You are here

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

North Korea admits weapons program.

(October 15, 2002) North Korea has admitted continuing to pursue a secret nuclear weapons program, even though it had promised not to do so under the 1994 "agreed framework". This agreement was a precondition to the program under which a 2-reactor power station is being built in Kumho, with the U.S. providing fuel oil to generate electricity until the reactors are completed (see WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 566.5390, "U.S. approves $95 million aid for 'axis of evil' country"). When confronted with U.S. evidence about the weapons program, North Korean official apparently said something like, "Your government called us a member of the axis of evil...your troops are deployed on the Korean peninsula ... of course we have a nuclear program". Although the pre-1994 program was based on plutonium, the new program is apparently based on high-enriched uranium.CNN, 17 October 2002

Exelon admits discrimination.

(October 15, 2002) Exelon, the largest U.S. nuclear utility, has admitted discriminating against a former employee at Byron nuclear power station who had raised concerns about safety, by not picking him for a new job in August 2000. The worker was later laid off because of corporate restructuring, according to Exelon. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has now settled the issue with Exelon and issued an action plan. Within 6 months, Exelon must improve its employee training on safety consciousness and preventing discrimination, including special training for all Exelon and Amergen executives and plant managers.Federal Register, 10 October 2002; Nucleonics Week, 10 October 2002

India admits problems.

(October 15, 2002) India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has admitted that radiation levels at Kakrapar Atomic Power Station - which it claims to be the best in India - are three times international norms. This implies that the other nuclear power stations are even worse. Christopher Sherry, research director of the Safe Energy Communication Council, commented: "The fact that India's nuclear regulator acknowledges that reactors in India are not operated to the standards of reactors in the U.S. or Europe is not much of a surprise, but it is very disturbing."The Christian Science Monitor, 11 October 2002

Bulgaria - EU showdown.

(October 15, 2002) The Bulgarian parliament voted on 2 October to reject closing reactors 3 and 4 at Kozloduy before the country joins the European Union. The vote was virtually unanimous: the one lawmaker who voted against did so because he said Bulgaria should not be talking about closure at all! This goes even further than the earlier government statement (see WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 574, "In Brief") which insisted that the EU must send experts to inspect the reactors and re-evaluate its demand that the reactors must close by the end of 2006. The new move comes shortly before the EU is to set a target date for Bulgaria to join, so that a showdown over the issue is imminent. Nucleonics Week, 10 October 2002

UK dumping victory.

(October 15, 2002) Rolls-Royce has announced it will stop dumping nuclear waste in Hilts Quarry (see WISE News Communique 556.5329, "UK: Villagers battle Rolls-Royce nuclear waste dump"). The waste, from the production of reactor cores for nuclear submarines, will be taken to the UK's main low-level waste dump at Drigg near Sellafield. David Lane from the Crich and District Environmental Group welcomed the news, but said, "what is going to happen to the 37 years worth of waste already in the quarry? How is that going to be made safe? These questions will need to be answered convincingly before the campaign is over."BBC, 4 October 2002; Email from David Lane, 16 October 2002

Thailand victory.

(October 15, 2002) On 27 September, the Administrative Court ordered the Office of Atomic Energy for Peace (OAEP) to pay a total of 5.2 million baht (US$103,000) to 12 radiation poisoning victims (see WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 573, "In Brief"). The victims had sued the agency for negligence after cobalt-60 sources from a discarded radiotherapy machine were left in a parking lot two years ago. The cylinders had no written warnings in Thai on them, and the judge said that if the cylinders had warning labels, no-one would have tried to steal them and cut them open for sale. Ida Arunwongse, an activist speaking in support of the victims, said the compensation was acceptable, although it fell far short of the 90 million baht (US$1.8 million) requested in the lawsuit. The OAEP said it would appeal the verdict.The Bangkok Post, 28 September 2002

Zorita to close in 2006.

(October 15, 2002) Spain's economics minister announced that the country's oldest and smallest reactor, José Cabrera - commonly known as Zorita - will close on 30 April 2006 (see WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 572.5430, "Spain: Zorita re-fuels in anticipation of license extension"). Zorita's license has therefore been extended, but less than the 6 years the industry had hoped for, and now there is a definite closure date. Greenpeace Spain have called for the resignation of the president of the Nuclear Safety Commission (CSN), Teresa Estevan Bolivar, the only CSN member to vote against the closure proposal, for failing to be independent and hiding information about the safety of nuclear reactors in Spain.WNA News Briefing, 9-15 October 2002; Greenpeace Spain press release, 9 October 2002


(October 15, 2002) The next Castor transport of high-level nuclear waste from La Hague in France to Gorleben in Germany is expected around 11 November, and will consist of 12 Castors - twice the number usually transported.