In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#745
04/04/2012
Shorts

Construction of Ohma nuclear plant indefinitely delayed.
Japan’s Electric Power Development Co has decided to delay the construction of its Ohma nuclear power plant indefinitely. The plant, which is under construction in Aomori prefecture (northern Honshu), was expected to be complete in late 2014. However, construction has been suspended since the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. J-Power said in a statement that it is ‘moving ahead to review safety enhancement measures in response to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi’ and that it would incorporate any necessary measures.

Work started on the Ohma plant, a 1383 MW Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design, in May 2008. Originally due to start up in 2012, J-Power amended its scheduled start date to November 2014 towards the end of 2008. The Ohma plant has been designed to (eventually) run on a full mixed oxide (MOX) core. In 2009 J-Power entered into an agreement with Global Nuclear Fuel Japan to procure the MOX fuel for Ohman, which was to be manufactured in France.
Nuclear Engineering International, news 3 April 2012


Vermont Yankee: 130 arrests.
More than 1,000 people turned up in Brattleboro to march the 6 km from the town common to Entergy’s offices. Over 130 people trespassed on the company’s property and were arrested. Signs carried by the 1,000 protestors had messages like “time’s up” and “Entergy corporate greed”. March 22, was a monumental day for residents of the tri-state area near the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Forty years after the plant opened, its license expired the day before, but the plant continued to operate pursuant to a federal court order.

The plant’s continued operation sets a precedent nationwide in the nuclear as well as in the legal realm. Earlier this year, federal Judge J. Garvan Murtha issued a ruling finding two Vermont laws requiring legislative approval for the plant to continue operating were unconstitutional as pre-empted by federal law. The plant hasn’t received a new license to replace the one that expired this March. The Vermont Public Service Board has yet to issue an order on the new license and no one has ordered the plant to cease operating in the interim. Entergy does have a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but its state license is expired. The company argues state law allows it to operate while the Public Service Board proceeding to approve a new license goes on.

Meanwhile the state and Entergy have appealed Judge Murtha’s decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Legal experts say the case could have national ramifications. (More in Nuclear Monitor 741, 3 Febr. 2012: Showdown time for Vermont Yankee).
EarthFirst Newswire, 23 March 2012


Bidding process starts for Olkiluoto-4.
The Finnish nuclear power company Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) has started a bidding process for their Olkiluoto 4 project as a part of the bidding and engineering phase. Bids for the new nuclear power plant are expected at the beginning of 2013. TVO reported on March 23, that there are five plant supplier alternatives at the bidding phase of the OL4 project, namely the French installation company Areva, the American GE Hitachi, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power in South Korea, as well as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toshiba in Japan. TVO is not willing to take a stand on whether the difficulties and problems experienced by the Olkiluoto 3 project will have any influence on the possibilities of Areva's involvement.

TVO is to submit an application for a building permit by the summer of 2015. In April 2010, Finland's previous government decided to grant a permit to IVO for the construction of a new reactor in Olkiluoto. The decision was approved by Parliament in July 2010. According to TVO, the electric power of the new plant unit will be in the range of 1,450 to 1,750 MWe, while the projected operational life time of the new reactor is at least 60 years.
Helsingin Sanomat (International edition), 23 March 2012


NRC approves COL for V.C.Summer.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on March 30 approved the combined construction and operating licenses (COL) for the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina, just the second construction license approved for a nuclear plant since 1978. The NRC voted 4-1, just as the Commission did for the Plant Vogtle COLs. The NRC is expected to issue the COLs within 10 business days.

South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. and South Carolina Public Service Authority, or Santee Cooper, the owners and operators of the existing single-unit, 1,100 MW V.C. Summer plant, submitted the application for two new 1,117 MW Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built at the site in March 2008. The US$10 billion project, adjacent to the company’s existing reactor approximately 40 km northwest of Columbia, S.C., began in 2009 after receiving approval from the Public Service Commission of South Carolina.

The NRC did impose two conditions on the COLs, with the first requiring inspection and testing of squib valves, important components of the new reactors’ passive cooling system. The second requires the development of strategies to respond to extreme natural events resulting in the loss of power at the new reactors.
Power Engineering, 3 April 2012


Search for Jordan's reactor site expands after protests.
The search for a potential site for Jordan's first nuclear reactor in Mafraq has expanded by a 40 kilometer radius. Officials are searching for a site near the Khirbet Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant, which, according to current plans, is to serve as the main water source to cool the 1,000 megawatt reactor.

According to a source close to the proceedings, the government directed the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) to find an alternative to the initially selected site, Balaama, near Mafraq, after coming under political pressure from tribal leaders and prominent local residents.  The announcement of the transferral of the planned site for the Kingdom's first nuclear reactor from Aqaba to Mafraq in late 2010 prompted a backlash from local residents, who held a series of protests and rallies over the past year urging decision makers to go back on their decision. 
Jordan Times, 19 March 2012


IAEA: safety concerns over aging nuclear fleet.
A 56-page IAEA document highlights safety concerns of an ageing nuclear fleet: 80%  of the world's nuclear power plants are more than 20 years old, and about 70 percent of the world's 254 research reactors have been in operation for more than 30 years "with many of them exceeding their original design life," the report said. But according IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano nuclear power is now safer than it was a year ago. The report said the "operational level of nuclear power plant safety around the world remains high".

"There are growing expectations that older nuclear reactors should meet enhanced safety objectives, closer to that of recent or future reactor designs," the Vienna-based U.N. agency's annual Nuclear Safety Review said. "There is a concern about the ability of the ageing nuclear fleet to fulfill these expectations."
Reuters, 13 March 2012


Japan after Fukushima: 80% distrust government's nuke safety measures.
A whopping 80 percent of people in Japan do not trust the government's safety measures for nuclear power plants. The results are from a nationwide random telephone survey of 3,360 people conducted by The Asahi Shimbun on March 10-11. It received 1,892 valid responses. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said they are opposed to restarting nuclear reactors currently off line for regular maintenance, compared to the 27 percent in favor. A gap between genders was conspicuous over whether to restart the reactors. Although men were almost evenly split, with 47 percent against and 41 percent in favor, 67 percent of women are opposed, compared with just 15 percent who support the restarts.

Regarding the government's safety steps for nuclear plants, 52 percent said they "do not trust so much," and 28 percent said they "do not trust at all." Although the government has been proceeding with computer-simulated stress tests on reactors, which are necessary steps to reactivate them, people apparently have a deep distrust of the government's nuclear safety provisions.
Asahi Shimbun, 13 March 2012


Tepco: water level reactor #2 wrong by 500%.
Tepco is reporting that the results of an endoscopy into reactor #2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant show that water levels are far lower than previously thought. The utility had estimated that water in the reactor, which is required to keep melted fuel cool and prevent recriticality, was approximately three meters deep. In fact, it is only 60 cm deep. Tepco insists that the fuel is not in danger of overheating, and continues to pump in nine tons of water every hour. However, experts say that the low water levels show that leaks in the containment vessel are far greater than previously thought, and may make repairing and decommissioning the crippled reactors even more difficult. Tepco attempted an endoscopy in January, but the effort failed because the scope used was too short.
Greenpeace blog, Fukushima Nuclear Crisis Update 28 March 2012


Tokyo soil samples would be considered nuclear waste in the US.
While traveling in Japan in February, Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen took soil samples in Tokyo. He explaines: "I did not look for the highest radiation spot. I just went around with five plastic bags and when I found an area, I just scooped up some dirt and put it in a bag. One of those samples was from a crack in the sidewalk. Another one of those samples was from a children's playground that had been previously decontaminated. Another sample had come from some moss on the side of the road. Another sample came from the roof of an office building that I was at. And the last sample was right across the street from the main judicial center in downtown Tokyo."

Gundersen (an energy advisor with 39-years of nuclear power engineering experience) brought those samples back to the US, declared them through Customs, and sent them to the laboratory. And the lab determined that all of them would be qualified as radioactive waste there in the United States and would have to be shipped to a radioactive waste facility to be disposed of.
http://www.fairewinds.com/content/tokyo-soil-samples-would-be-considered...


Canada: court case against 2 new reactors Ontario.
A group of environmentalists has gone to court to challenge Ontario's plan to build new nuclear reactors, arguing the environmental risks and costs involved haven't been properly assessed. Lawyers for Ecojustice and the Canadian Environmental Law Association have filed arguments in Federal Court on behalf of several green agencies, saying a review panel failed to carry out a proper environmental assessment on building new reactors at the Darlington station in Clarington, Ontario. Despite a push for green energy projects, Ontario remains committed to nuclear energy, which makes up 50 per cent of its energy supply, and is moving forward with the construction of two new reactors. But the groups, which include Greenpeace, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Northwatch  and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, argue the government provided only vague plans to the federal government-appointed review panel, which nonetheless recommended the project be approved. They argue that, contrary to the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the panel also didn't gather the evidence required to evaluate the project's need and possible alternatives.

The groups are asking Federal Court to order the review panel to take a second look at the project. A proper environmental study, the groups add, is especially important after lessons learned from the disaster at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant. They also note that the government didn't select a specific type of nuclear reactor, making its possible impact difficult to assess. "Despite the profound lack of critical information regarding the project's design and specific means by which the radioactive waste it generates will be managed, the (joint review panel) report purports to conclude that no significant environmental effects are likely," said the court filing, obtained by The Canadian Press. That assumption implies that the "sizable information gaps" will be eventually considered by other bodies, and that "numerous to-be-determined mitigation measures" will be implemented. Such a "leap before you look" approach, the filing adds, "is the antithesis of the precautionary principle, and should not be upheld by this honourable court."
CTV News, 21 March 2012


Chernobyl: Crime Without Punishment.
Alla A. Yaroshinskaya describes the human side of theApril 1986 Chernobyl disaster, with firsthand accounts. Chernobyl: Crime without Punishment is a unique account of events by a reporter who defied the Soviet bureaucracy. The author presents an accurate historical record, with quotations from all the major players in the Chernobyl drama. It also provides unique insight into the final stages of Soviet communism.

Yaroshinskaya actively began to pursue the truth about how the nuclear disaster affected surrounding towns starting April 27, 1986 - just a day after the Chernobyl accident - when the deception about the lethal radiation levels was only just beginning. She describes actions taken after the disaster: how authorities built a new city for Chernobyl residents but placed it in a highly polluted area. Secret documents discovered years after the meltdown proved that the government had known all along the magnitude of what was going on and had chosen to hide the truth and put millions of lives at risk.
Twenty-five years later, the author reviews the latest medical data and the changes in the health of 9 million Chernobyl victims in over two decades since the nuclear blast. She reveals the way the Chernobyl health data continued to change from official Kremlin lies to the current results at national research centers in independent states after the Soviet Union collapsed and the Kremlin lost its monopoly over the Chernobyl truth. The author also details the actions of the nuclear lobby inside and outside the former Soviet Union. Yaroshinskaya explains why there has been no trial of top officials who were responsible for the actual decisions regarding the cleanup, and how these top officials have managed to subvert accountability for their actions. 
Alla A. Yaroshinskaya is a Russian journalist and winner of the Right Livelihood Award. She was also a member of the Ecology and Glasnost Committees of the Supreme Soviet and advisor to former Russian president Boris Yeltsin. This book has been edited by Rosalie Bertell and Lynn Howard Ehrle, translated from Russian by Sergei Roy.
Chernobyl 25 years later. Crime without punishment, Alla A.Yaroshinskaya; 2011, Transaction Publishers. ISBN: 978-1-4128-4296-9. 409 pages, hardcover


BAS: Selected readings on TMI and Chernobyl.
The nuclear crisis in Japan following the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, has brought the past tragedies at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl into the spotlight again. To offer a more thorough understanding of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the Bulletin of the atomic Scientists has compiled a reading list from its archives.
Check: http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/special-topics/the-bulletin-archi... and then add -three-mile-island or -chernobyl