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Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Indian reactor shut down after accident.

(May 7, 2004) India's 220 MW Kakrapar-1 reactor was ordered to shut down on 22 April by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) because of "weakness in safety culture". The reactor experienced a power trip (a sudden increase in the reactor's power output) on 10 March, because of failing power supply to the regulating system and malfunctioning of the boron emergency shutdown system. Power increased from 70 to 98% before an emergency shutdown. Although the reactor was brought back to service two days later, AERB later decided that plant's management hadn't been able to determine the exact cause of the accident. The accident was rated as level 2 on the INES scale.
Nucleonics Week, 29 April 2004

Missing fuel parts in U.S. reactor.

(May 7, 2004) Two highly radioactive pieces of a 12 feet long fuel element are missing from the Vermont Yankee reactor. Operators tried to locate the two pieces - which had been removed from a fuel element in 1979 when fuel cladding appeared to be defective - inside a special container in the spent fuel pool. Entergy is now preparing to use a remote-controlled camera to search the pool and is also checking old documentation to investigate whether the pieces might have been sent to a low-level waste dump. In 2000, two spent fuel rods were found to be missing from the Millstone-1 reactor and were never located. It was assumed they ended up in the Barnwell waste dump. That event prompted the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to require other operators to account for all their fuel.
Nucleonics Week, 29 April 2004

Hanau MOX deal suspended?

(May 7, 2004) According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on 27 April, the plans for the sale of the German Hanau MOX plant to China have been suspended. It is unclear why the deal collapsed, but negotiations may restart in the future. "The two sides can have further contacts if they consider the cooperative project mutually beneficial and want to continue the project, but the contacts must be fair and transparent", the spokesman said. In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said he had taken note "with interest" of the Chinese statement but could not comment further. According to Prime Minister Gerhard Schröder, the plans are not totally cancelled and an application for export still remains under consideration. The plan for the sale of the plant was heavily criticized, mainly for proliferation risk reasons (see WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 608.5599: "Hanau export and possible military uses in China")., 27 & 28 April 2004; AP, 4 May 2004

Plane misses nuke by "100 feet".

(May 7, 2004) A British military transport plane missed crashing into a Scottish nuclear plant by just "100 feet", an industry source has revealed, adding that the Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules needed to "bank steeply" in order to avoid a collision.
The incident, which occurred at the Chapelcross NPP on the 19 December last year, has only now been uncovered after questions were tabled in Parliament. The UK authorities had previously tried to cover up the matter.
The Chapelcross NPP is a first generation Magnox unit, and so is particularly vulnerable, as it does not have secondary containment. The site additionally has spent fuel ponds and a tritium facility linked to weapons programs.
A further five less serious breeches of the standard 2km no-fly zones at other UK sites - Dungeness, Torness and Berkley - were also confirmed, although full details have still to be released.
Sunday Herald, 2 May 2004; FOEE by email, 4 May 2004

Tc-99 discharges from Sellafield cut.

(May 7, 2004) UK nuclear regulators announced approval for the chemical process to reduce marine discharges of technetium-99 from Sellafield by 90%. Instead of being discharged into the Irish Sea, the Tc-99 will join Sellafield's intermediate waste stream. The news follows trials forced on British Nuclear Fuels' by government ministers in 2003. Discharges of Tc-99, which has a half-life of over 210,000 years, had been increasing until recently leading to widespread international protests, particularly from Ireland and Norway, both of which registered large increase of Tc-99 along their coastlines.
N-Base Briefing 413, 24 April 2004

UK keeps nuclear option open.

(May 7, 2004) The British government is to continue working on research, design and development of nuclear power despite unresolved issues in relation to nuclear waste according to a progress report following the publication of the 2003 White Paper setting out national energy policy for the next 50 years. Britain has not built any nuclear power stations for more than a decade and most of its reactors are scheduled to close over the next twenty years.
World Environment News, 28 April 2004

Radioactive wastewater from German reactor spills into Rhine.

(May 7, 2004) About 30,000 liters of radioactive water poured into the river Rhine near Karlsruhe after a pump malfunctioned at the Philippsburg nuclear power plant. The spill occurred during testing of valves that move wastewater into tanks and the water leaked into the river on 24 April when a valve was mistakenly left open. The leak was not reported to the state Environment Ministry until 26 April.
The Associated Press, 28 April 2004 & Press release EnBW, 28 April 2004

Vanunu places security in hands of Anglican Church.

(May 7, 2004) Mordechai Vanunu, the 50-year old Israeli technician who served 18 years behind bars for revealing information about Israel's secret Dimona nuclear site to the Sunday Times newspaper in London, has placed his future security in the hands of the Anglican church, appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury to help ensure his safety. Vanunu's brother, Meir, made the appeal public asking that the Archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams, help safeguard Vanunu, who has been receiving death threats since his release from prison on 21 April. Vanunu has been given food and lodgings at the compound of St George's Cathedral in Jerusalem since regaining his freedom. The bishop has offered to allow Vanunu to remain there, but he is concerned that the church cannot provide the kind of security the former nuclear technician requires. The Sunday Times has rented a luxury apartment in Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv, for Vanunu but he has refused to budge from the Anglican headquarters in Jerusalem. He has also rejected a proposal to relocate to an Anglican Church in Nazareth.
Ecumenical News International, Geneva, 30 April 2004

European Union's nuclear capacity increased on 1 May.

(May 7, 2004) On 1 May, ten countries officially joined the European Union (EU). Five of the new member states - Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Hungary - have nuclear energy programs, with a total of 19 operational nuclear reactors between them. Their accession means that 13 out of the 25 EU member states produce nuclear electricity, with the total number of operating commercial nuclear power reactors increasing from 136 to 155. Lithuania is scheduled to close two units at its Ignalina plant by 2005 and 2009, while Slovakia will shutdown two reactors at its Bohunice plant in 2006 and 2009.
WNA News Briefing 04.18, 28 April-4 May 2004

Pakistan builds new nuclear plant.

(May 7, 2004) China is to help Pakistan build a new nuclear power plant in the north of the country, the two sides have announced. The power plant, to be built at Chashma south of Islamabad by 2010. It is the second nuclear plant that China has helped Pakistan construct, and comes after a Pakistani scientist confessed to leaking nuclear secrets. Representatives from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and the China National Nuclear Corporation signed the contract, estimated to be worth US$600 million.
BBC News, 4 May 2004

UK nuclear firm separates clean-up business.

(May 7, 2004) British Nuclear Fuels has launched its clean-up activities as a separate company on 4 May in preparation for the creation of a new decommissioning authority. The business, called British Nuclear Group, has annual turnover of almost GBP 2 billion (US$ 3.5 billion) and employs 15,000 people in work including nuclear reprocessing at Sellafield, and the decommissioning of Magnox reactors around the UK. From next April, the new operation will face competition following the creation of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), a government body overseeing the clean-up of nuclear sites in the UK. As part of the Energy Bill, which still needs parliamentary approval, the majority of BNFL's assets and liabilities, including responsibility for decommissioning plants at Sellafield, will be transferred to the NDA.
The Press Association, 4 May 2004

Ignalina-1 closure delayed?

(May 7, 2004) The Lithuanian Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (Vatesi) says it is not able to grant a license for the closure of the dangerous reactor as planned, regardless of the political pressure to do so. The government had asked for the shut down of the Chernobyl type reactor by on 31 December, which is also a condition for its European Union membership. Vatesi stated that Ignalina-1 cannot simply be "disconnected" from unit-2 and would need a new boiler house and waste management system. Vatesi will not license the closure of unit-1 until it is satisfied that Ignalina-2 can run on its own.
Nucleonics Week, 22 April 2004

Japan to store SNF.

(May 7, 2004) An expert panel affiliated with the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) has recommended that the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel be limited to the capacity of the Rokkasho facility. The panel suggested the government change plans to allow some spent fuel to be stored long term instead of being reprocessed. Current government plans call for spent fuel in excess of Rokkasho's capacity to be stored for 40-60 years and suggest the construction of a second reprocessing plant.
WNA News Briefing 04.18, 28 April - 4 May 2004