Upcoming international conferences. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is hosting a Civil Society Forum in Oslo on March 2-3. Hundreds of people from all around the world will gather for speeches, workshops, and networking (www.goodbyenuk.es / #goodbyenukes). On March 4−5, the government of Norway will host an international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. On March 11-12 in New York, the Helen Caldicott Foundation is hosting a symposium on the medical and ecological consequences of the Fukushima accident (nuclearfreeplanet.org).
Cascading proliferation in north-east Asia? In response to North Korea's nuclear weapon test on February 12, outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said: "There are some people saying South Korea should also have nuclear weapons. Those remarks are patriotic and [I] think highly of them. ... they also serve as a warning to North Korea and China." The South Korean Defense Ministry said it is not contemplating nuclear weapons development. (NTI, 15 Feb 2013, tiny.cc/2m84sw)
The North Korean bomb test will also strengthen the hand of Japan's small but vocal nuclear bomb lobby. Japan's then defence minister Satoshi Morimoto said last year that Japan's nuclear power program is "taken by neighbouring countries as having very great defensive deterrent functions" and former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba said: "Having nuclear plants shows to other nations that Japan can make nuclear weapons."
Koongarra permanently protected from uranium mining. Legislation has been introduced into the Australian federal parliament to incorporate Koongarra into the Kakadu National Park of the Northern Territory. The legislation has support from the two major parties and the Greens. Mining companies, most recently Areva, have wanted to dig up Koongarra but the government has agreed to follow the wishes of Senior Djok Aboriginal Traditional Owner Jeffrey Lee. The Ranger uranium mine continues to operate on land which has been excised from the Kakadu National Park. From 1997−2003, Mirarr Traditional Owners fought an ultimately successful battle to prevent mining at the nearby Jabiluka deposit.
Nuclear accident in France could cost more than 400 billion euro. A nuclear accident similar to the one at Fukushima could cost France more than 400 billion euro, a report by the French Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) says. The report says a major disaster damaging one of France's 58 commercial nuclear reactors and contaminating the environment with radioactive material would displace an estimated 100,000 people, destroy crops and create massive power outages. − NucNet 8 Feb 2013, tiny.cc/3t14sw
International Uranium Film Festival. The International Uranium Film Festival had great success in 10 cities India from January 4−12. Festival organisers are now back in Brazil organising the Third International Uranium Film Festival, to be held in the Cinema of Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Modern Art in May. − www.uraniumfilmfestival.org
Allegations of payments to free hostages seized from U mine. A former US ambassador to Mali, Vicki Huddleston, has claimed the French government paid US$17m to free French hostages seized from a uranium mine in its former colony, Niger, in 2010. − The Independent 8 Feb 2013, tiny.cc/l434sw
Poland may ditch nuclear power plans. Poland's Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski has indicated that plans to fund Poland's first nuclear power plant may be shelved by the government. "In today's circumstances it is not possible for the government to support the construction of a nuclear power plant," he said (Poland News 19 Feb 2013, tiny.cc/6d54sw). A 2011 report by Warsaw's Institute for Renewable Energy found that a 5.7 gigawatt capacity cluster of off-shore wind farms situated in the Baltic Sea would compare favourably to three gigawatts of nuclear capacity (tiny.cc/4l54sw).
Wind threatens to shut down nuclear plants, warns energy exec. Subsidies for wind power could lead to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, said Exelon Corp. CEO Christopher Crane. In response, Rob Gramlich from the American Wind Energy Association said: "Exelon made a bet on the electricity spot market just like California did 10 years ago. When prices went down, they lost their bet and they're looking for a scapegoat. The good news is the same low prices that hurt Exelon benefit homes and businesses." − Chicago Tribune, 8 Feb 2013, tiny.cc/ra44sw
Putting the EU on track for 100% renewable energy. A February 2013 report from WWF, 'Putting the EU on Track for 100% Renewable Energy', shows where Europe needs to be by 2030 in order to reach a fully renewable energy system by 2050. WWF's report adapts the WWF Global 2050 Energy Scenario to the EU27 level and shows that by 2030 the EU could: use at least 38% less energy compared to a business as usual projection; generate more than 40% of its energy from renewable sources; by doing both, reduce its energy related greenhouse emissions by 50% compared to 1990 levels. − www.wwf.eu; tiny.cc/ce64sw
Radioactive silverware? The US Nuclear Information and Resource Service is campaigning against the Department of Energy's plan to mix radioactive metal from nuclear weapons factories with clean recycled metal and let it enter into general commerce − where it could be used for any purpose. It's a foot in the door for revival of a radioactive waste deregulation plan defeated in 1992. − www.nirs.org
U.S. going green? Every single megawatt of new generating capacity added in the U.S. in January 2013 was renewable, data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows. New capacity in January comprised 958 megawatts of wind, 267 of solar, and 6 of biomass. A small victory, though the U.S. still has a very, very long way to go to wean itself off fossil fuels and nuclear, and biomass is a mixed bag. − http://ferc.gov
UK Public Accounts Committee slams Sellafield. Releasing a report on mismanagement of nuclear waste projects at Sellafield, Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said on February 4: "An enormous legacy of nuclear waste has been allowed to build up on the Sellafield site. Over decades, successive governments have failed to get to grips with this critical problem, to the point where the total lifetime cost of decommissioning the site has now reached £67.5 billion, and there's no indication of when that cost will stop rising. It is unclear how long it will take to deal with hazardous radioactive waste at Sellafield or how much it will cost the taxpayer. Of the 14 current major projects, 12 were behind schedule in the last year and five of those were over budget. Furthermore, now that Cumbria County Council has ruled out West Cumbria as the site of the proposed geological disposal facility, a solution to the problem of long-term storage of the waste is as far away as ever." The Public Accounts Committee report can be downloaded from: tiny.cc/klh5sw