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Nuclear News - Nuclear Monitor #829 - 24 August 2016

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Montreal Declaration for a Nuclear-Fission-Free World

International anti-nuclear campaigners are asking people and organizations to endorse a statement and help build an international network fighting for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the phasing out of civil nuclear reactors. The statement reads, in part:

"As citizens of this planet inspired by the Second Thematic World Social Forum for a Nuclear-Fission‐Free World, conducted in Montreal from August 8 to August 12, 2016, we are collectively calling for a mobilization of civil society around the world to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons, to put an end to the continued mass‐production of all high‐level nuclear wastes by phasing out all nuclear reactors, and to bring to a halt all uranium mining worldwide.

"This call goes out to fellow citizens of all countries worldwide who see the need, whether as an individual or as a member of an organization, for a nuclear-­fission‐free world. We are committed to building a global network of citizens of the world who will work together, using the internet and social media to overcome isolation, to provide mutual support and to coordinate the launching of joint actions for a world free of nuclear fission technology, whether civilian or military.

"We will begin by creating communication channels to share information and educational tools on legal, technical, financial, medical, and security‐related matters linked to
military and non‐military nuclear activities. We will pool our resources across national boundaries in a spirit of cooperation, allowing us to contribute to the formulation of a convergent and unified response to counteract the plans of the nuclear establishment that operates on a global scale to multiply civil and military nuclear installations worldwide and to dump, bury and abandon nuclear wastes."

The full statement is posted at

To endorse the declaration, send name and e‐mail address to

For background information see

Groups file for injunction to keep liquid radioactive waste off Canadian and US highways

150 truckloads of liquid nuclear waste are slated to drive through Canadian and US communities from Chalk River, Ontario, Canada to the Savannah River Site, South Carolina, USA. These shipments could begin at any time.

The liquid high-level nuclear waste in question is a corrosive acidic mixture of dozens of highly dangerous radioactive materials including cesium-137, strontium-90, iodine-129, plutonium-239, and weapons-grade uranium-235, left over from the production of medical isotopes at Chalk River.

Although it was previously determined that this liquid waste would be solidified and stored onsite in Canada, the US Department of Energy now plans to truck the 6,000 gallons in liquid form to the Savannah River Site in exchange for US$60 million.

The Nuclear Information and Resource Service has joined six other nonprofit organizations challenging these unprecedented, high-risk shipments in federal court in Washington, DC, requesting preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent the import and transport which violates US federal environmental, atomic energy and administrative procedure laws.

The lawsuit is being filed against the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). It charges that the DOE and NNSA failed to provide a thorough public process as required under the National Environmental Policy Act to fully analyze the hazards of transporting liquid highly radioactive waste. An Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared and made available for other federal agencies and citizens to review and comment on, including a discussion of alternative ways to deal with the nuclear waste.

The import and transport of highly radioactive liquid waste is being justified under a U.S.-Canada agreement to return highly enriched uranium to the United States. However, shipping of high-level radioactive waste in liquid form over public roads has never occurred in the 75-year history of U.S. nuclear power, research, medical isotope production, and weapons programs.

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (NY – 26) has stated that the proposed shipments raise significant homeland security questions. The US House of Representatives unanimously passed Higgins sponsored legislation requiring an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposal.

"Liquid high-level nuclear waste is known to be among the most dangerous materials on the planet, as we have seen at the Savannah River Nuclear Weapons Site and the nuclear power and weapons reprocessing site at West Valley, NY," said Diane D'Arrigo of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. "There is a good reason why no one has ever tried to move this stuff over public roads before. The material from Chalk River is in the same category."

"Shipping highly radioactive liquid waste to South Carolina is wildly inappropriate," said Dr. Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. "Chalk River has been solidifying exactly the same kind of liquid waste for over ten years already. In 2011 Chalk River promised to handle all this material on site. It was recently learned that Indonesia is going to be down-blending its high-level liquid waste on site, rather than sending it to the Savannah River Site, and Canada can do the same thing."

The liquid waste can be solidified and stored at Chalk River, or it can be converted or "down-blended" so that it contains low-enriched, non-weapons grade uranium, which the DOE has said is a viable option. The groups that filed the lawsuit are asking the DOE to thoroughly analyze down-blending as an option for dealing with the waste.


Media Release, 15 Aug 2016, 'Groups File for Injunction to Keep Liquid Radioactive Waste Off Our Highways',

Court and relevant background documents:

Britain Eakin / Courthouse News Service, 16 Aug 2016, 'Lawsuit Seeks to Block Energy Dept.'s Huge Nuclear Waste Transport from Canada to U.S.',

Beyond Nuclear, 16 Aug 2016,

Beyond Nuclear:

Belarus nuclear plant work suspended after mishap

The nuclear power program in Belarus has hit snags this year. Russia's Rosatom (and its subsidiaries) are building two VVER-1200 reactors in Ostrovets, in the Grodno region of Belarus. Operation of the first unit is scheduled for November 2018 and the second unit in July 2020.

In July 2016, construction workers preparing to install a reactor vessel failed to secure it properly and it fell.1 Local resident Nikolai Ulasevich, a member of the opposition United Civic Party, said the 330-tonne shell had fallen from a height of 2‒4m.2 The reactor was not damaged, Rosatom said, but Rosatom will replace it with another if that would help restore public confidence in the project.1

Mikhail Mikhadyuk, deputy energy minister of Belarus, said a decision would be taken on the use of the equipment only after a thorough investigation of the "abnormal situation" and that installation of the reactor shell was suspended pending the investigation. According to subsequent reports, Vladimir Potupchik, energy minister of Belarus, said that Belarus had decided it wanted the equipment to be replaced.3

The Ostrovets nuclear plant is opposed by the government of Lithuania, whose capital Vilnius lies less than 50 km from the site. The power plant will draw cooling water from the Nevis River, which also supplies drinking water in Lithuania. Lithuania agreed to close its own Ignalina nuclear facility as part of its 2004 accession agreement with the EU.2

The Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius said the lack of transparency on the part of Belarusian officials was unacceptable: "These incidents, happening from time to time, lack of transparency, we're learning about them from open sources, usually too late. This is not how it should be in reality." Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite said in July that Vilnius would work with the international community to block the plant coming online if Minsk failed to take steps to ensure international safety standards at the site.2

Lithuania is trying to get European countries to boycott import of electricity from the Ostrovets nuclear plant, in an attempt to force the abandonment of the reactor construction project.4

The Guardian noted on August 9 that the dropping of the reactor shell was not the only problem at the site this year: "It's not the first mishap at the construction site, nor the first time Belarusian officials have resisted divulging any details. The structural frame of the nuclear service building at the site collapsed in April, as first reported by the Belsat independent TV station. According to the report, supervisors, under pressure to meet a deadline, ordered workers to pour too much concrete causing the structure to collapse. No mention of the accident was made in the Belarusian state media or by officials, with the spokesman at the plant first denying anything had happened. In May, the Belarusian energy ministry, however, did confirm an "incident" had occurred during the pouring of concrete, but the "defect" had been dealt with."2

It's no coincidence that the only two nuclear 'newcomer' countries actually building reactors ‒ Belarus and the United Arab Emirates ‒ are both undemocratic. Climate News Network reported in April:5

"Belarus is tightly controlled by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, in power for the last 21 years. In a 'Chernobyl day' speech in 2008 (26th April) Lukashenko even went so far as to denounce opponents of Ostrovets as "enemies of the state".

"Moreover those who raised questions about the plant have been harassed and arrested. Among them is Belarus journalist Tatyana Novikova ‒ also an environmental campaigner with the environmental NGO Ecohome and an outspoken opponent of the nuclear plant ‒ who was detained by security services on 18th July 2012. Andrey Ozharovskiy, a Russian nuclear expert, was also arrested on the same date. Both were intending to deliver a letter of protest to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, then on a visit to Minsk. But instead they were imprisoned in insanitary conditions for several days. Ozharovskiy was later deported and banned from entering Belarus for ten years."

More information:

Chris Garrard, 28 July 2014, 'Belarus - fighting nuclear power in the shadow of Chernobyl',


1. WNN, 2 Aug 2016, 'Belarus plant work suspended after installation mishap',

2. The Guardian, 9 Aug 2016, 'Belarus under fire for 'dangerous errors' at nuclear plant',

3, WNN, 11 Aug 2016,

4. Nuclear Intelligence Weekly, 29 Jan 2016,

5. Kieran Cooke, 25 April 2016, 'Despite Chernobyl, Belarus goes nuclear',