#531 - June 9, 2000

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
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Biggest-ever anti-nuke protest at Dimona

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(June 9, 2000) Almost 200 people marked Women's International Day for Disarmament and Peace on May 26 at a protest demonstration near Israel's major nuclear reactor in Dimona. The mass action call on Israel to dismantle its nuclear weapons and to open all its nuclear facilities to independent local and international inspection.

(531.5184) Rayna Moss - The demonstration was the largest anti-nuclear protest ever to take place in Israel, as well as the most diverse in composition. The Dimona demonstration and rally were organized by a coalition of women's, green and human rights organizations and movements, including Green Action, the Movement of Democratic Women in Israel, the Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu and for a Middle East Free of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons, and others. In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former Dimona employee, passed on details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British weekly Sunday Times. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being kidnapped by the Israeli secret service Mossad.

The participants heard speeches by Knesset member Issam Makhoul (Hadash; Israeli Communist Party), who in February of this year initiated the first-ever parliamentary debate on Israel's nuclear policy; Nuri al-Ukbi, founder of the Association for the Defense of Bedouin Rights, who spoke on behalf of the Bedouin residents in the Dimona area; Rela Mazali, whose New Profile organization challenges the militarization of Israeli society; Dr. Perla Perez of Physicians Against Nuclear War (a Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization); US anti-nuclear activist Felice Cohen-Joppa, editor of the Nuclear Resister newsletter; author Yael Lotan; and nuclear physicist Daniel Rohrlich of the Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu and others.

While nearly all speakers called for the immediate release of imprisoned nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu--and were enthusiastically applauded--the crowd was visibly moved by the personal statement of Mary Eoloff, Vanunu's adoptive mother. "We had a wonderful visit with Mordechai yesterday," she told the protesters, "and he asked me to tell you this: Nuclear weapons will lead to a second holocaust. The Dimona reactor is a second Auschwitz. The State has no right to kill civilians, but that is exactly what these weapons are for--killing civilians." Eoloff likened Vanunu's disclosure of Israel's nuclear secrets to a person breaking into a burning house to save the people inside. "For this, he was silenced and imprisoned," she said. She added that he appreciated all efforts that are being made for his release and all protests against nuclear weapons, and urged his Israelis to continue and expand their anti-nuclear struggle.

A poem by prominent Israeli author Orly Kastel-Bloom, "Whistles", which ridicules government statements that Israel's nuclear facilities are absolutely safe, was read. The poem was dedicated to the memory of Yafka Gavish and Inbal Perlson, two Israeli anti-nuclear activists who for years had protested at Dimona. The rally ended with a short performance by a band from the Hebrew Israelite Community in Dimona. The band dedicated its song to Mordechai Vanunu.

The safety of the Dimona reactor was criticized in February 2000 by a former employee, Professor Uzi Even, who worked as a scientist at the reactor. According to him, the 36-year-old reactor structure had been damaged as result of the radiation.

Source and contact: Israeli Committee for Mordechai Vanunu and for a Middle East Free of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons, P.O. Box 7323, Jerusalem 91072, Israel Fax: +972-2-6254530
Email: legalese@netvision.net.il
Write to Vanunu: Mordechai Vanunu, Hashikma Prison, Ashkelon, Israel

Chernobyl will finally be closed permanently

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(June 9, 2000) Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma announced on June 5 that the Chernobyl nuclear power station will permanently be closed on December 15, 2000. On that date, the remaining operating Chernobyl-3 reactor will stop producing electricity.

(531.5178) WISE Amsterdam - Finally, an official promise has been made to close the dangerous station, after years of political pressure to do so. In connection with the announced closure, done at a meeting in Kiev with US President Bill Clinton, the US pledged US$78 million for the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, which is intended to help pay for repairs on the leaking sarcophagus around the destroyed Chernobyl-4 reactor. Until now, U$400 million has already been raised internationally to build a new sarcophagus over the destroyed unit. It is expected that there is still need for an extra US$350 million to complete this project. The US$78 million is on top of US$200 million the US has already provided in Chernobyl assistance.

Clinton further announced a US$2-million allocation from the US Department of Energy for a nuclear safety program and a new program called a "business incubator for the Chernobyl region" to help create new economic opportunities for people in that region.

Although almost all parties have agreed in the past to close the Chernobyl nuclear power station whose safety came under heavy discussion after the 1986 disaster with unit 4, it took a long time until the Ukraine government fixed a date to do so.

On February 17, 1990, when the Ukraine was still part of the former Soviet Union, the majority in the Ukrainian parliament requested Moscow to close the Chernobyl station before 1995. Due to a fire in reactor 2 in 1991, the parliament then decided to close within two years the other units (1 and 3). During a November 1991 meeting, the then German Minister of Environment Klaus Toepfer and Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk both called for international support in making a program to close Chernobyl, and to give financial aid to Middle and Eastern Europe. However, due to an economic crisis, the Ukraine in 1993 decided to keep Chernobyl running and suspended a moratorium on the building of new reactors.

In 1995, the Ukraine and the countries of the Group of Seven (G7) signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which Western countries promised financial aid worth some US$2.5 billion for the closure of Chernobyl and replacing it with other non-nuclear means of producing electricity in the Ukraine. The completion of the unfinished Khmelnitsky-2 and Rovno-4 (also called the K2/R4 project) was proposed as part of the deal. Ukraine would then be prepared to close the operating Chernobyl station by the year 2000. No final decisions have yet been taken on the funding of the K2/R4 project.

The fact that K2/R4 was not even mentioned during the whole Kuchma-Clinton summit is remarkable. Until now, the Ukraine government considers the funding of the K2/R4 project a precondition for the closure of Chernobyl. This might be a sign that the anti-K2/R4 campaign has won, considering that the meeting with Clinton would actually have been the best (and almost the last) opportunity for Kuchma to call on the G7 to finance the K2/R4 reactors.


  • Financial Times, 5 June 2000
  • The Guardian, 6 June 2000

Contact: CEE Bankwatch Network, P.O. Box #89, 01025 Kiev, Ukraine Tel: +380-44-238 6260; Fax: +380-44-238 6259
Email: energy@bankwatch.org;
Internet: www.bankwatch.org

Controversial change in radiation standards rejected

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(June 9, 2000) Proposals for a drastic change in the international regime of radiation standards were rejected at the May 2000 congress of the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) in Hiroshima, Japan. Members of the international rad protection community said the proposals would not resolve problems that exist in the current regime, and this could cause trouble among regulators and the public.

(531.5181) WISE Amsterdam - The proposals came from Roger Clarke, chairman of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) (see also WISE News Communique 527.5151: Safety standards under threat in US & UK, and elsewhere?). In his proposals, among others, the principle of "Collective dose", the means by which a total dose to a population is measured, would be scrapped and replaced by a system of controlling the exposure of the most at risk. If those are protected, then so is everyone else. He also proposed to give up the present dose limits for individuals (in a lot of countries, this being 1 milliSievert a year) and replace it with "investigation levels" of a few milliSieverts and "action levels" at 20-30 milliSievert. According to Clarke, working with collective dose could lead to inequities in protection among individuals, i.e., a small group of individuals receiving a high dose of radiation does not necessarily result in a high collective dose. He would rather prefer a more individual approach. He came to his proposals as a consequence of the controversial discussion that low doses of radiation would be less harmful than presently assumed.

UNSCEAR rejects threshold believers. In a draft report by the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), which contents were presented at the IRPA Conference, it is concluded that there is no scientific basis to discard the linear non-threshold model of radiation effects. According to UNSCEAR chairman Lars-Erik Holm, ongoing and future studies will not solve the uncertainties surrounding the effects of low-dose radiation. He thinks that "The statistical power is insufficient, and it is not scientifically valid to equate the absence of a statistically observable effect at low doses with the absence of risk". With this, UNSCEAR considers radiation guilty until proven innocent. UNSCEAR maintains its position that as long as single radiation racks can cause (double-stranded) DNA breaks, the cause of cell damage and cancer, the assumption of anything but a linear dose-effect relationship down to zero is unwarranted. The final conclusions of UNSCEAR are to be reported to the U.N. General Assembly this fall. Nucleonics Week, 1 June 2000

At the 10th International Congress of the IRPA, a lot of attention was drawn to the discussion about the effects of low-dose radiation. Dale Preston, chief statistician of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, a Japan-US venture that has been studying the radiological consequences of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, said he had no reasons to doubt the existing Linear Non-Treshold (LNT) hypothesis, which assumes that any additional exposure to radiation leads to an equivalent additional risk. Other speakers claimed the contrary, i.e., that low doses would not be harmful or might even be beneficial (known as the "hormosis" phenomenon or "adaptive response").

The group of adaptive-response believers is opposed to the group of scientists that believe in the theory of genomic instability, a phenomenon in which a cell remains initially normal after being irradiated but later leads to chromosomal aberrations after several cell divisions. This phenomenon is the reason that a group of scientists plead for more stringent radiation standards. Both factions of scientists lay claim to scientific truth.

The proposal of Roger Clarke was discussed in the IRPA conference to seek the formal advice of the rad protection community before the ICRP itself adopts new recommendations. The IRPA conference actually showed that there was no basis to abandon the present system of separate public and worker dose limits, collective dose justification, and optimization. Representatives of major countries warned that the ICRP might lose its credibility if it dropped the dose limits that it had recommended in 1991.

Clarke's idea to introduce a "trivial risk" dose also faced criticism. IRPA members said that the public would not accept the idea of a trivial risk, and that regulators need numerical limits on which to base decisions.

Clarke said he would take IRPA members' suggestions back to ICRP's Main Commission for use in formulating new draft recommendations that would be put out for comment. A task group is expected to release a draft position paper by 2002. After a consultation period, new recommendations could be adopted in 2005.

Source: Nucleonics Week, 18 and 25 May 2000
Contact: Plutonium Action Hiroshima, P.O. Box 1, Konan Post Office, Hiroshima 739-1491, Japan Tel/fax: +81-82-828 2603
Email: dogwood@muc.biglobe.ne.jp


Germany: Consensus talks continue: No agreement on operational periods

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(June 9, 2000) In the negotiations between the German government and the electric utilities, achievements have been claimed but a concrete agreement on reactor operational periods has not yet been achieved. Meanwhile, the World EXPO in Hannover started presenting the view of the industry on energy production in the 21st century.

(531.5182) WISE Amsterdam - Government officials and spokespersons of the electric utilities claim to be closer now to a nuclear phaseout deal. Since 1998, the SPD-Green government has tried to reach consensus with the electric utilities on a phaseout of nuclear energy as agreed upon in the coalition agreement of the governing parties (see also WISE News Communique 506.4980: "Germany: U-turn on nuclear phaseout"; and 505.4975: "Germany will end reprocessing in 2000").

According to Dietmar Kuhnt of the electric utility RWE, at the German Atomic Energy Forum meeting on May 22, both the industrial and governmental representatives have met 13 times since February this year. Nearly all issues, he said, had been solved. Though he admitted that the most important one --the lifetime of reactors-- had not been settled yet. Otto Majewski from Bayernwerk said that for that issue, they were discussing not to lay down exact operational periods. The government wanted initially to reach an agreement with a lifetime of reactors at a maximum of 30 years. The industry, however, insists on 40 or even 50 years. Now they would be looking at "apportioning to operating reactors shares of a total number of kilowatt-hours which would be allowed to be generated before all reactors are shut down".

Remarkable is the decision of RWE to add Muelheim-Kaerlich into the negotiations, a reactor whose license was nullified 11 years ago. With this, it looks like they are trying to gain "credits" from the Muelheim reactor, which will never open, and use it to keep other reactors operating for a longer period.

The energy expert of the German Greens, Michaele Hustedt, came up in the media with a proposal of a so-called "small consensus". This means the exclusion of the lifetime of nuclear reactors from the consensus talks but trying to come to agreement on all the other points like nuclear waste storage and reprocessing. The issues that are not resolved by consensus could then be resolved by national laws. According to Hustedt, the government and the utilities would agree that a final storage site is not necessary within the first 30 years. The utilities would also be prepared to ban reprocessing if spent fuel could be stored in interim storage sites.

The spokesman on environment of the Social Democrats, Michael Mueller, voiced his skepticism toward the reality of a "small consensus". He thinks the industry does not want consensus about issues like reprocessing, but use it in the negotiations to force longer lifetime periods for reactors.

In the weekend of May 27-28, the government and the utilities have come up with a framework document, a next step in the process. Chancellor Schröder now expects a deal before the summer recess in July but has warned that if the two parties do not reach consensus by then, the government will introduce legislation to shut down the reactors. Although a decisive meeting between Schröder and the four main electric utilities was expected on June 8, it was postponed due to disagreements on the inclusion of Muelheim-Kaerlich in a deal.

In the early 1990s, the Kohl government came up for the first time with a consensus proposal. The aim was to reach consensus between the big political parties regarding the future of nuclear energy. These consensus talks failed because the Social Democrats could not afford to change their position on a nuclear phaseout. They were afraid they would lose votes in the 1994 elections. After the red-green coalition took over in 1998, consensus talks came to stand in a different light. The new government was afraid of claims from the nuclear industry for income losses. Therefore, they tried to come to an agreement with the nuclear industry on how to phase out, without being confronted with huge compensation claims.

While the German government and the electric utilities talk about the lifetimes of nuclear reactors, the nuclear industry has the possibility to promote itself on the government-sponsored World EXPO 2000 in Hannover.

The EXPO, with the theme "Human, Nature and Technology", presents itself as a forum of sustainable technology. But if one studies the structure of the EXPO and the involvement of the industry, you can easily imagine what they tend to sell as "sustainable"--big technological projects like nuclear power, biotechnology and genetical engineering. In the so-called theme park, ideas and visions on several issues are presented. Here especially, the big multinational firms participated in shaping the exhibitions.

The online brochure of the information office of the German electric utilities states: "For our economy, a secure energy supply is of high importance. It will be sustainable, guaranteed through a balanced mix of all energy sources including the use of nuclear [power]."

There are especially two projects presented on the EXPO that anti-nuclear activists are protesting against. One is the new European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) developed by Siemens and French Framatome, and secondly, the research reactor FRM-II near Muenich, also a Siemens project. It is clear that nuclear power is presented as a clean source of energy, helping to reduce CO2 emissions. Anti-nuclear groups joined the protest against the EXPO, together with environmental and development groups. On the opening day on June 1, several hundreds of protesters tried to blockade the traffic routes to the EXPO. Protests will continue throughout the duration of the EXPO.


  • Reuters, 28 May 2000
  • Tageszeitung (FRG), 26 May and 7 June 2000
  • the official EXPO website (www.expo2000.de)
  • Anti Atom Aktuell 111 (FRG)
  • Nucleonics Week, 25 May 2000

Contact: Anti Atom Aktuell, Tollendorf 9, 29473 Goehrde, Germany Tel/Fax: +49-5862-985 990
E-mail: aaa-redaktion@amazonas.comlink.apc.org
Internet: www.anti-atom-aktuell.de

Hinkley Point-A is shut down permanently

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(June 9, 2000) Because of too high costs of a safety inspection program, the Hinkley Point A station in the UK will remain shut down permanently. Owner British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) announced a lifetime program for the other seven Magnox stations.

(531.5179) WISE Amsterdam - On May 23, BNFL announced its plan to permanently close down the two Hinkley Point A reactors in Somerset. The Hinkley Point A Magnox reactors, with a total capacity of 470 MW, had been out of service since April 1999 due to technical problems. BNFL came to the conclusion to close the station as it would otherwise have to spend "tens of millions of pounds" on studies and remote inspections to fulfill safety criteria as required by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII). Since April 1999, at least BP30 million (US$45 million) had already been spent on repairs and upgrades to make the station, which went critical in 1964, suitable for an operational lifetime of 45 years.

Although all the Magnox reactors have the same basic design, a specific feature in the Hinkley Point A reactors is the reason that BNFL considered it too expensive to keep them open. When the Magnox stations were developed, the designers never considered that certain reactor areas would need to be inspected, as it is presently required. For the other Magnox stations, solutions were developed, but not for Hinkley Point A. When NII ordered a significant inspection program to better prove the safety cases submitted in March by BNFL, the operators concluded this would take too much time and cause too much loss of income.

The Hinkley Point A reactors were shut down last year when checks through old documents proved that parts of the reactor vessels had not been tested properly at the time the station was built. But for decades, anti-nuclear activists had already protested against the lack of safety of the station. It lacked a secondary containment and they also feared the embrittlement of the reactor vessel, which was a reason to shut down a sister station at Trawsfynydd in 1993.

BNFL further announced a lifetime strategy for the other seven Magnox stations, with a total of 18 reactors. Whereas Hinkley Point A operated for almost 35 years, the others have a planned lifetime of 35 and even up to 50 years. The next to be closed will be Bradwell (in 2002), followed by Dungeness A (2006), Sizewell A (2006), Calder Hall (2006/2008), Chapelcross (2008/2010), Oldbury (2013) and Wylfa (2016/2021). According to BNFL, the closure program would cost BP10 billion (US$14.7 billion). Three other Magnox stations already closed some years ago--Berkeley in 1989, Hunterston A in 1990, and Trawsfynydd in 1993.

It is not sure yet whether Oldbury and Wylfa will really operate until the date presently laid down. According to BNFL, it depends on the development of a new Magrox fuel. Magrox fuel is made of uranium in ceramic oxide form, in contrast to the Magnox fuel of metallic uranium. A decision on the use of Magrox fuel is to be taken in 2003.

Once all Magnox spent fuel have been reprocessed, the B205 reprocessing plant at Sellafield is to close in 2012. The B205 plant is one of the main sources of radioactivity releases from Sellafield. With the future closure, BNFL states that "Total liquid discharge impact [...] will further reduce by more than 80%".

The decision to close Hinkley Point A was welcomed by anti-nuclear groups, though they demand the immediate closure of all the stations. Said Helen Wallace of Greenpeace: "Every day these stations add to the discharges into the Irish Sea [through reprocessing], every day they are an accident waiting to happen." Friends of the Earth condemned BNFL's decision to keep the other seven stations running for another two decades: "The Magnox plants are a key driver for reprocessing. It is irresponsible to let the stockpile of nuclear wastes continue to grow."


  • Press release, BNFL, 23 May 2000
  • The Guardian, 24 May 2000
  • Reuters, 24 May 2000
  • Nucleonics Week, 25 May 2000
  • The Guardian, 21 February 2000
  • PA News, 2 March 2000

Contact: Friends of the Earth UK, 26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ, United Kingdom Tel: +44-207-490 1555; Fax: +44-207-490 0881
Email: susdev@foe.co.uk
; Internet: www.foe.co.uk

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Ash from biofuel plants considered as radioactive waste.

(June 9, 2000) Swedish radiation protection authorities have issued recommendations for the handling of ashes from biomass-fueled electricity plants. It was observed that the caesium content in trees had increased after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The cause is said to have been the deeper penetration of caesium into the ground over the years. Older trees with deeper roots have absorbed more of it. Ashes with a concentration of over 5 kiloBeqcuerel per kilogram has to be disposed of in special facilities with clay and other barrier materials, and not anymore in existing industrial landfills. It was calculated that about 5%-7% of the yearly amount of 110,000 tons of biofuel ash has to be stored as radioactive waste. Nucleonics Week, 18 May 2000


Kashiwazaki-Kaiwa 6 shut down after radiation release. On May 29, the Japanese Kashiwazaki-Kaiwa unit 6 was manually shut down after high concentrations of fission-product iodine was detected in the primary coolant. Rare gas concentrations also increased. According to the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), no radioactivity was released into the atmosphere. Since the Kashiwazaki-Kaiwa unit 6 reactor went critical in 1995, it has experienced several reactor trips which led to an automatic or manual shutdown. Besides, other technical problems have also occurred during the 4.5 years of operation, as for instance the malfunction of an internal recirculation pump in February 1996, the iodine leak from a fuel rod in August 1996, the turbine breakdown due to a lightning strike in August 1998, and a generator breakdown in May 1999. In August 1999, a similar increase in iodine concentrations was observed, but the operators were unable to identify the cause. Magpie Country Nukes Headliner, 30 May 2000


Former nuclear fuel plant worker sues Siemens for lung fibrosis. A former worker at the Hanau nuclear fuel plant has sued Siemens AG for payment of a compensation of DM3 million (US$1.4 million) after he contracted lung fibrosis during work. Michael Weber used to work in 1971 as a contract worker at the Reaktor-Brennelemente-Gesellschaft (RBG) nuclear fuel production plant in Hanau, Germany. Siemens AG is the legal successor of the owner of the plant which has closed. During an accident, Weber was completely covered with UO2 dust and he inhaled part of it. In 1981, he developed lung fibrosis, decreasing his lung function by 85% and leaving him permanently disabled. An expert of nuclear medicine has confirmed that the disease has been caused by radiation, and the employers' liability insurance has acknowledged Weber's lung fibrosis was work-related.
On May 24, 2000, Weber rejected a proposal for a settlement offered by a judge which was accepted by Siemens. Siemens would have paid the cost of the proceedings in the amount of DM 60,000 (US$28,000), but would not have acknowledged any liability to Weber. In the opinion of the judge, it is very likely that Weber's claims have come under the statue of limitations. Frankfurter Rundschau, 23 and 25 May 2000


Luxembourg bans electricity imports from the East. On 23 May, a law on the liberalization of the electricity market was adopted in Luxembourg. The law, which followed the 1996 EU directive creating a single European electricity market, opens the country's electricity market for competition. Modeled on Austria's electricity law, it contains a provision that allows the government to reject contracts for electricity from countries outside the European Union if it determined that the power would come from facilities whose technology doesn't correspond to "state of the art", that pose a "direct or indirect danger" to persons, or that fail to demonstrate a state-of-the-art waste management plan or concept. The provision is directed against imports from Soviet-design reactors in the East. Nucleonics Week, 1 June 2000


Russian reactors completed by investment of Gazprom? Rosenergoatom (REA), an industrial subsidiary of the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom), is seeking investment from natural gas giant Gazprom for the completion of the Kalinin-3 reactor. The state-owned companies negotiate about an arrangement under which Gazprom would lend REA funds to complete one or more nuclear reactors and REA would pay back the loan in electricity. REA operates eight of Russia's nuclear power stations. First priority of REA, the new executive director Yuri Yakovlev explained, is to finish Kalinin-3 and Rostov-1. If REA could raise U$7.3 billion, it could complete and commission a total of 10 nuclear power units. By completing these reactors, more natural gas can be freed up for export. The deal would return U$32 billion to Russia over 2000-2010 through the increased exports of natural gas, according to Yakovlev. REA wants to finish and operate Rostov-1 and -2, Kalinin-3, Kursk-5, and Balakov-5. Except Kursk, which is a third generation RBMK-1000, all of these are VVER-1000s. Nucleonics Week, 25 May 2000


EBRD meeting in Riga faces anti-nuclear protest. Four members of Greenpeace were detained and questioned by the police in Riga, Latvia, on May 22, outside the Congress House, where the annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was in session, according to a May 23 report from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The protesters, who would not be charged, were removed for staging an unsanctioned demonstration against the EBRD's plans to finance the construction of the K2/R4 nuclear power stations in Ukraine, the report said. Green Horizon, 6 June 2000


Pacific Islanders win judgment. The 145 residents removed in 1947 from Enewetak, about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, were allowed to return in 1980 and beheld the devastating sight of parts of their atoll aporized by 43 nuclear blasts, while the rest was pockmarked by explosions or contaminated by radiation from the US nuclear tests in 1946-1958. The Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal announced in May that it would pay islanders US$199 million for loss of the use of Enewetak, US$108 million to clean up and restore the atoll, and US$34 million for their 33-year exile and hardship. The Sunflower, June 2000


Swedish Forsmark NPP security criticized. Swedish regulators have warned the operators of the Forsmark NPP to improve its security measures. They said that the physical protection of the plant is so poor that the nuclear plant is open to break-in and sabotage. The regulators observed technical shortcomings, such as old alarm systems, but they were especially concerned about a lack of training and motivation of employees responsible for physical protection. The regulators ordered improvements no later than June 18, but also warned the operators with closure when permanent improvements have not been made before June 30. Nucleonics Week, 1 June 2000


BNFL facing bankruptcy? British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) denied a report in the Sunday Telegraph that the company is facing bankruptcy, following the discovery of a BP9 billion (US$13.45 billion) black hole in its accounts. The newspaper reported that a confidential internal report indicated that unexpected costs would bring the total long-term liabilities of BNFL accounts up to 36 billion pounds (US$54.8 billion), threatening the company with financial ruin. BNFL pointed out that its liability review is still in progress and expected to be published in September, possibly sooner. Uranium Institute News Briefing 00.23, 31 May to 6 June 2000


Strike in North Korea threatens reactor project. A prolonged strike by North Korean workers might delay the construction of two internationally financed reactors. The reactors, which would cost US$4.6 billion and to be operated from 2003, are part of a 1994 agreement aimed at freezing Pyongyang's suspected nuclear weapons program and replacing Soviet-designed reactors. North Korea pulled out half of its 200-man work force, demanding pay hikes. The North Koreans have been hired for US$110 a month since 1997, with annual pay hikes of no more than 2.5%. North Korea is now threatening to pull out the rest of its work force unless the pay is raised up to US$600 a month. Associated Press, 26 May 2000


Westinghouse eager to win Akkuyu bid. In April, the Turkish government announced to have delayed, until July 24, a decision making on the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear reactor. Several reports suggested that the delay was at request of the Treasury Department, which has refused to give a state guarantee for the loans until 2003, which could cost up to US$3.3 billion. The US has reportedly continued lobbying for one of the bidders, Westinghouse, possibly linking a Westinghouse win to continued US support for the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project. Now it has been reported that Westinghouse even offered to conduct the deal without a state guarantee. Nuclear Awareness Project, 31 May 2000


British Energy (BE) buys Canadian plant. BE has reportedly completed a US$1 billion deal to operate Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Bruce nuclear power plant for up to 20 years. BE, in partnership with a consortium of Canadian investors, is expected to pay OPG an initial US$200 million for the rights to run the plant, with the remaining payments to be staged over a number of years. Uranium Institute News Briefing 00.23, 31 May to 6 June 2000


Australia: bill introduced in parliament to forbid waste imports. A bill to ban the import and storage of intermediate- and high-level waste in South Australia has been introduced into the state parliament. The bill would prohibit the construction and operation of a storage facility for such wastes, as well as banning the transport of nuclear waste to such a site. The bill is a direct challenge to the federal government, which has identified five sites in the state as possible locations for storing low-level waste, but is now seeking sites for intermediate-level waste. Uranium Institute News Briefing 00.23, 31 May to 6 June 2000


Lake drained in hunt for uranium from crashed 747. UK air accident investigators are to search the bottom of a lake for three peaces of tailplane containing depleted uranium weights, which are still missing after the December 1999 crash of a Korean Boeing 747 near Stansted Airport. Essex county council has drained the fishing lake in Great Hallingbury where the 747 cargo plane crashed after catching fire on take-off and exploding. Seventeen of the 20 weights, used as counterweights in the plane's tail, have been found. Searchers suspect that the three panels were hurled into the lake, which covers about an acre. Radiation Bulletin, 31 May 2000


Austrian provincial government pledges money to fight Temelin. The province of Upper Austria has set aside AUS16 million (US$1.1 million), for activities in opposition of the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant, in the Czech Republic and close to Austria. The Czech Minister of Trade and Industry has called this a direct violation of the sovereignty of the Czech Republic. According to a representative of the Upper Austrian provincial government, the funds are being used primarily to gather information on the Temelin nuclear power plant, particularly information on both safety and economic questions, and is being carried out in co-operation with Czech institutions. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Industry and Trade told the Czech News Agency, however, that the ministry has so far received no requests for information from Upper Austria. Green Horizon, 6 June 2000


BNFL fined for leak. BNFL was fined BP40,000 (US$59,930) last week and ordered to pay BP35,000 (US$52,440) in costs for its sixth breach of health and safety at the reprocessing plant Sellafield in the past decade. BNFL and its wholly-owned subsidiary BNFL Engineering were fined in Carlisle Crown Court following a March 1999 spillage of 1,500 gallons (6,800 liters) of pressurised nitric acid which caused damage estimated at BP750,000 (US$1.12 million), slightly injured two workers and left one firefighter suffering from inhaling toxic fumes. The accident was partly caused by the failure to introduce promised new safety procedures following another acid spillage in 1996. N-Base Briefing 231, 6 June 2000


One step closer to waste transportation. Tokyo Electric announced on May 24, 2000 that the company and other utilities have submitted an application for 88 canisters to be stored at the Vitrified Waste Storage Center at Rokkasho, Japan. The utilities have already applied for 104 canisters on December 17, 1999 to be stored at the facility, and all together a transportation of 192 canisters is planned. Japan has its spent fuel reprocessed at England and France. The high-level waste that is produced as a by-product of reprocessing is vitrified and then returned to Japan. Already 5 shipments of such waste have been carried out. In order for the vitrified high-level waste to be returned from Europe, Japanese utilities must apply for the approval from the Science and Technology Agency to store such waste at the Vitrified Waste Storage Center at Rokkasho. All 192 canisters were prepared at La Hague, France by a French company COGEMA. The utilities plan to have the transportation take place between September 2000 and March 2001. Citizens Nuclear Information Center, 25 May 2000


Action against CEZ electricity exports. Twenty activists of Greenpeace, from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany, protested June 7 near the Czech Temelin nuclear power plant against the dumping of cheap electricity by its operator CEZ. The activists climbed a high tension pylon and hang banners with the texts "Stop Dumping" and "Stop Temelin". Greenpeace states that CEZ exports 20 percent of its electricity at a price of half the generating costs. The dumping of electricity abroad should hide the present surplus of it in the country itself. In fact, the completion of the Temelin plant is thus not necessary. Centrum ENERGIE, 8 June 2000


Vieques: Uranium rounds missing. Environmental activists clashed with a US Nuclear Regulatory Commission official Tuesday, June 6, over cleanup plans that could leave buried some of the radioactive depleted uranium rounds mistakenly fired on the Navy's Vieques, Puorto Rico, bombing range. Activists have been demanding the Navy to clean up 263 rounds mistakenly fired from two Marine jets on February 19, 1999, in violation of rules that restrict their use to combat zones. The Navy recovered 57 rounds last year, but the cleanup equipment the Navy uses can penetrate only 10 inches into the sandy ground while the ammunition, designed to explode through an armored tank, may be buried much deeper. The Navy notified the commission about the February 1999 accident but failed to tell the Puerto Rican government. The news surfaced only three months later and fueled resentment against the bombings on the island. Protesters invaded the range and camped out there for a year until federal agents forced them out last month. Associated Press, 6 June 2000

Taiwan to scrap fourth nuclear project?!

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(June 9, 2000) After years of intense campaigning, the coalition of environmental groups was celebrating the outcome of the last elections in Taiwan, which resulted in the new government that was formed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

(531.5183) WISE Amsterdam - New Prime Minister Chen Shui-bian won the March elections. For decades now, his party had promised to scrap the Lungmen NPP project on environmental grounds, and phase out Taiwan's six operating reactors in 10 years. As could be expected, however, the DPP now seems to have withdrawn from its earlier firm statements. The state-owned Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) has been putting pressure on the new government to reconsider the promises, but environmentalists have been urging the DPP to honor its commitment.

The country's fourth nuclear station involves two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) with a total capacity of 2,700 MW. Taipower has already spent US$1.4 billion on the complex, situated only 35 kilometers northeast of the capital, Taipei, in Kung Liao Valley. With 18% of the country's generated electricity being nuclear, Taipower claims the new plant is necessary for the island's continued economic growth. Experts of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Association (TEPU) argue, however, that the growing demand for electricity could be met with a thermal power plant fueled with methanol or other recyclable fuels.

After publishing we received in an email some corrections from TEPU:

1. The March election in Taiwan is to select new PRESIDENT not Prime Minister. In Taiwan, the Prime Minister is named by the President.
2. In the past, DPP certainly agreed to phase out the existing NPPs. However, no time table was scheduled.
3. The biggest - ever anti-nuclear demonstration occured around 1994, 1995. In both occasions, around 30 thousands people attended the demonstrations on May 29, 1994 and September 3, 1995. The latter time is in coincidence with the No Nuke Asian Forum in Taiwan. Many of Asian anti-nuclear activists also participated that demonstrations. Total number of participants dropped in later years. Different media gave different number of participants on May 13, ranges from 2000 to 5000, depends on the time of the process.
4. It is not sure whether there will be a referendum. The official status is : to have a thorough evaluation on NPP4 in four months. So far there is no law on referendum. If referendum is proposed. Then the law has to formulate first. Besides, there are the four previously held referendum exist already.
Source: Gloria Kuang-Jung Hsu, Ph.D. Vice President,
Taiwan Environmental Protection Union

On May 13, anti-nuclear groups supported by DPP legislators and Taipei County politicians, organized the biggest-ever demonstration against nuclear energy. Some 2,000 activists paraded through Taipei's streets and voiced their protest against the Taipower headquarters. Although it was urged to join the protest, the DPP leadership failed to attend. This was seen as a sign that the new government does not intend to scrap the project.

The government, sworn in on May 20 and already under terrific pressure from both environmentalists and the Taipower lobby, will most probably decide to organize a referendum on the future of the NPPs. This would be held after the release of a new study on "all costs", to be submitted by a reassessment panel called "NPP4 Reevaluation Committee", made up of government officials and environmentalists. This committee is expected to report to the government by September 2000. In the meantime, the new minister of economics, Lin Hsin-yi, ordered Taipower to indefinitely put off soliciting bids for remaining construction work on the controversial plant.

Taipower first proposed the building of the Lungmen plant in 1978. The start of the project was postponed several times due to a lack of demand for electricity in 1982, suspicion over nuclear safety, and the Chernobyl accident in 1986. But later, the construction was actively pursued. In May 1996, Taipower finally awarded the project to General Electric.

Earlier referendums on the project showed strong opposition to the project. In 1994, Kung Liao Valley residents voted 96% against the project, and the same year the Taipei County referendum resulted in a 89% no-vote. In 1996 a referendum was held in Taipei which led to a 53% vote against the plans, followed by a 1998 referendum in Ilan County with 64% votes in the negative. The results of these referendums were, however, ignored by the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party which has since been defeated at the elections.


  • AFP, 2 May 2000
  • Central News Agency Taiwan, 6 May 2000
  • Nucleonics Week, 18 May 2000
  • Email from Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University, 6 June 2000

Contact: Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU), 5th Fl. No. 1-4, Lane 183-11, HerPing East Road Sect. 1, Taipei, Taiwan 106 Tel: +886-2-2393 7011; Fax: +886-2-2391 5997
Email: tepu21@ms39.hinet.net
Internet: www.tepu.org.tw


The heat is on; Don't nuke the climate

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(June 9, 2000) As the debate heats up on how to fulfill the Kyoto Climate Protocol targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the proponents of nuclear energy have intensified their lobby. Every occasion is seized by the proponents to convey their message that nuclear energy should be an accepted means to fight the greenhouse effect.

(531.5180) WISE Amsterdam - The latest attempt was undertaken by France during the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York at the end of May. Supported by the United Kingdom, the French negotiators tried to get nuclear energy in the consensus document of the NPT Review Conference as a contribution to sustainable development, and recommended that it be included as eligible for emission credit under the Kyoto Protocol.

Crucial in successfully blocking this attempt by France was the role of a group of Pacific Ocean states and territories which, for the first time, took a firm position against nuclear energy. But even within the Pacific region, the debate is not yet over. It was only more than a month ago that President Nakamura of the Republic of Palau, on behalf of the South Pacific Forum, said at a seminar organized by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) that some members are so desperate about their future (being the countries that will be the first to be swallowed up by rising sea levels) that they have expressed interest in the adoption of nuclear technology.

For the nuclear industry, the position of the Pacific island states is crucial. Although small, they have an acknowledged moral weight in the international discussion on policy on climate change. Officials from Japan, France and the UK welcomed the words of Nakamura as an important opening in the debate, and immediately tried to misuse the expressed concerns over sea-level rising into a plea to include nuclear energy as an accepted means in the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol (see also WISE News Communique 526.5143: "Clean Development Mechanism: A new nuclear subsidy?")

Apart from the opposition at the Review Conference of Pacific countries, some European countries like Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Ireland, were helpful in blocking recommendations for nuclear energy in the consensus document.

The next round in the Kyoto Protocol debate will take place in June 8-18 in Bonn, Germany, where pre-negotiations on the upcoming COP6 climate conference in the Netherlands in November 2000 will take place. The pro-nuclear forces are working much closer together than ever and are trying to get their message across, wherever possible. Most explicit are the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and officials from the US, Canada and the UK. They know the climate debate is their last hope. There are no arguments left to promote nuclear energy otherwise. As an IAEA official said: "Because of its higher costs, nuclear [energy] would not be used by most developing countries in the absence of the CDM mechanism."

The three countries mentioned will work closely together until the moment the issue is resolved, probably at COP6. If nuclear energy is accepted under the rules of the different flexible mechanisms, they for sure will then start competing against each other to win the new markets that might arise.

The UK government has already started encouraging British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) to build reactors in China, so the UK can claim CO2 credits. But China said it would wait on the decisions on the future of the program for new reactors until it is clear if, and how, it can sell "saved carbon-credits".

If nuclear energy would be accepted, countries like China and India would gain easy access to cheap new production capacities (as the reactors would be heavily subsidized by donor countries), and at the same time the sponsoring industrialized countries would no longer have to decrease domestic CO2 emissions.

The leading role in the debate on domestic reductions versus financing projects abroad has been taken over by the US, which has not yet agreed to the Kyoto principles. It is already quite clear that Al Gore, Democratic Party candidate for the new presidency of the US, is in favor of nuclear energy as a means to fight the climate change. John B. Ritch, the US ambassador to the United Nations, and a good friend of Gore, travels around the world to get the message out: "Only one technology--advanced nuclear reactors--offers a realistic promise of contributing substantially to the world's burgeoning need for large base-load power production without catastrophic climate change."


  • Nucleonics Week 4 and 25 May 2000
  • The Guardian, 23 May 2000
  • Green Forum, 29 May 2000

Contact: WISE Amsterdam