Sellafield HLW returns to customers.
For over 30 years, overseas used nuclear fuel has been reprocessed in the UK, under contract at Sellafield. Since 1976 all UK reprocessing contracts have contained an option for this radioactive waste to be returned to its country of origin. The contracts to return the high level waste to Japanese and European customers now sit with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The program of work to transport canisters of vitrified (solid glass) waste to customers is known in the UK as the Vitrified Residue Returns (VRR) programme. 'Vitrified ' - refers to HLW in the form of a Glass block -
as compared to the original waste fuel rod, liquid nitric acid stock - which are the initial product of the plutonium separation. The NDA has "received advice from Sellafield Ltd and the NDA's commercial and transport subsidiary, International Nuclear Services that the infrastructure is in place and plans are sufficiently advanced" to return the waste to the countries of origine in the current financial year (2009/10).
Overall the UK phase of the program will return approximately 1,850 containers of vitrified waste to overseas customers and will include a number of containers being returned in accordance with the Government policy on waste substitution. The VRR program, which will substantially reduce the amount of highly active waste currently stored in the UK at Sellafield, is planned to take around 10 years. The NDA's commercial transport subsidiary, International Nuclear Services, will be responsible for transporting the vitrified waste to destinations in Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
NDA press release, 28 September 2009, WNN, 29 September 2009
Sizewell 5 anti-nuclear blockaders found not guilty. On September 29, two days into their four-day trial, the Sizewell five have been found not guilty of aggravated trespass after a blockade in 2008 of the Sizewell nuclear power station in Suffolk, UK. The Sizewell Five have been acquitted by the Lowestoft Magistrates' Court in Suffolk, after the prosecution failed to provide evidence that the defendants were on private land, meaning that they were all acquitted on this legal technicality. The trial related to a physical blockade of the sole access road to the Sizewell nuclear power plant last year. The defendants had held up a banner reading "Nuclear Power is Not a Solution to Climate Chaos" as they physically blocked the road with their bodies and arm tubes. The defendants had planned to use the defence that they were acting to prevent breaches of health and safety legislation resulting from the continued operation of the nuclear power plant in Suffolk. They had planned to call at least one expert witness, an independent nuclear consultant, but the judge had refused to allow this on the first day of trial, despite earlier pre-trial reviews.
Direct action groups are meeting in London in November to discuss strategies to fight the plans to build nuclear power plans in the U.K. The weekend will be a space for grassroots campaigners to network, share ideas and information and make plans to win. “By developing skills and confidence in creating and implementing campaign and action plans we can identify when and where our interventions can be most successful”.
113,488 say ‘no’ to uranium mining in Slovakia.
Late September, Greenpeace delivered a petition with 113,488 signatures calling for the Slovak parliament to change laws regarding uranium mining in the country. Under the Slovakian constitution, any petition having more than 100,000 signatories must be discussed by the country’s parliament. The petition is seeking a change in the law allowing municipalities to have a say on uranium mining in their areas. As all the towns and cities near potential mining sites are against the idea, this could mean very little or no uranium mining being done in Slovakia.
The campaign was launched three years ago, in order to stop a project aggressively pushed by the Canadian-based company Tournigan. It planned to open two uranium mines: one located just six kilometres upstream from Košice, the second largest city in Slovakia with a population of 250,000 people; the other at the border of the stunning UNESCO national park, ’Slovak Paradise‘. A coalition of groups lead by Greenpeace mobilized dozens of towns and local councils, regional governments, and over 100,000 citizens to express their refusal to turn Slovak Paradise into a contaminated and devastated landscape.
The authorities are now counting the signatures.
Nuclear Reaction, 25 September 2009
Nuclear fuel wins carbon exemption - for now.
Processing of nuclear fuel (uranium conversion and enrichment) has been granted an exemption from European Union (EU) plans to auction carbon dioxide emissions allowances from 2013, although the exemption list will be reviewed before 2010.
Currently, participants in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme receive emissions allowances for free to cover the majority of their expected carbon dioxide emissions based on their past emissions under a scheme known as 'grandfathering'. Participants then buy and sell allowances depending on what their actual emissions are. However, from 2013 the scheme will progressively reduce the free allocation and companies will be required to buy allowances in an auction. Brussels unveiled on 18 September a draft list of industrial and business sectors it fears could relocate outside Europe to jurisdictions with weaker climate change rules in future. Among these was the 'processing of nuclear fuel', which will be given carbon emission allowances under the EU's emissions trading scheme from 2013 to 2020.
World Nuclear news, 24 September 2009
Four Arizona tribes ban uranium on their lands.
In the United States of America, the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the Havasupai Tribe and the Hualapai Tribe have all banned uranium on their lands. The tribes are worried about damage to the environment. "Contamination emanates from mining, does not know any boundaries, and it could easily cross community after community without them ever knowing," said Robert Tohe, a member of the Navajo Nation, told the Associated Press. "I think that's the real danger, and that's why tribes have become unified."
The Interior Department recently barred new mining claims near the Grand Canyon. All
four tribes have land in the area. The tribal ban adds to a temporary mining ban on nearly 1 million federally owned acres around the Grand Canyon. The combined actions mean uranium-bearing lands in northern Arizona open to companies hungry to resume mining are growing scarce.
AP, 17 September 2009
Uranium royalty laws favour miners, exploit aborigines.
Anti-nuclear activists in Alice Springs say changes to uranium royalties in the Northern Territory will make way for the exploitation of Aboriginal communities. The bill extends the royalty system so miners pay a fixed rate only if they are making profits, rather than basing the rate on production. The bill was passed in the federal Senate early September.
Jimmy Cocking from the Arid Lands Environment Centre says the Federal Government has bowed to industry pressure and Aboriginal people will suffer. “It’s going to be easier for companies to get it up so you might find that companies who are more marginal – not the big producers but the more marginal companies – will start digging and then find out that they can’t even pay for the rehabilitation costs,” he said.
ABC News, 11 September 2009
Saving the climate would bring more jobs in the power industry.
A strong shift toward renewable energies could create 2.7 million more jobs in power generation worldwide by 2030 than staying with dependence on fossil fuels would. The study, by environmental group Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), urged governments to agree a strong new United Nations pact to combat climate change in December in Copenhagen, partly to safeguard employment. “A switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual,” the report said. Under a scenario of business as usual, the number of jobs in power generation would fall by about half a million to 8.6 million by 2030, hit by mainly by a decline in the coal sector due to wider mechanization.
The report said that, for the first time in 2008, both the United States and the European Union added more capacity from renewable energies than from conventional sources including gas, coal oil and nuclear power. The report suggested the wind sector alone, for instance, could employ 2.03 million people in generating power in 2030 against about 0.5 million in 2010.
The report can be found at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/working-for-the-cl...
U.K.: Keeping the nuclear fire burning.
A stinging attack on the nuclear policy of the United Kingdom's Government and the role played by civil servants has been made by Jonathan Porritt. Retiring as chairman of the Government's Sustainable Development Commission he spoke of wasted years and opportunities in pursuing the revival of the nuclear industry. In 2003 the commission had worked with the Department of Trade and Industry minister Patricia Hewitt on a new White Paper which concluded that "nuclear power is not necessary for a secure low-carbon efficient UK economy". However, instead of implementing the plans, civil servants "kept the nuclear flame burning" until a new minister was appointed. "The civil servants won that battle at a great cost to energy policy in the UK. We have had years of delay on critical things that could have been done on renewable energy and energy efficiency. We had six to eight years of prevarication when we could have been getting on with it."
N-Base Briefing 622, 19 August 2009
U.S.A.: Grandmothers against nuclear power!
From inside the security gate at Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, four Massachusetts women opposed to nuclear power looked out at VY security personnel, state and town police officers, and representatives of the media. The plant's security gate rumbled to a close too slowly to bar the four, including three grandmothers. Within half an hour, the four were arrested by state troopers and Vernon Police Chief, who arrived at the scene within minutes of the security breach. Charged with trespassing and ordered to appear December 15 in Windham County District Court are Ellen Graves, 69; Frances Crowe, 90; Paki Wieland, 66; and Hattie Nestel, 70.
Acting on behalf of the Shut It Down affinity group, the four women wanted to demonstrate that inadequate safety at Vermont Yankee is not limited to radiation leaks and collapsing cooling towers, according to Nestel. Women from Shut It Down have been arrested seven times previously at the Vernon plant or at headquarters in Brattleboro. Each time, they have pointed to the unsafe, inefficient, and unreliable characteristics of nuclear power, Nestel said. The women carried signs calling for the closure of the nuclear plant. Mary-Ann DeVita Palmieri, 71, chauffeured the four to the main Entergy VY gate with Marcia Gagliardi, 62, who got out of the car with those eventually arrested. "We hope we demonstrated that there is no way to make Vermont Yankee secure," said Nestel. "It is time to shut it down."
Press release, Shut It Down!, 28 september 2009
UK: LibDems cave in to nuclear power lobby.
Tom Burke, the veteran director of the Green Alliance, was invited to the Liberal Democrats Conference to debate nuclear power. However, shortly before the conference, he was informed that he was dis-invited. It seems that EDF, the nuclear power company, was experiencing sphincter problems at the prospect of debating with Burke, so they leaned on the LiberalDems, who collapsed like a tower of toilet paper in a thunderstorm.
Tom Burke writes: "I thought you would all like to know that I was originally invited by Dod’s to speak at the three low carbon fringe meetings at the party conferences. I accepted the invitation and received a confirmation of my participation sometime early in the summer. Three weeks ago I was notified by e-mail that I had been disinvited at the request of EDF who were sponsoring the meetings. This dis-invitation arrived too late to change the programme for the event at the Lib-Dem Conference where I was listed as a speaker. Given that EDF have now owned up to the fact that they cannot do new build nuclear without subsidies I am not totally surprised that they no longer wish to debate the issue in public."
Australia: radioactivity in dust storms?
Environmentalists have raised concerns that another giant dust storm blowing its way across eastern Australia may contain radioactive particles. It is argued that sediment whipped up from Australia’s centre may be laced with material from the Olympic Dam uranium mine. Scientists have played down concerns, saying there is little to worry about. On September 23, Sydney and Brisbane bore witness to their biggest dust storm in 70 years. Both were shrouded in red dust. The dust storm is believed to have originated around Woomera in outback South Australia near the massive Olympic Dam uranium mine, prompting fears it was radioactive and dangerous…………
The massive clouds of dust that choked heavily populated parts of Australia have caused problems for people with asthma, as well as those with heart and lung conditions.
But some environmental campaigners believe that the dry, metallic-tasting sediment could threaten the health of millions of other Australians. David Bradbury, a renowned filmmaker and activist, claims the haze that engulfed some of the country’s biggest cities contains radioactive tailings –carried on gale force winds from a mine in the South Australian desert.
“Given the dust storms… which [the] news said originated from Woomera, and which is right next door to the Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs, these [storms] could blow those tailings across the face of Australia,” he said.
BBC News, 28 September 2009
Brazil and nuclear wepaons.
Brazil’s Vice-President Jose Alencar has said possession of nuclear weapons would enable his country to deter potential aggressors and give the South American nation greater ‘respectability’ on the world stage, according to a media report from Sao Paulo. “Nuclear weapons as an instrument of deterrence are of great importance for a country that has 15,000 km of border”, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper quoted Alencar as saying while referring to the security of the country's offshore oil deposits. Besides deterrence, nuclear weapons “give more respectability”, citing the example of Pakistan, a poor nation that “has a seat in various international entities, precisely for having an atomic bomb”.
Brazil's military regime (1964-1985) had a covert nuclear-weapons program that was shut down after the restoration of democratic rule.
MercoPress, 28 September 2009