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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Austrian province calls for shutdown of Swiss N-plant.

(June 11, 1993) The regional parliament of Vorarlberg, the Austrian province bordering on Switzerland, has unanimously passed a resolution for shutdown of Swiss nuclear power generating plants. The provincial government has been directed to address the issue with the Austrian federal government. At the same time, the resolution called for Austria to find ways around the import of nuclear-generated electricity. Austria imports relatively small amounts of power from Switzerland, Italy and Germany, but most of it is generated from nuclear plants. According to Power in Europe, Greenpeace is behind the latest move, which is directed at Swiss plants at Beznau and Mühlenberg (between Zurich and Basel). In the event of an accident, drafters of the resolution argue that Vorarlberg would receive heavy nuclear fallout.Power in Europe (UK), 21 May 1993, p.10


Lower dose limits recommended for workers. UK's National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) suggested in April that Britain introduce tighter nuclear worker dose limits than those recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) in 1990. NRPB Secretary Geoffrey Webb says he "sees no need for the UK to permit up to 50 milliSieverts (mSv)" (5 rem) in a single year, or an averaging over five years to keep within 20 mSv/year (2 rem), as the ICRP advocates. Instead, the NRPB recommended the limit be set at 20 mSv in a single year, with a special investigation launched if a worker reaches a 15 mSv (1.5 rem) dose in a year. The Board also recommended that worker exposure in planned operations be reviewed quarterly to identify individuals who might be approaching the relevant investigation levels, and considers that there should be no difference in the control of occupational exposures of men and women until a woman declares a pregnancy. The Board said exposure of a pregnant woman should then be as low as reasonably achievable (whatever that means) and certainly such that the equivalent dose to the fetus would not exceed 1 mSv during the remainder of the pregnancy. Students and apprentices aged 16 to 18 years should not be exposed to more than 6 mSv in a year -- 30% of the limit for adults. For the public, the NRPB recommended an effective dose of 1 mSv in a single year. (The ICRP recommendations call for the "additional flexibility" of allowing a higher dose in some years provided that the average over five years did not exceed 1 mSv/year.) The recommendations will also be submitted to the European Community for consideration. The EC plans to have a new directive on radiation safety standards in final draft form by 1994. Nucleonics Week (US), 6 May 1993


Cogema to acquire U-monopoly in France. Cogema and the French petroleum group Total announced an agreement whereby each company would acquire shares of the other and Total would give up all its French and foreign uranium operations to Cogema. The proposed agreement is to be submitted to shareholders of both firms on 2 June. Assuming no obstacles are raised, the agreement is to become effective in mid-1993. Total, in which the French government holds only a 5% stake, will then become the first private shareholder of Cogema. (Cogema was established in 1976 as a subsidiary of the state-controlled Commissariat à l'énergie atomique [CEA, the French Atomic Energy Agency] to deal primarily with "civil" uranium supplies and associated nuclear fuel facilities.) This will also mean Total will broaden its interests in the nuclear business to the entire fuel cycle sector. The agreement calls for Total to take a 10.8% share in Cogema by underwriting a reserved capital increase of 1.5 billion francs (about US$283 million). In return, Cogema is to pay 2.52 billion francs for about 4.3% of Total and acquire uranium properties that will increase its reserves by 15% to 20%, notably in the so-called dollar zone encompassing the US, Canada and Australia. The deal will leave France with a single uranium producer that, according to the industry bi-weekly Nuclear Fuel, "will supply virtually all the uranium needed by the world's biggest customer, Electricité de France (EDF)." Cogema was already the world's biggest single supplier of uranium, as well as the only company in the world which offers every single stage of the nuclear process from mining to spent fuel reprocessing. Nuclear Fuel (US), 10 May 1993, p. 17; The Gulliver File, Minewatch, 1992, pp. 177 and 203.


David Kay resigns from Uranium Institute. It is rumbling within the Uranium Institute. David Kay (for-mer employee of the IAEA and publicly known since he led the United Nations inspection teams concerned with the destruction of Iraq's nuclear capability after the Gulf War) resigned from his post as secretary general after only 15 months. Several members of this London-based industry organization were often irritated by Kay's media appearances during which he made no secret of his opinions about the dangers of proliferation. When his former boss at the IAEA, Hans Blix, complained to the UI's current chairman, Pierre Goldschmidt, of Kay's criticism of the IAEA's safeguards activities, the cup was full for David Kay. He resigned. "...I arrived fundamentally uncomfortable with this image of the Institute as a 'club', as it conveyed the image of a group of self-satisfied members prima-rily interested in talking to each other..." as waswritten in his letter of resignation. The Uranium Institute is still seeking a new secretary general. Applications can be sent to the board of directors of the UI in London. Nuclear Fuel (US), 10 May 1993


Nukes as biological weapons. The Physicians for Social Responsibility Newsletter from its Hawai'i branch summarizes research being done on the link between nuclear radiation and the breakdown of the body's protective immune system. V. Chernousenko, now dying of radiation poisoning along with thousands of others involved in the emergency cleanup after Chernobyl, was dismissed from his post at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences for telling the truth about the accident's catastrophic effect on Soviet society. Chernousenko's research confirms the biological link between low-level internal radiation and immune deficiency, anticipated by Sakharov and discovered by Petkau in Canada in 1971. Low-level radiation increases the mutation rate of bacteria and viruses, which may well explain the increasing virulence of organisms and their resistance to antibiotic treatment. Radiation physicists "point out that the AIDS epidemic first emerged during the Africa that 20 years earlier registered the highest levels in the world of Strontium-90 in human bone after receiving heavy fallout from atmospheric bomb tests." (PSR Hawai'i Newsletter, 1993 1st Quarter.) [Contact: PSR, 1000 - 16th St. NW, Suite 810, Washington DC 20036 US; tel: +1 (202) 785-3777. For more on the Petkau effect, see "The Petkau Effect", Ralph Graeub, New York 1992, ISBN 0-941423-72-7. Available also in French and German.] Pacific News Bulletin (Australia), Apr. 1993


In jail for non-violent action. As a consequence of a non-violent action against the German nuclear power plant Würgassen on April 28, 1991, Volker Nick, an anti-nuclear activist, has been jailed for a hundred days. On that day, there was a peaceful blockade to remember Chernobyl. Without resistance, some of the demonstrators could enter the plant area and read a declaration. Some time after that, the demonstrators were arrested. During the trial, Volker Nick declared that he would like the judge to investigate whether the operation of the power plant itself wasn't an illegal act that endangered life. If an investigation could prove that that was not the case, he said, he would be willing to pay the fine. After more trials, Volker Nick refused to pay his fine. He was jailed on March 9, 1993 and will be released again on June 16. He asks for letters of solidarity to be sent to him in jail. You should address your letters to: Volker Nick, Carl-Kabat-Haus, Schulstr. 7, W-7075 Mutlangen, Germany. phone +49-7171-74262.


"The dark at the end of the tunnel", a report released in March by Public Citizen, reveals that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission may allow dangerous levels of radioactivity to be left behind at the sites of retired nuclear power plants, before releasing those sites for unrestricted use. As nuclear reactors around the US face early retirement, the NRC is now deciding the extent to which these sites will have to be cleaned up. The Public Citizen report finds that only one of the options being considered would clean up the contamination and restore the site to its original, "background", level of radiation. The other options would leave various levels of radioactive contamination on site. After an incomplete cleanup, contaminated sites or buildings could be then used for playgrounds, offices or homes. The report asks that the NRC instead require complete cleanups in an effort to protect public health and the environment. Almost 90% of Americans live in a state with a nuclear power plant, so the NRC's decision will have a broad impact. The rule will apply not just to nuclear power plants, but to any of the 24,000 licensees operating under NRC authority that require decommissioning. Copies are available from Public Citizen for US$30. Discounts are available to citizen organizations and schools. All orders must be prepaid. Contact: Public Citizen, 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003, US; tel: +1-202-546-4996.


"Het dossier kernenergie kan gesloten worden en ook de kerncentrales". A new brochure titled; "The dossier nuclear energy can be closed, and so can the reactors" was published and presented by 17 large and small environmental organizations at a press conference on Chernobyl Day, 26 April 1993 in The Hague. The press conference took place during the TOPNUX-conference of the European Nuclear Society held in the Netherlands. The presentation of the brochure was only one of the events during the conference days. Other actions were a blockade of the nuclear reactor at Dodewaard and the partial destruction (in search of uranium, what wasn't found, luckily) of the private garden of the minister of Economic Affairs Andriessen. The title of the brochure is in reference to "dossier nuclear energy" which is presently being prepared by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and its head, Andriessen, a well-known advocate of nuclear energy. The dossier will be an attempt to make a discussion about new nuclear capacity possible. It is expected to be released in September this year and if everything goes according to Andriessen's plan, a decision about the construction of nuclear reactors will be taken after the next general elections (May 1994). The brochure is a general overview of the most important objections against nuclear energy. Additionally, it dismantles the arguments of the pro-nuclear lobby, as they are: 'nuclear energy is the solution for the greenhouse effect' and 'inherently safe' reactors. Okay, one striking fact from the brochure to put an end to the phrase that the Netherlands is a 'guiding country on environmental policy': in 1990 the amount of money the Dutch state paid for research on sustainable energy was four time less than in 1980!
The brochure can be obtained through the LPTK (National Platform against Nuclear Energy), Postbox 19199, 1000 GD Amsterdam, Netherlands. The costs are Hfl 2.50 plus postage.