China denies nuclear accident reports.
China has denied reports that it was forced to shut down its newest nuclear reactor last year after an incident. A report from Japan's Atomic Energy Agency said the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) stopped generating electricity in October following an accident. The incident sparked alarm in Japan and South Korea over the prospect of radiation leaking from the CEFR. According to a Tokyo newspaper, which cited the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency's investigation, those fears were intensified by Beijing's failure to report the accident or release details of what happened. But Wan Gang, the director of the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE), denied there had been an accident or any cover-up and also refuted the allegations of poor safety. "CEFR hasn't been operating since July last year so reports that an accident occurred in the autumn are extremely inconsistent with the facts," Gang told Chinese media. But that again, is not in line with reports sofar. On July 21, 2011, exactly one year after achieving first criticality, the head of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Sun Qin, declared that the unit had successfully achieved grid connection.
CEFR is a fourth-generation reactor and China's first fast reactor. The sodium-cooled, pool-type fast reactor has been constructed with some Russian assistance at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIEA), near Beijing, which undertakes fundamental research on nuclear science and technology. The reactor has a thermal capacity of 65 MW and can produce 20 MW in electrical power.
World Nuclear News, 21 July 2011 / Telegraph (UK), 27 January 2012 / NewsTrackIndia.com, 28 January 2012
Germany: site selection HLW repository after 2019.
Under a new plan, agreed on by the national government and federal states, the Gorleben salt dome in Lower Saxony would be a reference site for the site selection of a spent fuel disposal facility. The plan does not rule out using Gorleben but also says no decision has been made to use the site. The scientific study of the site, Germany’s only existing candidate for a high-level nuclear waste repository, was halted under a moratorium 2000. The moratorium was lifted 2010 years after the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, or Bfs, filed an application to resume studies and prolong Gorleben’s operating license through September 2020.
Under the new plan, the first step will be the development of the legal and regulatory framework which is scheduled to be completed in mid-2012. The plan calls for development of safety requirements and determination of what types of geologic formations might be used for waste disposal, between mid-2012 and mid-2013. They could include salt domes and mines, clay and crystalline rock, according to the plan. Hydrological parameters will also be set. By mid-2013, the German parliament is scheduled to put the criteria into a federal law governing repository development. The authorities involved in site selection will have until mid-2014 to identify potential sites and until the end of 2014 to select candidate sites. Surface studies are planned through the end of 2019. After that, underground studies will be done and a site will be chosen, although the plan does not specify a date for that decision. Construction and commissioning approvals are to be issued after 2019.
Nuclear Fuel, 26 December 2012
Africans and the Global Uranium Trade.
A new book to be published early March 2012 and written by Gabrielle Hecht: Being Nuclear: Africans and the global uranium trade. Uranium from Africa has long been a major source of fuel for nuclear power and atomic weapons, including the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In 2002, George W. Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein had "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" (later specified as the infamous "yellowcake from Niger"). Africa suddenly became notorious as a source of uranium, a component of nuclear weapons. But did that admit Niger, or any of Africa's other uranium-producing countries, to the select society of nuclear states? Does uranium itself count as a nuclear thing? In this book, Gabrielle Hecht lucidly probes the question of what it means for something--a state, an object, an industry, a workplace--to be "nuclear."
Hecht shows that questions about being nuclear--a state that she calls "nuclearity"--lie at the heart of today's global nuclear order and the relationships between "developing nations" (often former colonies) and "nuclear powers" (often former colonizers). Nuclearity, she says, is not a straightforward scientific classification but a contested technopolitical one.
Hecht follows uranium's path out of Africa and describes the invention of the global uranium market. She then enters African nuclear worlds, focusing on miners and the occupational hazard of radiation exposure. Could a mine be a nuclear workplace if (as in some South African mines) its radiation levels went undetected and unmeasured? With this book, Hecht is the first to put Africa in the nuclear world, and the nuclear world in Africa. Doing so, she remakes our understanding of the nuclear age.
Gabrielle Hecht is Professor of History at the University of Michigan. She is the author of The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II and editor of Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War, both published by the MIT Press. Hardcover: 440 pages, published by MIT Press (expected on 2 March, 2012). ISBN: 978-0262017268
'Worst scenario' on Fukushima crisis kept under wraps.
Japan's nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono has said ‘the worst scenario’ on development of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima complex, which was compiled two weeks after the crisis began, was shared only by a few lawmakers, including then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, due to fears it might cause confusion among the public. "The scenario was not a possibility in fact. If it had been made public at that time, it was likely that no one would have remained in Tokyo," Hosono was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. "It would have caused trouble regarding the government's handling of the nuclear crisis," he said.
Asian Age, 30 January 2012