova: Kazakhstan's nuclear ambitions, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 28 April 2008
*02- T. Zhunussova, O. Romanenko, M. Sneve, A. Kim, I. Tazhibaeva, A.Liland: Norway-Central Asia cooperation on nuclear safety and radiation protection. Regulations for radioactive waste handling for long-term storage and final disposal in Kazakhstan, 2009
*03- Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, accredited to Singapore, Australia and New Zealand: Kazakhstan not to store other countries' nuclear waste - Minister of Ecology N. Ashimov, 3 May 2011
*04- National Nuclear Security Administration: Joint Statement By Co-Chairs of the U.S.-Kazakhstan Energy Partnership On Successful Completion of the U.S.-Kazakhstan BN-350 Spent Fuel Program, 17 November 2010

Germany, Hungary, India

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

Germany

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

9

1961-06-17

17.79%

In Germany spent fuel removed from reactors untill 2005 is reprocessed. In the 2002 phase-out law, reprocessing is forbidden from 2005 on.(*01) Interim storage of reprocessing waste takes place at Gorleben. Interim storage of spent fuel takes place at Ahaus and on site.

Underground storage facilities are (planned) at Asse, Schacht Konrad, Morsleben and Gorleben. There are many low- and intermediate level waste storage facilities, some undergound (Morsleben, Asse), some on site (Karlsruhe, Mitterteich, Juelich, Greisfswald).(*02) (West-) Germany once dumped low- and intermediate level nuclear waste in the Atlantic Ocean, in 1967.(*03)

The experience with storage of nuclear waste in salt domes are dramatically bad. In Germany two salt domes with radioactive waste threaten to collapse. The cost to isolate the salt domes as well as possible, amounts € 6.1 billion. The planned storage in Gorleben, on which € 1.5 billion has been spent, has been controversial and will not begin before 2035, at the earliest.

1. The Asse salt dome
The Research Mine Asse II salt dome is situated in the state of Lower Saxony. From 1967 till 1978 about 125,000 barrels (or drums) of low-level and 1,300 barrels of intermediate-level radioactive waste have been stored there, for research purposes. The low-level radioactive waste is located in 12 caverns at 725 and 750 meters depth, the medium-level waste in one storage room at 511 m depth.(*04) Around 1970 it was the intention to store also high-level waste in the salt dome.(*05) This plan was a key reason for the Dutch government to opt for high-level waste disposal in salt domes; there were even Dutch experiments in Asse.(*06) However; there never has been high-level waste stored at Asse.

According to an information brochure from the GSF in April 1973: „The mine buildings would remain stable in case of flooding”. “The shaft Asse II is currently completely dry and leakproof. The possibility of flooding through the shaft into the mine buildings is therefore excluded.” Now for over 20 years around 12,000 liters of water per day flows into the salt dome. The formed brine has affected the waste drums, resulting in leakage of radioactivity.(*07) In 2009 at 700 meters depth radioactive cesium-137 has been found and it become known that already in 1988 cesium, tritium, strontium-90 and cobalt-60 has been measured in salt brine.(*08)

So, although it as claimed in the early 1970s that disposal at Asse would be secure for thousands of years, it turns out there is water influx after 15 years and radioactivity is leaking after 40 years.

This is an even bigger problem because in late August 2009 it was disclosed that there is not 9.6 but an amount of 28 kilograms of plutonium present in (mostly the LLW) in Asse.(*09) Ten days earlier, on August 19, the former German Environment Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said on the TV-program "Hartaberfair" of the public German television (Erstes Deutsches Fernsehen),(*10) that the safe closure of Asse will cost between €2 and €4 billion, the nuclear industry has paid €450,000 for the storage, the taxpayer will foot the rest of the bill. According to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) on 2009, cracks have emerged because corridors and caverns remained open for a long time, which caused instability and therefore insecurity in the salt dome.(*11)

On 3 September 2009 the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) said that it is unclear how long it takes before the shafts are no longer accessible and that therefore urgent measures are needed.(*12) Merkel's government agrees with that. On 15 January 2010 the BfS announces that all barrels must be excavated.(*13) According to the German environment minister Norbert Röttgen (CDU) retrieving the low-level waste is expected to cost €3.7 billion,(*14) with a further €200 million for the disposal of the intermediate level waste.(*15)
In May 2010 Röttgen called Asse "an example of a collective political failure, a failure independent of political parties". He first wants to open at least two storage chambers to investigate the condition of the barrels.(*16)

In February 2011, Dr. Heinz Geiser, the manager of the Gesellschaft für Nuklearservice (GNS), stated that for the barrels that are recovered to the surface a building has to be realized with a storage capacity of 275,000 m3. To avoid additional transports he says the facility has to be built near Asse.(*17) End May it is published that Bfs has been granted a permit has to retrieve  the radioactive waste.(*18)

The 100 page permit consists of 32 requirements BfS has to meet. If these requirements are met, exploration of two storage rooms with nuclear waste, rooms 7 and 12, can start. It will begin with drillings into these two storage rooms to get an impression of the state of the nuclear waste and the storage rooms itself. Cameras have to shed some light on the state of the barrels. Measuring equipment must give information about the air quality in those rooms, which include possibly a concentration of flammable or explosive gas, and high levels of at least tritium and radon are expected. BfS will then analyze the results of the measurements and observations. If this assessment is positive, then both chambers at 750 meters depth will be opened. The next step is the recovery of the waste drums.(*19)

But much more has to be done. For example: the retrieval of the nuclear waste must comply with the requirements of the Nuclear Energy Act. Therefore, the existing shaft has to be made safer. But there is still a risk that the salt dome is filled with water. Therefore, the storage mine has to be stabilized. If water flows in uncontrolled, emergency measures have to take into effect. These include methods to close the storage rooms and the shafts quickly and to spray magnesium chloride in the storage mine. With this, BfS wants to ensure that as little as possible radioactive substances can be released when the mine is filled with water.
Because the existing shaft is not suitable for the recovery because of the limited capacity, a new shaft has to be constructed to retrieve the barrels in a safer and faster way to the surface.(*20)

The excavated drums are temporarily stored above ground in a building, but there is still no decision on where that storage building has to come. Then the drums have to be stored somewhere permanently. But also the final destination is unknown.(*21) Although still far from clear what will happen exactly, all stakeholders are convinced that they are dealing with something unique. Retrieval of drums with nuclear waste from a geological repository has happened nowhere in the world.(*22) In December 2011 it became known that BfS-experts think that already within a year much water can come in the salt dome, which would make the retrieval of nuclear waste no longer feasible.(*23,24) This message caused much anxiety among the population and politicians. The state secretary of Environment, Ursula Heinen-Esser, declared on 8 February 2012 to stick to the excavation of all barrels,(*25) and added on 13 February 2012 that the excavation can take as much as forty years instead of the planned ten years.(*26)
Wolfram König, director of the BfS, while thinking that excavation of all drums is necessary,  also said in early February 2012: "The history of Asse is a prime example of how a safe disposal of nuclear waste must not be carried out. In this textbook case is written that there is relied too much on technical solutions and there was paid too little attention to the limits of knowledge and the taking of responsibility."(*27)

2. The Morsleben salt dome
The (former East-) German salt dome Morsleben is a final disposal mine for low and medium level radioactive waste. The intention is to fill and close the salt dome. That will costs €2.2 billion public money.(*28) In the mine in Saxony-Anhalt are stored 37,000 m3 of low and medium level waste and 6,700 used radiation sources.
In 2000, because the salt dome threatened to be filled with water and to collapse, the German government stopped with the disposal in Morsleben. In March 2003, it was decided to fill as soon as possible 670,000 m3 of storage room of the salt dome with a mixture of salt, coal ash,

cement and water. This mixture is called salt concrete. In order to cover the radioactive waste safely forever from environmental influences, a total of 4 million cubic meters must be filled. The BfS estimates that, when a license is obtained, a period of 15 years is required for filling and final closure of the salt dome. On 27 August 2009 it was found that thousands of tons of salt can fall down from the ceiling of storage rooms.(*29)

3. The Gorleben salt dome
The most important salt dome in Germany is the one in Gorleben. Since 1977 research takes place in and around the salt dome, with total costs (in 2008) of  €1.5 billion.(*30) It remains unclear, however, why Gorleben has been chosen on the first place: on 30 January 2010 it was announced that Gorleben initially was not found on the list of possible salt domes.(*31) As a large number of reports from the 1970s are now public, it is possible to try to reconstruct the decision-making process. In a May 2010 study of the historian Anselm Tiggemann it is revealed that although Gorleben was on top of a 1975/6 list of 20 possible locations. In 1976, the choice fell however, on the salt domes Wahn, Lutterloh and Lichtenhorst. After much opposition against research at these locations the choice fell on Gorleben, but without any collection of data to compare Gorleben with other salt domes. That feeds, according to Tiggeman, the idea that political motives have played a role.(*32) On 10 June 2010, in an advice to the Parliament, Jürgen Kreusch wrote(*33) that little was known about Gorleben in 1977, and it is hard to understand why the choice fell on Gorleben.

Gorleben is the world's model for storage in salt domes. But already in 1977, in a large-scale study, it was discovered that the salt dome is in contact with groundwater. And the German geologists Detlef Appel and Jürgen Kreusch demonstrate in their November 2006 report that the covering layer above the salt in an area of 7.5 square kilometers is missing.(*34) With that the dome doesn’t meet a central requirement for suitability.
At least since 26 August 2009, the then German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel thinks the salt dome is unsuitable for storage of radioactive waste, because of safety reasons.(*35) Those risks were already known 25 years ago, but research reports about that have not been published until recently. Besides all this, treaties with landowners, including the land where the salt dome lies, expire in 2015. According to the Mining Act, the construction of the disposal mine has to stop then.

In the 26 October 2009 CDU-CSU-FDP coalition agreement, the new government declared that it want to lift the year 2000 moratorium for further research. It states the research must be transparent and not anticipate a specific result. Also, the region must be compensated for the fact that the disposal is of national importance.(*36)

In December 2011 the Federal Government and the governments of the states decided that a comparative study into final disposal sites should take place and legislation should be made in 2012. According to the agreement a number of locations have to be selected in 2014, where research will be done until late 2019 leading to a final selection. From 2019 on underground research will take place, followed by authorization and commissioning from 2035.(*37)

Then a debate emerged about whether Gorleben still qualifies as a repository.(*38) Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen (CDU) is sticking to Gorleben and in a March 1, 2012  meeting of Federal and state environment ministers no agreement could be reached on this. But the ministers decided that attention should be given to education of the population at the possible disposal sites: information centers will be opened and discussion meetings with the population will be held.(*39) The local and regional groups are disagreeing and claim there are already more than enough arguments to remove Gorleben from the list.(*40)

Then, on March 2012, the government decided to stop research at Gorleben for a number of years and first investigate other locations.(*41) For the Greens, the Social Democrats and even part of the Christian Democrats, this decision is not enough: they want a 'blank map” to start with: Gorleben should be abandoned as disposal site.

Hungary

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

4

1982-12-28

43.25%

PURAM, the Public Agency for Radioactive Waste Management, is a 100% state owned company responsible for the management of radioactive waste, and was established on 2 June 1998 by the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority.(*01)

The strategy on low and intermediate level waste disposal is burying in cemented form in steel drums in a shallow-ground disposal site, maintained for 600 years. Since 1986, ILW/LLW from the Paks nuclear power station has been stored at Paks, due to public opposition to its continued burial at the existing disposal site at Puspokszilagy. Public opposition also prevented disposal of Paks-generated waste at the alternative site at Ofalu. Until this situation is resolved, the waste is stored on site at Paks.(*02) In October 2008, a final surface storage facility was inaugerated at Bataapati and construction begun on underground disposal vaults. Bataapati, was selected from some 300 potential locations after a 15-year selection and development process. Final approval was given by parliament in 2005.(*03) The construction of the underground caverns has not been finished, but some low-level waste is stored on surface facilities.(04)

Final geological disposal
Awaiting a final disposal facility spent fuel is stored on site at the ISFSF (Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility) for a period of 50 years.(*05)
The exploration program to find a final disposal repository for high level wastes was launched at the end of 1993, with the investigation of the Boda region. Although this program outlined long-term ideas, it mainly focused on the in-situ site investigations carried out by the Mecsek Ore Mining Company in the area of the Boda Claystone Formation at 1100 m depth (accessible from the former uranium mine) during 1996-98. The program was limited to three years because of the closure of the mine in 1998; the reason for this was that the existing infrastructure of the mine could be economically utilised only during this time period.(*06) It was stated in the final report, that there was no condition which could be used as argument against the disposal of high level wastes in the Boday claystone formations. PURAM launched a countrywide geological screening program in 2000, and it was concluded that the Boda Aleurolit Formation had proven to be the most promising host rock for the high level waste repository. But due to financial restraints most of the research stopped in the years after. A revised schedules foresees in developing criteria for site selection un till 2015; completion of safety assessments (2030); construction of an underground lab (in 2038) and must result in commissioning of a geological repository in 2064.(*07)

India

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity  

20

1969-04-01

3.68%

Nr. of reactors
The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was established in 1948 under the Atomic Energy Act as a policy body. Then in 1954 the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was set up to encompass research, technology development and commercial reactor operation. The current Atomic Energy Act is from 1962, and it permits only government-owned enterprises to be involved in nuclear power.(*01)

In the context of India's nuclear fuel cycle, spent fuel is not considered waste but a resource. The spent fuel is temporarily stored on site, before transported for reprocessing. A three-step strategy for high-level waste has been established: immobilization, interim retrievable storage of  conditioned waste and disposal in deep geological formations. According to the national policy, each nuclear facility has its own near-surface disposal facility for low and intermediate-level waste. Currently there are seven NSDFs in operation.(*02)

Radioactive wastes from the nuclear reactors and reprocessing plants are treated and stored at each site. Waste immobilization (vitrification) plants are in operation at Tarapur and Trombay and another is being constructed at Kalpakkam. The Tarapur facility consists of an underground hydraulic vault, which in turn houses two more vaults, which can store about 1700 casks for 20-30 years before they are planned to be transported to a deep geological repository.(*03)

Reprocessing
Research on final disposal of high-level and long-lived wastes in a geological repository is in progress at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Trombay.(*04)
Amid concerns over waste management at the proposed nuclear power plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in January 2011 said it was not an immediate problem for India and lamented a lack of balanced environmental approach towards nuclear energy. "This discussion has come at a time when there had been a lot of concern about Jaitapur. A lot of concern has been raised about waste management...today, we don't have a waste management problem. We will have it by the year 2020-2030," Ramesh said.(*05)

A program for development of a geological repository for vitrified high level long lived wastes is being pursued actively, involving In situ experiments, site selection, characterization and laboratory investigations. For assessment of the rock mass response to thermal load  from disposed waste overpack, an experiment of 8-years duration was carried out at a depth of 1000 m in an abandoned section of Kolar Gold mine.(*06)

The Department of Atomic Energy will set up an underground laboratory in one of its uranium mines to study qualities of the rock at the mine bottom to decide whether it can be used to store nuclear waste. "We are looking for a rock formation that is geologically stable, totally impervious and without any fissures," Atomic Energy Commission chairman Srikumar Banerjee told reporters in Delhi.(*07)

Over the next five years, scientists are going to study a set of physical and geological parameters required for setting up the deep geological disposal facility before zeroing in on its location. The options vary from underground storage in rocky central India to plains where the storage may be housed inside layers of clay. The proposed repository will have large chambers with adequate shielding where nuclear waste from all over the country will be transported periodically. There would be also automatic heat management and radioactivity monitoring.(*08) There is no planned date for a final repository coming into operation.

References:

Germany
*01- International Panel on Fissile Materials, Managing spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, 2011, p.43
*02- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Nuclear Waste Repository Case Studies: Germany, Michael Sailer, 29 August 2008
*03- IAEA: Inventory of radioactive waste disposals at sea, Tecdoc-1105, August 1999, p.34
*04- Nuclear Heritage: Information about the Research Mine Asse II, late 2008
*05- Ipsen, Kost, Weichler: Analyse der Nutzungsgeschichte und der Planungs- und Beteiligungsformen der Schachtanlage Asse II, University of Kassel, Germany, March 2010 p.17
*06- NRC Handelsblad, 'Opslag kernafval in zoutlagen kan heel goed', April 5, 1984.
*07- Shaft ASSE II – a pilot project for nuclear waste storage in a mine shaft / the research mine for nuclear waste storage, Chronology 1.11.2007
*08- Bundnis90/Die Grünen: Asse-Chronik –Vom Umgang mit Atommüll in Niedersachsen, Hannover, June 2009.
09- BMU (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety): Mehr Plutonium in Asse als bislang angenommen, Press release 281/09, 29 August 2009
*10- Erstes Deutsche Fernsehen, Hartaberfair, 19 August 2009
*11- Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, Endlager Asse: ein Überblick, August 2009
*12- Bundesamtes für Strahlenschutz: Wie soll die Asse stillgelegt werden?, Press release 29/09, 3 September 2009
*13- Bundesamtes für Strahlenschutz : BfS stellt Ergebnis des Optionenvergleichs zur Schließung der Asse vor, Press release 01/10, 15. January 2010:
*14- Frankfurter Rundschau: Milliardengrab Asse, 29 January 2010
*15- Umwelt-Panaroma: Stromkonzerne sollen offenbar für Asse-Sanierung zahlen, 6 February 2010
*16- Asse Einblicke: Niemand weiss, wann das erste Fass geborgen wird, 03/2010, May 2010, p4.
*17- Newsclick, Lager für Asse-II Müll wird grosser, 23 februari 2011
*Ge18- Asse Einblicke, Gemeinsam tragen wir verantwortung, nr. 13, May 2011, p 1
*19- Asse Einblicke, Auf dem Prüfstand, nr. 13, May 2011, p 1.
*20- Asse Einblicke, nr. 13, May 2011, p 2.
*21- Asse Einblicke, nr. 13, May 2011, p 2.
*22- Asse Einblicke, nr. 13, May 2011, p 1.
*23- Handelsblatt: Atommüllager Asse, Opposition warnt vor Umweltdisaster, 23 December 2011
*24- ZDF Heute, Bleibt der Atommüll doch im Asse-Schacht?, 23 December 2011
*25- Deutsche Bundestag: Bundesregierung: Noch kein Zeitplan für Rückholung des Atommülls aus der Asse möglich, 8 February 2012.
*26- Strom Magazin: Rückholung von Atommüll könnte 40 Jahre dauern, 13 February 2012
*27- Asse Einblicke: „Jeder muss für sein Tun geradestehen“, nr. 16, February 2012, p.1
*28- Deutsche Bundestag; Antwort auf eine Kleine Anfrage der Linksfraktion (16/9935), (answer on parliamentary questions) Bundestag, hib-Meldung, 2008_227/01, 8 August 2008
*29- Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, BfS trifft Vorsorge gegen möglichen Löserfall in Morsleben”  press release, 27 augustus 2009.
*30- Deutsche Bundestag; Antwort auf eine Kleine Anfrage der Linksfraktion (16/9935),(answer on parliamentary questions) Bundestag, hib-Meldung, 2008_227/01, 8 August 2008
*31- Elbe Jeetzel Zeitung: Gorleben per Hand  Nachgereicht, 30 January 2010.
*32- Anselm Tiggemann, Gorleben als Entsorgungs- und Endlagerstandort, study commissioned by Lower Saxony ministry for Environment and Climate Protection, May 2010
*33- Jürgen Kreusch, Ausarbeitung für den 1. Untersuchungsausschuss der 17. Wahlperiode (Gorleben-Ausschuss), Fragen und Antworten in Zusammenhang mit der Festlegung auf den Standort Gorleben und der Begründung zur untertägigen Erkundung (1979 – 1983), Hannover, 10. June 2010
*34- Detlef Appel  en Jürgen Kreusch, Das Mehrbarrierensystem bei der Endlagerung radioaktiver Abfälle. Warum der Salzstock Gorleben nicht als Endlager geeignet ist,  14 November 2006
*35- ZDF, Heute Nachrichten, 26 augustus 2009.
*36- CDU, CSU, FDP: Koalitionsvertrag zwischen CDU, CSU und FPD, 26 October 2009, p.21
*37- BMU: Bund und Länder einigen sich auf Endlager-Fahrplan, 15 December 2011
*38- ContrAtom: Ein Jahr Gorleben-Epilog, 12 February 2012
*39- Dadp, Suche nach Atommüllendlager weiter offen, 1 March 2012
*40- Bürgerinitiative Lüchow-Dannenberg: Gorleben-gegner fordern Bau- und Erkundigungsstopp und den Abbruch der vorlaufigen Sicherheitsanalyse Gorleben ein, 9 February 2012
*41-Süddeutsche Zeitung, Debatte um Atom-Endlagerstandorte; Bund will Gorleben einmotten, 23 March 2012

Hungary
*01- OECD: Radioactive waste management and decommissioning in Hungary, 2009
*02- IAEA: Country Profile; Hungary, NEWMDB reports
*03- WNN - Hungary inaugurates permanent waste repository, 9 October 2008
*04- PURAM:  The 11th medium and long-term plan of Puram, May 2011, p.8
*05- PURAM, May 2011, p.12
*06- Republic of Hungary: Second Report prepared in the framework of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, 2005, p.13
*07- PURAM, May 2011, p. 35-38

India
*01- World Nuclear Association: Nuclear Power in India, March 2012
*02- Upasana Choudhry: Half life, Radioactive waste in India, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, March 2009
*03- Deccan Herald: India keen on having nuclear waste repository, 14 February 2012
*04- World Nuclear Association, March 2012
*05-  The Times of India, Nuclear waste not an immediate problem for India: Ramesh, 3 January 2011
*06- Bhabha Atomic Research Centre: BARC Highlights: Nuclear fuel cycle, 2007, ch.17
*07- Daily News and Analysis India,  India scouting for sites to store nuclear waste, 14 February 2012
*08- Deccan Herald, 14 February 2012

China, Czech Republic, Finland, France

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

China

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

16

1991-12-15

1.85

In China, there are two storage facilities for intermediate-level waste and a centralized facility for high-level waste. A geological disposal repository for high-level waste will start operation in 2050 at the earliest.

Reprocessing
When China started to develop nuclear power, a 'closed fuel cycle' strategy was formulated and declared at an International Atomic Energy Agency conference in 1987: at-reactor storage; away-from-reactor storage; and reprocessing. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC)  has drafted a state regulation on civil spent fuel treatment as the basis for a long-term government program. There is a levy of CNY 2.6 cents/kWh on used fuel, to pay for its management, reprocessing, and the eventual disposal of HLW.(*01)

China began construction of a multi-purpose reprocessing pilot plant at Lanzhou nuclear complex in July 1997. This project was approved in July 1986 and began receiving spent fuels from Daya Bay reactors in September 2004. The plant is fully operational.

Moreover, a commercial reprocessing plant (800 tHM/a) is planned to be in commission around 2020 at the Lanzhou Nuclear Complex, and site selection has already begun.(*02) However, as of December 2009, no final agreement had been reached between China and France on the transfer of the relevant technologies; the plant construction appears to remain on hold.(*03)

Interim storage and final disposal
In the 1980’s, radioactive waste disposal work was initiated in China. The former Ministry of Nuclear Industry (MNI) subsidiary Science and Technology Committee set up a panel of radioactive waste treatment and disposal. The siting of solid LILW disposal site began in the 1980’s and was implemented under the auspice of the former Ministry of Nuclear Industry. Industrial-scale disposal of low- and intermediate-level wastes is at two sites, near Yumen in northwest Gansu province, and at the Beilong repository in Guangdong province, near the Daya Bay nuclear plant. These are the first two of five planned regional low- and intermediate-level waste disposal facilities.(*04)

A centralized used fuel storage facility has been built at Lanzhou Nuclear Fuel Complex, 25 km northeast of Lanzhou in central Gansu province. The initial stage of that project has a storage capacity of 550 tons and could be doubled.(*05) However, most used fuel is stored at reactor sites. New Chinese plant designs include on-site spent fuel storage with a capacity of 20 years worth of spent fuel.(*06)

Although most of China’s nuclear power plants are located in the more populated eastern regions, storage facilities are located in the far west. This policy is likely aimed at avoiding local opposition to locating these facilities near populated areas, signaling at least a marginal impact that public opinion might have on Chinese policies.

However, as one Chinese nuclear expert observed, unlike democratic systems where public opinion holds significant sway, the decision of the Chinese government is really “the only decisive factor for spent fuel management in China.”(*07) Since 2003, the spent fuel from two nuclear power plants in the southeastern province of Guangdong has been shipped to the Gansu facility – a distance of about 4000 kilometers. This is consistent with CNNC policy to ship spent fuel by rail to centralized storage facilities for interim storage and reprocessing.(*08)

In 1985, CNNC worked out an R&D program for the deep geological disposal of high/level waste. The preliminary repository concept is a shaft-tunnel model, located in saturated zones in granite.(*09)

Site selection and evaluation has been under way since then and is focused on three candidate locations in the Beishan area of Gansu province and will be completed by 2020. All are in granite. An underground research laboratory will then be built 2015-20 and operate for 20 years. The third step is to construct the final repository from 2040 and to carry out demonstration disposal. Acceptance of high-level wastes into a national repository is anticipated from 2050.(*10)

The regulatory authorities of high-level radioactive waste disposal projects are Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA). The China Atomic Energy Agency (CAEA) is in charge of the project control and financial management. CNNC deals with implementation, and four CNNC subsidiaries are key players: Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology (BRIUG) handles site investigation and evaluation, engineered barrier study and performance analyses, with the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) undertaking radionuclide migration studies. The China Institute for Radiation Protection (CIRP) is responsible for safety assessment, and the China Nuclear Power Engineering Company (CNPE) works on engineering design.(*11)

Czech Republic

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

6

1985-02-24

32.86%

State-owned utility CEZ is fully responsible for storage and management of its spent fuel until it is handed over to the state organization SURAO (RAWRA in English: Radioactive Waste Repository Authority), founded on 1 June 1997.(*01) Eventual provision of a high-level waste repository is the responsibility of RAWRA. Most of low and intermediate level waste is stored on site or moved to the near-surface repository in operation at Dukovany.(*02)

Long-term interim storage
The concept preferred at the moment is the long-term interim storage of spent fuel in container interim storage facilities at the sites of the nuclear power plants at Temelin and Dukovany. Problem concerning this is that the spent fuel must be stored in an interim storage facility for a very long period of time, because the final disposal in a repository is only planned after 2065. The condition of the nuclear waste or the level of the hazard potential of the waste at that stage is unforeseeable.(*03)

In agreement with the Policy for radioactive waste and spent fuel management of 2002 the Czech Republic anticipates to develop a national deep geological repository in magmatic crystallytic rocks (granites or homogenous gneiss massifs) after 2050 and it should start operation in 2065.

The program of the repository development started back in 1992 (in the first year jointly with the Slovak Republic). Thirty potential locations were gradually identified, of which 12 potential locations were selected with varied geological conditions and diverse host rocks. The first geological survey was performed on six locations with granitic massifs in 2003 – 2005, without utilization of surface survey methods, and areas were selected for future prospecting stage of the geological survey. The works were suspended in 2005 due to public resistance.(*04) On 17 December 2009 “as a gesture of goodwill”, RAWRA announced that it will make it possible for communities to claim a financial compensation for geological research work of potentially CZK 100 million in total.(*05)

On November 25, 2010 a working group for dialogue was established to “strengthen the transparency of the process of selection a suitable site for a deep geological repository of spent nuclear fuel and high level waste, with respect to the public interests and to facilitate the active participation of the public and the communities in particular in the related decision-making process.”(*06)

Based on results of the completed stage of negotiations with the general public the Administration anticipates the start of surveying works start gradually after “negotiations with the general public are completed" and “only if the affected municipalities get involved on a voluntary basis in the selection process of the future deep geological repository location.”(*07) One possible site is at Skalka in southern Moravia. In the late 1990s, this site was considered for a centralized used fuel interim storage facility as an alternative to the Temelin storage facility and to the storage capacity expansion at Dukovany (beyond the 600 t facility).(*08)

Finland

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

4

1977-02-08

31.58%

In 1994, the Nuclear Energy Act came into force, according to which all nuclear waste must be treated, stored and disposed of in Finland. Before that some of the spent fuel was sent to Russia.(*01) Posiva Oy is responsible for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel. It is established in 1995 by TVO and Fortum, two owners of nuclear power plants.(*02) Storage of spent fuel takes place on site until the final repository is finished. Finland hopes to begin with final disposal in granite around 2020-2025.

Onkalo
Preparations for the disposal of high level radioactive waste began in the late 1970s.(*03) In 1985, 102 potential sites were listed and in 1987 reduced to five for further research. This resulted in detailed site investigation at four sites from 1992 on, two of them at the Loviisa and Olkiluoto nuclear power plants. For all sites an environmental impact assessment was carried out and in May 1999, Posiva Oy proposed for a permit for the disposal at Olkiluoto in the municipality of Eurajoki. Local consent was highest in Olkiluoto and Loviisa, but at Olkiluoto a larger area was reserved for the repository and a larger part of the spent fuel was already stored there.

In January 2000 the town council of Eurajoki accepted the repository, followed by approval by the government and parliament in May 2001. In Finland the same disposal concept is applied as in Sweden.(*04) The construction application will be submitted in 2012, and operating license application in 2018. Posiva Oy expects that the first cannisters will go down in 2020 and final disposal will end in 2112. Around 2120, the repository is finally closed and sealed.(*05)

Construction of an underground rock characterization facility (called Onkalo) started in 2004. This will later become (part of) the final repository.(*06)

In May 2010 it was found that the time schedule might not be met. The Finnish TV showed that there is still much research to be done before the application for the permit (scheduled end of 2012) can take place. The Director of the Research Department of Posiva Oy, Juhani Vira, stated his willingness to request the permit at a later date.(*07)

However, in the planned facility will not have enough space for the spent fuel from the already approved nuclear reactor at Pyhäjoki. In October 2011, TVO and Fortum stated that the repository could not safely be expanded to accommodate used fuel from Fennovoima's planned plant.(*08) In March 2012, Despite pressure from the government to make a deal, Posiva Oy maintains that it could not be extended any further without compromising its long-term safety.(*09)

Because Finland has the same disposal concept as Sweden, there is the same criticism on the stability of the granite and on the use of copper. Dr. Johan Swahn, Director of the Swedish NGO office for nuclear waste review, wrote in December 2009: “There is no way that anyone can honestly claim that Posiva has a completed robust safety case. The Posiva safety case has not been developed independently, but relies entirely on the Swedish safety case work. The final test of the Swedish safety case will not be done until the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority gives an approval of the safety analysis…This will not be the case before 2013-2014.” “Already now there is concern from the authority about the barrier systems of copper and clay. It is not clear if all relevant copper corrosion processes are known and the risk for clay erosion is still not understood. So an approval is not at all certain. And nothing can today be claimed to be robust."(*10)

In 2010, the Swedish geologist Nils-Axel Mörner noted that there are many horizontal and vertical fractures around the planned repository. According to Mörner the safety is therefore not proven.(*11)

Geology Professor Matti Saarnisto, former Secretary-General of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, told in June 2010 Parliament that “an exaggeratedly positive image has been presented of the integrity of the structure of Olkiluoto’s bedrock”. He warns that a honeycomb of storage sites extending over an area of several square kilometres will weaken the bedrock, making it vulnerable to earthquakes, and that during an ice age permafrost could spread deep into the rock, potentially rupturing the canisters and releasing radioactivity into the groundwater.(*12)

The matter of fact is that to some extent all of the research institutes involved are suffering from a hostage syndrome. They see it as essential that spent fuel be disposed of at Olkiluoto, because it has been planned that way for decades. There is no scientific basis for it,” Saarnisto said in 2009.(*13)

France

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

58

1959-04-22

77.71%

As in almost all countries, in France, the storage of radioactive waste is controversial. Pressure groups believe the storage of high-level radioactive waste in clay, planned at Bure from 2025 at the earliest, is in violation of the legislation of the government, because there is only one underground laboratory and a 1991 law requires at least two. All spent fuel is reprocessed in La Hague. France dumped low- and intermediate level waste in sea twice, from 1967-1969.(*01)

LLW
Low-level radioactive waste was stored at the above-ground site CSM (Centre de Stockage de la Manche) from 1969 till 1994. In 1996, the government-appointed commission 'Turpin' concluded that the site also contains long-living and higher radioactive waste and that the inventory was not exactly known. The commission also found that radioactivity from the site is leaking into the environment. It however concluded that dismantling and reconditioning the waste would cost too much and might generate a significant risk to the workers involved.(*02)

ANDRA is currently operating two disposal facilities: one for short-lived low-level and intermediate-level waste (CSFMA) and the other for very-low-level waste (CSTFA), both situated in the Aube district.(*03)

The 2006 Planning Act calls for the commissioning by 2013 of a storage facility for low-level long-lived wastes. The opening of this new sub-surface (15 m to 100 m depth) facility has been seriously delayed, to at least 2019, by massive protests in the areas considered as possible sites. ANDRA launched a public call to 3,115 communities in 2008 for volunteers to host the facility. Forty-one applied for consideration and, in June 2009, the government selected two small villages both in the Aube department that already houses the two operating disposal facilities for short-lived wastes. But both communities withdrew “under the pressure of the opponents.”(*04) Currently, the project is suspended and ANDRA and the government are looking for a new approach. Pending the creation of a suitable disposal facility, existing LLW-LL waste is stored at the production sites or in facilities which have traditionally used radioactive applications.

ILW-LL and HLW
Pending the commissioning of a deep repository, intermediate-level, long-lived waste (ILW-LL) and high-level waste is stored at their production sites, mainly La Hague, Marcoule and Cadarache.

In 1979, the French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency ANDRA was established to manage and provide storage of nuclear waste. From 1987 to 1990 field study was conducted but protest against four test drilling forced the government to stop research and develop new policy.(*05) In 1991 parliament passed the Nuclear Waste Act, which regulated the new policy. The law is meant as a legal instrument for the creation of underground research laboratories, where studies will be conducted in potential host formations, at least at two locations and a best site will be chosen in 2006. It clearly prohibits the actual storage of nuclear waste in these laboratories. For this a new law had to be adopted after 2006.(*06)

Shortly thereafter ANDRA began with research in three new locations, which met fierce resistance. The French government stopped the investigation and wanted to consult the population. The government contracted for this reference Christian Bataille, then a member of parliament and undisguised supporter of nuclear power.(*07) In his search for a department that wanted to host an underground laboratory he spoke with people from different locations, elected officials and associations, but that did not lead to a broad support. Sometimes the disposal plans caused big splits in small local communities. In 1994, this disagreement was the reason why the mayor Michel Faudry from the potential host community Chatain in the department of Vienne committed suicide.(*08)

On January 6 1994, after the consultations Bataille chose three candidate departments for the underground high-level waste laboratories: Meuse, Gard, Haute-Marne and Vienne. Whether that laboratory is converted into a HLW-repository is a choice that will be made later. If a permit for the construction of an underground lab is given, the host community receives a compensation of €10 million per year during construction and operation of the laboratory.(*09)

Local groups were very dissatisfied with the state of affairs. In December 1997, the Conseil d'Etat rejected a complaint laid down in 1994 by residents of Meuse and Vienne on the Bataille mission. They stated that there had never been a real involvement of the affected population, as required by law. With this decision the Conseil d'Etat did not follow the advice of the so-called government commissioner, who agreed with the plaintiffs.(*10) Elected officials near Bure organized a nation-wide committee of elected officials opposed to underground labs.(*11) Associations of winegrowers in several area's (Cotes-du-Rhone and Roussillon) fear that their sales market will collapse if a nuclear waste repository is constructed in their neighborhood.(*12)

In 1997, in response to the protests, the French government decided to commission the National Assessment Commission (CNE) to study retrievability.(*13) CNE, a group that reviews progress on HLW management for government and parliament, published its report 'Thoughts on retrievability' in June 1998. CNE proposes retrievable storage (for TRU waste: non-heat-generating transuranic wastes) be licensed for relatively short periods – 50 years - to ensure that a decision must be taken on a regular base on whether or not the facility should be kept open. It also recommends long-term interim storage for spent fuel on the grounds that the fuel contains valuable energy products.(*14) In August 1999, the government authorized ANDRA to start work on an underground waste lab in a clay formation in Bure and to begin the process of finding a second site in granite. The Bure license would expire at 31 December 2006 by which time the parliament has to decide whether to transform the Bure site into a repository.(*15)

In December 1998 the departments Gard en Vienne were considered unsuitable because of geological reasons. The French government okay'd the waste lab at Bure in clay, but called for a new granite site.(*16)

Before the end of 2006 the government had to find a way out of a tough situation. The Nuclear Waste Act from 1991 required that at least two research laboratories should have been established, from which - following similar research - a choice had to be made. But there is only one underground laboratory: Bure.

Many environmental groups think that the government and ANDRA therefor do not comply with the law. In a December 2009 email Markus Pflüger of the anti-nuclear group Stop Bure in Trier (Germany) emphasized that again.(*17) But he also points at the fact that geological fault lines in the subsurface of Bure are denied by ANDRA: and, according to Pflüger, these fault lines are definitely a safety risk.

In June 2006 Planning Act was published.(*18) Besides 'optimizing repository concepts' and complete experimental program with technological demonstrations, it states that all operators of nuclear installations must estimate the future costs for the management of their spent fuel, decommissioning operations and the management of radioactive waste, and must allocate “the required assets to the coverage of those provisions.”

Commercial reprocessing, although originally introduced to obtain plutonium fuel for starting up fast-neutron reactors, is now clearly established as the national policy for spent-fuel management. A disposal facility for long-lived intermediate and high-level wastes is required to be in operation by 2025. No license shall be granted, however, “if the reversibility of such a facility is not guaranteed.” While the conditions of reversibility will be defined in a subsequent law, its minimum duration is one hundred years.

The license for the underground research laboratory in Bure (officially called LSMHM URL, often Bure is not even referred to) was initially until the end of 2006, but was extended on 23 December 2006 by the Government until the end of 2011. Therefore ANDRA has filed an application to renew it until 2030. The public inquiry was held from October 26 to November 30 and the licensing decree was granted on December 20, 2011.(*19) By making retrievability compulsory and to commission longer research, the French Government is circumventing the 1991 Nuclear Waste Act.

In early 2012 ANDRA signed a six-year contract with Gaiya as main contractor to project manage the conceptual and front-end phases of the Centre Industriel de Stockage Géologique project, dubbed “Cigeo”. The first conceptual study phase is to be conducted in 2012 and will lead on to a public consultation that will take place in 2013. The storage facility will be developed on a depth of 500 meters, and will exploit the properties of the Bure clay formation as a “geologic barrier to prevent any potential spread of radioactivity”. Although Cigeo will be designed to accommodate the wastes permanently, French law requires that storage can be reversible for at least 100 years.(*20)

References:

China
*01- World Nuclear Association: China's Nuclear Fuel Cycle, March 2012
*02- Hui Zhang: On China’s Commercial Reprocessing Policy, paper presented at the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management 50th Annual Meeting, Tucson, Arizona, July 12-16, 2009
*03- Nucleonics Week: EDF, AREVA Finalize Joint Ventures with Chinese Nuclear Companies, 24 December 2009
*04- People's Republic of China: National Report for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, September, 2008, p.13
*05- World Nuclear Association, March 2012
*06- Yun Zhou: China spent fuel management and reprocessing, Working paper, March 2011
*07- Qiang Wang, China Needing a Cautious Approach to Nuclear Power Strategy, Energy Policy, Vol. 37 (2009)
*08- Nuclear Fuel: CNNC Favors Remote Site for Future Reprocessing Plant, 7 April 2008
*09- Ju Wang: High-level radioactive waste disposal in China, update 2010, Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. 2010, 2 (1): 1–11
*10- Zheng Hualing and Ye Guo’an: The Status and Prospect of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Back–End in China, paper presented at the Atalante 2000 Conference on Scientific Research on the Back-End of the Fuel Cycle for the 21st Century, October 2000. p.9
*11- People's Republic of China, September, 2008, p.34-38

Czech Republic
*01- RAWRA: Basic Information, Company website
*02- Wolfgang Neumann, Nuclear Waste Management in the EU, October 2010, p. 38-40
*03- Wolfgang Neumann, October 2010
*04- Czech Republic: National Report under the Joint Convention on Safety in Spent Fuel Management and Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, March 2011, p.90
*05 -RAWRA: Government moratorium ends; RAWRA intends to resume repository siting research, Press release 17 December 2009
*06- RAWRA: Working Group for Transparency of the Site Selection Process of a Deep Geological Repository was established in the Czech Republic, Press release 26 November 2010
*07- Czech Republic, March 2011, p.91
*08- World Nuclear Association: Nuclear Power in Czech Republic, March 2012

Finland
*01- Nuclear Monitor, Russian import of spent fuel imports stalled, 16 July 2004
*02- Posiva Oy: company website, visited 6 April 2012
*03- Posiva Oy Selecting the Site: the Final Disposal at Olkiluoto, company website, April 2012
*04- Mark Elam en Göran Sundqvist: The Swedish KBS project: a last word in nuclear fuel safety prepares to conquer the world?, In: Journal of Risk Research, Volume 12 Issue 7 & 8 2009, December 2009, p. 969–988
*05- Posiva Oy, General Time Schedule for Final Disposal, website, April 2012
*06- NEA/OECD, Radioactive Waste Management and Decommissioning in Finland, 2011
*07- YLE (Finnish TV), 19 April 2010 and 25 May 2010.
*08- YLE: Posiva: No room for Fennovoima waste in nuclear cave, 4 October 2011
*09- World Nuclear News: No room at the repository, 9 March 2012. www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-No_room_at_the_repository-0903127.html
*10-  Swahn quoted in: House of Commons: Memorandum submitted by the Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates to UK Parliament, January 2010
*11- Mainpost: Endlager in Bergstollen statt unter der Erde (Repository in mountain tunnels, in stead of underground), 25 February 2011
*12- YLE: Posiva: No room for Fennovoima waste in nuclear cave, 4 October 2011
*13- IceNews: Finland set to become long-term nuclear waste dump, 29 August 2009

France
*01- IAEA: Inventory of radioactive waste disposals at sea, IAEA-Tecdoc-1105, August 1999
*02- Greenpeace: Nuclear Waste Management: The lesson from the CSM disposal site, 30 May 2006
*03- ANDRA: The French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency, May 2010, p.3
*04- International Panel on Fissile Materials: Managing spent fuel from nuclear reactors, 2011, p.38
*05- Yannick Barthe: Framing nuclear waste as a political issue in France, in: Journal of Risk Research, Volume 12 Issue 7 & 8 2009, p.941 – 954, December 2009.  *06- Republique Francaise: Law no.91-1318 of December 30, 1991 on Radioactive Waste Management, 30 December 1991, French version and English translation.
*07- Nuclear Fuel: French waste negotiator takes up Pilgrim's staff, 18 January 1993, p.14-15
*08- Nuclear Fuel, Citing pressure, Mayor of potential HLW laboratory site commits suicide, 31 January 1994, p 5 en 6.
*09- Nuclear Fuel: France okays work on HLW lab sites, ending four year stay, 17 January 1994, p 15-16
*10- Nuclear Fuel: French court rejects request aimed at halting search for waste labs, 29 December 1997, p.9-10
*11- Nuclear Fuel: Eastern Mayors fight to keep ANDRA from building waste labs, 22 September 1997, p.10
*12- Nucleonics Week: French localities' vote vary on nuclear waste lab siting, 24 April 1997, p. 13-14
*13- Nuclear Fuel: French government gives itself a year to decide on waste labs, 22 September 1997, p. 8-9
*14- Nuclear Fuel: French committee signals shift in approach to long-term storage, 13 July 1998, p. 11-12
*15- Nuclear Fuel: ANDRA gets license for waste lab, court challenge from Greens, 23 August 1999, p.14-15
*16- Nuclear Fuel: French ministers okay waste lab at Bure but call for new granite site, 14 December 1998, p.3-4
*17- Email Markus Pflüger to Herman Damveld, 5 December 2009.
*18- Republique Francaise: The 2006 Programme Act on the Sustainable Management of Radioactive Materials and Wastes, 28 June 2006
*19- ANDRA, ASN, CEA, IRSN: Radioactive Waste Management Programmes in OECD/NEA Countries: France, March 2012, p.16
*20- World Nuclear News, Next phase for French geological disposal, 5 January 2012

Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#746, 747, 748
WASTE SPECIAL
01/05/2012
Article

Brazil

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

2

1982-04-01

3.17%

The National Nuclear Energy Commission (Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear, CNEN) is responsible for management and disposal of radioactive wastes. Legislation in 2001 provides for repository site selection, construction and operation for low- and intermediate-level wastes. A long-term solution for these is to be in place before Angra 3 is commissioned. Low and intermediate level waste is stored on site of Angra nuclear complex and on other sites where it is produced.(*01)

A location for a national waste repository for llw and ilw waste is due to be chosen in 2011 (but delayed again) (*02) and planned to start operation in 2018. Two options are being considered: the construction of a repository exclusively for waste from Angra or a facility that would accept material from all nuclear and radioactive installations in Brazil. (*03)  Used fuel is stored at Angra pending formulation of policy on reprocessing or direct disposal. (*04)

HLW disposal: when, where and how unknown
Currently, there is no decision about the way of final storage of the waste. Brazil has not defined a technical solution for spent fuel or high-level waste disposal. Spent fuel is not considered radioactive waste. Therefore, the policy adopted with regards to spent fuel is to keep the fuel in safe storage until an international consensus and a national decision is reached about reprocessing and recycling the fuel, or disposing of it as such.(*05)

High-level wastes, after been stored on site would then be moved to an interim storage location for 500 years. This interim site is expected to begin operation in 2026; a proposed plan was due to be finished by 2009, and a prototype validated by 2013, according to Eletronuclear.(*06) For final disposal a deep geological facility has been foreseen, but a timeframe has not been developed.(*07)

Opposition to nuclear power and waste storage is strong in Brazil. Even CNEN admits that "political and psycho social aspects related to the subject of radioactive waste disposal (“Not in my backyard syndrome”) contribute enormously to the difficulties faced by the Brazilian Government in the establishment of a national waste management policy." (*08)

Bulgaria

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

2

1974-07-24

32.58%

The State Enterprise Radioactive Wastes (SE-RAW) is responsible for much of the waste management. On October 25 2011, a contract was signed drafting technical aspects and safety analysis for a low- and intermediate level waste interim storage facility near Kozloduy. A tender is expected mid 2012 and the facility is planned to go into operation in 2015. (*01) In 2009, a search for a location of a near-surface repository for low and intermediate level waste has been started. Four locations are taken into account.(*02)

Keep options open
In 1988, spent fuel from VVER-440 units (Kozloduy 1-4) was returned for the last time to Russia under the old contract conditions (free of charge), since then it is transferred to the wet spent fuel storage facility (WSFSF) for temporary storage, awaiting transfer to Russia or interim storage. WSFSF is in operation since 1990 on site at Kozloduy to take fuel from all the units. It is a standalone facility and is used as interim storage. Currently spent fuel is regularly transported to Russia under contracts signed in 1998 and 2002.(*03)

Under a 2002 agreement, Bulgaria has been paying Russia US$ 620,000 per ton used fuel for reprocessing in the Mayak plant at Ozersk, though some has also been sent to the Zheleznogorsk plant at Krasnoyarsk.(*04)

In March 2011 a dry spent fuel storage facility (DSFSF) construction was finished. At the DSFSF the fuel from the closed units 1-4 (VVER-440) should be stored for a period of 50 years. In July 2011 an application for commissioning was submitted and is currently under review. (*05)

The dry spent fuel depot will allow the country to store spent nuclear fuel for the long term in case it is unable to ship it abroad, its radioactive waste strategy said. Bulgaria is to decide by 2013 whether to build a deep-burying waste dump.(*06)

The principles of radioactive waste and spent fuel management were declared in the national Strategy for Spent Nuclear Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management, 2004, later confirmed and developed further in the Strategy for Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management until 2030, adopted by the Council of Ministers in January 2011. It states that, accounting for the global and general European consensus for deep geological repository, this is presumably the most suitable option.

The SE-RAW implements activities related to the preliminary study of the possibilities for construction of deep geological repository. As a result from these activities a preliminary zoning of the country is made and three regions of interest are identified. In those regions 5 potential areas are localized and for every of the perspective areas an analysis of the geology-tectonic, geo-morphologic, neo tectonic, seismic, hydro-geological and engineer-geological and sociological economical characteristics is performed. On this base 6 potential geological blocks are localised, that can be additionally investigated. The potential host media are thick clay mergels and granites. (*07)

Canada

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

18

1962-06-04

15.33%

The plans for storage of nuclear waste has not yet led to a choice for a location. In 2009, a new dialogue process began with the population. It is anticipated that an underground disposal facility will not be in operation before 2035. Meanwhile, all spent fuel is stored at reactor site in pools and dry storage.

Public debate
In Canada the search for a repository for nuclear waste has taken place since at least 1977.(*01) It is standing policy that the local population should accept the storage. In 1992, the government proposed that in addition to technical issues, also ethical and societal issues must be recognized in the debate on nuclear waste storage.(*02) As departure points for a siting process it was further accepted that the population has to think the chosen procedure is honest, it should have access to all information and the population should have the opportunity to really influence the choice of location.(*03) This discussion model had the consent of both "proponents" and "opponents" of storage and should make a meaningful discussion about the pros and cons of  disposal of nuclear waste possible.(*04)

Low-level radioactive waste
The public debate about low-level radioactive waste started in 1988.(*05) 850 town councils were asked whether they would be interested, of which 21 responded positively. In these 21 towns a referendum was held, and only three voted in favor of it.(*06) But in 1994, Deep River in Ontario was the only municipality to respond to the government's program to find a community willing to accept the low-level waste. At a referendum in September 1995 a large majority of the population voted in favor of storage of low-level radioactive waste, if the government would give job guarantees for 2,300 people at the local Chalk River nuclear research center for 15 years. (*07)

However, funding negotiations for job guarantees broke down in January 1997 (*08) and in early 1998, the Canadian government announced it had no success completing the deal. As a result, the option of storage of low-level radioactive waste at Deep River is off. (*09)

High-level radioactive waste
With the disposal of spent fuel elements from nuclear power plants the Canadian government has also not made any progress.(*10) Awaiting final disposal of high level waste, all spent fuel is stored at reactor site in pools and dry storage.(*11)

In August 1977, the Federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources released a report which became known as the Hare report, after its Chairman F. K. Hare. It recommended burying the spent fuel at depths of 800 to 1000 meters in the Canadian Shield, a large area of ancient igneous rock in eastern and central Canada and called for an “effective interchange of information and ideas” among the public, industry, and government.(*12) Ten years later, in 1988, the concept of a storage mine, which had become known as the AECL-concept, was referred for a full–scale environmental review. Estimated costs in 1991 was between 8.7 and 13.3 billion in 1991 Canadian dollars.(*13)

The Environmental Assessment Panel held hearings in the 1990s and in March 1998 it's  report was published. The main conclusion was that there is no public support and that many ethical questions are still open: Broad public support is necessary to ensure the acceptability of a concept for managing nuclear fuel wastes; Safety is a key part, but only one part, of acceptability. Safety must be viewed from two complementary perspectives: technical and social; From a technical perspective, the safety of the AECL concept had been on balance adequately demonstrated for a conceptual stage of development, but from a social perspective, it had not; the concept for deep geological disposal did not have the required level of acceptability.(*14) The committee recommended to work on the social and ethical issues first, and, for the time being, not to search for a concrete repository.(*15) In a March 13,1998, statement the Canadian government announced  that, while "the safety of the concept has been adequately demonstrated (…) it does not have broad public support, nor the required level of acceptability to be adopted" and that it will not proceed with siting efforts for a deep geological disposal. (*16)

Four years later, in 2002, the Canadian government created a new organization for the storage of nuclear waste: the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). This organization is paid for by the operators of the 22 nuclear power plants in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Instead of an organization independent from the operators of nuclear plants, now operators will have the say. Therefore  Greenpeace Canada, for instance, wondered to what extent the NWMO will really involve the population in decision making.
The NWMO has held hearings from 2002 to 2005. In May 2009, it initiated a nation-wide dialogue with interested organizations and individuals to establish a procedure for selecting a site.(*17) The dialogue lasted until early 2010, after which the NWMO began with the search for a final repository on 4 June 2010. According to the NWMO it is about an underground disposal facility at 500 meters depth in a rock formation, located in an informed and willing community, securing economic benefits for the residents and to "build confidence that the program is being carried out fairly and the end result will be safe."(*18) According to a November 13, 2009 NWMO-document, the geological facility for disposal of spent fuel will not come into operation before 2035, at the earliest.(*19)

Sofar (January 2012) nine communities, scattered across Saskatchewan and Ontario, have volunteered to host the country's spent fuel. The towns are a combination of native reserves, old mining and lumber towns and cottage enclaves. Many have spent the past decade watching their populations shrink and economies crater, and are desperate for an economic boost - even if it is deep geological disposal of nuclear waste for eternity.(*20)

References:

Brazil
*01- IAEA, Brazil country report: 2006
*02- we can find no information that suggests a location has been chosen –March 2012
*03- Nuclear Engineering International: Nuclear power in Brazil, 1 June 2010
*04- World Nuclear Association, Nuclear Power in Brazil, November 2011
*05- CNEN: National report of Brazil 2011, for the fourth review meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, October 2011
*06- Nuclear Engineering International
*07- CNEN, 2011
*08- CNEN, National report of Brazil 2008, for the third review meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, October 2008

Bulgaria
*01- Sofia Echo: Bulgaria selects consultant for radioactive waste depot, 26 October 2011
*02- Wolfgang Neumann: Nuclear Waste Management in the EU, October 2010, p 35
*03- Republic of Bulgaria: Fourth national report on fulfillment of the obligations on the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, October 2011, p.8-9
*04- World Nuclear Association: Nuclear Power in Bulgaria, March 2012
*05- Republic of Bulgaria, October 2011, p.49
*06- Reuters: Bulgaria opens dry spent nuclear fuel depot, 12 May 2011
*05- Republic of Bulgaria, October 2011, p.52, 75

Canada
*01- M.A. Greber, E.R. Frech and J.A. Hillier: The Disposal of Canada's Nuclear Fuel Waste: Public Involvement and Social Aspects, AECL Research, Whiteshell Laboratories, Pinawa, Manitoba, July 1994 (AECL-10712 COG-93-2); this report of 260 pages contains a detailed description of the debate in Canada until mid-1994
*02- C.J. Allan and M.A. Greber: Social and Ethical Issues Surrounding the Disposal of Nuclear Fuel Waste - A Canadian Perspective, AECL Research, Whiteshell Laboratories, Pinawa, Manitoba, 1995 (Technical Record TR-705 COG-95-405)
*03- Fred Roots: Radioactive Waste Disposal - Ethical and Environmental Considerations - A Canadian Perspective, in: Nuclear Energy Agency: Environmental and ethical aspects of long-lived radioactive waste disposal, Proceedings of an International Workshop organized by the Nuclear Energy Agency in co-operation with the Environment Directorate, Paris, 1-2 September 1994, p 71-93
*04- Kevin R. Ballard and Richard G. Kuhn: Developing and Testing a Facility Location Model for Canadian Nuclear Fuel Waste, in: Risk Analysis, Vol. 16, No. 6, 1996, p 821-832
*05- Robert Morrison and Peter Brown: Radioactive Waste Manage­ ment in Canada, Proceeding of the Uranium Institute Annual Symposium 1991,  September 1991, London, 1992
*06-  PJ Richardson: A Review of Benefits Offered to Volunteer Communities for Siting Nuclear Waste Facilities, prepared for Dr. Olof Soderberg, Swedish National Co-ordinator for Nuclear Waste Disposal, March 1998, p 4
*07- Nucleonics Week, 28 September 1995, p 3 en 4
*08- Nucleonics Week, 9 January 1997, p 4 en 5
*09- Nucleonics Week, 22 January 1998, p 9
*10- Darrin Durant: Radwaste in Canada: a political economy of uncertainty, In: Journal of Risk Research, Volume 12, Issue 7 & 8, December 2009, p. 897 – 919.
*11- International Panel on Fissile Materials: Managing Spent Fuel From Nuclear Power Reactors, September 2011
*12- A. M. Aikin, J. M. Harrison, and F. K. Hare, The Management of Canada’s Nuclear Wastes, Report of a Study Prepared under Contract for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, Federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Government of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 1977.
*13- Nucleonics Week, 19 March 1998, p 8
*14- Report of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept Environmental Assessment Panel: Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, February 1998; published on 13 March 1998.
*15- Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Press release: Government Releases Report of Panel Studying the Disposal of Nuclear Fuel Waste, Ottawa, 13 March 1998.
*16- Nucleonics Week, 19 March 1998, p 8 en 9.
*17- NWMO: NWMO ‘Learn More’ Program, 13 November 2009. www.nwmo.ca/news?news_id=107&uniqid=2635
*18- World Nuclear News: Search for Canadian Nuclear Waste Site, 4 June 2010
*19- NWMO: NWMO ‘Learn More’ Program - The Long-Term Management of Used Nuclear Fuel in Canada, 13 November 2009
*20- The Globe and Mail: Towns vie to be nuclear waste burial sites, 14 January 2012

Argentina, Armenia, Belgium

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

Argentina

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

2

1974-03-19

4.97 

The April 1997 National Law of Nuclear Activity assigns responsibility to the National Atomic Energy Commission CNEA (Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, founded in 1950) for radioactive waste management, and created a special fund for this purpose. Operating nuclear power plants pay into this. Awaiting final disposal interim storage of spent fuel takes place at cooling ponds on site, and some interim dry storage at Embalse.(*01) No reprocessing has taken place.

Final disposal
Final disposal of low-level waste takes place in engineering enhanced surface semi containment systems at the Ezeiza Radioactive Waste Management Area (AGE), operated by CNEA. For intermediate level wastes a monolithic near surface repository is foreseen, similar to those in operation in L’Aube, France and El Cabril, in Spain. (*02) Especially after a scandal in 2005 on high levels of water contamination with uranium in Ezeiza and Monte Grande, near the atomic center, doubts have risen about the conditions of and safety procedures at the AGE. The response from the CNEA and the government to the obvious contamination did not help to calm citizens’ worries, as it was marked by obscuring and silencing the real impact. A few years later the provincial government was forced to acknowledge the contamination values measured by independent laboratories, although official reports stated, that there was no contamination from nuclear waste but just high radioactive background level.(*03)

In 1994, during the nation's constitutional reform, a broad Argentinean environmental movement won a momentous victory to make Article 41, which bans the import of toxic and radioactive waste, part of the national constitution.(*04)

The Argentine Strategic Plan has provided three types of technological systems for final disposal:

  • Engineered Surface System, for LLW requiring isolation periods of up to 50 years.
  • Monolithic Near-Surface Repository, for ILW  requiring isolation periods of up to 300 years.
  • Deep Geological Repository, for HLW and SF requiring isolation periods in excess of 300 years.

With regard to spent fuel originating from research or radioisotope production reactors, the strategy considers two alternatives: Shipping them back to the country where they were originally enriched, if possible, or conditioning for final disposal.(*05)

The Strategic Plan, updated in March 2006, at present covers the period from 2006 through 2095.

The deadline to adopt a decision on the possible reprocessing or final disposal of spent fuel is subject to the completion of the studies for the siting of the Deep Geological Repository which have to be concluded at the latest by 2030. At such time the installation of the underground geological laboratory must have been started, which allows the design and construction of a deep geological repository, which must be operative by the year 2060. (*06)

Armenia

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

1

1976-12-22

33.17%

The Government of Republic of Armenia established state regulatory authority for nuclear and radiation safety (ANRA). ANRA’s task is the state regulation of nuclear energy, including the safe management of radioactive waste. ANRA regulates the nuclear and radiation safety of Armenian NPP, dry spent nuclear fuel storage facility, ionizing radiation sources, RADON radioactive wastes storage facility, and of other facilities where practices with nuclear materials are implemented.(*01)

Spent fuel is stored in spent fuel pools. After five years of storage the spent fuel is placed into dry spent fuel storage (DSFS) and are placed into horizontal concrete storage modules (HSM). After Unit-1 shutdown its spent fuel pool is used as a temporary storage facility for spent fuel. (*02) DSFS started operation on 1 August 2000. The license validity is 20 years. DSFS consists of 11 horizontally placed concrete modules for storage of 616 spent fuel assemblies. In 2005 the National Assembly based on proposal from the government made decision to extend the DSFS. It will enable storing 1890 fuel assemblies at least 50 years.(*03)

Belgium

Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 

7

1962-10-10

53.96%

In Belgium, after many years of discussion, a storage location has been selected for low-level and medium-level radioactive waste. It will take until 2070/80 before disposal of high-level radioactive waste will begin in clay layers.

Storage in sea
In Belgium, NIRAS (National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials) has been responsible for the storage of all nuclear waste. NIRAS, established in 1980, is supervised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. From 1960 to 1982 Belgium dumped low-level radioactive waste in the Atlantic Ocean(*01) –described by NIRAS as "sea disposal at great depths".[*02] Since then NIRAS is studying the disposal of all types of nuclear waste aboveground or underground.

Low- and medium-level radioactive waste
In April 1994, NIRAS published a report on the aboveground storage of low-level radioactive waste. In all 98 mentioned suitable locations (in 47 municipalities), the report led to motions in town councils, in which storage was rejected.(*03).The government ask NIRAS if it would be possible to store the waste on one of the 25 military bases no longer in use. In June 1997, NIRAS published a report which "ultimately had only been a preparatory exercise, based on bibliographic data,"(*04) but nevertheless gave rise to concern again. Only the town council of Beauraing, where the military base Baronville is situated, was in favour of storage, but on 28 June 1998, in a local referendum 94 percent voted against.(*05) This brought embarrassment to the government, and as it often goes in politics, the government came with a woolly policy to work towards "a final solution or a solution with definite, progressive, flexible and reversible destination."(*06) According to this decision the low- and medium-level radioactive waste can be stored either close to the surface as well as in deep geological clay formations.(*07) The government no longer points to any sites, but puts the emphasis on public support and it assumes public support can be found at existing nuclear zones. These are Doel and Tihange (nuclear power stations), Mol (Center for Nuclear Energy Research), Dessel (manufacture of fuel elements) and Fleurus (Institute for radio-elements). But towns may present themselves also voluntarily.(*08) NIRAS adopted the government's policies and stated in 1998: "To strive for a real partnership from the beginning, rather than merely an exchange of arguments, means a modernization for the nuclear waste sector."(*09)

In 1999, after much deliberation, NIRAS signed a partnership agreement with Dessel and Mol, and on June 23, 2006 the choice fell on Dessel. In 2004, the population of Dessel had already voted in favour of the so-called surface disposal, which is planned to start in 2016.(*10) The waste (appr. 70,000m3) will be stored in what ultimately will be a hill of 160 by 950 meters and 20 meters high. Barrels put in boxes filled-up with concrete (monoliths), will be placed in modules and covered with mutiple layers. Taking into account the additional buildings, the storage requires 74 acres (30 ha). After 50 years, the storage is completed, and then it can be decided whether the roof is replaced by a definitive cover. It should be possible to retrieve the monoliths in the first 200-300 years when there will be active monitoring of the waste.(*11)

High-level radioactive waste
Since the early 1970s, Belgium has plans to store high-level radioactive waste in clay layers. From 1974 to 1989 research and construction of an underground mine (at a depth of 230 meters) into the clay under Mol in the Kempen region took place. This is a particular type of clay, the so-called “Boomse klei” (Boom clay), which is also present in some parts of the Netherlands. According to NIRAS, Belgium opted for clay because there was data available. The choice fell on Mol ("Apart from its intrinsic qualities, the Boom clay has the advantage of being located under the nuclear site at Mol-Dessel.") because this town is hosting the national Center for Nuclear Energy Research with the (closed) Eurochemie reprocessing plant: "to have available a local solution for eventual disposal of reprocessing waste from the Eurochemic plant".(*12)

Between 1990 and 2000 methods to assess the safety and the properties of clay for the long term were studied. One of the important questions what would happen if nuclear waste is leaking from the barrels and ends up in the clay? The NIRAS 2002 SAFIR (Safety Assessment and Feasibility Interim Report) 2 report states that many questions about the safety of storing nuclear waste in clay remain unanswered: until 2017, therefore eleven issues have to be examined with priority.

Until 2017, NIRAS will show the feasibility of the studied solution and demonstrate how the nuclear waste has to be disposed of. Then construction of the storage mine may start. In the complicated words of NIRAS: "Without frustrating the basic choice of the Boom clay, at this moment there still remain important questions unanswered, therefore it is premature to make a definitive statement today on the technical feasibility of storage in this formation or on the operational and long-term safety of such disposal."(*13)

Keeping in mind there is still no decision on disposal of high-level radioactive waste in clay yet),  the NIRAS' Board of Directors adopted a 'Waste Plan' on 23 September 2011.(*14) "Now the legal procedure for the Waste Plan is completed and the dossier is ready to be delivered to the government which then will have all the ingredients to make a decision. With a basic decision of the government clarity will be obtained which direction further work has to be done on how long-term safety can be guaranteed. The basic decision will be the first step in a gradual, lengthy decision-making process in which the society will be involved. The process leading to the implementation of a long-term management option will take several decades. Currently, it is not about selection of a location. That choice, at which the local population will be 'closely involved', will be made at a later stage in the decision-making process.”(*15) If the government opts for storage in clay, it will take until 2070-2080 before the disposal of high-level radioactive waste can begin.(*16)

References:

Argentina:
*01- World Nuclear Association: Nuclear Power in Argentina, November 2011
*02- Republica Argentina: Third National report Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, 2008, section B-7
*03- Michael Alvarez Kalverkamp: Argentina: Uncertainty about the nuclear future, Heinrich Boell Foundation, 18 April 2011
*04- Greenpeace: Argentina next nuclear dump for the world?, 8 November 2002
*05- IAEA: Country profile: Argentina
*06- Republica Argentina, Section B-1

Armenia
*01- ANRA: ANRA Regulatory Activity, Installations subject to Regulation and Legal Bases, website, April 2012.
*02- ANRA: Convention on Nuclear Safety, Fifth national report of the Republic of Armenia, September 2010.
*03- ANRA: Dry Spent Fuel Storage Facility, website, April 2012

Belgium
*01- IAEA: Inventory of radioactive waste disposals at sea, IAEA-Tecdoc-1105, August 1999
*02- NIRAS: Het beheer van het radioaktieve afval, vouwblad 7: De berging van het radioaktieve afval, (The management of radioactive waste. Folder 7; the disposal of radioactive waste), Brussels, no date.
*03- Erik van Hove: Accounting for Socio-economic Effects in Nuclear Waste Disposal Projects, in: Nuclear Energy Agency, "Informing the Public about Radioactive Waste Management", Proceedings of an NEA International Seminar, Rauma, Finland, 13-15 June 1995, Paris, 1996, p 161-171
*04- NIRAS: press release, Brussels, 16 March 1998, p 3
*05- TV België-1: journaal (national TV-channel news) 19.00 hr, 28 June 1998
*06- NIRAS: Informatiefiche, Brussels, 2 March 1998
*07- Nuclear Energy Agency: Radioactive Waste Management Programmes in OECD/NEA Member Countries, Belgium, Paris, 25 May 1998
*08- NIRAS: Informatiefiche, Brussels, 2 March 1998, p. 11
*09- NIRAS: Partnerschap staat centraal in nieuw werkprogramma van NIRAS, (Partnership is central issue in new working program of NIRAS), press release, Brussels, 16 March 1998, p. 3-4
*10- NIRAS: Het langetermijnbeheer van categorie-A afval  (2006) (The long-term management of Category-A waste)
*11- NIRAS: Final report De berging, op Belgisch grondgebied, van laag- en middelactief afval met korte levensduur, 2006 (The storage, on Belgian soil, of short lived low and intermediate level waste)
*12- NIRAS: SAFIR Syntheseverslag (SAFIR Synthesisreport), Brussels, June 1989, pp. 7 and 8
*13- NIRAS: Naar een duurzaam beheer van radioactief afval (Towards a durable management of nuclear waste), SAFIR 2 and it's context, report NIROND-2001-07N, 4 February 2002.
*14- NIRAS: Press release Afvalplan (Wasteplan) Brussels, 23 September 2011
*15- ONDRAF/NIRAS, Executive summary Afvalplan voor het langetermijnbeheer van geconditioneerd hoogradioactief en/of langlevend afval en overzicht van verwante vragen, September 2011. (Waste plan for long term management of conditioned high-level waste and/or long-living waste and overview of relevant questions) report NIROND 2011-04.
*16- Sigrid Eeckhout (NIRAS), email to Herman Damveld on 8 December 2009, 15.51 hr.

Introduction

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#746, 747, 748
Waste special
01/05/2012
Article
„Taking into account the results already achieved, the expected technological developments in the coming years, and above all the existence of a well-established basis for the assessment in numerical terms of radiation hazards, the group are convinced that the optimum development of nuclear energy need not be impeded by radioactive waste management problems which will have to be dealt with".

This quote is from the OECD report  „Radioactive waste management practices in Western Europe". It is not from the most recent report, although the wording would be the same, but from a report in 1972!

Since the beginning of nuclear power the major claim is that there will be a solution for  nuclear waste soon, that the waste problem really is not a technical problem but a social problem, but, anyway, we are near a solution. So there is no reason to stop producing it or endanger the future of nuclear energy.

But as the authors describe in this worldwide overview, non of the roughly 34 countries with spent fuel (reprocessed or not) from nuclear power reactors have a final disposal facility, be it in deep geological formations or (near) surface. A very large majority of those countries are not even close. Some postpone the need for final disposal by long term interim storage of up to 100 years; and other countries use (the future option of) reprocessing as an alibi for postponing that decision.

As this worldwide overview of the state of affairs shows, siting radioactive waste repositories is seen as one of the main problems due to socio-political circumstances. Almost without exception, all radioactive waste management programs state that this generation must solve its own problems and not lay the burden of solving the waste problem on the next generations. But those same programs propose, again almost without exception, to postpone a decision on final disposal and/or reprocessing into the far-future, and consider interim storage.

Fact is that the problem of final disposal of high-level radioactive waste and/or spent fuel has not been solved, more than half a century after the first commercial nuclear power plants entered into operation and used fuel was unloaded from the reactors.

Although we briefly describe the storage and disposal of low and intermediate level waste, the focus of this report is clearly on spent (or 'used') fuel from nuclear power plants. Waste from uranium mining is not even mentioned. It is also not about fuel from research reactors, which is mostly returned to the country of origin.

Because the limitations of the number of pages of the Nuclear Monitor, this is only a brief overview of the state of affairs, but some important historic developments are covered.

We have included many references, which should make it easier to search for more information. We did not include the url's of the references, because they tend to change frequently (and not much so annoying as dead links). Instead, we described the source as best as we could. Therefore it should be relatively easy to find it on the internet when the description is copied in a search engine. Of course, not all information used is available online. If there are questions about a reference (or something else), please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tabel 1:
Final disposal repository for HLW or SF; expected start of disposal.

Country

… in 1989

… in 1996

… in 2012

Argentina

   

2060

Armenia

   

?

Belgium

2030

2035

2070/80

Brazil

   

?

Bulgaria

   

?

Canada

2015/25

2025

2035

China

   

2050

Czech Republic

   

2065

Finland

2020

2020

2020/25

France

2010

2020

2025

Germany

2005/10

2010

2035

Hungary

   

2064

India

   

?

Iran

   

?

Italy

   

?

Japan

   

2035

Kazakhstan

   

?

Korea, Rep. of

   

?

Lithuania

   

?

Mexico

   

?

Netherlands

2010

 

2130

Pakistan

   

?

Romania

   

?

Russian Federation

   

2035

Slovak Republic

   

?

Slovenia

   

?

South Africa

   

?

Spain

   

2050

Sweden

2020

2020

2023/25

Switzerland

2025

2020

2040

Taiwan

   

2055

Ukraine

   

?

United Kingdom

 

2030

2075

United States

2010

2020

?

 

In brief

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Australia: waste bill passed; Muckaty community determined to stop nuclear dump

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#745
6244
04/04/2012
Dave Sweeney
Article

The National Radioactive Waste Management Bill passed the Australian Senate on March 13, and the amended legislation finally passed through the House of Representatives the next day. The legislation preserves the highly contested Muckaty nomination, which is currently the subject of a federal court challenge by senior Traditional Owners opposed to the plan. The dump would house a range of radioactive waste including spent nuclear fuel rods form the Lucas Heights research reactor and decommissioned reactor parts.

The National Radioactive Waste Management Bill now passed in the Senate, was introduced two years ago and is strongly opposed by the Northern Territory government, Traditional Owners and a growing number of trade unions and civil society groups. Anti-nuclear protesters have tried to stop debate in Federal Parliament by disrupting th eproceedings.

The Government has consistently stated the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill did not specify a site for the dump, but it has offered to give the Northern Territory Aus$10 million if it accepts the waste dump. The Greens managed to get included an important amendment against international wastes being included. Greens spokesman on nuclear issues Scott Ludlam says he is confident the community will continue to fight any plan to use the Northern Territory site. The Greens will continue to fight the project: "The site is in an earthquake zone, it floods regularly, there are very long transport corridors, there are no jobs being applied and it's opposed from people on the ground, on the front line from Tennant all the way up to the NT Government and people around the country," he said. Donna Jackson, from the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, says she is shocked the legislation has been passed while there is still a legal challenge before the courts about the ownership of the Muckaty site.

The Beyond Nuclear Initiative  says radioactive waste management legislation passed this afternoon in the Senate is deeply flawed and will not slow down the campaign against the proposed Muckaty radioactive waste dump in the Northern Territory. The dump is earmarked for low and long-lived intermediate level waste, including spent fuel rods and decommissioned reactor parts from the Lucas Heights nuclear facility in Sydney.

Minister Ferguson’s legislation repeals three Department of Defence site nominations made by the Howard government- Harts Range, Mt Everard and Fisher’s Ridge- but preserves the highly contested Muckaty nomination. Mitch, a spokesperson for Harts Range and Mt Everard said “It is almost seven years since the NT dump plan was announced. We are happy that Harts Range is now off the list but we support the Muckaty people to say no. This proposal is based on politics not science. This is a very sad day”.

Muckaty Traditional Owners have launched a federal court case against both the federal government and the Northern Land Council, which nominated the Muckaty site in 2007. Muckaty Traditional Owner Penny Phillips said, “At the start Senator Nigel Scullion said ‘not on my watch’ will the waste dump happen. He should be fighting against it and look after people in the Territory. Its very confusing for us- the Senators are meant to represent us. Do they care about Traditional Owners, do they care about people in the Barkly, the cattlemen? The government should come and see this country. We have been inviting them many times and they have ignored us”.

Beyond Nuclear coordinator Natalie Wasley concluded “Beyond Nuclear Initiave welcomes the passing of Senator Scott Ludlam’s amendment that international waste cannot be stored at the facility, however, the rest of the legislation is neither new nor good. It builds on the mistakes of the Howard era and lacks credibility and consent. There are still many hurdles for the government before a dump is up and running, and this proposal will be challenged every step of the way.”

At its most basic, advancing the Muckaty site is a case of politicians in capital Canberra dumping the most dangerous and poisonous radioactive waste we produce on one of Australia's poorest and least resourced Indigenous communities. It has happened without transparent or democratic processes and in clear contravention of international obligations, including under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. If Muckaty were to become home to Australia's radioactive waste it, would be a body-blow to the reconciliation process set in motion with the apology to the stolen generations.

It is crucial to realise that what is being proposed is Australia's new 'greenfield' approach to radioactive waste management. However, instead of developing a credible process the government has been obsessed with identifying a vulnerable postcode. To place Australia's worst radioactive waste on the lands of some of its poorest people - without broad community understanding or consent - is not cutting edge scientific thinking, robust policy or best practice.

Sources: Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Media Alert, 13 & 15 March 2012, Green Left Weekly, 13 March 2012 / Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation, 28 March 2012
Contact: Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation, First Floor, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC, 3053, Australia.
Tel: +61 3 9345 1111
Email: D.Sweeney[at]acfonline.org.au
Web: www.acfonline.org.au

About: 
WISEBeyond Nuclear

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

Blue ribbon commission issues final report on nuclear waste

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About: 
WISE

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#741
03/02/2012
Shorts

China denies nuclear accident reports.
China has denied reports that it was forced to shut down its newest nuclear reactor last year after an incident. A report from Japan's Atomic Energy Agency said the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) stopped generating electricity in October following an accident. The incident sparked alarm in Japan and South Korea over the prospect of radiation leaking from the CEFR. According to a Tokyo newspaper, which cited the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency's investigation, those fears were intensified by Beijing's failure to report the accident or release details of what happened. But Wan Gang, the director of the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE), denied there had been an accident or any cover-up and also refuted the allegations of poor safety. "CEFR hasn't been operating since July last year so reports that an accident occurred in the autumn are extremely inconsistent with the facts," Gang told Chinese media. But that again, is not in line with reports sofar. On July 21, 2011, exactly one year after achieving first criticality, the head of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Sun Qin, declared that the unit had successfully achieved grid connection.

CEFR is a fourth-generation reactor and China's first fast reactor. The sodium-cooled, pool-type fast reactor has been constructed with some Russian assistance at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIEA), near Beijing, which undertakes fundamental research on nuclear science and technology. The reactor has a thermal capacity of 65 MW and can produce 20 MW in electrical power.
World Nuclear News, 21 July 2011 / Telegraph (UK), 27 January 2012 / NewsTrackIndia.com, 28 January 2012


Germany: site selection HLW repository after 2019
Under a new plan, agreed on by the national government and federal states, the Gorleben salt dome in Lower Saxony would be a reference site for the site selection of a spent fuel disposal facility. The plan does not rule out using Gorleben but also says no decision has been made to use the site. The scientific study of the site, Germany’s only existing candidate for a high-level nuclear waste repository, was halted under a moratorium 2000. The moratorium was lifted 2010 years after the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, or Bfs, filed an application to resume studies and prolong Gorleben’s operating license through September 2020.

Under the new plan, the first step will be the development of the legal and regulatory framework which is scheduled to be completed in mid-2012. The plan calls for development of safety requirements and determination of what types of geologic formations might be used for waste disposal, between mid-2012 and mid-2013. They could include salt domes and mines, clay and crystalline rock, according to the plan. Hydrological parameters will also be set. By mid-2013, the German parliament is scheduled to put the criteria into a federal law governing repository development. The authorities involved in site selection will have until mid-2014 to identify potential sites and until the end of 2014 to select candidate sites. Surface studies are planned through the end of 2019. After that, underground studies will be done and a site will be chosen, although the plan does not specify a date for that decision. Construction and commissioning approvals are to be issued after 2019.
Nuclear Fuel, 26 December 2012


Africans and the Global Uranium Trade.
A new book to be published early March 2012 and written by Gabrielle Hecht: Being Nuclear: Africans and the global uranium trade. Uranium from Africa has long been a major source of fuel for nuclear power and atomic weapons, including the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In 2002, George W. Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein had "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" (later specified as the infamous "yellowcake from Niger"). Africa suddenly became notorious as a source of uranium, a component of nuclear weapons. But did that admit Niger, or any of Africa's other uranium-producing countries, to the select society of nuclear states? Does uranium itself count as a nuclear thing? In this book, Gabrielle Hecht lucidly probes the question of what it means for something--a state, an object, an industry, a workplace--to be "nuclear."

Hecht shows that questions about being nuclear--a state that she calls "nuclearity"--lie at the heart of today's global nuclear order and the relationships between "developing nations" (often former colonies) and "nuclear powers" (often former colonizers). Nuclearity, she says, is not a straightforward scientific classification but a contested technopolitical one.

Hecht follows uranium's path out of Africa and describes the invention of the global uranium market. She then enters African nuclear worlds, focusing on miners and the occupational hazard of radiation exposure. Could a mine be a nuclear workplace if (as in some South African mines) its radiation levels went undetected and unmeasured? With this book, Hecht is the first to put Africa in the nuclear world, and the nuclear world in Africa. Doing so, she remakes our understanding of the nuclear age.

Gabrielle Hecht is Professor of History at the University of Michigan. She is the author of The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II and editor of Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War, both published by the MIT Press. Hardcover: 440 pages, published by MIT Press (expected on 2 March, 2012). ISBN: 978-0262017268


'Worst scenario' on Fukushima crisis kept under wraps.
Japan's nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono has said ‘the worst scenario’ on development of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima complex, which was compiled two weeks after the crisis began, was shared only by a few lawmakers, including then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, due to fears it might cause confusion among the public. "The scenario was not a possibility in fact. If it had been made public at that time, it was likely that no one would have remained in Tokyo," Hosono was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. "It would have caused trouble regarding the government's handling of the nuclear crisis," he said.
Asian Age, 30 January 2012

In brief

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

More "hot" waste planned for WIPP

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

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

DOE has applied to the New Mexico Environment Department for a modification of the hazardous waste permit in order to dispose of "shielded containers" of remote-handled (RH) waste. The shielded containers, which have never been used before, are lead-lined in order to contain the high gamma emissions from the RH waste.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#736
11/11/2011
Shorts

Belgian phase-out: oldest 3 reactors to close in 2015.
Belgian's political parties have reached a conditional agreement to phase nuclear power by 2025, if they can find an adequate supply of energy from alternative sources by that time. Belgium currently has seven nuclear reactors at two sites, four at Doel in the north, and three at Tihange in the south. The three oldest reactors are set to be shut down by 2015, with the rest taken off the grid by 2025. The agreement confirms a decision taken in 2003, which was shelved during Belgium's political stalemate. The country has been without a federal government for 18 months, after coalition talks repeatedly failed following the elections in April 2010. Belgian's power stations are operated by Electrabel, which is part of French GDF-Suez. The company's share price fell nearly 5 percent on Monday.

Although Belgium had long planned its nuclear exit, public hostility to nuclear power has grown since Japan's nuclear disaster at Fukushima earlier this year.  Belgium will now negotiate with investors to see how it can find new capacity to replace the 5,860 MW that will be lost if the nuclear phase-out goes ahead.
Deutsche Welle, 31 October 2011


EDF delays construction start in UK.
In Nuclear Monitor 735 (October 21, 2011) we published an article called: 'UK nuclear program: companies reconsider investments', in which it was analyzed that even EDF must be having second thoughts about investing in new build in the UK, although (Electricite de France) is the only company that did not express doubts about investing in new nuclear in UK. E.On, RWE, Centrica and SSE (which cancelled investments) all have second thoughts and started internal review processes.

But on October 28, a few days after the publication, EDF decided to delay the construction of the four planned nuclear reactors in the UK, confirming a report from the French Les Echos newspaper. According to the EDF spokeswoman, EDF is taking time to evaluate the consequences of delays at a reactor under construction in Flamanville and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. EDF will release a new calendar for the project during the fall, she said. EDF was planning to start building the first of the planned nuclear rectors in 2013, the newspaper said.

(to be continued…)
Foxbusiness.com, 28 October 2011


Mexico: natural gas cheaper than nuclear.
Mexico, Latin America’s second-largest economy and one of three Latin American nations that uses nuclear power (the other two being Brazil and Argentina), is abandoning plans to build as many as 10 new reactors and will focus on natural gas-fired electricity plants after boosting discoveries of the fuel. Mexico considered a plan to build as many as 10 nuclear power plants by 2028, according to a CFE presentation. The state company was weighing four investment plans to increase long-term capacity, the most ambitious nuclear plan included building 10 nuclear plants, according to the May 12, 2010 presentation.

The country is “changing all its decisions, amid the very abundant existence of natural-gas deposits,” newly appointed Energy Minister Jordy Herrera said in a November 1 interview. Mexico will seek private investment of about US$10 billion during five years to expand its natural gas pipeline network, he said.

Mexico’s energy ministry plans to update the nation’s long- term strategic plan to reflect the increased importance of gas, Herrera said, with the report due in the first quarter of 2012.

“Until we find a model to make renewable energy more profitable, gas is more convenient,” Herrera said. “The country has very high potential to develop renewable energy,” Herrera added. “But the renewable energy world is hurt by the cheap gas prices. And the government has to consider how much it can spend to promote alternative energy sources.”
Bloomberg.com, 3 November 2011


New IPFM-report on managing spent fuel.
The International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) releases new report: "Managing Spent Fuel from Nuclear Power Reactors: Experience and Lessons from Around the World". The report provides an overview of the policy and technical challenges faced by efforts at long-term storage and disposal of spent fuel from nuclear power reactors over the past five decades. It analyzes the efforts to manage and dispose of spent fuel by ten countries that account for more than 80 percent of the world's nuclear power capacity: Canada, Finland, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The new report also provides an overview of the technical issues relating to interim storage and transport of spent fuel, geological repositories, and the challenge of the associated international safeguards. The spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, and the high-level wastes produced in the few countries where spent fuel is reprocessed to separate plutonium, must be stored in a manner that will minimize releases of the contained radioactivity into the environment for up to a million years. Safeguards will be required to ensure that any contained plutonium is not diverted to nuclear-weapon use.
A PDF version of the report is available at www.fissilematerials.org/ipfm/site_down/rr10.pdf


2011 edition of Nukespeak published.
On October 4, 2011, Sierra Club Books published the 30th anniversary edition of Nukespeak: The Selling of Nuclear Technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima exclusively in e-book format. First published in 1982 in the wake of the first great nuclear plant accident at Three Mile Island, the original edition, written by Stephen Hilgartner, Richard C. Bell, and Rory O’Connor, examined the turbulent history of the nuclear industry, documenting the extraordinary public relations campaign that developers undertook to sell nuclear technology.

Nukespeak is the language of the nuclear mindset — the worldview or system of beliefs of nuclear developers and enthusiasts. The word “Nukespeak” is a  tribute to George Orwell, who in his novel 1984, used the term “Newspeak” as the name of the language of Big Brother and the totalitarian state. Unlike a living language, the state was constantly removing words from common usage, with the ultimate goal to make it (literally) impossible for a citizen to think a seditious thought.

The new 2011 edition, updated by original authors Richard C. Bell and Rory O’Connor, brings the book fully up-to-date, exploring the critical events of the last three decades—including the disaster at Chernobyl, the campaign to re-brand nuclear energy as a “clean, green” solution to global warming, and the still unfolding disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant. In addition, the authors argue persuasively that a language of euphemism and distraction continues to dominate public debate about nuclear weapons and nuclear power around the world.
The book can be purchased online at: Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble


Radioactive and toxic mine dumps threaten Johannesburg. The 380 mine dumps and slimes dams in the the South African province Gauteng are causing radioactive dust fallout, toxic water pollution and soil contamination, according to the final draft of a new report by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) on mine residue areas (MRAs). The report was completed in July but is yet to be released. The report warns that if the province doesn’t act, it's capital “Johannesburg will eventually be seen as an old mining town that has reached the end of its working life”, with banks refusing to finance any homes or development near the dumps. Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa by population and the world's largest city not situated on a river, lake, or coastline.

The report found that most MRAs – including mine dumps, waste rocks dumps and water storage facilities – in Gauteng are radioactive “because the Witwatersrand gold-bearing ores contain almost 10 times the amount of uranium in gold. “These radioactive tailings co-exist in these MRAs alongside the iron sulphide mineral pyrite, which reacts in the presence of oxygen and water to form a sulphuric acid solution – the main cause of acid mine drainage,” says the report, Feasibility Study on Reclamation of Mine Residue Areas for Development Purposes: Phase II Strategy and Implementation Plan. But it says that the broader issue of “diffuse sources” of pollution represented by the mine dumps and slimes dams and their possible interactions with rainfall, seepage, surface water runoff and shallow groundwater “is possibly more important than the impact of acid mine drainage in Gauteng.

In February, the Saturday Star revealed how the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) had recommended the relocation of residents of Tudor Shaft informal settlement, on an old radioactive mine dump, in Krugersdorp. The report suggests that this NNR ruling is “likely to become a watershed ruling likely to be relevant for a number of other sites” and that high-risk informal settlements will need to be relocated to minimise human health risks.
Saturday Star (South Africa), 5 November 2011

La Hague - Gorleben CASTOR: from November 24 on

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#736
6187
11/11/2011
WISE Amsterdam
Article

A big number and high variety of actions is expected for November 25-28, 2011, due to the 13th transport of high level active atomic waste (the so-called Castor transport) from the reprocessing unit (plutonium factory) La Hague in France to the temporary repository in Gorleben, Germany.

Last year, the CASTOR reached its destination at the interim storage facility in Gorleben, after the longest journey ever in the history of this radioactive transport. Over a period of approximately 92 hours and 26 minutes the nuclear transport faced more resistance and peaceful direct action from the local population and their supporters than ever before.  No doubt the police were exhausted after a long weekend of – not only removing activists from the railway tracks and 600 tractors from the roadways – but also a herd of at least 500 sheep.  The sheep were herded onto the tracks by a local sheppardess in support of the protests, and finally some of them had to be carried off one-by-one by police to completely clear the railway tracks. This year the train will start at the reprocessing plant at La Hague in France on November 24 and actions at Gorleben will start with the set up of the camps from November 22 on. A mass demonstration will take place on November 26, 2011 at 12.30 PM in Dannenberg in the Gorleben region.

After several hundreds of kilometers on public railway tracks, after the city of Lüneburg the train will take railway tracks that are only used for the nuclear transport during these days. Due to this fact, this section of some 40 kilometers of tracks was in the focus of a big number of direct actions against the Castor transport in the past. In Dannenberg, the final destination of the nuclear train, the containers will be put from the tracks onto trucks to be transported some additional 20 kilometers on the roads to the repository in Gorleben.

Invitation Valognes 22-24 November
But this year, for the first time, there will be an international actioncamp and massblockade at the very startingpoint of the rail transport, in Valognes. English activists are invited too:

The French and the English government have this common feature of being mad about nuclear power. Whereas Germany, Switzerland and Italy are stepping out of the nuclear energy, France and Great-Britain are doing as if Fukushima never happened. If we refuse to let Fukushima become, like Chernobyl before, an accident without consequence, it is time to take action, now.

More than ever, it is obvious that it is only on an international level that we can think the struggle against nuclear power, because it is on this level that the contradiction between the states that step out of it and those who don't becomes explosive. As our aim “to free ourselves of those who destroy our lives and everything alive for the

last money left to make“ can in no way be achieved by them, as all the governments can do is greenwash their tools of destruction, we should use this moment to make it clear that we still envision a future. For it is not only the question of energy that we are determined to take back in our own hands but our lives.

That is why we invite all British comrades to join our initiative right on the other

side of the Channel, in Valognes (near Cherbourg) from the 22nd to 24th of November 2011. This year for the first time, in coordination with the German comrades, there will be a camp and mass action in order to block this transport at its very starting point, in Valognes, just like the Germans do it in Gorleben.


International guests at Gorleben
We want to invite you to join us in the "Wendland" region, the destination of the Castor transport. We are going to prepare a framework for international guests of the Castor resistance to come in contact with other English speakers and to help you to understand what is going on there. We will have a common meeting point where you can sleep, get food and information about actions and possibilities to join the protests.

We are offering to explore and join this colourful and creative resistance with each other, figuring out together what actions fit you, or just to visit actions to make experiences and get inspired for your own activities back home.

There will be some German activists who want to accompany and support the international guests. We will try to organize additional means to make it easier to get to interesting places, and there will probably be chances to speak about your anti-nuclear expertise or the fights you have in your region. For the local resistance it is also positive if we can show that the international community is supporting the anti-nuclear resistance and that it is not only a German struggle. It would also be a sign to the international public that anti-nuclear movements are supporting each other in Gorleben, and that we will do it in other places, too.

Find out more on our English website providing some basic informationabout this year's Castor resistance. We will add more materials during the next weeks. http://castor2011.nuclear-heritage.net. Please respond to join@castor2011.nuclear-heritage.net to tell whether you are interested in our invitation to Germany. We will try to support you as good as possible, but have to know as soon as possible about your needs.


Websites:

http://valognesstopcastor.noblogs.org/ (French and some English) / https://www.gorleben-castor.de/ (German)

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