Norway: New report on hypothetical Sellafield accident.
On 23 March, the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority published a report on the possible consequences for Norway of an atmospheric release of radioactivity from the storage tanks for highly active liquid waste at Sellafield. The report shows that an accident could entail considerable fallout over Norway. The release of just 1% of the tanks' contents could result in levels of radioactive fallout in Western Norway that are five times higher than those measured in the worst affected areas of Norway after the Chernobyl accident.
If an accident caused the release of 10% of the tanks' contents, it is calculated that the fallout would be 50 times the maximum level experienced in Norway after Chernobyl. A major accident is of course considered to be less likely than more limited releases. However, the British authorities have not provided Norway with any specific information indicating that such an incident can be ruled out.
The report considers an accident involving the storage tanks for highly active liquid waste. These currently contain about 1000 m3 of radioactive waste from several decades of reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.
Norway would be vulnerable in the event of a large release of radioactivity from Sellafield, both because of its geographical position and because of the prevailing weather conditions. The impacts of a major atmospheric release could be particularly severe. The Norwegian authorities consider that in the worst case, an accident at Sellafield could have significant impacts on agriculture, the environment and society for decades to come.
Ministry of the Environment (Norway), 26 March 2009
Australia: Queensland: The return of an anti-uranium state government.
PULL down the bunting, recork the champagne, throw out the sausage rolls -- there will be no celebration party for the Queensland uranium players. Labor is back. There will be no uranium mining for at least the next three years…so began a report in the conservative daily newspaper The Australian shortly after the recent Queensland state election. Uranium mining emerged as an issue in the 21st March election with the incumbent Labor party pledging to retain its long standing ban on mining while the conservative Liberal National Party (LNP) threw its weight behind an open slather mining policy. The Greens committed to legislate against the industry and ruled out any preference deals with the LNP on the back of their uranium policy. The uranium industry lobbied hard in the lead up to election and mobilized considerable media support for its spurious claims of employment and revenue benefits. National and state environment groups worked to keep the issue live and publicly rated the various party’s performance and promises against a range of issues, including their position on uranium mining. The return of an anti-uranium state government has been welcomed by campaigners as an important development in the continuing and very active national uranium debate.
Dave Sweeney, email, 29 March 2009
No new IAEA-DG, yet.
The IAEA Board again is inviting governments to nominate candidates for Director General. Neither of the two candidates that the Board voted upon on march 26, received the necessary two-thirds majority of votes during successive rounds of secret balloting. The Board’s Chair - Algerian Ambassador Taous Feroukhi noted that in accordance with the Board’s agreed procedure, the slate of candidates is considered to have been wiped clean. She said she will again be inviting Member State governments to nominate candidates on 30 March 2009, with nominations to be submitted within four weeks thereafter. The Board voted on two candidates - Ambassador Yukiya Amano of Japan, and Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa. Under the Board’s agreed procedure, either or both of these candidates can be re-nominated by Member States.
The Director General is appointed by the Board of Governors with the approval of the General Conference for a term of four years. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei´s term of office expires on 30 November 2009. He has served as Director General since 1997. (see also: Nuclear Monitor 685, Briefs)
IAEA Staff Report, 27 March 2009
France: cancer-figures temporarily workers are increasing.
In February, a man perished at a building site at the nuclear reactor in Paluel, France. This was not given much attention, because he was "only" a temporary worker. There are 20.000 temporary contractors working in nuclear power stations in France. Without them, reactors would not keep going or get repaired. A confidential report by EDF reveals that 84% of the subcontractors in the nuclear industry would like to quit because of bad working conditions. Safety measures are minimal, and the employees are under enormous pressure since every day the reactor is offline (because of maintenance, for instance) costs EDF 1 million Euro's. Research by the Centre International de recherche sur le cancer shows that while temporary workers get 80% of the radiation, the employees of EDF get 20%. The group of EDF employees show an increase in cancer of "only" 8%, the subcontractors 40%.
Siné Hebdo (Fr.), 18 March 2009
Too little too late: Financial compensation for French test victims.
The French government says it will pay out at least 10 million euros (US$13.6 million), initially for one year, to people with health problems as a result of French nuclear tests carried out in the Algerian Sahara and in Polynesia, Defense Minister Herve Morin was quoted as saying on Tuesday, March 24. Some 150,000 people are estimated to have been affected.
France tested its first nuclear bomb on February 13, 1960 in the Algerian Sahara. Between 1960 and 1996, France carried out a total of 210 nuclear tests in Algeria, French Polynesia and the Pacific Ocean. Participants in the tests and people living in areas close to the testing zones have long complained of health problems including leukemia and other forms of cancer. France has for a long time refused to officially recognize a link between its testing of nuclear bombs and health complaints reported by both military and civilian staff involved in the tests.
Compensation in other countries:
- Russia: Test veterans get a medal, pension, pride of place in parades and use of a special radiation hospital.
- China: announced last year that military and civilian veterans would get pensions.
- U.S.A.: Ronald Reagan introduced a compensation deal (the 'Radiation Exposure Compensation Act') in 1990 which has since paid out a total of US$1.4 billion.
- Australia/New Zealand: Veterans with any illnesses known to be caused by radiation are entitled to subsidized private medical care.
- U.K.: Government still insists veterans were not harmed and denies any responsibility.
AP, 24 March 2009 / Sunday Mirror (UK), 29 March 2009
India: first uranium delivery from France.
(April 1, 2009) Following clearance by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, first batch of 60 tons uranium ore concentrate imported from Areva NC France was received on March 31, by the Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad. India. This uranium ore would be processed and used in pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) in India.
India and France had entered into an accord for supplying reactors and fuel consequent to the Indo-US nuclear deal, the 123 agreement. As a first step, Department of Atomic Energy had entered into a contract with French Nuclear supplier AR EVA NC for the supply of 300 tons of uranium ore concentrate
www.Samaylive.com 31 March & 1 April 2009
The controversial Ranger uranium mine inside the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory is again under scrutiny following confirmation of the extent of a long standing and unresolved seepage problem at the operations main tailings dam. In February the Supervising Scientist, a federal agency set up to monitor the impacts of Ranger, confirmed the existence and extent of the seepage problem to a parliamentary Senate hearing. Around 100,000 litres of contaminant is leaking in an uncontrolled fashion from the dam every day. Australian environmental and anti-nuclear groups have been active in highlighting this and a series of other operational failures at Ranger in the national media. The timing of the leak has been highly embarrassing to mine operator Energy Resources of Australia (ERA – 68% owned by resource giant Rio Tinto) as the company has just applied for federal approval for a major expansion of the aging mine. ERA are seeking approval to build a new tailings dam and a large scale acid heap leaching facility to process low grade ore and waste rock stockpiles. The company has further flagged plans to construct an underground shaft from the base of the current open pit operation to exploit a lens of uranium ore that runs towards the Magela floodplain, a pivotal component of Kakadu’s unique wetlands environment. The expansion plans have been fiercely opposed by ERA’s critics who are calling on the federal government to veto the move and initiate an independent inquiry into the performance and environmental and social impacts of Australia’s oldest uranium mine.
Dave Sweeney, 28 March 2009
Quote of the month:
“We have continued to see incidents over the last few years that indicate that safety culture was not a priority through all the staff at all the plants,” NRC Chairman Dale Klein, 10 March, at the 21 annual Regulatory Information Conference of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) cited in Nucleonics Week, 19 March 2009