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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Sheriff: N-weapons illegal; activists walk free.

(October 29, 1999) In a landmark decision on October 21, a judge (which are called sheriff in Scotland) has allowed three anti-nuclear activists to walk free on charges of damaging a Trident nuclear submarine after she said the weapons were illegal under international law and they had a right to "disarm" the base...
The three women, Angela Zelter, Ellen Moxley, and Bodil Ulla Roder, faced three charges of maliciously damaging equipment at the Faslane Naval Base near Lochgoilhead, Scotland. The women were arrested after boarding a barge which was part of the Trident installation. They had been charged with maliciously damaging the vessel called Maytime, stealing two inflatable life rafts and damaging equipment in an on-board laboratory. But Sheriff Gimblett said she accepted the argument put forward by defence advocate John Mayer who said Trident was illegal under international law and the women were acting simply to prevent a crime. Mr Mayer said a ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1996 made Trident and all nuclear weapons illegal. BBC, 21 October 1999

N-incenerator in Yellowstone Park?. The US Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) will construct a nuclear waste incinerator to burn 200,000 tons of radioactive waste imported into Idaho. Deadly fumes will be exhausted into the air and blown 140 km downwind to southeast Idaho and northwest Wyoming. This area is home to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and Jackson Hole. Here is where millions of people a year enjoy unique scenic wonders and the largest herds in existence of buffalo and elk. Here is where the Snake and Yellowstone Rivers support incredible fish and wildlife including Bald Eagles and Grizzly Bears.
Without so much as one legal notice provided to the residents of Wyoming, this deadly incinerator has been rushed through the approval process. Within months, construction permits could be issued to British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., a company with a reported history of emission accidents, hidden safety records, and falsified documents. Nuclear experts say microscopic ashes are very likley to escape from this burner and will endanger many. E-mail Save Ward Valley, 26 October 1999

Accident LLNL. A fire broke out in uranium-contaminated wastes at Livermore Lab (US), forcing the temporary closure of three buildings where workers were handling the radioactive metal. The accident occurred on July 26 1999, but was not reported to the public. In August, a summary appeared in an internal Department of Energy (DOE) publication. The fire broke out in an area where wastes contaminated with uranium are prepared for transport to the Nevada Test Site for disposal. An employee was loading bags of uranium shavings and other waste materials when he noticed the bag was "glowing and starting to expand", says the DOE report. The Lab's hazardous waste and fire departments were called in to extinguish the blaze. The uranium waste shipment facility was closed for three days while the Lab investigated the incident. Two other buildings where uranium experiments are carried out were closed for one day. Faulty waste packaging procedures that allowed a spark caused by the uranium filings to ignite paper inside the bag are thought to be the cause. The Lab said neither workers nor the environment were contaminated. Citizen Watch, September 1999

New MOX-fuel demanded. The operators of the Takahama No.3 reactor in Japan have asked BNFL to remake a batch of plutonium mixed-oxide fuel after it was confirmed that quality control monitoring checks had been falsified by staff at Sellafield. Data was faked on fuel in four of the eight fuel assemblies which were in store at the Cumbrian complex. On September 15, The Independent revealed that BNFL personnel falsified safety checks of MOX fuel in Sellafield (see WISE NC 518.5083: "BNFL fiddling MOX quality control") N-Base Briefing, 23 October 1999

UAE: Death penalty for N-waste import. Anyone convicted of importing nuclear waste into the United Arab Emirates could face either a fine of up to GBP 1.7m or even the death penalty under a newly introduced law. N-Base Briefing, 23 October 1999

Turkey postpones N-decision for Xth time. On October 20, the Turkish energy ministry said they will postpone the decision on bids to build the country's first nuclear power plant. The companies involved in bidding agreed with such a request by the ministry. The latest date for the decision was October 15, but is now expected late this year.
However, this is very uncertain, as we mentioned several times before, the great stable factor in the Turkish nuclear program is delaying the decisions. The companies involved are Canadian AECL, US Westinghouse and Franco-German NPI (Framatome-KWU Siemens).
On the morning of the day the decision should have been taken, Greenpeace unfurled a large banner on one of the bridges in Istanbul. Anti-nuclear activists say nuclear power is unnessecary and it is irresponsible to build a nuclear reactor on a site close to an earthquake zone. Reuters, 20& 21 October 1999

No more spent fuel from Zaporozhe to Russia. Energoatom, the Ukrainian nuclear power agency stated that startomg November no more spent fuel from the six Zaporozhe nuclear reactors will be exported to Krasnoyarsk for storage and reprocessing. Energoatom says it has completed its facility for on-site storage of spent fuel. All fuel from the 13 VVER-type reactors in Ukraine (all except the Chernobyl RBMK reactors) was sent to the reprocessing plant in Russia. In 1998, 600 fuel rods were sent to Russia for which Ukraine had to pay more than US$100 million. Three hundred of the 600 rods were from the Zaporozhe reactors.
In late 1998, the governor of Krasnoyarsk ordered not to accept the fuel because the price was too low, in November it was decided not to complete the nearly finished reprocessing plant at Krasnoyarsk. Then Ukraine announced an on-site storage of spent fuel at Zaporozhe. Reuters, 14 October 1999 / WISE NC 503.4964, 4 December 1998


Nuclear Power - The End of the Road, by Antony Froggatt Green Matters Report - October 1999, 16pp

"The Nuclear Industry in Europe and worldwide is in terminal decline. This decline is being led by developments in North America and Western Europe, the birthplace of the commercial nuclear power industry." Antony Froggatt, project co-ordinator of EU-Enlargement Watch, describes this trend in this overview.

Firstly, he gives a short overview of the nuclear industry in the memberstates of the EU and states the construction program of nuclear reactors ends. In the US it is over 25 years since a reactor has been ordered and subsequently completed. It has also a large number of cancelled and abandoned reactors (70), shutdown reactors (17) and those awaiting decommissioning (10). In Canada, the Candu reactors are plagued by age related problems and eight of the 22 reactors are no longer operating. In the last decade within Central and Eastern Europe reactors have been cancelled or put on hold; and those reactors that are being completed are being plagued by delays and cost over- runs. The enlargement of the EU will have a significant impact on nuclear power plants in CEE (closure and costly retrofitting programs). Also the financial and technical problems of the nuclear reactors in Ukraine and the Russian federation are being described.
In the next part several reasons are given for nuclear phase- out: economic, environmental, availability of alternatives and immediate availability of replacement. The last section of this report describes nuclear power related to climate change and the emissions of CO2.
In the last part it is, among others, concluded: "Nuclear power's inability to survive the market test has become, along with its environmental and social impact, another reason for its global rejection." Good basic information.

Contact: Green Matters,
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