In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Campaign against French-German EPR.

(April 9, 1999) The nuclear lobby is currently pushing for the construction of a prototype of the French-German nuclear European Pressurized Reactor (currently in France though Germany had also once been considered) that would be the first one of a series of at least seven or eight additional nuclear reactors. At least a billion francs (US$164 million) have already been spent by Siemens (Germany) and Framatome (France).
The stakes are very high: if the nuclear lobby succeeds in imposing this reactor, a second nuclear program would have begun in Europe. A decision must be made by the French government before the beginning of the year 2000. A vast mobilization throughout all of Europe is thus imperative if we do not want to let this plan take place. We need your help today in order to stop this project from succeeding. (For more information on the EPR, see WISE NC 483/4: 'New Generations: The European Pressurized Water Reactor') The French anti-nuclear network "Sortir du Nucléaire", a federation of 292 organizations, will start a campaign against the construction of the EPR with the publication of a widely distributed brochure as well as a European petition. The objective of this petition is to obtain at least 100,000 signatures.
The official launching of this campaign will take place Sunday, the 25th of April (the day before the 13th anniversary of Chernobyl), at the demon- stration of "The Longest Anti-Nuclear Banner in the World" at Perl-Apach where the borders of France, Germany and Luxembourg converge.
Please contact "Sortir du Nucléaire" as soon as possible at: 9, rue Dumenge, Lyon 69004, France Tel: +33-4-7828 2922; Fax: +33-4-7207 7004

Austria serious in ending nuclear activities. Austria's largest of three nuclear research reactors (the 10-MW Pool type Astra reactor at the Seibersdorf research center) will be closed on July 31 this year. "This means we are definitely ending the production of nuclear energy in Austria,"" according to the head of Seibersdorf research institute. The reactor started in September 1960 when nuclear energy still appeared to have a bright future.
The highly enriched uranium fuel will be transported back to the US, after a few years of cooling on-site. Estimated costs of the decommissioning are between 300 and 600 million Schilling (98 to 196 million US$). Annual costs for running the reactor are 20 million Schilling. The Austrian government will provide funds for shutting down.
Other Seibersdorf nuclear activities are: an isotope lab which is being rebuilt so it can detect nuclear test and which is part of the CTBT verification process, and a radiochemical lab which can research the composition of nuclear isotopes (to detect the origin for instances in case of illegal trafficking). According to press reports, this lab is looking for incorporation by the IAEA. Nuclear fusion research which was conducted at the institute will be redirected to universities.Salzburger Volkszeitung, 19 March 1999

Latest plan to deal with Chernobyl-4 ruins. Ukrainian scientists claim Chernobyl-4 could be buried a kilometer underground rather than dismantled. A Ukrainian group led by science and technology institutes has drawn up a plan to excavate a 1,000-m deep hole for the destroyed reactor and the sarcophagus to "fall in" to, then filling and sealing it. At a cost of US$1.5 billion, the plan's proponents argue, this would be cheaper than the current option of strengthening of replacing the sarcophagus before gradually extracting the contents, and could be done using Ukrainian manpower without the need for foreign experts. Nuclear Engineering International, March 1999, cited in UI News briefing 99.11; 10-16 March 1999

South Korea: 3% more for electricity to pay for N-reactors in DPRK. The government of South Korea has announced plans to underwrite its financial commitment to the KEDO consortium by raising electricity tariff rates by 3%. KEDO (USA, Japan, South Korea and other countries) is responsible for the constuction of two light-water reactors in North Korea. In 1974, the Dutch government announced a 3%-raise of electricity bills to finance the construction of the fast breeder reactor at Kalkar, Germany. Many people refused to pay and this meant the start of the massive popular anti-nuclear movement in The Netherlands, which ultimately resulted in the loss of perspective for the nuclear industry. Good example! Meanwhile, the US and North Korea have reached an agreement on inspections of a suspected nuclear facility. The two countries have agreed to a bilateral agricultural scheme to improve potato production and to supply previously agreed upon food aid instead of "compensation" payments in return of inspection rights. UI News Briefing99.11, 10-16 March 1999 / Financial Times, 17 March 1999

Computer virus on April 26? A Finnish encryption software and computer virus protection group warned that a malicious virus will threaten computers worldwide on April 26. That date is the 13th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
The CIH 2.1 virus--also called CIH. 1003--can destroy a computer's hard disk and the contents of memory chips, but the virus would probably not be a problem for those who have anti-virus programs updated in 1999. Reuters, 19 March 1999

Germany: Pension for widow of radiation victim. A German court has given due course to the right to the widow of a nuclear power plant worker. The man died in 1996 of leukemia after he had worked for many years in the plant's Greifswald and Reihnsberg. In the seventies several smaller incidents occurred in these powerplants. The court justified its vote with several expert opinions. One doctor stated considerable traces of radioactivity under all the workers' fingernails were found. This was the first time German courts accepted the causes of radioactivity as an occupational disease. Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 27/28 March 1999

US state fails to benefit victims' radiations experiments. A judge has ruled that the Oregon Department of Corrections has not followed a state law intended to protect the health of former inmates who underwent radiation experiments more than 25 years ago. "There are violations that are substantial and they need to be addressed," said Multnomah County Circuit Judge Michael Marcus.
Marcus said the state of Oregon had failed to adequately notify the former inmates, failed to provide psychological counseling and failed to conduct a study to determine the long-term effects of the testing. Between 1963 and 1973, federal researchers conducted X-ray experiments on an estimated 69 Oregon inmates. A law passed in 1987 required the Department of Corrections to provide for any resulting medical needs of the men. In his ruling, Marcus stopped short of issuing an injunction ordering the state to make changes. Marcus told the two sides to try to come up with a resolution based on his findings. The Oregonian (US), 13 March 1999

Radioactive substances missing. According to David Kyd at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), every year about three or four flasks containing radioactive material get lost or stolen. But, he continues, "the real figure may be higher". Instances of lost or stolen radioactive material in Russia and the former Soviet Union probably at least doubles the final figure, experts believe.
The radioactive isotope which went missing at the Johannesburg Airport, South Africa, on March 2 is encased in a container that weighs 89 kg and is 36 cm high. It was en route to Israel. The IAEA advises the public to inform the relevant authorities if they come across it and not to tamper with the container! The IAEA has classed the loss of the isotope as a level two incident on a scale from zero to seven. Seven refers to a major nuclear accident.
Later in March a man in Peru was reported to be seriously ill after carrying an industrial radioactive source which he found for an estimated eight hours. The IAEA reported the man had received 50 gray of radiation from the iridium-192 source. Reuters, 9 March 1999 / N-Base Briefing 172, 20 March 1999

Scottish cancers increase after Chernobyl. There has been a big increase in thyroid cancer in women in Scotland since the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Official figures from the Cancer Registration Statistics Office show an increase of over 45%--there were 250 more cases of thyroid cancer in women than would have been predicted. In total there have been 828 women and 292 men in Scotland who have developed thyroid cancer since 1982. The report states that the increase among women is statistically significant. It is suggested inhaling radioactive iodine from Chernobyl pollution could be the cause, or contaminated milk is another possibility. N-Base Briefing 172, 20 March 1999