#504 - December 18, 1998

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About the K2/R4 project:
"...Its estimate of construction costs will be met only if Ukraine doesn't plan on paying its construction workers."
Michael Mariotte, in a press statement for K2/R4 International Day of Protest, 14 December 1998

Castor can rust: New facts bring more doubts

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(December 18, 1998) A document, published in a Berlin newspaper, sparked new controversy about nuclear transports in Germany. According to the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM, Federal institute for material research and testing), it found water inside a groove of a Castor container. All precautions were taken during filling and drying of the container. As a result of these new revelations a ban on loading Castor casks is adviced.

(504.4965) WISE Amsterdam - In a letter to the German Ministry of Radiation Protection, BAM raises questions about the long time safety of the Castor type 440/84. They found water inside the primary sealing in the container, even after drying. This type of Castor is licensed to store fuel elements for 40 years in interim storage facilities at Ahaus, Gorleben and Lubmin (Greifswald).
The ministry is taking the outcome of the research very seriously. Due to the moisture found at a groove on the primary lid, rust inside the container is possible. The consequence is that the Castor can loosen. The Castors have to be absolutely airtight for all those years. In case of rust, this can no longer be guaranteed.
In the letter to the ministry, BAM speaks of a fundamental problem for all containers which are filled under water.
A few weeks earlier, on November 18, a test was conducted by a Castor-type 440/28. After a cold test, water was found inside the largest primary lid sealing material, although the drying procedure of the space between the primary and secondary lid was done according to all procedures.
Castor casks have two lids: a primary and secondary, with gas in overpressure in between the two (see drawing). When leaking is found in the interim storage facility, a third lid should be welded onto the cask and it should be removed to be repaired.

Moisture due to loading the casks under water is an old problem, known already in the 1980s. In Germany (as in the Netherlands), nuclear transports are still not allowed after outside contamination of Castors was revealed this spring.

On December 11, experts and regulators advised a total ban on loading of Castor casks. It was agreed on more research and tests. A ban to load Castor casks has not much consequences at the moment because of the general transport ban. However, if it is found that the Castor is loose, this would have enormous consequences for the red/green government. The concept of interim storage facilities on site or nearby reactor sites is totally based on storage in of fuel in Castor casks.

Sources: Die Tageszeitung (Germany), 5 & 12 December 1998
Contact: BI Ahaus, Po Box 1165, D-48661 Ahaus, Germany
Tel: +49-2561-961; Fax: +49-561-961 792

Czech minister of industry: Revive U-mining!

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(December 18, 1998) Only a few months after the largest single cost overrun was announced at Temelin, Czech Minister of Industry Miroslav Gregr announced in September that more reactors should be built: either additional blocks at Temelin or revive the long- cancelled communist plan to build reactors in Ostrava region, north Moravia. No wonder that this unbelievable statement initiated a strong wave of opposition from almost all sides.

(504.4964) WISE Brno- Unable or unwilling to learn from mistakes, Gregr recently came up with an even more absurd plan: to revive Czech uranium mining, as an industry that, according to Gregr, foresees a bright future in the next century.
The Czech uranium industry has a unique record of environmental damages and economic losses. For example, the leaching method implemented near Straz pod Ralskem left behind the underground filled with over four million tons of sulphuric acid, in a liquid mixture of almost all chemical elements. Tens of millions of tailings and sludge are stored in unsecured ponds at several other locations. The Ministery of Environment estimates in its studies that the cleanup costs would amount to 60 billion CZK (US$2 billion).

All governments established after the fall of communism in 1989 supported the plans for uranium mining phaseout. The official plans agreed to by previous governments have effectively closed most of the mines during the 1990s, with the target to close the remaining ones in 2001. However, now Gregr has come up with an opposite plan. He supports the idea to reopen mines that were already phased out in past years, arguing for the need to secure energy independency and miner's employment.

Jaroslav Makovicka, general director of the state-owned uranium company DIAMO, opposed the minister's plan due to its incompetence. Consequently, Gregr fired him and installed a new director, Jindrich Slosar (member of Social Democratic party). Slosar immediately announced that the plans for revival of uranium industry are good. He also announced to the labor unions that no more miners would lose their jobs. The vice-director, Josef Hurt, said the state should invest 1.2 billion CZK to buy new machinery necessary for increased uranium production, because the existing one was dismantled during the phaseout program in the past several years.

Although DIAMO started to take steps reversing the phaseout, the final decision has to be taken by the government. Unless government supports Gregr's plans, the uranium industry has to follow the valid phaseout plans.

Source: Temelin Information Service 85, 10 December 1998
contact: WISE Brno, Jan Beranek. Fax: +420-5-42210347
email: jan.beranek@ecn.cz


Protest Temelin completion!
Czech and Austrian antinuclear organizations are calling again for international protest against the completion of Temelin. Sign on to a protest letter and send it to Plattform gegen Atomgefahren (Platform against nuclear dangers). The first wave of letters will be handed over via the Austrian government to the Czech government before Christmas, but signatures are to be collected till March 1999.
Send signatures & protest letters to:
opl.atom@magnet.at or by fax: +43-732-785 602
More information: Josef Pühringer
Plattform gegen Atomgefahr
Landstrasse 31, A-4020 Linz, Austria

EU: Concilliation committee clinches food irridiation law

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(December 18, 1998) Long-awaited European Union legislation on the irradiation of food was approved on December 8, by the joint Parliament/Council Conciliation Committee. The full Parliament is expected to adopt the text in January at about the same time as the Council.

(504.4966) WISE Amsterdam - The "conciliation committee" had been created to iron out disagreements between the EU governments and the European Parliament. It agreed on the proposed EU law laying down rules on irradiation as well as a list of foods which may be treated with ionising radiation. The original Commission proposal was made in 1988. Parliament held a first reading in 1989, but the second reading was held up until February this year because positions had been too controversial.

Some EU member-states (France, UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium) currently authorise the irradiation of foods and food ingredients while others (Germany, Sweden) ban it. The aim is to "harmonize national laws", meaning force countries to allow food irridiation.

The initial EU list of foods which may be treated with ionising radiation is limited to dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings. Other foods can only be added to the list via the codecision procedure. A full list of products which may be irridiated will be ready in the year 2000.

Under this agreement, food irradiation may be authorised only if "there is a reasonable technological need, it presents no health hazard and is of benefit to the consumer." It may not be used as a substitude for "good hygiene and health practices or for good manufacuring or agricultural practice," the EU statement said.
The treatment of foods with ionising radiation - even when such an ingredient constitutes less than one percent of the finished product - will have to be mentioned on the label. (for background on risks and dangers of food irridiation, see WISE News Communique 486.4825, 6 February 1998)


  • Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 21 November
  • Reuters, 10 December 1998

Contact: Green Group in European Parliament
E-mail: ghealy@europarl.eu.int

France: Continue support for deep radwaste disposal option

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 18, 1998) On December 9, the French government decided to proceed with the construction of two deep rock laboratories, one at a clay site at Bure in eastern France, the other at a granite site to be determined next year. Both will be assessed regarding their suitability for disposal of long-lived high-level radioactive waste, principally that from reprocessed spent fuel.

(504.4962) WISE Amsterdam - After having delayed the decision for nearly one year because of the strong opposition, the French government finally decided on underground waste laboratories to test the concept of deep burial. French President Lionel Jospin was reluctant to give the Greens additional ammunition in the runup of the European Parliament elections in June. Political sources in Paris said the lab decisions had to be taken now, and not closer to the election date.

The laboratories are intended to research behavior of high-level and long-lived (mainly transuranic) waste emplaced in two geologic formations: clay and granite. The location of the granite site is to be decided next year.
The clay formation site is located at Bure near Bar-le-Duc in the Meuse, east of France. L'ANDRA (Agence National pour la Gestion de Dechets Radioactifs, the national agency for radioactive waste management), justifies its choice for this site on the basis of two criteria: excellent geological condition and a political will reaffirmed since 1994 in favor of this laboratory. According to ANDRA, the geological studies at a depth between 410 and 530 meters have showed that the compactness (hardness) of the 2,000-square- meter clay bloc with a thickness of 120 meters does not show any risk of permeability. Moreover, the seismic risks are estimated by ANDRA to be zero.
The construction of the laboratory is to start in the autumn of next year and has to be finished by the end of 2002. It would employ between 100 and 350 persons. The boring of two shafts for entering the laboratory on the level of 445 meters' deep would be entrusted to one of the two already selected enterprises and would be done at the same time as the construction of surrounding buildings. This work would be followed by the construction of a network of corridors which will be adjusted for the research of the behavior of clay and the eventual perturbations.

Concerning the decision for the granite formation: the site of la Chapelle-Bâton in the Vienne department in the neighborhood of Poitiers, has been cancelled because geologists and safety authorities had doubts for long-term disposal. Beginning in 1999, there would be a search for a new susceptible granite site for the underground laboratory.

The minister of economy and industry, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, insisted on a concept with the possibility of retrieving the waste. The principal of retrievability is defended by the Greens and Minister of Environment Dominique Voynet. The research for this option takes into account the very optimistic vision of the possible scientific discovery in the future of how to reuse the waste.

Dominique Voynet, who favors surface storage, insisted that the laboratories will be constructed solely for the geological research, without any preparation for underground storage, as long as the Parliament has not decided to do so. The parliament is to make a decision in 2006 on the basis of the research that would then be started.

The laboratory issue is one of the most contentious in the nuclear field. Although intended for research, it is clear for antinuclear activists that a repository would be built at one of the lab sites sometime after 2006. Moreover, it is feared that this decision is an open door to further hasten waste storage, which would put future generations into danger. This decision also can work as a green light to continue the nuclear industry.
The local antinuclear organization Stop Civaux accused the proponents of giving high subsidies to possible storage sites to avoid hostile manifestations against the project and thus þbuyþ consent. Democracy has failed: the population is overwhelmed with campaigns of communication, not information.


  • Nucleonics Week, 3 December 1998
  • Reuters,
  • Republicain Lorrain,
  • Sortir du nucléare, all 3 from 10 December 1998

Contact: GSIEN, 2, rue François Villon, 91400 Orsay, France
Fax: +33-1-6014 3496

Related Item: The concept of retrievability

The concept of retrievability

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

The French Groupement de Scientiques pour l'Information sur L'Energie Nucléaire (GSIEN) critized the concepts of regaining valuable material from the waste, the concept of regaining valuable material from the waste, which is one of the reasons for "reversibility". Radioactive waste cannot be retrievable for eternity from its underground disposal facitlity. It could be possible to intervene during the functioning period of the waste facility (50-70 years), based on the hope that the corridors, the packages, etc., would function according to plan. If taken into accound, the "eternal" lifetime of this waste, the eventual common loss of memory of the disposal location, and the lack of knowledge of the geological evolution, GSIEN concludes that the only disposal option should be surface or subsurface. GSIEN also notes that the retrievability principle is not more than a concept to get waste disposal accepted. The nuclear industry itself calls it confidence building.

La Gazette Nucléaire: November 1998- 169-170

In brief

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Belgium cancels reprocessing contract!

(December 18, 1998) The Belgian government has cancelled a contract with the French firm Cogema to reprocess spent fuel after 2000. About 25% of Belgian spent fuel had been sent to Cogema's plant at La Hague, under a contract signed in the late 1970s. A second contract was signed in 1991 and suspended for five years in 1993. During that period an examination was to be made of spent fuel management options. A conclusion on it has now been postponed for one year. But the suspended reprocessing contract has now been cancelled rather than extended.
Because the contract is cancelled before December 23, no penalties have to be paid to Cogema, said a spokesman of the Defense Ministry, which is also involved in energy issues.
Pierre Goldschmidt of the Belgian nuclear fuel cycle company Synatom said the cancellation was not a surprise, but that the national spent fuel policy would be decided on at the end of 1999 and that the reprocessing option remained alive. The Belgian defense ministry did not fully support his comment. A defense spokesperson described the present decision to cancel reprocessing as a "signal of the way we are going to go".
The decision was greeted by environmentalists as a victory and as a "potentially fatal blow" to reprocessing in Europe. Environment News Service (ENS), 9 December 1998

Only operating Chernobyl reactor shuts down during accident. A fuel rod in the Cernobyl-3 reactor, the only nuclear reactor currently in operation at Chernobyl, automatically shut down on December 10, after a malfunction, ITAR-TASS reported. The Ukrainian Environment Ministry said no radiation was leaked during the incident. Maintenance work at the plant has been postponed twice owing to severe energy shortages in Ukraine. MDBs CEE List, 13 December 1998

Nuclear plant owner silences whistleblower. The removal of a shift foreman who questioned plant safety at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California prompted the Union of Concerned Scientists (USC) to file a petition last week with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requesting an independent review. The USC wants to ensure that the Pacific Gas and Electric, owner of the Diablo Canyon plant, allows employees to openly voice safety concerns. Neil Aiken, who has had two decades of experience and holds a senior reactor operator's license, raised concerns about the safe operation of the plant at a stockholder's meeting.
The plant owner's response was to order a psychiatric evaluation of Aiken. Company doctors diagnosed him as suffering from a mental health problem. Aiken was then removed from his duties at the plant and has filed a complaint with the US Department of Labor. "The plant's action against Aiken is a clear example to other employees of the treatment accorded those raising safety issues," said Dave Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer for UCS. ENS AmeriScan: 1 December 1998

Dounreay: the costs of nuclear power. The decommissoning and radioactive cleanup at Dounreay (Scotland) will cost BP4.5 billion (US$ 7.58 billion)--that's 90 pounds from every man woman and child in Britain. The true cost was revealed on November 30 by Dounreay director Dr. Roy Nelson. The operator of the plant, UKAEA, published its response to the damning regulators' report earlier this year which listed over 140 specific areas of concern about the management and operation of the nuclear complex (see WISE News Communique 498.4924:'Dounreay contaminated with plutonium: Mea Culpa').
The first time cleaning up Dounreay was mentioned was in 1986--when it was put at BP1.4 billion. By 1990 it had risen to BP1.75 billion. In 1994, a new overall estimate was made at BP3 billion. And in 1997 estimated cleanup costs had risen to BP3.6 billion. The new BP4.5-billion figure comes after more detailed investigations into how difficult it would be to remove the nuclear waste from the Dounreay site.
Outside observers esitmate that the Dounreay bill could eventually run as high as BP10 billion! But this figure was waived aside by UKAEA.
The planned period for the cleanup has been brought back from 100 years (which was seen as being too long) to 40-60 years. The Mirror, 1 December Nucleonics Week, 3 December 1998 & N-Base 159, 6 December 1998

Accident Golfech. On November 27, the failure of a ventilator system at Golfech, France, allowed contamination to escape into the reactor building where 90 people were replacing the reactor vessel closure head. Golfech-2 had been down since November 13. The filters of the ventilation system were "inadequate" for the job. One of the workers had internal contamination by cobalt-60 of 2,000 Bequerel, two of a few hundred bequerel, and 30 more had lower contamination levels.
Alarm went off at around 1:15 p.m. but evacuation was ordered only by 4:30 p.m., when the presence of cobalt-59 and -60 was verified. French nuclear safety authority DSIN and radiological protection agency OPRI were displeased by managements' slowness in evacuating. Management also delayed informing authorities of the incident. OPRI director Pasquier asked the Golfech director to explain his decisions. Pasquier said the precaution principle, normal prudence and the concern to hold exposure as low as possible should have led to evacuation as soon as contamination was evident. This was the second time this year that Golfech was too late in reporting. Nucleonics Week, 3 December 1998

DSIN: revised license for La Hague unacceptable.DSIN, the French nuclear regulator, has declared Cogema's applications for revised licenses for La Hague unacceptable, largely because Cogema had failed to commit to lower liquid and gaseous emissions in line with the new OSPAR strategy of close-to- zero emissions agreed upon last summer. NuclearFuel, 30 November 1998

UK defense systems not yet millennium-proof.Reports that something can happen on New Year's Day of the year 2000 are mounting. A spokesperson for the government appointed millenium-platform advised people to buy much food in tins for the first few weeks in the year 2000. She said it was unclear if people would be able to buy food (and other things) because of the so- called "millennium bug", which is expected to make many computers malfunction on January 1, 2000. The millenium-platform comes with this advice so early, to "avoid panic" in the last weeks of 1999. The government was not amused with the advice; they claim everything is under control.
But a few days earlier, a Ministry of Defense review paper on the "millennium bug" was leaked. It said that 90% of the British navy's vital computer system have not yet been protected against it. These systems include those that control nuclear missiles. Reuters, 8 December, & Trouw (Nl), 14 December 1998

Third anniversary of Monju accident. To commemorate the third anniversary of the Monju accident, some 400 antinuclear protesters held a rally near the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor plant in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, Japan. After the rally, participants paraded to the gate of the Monju plant to submit petitions urging the government and the state-run Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute to give up resuming the reactor's operation. The institute was inaugurated in October to replace the accident-prone Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. (Donen).
The reactor has been shut down since December 8, 1995, when some 700 kilograms of sodium coolant leaked from the facility's secondary cooling system after a rupture in a thermometer cover, causing extensive damage to steel plates on the floor of the facility. Monju was operating at 40% of its capacity at the time of the accident. The nuclear power plant started operations in August 1995 and has a capacity to generate 280 megawatts of electricity. After the accident, false reports where filed and invetigators committed suicide.
There has been no indication it would be starting up again anytime soon (see also WISE News Communique 445.4402: 'The Monju accident fall-out'] Kyodo, 6 December 1998

Kuchma blasts energy minister after n-reactor goes down. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma criticized Energy Minister Oleksiy Shebertsov and his ministry on December 7, after a nuclear reactor was shut down for safety reasons, AP reported. Kuchma said he would hold energy sector leaders personally responsible for continued problems. Reactor No. 2 at the Pivdeno-Ukrainskaya (south Ukraine) nuclear power station was automatically shut down by its safety system, said a spokeswoman for the state-run nuclear energy company
Energoatom. She said no radiation was released. The station, which is located about 300 kilometers south of Kiev, had been running only for two days after undergoing nearly five months of repairs.MDBs CEE List, 8 December 1998,

Accident at Ulchin-1. A Framatome 950-MW reactor in South Korea, Ulchin-1, has been leaking since late 1997. Owner Kepco decided to shut the unit down on December 15 for two months of repairs. Increased leaking of steam generator tubes had already led to a power reduction of 25% end of November. Repair work was originally planned by Kepco for the next refueling in January. However, when the rate of leaking from the three steam generators increased from four liters to 7 liters per hour in early November, it was decided to close the plant in mid-December. At a leak rate of 10 l/h, Korean safety rules require a shutdown. Over the last five years the number of leaking tubes increased by 20% annually (each steam generator has 3,300 tubes). The tubes are to be sleeved, because the extent of tube damage plugging is not a satisfactory remedy. The cause of leaking is said to be primary water-stress corrosion cracking, which apparently starts at an early age: Ulchin-1 is 10 years old. Leaking tubes at Ulchin unit 2 were successfully plugged, which is an easier way of repairing than sleeving.
Another reactor, Yonggwang-2, was closed this summer for repair of intensive tube leaking, which was due to loose parts left in the tubes. Steam generators at Ulchin 1 and 2 were made by Framatome, whereas those at Yonggwang were made by Westinghouse/Hanjung. Kepco plans to replace steam generators at Ulchin-1 and 2 "sometime during the next 10 to 20 years".
Three reactors at Kori (units 2,3,4) are also plagued by steam generator tube cracking. The steam generators at Kori-1 were replaced earlier this year. Nucleonics Week, 3 December 1998

New nuclear policy in South Korea: no reprocessing, no FBRs and less NPPs. The new head of nuclear utility Kepco, Mr. Chang, will soon revise plans for nuclear expansion up to 2015. That will be the second time since 1997 economic crisis that nuclear plans are to be revised. Chang, who was appointed this spring by Prime Minister Kim Dae Jung, is to cut back the number of new reactors. According to the last revision of September, Kepco would build 16 reactors until 2015. Chang however wants to increase the share of coal-fired plants from the present 28% to 40% by 2015 instead of remaining steady at the present level. Chang finds present plans to expand nuclear's share from 27.5% now to 35% by 2015 too "much". He believes Kepco is too much in favor of nuclear power. Chang also shook up Korea's nuclear establishment by deciding not to reprocess any spent fuel.
As a consequence, the research budget for developing and using of MOX fuel is to be slashed. Chang also opposes the development and construction of new reactor types, such as the 1,300-MW Korean next generation reactor or fast breeder reactors: he only wants to build established reactor types like the 1,000-MW PWRs based on the System-80 design from ABB-Combustion Engineering. The chances of the new Candu-9, which is promoted fiercely by the Canadian government and nuclear industry, to be built in Korea are therefore also small.
Completely new is the policy to hold public hearings on licensing new reactor sites, which has never been done before. The Bonggil site near Wolsung where four new reactors are planned has not yet been licensed. Bonggil is in the territory of Kyongju, the cultural capital of Korea, where antinuclear forces are growing and local politicians are playing an important role. Nucleonics Week, 19 & 26 November 1998

Largest ever protest against EBRD: No money for K2/R4

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 18, 1998) December 14 was an International Day of Protest. A coalition of 60 organizations from all over the world protested against the proposal by the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) to provide a loan for the completion of two nuclear power plants at Khmelnitsky and Rivne in the Ukraine.

(504.4960) WISE Amsterdam - The participating organizations on this Day of Protest demanded that the EBRD stop funding the K2/R4 project, which poses a grave danger to the environment and peoples of Europe. The campaign had already been going on for years, and the EBRD had been put under enormous pressure.

Serious concerns regarding the safety, economic costs and public participation in the environmental-impact assessment process of the project have been raised. These concerns have led many experts to conclude that the project represent such safety and financial risks that these reactors should not be completed. The EBRD has been considering the loan for years already but so far seems hesitant to come up with the loan, as the project fails to meet many of the criteria the bank has formulated for such projects. In 1997, an independent panel in a study asked for by the EBRD concluded that K2/R4 does not meet the EBRD economic criteria, in the sense that the project is not economic in terms of rate of return and least cost solution for the problem of energy supply, and that therefore the completion of these reactors would not be economically sound.

On these pages were reports from some actions that took place all over the world. There were activities in some 34 countries, and what follows is only a small selection. This action day was not the end--there were still a few months to put pressure on your country's representative to the EBRD. Let the reports inspire you to do more!!

Source and contact: A SEED Europe, PO Box 92066, 1090 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Tel: +31-20-668 2236; Fax: +31-20-665 0166
Email: aseedeur@antenna.nl
For an overview of many more actions:
(also in French, Spanish and Japanese)

A group of 45 protesters from A SEED Europe and Reclaim the Streets (RTS) London sealed off the headquarters of the EBRD in London. The area around the building was designated as a radioactively contaminated site, off limits for the public. Dressed in white protective gear and wearing dustcaps the activists tried to check every person leaving the bank on radioactive radiation. Two huge banners (reading "stop K2R4 no more chernobyls' and 'no EBRD money for nuclear reactors') were unrolled in front of the office but a third banner was unfortunately confiscated when some protesters climbed in a pole to hang it there. Activists from RTS climbed on the huge statue of a lying fat lady in front of the EBRD office and managed to unroll another banner reading 'Dirty Money' followed by 'there is no peaceful atom' in Russian ("mirnym atom ne byvaet"). They managed to sat on the statue for more than two hours. Things got really exciting when two three metre high giant radioactive mutants entered the stage, harrasing peaceful bankers heading off for lunch. After a die inn, leaving all protesters 'dead' in front of the entrance, and short speeches from Johan Frijns (ASEED) and Yury Urbanski (National Ecological centre of Ukraine), the action was finished. Over 1500 leaflets were distributed to the people working in the EBRD and surrounding offices, no arrests were made.

More than 250 local e-mail addresses in Albania received information on the campaign (translated in Albanian). A poster was sticked aside to the EBRD office main door, in Tirana. By a phone call the vice chairman of the Albanian Parliamentary Commission for Health and Environment had contact with the campaigners. A meeting with Mr. D. Mishaxhi of the local EBRD office in Tirana took place. A delegation of two persons approached him. He was shown parts from the 59 reasons why this loan is not suitable to be given. Mr. Mishaxhi promised to transfer the concernes to the EBRD Headquarters. The campaigners delivered several times the model letter to the whole EBRD e-mail list. At the mean time this letter was faxed to the Board Director who cover Albania (Mr. Bielecki). Both Mr. Bielecki and Mr. Kabaktchiev were reached by phone. Unfortunately, they were not present in their office, but a message was left on their answering machine. Finally only one feed back reply was received from the EBRD board directors, more precisely Mr.Patrice Muller (Executive Director for Canada and Morocco).
Contact: AQUARIUS, Rr Ali Demi; P 249; Shk. 5; Ap 70
P.O.Box 7452, Tirana-Albania
Tel/Fax: +355-42-71435
E-mail: aquarius@icc.al.eu.org

Friends of the Earth Australia has written to Mr Short, Australia's representative at the EBRD in London, and to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, asking them to vote against the EBRD funding the reactors completion, on the grounds that completion would be a waste of money and would increase the risks of nuclear disaster in Eastern Europe.

"If Australia votes on the EBRD for the completion of R4K2, it will help to cement the terrible environmental reputation that we have gotten, with our stance on greenhouse emissions, and our dismissal of the likes of UNESCO and IUCN as 'environmental extremists' for wanting to list Kakadu as in
danger. R4K2 is another ugly manifestation of the same nuclear fuel cycle of which Jabiluka is the 'front end'."
Source and contact: Friends of the Earth Sydney, Suite 15, 1st Floor, 104 Bathurst Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000.
Tel: +61-2-9283-2006; Fax: +61-2-9283-2005
Email: nonukes@foesyd.org.au

A delegation of Belgian NGOs and political organizations delivered a protest letter with enclosed file to the federal
minister of finance, Mr. Viseur. A child's drawing which was handed to the minister shows how this subject also affects the youngsters.
In the letter the minister and the Belgian representative in the EBRD Bernard Snoy are asked not to approve the K2/R4. The minister could not receive the delegation but promised to study the file; possibly a meeting will follow at the beginning of 1999. Cabinet cooperator Bernard Delbecque said he would deal with this file personally, also he would contact the Belgian representative Snoy in London. Delbecque explained that the Belgian answer would depend on a decision taken in cooperation with other members of the Belgian government, though the main decisive point in this case lies in the European Commission. He warned that the Belgian Treasury Board was in favor of this loan of the EBRD.
Source and contact: Voor Moeder Aarde, Lange Steenstraat 16D,
B-9000 Gent.
Tel: +32-9-233 8439; Fax: +32-9-233 7302
Email: office@motherearth.knooppunt.be

The Czech Environmental NGOs Hnuti DUHA (Rainbow Movement) and the Energy Efficiency Program protested in front of the building which houses the EBRD branch office in Prague, by renaming the bank the "European Bank for Radiation Development", because it is the only multilateral development bank which still supports nuclear energy projects. The protesters also delivered a letter to bank officers urging the EBRD to deny funding for the project.
Milos Kuzvart, Czech Minister of Environment, officially requested that Ukraine provide the Czech Environment Ministry with environmental assessment documentation for the project and to allow citizens of the Czech Republic to participate in the EIA process for K2/R4. Ukraine has ignored this request so far.
Source and contact: Hnuti DUHA, see WISE-BRNO: E-mail: hduha@ecn.org
Tel: 29 09 09, 24 91 91 87,

A small report of the K2R4 public hearing and the action on Friday 11th: First of all, due to the lack of organization from the Ministry's part, not many people participated at the hearing itself. The night before, a long list of questions was collected to ask from the Energoatom's representatives. The general impression was that Ukrain's basic attitude was: it is a Ukrain project, to be built according to Ukrainian standards, no foreigners should interfere. The EBRD and the Hungarian ministry were only there as observers. Outside, the sight was pretty impressive: 20 black barrels, each signed with a name of an East European NPP, a 16 metres long banner saying: EBRD BankATOMata, and a half-blackened Christmas tree, with nuclear signs and black ribbons as decoration. Flyers were spread and Christmas candies signed with the radiation sign on the wrapping. Signatures were also collected which will be faxed to the EBRD. The collection was successful: several hundred people signed in just a few hours. Many were suprised to hear about these NPPs and asked why they weren't informed before - and they were told it was the ministry's fault, not doing their job properly!
Contact: Energy Club, PF 411, 1519 Budapest, Hungary
Tel: +36-1-209-5624;
E-mail: ada@geg.zpok.hu

At Hibiya park, Tokyo, where most of the administrative buildings of the Japanese government are located, the main action of A SEED Japan named DICE, "Direct Insistence on Conservative Energy", was held. The action targeted many public servants who walk through the area for their lunch. We sang antinuclear songs and "fake news" as if a nuclear reactor called R4 (or K2), had an accident more terrible than Chernobyl!
Thousands of businessmen and government officials passed through the street, and DICE members actively distributed many sheets of detailed leaflet about the problem of K2/R4. Four men in black suits representing E, B, R and D, and a skeleton man brought about two dice to the EBRD. These two dice were fully labelled "Reactor accident [has] occurred!!" which were copied
from newspaper clippings about the Chernobyl accident 12 years ago.
Source and contact: A SEED Japan
Email: asj@jca.ax.apc.org

In the weeks leading up to the protest, several petitions had been circulating to collect signatures in protest of the K2/R4 projects. Approximately 500 signatures were presented to EBRD representatives in Chisinau, Moldova. A public demonstration was also organised in front of the EBRD building. Radio, television and print media attended the protest and were quite active, conducting many interviews. Protestors donned white lab coats and gas masks, played guitar, and carried around protest signs. Demonstrators could be heard yelling "Stop K2/R4:stop financing of K2/R4: say no to new Chernobyl: there are 59 reasons against financing K2/R4." Demonstrators and media went directly to the EBRD office and presented a copy of A SEED Europe's "59 Reasons Against Completion of K2/R4" to an analyst with EBRD. E-mail messages were sent to all the EBRD e-mail addresses. Before leaving the protest site, "stop K2/R4" signs were taped to the front of the building. The EBRD analyst was polite and responsive and said he'd forward this information to EBRD in London. The analyst also said that he was already aware of the international protest and that he is taking it serious.
Contact: Chisinau Branch of the Environmental Movement of Moldova;
E-mail: chbemm@moldnet.md

Activists from several organizations (A Seed, Both Ends and WISE International) demonstrated in front of the Minstry of Financial Affairs. The activists were dressed in white radiation suits, and carried a banner saying "Geen cent voor Tsjernobyl 2" (Not a single cent for a second Chernobyl). A woman with artificial radiation injuries in her face and a malformed baby in her baby carriage played recordings of radio news bulletins from right after the Chernobyl disaster: "Radioactive pollution detected in Sweden, The Netherlands, US, don't eat spinach any more, keep children indoors, cows will be moved in the stables, but there is no danger for public health." At the same time, the demonstrators installed a laundry line to hang out 75 arguments against K2/R4 in bright colors. After 15 minutes, Jos de Vries, the vice director of the ministry's department for foreign financial relations, came out to listen to our speech. He received a copy of the 75 arguments, and an energy saving light bulb as an alternative for constructing new power plants. In his reaction he said it was very probable that the Dutch director at the EBRD would vote against the K2/R4 project. He estimated it was very unlikely that the Khmelnitsky 2 and Rivne 4 project would be able to fulfill the EBRD criteria.
Source and Contact: WISE International
E-mail: wiseamster@antenna.nl

Green Federation - Warsaw, and the Polish Ecological Club (FoE Poland) organised a happening in front of the EBRD office in Warsaw. first the contract between politicians was symbollically signed, than the NPP was built which afterwards blew up. All victims of the explosion looked really bad and were treated with this special liquid called "lugola". It was something people received 12 years ago after the
Chernobyl catastrophy, which was supposed to help from being contaminated and ill. Public was also offered the liquid saying: "Do you still remember that taste" (by the way the taste is really horrible, people still remember it after those 12 years). A huge banner was used and postcards handed out to be sent to the EBRD. EBRD representative were asked to come, but they didn't, so people went up to leave a petition in the office.
Contact: Magda Stoczkiewicz of CEE Bankwatch Network Polish Coordinator, Polish Ecological Club, FoE Poland, ul. Slawkowska 26A, 31-014 Krakow, Poland
Tel: +48 12 423 20 47 ; Tel/fax: +48 12 423 20 98
E-mail: magdas@zgpke.most.org.pl

Ecologistas en Acción (Ecologists in Action), located in Madrid, took action by sending a letter to D. Joaquin de la Infiesta, the spanish representative at the EBRD. Ecologistas en Acción also protested at the Ukrainian embasy in Madrid and presented a protest letter to the Ukraine Ambassador demanding the interruption of the nuclear project.
Source and contact: Ecologistas en Acción, Marques de Legares 12, E-28004 Madrid.
Tel: +34-91-531 22739; Fax: +34-91-531 2611
Email: ecologistas@nodo50.org,

The action that took place in Kiev (motto: Nuclear gambling - To be or not to be), near the head office of the EBRD, was organized by the Rainbow Keepers and activists of eight organizations (Ecozakhyst, MAMA-86, Socio-Ecological Union, Greenpeace, Zeleniy Svit, Foundation of children defence from Chernobyl disaster, anarchy initiative Tigra Nigra, IIEC).
They put a six-meter-high banner in front of the EBRD office and presented the bank executives a nuclear plant made from ice. The melting plant reminded all onlookers of the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986, and was a warning about what can happen with K2/R4. The banners expressed popular discontent with the construction of the two reactors, which are deemed unnecessary and dangerous. "EBRD stop R4/K2" was written around the radiation sign on a huge black triangular banner. Media coverage was rather good with four major television crews, representatives of the major Ukrainian newspapers and international press agencies AP, EPA and Interfax. The event lasted for a few hours and was, for once, not interrupted by the police.
Source and Contact: Rainbow Keepers
Tel: +380-44-550 6068
Email: rk@cci.glasnet.ru

In Rivne 30 people joined the action in the town center. A big yellow banner with the K2/R4 logo was put up in front of the theater building. There was a theater show during the action with some people in black clothes and "EBRD" written on the back. As there is no EBRD office in Rivne, the action was used to inform the public wich responded positively: more than 3,500 signatures against K2/R4 project were collected to back up a petition. Some e-mails, faxes and 350 postcards were sent to the EBRD office in London. There was good media coverage.
Source and Contact: Ecoclub, Rivne,
Email: tanya@ecoclb.rovno.ua

More than 80 environmental and consumer organizations sent a letter to President Clinton and to the US representative on the bank urging the bank to stop funding for K2/R4.

The Clinton administration has supported construction of the new reactors as the price to pay for a permanent shutdown of the two remaining operable Chernobyl atomic reactors. But environmentalists and critics throughout Europe--and now the United States--have pointed out severe safety shortcomings in these "new", but Soviet-designed reactors.
The coalition of environmental organizations agrees with President Clinton that permanently closing Chernobyl is of paramount importance. The coalition said: " There is little reason to believe that Ukraine will keep its promise to close Chernobyl if K/2 and R/4 are built. After all, what other nation would keep Chernobyl running at all? Further, it makes precious little sense to build two new unsafe reactors in highly populated regions to replace two unsafe reactors in an abandoned region. And K2/R4 are decidedly unsafe. Neither could be licensed in the US, or anywhere in the West."

Source and contact: NIRS, Nuclear Information and Resource Service. 1424, 16th Street NW, #404, Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1-202-328-0002; Fax: +1-202-462-2183.
Email: nirsnet@nirs.org;


Kohler visits Ukraine

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

On December 11, EBRD President Horst Kohler met with President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma. During their encounter the Ukrainian president reaffirmed his desire to close the Chernobyl plant as soon as possible.

Later that day Kohler had a meeting with the representatives of several Ukrainian environmental NGOs to discuss the R4/K2 project. Apparently Kohler was surprised by some of the facts: namely, that there was no technical assessment of the project, that the way the environmental assessment was held violates Ukrainian and international legislation, and that geological conditions are extremely dangerous. And although Ukraine expects the R4/K2 reactors to replace Chernobyl by the year 2000, there is still no legislative base for that. Moreover, the law "Particularities about the operation of Chernobyl" affirms that there should be a five-year delay between the governmental decision to close the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and its actual closure. Therefore, Chernobyl cannot be closed in the year 2000.

Kohler explained that he wants to take account of both the wishes of the Ukrainian government and the G7 regarding the implementation of the project, and the wider public opposition. In these circumstances he feels trapped because for him the principal object is to close Chernobyl, and he would exert any effort to see that it be done, even if that means that the EBRD will have to finance two new reactors to replace Chernobyl.

Source: Email Rainbow Keepers, 15 December, and EBRD press release, 14 December 1998


Related Pictures

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Skeleton Man at Hibiya Park


Skeleton Man with Dice labelled 'Reactor accident [has] occurred!!


Protest at Hibiya Park Tokyo


Hibiya Park Tokyo

Rivne Town Center

town center

Big Yellow Banner with K2/R4

Big Yellow

Surprise: French research reactor converts to LEU

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 18, 1998) Through a combination of pressure from the US and failure of Russia to deliver High Enriched Uranium (HEU), the Institute Laue Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, has agreed to convert its 57-MW High- Flux Research Reactor to the use of Low Enriched Uranium (LEU).

(504.4967) WISE Amsterdam - On November 12 a memorandum of understanding was signed between France and the US that conversion of the reactor from HEU to LEU would start "when it becomes technically and economically possible". As a reward for the conversion, the US would supply HEU until conversion is completed, and will also take back the spent fuel.
Since 1978, the US program for Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) has required promotion of development and use of LEU fuel for research reactors. The goal of the program was to reduce the international commerce of the bomb-grade HEU. In 1992, the Schumer Amendment banned the supply of US HEU to reactors refusing to cooperate with the program.
Due to this US policy, most research reactors did convert to LEU fuel or agreed to cooperate with the US to develop LEU fuel without loss of performance or extra costs for their reactors. The ILL reactor had its HEU supply from the US blocked when it restarted in 1995 after a four-year repair. It tried to buy HEU from Russia. Russia became an associate member of ILL in November 1996, in exchange for a contract for the sale of HEU by the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy, Minatom. But due to problems between the Russian Ministry of Science and Minatom, the fuel was not delivered.

Who's next?
Only very few European research reactors are still using HEU:

  • the High-Flux Reactor in Petten, the Netherlands,
  • the BR2 reactor at Mol, Belgium, and
  • the FRM II reactor currently being built in Munich, Germany.

Recently, the new red-green German government stated that the use of bomb-grade uranium fuel in research reactors was "problematic and dubious in terms of foreign policy". The government is to check again if FRM II could be converted to LEU fuel. The university of Munich, owner of the FRM II, formerly cited the refusal of the French to convert their ILL reactor to LEU to support their reluctance. Now they cannot do that any more.
Operators of the Petten and the BR2 reactors have long been interested in conversion but have not yet agreed to do so. In the meantime, they have also discussed the sale of HEU with Russia. For Petten it was a problem that they had to apply for a new license, which could be delayed by opponents.
What is their reaction to this sudden French change-of-heart and the Russian failure to supply HEU?
Press spokesman Cundy of the HFR at Petten said: "Early next year a study at costs and other aspects of conversion will be completed. A decision will be made after that." A license to build a storage site for the Petten spent fuel was destroyed by the Council of State of the Netherlands in 1998. So there is no solution yet for their nuclear waste problem. The storage pool on site would run out of capacity within two years. The storage problem will be solved (that is, for the HFR) if it is decided to convert, because the US would then take back the HFR spent fuel.

Source: Nature, 19 November 1998, p. 203 / Telephone conversation with Mr. Cundy (HFR Petten) on 1 December 1998
Contact: Nuclear Control Institute, 1000Connecticut Av. NW#804, Suite 704, Washington DC 20036, USA
Tel: +1-202-822 8444; Fax: +1-202-4520892
E-mail: nci@mailback.com
WWW: www.nci.org

U.S. groups win landmark nuclear weapons "cleanup" victory

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 18, 1998) To settle a lawsuit brought by 39 environmental and peace organizations, the US's Department of Energy (DOE) signed a landmark agreement which would increase public oversight of its efforts to address severe contamination problems in the nation's nuclear weapons complex.

(504.4961) CAREs - The settlement, which was delivered to Federal District Court Judge Stanley Sporkin on December 14, ends nine years of litigation charging that the DOE failed to develop its "cleanup" plans properly. The DOE had faced a contempt of court hearing before Judge Sporkin for not complying with a previous legal agreement in the case. "From the perspective of protecting the nation's water, air and land, this settlement is superior to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement the DOE originally agreed to prepare," said David Adelman, a Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer who represented the plaintiffs. "We now have the data, the resources and the processes necessary to make the DOE's environmental work more accountable to the public." The Washington, D.C., law firm of Meyer & Glitzenstein provided pro bono litigation counsel.

Key elements of the settlement include:

  • Creation of a regularly updated, publicly accessible database including details about contaminated facilities and waste generated or controlled by the DOE's cleanup, defense, science and nuclear energy programs, including domestic and foreign research reactor spent fuel, listing characteristics such as waste type, volume, and radioactivity, as well as transfer and disposition plans.
  • DOE funding for at least two national stakeholder forums to assure that the database is comprehensive, accurate and useful.
  • Completion of an environmental analysis, with public input, of plans for "long-term stewardship" at contaminated DOE sites to ensure protection of the public and the environment.
  • Establishment of a $6.25-million fund for non-profit groups and tribes to use in monitoring DOE environmental activities and conducting technical reviews of the agency's performance.
  • Payment of plaintiffs' legal fees and expenses incurred to litigate this case.
  • Continuing federal court oversight to assure adherence to the agreement.

"I'm really excited! This is a major victory both for the environment and for public participation," said Marylia Kelley, of Tri-Valley CAREs in Livermore, California, one of 39 plaintiff groups. "We have won access to the tools the public needs to monitor the DOE's compliance with the nation's obligation to address the radioactive and toxic legacy of nuclear weapons production." The DOE's "cleanup" program is slated to become the largest environmental project in US history, with an estimated total cost of more than US$250 billion.
"Since the mid-1980s we've been asking for a breakdown of DOE-generated waste by program and facility," added Jackie Cabasso of Oakland's Western States Legal Foundation, a plaintiff and communications coordinator for the lawsuit. "DOE is currently gearing up its nuclear weapons research and development activities--the same kinds of activities that created this environmental disaster. Now, for the first time, using the DOE's own data, we'll be able to demonstrate the link between cause and effect, a powerful argument against any further nuclear weapons design and production."

Many of the groups first sued the DOE in 1989, claiming that the agency must conduct a thorough analysis before moving ahead with plans to address the radioactive and toxic legacy of nuclear weapons production and modernize its facilities. The next year, the DOE signed a legal agreement promising a full public review of its proposals. In 1994, however, DOE leaders decided to abandon the Environmental Restoration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement process without consent of the plaintiffs or Federal Court Judge Sporkin, who had approved the initial settlement. In April 1997, plaintiffs went back to Judge Sporkin seeking enforcement of the original agreement.
In a series of court hearings, Judge Sporkin made it clear that he expected the DOE to abide by its commitments. Earlier this year, he ordered the DOE to "show cause" why it should not be held in contempt for failing to conduct the environmental analysis. In depositions taken by the plaintiffs, former Energy Secretary James Watkins and other former senior DOE officials strongly backed plaintiffs claims. The discussions which led to this settlement were conducted at Judge Sporkin's urging.

Source: Press release of plaintiffs, 14 December 1998
Contact: Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs (925) 443-7148
Email: marylia@igc.org,
WWW: www.igc.org/tvc

Uranium Mining in 1998: Hard times

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 18, 1998) At the end of 1998, the uranium spot price is rapidly falling towards its all-time low: Uranium Exchange Co. reported US$8.75 per lb U3O8 on December 7, 1998. This figure is not very meaningful, however, since only low volumes are traded on the spot market now.

(504.4963) Peter Diehl - The uranium production from mines at present supplies only about 60% of consumption. Other sources of uranium entering the market stem from various stockpiles:

  • In consequence of the privatization of U.S. Enrichment Corp., the new USEC Inc. has announced it plans to sell its uranium inventory of 29,000 tons U over the next few years to pay down its indebtedness. [Reuters July 31, 1998]
  • Downblended Highly Enriched Uranium from decommissioning of nuclear weapons is entering the market.
  • Only small amounts of uranium from reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel are being used at present.
  • Tails upgrading in Russia: uranium enricher Urenco is sending its enrichment tails (uranium depleted to 0.30% U-235) to Russia for re-enrichment to natural isotope composition (0.71% U-235). It is likely that Russia has contracted to strip these tails from 0.30 to 0.25% U-235, but Russia is believed to further strip to 0.12% tails assay. If the whole Russian excess enrichment capacity of nine million SWU per year were used for stripping Urenco's tails from 0.30 to 0.12%, 7,290 tons of uranium of natural isotope composition would be recovered, 4,680 tons of which would be on Russia's own account. [NuclearFuel October 19, 1998, p.3]

An improvement of the uranium market in the near future is not very likely. While International Nuclear Inc. sees prices beginning to rise after 2003, Ron Shani of IAEA says: "Even the gloomiest of industry projections indicate at least a small uranium market through 2050." [NF October 19, 1998, p.16/12]

One of the consequences of the weak uranium market is a beginning concentration process in the uranium industry:

  • Uranerz (Germany) sold its US and Canadian properties to Cameco. The principal assets acquired are 33.33% interests in the operating Key Lake and Rabbit Lake uranium mines and a 27.92% interest in the McArthur River uranium project (all Saskatchewan). The transaction also includes a 57.69% interest in the Crow Butte uranium mine in Nebraska (USA) plus uranium and gold exploration properties in northern Saskatchewan, the United States and Kazakhstan.
  • Uranium Resources Inc. (URI) is looking for an asset buyer after writedown of its South Texas uranium properties. [URI November 16, 1998]
  • North Ltd., the majority shareholder of Jabiluka owner Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), is believed to be a candidate for takeover, due to problems with environmental protests and a negative report from the UN's World Heritage Bureau on the planned Jabiluka mine. [Reuters, December 10, 1998]

Another impact of the weak uranium market are shutdowns and capacity reductions of existing uranium mines and suspensions of uranium mining projects:

  • The Green Mountain Mining Joint Venture announced the suspension of the Jackpot (Wyoming, US) mine development.
  • Cogema announced that it plans to close its Cluff Lake mine (Saskatchewan, Canada) in December 2000, after it had turned out that the mill's tailings storage capacity was insufficient, and authorities had demanded the construction of an additional tailings pond.
  • World Wide Minerals puts its Dornod Uran mine in Mongolia on standby.
  • The Rössing mine in Namibia announced the lay-off of 200 workers during 1999.
  • Anaconda Uranium Corp. is terminating the Ben Lomond and Maureen projects in Queensland, Australia.
  • Rio Tinto announced that the Kintyre project in western Australia is being placed under care and maintenance.
  • Cameco announced the slowdown of production at Rabbit Lake (Saskatchewan), cutting 140 employee jobs plus 130 contractor jobs, and the temporary layoff of about 200 out of 300 employees at Key Lake (Saskatchewan).
  • The Kingsville Dome and Rosita in-situ leach mines in Texas (US) are to be placed on standby within the next months (though the expansion of Rosita had just been licensed).
  • The byproduct uranium production from phosphate in Louisiana (US) is to cease in December.
  • On December 14, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) announced a cutback of its annual production at its Ranger mine, due to the low uranium price, from 5,500 to 4,000 tons U per year, effective March 31, 1999.

International Uranium Corp. (IUC) is pursuing another way to survive under the current conditions: The processing of alternate feed at its White Mesa mill in Utah. In 1998, the processing of uranium-contaminated material from the Blind River refinery and the Port Hope conversion plant in Ontario, and from the Tonawanda nuclear weapons production site in New York were licensed. After recovery of the uranium, the processing wastes are being dumped on the mill's tailings pile, a matter of concern for Utah residents.

New projects
Most new uranium mining projects being developed at present are low-cost mines, either for their extraordinary high ore grades (as in Saskatchewan, Canada), or for their amenability to the in-situ leaching technique (as in US and Australia).
The largescale high-grade deposits being developed are McArthur River with reserves of 160,000 tons of uranium, at an ore grade of 12.7% U, Cigar Lake with 150,000 tons at 7.8% U, Midwest with 13,200 tons at 3.8%, all located in Saskatchewan. The latter two were licensed in 1998, McArthur River already in 1997.
Construction of the controversial Jabiluka mine in the Northern Territory of Australia was licensed in June 1998 and started the same month. The deposit contains 76,660 tons uranium at 0.39% U and it is located on a lease surrounded by the Kakadu National Park, a UN World Heritage. After intervention by the Traditional Owners of the site, the mining company Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) changed its plans to process the ore on site instead at the existing Ranger mill. The plans for mill tailings management at Jabiluka are rather vague still and are subject to further licensing. In January, the European Parliament passed a resolution in favor of indigenous peoples concerned from uranium mining projects, and against the development of the Jabiluka project in particular. In December, the Australian government suffered a further setback, when the United Nations' World Heritage Committee (WHC) called for a preliminary halt to the project, until the committee would make its decision in April 1999, whether Kakadu National Park were to be listed as a World Heritage "in danger". From March to October, Jabiluka was the target of the longest-ever blockade against a uranium mine, organized by Jabiluka Traditional Owners and environmental activists from all over Australia. Hundreds of activists were arrested during the blockade.
At the Beverley and Honeymoon ore deposits in south Australia, field leach trials for in-situ leaching have begun in 1998.
The expansion (more than doubling) of the production capability of the Olympic Dam copper/uranium mine in south Australia is going on and is expected to come into effect late in 1998.
In the United States, the following in-situ leach projects were licensed in 1998: Crownpoint (New Mexico), Rosita extension (Texas), and Alta Mesa (Texas).
Canadian uranium miner Anaconda Uranium Corp. announced the development of the Nisa mine in Portugal.

Decommissioning projects
Regarding the present situation of the uranium industry, it is no surprise that the decommissioning standards are getting weaker.
The largest decommissioning project approved in 1998 was the 70-million-ton Denison Stanrock uranium mill tailings pile in Elliot Lake, Ontario. This is the first license for a permanent disposal of largescale uranium tailings with a soft non-durable water cover worldwide.
The US Department of Energy's cleanup program for the uranium mill tailings sites left over from the Cold War era was nearly completed in 1998, at least regarding the surface aspect. For the groundwater aspect, as well as for the tailings from commercial uranium production, work is only beginning, and often consists of granting relaxed groundwater standards.
Relaxed groundwater standards were proposed or approved for the mill tailings sites at Riverton (Wyoming), Shirley Basin (Wyoming), Falls City (Texas), and for the groundwater restoration at the following in-situ leach sites: Burns/Moser, Holiday, Clay West, O'Hern, Boots/Brown (all in Texas). Active groundwater cleanup was proposed for the Tuba City (Arizona) mill site.
For the Belfield and Bowman mill tailings sites in North Dakota, the decision was made, at the request of the State of North Dakota, that no cleanup would be performed at all.
A matter of high discussion was the cleanup of the 9.5-million-ton Atlas Corp. uranium mill tailings site at Moab (Utah). The pile is located immediately on the bank of the Colorado River, a drinking water resource for millions of Americans. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as well as Moab residents and environmental groups, had requested that the tailings be relocated to a safer place, while Atlas Corp. and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) thought a rock cover would be sufficient. Meanwhile, the FWS changed its mind and adhered to the rock cover policy, causing residents and environmentalists to file a lawsuit, while Atlas Corp. declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy...

Impacts on Uranium Workers
Science News: Archer et al found that not only lung cancer but also pulmonary fibrosis occurring in uranium miners can be caused from excessive exposure to radon progeny.

Impacts on Residents
On July 15, 1998, a federal jury awarded US$2.9 million to 14 residents of Lincoln Park who were contaminated by Cotter Corp.'s Cañon City (Colorado) uranium mill during the 1970s and 1980s. The mill was in operation from 1958 to 1987. Liquid wastes containing radionuclides and heavy metals were discharged from 1958 to 1978 into 11 unlined tailings ponds. The ponds were replaced in 1982 with the construction of two lined impoundments. Prior to 1982, a number of Lincoln Park wells showed elevated levels of contamination.

Science News: Zamora et al, for the first time, studied the effects of chronic ingestion of uranium with drinking water on humans. They found that kidney function is affected by uranium uptakes considered safe in the publications based on animal studies.

Archer, Victor E. et al: Chronic Diffuse Interstitial Fibrosis of the Lung in Uranium Miners, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Vol. 40, No. 5, May 1998, p. 460-474.
Zamora, M.L. et al: Chronic Ingestion of Uranium in Drinking Water: A Study of Kidney Bioeffects in Humans, Toxicological Sciences Vol. 43, No. 1, May 1998, p. 68-77.

Source and Contact: Peter Diehl at WISE Uranium.
E-mail: p.diehl@sik.de
For details, check WISE Uranium Project's web site at http://www.wise-uranium.org/